DB133 A Deadly Landscape

This scenario is played on part of the Red Barricades map.  SAN starts at 4 for the Germans and 5 for the Russians and increases to 5 & 7 respectively on Turn 2 and 6 & 8 on Turn 4.  The Russians are given the chance to open the attack but German reinforcements will come in on Turn 3 (of 5).

They largely compete for the buildings, trenches, rubble, bridge & storage .. but every sniper kill counts as well.

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CH18 Raging Furnace

This week we started with an old design, CH18.  The Germans have to take 2 out of 3 hilltops and earn more CVPs than the Russians.  Aside from the standard CVPs, the Germans get points for clearing out the six hexes around the hilltops.  Likewise, the Russians get (a lot more) points if they can stay around the tops.

This scenario has a very interesting simultaneous setup with a die roll deciding who’d go first.  As my opponent quipped, going last might not be a bad thing as you can simply advance onto the hilltops.  The nature of this arrangement means opposing forces might “materialise” right in front of you at game start!  There’s an SSR that gives the defender in the first Prep Fire phase the ability to Gun Duel and shoot back.

The German entry edges are the top and the left.  However, since the Russians can only setup in the red circles.  Germans can attack from the right if they like, if they are comfortable with Russian reinforcements coming in behind them from the right and the bottom of the screen.

I am very mindful of a few things when I did my Russian setup.

  • I can’t win shootouts between the Russians and the Germans AFVs.
  • I can put my AFVs in trenches and thereby HD’ing them even to same level shots but that will condemn us to doing frontal shootouts (and the lost of all mobility) when the Russians really need to get in side shots to kill the German AFVs.
  • The high ground the Germans have on the top left will be used to sweep the hill tops, especially with the Tiger + Armour Leader
  • I can use my 76L artillery gun (s8!) and a combination of the Russian .50cal, the 10-2 (aka Jedi Master), the ATR and the Hero to setup a pretty good firebase on the bottom right of the screen to contest the hill tops a little.  That’ll be -3 out to 12 hexes and -2 out to 16 hexes.

img_3122Ladies & gents – don’t be like me.  I misread the SSRs to this scenario and thought that German reinforcements can only come in from the top and to the left.  No – the German reinforcements come in from the top and the RIGHT and the Russian reinforcements come in from the bottom and the left.

Let me elaborate further.  This scenario has a rather creative SSR which allows you to purchase half your lost CVPs as reinforcements.  The restriction is that you can only purchase half the # of each unit type in your OB.

While my 76L Artillery (hill top on the bottom right) finally fixed itself and did a number on a German deathstar, my deployment was oriented towards attackers coming in from the left and not the right.  *Horror*

The Germans sent a STuG up Y9.  Since it’s bypassing the woods, it’s considered on the upper level.  Non Turreted as it is, its TH after all the modifiers was comparable to mine, even though all I had to do is to turn my slow turret.  I fired and missed, APCR and all.  He fired and connected.

The Germans then sent a STuG up “behind” us on the right, looking to take out the KV1 with the 9-2 Armor Leader.   Fortunately its’ within reach of the Hero & his ATR on the hill on the bottom right.  He directed the pinned HMG to stun the STuG crew.  The KV1 then swung his turret around and Shocked him.

Unfortunately, the Germans got rid of that Shock immediately after.  The KV1 now faced a choice : whether to run or to shoot the STuG again.  If I run, it’s quite likely that I will be shot.   If I stay and shoot, my TK is 13(+1) vs his AF of 8.  I have a 3 CVP 9-2 armor leader in this thing.

I shot, connected and killed the STuG, much to our relief ..

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One more German move to go and all three hill tops are still under Russian control, Germans resigned.

G38 Castello Fatato – Extreme Winter at Night

G38 - Starting-proc

It was December 20 1942.  The Italian Bersaglieri Regiment approached the Russian town of Meshkov in their retreat.  The Russians got there ahead of them and used its “fairy tale castle” ie. catello fatato cathedral as a strongpoint.  It was dark, it was extremely cold and yet the cathedral was illuminated by a portion of the building that was on fire.

