Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy End of Daylight Savings Time

Friday, November 4, 2011

160 Rounds Per Minute

    This is a Russian 37mm AA gun of the type used in BFP 96, Hotly Contested Town. Played this one last weekend. It was tense and exciting, and I will be posting an AAR sometime soon.

    Here's a spoiler: Don't stand next to one of these if you are wearing the wrong uniform. That might not work out so well.

   Here are the specs:

 Russian 37mm AA Gun Wiki


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

AAR BtB16 Battle Group Nor-Mons

....or "Maybe Try Having a Plan Next Time"

     Jim and I went back into the bocage a few weeks ago for this BFP Beyond the Beachhead 2 offering. The VC in this one require the Germans to acquire more VP than the British. The Germans accumulate VP at the rate of 10 pts per building controlled. The Brits get VP = twice the CVP of Good Order units they have on level one hill hexes at game end. (The Germans must also control all level two hexes, but that should be the easy part.)

    My initial thought was that if the Germans kill all six British Shermans, they could conceivably win with as few as three buildings. I should have kept thinking. I had two Tigers, two StuGs, five Panzer IVs, and some pretty badass SS troops, to try to get it done.

    The Germans get a turn one Rocket OBA blast with a pre-reg hex. The level two hill is right in the Germans face, but would be very hard to hold. I couldn't imagine Jim would waste troops by putting them on that hill, so I targeted the building in BFP-F S2. It didn't have the impact I'd hoped for, breaking only one squad. It did immobilize a Sherman, ensuring it would not be on a hill at game end. Unfortunately, it was in a pretty good location, and caused me problems throughout the game.

      At first glance, it seems like the level two hill would be a good place for the Tigers. You could move up there, try to go Hull Down, and a get a pretty commanding view of the battlefield. The problem with that is that the Brits have a 120+ OBA module directed by an offboard observer. Chances are the Tigers wouldn't last long under that kind of fire. 

     I divided my attack into three groups and set off to go Sherman hunting.  First I had to deal with the units on the hill. I approached with needless caution as they all turned out to be dummies. I sent a strong infantry group up the right. and a Tiger, a StuG and some more infantry up the left.  

    On the left, I managed to kill one Sherman but got my Tiger immob'd. Bad trade. The other Sherman slipped away and took up a new position. Then I malf'd the main armament on the Stug. Not. Going.Well.


     On the right, I had a little too much confidence in my 8 morale supermen, and ran into a wall. I sent some help in the form of the other Tiger and the rest of the tanks from the center group. It wasn't enough. The Tiger got Immob'd by OBA, and it wasn't until late in the game that I finally broke through and was able to head for the building in the rear.

    Infantry with a schrek made a move on the building in the middle, but made no headway.

         There really isn't much more to say about this one. I really thought my infantry would burst through on the right, and open up some good positions for my tanks. When that didn't happen, my immobilized Tigers were unable to help out with a plan B. Jim also conceded that the dice were crazy bad for me in this game (both his and mine.)

    It's hard to rate a scenario under these conditions, but there are certainly much better ones in that BtB pack. There's also the possibility of a gamey tactic where the Brits could try to just hide their tanks and run them up to the hills on the last turn. Not sure if that's a workable strategy, but it might be.

   What's the old saying? A bad day playing ASL is still better than....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sad Story and A.2

  In my recent playing of Shenam Pass, we see here my Type 2  Ho-I Gun Tank innocently cruising up the gully, keeping out of trouble when suddenly a British artillery piece appears on the horizon.

  Fortunately, it's facing in the wrong direction. Turning and firing in the jungle will be an almost impossible shot, so my tank crew wasn't too worried just yet.
  Sure enough, the gun turns, fires, and misses. Now, in a fit of pique, the tank crew attempts to drive right past the gun, daring it to use intensive fire.

  As we can see from this fuzzy aerial photography, the gun crew did use intensive fire, and did not miss. I felt like there was something wrong here, but couldn't quite call it at the time, so we played on. It was only the following day that I realized this shot was illegal per C2.6:

A Gun may fire-at/affect a different level target only if the range is >= the elevation difference between them

  With the Gun at level 1, the tank at level -1, and the range equal to 1, this shot is not allowed.

  In any case, I had misplaced this tank and had it well away from the main part of the battle. This was really just a sideshow that probably had zero impact on the outcome.  At least that's what I told the families of the crew in the letters of condolence I wrote to them.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crucible of Steel

 Got Crucible of Steel, the new BFP release in my hands this week. The Historical module is focused entirely on Kursk. It's not cheap, but it is jam packed.

It contains:
  • 3 regular boards
  • 3 double wide boards
  • 32(!) scenarios
  • A booklet with detailed rules explanations/examples
  • A ton of counters (some of which are reprints)
  • New historical rules and "chapter H" pages. 

       That's a lot of stuff.

       The boards are mostly open farmland and light village types, and include slopes.

