AAR: As Action Report

BitterPill

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I have been away from CM for some time due to ‘LPC’ (lacking personal computer). I’m ready to make amends in a big way. In an effort to return to the fold, I engaged a certain opponent from this forum in a Quick Battle. My opponent's name will remain anonymous for now.

Situation:

I was tasked with building an attacking force of 1500 points from the Kiwis—a valiant people if ever there was. They must, under my direction, attack prepared positions and take them in 30+ turns. Unfortunately, at this point in the desert timeline, the Kiwi counter-mix is somewhat limited. Their armour is limited to Stuarts—I was hoping for Grants. I could almost predict the angst that might cause me—almost.

I bought 8 Stuarts, a light offboard battery, a company of Engineers (to attack prepared positions), and a Reconnaissance Platoon. I considered buying some 25pdrs. in lieu of the artillery, but, I thought, considering possible environments, they’d be difficult to deploy. I wish I had bought them.

Deployment:

When it came to set-up, I was faced with a desert chessboard. It was as flat as a pond in a light wind with the objective flags in the deep, left-hand quadrant--nowhere to hide. I hoped my opponent didn't have Tigers. There was a substantial town closer, straddling the quadrants opposite, as well as evidence of extensive fortifications guarding the town and especially the approaches to the victory flags behind and to the left of the town—trenches, wire and roadblocks. I imagined there were mines there as well. There were some roads, but, considering the terrain, they meant nothing. I did notice that if I was to envelop the town deeply to my right, despite the distance and my lack of transport, there might be a chance to avoid the prepared defences and roll-up the enemy, but it was a long-shot. I figured my opponent saw that as well and prepared accordingly.

I’m glad I have engineers though they are a sad substitute for some reach-out-and-touch-somebody HE…
 
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BitterPill

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..., so I concentrated my infantry and engineers in the centre at the limit of my set-up zone. I put 2 Stuarts on my deep right quadrant astride and partially protected by an oblique-facing building—a Stuart on either side. I put my remaining 6 Stuarts in a depression--the only one on the map--on my left at the limit of my deployment zone. I put my Company Commander, two Bren MG Teams, and an ATR on them. I was hoping to avoid a first-turn catastrophe.

My artillery spotter hid in the open as close to my map edge as possible.
 
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BitterPill

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Strategy:

To my relief, I found my opponent's forces were comprised of Italians--no Tigers or '88s, so there was a chance my forces would still be around after turn 5. Still, considering the terrain, or lack thereof, I realized that my options were limited. I decided on frontally assaulting the town with my infantry. I would leap-frog the platoons up to minimize casualties from artillery. There was a large, rough, rocky area between 100 and 150 meters in front of and slightly to the left of the town. On the right approach was an outbuilding about 150 meters from the village. I aimed for the space between them. My 2 Stuarts back on the right would protect the infantry's flank. Once any anti-tank guns were found and neutralized, they'd join the assault. On the left, my 6 Stuarts hid in their depression and awaited events. Again, I wanted to wait before exposing them to anti-tank fire. Stuarts don't hold up too well.

I felt confident that my Engineers could hold their own in house-to-house fighting. The trick would be to support them with armour. After the town was captured, I planned to use it as a base for assaulting the VP flags.

I know--it's not much of a strategy, but strategy was never a strong-suit of mine. Persistence is, and I can sense I will need it.
 
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BitterPill

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Turns 1 through 5:

1) My infantry is advancing. On the left I jockey my Stuarts about and send one up to have a look-see at the rim of the depression. It immediately starts taking AP fire from the deep left quadrant, and starts backing away. At this point I find that my ‘depression’ is no protection at all. My opponent has sited two more anti-tank guns in the town, well hidden in trenches. They start pouring a murderous fire into my half-dozen Stuarts. Havoc reigns. I call for my offboard artillery to pepper the town.

2) I dismount my Company Commander and the ATR and MGs from the Stuarts on the left and they look for cover. The Stuarts are returning fire, but in no time I have one then two then three knocked-out. This is brutal. There’s nowhere to hide. Another Stuart has its gun damaged. My infantry is marching along. I fully expect indirect fire to begin raining on them next turn, but they are spread-out well. They’ll have to soldier on.

3) My infantry starts taking some long range MG fire from the town to little effect. I’m probably still between 300 to 400 meters away. My three remaining Stuarts on the left back away from the carnage. They’re very close to the edge of the map where they seem to stop taking fire. I’m content to leave them there. Artillery is coming next turn. I hope it at least suppresses the AT fire from the town.