The scenario opened with 20 squads of Italians doing a human wav across the snow towards 2 squads of Russian SMG units plus 6 rifle squads of the Russian 1st Guards Army.  The above is my defensive layout and where my machine guns were positioned.  Typically in a night scenario, support weapons and leaders are HIP’d (“hidden initial placement”) as are 25% of the defenders.  The Italians win when they control the cathedral (the hex with the “Blaze” counter and the hex to the upper right of it. )

G38 - IT01 - Defensive FF Fire Lanes-proc

Italian Turn 1 After the Movement Phase : The NVR (“Night Vision Range”) was 5, so the screaming Italians were spotted.  The Russians tried to break as many Italian squads as they could.  Italian squads have a moral level of 7 and a broken side morale of 6.  At night, units don’t get to remove their “DM” status until they roll less than its current printed morale.  Running with 4 leaders (2 of them 6+1), these Italian should be very hard to rally once they break.  Turns out it was the Russians who couldn’t rally for most of the game.  The Italian 6+1’s were rather successful in convincing their troops to get back into the fight.

G38 - RT01 - After AF - Sniper, Gun hits Church .. choice between hitting and skulking sniper knocks off 8-1-proc

Russian Turn 1 After Advance Fire Phase : The Russian should perhaps have skulked at least part of their forces but I was determined to break a few more Italian squads.  The Italians fired their Austrian made Cannone da 47/32 (ROF3), broke a squad on the ground level of the church and the heavy machine gun (“HMG”) team in the trench next to it.  The HMG was later lost to the Italians and never served under Russian use again.

Katya, our Russian sniper did miracles though!  She identified an 8-1 leader from a stack of brokies and put a hole through his head.  He was the highest ranking leader the Italians had and the only one with a negative modifier!

G38 - IT03 - End - It got in, melee, tieup, one gun down-procItalian Turn 3 : The Russian couldn’t find any star shells!!  Since illuminated units cannot see into the darkness outside the zone of illumination, it was safe for the Italians to move around the rim of blaze illumination and sneak an Italian squad into the cathedral.  The Italians had also jumped both of my flanks and tied them down in mêlée.  Given the huge disparity inmanpower, the Russians should have done a fighting retreat and leverage on their advantage in troop quality.  Once the Italians closed, the difference in morale level was gone and they could keep reinforcing any mêlée.

Case in point : the Russian’s right flank got a little agitated and turned fanatic along with the production of a hero (I promptly named him after my esteemed opponent .. heh heh), the Italians jumped on them immediately in the Close Combat phase, nullifying their qualities.

G38 - RT03 - End - 8-1 dead sniper wnd 7-0 cellar 628 cc kill IT-proc

Russian Turn 3 Close Combat Phase : There wasn’t a lot to do in this Russian turn.  The fellas steadfastly refused to be rallied.  Since one of the Italian guns malfunctioned and the Russian SMG squads hid in fortified cellars, there wasn’t much damage.  One of those Russian SMG squad decided to come out of hiding however, advanced up to see if it can ambush the Italian squad up top.  It didn’t, but it took out the Italian squad anyway in close combat.  In face of all the firepower and the important job it had to do, advancing up was a risk.  However the act might burn more time from the Italians.

The sparky Katya (sniper) continued to work hard, she found a 7-0 in another big stack of brokies and wounded him.  The Italians had 2 healthy 6+1’s left.  Both of the Russian flanks continued to be tied down in mêlée.

G38 - IT04 - After MPh-proc

Italian Turn 4 After the Movement Phase : There were only 3 functional Russian squads left : 1 rifle squad and 2 SMG squads in the cellars.  The rifle squad spit out a fire lane with the Italian Breda M30 LMG, just to deter the Italians from rounding the building on the right.  As luck would have it, the Italian squad on the lower right in the dark would be hit and broken by Katya, who was obviously making it a late night tonight.

G38 - IT04 - After CC . Melee stays, Sniper hits 347 on right, 2IT in Y5-proc

Italian Turn 4 later in Close Combat : Two Italian squads made it into the left side of the cathedral.  There’s still a concealed SMG squad in the left cellar. Since the cellars were fortified, they would need to pin or to break the Russian SMG squads before they could go in for close combat!

