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Subject: Mission 3 -- 2/3/B/1-506PIR rss

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John Cobb
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Session Reports for this campaign
Mission 1
Mission 2
Mission 3
Mission 4
Mission 5

Unit designation: 2/3/B/1-506PIR (2nd squad, 3rd platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment)
Squad:
SSgt. Dansby
Sgt. Hicks
PFCs Barsatto, Tembley, Apone and Cadwallon
Pvts Messick and Higgins.

Preface: After the push into Belgium, 2nd squad recieves a cushy posting in a small town as an OP and providing security for a small fuel dump. They have the additional luxuries of a jeep and radio at their disposal.

Cadwallon returns from injury along with a replacement trooper, Higgins. Ssgt. Dansby sets up squad CP in the town hall with Cadwallon and Higgins, the latter as radioman. His leadership skills are on display as he tries to prepare the newbie and calm the nerves of the veteran. Cadwallon is still on the mend from his injuries and, after being shot twice, is convinced that he's not going to make it through the war.

Just to the north Fire Team Hicks (Hicks,Tembley,Messick) is set up in a house with a view to the east of town. To their north, Barsatto and Apone can survey to the west from their stone manor.

Mission: HQ tasks 2nd squad with patrolling 2 groups of bombed out buildings, one NW of town and one far to the SW. Battalion S2 thinks the Germans may be scouting the area for a counter-offensive. To make matters worse, there is a heavy mist and visibility is severely restricted (6 hexes).

Area of Operations



Phase 1: Mission Start

After calling the squad together in the CP and briefing them, the FTs move towards their jump off points for the patrol. FT Barsatto will take lead followed by FT Hicks. FT Dansby will cover from town. As they leave the CP, a signal flare pops over town from somewhere to the north.

Moments later as they begin the patrol, artillery starts dropping on the center of town. FT Dansby, caught in the clear, has to take cover out of planned position. Cadwallon observes north. Already in the open, FT Barsatto crosses west to a machine shop.

FTs Hicks and Dansby hunker down under the shelling. A direct hit on the building occupied by FT Dansby kills Cadwallon. Looks like his premonition was true. FT Dansby moves back to the CP. Seconds later the fuel dump is hit by artillery. Fortunately it is only buried in rubble and not ignited.

Meanwhile, FT Barsatto, clear of the shelling, proceeds on the patrol unaware of what's happening in town. They don't realize the rest of the squad is pinned down and not supporting them. They clear Objective #1 without incident and finally realize they are on their own. During a lull in the shelling, FT Hicks crosses to the machine shop and covers FT Barsatto's return.



Phase 2: Patrol to the SW
The enemy artillery resumes shelling the town center. FT Hicks incorporates FT Barsatto and moves toward Objective #2. FT Hicks is dispersed in skirmish line in case the artillery turns on them. In the CP, Dansby and Higgins spread out in the building in order to have LOS in all four directions. Shelling continues to be centered around the town center as FT Hicks reaches and clears their objective still in dispersed skirmish line.

The artillery stops as abrubtly as it began. Almost immediately, from the CP Higgins spots a 3 man German patrol (35,41,52) moving south into town from the hills. Far worse, a Panzer IV (55) comes rolling up the road from the south. It appears the shelling was to soften up town for a pincer attack. Not expecting armor, the squad has only one weapon capable of taking the tank out, a single use satchel charge.

The tank is not buttoned down apparently unaware of the U.S. troops at point blank range. Apone has a perfect head on shot and kills the tank commander who is standing exposed in the turret. (KF55-1) Realizing the satchel charge is their only chance of taking out the tank, Hicks order Messick to arm the charge and prepare to assault the tank. From his close flanking position, Barsatto attempts to toss a grenade in an open hatch on the tank but misses. It bounces harmlessly into the river on the other side of the road.

The tank continues rolling forward for a moment as both MGs spray wildly at Hick's position but score no hits. Then it comes to a halt as the crew buttons up. This the perfect moment to use the satchel charge but Messick is shaken and fails to move out. The rest of the patrol retreats to break LOS with the enemy armor.

