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Subject: Intensive Fire October 2006 part four rss

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Craig Benn
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Damn it – a wonderful weekend of ASL was sadly drawing to a close. Well my fire team wasn’t going to win any prizes as we lost 2-1 in the first two rounds. I was much more interested in picking a short scenario as I had a six hour drive home ahead of me. I had a hankering for ‘Danger Close’ which has 150mm OBA, but Mark Furnell fancied Rimling Round up which is only four turns long so I agreed. Mark took the Germans and I took the Yanks.

The sides

The Germans get six 1st and 2nd line squads, with a hero, a couple of leaders, two light and a medium machine guns, a panzerschrek and two JagdTigers. These are beasts, with a 128mm main gun and frontal armour of 26 factors - basically don't even think of shooting them from the front - and their gun would probably go through all the U.S tank destroyers lined up nose to tail with one shot. Why exactly did I agree to go the Americans again?

Still the Jagdtigers do have some weak points, firstly they are mechanically unreliable - anytime a start mp is used they breakdown on a 12 and become immobilised. Secondly they aren't very effective against infantry, with a HE depletion number of 7 - basically over a 50% chance that they will get either one or no shots at all with HE. Plus they only have one bow machine gun with 3fp, and are very large targets (-2 to hit) and a bit slow and clumsy (no turret, only 11mp). Side armour is 8 factors, which although equivilant to the front of a sherman, shouldn't provide too much problem to '45 bazookas - (kill# 16), or the 90mm's of the American tank destroyers (21).

The Americanos have six 2nd class infantry squads, but two and a half squads of elites, with two leaders. Support weapons are a MMG, HMG, two bazookas and three M36 Tank Destroyers. The M36's are open topped, have armour that will keep out rain but not much else, but have a decent 90mm gun and a 4pt AAMG. I quickly checked the counter for its smoke making capability – hmm nothing for the gun, Smoke Pots5, Smoke Pots5! – that’s shit, and you have to be crew exposed to use them…why exactly did I agree to be the Americans again?

The Map

Lots of open ground, in fact Mark said he was very grateful that it was me attacking over it and not him. Still smoke and prep fire are the best kind of cover when attacking, and lots of open ground can be bad for defenders too...when you break in the one house that gives cover, where are you going to rout to?

Anyway the map is one half of board 46 (north- for my AAR purposes, can't remember which way the scenario card said it was) and one half of board 6 (south). The Germans set up on Board 46, and the top two rows of board 6, while the Yanks are in the bottom five rows of Board6.

The northern board has a level two hill in its centre-south with a small orchard on its lower right side and a two hex stone building on its right side (the farmhouse). In the extreme north west is one wooden building with nothing for hexes around (the shack). In the north east corner, theres a fairly big woods about 4x4 hexes, and that’s about it apart from a pond near the farmhouse.

The southern board is a little more cluttered, in the german set up area theres a stone building in the centre (Uncle Theo’s), to the left of a country lane that points at the farmhouse and has pretty good fields of fire. Theres another stone building (Grandma’s) on the right with awful fields of fire surrounded by hedges and small clumps of trees.

The U.S lines have some cover part way on the left (two belts of trees), its open in the middle, and on the right there’s enough trees and hedgerows to reach the board 6/46 edge, where the cover stops.

Setup

The victory conditions are most good order exit VP’s on board 46 wins. The Jagdtigers are worth 10 points, the M36’s are worth 6. So the Americans have a very small superiority in total possible vps 38 to 35…but you only have four turns to get them there and they don’t count if they break…6 morale you say?...why exactly did I…

Mark set up his JagdTigers well back, one on both sides of the woods in the N.E corner, right on the map edges. This setup meant no way of getting flank shots and his JagdTigers were 100% safe and could murder any American armour that showed itself. Also twenty points of VP’s in the bag. The infantry was put in the available cover for a defense in depth. One squad with a -1 leader and a MMG on the hill, one squad each in Uncle Theos, the shack, the farmhouse and Grandma’s. One squad with a LMG on the edge of the woods by the Jagdtigers, and the hero with the panzerschrek in the farmhouse.

Looking at Marks setup, I thought there’s no way I’m going to advance into the sights of those Jagdtigers, but there was quite a bit of ground on board 46 where they didn’t have LOS – mainly on the left hand side of the hill. His infantry was scattered about and I intended to mop it up piecemeal. I would use my tank destroyers against his infantry, but keep them out of panzerfaust range, and my infantry would have to deal with his Jagdtigers.

I set up with three squads (one elite) with a leader and a bazooka on the left, exactly the same on the right plus a half squad, and a fire group in the middle of the M36’s and two squads with a MMG and a HMG.

