Arctic Crossroads (the sequel)

Doug Leslie

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[When the Gamesquad image storage limit forced me to pause the description of this unusual Finnish firefight, the Finnish reinforcements had arrived and were trying how to figure out how to prise Russians away from the strategically vital real estate south of hexrow Y...]

In the West the newly arrived Finns managed to disrupt a 426 in DD2 but the original defenders lost a HS to Russian fire in the East. In their turn, the latter were forced to retreat back to the woods given the strength of the Russian defenders in that sector. In the west the reinforcement group rejected the offer of surrender by the disrupted squad and broke a couple more squads including the one manning the mortar. Things were looking up at this point and this was the situation at the end of turn 5.

[Marc: my screen on the left was starting to crack; the commissar was spitting on bloodied conscripts; my VC count was starting to fluctuate with the fortunes of my troops – it was starting to look like this scenario was too long -- and I remember murmuring something about needing that balance provision after all!]

24415

At this point, the Russian defence hinged on the 447 manning the MMG in AA4. It was imperative for the Finns to break this as quickly as possible. The newly arrived Commissar started the process of killing the 447 under its command by reducing it to a 426 when it failed to rally. It would subsequently aid the Finnish cause by eliminating it over the next two rally phases. The MMG squad fell back one hex towards the V5 woods but was fortuitously pinned by fire from the only Finnish unit that could see it from DD2. It was now stuck in the open with a lot of Finnish firepower approaching. The Russians now advanced to form a defensive line beside it to leave this position at the end of their turn 6 (prior to concealment gain by all the units beyond four hexes from the Finns).

24416

There were now a lot of Russians waiting to shoot at any Finns crossing the open ground in front of them, so the Finns started to roll for deployment. Two half squads then surrounded and eliminated the wounded 7-0 and broken 426 in in DD2. Other newly deployed HS led the advance towards the Russian positions and shrugged off ineffective Russian defensive fire with only a couple of pin results to slow them down. The main event was when the 10-1 leader and HMG squad survived a 1MC under fire from the MMG. Advancing fire by the 10-1 directing two 548s broke the 8-0 directing the MMG but, crucially, failed to harm the manning 447. The rest of the Finns fired separately at the machine gun position and managed to produce further MCs which only succeeded in pinning the target. This was really hurting their plans. At the end of turn 6, the crucial point of the battle now loomed.

[Marc – these annoying deployments! Still, I’m surprised the Finnish supermen can’t just automatically deploy into individual heroes! Looks like Perry and crew finally held the line on something with these guys – maybe Curt Schilling himself had to intervene! Honestly, what were these developers thinking of when they came up with these Finnish rules? They must have been reading Nietzsche or something. On another note, I personally hate three kinds of tactics in ASL and no, not skulking nor VBM freeze: a) deliberate kindling; b) deploying like mad so as to have 1001 HS running around grinning and shitting naked on the battlefield; c) Russian players who go out of their way to capture someone so they can play ‘pass prisoner around like rotten potato, da! Who needs bloody leader for bloody deployment we can’t do, da da, just use prisoners! Don’t complain either da! It’s in the rules, da -- you moron, you let me capture you –da!’]

24417

The Russians in the West were now caught in the open and unable to retreat without coming under defensive fire. They had to prep fire and hope for the best. The first attack was the vital one by the 447/MMG at the Finnish HMG squad and 10-1 leader. A DR of 4 generated a 2MC which was passed with flying colours. Two 447s however now formed a FG that generated a second 2 MC which broke the 548. When a further 4FP shot broke the 548 in, BB2, the Finns were in big trouble. The 548 and LMG managed to break the MMG squad but it was too little, too late. This was the situation at the end of Russian Turn 7.

24418

The MMG was now manned by a recently battle hardened 458 but its newly acquired elite status was not sufficient to survive unbroken against a 5 FP attack. Another squad broke under fire from a Finnish HS as I used quantity over quality with the Finnish fire attacks. The Finns continued to inch forward but, without the use of the HMG, they lacked the FP to inflict serious harm on the enemy.

[Marc – Finns should not have tried to use the HMG with extra casks of Finlandia on the cute ski carrier thingy.]

24419

The two sides continued to exchange fire and the Finns managed to break a couple more Russian squads. A 447 was despatched to try to recover the MMG in ZZ4.

