Nick Drinkwater
United States
Texas
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Raid on St. Nazaire AAR:

Official set-up, no special rules, demo squad targets as designated

Intro: This is one of the great all-time solitaire games and something I like to throw on the table for a couple of evening sessions when the wife’s out of town. It’s a real roller-coaster and it can certainly be lost in the first two turns of the games under the withering fire of the German defenses. Even if you make it through that gauntlet, it’s still a lot of work to start knocking off the targets.

Typically, in most games achieving the historical 53VP can be done, but its then when the real work starts in getting those extra 17VP. For that, pretty much every single ‘large’ (3VP or more) target in Zones 2 and 3 needs to be destroyed, but that can be a difficult task, so it’s always good to look for opportunities to snag cheap VP (the Sperrbrecher and the Tugs are obvious ones). Particularly tough targets are Swing Bridge 261 and the oil tank farm in Area 1 which get plenty of gun cover. Taking out ships can be done but you have to do a lot of fighting through the crews to do that which uses up precious time as the Stosstrupps start to wake up.

Individual strategies are difficult to plan in this game as so much variation can happen due to the results of the opening two turns – I have even sunk the Campbeltown on the way in due to accumulated Crew Hits – it can happen. One thing I have learnt the hard way is that there no profit in boats hanging around trying to re-embark Commandos. The only thing the boats do once their loads are dumped is attempt to get back to good old Blighty for extra points so you shall see that happen. It’s a one way trip for my commandos I’m afraid, but they’ll be full of British stiff upper lip-ness anyway!

The other thing I do like to do is target some key German guns from the start – 336 is a critical gun as is 342, but the pair on 222 also need to be swiftly and effectively neutralized – those four guns all have the power to seriously degrade landing British troops and so will be targeted both by covering fire and by grenades from assault teams as soon as possible. After that, we’ll see what happens depending on who makes it to shore and where and when the Germans react…

Turn 1: 1.28am, Activation DRM: -3

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Beam 412 auto illuminates the approach
Naval Attack Phase:
i) German Harbor Defense
OK – gather it together, full stiff upper lip time. The Opening Turn HDF shots…Campbeltown auto shot – MC leaves the crew and Chant down a hit each. Horlock turns away with a KO; Tillie takes a KO; Platt suffers a MC which leaves him with a loss of speed (6 on the red die) and the crew and Birney taking a hit each; Rodier gets a KO; Nock gets stuck in the searchlights but gets dumped on with both a turn away and KO; Horlock gets targeted again but it’s only an evade; the Campbeltown takes an evade which is negated; Falconar gets hurt hard with a turn away and MC for a point of damage on Hodgson. On shot 9, the agony comes to an end a slightly prematurely as the guns miss Boyd.
ii) British Covering Fire – has to be against targets in Zone A or the 2 nearest searchlights (rule 7.5) – targets gun 312 but misses.
iii) German Dockside Defensive Fire
Time for more pain…with six guns possibly firing into Zone A (rule 7.5) and a to hit number of 5, it’s another possible 12 shots…rule 6.2 also means there is another active searchlight in the approach as well (beam 342). Ouch! First up is Irwin and he’s set on Fire and gets a KO (more gun losses); Fenton (another torpedo boat) suffers exactly the same; Boyd gets a KO and a turn away; Fenton gets whacked again with more fire (no effect) and another KO (now has no more torpedoes); Nock gets found by a searchlight again, set on fire and suffers a KO; Wynn is next and takes an evade and a C; Tillie takes a turn away and a C; Boyd has to endure another evade (no effect); Henderson now has his chance to be brave with a turn away and a KO; Platt now has to evade and suffer a C; Campbeltown takes a C; with the final shot Horlock is set on fire and gets a KO – we go the full distance with all 12 shots this time.

Naval Movement Phase: First up, Irwin, though burning, shoves a fish into the side of Sperrbrecher and sinks the blighter! That was greatly needed, especially as one torpedo boat had already been rendered toothless (poor old Fenton). Platt, Boyd, Tillie, Horlock and Henderson all lose a turn in the approaches dodging bullets. In a slightly risky move, Wynn heads on his own into Zone Z to stick a torpedo into the Lock Gates. Everyone else steams into Zone B leaving Irwin all alone, and on fire, in Zone A.

Loading/Unloading Phase: Not yet! Coming next turn…

Comments: Probably above average for Turn 1 – nothing sunk, but two boats on fire and 5 stuck in the approaches isn’t the best. However, all the passengers came through largely unscathed, and getting the Sperrbrecher sunk was large. Flotilla gun points already at +1 as we took a lot of KO results, but you inevitably get hit somewhere and something has to take the damage somewhere – better that it’s the guns rather than the Commandoes. Campbeltown came through very lightly – that is good news, but we still need to endure the two German fire phases of the 1.34am turn before we can say ‘job done’.

German Activation Phase: only two units, but they’re both 6 strength and both show up in Zone 1. Hmm.

Comments: A slightly above par turn for the Brits – 21/24 rolled shots - definitely had much, much worse in the past and the passengers are all in good shape. Not bad and only 2 more ‘bad’ fire phases to endure.

VP: 1 (Sperrbrecher)

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Turn 2: 1.34am, Activation DRM: -2

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Beam 412 hunts fruitlessly in Zone 3, 342 picks on poor doomed burning Irwin, but 142 finds nothing in zone D. No guns to recover.

Naval Attack Phase:
i) German Harbor Defense
OK, time to man up again….Campbeltown auto hit is MC with a point on Brett. Irwin auto-burning shot is a MC for a point on the crew and an evade, but their job is already done. Fenton’s auto shot is a simple evasion. Now for the extra shots… Rodier evades, and then hit again for a turn away and another KO which knocks out his torpedo (yuk), but then the luck changes and the guns all fire harmlessly at but over the top of Nock – HUGE – only 3 shots on HDF. In the second-most important phase of the game. Wow.
ii) British Covering Fire – targets gun 336 but misses again. Hmmm.
iii) German Dockside Defensive Fire.
Second bunch of pain…Wynn could be in trouble in Zone Z (5 possible To hits), and the main flotilla in Zone B will also be potentially taking 5 shots too. Only Irwin in Zone A will get away with this one. The lonely Wynn is first….an evade and a MC (3 crew) on the first one, fire and KO on shot 2, turn away and KO and that’s the end of poor doomed Wynn as he starts sinking. Tactical mistake to send him all alone into Zone Z – it can sometimes pay off and you can leave the torpedo in the gates but the odds are stacked against him. Over to Zone B: Beart evades and a crew hit, Falconar gets really unlucky and sinks taking Hodgson down too, but then with shot number three, absorbs some more damage. The Brits then get lucky again as Nock is missed again - must have some Oirish in him somewhere. PHEW!

