Sunday, February 11, 2024

Our Games - Schwerpunkt SP74 The Last Tiger and Schwerpunkt SP75 Taurus Pursuant

After a down week from the blog, Dan Best and I were back the cardboard battlefield with a playing of back-to-back Schwerpunkt scenarios SP74 and SP75. Both would come from Schwerpunkt Volume 7.

Prior to attending my first March Madness Tournament in 2015, I was ignorant of the existence of Schwerpunkt. Fast forward to the current day, and I am the proud and happy owner of almost all of them.

They tend to be in the sweet spot for my preferred game play. They are usually 6-7 Turns long with normally 2 boards and a very manageable OOB for both sides. 

The victory conditions are straightforward...not a lot of overlay use and generally well done and very interesting. And after a lengthy spate of HASL scenarios, these were a welcome break. 

And I'll admit, this is my preferred kind of ASL to play. 

Before we leap into the AAR's, I wanted to take a moment to blog about ASL and emotions. Last week's heartbreaking loss in our Saturday game really left me unwound and not feeling great about my response to what was a disheartening and disappointing defeat. My reaction was anything but gracious. Instead, I proceeded to lose my proverbial s@!& and unleashed a mini tirade of profanity laced whining. Yes, it's true...I debased myself with gusto. In that scenario, my British were tasked with taking control of two of four factory locations. After the halfway mark, I was nearing completion of taking my first factory. I honestly didn't think I had a chance of taking another one. With two turns remaining, I considered giving the concession as it was late, and I didn't see a clear-cut path to victory. But I stuck with it and going into the final Close Combat Phase, I had put three German squads into CC and each was faced off against 3 of my squads. Hand to Hand was allowed by SSR. And two of the German squads was pinned. Two CC's were in one factory and a third was in another. I was now "invested" in this game. I had sweated blood getting to this point and now I could clearly see the victory finish line. 

You know the your enemy encircled and on the ropes. Just a couple dice rolls and it's in the bag. Ahhh...but then I rolled the dice. First roll was an 11...locked in MELEE, the next CC was in the same factory, and I would win it...but it didn't matter as Dan retained control. The last one had a German 9-1 with a pinned 4-4-7 vs. my wounded 9-1 and 3 x 4-5-8's and two of those were concealed. I would win ambush and then roll the dice...just a formality could I not win!?! I drop the dice into the dice tower and cringe as they come up BOXCARS!!! Dan would exfiltrate and hang on to that factory location for the win. Why didn't I just concede an hour earlier and spare myself the anguish that I felt at that moment. It's always my D@%$ dice that bend me over the table. 

I literally came unglued, and my emotions left the stable like the running of the Bulls...

Que unbridled whining about dice, and my desperate and sad life...

Yes, I'm embarrassed to admit that I allowed my emotions to get the best of me. Definitely something that I am committed to working on and keeping those emotions in check.

Our first game this weekend would be SP74 The Last Tiger. Set in Pillau, East Prussia, it covers that actions of the Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadier Division and the last operational Tiger I. Tiger 214 was commanded by Feldwebel Koestler.  Together with a Nashorn, The final action would find Koestler battling T-34/85's, IS-2's and Sherman Tanks. After beating back a couple attacks, their Tiger would be knocked out. German resistance in East Prussia would end not long after.

There are two great books that cover this period of time. The first is a German tome, that I picked while in West Germany in 1985.

I believe this is one of the definitive accountings of the fighting in East Prussia. I'm also not aware of an English translation.

The Forgotten Soldier is another great book that covers the end of the Grossdeutschland Division at Pillau, Memel and the Samland Peninsula. This book was my introduction to the Grossdeutschland back in 1980. I checked it out of the local library and read it from cover to cover in no time at all. 

There was some persistent controversy regarding the book and the background of the author. Helmut Spaeter, a GD veteran and author of its divisional histories, questioned the validity of Sager's accounts. Many years, Doug Nash, the noted historian, put the issue to bed after meeting with Guy Sager. Some of that can be found on the Axis Forum. Nash is beyond reproach as one of the foremost historians of the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS on the Eastern Front.

