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Subject: Battle of Alam El Halfa (with photos) rss

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M St
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When John and I got around to DS after some time, since we actually ran through all the basic scenarios some years ago, we decided to go for one of the shorter Advanced scenarios, and chose Alam el Halfa Ridge. This is a 12-turn one-map scenario in the middle of a sandstorm, so the visibility is limited (5 hexes) and there is a -1 to all spotting dierolls. Since many units in the game are veterans, that makes shooting even at short range a tricky business.

The British have two squadrons of Grants waiting in the north (left), bolstered by some AT guns with hidden setup and trucks if they should need to move. The Germans, coming on at the south edge (right), have two companies of PzIIIh's and four trucked PaK platoons. On turn 7, the British get a squadron of Stuarts as reinforcements. The Germans get one airstrike which has to be pre-timed. Both sides have the same C3 level (except the German PaKs which are worse than everyone else). This means the German tanks get to break ties, except the British have the 12th Hussars Command card. Essentially this meant that the British were assured of one tank company getting the drop on the German tanks, but the others would not. The Germans had the 39th AT Battalion command card governing the PaKs, which meant that the AT guns would be even faster to react than the British tanks, but the British would know where they are.


The dice gave me the Germans, who move onto the map from the south. I brought them on in a broad front, thinking I might feint to the right or left once I was closer since the Grants are a bit slower.



I chose turn 6 for the airstrike, wondering if in battle the British tanks might perhaps bunch up more closely than in setup. That assumption proved actually true, but six turns nonetheless was a stupidly long delay. I decided not to worry about the AT guns since I could not know where John would set them up. My own AT guns I ended up basically leapfrogging on the flanks, hoping they might give me some protection there if John decided to come in from the side. (The ground in this scenario is rocky so trucks are fairly fast off-road.) The British moved forward a bit.



By turn 3 everyone was almost in range.



By turn four, I could already have moved into range. But I wanted to wait for the airstrike to give me an advantage, and in fact John had bunched up his tanks a bit more, which was what I had hoped for. So I merely slipped the A/1 company on the right closer to B/1 on the left. and we essentially spent two rather bizarre turns waiting.



On turn 6, I released my airstrike. I received three passes of Stukas, which I sent in against the Grants of C/12 squadron opposite me - and they had zero impact. I think one potential hit was scored, but the high morale of C/12 made them shrug it off. John then mentioned the Stuarts, and payback or something. Rats! I had completely forgotten about the Stuarts.

At that point I belatedly remembered that the scenario was (obviously) built so that the Germans could try to dent the initial British line before the reinforcements came in. Worse, the Stuarts can come in from any map edge. So by moving to my left, I had actually placed myself to enable a perfect backstab by the Stuarts, and by waiting for two turns I had wasted most of my window of opportunity. This also suddenly made it clear that the best position for the British AT guns would be in the center, to keep the Germans busy if they tried their push there, to keep away from the entering Stuarts. Fortunately John had sort of repaid the favour by not bringing his B/12 Grant squadron closer when he saw I was concentrating on his right.

Anyway, with one turn of (very slight) numerical superiority left I decided to barge in with B/1 and attack the Grants. I approached to 4-5 hex range, the Grants of C/12 started opportunity firing, but some had difficulty spotting in the dust, and overall nothing happened (I think I passed a couple of morale checks). John also reacted by limbering up his AT guns (they had been on the left flank) and emplacing them in the center.



On Turn 7, predictably, John opened fire with the C/12 Grants first, though they did not achieve much (they scored one suppression). I unleashed what I suspected was my last full attack with B/1, but the Grants just shrugged it off. On came the Stuarts of A/12 Squadron, and of course right into the rear of B/1. However, instead of barging in right into my hexes guns blazing with moving fire, John played the cautious route, stopping adjacent to unleash his own fire next turn. My flank PaKs actually served a purpose by opportunity firing at the flank Stuart platoon and suppressing it. So it stayed flipped and would not participate in the next turn's activation.



Turn 8 therefore started with five platoons of Stuarts firing their (admittedly weak) guns at the flanks of the tanks of A/1 and B/1. The outcome can only be compared with the scene where the third guy storms out of the bathroom in Pulp Fiction; after all the smoke had cleared (or rather blown away into the sandstorm), incredibly no effect was achieved - there were some hits but the Germans passed all their morale checks. By this point I had realised though that the Stuarts were actually potentially more dangerous than the further away Grants, and A/1 and B/1 started blasting away at the Stuarts, and the PzIII's had the range. Three Stuart platoons were eliminated outright (I think there were two quick kills). The left flank PaK again suppressed the rightmost Stuart, and it did not manage to recover at the end of the turn. A/12 was made of stern stuff though and was not Shaken by the severe losses, at least not visibly.



On Turn 9, John had the choice of leading with the Grants of C/12 or the Stuarts. (The Grants of B/12 were not in range yet, making a detour to keep away from the right flank PaKs.) Four Grants or two Stuarts could fire, but the Stuarts had the better modifier (including some flank modifiers) and the higher spotting chance. At this range, even firing at veterans in the sandstorm, only a 1 could fail to spot, and both Stuarts rolled a 1. The CW conceded.

I did roll for the subsequent German activation of that turn, and it was a bloodbath, with A/1 eliminating another Stuart, B/1 finally rolling high against the Grants of C/12 and killing two, and the PaK eliminating the suppressed Stuart. Victory points at this time would have been 7:0 in the German favour. (The Allies have to score at least two kills more than the Germans to win a marginal victory.)





The game took only a bit more than an hour, perhaps 80 minutes, and we decided to go for something longer the following week.

[AAR originally posted in the Tank Leader topic on Consimworld]
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M St
Australia
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A note on the counters - the unit counters are the new designs available on my game page and now in mounted form from Kerry Anderson (see this thread).

The "Fired" markers are taken from TCS 3.1 - I have a lot of them, and they tend to stand out nicely in most games while being sort of colour neutral. From the middle of the game we also used TCS "suppressed" (for Suppressed status) and "paralyzed" (for Shaken status) markers, which made things easier to tell apart at a glance than the all-sand DS markers.

The hits in the last two photos are Litko Flaming Wreckage (Medium) markers.
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