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Subject: Drive to the Volga, 9/14 rss

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Drive to the Volga AAR, initial setup for Monday, September 14

My brother and I are back to Stalingrad. Last summer we got four days into the Valor of the Guards mini-campaign game, upon which the Russian conceded. This time we will be doing a full-sized VotG campaign, Drive to the Volga (the second one). As always, I will be the German and my brother will be the Russian. I should give you the usual disclaimer before I get too far into things:

My brother and I have been teaching ourselves ASL, and we’re going to play all our scenarios in chronological order. Don’t read this for great tactical insights, as we’re still very much neophytes. For our most recent battles, see here.

Of course, we’re taking a break from chronological order (in regular scenarios, it is 1943, and we are bogged down in Italy). However, the rest of it all still applies: we’re still very much in the newb category, which I think lasts for five years in ASL. I’m looking forward to October 3, 2018, when we will be . . . moderately experienced ASL players?

Anyway, the first thing to do is purchase units. I start out with four rifle companies (two of which will enter from offboard, one pretty late, if at all), seven platoons of various support troops, five platoons of AFVs, and some artillery support in the form of a preliminary bombardment and a module of 100 mm OBA. This is facing a Russian force that consists of at least six companies (although four of those are conscript-heavy NKVD units) and about five platoons of infantry and three platoons of tanks, along with a bunch of fortifications, and a pretty generous budget of campaign-purchase-points worth of other goodies, which are currently a mystery to me.

The main thing that’s worrying me at this point are the victory conditions for the initial scenario, which mention that I get bonus points for capturing or interdicting ferries. From where I sit, it doesn’t seem possible to get that far across the map, even in my guaranteed 8 turns. But clearly the scenario designers think that’s possible, so I will try to raise my expectations accordingly. Even so, I think that my stretch goal will not involve any ferries: I would like to be across a line bounded roughly by Warsawskaya on my left (north), Smolenskaya in the center, and Krasnokotskaya on the right. Getting there should give me ample opportunity to win the scenario, which I do by inflicting twice as many CVP as I take (plus that bonus for taking ferries). Finally, I learned from the first campaign game that winning the scenarios is not very important, so I’m not going to be too fussed about it either way.

I considered some OB-optimizing strategies when making purchases: for instance, the recycling Stukas are a better buy today than any other day, because today is guaranteed to last 8 turns, so you get the most Stukas. From previous VotG scenarios, I’ve also learned that they are pretty potent anti-tank weapons, so I went ahead and spent my support purchase points (and then some) on a Stuka wing. I will depend on them (and a bunch of sturmgescheutzen) to ward off any Russian tanks, as well as harass any Russians that try to redeploy.

I also considered getting guns or a heavy weapons platoon on the principle that the earlier I buy them, the more scenarios I get to use them for, since they are fairly durable and don’t get recalled like AFVs do. In the end I decided against this, since they are cumbersome and wouldn’t do me much good this scenario, in which I hope to cover a lot of ground. And by waiting a day or two for my Historical DRM to improve, I reduce my chances of getting a depleted unit, which seems more important. Look for me to stock up on heavy weapons and anti-tank guns on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, though.

With so much ground to cover, I decided to spend my remaining points on two more infantry companies. One of which will enter immediately in the center, the other on a dr < turn number will enter on the left. A platoon of StuG-B’s, for the smoke support, rounds out my purchases for Monday. I would have bought a SAN increase, but the special rules for this scenario forbid it, so I am stuck at 3 for this morning.

Those were my purchases. Depletion rolls were a bit rough on me, I thought, but could have been worse. I left about a dozen SW on the side of the road leading to Stalingrad; however, most were crappy ones, and I only lost one each of a flamethrower, a heavy machine gun, and a medium. But I’m not going to complain even about that, because my leadership rolls were excellent, more than overcoming all of those depletion-DRMs: I think I got a 9-morale leader for almost every infantry unit, and a couple of nice armor leaders as well.

On to setup, which looks like this:



The arrows show my vague plans for how my six companies will move in the first three turns (dark blue), second three turns (light blue), and last two turns (white).

As suggested by the initial setup rules, most of the Russian strength is in the southwestern corner of the map. Counting counters suggests that, in addition to the OB-mandated Rifle and SMG companies of the 399th Regiment, one of the 10th Division’s NKVD companies is down there, holding the main rail station. Scattered throughout the railyards to the north are what look like the other three NKVD companies, slightly depleted (or slightly HIP). That represents all of the visible Russian forces, apart from 22 reserve counters, which is a troubling number, being too many for a single company, but probably too few for two companies. Does this represent a company and a platoon? Dummies? Two super depleted companies? My brother refusing some of his extra cloaking counters? I suppose there is only one way to find out: hopefully I will be hitting his second line soon enough.

