Learning more of what not to do

Continuing my ASL tuition, this week at the inaugural session of the newly formed Israel ASL Club, Daniel and I squared off to play scenario WO3 – Counterattack at Carentan. This is a 1944 Normandy encounter featuring a counterattack by German SS forces towards Carentan, running into a defensive line held by US airborne troops. I was the Germans and Daniel was the US.

At start, and just about ready to go.

At start, and just about ready to go. The German vehicles are just out of sight, but must (and did) enter on the road at the bottom map edge.

For the US, the challenge is to form and maintain a defensive line with a small force – 5 squads, 2 half squads, 2 leaders, 2 bazookas, a MMG, and a 57mm anti-tank gun – against the bigger and potential much more deadly German force of 3 StuGs, 1 Marder, 9 squads, 3 leaders, 3 LMGs and a demolition charge. My challenge as the Germans, was to bring that force to bear and break through. To win, I had to exit off the far side of the map 15 VP of units without losing 19 or more VP of units.

The scenario features bocage terrain, and is very restrictive for the tanks. Essentially, the tanks have to charge down the road into the face of the enemy, or try and smash their way around a flank, hoping to avoid getting stuck in the terrain.

My plan was to use the tanks as a fire platform, get the defenders to keep their heads down, and advance with the infantry. It failed miserably.

First, the tank gunners could not hit a barn door. They were woeful.

Second, to add insult to injury, one of the tank main guns broke down.

Third, I was now badly behind schedule and forced to advance with the infantry. I managed to set up a decent attack against what turned out to be a bloody half squad. (In this scenario, I learned all about the advantages of deployment into half squads.) Not only did the damn thing survive, bit it went fanatic and sprouted a hero. Fortunately, justice was done when my sniper popped up and slew the hero.

I now put into action Plan B.

I split the tanks into two group of two. Two went west and drove for a flank to get through where there was little defense, just terrain. And two went charging down the road to see if they could just speed through.

The charge down the road was stopped dead. A bazooka took out the first tank. The previously hidden anti-tank gun popped up to destroy the second tank.

The charge down the flank was more successful. I managed to get one vehicle off the map, but the other was destroyed. Even had that casualty survived, my infantry advance was so delayed – and running into Daniel’s fall back MG position – that I did not have enough time to exit. So, Daniel was the winner.

The red arrows show the two lines of the vehicle charges. One down the road and one to the flank.

The red arrows show the two lines of the vehicle charges. One down the road and one to the flank. Note how much terrain the MG can cover in the fall back position.

I should have been more aggressive at the beginning. I should have counted the stacks and noted that some of the defenders were just half squads. I should have advanced the tanks with the infantry – giving some cover – and closed with the enemy much sooner. I perhaps should have deployed some of my own squads into half squads, for some extra flexibility.

Daniel said he thought any flank attack was bound to fail because it was too easy for his anti-tank gun and MG (in its fall back position) to cover the opening ground. That sounds right, unless at the same time there is a better attack down the road that means it is not so easy for the MG to decide where it needs to be.

The anti-tank gun is a real handful for these particular German tanks with less than impressive armor protection. Presumably, to counter that the German needs to have some supporting infantry that has successfully broken through, ready to drive off the gun crew.

The dreaded anti-tank gun, no longer hidden but still concealed.

The dreaded anti-tank gun, no longer hidden but still concealed.

Once again, this was an intense and enjoyable experience. Once again I have to thank my opponent for being patient. We did not have any real rule issues, but Daniel did spend some time explaining stuff to me, for which I was and am grateful. Once again, the aftermath is that I cannot wait for the next ASL session.

Finally, thanks to Josh for hosting.