FrF98 Amerikanskaya Suka

jrv

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Paul Sidhu invited a group of gamers over for a day of gaming. He decided on a single-scenario format; all players played the same scenario, Paul matched up players by skill level as best he could and determined who was playing what side. The scenario was Amerikanskaya Suka, FrF98. I was matched with Vic Rosso and given the Germans.

A quick study of the game makes it apparent that both sides have strengths and weaknesses that need to be managed carefully. The German at-start force is no match for the Soviet at-start forces and their first-turn reinforcements, but the Germans get their own first-turn reinforcements that make it a game. The Soviets need to guard one building in their setup area on board 71 and capture one additional multihex building, of which there are two on board FrFA and five on board 71. Ideally the Soviets would like to capture and hold the nearest board 71 extra building. That forces the Germans to counter-attack against a position that fights with interior lines. Alternately the Soviets can attack for the extra multihex building on board FrFA. Here the problem is that the German reinforcements can enter on the flank and smash into that thrust. The Germans do not have enough strength at start to defend both, so I used a modified version of the defense that Paul used at Albany [http://www.gamesquad.com/forums/index.php?threads/albany-aar-2018-sidhu.149805/]. Unlike Paul, although I did not defend it strongly I did have some units defending board FrFA so that the Soviets either had to commit a large-ish force there to get a quick breakthrough, or had to dismount and proceed more slowly with a smaller attack. Because Paul had based his defense based on talks with Vic, I expected a strong attack on board 71, and indeed that's what I got.

The T34/85s and the 6-2-8s all attacked on board 71. In the first Soviet turn two T34/85s entered hexes with German infantry. One paid for its presumptuousness with a small blaze. The Germans could not get the other. Meanwhile the 6-2-8s charged forward against the infantry in the woods. Much DFF later there was no effect against any Soviet infantry unit. None. Two Germans squads voluntarily broke rather than wait for close combat, one squad was broken and eliminated for failure to rout, and one squad could not voluntarily break because it would be eliminated for failure to rout. A 6-2-8 advanced into that last unit's location. The Melee went on for a couple of turns but eventually the Soviets put down the pocket. The PSK was lost by the squad that failed to rout.

The Soviets about half of their forces covering the east edge and half reinforcing the attack on board 71. One squad with MMG went into the back building to cover that (advance into building causes CX; hmm, I wonder what that is). There was a long pause while I set up the German first-turn reinforcements. The German player will have take what the Soviet player gives him. Vic had set up two squads covering the roads entering from the east as well as some M10s. One German strategy is to enter on the east edge and attempt to drive straight at the back building. Vic had covered this, and while his force was not too thick, it was enough to deter me. Instead I brought my units mostly onto board 71. The tanks could drive straight on, but because I thought there was a LOS to the board 71 road I entered the trucks on board FrFA and drove them across to board 71. I set the Panthers up in positions where I thought they had LOS to exactly one Soviet tank, but my LOS fu was deficient, and one Panther had LOS to two Soviet tanks and one had LOS to none. The German infantry moved mostly into the 71N5 building and surroundings, although one truckload moved to cover a Panther in FrFA-v2 with a PSK.

The reinforcing Germans managed to kill another T34/85 with the FT and one out of two M10s with Panthers, but could not rally two broken 4-4-7s (with two ten DRs). That left me in an awkward position in 71N5, and I had to run out of the building before I was killed. This gave the Soviets their extra building, but I was not too concerned. I had a substantial force of powerful German infantry, and I started working my way back in almost at once.

The Panthers continued to inch forward, killing Soviet tanks while taking no big chances. The Soviets lost a T34/85 in Soviet three, an M10 in German three, an M10 in Soviet four, and an M10 in Soviet five. Not all the kills were by Panthers but many were. The Soviets managed to Shock one JgdPz IV but it recovered and the Soviets could not finish the job because they were set upon by Panthers. They finally killed their first German tank (a JgdPz IV) on Soviet turn five.

Vic switched some units over to board FrFA, my defense stumbled, and the Soviets took two multihex buildings there. That meant that my counter-attack into the 71N5 building was now not as useful as it seemed. On German turn four I had to choose between trying to recover the buildings on board FrFA too or taking the building in the Soviet setup area. I decided for the latter, and I sent two Panthers, a JgdPz IV and a couple halfsquads to clean out the VC building. The halfsquads were there just to blow the bugle and raise the flag after capture; the tanks were going to provide most of the motive power. My attack into the 71N5 building pinned down much of the Soviet's infantry, so I maintained that too. Vic was down to two tanks, one M10 and one T34/85, at the start of his turn five. He sent them back, but in a crushing blow lost the M10 to a freak PF shot (needed a two to hit, rolled it). He called the game at that point. It wasn't going to be a dead certainty, but it looked like a German win.

