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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Advanced Squad Leader (MMP) ~ "Gabriel's Horn" AP75

Game: Advanced Squad Leader (MMP)
Scenario: "Gabriel's Horn"
Publication: Action Pack 8
Participants: Jim "HeavyD", Myself
Time: Sat, 3/3 ~ 11.00AM - 3.30PM

HeavyD and I have been on an ASL shame cycle. Each of us has had a scenario we would have liked to forget. I started it off by misreading the SSR's to AP78 "Crossfire". This was uncovered on the 3rd turn and I promptly threw in the towel as it was a catastrophic misread. I thought that the row house black bars were not there, making each row house a cluster of single hex buildings. This prompted me to set up based on this and it wasn't until the third turn that my error was uncovered. HeavyD followed up on our next try while playing "Point d'Appui" (U5) by performing one of the most interesting assaults using half tracks and squads. It was a spectacular failure and we stopped on the second turn. Despite these two failed attempts at playing ASL at a competent level we are both fully infected with ASL fever and thus selected another scenario from AP8 for our next scheduled game. 

It was my turn to pick and I selected "Gabriel's Horn". This is a medium sized scenario with an impressive ROAR record (9 to 9 when we played it). As with the other scenario's in this Action Pack, it's got interesting and somewhat complex victory conditions. HeavyD and I are both a fan of these even though they increase the risk of us failing the Victory Condition Task Check which can occasionally lead to a embarrassingly short game. This scenario has the US player as the defender. There are two groups of Americans of roughly Company size. One group sets up on hill hexes of board 5A (one of the new maps that came with the pack) while the other Company sets up in the town (board 60) about a half a map away. Each Company is a mix of 1st line and Green units with a good assortment of support weapons and fairly average leadership. The Company that sets up on the hill can set up in Foxholes. The Germans have a little more than a dozen squads (4-6-8 and 4-6-7), good leadership and average support weapons. This infantry force is supported by four StuG's that enter the board on turn 2. The German player also has a module of 80mm OBA directed by an off board observer. 

The Victory Conditions tell us that its going to be a bug hunt and the American player is the Bugs. The Germans have to control all of the level three hill hexes on board 5a as well as controlling three more three-hex stone buildings on board 60 then the Americans. Then Germans also have to score twice as many CVP's then the Americans. Simple right? My ASL self confidence was low so prior to the game I Googled the scenario and read through several AAR's (something I don't usually do until after I play a scenario) and found some good ones. These helped my get my bearings while at the same time presenting several different options for each player.

Set Up
HeavyD set up first. He elected to put the Company on the hills together on one hill instead of spreading them out (to the extent that the set up will allow). The Company in the town is more restricted in their set up and thus they were tightly packed in the center of the town. The Germans can set up Concealed (regardless of terrain) at least two hexes away from the hill top American Company. It's pretty clear that I am going to have to take down the hill based Company first and then clear out some of the town. I liked HeavyD's set up, I didn't want to risk setting up too far away on some of the level 3 hexes because I would be too far away from the action. His set up thus forced me to set up mostly in open ground down slope from him. I selected two sides from which to attack and set up the other third of my force to make a run into the town on the first turn. I knew that I wanted to send some troops into the town to force him to defend it and to distract that group from supporting the defense of the hill with their two mortars. I planned on having the StuG's arrive on the North side of the map to help crack the hill (as needed) while also going straight towards the town. 

Start of American Turn 1
German Advance on the Hill (Turn 1)

I started off by realizing that I failed to make use of the preregistered hex and my ASL id plummeted! I recovered though as my AR didn't drift off map and I drew a black card. The two MMG based fire groups I had set up broke their targets but others remained good order so I was forced to play it extremely cautiously during my movement phase. I was able to get into Melee on one of the foxholes while I mostly did one hex assault moves for the rest of my force. HeavyD's return fire broke only one of my squads. My other group ran their buts off towards the town. They were able to get into the town unobserved and via the advance phase make good progress. 

Cat and Mouse in the Town on the Hill (turn 2)

German Artillery impacting the American Defenses (turn 2)
 HeavyD's turn saw him shift a couple of squads over to support the two that were facing my tired group in the town. The mortars in the town didn't have any good targets to fire on so HeavyD started to move them down the hill into better terrain to get an LOS on to the hill and allow them to fire (because they started mostly in buildings). On the hill HeavyD was able to break some of my troops while the Melee failed to produce a victor.  My OBA came down nicely on the North side of his defenses and did some serious damage with a CH on one hex. HeavyD was able to rally most of his broken guys though.

Turn 2 was still very cautious for me. In the town I carefully advanced using the stone buildings and concealment where I could. We were almost even on squads here so I was only trying to tie up his guys and didn't want to invoke anything too risky at this point in the scenario. I needed this force to still be around in a couple turns when (hopefully) my other group will be coming over from the hill. I sent three of the StuG's towards the town. I regretted this as I spent my last stop MP as it occurred to me that one lucky mortar shot would yield HeavyD 6 or so CVP's that I would then have to double to stay in front. The odds were good though as my StuG's were only a few hexes away shooting at HeavyD's mortar crews in the +1 TEM cactus terrain. This also prevented him from supporting his forces on the hill. 

Start of American turn 2

Turn 2 was lively on the Hill. My OBA continued to perform well as I adjusted fire one hex over and blasted another couple of hexes worth of HeavyD's defenses. My Southern section suffered a couple of broken squads but I was able to clear the Melee hex giving me LOS to the whole top of the hill. I was also able to get a squad into the foxholes on the other side of the hill as well. Lastly I sent one of the StuG's up the hill and would be on position to drive right up on top on the next turn as I had broken his squads that had BAZ's. He's was down to only a couple good order units and routing was becoming very difficult for him. HeavyD's 2nd turn went well for him in the town. He was able to break a couple of my squads. My StuG's broke both of the mortar crews though and they routed up and into the town.

Hill Overrun (Turn 3)

Turn 3 saw the American defenses on the hill broken. I was able to break most of the defenders with Prep Fire and drove the StuG up on the hill cementing the collapse by forcing most of the broken units to surrender. I shifted the OBA over to the town where I drew a black card (after drawing a red). I had a good rally phase on this side and was able to re balance the situation there. I even started to turn his flank as well. With the collapse of the hills defenses and the progress I made in the town HeavyD conceded. I had 4 complete turns left to just take a couple of the buildings having already met the other two victory conditions.

Game End Positions (End of German Turn 3)

Both of us were a little relieved that is appears like we are coming out of our collective ASL funk. My OBA really turned the tide on the Hill getting two CH's. This hastened the collapse of the defenses there and sealed Heavy's fate there. I also had a very good Rally phase on turn three getting nearly all of my broken guys back in the town. While I wouldn't call this and outright dicing, they certainly helped my cause. Both of us felt like we both played a fairly good game and we also agreed that this is a tightly balanced scenario.


  1. Nice AAR, Steve, thanks. Looks like an interesting scenario.

  2. Good AAR. "Victory Condition Task Check" made me laugh, I think we have all failed that check.