Lion's Share (KE 1) AAR by Dan Owsen (German)
Opponant: Eric Henyey (British / French)
Having not played ASL for a few months, I looked for a scenario that didn't have too many special rules, but was small enough to finish in one sitting and was somewhat balanced. After a bit of research, ROAR turned up a record of 12-11 in Lion's Share, a scenario from the March Madness 1997 scenario pak. (Note, this game was played some time ago, so the ROAR record has probably changed, but that is what it was when I played.)
The scenario is an early war clash between the British (with French tank support) and the Germans west of Arras in France. The British infantry, 5 first line (457) squads are supported by two 2-pounder 40L AT guns. In addition, they have two ATRs, normally a throwaway but not against early war tin cans. The British force is rounded out by a 9-1 and 8-0 leader and a LMG. This small force must defend boards 16 and 17 against a rather large force of German AFVs, made up of: two Pz Ivc, six Pz 38(t)a, one Pz Iia and a PSW 222 and three truck-borne first line squads with their 8-1 leader and LMG. The Germans have six and a half turns to exit more than 22 exit VP off of board 17. If it was only the starting British force, it wouldn't be challenging enough for the Germans, so for good measure four French tanks enter on turn 3: two S35s and two H35.
At a glance, this one looks dicey. The British 40L has a base TK of 10, which against the heaviest Germans AF of 3 makes for a 50% kill at least. With a ROF of 3, it could easily destroy several tanks in a single turn with even a small taste of good luck. The French tanks, with their fairly heavy armor (S35 have 6 frontal, H35 have 4) could easily stand toe-to-toe with the Germans. The ATRs are not a sure thing, but they are enough to make the Germans think twice before getting too close to the British infantry, and even the LMG could be pressed into anti-tank service. On the surface, it looks tough for the Germans.
Examining the German tanks, however, shows that the German force is not to be trifled with. The PzIVc have a 75*mm gun that can fire smoke and a 5-FP co-axial MG. The six Pz38(t)a only have a 37L MA, but they have 8FP worth of machine guns. The PzIIa and PSW 222 both have a 20L with 4-FP equivalency and a 5-FP coaxial MG. Throw in the infantry and the Germans have a whopping 139 FP factors (compared to the British 32 pre-French arrival, 56 after).
But of course, firepower will not make much difference here, where the goal is to get tanks off the board. No, it will be up to the skill (or luck) of the gunners on both sides to determine the winner in this one. Having not really looked at the scenario in detail beforehand, I didn't have a preference for sides besides my usual bias toward the Allies. However, I agreed to take the Germans, although I thought they might have a tougher time of it. My wily opponant, Eric Henyey would take the British and French with their morse-code radio equipped tanks.
Set-up is simultaneous, and I lined my tanks up to enter spread across the north edge of board 16 (opposite the number). My plan was to advance rapidly through the relatively open terrain of board 16 and try to get into a position to thwart the positioning of the entering French tanks. I didn't want to fight my way through the more congested terrain of board 17 as I figured that is where the majority of Eric's infantry would be hiding. Of course, the open terrain would give the 40L guns a more open field of fire, but due to set-up limitations I was pretty sure they wouldn't have a clear shot at any of the entry hexes and I could make it onto the board and avoid any bore sighting (it turned out Eric forgot to boresight anyway).
Eric did set up most of his force in the cover of board 17, mainly in the forest. There were also some guys in the 16L6 building. The guns, of course, were HIP, though one of the trucks was in 16M2 and the other in 17Y9.
German Turn 1
The entry goes fairly smoothly. My tanks enter in a swarm, heading due south on board 16, riding roughshod over the freshly tilled soil of France. Once they were all lined up in a nice row, the first 40L pops out in 16K9, unable to hold back any longer. The first shot: malfs the gun. Well, things are looking up for the Germans already. A British squad with an ATR pops up in 17T9. He's broken in the AF phase. So far the only casualty is the MA of one of the Pz38s which malfunctions in the shooting frenzy which followed the revelation of the 40L gun.
British Turn 1
The 40L crew tries frantically to fix its gun without success. British forces on board 17 move towards the action on board 16. One of the German tanks blazes the truck in 16M2 for good measure. The gun crew remains unbroken for now.