For scenario designers and wannabes, this is an excellent piece for study. The VC and the low unit density relative to the board size allows for a very free-wheeling game. By way of comparison, consider how differently it would play with doubled OBs. Both players do not have strong enough forces to cover everything they want to cover, and at the same time they have to react to what their opponent has given them. Perhaps the scenarios only weakness might be that of ASL in general; the tank battle can't go badly wrong for the Germans.

I've been told by several players both before and after that the scenario is an unbalanced dog and that the Germans can't win. I will say differently. It could go badly for the Germans because their armor is so important. If the Germans malfunction a Panther MA or lose one (or more!) without having depleted the Soviet armor, then it's going to be a tough row to hoe. On the other hand the Soviets have very little that can impact a Panther frontally. T34/85 APCR is a 19 TK (20 at range 3-6, and up to 22 at range 1), the depletion number is a five, and they have to hit a Panther turret to have more than a fleeting hope. The Soviets have to hope for something good to happen to beat the Panthers, while the Germans only have to hope that they avoid misfortune.

That means the Panthers are the kings of this battlefield, and the Germans need to use that strength. If they can neutralize the Soviet armor then they can help with driving the Soviet infantry out. The Germans will have to react to the circumstances as they develop. In our game I initially was going to prevent the Soviets from taking the extra building, but the way the scenario developed I switched mid-game to taking the back building away from the Soviets. [this was partially my fault, as I should have sent at least one of the reinforcement squads and perhaps a leader to help on board FrFA]. Both players have to allocate and manage their forces with little room for error, and use their strengths and cover their weaknesses. I think the German strategy is harder to see, but if the German player manages to perceive it, he has quite a good chance of winning.

I also have to ding the scenario a rating star or two because it would have been better with caves. But that's not really fair; what scenario wouldn't be?

JR
 

Steven Pleva

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I really like this scenario. One of the best from the latest pack. I think it is pretty well balanced. I won it as the Germans, but my gut tells me the Russians might have the slight edge. I would take either side...
Steve
 

ecz

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In my opinion FrF 98 is the best of the pack.
One thing Russian should consider is to place all trucks fully loaded safely in the rear on a road and in a central position waiting to see where the Germans will appear and then organize a plan once the surprise effect of the enemy arrival is spent.
 

jrv

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One thing Russian should consider is to place all trucks fully loaded safely in the rear on a road and in a central position waiting to see where the Germans will appear and then organize a plan once the surprise effect of the enemy arrival is spent.
At least part of the Soviet infantry should go to screening the cross road and cross ways on FrFA, say in FrFI5 & FrFP8. I would be mightily tempted to come chase truck-mounted infantry if the route is clear. Even if I just force them to dismount in the backfield, that's a win. Soviet infantry won't stop Panthers but will separate them from supporting German infantry.

JR
 

jrv

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Vic did keep one 8-0 on a truck as a floating reserve. The Soviets only have three leaders, and the Germans should take any opportunities they can to eliminate them. In our game the 9-1 was wounded early (SAN I think), the 7-0 died mid-game (don't remember how; possibly another SAN), and the 8-0 drove forward and dismounted to engage a German halfsquad in CC. That did not go well, but it was part of the bigger effort on board FrFA that eventually led to the Soviets grabbing the two buildings.

JR
 

Sean Deller

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I really like this scenario. One of the best from the latest pack. I think it is pretty well balanced. I won it as the Germans, but my gut tells me the Russians might have the slight edge. I would take either side...
Steve
I agree with Steve 100%. Happy to play either side. I’ll take the Russians in a tiebreaker.
Cheers,
Sean
 

Mister T

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Played the scenario two times. Won with both the German and the Soviet side. Would not be against another playing as it is an enjoyable and balanced scenario.
 

jrv

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If you loose the tank battle you loose the game. FrF97 is the same...........
True, but I think that the Soviets can afford an early bit of bad luck or two. The loss of a T-34/85 or an M10 in the first few turns isn't going to much affect the Soviets. In contrast the early loss of a Panther/a Panther's MA is a major loss for the Germans.

As I think about it perhaps the Germans could get by with forming two teams, one Panther in the lead and one JgdPz IV to cover its flank/rear. The Germans need two Panther forces so they can pincer the Soviet armor. I think with only a single group of two Panthers the Soviets can keep running away and delay, delay, delay the destruction of their armor. If the Germans have all three Panthers they can surround the Soviet armor and crush it like a grape. Or that's the plan anyway. My point is that I think that the Germans are more dependent on a smaller number of units.

