U14 Sacrifice of Polish Armor

The Purist

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U14 Sacrifice of Polish Armor

Or, Never Say Die in the Face of Low DRs



A couple of weeks ago I issued a call to the forum for opponents to play the “Turning of the Tide” and “Rivers to the Reich” scenario packs that came out back in 2019 or there about. Jim B (Sparafucil3) responded and between 31 March and 07 April we met in three sessions to tackle U14, “Sacrifice of Polish Armor”, a large-ish nine (9) turn (!!) scenario that pits early war German panzer and motorised troops against the (supposed) cream of the Polish mechanised cavalry reinforced by their heavy tanks and assault guns.

The Poles begin with 8 elite squads, a 9-1, 8-0, two 37 AT guns (AP only), an MMG, ATR and 46* mortar. Due to balance issues the Poles may HIP one SE and the usual SW and SMCs stacked with them. The Poles need to defend three of four buildings spread around on board 2. The Polish reinforcements are split into two groups who enter via random chit draw beginning on turn 2. These troops need to cross board 6 in order to help out the at start force.

The Germans are no slouches in this scenario and posses 15 first line squads, a 9-2, two 9-1s, two 8-0s, 4 LMGs, 2 MMGs, three Pz IB, two Pz IIA, two Pz IIID and partridge in a – erm,…. make that a Pz IVC. These troops are carried into battle on a mix of motorcycles and sidecars along with four Opel Blitz light trucks. This juggernaut must navigate board 5 while being overlooked from the board 2 heights and drive across the board 2 hills to capture their objectives. Essentially the Germans have the option of a right hand or left hand approach but the board 5 woods road does provide good lateral movement.

Out story begins

Gerry:
In my view I saw the Poles as having two options for this scenario. The first is to defend along the ridgeline with most of the heavy weapons and fall back on 2T1 for the final stand, the intent being to slow the German approach and buy time for the Polish reinforcements to arrive. The second is to deploy more in depth and allow the Germans a more unopposed crossing of board 5 while the defence focuses on the wooden building in 2T1. I opted for the first defence as the randomness or the Polish reinforcements could spell trouble if the chit picks came up with duds early. My defence and Jim’s opening move is below.

Jim: When I first looked at this, my initial thought is this is like so many scenarios from long ago, longer than it needs to be. IMO, the Germans have more than enough time to get to wherever they need to be. I also think the only real Polish defense is to try and strongly hold the mandatory VC building in their rear. I do not think the buildings on the wings will be particularly tough to capture so I am not too worried about that. My only real concern at setup is all my MA’s are B11. I plan on coming on and seeing what Gerry let’s me have and I will go from there.

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Gerry: The pincer attack came as no real surprise but in the first two turns my gunnery was less then stellar. It took five shots to kill the lead Pz IB (final TK# of 8) who was out playing scout on the German right. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was to be portent of things to come. By the end of turn 2 (below), with the smaller of two groups of reinforcements arriving (two heavy tanks, two squads and a new 8-0), I had begun to pull back off the ridgeline in the centre to avoid the heavy weight of German firepower. The forces on my left (37L AT, 3 squads, an ATR and the 8-0) were to also fall back across the face of Hill 538 but the 8-0 fell dead to a sniper and the gun only managed to move one hex despite a M# of 12. This meant the infantry had to hang back to help the gun. All the same, the ROF of the gun, an ATR and the FP from three squads should have been able to make things difficult for the Germans.

Meh! Not so much.

Jim: I look to try and push Gerry off the hill on my right. I am surprised by the Gun being there. In the pre-game, it is one place I considered it might be but I did not think it would be that forward or I might not have massed so many AFV’s to that side. Still, I seem to get away with it and I am in a position to push him off the hill with massed armor. I have limited Infantry on that side and they are at least a turn away from being available to help with the hill so I will likely opt to wait for them. I have a lot of time left so I am in no hurry right now.

