Crucible of Steel

THE GOOD
Fantastic Scenarios
THE BAD
Unrelated counters
ORIGINALITY
5.00 star(s)
PRESENTATION
5.00 star(s)
FUN
4.00 star(s)
PLAYER'S VERDICT

9 'Superb'

VonHutier

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So, Crucible of Steel arrived today..

Am I happy with it ? Generally, yes ...fantastic scenarios, mapboards, counters...

Except....I've got a lot of PTO counters ( Japanese/American) pertaining to Bloody Jungle or whatever..

I paid for a Kursk based scenario set ( got it ) but the majority of counters are PTO ( Which I love but hey )...

Am I wrong to feel shafted ?
 

Eagle4ty

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The reasons are probably two fold at least.
  1. There just weren't that many new type counters introduced in CoS because that time period and theater was extensively covered by the core modules (or SL/ASL in general). Beyond the aircraft (truly a treat), the anti-mobility squads, a few Assault Engineer squads (SS, Wehrmacht & Soviet) and perhaps a few AFVs yet to be represented in the core modules, what was left to publish. Given the limited scope of the campaign and time period represented there simply wasn't all that much new to offer (at least when it came to counters).
  2. In the initial publication of B&J there were some problems encountered in production of counters provided IIRC. Primarily some of the counters were issued with a white core (particularly annoying to some) and there were some back printed with incorrect information. B&J offered a wealth of new types presented to the ASL PTO TOE, especially for Axis & Allied Minors, and this in itself would lead to a large number of counters needing reissue in and of itself. That BFP would go the extra mile to still provide corrections to this module in CoS as opposed to just offering them as a separate replacement is a reason for sincere appreciation for their efforts and should not be a point of criticism (at least as I see it).
All that said I have found that when BFP makes a mistake they have gone out of their way (above & beyond in my estimation) to make things right and to the benefit of the player/purchaser. This is certainly no reason to feel shafted in any respect, especially if one has dealt with some other producers of ASL materials. There's a lot of gold in them thar hills!
 

Jeffery

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What I would like from a review is more information about the scenarios. Kursk scholarship has boomed in the new millennium. Are the scenarios understood to be "up to date" historical, as opposed to "Tigers are burning" fantasy scenarios? That would count for a lot with me. I've read plenty about this battle; good Lord, an incredible amount. I would wish the scenarios to connect with what I've learned.
 

Vinnie

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What I would like from a review is more information about the scenarios. Kursk scholarship has boomed in the new millennium. Are the scenarios understood to be "up to date" historical, as opposed to "Tigers are burning" fantasy scenarios? That would count for a lot with me. I've read plenty about this battle; good Lord, an incredible amount. I would wish the scenarios to connect with what I've learned.
You have to be careful about expecting that. ASL scenarios are primarily a game for fun. If you expect anything other than a "flavour" of what might have gone on, you are going to be dissappointed.
Having said all that, this pack does deliver but it is limited by the subject matter. Ther are a lot of attacks versus prepared defences, a lot opf armour and OBA heavy scenarios and they all feature much the same terrain and climate conditions. This is unavoidable given it is all based around a relatively small area and short space of time.
 

Chas

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1) The Blood and Jungle counters were provided in CoS at no extra cost.

2) The scenarios are not designed from the typically sourced books. I had access to translated Russian material, there were a lot of new books out, etc. So the scenarios in large part were resourced very differently than the hand wave X Corps vs XX Mechanized Army with fantasy OBs. Most of the scenarios were researched to pretty detailed OBs.
 

Jeffery

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2) The scenarios are not designed from the typically sourced books. I had access to translated Russian material, there were a lot of new books out, etc. So the scenarios in large part were resourced very differently than the hand wave X Corps vs XX Mechanized Army with fantasy OBs. Most of the scenarios were researched to pretty detailed OBs.
That is an excellent answer! It's what I wanted to hear. Thanks a lot. I'm in the market.
 

VonHutier

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1) The Blood and Jungle counters were provided in CoS at no extra cost.

2) The scenarios are not designed from the typically sourced books. I had access to translated Russian material, there were a lot of new books out, etc. So the scenarios in large part were resourced very differently than the hand wave X Corps vs XX Mechanized Army with fantasy OBs. Most of the scenarios were researched to pretty detailed OBs.
And as I have bought Blood and Jungle subsequently, I am doubly blessed..
 

