Patrol. Things were going fairly well with a disciplined attack on the 1st objective when hordes of boche with a big gun turned up to the rear. I went back and sorted this lot out to avoid disastrous losses but the original patrol plan went down the tubes. In a 2nd game the patrol had been built up to strength and met a boche patrol coming the other way. Our boys saw them first and by a stroke of lucky map rolling and positioning had then well stuffed before they got sorted out. To ice the cake a couple of B26s turned up at the end of the show and flattened the remaining enemy. If I had not needed to record the casualties of my company this game would have been abandoned as an easy win.
Meeting of patrols. I messed up the Jerry automatic activation rules. So they all stumbled into each other became overstacked and got wiped. Treat this as a learning experience..
My SASL Russians have been out of the box again trying to stem the Nazi hordes. I needed to brush up on vehicles for a planned ftf game so gave Convoy Escort a go. This is not in the SAASL module but 1 of the extra missions from the Group SASL page (see ZOCO links). The game played out to a nice storyline although it stretched to over 30 turns (6+ hours) more than your average game. We lost having failed to get the convoy through in time although up to about 6 turns from the end I was confident of an easy victory. A big setback was a blast of Jerry 150mm OBA in the early game that sent several of our brave boys into the permanent dead pile. We had enough partisan help to cope with the enemy but when it came to the end of scenario refit the boys were down on numbers. Usually you can draft in replacements but I have come to the end of 1941 and Russian company size has shrunk to below my current strength. Presumably the whole army was feeling the pinch at this time. It will be a hard slog through to mid '42 when the company size goes back up. The next scenarios will be a lot harder with around 1/3 less men on the ground. I may have to go up against the Italians to improve morale.
The plot is of course all dice driven but worked out well enough to be worth a few words. We had to get the supply wagons along the length of 3 mapboards. S? counters lurked in the obvious places with an alarming number on the centre village mapboard. The simple plan was to move ahead until Jerry opened up; flush him out and then move on to the next stoppage. The 1st half map was heavy going; this is where the OBA minced my close packed men. Later I got some OBA of my own and believe that I have just about worked out the regular OBA rules. Also a couple of friendly SPGs turned up that I sent ahead to flush out S?s and blast then if they activated. Both of these malfunctioned their main (and only) guns half way through the 2nd board and then both broke their MAs and were recalled. There will be questions asked back at the tractor works. A line of wire turned up slap-bang across the 2nd board and as we went in to clear the road we found a minefield as well. These were 2 separate events but they could not have been planned to work better together. I had expected the 3rd board to be a breeze as there were few S?s to start and partisans appeared from that edge to help clear it out. They were held up by a Jerry mortar group and then a dug in Pz III appeared in their rear. I could argue that as the partisans had moved over this hex they should have spotted it but then again they had not yet joined up with my main force so might have spotted it but not yet reported the fact. With only the Pz cupola and mortar group between the boys and our destination time ran out. I would have needed quite a few more turns to deploy MGs to take out the mortar and site my spotter to hammer that cupola into the dust. Rushing the supply trucks past the pair of these would have been too risky. So the dice gave me a good game and thanks to the Group SASL people for the scenario.
I rolled a random campaign and got the simplest; Meeting Engagement. Well fancying an easy time I gave it a go. Map 18 is pretty sparse and I cleared the 2 enemy VP hexes with no losses. Then map 2 turned up with umpteen S?s. I can handle that but wait 4 enemy tanks have shown up and I am getting worried. 2 were Pz IVs with good guns but rubbish armour. I actually took one out with the ATR and immobilised the other. The stopped PZ IV is still hosing the boys down pretty thoroughly. 2 Pz IIIs are on the horizon. These have weaker guns but more serious armour. All I have are the ATRs and MGs so unless friendly armour turns up it could be time to look for the discretion part of valour. Partisan squads are also useful in that they can pile into melee from the rear. The results are pretty predictable but they did it for Mother Russia. Naturally I have no partisans in this game. It is some help that we are in Dec 1941, snowing heavily and we have Winter cammo (unlike Jerry). This gives hindrance at longer ranges making the S?s harder to activate. The HE shells from the tanks also have less effect in the open; although at the ranges they are going to be at they hit almost every time and then turn on the MGs for good luck. Enemy armour does not work too well with the random rules and now then Jerry knows where I am I will be fudging the rules a little to allow for sensible enemy AFV movement. There is a wide open friendly VP that a Pz III could get to and come around my rear into the bargain. Things are looking bad plus this simple game has had me checking out the AFV and Winter rules; something I had not planned for. I can't remember an SASL game without having to look up new or forgotten rules. It seems that LMGs are as good (or bad) against