       There are new counters as well as reprinted counters from previous releases Blood and Jungle, and Operation Cobra. There was some legitimate criticism about the original counters because they were printed on white core. Seems like not a very big deal, except that the white core really stands out in a stack. When you see the white among the standard counters, you know where the machine guns are, and you know they aren't dummies. The reprinted standard core counters are a real selling point to me.

       The new counters include lots of lend-lease Churchills, Valentines, and Lees printed in Russian brown. Also a few dozen standard T-34s. Why those? Well, you'll need them if you want to play Flying Turrets which includes FORTY OF THEM in the Russian OB. Forty. FOUR-ZERO.

       The historical rules include special Russian AT crews, which have enhanced Molotov capability, and Russian "Anti-Mobility" MMC. These crews are special in that they can lay minefields during play. Not sure about how that will play. I am curious to find out.

      There are some rules for new types of aircraft, and two (sort of) new terrain types - the European Hillock and Sparse Orchards.

      The scenarios are plentiful. Obviously with such a narrow historical focus, only so much variety is possible. However, there certainly are plenty to choose from, with a range of sizes. From an east front BFP pack you might expect a lot of fixed position assaults, big firepower hitting heavy fortifications (and there is certainly some of that.) However, there are also more than a few "tourney size" type offerings that look pretty interesting. An interesting looking all infantry scenario like Ivanovski seems like it could be easily played in a few hours, as does the combined arms scenario Early Morning Action.

    I like a scenario with a bit more to chew on when time allows, and so BFP-96, Hotly Contested Town is at the top of my play list. 20+ mostly elite German squads backed up by 10 AFVs (Panthers, Tigers, etc), trying to take control of a town from well equipped and dug-in Russians? I'm in.

  There are few true monsters as well. 

   Bounding Fire's CoS product page.

EDIT:  Ian at Wall Advantage is posting a more detailed description. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

AAR BFP-54 Shenam Pass

Jim and I gave this one a go a few weeks back. This one has a significant Japanese force with armor (including a captured American Stuart) and backed up by about a company of infantry from the INA. The IJA is attacking a well dug in force of mostly 2nd line Indian troops. The defenders get five badass Gurkha squads as turn four reinforcements. The Japanese have to take four level two hexes in the southwest corner of the map, and all seven level four hexes on the main board 50 hill mass.

My main force would come up the Indian left using the jungle on the Northern slope for cover.  Despite the level four hill, the jungle blocks A LOT of sight lines from the hill making for interesting choices for the defender.  I did not know what to expect. Meanwhile, the INA troops would attack in the south, supported by two AFVs and two Japanese MMG crews.

A few turns in, and not a lot has happened.  The radioless HA-GOs and the bulk of the infantry are approaching the hill. Jim still hasn't shown me much. I moved my radio man onto the level two hill of EE2, one of the few places from you can see a hilltop hex or two.

In the south, still moving into position. Because the Brits get to set up two squads hip, plus five guns, it's difficult to say how heavily defended this section is.

    The Japanese got held up at the base of the hill. To break the jam we made a successful but costly small Banzai up the front of the hill. The HA-GOs, Type 97s and the rest of the infantry started moving through the northern slope jungle and around the rear. In the south, we were discovering only light defenses. Jim obviously wanting to decide things on the big hill.

   I also discovered his surprising but very effective trench strategy.  The trenches ran in an east-west line from the road at the western edge, draping across only one victory hex. This gave his reinforcements an easy path up the hill, and also gave him good positions for covering the mostly bare rear slope.

   Meanwhile, my radio man was killed by sniper (2nd game in row that happened.) This time, there was no one to carry the radio forward, and the Japanese would receive no artillery support on this day.

       Pushing through the jungle and up the slope, we discovered an AT gun in the light jungle counter hex in L6 quite by accident when a Berzerk squad charged the infantry holding up there. Two 'zerkers played a big part in getting to the endgame here.

    Finally in came down to trying to dig the infantry out of the trench line. Unable to break the squads with fire, I moved some AFV's up into the area under British artillery fire. The Stuart and a HA-GO formed an ad-hoc platoon and dove into the trench line. In the top of the 7th, I was finally able to break the HMG manning infantry in the last victory hex with the Stuart's machine guns! Away they routed, and now I had to hold on.

   Naturally, bottom seven, a British leader and 2nd line pass their paatc and advance safely through the trench line surviving their own artillery fire, which was raining down directly on the position. They killed the Stuart, recovered the HMG, and were ready to take on all comers for the final turn.

   They AGAIN survived their own arty. My fire was all ineffective. I threw DC heroes at them. I threw a single man Banzai leader with a demo charge at them. Nothing gets through the artillery, machine gun, and  and small arms fire they are throwing out.

At the start of the advance phase, I had two and a half squads to advance in to CC. The artillery mauled those troops down to just a single striped squad. When I rolled a 9 for my CC attack, the game was over.

     What a game! This was a draining 10+ hour roller coaster ride that came down to a really exciting finish. Can't get any closer.  Highly recommended.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Heavy question for a Monday

I'll have an AAR to post later this week of the Blood and Jungle scenario Shenam Pass, but in the meantime, this has been bugging me.

