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Combat Commander: Europe» Forums » Sessions

Subject: #3: Bonfire of the NKVD; or, Pity Mother Russia rss

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Jim Patterson
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In Scenario #3, Bonfire of the NKVD, the Russians perform a holding action trying to stave off a German assault long enough to destroy documents and equipment before evacuating. The Russians have a large (12-hex-deep) setup area; after their setup and then the Germans', the Allies can place wire in 12 hexes. Forest hexes fill much of the upper left-hand corner; most of the rest of the map is open, with some scattered buildings and a number of roads. The Russians start off with control of all objectives, including one (the outpost) near their own edge, which is worth (by my calculation) 16 VPs alone. The other 4 objectives are each worth one, giving the Russians a +20 VP advantage going in. This and time are the Russians' biggest advantages, as the Germans have significantly better, if fewer troops, although the Russians have more leaders (3 to 2).

This was Jason's first game and my fifth (counting the extended example of play). He'd read the rules before but was counting on me to screw up the explanation in some key ways that would kneecap him at critical moments. While there was a little bit of confusion on some points, we managed to get through the game in about three and a half hours--a bit long by CC standards, but maybe not for a learning game. As it seemed that the Russians had a slight edge going in, and as I felt that the defender in CC has some inherent VP and time advantage, I gave the Russians to Jason while I took the Germans.

The Russian setup in retrospect probably concentrated too much on the center of the map, if only slightly too much. Wire was pretty much scattered around the board and could probably have been consolidated into a few lines for somewhat more effectiveness. The Germans split into two groups, one with each leader. The larger force, set up in the northern woods, was led by my 2-Command leader, while a smaller force led by a 1-Command leader planned to make a dash for the Russian side and the VP-rich Objective 5--or at least draw some fire from the main German body.

My smaller force managed a quick dash, even mangling a brave if foolish Russian squad that ventured out onto the crossroads looking for trouble. My small group fairly easily made it to a small building on the southern edge of the map within whooping distance of the big objective, but the Russians in the building to the north helped keep that group pinned down. In any case, I'd hoped to make a larger push with the bigger body in the north.

Unfortunately for me, my northern-group leader got more than a little careless and decided that for the greater glory of Germany he would himself lead the charge through the woods. Sadly (for me, anyway), he met his end in a well-chosen melee instigated by Jason; thereafter, my northern force, leaderless and scattered, seemed unlikely to be able to mount much an offensive, and they were only about halfway to the objective. This blow was all the more lethal considering I had unwisely passed on a third leader due to a Reinforcements event; instead, I opted for a team with a mortar that--much to my shame--they had to abandon in the woods because they couldn't move it through the difficult terrain. While I didn't make the same mistake a second time when I drew the Reinforcements event, by that time it was too late to pull together the planned offensive.

So I took what I could get and concentrated on pulling out Advance orders and mauling the individual Russian squads whenever possible. This proved remarkably effective, in part because Jason's units out of Command range had become suppressed and he couldn't seem to find a Recover order. In the end, a few squads in the north redeemed themselves and their leader's failure by adding significantly to the casualty track--all the more necessary because the force in the south was small, more or less pinned down, and presumably unlikely to take the big objective, at least in the time we had.

To the Germans' good fortune, it seemed like I always had the Initiative card when it came time to knock down Time! triggers (and the good die rolls that came with them). The German offensive--and the game--started to stall a bit as Russia couldn't seem to put anything together and Germany had exhausted the easy targets a few units shy of the Surrender marker (set at 10).

A few other strange things happened besides the mortar crew without the ability to move. One of Jason's Russian leaders came back on the board due to Walking Wounded and got Routed by me closer to the action only with the hope that he'd come near enough to shoot. Jason drew a radio on the Support Table but never got to use it because I kept breaking it first. As I mentioned above, I got to roll on the Support Table a second time and this time took a leader, but then Move orders dried up, and by that time things were happening again in the south.

Despite the presence of a Russian hero, the Germans had made their way to a fenceline within easy firing distance of the Russian leader ensconced in the Objective 5 building. Firing with an LMG wouldn't do much good against his 10 Morale and 3 Cover. After breaking a leader trying to snake past them on the road heading north, the southern German group--a Rifle squad, an LMG, and a leader--managed to advance into the building and win a melee. After a turn or two of cycling cards, I managed to get another Advance order and an Ambush action and took out a Russian squad hanging around the Objective 5 building, waiting for a chance to get us. That was enough to put the Russians at the point of surrender, for which we were glad as it looked to be a foregone conclusion by that point, what with the time marker only on the 3 or 4 and only 3 German kills.

I think the game went pretty well for what was a learning game for Jason and the first time I had to teach the game, or at least be responsible for knowing most of the rules or where to look them up. As usual, the well-crafted, well-laid out rulebook proved an asset. I still have trouble calculating MPs on the fly, what with the leader and road issues, but by and large we played error free. Jason seemed to enjoy it, even being on the losing end, and he felt that were we to do it again we could've picked up the pace a bit. It turned out to be a pretty fun and solid afternoon activity, one a bit sweeter even for being done on a half-day off from our place of work.
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David desJardins
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jpat wrote:
To the Germans' good fortune, it seemed like I always had the Initiative card when it came time to knock down Time! triggers (and the good die rolls that came with them).


That doesn't sound like luck. It sounds like the Russian player using the Initiative too freely.
 
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Jim Patterson
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DaviddesJ wrote:
jpat wrote:
To the Germans' good fortune, it seemed like I always had the Initiative card when it came time to knock down Time! triggers (and the good die rolls that came with them).


That doesn't sound like luck. It sounds like the Russian player using the Initiative too freely.


Well, maybe. I know I was a bit free with it this game, too. It's also hard to see the first time playing (as was the case with Jason) just how often it makes sense to use it.
 
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