Dan would command remnants of Panzergrenadier Regiment Grossdeutschland. His force would consist of 4 x 4-6-7's and 3 x 4-4-7's led by a 9-1 and an 8-1 with 2 x MMG's, an LMG, 2 x Panzerschrecks, a Tiger I, a Nashorn, and two Half-tracks and an 8-1 Armor Leader.

The Grossdeutschland is certainly a well-known and storied unit that served almost exclusively on the Eastern Front after it's service at the Battle of Stonne in 1940 France.

Employed as a mobile fire brigade to restore gaps in the German lines, it was often where the action was the hottest. GD was also covered extensively by the Kriegsberichters due to its elite status and exploits. 

Osprey is releasing a brand new book on the unit on February 13th. Pre-order now from Amazon so not to miss out on what should be a very interesting book.

As the attacking Russians, I would command elements of the 2nd Guards Tank Corps, 11th Guards Army. My force would consist of 3 x 6-2-8's, 3 x 5-2-7's, and 6 x 4-4-7's led by an 8-1, 8-0 and 7-0 with an MMG, 2 x LMGs, 2 x IS-2's, 2 x T-34/85's, 2 x Shermans and an ISU-152. 

The battlespace is pretty good, but the Germans enjoy the high ground. The Russian player doesn't have a lot of time. So, you gotta hoof it and get to the center of the village on Board 3. I would struggle to get my boys up there.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Germans must define the center of board 3.  The Germans will set up a in depth defense.  With the 9-1, squad MMG and squad LMG in the Q4 building on board 17.  These two will have the set up PF given by SSR.  The Nashorn will set up on level 2 hill on board 3 covering the middle of the battle field.  While the Tiger will set up hull down behind the stone wall on left flank of board 17.  The 75mm half track will set up on the right flank.  Hopefully the Russians attack in the center and the flank units can counter attack."

Dan's Germans could Bore Sight and the Tiger 1 would start the game HIP. Just great...HIP favorite! To win the game, I had to have 10 VP of infantry within two hexes of 3Q5 and a single, functional tank between rows N and U on Board 3. So, I knew where the Nashorn would be, but after that I would be wrong about Dan's placements. My Shermans would move up on the left out of the Nashorn's LOS and then place smoke in front of him. My MMG Team would move up the middle to provide a base of fire and keep Dan from shifting towards my right flank attack. My plan was to drive behind the woods on the right and come over the hill and down into the village. My plan would be severely tested on Turn 1.

"Gregori, who is leading the assault"...Comrade Grumble Jones..."What!?! I thought he was leading the penal know the guys we send into the minefields."...he was Comrade General...but he managed to survive..."Keep me posted Gregori!"

Turn 1 and I, Comrade Jones would stumble badly. On the left, my Shermans went right into the Bore-Sighted Hex for Dan's 75L Halftrack. One less Sherman...such fun. On the right I would move adjacent to the HIP tiger I. And one shot...on more IS-2. 

In Dan's part of Turn 1...I would lose a T-34/85 to the Nashorn. But, I would knock out the Tiger I and the 75L Halftrack. It had been a rough turn for both Dan and me. 

Comrade Gregori makes a sketch of the destroyed last Tiger of Ost Preussen.

Turn 2 - I was holding my personal ELR just above the breaking point. Time to keep my head down and keep moving.

My SU-152 would discover that he wasn't in a blind Comrade Jones thought. The Nashorn would blow and no more SU-152.

Turn 3 - my single reinforcement of another IS-2 arrives, but my infantry were dragging @$$ and running out of daylight...

Dan is a very aggressive player and didn't sit passively...nope, his halftrack went out and picked up a 4-6-7 with an LMG and took him into the village. Then the Nashorn move into a position to take a shot at my smoke making Sherman. 

On the right side, my infantry got into the fight and would win two back to back close combats and secure that flank. On the left side my Sherman would fire and miss...then Intensive Fire and hit and knock out the dreaded Nashorn. 

With the Nashorn knocked out, I could start moving forward. 

My last T-34/85 would move to close to a German 4-4-7 and get fausted.

With my two remaining tanks I moved head and sent my boys on the right flank hill. I was running out of time. And Dan's 8-1 with an MMG was in the tower of power and slapping me around as I tried to get set to dash into the village.

Dan's Grenadiers were ready and waiting. 