German Turn 2
The German advance continues. The 40L crew breaks and the German tanks advance to make sure he is unable to stay at his gun. Meanwhile, the PSW 222 digs up the other 40L gun, which is situated in 17CC10 by taking a critical hit and becoming a burning wreck somewhere around 16H5. Of course, the critical hit is the German sniper, and he proceeds to take out the other British squad with the ATR. Despite the loss of the PSW222, the Germans don't feel too bad. I think it was around this time that the force in 16L6 was revealed to be a British squad with their 9-1 leader and the LMG. Of course, they attracted a lot of attention from tanks that drove up to the wall and started pouring firepower into the building.
British Turn 2
The British start to wonder how this one was supposed to be fun for them. No serious casualties on either side this turn (at least none recorded).
German Turn 3
The German tanks decide to swarm the 40L in 17CC10. One hooks around and approaches from the west and another drives up point blank to the gun on the other side to 17DD10. It is killed in 17DD10, but the crew survives, and there are no additional shots as the crew bails out. In 16L6, the 9-1 HOBs and becomes a heroic 9-1, but the resulting SAN roll creates an active sniper that breaks the squad that he is with. In the ensuing advance phase, the tank crew in 17DD10 goes into close combat with the gun crew. Cheesy, yes. Effective, yes. The tank crew kills the gun crew. Both 40Ls are out of commission for the loss of only two AFVs.
British Turn 3
The French tanks enter and move into position to stop the mad German advance. They take up positions in the southern part of board 17 (the Germans must exit off the southern edge of board 17). Even though they are slow, they are able to get into a fairly good postion and take out one of the Pz38s.
German Turn 4
Since some of the French tanks are still in motion, the German commander decides to exit as many of his vehicles as possible while the getting is good. One of the Pz IVc smokes the LOS of the French S35s. A PzIVc (out of smoke), a Pz38(t)a and a PzIIa all make it off safely. One of the Pz38(t)a tries for a few extra MPs and fails the ESB roll, immobilizing one hex away from freedom. Meanwhile, the infantry had dismounted to try to deal with the British squad in 16L6 and were not having any luck now that he was heroic. Another truck had some damn-fool idea to go over to board 17 to try to keep the other British infantry honest. As a result, all the trucks and infantry were now not in a position to leave the board. The other tanks were not close enough to make it off this turn…
British Turn 4
The French tanks move into position to deny exit off the south edge of board 17. The line up in a silly line, daring the Germans to go through them. It was like a kid's game: "Red Rover, Red Rover, send the Pz38(t)a right over". From this point on, the game was in the hands of the dice gods… Somewhere on the board another British HOB roll produces a hero. The British infantry rush to try to join in the fray with their ATRs…. Of course, the German tank crew is now manning the 40L and trying to shoot some French tanks but without much success.
German Turn 5
The Germans fool-heartedly rush the line of French tanks. One after another they are shot down. The ones that are lost are not even brewed up to provide a smoke screen for their brothers. A Pz38(t)a is shocked at the very edge of board 17. A critical hit finishes off the last German tank that was in a position to exit. Since it was extremely unlikely that the remaining trucks would be able to run the gauntlet, the Germans surrendered.
This scenario promised to be dicey and it was. Both sides had their lucky breaks, though the Germans definitely had the luck when they most needed it (the British HOBs and CHs were nice, but not a real factor, and were often off-set but the resulting SAN activation). Although the scenario seemed promising in the middle, it degenerated into a rather gamey ending with the French tanks lining up to deny the German exit. I felt the lack of German options forced the suicidal rush into the French guns (well, I admit my lack of tactical imagination might have been a factor too). Even though the German tanks are faster they are not fast enough to run circles around the French, and there is not a lot of room to maneuver anyway.
The situation and set-up of this scenario reminded me in a lot of ways to "Into the Fray" but I feel that it is not as good a scenario. Into the Fray gives the Germans two possible victory conditions: exit or inflict casualty VPs. Since the only way to get enough VPs is to take prisoners, Into the Fray seems a lot more interesting and fun. In Lion's Share, there is only one choice for the German, and the British / French know what that is and where he has to go. I felt like there was not much way that the playing of this scenario could match the historical result of a set piece battle between tank forces, and if it did, that would be an even surer way for the German to lose. I still think that this is not a terrible scenario and it is possible for the German to win, but I think he would need a bit of luck like I had with the British AT guns.