ASL 8 - The Fugitives: Taking an antique out for a drive

Dave Olie

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Ah, a classic. I played ASL 8, “The Fugitives”, against Peter Struijf on Friday. A great game, played almost to the bitter end, but I won as the Russians. Peter had never played this before. I had, and what I learned from my first playing (also as the Russians) put me in good stead, because the dice were mostly against me.

This is a very good medium-length scenario. It plays much more quickly than most 9-turn offerings, due to the staggered German entry and the limited mobility of the Russians in the early turns. If you haven't played it, I give it a strong recommend. But you have to get the errata, or a post-BVv1 card, to make the SSRs make sense.

Before setup, but after the Germans have secretly chosen the entry points for their three groups, the Russian can pick any six 2 Level building hexes on the board to Rubble. I chose 20I3, 20K2, 20T3, 20Z2, 20Z7, and 23F4. Each of these can generate falling rubble, into a hex of the Russian's choice, but only two, after rolling a dr of 5 or 6. As it turned out, I had falling stone rubble in 20J2 and 20Y2. Not optimal, but not bad. 20J2 was a major block to German movement, and Y2 also proved useful.

I weighted my defense towards the south, the canal bridges at 23X3 and BB5. I think this is the most likely route for the Germans, but also the Russian reinforcements, especially the T34-85, can be used most effectively in the north where they have some room to maneuver. The 57LL AT went in 23W6. I think this is the best possible spot for this gun, where it can contest the German crossing of three bridges. This gun definitely won the game for me.

The gun was supported by a 4-4-7 at 2nd Level in 23X6. This building will likely be a focal point of the defense. To that end I placed the 8-1 leader, with a 4-4-7 and the MMG, at 20J1. I think it's critical for the Russian to get these units over the canal and into that building, and there's not much the Germans can do about it unless they guess right with their entry choices, and are prepared to risk their AC.

The rest of the Board 20 defenders can fight and die in place if necessary. LMG/4-4-7 was in C3, a HIP 4-4-7 in G1, 4-4-7 in Z4/L2, and HIP 4-4-7 in AA3/L2, plus three Dummy stacks. The squads in the south died quite uselessly. (I mistakenly revealed the guy in G1 when Peter bypassed with a HS; I gotta play this game more often.) The men in the AA3 building did quite well. A nice shot on Turn 2 broke several squads, then Peter diverted a couple of squads into the building to clear it instead of moving for the bridges like he should have. We each lost a squad in CC before he finally broke off leaving me one squad in GO at the end.

My MMG team successfully entered 23X6 on Turn 2. My remaining west bank defenders were 8-0 with LMG/4-5-8 in CC7, 4-5-8 in S9/L2, 4-4-7s in N9, M8 and G6, and 7-0, HMG/4-5-8 in F3/L2.

Now I wish to say a word about my dice. “Suck” is the word that springs to mind. I had no worries about Peter's sniper, because I failed to roll a single snakeeyes the entire game. I did roll several boxcars. One was on the second shot I took with the HMG. On its first repair attempt, I got another 6, which I could almost see coming as the die dropped down the tower. Without the HMG, which was the core of my northern defense, I openly doubted that I could win this. Later, the MMG also malfed, but repaired on its first attempt. I can't say that my dice balanced out later in the game, it was more that Peter's dice started to be as bad as mine.

The exception was my ATG, the star of the show. On Turn 3 or 4 Peter made his first foray west of the canal when his AC crossed at X3. Then X4, then W5, at which point I revealed the gun. I needed a 6 or 7 to hit, and got the 6, without rate. The To Kill DR was low enough to burn to AC. I was glad I waited, as a burning wreck in X4 would have been awkward. A little later Peter got frisky with a truckload of conscripts, which my 4-4-7 in X6 killed in X2.

Then came the dawn, and that funky +1 TEM pre-dawn SSR went away. It became a different game as now Defensive Fire had a much greater chance to count. Peter hadn't got anything over the canal successfully in the first 4 turns when he had the extra cover, and I think that was ultimately what the game turned on.

I split my Turn 5 reinforcements north, middle, and south. The T34, plus the leader, a squad and LMG, entered the north as planned, which effectively shut down the H4 bridge. I advanced 6-2-8s into O10 and AA10. Peter had got Smoke from the StG into G4, and from the PzIV into P6, but that didn't help him with the H4 bridge, and only allowed him to exit a halftrack (which dropped a VSG in P8) with a leader and a halfsquad via Q10, and a couple of squads with a 7-0 to hole up in Q9/R8. They would need to break a lot of my guys to have a chance to exit, and my squad in S9 was counterattacking.

At this point he was clearly in a quandary. He malfed the MA of the StG (Ammo Shortage finally kicking in) so in the next turns he took the chance to get that off through Q10. He had the PzIV moving between the approaches to X3 and P7, but I just kept rotating the ATG to keep up with it. He had had a chance to exit the tank through the dispersed smoke in P6, but I had a -2 area Acquisition and he didn't like the odds. He had a couple of squads and a leader over the bridge at BB5, and they were eroding my position in the CC7 building; they could probably also exit. But that wasn't enough.

So on Turn 8 he fired up the other halftrack, loaded with a squad and a leader in 23EE2, and made a dash for the bridge at BB5. I had a -1 area Acquisition on BB4 from the ATG, but working the odds I felt I had to reckon on ROF and start shooting at CC4. I needed a 4 To Hit. I rolled, amazingly, a 3. Peter needed a Dud to have a chance to win, and I nearly obliged him; I rolled an 11. The halftrack died, as did its passengers. Peter conceded.

This scenario is somewhat pro-Russian, according to ROAR (118 – 80, not including this playing), and I would tend to agree. On the other hand, there have been plenty of German victories, so they clearly have the tools to get the job done. My feeling is that the Germans have to get at least some forces over the canal during the first 4 turns. The dusk SSR is their best asset; they are effectively moving through woods even in Open Ground, and not paying the cost in MF. This is ideal for an attacking force.

The other thing the German has to understand is that he's not an attacking force. He's an escaping force. He wants to evade combat at all costs unless it directly assists his escape. It's an unusual situation and he must take an unusual approach. This alone makes this old chestnut well worth playing.

If you think the German needs some help, the published balance (add an 8-1 Armor Leader to the German OB) probably won't do much. I would suggest combining this with reducing the Russian HIP allowance in SSR 5 from two squads to just one.
 

lionelc62

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Thanks for the AAR.

Played this one last year and enjoyed it immensely.
We gave the German (me) the published balance.

I won with the German because the AL gave me the EVP point missing to reach the EVP limit !

Lionel62
 

clavain

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Nice AAR Dave - I was wondering how this one had turned out. What sort of reaction did you have from the folks at the Board Game Cafe for playing ASL there?
 

Dave Olie

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Thanks for the AAR.

Played this one last year and enjoyed it immensely.
We gave the German (me) the published balance.

I won with the German because the AL gave me the EVP point missing to reach the EVP limit !

Lionel62
Yes, that is one advantage of the AL. One more VP for the German to get off the board. Well played!
 

Dave Olie

High King of New Scotland
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Nice AAR Dave - I was wondering how this one had turned out. What sort of reaction did you have from the folks at the Board Game Cafe for playing ASL there?
We were utterly ignored. I figure going the next time with a flamethrower. But it is an awesome place to play. Beer, food, good lighting, what's not to like?
 
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