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Piero
Italy
Florence
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Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
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I played this game a week ago with:

Mo Caraher
Canada
Thunder Bay
Ontario
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Since it was the first we played together, we wanted something relatively small. We chose the Pavlov's House scenario, a classic for any tactical wargame based in Stalingrad, I believe there's also a Combat Mission scenario for this one. Mo took the Soviets, I went for the Germans. We played live, over Vassal, here I reconstructed the action, but in some spots my memory's hazy, so there may be some conspicuous imprecisions, bear with me.

The Germans need to capture the whole south building (the one with all the Soviets in it) and at least a hex of the northern one. The Soviets are fanatic, till the Commissar is within the building, and they have a good leader. They are supported by an AT gun, two heavy mortars and a lethal Soviet MMG. Their weakness is that they have a relatively small force, which fortunately is compensated by being in masonry buildings.

The Germans have "6" morale infantry, which under other circumstances I'd call "rabble", and it represents good units which didn't have much of a motivation to make the assault to begin with. They are supported by some good leaders, some LMG and a Mg42, there are also two PzIVf2, which normally would give me much of an edge, problem is they are too close - thus vulnerable to the AT gun which can kill them no problem - and they have limited movement, since they can easily get bogged down in the war torn streets of Stalingrad. The Germans have to achieve their victory conditions in 5 turns, thus I have no time to spare, and no quarter to give. If I fail a single turn and I fall back schedule, the game's over for me.



Here is the Set-up. I think Mo didn't do an optimal setup: the AT gun on the flank isn't going to achieve much, also the Soviets are too strong in the centre of the main building, leaving their southern flank powerful, but not as much as it could have been. I chose to deploy most of my infantry down south. I needed to concentrate on flanking the whole position while interdicting access to the main building by placing my MMG in D3, thus I can control G12 and H11 which are pathways to reinforce the main building. The tanks I needed to protect mostly from the mortars, which can - again - easily kill them, so were placed out of sight and harm, but still ready to blind the enemy with smoke.



First turn I crawled with my units one hex forward, while the tanks moved forward and laid smoke, I finally infiltrated the buildings at the end of the turn. There is little that Mo could have done this turn, but the next would be interesting...



Second turn I was able to do some preparatory fire and some damage: the Soviets were all fanatics, thus immune to morale checks, but they can and will be worn down by a constant pressure. I love this of ATS, since it is attritional, you need to reinforce your strongholds, or they'll simply "melt away" after a while. Problem for me was that I didn't have time to soften the enemy all that much, I had to go on the assault right away. Mo knew that and waited for my units to cross the blasted streets, where I would be more vulnerable. I laid two infantry canisters of smoke, unfortunately I had only three for all the scenario, if only I had one more...
The infantry advanced to contact in the smoke, the OP fire of the Soviets achieved little, Mo had bad dice, and he didn't realize that I could have moved my last infantry in the open while he decided to shoot the ones in the smoke. Too bad, I advanced to contact. This mistake will cost him dearly, while I had no significant losses.
This is the situation before the assault.



The infantry entered the building making short work of the Soviets barricaded inside (with the help of hot, hot dice!). At this point I was totally stunned: I had had no significant losses, while the Soviets were basically reduced to 1/3 of their forces. It was definitely looking good for me, if I were Mo, I would have probably conceded by now. Very tenaciously, he decided to stay and fight, yet, at the same time, being very gracious about the ton of misfortune that had fallen on his forces (and his dice).



I decided that Turn 3, would be used to kill the mortars, and preparing for the assault the next turn. Turn 5, the last one, would be used to mop up any resistance in the building and consolidate my position. As things turned out, this plan could have easily been my undoing. Once my mind is set, I don't question my previous thoughts. I should have done planning one turn ahead, not two, since it is flexibility which in a tactical situation is required. I find flexibility of thought, rapid reaction in front of unexpected results, still today after more than 20 years of wargaming, the hardest skill to master. But I think that I was lured in a false sense of security, since "the battle was already over". Oh the hubris!

As expected the mortar crews were mowed down by concentrated Mg and rifle fire. One crew fired a couple of shots and nearly managed to rubble the building on top of my attackers. Damn Stalingrad! During the infiltration I moved to position, also relocating my MMG to E12, where I could lay constant fire on the last building. The stage was set for the impending assault...



Turn 4, Disaster struck! I laid my last infantry canister in G12. Since I had smoke in F12 which persisted from the turn before, I couldn't use my tanks to fire in H11.
I fired E12 to G11 all that I got and achieved little. Also the assault fire from G13 didn't do much. This should have signalled me to stop and think. Should I go on with the assault, or wait an other turn so to soften the last opposition? I thought about it for a slight moment, but my mind was already set from one turn ago. I had to do the assault now.

