AP4 / ASL186 L'Abbaye Blanche - AAR

von Marwitz

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AP4 / ASL186 L'Abbaye Blanche - AAR

17131



Somehow, I have never played this old classic before which has been republished in Yanks 2 as ASL186. Now I took it out as a small scenario to teach VASL.

Set in August 1944 in France, this scenario is special in that the entire US order of battle sets up HIP. Not that it is much: The Americans only have a single full squad, a single halfsquad, and two vehicular crews to stand up against 10 German 658 SS squads, four MGs, a PSK, a DC, four Leaders, and two SPW 251/9s. This US 'nothing' is stiffened by two M5 anti-tank guns, three MMG, a BAZ and 24 AP (only) Mine factors along with the US Leaders being SSR'ed to have firepower comparable to a Hero and a CCV of 2 (though no other heroic traits).

The objective for the Germans is to exit a substantial number of Exit VP which is upped for any Casualty VP inflicted by the Americans. The AFVs/Germans crews do not factor in this equation. The hook is that the Germans cannot lose much, else they lose the game.

Let's analyze a bit what the Americans and Germans have to care about. If you do not want to be spoilered with tactics, skip the following paragraphs until you see the next screenshot of the Situation at Game Start.

Well, what to do with the flimsy Americans against the hordes of 'Übermenschen'?

To win, the US must kill some of the German units. The German SS-Squads have a Good Order Morale of 8, a broken Morale of 9, an ELR of 5 and Assault Fire Capability. So breaking Germans does not make it easier, it makes it harder in a way... What the Americans wish for are K/ or KIA results.

Alas, with the firepower the US has at hand, these might be hard to come by. Their best chances might be the pair of M5 AT Guns, which will attack with 14FP if they score a hit on the ITT. As things are likely to become close & personal quickly and these Guns can Bore Sight, there is a somewhat increased probability that they might score a Critical Hit by rolling less than half of their Modified TH number. Bore Sighting can also be used for the three MMGs. If American units fire Point Blank, this doubles their firepower, but things can quickly go awry if the Germans survive the fire unpinned and then go into CC. So to get those K/ and KIA results, the Americans need to make the maximum out of Bore Sighting, surprise/HIP, the enemy using FFNAM/FFMO, and maybe Point Blank fire. You might want to add ROF and luck to that...

Another important asset of the Americans are the AP-Mines. These won't break as the US units will. And they can negate TEM and Concealment when attacking units that step onto them. Theoretically, you might force a broken German unit to rout back into a Minefield. Again, you will need luck for that, but it should at least be thought about.

Bocage is in effect. This can help the Americans with regard to one specific hex in particular: X2
Obviously, a Stone Building with +3 TEM is a nice place for the brittle US units to be in. However, if the Americans use in-hex TEM, they will not have Wall Advantage over the Bocage nor will they be able to see beyond ADJACENT hexes if LOS crosses Bocage. In other words, if the Americans are IN the Stone Building of X2, the approaching Germans can't see them and thus can't fire at them unless ADJACENT. You should read up the Wall Advantage rules:

Per B9.322, "Claiming WA is voluntary [EXC: 9.323], and can be done by a unit at five times: during its setup; at the end of any RPh (step 1.32B of ASOP, ATTACKER first); during its MPh/APh (either as part of, or before/after MF/MP expenditures); when losing HIP status; whenever all enemy units lose/forfeit WA over shared wall/hedge hexsides. WA must be forfeited immediately if a unit no longer fulfills 9.32 and may be forfeited at any other time."

So if the Americans in their Turn have WA in X2, which is not mandatory because of the Stone Building, they can Prep Fire, immediately thereafter forfeit WA and be safe from German return fire in the Defensive Fire Phase, then reclaim WA during the APh, and gain Concealment behind Bocage as long as no enemy LOS crosses non-Bocage hexsides. Pretty nifty.

