BFP24 Death Ride of the Das Reich – Advanced Squad Leader AAR
This scenario is set on 30 July 1944 southwest of Notre-Dame-de-Cenilly, France. The SS Panzer Division 2 (“Das Reich”) started to realise it’s in danger of being encircled. They therefore looked to withdraw remaining units southwards towards Brehal. The stretched out 2nd Armoured Division (“Hell on Wheels”) caught wind of it and moved to foil the German plan as their vehicles appeared before dawn.
Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations
This scenario has a real interesting setup. The three boards represents three venues through which Germans tried to escape the American dragnet. They operate separately from each other like three separate but concurrent games. The Germans had to divvy his forces up into three groups. Each group would enter their designated board using Convoy movement. The Americans had to divide his forces into four groups, one being a reinforcement that enters on Turn 4. Again, the three boards represents three separate venues that doesn’t affect or crossover to each other, so once forces were committed to a board, they were committed to that board. The Germans can win via one of two ways: by exiting >= 44 VP (ex prisoners) off the east (right) edge of any one board or by exiting >=110 VP off the east (right) edge of all three boards. Proper force allocation is very important for both players. There are parameters to curb either player from heavily slanting his forces on one or more boards, but we also know he who defends everything defends nothing! It’s also important to know that those bocages you see are Light Bocages. Light Bocages, as defined by the BFP Beyond the Beachhead rules, are 1/2 level obstacles, don’t create any blind hex and allow LOS along hex spine. It costs vehicles 1/4 of their MP allotment (instead of 1/2) to cross and Bogs with no additional DRM’s apart from the usual.
The top board has the second most restrictive terrain. The German convoy enters via a restrictive channel for a third of the board and the terrain opens up before leading into bocage country again for the last half of the board. The temptation is to start shooting at the Germans as they come out of the first third of the board but the openness will allow their guns to gang up against our tiny blocking force. I decided to duck further into the bocage with a HIP’d baz team, a Sherman and an MMG. Hopefully the choices for the Germans are either to come through to us one at a time down the channel or risk bogging and underbelly shots crossing the bocages to flank us. Forces were deployed along the road and a HIP’d baz team is on the bottom of the map since I suspected the Germans would be tempted to flank us along there.
The middle board is the most open. The Germans start by coming down a channel for a third of the board, then it’s the village for the second third before closing off into bocage country on the last third. I put the roadblock where the bocage opens up into the second third. That’s covered by a Sherman and the 9-2 HMG team in the church steeple. The M1 57mm AT Gun (TK15, ROF3, HE4 & APDS4 w/ TK18) sits behind a ring of bocage on the left (map bottom) of the Germans’ axis of advance, closing off that half. Once the fighting happen, I would bring a M2 mortar to the back to provide some defence depth.
The bottom board is the most restrictive. On one hand, not breaking up the German convoy make it slow(er) going for them, on the other hand, I can’t cede too much ground. I put the second roadblock shortly past the first half of the board, covered by a Sherman, an MMG behind it and a HIP’d baz team on the side of the road covering the small opening past the crossroads.
Oh, those Roadblocks are only “hasty” Roadblocks, they don’t allow Hull Down’s, can be crossed by a vehicle at half of it’s MP allotment and a Bog Check (+drm) but leaves a Trail Break behind for other AFV’s. There’s also a +1 LV when you think about your covering your Roadblocks (this action’s at dawn).
Note also that there are no restrictions against Kindling in this scenario. Some of those grain on the latter bits of the map might be good candidates, particularly in the top board if the Germans decide to do an end run on the right of the road.
Advanced Squad Leader AAR
We opened with German Turn 3 (of 7.5). All three convoys had now been broken up. On the top board, an armoured car arrived at the bend in the road where the Sherman bore-sighted. The Sherman open fired and missed! It then tried popping Smoke and turned tail. Halftracks started unloading people immediately. A couple of tanks went to our left (bottom) down the Road to see if they could get at our Sherman. I imagined they might be tempted to cross the bocage after I take my Sherman out further to the back. An M2 mortar team hopped over a bocage on the back.
