ASLOK XXXV AAR

J. R. Tracy

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After a couple years off I returned to the ASL Oktoberfest in Cleveland this year. I picked up GorGor and his gear early Wednesday morning and hit the road.

From gallery of jrtracy


After a great meal at Der Braumeister, GorGor and I warmed up with Panther Cullfrom the new Death to Fascism pack. This is a nifty card that sees a force of 101AB paratroopers teamed up with Cromwells and a Challenger from 11th Armoured, battling Panthers and infantry from the 107th Panzer Brigade on Hell's Highway. It was a fun, tight game with Steve whacking a Panther on the final turn to take the win.

Thursday morning I plunged into the GROFAZ, details to come in the posts below.

Great week, and it was good seeing so many faces. Numbers were still down from COVID, but I think there were over a 110 players passing through. I missed a lot of our European friends, but I hope they'll make it back next year.

Congratulations Bob, on the win! And of course, thank you Bret and Wild Bill for all your hard work - looking forward to returning next fall.
 

J. R. Tracy

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(I kicked off GROFAZ play with the Tincans & Popguns mini, featuring early war armor and anti-tank guns)

Scenario

FrF 77 Ghostbusters

Opponent

Nathan Wegener
From gallery of jrtracy
The Pride of Kansas City

Situation

It’s June 1940, and my 7. Panzer-Division troops are driving down boards 42 and 62, needing to get 18 CVP worth of men and armor into a narrow strip of hexes deep in French territory. I have eight elite motorcycle squads supported by four panzers, with a pair of armored cars following on as reinforcements. Nathan is defending with ten first liners backed by a 37* popgun, a 25LL ATG and a pair of the comical-yet-lethal Laffly W15T CC gun trucks, each sporting a backward-facing 47L ATG on an unarmored chassis. A wandering PanPan appears on turn two to support the French cause. Nathan can increase my CVP target by three CVP for every Laffly he exits off his friendly board edge.

Plan

Nathan had to defend the width of the playing area so I chose to concentrate on one board. Board 62 has a valley with some advantages to the attacker (orchards blocking LOS from the valley rim, etc) but overall seemed easily defended, so I opted for a board 42 thrust. Nathan would be facing me from strong stone building positions but I figured if I could get past this line with my infantry, they could work their way through the woods to the victory area while my panzers and PSWs overwhelmed his ATG assets in the open portion of the board.

From gallery of jrtracy
Born to ride

Early Going

Without risking freeze sleaze I was able to beat up the forward French infantry screen and get a reinforced infantry platoon into the woods. The French MMG firing from 42V2/L1 shot my 248 off its bikes but it battle-hardened when it hit the pavement. With newfound motivation, it raced ahead to be a nuisance in Nathan’s rear. The MMG had support from the 37* in 42Q2 and the 25LL in 42U3, which proceeded to engage my armor. My PzIVC succumbed to Shock at the hands of the Puteaux but the 25LL malfunctioned on its second shot, a huge break for me.

Uh-Oh!

I kept a platoon on its bikes in my backfield, waiting for the road to be cleared for a dash to the victory area. I underestimated the speed of a PanPan, however, and was soon facing an armored car astride my path. I decided to use my ACs to clear the way – the PSW 231(8R) met flaming death at the hands of a Laffly (they set up HIP like ATGs) and the 232 failed to kill the PanPan. However, it absorbed Nathan’s first fire, so a PzIVD was able to finish it off and open the way for the cyclists. This was a great move by Nathan that nearly paid off.

From gallery of jrtracy
sDs cover the kill zone

Big Moment

Nathan redeployed his Laffly to 42Q1 to cover the road, with the 37* in support. However, the Puteaux broke on its next shot and the Laffly missed as first my PzII and then my surviving PSW 232 raced by. I then overran the Laffly with a PzIV and eliminated the threat. Combined with my infantry in the woods, I had enough for victory but Nathan still had a shot with a counterattack.

From gallery of jrtracy
Clearing the town

Endgame

Nathan was torn between using his remaining Laffly to engage my armor or racing it off to increase my CVP target. He chose the latter, though I was still over the threshold thanks to my last PzIVD reaching the victory area. There were still loads of French infantry in the vicinity, however, and on the last player turn Nathan repaired the Puteaux. To my horror I realized the Puteaux was facing the rear of the PzIVD hull, but fortunately Nathan missed the hull and bounced a round off the turret before losing ROF. He managed to double-time a squad through my defensive fire and passed his PAATC to take a crack at the PzIVD in CC. He rolled low but not low enough – an escorting German squad and his CX status combined to save me from immobilization, leaving me with just enough CVP for the win.

