Centurions Reverse! [216]: Second-and-one-half time's the charm

jrv

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This was my second-and-a-half time playing this scenario. The first time my opponent and I were trying out the CVPA. That did not go well, and we quit pretty early in the scenario. In the second playing I had the CVPA. My opponent tried out the hey-diddle-diddle-straight-up-the-middle attack. This is appealing because trying to get vehicles across those hills looks daunting. Unfortunately it also allows the CVPA to concentrate and get close. Fighting close is the CVPA strength; the TO&E for a CVPA platoon lists one-hundred-and-eleven knuckledusters, one for each hand plus extras.

In previous AARs, either my own or commenting on others, I and others have given various ideas on tactics. I won't repeat those here. In particular there was a list of all the BCFK units and their EVP. There are several units where the EVP are easy to get wrong. I still had four VP listed for my Carrier Cs on my notes even though the halfsquad crew is worth two CVP while inherent.

In this playing I had the BCFK. After having seen the valley attack not perform up to expectations I looked for alternatives. There are two goat paths that go up the hills, and I studied the possibilities of using them. Except for the Centurions the BCFK vehicles are quite fast. The problem the other way is that the hills are quite high, and reaching the peaks takes more than a turn. In fact for most of the vehicles their sixteen MP will gain them the same number of levels per turn as a squad: three levels for the vehicle vs. two levels during the MPh and one during the APh. That said, once they reach the top they can zoom along (for the most part; there's one deep wash on board 83 that needs to be crossed), and they can also come back off the ridge back to the valley floor in a jif. I decided to split my forces into three, one group on each side and one up the valley. The lighter, faster vehicles would climb the hills, while the less-vulnerable Centurions would drive down the valley with one Carrier.

I set up my two at-start Centurions on the 81I5 hill, with the 81mm MTR carrier abandoned and the MTR set up along with a 51mm MTR. The remaining 2.5 squads set up to seize part or all of the Hill 802 ridge. Various things went wrong with that plan, and they eventually ended up back on the hill.

My opponent set up out of LOS as much as possible. He was somewhat perplexed about where to put the HIP units. I agree with him. There aren't any really great locations. My plan was to SMOKE 81T3 in case the MMG tried to interdict CE vehicles and riders. The 81mm MTR then pounded a couple units in the 83S2 area.

The two goat paths I used were starting up 81V2 and 83J2. With careful planning its possible for the Daimler SC to be in 83O8 on turn two. I made an error in my planning, but never-the-less I sent the Daimler, the Oxford, the M9 and one Carrier C up the board 83 ridge and two Carrier Cs and the Cromwell up the board 81 ridge. Sending the Cromwell up the board 81 ridge was a recent addition to my plans. The two Centurions and a single Carrer C went to the center knob area.

Because they weren't needed for SMOKE at start, the two on-board Centurions came off the hill and positioned themselves to interdict any attempt to either cross the road toward 81I5 or to move towards the center knob. One actually hit a second line squad with a MC which it failed by > its ELR, becoming a broken second line halfsquad. In general the Centurions used Mohammed Ali float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bee tactics. They also were great tossing off sM Smoke. They did run out of HE quickly without any notable effects, and the AP was not very effective either.

The CVPA used LMGs as ATRs against the lightly-armored vehicles of the escape group. When one killed the M9 with walking-wounded squad, LMG, and 9-1 leader, I took a PTC. I did a quick count of the units likely or fairly likely to escape, and it was clear that I still had enough to win. On the board 81 ridge the Cromwell went tearing through some CVPA squads on the hill with multiple OVRs. It then rolled a CH on one squad, leaving only a CX CVPA halfsquad to contest the exit from the 81I5 hill. The units on the 81I5 hill had packed up the MTR & LMG and remanned the carrier. They drove off carrying an 8-1 leader as passenger. A couple 4-5-8 squads exited on foot. In the center the CVPA made a last, desparate dash at the Centurions. They suffered tremendous casualties but were able to toss a DC as one exited. A poor placement DR led to no effect. On the board 83 hill the CVPA LMGs killed the M9 and the Oxford carrier with LMGs, but the Daimler and the Carrier C (without its walking-wounded halfsquad) got away. The final total was seventy-eight EVP of sixty-five needed for the BCFK win. Of those units only one walking wounded halfsquad survived.

Overall I am satisfied that despite some concern to the contrary the BCFK have a reasonable chance of winning the scenario. By moving across the ridge tops the BCFK force the CPVA to move to attack, especially if they have set up strongly in the valley. Even with the mist they can be whittled down. And they are forced to keep units in the valley in case the BCFK run off the hills and get back on the road.

