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Subject: Solo AAR- HF CG rss

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Ryan Wolk
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Having completed all 8 of the scenarios in Hatten in Flames solo, I decided to take the plunge and try my first campaign game--also solo. I chose to play the long HF CG, since I figured I’m only going to do one CG from the module, and if I only do the short campaign I’ll probably wish I had done the long one (there’s only a difference of 2 campaign days), so I may as well do the whole thing.

Day 1

Both sides purchased as much high-quality infantry as they could, as well as a module of OBA and some armor. The Americans also fortified a pair of building hexes. The Americans decided not to defend the graveyard, since it looks like a death trap for the defenders, with nowhere to run once the Germans reach it. I figured anyone who set up there would be eliminated eventually, so they may as well hang back and help with the more defensible positions. The American defense was spread between the railroad and the dirt roads to the north, with both flanks appearing wide open.

The Germans set up to attack along the entire front, with a group planning to move in from the south to take the cemetery immediately, with a lot of mechanized infantry in the north looking to scoot up to the undefended northern victory location before the defenders could reach it.



The attack started strongly, with the cemetery and northern location seized quickly, although the attack in the center bogged down a bit. The synagogue, however, was quickly surrounded and overrun as most of the Americans in the center fell back across the road in the face of superior German numbers and morale.

The American reinforcements entered in large stacks with leaders, since they had so much ground to cover, but the German OBA drew the red chit in four of its first five draws, and the one black chit was against concealed units, meaning an extra chit draw, which was, of course, red. The American OBA, meanwhile, was illegally placed to see straight down the dirt road in the north (I realized this mistake on campaign day 2), but also drew almost all red chits during the scenario, so neither OBA module was nearly as devastating as it could have been.

When the American armor finally reached the front, they tried a flanking counterattack to push the few German defenders out of the cemetery, but that only left them exposed to the Jagdpanzers, and once they reached the cemetery, they had to deal with Panzerfaust-equipped German infantry. A devastating final turn saw FIVE American AFV eliminated in German defensive fire, FOUR of which were on critical hits on low-odds TH rolls. The Germans were forced to pull back from the northern victory location, but when the dust (snow) settled, the Germans had inflicted 82 CVP on the Americans (largely AFV), while suffering only 35 CVP themselves, and they had taken 3 victory locations and secured the scenario victory.



Day 2

On day two, the Germans wanted to try for two victory locations: Y13 in the South and D13 in the North, which they had almost dominated already. To accomplish this, they bought another company of infantry, plus the Pionierzug, while also replenishing their armor with another platoon of Panzer IV’s and a bombardment, along with an HMG halftrack. The Americans, meanwhile, bought more infantry, including a pair of heavy mortars, and Shermans to replace their losses as well as an OBA module and more fortifications. The Germans, wanting to be sure to maintain the initiative, played a Dawn Assault chit, while the Americans chose an Idle chit. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to apply the LV hindrance at the beginning of the scenario, so the day played out as though the Germans had played a Day Assault chit.



Things got off to a poor start as the German bombardment, aimed at the defenders around D13, missed and did more damage to the Germans than the Americans. The operation to dominate D13 would end up being forced to wait until the German armor arrived. Meanwhile, a group of infantry was able to move adjacent to the defenders in Y13, but the Americans had fortified Y13, so they had to try to blast their way through.

Meanwhile, German halftracks traded fire with American mortars in the open ground south of the railroad. This would prove to be a poor idea, as the American mortar crews broke frequently, but several German AFV’s were immobilized, which hurt the German far more than a few temporarily broken crews hurt the Americans. In hindsight, this appears to be nothing more than a killing zone for the numerous American mortars, and should probably be avoided.

Once the German armor arrived in the North and laid smoke on key defensive positions, the German infantry was able to cross the road and seize full control of D13. The attack on Y13, however, had to be abandoned as the American OBA devastated the Germans, who were forced to attack in stacks along the thin line of buildings. The Germans in the South were forced to fall back and regroup to make sure the Americans couldn’t break through with a counterattack as they settled for dominating one victory location on day two. The Germans did manage to make some inroads around the K13 victory location, taking the fortified building in J13 and setting themselves up for a push through the main part of the village.

The Germans finished with a scenario win, but suffered 45 CVP, almost all of which were infantry. The Pioniere were wiped out without any real effect by a pair of lucky shots and an 11 on a flamethrower attack. The Americans suffered 55 CVP, most of which came from AFV losses. The Germans were left with a significant edge in armor, but the American infantry now outnumbered the Germans, and the American can purchase extra infantry before day 3, putting the pressure on the Germans to make more progress before all those reinforcements reach the front.



