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Subject: S2 - War of the Rats - Solo play on VASL rss

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Matias D
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I release my anger through writing.
As a refresher for the ASLSK rules, since it's been way too long, I decided to play S2 - War of the Rats solo. I didn't bother re-reading teh rules for this, figuring I still remember the basics, and anything I'm unsure about I can always look up, anyway. The game was played on VASL over two separated evenings, and yes, there was plenty of sighs of confusion, and furrowed brows of irritation as I flipped through the rulebook trying to find out if it was this way or that way.

I made a lot of errors, in the end. Routing was fubbed, and I haven't looked it up but I'm pretty sure I forgot some -drm that ought to've been used with conscript units in CC. But in the end I think that none of the rules broken really affected the way the game went. Tactical errors were in huge supply (you'll see), partly from being rusty, and partly from rushing the whole thing a bit, feeling the need to get to the end of the game, rather than play it at my best (really, I'd win either way, no?).

Russians set up first. Now, I've played this scenario at least once before, and I had a pretty good idea of how things can go. Russians set up at the road, shooting match ensues, the +3 stone buildings may or may not be enough to hold off German fire. One way or another the Germans will start pushing and Ivan has to turtle up.

There are three buildings the Germans have to take before game end in order to win. One building is far off to the left from the other two. There I decided to put a minimal force, lovingly nicknamed "Battlegroup Speedbump". They were to be my sacrificial lambs, only buying time for the others. Following Russian doctrine of hardware being more important than soldiers I decided to keep all the MGs with "Battlegroup Red Turtle".

On the right flank the plan was for all units to sooner or later fold in and, indeed, turtle up inside the big building. Note that I stupidly figured that the units furthest to the right somehow would be able to retreat across the street. Things sorted out, but this is the kind of mistake that possibly would've proven quite unforgiving against a competent opponent. Luckily I was playing myself.

The Germans look real strong in the beginning of this scenario. Elite units? Check. Toys a-plenty? Check. A good amount of effective leaders? Check. Considering they're opposed by Russian conscripts that break as soon as you say "Barbarossa", it looks like a washout. But Ivan has an ace up his sleeve; at a random turn reinforcements will arrive. The Germans will have to take this into account.

My initial plan was to start from a unified position, thus making it easy for me to reinforce whatever section is in need of more oomf. The Russian left flank was sure to fold up real quick, and that'd allow me to concentrate all my forces on the two remaining buildings. The trouble was the ad hoc shock troop. It's unthinkable to leave a victory building unoccupied, just to have the reinforcements waltz in on the last turn and take it from under my nose.

Turn 1 was great, by the way. Huge German victory was sure to happen in the near future. The flamethrower worked (I think that was a first for me), effectively scorching a group of Russians. Add to that some semi-effective machine gun fire and the game's afoot. After that, smoke was succesfully lain down on the street, effectively securing the German right flank from any MG fire, AND allowing for German elite troops to assault move into the street, armed to the teeth with LMGs and DCs. Sure, they took some heavy fire, but although Ivan managed to inflict 2MCs, they just shrugged it off and fired back, putting the Soviets on the run.

The German right flank was not quite so effective, but did manage to break a Russian squad, and by the end of turn one two squads had crossed the street and was inside the Russian lines, with one squad still milling about on the street, having been pinned halfway across.

From the looks of it, Ivan was without hope. Surrender or die.

For the Russian's first turn he got somewhat lucky. One unit got back up from being broken, DM be damned. Unfortunately it was a conscript half-squad, a unit about as useful as contraceptives in a convent. At point Turtle, Ivan decided to count his blessings and save what could be saved, retreating into the big building. The units that'd been left alone on the right flank took the opportunity to rush towards the center. The sacrifical lambs on the left flank went against orders and swiftly broke and casualty reduced one German squad, and then engaged two others in close combat, locking one up in a melee, while the other apparently got its collective throat cut by bloodthirsty conscripts.

The German morale was still high, and at turn 2 they simply resumed the attack. Things sorted itself out on the right flank. The upstart conscripts were either killed or put on the run, and victory there was imminent. On the German left, things took a turn for the worse. I moved my troops right up next to the building and held there, moving inside in the advance phase. This was a mistake. I should've waited another turn, possibly assaultmoved in under the cover of smoke, let loose with everything I had, and then, depending on the situation, perhaps advanced moved into close combat. As things not went, the table was set for a Russian counter attack. And boy did they ever. An entire stack was put under DM for one thing and had to retreat out of the building. The other stack got bloodied as well, with the flamethrower having to route south out of the building, away from any leaders, and the remainder of that stack being put into close combat by eager Russians suddenly numericaly superior. Another issue was that quite a number of German units were still in the start position, having tried again and again to break Russians units through prep fire, to no avail. Too much effort had gone into breaking Battlegroup Speedbump, instead of letting that take its time and instead concentrate a maximum number of units towards Point Turtle.

The Germans had time, and didn't need to rush into things. But now that they had, and had been beaten back, they were suddenly pressed for time, and had to become even more reckless if they were to win this scenario.

The Russian units at point Turtle killed off the remaining units in Melee and then had the broken German units in their sights and could keep them under DM with ease.

The Germans rushed across the street to help their brothers in arms, and ran straight into a fire that, again, broke everyone. If only one would learn to never move units in a stack unless absolutely necessary. Not only did units break, they also got casualty reduced, and suffered from ELR. Them boxcars just kept on coming.

On the Russian left things went the German's way. Some deft maneouvering eliminated Russians due to failure to route, and the remaining units were being pushed out step by step.

Already at turn 4 it was clear that the Germans weren't going to win this one. The ad hoc shock troop was entering the map, and the broken German squad wasn't going to make it now, failure to route was coming up real fast for him. A last desperate assault into the building did manage to break one whole Russian leader, leaving a number of squads still alive and well against one German squad up and standing, the rest either broken or still lingering on the left side of the map, unable to be of any sort of assistance.

It was clearly game over. At the end of German turn 5 the big building in the center was still in Russian hands. Even if I got lucky, rallied like hell and manage to get in and eradicate all the Russians, an effort which would require for me to comit all my standing units, I'd still have one building left no German so far had even stepped into.

I called it quits, a winner and a loser at the same time.
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Good report enjoyed reading it
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chris andrews
United States
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This was great, thanks. I am going to take the game off the shelf and give S2 a try.
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