So, continuing with the ATS module Panther Line, I moved on to the big scenario, number 4: Tigers on the Balcony. This is the crucial encounter between dug in Soviet forces on the dominant ledge, (the ‘Balcony’) assaulted by a mix of German infantry and pioneers (combat engineers) with three self-propelled guns and four Tiger tanks. The sitting defenders can be outflanked, but turn two sees the arrival of a chunky set of Soviet tank and infantry reinforcements.
To put it mildly, there’s a lot to chew on here and it was probably too much for me to handle on my own. My play will not have been optimum, for sure, but it was equally certainly fun and let me continue to enjoy the system at its best. I called it for the Soviets when it was plain the Germans were not going to overcome the loss of a couple of the Tiger tanks.
I then went on to play the much smaller, but equally fun, scenario 9: Pioneer Spirit. German pioneers and infantry have to take positions held by some top quality Soviet defenders.
As printed, the scenario allows the Soviets to hide a couple of squads. Playing solitaire, I came up with some random tables to inject some of the mystery and fog of war to match the missing hidden troops. These worked OK, but I’d love to give this one a try against a live opponent. I suspect that if the Soviet player doesn’t get the best out of his hidden troops, the defense will not endure.
That’s about it for ATS for now. I’ll be going back to it, but other games are screaming for attention.
I have moved away from the desert and am now embroiled in deadly combat on the Eastern Front.
I started with scenario 1, Right Hook, featuring an all infantry encounter with hordes of Soviet troops trying to take a fortified high-ground position held by somewhat second-rate Nazi defenders. This environment was a real contrast to the open terrain of the desert and it took me a couple of turns to get used to the changes. I played this scenario twice and thought it was one of the better ones.
Next, I jumped to scenario 10, Hammer and Anvil. This is an armor fight (though the Soviets have a 57mm anti-tank gun, too) between Tiger tanks and a motley selection of Soviet armor. This scenario brilliantly showcases the impulse system that ATS uses and is a real nail biter. (Instead of “I go, you go”, each side takes turns to move or fire one unit or platoon at a time. Deciding what to move or fore and when adds real tension and excitement to the gameplay.) Another good scenario.
Now I am playing scenario 6, A Nasty Surprise. This one has a rag-tag bunch of Nazi infantry, backed up by a couple of Tigers, tussling with a sizeable Soviet infantry force stiffened by half a dozen anti-tank guns. It’s too early to comment on the quality of the scenario, but it does look challenging.
Overall, ATS is giving me a good solitaire friendly gaming experience. There’s no doubt the game lacks the depth of ASL – what some would call the crippling detail of that system – but the payoff is in speed of play. I hope to keep playing both systems for many years to come.