Yet, the US has to be very careful about how and when to forfeit WA: If they forfeit it claiming +3 Building TEM, they cannot be harmed by non-ADJACENT enemy Infantry across Bocage hexsides. The enemy will have to move ADJACENT and to expose himself to Point Blank fire, however, he will be able to claim WA and thus the +2 Bocage TEM while doing so.

I set up the 666+MMG in X2 with WA to be able to fire not only to adjacent hexes, while at the same time, the 9-1 Leader does not have WA. That way, the Leader cannot be harmed by the Germans while still raising the Morale of the 666 in the hex (I do not think that he can direct its attack, though, to non-adjacent hexes for lack of LOS.) and he has a chance to rally the broken 666 under DM on a DR of 6 or less which it about the best it can get in this one. Having WA, the 666+MMG will deny it to Germans who may attempt to rush ADJACENT - and a shot @-2 (FFMO/FFNAM) is so much better than one at +1 (-1 FFNAM / +2 Bocage TEM).

One needs to carefully consider whether to use the US -1 Leaders to direct the MMGs or to use them as 'Einzelkämpfer'. They do have 1FP, a range of 4 and a CCV of 2 by SSR, but they cannot use their FP in the same phase while directing an attack nor as part of a Fire Group. If such a Leader lurks HIP alone somewhere hoping for a surprise Point Blank 2 @ -2 (FFNAM/FFMO shot), he might also find him in the unwanted situation that his hex is entered by enemy units unforseen from an unwanted direction. In such a case, an Infantry OVR can occur. One should read up the rules on this one, too. Probably, it is not a good idea to hold the Leader's fire if this is about to happen, but once more, the options at hand should be considered.

Bocage is also important with regard to the Guns: Look up B9.53: You cannot change CA across a Bocage hexside AND then fire the Gun in the same phase. Nor fire the Gun across a Bocage hexside AND then change its CA (in case of ROF for example) in the same phase. That said, Defensive First Fire during the enemy MPh and your DFPh is counted as one phase for this rule. Thus setting up your precious Guns in hexes with Bocage hexsides might limit the options of your most valuable assets.

Another interesting point: HIP units, Bocage, WA, Bore Sighting.Per the original B9.324,

"a hidden unit can never claim WA and must be placed (concealed) onboard to be able to claim WA during play, but may do so at any time—even at the moment an enemy unit moves adjacent and wants to claim WA."

As a consequence, if a HIP Gun or another HIP unit elegible for Bore Sighting would set up in a hex with Bocage hexside and not being able to claim WA, it could only Bore Sight hexes across a Bocage hexside that are adjacent. This does, of course, not make sense. Thus there has been an erratum that reads as follows:

"A HIP unit that desires to claim WA during setup must secretly record such WA status [EXC: 9.323]. A HIP unit may forfeit WA (even if it had been mandatory) to an enemy unit claiming WA (even implicitly; 9.323) over a shared hexside and remain hidden but must be placed on board (concealed) to deny an enemy unit from claiming WA, or to claim WA that is not mandatory and was not recorded, or to forfeit WA if no enemy is claiming it. Hidden units are not considered when determining if broken/unarmed units may claim WA (9.32)."

This erratum allows you to set up HIP units with WA and in this case in turn allows you to Bore Sight such weapons to non-ADJACENT hexes across Bocage hexsides.

Finally, note that you cannot use the BAZ against enemy units behind Bocage. Bocage is different to a Wall (or Building) in this regard.

Why am I going into endless detail on the tidbits of individual US units here? Well, because there aren't many US units around and you'll need every trick in the book to inflict the necessary amount of casualties to the Germans before being wiped out.

Now, let's have a look at the Germans.

What they need to care for is a bit easier.
First and foremost they have to watch out that increasing their Exit VP requirement due to taking losses does not make winning the game impossible for them. This could happen quite quickly, so be always aware of how many casualties you can still take.
Secondly, even if losses are not the issue by themselves, units not in position to exit by scenario end might be. There is no much wiggling room for both in this scenario for the Germans.
Thirdly, you can afford to lose your halftracks. They do not matter with regard to EVP or CVP. However, they are very important assets. The Americans don't have too much firepower to begin with. If US positions are SMOKED, this does help the Germans a lot. The German force is elite and thus the SPWs do have a SMOKE Depletion number of 10 (!).


