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Subject: Player Review - Scenario 15: Hube's Pocket rss

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Barry Ingram
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This was a recent match arranged via the excellent Squad Leader site run by
Scott B
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You can sign up and request a game here...
https://sites.google.com/site/2012squadleadertourny/2012-squ...

Allied Player Rating:
Scenario balance '4'
Luck factor '3'
Player balance '43'

Axis Player Rating:
Scenario balance '5'
Luck factor '5'
Player balance '4'

This rating uses a scale from one to five with a strong Allied advantage a '1', an equally balanced a '3' and a strong Axis advantage a '5'.

Allied Player Comments:
This scenario is a test to see if the German player realizes he must cover the whole board with "someone" in the first turn. If he doesn't pick up on that, the Russians could make him pay. It is funny that the entire first German move is detailed in the AH General. It would be hard to miss if you did the research. As far as the Russians go, I felt that they must stay together and attack at one point on the German line. A dispersed approach would be a big disaster. (I am not sure they could get off the first board.) I briefly thought about an attack on the German left to force the confrontation with the armor. Lucky Russian rolls could put them in a superior position as it would take a lot of time before the convoy could get past them. I rejected it as a disaster as well. (Burning Russian armor on Turn 1 instead of Turn 2...)
The only viable strategy to me seemed to try and slip past quickly on the German right and hold out until the convoy showed up. (Another disaster...) This just allowed the Germans to reorient and open a hole for the convoy. (Maybe a variable would be for the convoy to enter on the first available turn and not be delayed. It might be called "missed communication".) You can imagine the race on the right was a nightmare. No darkness, no smoke and not enough cover left the Russians naked. In another game, my opponent took his Russian armor through the trees with some good results, but he had already scored lucky hits on the German tanks. I felt that this kind of approach would just leave 1 to 2 more tanks snarled in the trees. I moved over the hills instead.

What was accomplished in this game? Hube got away. The advanced elements of the 5th Tank Corp were annihilated. I take some comfort in the losses inflicted. One tank and two halftracks were destroyed. A few SS casualties were inflicted. The elements of the 10th SS Frundsburg Division will have a few more guys walking into the next battle. They are being worn down (about 85% effective).

Axis Player Comments:
I don't think this scenario is balanced, in fact it seems to be heavily weighted in favour of the Germans.
If the German player takes advantage of the ridgeline, (he can reach the nearest 2nd level hexes turn 1 with 2 Panthers and send the other to reach the 3rd level O5 or M5 hexes by turn 2), he will interdict most of the Soviet armour during the first turns. I believe this is key because of the superior to hit numbers at longer range and the obvious hull down + height advantage to kill effects. Allied this to the extremely resilient nature of the SS infantry, if he gets sufficient over to the north east of Hill 538, then I can see no real easy play for the Soviets. The Germans also have to get a presence in the small copse (woods) east of Hill 538 to interdict a 2nd turn move by the Soviet armour onto the level 2 hills there.
All this is doable if the entry is planned carefully. HTs can reach far enough east along the board 2 road and still allow for the Panthers to crest the nearest level 2 hills. The south is a little less crowded for traffic so not so critical on the sequence but at least two HTs and one passenger carrying AFV should be sent along the southern road of board 5. A minimum of 2 squads need to be there to threaten and stall the T34s that are likely to appear during the RT2 movement.
The imbalance is borne out by the ratings available on the Advance Phase site. I am not sure how old these are but they show 28 plays with 19 Axis wins and no draws. That’s a 67.9% win rate in favour of the Germans.