The Game

American turn one: in the first move I only had to worry about the Germans on the hill and at Uncle Theo’s, nothing else of Marks could get any shots. I kept my tank destroyer crews with their heads out, as otherwise they couldn’t fire their machinegun or smoke pots – but at the risk of snipers. In the prep fire phase I allocated two M36’s and the infantry machine guns on to the hill and Uncle Theo’s, wanting to move the third M36 forward. The squad on the hill with the machinegun broke on my first shot (only +1 TEM for height advantage), but not the other squad. In the end I had to intensive fire one of the M36’s to persuade them to keep their heads down and wimper.

My left hand platoon double timed forward, one squad peeling off to take the defenders of Uncle Theo’s prisoner (for you Fritz the war is over…and for you Hans also…). My M36 that hadn’t prepped moved forward into the lee of the hill where it could cover the shack next turn, and also gave the other two squads on the left some cover. On the right I rushed a little, trying to get my 6-6-7 with a bazooka where it could fire white phosphorous at Grandma’s but it got broke by defensive fire, and another squad got pinned by a sniper. The German squad on the hill routed to the farmhouse accompanied by their unbroken leader.

German turn one: My squad rallied while the German one didn’t. Mark said he had to be careful or he often gave his cardboard men lives, and I admitted the same vice. We discussed the German 9-1 leader believing in final victory and the miracle weapons, and threatening his broken squad with reprisals. I had an image of dirty unshaven GI’s furious with their own officers and the germans for risking them getting killed this late in the war. Are we a sad breed?…very probably. Not very much else happened in the german turn as Mark was content to hold in place.

American turn two: The broken squad in the farmhouse rallied, no doubt under threat of family reprisals. The M36 fired at the shack breaking the squad there, I moved a 6-6-7 with a 8-1 and the bazooka off in that direction with the intention of hooking round and taking out one of the Jagdtigers. One of my squads from my left hand platoon advanced onto the hill, while the third squad with the prisoners moved to its front slopes where the defenders of the farmhouse couldn’t see it. I moved the other two M36’s to where they could fire at the farmhouse, one down the country lane, and one off to the left a bit. My fire support group humped slowly forward with their heavy pieces…the .30 cal reached a spot where it could advance and fire on the farmhouse next turn, while the HMG lagged behind.

On the right, my newly rallied 6-6-7 tried for WP failed, and everyone shot at each other without effect. I did get a 5-4-6 adjacent to Grandmas so could advance into close combat. Mark chose not to claim wall advantage here so he could benefit from the +3 TEM for a stone building instead of the +1 for a hedge…but it meant I got the +1 for the hedge instead of the -1 for moving in the open. One of those tough choices, to take wall advantage, not to mention dense rule passages. Everyone missed in close combat, but I had a couple of reinforcing squads adjacent if the melee continued too long.

German Turn two: Again Mark was content to sit put, skulking in the farmhouse, and firing his lefthand Jagdtiger at one of my squads on the hill. He rolled a seven which meant he missed and no more HE – he didn’t know the old trick of firing AP for acquisition first and I wasn’t about to tell him. In close combat his squad in Grandma’s died – close combat is a bit of a lottery but even a 1firepower difference makes it a bit safer for the U.S. With two german squads down, and another about to be eaten up it was all going worryingly well, although losing even one M36 would even up the points.

American Turn three: I prepped at the farmhouse with what I could, but only stripped concealment from the hero. Hmm I was ahead on points so if I moved onto board 46 with everything I’d win, unless of course he counter-attacked and killed my tin cans. I had my eye on advancing my 8-1 and elite squad with the bazooka to the one hex where I could get a flank shot at the leftmost JagdTiger, but I’d have to distract Mark elsewhere. This meant advancing over open ground at the farmhouse…time for the penal half squad to step forward…

It did and got broken first shot, another squad got pinned, another one rolled a six for smoke so stopped, and another inched forward with an assault move. Not too impressive but my elite squad ran up to the shack and shot down the brokies as they tried to surrender. A M36 had kept their heads down and their counter under DM all this while. I don’t usually commit cardboard atrocities (except against SS) as it tends to be counter-productive, in this case my squad was out on a limb and if they’d been broken in charge of prisoners it could have been messy.

The other JagdTiger fired HE and again rolled a seven, missing and exhausting its stock at the advancing amis. AP from the beasts kept coming my way, but against infantry its pretty useless, I even took a critical hit from one shot without effect. I moved another M36 onto the forward slopes of the hill, and tried to get it hull down and failed.

German Turn three: Mark could see the danger to his leftmost JagdTiger, and asked me what he needed to safely start – “anything but a twelve” I told him, putting on the mockers, and lo and behold boxcars….hehehehehe Apart from that he fired on one of my 2nd class squads on the right and broke it.

