Christopher O
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After teaching the game to about half a dozen people in the Toronto area, I wanted to move on from Scenario 0 to the next recommended "small" mission, Scenario 9.

I found a willing opponent in Don C., with whom I've had a few very enjoyable games of World at War: Blood and Bridges and one learning game of Fighting Formations. Since I was hosting and time was limited on a weekday night, he suggested I take the defenders so I could set up beforehand. I had offered random side determination, but I almost never mind taking defenders... it's less pressure... so I was happy to be the Soviets this time.

Here's the table:



I'm going to experiment with referencing the report to numbered points on the map in the image below. Sorry for the glare; there's a sheet of plexi over the map and even with flash turned off it's picking up the light fixture over the table.



Setting Up

I took the Russians and looking at the forces and what I was up against, I decided I couldn't defend the entire town, so I would try to concentrate on stopping him from getting into the western half (the right side of the board above). I put two false sightings on the east half, and one more on the right, one of the 45mm ATGs near [4] in the picture in case he managed to flank right around and most of the rest my infantry one hex back from the perimeter of the town. I also put an infantry and the other 45mm ATG one hex east of [7]. Having experienced German firepower in three of my five scenario 0 plays, I knew that trying to shoot back at Germans at range was a losing proposition, so I was not going to try to engage him until he got much closer.

I played it safe and put a single platoon with an entrenchment on the objective hex on the north side of town at [9], in the event he ran his VW recon cars right at it when they appeared.

On the face of it, there wasn't much firepower to my forces - even the very powerful SSR for the hidden ZIS-3 76mm ATG would probably only take out one tank platoon at most... (as it turned out, it did even worse than that), so I wasn't sure about my prospects, but I was here to defend the Rodina, and defend it I would!

Opening Moves

My opponent saw through my ruse of ghost sightings on the east side (and as he noted afterward, the forest provided excellent cover to break up cross fire from other parts of town), set up all of his forces on the eastern half of the south edge near [1] and moved through the fields slowly with the Grenadiers staying in the same hex as or next to the StuGs, with the MG-34 platoon pulling up the rear.

He advanced without opposition to the area of [2], at which time he paused to shell hidden forces markers southwest of [3] and northwest of [5]. One was revealed as a false sighting, the other as a roadblock.

(scenario hint follows in spoiler text)

Spoiler (click to reveal)
This roadblock placement was all wrong. My opponent pointed out afterward that it is much better used on top of the central objective hex, to stop rapid tank movement through the town, because the marsh is impassible and the stream and bridge are harder to get to. Fortunately, it never came to that.


His infantry moved forward, north from [2], and his StuGs split off to try flanking around the forest.

He presented a tempting target as he turned, so I took advantage of the SSR and placed my ZIS-3 76mm in the town hex southwest of the arrow near [3]. I cackled as I took up the ten-siders for three, count-'em THREE unopposed, no chance of being marked spent OP fire shots at his flank...

... and I hit the default hindrance of 1 on ALL THREE. On the last roll, I even used the fate card, and I still whiffed.

Three free flank shots. Not a thing to show for it.

Well, he wasted no time in punishing me for it. The StuG I was firing on pivoted in place to face me to finish off his move action. The MG-34 fired on the next action, breaking it, and then a Grenadier finished it off.

Confident that little could harm them, the StuGs continued around from [2] past [5]. In the meantime, the Grenadiers advanced through [3] and towards [4].

One of my rifle platoons was in place to delay them, and I revealed and moved another platoon and the DShK which I had intended as my reserve from the centre of town to back them up. I hit a few after they advanced (can't shoot them ON the advance, but you sure can shoot once it's your activation), getting hits from which they (mostly) quickly rallied. I got hit and fell back using an advance order instead of trying to rally in place. I've discovered that, especially in urban combat against German grenadiers with FP 15 (!), if you use up initiative to rally while you're still potentially exposed to fire, it just wastes everyone's time. Even if you do rally, you'll likely get hit again on the next enemy fire order, and if you fail the rally, you're pooched.

The Turning Point

At some point in there, the turn ended, and I got a lucky sniper shot on one of the two command markers. Since he was getting another command marker with the reinforcements, he elected to lose a command marker instead of the radius. This turned out to be disastrous later on.

While the firefight was going on in the eastern section, he unexpectedly tried to push the StuGs into the western side of town without infantry support. My rifle platoon and 45mm ATG were right there next to 7. I tried the close range frontal shot, but it was pretty pointless. 45mm vs. StuG sloped frontal armour is almost hopeless, even with the 2d12.

The fire from the StuG broke the 45mm ATG and shook the rifle platoon, and a subsequent shot reduced it, but since it was only shaken, I moved the unshaken squad to attack the StuG in column which had already entered the town, and the other shaken squad out to melee the other StuG.