Naval Movement Phase: Campbeltown crashes at full speed in to the Southern Caisson. Irwin, still burning, edges out into the approaches; Platt chugs into Zone A; Nock swings around to pick up the dripping Hodgson from the sinking Falconar, then heads into Zone A; Henderson, Horlock, Boyd and Tillie all power into Zone A while Collier and Wallis dock at 336. Beart, Fenton and Rodier all zoom into Zone C while Ryder, Stephens and Burt dock at 366.

Loading/Unloading Phase: Out jumps Newman, Burt and Woodcock at 366, the full complement of commandos climb off the Campbeltown and Walton and Bradley jump onto the 336 gun with no assault unit help.

Comments: Again a really light set of phases for the British – this has to be one of the best opening two turns I’ve ever been able to achieve. Losing Wynn like that was stupid and there wasn’t a huge gain as sacrificing him to save Irwin was not profitable as he’s burning and has no passengers. Falconar was just plain unlucky but that happens. Biggest problem is I have a very staggered attack due to lots of evasions and turn away results. Also, the two demo crews need to be good and determined and be loaded for bear to go up against Gun 336…

German Activation Phase: Only four units, including a 2 strength unit dropped into a whole world of hurt in 366 – not long for this world! A couple of odd units appear in odd bits of Zone 2 but nothing too bad.

Land Movement Phase: German move dr is 4. Roderick and Roy move into to try and kill the guns in 222.

Land Combat Phase: The 2 Stosstrup unit in 366 is swiftly dispatched. One of the 222 gun’s is destroyed by grenades, but annoyingly the other survives. Luckily that gun, even with a strength of 5, misses with a 6 in return – huge! Walton and Bradley both miss their fire attacks (demo squads are not as good on the To Hot table as assault squads on the gun at 336, but it only does a point of damage to Walton – again, lucky.

Demolition Phase: Smalley sets charges in the S.Winding Station, and blows it up (4 VP). Good start.

Comments: Not bad and great to have the first wave of squads off and running – very annoying that the 2 demo crews couldn’t destroy gun 336, but first attempt to blow up the winding station is great. Let’s keep the pressure on!

VP: 1 + 4 (South Winding Station) = 5

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Turn 3: 1.40am, Activation DRM: -2, No more maximum speed limits.

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Only Beam 142 picks up boats in Zone B.

Naval Attack Phase:
i) German Harbor Defense
On the auto hits, Campbeltown takes a KO; Fenton takes a C and evades, and Irwin, still burning, turns away with 2 crew points. For rolled fire, Boyd gets snared by the beam but takes a mere C; Ryder evades and suffers MC (2 crew); Wallis evades; Fenton gets hit yet again and turns away and suffers more MC, including 1 point on Hooper; Stephens receives an evade and C; Horlock catches fire and receives a KO; Campbeltown takes a 2 crew MC; Tillie now has to evade; Stephens gets turned away with MC and 2 crew down. Finally Platt is missed – 9 shots this time.
ii) British Covering Fire – at last, at last, a hit and Gun 336 is destroyed! This is followed up with another hit (at +2) and Gun 344 is also destroyed – EPIC! Third shot is a bust though, but that really helped.
iii) German Dockside Defensive Fire
Three guns fire into Zone A, none into Zone B and four into Zone C. Platt takes a hit in Zone A and evades and that’s it for Zone A. In Zone C, Fenton takes an evade MC (2 and 2) and that is enough to sink him – it was a brave effort but the remnants of Hooper’s commando go down too. Stephens gets an MC for 2 more crew hits but then the German gunners go AWOL.

Naval Movement Phase: Irwin, Collier and Nock are now both in the approaches, Platt goes nowhere in Zone A, but is joined by Wallis, while Henderson and Horlock dock at 336. Boyd swings into Zone C and fires his torpedo at Lock Gates 221 but only damages them; he is then joined by the evading Stephens. Tillie evades his way into Zone C but is still unable to dock, while Ryder heads back out to Zone B. Beart and Rodier both pull up at 366.

Loading/Unloading Phase: Wilson and Swayne leap off at 336, while Moss and Haines disembark at 366.

Comments: Again, still going really well, and now we’re well stacked with lots of assault teams off boats as well. Need to kill off the remaining 222 gun quickly. Additionally, we can now start the tortuous business of the naval retreat – let’s see what we can get home…

German Activation Phase: Four units with a couple teleported into Zone 2 close to my assault teams – that will not do!

Land Movement Phase: German move is 3. Commandos start heading off to their targets but all the Caisson-area teams wait for their assault team guards to deal with the 222 guns first. A 4 stosstrup heads into the British tactical HQ in the pump house…

Land Combat Phase:…where, after Roderick successfully destroys the gun with a Grenade, they are wiped out by Roy. Purdon does even better and kills off a whole 6 stosstrup unit at one hex range- now that’s shooting! Long range fire (LRF) on Woodcock in 211 is ineffective.

Demolition Phase: Chant drops a demo charge into the pump house, while Smalley does the same to the damaged lock gates in 212. The Pump House is destroyed (6VP) and the lock gates drop into the water. (4VP). Campbeltown scuttles – British fire is now at +3.

Comments: That was another really good turn – empty boats with crews only sucked up a lot of damage and we only lost one with passengers. You never know, Platt might even land his guys off at some point too! Combat went perfectly and we’re free to make a good run on the Normandie Dock targets too. It will be interesting to see what makes it home from here…

VP: 5 + 6 (Pump House) + 4 (212 Lock Gates) = 15

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Turn 4: 1.40am, Activation DRM: -1, 4 = TH# for Harbor Defense

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: All the beams fail to find anything…Good!

