RB05 The Last Bid & RO05 Men of Steel combined scenario AAR

DougRim

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Long post coming . . .

This past weekend seven players in the Ottawa (Canada) area got together to play RB05 The Last Bid and RO05 Men of Steel as one combined scenario as provided for in Red Factories. Given the intensity of play required and size of the map, we chose an out of town location at the wonderful Opinicon Resort at Chaffey’s Locks. We codenamed the project the All-Stalingrad All-Weekend Weekend (ASAWW) - clever eh?

Before discussing the actual play, a few words on the logistical effort. We split into 2 teams of 3 and allowed each team to plan their setup as they wished. My team (Russians) divided the map into 3 sectors (north RB1-32, middle RB33- RO18, and south RO19-45) with each of us taking one. We first divided our at-start resources into 3 equal parts and each planned our setup (using VASL). Finally, we had some Skype sessions to integrate the setup on VASL but also redistribute resources between sectors to ensure that the right type of units were in the factories. We gave each side about 2 weeks to accomplish this – in retrospect, given that there is life outside of ASL and the limitations of VASL – we should have given ourselves more time. Nonetheless by daybreak on Friday, November 15 each side had their setup ready to go.

Two of us got to the site early and set up the map, pulled counters and started getting counters on board. When you are talking about over 300 squads (150+ per side) and accompanying other stuff, that is a shitload of counter pulling and stack making. We had planned on using 2-3 hours for this and needed every minute of it (in large part due to some version control issues with the VASL file containing the German setup. Dissension in German High Command was evident before fighting began!). While the scenario is well-suited to team play (and perhaps only really playable in teams . . . or by the truly obsessed), I would underline that the mechanics of planning and setting up the scenario are significant. As other players arrived, they joined in the setup fun and by the planned 6:30 pm zero hour we were ready to go but missing one player who got lost on route! LOL. He soon showed and we got underway. These first two pictures shows the at-start setup. I will continue the AAR in other posts.

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DougRim

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Post 2

Play carried through until about 1:30 pm that night. The German attack started strong in the north and south areas with the middle zone being quite quiet. 2’s and 12’s showed up with regularity along with lots of sniper activity. The German lost their 10-3 leader to a sniper in the first player turn despite being stacked with 3 other units. Random Selection is a bitch . . . . The German player shrugged off the loss and carried on, pushing hard into the R29 building and generating 3 heros. The Russian player decided force preservation was the key at this stage, bugged out of the factory and got OBA into it as soon as possible. In the south, a massive wave of firepower pushed the Russians steadily back in Halls 6, 8a, and 9. When the Russians tried to stand their ground overwhelming prep and adv firing killed many where they stood.

We had decided to use the SSRs provided for in RO05 to govern the scenario with very little adjustment for team play. We had also decided to allow each team to play at its own pace, rather than stay in lock step. It became evident early on that this would work exceedingly well for snipers and exceedingly poorly for self-rallies. For everything else, it was pretty much a non-issue.

In terms of snipers, the scenario SSR state that there are two sniper counters per side, one on each map (RB and RO) for the entire 90 hex long map. After getting a positive Sniper Attack dr of 1, 2, or 3 (see Smokestack Snipers, O5.82), another dr is made to determine on which map the attack takes place (RF CG8). Standard stuff found it many HASLs. In our case, with play moving roughly at the same speed but quite independently from sector to sector, we decided that sniper attacks that were moved to another sector would be resolved immediately regardless of whether or not they were at exactly the same point in the scenario. This meant sniper attacks could come out of the blue in any phase and with significant impact. Really added a sense of randomness (but NOT luck) to process. Sniper attacks were being passed up and down the map constantly. Cries of “Denis, a 1 sniper coming your way”, or “Andrew, you’ve got two baby snipers” echoed throughout the night. A burst of Prep Fire on the RB map could lead to sniper attacks in the Rally Phase or CC Phase on the RO map. We really enjoyed the impact this had.

As for self-rallies, it was a case of needs must. While efforts were made to check with team members before making self-rally attempts, if the first player to get to the rally phase of their player turn needed to self-rally a unit, that is what happened. I think we would play this rule differently when we do another team fight. Perhaps one self-rally per sector would have been simple and easy.

The picture shows the situation at the end of Friday’s play. A good start for the Germans.
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DougRim

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Post 3

Saturday brought a new player and new results. Our best player was only able to come for the day and he took over the middle sector with immediate results (with 4 Russian players, we divided the north sector in 2 for the Russians against a single German opponent; worked well with the mix of players we had). The Germans had not planned to be very aggressive in the middle and made no significant effort to capture the ROB39 Castle building (with its 12 stone locations, nearly a quarter of the victory requirement). Their attack toward the 3 multi-hex stone buildings at the bottom of RB was more aggressive but still a slow build and they put almost no pressure on the S34 factory. Their centre commander did have control of both of the German at-start OBA modules. After an 8:30 start, by noon both German radios were broken (one would recover, the other never did) and the Russian was wreaking havoc. Good tactics and good dice were playing heavily in their favour. The Germans were still unable to take the stone buildings and shift their focus to the southern side of the S34 factory.