From gallery of jrtracy
Assaulting the manor

MVP

This was a team effort for the Germans, though the PzIVD that took out the PanPan and overran the Laffly did solid work. Nathan’s Puteaux gunners would have claimed the trophy with a second kill of the game at the end, but were denied by my turret armor.

Lessons Learned

I was very careless offering up my rear hull to the 37* - I was complacent since it was malfunctioned but that’s no reason to disregard the possibility of repair. Otherwise, I refreshed my knowledge of motorcycles and have newfound respect for soft-skinned AT trucks!

From gallery of jrtracy
The final challenge

Scenario Impressions

I think this is a pretty tight scenario – Nathan had a good defense and a solid plan, and that gambit with the PanPan could have really ruined my day. I like the German order of battle but the VC are tough given the French options. They can enter from offmap on either flank on turn one – Nathan only utilized this with a single squad but I could see holding off at least a platoon in order to directly respond to the German attack.

(1-0 in both the mini and the GROFAZ)
 
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J. R. Tracy

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(I was happy to find myself paired up with newly-retired Chad in the second round of Tincans & Popguns - great guy and a fun opponent)

Scenario

PT 186 Beaufort’s Feast

Opponent

Chad Cummins
From gallery of jrtracy
Deep State operative

Situation

This is a meeting engagement in May of 1940, with my eleven German squads entering first, supported by a PzIIF, three PzIIIFs, and a PzIVD. I am attacking down boards 56 and 57, and need to a have good order MMC next to one of two mid-board crossroads at the end of six turns. Chad enters with eighteen(!) first line squads supported by six(!) Somua S35s(!). We both have four leaders, while my support weapons include a pair of DCs while he has an HMG to help the French cause. I had a radio and a module of 80mm battalion mortar OBA while Chad had a 70mm module directed by an offboard observer.

From gallery of jrtracy
So far to go

Plan

Given the nature of the dual entry and the speed of the Somuas, Chad could conceivably interdict my advance and beat me to the crossroads. Therefore I decided to sacrifice one panzer by sending it far enough to cover the last couple road hexes of the French turn one movement possibilities, and use the rest as a deterrent to aggressive Somua shenanigans. I sent a platoon of infantry down board 57 with a PzIIIF in support. The remaining tanks and infantry headed for the board 56 crossroads, which was blessed with more cover and rally potential. I hoped to establish myself before the French infantry arrived and hang on till game end.

From gallery of jrtracy
Panicked panzers prepare to flee

Early Going

My PzIIF crew read their orders, held my gaze for a moment, and drove off to their doom. The little panzer did its job of slowing the French infantry, but was quickly trampled by a thundering herd of S35s. Meanwhile my infantry established itself around the two crossroads, with the panzers deployed in support as Chad approached. Chad’s OBA was a force early and often, breaking several squads and generally making life miserable, while pairs of S35s hunted down my PzIIIFs. Excellent luck with my sDs extended the armor game, but by turn five of six, all my tanks were dead.

From gallery of jrtracy
The OBA finds its mark

Uh-Oh!

This game was an endless string of Uh-Ohs from the get-go, when Chad’s spotting round landed in the middle of a trio of panzers, scattering them like armored cockroaches. I think we reached peak Uh-Oh on the left flank, where I had the board 57 crossroads well defended in the final stages, held by a leader and two squads, one elite. First Chad’s sniper claimed the leader. Then my elite squad rolled up a Heat of Battle on a morale check, but instead of the prescribed hero creation, it decided to go berserk and charged into a hellstorm. Last and not least, Chad’s sniper woke up again. Before I continue, an aside: Chad hates snipers. He thinks they create too much chaos and uncertainty. He’s a mature adult, with considered and well-founded opinions on most issues, but on this particular topic he admits he’s a big baby. Well, maybe he doesn’t admit it, but I certainly call him that along with a few other choice terms, all while laughing derisively. Somewhere, O. Henry was looking on with interest. Sure enough, the activation whacked my remaining board 57 squad, freeing up the French forces preparing to seize the crossroads. Though a mere 3, the French SAN was a pain in my German butt all game, with that last activation the cherry-shaped glob of gore on top of a bloody Sniper sundae.