A different attack that might also work is to send all the reinforcements except the Centurions up the board 81 ridge, squeezing that CPVA force between two groups. The Centurions and the on-board forces would interdict units trying to cross from board 83 to 81.

I am still have trouble getting the rhythm of moving CVPA. My opponent was careful about IPM, but I think in the bustle of the scenario one or two units moved without all the necessary IPM exception paperwork completed. I could be wrong though.

This is a fun scenario with very asymmetric problems for the two sides. This is not Sherman or T-34 vs. Panther struggle, this is long-sticks-with-knives-on-the-end vs. atomic weapons fight. Yet the CVPA can potentially leave the BCFK force stunned in disbelief. Both sides need to be reaching deep into their bag of tricks for the edge.

JR
 

jrv

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One thing I noticed which I don't think has been commented on before is that the Carrier C-s and the M9–its Passengers really–(and the 3 inch MTR carrier) can FG with each other, and can potentially move in a platoon, making it possible that they might be able to perform platoon movement BFF with a fairly large FG. Three Carrier Cs would fire at nine FP after halving for B(F)F and prior to potential doubling for PBF. Carrier Riders might participate too, but their FP will be quartered for mounted fire as well as bounding (first) fire. I don't think this would be useful very often, but I throw it out there as something to think about.

JR
 

Juzek

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Instead of posting my own AAR on this, as “the opponent” I’ll add my comments to JR’s very thorough post.

I set up my two at-start Centurions on the 81I5 hill, with the 81mm MTR carrier abandoned and the MTR set up along with a 51mm MTR. The remaining 2.5 squads set up to seize part or all of the Hill 802 ridge. Various things went wrong with that plan, and they eventually ended up back on the hill.
After discovering my three 527s and 10-0 behind that ridge (see below) JR’s units beat a hasty retreat (voluntary break). I thought I saw an opportunity to attack his position and moved over the ridge to deal with the mortars that were a threat to the units on board 83. To quote JR, “various things went wrong with that plan,” and I probably would have been better off to wave the British squads bye-bye and wait for the vehicles moving along the ridges on board 81.
My opponent set up out of LOS as much as possible. He was somewhat perplexed about where to put the HIP units. I agree with him. There aren't any really great locations. My plan was to SMOKE 81T3 in case the MMG tried to interdict CE vehicles and riders. The 81mm MTR then pounded a couple units in the 83S2 area.
One of my concerns on Turn One was exposing too many units on board 83 to the mortars and tank guns from board 81, so the majority were set up out of LOS in and behind the woods at the base of the hill. I had the idea of entrenching the crew and MMG behind a woods hex out of LOS, and stacked a 527 with it to help them dig (CPVA get a -1 DRM to entrenching attempts). I had another 527 with a 9-1, and a 627 with an LMG along the forward edge of the set up area, to move toward the center on my first MPh.

On board 81 I could keep my units out of LOS behind a crest line, with a platoon led by the 10-0 to keep an eye on the board 81 British should they get frisky, or ready to contest movement along the board edge. Two stacks of 627s with an LMG and 2 DCs were set to move into the gully toward the road. The crew and MMG were HIP in the crag hex R7. The idea was to shoot at any Carriers that came through the choke point between the gully and the rice paddies, and maybe have a cross-fire attack from the entrenched MMG on board 83. That was the idea, anyway, but it didn’t work out.
The two goat paths I used were starting up 81V2 and 83J2. With careful planning its possible for the Daimler SC to be in 83O8 on turn two. I made an error in my planning, but never-the-less I sent the Daimler, the Oxford, the M9 and one Carrier C up the board 83 ridge and two Carrier Cs and the Cromwell up the board 81 ridge. Sending the Cromwell up the board 81 ridge was a recent addition to my plans. The two Centurions and a single Carrier C went to the center knob area.
The two Centurions from board 81 and the two reinforcing Centurions dominated the center, shooting up my squads as they tried to move to intercept his move through the hills on board 83. My set up on that side did not fully anticipate that attack route. There should be some force up at the upper edge of the set up area.
[snip]
In general, the Centurions used Mohammed Ali float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bee tactics. They also were great tossing off sM Smoke. They did run out of HE quickly without any notable effects, and the AP was not very effective either.
JR made very good use of the Gyro-stabilized guns on the Centurions. First, move into position to fire on a unit, stop, fire the Gun with AP to acquire the target then fire the CMG at full-strength at the same target. At normal range you get 4 FP +1 or +0 (usually - there’s not much cover on these boards). At point blank range you get an 8FP attack. Then start up and move away. He saved his HE attempts until it was important and got a couple hits, but I think three of them ended the game without HE.
The CVPA used LMGs as ATRs against the lightly-armored vehicles of the escape group. When one killed the M9 with walking-wounded squad, LMG, and 9-1 leader, I took a PTC.
This was a high point for the CPVA: 8 exit points in one shot! They can’t do much against the Centurions or the Cromwell unless the British player gets careless with them and allows the CPVA squads to get close with their DCs or advance into CC. CPVA are immune to PAATC so they are a threat. JR did not give the CVPA squads many opportunities to get close, and in the few cases where they could his vehicles were in Motion, making a successful attack difficult. I think the only CC vs AFV success I had was late in the game against a stopped carrier on that little knob in the center, and that vehicle was more of an insurance policy in case his other vehicles had trouble, which they didn’t.