In ASL, a squad has an Inherent Portage Capacity of 3PP. A half squad ALSO has an IPC of 3PP. In my experience, ten guys can usually carry more than five guys. What the hell gives, ASL?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

AAR FT159 Tangled at Tsangkou

Had a chance on Labor Day to play JR in this 10 turn beast from LFT. This one takes place in Nov 1945, as hostilities are heating back up between the Chinese Nationalists and the Reds. The GMD has a total of (including reinforcements) 38 squads and two armored trucks with which to dislodge 24 Communist squads from proximity to a rail line that runs across the width of three boards. The GMD also have to remove at least one of the two roadblocks that block the rails.

We had some doubts about the VC which state:
"The GMD wins at game end if at least one Roadblock has been removed and there is no Good Order non-HIP Red Chinese MMC <=2 hexes of any railroad hex. "
As JR pointed out, the term "non-HIP" is really meaningless, as a HIP unit could simply drop HIP in the last CCPh. So, we checked their site which lists an erratum for the VC. The erratum uses the phrase "non-HIP/non-crew MMC." The only HIP the Reds get is their three HIP gun crews, so the phrase "non-HIP" could really be deleted. Otherwise, the erratum makes perfect sense (although the assertion on that page that "This is not really an errata" is a little silly.)

 Anyway, it was easy enough to sort out, and away we went.

JR had his forward units set up mostly in and around the woods and grain (in-season by SSR) in the center of board V. There were a few units out protecting the flanks which turned out to be mostly dummies. My first objective was to grab the two 2-level buildings on board V to get a platform for my radio man and my MGs.

The Communist 82mm Mtr was set up on the northern heights of board 18, as was the 50mm LtMtr. They had a commanding view of the area and were causing big trouble until my LtMtr scored a CH on the 82, knocking it and it's crew out of the war.

We spotted the first roadblock in a likely location: the woods cluster at the northern edge of board V. A great spot to bring down the artillery! So, my radio man got into position and.....failed contact. Then was killed by a sniper shortly thereafter. Great. Just great.

   JR, meanwhile, was busy digging foxholes and building his last stand location at the very northern edge of the map near the rail hexes. As his reinforcements entered, they mainly took up position in the same area and did some some digging of their own.

  The GMD kept pressing forward and soon were taking a lot of prisoners. Mid-game I got my Mtr/armored truck reinforcement group. The AFVs moved straight up the main road while the trucks bearing the mortars moved up either flank looking for a spot to set up.  I was able to recover the radio and carry it forward with the attack.

 Now however, a crisis was developing. The Red sniper managed to break one of my Guard half squads, giving the prisoners an opportunity to attack. They killed the guard, and before I knew it they were gaining concealment in a building in the rear, close enough to the tracks to win the game. Fortunately, there was still a lot of time left. But it forced me to divert my 9-1 plus a truckload of follow on infantry reinforcements to deal with it.

The other three truckloads moved up the main road to get into position for the final assault. JR got his Taczanka reinforcements and moved them into position to backstop his fallback defense.

  After the woods cluster fell, the two Red ART guns appeared and opened fire. They were both west of the tracks, in position to rake any troops moving across the open ground and bare hilltops. I had a fair number of troops on my left flank which I would use to bring the guns under threat.  Meanwhile a stck in the center cleared a roadblock, fulfilling the easier of the two victory conditions.

  As the game end neared, the ART guns had been dealt with, and my main thrust was coming across the eastern hill. I FINALLY got one of my large mortars in position and set up, so naturally I rolled a 12 on it's first attempt. I had the radio in position to do something as well.

  I had lost one of my AFVs to LtMtr fire, but the other was still rolling about.


There were three potential game winners for the Reds, and I needed to get them all at least into melee. (one of the circled foxholes contains a crew, and so was not a potential game winner. Not thinking, I attacked there anyway. ) The radio man went to work and dropped smoke all around the Red Alamo. We charged.

   The surviving AFV passed all it's checks and drove into the northernmost foxhole hex. The troops attacked and destroyed it, but obviously lost concealment in the process. The rest of my troops moved up through the smoke and bump-scouted any remaining concealments to eliminate the possibility of Ambush. We moved into CC with advantage in each location, and the GMD pull out a final turn victory.


   It's a long hard slog of a scenario, but still interesting and entertaining. The early loss of the 82* really hurt the Communists. The terrain to be crossed doesn't give much cover from that commanding position. My own humble estimate is that it's probably a little pro-GMD, but not too far off.

 In preparing for this scenario, I envisioned that having 38 Chinese squads would bring about the opportunity for at least one if not 3-4 Human Waves. But the wide open spread-out nature of the battle made that ability moot. 

  I also dutifully noted where my Dare-Death squads were, but did not voluntarily Berzerk any of them, and was able to use their H-T-H CC feature only one time.

