Sunday, November 15, 2009

ASL: Back to the Barricades! (Pt. II)

Note to readers: This post won't make a lick of sense to anyone who isn't familiar with the Advanced Squad Leader game system. 

Interested ASL players take note!  Dave Hauth, and I are are engaged in another big battle over the Barricades.  We have come to mutual agreement to each maintain a "blog correspondence" wherein we individually publish our thoughts on our game with the agreement that neither will read his competitor's posts until our campaign game is complete. So, I present to those interested ASL players out there my half of said correspondence.

You can read Dave's half of the correspondence here.  You can read my previous entry here.

Aftermath of Day 1:  October 17, German victory
The Black Chit of Disaster

Two words:  heavy artillery.  I got four fire missions from my 150mm artillery module and it blew a wide hole in the Russian line.

The battle shaped up much as I had anticipated.  Dave had anchored the Russian right with fortifications and a rifle company.  But I was surprised not to see dug-in tanks.  Nonetheless, my heavy artillery pre-registered hex of  X2 was optimally place.  After my set up, my observers dropped smoke on U6 and the god-awful hammer of death, the 150mm artillery came smashing down on the Russian right flank.

End of German Turn 1 Prep Fire Phase
 As the artillery fell, the Sturm company advanced under concealment on to hex rows Q through U.

Meanwhile, my rifle company entered, with the Panzers, on hex rows  L through O.  The tanks advanced several hexes, employing smoke dispensers as they went, then turned east to support the Sturm company on the German left.  The first line Germans advanced under concealment through the debris field.

There was an intimidating stack of Russian counters (they turned out to be dummy counters; that wily Dave!) in the upper level of hex K10 that kept me from advancing quite as broadly as I would have liked, but it turned out alright.  I didn't take any fire to speak of on Turn 1, although Dave did bring down a spotting round right in the middle of my advancing Sturm company.  That had me worried.

But the heavy artillery quickly dispelled any real concerns I had by smashing open the Russian right.  My Sturm company was able to advance away from his artillery, which succeeded only in immobilizing one Panzer.

Podpolkovnik Dave Hauth
Dave responded to my artillery barrage by advancing his rifle squads into the cellar of building Z1, but the artillery rubbled hex Z1 and buried a squad.  Dave tried to extricate his 9-1 leader from the area by pulling him back with a squad to the foxhole in Y6.  The problem, it turns out, was that my observer could see the foxhole, too.  And so, the heavy artillery followed that poor brave comrade.  As the game progressed, the artillery destroyed an entire rifle company, and considerable fortifications.

Dave did have his anti-tank guns in the area.  One was in Z9 and the other in U9.  I learned this when he opened fire on my Panzers.  But he killed only one.  The other two were immobilized.  I was able to destroy one of the guns and both crews, but Dave retained the gun in U9.

Meanwhile, on the German left, my infantry walked into building W5 just as the smoke from the mortar cleared.  Dave had abandoned it and set up a secondary line of defense in the P6 factory.  My reinforcing rifle company came in on hex rows D through I and took up positions along the northern rail line to try to interdict Russians that were moving east.

Oberstleutnant Dade Cariaga
At this point, I had attained all my tactical goals for the game.  But the temptation was to push on and grab more while the Russian was reeling.  For the most part, I resisted.  I've learned well the bitter lesson of being too hasty in Red Barricades.  But I did take two risks.  One paid off.  The other did not.

The good risk was my decision to push my advance on the river.  By turn 3 it was apparent that Dave had nothing left over there.  Especially after the heavy artillery, in its final fire mission (I had a total of 4 fire missions from it), rubbled X9, where the last of Dave's forces in the area, a 9-0 commissar and 2 squads, were hunkered in the cellar awaiting my assault.  Poor Comrade Trigger-happy and his men were buried under the weight of a collapsed building.  I pushed into the Chemist's Shop and even grabbed buildings in the BB and CC hex rows.  I had never imagined I would get that far on Day 1.  This push cost me a Panzer, because of the gun in U9, but I counted it as acceptable when I considered that the Chemist's Shop was in my possession.

The bad risk was my decision to contend for the P6 factory.  I had nearly pushed Dave out of it, when he scored a nice close combat result that took out a 548 and a 247 while leaving his unit in tact.  I ended up with possession of all but the 3 southernmost hexes of the factory, but I judged the cost to be too high.  I lost 1 elite squad and a first line half squad in exchange for a few hexes and a couple captured Russian support weapons.  Territory is secondary to casualties.  As Rodney Kinney once told me:  "Red Barricades is all about body count."  And besides, if my long term plans work out, I think I can force Dave to abandon that factory; I need not fight for it at all.

On the German right, I took only what Dave ceded readily, although there was a sharp little exchange on the western board edge.  I had a platoon of Sturm troops that I had held off board until turn 4.  I entered them on A8 and A9 to slip behind a group of Russians that were stealing up the A hex row.  Dave got one of my Sturm squads and I got one of his 527 squads, but his Commissar and 2 more squads escaped by the skin of their fervently patriotic teeth.

All in all, I must say I am pleased.  Upon completion of Day 1 of the campaign game, the casualty tally read:

Russians lost 43 CVP
Germans lost 18 CVP

That's better than a 2 to 1 ratio.  A whipping.  But I'm going to need to score big victories early on if I'm going to win this game.  I reckon I kept pace.

The Russian retained 25.5 squads at the end of the day (but only four leaders).  The Germans retained 30.5 (and 8 leaders).  My pregame fears about going into Day 2 at a numerical disadvantage turned out to be phantoms.  Put it down to the Black Chit of Disaster.

We're scheduled to play again on the day after Thanksgiving.  So, sometime between now and then, I'll write a post about my plans for day 2.

Thanks for checking in, ASL fans!

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

It appears you have outgrown your helmet.

Brandon said...

Thanks for letting me watch the start of the game. CG games look like so much fun. It will be a happy day indeed when I know the game well enough to try one!

Unknown said...

Interesting. I always fail the gut check to buy 150mm OBA as the Germans, because it seems to expensive. But you got a great result to take so much territory with such a good kill ratio!

Matt said...

So you went for TWO extra chit draws and got them? Did you also have plentiful ammo, or just had a 9B/3R ratio for each module? Another good example of the risk/reward dynamic in ASL.