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Gerry: Well,… Jim wasn’t having any of that and up onto Hill 538 he charged with his right hook. My AT gun immediately malf’s and the squad firepower did bupkus. The saving grace was the ATR bagged a Pz II but then had to scamper. In response Jim broke one squad that routed east, killed a second squad and the gun crew. I tried to take advantage of an ambush advantage vs a CX is 2S9 but ended up in a melee while the rest of the centre force moved into positions to either dig in or delay the advance.

I drew a blank for the second reinforcement group, which was a pity as I could have used the extra squads, 9-1 and MMG in the 2T1 area before thing got too hot. Jim seemed a bit more cautious on his left, which I figured was due to his not knowing where my HIPsters were. Then again, there was no rush,… nine turns .

Jim: The Gun breaking was pretty big but Gerry killed a PzII in return. I am not in any real hurry here, just giving my Infantry time to catch up and taking shots as they become available.

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Gerry: The session ended at the start of Polish turn 4 (no screenshot) with the Germans beginning to climb Hill 621 and clear the pass. German troops also massed on the front and south sides of Hill 538. I popped a HIP 248 onto the map with the hope drawing off some German infantry and it did divert one 467 who made sure he didn’t get into position to block rout paths or otherwise cause mischief.

I didn’t manage to capture a screen shot of Jim’s dice but mine speak for themselves. So far, the 8 morale troops in my force were not doing well against Jim’s rather remarkable shooting. I’ll let Jim discuss that bit of fun.

Jim: So the story of much of this game was my SMOKING dice and Gerry’s decidedly not. Gerry’s dice were terrible and to be fair, terrible things everywhere were ashamed of the association because they were that bad. To be fair, I think in the first session I rolled nearly 150 times on IFT as I recall. With all of that rolling, I was destined to roll my share of low DR’s but I seemed to roll those low DR’s when it really mattered. I don’t think I have lost any Infantry to this point and very little are broken.

My Infantry has arrived at this point so I can begin to push forward a little bit. Still, I am in no real rush and I need to clean up the center of the board. Gerry has fallen back or been driven off the hill tops so I have some pretty good freedom of movement. I know at this point that he has 1 HS HIP’d still and I am not sure where. I do make a point to push into the areas he could have a HIP’ster but I have not discovered him yet. The plan from here is to push platoon-sized elements to the wing buildings as I need one of them. I will take whichever proves to be the least defended. Everything else will seek to collapse on the last mandatory VC building. I have a ton of Infantry and a ton of tanks and no CVP cap. Personally, I don’t like these types of scenarios where one side or the other is free to “sleaze-freeze” at will. With so many tanks and early 1PAATC’s, there is limited risk and little downside to freezing at will.

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To be continued...
 
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The Purist

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U14 Sacrifice of Polish Armor

Part II


Gerry: Jim and I reconvened for the second session a few days later and we picked up the action in the Polish turn 4 with the arrival of the larger Polish infantry reinforcements and two new technological advancements. I am speaking here of the new breakthrough in military tech developed by the Polish Advanced Weapons Research and Galactic Exploration Department, namely, the assault gun. Yes, indeed, Poland has again showed itself on the cutting edge of military tech by being the first to field a modern turretless tank with a low silhouette, good armour and firepower aimed at supporting infantry in the attack or defence – the TKS. Other nations are bound to follow suit with their own designs. It is, dare I say, inevitable.

Anyway, back to the battle. In the Heat of Battle I forgot to snap any pics of the action so the screen below capture the action as of the end of turn 6. In that time my Vickers Ejw heavy tanks (another Polish innovation) climbed onto Hills 538 and 621 with the intent of aiding the defenders and supporting the retreat to the VC building. Sadly, the tank on Hill 538 was swarmed and killed before it could do much despite blazing away with CMG and the MA at what should have been dangerously close ranges for Jim’s Germans. The tank on Hill 621, on the other hand, was a heroic tyro who could do no wrong,… at least for a while. This tank dispatched a Pz I up on the heights while the second AT guns killed another. Just as the gunners were turning their weapon on nearby infantry the weapon malfunctioned. The good news was that an ATR immobilised the Pz IV that was flanking my defence and I jumped it in CC hoping to remove it from the German OoB entirely. Up to this point I thought I might have a small but clear path to a possible win as long as the Fates did not interfere.