   You know what they say about plans and first contact and all that..... 


On a side note, it seems that in ASL terms, a Taczanka has an inherent crew, and also a Passenger crew which fires the MG. We decided that these vehicles must be the result of some old-timey college pranks, because.........uh......

....getting ten men into that thing doesn't seem likely.........

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Ravine

Got in two good, tense games this past weekend. On Saturday I played Jim in Operation Watchtower's The Ravine, a scenario that's been on my list for quite a while. Monday, I played JR in a large LFT scenario he chose titled Tangled at Tsangkou. More on that in a future post.

  The Ravine takes place on Guadalcanal in November 1942. 24 Marine squads (including reinforcements) are tasked with taking at least 6 level 2 hill hexes from half as many well-fortified Japanese squads, without suffering 20CVP or more. The Americans also have a 100+ artillery module that uses a subset of the NOBA rules.

  There are two level two hill hexes on the eastern side of the battlefield, and a large hill mass on the western side with fourteen of them. The first tactical decision for each side happens before the first die roll: What do you do with the two hexes in the east?  As a Japanese defender, I was tempted to abandon them, and concentrate my forces on holding the bigger prize. In the end, I decided to put a token on-board force plus a few HIP squads on that side to try to cause a few casualties should Jim decide that it looked too easy to pass up.

  Jim decided not to tempt fate on that side. He concentrated his entire force on the big hill. I would pull 2 squads off the western hill to help defend the east, but keep my HIP squads in place until his turn three reinforcements entered, just in case. I think that little poker game worked to Jim's advantage.

  Turn two, the Marines have dropped smoke on the hill, and are pushing through the jungle.

     The western approach to the hill, where the path cuts the jungle, appeared to me the most logical approach. That's where I put three of my six Panji hex sides, and the MMG crew (with an escape tunnel back the pillbox on the rear of the hill.) This was fairly a effective defense, as the troops trying move up this side made only a little progress.

   I also made a blunder here. I had one of my large mortars set up in the bamboo of R1, just waiting for some Americans to move into X1. When I revealed it and went fire Jim objected, pointing out that Bamboo is treated like Dense Jungle, and you can not fire a mortar from Dense Jungle. ARRG! So, I packed it up and moved it one hex. It would get a lucky rate run and kill a USMC squad, but otherwise had no impact on the game.

    What I didn't count on was a large force squeezing through from the other side. I had one Panji trap in the jungle on the board edge which served only to slow down the attack. Pretty soon, I had a large force pushing up the eastern slope, and a squad or two getting all the way around to the rear.

   By this point the Marines had lost about 8CVP, mostly to long range mortar fire and close combat. It was starting to look like the Japanese would have to get the CVP cap if they were going to win.

    Soon, I was rolling up a mild breeze which caused some major smoke density on the hill top. Now, there were almost no shots to be taken, as the lines of sight became few in the drifting smoke. I attempted a half-hearted and somewhat pathetic Banzai charge with a leader and a half squad up the rear slope. It was short lived.

  Late in the game, I managed to kill the 2nd radio man with long range mortar fire, and the smoke eventually cleared. Now the marines were consolidating their position, with little to no cover. My mortar on the opposite hill was now able to bring fire on the marines on the hill top and the CVP was getting very close. Jim chose to voluntarily break some of the troops on the western approach, rather that risk a CC that might win me the game.

  As the last half of the final turn came, the Marines held 7 victory hexes. One of those was undefended, and would be taken back easily. The others were stacked waist deep with Leathernecks. However, the Marines stood at 19CVP. Just one more would wrap it up. When a rally attempt came up boxcars, it would give the game to the Japanese. An anti-climactic ending to be sure, but I'll take it.

   Jim and I both agreed that is a very strong scenario. Both sides face tough choices. Also: Panjis!. We both gave it a '7' on the ROAR 1-9 scale.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Interlude -Go See Ted Leo.

This song always makes me think of ASL: Even Heroes Have To Die.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Brackin Bash

   Got to attend the annual Brackin Bash ASL event a few weeks back, always a fun time. There were eight in attendance including our host. I got in two close games, and lost them both.

Under Murderous Fire

  For my first match I played "Under Murderous Fire" from VotG against Rob Schoenen. I had the Russians, and thought I might try to surprise Rob with a little sewer movement. I sent two squads and the 7-0 underground in turn two, planning to come up in the cellar of the building just east of the Milchaus on turn four, and really give the Germans a headache.

 Naturally, they got lost at the start of turn three. Rob moved them right back where they started. I was able to get them out of the sewer in the APh, and called it quits on that idea. I couldn't afford to risk having them out of the game entirely.

  My main thrust up the southern side made some progress, but ran into a brick wall just before the Milchaus. Rob had mined the southern approached and (obviously) used one of his Fortified locations there.

   Meanwhile my smaller feint on the north side made good progress. Fire from the Russian HMG helped three squads take apart the token German resistance there. Finally, with the last rush in the top of the final turn, I was able to take a 7th vp location. This forced the game to the bottom of the turn for the German counterattack.

