The Fields of Black Gold

Over the Pesach break, Ran and I played The Fields of Black Gold, an ASL scenario set in September 1942, with the Germans attacking the Russian town of Sagopshin.

Ran’s German attackers included a dozen SS squads, three infantry leaders, two MMGs, three LMGs, five tanks, and an armor leader.

My Russians started off with eleven and a half squads, two leaders, one MMG, one mortar, two LMGs, two 76L guns, a truck to tow the guns, and seven trenches. I had turn three reinforcements of a couple of squads, an LMG, a decent leader, and six tanks.

The terrain is dominated by hilly ground in the east, and that is where I made my main line of defense. The Germans have to control all the high ground, and one of the minor hills, to get the victory.

To put it shortly, I made far too many mistakes in my setup, and Ran steadily, and inexorably, advanced and wiped me out. His tank and infantry coordination looked perfect to me, and even the temporary malfunction of one tank gun did not impede his progress.

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The German combined arms assault force is about to steamroller over the Russian defenders, barely pausing for breath. Who cares about a malfunctioning tank gun?

My sniper was my most potent unit, and for ASL players that’s as sure an indication as any that things were badly handled by me.

For example:

  • I put my one hidden anti-tank gun in such a clever location, that it did not get a single shot off.
  • I put my other anti-tank gun in a place that was too far out of the action – though at least it kept the German tanks away from it – and it also did not fire a single shot.
  • My MMG was not in a dominating enough position, and was easily picked off by long distance tank fire.

To compound these setup mistakes, I didn’t deal well with the half squad swarm that Ran sent forward to flush out my entrenched defenders. That having been said, I suspect that the flawed setup was more than enough to doom the defense. It probably wasn’t possible to recover from that.

It was a rout, and I conceded well before the end.

On the plus side, I learned a lot. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight (and help from Ran) I can understand my mistakes, and see lots of way to improve the defense and offer up a better challenge. It highlights – again – how demanding the game is, and how much I have still to learn. It’s a process. A slow, painful one at times, but mixed with the incredibly intense sensation of being immersed in this wonderful, complex, enthralling game system. I love it. I just wish I was getting better at playing it, faster. Well done to Ran, for the win, and for gently showing how the game should be played.

Ah well; there’s always next time.