So, presupposing the German takes advantage of his ability to scale the heights of Hill 621 from the very get go and sends a strong HT bound Infantry contingent to the north east side of board 2, no easy play for the Russians.
My opponent chose a consolidated, concentrated effort across a very narrow front against the far eastern side of the German line in the hope he would avoid the German armour in the early turns, or at least keep them at very long range, and against as few infantry as possible. The objective is to consolidate a base of operation around Hill 538 as the jump point to encroach into board 5 and intercept the convoy as it approached from the east. With the German armour now repositioning along the ridgeline there becomes a choice for the Russian, stand with your own armour and trust to luck, taking shots at very low odd Hull Down targets, or, try to avoid, scoot between blind spots, closing the range and avoiding the dreaded 75LL AP rounds. Indeed, this what Monty tried but more-or-less every time he tried to move and close, the defensive fire was just too good (too lucky). Even the -2 Leader directed HMG managed an impossible “snakes” to KIA a CE and send one of the T34s back from whence it came. In short, I think the Russians need a lot of luck if they face a German player that grasps the importance of the first turn deployment and utilises the advantages it presents.
In this game Monty got no luck whatsoever. It is testimony to his fortitude and skill that he did manage to break through onto board 5 with three T34s that could have caused the approaching convoy some difficulty but Hube simply delayed their appearance thus allowing sufficient time for the Panthers to reposition and dispatch the remaining Soviet armour.

Thanks to Monty as ever for a great game. He always is a pleasure to play against and I look forward to the next instalment as we march slowly on through the COI scenarios in sequence.
Next up, Scenario 16: Sowchos 79

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Barry Ingram
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This was another recent match arranged via the excellent Squad Leader site run by
Scott B
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You can sign up and request a game here...
https://sites.google.com/site/2012squadleadertourny/2012-squ...

PLAYER RANKINGS & COMMENTARY

Allied Player
Barry Ingram
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Rating:
Scenario balance '5'
Luck factor '3'
Player balance '3'

Axis Player
Scott B
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Rating:
Scenario balance '5'
Luck factor '4'
Player balance '3'

This rating uses a scale from one to five with a strong Allied advantage a '1', an equally balanced a '3' and a strong Axis advantage a '5'.

Allied Player Comments:
I have now played and witnessed enough reiterations of this scenario to know that this is a tough nut to crack for the Soviets against a proficient German player.
My adversary on this occasion was none other than the Squad Leader Tournament organiser Mr Scott Bramley, so I had my work cut out to even keep this close. I have seen all too often the Soviets spent and gone by the time Hube’s Convey appears with nothing of any threat left to oppose safe passage to victory. I also had yet to see anything other than a southern route for the convoy through the forests of board 5, so my initial plan was a concentrated armour with Guard passenger spearhead along the far eastern flank to consolidate, and seal the central roadway (on board 2) with vanguard pushing through to seal the forest roadway on board 5. Once in position (if they made it) they would take position, armour blind from the ridgeline and infantry entrenched on the road. The remaining infantry entered on foot, dispersed across a much wider front, with the purpose to find protected pockets of cover, in sight of the key roadways, with the sole objective of preservation until the convoy appeared. The final piece of the puzzle was how to deal with those dreaded Panthers when they appeared on the ridgeline. I set to have a small tank hunt group take position in the centre to keep feline eyes away from the main thrust down the eastern flank.

Despite the oft and well versed adage, the plan actually withstood first contact with the enemy and the Soviets remained on track. The vanguard was safely through to the forest road, even managing a very lucky advancing fire hit and kill on one of the two MkIVs, the central eastern flank was held by guards and T34s, and the hunt group in position having already marked off 2 armed HTs, but, and it’s a big but, the Germans where now in position and ready to deal death from the ridgeline. Now I really needed the luck to be on my side.
Who was it said, "I’d rather be a lucky General than a good General?" How true.

