FrF5 The Valley of Death After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

FrF5 The Valley of Death After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario 

Scenario Background

The Soviets launched Little Saturn on Dec 16 1942, looked to destroy the Italian 8th Army and to cut off relieving forces to Stalingrad.  This scenario set in the Arbuzovka valley on December 23 1942 depicts Axis efforts to break out of the encirclement.  The Germans and the Italians did break the encirclement historically.  With 10,000 Axis dead, 5,000 wounded/ frostbitten and 10,000-15,000 taken prisoners, Italian soldiers called it the “Valley of Death”.  

 

Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations

Elements of the Italian Blackshirt Brigade, Pasubio Division set up on the south (left of map) with 16 squads, 3 leaders, 1 HMG 1 MMG and 3 LMG plus 2 (little) mortars.  They were supported by 2 StuGIIIG’s.  The Axis suffered Ammunition Shortage but that didn’t factor much into our game.  The Russian 35th Guards Rifle Division set up to the north (right of map) with 5 458’s 3 447, 2 leaders, 1 LMG 1 mortar and 2 ATRs.  I took the balance in this game and so 3 527, a leader, a radio (70mm OBA) and a T-34 M41 showed up on Turn 2.  Both sides were to setup on non Hill hexes, so we both had to slog it up the Hills against Ground Snow.  

The Italians had 5.5 turns to get more unbroken (didn’t have to be in good order – could be in Melee/Berserk) non-crew infantry CVP north (right) of map than the Russians, provided that the Russians hadn’t destroy both StuGs.  I marked the “victory” line beyond which the Italians had to move on the first AAR map below with a blue dotted line.

The Italians outnumber us 2:1, plus they had more long range toys and 2 StuGs.  Our Russians had better quality troops but that’s a lot of map to cover, good thing the Hills were quite barren.  The Russians would have to rely on their higher morale of their infantry and the higher mobility of their T34 m41.  That T34 wouldn’t win any long range shootouts against StuGs.  We would try to fend off an amoeba attack and to not get caught in Close Combat.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Action Report

The StuG’s split off and went to both hills, threatening a pincer action, supported by a platoon each.  The platoon to the east (bottom) was of particular interest since it carried an HMG & an MMG.  I really couldn’t split off my troops since they were thin as it was.  I diverted 2 squads, a leader and an ATR to the west (top) and my T-34 to the left (bottom).  The rest of the Russians on the valley floor dutifully withdrew as their flanks were threatened.  Heck, the Italians on the hills were already shooting at my skulking Russians!  My T-34 got a lucky shot at the “heavy weapons” team.  Italians aren’t easy to rally.  I expect that to put them out of action for a little while.  (The blue dotted line is the goal line.)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FrF5 The Valley of Death After Action Report (AAR)

I parked my T-34 on the highest point, went Hull Down and congratulated myself for how smart I was.  That didn’t last because a StuG went into a position to engage from the west Hills (top) while another StuG went to my left.  My TH was 6 (+1 BU +1 small) to the west Hill StuG but his TH was 8 coming back, and my HD wasn’t going to hold because of the StuG to my left.  Urgh!  I always thought “lone tanks die” and I was on track to prove this out again with my T34.  Hopefully the Russian squads rushing up the east Hill would save those treads! 

Good thing an ATR shot broke the platoon on the west Hill (perhaps we could meet the StuG alone then) and the heavy weapons guys on the east Hill went for R&R.  The Russians in the valley were slowing the Italians down some but they were moving forward still.  Our first Spotting Round went wildly off which didn’t help things.  I needed a nice Harassing Fire to shut that party down.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FrF5 The Valley of Death After Action Report (AAR)

The ATR team on the west (top) Hill went straight for the StuG, if it wanted to deal with us it would have to change VCA.  An ATR hit would immo on a 5, and if they pass their PAATC, immo the STuG on a 7!  But all that talk didn’t distract the west Hill StuG from our T-34.  

It’s time.  I knew my T34 couldn’t fire while being CE but we threw open the hatch and tried for a vehicular smoke grenade anyway.  Nada.  Well, there goes nothing.  We gunned the engines and sure enough the first shot whizzed by!  We pushed forward off the hill and the StuG intensive fired!  The shot came real close but that missed as well.  We couldn’t believe it!  Everyone in the tank screamed “GO GO GO GO!!”.  We thought about rounding to the back of the east (bottom) Hill StuG, DM’ing the Italian heavy weapons team and going HD behind the stone wall.  Unfortunately we wouldn’t get a first shot off anyway being CE and that StuG would have a chance to spin around and we would need a 5 to kill (they needed a 6 and they had a spare AFV).  We decided to make for the area behind Italian lines.  If the StuGs wanted to come for us they would have to go the “wrong” direction and abandon their infantry.  We stayed in motion behind some buildings, hidden from the west Hill StuG.  

Well, our ATR shot went wide, even when our guys were practically bracing the ATR against the side of the StuG!  “We can still go in and kill the thing!” someone yelled.  The 7-0 thought about it for a second and remembered how his momma always told him to not be a hero.  