4) My artillery starts falling in the town. Another AT gun in a trench from the deep right quadrant opens up on the two Stuarts on my right flank. There’s literally nowhere to hide. I take several hits, but they ricochet. The range is about 900 meters. A duel begins: two Stuarts versus a light AT gun. I get several hits on what looks to be the interior of the trench, but the Italians shrug it off. I find to my dismay that my three remaining Stuarts on the left aren’t out of the line of fire. The Italian gunners in the town start nailing them again. One Stuart takes a hit and panics off the map—great. The AT gun on the left starts firing HE into my advancing infantry. The infantry is closing, about 200 meters from town. The MG fire from town continues. I suffer a few casualties. I figure, from the size of the HE divots, that I’m dealing with some 47mm’s, and I ask my opponent, “Hey, are those 47mm’s?”

5) I’m taking gas. Things have really degenerated. One bright spot—no evidence of mortars or offboard artillery—yet. My opponent informs me that they are 47’s—airborne. ‘No!’ I think to myself. If he has airborne infantry in the town, my chances of closing with him and blasting him out are nil. I have to come up with a new strategy. My two Stuarts on the right continue dueling at long range with the dug-in 47. Again, I see several hits on what looks like the interior of the trench. Again, it doesn’t faze the Italians. My artillery continues to fall on the town, but to no effect. I know this because the ‘victory’ meter shows 0% for me, and 31% for my opponent. I’m beginning to suspect that I suck.
 
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Siberian HEAT

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My Plan:

I knew I was in for trouble when we used random forces, and I drew Italian airborne. Because I was defending on an unknown map, I figured I wouldn't waste my cash on the few Italian tanks I had access to. Instead, I focused on a few cheap 47mm AT guns placed in trenches to help their survivability. I took 4 of these, intending to create some interlocking fields of fire - and they would become the centerpiece of my defense. The rest of my forces were a mix of airborne units with their SMGs and a few AT rifles, and a fair amount was spent on wire, TRPs, and minefields. See the piccy for how I arranged my defense to meet BPs attack.



I usally throw down a few TRPs in what I think will be likely avenues of approach, and the green blotches above show where I put them in this game. I would be fortunate in that my most distant TRP was actually placed almost exactly where BP stopped his armor force and started duelling. :devious: I put it there because it was just about the only elevation change on the map, and it looked like a good spot to get a hull down position.

I really considered not even defending the town at all since it wasn't near the flags - I was worried he would ride his tanks right around the town, totally taking it out the of action. However, my alternative was to place all my men in the open terrain near the flags - which was not going to work for me. I imagined artillery raining down on me, followed by getting squished by tank treads. In the end I did put significant forces inside the town, if nothing else to protect my two guns there and put a roof over them. I was wishing I'd gotten a few more trenches. I was fairly suprised when the bulk of his forces starting walking directly for the town on the first turn, as it justified my decision.

The fortified zone around the flags was a mix of minefields, roadblocks, wire, and airborne troops set out to defend the flag triangle. I was pretty exposed there, so my hope was to get him mired in the mines so he wouldn't notice my men sitting right out in the open, or in the rocks towards the back of the triangle.

Turns 1-5

Since the map is so open, he really wasn't able to hide his plan. The bulk of his dismounts were walking right up the middle of the map towards my (now) fortified town. This was good luck for me, and I set all my men to hold their fire for a few turns until he got closer. Eventually my MGs began to shoot at him, and I must have made an impression because he changed his avenue of approach quickly thereafter. In retrospect I might have held fire a bit longer.

His armor just happened to group up near one of my TRPs and I think it helped somewhat, although he may have been just a bit outside it's radius of effect. In any event, I had 3 of my AT guns zeroed in on his bunch of tanks and the duel began. Fortunately, the AT guns in the trenches were very difficult to knock out - and they survived many close hits, while his armor was suffering each turn.

I'm happy to see artillery raining on the town now, since it has virtually no effect on my men there...and it means less artillery will rain down on my guys over in the vital triangle. Of all the artillery that falls on the town, exactly 0 of my units are injured there. :)
 
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BitterPill

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New Strategy:

This is turning even uglier. I must develop a new plan as a) my artillery is having no effect, and b) I’m deathly afraid of my opponent’s airborne infantry whom I suspect are licking their lips at the prospect of my infantry’s close approach unsupported by tanks. My four remaining tanks can’t move up; my opponent’s AT guns' fields of fire won’t allow it. I have to find a way to neutralize them. How? The one weakness I know the Italian airborne has is its short range, so I decide to split my infantry and send two platoons to either side of the town at more than 100 meters and thus avoid my enemy's short-range SMG’s and provide opportunities to suppress his AT fire prior to bringing my 4 remaining tanks up. Also, I hope to lure my opponent’s infantry out of the town’s buildings so that my off-board artillery has more of an effect. I call for my remaining artillery to hold its fire. I’m hoping that as it dawns on him that my approach has shifted, he’ll be inclined to re-align his own infantry toward the VP flags and allow me to resume the shelling while they’re in the open and more easily spotted.

