DN2: Chasseurs at Yvoir

boylermaker

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I took a real beating from @ppalma3010 in Chasseurs at Yvoir from the Dinant module.

The scenario takes place before the main effort at Dinant, with a single bridge still standing across the river. Most of the Belgian force starts out strung out along the east bank, covered by a handful of west bank units. German units come from all sides: armored cars from the north, the bulk of their infantry from the south, and a few units can come in from the east. The Belgians have to get most of their CVP across the river (to aid in this effort, they have 6 wagons worth 3 CVP by SSR), then set DC on the bridge and blow it up. Otherwise the Germans win.

I figured that Pat would take the option to delay some of his forces entry to bring them on from the east, much closer to the bridge, so I set up the majority of my force as far north as possible, to interdict some of this effort, with a smaller stand-and-die rearguard to delay the main body coming up from the south until the wagons could get across.

I was surprised when Pat brought almost everything on from the South on turn 1. This turned out to be a great move on his part, because the south is an attackers' dream terrain: all single-hex buildings, so very easy to swarm my defenders. I managed to stall him long enough to keep his infantry out of my wagon train, but there are some great spots on the south part of the map from which his MGs could command the approaches to the bridge, and I couldn't defend all of them. By turn 5, my wagons had gone up in a hail of machine gun fire, and I no longer had enough VP to win, even if they all survived the bridge crossing.

My only success of any kind came in the north against the armored cars, where Pat had absolutely awful luck breaking his main armaments (I think he broke 4), and my ATRs and tiny Belgian armored-ish fighting vehicles took out the rest. Pat had some sort of master plan with the ACs that I never really figured out: I think he would have been better parking them on the river bank and just blasting the bridge with them. They would eventually go down, as the Belgians are pretty well equipped with LATW, but they would really hinder setting any DCs on the bridge, which is a hard task. To set a DC, you have to spend all your MPh as hazardous movement, then roll less than or equal to your US number. This means a squad will average two attempts to place a DC successfully. So you have to (on average) move onto the bridge, survive defensive fire, survive your opponents prep fire, survive a whole MPh worth of hazardous movement, fail to place the DC, survive your opponents prep fire phase again, survive a second whole MPh worth of hazardous movement, and succeed at placing the DC. That's 5 fire phases at +1 TEM, and that's assuming you can get smoke grenades to cover both placement attempts (3 engineer squads with 3 smoke exponents and whatever vehicular smoke grenades you can squeeze out of the Belgian AFVs are all you're getting). Even if you place it, it's not a sure thing to blow up the bridge (you need a 9 or less), so you need to place a second to be safe. Even if you place two, the only place you can detonate it from is open ground (or the elevated railroad, which will be open ground to German MGs by that point in the game), so it's not even a sure thing you'll get to detonate them!

Nobody's won this one as the Belgian's yet according to ROAR and ASL archive, and that sounds right to me. The Belgians just have too much to do on the bridge, and it seems to me that a competent German player can cover the bridge for the entire game without much the Belgians can do about it. There are only six playings, so I'm not yet ready to call it a dog, but I would definitely give the Belgians the balance.

Presumably somebody won it as the Belgians in playtesting: if you'd like to chime in, I'd love to hear how you did it!

Despite my doubts about balance, we enjoyed playing: the situation was a very exciting one, and the map is gorgeous.
 

Carln0130

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Pat Flory, former owner of the Citadel in CT, played this half dead and gone during playtest. The playings came out roughly even. Certainly nothing that would sound alarms. Played it a few times myself and felt the Belgians were the more difficult side, but not hopeless by any stretch.

I'll talk with Pat and Dan and see if he has any insights to share and check back. Thanks for the honest input. I'll get back.
 

Carln0130

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I sent the AAR over to Pat. He is going to look it over and share his thoughts on it.
 

lightspeed

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Pat Flory, former owner of the Citadel in CT, played this half dead and gone during playtest. The playings came out roughly even. Certainly nothing that would sound alarms. Played it a few times myself and felt the Belgians were the more difficult side, but not hopeless by any stretch.

I'll talk with Pat and Dan and see if he has any insights to share and check back. Thanks for the honest input. I'll get back.
I've misplayed and lost as the Belgians. I agree that there is a lot for them to do.

I think if it's your first time playing this one, the Germans have a significant edge,
as the Belgian learning curve is more steep than the Germans'.

I would certainly try again as the Belgians. I would not recommend that one should avoid
this scenario. It is good. My first mistake as the Belgians was that I didn't look at the scenario
too closely and only allowed myself five minutes for set up.

indy
 

Carln0130

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Pat pretty much said off the top it's a learning curve scenario, which I agree with. Interestingly enough, having playtested this one to death may be to it's detriment for first time players. Lot's of little nuances. Pat is still working on some more detailed thoughts on it.
 

boylermaker

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I've misplayed and lost as the Belgians. I agree that there is a lot for them to do.

I think if it's your first time playing this one, the Germans have a significant edge,
as the Belgian learning curve is more steep than the Germans'.
I'd be interested to hear what you would change about your approach! I didn't really feel that I'd "flubbed" it in any serious way. Obviously there was room for improvement, always is, but I didn't feel like the improvements would have addressed the issue of getting everything across the bridge.

