Mark Buetow
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McHenry
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INTRODUCTION
My regular gaming buddy Marc and I have slowly been winding our way through Conquest of Ethiopia. We've enjoyed it mostly due to the subject matter being something we've never played before. (We're big WWII and Combat Commander fans). He is playing the Ethiopians ferociously defending their country from me, the colonialist Italian invaders.

Scenario 6 depicts the ambush of an Italian colonial column by Ethiopian Imperial regulars and irregulars. The Italians win by exiting 35 units from the western edge of the map. They have 32 turns to accomplish this, beginning at 1130 (and the game ending at 1915)

The setup. A rocky trail winds north to south (north is the board edge at the bottom, from my Italian seat)) through a terrain called "amba" a rocky, steep plateau. All the hills on the map are amba. It is nasty stuff; you have to roll a certain number to be able to move up; it adds 3 to foot movement of other terrain in the hex, and in this particular scenario, all the hill hexes are amba. The trick is this: the Italians have to exit 35 units from the WEST edge, which, as seen in the picture, is to the RIGHT. So...go over the amba or around it? Thankfully there is plenty of time...


The first two sets of Italian units have to enter along the depicted road, which, in this setup, is actually not a road but rocky terrain. It's better defensively but that trail entrance is going to become a logjam.


The question for the Italians is whether they (a) break right to move along the narrow low ground to the west; (b) attempt to force the trail up and over the amba, and dislodging the Ethiopians to do so; or (c) move with all haste to the left, and go all the way around the east end of the plateau and hustle back across the map to exit on the west. Depicted below is the faltering initial attempt to try all three options.


As my Italians came onto the map (they come along the trail and in some hexes just to the east/left), my plan began to form...


I would send the bulk of my forces around the eastern end of the plateau. I would send my MIT units with their MGs up onto the amba just left of the Ethiopian line to flank them and hopefully rain down fire upon them. The trick there was getting the units up the plateau in the first place. Each unit has to roll an 8 or better to be able to climb up. You can see my reluctance to even try to engage them head on. I did make a play to send some units directly westward (to my right).


Fortunately, my reinforcements had both come in on time, on turns 3 and 4. That meant that right away, I had all my units to work with. It was an easy thing for the majority of my forces to make and end run around the plateau. Here, though, you can see the initial Ethiopian units breaking off to cross the amba to the south and begin setting up an interception of our troops.


The Ethiopian line, well dug in on the edge of the amba, has dissolved, his men making their way to stop me. Let the pictures tell this tale...






Here is the initial group of Italians about to make their exit. We presumed that the tiny slivers of hexes were playable, though that perhaps pushes the definition of "half hexes" which would have made it impossible for the Ethiopians to skirt the amba on the west side. But since we had made the call, we stuck with it.


Though small, the first stack of Ethiopian imperial irregulars has closed with out main body of units. They will be the first units to slow us down and drag our progress to a near halt.




At this point, we knew we would have to fight our way through if we were going to keep advancing toward our goal and getting our units of the area. On the other hand, since the original Ethiopian line had dispersed, that left us some opportunity to get the units on the north side of the amba exited if we could deal with the troops there.






The southern side of the map became quite the move-and-shoot match. We made some very good use of our firepower to collapse the resistance there and drive it back so we could surge forward. At this point in the game, in the early afternoon, our Fog of War rolls seemed to end several turns with only about half our units having been activated. Time seemed to speed up as the day wore on!






There were not many spots we figured we could break through. A smaller force between the two larger ones made a run for the little channel between the large and small plateaus on the west, but an HMG platoon halted us. We would never get past it and the units bunched up behind would be subject to eventual fire attacks and assault.


Here our units on the southern edge of the map are falling into disarray. We've had some effective hits against the Ethiopians but are being slowed down too much. It was somewhere around here that I had around 16 units off the board. I therefore began counting my remaining units every so often so see if I had enough to still exit the 35 required to win. So far, that was the case.


In the center of the map, we had whittled down the Imperial forces enough to press onward, attempting to break past and take that quick northern route to the edge of the map. The pressure was on in the south, too, as they couldn't completely stop us, though they were slowing our advance remarkably.






