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Combat Commander: Europe» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Donna’s 600th game of Combat Commander - - - With Tanks ! rss

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Chick Lewis
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Donna’s 600th game of Combat Commander - - - With Tanks !

I asked Donna to choose the scenario she wanted to play for her 600th game of Combat Commander. She said “I like the Germans, I like to have six cards in my hand, and I’d like an interesting one which I have won a few times in the past.” Going back through our game logs I looked for strings of wins by Donna as German attackers, and made a list of 4 possibilities from which she chose “Hidden Guns Lash Out”, Scenario 82 from the excellent ‘Fall of the West’ Battlepack.

That scenario hands me the Allied Minor’s deck, weakest in the game, with a discard limit of only 1, and gives Donna 2 Pzkw III tanks ! Ouch ! Those tanks each carry a 9fp mortar representing the main armament, a HMG, and a LMG, all crewed, and ensconced in a 4-cover, very mobile steel ‘trench’. I well remember from previous playings of this scenario that those tanks will quite happily ‘drive’ right into hexes containing my units by spending a move, advance or Command Confusion order (!). Therefore it becomes important to stay in woods or fortifications, both of which deny entry to the tanks. The sunken road is a death-trap when enemy tanks are driving around.

But two Scenario Special Rules give me some very tasty opportunities. SSR1 “Hidden Positions” allows me to keep two 75mm field guns (and the units possessing them) off the board at setup. They can be placed AT ANY TIME in any hex with at least 1 cover if that hex is both devoid of enemy units and lies between the railway and the Allied board edge. SSR4 “Critical Hit” allows the French player to discard a ‘Sustained Fire’ action card immediately after a hit draw for one of the 75s. If I do this I can choose any 1 unit in the hit Pzkw III and break it prior to the fire attack roll. Deciding how and when to use the above special abilities becomes the focus of the game for the otherwise-seriously-overmatched French Player.

In addition, Richard Pardoe, one of the playtesters for scenario author John Foley, revealed in a thread here on BGG that 82 was designed to be a “Puzzle scenario”, as in, “You need to puzzle out how to win as the French.”

Here’s a photo of our CC Armored Fighting Vehicle control sheet. Putting the CC crew counters and weapons on the sheet allows us to use Kozure’s lovely AFV counters on the game map.


2 Control sheet for Kozure’s gorgeous PzkwIII counters

Alrighty, then ! I set up using 4 of my wire counters to keep the tanks from entering the lower left corner of the map (from French viewpoint) which allows me to hide units behind the woods without being over-run by the tanks. Since my random secret objective assigns 4 points to #4, adjacent to the German setup hexes, I put the last wire in that hex, hoping the Germans would bypass it instead of taking it in passing. Unfortunately, the random open objective marker made all 5 objectives worth 2 points each, so that was a forlorn hope.


1 Setup and German Opening

I positioned my 1-radius leader plus squad and lmg in the little copse on the sunken road, thinking they might slow down a right side ‘march to exit'. Used my only team plus a squad to crew the still-off-map pair of 75mm guns. The remainder of the French with the best leader set up hidden in/behind the large patch of woods.

Donna split her Germans, placing a tank plus firebase on the French left to discourage French exit points, with the best leader plus all the other squads and tank on the right, intending to cruise down the right side of the map, eliminating the feeble resistance, and exiting for a win on points.

Our previous six plays of this scenario had taught us both three things. (1) As the tank commander, do NOT drive the tanks adjacent to substantial enemy forces, as over-stacked melee can eliminate a tank. (2) When opposing tanks, do NOT occupy terrain into which a tank can ‘drive’, as casual overdrives by tanks are usually fatal to the poor bloody infantry. (3) The French are a match for the German infantry in melee, so as Germans, avoid closing with the mass of French infantry, but rather stand off and blast them.

The French 4-card opening draw was two Routs, a Move, and a Fire. Not bad.

Donna’s Germans had the initiative, and took the first turn. I know you have all had “one of those turns” and this was such for me. Donna activated her right (from French perspective) tank to ‘drive’ and then played an assault fire action to plink at my blocking forces before beginning the drive. (In retrospect, I remember that the Assault Fire action isn’t legit, as the tanks aren’t activated to ‘move’, but rather to ‘drive’.) In any case, what harm could a three firepower (lmg 4-1 hindrance) attack have? When Donna Pulls boxcars for the firepower, and I draw a 3 to improve my squad’s morale+leadership+cover of 10, turns out that the piddly little shot can break the squad with the lmg ! Ouch !
The Tank drove regally forward, and the accompanying infantry also moved, leaving one squad to take objective 4 (secretly worth 6 points) and be stuck in the wire. And Donna got an interrogation event, which she used to discard my precious Fire card.

For my turn, I decided to rout myself and move, as that clears 2 card slots instead of discarding only 1. Pulling an 11 for the rout result, however, caused my broken squad to retreat behind the copse, from where it cannot re-enter due to low movement. I decided to use the Move order for the right leader to follow his broken squad. It was a small blessing that the positions of the approaching Germans made the copse blocking terrain, so no opportunity fire at the tattered blocking force seemed possible. Unfortunately, the open ground behind the copse was only a single ‘drive’ order away from the Pzkw III.


3 Frustrating French opening

On the German 2nd turn, we learn that I was mistaken in the idea that the copse protects my broken squad from harm. The OTHER PzkwIII way the heck across the board 12 hexes distant had a line of sight to the French and fired both the HMG and the main armament, eliminating the squad (on another morale draw of 3) and leaving the leader broken.