VonHutier

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You have to be careful about expecting that. ASL scenarios are primarily a game for fun. If you expect anything other than a "flavour" of what might have gone on, you are going to be dissappointed.
Having said all that, this pack does deliver but it is limited by the subject matter. Ther are a lot of attacks versus prepared defences, a lot opf armour and OBA heavy scenarios and they all feature much the same terrain and climate conditions. This is unavoidable given it is all based around a relatively small area and short space of time.
ASL scenarios are primarily a game for fun !? 🤣

Seriously, yes, they're a game but they give a lot of people anxiety...

CoS seeks to simulate what was a German offensive against fixed defensives - it does that in spades and adds a few extras .
 

Jeffery

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I did get this one. So far as I can tell it's everything it's supposed to be. The set has a great collection of maps, and the additional counters are first class.

I've only finished the first three scenarios, but they were all winners, so I have good feelings about the rest. All three came down to the last turn. In "Preliminary Move" Gross Deutschland barely achieved its minimum victory conditions, suffering heavy losses, after a suicidal Russian counterattack briefly denied them a needed victory hex. In the big clash "Coiled to Strike" Gross Deutschland captured the buildings and overran the big hill, but Guards reinforcements staged a limited counterattack that stymied the German lunge for more geographical VP. Due to heavy casualties the Germans lost by a point. The clincher was a sacrificial attack by a Russian squad on a Stug. The squad braved a hurricane of fire to come to grips with it, then destroy it in CC. The victorious squad was subsequently vaporized, but the Germans had lost a few too many casualty points. Finally, in "Schreiber's Success" SS firepower ate through the Russian center. It was a textbook operation. Pioneers used DCs to open gaps in the AT ditch, the Russian armored counterattack resulted in three destroyed T-34s, and the defending infantry were crushed. The Germans then easily occupied the necessary real estate, but not until the final turn. Up to that point the hand to hand combat in the village was tough on both sides.

Good show!
 

Jeffery

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Since my first report I have played 10 more scenarios from this set, continuing in their number (and chronological) order. My pleasure with CoS remains high. Most clashes ended in hard-fought German victories, often coming down to the final turn. There have been three exceptions. "Iron Coffins" and "Churchills at Kursk," both dealing with early Russian armored counterattacks against SS armor, were blow-outs in favor of the Germans, with the attackers being annihilated. In the aptly named "Iron Coffins" the loss ratio was 21 to 3! "Churchills" not quite so devastating, but bad enough to make a commissar weep. I dare say I handled the Russian armor in too historical of a manner. In both cases I attempted to hurl everything against a weak wing. There must be a better way. The Russians, however, got payback in "Kreida Station," where the brilliant German assault plan went horribly wrong. The intent was to quickly clear the three "easy" VP buildings, grab the deeper fourth one on the left on the march, then close in on the train station from three sides for the finish. It didn't happen that way. The German left wing took the entire scenario to clear the fourth building, with the right wing getting hung up and weakened in barbed wire and mines backed up by a mortar and an AT gun. As a result, the scheme devolved into a frontal assault with less than expected strength against the machine gun infested station. The Germans didn't fight their way in until turn 6, with the final 2 turns becoming a messy stalemate inside the building that, in casualties, favored the defenders. It was a strong win for the Russians.

That takes me up to the beginning of July 7th. I look forward to the next rounds.
 

Jeffery

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Four more scenarios in the bag, which took me through July 7th. "Panzer Regiment Rothenberg" fared quite well, despite considerable losses, sweeping through the Russian left where the defenders counted on an ambush with their powerful AA gun, only it broke on the first shot! PRR then clinched the battle by seizing most of the geographical objectives, defeating the armored counterattack, and exiting sufficient forces for a hefty win. "Fork in the Road" proved too much of a hurdle for the Germans, with the assault on the fortified hill resulting in dreadful armored losses. The German infantry, bolstered by the surviving tanks, bulled their way onto the crest of the hill, but another tank fell victim to a hidden gun, and their VPs--which needed to be much higher than the Russians--were actually a bit lower. The German attack on "The Bunkered Village" also fell short of goals. A ROF blast from a Russian AT gun knocked out all of the German armor (must rethink this schwerpunkt concept); fortunately for the attackers, theirs was an infantry heavy force, with a flamethrower that never failed and DCs that always inflicted maximum damage. The foot soldiers crashed through the center of the defending line, and were looking good, but the Russians held on the flanks, and held enough for victory. Finally, the "Relentless Pressure" of a Russian assault was stymied by the ROF rip from a German MMG. It took the attacking infantry a couple of turns to recover. Meanwhile the Russian armor largely on their own destroyed the German right wing, but the strike at the main defensive position was only starting to come on strong when the German reinforcements arrived. The Russians, despite losing all of their armor, overran half of the German stronghold, but they had to take all of those buildings to win.