The units coming across the plateau in the center, left off firing at my MITs there and went for the stacks tucked up against the souther side of the plateau. Their leader had been killed by units coming from the west and they were left stranded, disrupted and demoralized. They began taking fire and then the Ethiopians flew down the sides of the amba and into assault combat...


By now it is night. We hope to slip past them but our numbers are dwindling. In that central batch of three stacks, we have a reduced, demoralized unit from assault. It's 1800 on the clock and I am one unit away from being unable to complete my mission...


He fails his morale recovery and must flee into the adjacent hex...


...into which the Ethiopians follow. As my first activation at 1800, I try to recover that reduced unit's morale. He fails and must flee, earning a "free shot" from the Ethiopians there. He is eliminated in the assault shot. At this point, I have 16 units off the map. With the death of that platoon, I now have 18 units on the map. Even were I to exit them all safely, that would not be 35 and so victory is now impossible. The Italians lay down their arms and acknowledge the Ethiopian victory.


GAME NOTES:
The first thing we observed is that, for the most part, Panzer Grenadier game time seems to closely follow real time. In this game, we played form the first turn at 1130 to the turn we conceded defeat at 1600 for a total of 6 1/2 hours of game time. We started around 0900 real world time and finished at around 1430, with probably about a 1/2 hour for lunch, so about 7 1/2 or so hours of real time!

If you look at the AAR for Scenario 5, you 'll see that that particular battle had very little movement and was almost all assault combat. In contrast, this battle saw very few actual or long assaults and far more maneuvering by units. When the Ethiopians chose to engage in assault fire, it was so they could fight me to the death and kill units, preventing them from exiting. The few times that I chose to send units into assaults was generally to tie up the Ethiopians from being able to Op Fire against greater numbers of units I needed to keep moving. Here, the goal is not for the Italians to eliminate enemy steps but keep their forces moving and out of contact with the enemy. That worked for the most part, except that they were pretty good at melting their line and going full bore at us on the other side of the plateau.

I continue to enjoy learning how to play PG. As I looked at the map, I thought, The best way is really to go around, but that will take so long; but I have that long because this game has 32 turns! This is the second game we've played with Fog of War and that's pretty much a standard rule now. It keeps things moving reasonably well, though it wasn't until halfway through this game that we even began hitting those rolls at all, and then there were several in a row of turns.

As for this particular PG game, Conquest of Ethiopia, the scenarios seem to provide a good balance so far of various types of battles. The movement and firepower of these units is low. It's not like panzers flying across the steppes or HMG platoons that can hit a ways away with decent firepower. Everything is up close. Scenario 6 has MGs on both sides (imperial HMGs and the Italian colonial MITs) so that makes things a bit more interesting in terms of making direct fire attacks and also messing with fleeing units.

It was a long, tiring battle and despite our losses, I thought we gave a fair account of ourselves. I could definitely waste lest time on the trail at start and get my men moving around that amba a little faster.
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Joshua Gottesman
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Very nice read, and I loved all the pictures! I'm fighting on Saipan right now, and want to get to this one soon!
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Mark Buetow
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Joshuaaaaaa wrote:
Very nice read, and I loved all the pictures! I'm fighting on Saipan right now, and want to get to this one soon!


Avalanche Press is going to bankrupt me with the Gold Club sales and October deals they are running. laugh
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Russell InGA
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Malacandra wrote:
Avalanche Press is going to bankrupt me with the Gold Club sales and October deals they are running. laugh


Any good sales for non-Gold Club members? I also do not need to be filing for bankruptcy due to inordinate game purchases!
 
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Mark Buetow
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rules_heretic wrote:
Malacandra wrote:
Avalanche Press is going to bankrupt me with the Gold Club sales and October deals they are running. laugh


Any good sales for non-Gold Club members? I also do not need to be filing for bankruptcy due to inordinate game purchases!


Black October Sale.

Of course, they'll be cheaper with Gold Club discounts too...
 
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With the 20% off everything and 30% off pre-orders for Gold Club, it's a great deal, IMO. Even if you only get existing stuff, it pays for itself at $175 in product. Plus there's the Golden Journals and other freebies. Heck, Gold Club saved me $40 on an order I placed today and probably twice that on one I placed back in February.
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