Monday, October 31, 2011

Advanced Squad Leader (MMP) ~ "On the road to Andalsnes" [A31]

Game: Advanced Squad Leader
Scenario: "On the road to Andalsnes" [A31]
Participants: Jim "HeavyD" D, Myself
Time: Saturday, Oct 29th, 10AM - 5.30PM

It didn't take much convincing to get HeavyD back on the ASL bandwagon. Both of us have been on the ASL decline for years, both in the frequency that we play and of course the quality of our play. As we are seeing a decline in the number of new games that GMT/MMP are releasing that we are both interested in, I thought it would be a good idea to get back on the ASL bike. There has been a slew of products released in the past couple years and we are due for some new stuff around the turn of the year as well. We both agreed that we'd try and play one scenario a month for the next six months, we'd start out slow with a couple Infantry only scenario's and then gradually work our way back into the rest of the game.

As we are getting back on the ASL bandwagon, it seemed like a good idea to play a scenario with wagons in it. I found "On the road to Andalsnes" by going back and looking for Infantry only (no vehicles) scenarios, I started with most of the recent products and unsurprisingly very few of those scenarios are Infantry only (and non-PTO), so then I went back to the beginning and started with Beyond Valor and the early Annuals. This one I found in the '91 Annual. It appealed first of all because I could use my version 2 ASL kit (new boards & counters) and then because it was medium sized with some interesting terrain (two hill boards). I checked the ROAR and it was German 9/Norwegian 13 which is a decent spread. Then for kicks I google earthed Andalsnes (something I am doing a lot now with the games I play) and was amazed at the terrain (see the picture bellow).
Andalsnes, Norway

The Scenario takes place in April of 1940. The Germans are advancing on Andelsnes in response to the Allied "occupation" of parts of Northern Norway. Elements of the 2nd Norwegian Infantry Division are South of town trying to hold off a resupply column of the German 196th Infanterie Division. Boards 2 and 9 are in play side by side. The Germans enter on the Southern edge of board 2 and have to go the length of the map to exit 30VP off of the Northern edge of board 9 (hexes 9A5/9A6). The Norwegians have a road block, 3 foxholes and 14 squads (6x 1st Line & 8x Green) along with one MMG, two LMG's and six concealment markers. They are relatively well lead with a 9-2, 9-1 and an 8-0. 

Set Up

I end up taking the Germans in this one. The Germans have 16 1st line squads, 5 LMG's, one MMG and a little mortar. They also have a 75* INF gun along with 6 wagons. This force is lead by a 9-2, 9-1 and two 8-0s. The Germans have to exit 30CVPs off the Northern edge of the map via a single road. There are eleven turns (another thing you rarely see in contemporary scenario's). The wagons are worth 3VPs each for exit and are much more mobile in this hilly terrain that you might think. Their open ground cost is only 1 and to go up a level costs only 2 (assuming its open ground). They are going to be channeled be the many crag hexes on board 9 but I should be able to move them on the far side of the hills on this board, shielding them from HeavyD's fire.

Opening
End of German Turn 1

After looking at HeavyD's set up, I decided to enter on the edge of board 2 and make straight for the board 9 hill. HeavyD set up heavily on Board 2, I think in anticipation of my running the wagons down that road there, but wagons do very well in open ground (1MP) and I felt no need to stay on the road at all. The first few turns go quickly without a lot of drama. I am puzzled by HeavyD's inactivity on his first couple of turns. About the only units he moved were a couple of stacks of squads that were making a beeline towards the exit hexes. This of course makes sense, it was all of the squads (and there are some dummies there to be sure) that sat on the far side of the hills on board 2 the first couple of turns that has me confused.

End of German Turn 2

I am only facing a couple of Green squads on on the closest board 9 hill and these fall quickly without causing too much trouble. In fact I believe that both of them upon taking their first MC's failed their ELR and were disrupted, making it very easy for me to capture them. It dawn's on me that these captured squads are going to be very valuable if I am able to exit them. They will be worth 4VPs each.

Around turn three, it becomes clear that HeavyD has his 9-2 and MMG on the center hill on board 2 in a level three hex (in a foxhole). This is a nice spot as its out of LOS from the front (where I enter) but will have LOS to the length of most of Board 9, at least until I can get on the other side of the hills there. We start doing some long range MG fire (my 9-2 & MMG against his) and after an initial break (of HeavyD's MMG) followed by a repair, he wins this battle when my 9-2 rolls a 12 on its first MC of the game. He is only wounded but the squad breaks and these important tools are basically lost to me for the duration of the game.