Turn 6 - my last chance. I would dash across the street and Dan's dice would go south as he MALF'd an LMG and the haltrack's AAMG.  The 8-1 and MMG in the tower of power would break a squad and leave 2 Resid in a hex that my 8-1 and two squads would have to move through. I couldn't CX again and didn't have the movement MP to get where I needed to go. I had to run through the Resid...2 down 2. Dan's roll was high and was through...but then the tower of power would subsequent and manage to PIN my 8-1. There went two VP that wouldn't get within two of Q5. That was a killer.

This MMG Team would save the game for the Germans!

So, I had my tanks in the right position, and I had 11 VP in the victory zone. I could've had 13, but my 8-1 didn't get in after being pinned. All I had to do was survive the German counterattack. But the 8-1 and his MMG would PREP FIRE and roll a 4. My 8-0 and a squad would break, and I was out three points just like that. So, I would finish the game with 8 VP and Dan's Germans would have the win.

The Grossdeutschland Grenadiers had held...for one more day in the hell of Pillau.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan worked.  The Russians came on the left flank and the Germans slowed them down.  In the end the Russians got 11 VP into the center ville but the Germans were able to break 3 VP on the last turn.  This scenario is a fast playing tournament classic.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a great game of ASL!"

Rihanna is back again in the new year to get you ready for Game number 2!! Twice the ASL Goodness!

Our second game would be SP75 Taurus Pursuant. From Pillau we would head to Normandy for some British on Waffen SS action. Once again, Dan would be the defending Germans and I would have to find another way to attack my way to victory. 

As the defending Germans, Dan would command elements of the 9th SS Panzer Division "Hohenstaufen". His force would consist of 9 x 6-5-8's led by a 9-1 and 8-0 with an HMG, an MMG, an LMG and 2 x Panzerschrecks, 2 x STUGS and a Panther.

As the attacking British, I would command elements of the 11th Armored Division. My force would consist of 12 x 4-5-8's and a 2-4-8 led by a 9-2, 8-1, and 2 x 8-0's with 4 x LMG's, 2 x PIATS, 2 x 51 MTR's, 5 x Tanks, an Armored Car, and 3 x Half-tracks.

The battlespace for Taurus Pursuant. To win, my British had to have more Good Order VP in the two village areas than the Germans.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The SS thugs must defend two villages in the Normandy countryside.  The plan will be to defend each village and win the amour battle.  The Panther and two StuGs can go hunting to kill the British tanks.  The SS thugs can also counterattack with the morale and firepower advantage in CC.  Hopefully the Germans tanks can defeat the British tanks in detail."

Taurus Pursuant is a very unique scenario. So much so in fact, that I really feel like it's two scenarios in one. I also think this scenario would be an excellent four player game. And I will admit to it being a mentally taxing scenario as I tried to stay focused on my attacks in each of the villages.  The black lines denote the victory zones in each village. At game end the British have to have more Unit VP (including prisoners) in the victory than the Germans. The Germans are well equipped with SS 6-5-8s's Panzerschrecks, MMG and HMG, a Panther and two STUG's. The German armor has an edge. Only the Firefly can take out the Panther...but hold that thought...

My plans were fairly simple. I had the numbers against the Board 46 village. I knew the Panther was back there on the Level 2 Hill and would see everything. Therefore, my armor would move in blind hexes as much as possible on Turn 1. I was going to rely on my Infantry to carry the day. 

Oh...but things would quickly go out of control.

Turn 1 British - I stick to my plan and move cautiously. I had two half-tracks from the north force send over an 8-0 and 2 x 4-5-8's to reinforce my movements against the Board 10 (lower) village. I took a huge chance as Dan's Panther might have decided to take them out. He didn't as he had to see what my Firefly was going to do.

Turn 1 German - good grief...Dan would go nuts and launch an attack that took me completely by surprise. It shouldn't have, but I was complacent. Dan saw that I was vulnerable particularly on Board 10. I was next to the board edge with no room to maneuver. So, Dan sent his STUG and Panther forward. 

Oh how hated it, but it was a brilliant move and something every ASL'r should consider. It also modeled German tactical doctrine. The Germans were fierce at counterattacking. Dan has always been a very aggressive player, but he went beyond anything I could remember in this game. I mean...good grief he came at me with everything he had. As I write above, it was a brilliant move. I was boxed in, stalled and just trying to stay in place. In one turn, Dan took the initiative and put me hard on the defensive. 