24420

The Russian MMG was recovered but the manning 447 broke before it got a chance to fire it. A Finnnish HS moved adjacent and killed it for failure to rout. As the game entered its final turn, the Russians had 19 VP in the victory area. The Finns needed to break/eliminate 8 of them. The HMG squad had still not rallied and the HMG was destined to join the list of Finnish support weapons (and captured Russian weapons) that made no contribution whatsoever to the battle. Turn 8 saw the Finns advance towards the Russians who had now circled the wagons around the woods.
During the Russian Rally Phase, the Finns rallied their broken units for the final attempt to snatch a win. The crew manning the captured ART gun finally worked out how to fire it but proved to be no more adept at doing any damage to the enemy than its former owners. The rest of the Russians moved into the Arctic gloom so that most of the Finns couldn’t see them. In defensive fire, the HMG was fired at the gun flash left by the ART gun but didn’t manage to do any damage. The rest of the attackers’ attempts to harm the enemy were equally ineffective. The Russians then formed their final defensive circle with the Finns still needing to break or otherwise eliminate 8CVP. The Russian MMG was now in the possession of a Finnish HS.

[Marc: yes, at this point it became a dice fest to see if I could hold out and keep the wolves at bay. And they were howling, believe me! At this point the scenario lost all interesting aspects of ASL related to skilful play and became about luck-ful play – you’d think, by now, Doug should know I have an edge in that department – most of the time 😊 ]

24421

The Finns deployed another three squads for the final charge while the Commissar rallied the broken 447 to increase the target for the Finns to 10 CVP. Five of them were concentrated in the Commissar’s hex, so that was where Finnish prep fire was directed. The Russian MMG managed to pin the Commissar and one squad but couldn’t break anyone. None of the Finns to the East of the woods managed to do any damage with their 2FP attacks. To the west, a 238 charged at a concealed 447 in W1 to strip away the “?” counter. The 447 held fire. Some Finnish HS charged forward from the south but a fire lane opened up from U5 to narrow the approach route. The final nail in the coffin for the Finns was when the 10-1 and accompanying 548 moved into range of the Commissar in the hope that a four down one shot in advancing fire might net 5 VP towards the needed total but the leader sustained a fatal wound and the squad broke in defensive fire and that was pretty much that. A Finnish sniper managed to break the Russian squad in W1 but that was nowhere near enough for the Finns and I conceded when advancing fire failed to do any damage.

Overall, this was a good start to the Haakka Paalle module. The Arctic twilight gave the game a unique flavour and it made a nice change to play a scenario that didn’t necessitate delving into the rulebook every thirty seconds (Bloody Red Beach, I’m looking at you!) The Finns came unstuck early when the loss of the MMG on turn one allowed the Russians to waltz across the board towards the ART gun in the V5 woods with most of the Finns unable to see them to shoot at them. The real turning point however was when they were unable to break the Russian MMG position in advancing fire in turn 6 and then lost the use of their HMG for the rest of the battle when the manning squad broke under fire on the next turn. It was always an uphill struggle after that. Marc did a good job of holding the Finns at bay and was a worthy winner. Just as well he didn’t take the Russian balance!

[Marc: aftermath – Finns abandon cute vodka ski-craft, da! Everyone deploy for drinks, da da da!]
 

asloser

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Wow. Something I came up with 20+ years ago receiving nice thorough write up. I am glad you enjoyed it!

This one divides people for and against. Some are pretty negative about it, some like it, think there was a pretty negative AAR just couple of days ago here and I can understand why, it is a bit out of the box offering. The "pseudo night" SSR was stolen from Operation Watchtower scenario HS 6 Just Fighting Through by Nadir El-Farra.
 

Doug Leslie

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Wow. Something I came up with 20+ years ago receiving nice thorough write up. I am glad you enjoyed it!

This one divides people for and against. Some are pretty negative about it, some like it, think there was a pretty negative AAR just couple of days ago here and I can understand why, it is a bit out of the box offering. The "pseudo night" SSR was stolen from Operation Watchtower scenario HS 6 Just Fighting Through by Nadir El-Farra.
I have played solo hundreds of scenarios which I will have forgotten a few months afterwards. The "arctic twilight" SSR makes this one memorable and one that I am not likely to forget.

I think that I should also perhaps clarify that my side of these AARs are written without any input from Marc. I then send them to him for him to add whatever comments that he wishes and include them without amendment. This means that sometimes we will have different views about certain things. For my part, I don't have a problem with a module featuring lots of "bleak snow/tree/village fights". You don't have to play them all one after the other and, if I want to play a late war Eastern front scenario with lots of chrome, there are plenty to choose from. That is the beauty of ASL. I think that you and the other Haakka Paalle designers/scenario creators have done a fantastic job to produce so many scenarios from a part of the war that is little known to most people who don't actually come from Finland. Marc and I are now playing "Anabasis" which looked like a brilliant night scenario before we started and which has not disappointed in the first few turns. Waffen SS against Finns in the dark? Doesn't get any more obscure and fun than that. Stay tuned for the next AAR!
 

