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Subject: Scenario 1: Spearheads of Steel rss

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Tuomas Takala
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This is a photographic session report of scenario 1.

I played NATO. This game was totally different from all the others I've had. The Soviet player made some impressive rolls with the dice, right from the start. Of course, this victory was not just due to the dice, but the speed in which I was destroyed, must be attributed to luck in some degree. Usually this game (Scenario 1) is decided on the last day, not at the end of the second.

OK, watch and see...




Here is the starting setup. I did what I usually do:

Americans:

1) Station forces at the bridge south of the mountains (I8-I9), because it is the easiest way to a breakthrough.

2) Put some armor and supporting infantry in outlying positions in the crossroads at I15. The problem is that the forest hex cannot be occupied, but I hoped I could drive the infantry there in my first impulse. (No luck there.)

The Germans:

1) Armor and infantry form a wall at and around Eben. Usually this works just fine in slowing down the Soviet advance.

2) The rest in the reserve, ready to pounce or just wait.

My assets were as follows: Gunships for Day 1, Territorials for Day 2. I would have liked to have the Airstrikes, but obviously the Soviet Air Force managed to bomb all the essential military airfields in Germany on the night before the war.



Day 1 is over, and the catastrophe has already happened. I have never seen the Germans at Eben disappear so quickly. In ONE DAY!

My gunships were not much of use, being jammed by the Soviets, and obviously the weather in the German lowlands was appalling too. Damn early spring offensives!

As you can see, the Soviet 1st Division is already at the gates of Hagenstadt. A lone German recon unit is in the woods, but not for long. There is still hope, if Hagenstadt can be held, and the forces there are quite strong.

In the south, my advanced positions were overrun, but Soviets are still held at check, because the Soviet player diverted some of his units from the 47th Division to the north (actually, in a funny detail, they spearheaded the advance there; obviously there was a serious competition among the Divisional commanders for the glory of capturing the Air Force Base.)

I still have strong American reserves, but seeing that the German positions in the north are more threatened, and the upcoming German territorials are not that strong, I move my reinforcement American 3rd brigade towards the north (not in the picture).



End of Day 2. The Germans in Hagenstadt held on, but not long enough. The Soviets pushed through, and surrounded the armor in the Stahhammar AFB. Soviet paras dropped behind the lines at Falkenborn, and were later that day attacked by German territorials.

American 3rd Brigade arrived in the north to help out the Germans. The armor drove towards the Soviets, and the infantry dug in at the crucial crossroads (N3) near the breakthrough points. I had my gunships for one impulse (having activated them on Imp2/Day1), and they blasted three steps away from the Soviet spearhed. One of the few highlights of the day!

In the south, Eisenbach is surrounded. Again, American armor melted away too quickly, and the small victories I gained were not nearly enough to held the Soviet stream of steel in check. Still, I had some hope of containing the breakthrough, and maybe later breaking the line of communication to Eisenbach (its fall was only a matter of time), but my reserves were spent. Much depended on the assets for the next two days. Where is the 13th Armored Cavalry Regiment?



Here's a detail from the north at the end of Day 2. The Soviets have managed to cause severe attrition among the Germans without suffering too much themselves. The chemical warfare asset helped them enormously on one impulse, sparing them from 4-5 defensive fire reductions.



Detail from the South at the end of Day 2. I had great hopes for a counterattack with the intact American armor in the foreground. The next day destroyed this hope, as it did many others.



The end of Day 3. Also, the end of the game. My assets were: Gunships and Airstrikes for Day 3, trying to cause some significant damage to possibly reduce the Soviet breakthrough points. In the end, they caused some reductions, but not enough. The Soviets gunships managed to maul my remaining intact armor with it.

The only problem the Soviets had, was slow movement and traffic jams at the bridge (N5-N6), which could have been critical in some other game, but I had no way to really exploit that today.

There were few victories for me on this day, but there was one German territorial unit, which held against several Soviet attacks for two impulses, striking back with three defensive fire reductions for the Reds. Must've been some WW2 veterans, defending their Vaterland again...

Also, there was a heroic Soviet recon unit, which attacked my infantry (still at strenght 2) on the crossroads (N3), and caused TWO HITS. They must've been some elite Spetsnaz troopers. And, with that, The Soviets were almost through, only my last German infantry unit at Tannehausen standing in the way. And, with the tradition of this game, they didn't stand long.

The breakthrough in the north during the third night was massive, about 16 strength steps (not that it matters), and there were also some units that broke through in the south (not in the picture). The Soviet player made sure that the elements from the 47th Division, which were diverted from the south (the north being the main axis of the Sov 1st Division), led the breakthrough, certainly causing consternation among the commanders of the 1st.

Usually the 33rd Division, which arrives during the third day, is very much welcome to the Soviet player, but in this game they were not needed at all. There they are, strolling along the road, totally intact and carefree. Ready to occupy some German soil!

So, we ended that game at the end of the third day, because there was no realistic way I could gain back both the AFB and break the line of communication from Eisenbach (I had one reduced unit with strenght 1, and Airstrikes asset for the last day).

The game was great, even though I did take the hardest beating I've ever had in this game. The dice rolls for the Soviet player were incredible, as I said earlier, but it was all great fun. Also, I must mention he had many botched orders, but at such moments when they didn't matter much.

My opening setup didn't work at all this time. It has worked, but not today. Still, I believe in it, because it usually causes enough attrition and slowing down among the Soviet units to be worthwhile. Of course, against such dice rolls as today, what power could have been sufficient?

It is a good sign if the game is very much fun and enjoyable even if you lose this bad. Of course, there is no setting like Cold War conflict between the Soviet Union and NATO, and this game captures the pace and feeling of what it could've been like perfectly!
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Mark
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Nice AAR!

I usually center the German first defensive line on Eban. If you line up forward of there, they are so close to the edge of he board the Soviets can get "extra" overruns when they enter the board. Those WG Panzer battalions are monsters. Typically, they dish out more than they take. I've seen them fold up early only once, and even then fell back gracefully. Having the WG's collapse so early and so completely is truly bad luck. In general, I consider this scenario biased towards NATO. Not like in your game. Yikes!

Lucky die rolls are huge in this game. The way it is structured, the Soviets make a bunch of attacks, needing a few low probability die rolls to make headway. So, they have to be somewhat lucky to begin with. NATO needs fewer, higher probability die rolls. NATO operates at the heart of the bell curve, the Soviets on the fringes. Having said that, if the Soviets get very lucky, NATO could be in trouble. And, the earlier the Soviets get lucky, the tougher for NATO.

The Soviets kinda don't have the troops or the time to simultaneous push both the WG's and the Americans. Unless one collapses. Then it's "Katie/Katrina bar the door!"

I like DEL, it's slick and smooth. It plays really well solitaire because of the wristage, and the juggling act it (usually) takes to press an advance, or stem one. I do think it's a bit too abstract to be totally immersive. At times it doesn't feel like corps in action. Somehow, Totensongtag captures that corps feel a bit better. Possibly because in that game both sides have to balance good and bad units, attacks for both side have to be well planned or attrition stalls an advance, so neither can attack repeatedly like the Soviets must do, and the overall situation is more fluid. DEL, by birthright is Soviets attack/NATO defends. Still DEL plays well.

I have the Line of Fire #10 expansion and I like it. In a perfect world, there would be more Corps Command games/expansions.
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