Naval Attack Phase:
i) German Harbor Defense
Autofire on Irwin inflicts a turn away and 2 more crew points. Horlock blows up as the petrol tanks go ‘poof’ – no survivors. Rolled hits: Wallis – gets turned away with a KO; Collier now takes a turn away and a 1 crew hit; Henderson has to evade with a C; Burt suffers an Evade and MC (2 crew); Ryder has to evade; Henderson is targeted again with another evade and a C, and then the torture ends – this time with only six hits.
ii) British Covering Fire – Little chance now, and so it proves.
iii) German Dockside Defensive Fire
Three To Hits in both Zones A and C: Zone A fire misses from the start, as does Zone C. GOOD!

Naval Movement Phase: Irwin and Collier remain stuck in the approaches but Nock zooms into the Open Sea. Platt limps into Zone B but still can’t drop folks off; in contrast, Tillie, after a long fight inbound, successfully pulls up at 366. Ryder and Burt both make it to the Approach, and a new mini flotilla (Stephens, Boyd, Henderson, Wallis, Rodier and Beart) forms up ready to make their bids for freedom in Zone A.

Loading/Unloading Phase: Gratefully, Pennington jumps off of Tillie’s boat after a tough fight in.

Comments: Still going well – don’t think the burning Irwin will make it, but you never know! We’re looking good to get some of these boats home for some extra points.

German Activation Phase: 6 units. Lots arrive in areas 5 and 6 but a big 6 unit pops up on Lock Gates 331. Hmmm.

Land Movement Phase: Roderick and Roy’s mega stack run off to the far end of the Normandie dock, while the Old Town demo crews delay their advance to allow more assault teams to catch up.

Land Combat Phase: No combat this turn. Long Range Fire again misses.

Demolition Phase: None this turn

Comments: A consolidation turn – the naval phase of the game is almost over; now it’s purely up to the commandos to do their job. Opposition has been really light so far though…may even be an opportunity here to jump into area 1 to clean up the oil tanks, and certainly we can try for some ships…

VP: remains at 15.

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Turn 5: 1.52am, Activation DRM: -1, Forced Landings may now happen

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Active beams are placed in Zone 3 (412 and 432) and Zone D (342) which picks out the unlucky Platt.

Naval Attack Phase:
i) German Harbor Defense
Burning Irwin loses his last crew point from a MC and starts sinking. With 11 boats still in accessible zones, there is still plenty of possible death and damage to dole out. Platt is first up and gets whacked with a KO which is enough to take him and the unfortunate Birney to a watery grave; Collier is next up and is set on fire and takes 3 crew MC but keeps on sailing; Burt, also in the approach suffers an evade and MC keeping him in the approach for another turn; Platt is a useful soak of some more fire; Collier sucks up another hit of MC (2 more crew) which is enough to sink him too; Stephens has to turn away and gets a KO, enough to kill off the last of the crew and sink him; he then sucks up another hit; finally on shot 8, the sinking Collier is missed and the pain is over.
ii) British Covering Fire – now at +3, no result expected and none is obtained.
iii) German Dockside Defensive Fire
To Hit numbers of 3 and 3 in Zones A and C: Zone A is missed straight away, as is Zone C. Phew!

Naval Movement Phase: Nock meets nothing this turn and successfully returns to Portsmouth with 5 of Pennington’s very soggy troops on board for 1.8VP. Ryder and Burt both enter the Open Sea and the 5 survivors of the escape flotilla (Boyd, Henderson, Wallis, Rodier and Beart) power into the approaches. Tillie is the last to get going and zooms into Zone A.

Loading/Unloading Phase: No more disembarkation left to do.

Comments: Four boats sunk this turn but no big surprises as those that went down were all pretty much shot up anyway – shame Platt couldn’t land his troops, but considering just how much had already been landed, I was due a less good round somewhere. Nice to get some passengers back – that doesn’t always happen!

German Activation Phase: 5 German units appear, this time – no alarms: both sixes end up in either zone 6 or the far reaches of 4, and the three 2 units are minor irritants that will get knocked off quickly in Zone 2.

Land Movement Phase: Wilson, Swayne and Walton move onto their respective targets, Bradley gropes his way through the narrow streets of the old town whilst Burn jumps on a 6 unit in 332. Newman heads south to kill off the 6 unit in 203. Roderick and Brett move onto the North Caisson, Purdon and Roy plunge into stygian gloom of the Northern Winding station while Chant hangs back to await results. Pennington starts his long walk to the 261 Swing Bridge while Haines and Moss get ready to assault the 16 Minesweeper Flotilla. German move is 4 which is handy. Stosstrup 4 units leap into combat with Roderick and Roy.

Land Combat Phase: Newman immediately rolls up a 6 and wipes out his opponents to a man. Roderick repeats this as does Roy, both rolling fours to eliminate their respective German opponents…Brits on fire! Even slightly depleted, Brett still has enough in the bank to remove a 2 unit from a connected location. In the old town, Burn rolls another 6 which immediately wipes out his opponents! Brits really on fire! Haines fires his mortar at Gun 434A but misses and takes a point of LRF damage in return.

Demolition Phase: Woodcock leaves his charges fizzing on Swing Bridge 211, Purdon just gets his set on the northern winding station 253, but with all the activity in the previous phases, Brett can’t find his fuses. Despite being out of breath, Wilson, Walton and Swayne are all able to place charges on their respective primary targets. Now let’s see what goes bang!! Walton plunges the whole town into darkness as he atomizes the power station (3VP). In contrast the cord fizzles out for Swayne on Swing Bridge 321 as he leaves the charges at risk, and Walton fumbles his cordite at Swing Bridge 343 as well! Woodcock continues the misfortune at Swing Bridge 211, but Purdon turns the Commando fortunes around and blows out the innards of the Northern Winding Station (4VP).