Jim: Sitting down for this session, my plan was to push over the top of the hill on a front from “wing VC-building” to “wing VC-building”. I have a lot of open ground to cover so I want to be careful how many -1 and -2 shots I give Gerry. I still have plenty of time to get where I need to (5 turns at this point to cover 10 – 12 hexes).

I make a mistake in this section of the game. I decide I need to eliminate Gerry’s AFV’s on the hill top and then I make a half-hearted attempt to do so costing me three tanks in the process. In addition, I managed to bust 3 MA’s (one of those AFV’s is killed). I manage to repair an MA only to break the same thing again a turn later. The story of the tank battle was me needing 4TK’s and missing it at least 10 times and Gerry needing 4TK and popping my guys each time. I basically threw away my tanks for no gain. Fortunately, ASL in an Infantry game and in that portion of the battle I was doing more than I needed.

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Gerry: So, just how bad can one’s dice get in a game. The answer is, “very bad”. Worse than terrible. It had gotten so bad that I had to militarise the Polish Teamsters Union and steer the mad truckers at German troops in the open. Like all patriotic Poles they answered the call and took to their task with a relish, inevitably paying the ultimate price for foolhardy bravery. By the end of German turn 7 one of the new assault guns had malf’d it MA in an overrun attempt but resolved to fight on. All the while German infantry closed on the VC building with a few broken squads appearing on the battlefield while the two German Pz IIIs made trouble for my defenders. Still, for the most part Jim’s troops simply ignored all the FP thrown at them.

Jim: At this point, I am pushing for the “wing-building” on my right. I believe this will be easier to hold. I am also converging on the last VC building in the back center. I have an AFV in the rear to begin causing rout difficulties. I may not have many MA’s left on my AFV’s, but my Infantry still has can-openers and my AFV’s do have damn fine Machinegewehrs. In this turn, I take a total of 7 PAATC’s and I succeed on 1. It’s an important one as it is tying up a dominant AFV on the hill. My 9-2 also kills one of his TKS’s in CC as the TKS remained in my Location. The 9-2 sitting on both mediums is going to play a key role in breaking down Gerry’s units around the last VC location. He has no TEM there better than +2 and I have an AFV in the backyard who can fire first, setting the 9-2 up for encircling shots.

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Gerry: I started taking screenshots at the ½ turn because events were moving so quickly (often in the wrong direction). I managed to repair the malf’d MA the TKS and the Vickers Ejw survived the infantry assault. That is where the good new ended as my attempt to retake 2Z1 whiffed its shot followed by a German riposted that K/2’s the squad. It was time for the tanks to counterattack. The Vickers rolled up on the 9-2 and two MMGs in 2R5 and did nothing, the tank then retreating down the hill to take up a defence of the 2T1 building. Next the two TKS went for overruns,…. only to have both Malf their MAs. When the dice gawds turn their gaze away from you, life can get pretty interesting. At this point I am down to about 5½ SE versus Jim’s 12 squads or so. Well,… at least the guys defending 2M1 are holding. Maybe they’ll be the strategic reserve for a counterattack.

Jim: Here, I have taken the “wing-building” on my right. I have to manage an 8+3 attack and drive off the squad still adjacent. Fortunately, I survive the 8+3 and roll yet another 2MC attack in return to break the unit Adjacent. That secures the “plus-one” portion of the VC. Now I need to take the remaining building in the rear. As Gerry notes, I have plenty of Infantry to make it happen.

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Gerry: The second session ended with turn 7 and we did a quick check of the dice. On the surface my DRs did not look too bad,… until you compared them to Jim’s IFT rolls. These had developed a habit of gunning down or breaking my 8 morale troops with a dispiriting regularity. And yet,… hope remains.

Jim: To quote Mae from the show Ted Lasso “It’s the hope that kills you”. I am set up for a jump off to take the last VC building. All I need is to start cracking skulls and grinding forward. Given the timeliness of my DR’s, that turns out to not be a problem.