Day 3

Knowing the Americans have the opportunity to purchase a large amount of reinforcements after day 2, the Germans decided to go all out on day 3, hoping to take as many victory locations as possible before the massive American reinforcements could reach the front lines. To accomplish this, the Germans purchased a high quality infantry company and a pair of Panthers, along with a bombardment and their smallest (80mm) OBA module. Possibly most important, however, was the decision to also purchase the two Flammhetzers the Germans have available. I had seen the game-changing power of these guys when playing the final HF scenario, but in the CG they are only available for one day (they are not retained like other units), so the decision on when and where to commit the flamethrower tanks is a very important one. The Germans intended to make two attacks again, a small attempt to take Y13 (again), and a larger push through the stone buildings in the heart of the village. They played their final dawn assault chit to make certain they had the initiative for this crucial day. I would, of course, go on to completely forget to apply the LV hindrance again...The Americans, meanwhile, purchased two high quality infantry companies and two platoons of Shermans, as well as an OBA module.



Day 3 got off to a better start for the Germans than day 2, as the bombardment landed right on target in the heart of the village and broke or outright eliminated a number of American squads, leaving the defense in that area considerably thinner. A large portion of the German armor, including one Flammhetzer, was committed to the Y13 attack, while the other Flammhetzer was a crucial part of the push through the village. I figured that the Flammhetzers should be used as aggressively as possible to maximize the number of times they get to fire, since they are for a limited time only, and if they got destroyed, that wouldn’t hurt the Germans in future days. Unfortunately, the Flammhetzer attacking Y13 was recalled on its first shot, leaving only one flamethrower tank to help the main assault.

The good news for the Germans was that, aided by the bombardment and several devastating flamethrower attacks, they overwhelmed the Americans in the village, and took the K13 victory location quickly. Meanwhile, a small push in the North was held off by a very well-placed 81mm Mortar in C21 that kept several German squads and vehicles pinned down the entire day, eventually shocking and eliminating a PzIV. The wooden buildings in the East-Center of the map once again were the scene of back and forth fighting, as the Americans attempted to cut the German lines in two but were easily beaten back by superior German numbers before the Germans brought in heavy weapons to try to push the Americans out of those buildings, hoping they wouldn’t have to deal with this threat for the rest of the campaign, but American leadership and armor repelled this attack, leaving a valuable German HMG lying abandoned in the middle of the street (it took some very creative perimeter drawing to retain that HMG for day 4).

Around Y13, American OBA again held the Germans at bay, but eventually it ran out of ammunition and, with the help of their own artillery, the Germans made a little headway, crossing into the line of buildings leading to the victory location and even capturing the train station. They were unable to capture Y13 itself, however, as friendly artillery fire weakened the German troops on the last turn and they then suffered heavy casualties in a disastrous Hand to Hand CC battle.

The most important action, however, was definitely in the center of town, where the Germans pushed the American defenders to the edge of the first group of stone buildings, while the American reinforcements reached the Fort two hexes away. A daring final turn saw the surviving Flammhetzer drive around and between these two rows of Germans, adjacent to a Sherman, which missed it with a first fire shot from the side that should have killed it. The Flammhetzer then roasted a large concentration of Americans with a leader who were holed up in L17 with too much firepower for the German infantry to advance. This allowed the Germans to take control of the all the buildings before the K19/L18 gap.

A very productive day 3 for the Germans saw them inflict 102 CVP on the Americans, while suffering only 46 themselves (these numbers jumped to 109 and 65 after accounting for recalled/shocked AFV that didn’t survive). The Germans ended the day in control of six victory hexes, leaving them in a winning position, but they were now out of dawn assault chits, meaning the Americans can seize the initiative for both of the remaining CG days, and they get an extra SCPP roll on one of those two days. It was now time for a major shift in the CG as the Americans took the offensive.

Going into this CG, I had hoped/expected that I might be able to reasonably work in one idle day, so that I would only need to play four days. At this point, however, it became clear that that was not going to happen. It would make no sense for the Americans to go idle on day four when they needed to start counterattacking (and if they did, it might give the Germans a chance to get in one last attack with a day assault chit), and obviously it would be illogical for both sides to be idle on the last day, so this CG was headed the distance. As I am writing this, early in CG day 4, I have been playing for about three and a half months, and feeling ready to spend some time with another game (or at least another ASL scenario). I only hope I have the stamina to carry on when work starts up again in September…



Day 4

And now the tables turned. The Germans were out of dawn assault chits, and had gained six victory locations, so now it was time for the Americans to start counterattacking. The Americans played a dawn assault chit (and I remembered to apply the LV hindrance almost every time!), while the Germans went idle. The Americans chose to apply their bonus to their SCPP for this day and bought another platoon of shermans, all four of their available M8 armored cars, their one remaining M10 TD, their last, 150mm OBA module, and a bombardment, along with the usual complement of infantry and an 81mm mortar section to replace those lost in previous days.