Comments: It went much as expected in the naval phase with the four ships sunk but we’re well placed to get home several more boats. Ground combat was simply perfect, but missing out on three of the five demo charges was a bit disappointing. Luckily the nearest Germans are a long way away so the demo teams should have plenty of opportunity to rectify it. Let’s hope so! Losing the searchlights for a couple of turns can only help the boats.

If I can drop the four Swing Bridges (16VP) and the two Locks (8VP) plus the two Caissons (24VP), that will take me to the magic 70VP – the hardest one of those will be Swing Bridge 261, always a difficult target as it’s so close to some of the main German entry areas and the frightening direct covering fire of Gun 462 – it is the one target on the board that demands an effective assault plan – rush it with one, preferably 2 assault squads to remove it with grenades while a Demo Unit, preferably Pennington, dumps the bridge into the water at the first time of asking. In addition, I may snag as many as 7-8VP from passengers and crew and I should sink some of the juicy ship targets too – the 345 tugs are particularly juicy as they don’t generate Germans when the commandos move on to them (rule 13.21) and they don’t withdraw. There may still be time to even try and assault the tank farm too – the Zone 1 guns are the challenge on these but you can score well with them if you get lucky. It is even possible we might sneak a Commando unit back to Spain – I have done that once before but there was a trail of bodies left in getting there!

VP: 15 + 1.8 (Nock + Passengers) + 3 (Power Station) + 4 (Northern Winding Station) = 23.8

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Turn 6: 1.58am, Activation DRM: -1

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Who turned the lights out?!

Naval Attack Phase:
i) German Harbor Defense
For the first time, no burning ships so no auto fire! Wallis (as boat number 31-21) could be in trouble here as he is the lowest numbered unit left – for Hit #1, he turns away and suffers another MC but it’s only a single crew point. He next takes a KO, then evades before Rodier gallantly slips in to be turned away with a KO (no guns left but he still takes a point). Attention then moves back to Wallis who takes 3 points of MC which sinks him. Another shot slams into his hull, before Rodier suffers again, this time with another KO. Shot #8 hurts Tillie for 2 crew hits before Shot #9 flies wildly over the bows of Boyd to end HDF.
ii) British Covering Fire – with the escape of Ryder and Beart to the sea and the sinking of Wallis, we’re now at +4 …and it misses.
iii) German Dockside Defensive Fire. Poor, poor Tillie – the only boat in Zone A with three guns firing…first shot sets him on Fire and KOs him and the second shot merely causes a C but, with a doomed inevitability, is enough to sink him.

Naval Movement Phase: Ryder beats a fast retreat to Blighty for 0.8VP, but Burt is less lucky and runs into a Patrol Boat – luck then flips back onto their side and their 2 Gun points are enough to fight off the Patrol Boat and they open the throttles and cruise home for another 0.4VP. Boyd, Henderson and Beart move to the open sea, but Rodier has to keep hiding from the flak guns in the approaches. He will be the only boat left floating as a target in the next turn.

Comments: Not bad – was bound to lose a boat or two as the numbers whittle down and attention gets focused on a smaller and smaller group – Tillie was pretty much doomed from the start. Good that Burt was able to fight his way home! Hopefully will be able to get all three currently in the open sea home, but Rodier is unlikely to make it…

German Activation Phase: Only 4 units and luckily again, none in threatening positions (outer regions of Zone 4 or Zone 5).

Land Movement Phase: Newman gets ready to board a Blockade runner in the Normandie Dock while Roderick and Roy move into position to shoot off the 2 and 4 Stosstrup units protecting the swing bridge 261. Haines unites with Smalley in preparation of sinking a 214 Harbor Defense Boat. Moss readies himself to assault 16 Minesweeper Flotilla while Wilson moves to a watching brief near the old town. Burn crosses the 343 Bridge to try and protect the Demo Teams working on the lock gates. German move is a 5, again really, really helpful as no-one can really move far yet.

Land Combat Phase: Very little – Roderick wipes out a 2 unit in 262 at 1 area range and that’s it. Burn misses with his mortar vs. 434A as does Roy vs. 464A. Only Roy suffers a hit in LRF in return.

Demolition Phase: Only Brett sets a DC this turn – everyone else is trying to rectify their cock ups from last turn! Brett is clearly a professional and can do this blindfolded as he destroys the Northern Caisson at the first attempt – 12 VP. Swayne continues to fumble around in the dark on Swing Bridge 321, but Walton finds a spare fuse and leaves swing bridge 343 a twisted wreck (4VP). However, it’s not all good as Woodcock continues to struggle for the second turn. Hmmm.

Comments: Still looking on course – more boats should return to the UK and it was very cool to drop the Northern Caisson first time – I wish my western groups were more effective. However, I should be able to start knocking off a couple of the docked ships soon too. To paraphrase Barry Davies at the 1988 Olympic Games, where are the Germans? But then again, who cares?

VP: 23.8 + 1.2 (Ryder and Burt returning to the UK) + 12 (Northern Caisson) + 4 (Swing Bridge 343) = 41.

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Turn 7: 2.04am, Activation DRM: -1

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Still struggling in the dark.

Naval Attack Phase:
i) German Harbor Defense
Rodier’s turn to be whacked – he might get lucky but more probably will just get wet. No, not lucky – first shot was a turn away and KO. Second shot was a miss, but he’ll still be dodging lead in the approaches next turn.
ii) British Covering Fire – At +5, we expected and received nothing.
iii) German Dockside Defensive Fire – all over now, no boats in the zones.

Naval Movement Phase: Beart, Henderson and Boyd all evade the searches and steam home – Beart is the only boat to get home without a scratch (1.2 VP), while Henderson and Boyd are both bearing a few scars (0.8 VP each).

Comments: Good result to get three more boats home, though I feel Rodier will get very wet… the naval part of the game almost over.

German Activation Phase: Only 5 units again and we’re still only at Alarm Activation Level 2. Mostly the placements are benign but a 4 unit appears in 262, and another in 433 with 2 demo squads adjacent to it.