4 You just can’t hide from AFVs

I had drawn both a recover and an advance, so advanced the larger part of the French infantry to the treeline, which gave the Germans lots more targets to choose from. But in my excitement, I erred in advancing my crucial 2-radius leader with the French hmg into the treelike, making him vulnerable. I had PLANNED to advance him into the hidden position from which he could still command all of his squads. My broken leader also managed to rally. In drawing for being a target I was gifted with a hero which I placed at the ‘close’ end of the French infantry force.


5 Hidden Wire and Pillbox

I had drawn both a hidden wire and hidden pillbox, as well as a move order. I moved my recovered lone leader back into the copse, which drew the opportunity fire I had hoped for, allowing the French Sergeant to slip into the hidden pillbox.

Then the German infantry moved forward, allowing me to play ‘hidden wire’ on the leader. Strangely, Donna sent her only local team back toward the German board edge to occupy the wired objective 4 hex, moving the squad out of there. The right tank drove down very close to the pillbox, stopping in the sunken road hex.

LOTS of firepower was then applied to the pillbox from both the tank and the German infantry., re-breaking my lone leader.

Donna drove her left tank around to target my hmg/leader hex. I used opportunity fire just to burn cards. Note that opportunity fire will very seldom affect an AFV.

In a following turn the left PzkwIII blasted the treeline hex, breaking the squad with the hmg.

I had a move order and was itching to get objective 4 back, so I moved the hero across the big open field into the scrub adjacent. With only a team holding the hex, I had a decent chance if I could draw an advance.


6 Gallic Best Shot

Now it occurred to me that with a fire card in hand and a pillbox-plus-broken-leader within 2 hexes of that execrable PzkwIII sitting in the road, I would never get a better opportunity for placing my hidden guns. The broken leader immediately activated them to fire at the tank, they both hit, but with average luck, they only managed to break the crew manning the main armament. The inherent firepower of the French squad applied to the German leader managed, with luck, to break his accompanying squad. Both German squad and tank crew immediately recovered.

On the left side of the map, we moved the crucial French leader OUT of danger and subsequently fired at the blocking German Firebase, breaking the squad there, with a long-shot at the German leader in wire, which was ineffective. In response, the left tank fired at the hmg without effect.

And then, the clouds parted and I had a MIRACULOUS card draw. Suddenly my 4-card French hand included a Fire order, a bore sighting action, and the sustained fire action which could break the tank commander before the fire took effect !!! I started to wiggle about on my chair I was so excited. On my next turn I would get the best imaginable 75mm shots at the PzkwIII !!


7 German assault preparation

But Donna’s Germans first fired the tank at the pillbox, and the hmg shot drew another effing ‘boxcars’ for the fire ! Drat, what was I going to do if my leader were eliminated and the gun crews broken? I had a horrible decision to make. My incredibly-precious fire card also carried the ‘concealment’ action. After agonizing for far too many seconds, I made what was THE most difficult decision in all my 700+ games, and played concealment, which made the German fire ineffective. But the disappointment of losing the best possible cannon attack really hurt.

The Germans moved up adjacent to the pillbox, which is the harbinger of doom, because Donna NEVER does that unless she is already holding the Advance card.


8 Pillbox assault

On my turn i did draw the desired Fire card, BUT as expected, after heavy fire from the tank, Donna’s German infantry advanced overstacked into the pillbox and my guns and leader were eliminated. This put the Germans ahead by two points on the victory track. Now effectively nothing was left to prevent the German exit for many more points.

On my turn the hmg fired at a german squad and the far french infantry fired at the blocking fire team, all without effect.


9 Tank reposition

10 Coup de Grace

Donna repositioned her rightmost tank and played consecutive fire orders on both tanks to blast the French hmg. It broke and was in imminent danger of elimination when another firepower draw of 12 ended the game on the second sudden death check. The secret 4 points for objective 4 gave the Germans a six point win on points.


11 The Damage

It was an interesting and fun game, and a fitting victory for Donna in her 600th game of Combat Commander.

However, I think I MAY have puzzled out how to win as French in Scenario 82. I intend to elucidate in a follow-up post.

Continuing KUDOS on this amazingly fun, rich, satisfying game system called Combat Commander to the Jensens and excellent supporting cast !

Chick
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Awesome AAR Chick, you've outdone yourself. Though it does make my reports look more like the incoherent babbling it is. Congrats to Donna, you guys are an inspiration. Our game tonight was our SIXTH so we're catching up on you

PS
at least I currently have this
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Chris in Kansai
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Excellent session report. I'm so envious to see such well-used maps and game pieces. All my CC stuff lies pristine in the cupboard through lack of opponents shake.
btw, it's Coup de Grace, not Gras. Gras actually means fat, which changes the meaning somewhat...
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Chick Lewis
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Thanks for the correction, Chrysm, I'll go change it.

Chick
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Jason Godinho
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BoJack Horseman wrote:
Awesome AAR Chick, you've outdone yourself. Though it does make my reports look more like the incoherent babbling it is. Congrats to Donna, you guys are an inspiration. Our game tonight was our SIXTH so we're catching up on you

PS
at least I currently have this


Wish me luck as I'm about to teach my wife her first game of Combat Commander!
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Jacovis
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Congrats to Donna, Chick! And I wish you both well this holiday season coming up in case I miss the chance to tell you again! It has been a great pleasure to follow your Combat Commander exploits over the years!
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Chick Lewis
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LUCK to you, Jedijay !!
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