   When one of my vp holding squads was broken by snake eyes on a shot from the German HMG, the game was all but over. He would be forced to rout, and the Germans would advance in to take the location back for the win.

   Top-notch scenario. Would play either side.

Easy Day at Volupai

   Later, I got to play Andy "Cholm" Hershey who made the long trip from Virginia for the event. We played FT141, Easy Day at Volupai. This is a PTO scenario set on New Britain. Andy's Marines would basically have to annihilate my defending Japanese. This is your basic bug-hunt scenario.

    I HIPped my .50-cal/9-1 in some bamboo and set up a forward line of concealed units, trying to slow the Marine advance. Andy moved forward methodically searching for the concealed Japanese units.

   As the advance moved on my .50cal popped up and fired, then advanced behind the bamboo into a waiting foxhole, setting up a reverse slope position.

  In the end however, Andy's USMC just had too much firepower and wore the Japanese down before finally breaking the half squad I needed with a large Fire Group in the Advancing Fire phase of the final turn.

  It's a fun enough little PTO scenario that plays pretty quickly, but the bug-hunt nature of it plus the tilted early ROAR results (7-1 pro-American) means I would likely not play it again. 

  It's a little heartbreaking to lose two close ones, but the good beer and hoagies help to ease my pain.     

Saturday, August 6, 2011

AAR AP69 Uncommon Misery

  When I played a JR a few weeks in back in AP 66 Cat's Cradle, I was able to pull off an admittedly  lucky victory. JR double red-carded his OBA without a single mission and had generally poor dice through most of the game. (He wrote up an AAR here.) So when I took him on this past weekend in AP69 Uncommon Misery, I knew he would be bringing his 'A' game to avenge that loss.

  For my Japanese defense, I put HIP Tank Hunter Heroes in 57N2, R4, and T2. I put a full HIP squad in the bamboo of T5. I deployed another 1st liner and put a half squad in 62H6, and another in 57J3. I was hoping the Brits would bypass these units, and they might retake some VP locations late. The AT guns were in V2 and a Fortified stone location X3. The other Fortified Building Location was with the MMG in U4.

  Basically my strategy was to keep concealment as long as possible, and keep Japanese casualties to a minimum.  I had two squads forward in 62J9 and J10. They took a few early shots at the entering Brits and then fell back through the jungle. Getting one of them into the building at 57O1 helped slow down the assault.

  The Brits came on and swept up the gimme buildings and huts on the west side of the map. The Lees and most of the squads advanced down and around the main road. The turn two reinforcements came on the south edge and moved directly toward the village.

Things really got going in the CCPh of Japanese turn three. With the British getting close to my HIP units, I couldn't wait any longer. The THH in the Kunai of N2 popped up and advanced in on the Adjacent Lee. The Lee had infantry cover but I rolled well enough to kill it. Ditto the Lee in S5, smacked by the THH in R4.

In the previous turn, JR tried a little recon by fire on the T5 bamboo hex where my HIP full squad was hiding, but he did not get a result. That would prove unfortunate when that squad advanced still concealed into U6 where two 458s were hanging out with a Stuart. The Japanese gained ambush, declined to try a THH, dispatched the two 458s and withdrew to U5.

  Over the next few turns, the Japanese AT guns would knock out three of the Stuarts, one of which had circled around to the extreme eastern end of the village. But I lost a 9-1 when he went berserk and ran right into a 16-down-2. The British finally started getting some larger fire groups together and generally tightened the noose from the west and south. The remaining Stuart was working over the squads in Q2-R2-S3 buildings with seemingly limitless canister.

As the British pressed in, they left a half squad behind in G7 to counter my late game takeback attempt in that area (in fact my HIP half squad in H6 was killed in turn 6 CC and netted no VP.) However, the HIPster in J3 was able to take back the H3-I3-J2 locations under some fire from up the road. A result of the funky mine laying SSR put a minefield in J1 helping discourage a move against him. It seems a little odd to have a minefield suddenly pop up in a place a whole company has just gone through, but I wasn't complaining.
When the Brits moved in for CC on turn 6, they were too far behind. They won a few, but had no effect on a few others. In the end they racked up 17 CVP and 14 LVP, leaving them 7 points short of a victory.  

JR and I both like the scenario a lot. Our playing was tense throughout. The minefield SSR adds an interesting and different wrinkle. If one or two more of the Stuarts had survived long enough to start really cranking out the canister, this outcome could have very easily been reversed.  As it was, the British suffered a misery of the not very common sort.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

La Gleize Wrap

 This picture tell the basic story of the 21 AM date.

 I bought my last platoon of Shermans, planning to try a push up the southern edge of the map. The first order of business was to take out the PzIV threatening my right flank from K34. I thought I'd swarm it with Shermans, turn it over, and move on. That plan.....uh....didn't go...well.