Situation at Game Start:

17149

I played the defending Amercians in this one. Remember, that the entire US order of battle sets up HIP. In the above picture, the Americans are shown Concealed, the AP-Mines revealed and the Bore Sighted Locations visible only for convenience's sake.

The big problem for the Americans is obviously how to harm the Germans without being harmed directly in return. I placed the AT Guns in a way which partly protects them against incoming fire of the assaulting Germans. Hopefully, I could cause casualties if the Germans stumbled into Bore Sighted Locations. Furthermore, both Guns had LOS to a couple of Locations of Open Ground. And I gave them flanking protection in the form of Minefields, which would hopefully stop the Germans and allow my Guns to switch CA to finish them off. Why I placed the 9-1, 666+MMG in X2 in exactly the way depicted has been discussed above already. The MMG's were placed in a way that they could lay down Fire Lanes, but I was more focused on their Bore Sighted locations or hoping for Germans to blunder into ADJACENT hexes in Open Ground to take Point Blank fire attacks. Two of the Leaders I set up alone - just because there is so precious little with which to defend against the Germans. The Bazooka was set up in the faint hope of scoring a hit vs. a halftrack moved too boldly or vs the ADJACENT building if the enemy should venture in it without first discovering the BAZ.


Situation at the End of German Turn 1:

17153

In German Turn 1, there was not much action for my defending Americans yet. I merely temporarily revealed a unit in X2 to deny the Germans some Concealment. As I had expected, the Germans tried a two pronged attack along the flanks.


Situation at the End of American Turn 1:

17154

In my US Turn 1, I had not much opportunity to fire at Germans units yet. During the Rally Phase, the 9-1 Leader in X2 Claimed WA, then in Prep Fire the whole stack 9-1, 666+MMG shot at the German HS in AA1 for no effect. WA was immediately relinquished thereafter, thus avoiding German Defensive Fire. The Germans continued to acquire the suspiciously 'empty' Woods in Y1. During the APh, my 666+MMG in X2 reclaimed WA, at the end of the CCPh, the stack grew Concealment (all enemy LOS crossing Bocage). That was it.


To be continued in a subsequent post.

von Marwitz
 
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von Marwitz

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Situation at the End of German Turn 2:

17155

In German Turn 2, I was not quite happy. The Germans found all four AP Minefields, but alas these did not do much to slow them down. As a result, at the bottom, one of my HIP Guns was already in dire straits before having fired a single shot, albeit the Germans didn't know it yet. Merely a 7-0 Leader in Y10 broke and the 348 in Z0 Pinned while five or six Minefield attacks had no effect. Instead of breaking the enemy 348 in Z0 by Point Blank Fire of my MMG in Y1 and forcing it to rout of the Minefield, I rolled boxcars to malfunction it instead. No what you need in this type of scenario.

On the bright side, my 'killer-stack' in X2 got one K/ result which gained me one CVP and broke another German HS. In Z7, I revealed my lone 8-1 Leader to fire at the approaching 658+BAZ at Point Blank range. He could have attempted an Infantry OVR but decided against it, probably concluding that finishing off my Leader in the AFPh or during CC would be enough. During the AFPh, his fire indeed wounded my 8-1 Leader in Z7, which limped away to X7 during the RtPh. During their APh, the Germans inched closer.

At least I would now have some targets for my upcoming turn.


Situation at the End of American Turn 2:

17156

During the Rally Phase of my US Turn 2, the first thing I did was to break my MMG in Y1 on the repair attempt. Splendid! I could kill another German halfsquad, but my 'killer stack' in X2 rolled boxcars, malfunctioning my second MMG. The Guns opened up but were not able to harm anyone. This was especially annoying for the Gun in Y6, which I Intensive Fired but still was unable to hit the ADJACENT 658+PSK. It appeared as if I would lose that gun with nothing to show for it. However, it managed to retain Concealment despite the German Defensive fire. In Y1 my 126 Crew, which had screwed up the repair dr for its MMG broke due to enemy fire - losers...