In the afternoon, the northern German player decided to attack into the S34 factory. Some inexperience showed here as the attack came from the R29 building with no pressure from the south or west; no smoke cover, no oba falling into the building, not tank support and no MG kill stacks hammering the Russians on the factory edge. A push to place a number of DC was met with a hail of fire expertly placed by our star player that broken and/or CR’d every attacker. While the German scrambled in the subsequent turns to regroup those forces, his attacks to the west ran into some lengthly rate runs from a .50 cal with a 10-2 and an HMG with a 9-2. Carnage enused and our German friend had to pause, regroup and reposition again.

The fight in the S34 factory happened right on the border of two zones and was a good test of our rule that each sector moved at its own pace. Usually, where fire/movement needed to cross from one zone to another we would wait for the slower side to catch up – this could often be done in a matter of moments and did not really cause problems. On some occasions, a player would simply hold his fire in one part of his sector while moving in another and then go back and do the rest of his fire and movement in the paused area once the adjoining sector caught up. Hard to describe well but it worked quite smoothly with no evident tactical advantage to either side.

Late in the day Russian reinforcements started to show, arriving on both maps on turn 7, with the tanks arriving a little earlier on RO and on turn 8 on RB. I was playing in the north so my sense of the fight in the RO factories was limited. Suffice it to say that the Russian dead pile was growing steadily, and my Russian teammate was having trouble finding any tactics to hold of the German strength (Adv Fire by 3 German 838 with LMG at adjacent hexes is 36 FP and usually resulted in fewer Russians on board. One highlight in the south was the triggering of a minefield placed in hexes T19, U19 and V19. As the Germans finally pushed south from Halls 1 and 2 into the U20 building, 3 squads were eliminated, one in each of the 12FP minefield hexes!

Two final highlights from Saturday. . . . All three Soviet players got sewer movement underway, trying to push individual squads into the German backfield. One squad emerged in RBL28, the Martin Electrofurnace factory, which was unoccupied and thus reverted back to Russian control and forcing a few German squads out of the line to mop up. One squad got a bit lost for a while but the remaining two were set to emerge as play ended on Sunday.

The Russians also brought down their Rocket OBA in turn 8, near ROS3. A couple of German squads were blown to pieces, a StuG immobilized and the ROT3 bridge was destroyed!

By day’s end (12:30 am Sunday) our southern pair in the RO factories were a full player turn behind the rest of us and took one for the team and played on ‘til 4:00 am to reach the end of the 8th.

Saturday brought a new player and new results. Our best player was only able to come for the day and he took over the middle sector with immediate results (with 4 Russian players, we divided the north sector in 2 for the Russians against a single German opponent; worked well with the mix of players we had). The Germans had not planned to be very aggressive in the middle and made no significant effort to capture the ROB39 Castle building (with its 12 stone locations, nearly a quarter of the victory requirement). Their attack toward the 3 multi-hex stone buildings at the bottom of RB was more aggressive but still a slow build and they put almost no pressure on the S34 factory. Their centre commander did have control of both of the German at-start OBA modules. After an 8:30 start, by noon both German radios were broken (one would recover, the other never did) and the Russian was wreaking havoc. Good tactics and good dice were playing heavily in their favour. The Germans were still unable to take the stone buildings and shift their focus to the southern side of the S34 factory.

In the afternoon, the northern German player decided to attack into the S34 factory. Some inexperience showed here as the attack came from the R29 building with no pressure from the south or west; no smoke cover, no oba falling into the building, not tank support and no MG kill stacks hammering the Russians on the factory edge. A push to place a number of DC was met with a hail of fire expertly placed by our star player that broken and/or CR’d every attacker. While the German scrambled in the subsequent turns to regroup those forces, his attacks to the west ran into some lengthly rate runs from a .50 cal with a 10-2 and an HMG with a 9-2. Carnage enused and our German friend had to pause, regroup and reposition again.

The fight in the S34 factory happened right on the border of two zones and was a good test of our rule that each sector moved at its own pace. Usually, where fire/movement needed to cross from one zone to another we would wait for the slower side to catch up – this could often be done in a matter of moments and did not really cause problems. On some occasions, a player would simply hold his fire in one part of his sector while moving in another and then go back and do the rest of his fire and movement in the paused area once the adjoining sector caught up. Hard to describe well but it worked quite smoothly with no evident tactical advantage to either side.