The CPVA must focus on the Walking Wounded riders on the carriers, the weakly-armored half-track and carriers. Just making the WW half-squad riders bail is essentially a kill; they won’t make it on foot. Unless they survive the bail out unbroken or rally quickly, they aren’t likely to re-load in time to make an exit.
[snip]
In the center the CVPA made a last, desperate dash at the Centurions. They suffered tremendous casualties but were able to toss a DC as one exited. A poor placement DR led to no effect.
I assigned two DCs to 8-0 leaders with the idea that they didn’t have to take PAATCs, forgetting that the CVPA were immune to PAATC. The DCs should all be given to 627s - it takes three MC breaks to keep them from reaching their target: one to stripe, one to casualty reduce, and one to kill the HS. That doesn’t account for ELR or CR rolls, but that’s the idea. The thrown DC at the end was true desperation.
[snip]
This is a fun scenario with very asymmetric problems for the two sides. This is not Sherman or T-34 vs. Panther struggle, this is long-sticks-with-knives-on-the-end vs. atomic weapons fight. Yet the CVPA can potentially leave the BCFK force stunned in disbelief. Both sides need to be reaching deep into their bag of tricks for the edge.
I agree. The FW scenarios I’ve played so far are this kind of David v. Goliath affair. JR did not highlight this, but with the British 5 hex range against the CVPA's 2 they can shoot at normal range and the Chinese can't shoot back. The four Centurion IIIs and a Cromwell VII face little more than CC, DCs, and extremely low odds MG attacks. They also have lots of SMOKE options.

The Chinese are not helpless, though. Their 6 MGs can kill the carriers, armored car, and halftrack, and their 6 Assault Engineers have decent odds against the British armor in the right situation, especially against the open-topped carriers and the halftrack. Even the 2nd line squads are a threat the Brits need to watch. Also, the VC ask a lot: Brits must exit 65 points out of 110 across the long length of the map in 6 turns, over terrain that either constricts their movement through the center or takes lots of time to move through the hills, double-crests, and gullies of boards 81 and 83. 16 of their exit points could come from 4 squads of Walking Wounded that are worth double exit points but are not likely to make it unless they are passengers or riders. 1 1/2 of those can be passengers but the rest will be riding on the Carrier Cs, vulnerable to small arms and MG fire. The CVPA also has lots of leaders: a total of 7 for 15 squads. That matters when considering the possibility of Infantry Platoon Movement, the most significant addition to the infantry rules introduced in FW.

Unless the British get careless with their tanks the best approach for the CVPA is to knock the WW riders off the carriers, take out the OT carriers and the half track with either MG To Hit/Kill or CC, and if lucky get a chance at a Centurion or the Cromwell. Anything they can do to delay movement is a plus too.

This was a very interesting game, and I’m content with my play, with the usual 2nd-guessing we all do after the fact.
 

Justiciar

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....and I’m content with my play, with the usual 2nd-guessing we all do after the fact.
Wait what!? The Professional* musician says.... "I’m content with my play, with the usual 2nd-guessing we all do after the fact."

Hmmm...in the distance I hear an oboe making cascading sounds to lower notes, ending in a flat note. :(
 

Juzek

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Wait what!? The Professional* musician says.... "I’m content with my play, with the usual 2nd-guessing we all do after the fact."

Hmmm...in the distance I hear an oboe making cascading sounds to lower notes, ending in a flat note. :(
No need to bring my daughter into this - don't blame her for the sins of her father. Fact is, its very rare that a musician ever performs without error; we just learn to glance at the guy next to us when something goes wrong. I can always think of things I wish I'd played better, unlike those that have the luxury of editing their work ad infinitum before it is published.
 

Ganjulama

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Best scenario in the module IMHO. Balanced at a high level of play with highly contrasting forces. It’s now in my top 10.
 

JR Brackin

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No need to bring my daughter into this - don't blame her for the sins of her father. Fact is, its very rare that a musician ever performs without error; we just learn to glance at the guy next to us when something goes wrong. I can always think of things I wish I'd played better, unlike those that have the luxury of editing their work ad infinitum before it is published.
Although you were blaming your daughter for being late - however despite that JR found a way to be later.
 
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