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The Purist

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U14 Sacrifice of Polish Armor

Part III


Gerry: The third and final session saw the climax of the battle, the Poles, squared jaws thrust boldly forward, daring the Germans to do their worst. They got their wish.

First, both MA’s on the new assault guns rolled up back-to-back 6s and were recalled. The German MMGs, directed by the 9-2 then KIA’d 2T1 killing a squad and breaking the HS that remained. Jim’s infantry swarmed the small hill, the VC building and surrounding woods and my chance for revenge is stifled by a doubles that Final Fires the survivors in the hilltop foxhole.

The Vickers CMG and MA fail to impress Jim’s troopers and to cap off the attack the last panzer with a functioning MA rolled down from Hill 548 and with a +6 bounding fire shot scores a CH on the Vickers tank blowing it into a flaming wreck. Over in 2M1 My Poles (concealed 458 with 9-1) ambush the German 9-1 and 467 only to fail in CC and then die without much fanfare.

By the end of Polish turn 8 my hopes of glory are pinned on a 248 HS in 2Q1 and a 9-1 w/ another broken 248 in 5K4. They would have man-up and retake 2T1 in turn 9.

Jim: My 9-2 cracks both the units in the VC building. I see an opportunity to DASH across the road Adjacent to the VC building and take it. Gerry saves the MA to try and take a miracle shot but gets no love. My last remaining MA 37L takes an Afire shot at this pesky tank I had tried to kill so many times and rolls yet another 1,1 to flame it. At this point in the game, it’s a mopping up operation.

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Gerry: The Germans surround the HS in 2Q1 and even try to overrun him but the brave lads scoff at this boorish display of Teutonic bravado. Not sure if they believe their own eyes the German infantry around 2T1 load their weapons and adjust their sights, knowing the full fury of Poland is about to be unleashed. The Polish 9-1 and broken HS rout over to 2N4 where the officer gives the troops a really heartfelt pep talk in the hopes they’ll rally up and make the charge. They politely decline.

The 248 engages the German MMGs in the hopes of easing the passage of the 9-1’s charge from the chateau but fail (again) to impress and are immediately KIA’d. In a now forlorn, bravely desperate but valiant charge, the 9-1 in 5N4 sees a route to glory by charging through the open ground on board 5, into the 5M1woods and then up the 2U1 hill and into the foxhole. We believe he intended to jump 2T1 in CC, destroying the invaders, even if not being able to claim the prize.

He was unceremoniously gunned down bypassing 5N3.

So much for glory.

Jim: Gerry pointed out “there is a path to the VC” Location". Sadly, as Gerry’s pointed out, we have a lot of firepower and a tendency to roll low when we needed it. They pointed that out rather emphatically in fact. 😊

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Gerry: The session three dice roll records are below. It goes without saying that the dice never did “turn” but remained stubbornly obnoxious.

No matter how you look at this scenario it will be a long haul for the Poles, even with the balance. Breaking 5 of 6 guns (2 AT and 3 MA on the tanks) didn't help my cause. Even so, I am big fan of the early war period and I do not shy away from the larger scenarios. Even with the sour dice bot I had fun with this old remake from Crescendo of Doom. If this scenario were only seven or perhaps eight turns long, it might make for better fight in the current ASL ‘era’.

Jim: I am glad they stayed true to the old school ASL here, but I agree with Gerry. In modern ASL, this is just too much time for the Germans to get it done. I never felt any crunch of time as the attacker. Looking at the board afterwards, I think this scenario tough on the Poles. Their path to victory is narrow and beset on all sides with things that can go wrong. Broken guns or key breaks on the manning crews is devastating for the Poles. They are dependent on reinforcement DR’s. I think one thing the Poles must do is protect the backfield around the center-most VC buildings. Failure to do so will result in rout paths being cut and FTR situations en-masse. That’s what I did here. Meanwhile, for the Germans, the challenge is mostly around the MA’s all being B11. I broke more than my fair share. Fortunately, these early war AFV’s are as much mobile pillbox as they are AFV’s so even if the MA goes down, the AFV is still useful.

All in all though, it’s easy to look like Napoleon when you’re rolling so well.

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