American Turn four: With six movement points I could get adjacent to the immobolised JagdTiger, but it meant running the gauntlet of several machine guns. So the same plan as last turn, advance over open ground at the farmhouse to draw their fire. It worked to an extent…I lost another squad broke on the hill, and one on the right flank and drew all the german fire except for one squad with a LMG. In the back of my mind, the fact that these broken squads weren’t going to count towards victory nagged…I’m taking an awful risk Vader, this had better work…I’d have to take a 4 firepower -2 shot from the LMG…but once again Marks dice were high.

Adjacent I fired the bazooka…and got an immobilization result….if the crew didn’t bail out I’d have to close combat it and they have a nasty anti-personnel mine dispenser...but they came running out. As they came out the hatches I fired tommy guns at them, pinning them and then killing them in close combat.

At this point a thought occurred to me, the hatches are open, can I capture this? and does this count as 10 exit vp to me? The answer to both questions was yes, you crew it with a half squad and get captured use penalties. Of course it couldn’t move, and there were no Germans in its weapons arcs but it was still my JagdTiger!

“Oddball this tank is a croc of shit, the fuel lines leak, the transmissions shot…” “Moriarity, this is a beooootiful tank, what’s with the negative waves…”

In the excitement I forgot to move one of my M36’s even though I purposely didn’t prep fire it – it would stay on board6 and not count towards victory – d’oh!

German Turn Four: Word had got round the tournament that a JagdTiger had got captured, and we started to get watched by a bunch of players that had finished their games. I did a vp count and it was 33-17 to me…but then I got told that the half board hexes didn’t count, where a lot of my stuff was. Mark and I had discussed this at the start, and agreed that half hexes did – Mark being the gentleman he was immediately said they would count. I think the spectators were expecting a total whitewash, but if the JagdTiger hadn’t broken down it would have been pretty even, as my drive on the farmhouse had stalled.

About the only option left for the Germans was to fling the other JagdTiger forward and get it to hit it’s immobilized brother, but Mark was content to exchange shots and not move the Tiger. I lost another squad broke, having just rallied one, and didn’t bother firing in my defensive fire phase so as not risk a sniper activation as I had enough points for the win.

Wow, what a great little scenario – I think more aggressive use of the JagdTigers and a forward defense are better ideas for the Germans. To be fair, Mark had only played his first armour game at the start of the tournament, and that 12 at the wrong time scuppered his chances. We both had a good laugh all tournament and I look forward to swapping war stories with him next time we meet up.

I had to leave before prizes were handed out, which was a shame. There was a fantastic sense of camaraderie all tournament, and new players were made very welcome by the old hands. Lots of people were available for rules queries, and it was a very social affair rather than being too competitive. My thanks to Dominic McGrath for organizing such a great event, introducing me to people, and generally making things run smoothly.

After twenty fivish games of full ASL, about the same of starter kit, a tournament and a captured JagdTiger I think I can throw my rookie pin away at last.

If you play ASL in the UK, get to the Heroes tournament in Blackpool in March. Nuff said.
 
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Trevor Murphy
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I liked these reports very much, Craig- thanks for taking the time to document so thoroughly what a newbie might expect at an ASL tournament.
 
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Matthew Barratt
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Quote:
I don’t usually commit cardboard atrocities (except against SS) as it tends to be counter-productive,


What is the downside to massacaring prisoners? Also, is there an in game reason to massacre SS or do you just do it because they deserve it?
 
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Craig Benn
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Before you kill prisoners, broken units surrender if they can only rout by low crawling or taking interdiction (running in the open risking casualties). After you kill prisoners they will always do this rather than surrender, and that sides ELR goes up by 1 (less likely to quality reduce from a morale check).

You can also interrogate prisoners to find hidden units, and give them labour tasks - clearing minefields, digging foxholes.

SS units generally have an ELR of 5 which is maximum anyway, and underlined morale (not subject to quality reduction) so it doesn't really make much odds if you shoot them. Plus like Eurogamers they deserve it!
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James Taylor
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Killing Prisoners in ASL
ASL actually as 2 different rules to cover this:

1) No Quarter: A player may refuse a surrender at the time it occurs by invoking no quarter. In addition to the already mentioned penalties this also prevents the use of another rule: Mopping Up, which makes easier to control buildings. Since MANY ASL scenarios use building control for victory determination it can be costly to invoke NQ. However, when building control is not a big factor... it is not uncommon to see NQ invoked as there are downsides to carting prisoners around with you... they can escape, or attack you in close combat in certain circumstances, and they guarding units can be come less effective.

2) Massacre: This is a seperate rule that can only be used by certain combatants, i.e. Japanese, SS and a few others. In 16 years of active playing of ASL I have never seen it used. There may be a scenario or two out there where a side MUST perform a massacre as part of a special rule, (to reflect a historical event like the Malmedy massacre), but other than that I've never seen it used. (Because of that I cannot tell you what the downside is.)

What should be clear from all this is that ASL goes to a level of detail most of the games wouldn't even consider!

JT
 
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