From gallery of jrtracy
Frozen

Big Moment

Pressed on three sides, my board 56 troops were feeling the heat. I had two good order squads on the ground level of 56Q5 next to the crossroads, with a broken 9-1 and a broken MMG/247 upstairs under DM. The VC stated I had to be little-a adjacent to the crossroads, so upstairs was fine, but going into the Rally Phase of Chad’s final turn that seemed irrelevant…until the 9-1 rolled a four and did the same for the halfsquad. Suddenly we’re back in business!

From gallery of jrtracy
This will not end well

Endgame

With the board 57 crossroad secured, Chad could give the board 56 defenders his undivided attention. He got all his infantry in range while crashing a Somua through the front door of 56Q5. I put residual down to slow his assault but he still had a lot of infantry ready to pile in for close combat. However, his real problem was my upstairs position. He opened with a 24(+3) encircling shot that failed to generate an effect. A follow up 12(+2) landed but I passed the morale checks, as I did after a 16(+3) shot. He scraped up a last gasp 8(+3), but again, no effect. Somehow, as the smoke cleared, I still had good order troops in position, just enough to claim a razor-thin victory.

From gallery of jrtracy
A firelane buys some time

MVP

Though ineffective for most of the game, I have to give the MVP to my 9-1 for pulling out a clutch rally in the final stretch. Had Chad won, that sniper would certainly deserve the trophy.

Lessons Learned

Smoke dischargers and motion attempts were the order of the day, and on wide open boards such as these, you have to make sure to reorient your vehicle to maximize your chance of escape. Also, a matchup between onboard radio-directed OBA and an offboard observer is no matchup at all – the offboard observer wins hands down.

From gallery of jrtracy
Closing time at the Last Chance Saloon

Scenario Impressions

This scenario is pretty pro-French on ROAR, but the German balance is a bit of a joke. The loss of a 9-1 armor leader is just not a big deal for the French, given the forces involved. The panzers are no match for the S35s, and the OBA disparity is mentioned above. Eighteen squads allow the French to be crazy-aggressive, while the Somuas hunt down their German counterparts. It’s an interesting situation but I needed insane luck to prevail after a largely mistake-free game. If I’m playing this with a kidney on the line, give me the French every time.

(2-0 in GROFAZ and moving on to the mini final)
 
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J. R. Tracy

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(We combined the deciding game of the Tincans mini with the opening round of the Best of the Best on Friday morning)

Scenario

HF6 Jackpot Jones

Opponent

Maurizio Grassi
From gallery of jrtracy
Fresh from the Sunshine State

Situation

It’s January 1945 in the not-so-quiet village of Hatten. Maurizio has a dozen German squads supported by a Panther, two PzIVJs, and a trio of SPW 250/1s attacking my nine squads of dogfaces. I also have three M18 TDs, two of which can set up HIP. Maurizio is amply supplied with machineguns and a PSK, while I have a pair each of MMGs, Brandt mortars, and BAZ ‘45s. Maurizio must capture nine of the ten building locations within two hexes of K21, aka “The Fort” – if he has more mobile AFVs with functioning MAs at game end, he only needs eight.

From gallery of jrtracy
A prudent opening

Plan

A standard Hatten SSR allowed me to rubble two building locations so I rubbled I21 and I22. This prevented bypass of those hexes, protecting the north flank of the victory area, and allowing my mortars to operate from +3 terrain. Each location generates a second randomly-located rubble by the same SSR, but these ended up far away from the action. I put MTR-armed squads in each rubble hex, to guard the approach through the northern orchards and to lay WP on likely firing positions for Maurizio’s HMG/MMG/MMG deathstar.

I HIP’d mutually supporting TDs in M20 and N20, with my armor leader in N20, screened by infantry in foxholes in M19 and M18. These protected my south flank and guarded against panzers sweeping through and pushing into my rear. The third TD was in G27, guarding against a deep penetration by the SPWs and ready to relocate once the main thrust was identified. One squad was forward in K16, backed by a 7-0 in L17, while a halfsquad sat in D19 to strip concealment on any attack from that direction.

My Bazookas were in H21 (in a foxhole with a halfsquad) and M19 (added protection for the TDs), while both MMGs were in the K20 building. My dummies were on the periphery, generally impersonating TDs and halfsquads. The general plan was to delay as long as possible and protect rout paths at all costs. I only needed to hold three locations at most, two if I won the armor battle, for six turns.

