Monday, January 31, 2011

Advanced Squad Leader (MMP) ~ "Block at Ville-sur-Illon" [OB12]

Game: ASL
Scenario: Block at Ville-sur-Illom [OB12]
Participants: Joe C and Myself
Time: Friday, Jan 28th ~ 5.00PM - 12.30PM

I wanted to get a game in from the new "Out of the Bunker" pack before it was put on the bottom of the pile with a new Action Pack and Journal soon to be released. Looking through the scenarios, I came across this one which looked like we could get done in one night...and it was close as it turned out at this one went the distance lasting until 12.30.

The scenario takes place in France in September of 44. Cobra has ruptured the German line and Patton's Third Army is streaming behind German lines. Here we have a German counter attack against the Free French 2nd Armored Division. The Germans have to amass 9VP to win. VP's are scored by taking buildings (all wooden and single hex) on board 42. One of the buildings is the French HQ building, which is worth 2VP. The Germans will be entering on board 19, the French set up on half of board 19 and all of board 42. Board 42 is very dense with very few open ground hexes. The scenario calls for a 4-hex brush overlay on 42 as well.

The Attacking Germans start with a nice force of 13 squads, seven of these are 5-4-8s while the remainder are 4-4-7s. There are 4 German leaders, a MMG, 3x LMGs and 2x PSKs. Additionally, the Germans get two SPW 251/1 (AAMG, 15PP) and two SPW 251/9s (75*, 2ROF) half tracks. The Free French force has 8x 4-5-8s, 9-2, 8-1, 7-0 2x MMG (a), 2x BAZ 44(a) and a 50-MTR(a). The French also start with 6 "?" markers and 6 foxholes.The French also have reinforcements arriving on turn 3 on the North and/or East side of the map. These include two 6-4-8 Engineers, a 8-0 leader, another BAZ and a DC.

As usual we rolled for sides and YJ got the attacking Germans. YJ is a better player on the Attack in most cases so I knew that I'd have my hands full. I always read the Historical summary and aftermath prior to playing a scenario and in this case I can say that having done so had a big impact on the outcome. As I set the boards up (two half boards) I started as I normally do, examining the VC's, then looking at what that means in movement terms to the attacker. In looking at the board, you see that most of the buildings are on my side of board 42, so that meant that YJ was going to have to move a long way AND still take the majority of the buildings on the map. Given this my first reaction was to set up the bulk of my forces in and around the buildings, with perhaps a third of them set up forward. As I looked at the terrain I started to get frustrated, I was having a hard time getting a good set up in the dense terrain on board 42.

Initial Set up
This is when having read the Historical summary clicked. In the summary it mentions the Germans attacking hurriedly without having done a good recon. Then I looked at board 19 and what YJ would face coming on the board. Board 19 is very open with a grain field and hedge covering half of it, an open field covers the other. So it dawned on me that there was a reason for the Foxholes and the concealment counters in my OB. I became convinced that if I set up a deep conservative defense I would be doomed. There were too many things in the scenarios design that cried out for an up front tree line defense. So I started over. Here is then what my final set up looked like.

Right before the WCDR on the initial Turn
As you can see from the set up I have all of my squads in the tree line except for the SSR dictated 2 MMCs and SMC set up in my HQ building on my side of 42. In hindsight I should have set up a little stronger on my right as had I again put myself in YJs shoes I would have discounted coming across the open field completely. I have a HIP squad in 19G2 as well. There is an interesting SSR which states that the first French MMC that passes a morale check without HOB will become fanatic and a Hero will arise. I knew that there was a good chance that I would have my HS on the far right get this result, but I didn't want to put a whole squad there because I knew that there was little chance of that unit getting out alive (which in turn proved correct), but I wanted to have something there to strip his concealment as he came on the board.
Start of German Turn 3

The first few turns went very well for me. At one point YJ had broken both of his 75s and had suffered several broken squads as well. Yet he was able to eventually break through and get into the tree line on my right. YJ elected to take his two half track mounted squads and send them around my right flank. This caught me a bit off guard, but he wasn't able to exploit this as I was able to counter this with my two squads that had to set up in the HQ as well as my turn three reinforcements.


Around turn 4 things turned in YJs favor. My 9-2 was killed in hex 19H1 by his repaired 75 via a critical hit no less. It started raining (+1LV > 6 hexes) and he was able to trap and eliminate my right hand MMG squad by getting around behind him and then refusing prisoners; evoking No Quarter in the process. Additionally he had some good shooting in his advance fire phase after I had some poor shooting during defensive fire. Several of my squads broke as a result of this and my personal morale plummeted. But I was able to get the squads out of harms way despite YJs attempts at surrounding them (and here the No Quarter helped).

Close up of the center of the map at the end of German Turn 3

Here are a couple of picture of the pivotal turn 5.

Start of German Turn 4
End of French Turn 5





















At some point around this time it started raining heavily, thus we had a +1 LV at ranges up to 6, where most of the action was taking place. I had to rush my half tracks up to the line to help hold out as my squads were loosing heart and breaking with regularity.

YJ was running out of time though. The scenario is 7.5 turns long with the Germans getting the last half turn. I started to regain my ELR as his big gains of turn 3 and 4 started to run out of gas. Also as I mentioned I was able to get several of my broken squads out of harms way and eventually get them rallied and in buildings that YJ had to come out of the woods and take. I knew that the rain would turn in my favor as he couldn't use his superior fire power to blow me out of the buildings, I was shielded by all the hindrances that had helped him break my initial line.

End of German Turn 7
 
The German Attack is Broken
Turn seven and eight were close, YJ had to have 4-5 things happen in order to win. During his last movement phase it was clear that he was not going to be able to get enough VPs to get a win, so we called it.

What a great scenario. I am sure that had I gone with my misguided initial thoughts on set up I would have been overrun on board 42 on turn 4 or 5. He would have been able to mass his force against small parts of mine and taken the buildings. By setting up front I was able to take advantage of the scenario given OB, specifically the foxholes, MMGs and the MTR as well as the open ground he had to cross. The time I bought with this forward defense is what allowed me to survive the late game rush that YJ threw at me. Had he had another turn I am pretty sure he wouldn't have had any problem taking the 9VPs that he needed.

I thought YJ played a very good game. There were a couple of instances where he didn't go after my broken and vulnerable units like I thought he could have. But he certainly understood the objective and was able to take advantage of the terrain and weather to make this a much closer game that I guessed it would be around turn 3. I would highly recommend this scenario and happily play it again as either side. I think it is very balanced as well. Currently ROAR has it at 5/4 German (that is the old version of the scenario plus our playing).

4 comments:

  1. Am going to have to trot this scenario out and give it a try. Great discussion and the photos are very much appreciated! Hope you do more ASL scenario AARs like this one!

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  2. Thanks Eric, glad you enjoyed it as much as I did playing it. I have a game planed for this coming Friday as well.

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  3. I really enjoyed this scenario also. My personal moral was shot to hell around the end of turn 2 or three when that halfsquad refused to break... but got passed it, and pulled some silliness off and changed the tide of the scenario for me. Great scenario, would love to play it again some time.

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  4. Great AAR. I have this one from Dispatches so did not buy the new pack. Sounds like the pair of you had a ball.

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