The rationale behind this approach was to playtest a Starter Kit scenario (solitaire) that promised plenty of Ordnance action in order to learn and reinforce aspects of Chapter C (Ordnance) of the full ASL rules, free from the complications of vehicles. Although there are some scenarios in Beyond Valor, Paratrooper and Red Barricades that fit the bill in this regard, it was thought that the absence of the more complex full ASL terrain types would make for a cleaner, less variable-cluttered game where the use of Ordnance could be practiced and learned without this additional chrome. One down side of using SK terrain was the fact that no multi level buildings are present to apply the key differences of ITT fire (targets a single Location) and ATT fire (targets all Locations in a hex), which is one notable distinction between SK and full rules.
Over open sights (S12) is set during the early days of the 1944 Ardennes Offensive and has a strengthened Ge company (with MMG and light MTR) assigned to capture or destroy a small battery of Am Guns emplaced on ‘Skyline Drive’. The Guns are defended by a platoon of infantry (also with MMG and light MTR), with a further platoon of reinforcements due to appear on turn 4. The game duration is 6½ turns. The Am infantry are 2nd line with an unusually low ELR of 2, and the Ge a mix of 1st and 2nd liners with ELR 3.
Full ASL rules from Chapters A, B and C were in effect for the game; Chapter E rules were NA. Full ASL rules that were not in force were Bore Sighting (difficult to play solo), and it was decided in the interests of balance not to allow Canister as Special Ammo for the American 105s as it was seen to be potentially too devastating for the attacking German infantry. Sniper Activation Numbers were generated with reference to another Bulge scenario set around the same date: Carnage in the night (KGP 9) from Kampfgruppe Peiper II (US SAN 2; Ge SAN 3). It was assumed that the extended nature of the German drive and the unpreparedness of the US both contributed towards low sniper activity.
The Environmental Conditions were moist and there was no wind at the start. These values reflect the settled, overcast conditions that were prevalent during this period of the battle.
The only SSR stated on the scenario card was that the Am Guns were not allowed to set up HIP.
American set up
The Am Guns were emplaced at S3 (105mm), U3 (155mm) and V4 (105mm). The 105 at S3 is covering the narrow woods corridor that starts at X10. There is a MTR crewed by a HS at G3 in the Western half of the board that also has LOS to the X hexrow woods. At W6 and X6 is a delaying force of HS. There is a mini kill stack consisting of an MMG and 2 squads at X5 to cover the Eastern approaches. There are acres of Open ground both to the East and the West of the Guns (Grain is out of season) over which movement by the Ge would be very costly. Therefore it was expected that at least some of the attackers would approach under cover of the wood corridor on the X hexrow. Because the Ge were starting off board all US units were placed under concealment counters.
It was considered placing the Guns in the open away from woods hexes so attacks would have to cross Open ground, but in the end they were set up with rout paths and reinforcement in mind should the crews have to retreat, or were eliminated.
German set up
The Ge units lined up at X10 are a mix of 467s and 447s, and an 8-0 leader; 3 of the 447 squads have deployed. These units will aim to go forward and take the Am Guns using the woods as cover.
The Ge stack at A6 in the Western part of the board are a 447, a MTR crewed by a HS and a 7-0 leader. Their plan was to make headway to the woods around G3 then set up the MTR to harass the defenders...and possibly creep along the Northern edge towards the Guns.
The Ge at GG7 are a kill stack of 467s, lmg and MMG. These will provide covering fire for the advance through the narrow woods corridor.
Is was intended that the Ge force attack on several fronts to keep the Guns swapping CA, and so reducing the effect of acquisition and forcing CA change penalties.
The Ge sniper counter was placed at X5, the US at X8.
Ge turn 1
All Ge units enter the board under concealment but most lose this status by making non-assault moves in the LOS of nearby Am troops. The first Ge stack enters the board at GG7 and is immediately under fire from the US in X5 (which cowers with its first shot), without any effect.
The approach along the thin woods corridor makes progress. All DFF US Gun shots miss, hampered due to doubled CA changes in woods (a factor which was to play in the Germans’ favour several times during the game).
The Ge MTR stack over in the West (dismantled MTR, which has 3PP) retains concealment by moving out of LOS of the Am HS + MTR at G3.
During an extended HE ROF run by the US MTR in G3 (assisted by the woods airburst -1 modifier) all units in the leading Ge stack in X7 break, and during routing low crawl into Open ground in Y8 so not to impede the following troops' advance...and also to increase the number of targets and perhaps draw fire away from unbroken squads. 1 Ge HS is eliminated by casualty reduction in the same attack. This shows the vulnerability of stacked units, although stacking was unavoidable given the Ge attack plan and the need to get all troops on board in turn 1.
