Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT228 Last Charge at Umbrega After Action Report (AAR)
Background of the Scenario
This is another scenario from Le Franc Tireur 14 Italians. It’s 2 January 1941 on the Umbrega Plateau, Eritra. Le Franc Tireur’s designs often bring you to rather exotic locations.
The 1er Régiment de Spahis Marocains ran into an Italian bivouac on the Umbrega Plateau and commenced attacks. That was to be the last French cavalry charge of the war.
As such this scenario features the Italian cavalry against the French cavalry on a fairly open terrain where where Woods is Brush and all buildings are Collapsed Huts. Brush is Woods for Rally/Rout pupose. (ASL Zen : Woods is Brush and Brush is Woods)
Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations
The French wins immediately if they control 3 out of the 4 hexes identified as Italian campsites. One campsite is on the lower left of the map around the depression. Two campsites are on the top right and the last one is half way down the map from these two. A French group enters/setup on the left and the rest can enter anywhere along a “C” shaped arc on the right board edge. All units are Fanatic when Mounted/Bailing Out.
The bit we forgot when we play was that any unmounted Italians must take a PTC at the start, but it didn’t affect the game too much.
Cavalry in ASL
This is the first time I played with Cavalry rules. Horses are a great way to extend your mobility in ASL. They also carry with them a “permanent” -2 DRM when mounted, so you need to be mindful of the hindrance between you and any enemy units. The Italians can setup 2 squads HIP’d in this scenario which further exacerbates the situation. Cavalry charges however, allows the mounted unit to deliver Triple Point Blank Fire (Mounted Fire NA) into a target hex and render any defensive shooting Final Protective Fire. So conceivably a Defender can break when forced into the FPF and break again when the charging unit fires! There’s a great article regarding Cavalry units in Advanced Squad Leader Annual 1997 “A Cavalry Primer for Neighsayers” by Michael Puccio. I know all of you got the official PDF version, now is the time to break it open if you still haven’t yet!
After Action Report
My French units started onboard to the left, with only a couple of half squads and a Hero mounted. I figured the Hero might be a particularly powerful weapon since he sports a morale level of 10 when mounted! I was also mindful that small arms can lit huts on fire especially when the EC is very dry but that didn’t happen. I wondered about the significance of the Collapsed Huts until I reallized Cavalry can’t enter buildings but can ride through Collapsed Huts. Most of my units moved forward on foot but when an Italian squad pin a mounted HS charged through a few collapsed huts and broke it! Another French unit scored a KIA on a mounted Italian squad but the rest of them started moving away.
The rest of my French units moved in from the north from a point closest to two Italian campsites. With only 5 turns, I figured we didn’t have much time to mess about. Again, most of them were on foot, forcing the lower morale and lower firepower Italians into a shooting battle. A couple of HS’s stay mounted on the far right, just close enough to be threatening.
I put my 9-1 LMG team into a position where they could interdict most of the open area in the middle of the map. I wasn’t going to let the Italian units join up without a challenge. Short with time, I had my mounted Hero earn his pay by charging through some orchards into a rather isolated Italian squad on the middle of the map. If it fail to KIA my Hero, it would be tied down allowing my other mounted units to pass. The one man charge was a success as the 2 down 1 fire in-hex broke that Italian squad as well.
Meanwhile the French units on the upper right closed in on the Italians, KIA’d another unit and broke others. HIP’d Italian units popped out of the ground but the French managed to pass MCs after MCs.
The Italians conceded.
The presence of LMGs and HIP’d Italian squads made mounted squads a decidely unattractive option for the French. Throughout the game one need to suppress the desire to ride your enemy down because even fire from PIN’d squads can be deadly with the permanent -2 DRM. However, you do need to keep a few units on horsebacks just to keep your opponent uncomfortable and to mess with his routing.
How is this Scenario Interesting?
This is a playground made for Cavalry. Both sides have a choice of how aggressive (and hence how mobile) he wants to be. The Italians got the short end of the morale and the firepower stick and I am not sure if their advantage in squads : 15 vs 10 balance it out. The 2 HIP’d Italian squads definitely kept the French honest. I’d say: play this for the Cavalry! My thanks to Lionel Colin who designed this fun introduction to Cavalry rules for me. I look forward to the next scenario in LFT14, FT229 A Push in the Bush by Philippe Naud & Jean Devaux.