Late in the day Russian reinforcements started to show, arriving on both maps on turn 7, with the tanks arriving a little earlier on RO and on turn 8 on RB. I was playing in the north so my sense of the fight in the RO factories was limited. Suffice it to say that the Russian dead pile was growing steadily, and my Russian teammate was having trouble finding any tactics to hold of the German strength (Adv Fire by 3 German 838 with LMG at adjacent hexes is 36 FP and usually resulted in fewer Russians on board. One highlight in the south was the triggering of a minefield placed in hexes T19, U19 and V19. As the Germans finally pushed south from Halls 1 and 2 into the U20 building, 3 squads were eliminated, one in each of the 12FP minefield hexes!

Two final highlights from Saturday. . . . All three Soviet players got sewer movement underway, trying to push individual squads into the German backfield. One squad emerged in RBL28, the Martin Electrofurnace factory, which was unoccupied and thus reverted back to Russian control and forcing a few German squads out of the line to mop up. One squad got a bit lost for a while but the remaining two were set to emerge as play ended on Sunday.

The Russians also brought down their Rocket OBA in turn 8, near ROS3. A couple of German squads were blown to pieces, a StuG immobilized and the ROT3 bridge was destroyed!

By day’s end (12:30 am Sunday) our southern pair in the RO factories were a full player turn behind the rest of us and took one for the team and played on ‘til 4:00 am to reach the end of the 8th.

These photos shows the state of play and COB Saturday.

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DougRim

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Final Post

Sunday allowed us to get through turns 9 and 10. The northern Germans have successfully regrouped and repositions brought on their infantry reserves to lead and renewed push into S34. Smoke was being deployed and the German OBA was sitting at the southern edge of the factory just waiting for some concealment loss to get the party started. Late on the Saturday, the northern Russians who set was must be a world’s record for breaking their MG and other heavy weapons, had started to lose many of them to 6 repair roles, and had broken their field phone. The westward German attack would face fewer rate runs on the Sunday and made good progress. Their tanks were also finally in a position to cause trouble. Had things run longer it would have been a tough slog for the Russians. But digging them out of S34 was going to be no easy task.

In the middle, the German was having a much better day after deciding overight to stop rolling 8, 9 or 10 all the bloody damn time. He was turn or two away from capturing all the stone buildings south of the Gun Factory gully.

Far to the south, the Russian T-34’s and infantry reinforcements were looking too little too late to stem the tide. The 50 stone locations VC had been met and it was hard to see the Russians pushing them back.

We played about 6 hours on the Sunday before the need to pack up and go home arrived. Snipers went very quiet on the Sunday after being on a rampage on the Saturday. We got a number of Smokestack Snipers during the course of 10 turns.

This photo shows the situation when time was called.
View attachment 10847

Overall, it’s a monster. Monster effort to plan, setup and take down. Monster concentration required to manage 50+ squads coherently over the three days, remember your HIPsters, manage your reinforcements, adjust to the unexpected and the random. Monster engagement with rules and tactics to play effectively and anticipate what is to come. But mostly, a monster amount of fun! Would do it again in a heartbeat.

The consensus was in favour of doing another all-something all-weekend weekend this time next year. Planning starts next week.
 

Honza

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Wow...just wow.
 

bendizoid

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Thanks for the epic AAR ! I have a evil Russian plan I’d like to try in this.
 
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DougRim

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The Germans were clearly winning Men of Steel. The Last Bid was still anyone's fight.
 
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Both are tough, long scenarios with tons of death.

I tried Men of Steel and the Russian losses in 4 turns were 18 or 19 squads, with German losses at 8 or 9 squads.

The squad losses are more important than the location control - similar to the impact on the campaign scenarios if one side runs out of troops to hold the perimeter.
 

DougRim

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Both are tough, long scenarios with tons of death.

I tried Men of Steel and the Russian losses in 4 turns were 18 or 19 squads, with German losses at 8 or 9 squads.

The squad losses are more important than the location control - similar to the impact on the campaign scenarios if one side runs out of troops to hold the perimeter.
Totally agree about force depletion.

I think the combined scenario is a little bit different from playing the two scenarios independently. The open area between the S34 factory of the RB map and the RO factories (which begin around row 15) presents opportunities and challenges for both sides. Hard to say from just one playing. I played in our middle and north zones and I know that fight for the stone buildings just south of the RBS34 factory was more intense than it was in either of my playings of The Last Bid alone.
 

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In a CG raise it to a level A, a little dab 'el do ya! (But maybe it's just my DRs for TCs).😳
 
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