Land Movement Phase: Roderick and Roy jump onto the combined 6 units in 262, Newman causes a 2 unit to appear when he boards the Blockade Runner Passat. Haines does the same when he leaps on to Harbor Boat 214 with Smalley. Walton moves onto Tug 346 (a genuine freebie in this game), while Wilson changes tack and heads back towards Lock Gates 313. Bradley eventually is able to get onto Lock Gates 331 to try and start his wrecking. Moss moves to take on the newly appeared 6 unit in 333. German move is a 3 so many of the reinforcements that have been stuck in the Zone 5 and 6 reinforcement areas start chasing commandos.

Land Combat Phase: Burn kills off 4 of his 6 strength opponents but takes 1 point of damage back. Moss fails to kill off all his opponents, but they miss in return. Haines kills off some sailors on the Harbor Defense Boat but Newman has a rare failure and fails to kill his crew off fully – Newman survives the return fire unscathed. In the 262 mega fight, Roderick kills off his 4 opponents, but Roy cannot do the same and leaves survivors (now at 2 x 2-strength Germans). In return, the surviving Germans both miss. All German LRF misses and there are no Mortar shots.

Demolition Phase: Bradley is too tired to get his charges down on Swing Bridge 331 from running around in the dark. Nobody else is setting anything this turn. Swayne fails again to explode the charges (what was he doing during training?) but Woodcock is able to damage Swing Gates 211 (2VP).

Comments: Frustrating turn with the inability to kill off Germans – we are placed next turn to start nailing some boats and I am lining up to kill off all of the Avant Port connecting gates. Swayne man, what are you doing there?!

VP: 41 (+ 2.8 from returnees Beart, Henderson and Boyd) +2 (Damaged Swing Gates 211) = 45.8

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Turn 8: 2.10am, Activation DRM: 0

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Start to re-activate. Only 412 finds its starter motor, but it can’t find anyone in the dark.

Naval Attack Phase:
i) German Harbor Defense
So, can Rodier get lucky? No – first and only HDF shot sets him on fire with a KO which is enough to sink him.
ii) British Covering Fire – All over now.
iii) German Dockside Defensive Fire – no more targets.

Naval Movement Phase: All finished.

Comments: As expected Rodier was luckless and it all came to a sad end. Six surviving boats returned to the UK and 5.8VP in survivors is not a bad haul overall though.

German Activation Phase: 6 units and we enter alarm level 3. Ugh, ugh. A 6 unit appears on the Campbeltown (111) close to Newman, another 6 unit in 245 close to Chant in 207 and a 4 unit in 312. In addition, another 4 unit at 461 is making the 261 gates look more and more distant.

Land Movement Phase: Things are hotting up now. Wilson leaps onto 313, but I dallied in the Old Town for 2 turns thinking I’ll leave myself one bridge to try and evacuate to Spain from – stupid in this game, as that never, ever happens! Burn heads west to try and support the bombing teams, leaving a 2 Stosstrupp unit behind. Time to trigger the 261 Swing Bridge assault: Roy runs at the 462 gun to try and grenade it yet puts himself adjacent to a 6 unit at the same time…but sacrifices are the order of the day! Purdon jumps on the northern Swing Bridge (261) themselves to start looking for their bombs. Roderick moves to 492 to block access to the bridge.
Chant leaps on the Schledstadt Blockade Runner and wakes up a 2 unit – Brett joins Newman. Haines and Smalley move onto Harbor Boat 215 and wake a 4 unit. Walton moves over to tug 2 while Moss moves from 334 to offer some more support. Bad news is the dr is a lively 2 for German moves. A 6 unit moves adjacent to Wilson and Swayne, whilst a 4 group leaps onto Moss. Roy looks like he’s going to go down to a wave of 6 units, while another 6 squad jumps on to the Blockade runner with Chant. Three 6 squads leap onto Roderick while another 6 moves adjacent to Newman. This has just got very intense.

Land Combat Phase: Moss eliminates his opponents; Haines and Smalley wipe out the boat crew. Chant gets unlucky and only wings his 6 for a solo point – he is reduced to 2 points but doesn’t lose any charges. Newman wipes out the 6 at 1 hex range (BIG result) and Brett kills the remaining Blockade runner crew. Roy’s only chance is grenades and today he’s got one and eliminates a 6 and a 4 unit but, by the 11.6 Q&A, the Gun itself remains untouched. In return fire, the Gun flays Roy and removes his last Grenade – 1 troop point left. Roderick also finds his grenades and destroys all three 6 stosstrupp squads with him – RESULT! (but no grenades left). Pennington whiffs his attack but the two German 2 units also miss. The 6 squad in 410 takes a shredding shot at Swayne and leaves only 1 point and 1 DC left. LRF is ineffective and there is no Mortar fire.

Demolition Phase: Woodcock rustles around in his pack and finds another DC to try and tag Swing Bridge 211. Wilson and Walton can’t find their bombs but Bradley on Swing Bridge 331 and Brett (who’s just moved and fought) do! Chant tries desperately to find something in the bottom of his rucksack but unsurprisingly fails. Most importantly of all, Purdon finds his all-important charge too – Roy’s VC-creating charge was not in vain! The injured Swayne fails to press the plunger yet again, but Bradley makes no mistake (4VP), while Purdon drops the Swing Bridge at the first time of asking – MASSIVE – though Roderick and Roy are both left on the wrong side of the bridge. It’s the Costa Brava run for them now…Brett’s charge only wings the Passat (0.5VP). Woodcock though, finishes the turn nicely and totally obliterates damaged Bridge 211 (2 more VP).

Comments: A really good turn again, but the hapless Swayne pays the price for his incompetence – he may get one more chance yet. The sacrifice of Roy and Roderick was the only play I could possibly do in the book but it worked perfectly and Purdon kept to his part of the bargain too and blew apart the toughest target on the entire board. If I could just knock out the 313 and 321 bridges and gates, then the game will probably be locked out…I think with the remaining troops we’ll try and do an end run on the tank farm…

VP: 45.8 + 4 (Swing Bridge 331) + 4 (Swing Bridge 261) + 0.5 (Damaged Blockade Runner Passat) + 2 (Final destruction of damaged Bridge 211) = 56.3 VP (so we’ve beaten the historical attack at 53VP)

********************
Turn 9: 2.16am, Activation DRM: 0

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Beam 412 and 432 back up.