Honosbinda

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I have played solo hundreds of scenarios which I will have forgotten a few months afterwards. The "arctic twilight" SSR makes this one memorable and one that I am not likely to forget.

I think that I should also perhaps clarify that my side of these AARs are written without any input from Marc. I then send them to him for him to add whatever comments that he wishes and include them without amendment. This means that sometimes we will have different views about certain things. For my part, I don't have a problem with a module featuring lots of "bleak snow/tree/village fights". You don't have to play them all one after the other and, if I want to play a late war Eastern front scenario with lots of chrome, there are plenty to choose from. That is the beauty of ASL. I think that you and the other Haakka Paalle designers/scenario creators have done a fantastic job to produce so many scenarios from a part of the war that is little known to most people who don't actually come from Finland. Marc and I are now playing "Anabasis" which looked like a brilliant night scenario before we started and which has not disappointed in the first few turns. Waffen SS against Finns in the dark? Doesn't get any more obscure and fun than that. Stay tuned for the next AAR!
It's true that Doug is very generous in allowing my comments to pass through unblemished. I often deliver them in a provocatively tongue-in-cheek manner, lest ASLers who frequent Gamesquad take themselves, their attitudes and their hobby too seriously. What I find is that fights in Finland are naturally of a sameness (snow/trees/villages); this does not mean that scenarios based on the region lack verisimilitude in comparison to others. Well, except for the rather contentious idea that Finns uniformly demonstrated superlative fighting characteristics from 1939/40 through the balance of the war. Were they extraordinary in 1940 vs really bad Soviet training and leadership? Without a doubt. After that? There is a lot of doubt.

One doesn't have to be from anyplace in particular to recognize these Finnish attributes are somewhat over the top. More importantly, there is nobody designing scenarios alive today in any country with immersive experiences of WW2. Consequently, there is nothing in particular that makes native Finns better designers of Finnish scenarios. Perhaps there is a natural desire to lavish a little more love in their creation, okay, sure. Regardless, all designers of scenarios, from all countries, can kneel at the feet of John Hill, American, for having the opportunity to design scenarios in the first place. Let that not be overlooked nor left unstated while we sing the praises of localized scenario designing.

Italian players in the main are largely left flat by the Americo-centric view of their nation's squad depictions. Probably for good reason. I get the impression that there is some of 'we'll make up for that' by over-representing Finnish fighting capabilities. Now, neither set of squads are ideal. The Italians should be buffed and Finns nerfed. 'But Marc, we can't do that because that will unbalance past scenario designs!' SO?? Why this slavish mentality about past scenario designs becoming unbalanced? Perhaps the extraordinary characteristics for the Finns SHOULD exist, but limited to 838 and 648 squads in early war vs the Soviets. Instead, MMP allowed the idea to blossom across the entire range of Finnishness through 1945. I have little sway about these design decisions other than 'voting with my feet' by playing most anything more than for/against Finns.

That said, the Finnish differences do offer interesting changes of pace to gameplay experiences. There are far less entertaining scenarios out there than Artic Twilight! And Anabasis is definitely is the fun/bizarre column because of the night conditions and multiprong attack the Finns have to deal with as 'scenario defenders.' Self-rally capability ain't no great shakes when you can only low crawl to get out of the danger zone! Besides, I finally ELR'd my way to a Finnish conscript -- heh, a non-superman Finn without inherent self-rally is on my playing board! I guess one does get what one asks for, after all. There is hope.
 
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Chas

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Wow. Something I came up with 20+ years ago receiving nice thorough write up. I am glad you enjoyed it!

This one divides people for and against. Some are pretty negative about it, some like it, think there was a pretty negative AAR just couple of days ago here and I can understand why, it is a bit out of the box offering. The "pseudo night" SSR was stolen from Operation Watchtower scenario HS 6 Just Fighting Through by Nadir El-Farra.
Just some notes and thoughts here. I had this action initially as part of MC. After HP came out, I made a spreadsheet of the HP scenarios and our draft scenarios and did not pursue further the actions that were depicted in HP. I think there are 1 or 2 that are overlapped, or the same large battle or something, but extremely minimal duplication of actions.
Why do I even mention this? I would most likely have deferred to a +1 LV hindrance or something, will never know for sure. So I am complimenting the design and the excellent use of the SSR to create something new and out of the box that works. As with anything like this that is non-standard, there will be a contingent that dislikes, and some that really like and appreciate it. And that is OK.
 
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