G38 - RT04 - Sniper pins Melee continues not much-proc

Russian Turn 4 : The Italians continued to rally quite well, although they had some casualties from the cold (Extreme Winter E.3.742).  The Russians on the hand were still hanging on with a few squads.  To make matters worse, the German sniper showed up an pinned the fanatic Russian squad in the midst of their mêlée on the right.  Fortunately they survived and the fight continued, tying down that flank still for the Russians.

G38 - IT05 - Sniper broke fanatic hero died in CC 2 iT got into cellar pin 628 CC night closing in -proc

Italian Turn 5: Again, the Russians had no luck with star shells, and the Italians moved in.  The Italians managed to pin the Russian SMG squad in the cellar on the right and so two Italian squads advanced downstairs to say hello.  The mêlée on the far right was hit by German snipers again!  The Russian fanatic squad was broken and they were all killed when the hero found himself fighting the Russians alone.  The Russians outside were beginning to rally but listening to the sounds around them, SMG squad in the cellar on the left felt the darkness rolling rapidly in.

G38 - RT05 - Other gun broke 6+1 rallies Russians coming back more people in church-proc

Russian Turn 5 : The Italians got star shells in some choice positions!  Nonetheless the rallied Russian troops started to move back.  Fortunately, the other Italian gun broke as well, adding to the Russians’ fighting chance.

G38 - IT06 - Another Gun gone - Italians piled in-proc

Italian Turn 6 : GUSTS!!  The burning first floor of the cathedral collapsed!  Good thing it didn’t crash into the cellar.

The Italians had to think defence now.  The Russians were getting back into the fight from the lower left of the map.  The Italians had to get into blocking positions while continuing to reinforce the mêlée.  The Russians couldn’t do much about stopping the Italians from reinforcing the cathedral.  You might also notice that the remaining Italian gun was operational now and again tried pounding the cellars.

G38 - RT06 - Russians rushed the building. Ldr OVR look for ambush-proc

Russian Turn 6 : The Russians plodded towards the sounds of gunfire inside the cathedral.  First up was the 7-0 who looked to pop into the church hex on the left.  The choice for the Italians was either to spend firepower on him or to let him get into the ground floor and make the Italians do a +3 task check for “Infantry Overrides” in next turn to get in.  They shot him.  Next up is a Guards rifle squad that broke against the fire lane on the far left.

It looked even tougher on the right.

One squad got pinned and finally the last squad moved in with the 8-1.  Russians elites are stealthy and Italians are lax.  If the Russians could get an ambush they could infiltrate into the cathedral.  Unfortunately, it was the Russians who got ambushed, and the Italian squad withdrew into the cathedral.

At this moment, the cathedral cellar on the left was held by a good order Russian SMG squad and in the right, there was a mêlée raging on between a Russian squad and two Italian squads.  The Russian counterattack could only watch from outside the cathedral.

G38 - IT07 - Italians can't break guy in the cellar-proc

Italian Final Turn : It all went down to one question (read : dice roll) – whether the Italians could break or pin the Russian SMG squad holding out in the left cellar so that the Italians have a chance in close combat.

The Italians moved, trying to focus more fire power into the cellar during advancing fire.  The Russians outside managed to pin one of the 3 squads that got into the cathedral, directly above the stubborn Russian SMG squad.  The Italians mustered up a firepower of 6, so that was a FP6+4 shot.

The Italians rolled an 11.

The Russians won.

DASL1 The Schoolhouse – Team Play

Photo taken early game

Last Sunday I spent the afternoon playing DASL1 The Schoolhouse.  I was thankfully partnered up with an experienced ASL’r, Simon, as the Russians.

This engagement took place on July 9 1943 at a Russian village at the Kursk salient called Ponyri.  The scenario card described this as “the most intense street fighting since Stalingrad“.  This engagement also saw the huge Ferdinand tank destroyer (aka “Elefant “or “Porsche Tiger”) in action.