Next turn came around and as you expect, the StuG started up. POW!!  The ATR team fired again and watched the round arc’d gracefully off to the distance.  The StuG overran the Russian team.  They survived somehow and rolled around for their CC Reaction Fire.  This one’s tough ‘cause the StuG’s moving but they managed to immo the StuG with its gun pointing in a not so useful direction.  

The radio guy got Harassing Fire down properly in the valley as well, catching the Italians in the open.  The Italians conceded.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FrF5 The Valley of Death After Action Report (AAR)

How’s this Scenario Interesting?

Classic quality versus quantity?  The pair of StuG’s could be tough to deal with.  I thought I’d just run that T34 around (and not stopping) and lean on my superior mobility, cut rout paths and stuff.  I wouldn’t win shooting matches with either of them.  Putting Italians on the hills made it challenging for the Russians as they didn’t have the bodies to spare.  StuGs were there to lay smoke I think, without which the Italians couldn’t move safely. The Italians also shouldn’t mass up because of the OBA and so spreading them out might well be the way to go.  Some Italians might break but the Russians couldn’t shoot them all.   The StuG should do what assault guns were meant to do: shoot smoke rounds from the back and keep the T34 from getting cute.  They shoot way better at a distance anyway.  I took the balance because it’s largely an Italian win on ROAR but I can see how tough it was for my opponent.  

References

LFT Rat Pocket Charts 3rd Edition

I have been a faithful user of Le Franc Tireur’s Rat Charts since the first edition. This is easily the most used item I have on my desk apart from my laptop. You can therefore understand how I excited I am about version 3. We are talking checking my mailbox once or twice a day excited. (I hardly deal with my metal mailbox otherwise.)

It’s here along with my daughter’s Taylor Swift Special Edition CD!! For while, I can’t honestly tell you which one of us squealed the loudest.

Le Franc Tireur Rat Pocket Charts 3rd Edition (WW2 & FW)
To Hit To Kill Charts

Flipping open the chart, I am delighted to see that the To Hit To Kill charts are now moved from the middle of the pack in ed2+ to the front. There are so many more tabs down on the bottom! They have added charts for Molotov Cocktails and for Sewers.

National Capabilities Charts

The National Capabilities Charts are so much richer! The Italians are beefed up with the “new joiners” from LFT14 : Folgore, X-MAS …etc. The Spanish volunteers for the Wehrmacht – División Azul – are here. The French now has the Foreign Legions, Colonial Troops, Corps Francs and the Free French.

“Chapter D” now includes a “STUN/Stun/RECALL & SHOCK/ UNCONFIRMED KILL chart, together with a small but rather handy chart for AFV Phase/ Motion Fire Modifiers.

A brand new Weather Chart!

There’s a brand new Weather Chart for Fog, Mist, Gusts, Rain, Mud (I got a question on that just yesterday) and Snow. The top right corner there in the lower chart is the Desert (DTO) Low Visibility DRM chart (Sun Blindness, Heat Haze & such).

Landing Craft Attack Tables

What makes me REALLY happy are the 4 pages of Landing Craft related charts : LC Attack Tables, Damage vs LC and the Collateral Attack Effects. These will really speed things up on the approach in a Seaborne Assault!

Preview(opens in a new tab)

One of two non-Cartoon Rat characters in the Charts

Last but not least are the charts for Forgotten War (Korean War)! From the Terrain to the Nationality Characteristics, from Searchlight Sightings to Variable Time Fuzes, the Korean War is given a full treatment and will never be forgotten!

Rat Chart 2nd Ed+ has served me well as did all the preceding versions, but I am happily switching this out for the 3rd Ed now, in that slot in the bookshelf I got 1.5 feet to the left of my head.

You never know when you’ll need it. (Okay you do, I am just trying to do a dramatic ending.)

Le Franc Tireur Rat Pocket Charts 3rd Edition WW2 & FW

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT227 Damsels in Distress After Action Report (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT227 Damsels in Distress After Action Report (AAR)

Scenario Background

This is November 19 1940.  The Greeks were counterattacking and the Italians were on the retreat towards Albania.  In a village close to the Albanian border, the Italian 23d Divisione Fanteria “Ferrara” kidnapped some school girls and so a Greek elite light infantry unit (2/39th Evzone Regiment) as well as the local villagers went on a desperate rescue mission.  (The map above is from “Battle of Greece” in Wikipedia.)

Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations

school girls prisonersThe Greeks need to clear two specific buildings of unbroken Italian MMC and make sure 2 (of 3) OB given Prisoner counters are not stacked with Italian Guards in 6.5 turns.  There’s an interesting wrinkle in this scenario as well : when any of the Greek Evzone reaches level 3 terrain and have LOS to any building on Overlay 6 (that sits on board 42), Greek partisans appear in building hexes not in/adjacent to Italian units.  The type of units that appear is random and  while these partisan units can’t form multi location firegroups and cower like Green troops, they can self rally and declare Hand-to-Hand (“axes & pitchforks”, according to the Historical Result.)