From gallery of jrtracy
Murderous intent

Early Going

Maurizio entered the bulk of his strength in the F-L hexrow corridor, with the SPWs and a cluster of halfsquads coming in around A20. The Panther parked in O17 as my TDs huddled under their invisibility cloaks. Maurizio rolled up my K16 666 but not before the I21 mortar landed a WP critical hit on a full platoon in J15. It only netted a broken squad but the tone was set for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, my D19 screen died in the line of duty but Maurizio’s halfsquads made little headway beyond that point, with most taking comfort in the nurturing arms of the 8-0 in charge of that flank.
Uh-Oh!

On turn two I suddenly felt under pressure from all sides. The SPWs sussed out my G27 TD without loss before disappearing out of my LOS, and the German infantry pushed up into K18 and L17 with the PzIVJs in close support. Finally, the Panther broke my M19 BAZ squad before firing up its engines and hopping the hedge. I was down a squad and a half and the Germans were on my doorstep – I needed things to turn around in a hurry.

From gallery of jrtracy
A doomed devil squad

Big Moment

In the bottom of turn two, Jackpot Jones revealed himself for a DI shot on the Panther, but rolled an eight. Sensing impending doom, I went for an APCR Intensive Fire shot, which apparently bounced off the ammo rack and cut the TC in half before igniting the Panther’s fuel tank. Maurzio then taught me a string of interesting words that I’ll have to try next time I’m in an Italian restaurant.

From gallery of jrtracy
Tormented by Hanomags

Endgame

With the Panther out of the game, Jackpot began to hammer the German infantry in the L16 building, breaking several squads. My I21 mortar continued to do damage – another WP shot produced back-to-back box cars on a pair of German squads, who proceeded to roll twelve and eleven in their ensuing Rally Phase. An SPW scouting for my remaing Hellcat went down to an MMG shot, while another seeking to cut rout paths was stunned by point blank fire. Maurizio failed a string of sN and Bounding Fire rolls, leaving my infantry unscathed and awaiting his assault. I then unleashed a torrent of threes that sealed the deal – Maurizio felt the game was out of reach and called it a day.

From gallery of jrtracy
That's just clean living

MVP

Jackpot Jones himself had a pretty good day but I have to hand it to the mortar squad in I21 for a performance above and beyond expectations. The Brandt 60mm mortar is one of my favorite support weapons in ASL, but is hard to use in a stone building environment. However, a few well-placed Willy Pete rounds proved lethal and the squad itself was formidable in defense. Sadly, no German unit stood out as the dice denied Maurizio many good opportunities.

From gallery of jrtracy
Blunting another assault

Lessons Learned

I overreacted to the SPWs scouting out my G27 TD – they really weren’t a threat so I should’ve just let them discover me and let them go, rather than waste a shot with other threats in the vicinity. Also, my forward picket squad in K16 was poorly positioned to escape. I would still put him there if I play this again but I wouldn’t bother with the leader in L17 – if the squad gets away, great, but no reason to risk a leader up front given the low chance of a DM rally.

From gallery of jrtracy
Panzers pushing

Scenario Impressions

This game was determined by the dice but I’ve enjoyed the scenario in the past, narrowly beating Bob Bendis’ Americans a couple years ago. I think it’s very even, with German firepower and morale matching up well against Americans defending in good terrain. The TDs are a crap shoot, vulnerable but with a powerful APCR round (assuming they have one in the rack). Given reasonable luck on both sides, this should be a tense, even game. I owe Maurizio another scenario down the road to make up for this debacle!

(That captured the mini event and left me 3-0 in the GROFAZ)
 
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J. R. Tracy

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(Next up in the GROFAZ was a familiar face)

Scenario

J1 Urbane Gorillas

Opponent

Chad Cummins
From gallery of jrtracy
Chadtoberfest continues

Situation

Chad’s Soviets are putting the boot to Vienna in April 1945. He is attacking with a baker’s dozen of 458s, supported by a 9-2-directed HMG, an FT, two DCs, three T-34/85s, and a pair of reinforcing IS-2ms accompanied by five 628s. I am facing this with eleven 658s (we gave the Germans the balance before dicing for sides), a Panther, a PzIVJ, and an SPW, with a 9-2 armor leader for added kicks. I also have a PSK and a medium MG along with three lights, and an Flak 18. Chad has to take two of three buildings, one a factory representing St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and two buildings on the far side of a canal, in seven turns. The unique wrinkle in this scenario is the Soviet Sniper – on attack drs of one or two it acts normally, but on a three or a four, it generates Partisans, either 127s, 7-0s, or Heroes, depending on a subsequent roll. Given the Soviet SAN of six, this promised to be a central feature of the action.