Situation at the End of German Turn 3:

17157

In German Turn 3, my opponent used his halftracks to fire SMOKE. First round went into Y1 messing up the LOS of my Gun on the board edge and paving the way for the German HS in the Minefield in Z0 to emerge with the intention of going into CC with that Gun. Second round went into my X2 strongpoint effectively blinding it. Just because he could, my opponent Intensive Fired SMOKE into Y2 after that, totally blocking LOS for the Gun into almost all hexes. That done, he fired his PSK at the other Gun but missed nor did its possessing 658 effect the ADJCACENT Gun crew. But of course, my Gun in Y8 was all but lost as there were Germans all around and more of them assault moving ADJACENT concealed. With my other flank being totally SMOKED, the Germans could just waltz through the center without much danger. One German HS moved through the Bore Sighted Location of the X2 MMG, but with its Morale 8 and a +4 DRM for firing out of SMOKE, I could not harm it. Further down the Germans began to emerge from the AP Minefields in the Woods and the Stone Building in Y10. Once more they got away with it. My Minefields certainly performed below expectations or if the Minefield attack-rolls were good, they were neutralized by equally good German morale checks. I could merely stop and break a single German HS by Point Blank firing my yet hidden third MMG in W8. This was all rather frustrating. The 'upper' Gun could see nothing but the broken German HS in the Minefield, but it was next to impossible to hit having to turn the Gun in Woods, pass through +3 SMOKE Hindrance and to overcome the Woods TEM. Needless to say, I did not hit. Now I could only hope that my Gun in Y8 would deal some death before going down. Chances weren't going to get any better, as there was a German stack of a 658+PSK unconcealed and another 658+LMG with the 9-1 Leader both concealed at Double Point Blank Range and under Double Acquisition, so I needed a 11 TH the unconcealed squad and a 9 TH the rest. I contrieved to roll an 11 merely hitting the unconcealed squad which I CR'ed, breaking the surviving HS. Of course, I Intensive Fired but could not cause any more damage. A golden opportunity wasted...

During AFPh, the Germans re-DM'ed my wounded 8-1 Leader, broke the Gun crew and my HS+MMG. With that, the defence was effectively compromised. The HS+MMG routed away with a meagre chance ever to recover, the Wounded Leader surrendered but was shot by the American war criminals and the Gun crew died for Failure to Rout. Now basically all the Germans needed to do was to rush towards the board edge. While I had only killed half the Germans I needed so far.


Situation at the End of American Turn 3:

17158

American Turn 3. Now I am not the one that tends to give up lightly or early. So I was determined to make the bastards fight for it! My 126 Crew in V1 rallied, my HS+MMG in U6 id not. During Prep Fire, my Gun in X0 nailed the German broken HS in Z0. Now four CVP were inflicted on the Germans. If I managed to inflict two more, then he'd lose. Or if he failed to move two points of his Infantry offboard. The only meaningful units I had left were my Gun in in X0, which would be out of relevant targets now after having killed the German HS. This left my SMOKED in 'killer-stack' in X2, which was powerful but in an awkward position. Ah yes, then there were the two 126 Crews and the yet HIP 7-0 lone Leader in Y6.

Well, you've gotta roll widdem punches. So I used the two 126 crews to be 'in the way', stayed put with the HIP 7-0 and attempted to move the 'killer stack' to V0 with the intention to advance to U1 and to cause grief from there later. The 'tricky' part was passing through W1, where I had to take a 20FP even shot. Sure enough this broke and ELR'ed my squad but the 9-1 survived. From W1 I routed to U1, thus I did arrive where I intended to - sort of... Still, I had a chance to rally on a 5 or less.


To be continued in a subsequent post.

von Marwitz
 
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von Marwitz

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Situation at the End of German Turn 4:

17159

German Turn 4 was pretty much a stampede. My broken squad in U1 did not rally and was re-DM'ed by one of the halftracks moving ADJACENT. In the Woods, the Germans swarmed my broken HS+MMG and the 126, even placing a DC on the former. My 126 in U3 was blasted to Kingdom Come by the second halftrack.