Two key moments stand out and whilst they did not determine the outcome and will probably sound quite insignificant in the overall scheme of things, it is interesting how the momentum can quite easily and often does swing as you feel things are just starting to slip away. My hunt group was causing concern but out of direct sight so there had to be chances taken to bring it to bear and suffer the classic Squad Leader conundrum for the moving player: expose yourself to defensive fire with a very poor chance of advancing fire success and face the next player turn prep fire at your peril. The plan was working, make the armour come to mine and get first shot, but alas, defensive and prep fires both missed. The return shot did not. The Soviet cannot afford to miss any chances thus offered so it was a hard pill to swallow. The other matter of consequence, at least one I remember was my central guard force failing their road bound entrenchment rolls. They could have taken a safer option and attempted such in the woods adjacent to the road but, if you know your convoy rules, you know that it cannot enter any enemy occupied hex and must stay on the road. Thus an enemy squad entrenched on the road provides a very effective ‘roadblock’ that presents real problems for the German. I felt it a risk worth taking especially with Supp Rule J in play (Soviets successfully dig in on a roll of 6 or less). With the (one and only) 9-1 leader in attendance then a 7 gets the job done. 4 attempts, 4 fails and the squads fell easily to the reactive armour that ran them down with nary a blink of a feline eye. At that point I then realised my biggest mistake (I’m sure many others went unnoticed by me) that I had over-committed to the southern approach; I needed to get the vanguard back.

The tide had turned with the central force dispersed, the vanguard too deep and now pinned by the ridgeline Panthers and the northern preservation force clinging on for dear life as the delayed appearance of the convoy finally rumbled on along the central road as I suspected they would. Running like hell for leather through the forest (woods) my small infantry vanguard soon fell to the deadly 10-2 Leader / HMG combination on the ridge but all was not lost. My one lone AFV, a T34/85 no less, had managed to encircle through the forest road and flank the ridgeline from the west. In position it sat awaiting the arrival of the convoy with steely Soviet determination and a hunger for some feline blood. The Germans didn’t disappoint, 2 Panthers, 1 leader with ATM and 1 SS squad wielding DC, all charged in perfect synchronisation to give just too many juicy targets for one hungry Soviet to cope:-

BMG v adjacent Squad moving in the open, fire; missed, DC placed.
CMG v adjacent leader with ATM, fire: success! – broken.
Now for the Main Armament v 2, yes TWO Panthers at point-blank. No problem, intensive fire the MA, 2 shots, 2 dead cats – Yes? – No!
Box-cars on the first shot and the final nail in the already closing coffin.

I suppose I take some solace in managing to have some forces left for the arrival of the convoy and caused the German some sticky movements, with even a few very low IFT attacks on the convoy as it snaked along the central road north of Hill 621 but, in truth, I would have needed a lot of luck and extreme poor fortune for my opponent, to have had anything but the exact same final outcome.

Great game and great fun.
My thanks to Scott for a very enjoyable defeat.

Axis Player Comments:
Beware the Soviets if the Panthers take to the hills. The soviets pushed a force south into the woods on board 5, making the southern road hex untenable for the Germans. The southern presence also encircled the Germans on hill 621, making routing and movement tricky and exposing the Panthers' weak side/rear armor. For a few turns the Germans were reacting to the Soviet initiative. Eventually, the Germans won the armor battle and the soviet infantry fell in short order. A lucky Soviet shot or two and this game may have had a different ending. The closest i've seen the Allies come to wining, thanks to Barry for an interesting game.
 
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rory willis
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great write up! I was wondering if you could help me, with a question I am playing the dead of winter scenario an I cant seem to find the gun shield numbers for the crew of the gun when attacked by infantry also its preety hard to take out a t34 with this 37 mm gun any ideas? thanks
 
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craig grinnell
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rory willis wrote:
great write up! I was wondering if you could help me, with a question I am playing the dead of winter scenario an I cant seem to find the gun shield numbers for the crew of the gun when attacked by infantry also its preety hard to take out a t34 with this 37 mm gun any ideas? thanks

CoI 63.52 Gun shield is +2 on the IFT if fire is traced through the gun's cover arc and the gun HAS a gun shield.

as for killing a T34 with a 37mm AT gun, good luck. It was historically difficult as well. Russian tanks wouldn't even bother shooting at them, they just ran them over. Hope for a rear or height advantage shot.
 
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