From gallery of jrtracy
Welcome to the Monkey House

Plan

Seven turns is a loooong time in this one, as the Soviets really only need to go about twelve hexes to reach their objectives. I set up to meet them early and delay them as long as possible. I’d hold the Cathedral as long as I could but really hoped to win the game on the far side of the canal. I committed two squads and a leader to the far side, two squads to guard my left against possible reinforcement entry on the east edge, two squads to Cathedral defense, and the balance to forward positions. Both tanks were behind the wall in front of the Cathedral. The 88L was in 22W2 guarding the right-hand bridge. In a controversial move, I put the 9-2 in the Panther – always keep ‘em guessing!

From gallery of jrtracy
Red wave on the right

Early Going

Chad put his HMG up in 23G6/L2, directed by the 9-2 as expected. Most of his forces faced my center and right. As I’d hoped, my pickets slowed his initial moves, with my 9-1-directed MMG wreaking havoc from 23D9/L2. The Russian flamethrower was covered in bloody fingerprints by the time Chad’s 8-0 pulled it out from under a corpse. My own 8-0 led two 658s to the far bank before falling to a Sniper, which topped that by then sending my SPW home. The pace was about what I wanted but the trick was falling back in good order in the face of growing pressure.

From gallery of jrtracy
Murderer's Row

Uh-Oh!

127s! My God, so many 127s! Chad wisely put his Sniper behind my forces, where it had a huge impact. After killing my 8-0 and Recalling my Hanomag, it became a Partisan Fun Factory. He generated seven in total (plus a couple 7-0s), generally popping up in BB4 and BB6 (nearest building, woods, or sewer entrance to a random location DR) and my far-bank troops had their hands full. I broke the first to appear but it self-rallied in open ground, generating an 8-0 in the process. That was a harbinger of things to come, as my 658s spent far too much time dealing with 127s when they should have been shooting 458s.

From gallery of jrtracy
Yet another Kickstarter I forgot I ordered

Big Moment

Despite the 127s and a swift kill of my HD PzIVJ, I felt like I was in a decent position as Chad set up for his cross-canal assault on the penultimate turn. However, my cause was undermined by a clutch sD roll by a T-34 in the 22X4 bridge entrance hex, allowing his infantry to pile through relatively unscathed. I put down loads of residual but between his armor and the smoke, I just couldn’t land a punch.

From gallery of jrtracy
"Is it too late to talk this out?"

Endgame

Chad was nicely set up for the big crunch on the final turn. However, I had a fighting chance, with squads in 22Z1 and 22Z2 in the target building and the Panther just behind. Chad crashed an IS-2m through the window of 22Z1, but not before I laid down a ton of RFP. The second IS-2m wheeled around the back side – my Panther held fire, preferring to wait for a Final Fire shot on the Z1 AFV, but Chad killed it with Bounding Fire. Chad’s infantry moved forward through my residual but survived unscathed. I now faced blistering Advancing Fire which broke the Z1 squad. All that remained was the Z2 unit, unable to rout upstairs due to another fricking Partisan. Chad advanced in for CC to finish the job, which he did handily for a well-earned win.

From gallery of jrtracy
One man gathers what another man spills

MVP

The T-34 crew that blew smoke in X4 deserves mention, as does the IS-2m TC that killed my Panther. However, the true star of the game was the unnamed political officer who fired up the Viennese populace, urging them to take to the streets against the hated SS. They didn’t inflict any damage on their own, but they absorbed so much attention and firepower that Chad’s main attack faced much less resistance than it would have otherwise. On the German side, my 9-1 had a good early game but sadly did not have much impact as things went down to the wire.

From gallery of jrtracy
Annoying beyond belief

Lessons Learned

I don’t think I played the final turn as effectively as I could have – I think I should’ve at least tried to knock out the IS-2m when it entered Z1, but having failed to do so, there was no reason not to shoot at the one coming up behind. I also should’ve risked backblast on a panzerfaust shot by one of the squads – Chad had so many troops across the river it was time to take more chances, not less.

