Friday, September 18, 2009

VotG18 In Sight of the Volga AAR

The reworking of this classic Beyond Valor scenario for the VotG map owes much to the original, maybe too much.

For sure the addition of NKVD squads, and the possibility of an NKVD strongpoint add welcome VotG flavor. The one criticism both Jim and I had is that the random Russian reinforcement procedure is overly complicated and can lead to the Russians getting VERY strong with a little luck.

Still, we came down to the last turn, so not much to complain about.

The VASL map shows my roadblock and HIP MMG locations. Harder to see on this map is the HIP INF gun on the ground floor of CC21. There were two other hip squads toting ATRs out in the field.

The two northernmost ground floor locations of the Brewery were fortified, along with all ground floor locations of the state bank, which I declared an NKVD strongpoint.

It seemed to me that an upfront defense is needed in this 10 turn monster to delay the Germans at least a little bit. However, one way this update is harder on the Russians is that 9 of the Russians 15 at start squads are conscript (the original had no conscripts). Falling back in order through the rubble strewn city with 3MF troops would be tricky.

The first line of resistance was along the hexrow R road. There were six squads up front backstopped by two of the four commissars. After taking a few pot-shots at the Germans crossing, everybody voluntarily breaks, and routs to the commissar.

This is more or less how it worked for the first three turns. On the fallback, I lost two conscript squads, with a third cut off in an upper building level. That was a loss rate I could live with. I was not able to cause many German casualties on the way back, causing only a few breaks. However.

Maybe the most important event of the game occurred in turn three when the Russian sniper found the German 10-2 and ended his war early. Later, when the German kill stacks would start hammering away at the fortified stone locations, he would be missed.

After the fall back, we settled into a midgame static slugging match, as the German StuGs took up positions, and the infantry formed kill stacks. My MMG's and my gun didn't last long. All were lost early to the Russian ammo shortage.

Jim made the tactical decision to get his MG victory conditions fulfilled by exiting the 17FP, rather than getting into 2nd level building locations. With the Russian gun and MMG covering the southern flank out of the way, the exit was more or less wide open. That left just the other part of the VC for him to worry about: getting control of all ground level locations in the Brewery and State Bank. (beer and money, it's all he ever thinks about)

In the end, Jim seemed to be second guessing that decision. I'm not sure which way I would have gone. Getting those MGs into firing position would be pretty useful when the Russian reinforcements start rolling in, but I can certainly see the appeal of not having to fight your way upstairs.

After six, it was still a standoff by the bank, while a German platoon or so began to close in on the Brewery

Killing off NKVD squads in a strongpoint is not easy. By rule, when in or ADJACENT to a location with a commissar OR NKVD MMC, they must try to self rally. AND that rally occurs as if being rallied by a commissar (i.e., DM is N/A, if they fail to rally they are subject ELR). NKVD have broken side morale of 9. In the strongpoint they are fanatic making it 10. Put a commissar in the location and it's 11. They do not stay broken long.

(Edit: As pointed out in the comments, morale can not actually go above 10. Oops)

Conversely, the militia (conscript) squads tend to get whittled down by this rule over time, as failing to rally, which they do with much greater frequency, results in casualty reduction (again, the commissar effect).

Through turn 7-9 as the Russian reinforcements began coming on The Germans broke into the north end of the Bank by breaking the squads at that end and making it across the street. At the south side of the bank they finally breached the fortification by driving a StuG through the wall and moving MMCs in behind.

At the Brewery the Germans breached a fortified location with a DC and broke in there.

At the start of turn 10, with Russian reinforcements now pouring up from the Volga docks, the Germans controlled all the needed locations in the Bank, but there was still a H-T-H melee in the ground of CC20. The Germans also controlled 2 of the 3 ground level locations of the Brewery, and held a substantial advantage in the H-T-H melee going in the third.

In CC20 the Germans had 3-1/2 overstacked squads against 1 NKVD squad and the now wounded 8+1 commissar. When Jim rolled a 4 eliminating the Russians, it was looking bad for the good guys. But when they answered back with a 4 of their own, taking out the entire German stack with them(!), there was suddenly a hole in the German line.

In the bottom of the 10th Russian reinforcements moved forward under fire getting ready to move into the now vacant CC20 and retake control. When Jim had fired his last defensive fire shot, and there were still Russians ADJACENT to the now empty CC20, the game was over.

All in, we gave the scenario an *okay* rating. The Valor of the Guards map and chrome are always fun to play with. On the downside, it did bog down into a static shooting match through the midgame.

As noted before the random Russian reinforcement system is a bit silly in it's complexity. Can't really blame the Bunker guys for that, as it was pretty much brought over wholesale from the original scenario. It also allowed the Russians though some lucky dice to get three HMG's. That fact made my opponent um... a bit grumpy put it mildly. However, they really didn't help much.

At that point in the game there is +2 dusk LV in effect, making shots into the stone buildings +5 (+6 into fortified locations.) In the end, my boys left the MGs behind to get on the move towards the goal line.

In fairness, the biggest factors in the Russian victory were the early death of Mr 10-2, and the NKVD miracle CC roll clearing out that location. Not the strength of the reinforcements.

If you really like VotG (which most or all of us do), you probably want to give this one a shot at some point. Wouldn't really call it a "must play" though.


Luke Sineath said...

Cool. Hey, look at A.18 MORALE LEVEL CEILING.

Rockford said...

Huh. Never saw that rule before. Thanks.

I don't think there were too many instances where we treated morale as 11, but it's certainly possible that there were a few.