US turn 1
The Ge leader in the Open ground hex Y8 attempts to rally DM units, fails to do so and 1 HS is eliminated due to Casualty MC (12 roll).
All Guns and the US MTR prep fire. The three Guns fire WP as Special Ammo so to smoke hexes in the woods corridor and severely hamper outgoing Ge fire attacks, and also slow down the advance. The disadvantage is that acquisition was lost because WP is a kind of Smoke [A24.3]. The WP breaks a HS in X7 and pins a couple of other units, so stripping concealment (presumably the X7 infantry are running around in the woods amidst the panic generated by the chemical agent). The mini US kill stack in X5 takes a few steps back deeper into the woods, skulking to avoid a reasonably hefty Final Fire shot from the Ge MMG stack in EE7’s wooden building.
Back over on the Western flank the US MTR uses HE to strip concealment from the Ge D5 stack and breaks the leader.
At the opposite flank during Final Fire the Ge kill stack in the wooden building EE7, along with a PBF 20FP attack from X7 (made out of WP smoke with +3 LOS hindrance) breaks a US HS in X6 and eliminates the other HS, clearing X6. It was noted with interest that firing WP made the units in woods easier to hit and also gave an instant NMC; the disadvantage was that the NMC had the woods modifier and so the units were more difficult to break.
So far, the Am side has been reasonably effective at putting up a delaying defensive wall of WP, HE and small arms fire, checking the Ge advance to some degree.
Ge turn 2
The Ge HS in X8 rallies.
During prep fire the Ge kill stack in EE7 breaks and ELRs the US MG mini-kill stack in X5; the Ge MG keeps rate three times and reduces both US squads to HS, then eliminates them....as well as breaking the leader in W4 and ELRing him to 6+1, so is rendered practically useless (the US have an unusually low ELR of 2 that reflects their unpreparedness during the early days of the offensive). This is a key moment in the skirmish since it now makes the area east of the woods corridor dead ground and able to cover the Ge approach.
The Ge take full advantage of this and charge over Open ground, outflanking the woods corridor approach and the defending US troops within. They make good ground, with some managing to almost reach the Northern board edge; others end ADJACENT to Am infantry in the woods corridor. The Am Guns decline DFF in order to try for a multi-target Final Fire shot.
The Ge MTR group over in the west charge through the woods towards the US MTR and its HS crew, which similarly declines DFF.
During Final Fire the US Guns fire ineffective low odds shots at Ge in the wood corridor and in the Open to gain Acquisition and change CA to face the new threat from the East. The US MTR HS over in the West Final Fires PBF at Ge infantry to no effect.
The Ge stack in X4 PBF in the AFPh and eliminates a HS in W5, breaking and ELRing their accompanying 8-1 leader.
The Ge MTR stack in the west advances into Close Combat with the US MTR HS (which considered a voluntary break but decided it would be better served as a sacrificial delaying unit and stays to attempt to force a time consuming melee). No ambush, the US HS is eliminated by a 6:1, +1 odds attack, and its simultaneous counter attack is ineffective vs. a Ge HS at 1:1, -1.
AM turn 2
The Am 6+1 leader self rallies on a double 1 (no Heat of Battle with self rallies). A Ge squad and a HS rally in the woods corridor at X8.
The US 105 in S3 switches CA again, prep firing WP towards the west at G3 through 3 Orchard hexes with 5 needed to hit, and throws a 4. All Ge pass the WP NMC.
The 155 in U3 hits 1½ Ge squads in W4 with HE at 2 hex range - the Ge get off lightly from the 30 FP attack, 1 break and 1 pin. Also, this triggers the game’s first sniper attack which pins the 155 crew that activated it.
The 105 in V4 is beleaguered by 2 Ge stacks at PBF range, changes CA in woods at low odds to place acquisition then Intensive Fires to hit the W5 stack, breaking both squads.
In Final Fire, the 1½ Ge squads in X5 break and ELR a US HS in W6, and eliminate the broken leader who fails a wound check.
The WP smoked hex over in the west (G3) contains a Ge-manned US MTR which does not fire since captured penalties, WP and Orchard hindrance would provide a challenging +8 DRM shot.
The pinned Ge squad in W4 fires PBF at the 105 crew in V4 with no effect; however, the W2/X1 Ge Fire Group pin the V4 Gun crew.
In the rout phase the broken US HS in W6 has nowhere to go and for them the war is over, taken prisoner by Ge units in X5.
During turn 2 the Ge made swift progress outflanking the US to the East and are starting to position troops in close proximity to the Guns in preparation for an all-out assault. The Am Guns need to survive 2 more Ge Player Turns without being captured or destroyed before help is at hand in the form of reinforcements (3 x squads and a 7-0 leader). It is not looking good for the GIs at present, with 9½ Ge squad equivalents about to charge in from the East.