You know that exceedingly satisfying feeling when you have successfully placed a DC and it blows everything to messy bits and pieces. You also know that this somehow seems to occur on exceedingly rare occasions. This game was no exception. When the DC went off during German AFPh, it caused a 4MC on my hapless broken HS+MMG. But the latter still had some fight in it and rolled snake-eyes to become Berserk. Just what the doctor ordered... With this fortified morale, it shrugged off any other Advancing Fire. The 126+BAZ broke, alas.

Anyway, I was delighted when the Germans were "feelin' lucky" to advance a German 348 and a CX 9-1, 658+LMG into CC. If I could take out the German HS, this would up the German CVP to 5 - one short of a German loss! And my HIP 7-0 in Y6 could not be prevented to re-DM the still broken German HS in X9 which then could not make it to the board edge any more in time - unless it managed to self-rally under DM. Grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat seemed very real all of a sudden.

All the better, my Berserkers managed to Ambush the Germans. I now needed a 6 or less to kill the German HS - 41.7% chance. If I managed that, then my victory would be all but assured. I rolled a 7 and thus one pip short. Damn!
My Zerkers were taken out in the return attack. Now the game was almost certainly lost.


Situation at the End of American Turn 4:

17160

During my US Turn 4, the broken squad in V0 did not rally. This was basically it, since these would have been the only units that theoretically could have - provided they had charmed lives of getting that far - been able to interfere with the Germans in the Woods. Beside my 126+BAZ which felt very lonely and forsaken in its task to prevent the German exit facing 7.5 German SS squad-equivalents plus Leaders and SW... To no one's great surprise its 1FP @+1 shot vs the ADJACENT Concealed SS-troopers failed to make an impression. Then I moved my HIP Leader to re-DM the German HS in X9, which was almost equivalent of raising the German VP Tally to 5. Still being tenacious, the Gun crew from X0 took off towards V3 to draw some fire. But the evil plan to trigger a US Sniper which would then break a German unit or kill a Leader did not come to pass. But the perfidious thought of still thereby stealing the German victory was there...


Situation during the MPh of German Turn 5 - Game End:

17161

In German Turn 5, all what the Germans had to do was to move off the board. They did with 21 EVP and thus by the barest of margins possible with regard to his CVP and the German HS brokie left behind. German win.


Review:

This was an interesting little scenario which in the end turned out to be much closer that I had thought after the measly performance of my AP Minefields, being completely SMOKED in the upper part of the board and the almost complete failure of the Y8 Gun to cause casualties when being presented with targets on a platter.

ROAR has this at 69 German wins vs. 72 American ones with a good Excitement Rating of 6.53. I agree with the good Excitement Rating for this scenario. Albeit the scenario appears to be very 'even' looking at ROAR's win/loss record, I think this does not necessarily have to be the case. Rather, there will be numerous playings in which the game will end with a very clear German or a very clear American victory. Just imagine one lucky shot of a Gun taking out a squad or two or a Leader and a squad. If that happens, the Germans will almost certainly lose. Similar situations can be imagined for the Americans.

As always with such small scenarios, they can be a bit dicey. With this one, however, I do not think this is a detriment to the fun playing it. You have plenty of suspense for both sides as almost every roll is 'crucial' for the Americans and for the Germans they are always in fear of the next trap they might step into or which the Americans will spring on them.

Nice scenario. Recommended!


von Marwitz
 
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johnl

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Situation at the End of German Turn 4:

View attachment 17159

German Turn 4 was pretty much a stampede. My broken squad in U1 did not rally and was re-DM'ed by one of the halftracks moving ADJACENT. In the Woods, the Germans swarmed my broken HS+MMG and the 126, even placing a DC on the former. My 126 in U3 was blasted to Kingdom Come by the second halftrack.