 Between the Panzer IV, the 'schrek squad lurking nearby, and a panther standing overwatch from a few hexes back, the attempt cost me four shermans and left the Panzer standing.  I would eventually knock it out with a bazooka shot later in the game. Even calling that a "moral victory" seems like an overstatement.

  In the north, the pre-game bombardment rubbled the Oustalou, killing the infantry therein, and allowing the US infantry to move up and take the VP location. That was the extent of progress in the north.

 So, when the main thrust in the south floundered, there wasn't much more to do. I conceded the campaign on turn five. This is where it stood:


     So, after all that we more or less came to the conclusion that this analysis was basically correct. The real problem at this point was that outside of jeeps and artillery,  I simply didn't have anything more to buy until the morning of the 23rd. 

  Prior to 23rd AM, the Americans get to buy five infantry platoons (plus one armored infantry platoon), and four platoons of shermans. The Germans get eight SS inf platoon (6-5-8), and four engineer platoons (8-3-8.) They also get seven panther sections and three tiger sections.

  In fairness, the German infantry is more expensive. The armor is not only more expensive, but a section is only two vehicles (one if depleted.) Still the Americans through the first several dates are attacking eight morale troops with six morale troops. Oh. And those eight morale troops are backed up by AFVs that the US can not hurt on a front shot with anything in their OB. Pretty tough.

    So the attack was out of steam. If we had played it out, I think the US strategy would have been to keep using attack chits for the next several dates, but not actually attacking. By generating a scenario you can conduct bombardments and use artillery. More importantly, you make the Germans keep rolling for ammo shortage. They may also try to move a vehicle or two and fail an "out of gas" roll. That didn't sound like a lot of fun.

   Then, on 23 AM massive US reinforcements can enter from the west and we have a new game. It might have been interesting to see if the US would have had a chance to sweep the map in two dates with all that firepower, air support and clear weather.  I doubt it, but it might have been fun. In any case, getting there would have been tedious and dull.

  In the end, if you actually get to 23AM, you must be left to wonder why you bothered playing the previous eleven dates.

   The Germans take this one.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kampfgruppe Scherer : The Shield of Cholm from LFT

   LFT has announced that this product is in production, and is available for order from their site here. LFT products are also eventually available from Gamer's Armory and Bounding Fire Productions.

   I've been keeping this under my hat for a few years, as I've been lucky to contribute in some small way to play testing this module. I'm biased, but I think the ASL world will be pretty happy with KGS. Andy and his crew put a lot of work into this. The results are 2 campaign games and 15 scenarios ranging from very large to "tourney sized." All of them are meticulously researched and vigorously play tested.

   The winter campaign and scenarios are compelling. They really have the feel of a German army not only trying to fight off the Russian horde, but also desperately trying to cope with "General Winter." The Extreme Winter / Deep Snow rules don't see a lot of play these days, and they really do  present interesting choices for both attacker and defender, especially over the course of the winter campaign game.

   I hope people will take a look and consider it. It's good stuff.

 ...adding...Chris at Battleschool has posted a more detailed look at the product and the battle of Cholm itself here.

...oh. And also, this:

Friday, June 17, 2011

La Gleize 20 PM AAR

This date was completed several weeks ago.

Again, this date was broken into two separate battles. In the north, the American gained no ground. In the south, things went a little better as a desperate fight for a ridge line developed.

First of all, the north. My plan was to bring on the armored infantry platoon, and throw a left hook around the woods, putting pressure on Oustalou from two sides. Several successful bog checks later, my half tracks had arrived in position.

 The problem was that by that time, they had managed to activate two reserve panthers which moved down the road and took up positions along the crest line. That was all it took to nullify that move. The infantry and crews largely dismounted successfully and took their weapons, but they were held corralled in the woods, with no way forward.
   Stalemate in the north.

Meanwhile, further south:

   Following a fairly effective bombardment, the Germans began withdrawing up the hill. The Americans pressed forward with 5 shermans and 6-8 squads,squeezing up the southern edge of the map.

  By this point in the game,
  it was only turn 2 or 3. The smart thing to do might have been to consolidate a gain made with little cost. But, that would mean sitting on my hands for another three turns, taking (and receiving) pot shots. What fun is that? I pressed for the ridge!
    A few shermans moved up adjacent to the woods around A38/B38. A 'schrek toting crew got very aggressive here hoping to get lucky and survive the shermans' assorted weaponry. They did not.

   That opened the door for some American infantry to move into the area.

       We pushed a sherman into the woods adjacent to a German foxhole position. Some more infantry climbed the hill and got into close combat, luckily avoiding ambush despite becoming CX on the advance.

   The sherman that got aggressive in the woods was lost, but it had drawn a German panther forward, where a bazooka squad was able to position for a side shot and take it out.

   In the melees that ensued, the Germans lost a 2-1/2squads, the American 1-1/2. But the Germans lost a 9-1 leader. On a subsequent turn a 9-2 would break and surrender.

   The Americans held the ridge. 



Catching Up

Will have more to post on the now concluded La Gleize campaign in the next few days.  I've been a bad blogger.