Ground Snow’s in effect so going up / down the hill costs an MP extra per level.  The Greeks can bypass the board 58 hill entirely and rush straight to the village but they won’t get the partisans (villagers) to show up.  They can attack up the hill to get to level 3 but that will take time out of the 6.5 turn limit.  The Italians has a 2 pt difference in morale to the elite Greek troops and are unlikely to stand up to a standing gunfight.  If they can keep all the Greeks on the proper side of the board 58 hill by long range support weapons and keep the villagers from appearing til Turn 4, they can relocate the school girls.  They can’t unfortunately, bring them off the board.  I am curious about the way the Victory Condition is written though : “.. if >= 2 OB-given Prisoner squad counters are not stacked with Italian Guard(s).”  Perhaps if all the Prisoner squads are eliminated by the Greeks, this VC can be met for they are indeed “not stacked with Italian Guard(s)”?

After Action Report

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT227 Damsels in Distress After Action Report (AAR)

The Greeks showed no signs of wanting to do an end run around the hills!  By the neat row of Greek troops you can see the 2-2 from Italian defenders weren’t even a distraction for these gallant men.  Meanwhile we broke our mortar and our LMG.  Our MMG didn’t do much either and so we dismantled them in case they need to rout.  But you know what?  Our elite 2-4-7 didn’t break, it boxcar’d during Rally.  So we left the Greek a nice MMG, neatly folded, inside a foxhole.  We made sure we ducked into the gully so we could rout along the gully.  We thought it’s high time that the Greeks leave us behind and head for the village.  There’s not much we could do from there anyway.  We maintained minimal firepower above ground and so we were pleased that the Greeks came in after us.  See where that gully goes into?  Woods-Gully.  That would cost the Greeks when they come through.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT227 Damsels in Distress After Action Report (AAR)

A Greek squad reached level 3, had LOS into the village, and .. 

(Getty images)

.. the Village People appeared!!  They went into a few HtH and the results weren’t pretty for the Italians (pitchforks ARE pointy).  The problem also was that the more hexes the Italians vacate, the closer new village people appeared.  The hill top Italians were now “gully bottom” Italian but they still had the Greeks in front of them, paying extra to get down the hills. 

If you notice, we relocated the school girls to the top left of the map.  One of the VC building was already cleared of Italians.  The other one had a concealed 7-0 standing in the corner pretending to be a full squad.  While all that’s going on, the Italian reinforcements appeared and sneaked to the west edge (top) of the map.  They need to get to the target building ASAP.  

More village people appeared!

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT227 Damsels in Distress After Action Report (AAR)

As we open up the last of the Italian turn, the Italians won one significant CC near the schoolgirls, killing off the village elder and a HS of peasants.  Other villagers made a bit for the last VC building but got repulsed by a show of rare Italian firepower (it went above 2!). The Greeks streamed towards the village but it’s apparent it would be tough to free the school girls and break / CC the Italians in the last VC building.  

The Greeks conceded.  

How’s this Scenario Interesting?

There are quite a few tactical choices for both the Greeks and Italians.  The Greeks had to be mindful of the extra MF’s Ground Snow burns off their time table if they elect to take the hill en masse.  The mechanism by which the villagers appear was interesting as well.  The Italians had to spread out to stop them from spawning in certain places but in doing so, couldn’t mass their firepower to break the Partisans before they get into CC (which they don’t want). 

FT230 Italian Behemoth is next.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT228 Last Charge at Umbrega (AAR)

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

IMG 4293

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.  

IMG 4294

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.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT226 Veni Venezia! (AAR)

November 2 1940, the Italians found themselves in Treni, Greece.  They are to take at least 4 of the Stone Buildings and clear building 3M2 (large stone building on the bottom right) of all Good Order Greeks in 7.5.  That sounds like ample time until you realize running low Morale Level troops around with even lower firepower is like herding cats.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT226 Veni Venezia! (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT226 Veni Venezia! (AAR)

The Italian radio blew up once we managed to get a spotting around on top of building 3M2!  The right flank kept a steady push through the Woods and buildings on the bottom of the map.  The left flank came down the hill more or less intact, but behind schedule.  The middle group mounted an attack across the street (amoeba!!) and got blasted away by the Greeks!  My center is gone.  We have Move Phase to go and we are wonder if we can take any Stone Buildings at all. 

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT226 Veni Venezia! (AAR)

The Greeks managed to break the lone Italian MMG team that’s protecting the hordes of broken Italians hiding the woods towards the upper part of the map!  Very smartly a Greek leader dashed acrossed the street, hoping to grab the MMG that the routing MMG team would leave behind.  That was executed brilliantly except that the Greek leader couldn’t recover the MMG!  Two Italian leaders then rushed in (8-0 & 6+1) looking to CC him, MMA style.  The Greek kungfu master killed off the Italian 8-0 but it’s too late, an Italian squad arrived.  At the same time yours truly finally figured out how to do an amoeba attack properly and broke into the center fo the village from the top and the bottom.  

Unfortunately there was only 1 turn to go and we had brokies strewn everywhere.  We didn’t have enough time to take the rest of the stone buildings.  We conceded.  

Le Franc Tireur 14, a Photo Essay