German Activation Phase: 7 units. Of those that arrived, the main problem one was a 6 unit in 111 blocking the way to the tank farm! Most of the rest are innocuous.

Land Movement Phase: Moss sprints up and leaps on the 6 unit in 410 – the two demo crews MUST do their job! Burn moves to 425 to try and soak up more 6 units approaching. Woodcock moves onto Harbor Defense boat 214 and activates a 2 unit, joined by Haines. Brett and Roy move to 493 and hope that the German move die is high so that they can run off to Espania. Purdon and Pennington move to 208 to see if they can snag another ship; Newman and Brett move to the Pump House to try and kill off the 6 unit in 111. It’s Roderick and Roy’s lucky day – German move is a 6 so the waiting reinforcements are locked in – they should escape!

Land Combat Phase: Moss is simply on fire – knocks off 5 points of the 6 Germans and Burn kills off a 2. Haines kills more boat crews but Chant is too wounded to affect his tormentors and gets quickly dispatched. Newman only scores 2 damage and Brett misses too – luckily Newman only takes 1 hit in return. Purdon takes 1 point from LRF.

Demolition Phase: Wilson, Walton and Smalley all place charges but Woodcock is flustered. EVENTUALLY Swayne presses the plunger but it’s more of a whimper than bang and the Bridge is merely damaged! (2VP). Wilson in contrast was clearly paying attention at demolition school and drops the 313 Lock Gates at the first time of asking – Wynn is hopefully smiling posthumously several fathoms down in the Avant Port (4VP). Walton blows up his tug (1VP), and Smalley also send Harbor Boat 215 to the bottom (1VP).

Comments: Still comfortably on target – all but half of one bridge now down and 2.5 ships as well. Another ship or two and we’ll be there I think – all you can do then is wait for the Campbeltown to go bang!

VP: 56.3 + 2 (Damaged Swing Bridge 321) + 4 (Lock Gates 313) + 1 (Tug 345) + 1 (Harbor Boat 215) = 62.3

********************
Turn 10: 2.22am, Activation DRM: +1. Ships start to Withdraw

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Beam 342 joins 412 and 432 in lighting up the town.

Naval Movement Phase: Unit 4, the surviving harbor defense boats, withdraw, dumping Haines, Bradley and Woodcock into 201. Annoying, as I had spent time and effort getting the demo crews onto these boats in the first place. I think these guys must now join the dash to the tank farm…

German Activation Phase: 7 units this time. It’s not going to be long now as 4 and 6 units pop up all over Zone 2, Zone 3 and Zone 4 near to the bridges.

Land Movement Phase: Newman and Brett run onto the smoldering wreck of the Campbeltown (111), while the Haines party jumps on to the 4 unit in the pump house. Purdon and Pennington are now effectively surrounded so they see if they can snag one of the Group 6 Harbor Defense boats, activating a 4 crew on 241. Roderick and Roy escape through holding area 6, find some maquis and make their way over the Pyrenees for some sun, sea, sand and sangria! (0.7 VP total).
Burn goes to 416 as a blocker, Wilson tries to finally knock out the damaged swing bridge in 321 while the remnants of the useless Swayne form a block in 310 to the south. Walton and Bradley stay where they are to let Walton sink the other tug. Germans are slow again (5), but a 6 unit jumps onto Burn and another moves adjacent. Probably this is the last real chance for effective movement in Zone 3 as the covering assault troops are being whittled away.

Land Combat Phase: Moss finishes off the 1 unit he’s stacked with, while Burn removes 4 out of 6 points from his attackers. Unfortunately, 1-area distance fire from a 6 unit in 422 knocks off 4 points from Burn. Haines rapidly knocks off his 4 unit opponent in 203, opening up a straight run for the Brits to the Zone 1 guns and tanks. Bradley takes another point due to LRF. Pennington misses killing the boat crew, but Purdon does not, but only does 1 damage - the survivors miss their return fire however.

Demolition Phase: Wilson can’t find his charges but Walton can. Amazingly, despite having fired on AND been fired on AND moved on to the boat AND having Germans still running around, the undamaged Pennington is able to find some charges to leave on Boat 241 – now that is courage under fire, Military Cross rewarding behavior… Walton successfully destroys the second tug (1VP) and in an amazing piece of military craft, Pennington sends 241 harbor defense boat to the bottom as well at the first time of asking (1VP).

Comments: Good work Pennington! Snagging these extra VP is critical in this part of the game and so far Pennington had done nothing (to be fair, his task is the hardest in the game as he has the longest to go to his primary target the 261 lock gates and is dropped off at 366). Wilson will probably get one more chance to finish off the damaged swing bridge. Walton and Bradley will make a stab at Minesweeper Flotilla 16 but it’s unlikely they’ll do much now. The critical turn for the assault on the tank farm is now at hand…

VP: 62.3 + 0.7 (Roderick and Roy’s land escape) + 1 (Tug 346) + 1 (Harbor Defense Boat 241) = 65

********************
Turn 11: 2.28am, Activation DRM: +1

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: All four beams are back on now but only two (412 and 432) can illuminate land units.

Naval Movement Phase: This time the Group 6 Harbour Defense Boats leave – having sunk half of them, Purdon and Pennington are already ashore at 246.

German Activation Phase: Five units, three of which immediately went into Zone 4 areas near Moss and Bradley – its now or never for Wilson and his charges. A 6 unit also popped out on Gun 113 – Newman’s assault on the tank farm has just got harder.

Land Movement Phase: Swayne dashes into 410 to give some cover to Wilson, Moss goes to 427 but he needs to severely hurt the 6 unit in 428 to help Wilson. Walton and Bradley move to the destroyed 331 lock to provide more cover to Wilson (they couldn’t make it to Minesweeper 355 without being intercepted first anyway).
Newman jumps on Gun 124 – he has to kill it to give Brett some time on tank 123 with Haines. Bradley and Woodcock wait in 126. Pennington and Purdon move to 231 to see if they can get lucky with the Tugs in 243. Again the Brits get lucky – a move number of 5 helps again. Three 6 units advance on to Moss in 427, another gets one area away from the two demo squads in 331. A 6 unit enters 231 with Pennington and Purdon, while another jumps on Brett and Haines with the tanks in 123.