You know that exceedingly satisfying feeling when you have successfully placed a DC and it blows everything to messy bits and pieces. You also know that this somehow seems to occur on exceedingly rare occasions. This game was no exception. When the DC went off during German AFPh, it caused a 4MC on my hapless broken HS+MMG. But the latter still had some fight in it and rolled snake-eyes to become Berserk. Just what the doctor ordered... With this fortified morale, it shrugged off any other Advancing Fire. The 126+BAZ broke, alas.

Anyway, I was delighted when the Germans were "feelin' lucky" to advance a German 348 and a CX 9-1, 658+LMG into CC. If I could take out the German HS, this would up the German CVP to 5 - one short of a German loss! And my HIP 7-0 in Y6 could not be prevented to re-DM the still broken German HS in X9 which then could not make it to the board edge any more in time - unless it managed to self-rally under DM. Grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat seemed very real all of a sudden.

All the better, my Berserkers managed to Ambush the Germans. I now needed a 6 or less to kill the German HS - 41.7% chance. If I managed that, then my victory would be all but assured. I rolled a 7 and thus one pip short. Damn!
My Zerkers were taken out in the return attack. Now the game was almost certainly lost.


Situation at the End of American Turn 4:

View attachment 17160

During my US Turn 4, the broken squad in V0 did not rally. This was basically it, since these would have been the only units that theoretically could have - provided they had charmed lives of getting that far - been able to interfere with the Germans in the Woods. Beside my 126+BAZ which felt very lonely and forsaken in its task to prevent the German exit facing 7.5 German SS squad-equivalents plus Leaders and SW... To no one's great surprise its 1FP @+1 shot vs the ADJACENT Concealed SS-troopers failed to make an impression. Then I moved my HIP Leader to re-DM the German HS in X9, which was almost equivalent of raising the German VP Tally to 5. Still being tenacious, the Gun crew from X0 took off towards V3 to draw some fire. But the evil plan to trigger a US Sniper which would then break a German unit or kill a Leader did not come to pass. But the perfidious thought of still thereby stealing the German victory was there...


Situation during the MPh of German Turn 5 - Game End:

View attachment 17161

In German Turn 5, all what the Germans had to do was to move off the board. They did with 21 EVP and thus by the barest of margins possible with regard to his CVP and the German HS brokie left behind. German win.


Review:

This was an interesting little scenario which in the end turned out to be much closer that I had thought after the measly performance of my AP Minefields, being completely SMOKED in the upper part of the board and the almost complete failure of the Y8 Gun to cause casualties when being presented with targets on a platter.

ROAR has this at 69 German wins vs. 72 American ones with a good Excitement Rating of 6.53. I agree with the good Excitement Rating for this scenario. Albeit the scenario appears to be very 'even' looking at ROAR's win/loss record, I think this does not necessarily have to be the case. Rather, there will be numerous playings in which the game will end with a very clear German or a very clear American victory. Just imagine one lucky shot of a Gun taking out a squad or two or a Leader and a squad. If that happens, the Germans will almost certainly lose. Similar situations can be imagined for the Americans.

As always with such small scenarios, they can be a bit dicey. With this one, however, I do not think this is a detriment to the fun playing it. You have plenty of suspense for both sides as almost every roll is 'crucial' for the Americans and for the Germans they are always in fear of the next trap they might step into or which the Americans will spring on them.

Nice scenario. Recommended!


von Marwitz
Herr Von Marwitz

Thanks for the detailed narrative. I learned a few things about bocage, which I have not played much and that you can Intensive Fire SMOKE, which I never realized.
 

von Marwitz

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Herr Von Marwitz

Thanks for the detailed narrative. I learned a few things about bocage, which I have not played much and that you can Intensive Fire SMOKE, which I never realized.
You are welcome, John. Over the years in this forum, I have read a lot about tactics and rules stuff. If I could remember all of that in the appropriate situations during the game, I'd probably be as bad a King Kong. Alas, it seems that I only have the brain of King Kong with regard to remembering things... 🤣

Anyway, AARs are a good opportunity to give something back to the community which I received from it.

Cheers,
von Marwitz
 
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