German Turn 3

Since I've lost my MMG + 9-2 I am forced to send 4-5 squads over to board 2 to deal with this threat. This will turn into a mini-scenario in itself with a lot of drama on both sides. HeavyD now starts to bring up the squads on the far side of board 2 to support his MMG position. This turns out the be handy as the way the scenario is turning out, this is really only the main tool he has to impede my advance.

The Death Star and the Sniper

Despite rolling over his initial opposition (on board 9) and moving at nearly full speed on every movement phase, I start to get a little worried here. While I am making progress in advancing along the length of board 9, I am unable to take out or neutralize his MMG + 9-2 on board 2. The above mentioned 4-5 squads soon gets into trouble when HeavyD's active sniper (SAN 4, he's like 4 for 5 on sniper checks at this point in the game) takes out the 8-0 on this side of the map. An old ASL sage from my early days with the game in Arizona once said "A leaderless force is soon neutralized" and I now had a leaderless force tasked with taking out, or at least distracting the 9-2/MMG Death Star.

I am still making good progress on board 9, moving my wagons and not getting them shot at. I am capturing the few Green squads that he set up on this side (I think there were 4 total). The height of the Death Stars reign of terror is around turn five when I lose my 9-1 to an across the board shot (KIA'd) and a turn later when he zaps a HS with two full prisoner squads in tow. At this point I am now down to one 8-0 who I've had to run up front with my forward elements on board 9 and the wounded 9-1 (who ELR'd to a 9-1 whilst being wounded) who is really out of the game as he's so far back, trailing blood and only moving 3MPs a turn.
Start of German Turn 5

Slowly though I start to feel a little better about the situation, I have all of my wagons on the far side of board 9 now, safe from the Death Star for the remainder of the game. I am facing a couple of 1st line squads with LMG's and then the three squads who have dug in on the exit hexes. HeavyD has only two leaders on this side of the board. I have perhaps 6-7 squads remaining in my main force, several of whom are now 2nd line as well as a couple of HS's pulling 3-4 prisoners. All of them are mostly together and on the safe side of board 9. Still it'll be tight, as I do the math and assuming that I get everything off, the points will be only just around 30. I've decided to unload the INF gun several turns ago to help engage the Death Star and then to be able to fire on one of the two exit hexes (where he has a squad in a foxhole).

The Death Star (9-2 + MMG in the Foxhole)
 Down Hill Run

Around my turn 6 I start to break up his last line of resistance before the exit hexes. I am able to break and then capture one of the two squads here. Then suddenly HeavyD runs his 8-0 up towards this area. He (the 8-0) had been back with the three squads sitting on the exit road. I'm not sure what HeavyD was thinking here except that he might be trying to block a hex that I am wanting to move through with my wagons. But its way to early for that, turn 6-7 only and this is an 11 turn scenario. Soon the 8-0 is eliminated and he is down to one leader on this side of the map (as I am).

I eventually break the sole remaining squad. Now I am free to advance on the exit area. I chase the 9-1 and get him in melee, though it took two whole CC phases for this to happen. My hopes are higher at this point as the Death Star is largely irrelevant at this point in the game. I still have a couple of squads and now a hero over there sans a leader just trying to stay alive and stop the 9-2 from attempting to come over to the exit area. The INF gun, after two turns of trying to move one hex up hill finally makes it and I start shooting at the exit area (24 hexes away).

German Turn 7, Breaking the forward line

By my turn 8 I am sitting on the hills above the three remaining squads with enough VPs to exit as long as I can break/eliminate him without loosing more then a squad or two. I also stand to capture these guys if I can break them as well as he has very little room to route. It only takes a prep fire phase and then a defensive fire phase to break two of his three remaining squads. At this point HeavyD throws in the towel as he's out of options.

Getting Close, Start of Norwegian turn 8

This was a pretty cool scenario. Its one of those scenarios where every little thing is important. Even LMGs are critical here because of the many long range shots and their ability to interdict out to eight hexes. There is very little terrain on this hills, so you end up scrambling for every bit of height advantage you can find, you become an expert on blind hexes and slope rules. You learn how to drive a wagon train. You learn how vulnerable ELR 3 Green squads are to disruption. You spend the majority of the game on the 1 through 6 fire power columns on the IFT. Whats not to like?

The white flag, the situation at the end of the game

2 comments:

  1. You are making me want to dig this one out. Sounds great fun and happy to see the ASL out again (though I like the other games as well)
    Ian

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  2. The Norwegians did indeed fight fiercely, but their infantry weapons and tactics, plus their mostly volunteer/conscript lack of training, could not cope with the Germans machine-like infantry-style blitzkrieg. Among the Scandinavians, only Norway retained the ancient Viking combat spirit. And the Finns, as you know, were an Achillean race during both the Winter War and the Continuation War.

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