Despite the fairly reasonable odds of me getting a hit with the squad attacking the StuGs in the town, they failed, and the StuG melee attack broke them. On the other hand, the unit out in the open, already shaken, managed a broken result on the other StuG. I was pretty happy, all things considered, as I had tied up two StuG platoons at the cost of two rifle squads.

I should mention that the Fate card went back and forth a few times over the course of the game.

At this point my opponent decided to dispense with the fancy footwork and go straight for the westernmost objective, coming wide through [6] to avoid "popping" the hidden marker on that side of the city (it was a false sighting, so his caution just delayed him) and engaging the fourth rifle platoon near [7].

He managed some good rolls and eliminated one of the platoons squads, but I managed a rally and to suppress the cannon-armed Sd.kfz.251.

Endgame

At this point, the turn ended, and he was left with no command markers anywhere on the board. Activating anything took 2 initiative, at a moment when he needed to keep the pressure on. Choosing to eliminate a control marker instead of reducing his command radius, in addition to failing to stagger his command marker placements, had left him in a bad spot.

I managed to rally and manoeuvre my units in the centre of town to further shoot up his advancing grenadiers, which resulted in more casualties and hit markers for him.

His VWs entered, but didn't do anything in the turn that they were present. I think he didn't want to test what he had deduced were dug-in infantry. We got to the sudden death roll. I offered him the dice to make the roll, since it might end the game. He rolled and avoided sudden death. I had the fate card at this point, so I made him re-roll, and he rolled under the sudden death number this time.

Game over for the Fascists. No objectives taken! Huzzah!

I thoroughly enjoyed the game - quite a few wrenching decisions and I never felt as "hobbled" as I do sometimes playing Combat Commander. The initiative track definitely weighs heavily on the Soviet player, especially with the small command radius and fewer command markers.

I thought at several points during the game (especially when my ZIS-3 came up with nothing) that I might be in trouble, but a combination of good luck (the critical sniper roll) and some unusual tactical decisions by my opponent left me with some good openings.

The game took 2 hours to play, not including 15 minutes to set up. This included a few delays while we confirmed some rules for hidden units as well as hunted for the Armoured Recon platoon on the countersheet. (There's only one, folks, so don't lose it!)

Looking forward to scenario 8.
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Richard Pardoe
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Kozure wrote:
He presented a tempting target as he turned, so I took advantage of the SSR and placed my ZIS-3 76mm in the town hex southwest of the arrow near [3]. I cackled as I took up the ten-siders for three, count-'em THREE unopposed, no chance of being marked spent OP fire shots at his flank...

... and I hit the default hindrance of 1 on ALL THREE. On the last roll, I even used the fate card, and I still whiffed.

Three free flank shots. Not a thing to show for it.

I guess in the excitement of the game, you forgot a key part of the SSR (my emphasis)

During these three shots, the unit cannot miss due to hindrance [34.142] and will not become spent [35.63] regardless of the dice rolls.

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Mark Buetow
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RPardoe wrote:
Kozure wrote:
He presented a tempting target as he turned, so I took advantage of the SSR and placed my ZIS-3 76mm in the town hex southwest of the arrow near [3]. I cackled as I took up the ten-siders for three, count-'em THREE unopposed, no chance of being marked spent OP fire shots at his flank...

... and I hit the default hindrance of 1 on ALL THREE. On the last roll, I even used the fate card, and I still whiffed.

Three free flank shots. Not a thing to show for it.

I guess in the excitement of the game, you forgot a key part of the SSR (my emphasis)

During these three shots, the unit cannot miss due to hindrance [34.142] and will not become spent [35.63] regardless of the dice rolls.



Ouch! blush
 
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Jay Sheely
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I'm 0 for 3 in this scenario as the Russians. Each time I played I did better, still fun!
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I really like this scenario and think it is very balanced even for people new to the system.

I played it once solo and the Russians won. Then I have played it twice face-to-face and have managed to lose both times - once as the Germans and once as the Russians!

For some reason I don't like the intro scenario 0 but love this one and think that it is a great way to get into the system.
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Christopher O
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RPardoe wrote:
Kozure wrote:
He presented a tempting target as he turned, so I took advantage of the SSR and placed my ZIS-3 76mm in the town hex southwest of the arrow near [3]. I cackled as I took up the ten-siders for three, count-'em THREE unopposed, no chance of being marked spent OP fire shots at his flank...

... and I hit the default hindrance of 1 on ALL THREE. On the last roll, I even used the fate card, and I still whiffed.

Three free flank shots. Not a thing to show for it.

I guess in the excitement of the game, you forgot a key part of the SSR (my emphasis)

During these three shots, the unit cannot miss due to hindrance [34.142] and will not become spent [35.63] regardless of the dice rolls.