I had to pivot in my thinking. My tanks couldn't stand up to Dan's armor and my infantry lacked the punch to oust SS 6-5-8's from stone buildings. Things could get very bad...very quickly for me.

My response was to make smoke all over the place. Fortunately, I was able to do that. 

"Smoke now or we are dead...Jerry STUG looking right at us!!!"

Smoke didn't help...Dan's STUG knocked out the first of my three Cromwells.

On Turn 3 German - Dan came at me again. I was against the ropes on Board 10 and out of ideas. The STUG moved to engage my half-track reinforcements, while the Panther charged me...yeah it freakin' charged me. My 8-1 in his Cromwell turned pale as he saw death coming right at him. I couldn't penetrate the frontal armor, so went for a deliberate immobilization and missed! 

I knew I was dead...and that this would probably lead to my defeat in this scenario.

BUT WAIT...Corporal George Ward sighted his PIAT and fired as everyone else around panicked!!

George took the great beast!!!

George fires!!!

SNAKE EYES...CRITICAL HIT and a knocked out Panther.


ASL is just jam packed with moments like this, where the absolute improbable happens...

Back on Board 46, Dan's attack continued without pause. His STUG came after my Sherman 75*, while a 6-5-8 with a Panzerschreck moved to fire on my FireFly. 

In my next movement phase, I tried to retake the initiative. I sent my half-tracks into the victory zone on Board 10 and let them behind some buildings in motion. Next, my Armored Car made a move to help out in the Board 46 village. Dan's STUG would take a wild shot...hit and destroy it. That was fun...let's do that again. And we did. With the STUG having fired and Intensive Fired, my 8-1 saw a chance to take his Cromwell in for a point-blank rear shot. 

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Oberschütze Hans Weiss would fire his Panzerschreck...SNAKE EYES!!! My Cromwell went up in smoke and flame.

But wait...Hans' shot's backblast would result in destruction for his unit. The German 9-1 would be KIA'd, a squad would be casualty reduced and everyone broken. They would be forced to rout away and abandon the German HMG. 

At this stage of the game, I was ahead in points in the Board 46 village and slowly eliminating the remaining SS Grenadiers. A Panzerschreck shot there would miss my FireFly and break the squad with the backblast. Dan would be down to a single good order squad on Board 46. I had suffered losses on Board 10 but was hanging on and again Dan was down to 2-1/2 good order squads. 

But Dan's two STUG's were still in the fight and both had added kill rings to their barrels. They were confident and came at me hard!

Dan's STUG in the Board 46 village would fire at my haltrack and MALF the gun. The other STUG on Board 10 would move into position to fire on my last remaining Cromwell. 

The final moments of the game. In Turn 5 PREP, I my Cromwell would fire and immobilize the Board 10 STUG. Dan's crew would bail and be shot down.  With his STUG's out of action and nothing to stop my British from securing the Board 46 village and then moving down to take over the Board 10 village, Dan gave the concession and a British win.

My thanks to Dan for two more great games of ASL this weekend. We each gained a victory and enjoyed two very challenging and fun scenarios. Dan's aggressive counterattack in our second game very nearly took the day. We both agreed that the PIAT critical hit on the Panther was the decisive moment in the game. Had the Panther survived, it likely would have destroyed all of my Cromwells and driven off or eliminated my squads. It was a daring move and a lucky roll of the dice saved the British.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan did not work.  The German counterattack drove the Brits off balance.  However, a crit hit by the PIAT killed the Panther and StuGs were unable to hunt down the British halftracks.  This scenario is really two games in one and good fun.  My congrats to Grumble Jones on the hard-fought win!"

ASL...some games are just epic!!!

Dan and I will play again next weekend...but no blog next week as I'll be headed to Midland, TX and the Permian Basin for the week. 

Dan and I will be back in two weeks!

We will see you then!!!


  1. A couple of great AAR's!, I'm glad I found your blog. I am just getting into full ASL after twelve months playing Starter Kit. I get a lot of inspiration from your posts and enjoy the cut and thrust of your games.
    I can learn a lot here.

    1. Paul, thanks for spending time here at Grumble Jones!!!