AFVs as HMGs although the big 12.7mm jobs do get a bonus. I hope that I am right here. The penalties for movement in snow also seem light. I assume that really heavy snow would shut down the battle and we are talking about the light fluffy stuff here. I went back tom this game over another couple of session ands was thoroughly toasted. My plan had been to hold what I had, try to take out Jerry tanks from the rear and hope for some sort of support. I thought that my boat had come in when 3 T35s turned up, big mothers with three guns. Their armour is criminally thin though and only 2 of the guns will be turned in the right direction at the same time. I planned to line them up and shell Jerry from long range but one brewed up as soon as it got onto the board and the others failed to penetrate before they too turned into scrap. Instead of being the cunning plan to turn the tables on Jerry these tanks gave the enemy even more VPs. The infantry did no better, I could hit and even criticaled with an ATR but failed to penetrate. I lost 2 tank hunter teams based around an ATR and HMG and was unable to hold onto their weaponry for the next game so am now even weaker than at the beginning of this one. The Russian company size goes up again in late '42 but until then it is going to be a long hard slog. My victory points stand at 0 and are unlikely to be going up much in the near future.SASL January '42
Escape had the boys running back to their own lines through the snow. The S?s appear on both sides of the board and run perpendicular to our progress. I had a problem here as S?s usually head towards friendlies and the rosette for advance pahse movement has S?s moving on a 3 or 4 only. Should this be a 1-3 one way and 4-6 the other? The scenario specific rules removed some random events that had S?s appearing from head on into our boys but I rolled the one that was left so had S?s to both sides and in front. We got to the edge of the 1st of 3 boards before we were caught and fought out way across the 2nd. Luckily that board was mostly forest and the poor LOS gave the boys a break. The last board was the one with the airport, about as open as they come and those S?s were activating into some nasty stacks. I tried to break through the least worst bit but timed out. Given the odds in front I would have hidden in the woods if there was more time. So we lost again but had some consolation with a decent replacement roll so the boys are stronger than they started. I noticed that in Escape S?s will pass from side to side but activated units will have their own patterns. This can mean that it may be worthwhile to wait a turn for S?s to pass and reduce the density in front or at least allow them to be activated in places that are more useful to the friendlies. We could think of this as lying in the bushes and waiting for the patrol to pass.
February 1942The boys are taking part in the Soviet Winter offensive and have drawn the fortress. The sheer number of S?s on the city board and the fortification of the victory building did not look good. The company was understrength to start with so to win this game was going to require a lot of luck. Luckily the random events turned up with a clutch of Russian events and no German. This gave the lads a deserved break and for the fist time in months they won a scenario. The fortress gives the friendly side an extra 3 engineer squads that I had been planning to use to blaze a way in under cover of smoke. They all got popped, the last going berserk and making it to the walls before heading back to the counter tray. The only use of this group apart from drawing fire was to leave a flamethrower that I later picked up and got a shot off with. The RE provided 7 more 4-4-7s with no leader that I used to rush forward and draw fire, clearly they were from the penal battalion. My big break was a module of 150 mm OBA and later a couple of SU 122s. This provided the obvious tactic of blasting holes in the fortress. Thanks to some criticals I did manage to rubble 3 of the hexes and although I am not clear on ASL rules details I thought it OK to enter fortifications through a rubbled hex. The OBA was not all it could be due to poor quality Soviet radios leading to limited battery access. I even managed to shell one of my own squads as battery access was lost during FFE, miraculously the squad was unharmed. Later 3 AAA mounted tracked things appeared. These have an IFE of 16 so I hosed down the defenders good and proper. These vehicles are unarmoured so I lost a couple to infantry fire but as this is the Soviet army there was no one to weep for them.. In the end only a ½ squad was permanently lost although I suffered a little from ELR failure. Most of my casualties were double break or suffered by the support squads and occurred as the boys gradually moved close to the fortress. At that stage I had no guarantee that any support would turn up so the boys moved forward and hoped for the best. They have had a poor run in recent games so deserve a break once in while and finally got one. I have to admit that I forgot Sniper checks throughout the game as the Russian SLR was 2 and it is just hard to remember 1 more consequence of the dice rolls. There were probably many other mistakes but these would apply equally to both sides. No obscure rules were turned up for a change although I have not used OBA for a while. The only problem in this game was telling the support squads from the home team. I tried to turn them sideways but the counters started to get mixed, ELR replacements and broken units do not help. I do happen to have 2 sets of Beyond Valour but naturally all the same units are the same colour so no help there.