Land Combat Phase: Moss’s only chance is to find grenades…but he fails with a 6. In an illuminated circled area, the three Schosstrups don’t fail their task and that is the end of Moss. The solo point left in Burn’s squad fails to find any targets and he drops in return fire. Walton and Bradley both hit the 6 unit German in 438 but only do 1 point of damage each and Walton suffers three points in return. Pennington does locate targets in his hex but only does 1 damage point while Purdon misses completely (Commando demo teams clearly aren’t there for their hand to hand fighting prowess) – Pennington takes 4 in return. Damagingly, Haines only does 2 points of damage and Brett can only make that worse by 1. Woodcock eventually finishes them off from a connected area.
Newman goes hunting for his grenade but it does nothing – yuk! Newman takes 2 damage from this gun, but guns 121 and 133 finish him off. LRF hits Purdon for one point and loses a DC.

Demolition Phase: Wilson places his last charge on Damaged Bridge 321 – was all the sacrifice worth it? YES, and finally the Bridge drops for 2 more VP. Brett sadly cannot replicate Pennington’s earlier efforts and fails to find his charges.

Comments: Such a shame Newman missed his grenades – the tanks are really tough targets and tank 123 has not got any easier. Great to finally drop the missing bridge though! The game will be over in the next couple of turns…

VP: 65 +2 (remnants of damaged Bridge 321) = 67

********************
Turn 12: 2.34am, Activation DRM: +1

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: all beams on, only 412 on Zone 3.

Naval Movement Phase: It’s a 4 this time, but they’ve already withdrawn so there’s no change.

German Activation Phase: Only 3 units – if they can just keep out of area 1, there is a chance for the tanks. The area 3 teams are already almost finished but we can maybe try one more run for some boats… fat chance of that as a 6 unit drops into 136 and another in to 362!

Land Movement Phase: Swayne runs for the exits but probably won’t make it, the other demo teams head towards the remaining boats…and a line of angry Germans. Smalley and Woodcock advance on 116 and 132 tanks and Haines heads to guns 124. German move is 5 yet again, and a bunch of 6 units jump onto Swayne (408), Bradley (320), Smalley (132), and Pennington (205).

Land Combat Phase: Swayne goes down in a hail of bullets on the beach front road, but Bradley and Walton combine to kill off another 6 unit. Purdon knocks off most of his opponents but Pennington’s days are over. Smalley has a chance to kill the 6 unit he’s stacked with, but continuing the trend of bad British demo squad combat attacks, only is able to do 1 point. Haines misses with his grenades! He then pays the ultimate price for this mistake and goes down under a barrage of 20 mm Flak gun fire. Woodcock gets lucky and only takes 1 damage and retains his last DC from fire from Gun 123 and repeats the same result from fire from Gun 113. Lucky indeed! Smalley gets hit for 2 and loses his last DC before more gun fire from 133 leaves him almost gone.

Demolition Phase: Brett is able to get his charges down, but Woodcock just fails…and Brett’s last bomb is enough to blow up tank 123! (3VP)

Comments: Well that’s just gravy now – another 3VP for the tanks. Can’t get any better now… The Zone 3 teams will be gone in the next turn, but I may just get one more chance on Tanks in 116. But that’s very unlikely as the Flak Guns are lethal.

VP: 67 +3 (Tanks 123) = 70VP
Technically I’ve just won the game without the Campletown!! First time I’ve ever done that.

********************
Turn 13: 2.40am, Activation DRM: +2

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Not that it matters but the 412 lights up Zone 3.

Naval Movement Phase: Again a 4, again no-one goes.

German Activation Phase: Seven units all of which were irrelevant until the last one which is an 8 unit which ends up on top of…Woodcock, the only person who realistically can claim more VP!

Land Movement Phase: Brett moves in to help Woodcock, while the 3 demo teams in Zone 3 try and work their way to the Minesweeper. German move is a 6, but that still enables a little shuffling in Zone 3 and onto Purdon’s remnant in 231.

Land Combat Phase: Purdon is eliminated first, but Bradley gets revenge and knocks off his 6 unit straightaway – way to go! In revenge, Walton is gunned down from a connecting area. Over in Zone 1, the battered remnants of Smalleys’s squad are shot to pieces. Brett does 3 damage to the 8 unit, but this may be enough for Woodcock to lay his charges – Brett only takes 1 damage in return but also loses his last charge. Brett then is eliminated by fire from Gun 113 and Gun 121 finished the business off my eradicating Woodcock. Unlucky!

Demolition Phase: None this turn.

Comments: Really unlucky to pull the 8 unit on top of Woodcock – once that happened, the final part of the attack on the tank farm went down with more of a whimper than a bang. The other demo squads are just jostling to see who goes down first…but there is a chance we can get on to Minesweeper 355.

VP: remains at 70.

********************
Turn 14: 2.46am, Activation DRM: +2

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: 412 on Zone 3.

Naval Movement Phase: Group 3 decides to leave.

German Activation Phase: Only units in Zone 3 to worry about now…8 units arrive overall and we’re now into alarm level 5. A single 6 unit appears in the power station.

Land Movement Phase: Bradley moves on to 355 where he wakes a 6 unit. Wilson moves as a block to 351. German move is another 6! They creep closer to the final two Commando squads.

Land Combat Phase: Wilson misses with connected fire, but Bradley hits and does 4 damage to the crew. Wilson is destroyed by return fire, but Bradley is unscathed.

Demolition Phase: All or nothing…need to find the charge as we’ll be overwhelmed in a turn…but he can’t find it in the dark.

Comments: Almost done now, Wilson is dead and Bradley is about to be.

VP: remains at 70

********************
Turn 15: 2.52am, Activation DRM: +2

Gun/Searchlight Restoration & Searchlight Illumination: Zone 3.

Naval Movement Phase: Group 6 on the withdrawal, but they are already gone.