JR
 

jrv

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One thing that someone said I didn't emphasize enough: the Germans cannot expect to fight a purely defensive battle. It is highly likely that the Soviets will take one or more extra multihex buildings as required by the VC. To avoid that the Germans would need a lot of help from the Soviet side either in the form of bad luck or an unagressive opponent. The German will then have to decide whether to push the Soviets back out of the multihex buildings (while guarding the remaining ones he holds) or swing around into the Soviet rear to take the building in the Soviet setup area. This will depend on how the initial Soviet push develops and what they hold back to guard the rear building. The complementary problem for the Soviets is how much to leave behind to guard the rear building. Those units, especially the infantry, are lost to the initial attack and German reposte against the extra building if it develops.

JR
 

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This was a great game that went deep, throughout the course I was challenged and had to pull off many shenanigans to disengage my units from under a the nose of a panther (or two). Sometimes successful, sometimes not. JR played an expert tank game and never gave me the chance to work into the flanks of the Panthers. I took many shots at luck in desperation, but couldn't get anything to fall my way. Near the end, I was disengaging 3 tanks from the battle on FRFA to get in the way of the infantry moving on the back victory building, but lost 2 of 3 of these vehicles pulling out, leaving only 1 vehicle to face 3 panthers and stop a HS from getting to the back building, which was not going to happen.

This year, this was one of two excellent games played on this scenario (lost both, this one as the soviets to JR and a prior one losing to Peter in Albany).
 

JoeArthur

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This year, this was one of two excellent games played on this scenario (lost both, this one as the soviets to JR and a prior one losing to Peter in Albany).
If you enjoyed it - send a thank you to Mattias and all the Swedes :)
 

Cult.44

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I like the scenario but I think it favors the Russians a bit. I think if they make an all-out drive for the closest multi-hex building on bd 71, regardless of how strongly the Germans set up there, they're going to be able to take it, then they can hunker down for the counterattack. As jrv noted, the Russian defenders of that building and the ones defending the must-hold building can support each other. This what I did when I took the Russians against Curtis Brooks. He counterattacked the captured building with everything he had. (He didn't think he had any chance against the must-hold building at that point.) I held firm with the infantry, using the woods hex behind the captured building as a rally point that allowed me to keep fresh troops in the captured building. Meanwhile I played cat and mouse with the AFVs which I didn't get the best of but it was enough to keep a hold on the buildings I needed. It was a close game but I got the sense that if the Russians use that approach, then more often than not they're going to win.
 
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jrv

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I like the scenario but I think it favors the Russians a bit. I think if they make an all-out drive for the closest multi-hex building on bd 71, regardless of how strongly the Germans set up there, they're going to be able to take it, then they can hunker down for the counterattack. As jrv noted, the Russian defenders of that building and the ones defending the must-hold building can support each other. This what I did when I took the Russians against Curtis Brooks. He counterattacked the captured building with everything he had. (He didn't think he had any chance against the must-hold building at that point.) I held firm with the infantry, using the woods hex behind the captured building as a rally point that allowed me to keep fresh troops in the captured building. Meanwhile I played cat and mouse with the AFVs which I didn't get the best of but it was enough to keep a hold on the buildings I needed. It was a close game but I got the sense that if the Russians use that approach, then more often then not they're going to win.
While I think this approach is sound, I am not sold that it gives the Soviets a likely victory. It is unlikely that the Soviets will take the closest extra building on the first turn. In our game I was able to drive two truckloads of reinforcements to the backside of the building. At the start of Soviet two I had a 5-4-8 in one hex, an 8-3-8 and an 8-0 with FT in the second, and two broken-but-not-DM 4-4-7s with an 8-1 in the third of that extra building. I was seriously thinking that I could defend the building until neither of the 4-4-7s rallied (needing a DR of nine to rally, mind you). Even once I had been pushed out, the wall on the street side gives the Germans good terrain for the counterattack. I fired a Smoke round into of the building hexes (JgdPz IV has Smoke?!) so the Soviets couldn't form really large firegroups. A Panther went into 71L4 (no street-fighting, LOS to 71O6, one of the woods rally points). The other woods rally points can all be seen from various hexes either by infantry or Panthers. I was expecting that the battle to retake the 71N5 building would become a scrum, and that the Germans would eventually win that scrum. It was only when Vic grabbed the two woods buildings on FrFA that I had to come up with a new plan. I think your strategy can win, but it does not give the Soviets a drive-in-the-park way to the finish line.

JR
 
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