To the north, the German patrol leaves one soldier (35) in the church as cover. He exchanges ineffective fire with Higgins while the the other two Germans (41,52) continue south out of sight behind the ridge. The CP is in danger of being flanked.

Unbeknownst to the squad, HQ has sent a runner to make contact with Dansby and deliver orders.. The runner is entering town on the south east road.



Phase 3: Duck and Cover

There is little FT Hicks can do as the Panzer accelerates up the road. By the time they regroup and move back into LOS, the tank is entering town. Moving too fast the tank clips a building and pauses to unbutton but FT Hicks decides not to get into a long range duel against a tank with nothing but rifles and SMGs. FT Dansby, now aware of the tank, holds in the back room of the CP hoping the enemy armor moves into a position that will give the out gunned FT an advantage. As the tank crosses the tracks into the town center it fires it's main gun at the jeep but misses.

Meanwhile, the German infantry patrol regroups behind the ridge and moves west to the small building on the southern edge of town where they have LOS on the HQ Runner moving up the road. They appear to have contact with the tank because it once again accelerates to max speed and heads south. The Panzer rolls up to point blank range of the HQ Runner before cutting him down with the bow MG.

Higgins enters the rubble at the south end of the CP to gain LOS on the tank. Seeing it unbuttoned he engages with his rifle attempting to pick of crewmembers. His fire is ineffective and he is immediately struck and killed by return fire from the infantry in the building to the south.

The tank continues southward exiting the Area of Operations and the german infantry moves south as well taking control of the bridges to ensure they are not destroyed by U.S. troops. The squad doesn't have the means to destroy the bridges even if they retook them. Ill-equipped, their lines compromised and with 25% casualties, there is no option except a tactical withdrawal. Dansby rejoins FT Hicks and the squad exfiltrates via the southwest road.



Post mission analysis:
I fell in love with Ambush! over the first 2 missions but the honeymoon abruptly ended here. After talking with others it seems this mission is quirky and depends a lot on random events many of which I never hit. Technically, I never rec'd the event that outlined the mission end requirements but at this point there wasn't much else I could do except withdraw.

The first part of the mission was harsh but manageable with the random instant kill artillery but once the tank appeared I was completely helpless. The mission setup never hinted at armor and so I had no weapons that I could use against it. I suppose in the future I will carry a bazooka on every mission just in case but it is so prohibitively expensive in weapon cost that I will have to cripple the squad in grenades,ammo and arms to afford it. I don't like this. It breaks suspension and feels gamey.

Also, the dice hated me during this mission. Even when they appeared to go my way, they didn't. I had a lot of initiative rolls where I "won" 4-2 or 8-1. However, the way the AR chart is laid out, this often ended up with my guys getting 1 turn and the Germans getting 2 which meant they still acted before I did. On 4's in particular (which I seemed to roll a lot), the HQ Runner would panic. I think he stood in the middle of the road doing nothing for 3 out of 4 turns after he "won" initiative before being gunned down by Germans who "lost" the initiative but still moved twice.

It may be a while before I pick this back up and try Mission 4. This one really, really left a bad taste in my mouth. The helplessness I felt for the final 2 hours watching panicked or out-gunned troops hide or get picked off was not fun at all. The design seems to intentionally put you in position with small chance of success directing your troops to the SW corner of the map then having a vehicle blow through with no chance to catch up. Apparently, the real mission is to prevent the enemy troops from breaking through but I'm not sure as I never hit the random event that tells you what you're objective is. I still like the game but this particular mission seems poorly designed.

Make no mistake, I have no problems with a moderate degree of randomness, I like it, but this mission had too much of it. Critical parts of the mission (such as the objective!) should never be left to randomness.

*edit* Since I've gained some emotional distance from my utter defeat, I realize this was a nice dose of realism. Troops won't always be optimally equipped nor will their assigned objectives be what's actually needed. The enemy rarely play into your perfect plans.

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Kev.
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Excellent AAR. I think you should jump right on #4. Get back in the saddle.
War is chaos.....you did a great job of getting out alive!!!
Mind if I share on my blog?
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John Cobb
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I am honored you find my session report blog worthy. Go for it.