From gallery of jrtracy
An der schönen, blauen Donau

Scenario Impressions

This card has a well-deserved reputation as a classic. Chad was reluctant at first, feeling it was too swingy, but I think it’s big enough that the dice ultimately even out. It is pro-Soviet as printed but the extra 658 squares it up nicely. The German has several options on defense, and can pull a surprise or two with the 88L if he’s feeling sassy. Being able to enter the reinforcements from either edge gives the Reds some options, and of course the Partisan generation assures every game will have a unique narrative. Overall, a ton a fun and despite having played it many times, I’m good for several more.

(Tough loss but a great game - 3-1 overall)
 

J. R. Tracy

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(Last up, I paired with Joe for a friendly game that turned out to be for fourth place overall!)

Scenario

DTF 12 Not One Step Back

Opponent

Joe Steadman
From gallery of jrtracy
Zenmaster Joe

Situation

In the Don Bend, my Soviets are counterattacking across board v into the board 3 village in July of ’42. I have a KV-1, three T-34/M41s, and three T-60/M42s entering on turn one, followed by six 527s and sixteen(!) 447s on turn two. Joe is defending with eleven 467s forward, backed by a 37L ATG and a 75 (not 75L) ATG, a converted war-booty artillery piece. On turn three of eight, Joe gets three more 467s and a Marder commanded by a 9-2 armor leader. My mission is to control four of the six multi-hex buildings, one of which is a factory by SSR. This being a DFT scenario, we each get to buy our support weapons, so I don’t know exactly what I’ll be facing in that regard. Also, by SSR early-war doctrine is in effect, so I must move all my infantry before any AFVs, reducing the potential impact of VBM freeze sleaze.

From gallery of jrtracy
Humble beginnings

Plan

Joe’s setup didn’t give me many clues – his infantry was restricted to a narrow band of board v, though his ordnance had more options. I decided to go hard left, using my armor to break or park on top of the infantry I could see, and following up with the bulk of my force. I spent six precious purchase points on an HMG, which I planned to deploy on the overlay-hill in the center of board v. That would be supported by a full platoon, giving Joe some pressure in the middle, while a single squad would sprint down the right flank until it found trouble. I hoped to break into town from the left, establishing a pair of T-34s on the 3W8 ridge before the Marder arrived. With luck the center of town would fall early and the battle would be for the 3M2 factory and the 3L4 building.

From gallery of jrtracy
Yo, bum rush the show

Early Going

The push down the left went better than expected, as I rolled up the squad and two half squads defending that flank, along with their leader. A 247 had a brief and shining moment as a 248 before succumbing. In the center, I humped the HMG into vO5 where it proceeded to attract all sorts of attention the rest of the game. I’m not sure it fired more than one shot, as it eventually disappeared beneath a growing mound of bodies. Joe sent about half his force back into town in the center, with the balance defending the approach through vM7 and vicinity. Moving my radioless tanks in two-vehicle platoons, I indeed got two T-34s on top of the ridge before moving through town.

From gallery of jrtracy
Surprise party

Uh-Oh!

My mixed platoon of a T-34 and T-60 ended a turn in motion in 3U3 and 3U4. Joe’s 37L popped up in 3U2 and sanctioned both in quick succession – nice little recon by death! That 37L and its crew proceeded to be a major pain for the next couple turns.

From gallery of jrtracy
Pushing through town

Big Moment

After finally dealing with the 37L, I had some momentum and was pressing through town with my infantry. Joe’s Marder won a nice little duel with a ridge-top T-34 but I had a leg up elsewhere. The last Germans between me and my final assault was Joe’s MMG squad, which had just retreated from the 3R3 building to 3Q4. I hit it with a 24(0) shot – nothing. I followed with a 12(+1) and an 8(+1) – nothing and more nothing. No one else had a shot so I moved – Joe immediately laid a firelane down the Q hex row out to vQ7, stopping my movement on that flank. I placed a captured Candygram on the MMG squad, taking some comfort in the manner of its pending demise. In Joe’s Final Fire, he dealt an 8(+3) to a pair of 527s, ELRing both. In the ensuing AFPh, I rolled an eleven for the DC and the rest of my force failed to make a scratch. That single unit halted my attack in its tracks, reducing my advance to all of one hex. Oh, to add insult to injury, my Commissar proceeded to methodically shoot his way through the former 527s before rejoining the attack.