Friday, April 15, 2011

La Gleize 20th AM AAR

We both went idle overnight.

   For the morning attack, I bought another 5-pack of Shermans, and got ANOTHER flamethrower tank. I also bought two infantry platoons, the heavy MG platoon and a bombardment. The shermans and the infantry would attack into Bourgemont. The MGs would truck into the area in the south around the mill.

   We started off with a bombardment in the north. It didn't do too much damage. It did break a squad or two, and get a fire going that would eventually burn down a great deal of the town.

   Interesting note: using the historical weather, the heaviest mist level is in effect for this scenario. Because Very Heavy and Extremely Heavy Mist are LOS hindrances (not LV), there is no FFMO or interdiction. It makes this date a must attack for the US.

  The first move in the Bourgemont area was to try to clear the German infantry lurking near the map edge.  Since shermans are like nickles in this thing, I felt like I could take some risk. I entered the first tank and drove straight at the squad and leader  who were hanging around a few hexes east of the woods. That tank got all blowed up by a faust. Now that they were fired out, I entered the flametank and made the overrun. I 12'd out the FT on the first roll, but the squad and leader did break and scurry off in to the woods.

   A few tuns later, they would re-emerge to kill that same tank with another 'faust.  Flame tanks are not like nickles.

  The infantry moved in and broke a German FT squad who routed away, and got another DC toting squad to disrupt and surrender. The town of Bougemont itself was defended mostly by dummies and minefields, which did cause some casualties.

       The attack soon bogged down to a stalemate as the main German line proved tough to crack.The defense was anchored by a panther hull down behind a roadblock, and infantry who could fire from the tree line, then disappear into the woods when broken.

       In the south, I hadn't planned to do much attacking. With most of the fresh assets in use in the north, I thought that the mill would just be too tough to take.

     I brought my MG's on by truck mostly to try to guard against a counterattack on the bridge. Otherwise, my plan here was to lob some mortar rounds across the stream and hope to get lucky with a Critical Hit.

    I sent out a half squad of volunteers to retrieve a bazooka that had been dropped in the stream during the previous scenario. When they did so without incident, I decided to go knock on the door of the mill, and see if anyone was home.

    Dummies, and another minefield. Took the mill without a shot. Over the course of the next few turns we found out that three more German stacks in that area were dummies.  I starting pushing more infantry across the stream.

    Mid game the Germans made a half hearted counterattack towards a foxhole location north of the mill, sending a squad and a panther forward by armored assault. Just then, the good guys caught a break when the mist lightened up, bringing the panther's side armor into view of a sherman moving up the right flank of my bridgehead. Boom.

   Soon, that situation would roughly play out in reverse. I sent a squad forward with the other flame tank (also burned out) to try to take a foxhole location a little deeper into enemy territory. The tank was killed as the squad pushed forward into melee. When the Germans fired into the melee, the 6ML Americans broke, and the fanatic SS squad was unharmed.

   All in all, it was probably about a push. we both lost 3 squads of infantry. I lost two shermans, the Germans lost a panther. The attack in the north bogged down, but the mill fell into my hands unexpectedly. Still anybodies game.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Google Earth Detective

According to Charles MacDonald, on the night of December 23rd, Peiper received permission to break out from La Gleize.  Abandoning (and destroying) their vehicles, the column of 800 men set out on foot. Peiper conscripted two locals to serve as guides. 

"They led the Germans to a small wooden bridge spanning the Ambleve underneath the remains of a demolished railroad bridge."

This photo was placed on Google earth at point roughly due south of the Werimont farm area. No hard evidence here, but it seems likely to be the bridge described.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

La Gleize from the west

  This photo of a wintry "light mist" sunrise appears to have been taken from the north side of the La Gleize - Stoumont Rd, looking south and east. The high point in the center may be the Notre Dame l'Assomption church.

  During the CG scenarios of Dec 23rd, massive American forces will be pouring into town from this direction.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

La Gleize - Day Two

We played three turns of the 20AM CG date on Saturday. I didn't have my camera, and my phone pictures don't look very good. The short story is that most of the fighting has shifted north to Borgoumont and the road leading SW towards La Gleize.

   More to come.....

Friday, March 18, 2011

La Gleize - Day One

     I love ASL campaign games. But other than TOP SECRET playtests, I hadn't played a CG in quite a while. So when Jim asked if I wanted to take the American side in La Gleize, I accepted.

   La Gleize wouldn't have been my first choice. Although "broken" is a bit strong, I think this is a generally fair criticism.

The first 10-11 scenario dates the Ami is dancing around the German perimeter. The German can out buy the Ami for infantry for those first 11 dates and the Ami doesn't really get enough stuff to make a decent attempt at assaulting the German positions. Then on the last 2 dates the Amies get around 350 CPP to assault the German. Probably enough to do the deal.

In short, nothing much happens for 11 scenarios...then the last 2 scenarios the Germans are just a punching bag.

