And here come the enemy!

And here come the enemy!

This is an Advanced Squad leader Starter kit (ASLSK) scenario set in France, in November 1944. It features an attack by part of the German SS Grenadier Division (actually conscripted Russians, in the main) on the area of the Allied line held by elements of the Free French 1st Infantry Division and supporting tanks. In ASLSK terms, the German player has to attack longways down board s, and wins by, at the end of the game,  projecting sufficient firepower on a road line. The Free French have to prevent this happening.

I was the defending French. Ran played the part of the attacking Germans.

Although this was my first FTF ASLSK experience, I had done enough reading about the game to have some understanding of key challenges.

For example, I had a 57mm anti-tank gun at the start; it uses hidden placement – meaning I secretly chose a hex and write it down, but the unit is not on the board. So,  Ran had to guess where it was or flush it out. My reading suggested the attacker in this type of scenario would lead with his infantry to try and stumble across (or rather, crush!) the gun before it could cause any damage. That meant I spent some time trying to pick a setup location that was not obvious, and still gave me a chance of a kill shot.

As another example, I understood that the attacker does not want to stack his forces, because of the lethality of defensive fire. What I failed to understand, until seeing Ran’s forces in action, was that there’s no need to disperse until ‘up close and personal,’ so the Germans came into contact much quicker than I expected. They did this by stacking with leaders and getting the leader movement bonus.

As a final example, while I had looked at the situations of tanks firing in the respective fire phases – whether moving or not – and tried to appreciate the value of panzerfausts, the dry theory could not compare to the real action (as it were). In consequence, I got my tank tactics wrong and was too aggressive with mine. (I had 3 Shermans with a 76mm gunm, and one with a 105mm howitzer. I was up against two Jagdpanzer V.)  I lost all of the tanks, some to that bloody panzerfaust capability, and some to the Jagdpanzers. Ran did say to me – afterwards! – that it’s generally good practice to keep your tanks well away from German infantry with panzerfausts.

In the six turns available, Ran’s forces made steady but slow progress for the first four. Even though my tank force was no more, I was doing OK, as I had delayed his progress. But he broke through in turn five, and I could not stem the tide.

Highlights included:

  • My anti-tank gun killing a Jagdpanzer.
  • Ran’s infantry retaliating by entering close combat with, and destroying the gun crew.
  • Ran’s remaining Jagdpanzer suffering from a malfunctioning main gun.
  • Ran’s malfunctioning main gun turning into a broken main gun, meaning the tank was recalled. (Hooray!)
  • Me losing all four of my tanks to enemy action.
  • Some bloody close combats where Ran’s forces quite simply outperformed mine.

Bottom line: an intense and enjoyable gaming experience. I cannot wait for the next time.