We shot 1 halftrack at the Roadblock on the middle board. Again, Germans infantry started unloading from their halftracks. An armoured car went to our left (bottom) to check out that side of the board (like they are paid to). Our AT Gun torched it at the intersection. German tanks jump the bocages and went to our right to get at Sherman parked in a stone building. Our M2 mortar team sprinted backwards as planned.
In the bottom, our Sherman shot the leading armoured car and the HIP’d baz team popped up and shot an halftrack from the side. What I should have done though was to wait for the German armour to jump the bocage in an attempt to flank the Sherman. My intention was to increase the MP cost for German traffic as quickly as possible but that didn’t make a material impact on the game.
On the top board, our Sherman backed off into the sunken road, escaping the 2 German AFV’s sitting behind the bocage. Unfortunately, they decided against coming over to chase after our lone Sherman! The sheer weight of the incoming halftracks/ armoured cars got our infantry on the hill to start thinking about heading back. They did have a few open top vehicles in the proximity so we tried to light up a few more.
In the middle board, we were still fighting in the first half of the board. The 9-2 HMG team fired on and stunned another AFV (subsequently recalled) before moving off the church steeple! The German infantry had yet to close in. Our Sherman backed off into a bypass along a Stone Wall and sped backwards. Our gun crew on the left (bottom) broke out a few MRE’s waiting for the next German to arrive.
On the bottom map three AFVs got busy trying to snuff out our baz team. They survived the first barrage and took a second shot at one of them in hex! Unfortunately they missed and were all sent to a better place. On the far side, an M2 mortar team persuaded the Germans to not run any other halftracks down the road. The Sherman drew back to the next firing position but the MMG team (erroneously) stayed on. (Note to self: folks can’t outrun AFVs on foot.)
Allied Turn 4, and this was where I had to decide on which board to reinforce with 2 Shermans (w/ hedgerow cutters) and infantry. Normal practice dictates that we reinforce successes but here we need to plug holes. In this case I sent my reinforcements to the top board since it had yet to claim any enemy kills. I immediately regretted the decision when I pulled back my Sherman on the bottom board and immediately bogged on at the bocage! BOGGED! German AFV surfed up and down those bocages all game and my Sherman bogged on its second attempt! Having said that, it would help if I pick the bocage crossing location with the awareness that I might bog there.
My infantry was broken and was on the run as well. Repent! The end’s near!
However on the top board, folks are backing off nicely to the right. The Germans decided to have their halftracks double back and mill about around my HIP’d baz team so as to not give me a cheap kill. One even bypassed the Woods the baz team was hiding in but since the halftrack didn’t end its turn in its hex it didn’t have to reveal.
In the middle board, the Sherman worked well with the 9-2 HMG team in keeping the Germans on the right (top). The 2 concealed squads (one’s a dummy) kept my HMG shielded off. I had to think that the “missing” baz team (in the top board) kept my opponent wary.
On the top board, the long HIP’d baz team threw off their invisibility cloak (“taaaddaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”) in slow motion and fired pointblank at one of the halftracks so as to minimise the returning fire group!! Unfortunately the shot went wide and the team was snuffed out in the return fire. The 3 Shermans now on board open fired together with the M2 mortar. None connected but we thought that might give them something to think about.
On the middle board, the Germans were determined to stick to the right (and away from the AT Gun). Our Sherman backed off to its final firing position but our screen for the 9-2 HMG started to crack.
However on the bottom board, our bogged Sherman got burned and the Germans were in a position to exit >=44 VPs off. This was game.
How’s this scenario interesting?
I lost this scenario badly. Considering that I lost it after Axis Turn 5 (out of 7.5). My Turn 4 reinforcement was definitely misplaced. However, this should be an interesting read not because of my sub par tactics but because of the unique mechanism this design introduce and the interesting considerations extending from it. I don’t tend to play scenarios over (except when playtesting) but this is definitely one that invites repeated attempts. The mental sparing starts at force allocation and it definitely tests the defender’s ability to harmonise his assets with the terrain. It tests the attacker’s ability to respond to ambushes and to turn the tables. The multitudes of paths one could take to get off these boards exercise one’s risk management skills.
I imagine this scenario can be played as a 3×3 team game with asset allocation negotiated between teammates. Has anyone tried that?