-- Tater

    That said, the ROAR results show a 6-3 advantage in favor of the Germans. The KGP campaigns cover a fascinating chapter of the war. And, it's ASL. How bad could it be?

   The opening battle is more like a tournament scenario than a campaign date. The Americans get five Shermans, an infantry platoon, and enough CPP for two more. The Germans get a few SS platoons, and 30 CPP. However, the German purchases must set up as reserves.

    My initial platoon entered and almost immediately started taking fire from a German LMG squad in a good up slope position in X51. Throughout the game the Americans in this area would exchange fire that squad, with the Germans mostly maintaining the upper hand.

    In Jim's early game, he moved a few squads across the bridge to try to take up positions east of the stream. I got a good turn 2 reinforcement roll bringing on my five Shermans. Seeing them roll up made the Germans think better of their move, and they high tailed it back across the bridge. Up north, Jim sent a few squads to run around Borgoumont and gobble up strategic locations.

    Soon my two purchased infantry platoons came on. I sent one platoon into the woods east of the stream, the other moved to capture the stone LVP bridge.

   Four shermans moved in to woods passing all bog rolls and creating some trail breaks. We managed to break a few of the main armaments, and also x-out the fuel on the flame tank. Still, there was enough firepower  to break and rout a panzerschrek toting half squad down into the stream .

   Jim got a successful release roll and activated a panther reserve that had been lurking nearby. The panther moved up and burned a sherman in the treeline with an advancing fire shot.

   My "bridge platoon" massed their firepower and broke the German squad guarding the bridge. A sherman
moved down into the stream to challenge the now rallied panzerschrek squad (and to duck out of the panther's LOS). The schrek didn't miss. Another sherman burning. The US mortars started laying white phos which allowed the flame tank to escape the panther's sights.

   With the cover of the smoke, two US squads crossed the stream and moved up adjacent to the Mill.  One  was broken by the panther's machine guns, the other moved into close combat. The US achieved ambush, and killed the German squad and leader, taking control of the LVP location. Huh. That went well!


  In the bottom of the turn, the panther moved up adjacent to the mill building, got an improbable hit with snakes on the adv. fire shot, and the GIs would have to rout out of there, giving the building back.

   The German counter attack on the bridge did not go as well. A reserve-released halftrack and squad tried
a bold armored assault move, challenging the bazooka team who had crossed the bridge. The bazooka killed the halftrack, and the squad's fire broke the infantry.

   The Americans achieved the CG victory conditions with 10CVP. Would have preferred to have held the mill, but all in all, an acceptable opening.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

La Gleize

  Jim and I started a KGP III (La Gleize) campaign last weekend. There was heavy fighting around this place. This a Google Earth image. You can make out the small bridge leading to the narrow passage between the buildings.

  The buildings on the east side of the stream are not represented on the KGP map, and are likely post-war construction.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Raid on Rodimtsev AAR Part 2

   As we edged towards dawn, the attack in the north had been cut to ribbons. There was just enough German strength to hold off a half hearted Russian counter attack.

   In the center, my attackers had found some defenders skulking around just south of the Voentorg. We broke one Russian squad and killed another in CC. The main trouble in this area was the wire and mines which slowed down the attack by a few turns.

  By now, stacks of mostly concealed Russian reinforcements had spilled into the area around NKVD/GPU house. I had no real hope of crossing Penzenskaya street now. My new, more modest goal, was to use Mr 10-2 to silence the .50cal in X9 that was causing me problems further down the street.

    A concealed stack moved out into the shellholes across from my 10-2 stack. I thought it was a decoy, there to draw my fire away from X9. I didn't take the bait.

   Turns out, it wasn't actually bait. The Russian flamethrower flipped and routed the whole 10-2 stack. Then he took everything we could throw back at him with 10 gallons of combustibles on his back and nothing but a shellhole to hide in. What a creep.

   This game would be decided in the south.

   As turn six began, we were in position to make the big final push. The Russians got their final reinforcement group.

    Mr 10-3 was commanding a stack with two HMGs in it. A squad and a half (with the one remaining flamethrower) had gained a toehold in a fortified location in the Waterworks.

    I would need some effective fire to break a hole in the Russian wall. HMG stack: boxcars. Random selection: yahtzee.  Flamethrower: boxcars.  That. Hurt.

   We pushed on getting across the street in turn 7, and winning a close combat. The Y17 building was in big trouble, but the Russians in the Waterworks had survived the worst and were hanging on.

   In the top of the 8th I tried to sprint a squad and Mr 10-3 off the east edge. Getting them off would have been worth three stone hexes. The squad pinned, and the leader broke. Ball game.

   In the end the Germans had 21 stone hexes of the needed 26. Had that infantry managed to run off map, I still would have been two hexes short. And to be fair, had we played the bottom of the 8th, the Russian would have taken back one hex unopposed, and as many as 2-3 more with some effort.

  Great scenario. Tense and close. But for a very bad dice streak, it may have been VERY close. It's very large and takes some time, but it's well worth it.