Thus I gave the order. I moved my infantry in the smoke, hoping to draw fire. They did, but little was achieved by the Soviets if not by breaking one full squad. Then I asked Mo if he would have liked to fire the second fire of his MMG. But he didn't fall for this trick twice (damn Soviets learn fast!), so he kept it waiting for my likely assault on H11. Reluctantly, I moved my infantry forward, and when it got to the final shellholes it was hailed by murderous spray from the MMG! The leader surrendered followed by one squad. That was bad, but not all that bad. Then the Soviet half squad with a LMG moved into assault and with a flimsy 2 column fire, managed to produce a further loss. The resulting morale check was disastrous for me, and all the stack surrendered! Damn deserters, I'll have you court marshalled!

Now things were looking bad. I mustered my two squads and entered the building for a 1-1 close combat. Further disaster! I didn't take it, I lost all my men, not inflicting a single casualty, AND giving the Soviets a praised LMG. In my desperation I did a further mistake: I infiltrated my MMG units forward, hoping that more squads could reduce the morale of the defenders. But that was folly, since now they found themselves in the open, with no cover. Wow, I thought, things have totally turned around, they're pear shaped for me!




I was concerned that the Soviet half squad could infiltrate my surrenderd units, thus killing them all, so I moved my tank through the smoke, and managed to get it where my infantry could at least get heart from it. They thus could rally at the end of the turn.
It was an useless move - I then realized - since my units were only going to go from Surrendered to Broken, if they made their morale check. Yet I achieved something a little more important: I avoided a move from the Soviet half squad, that could have, in the last turn, entered the main building, thus making it impossible for me to achieve my victory conditions.

My second tank moved in the smoke and was hit in the frontal turret by the AT gun, killing instantly the tank commander. Dead. (I left the tank and fire token on board only for decorative purposes).


Last turn would be decisive! I frankly had no hope of victory and was really waiting to get finished. Yet again this thought was treasonous: never give up!
Mo got the initiative and proceeded to mow down my infantry in the open. Roll... "0", the worst result possible! Wow!
He went on with the rest of his MMG, "8", one casualty, I passed the moral checks! I was suddenly back in the game!

I shot with all my might, and with a horrifying C4 (4 casualties and -4 morale) all of Mo's Soviets surrendered. He moved his half squads to reinforce, and they were mowed down by a second spray from my Mg42. They also surrendered.

Now, truly, all was lost for the Soviets. Mo, again a very good sport besides his evident misfortune, and graciously conceded. I was instead, very ungraciously, dancing La Macarena on the table.

What a GREAT GAME!

Thanks for reading!
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Mo Caraher
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Thunder Bay
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It's all true!
Except the 'gracious' part. Not documented here is a thrown bottle and a hole punched through a door.
No, my set up was not optimal. I don't usually defend well; ask any of my opponents or hockey coaches from my youth.
And a couple of mistakes were made, the worst of which was reinforcing the surrendered stack in my final Infil move; there were at least two other things I could have tried there that would have been less risky.

It was a great game, nonetheless. It's remarkable how often ATS matches come down to the last few impulses.

Thanks, Piero!
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Jim P.
United States
Champaign
Illinois
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"A Truth thats told with bad intent Beats all the Lies you can invent It is right it should be so Man was made for Joy & Woe And when this we rightly know Thro the World we safely go Joy & Woe are woven fine A Clothing for the soul divine ."
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Thanks for the AAR - both of you! This game just arrived in my mail slot less than a month ago. I am hoping to get a play in this weekend after Saturday's planned Panzer marathon.
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Piero
Italy
Florence
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Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
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What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
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InvisibleRobots wrote:
Thanks for the AAR - both of you! This game just arrived in my mail slot less than a month ago. I am hoping to get a play in this weekend after Saturday's planned Panzer marathon.


Beautiful! So you can compare between Panzer and ATS (only for their fun factor, being very different games!)
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Keith Plymale
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Huddleston
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Thank you for the great report, one question if I may. Which edition of the rules were you playing with? Thanks.
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Mo Caraher
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Piero will correct me if I'm misremembering but I believe it was 3.08, whatever the last readily available .pdf version was.

Edit: We used 'full' ATS rules, that is, not the rules included with Basic Game 2.
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Piero
Italy
Florence
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Life and death come and go like marionettes dancing on a table. Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble.
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What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.
Avatar
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moly19 wrote:
Piero will correct me if I'm misremembering but I believe it was 3.08, whatever the last readily available .pdf version was.

Edit: We used 'full' ATS rules, that is, not the rules included with Basic Game 2.


Yes, Mo is correct. We used the last edition before the 4th which I think is coming out, if it hasn't already.
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