From gallery of jrtracy
Looking for love in too many faces

Endgame

Once I was past the MMG from Hell, I fought my way into the 3L4 building while the KV and my remaining T-60s took positions along 3P3-3N4. The Marder challenged them but fell to the KV. Joe stepped out of the K4 building, yielding it to me in the face of a ton of firepower, but now had to take it back. Meanwhile, the vL9 building was empty. I managed to get a couple squads into L9 along with the Commissar. Now Joe had to retake two buildings, but he managed to get a full platoon into each. However, though he could reach all my troops in the 3L4 building, I was able to shield an upstairs squad in vL9. Joe had to eliminate it outright with Advancing Fire, and came up short.

From gallery of jrtracy
Stymied

MVP

On the Soviet side, it was a joint effort, with no single unit dominating, truly a triumph of the proletariat. I have a bone to pick with my blood-spattered Commissar, but he was just doing his job. Joe, however, had multiple candidates – the 37L crew, the MMG team, and the 9-2 armor leader all had great games. Joe blew the sD on the Marder after rolling into LOS. Given my buttoned-up status and red numbers (we were dueling at 17 hexes), his 9-2-directed OT vehicle actually had an edge despite the smoke. It was a cool move that paid off handsomely.

Lessons Learned

With 22 squads and an expendable 6+1, I should’ve set up a Human Wave. I Banzai all the time with the Japanese but a Soviet Human Wave is usually a bad idea. Here, however, I had the terrain and unit concentration to make it feasible.

From gallery of jrtracy
Counterattack

Scenario Impressions

We both felt this is pro-Soviet, at least on the first playing. Joe played very well and had some good dice, but still was behind the curve down the stretch. The German has too many things to figure out and the time/space tradeoffs aren’t immediately obvious. Having played it once, I think Joe and I could do a solid job with the defense. I believe both guns need to be closer to the endgame action (the 37L was fine, but his 75 was forward on his left flank) and some more infantry earmarked for falling back immediately. Still, it’s an interesting card and worthy of further play. Despite its size it plays at a good clip – we might see it again in Albany.

From gallery of jrtracy
The last gasp

(Good game, with good company, and a nice wrap to my return to ASLOK - 4-1 and fourth place in the GROFAZ)
 

Jacometti

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JR, your AARs are amazing in detail and narration. How and where you find the time and inspiration boggles the mind.

How did you find the "reverse" Russian Early War Historical rule in "Not One Step Back!" ? We hoped it would feel more authentic (ie more of a hassle!) than the original wording, which forces the tanks to go first, allowing for most of the moves one would normally make including VBM freezing.
 

J. R. Tracy

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How did you find the "reverse" Russian Early War Historical rule in "Not One Step Back!" ? We hoped it would feel more authentic (ie more of a hassle!) than the original wording, which forces the tanks to go first, allowing for most of the moves one would normally make including VBM freezing.
Peter, I really like it - it's limiting in an historically flavorful way, moreso than the 'AFV first' form. It's a must in this scenario given the paucity of German AT assets. Barring the occasional 2 or 3 by VBM'd infantry the Red armor could freeze with near impunity.
 

Jacometti

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Thanks for the feedback, JR.

I have played a couple of games with Early War Russian Doctrine from Hakkaa Paale and I never felt it was much of a burden, at all.

I think it would have been much harder for the Russian player if the rule had been reversed, the way we did it in this scenario.

I remember many playtest games where I would just stare at my Russian tanks and feel the frustration.....moving them after all Infantry has been exposed to withering German infantry fire really degrades their value. I hope many Russian players will feel the same.

As for balance, this will have to play itself out over the coming months. The German setup is complex and critical.....certainly the limited AT assets should support each other, but there are tons of good spots for both.
 

JoeArthur

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Maurzio then taught me a string of interesting words that I’ll have to try next time I’m in an Italian restaurant.
An Italian once told me it is a great language for swearing and opera 😁

I've played this twice as the US and lost both times. I thought it was tough on the US. My tactic though was to rubble the back buildings and then move the mortars there. The tank destroyers were at the back of the board as well. Looks like that is the wrong choice...............

In one game both my mortars did not get WP on their first try :rolleyes:

Many thanks for a fun AAR JR.
 

nebel

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Thanks JR enjoyed reading about our adventure! 🆒
Hope we get a chance to face off again soon!
 
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