What do the pros do with their dummies? You can't use them to bluff the German about your starting setup, because the German makes all his important decisions before the Belgian setup. I tried to use them to delay the German push up from the south, but Pat had no respect for them, and just moved or advanced into all of them. Considering every hex is +3 TEM down there, there is no cost for the Germans to discovering that they aren't dummies. There is a little bit of open ground to the north, but they can't set up covering it.
 

Carln0130

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Well, everything doesn't have to make it of course is the saving grace. You can actually do it with no wagons and just the two vehicles and the infantry. I also recall about the second playing or so, fighting the urge to do the "normal ASL thing" and leaving some broken guys (not all created equal) to slow the German pursuit and plug holes, rather than pulling them back for Rally shacks as per the norm. Don't want to do that with all of them, hence the not all brokies created equal line :). The -1 leader types and elite squads almost always try to find their way to a leader.
It's a fighting withdrawal, but the wagons can be as much used as a red herring as an actual withdrawal force. More often than not in the Belgian wins, the covering force scooted and only one or two, or even no wagons made it over. You do need either the vehicles or some wagons though.
 

Koestler

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I payed this recently. We had great fun with this fairly unique scenario, but I came away with doubts whether it is doable for the Belgians. There seem to be too many positions from which the Germans can interdict the bridge: UU20, UU22, the steeple in SS25, PP30 and UU31, amongst others, whilst the armoured cars can take up hull down position al level 2 in the North. The armoured cars will be sitting ducks when the third Belgian tank destroyer arrives and takes up HD position across the river, but by that time the German can have the MG section in UU22 and/or the steeple. A frustrating issue for the Belgians is also that destroying the bridge as required by the VC takes 3 separate rolls (setting, detonating, collapsing). I appreciate the historical uber chrome of SSR 3, but making it easier for the Belgians to blow the bridge might have been helpful for balance purposes. Maybe allow the Belgians to kindle?

One thing the Belgian should certainly do is galloping his wagons. How many players can say they have witnessed the infamous Galloping Wagon Crash (D.12.4)?
 

Carln0130

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Once you set, the odds are excellent for the other two things to succeed. Setting is the tough part.
 

boylermaker

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I appreciate the historical uber chrome of SSR 3, but making it easier for the Belgians to blow the bridge might have been helpful for balance purposes.
Maybe add his US or leadership DRM to the set dr?

If the wagons are a red herring for the Belgian player, you may consider me well and thoroughly tricked by them. I didn't really consider ignoring the wagons, but I can see how that might be a useful approach. I'm a little bit skeptical that there are enough infantry to get 18 CVP across the bridge and prevent the Germans from occupying the machine gun locations @Koestler mentions long enough to get 18 CVP across the bridge, but hey, it can't go any worse than the strategy I actually used! At least if they break on the bridge there is a possibility of routing them to the west side.

I also did not know you could Gallop wagons: I'll have to look that rule up, certainly could have helped. In our scenario, getting the wagons across the bridge on turn 4 or so would have still meant that they all took fire, but it would have been from the armored cars with a +1 bridge TEM, instead of all being vaporized in the open ground just east of the bridge. Of course, I would still have the problem that I've never once in my ASL career driven an unarmored vehicle through 2 resid and survived, but I'm reliably informed that others are capable of this feat.

Once you set, the odds are excellent for the other two things to succeed. Setting is the tough part.
I'm starting to think I misunderstand how this process works. Assuming an 8-morale unit, that's an 8 or less to pass the NTC, and a 9 or less to blow the bridge. The chances of both those happening is 60%. Basically a 7 or less on one DR, the same odds as a squad killing a halfsquad in CC. Or did I flub the rules somewhere?

Of course, it's a little bit better than that because if you fail the NTC, you can try again (after sitting out in the open for an additional German fire phase where every weapon in his OB opens up on you). And if you fail the IFT roll with a 12 you can send your heroic leader onto the bridge to fix it per the SSR. So maybe your chances are closer to rolling an 8 or less on a single DR (72%).
 

boylermaker

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By the way, Carl, thanks for engaging with all our griping! Nice to hear thoughts from people who know how the sausage was made.
 

Carln0130

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Maybe add his US or leadership DRM to the set dr?

If the wagons are a red herring for the Belgian player, you may consider me well and thoroughly tricked by them. I didn't really consider ignoring the wagons, but I can see how that might be a useful approach. I'm a little bit skeptical that there are enough infantry to get 18 CVP across the bridge and prevent the Germans from occupying the machine gun locations @Koestler mentions long enough to get 18 CVP across the bridge, but hey, it can't go any worse than the strategy I actually used! At least if they break on the bridge there is a possibility of routing them to the west side.

I also did not know you could Gallop wagons: I'll have to look that rule up, certainly could have helped. In our scenario, getting the wagons across the bridge on turn 4 or so would have still meant that they all took fire, but it would have been from the armored cars with a +1 bridge TEM, instead of all being vaporized in the open ground just east of the bridge. Of course, I would still have the problem that I've never once in my ASL career driven an unarmored vehicle through 2 resid and survived, but I'm reliably informed that others are capable of this feat.