Turns 6 through 10:

I send two platoons to flank the town to the right and two to the left. On the left, my infantry heads for the rough terrain in front of and to the left of the town where I intend to hole them up in relative cover until the AT guns are suppressed. Some squads are starting to falter due to his AT guns HE fire. On the right, my infantry starts the long trek around the town and toward his AT gun in the deep right quadrant. There’s nothing for my tanks to do but continue dueling at long range. Moving forward means certain death. The AT fire on my tanks on the left seems to slacken.

6) The advance continues. I guess you can call it an advance. I previously forgot to send my two MG’s and ATR on the left up. Doh! I do that now. My tanks’ long range dueling with the AT guns proceeds but starts to slow. It's like two arm-weary boxers, no effect on either side.

7) My platoons on the left are grasping at the rough. A few squads panic and start crawling away. On the right, squads get pinned and others move forward only to get pinned themselves. They start taking HE from the guns in the town. Some squads return fire to no effect. It’s tough going and my opponent seems proficient at slowing my advance. It’s a harassing fire that produces few casualties. I’m still holding my artillery, and I inform my opponent in the casual between-turn banter that my artillery has blown its wad. I'm reduced to lying in an effort to secure an advantage. I'm not proud of the fact, but I think it was Chivington who said: All's fair in love and war. My MG’s and ATR are moving into a position to attempt suppressive fire on the town’s guns. The tanks sporadically continue their punch-drunk dueling.

8) The battle continues at a laconic pace. One tank on my left takes a non-lethal penetrating hit and almost panics off the map. Also, on the left, my infantry is starting to suffer some casualties from a steady, slow attrition. Their attempts to reach the rough are excruciating. On the right, more of the same. The squads are strung out along the line I’ve taken around the town. I have to hand it to my opponent. His measured fire is death by a thousand cuts. There is no evidence of him re-aligning whatever infantry is in the town. There is no need for him to as my slug’s pace is hardly threatening.

9) More of the same. Four of my 8 squads on the left have reached the relative safety of the rough. The others continue to balk. On the right, my progress is appalling. I move a few meters and get pinned. An ATR starts pinging off one of my tanks on the right. I don't have a clue where it's coming from.

10) My MG’s on the left are in position to start firing at one of the town’s AT guns. I need to move my tanks up; otherwise, my slow progress continues. The ‘Victory Meter’ reads 0% for me and 35% for my opponent. My opponent's suffered not a single casualty? I can hardly believe it. None of the flags are counted in the total either. This is depressing.

NOTE: A special thanks to my opponent, Siberian HEAT, for his outstanding addition to the thread. Nice graphics, too.
 
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Siberian HEAT

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Turns 6 - 10.

As is often the case on defense, there is really not much for me to do but hope he stumbles into my fields of fire and hope my men can shoot more of his than they do of mine. My AT guns expended considerable amounts of ammo, and I had to pull several of them offline to conserve ammo. I kept one or two shooting HE at his men just so they looked "busy" even though the shells seemed to have very little effect on his advancing men.

This phase of the battle was just spent watching his men split into 2 and flank the town. I was indeed getting worried that my SMG units were going to be left high and dry with nothing in range to shoot...and I briefly considered making a run for the flag area but in the end I chose to sit tight and try to hit his men when they reached their closest points (even though the firepower was miserable). I tried to pull some of my men back from the front line of the town, in the hopes he might see this and decide to try to rush it (I had some AP mines I wanted him to check out!)...but he didn't fall for it.

He still had some tanks on the horizon, shielded now by buildings and out of the direct LOS of my AT guns. Not sure where to expect them to go...but I have a few shells of AP left for when he gets closer. I have one AT rifle just plugging away on one of his tanks just to keep his head down - but each shot is just ricochetting away. I've got 100 rounds though...so I can keep up the pace as long as needed to supplement the lack of AT gun rounds on him.

Also found out he was lying about not having anymore artillery LOL. It turned out to be a moot point because I wasn't going anywhere with my men in town anyway...but we both got a good laugh out of it. I started to feel sorry for BP at this point since I still had zero guys even wounded and he had guys laying everywhere in the desert sand. Somewhere along the way I did start to take hits, but throughout the game I don't think the artillery even scratched any of my men. :devious:
 
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