Ge turn 3
A Ge squad moving into V3 is on the receiving end of a critical hit from the 155 in U3 using DFF, and becomes KIA. Other Ge units surround U3. The 155 Intensive Fires at a stack of 3 squads and 8-1 leader in W3, breaking all and ELRing 2 squads, but the Gun malfunctions in the process.
The 105 in V4 PBF at 2 ADJACENT enemy units in W4 (plus a prisoner HS)...1 squad is KIA, along with the prisoner.
This attack also activates the Ge sniper which wounds the US 6+1 leader in W5 (in retrospect he was of some use as sniper bait). The 105 crew in V4 is pinned during the AFPh. The 155 crew breaks, decides further resistance is futile and surrenders to the squad in V2.
There is CC in V4 (105mm Gun plus crew) - the US crew is eliminated in a 4:1 attack, but takes a Ge HS with them. The only Am units now remaining are the 105 crew in S3 and the wounded 6+1 leader in the W5 woods.
US turn 3
In the RPh the unmanned US Guns in U3 and V4 are recovered by Ge infantry.
The remaining US held Gun in S3 prep fires then Intensive Fires at the two enemy occupied hexes ADJACENT to it, breaking a HS and pinning another.
The Ge Fire Group surrounding the US 105 only manages to pin the crew during Final Fire. Attempting to force encirclement, the two Ge held MTRs over in the west in H2 fire on the Gun but have no joy (no previous acquisition, +2 orchard hindrance hexes, no ROF...and the captured US MTR malfunctions).
The two Guns held by Ge infantry are spiked.
The wounded 6+1 US leader finds courage and advances into CC with Ge infantry in V4, and is eliminated easily.
The Ge have one turn to capture the remaining 105 before US reinforcements arrive to lend a hand.
Ge turn 4
All Ge rally (V0 and X6) except a squad which Casualty MC (double six).
The surrounding Ge squads prep fire, and KIA the remaining Gun crew (Gun undamaged). This also activates the US sniper who breaks a Ge squad in X6. With no more enemy units on the board, the Ge stack in V0 move with leader bonus (Bypass is used for the first time in the game) into the Gun hex. The Gun is captured by a squad using its remaining MF, and the game is over.
The aim was to test out the usefulness of applying full ASL rules to a starter kit scenario, prompted by a desire to practice Chapter C rules in a fairly simple context that gave a ‘clean’ setting free of vehicles and complex terrain. There was certainly plenty of Ordnance action in this playing. However, Chapter C chrome that is absent from SK rules but relevant to this scenario such as firing at units in Bypass, improbable hits and MTR spotters did not come into play. That said, the game was useful in the sense it allowed the application of the Ordnance rules in a full ASL situation that included the use of deployment, concealment, snipers, dismantled MTRs, an encirclement attempt, prisoners and a few others. As stated at the beginning of this piece, it might have been better if multi-level buildings were present so the differences between ATT and ITT fire could be compared.
With respect to balance, one might think since the game ended on turn 4 (6½ turns for the complete game) a consequence of using full ASL rules was that the scenario became unfairly weighted towards the German side. The ability to Deploy and use Bypass movement probably favours the attacker, though concealment should favour defenders. On reflection however, it is likely that the initial set up was tactically unsound as for instance it permitted the Ge advance to be made almost wholly under the cover of woods, so perhaps even with SK rules a similar outcome would have ensued. In the final analysis, since the game was played solitaire, balance was less of an issue and the main aim of practicing Chapter C rules was achieved to some degree.
In conclusion, the exercise was useful and is recommended for players relatively new to full ASL as training/familiarisation for Chapters A, B and C. The next step would be to try out other SK scenarios that use Ordnance but no vehicles such as 88s at Zon (S14) in a similar manner. This approach is not new, for instance two years ago Sherry Enterprises produced a series of scenarios in a package called Rally Point 2 that uses SK maps and can be played using either SK or full ASL rules. Two out of these ten scenarios use Ordnance without vehicles, although since the two scenarios provide only light MTRs in the OOB the Guns rules cannot be practiced.
I speculate that there are significant numbers of SK players who have bought the 2nd edition full ASL rules but are currently intimidated by the time/effort commitment that they perceive will be required to make the switch to full ASL…I remember when I was in the same position, for a while it seemed just too big a leap than I was willing to make. Due to the absence of complex terrain in SK scenarios (some of which represent a steep learning curve) exercises such as this might encourage these folk to more readily bridge the gap between the two systems.
- Last edited Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:12 pm (Total Number of Edits: 6)
- Posted Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:52 pm
Bachten de Kupe
it would be nicer to see the images in the article though. You should use [ImageID= 609849] (without the space) in stead of
[geekurl=http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/609849]Am set up[/geekurl]
Thanks for the tip, much appreciated.