Continued the process of easing myself back into the ASL fold with a game of Le Herisson last night. For those that don't know this one, it's one of the original Croix de Guerre scenarios, with a pretty good rep. This was the first time I got to break out my French counters, having only ever played them on VASL before.
The French have adopted their hedgehog defensive posture, holding onto fortified towns and villages in the line of the German advance in May 1940. The map comprises half each of boards 23 and 20, so this is a straight up city fight. All buildings are stone by SSR, and the board 23 stream is dry.
The Germans need to control all but 2 or 3 of the multi-hex board 20 buildings at the end of the game.
The Germans also get about a company of line infantry.
Leadership is of better quality than the French, with a 10-2 leading the way. SWs are limited to one HMG and a bunch of LMGs.
Accompanying the infantry are three SiG Is; big lightly armoured assault guns. The 150mm guns look impressive, but with no ROF and a circled B# of 9, they're something of a paper tiger. Where they do have potential is in smoke, with a stupendous depletion number of 9.
Smoke. Those SIGs are fairly mobile smoke dispensers
Leadership. A slight advantage, but a 10-2 is a nice man to have around when you need to winkle infantry out of stone buildings.
This is a colonial unit, so the French get about a company of line infantry. Leadership is mediocre (a 9-1 is the best).
While MGs are fairly plentiful (one HMG and 2 MMGs, plus a few LMGs), the French suffer from ammo shortage, so they can't be expected to last too long. The MMGs are not too shabby though, but they are weighty beasts.
There are also two roadblocks to help channel the German attack and provide a bit of cover.
Terrain. Lots of stone buildings to hunker down in, including some big 2-level blocks and a couple of rowhouses.
Time. The Germans have 7.5 turns to take pretty much the entire of board 20.
HIP. One squad equivalent is a big advantage when you only need control of three or four buildings to take a win.
The Germans are going to be doing a lot of mopping up in those big buildings until they find the HIPsters. The French can also set up a number of dummy stacks.
The French set-up was wide and spread across the board, with a number of units in overwatch positions at level 2.
The Germans opted for an asymmetric attack, with the weight of troops going through the left-centre, and a smaller contingent on the right. One SiG goes into position to drop smoke from the first turn, while the other two are on armoured assault duty.
The first two turns are characterised by sporadic but effective fire from the French while the Germans cross the five or so hexes to come to grips. Even with the smoke machines working well, it's impossible to cover all angles, and the German soldiers aren't particularly keen on getting closer (high MC rolls). The French also keep their heads down, skulking, and posing a threat rather than a target.
By turn 3, the Germans are beginning to break the French line on the left and in the centre, but the French fall back as much as possible, giving few viable targets.
Turn 4 sees the Germans hit the first big building in the centre, braving point-blank fire from the HMG as they go forward. On the left, the first building has been secured, while the small force on the right is keeping the French honest. Still, the Germans are behind schedule; almost half-way through the scenario and can only really lay claim to one or two of the eleven buildings needed. No HIPsters found either.
The action hots up as the Germans press the issue. On the right, a French squad goes berserk on a rally roll. It takes the 36+2 and 16+2 TPBF shots on the chin (both 4MCs passed on rolls of 6), before rolling snakes on its CC roll, killing a squad and pulling out before the remaining Germans can retaliate. That's what you want berserkers to do!
But the Germans get some revenge in the centre as the 9-1/457/HMG combo breaks the MG, fixes it, and then rolls a 12 to finish it off (and ELRs to boot). The Germans move in, killing two squads in the big building in CC.
One of the SiGs, low on ammo, eschews the gun and tries to put itself in a position to force a 457/MMG on the left flank to face CC with the 10-2 and a couple of German squads (the preferred French option being the self-break, not practical when a SiG is sitting next to you). This is risky, and the risk doesn't pay off, as gleeful French infantry pour fire into the back of the vehicle, making the crew bail out.
Still, turn 5 opens with the game still evenly balanced. The Germans have made limited territorial progress, but the French have lost men and SWs and the defensive line is stretching thin.
The Germans look to lever their slim advantage in numbers by massing in CC with their better leaders, using yet more smoke to cover their advance. The 10-2 and three squads pile into CC against one French squad, while on the right, an 8-1 and two squads pick on an isolated squad. But, still no sign of those HIPsters...
The plan stalls. The 10-2 and his men manage to mess up their CC completely, while the 8-1 and company only inflict a K result. Still, there's the CC round in the French turn yet.
And this is where the plan nosedives into the ground. The French HS gets another roll of snakes, whacks the 8-1 and a squad, and pulls out (generating its own 8-1 in the process).
The French squad kills the 10-2 (on a K), survives the return attacks, and sees all three German squads fail their LLMC.
Game over, man. With one leader left on the German side (a 7-0), and a bunch of broken squads across the battlefield, there's no realistic chance of the Germans getting near victory now.
The game was clearly marked by some tremendous French rolls in CC, but equally the Germans had horrible MC dice. We use ASLAP, and that showed an average German roll of 8.5 on the 15 or so morale checks taken in the game.
The consensus of both players is that this looks tough on the Germans, even with more favourable dice. Canny French play will make it very difficult for the German, with HIP half-squads hanging around, and deploying squads in the endgame to force the Germans to take every location they can by fire or sword. The Germans don't have the reliable firepower to blast the French out, especially if the French keep concealment as much as possible, and therefore can be forced into the risky business of CC.
But ROAR tells us this scenario is finely balanced: 200+ games, and the Germans have two wins more than the French. Have we missed something critical? Or are players not making full use of the French advantages?
Having played it only once I think you minimised the impact 150mm can have on troups hidden in buildings...
There is plenty of chance to wreck massive havoc and "ruins" a lot of strongpoint....
If someone gives you a good shot, great. If the French never let you get a shot at an unconcealed unit, you're not going to be hitting much. And with no ROF, you'll not get much acquisition.
A shot on the area target type may well hit (7 or less, 5 or less if there's a concealed unit in the hex). You'll then be rolling on the 12FP column with a +3 TEM, so you can't really expect much better than a 1MC from your hit.
The French can do well in this scenario by staying concealed and out of the line of fire. They only need to take a shot when someone gives them a good target or when their backs are to the wall.
Good AAR Chris.
Played this a couple of months ago as the French and won comfortably, but I put this down to my opponents inexperience rather than being unbalanced. The fact the French player self-broke, skulked and kept concealment as much as possible, as well as keeping the HIPsters hidden suggests he/you were pretty good.
For the Germans, if the french play cagily, I suggest good ol vehicle bypass sleaze to avoid those -2 shots. Regard the SIGs as expendable as with B9 they will be recalled sooner or later anyway. Have a MG kill stack with the 10-2 leader on opportunity fire so you can punish any concealment drop.
And most importantly change those dice....
- Last edited Sat Mar 17, 2007 5:34 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Mar 17, 2007 5:33 pm