2-2 in this bunch, July 8th coming up.
 

Jeffery

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July 8th is done. In the "Early Morning Action" the SS won with a methodical advance, but it was incredibly close, with victory determined on the last roll of the last turn. The Germans had to destroy the holdout Russians in a series of melees. They did so, yet every melee ended in an exchange, with no good order infantry left on either side. "Trenches in Flames" saw the Germans seemingly cruising to an easy win by crushing the Russian right wing, only to lose most of their armor in the center taking out two pillboxes and the big guns. Then the attackers ran up against a pillbox defended by heroes of the Soviet Union. The Germans threw against it their remaining armor, a flame thrower, a DC, and their elite infantry. The armor missed all their shots, the FT conked out, the DC failed to have an effect . . . and then the defenders were eliminated, along with the three assaulting squads, on the final roll of the final turn. In "Klein Stalingrad" the Germans broke through the AT wall with heavy losses. During the main assault on the village all of the Tigers were destroyed or immobilized. The village filled with fires and wrecked tanks. In the end the Germans, squeezing out a win, had one mobile tank left. Just as ferocious was "To the Last Shell," in which the dreaded SS finally failed to achieve its goals. The defending Russians weren't even Guards, but they possessed a staggering number of AT guns, placed in the most unlikely of positions. The Tigers led the assault on the large village, and eventually fought their way through it, destroying all the Russian armor as usual. However, the attackers also needed to exit considerable forces to win, a plan rendered difficult by devastating AT ambushes. All the big guns were put out of action, but most of the non-Tiger German armor was destroyed in the process. Both sides had several tanks burning. The Russians had almost nothing left, yet the SS had been held long enough to grant the defenders victory.

3-1 in favor of the Germans, with razor thin margins in every case.
 

Jeffery

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The Germans have fought their way into July 11th, a tough struggle all the way. Advancing up the "Obian Highway," they quickly took the lightly defended first VP building, with the Russians regrouping according to plan around the remaining two. Here the defense held firm, inflicting serious casualties, until a German sniper broke a critically placed squad. The Germans poured through the resulting gap, the defense suddenly collapsed, and the attackers achieved victory on the last turn. Meanwhile, the Russians had dug in to the heart of a "Hotly Contested Town." German attempts to outflank this compact defense led to furious action. Russians lost 2 tanks to air strikes. The German left lost 2 tanks and some infantry to mines and an AT gun, but punched through; their right lost a tank and was held up by MG and a light mortar, the center slowly grinding forward. Russian reinforcements arrived but failed to halt the German left hook. Under cover of OBA smoke the attackers overran the center, and the Russians broke. The defenders lost all their tanks and most of their infantry; the winning Germans had one mobile tank left. In "Renewed Pressure" the counterattacking Russians got off to a bad start by launching a human wave against an apparently weak sector, only to have most of their infantry lashed by a HMG fire lane. Only 4 squads broke through at first into the village, but as the defending center crumbled Russian reinforcements pitched in and rallied squads rejoined. The attackers bit deep, until German reinforcements blocked the way. After a seesaw fight the Russians earned 22 VPs, yet needed 26. Most ferocious of all was "Place of Honor," where elite meets elite: SS vs. Guards Airborne. This one was incredible. Air and artillery strikes took out a tank and some infantry, and then the German sledgehammer armored assault crushed the Russian left and pushed into the center, while losing 2 tanks to AT guns. It looked like the Germans were on the verge of a clean sweep, but then Russian snipers massacred a vital fire base--HMGs, best leader, mortar halftrack--Russian OBA with unusual accuracy smashed the armored spearhead, and counterattacking KVs gave as good as they got. The Germans fought into the depths of the village, where fortunes swung back and forth. Finally the Russians simply ran out of men and machines. The SS had achieved their geographical VPs. The defenders had left only 2 squads, one AT gun, and a KV with a broken cannon. Their sacrifice was not in vain. The Germans, having lost the majority of their armor and much infantry, had exceeded their casualty cap. Russian win.
 

Yuri0352

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Place of Honor was incredible during testing. Somewhat surprised it hasnt seen more action.
I absolutely agree! Place of Honor was for me, the most exciting scenario in the pack. (Yes, I enjoyed Flying Turrets as well). I especially enjoyed Place of Honor, having played it shortly after I had finished reading 'Demolishing the Myth'.
 
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