The Germans, along with infantry and fortifications, purchased their last two Panthers, a pair of armored cars, their two FlaK 38s, and their two AT guns. They decided to save their final OBA module for the final day. One FlaK set up near the cemetery, with a pair of HIP HS with Panzerschrecks. The cemetery was guarded only by these HIP units, and appeared wide open. The rest of the defense was spread out over the wide front, with dummy stacks and HS in forward positions to try to slow the Americans before they reached the stronger German forces stationed in stronger defensive positions, away from immediate OBA and WP attack.

The Americans set up to probe the German defenses at all four of the main points (the north around D13, the stone buildings in the center of town, the wooden buildings east of the central winter fields, and the southern area around Y13). The main concentration, however, was in the central wooden buildings, even though there is no victory location in the immediate vicinity. The plan was to pierce the German defenses and reach the synagogue, then outflank the German defenders to the north and south.



The American attack started well, as almost all the mortars succeeded with their WP rolls, leaving the Germans firing blind as the troops in the center moved on their positions. This attack, however, quickly ran out of steam, as the German reinforcements entered very close to the point of conflict, while the American reinforcements had to cross almost the entire map to get there. The Americans were repulsed with heavy losses, but the Germans were forced to commit the vast majority of their reserves to the counterattack, leaving their other points relatively vulnerable. In the North, the Americans managed to reach the buildings surrounding D13 and were able to hold two of the buildings nearby, although not enough to prevent the Germans from dominating D13. In the main row of stone buildings, there were a number of back and forth engagements resulting in heavy casualties on both sides, but in the end the Germans were able to force the Americans back across the gap to the Fort. In the South, the 150mm OBA left the area riddled with shellholes, and once it died down, a couple American squads were able to sneak into a pair of stone buildings west of the Synagogue. One American squad also decided to risk a run to the cemetery, revealing the AA gun but surviving to take one of the strategic locations before the end of the scenario.

When the dust cleared, both sides had suffered about 80 CVP, and while the Americans had gained a little ground, the Germans still dominated all 6 of the victory locations they had started with. This did not bode well for the Americans, who were now completely out of armor to purchase, while the Germans still had a few AFVs to buy. These were needed to replace the day 4 losses, which included all the lighter tracked vehicles and armored cars the Germans had remaining, plus one of the Panthers that was hit by a lucky OBA shot on the final turn. Going into the final day, both sides were about equal in surviving infantry, but the Germans were dangerously low on leaders. They lost five 8-1 and 9-1 leaders on day 4 and were left with only 5 surviving unwounded leaders, while the Americans still had 12.



Day 5

Once again, the Americans attacked at dawn, this time with the Germans keeping the option to extend one more turn if necessary. The Americans were out of armor and artillery, and could only reinforce their final assault with extra infantry, whereas the Germans were able to purchase a platoon of StuG’s and a module of 120mm OBA, along with a couple leaders to help make up for their day 4 losses. Despite the need to attack, the Americans also maxed out their FPP for this day, simply because they had nothing else left to purchase. They used some of these FPP to set up a HIP squad and leader near the cemetery where they might be able to sneak in and grab some strategic locations if the Germans left it too open. The main attack, however, was in the North, with most of the armor and much of the infantry committed to trying to retake D13, and the rest making a push at J17. A few troops with heavy mortar support (by this point the Americans had mortars everywhere) were ready to make a probing attack at the Synagogue in the South, just in case. The central wooden building area, the site of so much action in day 4, was left defended by dummy stacks for both sides on day 5, since it seemed too far from any victory locations to be worth committing resources.



The attacks on the Synagogue and D13 got off to a good start with a lot of WP support, and the Americans were able to move a large stack into the buildings West of D13. Meanwhile, the troops in the fort stormed across the gap into K18, but were eventually repulsed. This cycle would repeat itself several times throughout the day, with heavy CC losses on both sides. The Germans committed reinforcements to the Synagogue area, and it quickly became apparent the Americans did not have enough troops in the area to mount a successful attack. They committed a huge force to reinforcing the assault on D13, but the terrain left them cramped, and the German OBA proved devastatingly accurate. The German defenders were also helped by a lot of heat of battle rolls, which always seemed to turn the Americans berserk, but left the Germans with a pair of devastating heroic 9-2 leaders. This proved decisive in the D13 area, as three squads (one fanatic) with MGs found themselves accompanied by a heroic 9-2 and another hero, producing absolutely crushing 24-1 shots at stone buildings. This was the most powerful kill stack I have seen, and proved too much for the Americans to handle, especially supported by a Panther and several other AFVs. The other heroic 9-2 led a HMG stack near the fort and likewise laid waste to every American stack that got near it. The last hope for the Americans was their HIP squad near the cemetery, but the Germans had also placed HIP units there, and managed to bring over a pair of halftracks and a squad with an MMG that stopped the American squad in its tracks, ending the campaign during the DFPh of American turn 5. The desperate tactics the Americans were forced to employ on this final day were evident in the final CVP count for day 5: 120 suffered by the Americans to only 34 for the Germans. The outcome was still in doubt well into the final day, but in the end, the cardboard Germans, like their real-life counterparts, were able to take control of Hatten, at least until Spring.



