U21/ASL243 The French Perimeter

The Purist

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A couple of weeks back Tom R and I began playing U21 from the U Series (Turning of the Tide pack). This playing was with the earlier version and not the re-released Scenario 243 from CdG2, the newer version has the Germans lose one 9-1 and the French gain an R35.

I'll admit that I thought I was doomed when facing Tom's numerically superior Germans and it was not until German turn 10 of this 11 turn marathon that I thought I might stand a chance of turning things around. I didn't take any screen shots during the game so there is only the situation as it was after Tom's rally phase of turn 11 when a failed rally attempt ended the game.

The plan for the defence was to create a strongpoint with the mines at the board 3 manor house using the 105mm gun, two 457s, an 8-0 and LMG. The idea was to delay a German attack there and fall back from the right onto the left side of the board 1 (supported by the two 75s) and wait for the French reinforcements. The 105 went in 3L1 with the 3M2 bore sighted, 6 AP mines went in hexes 3K1, 3K2 and 3L2, helping protect the gun's flank. The 457 w/ LMG went upstairs while the 8-0 and other squad were on the ground level ready to react to any moves on the right and back up an MMG, perhaps slowing any German left hook. The MMGs went in 1G3 and 1X2 at level 2 with the HMG upstairs in 1Q3. The rest of the French defenders were spread across the left half of Board 3, planning to retreat onto board 1 in front of the German advance.

French attempts to slow the main attack were largely ineffective for the first few turns but the 3M2 position was to play a key role in helping the French win. A Mk IV was kind enough to place itself in the L2 minefield adjacent to the 105 with its flank showing. With a shrug and a "c'est la guerre" the French gunners obliged and turned the tank into blazing wreck (the source of all those fires). All the French gunners either died at their guns or as infantrymen but the 25LL did kill the second Mk IV and the 75 on the left helped break up the first few German attempts to get at building 1G4. All the same it seemed the French defenders were being eroded faster than they could whittle down the German infantry. French morale began to sag.

The Germans had largely swept the right side of the map while the manor house slowly succumbed but building 1Q3 managed to hold on thanks to a few strays around a 9-1, hero, an1 1/2 SE with the HMG. The French reinforcements arrived and were key to retaking the right hand buildings (the French left had collapsed), coming to the aid of the survivors of the manor house fight and a squad on the right.

It was only about German turn 10 that I realised that the German VC conditions (control 7 of 11 multi-story building) were threatened by the slowly growing casualty list and by a HS (unexpected survivor of a CC) in 3R1 that accidently found itself with a path to retake a building (1K5). Since broken MMCs can still retain building control I did what all good ASL players would do in this situation,... I moved my remaining troops to the stairwells in every building I possessed and prepared to rout upstairs.

With six buildings in French control at the start of turn 11, Tom needed to grab two of them to win but the 9-2 failed to rally the broken 468 to lead the push and there was little more that could be done.

I found the scenario interesting an interesting challenge. The Germans, despite good quality squads and a heavy numerical advantage, need to keep an eye on casualties squads. They have a lot to do and need to hold what they take against a certain counter move by the French. The French need to avoid casualties but still delay the Germans defend as they fall back on board 1. With the Germans able to pick the area for the main thrust this may happen as early as turn three, certainly by turn four at the latest. The French reinforcements will help but can only do so much if the starting force is too depleted when they arrive.

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Tuomo

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To paraphrase Neil, here's the rock upon which my attack broke:
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Pictured is the situation in the middle of the German turn 2 MPh. The tank had already zoomed to that position on turn 1, figuring to pressure the French 457/LMG at Level 2 into skulking back out of LOS, which seemed to work. No matter that it found that AP minefield it's sitting on; there was no effect. And note that the other two minefields had yet to be discovered.

With the upper-level 457 looking the other way, the 9-1 brought up two 468/LMGs to grab the building when the French 105 revealed itself, and further revealed its boresighted location to be right where the 9-1 went :-( Amazingly, the 105's shot wasn't a Critical Hit, but it rolled a 3 on the IFT attack anyway, KIA'ing a squad outright and breaking everyone else.

Which left the tank in a conundrum, of course, vis-a-vis surviving the rest of the turn. I brought up another 468 to try throwing smoke on it, but no effect. Finally the tank just accepted the inevitable that it would have to move eventually. It did succeed in blowing sD7 smoke, but the 105 nailed it on the Intensive Fire shot anyway, burning it. We got to roll for Fire and Blaze spread for the rest of the game - all 8 turns of it. You can see from Gerry's end-game picture how it turned out.

OK, losing the infantry and the tank sucked, but hey, we've got 11 turns and lots of leaders, so let's just keep calm and use those halfsquads that we so-adroitly created; now that the 105 has Intensive Fired, we can just waltz right up next to it and take out the crew in CC. BAM, Minefield in K2. Next turn, BAM, Minefield in K1.

Now we're just back to saying, "That sucked".

So we shifted over to Plan B, which was to Be The Wind, Flow Around The Obstacle, blah blah blah. So the brunt of the attack shifted to the west, and indeed eventually I did capture all of the VC buildings on the left half of board 1. Unfortunately, I foolishly lost the second PzIV along the way - turns out that LOS along the avenues of board 1 is remarkably open, and when all four of the French Guns can kill your tanks, you should probably not do Modern Tanky Things like break through the lines to keep the French 9-1 and its squad under DM. Shoulda realized that I really needed that last tank to threaten the R35s when they came onboard and to help the infantry with the end-game push. What can I say, I'm good for only one Zen Moment per game, and I'd already had mine. Shoulda just let the broken 9-1 go, but noooo.

The OTHER PITA was the French HS with MMG on the far left of the board:
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Sure, the 75mm gun in H2 wasn't a joy to deal with, but at least he wasn't protected by Minefields, so one could have a hope of rushing up to CC him, which I did. No, that puny little MMG HS survived all kinds of fire way beyond what he should have, and even being Upper-Level Encircled, he managed to slow things down considerably. I've never seen anybody shrug off Upper-Level Encirclement so well. I had plenty of units who could Assault Move up the stairs to Level 1 of that hex with plans to take that guy in CC, but nobody wanted to risk the 8(+4) shot. That's how good that guy seemed to be.

So, shrug. Like Neil indicated in his Silly After-Action Report on this scenario, the end-game boils down to individual squads and halfsquads claiming entire multi-level buildings on board 1 for themselves, looking to gather enough strength to push the enemy out of one or two more. Certainly would have been nice to have a PzIV around for that stage - prospective German players, take note! But yes, ultimately Gerry copped to the tried-and-true "break and rout upstairs to keep control of the building" strategy before I did, and the final German push came a turn later than it should have. Not that it was likely to succeed; at that point the French had enough infantry to hold what they needed to, and two R35s make for great mobile gun platforms.

Congrats to Gerry for the win!
 
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