I'm starting to think I misunderstand how this process works. Assuming an 8-morale unit, that's an 8 or less to pass the NTC, and a 9 or less to blow the bridge. The chances of both those happening is 60%. Basically a 7 or less on one DR, the same odds as a squad killing a halfsquad in CC. Or did I flub the rules somewhere?

Of course, it's a little bit better than that because if you fail the NTC, you can try again (after sitting out in the open for an additional German fire phase where every weapon in his OB opens up on you). And if you fail the IFT roll with a 12 you can send your heroic leader onto the bridge to fix it per the SSR. So maybe your chances are closer to rolling an 8 or less on a single DR (72%).
Well, no saying you have to sit in the open to push the plunger. In fact, I reccomend not doing that. At the end of the day, it's hard for the Belgians the first trip through, but it balanced up nicely in PT. You can gallop the wagons but the turns can be tough.
 

Carln0130

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By the way, Carl, thanks for engaging with all our griping! Nice to hear thoughts from people who know how the sausage was made.
No worries. Dan and I believe in answering the questions as best we can.
 

boylermaker

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Well, no saying you have to sit in the open to push the plunger. In fact, I reccomend not doing that. At the end of the day, it's hard for the Belgians the first trip through, but it balanced up nicely in PT. You can gallop the wagons but the turns can be tough.
I suppose that the upper level of KK23 is in LOS of the bridge, so you could try to do it from there, or you could get a +1 from the embankment railroad if you find those rules comprehensible (I don't). I still don't fancy taking a couple of 12/+2s, but that definitely boosts the odds of blowing the bridge.

In general, though, you make it sound like I was probably doomed from the start. I have so many scenarios to play that I'm not really ever going to play something twice, so anything that isn't balanced on the first go-round is never going to be balanced for me at all. Which isn't a criticism! It's great that people design scenarios to such different tastes and playing habits; if everybody wrote scenarios for me, the hobby would be a lot more boring. Sometimes that means I'll encounter a scenario that's a bad match in some respect, and that's fine, especially since we still had a lot of fun playing this one.
 

Carln0130

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In general, though, you make it sound like I was probably doomed from the start. I have so many scenarios to play that I'm not really ever going to play something twice, so anything that isn't balanced on the first go-round is never going to be balanced for me at all. Which isn't a criticism! It's great that people design scenarios to such different tastes and playing habits; if everybody wrote scenarios for me, the hobby would be a lot more boring. Sometimes that means I'll encounter a scenario that's a bad match in some respect, and that's fine, especially since we still had a lot of fun playing this one.
Not intended on a critique on your play. I got my *ss handed to me the first time too. The latter part of your statement is true and what might be the death knell of this scenario. The more we looked at this one, the more we found ways for it to go both ways, but with 8K scenarios out there, most of us do move on after one playing. Present company included. In that way, this scenario would likely have done better in a different time when multiple playing's of the same scenario were more commonplace.
 

Perry

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Not intended on a critique on your play. I got my *ss handed to me the first time too. The latter part of your statement is true and what might be the death knell of this scenario. The more we looked at this one, the more we found ways for it to go both ways, but with 8K scenarios out there, most of us do move on after one playing. Present company included. In that way, this scenario would likely have done better in a different time when multiple playing's of the same scenario were more commonplace.
A sad fact of life, one which I have trouble relating to.

Even when I was competing in tournaments and meeting up for friendlies, the majority of my playing time was playtesting.

Plenty of scenarios I have been sick of playing, but that usually takes a while.
 

phlegm027

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I playtested this scenario more than any of the scenarios in the module. But I think as it gets played more people will find out what it takes to win as the Belgian. One thing that I found was the 8-1 Engineer Leader And 2 hs have to get the bridge mined early. get them on the bridge and have the 8-1 nearby to rally them.

The Belgian has the tougher time but he has to; as my mother used to say:
Can you Walk and chew gum at the same time?

It’s tough but when you do win as the Belgian guarantee some wild stuff will have occurred.

only try turning a galloping wagon,under conditions most dire.
 

boylermaker

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One thing that I found was the 8-1 Engineer Leader And 2 hs have to get the bridge mined early. get them on the bridge and have the 8-1 nearby to rally them.
Interesting, you would suggest using half-squads rather than full squads? I sent two full squads out (as you say, Turn 1) on the theory that their average-time-to-place-the-DC would be a full turn less, and that one could cover the other with smoke grenades if things got uncomfortably hot on the bridge. Would I have been better off using the squads elsewhere, do you think?
 

pj norton

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This scenario piqued my interest out of the box as well. My partner and I started it on VASL. I was the Allies. He had a tough time getting the jist of it as the Germans. He lost interest and we've not finished it. I thought it was obvious that the ACs either parked right on the bridge, or brought their firepower to bear on it from nearby would make it quite difficult to place the DCs let alone get across the bridge. I'd be interested to see an AAR where the Belgians won. I'm going to keep my eye on this one and try it again.
 
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