If I were to jump right in on Mission 4, any suggestions on how to balance weapon load out? I only have 38 weapon points. I am, more or less, modelling the default squad with 2 SMGs, 1AR, and 5 SAR. By time I get a few clips of ammo and grenade each there is nothing left.

What do I cut in order to finance the expensive bazooka and reloads for it?
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Jim Lederer
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I can only ever afford one smg for the LT
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Kev.
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I' have only dabbled.
But drop an SMG, and spread your grenades thinner. team up in two man fireteams?
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John Cobb
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Okay, you've talked me into. (Didn't take much convincing, did it? whistle)

I'll be starting Mission 4 in the next day or two. Wish me luck!
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Ruben Rigillo
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Good Luck!!!
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GodRob
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While primarily used for killing vampires, a wooden stake to the heart is also highly effective against most other opponents.
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Poor Cadwallon, he never even saw it coming.

I had to start designating my troops "A1", "B1", "C2" etc. After I lost a few named soldiers, it just became demoralizing to watch them getting taken out randomly.
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John Cobb
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robertg611 wrote:
Poor Cadwallon, he never even saw it coming.

I had to start designating my troops "A1", "B1", "C2" etc. After I lost a few named soldiers, it just became demoralizing to watch them getting taken out randomly.

It must have been the Cadwallon Curse. Someone in his family had died in every U.S. war going back to the Revolution. (Or the American Insurgency as my mates across the pond call it. )
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Jason Herold
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jacob4408 wrote:
robertg611 wrote:
Poor Cadwallon, he never even saw it coming.

I had to start designating my troops "A1", "B1", "C2" etc. After I lost a few named soldiers, it just became demoralizing to watch them getting taken out randomly.

It must have been the Cadwallon Curse. Someone in his family had died in every U.S. war going back to the Revolution. (Or the American Insurgency as my mates across the pond call it. )

RIP Cadwallon.

Love your AARs.

I just played this mission today. My squad has 41 weapon points, and, given the foggy conditions I decided to downgrade my two beloved BARs to SMGs, seriously cut the ammo and grenades (which never work for me) and buy a bazooka plus a charge. It turned out to be less useful than you might think.

The first random artillery strike was pretty scary for me. Can you imagine? There's random death falling from the sky and nothing you can do about it. The second artillery strike bullseyed my jeep!

I cleared the ruins without incident, which was surprising. No Germans anywhere. Perhaps intelligence was wrong and there were no Germans in the area? But then why the artillery strikes causing me and my men so much panic? And why am I playing this mission?

The Germans tried an attack from the north that was quickly put down from my men in the church tower. A snap fired rifle shot that needed a 0 to hit wounded the NCO and then an amazing SMG burst killed, killed, and re-wounded (incapacitated) the 3 of them!

Then that panzer rolled onto the field. Oh man. At first, it looked pretty good. I had my bazooka guy placed in the perfect building, right where he needed to be. But he was distracted by something. The panzer rumbled fast and unbuttoned right at him, showing utter disdain for my squad. My bazooka man failed his awareness check. German advantage, 2 turns for the panzer. My man only had 1 turn so that meant he'd probably have to survive 2 rounds of fire. Not good. No way to give him another turn as he was the leader. Why did i give the leader the only bazooka?!? The panzer continued forward, still unbuttoned. Machine gun fire landed a wound, then the panzer mercilessly blew away the wall with his main gun, incapacitating Sgt Landsman. He would later succumb to his wounds.

The rest of my men fled before the panzer like rats before a flood. The rest, save one. Bunk picked up his fallen sergeant's bazooka and was determined to avenge him with it. He recklessly sprinted after the tank, always careful to stay out of sight. Eventually, the perfect opportunity presented; Bunk had a clear, medium range shot on the panzer's rear armor. He aimed and fired true. A direct hit on the body of the tank! The tank will be destroyed on a 5+! Unfortunately, the penetration roll was a 4, no damage. The turret coolly pivoted and killed Lance Corporal Bunk. He was 20 years old.
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