German Activation Phase: Not that it matters now, but its 5 units, only one of which comes into Zone 3.

Land Movement Phase: No Commando moves. Germans have freedom of movement with a 1.

Land Combat Phase: Bradley is overwhelmed and the Game is over.

VP: 70 + the results of the Campletown = rolls a 1 for 12 VP as the Southern Caisson is obliterated.
TOTAL VP: 82.

Final Game Comments:
Well that was all quite comfortable in the end. A posthumous VC to Wynn and a well-earned one to Roy for when he eventually gets back from Spain, and an MC each to Roderick and Pennington. I have to state that that was probably the most comfortable, one-sided game I’ve ever played of ROSN – getting any one of 1) six boats home 2) sinking multiple ships 3) blowing up every single big ‘VP” target in Zones 2 and 3 4) blowing up oil tanks and 5) getting people to escape to Spain can be challenging – to achieve all five of those events is simply remarkable!
A bit of analysis will identify the key reasons for such a crushing win.

1) Very Light run in. 21 out of 24 possible shots sounds heavy for turn 1, but in detail, the Brits got off really lightly here. Most of the damage on those shots was either on passenger-less boats or was evade results or several KO – the commandos were pretty much undamaged going into Turn 2. Campbeltown was barely scratched on the run in and so it went in at full speed with full complement. Even though I lost some Torpedo capability, I still had the ability to sink the Sperrbrecher which I always like to do as it helps drop the defensive fire coming back. Round 2 was even lighter if possible with only 6 more shots, again with limited impact. The Brits were well ahead of the curve from the get-go and stayed that way.

2) German tactical ineptitude. Yes, I know it’s an AI system, but the Brits couldn’t have wished for a slower German response if they’d tried. Turn after turn resulted in repeatedly small numbers of isolated activated Stosstrupp units that were easily dealt with in detail by the assault teams. Added to that were the consistently high German movement numbers which left stranded key numbers of units all over the map in poor strategic positions. This left the British to swarm pretty much wherever they wanted to in Zones 2 and 3 for the first few turns which helped offset the slightly staggered landing of much of my force. Even later in the game when German numbers and quality started to improve, their maneuver capabilities were hampered by the consistently high movement numbers. Again, they were quickly behind the curve and never really caught up from that point.

3) The Brits had a plan and stuck to it and then were adaptable when they needed to be. Killing off the guns in 336, 342 and 222 are all critical parts to any successful British assault. They can all dominate key British transit areas and so need to be taken off quickly which we were able to achieve – this set up a stable core area from which to operate from. I did make a couple of mistakes, especially with Wynn’s suicide sail into Zone Z and also hesitating in some of the attacks on the Zone 3 Locks and Gates, but the mini attack on Gate 261 was executed flawlessly. Also, I was efficient in keeping all my boats mission focused – get in, dump off the troops, get home and that was key to generating a few more VP.

4) Luck. I cannot deny it, the Brits were lucky in many phases of this game. German die-rolling was typically horrible throughout and in so many key early rolls, the Brits came up with some great combat rolls in particular that just decimated some key German defensive positions. The light results on the first two turns of naval fire are more examples of this as with the consistently high German move numbers. ROSN is a game of a large amount of luck, but you have to roll with it sometimes and it was just generally a good day all around for the Brits. I know that can easily be turned around!

So, almost a perfect game in this replay. And the fun part of Raid on St. Nazaire is I just know the next time I play it, it will be carnage and I’ll be lucky to get to 40VP…just part of the fabulous unpredictability of this excellent classic!
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jumbit
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16 pages, 9200 words. Enjoyable, but next time just tell the story of what happened, we don't need to see every die roll.
 
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Mark Riley
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jumbit wrote:
16 pages, 9200 words. Enjoyable, but next time just tell the story of what happened, we don't need to see every die roll.


Well, he has 5 thumbs and you have none - guess you know where to file your comment
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Magister Ludi
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Awesome write up..thanks for your effort!
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John Brady
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jumbit wrote:
16 pages, 9200 words. Enjoyable, but next time just tell the story of what happened, we don't need to see every die roll.


Dude, really. /facepalm

And to the OP, fantastic job. It's been years since I've played this, and you made me want to dust it off and have at it again. Well done!
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Jon
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Superb session report. Thank you for sharing it with us.
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しんぶん赤旗
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Awesome session report. I loved the detail and will take as many 9000 word epics as you have to throw at us.
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Eoin Corrigan
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Wexford
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Fantastic - thanks for the detailed report.
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Aaron
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Excellent review! If only I could give more thumbs up. Not only was your review interesting and thorough but its a nice extended example of play that will prove useful to those who have never played this game as well as those who have not played it in years and could use a refresher on game play.
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Nick Drinkwater
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Thanks for all the kind words guys - makes the effort worthwhile with your support!
I hope it does help people play through - I tried to include a few rules refs in there, particularly rule 7.5 and what can or cannot be done on the first turn, which is when a lot of the historical flavour of the game needs to mesh with the game mechanics.
I'm sorry if the style doesn't appeal to all - its a hard game to write a brief AAR on with out becoming very generic and losing much of the narrative. The best I can say to those who don't like long AARs (and that is their opinion, right or wrong) is scroll on down - you don't have to read it!

Thanks all,
Nick
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Jon
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In some ways it reminded me of the high quality session reports found in "The General" magazine. Nice detail and running commentary.
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Mattwran
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LONGMEADOW
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This was the first wargame that I learned how to play by sitting down and reading the rules myself. I must've played it a couple dozen times as a teenager. I loved the tense endings when a demolition team was fumbling over the fuse the blow a vital bridge while the Strosstruppen closed in . . .

Thanks for the great report!
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Andrea Fantozzi
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Great report! Very nice reading indeed!
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Bob Harrington
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I like this style of session report. I am rather "wordy" when it comes to AAR's myself.

I have a comment about Turn 1.

Irwin was set on fire in the approach zone so should have been flipped to the reduced speed side. With only 1MF available, he would have been unable to both move into Zone A (1MF) and launch his torpedo (1MF).

I know this is being picky but with so much going on it's easy to overlook and I have been guilty of similar oversights.
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