I had a blast playing my first CG, and I will probably try another one, but not for a long time now. It took me a little over four months to get through this one, and now it’s high time for a break.
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Al Cannamore
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Well played. Enjoyed your AAR. As a solo player, do you adopt any house rules to increase fog of war?

Thanks for posting.
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Ryan Wolk
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BigAl737 wrote:
Well played. Enjoyed your AAR. As a solo player, do you adopt any house rules to increase fog of war?

Thanks for posting.

Glad you enjoyed the AAR! I don't use any house rules, I just do my best to think about what each player would reasonably do based on what he or she would know. I do try not to look at concealed stacks while playing the "other player", and in a game as big as this one that's often enough for me to at least forget where the dummy stacks are.
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Jim Fardette
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Nice report, Ryan. Do you feel playing it solitaire affects the balance at all?

I soloed Decision at Elst, mostly since there is no concealment in ASLSK. Not sure about the others, I think I might not like it. Stalingrad or Budapest without hippies and cloaking at night? No thanks!
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Ryan Wolk
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jfardette wrote:
Nice report, Ryan. Do you feel playing it solitaire affects the balance at all?

I soloed Decision at Elst, mostly since there is no concealment in ASLSK. Not sure about the others, I think I might not like it. Stalingrad or Budapest without hippies and cloaking at night? No thanks!

I do think I tended to underuse dummy stacks and HIP, mainly because of the difficulty in using them effectively against myself. Since the Germans did most of the attacking, that probably ended up favoring them, but it's hard to say. I've always felt fairly comfortable making decisions for each side that seem like they would be reasonable while disregarding what I actually know (but wouldn't against a real opponent) about the defense, so I don't think it affected the balance for me too badly.

As for other CGs, I do have Red Factories waiting patiently on the shelf, and I do plan to someday play at least one of the campaigns from that module, but it will probably be a long time. Night scenarios definitely do add another layer of difficulty for the solo player, but I've soloed a couple of them before, so I think it will be doable.
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Gary Young
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Thanks you Ryan for the report, it was a good read! And nice to see there's others out there who like to solo campaign games! (the madness is contagious it seems!!)

Incidentally, how long did it take you to get the whole CG completed? In your opinion, how was the density?
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Ryan Wolk
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agyoung33 wrote:
Thanks you Ryan for the report, it was a good read! And nice to see there's others out there who like to solo campaign games! (the madness is contagious it seems!!)

Incidentally, how long did it take you to get the whole CG completed? In your opinion, how was the density?

I'm glad you enjoyed it! The campaign took me a little over 4 months to finish. I played about 45 minutes per day, and was doing about one CG day per month, then the last two days went quicker, mainly because for each CG day I had one real day where I was able to devote several hours to the game and finish in one day what would otherwise have taken close to a week.

As far as density, it started out feeling very manageable, but the forces involved quickly grew as the reinforcements outpaced the casualties. I was definitely glad for the large hexes, but it didn't feel too overwhelming. I think what works best for me is to compartmentalize each scenario into several different mini-theaters, which makes the tactical decision-making a lot less daunting.
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Gary Young
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shoes03 wrote:
agyoung33 wrote:
Thanks you Ryan for the report, it was a good read! And nice to see there's others out there who like to solo campaign games! (the madness is contagious it seems!!)

Incidentally, how long did it take you to get the whole CG completed? In your opinion, how was the density?

I'm glad you enjoyed it! The campaign took me a little over 4 months to finish. I played about 45 minutes per day, and was doing about one CG day per month, then the last two days went quicker, mainly because for each CG day I had one real day where I was able to devote several hours to the game and finish in one day what would otherwise have taken close to a week.

As far as density, it started out feeling very manageable, but the forces involved quickly grew as the reinforcements outpaced the casualties. I was definitely glad for the large hexes, but it didn't feel too overwhelming. I think what works best for me is to compartmentalize each scenario into several different mini-theaters, which makes the tactical decision-making a lot less daunting.

Thanks again for the answers - sounds like you had a frequency of play that would make many gamer's envious - myself included!

I'm been thinking of this as perhaps the next solo venture - haven't decided yet (the others being "Hell's Bridgehead", and "Pegasus Bridge"). Anyway, thanks again. If you are interested, I've almost completed an AAR of my "Onslaught to Orsha" CG. I should have CG scenario 3 up in the next few days. Cheers!

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Andrew Rogers
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Great write up. Hope you enjoyed Hatten. Andy Rogers (Hatten designer)
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