Shin5 – Sparks Fly
17 Februar 1944, Albano-Anzio Road, Italy: 3 M4A1 and 3 3-4-6 HS with two Bazookas and one LMG have to face 4 PzIVH and one PzVIE. The side with the most VPs wins. CVPs are accumulated in the normal
manner. American Infantry units exited off the south edge are worth
double VPs. US vehicle crews do not count towards exiting VPs.
I play the Americans and have to set up between rows E and H. I decide to go with the aggressive route: Two of the tanks go to the extreme flanks in the most forward position to hopefully score some side hits. I also set up CE to avoid the +1 DRM and to draw MG fire away from the infantry.
One HS with the leader and a BAZ goes into the wood in the center. Without backblast, they have a TH of 6 even at a range of 4 hexes. The other HS goes in the building besides it, and the HS with the MG is parked in the back, either to harass CE crew or to retreat south for extra victory points. I contemplated to put the infantry in the gully with crest status and escape out of LOS if necessary, but ultimately, the HS with bazookas can generate more points by blowing up German panzer than by running away.
This is the final setup (“?” omitted for clarity):
My opponent opens with his Tiger, rolls onto the map and with his first shot takes out my eastern tank. That's a good start – not.
My HS in C7 scores a hit, but the armor of the Tiger is too thick.
But revenge comes swiftly. He follows with a PzIV to C7, and my Sherman in H7 takes it out and even retains ROF.
Next, he moves another PzIV to D0. There's nothing sensible I can do against that at the moment.
His third tank only moves to B4 and fires at my HS in C7, but they survive.
His last panzer rolls to B6. My philosophy so far has been: Let him bounding fire, he won't hit anyway, and I can kill him afterwards. But this time, he hits my Sherman in H7. Luckily, he rolls crap for TK, and the Sherman survives!
In the DFPh, my Sherman in H7 returns fire, hits and kills the PzIV in B6 and even again retains ROF. Because there is no other target in LOS, the next shot is fired against the panzer in D0. With 5 hindrance and a DRM to turn the turret, the shot misses, but an acquire counter is an acquire counter. I lose ROF this time.
I try a last shot with the Sherman in E10 against the PzIV in B4, but there is no LOS (there obviously is a hedge in C7 that I somehow didn't notice). Luckily, nothing bad happens.
In the AFPh, the panzer in D0 fires everything it has against my HS in H2, but the wooden building is fortification enough for now.
This is the situation at the start of turn 1b:
The tank in D0 has the potential to creep behind me and bite me in the ass, but my tank in E10 can get in the flank of the remaining German tanks in the middle. Victory point wise, I'm in the lead, and my overall position looks slightly better to me.
I begin the PFPh by firing my tank in H7 at D0 again. It hits, and even retains ROF. The hit is a kill, but the crew survives. My cannon fires again for a critical hit, and the crew is also killed. There's nothing left in LOS to shoot at.
My bazooka HS in E6 doesn't score a hit this time, and the Sherman in E10 fires at the Tiger, hitting but not killing it. But I trigger the German sniper which promptly breaks the HS in H1. I can manage without them for now.
In the DFPh, the Germans fire at my brave HS in E6, but they hold position. The Tiger fires its main cannon at my tank in E10: Side hit in the hull, even a rolled TK of 11 doesn't save it, so I'm down to one Sherman against a Tiger and a PzIV.
In the APh, I shift the brave HS from the safety of the building in E6 to the brush in F5. My cunning plan succeeds, my opponent tracks them with his acquire marker, so the path is free for my secret weapon, the lazy HS in F6 with the 9-2 leader advances into the now ignored building, into firing position.
At the beginning of turn 2a, I'm still slightly in the lead regarding victory points, and my position is stable. My infantry is a pain in the ass to the Germans, my remaining Sherman is in a rather safe position, and if I can rally the HS in the east in my turn, those are easy victory points.
PFPh: The PzIV pins the HS (two times!) in the brush, but the Tiger is ineffective against my secret weapon in E6. During DFPh, the secret weapon takes out the PzIV. I don't think I will lose this game.
My HS self-rallies, and the Tiger's CMG that malf'ed last turn is disabled. I let the HS in the brush prep fire, but again, the armor of the Tiger is too strong. I declare opportunity fire for my secret weapon to avoid backblast in the AFPh (a nice trick I recently learned), and go on to the MPh: The HS in the east flees towards safety, and my tank retreats behind the elevated road: The Tiger can't shoot what it can't see, and by driving to a firing position it has to pass my HS.
The Tiger fires at my infantry, but doesn't hit. I return fire with bazookas, trigger a sniper that again breaks the poor HS in the east, and my secret weapon loses its bazooka: Time to run when it's my turn!
I run! The brush HS advances from F5 to F6 to intercept the Tiger. “Durch diese hohle Gasse muss er kommen!”
The Tiger starts rolling. The HS in F6 hits it in the side, killing it. The crew survives, but my opponent gives up nonetheless.
I'm again and again surprised about how fragile tanks are. Infantry breaks and casualty reduces and rallies and breaks and breaks again before it is gone. A tank is there at one moment and everything is fine, and the next moment, it is a wreck.
Looking back, I probably would set up quite similar as I did, concentrating on shooting PzIVs with bazookas instead of running away. Spreading my Shermans like I did worked also well, only the tank in H7 was of little use. Setting it up behind the marsh instead might be another good option.
As attacker, I probably would have used my Tiger more aggressively. It is almost invulnerable from the front and can drive right up to the enemy, ignoring any hits. Sitting in the back shooting at infantry is not the best job it can do.
This is a nice little scenario, nothing complicated, no SSRs, just a board and two parties shooting at each other. It is the first scenario I played where “simply kill more than your opponent kills” is the victory condition, and I think I like the usual, asymmetric victory conditions better. Apart from that, I had fun shooting up panzers.
Thank you for an excellent session write up. It was as enjoyable to read as it was a game session for you.
I also wrote an AAR: http://hit-to-key.net/2015/03/10/asl-the-90-minute-game/
I was reluctant to use my Tiger more aggressively because I didn't want to use it without cover from another tank, and also because the Tiger is still vulnerable from BAZs or CC. That's why I wanted to at least dent your Infantry before moving it in - but unfortunately, that did NOT work out.