At any rate, it seems he has not spent many of those 19 CPP on infantry, which surprises me. Perhaps he went for some of the only-available-September-14 goodies, mainly guns (which I would have done). I contemplated with horror the possibility of an entire HIP company, but rereading the fortification rules suggests that this is not possible, as no more than 10% of an OB can be HIP.

I’ve commented before that one of the things that really gets me about campaign games is the paranoia of unaccounted-for purchase points, so this might be a very uncomfortable initial scenario for me, particularly if he’s stashing guns and armor east/offboard where I won’t find them until subsequent days (which is what I thought I would probably do as the Russian).

My initial attack will be a three-pronged assault by the 194th Regiment. The strongest thrust will be against the heart of the Russian forces. My best company, supported by most of the on-board-starting elite infantry and armor, will push southeast, looking to occupy the area between the main rail station and Kubanskaya. I expect resistance here to be heavy, and progress to be slow, but a lot of smoke (alas, mostly ordnance smoke, as the wind is dead against me) and assault movement should let me make some progress. Eventually, a reinforcing company from the 191st Regiment will arrive to the south, although likely too late to help make serious gains here.

The remainder of my onboard support forces, bolstered by a company entering from offboard, will move forward between the main rail station in the south and the smaller rail station in the north. Resistance here looks pretty light, and I hope to be able to clear out the Russian forces between Krasnovolhzskaya and Communisticheskaya fairly quickly, then send these forces either east across Communisticheskaya, or against one or other of the rail stations.

My most beat-up company will push north of the northern rail station, trying not to make too much progress: if they activate a lot of Russian reserves, things could get ugly for them quickly. Instead, they will try to seal off the northern edge of the rail station, then wait for reinforcements.

These reinforcements will arrive after a dr less than the turn number, and consist of two companies from the 518th Regiment, plus supporting units. One company, probably, will link up with my left flank, then assault the heavily-reserved buildings along Communisticheskaya between I15 and I21. The other company will enter further north to capture the area north of the railyards.

Turn 1 will see the entry of one of my companies, but I am keeping all of the offboard armor in reserve for now. I would like to commit them against the main Russian force in the south, but roadblocks make that impractical until they are cleared, and I might also want them later to exploit a breakthrough or push back against local Russian counterattacks. I’m not certain what to expect, so I will keep them in reserve for now. Finally, although I am committing all of my Turn-1-available infantry immediately, I’m not throwing everything into the fray: my good pioneers are sitting safely in rubble out of sight and out of mind, in case an opportunity arises to take one of the rail stations, as is my radio operator for the 100 mm OBA, which I currently plan on retaining until tomorrow.

I have no idea whether this is a good plan or not. I am worried about whether I have committed too much of my force to grinding against the heart of the Russian defenses in the south: perhaps they would be better employed more to the north, making rapid gains against a thin Russian line? I am also worried about whether I have committed too little of my force to the south, where I will be outnumbered. I have enough machine guns that I don’t think that the Russians can conceivably advance against me, even if their DR reinforcements arrive as soon as possible—but I can easily imagine that southernmost company stalling out and doing nothing of use.

Well, no use worrying about it now: I am hopeful that the southern force has enough firepower that it can wither away any forward defender, and enough smoke that it can move forward safely (if slowly) against a deeper defense. Either way I win, I think.

Finally, the pregame bombardment against the Russian front lines in the south went well: broke or pinned several units, started a fire, and reduced a pair of squads, so I have a 2-0 CVP advantage before the game even starts. More from the front here!
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Wow, that's the huge board. That's where vassal comes in handy.
 
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JP Laurio
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Grisz wrote:
That's where vassal comes in handy.

Well, yes and no. Unless you have a huge monitor, there will be a lot of scrolling around.
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Michael Banta
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What ASL game is the board from I do not think I have ever seen that one before.
 
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JP Laurio
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mbanta12 wrote:
What ASL game is the board from I do not think I have ever seen that one before.

Valor of the Guards: ASL Historical Module Number 7
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Michael Banta
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Thank you for the quick answer I appreciate it.
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Hahaha, whoops, I've added that information to the original post.
 
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