Ah, crap. Well, at least I still managed to pull off the win...

The dumb thing is that I remember reading that part of the rule out loud. Clearly I was, as you say, too caught up in the heat of the moment.
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Lizbeth
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This was a great session report, really gave a reasonable feeling behind it.

It's interesting how you say that rallying should be done after advancing away. For me I found that the sheer cost of doing son (11 initiative) put me off the whole idea. Then again, I'm currently playing the German's on offense in my scenario's, so I much more go for continued assault (not the order, just general action) and then consolidation.

And that's a sensible movement from one scenario to another I've gone from 0 to 2
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しんぶん赤旗
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I have played this scenario three times against an opponent and once solo. In the FTF games I have lost twice and won once as the Germans. I need would like to get a few games in playing the Soviet side.

I am still a little uncertain about the LOS rules for looking down into the valley. In the picture you have posted, if a unit was in the hex between the large 7 and 8, would it have LOS into the hex adjacent to the 8 that contains the two Soviet infantry units.
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Christopher O
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Elizabeth Robson wrote:
This was a great session report, really gave a reasonable feeling behind it.

It's interesting how you say that rallying should be done after advancing away. For me I found that the sheer cost of doing son (11 initiative) put me off the whole idea. Then again, I'm currently playing the German's on offense in my scenario's, so I much more go for continued assault (not the order, just general action) and then consolidation.

And that's a sensible movement from one scenario to another I've gone from 0 to 2


Chad Jensen has posted twice now in different places the order in which he recommends scenarios in terms of complexity:

0
9
8
4
7
6
5
3
1
10
2
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Edward Rustin
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Kozure wrote:
Elizabeth Robson wrote:

And that's a sensible movement from one scenario to another I've gone from 0 to 2


Chad Jensen has posted twice now in different places the order in which he recommends scenarios in terms of complexity:

0
[...everything else...]
2


Yay. Look at us, we're so good that we didn't need to play any of the others before taking on the ridiculously big scenario! ;-)
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Mark Buetow
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bolter wrote:


I am still a little uncertain about the LOS rules for looking down into the valley. In the picture you have posted, if a unit was in the hex between the large 7 and 8, would it have LOS into the hex adjacent to the 8 that contains the two Soviet infantry units.


It would not, since the buildings in the "8" hex create a one hex blind spot directly behind them.
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Christopher O
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Elizabeth Robson wrote:


It's interesting how you say that rallying should be done after advancing away. For me I found that the sheer cost of doing son (11 initiative) put me off the whole idea. Then again, I'm currently playing the German's on offense in my scenario's, so I much more go for continued assault (not the order, just general action) and then consolidation.


It makes a lot more sense for the Germans to press their advantage, since the Russian firepower, even at 1 hex range, is 13+2D12, while a German Grenadier squad defending in buildings is 12 morale + 4 cover + 2d10.

So you have German Grenadier Pl attack vs. Russian Rifle Pl:

15 + 2d12 vs. 11 + 4 + 2d10. = 28 (average) vs. 26 (average)

and Russian Rifle Pl vs. German Grenadier Pl:

13 + 2d12 vs. 12 + 4 + 2d10 = 26 (average) vs. 27 (average)

For the Russians, if they do manage to rally, the odds are fairly good that they will be hit again if fired upon. For the Germans, the odds are (by a hairsbreadth) that they won't be hit.

You're right that it is a high initiative cost, but if they can do a "move" order, it's cheaper than advance (I only advanced in this case because I was spending the higher cost for a higher cube anyway).

I found that a few times in the knife fight that sometimes happens in the village in scenario 0, I would (try to) rally my Russians, only to have them get shot up again. If they didn't rally, I wasted the initiative on the rally cube and any cost to activate them, and if they did, they might be right back where they started.

Falling back does yield ground, of course, so you have to balance which is more important, holding the ground or saving your poor riflemen, which depends a lot on the scenario.
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Lizbeth
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Yeah, I see your point there and I suppose moving back in urban environments hopefully wouldn't lead to op fire as shots would be blocked.

And Ed, considering I'm new to wargaming the word is 'fools' not 'good'

(On that note, I don't find 2 overly complex at the moment as the German's, at least not in terms of stuff going on)
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しんぶん赤旗
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Malacandra wrote:
bolter wrote:


I am still a little uncertain about the LOS rules for looking down into the valley. In the picture you have posted, if a unit was in the hex between the large 7 and 8, would it have LOS into the hex adjacent to the 8 that contains the two Soviet infantry units.


It would not, since the buildings in the "8" hex create a one hex blind spot directly behind them.


Thanks for the prompt reply. That is how we played it so all is well.
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