I got to say : this is a VERY interesting scenario. The Germans (Lawrence, Erwin & Wah) had limited time before a whole new Russian army piled in. On one hand they needed to be aggressive as they were under time pressure, although they couldn’t be too aggressive as they had to be able to fall back to proper defensive positions when the Russian counterattack arrived.

My partner Simon did a terrific job defending the stone building (marked in yellow) to the immediate north of the intersection on board d. His use of  tunnels (one of them marked with yellow dotted line) to the two buildings behind (forfeited fortified buildings) as rout paths and to gain concealment was a beautiful thing to see. Too bad the Germans lost their flamethrower early in the game!!

The Russian defence involved the use of set demolition charges as well. The Russians fell back when necessary but did everything to delay the Germans until the counterattack arrived. One of the Elephants was torched with Molotov Cocktails when it tried to rush a killer stack. Two of the remaining three Elephants were immobilized but were in great positions. It didn’t look easy for the counterattacking Russian tanks if they want to hit back through the narrow streets.

The Germans tried rushing the street (marked with the wavy red line) in front of the stone building but was wiped out by spraying fire.  At one point the Germans got that stone building encircled, rush the ground floor and was in the process of destroying one end of the tunnels.

That was precisely when the counterattack showed on Turn 7 (marked with the blue arrow).

The lead tanks and the elite troopers of the 1st Battalion 1032nd Rifles helped defend the tunnels together with the 307th Rifles coming back through. I had to run at that point but my friends told me there was a human wave on the German’s left flank and Germans conceded on Turn 8.

How about coming home everyday to 30 mins of PBeM game over VASL?

Whether you are a fellow newbie who would like to learn together or an experienced ASLer who don’t mind helping me up the curve. I play to enjoy and to learn. Please message me at jackson-dot-kwan-at-gmail-dot-com!!

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Baptism of Fire – Introduction to Tank Play via S21 Clash at Borisovka

German Tiger I of the 501st heavy tank battali...

German Tiger I of the 501st heavy tank battalion in Tunisia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am in trouble!

I just found myself regular face-to-face (“FtF”) games with the good people of the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers who, when they are not playing miniatures, meet regularly to play Advanced Squad Leader games.

I thought I would just drop by, watch and learn how ASL rules come alive in FtF play.  It’s my first meeting with these folks (names withheld since I didn’t ask for their permission) and I was determined not to be too much of a disruption.  I mean these are very experienced players who carry all the ASL tables in their heads, surely they don’t have time for newbies …

They would have none of that.

Before I knew it I was taking part in a scenario “S21 Clash at Borisovka“.  This scenario depicts a situation on March 14 1945, in Borisovka, where the German Grossdeutschland Division had penetrated deep into Russian lines and elements of the 3rd Guard Tanks Corps was sent to stop them.  It’s a tank on tank scenario where the Russians has 10 T-34s and the Germans has 4 Mark IVs and 2 Tigers.  I haven’t yet read Chapter D but soon after they took the time to explain gameplay to me, I was running a T-34 from behind the woods, speeding through open ground and ramming up against the side of a row of Mark IVs on our flanks and took two of them out!

The Tigers were much harder to deal with.  We were trying to run T-34s around them and even got some rammed up their sides but to no avail.  We though things were going downhill for the Russians when one of the Tiger’s gun malfunctioned!

You should have heard the screams!

At the end the Russians won, befitting the engagement’s historical ending.  If you saw the level of engagement (Advanced Squad Leader is a VERY interactive game), it’s not hard to understand how some folks devote a lifetime to playing it.

To my fellow newbies : It’s true – the best way to learn Advanced Squad Leader is to have seriously experienced players to play with you.  You’ll be amazed how quickly everything fall into place!

(If the above sounds fantastic, you should know that I was learning more than playing .. a couple of grognards did all the moves!!)

Kwan01

How about coming home everyday to 30 mins of PBeM game over VASL?

Whether you are a fellow newbie who would like to learn together or an experienced ASLer who don’t mind helping me up the curve. I play to enjoy and to learn. Please message me at jackson-dot-kwan-at-gmail-dot-com!!