Sunday, March 28, 2010

ASL: Bustin' the Barrikady yet again (Pt. VI)

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.

My old friend and ASL nemesis, Dave Hauth, is back!  Fresh off our recent Red Barricades game, in which I finally seem to have found an effective counter for his "fortify the riverbank" strategy, Dave is ready to give it another go.  This time the game is RBCGIII:  the Barrikady, with yours truly in the role of General Von Paulus and Dave doing his best impression of grandfatherly Marshal Zhukov.  

For your vicarious ASL enjoyment, both players will once again maintain a blog correspondence as the game progresses with the agreement that neither will read his opponent's blog until given express permission to do so.  Dave and I have faced off in so many ASL campaigns and scenarios that a Gentleman's Game is both assumed and assured.

Readers are encouraged to comment!  Got a problem with where I placed my AT gun?  Speak your piece!  Just be sure not to inadvertently reveal any information about Dave's plan to me or vice-versa.  You can read Dave's blog here.  You can read my previous entry here.

Aftermath of Day 6

God! I hate to lose. But lose, I have; outfoxed by the wily Comrade Hauth. The end-of-game perimeter appeared thusly.

End of game perimeter; German player concedes.
Here's how it went down, from my perspective.

Keep in mind that my objective for the day, as I discussed in my previous post, was to seize all stone building locations west of hexrow N and north of the gully.  An admittedly ambitious goal.  But I was coming off an Idle day and so was as strong as I was likely to get.

My purchased heavy artillery module was, in retrospect, a big mistake.  Dave had set up to concede the Power Station, having manned it with only conscripts.  That meant that my heavy artillery with its pre-registered hex of K24 would fall on terrain that Dave wasn't going to fight for anyway.  Further, if I dropped it, I risked rubbling the Power Station and denying myself high ground.  My decision was made easier when I drew a red chit to start the game.  At that point, I decided that I would save the artillery for the day, and would merely use a spotting round as a means of intimidating Dave's kill stacks.

But that meant that I was fighting the day without 8 CPP of my forces.  That's a mighty big handicap to hand to the Russians.

So, I attacked the Power Station, and took it easily.  The force of my attack carried me into Building M24, which I seized quickly as well.  Meanwhile in the south, I occupied the (apparently) empty L32 and G33 buildings and set up to hold them.  My PzIVF1 tanks came on in support of the main attack and I wracked up a whole bunch of Russian CVP.  Up at the river and in the factories, Dave was creeping forward, but I felt I could contain him.  Things were looking good.

Then, his defense stiffened up.  Dave sprang an ambush in the L32 and G33 that caught me completely flat-footed.  Alas, I can only blame myself for not checking out the cellars of those buildings.  Rookie mistake.  A platoon of SMG troops advanced out and ambushed my elite rifle company.  Losses were bad.

He had some tough elite troops holding Factory M27 who withstood an armor-infantry assault.  His troops south of the gully, which included a 9-2 kill stack, counterattacked the L32 and G33 buildings, and drove me out in rout.  It was almost a replay of the Day 2 disaster.

At the end of the scenario, I still had some bright spots, though.  I had seized the Power Station intact, and had even grabbed Building M24.  I had retained my heavy artillery which I could assign a new pre-registered hex and I had all 3 of my PzIVF1 tanks.  The casualty tally was better than 2 to 1 in my favor, with the Russians suffering 71 CVP; the Germans 31 CVP. 

The most worrisome aspect of the game, at that point, as we were calculating retained forces, was the number of squads that Dave still had.  Some 69!  Steve Pleva once told me that once the Russians have more than about 70 squads on the board, the task for the Germans becomes almost impossibly high.  And my own experience conforms to that assessment as well.  Dave would be fielding over 80 squads for the next day.

Still, I'm one of those players that will not concede if there is even a remote path to victory.  Two events in the Refit Phase caused me to roll boxcars on my continuation task check:
  • My PzIVF1 platoon was recalled, imposing a huge loss of firepower on my retained forces.
  • My CPP replenishment roll scored me only 15 CPP for the third day in a row.  At the same time, Dave showed me his replenishment roll:  snake-eyes!  So, he received 18 CVP for the third day in a row.
At that point, my morale failed.  Dave played a great game, really surprising me on Day 2 and again on Day 6. 

The last scenario took 15 hours to complete and we were both exhausted when we finally finished at 2am.  Getting too old for this.  Nonetheless, I love this game.

Grapes, anyone?

So, this could just be post-loss pique, but I'm fairly convinced that CGIII:  The Barrikady is very difficult for the Germans.  CGI:  Into the Factory, I think, is a more balanced game.  As a balancing factor for CGIII, I believe that removing the Balance modifier for CPP replenishment and Full-Depleted rolls would help.  But, honestly I don't know if it would be enough.

The Germans are as strong as they will get on CG Day 1.  The Russians only get stronger over time. Rob Wolkey pointed out, in the last game Dave and I played that if the Germans don't win early, they are doomed.  I agree.

To boil it down to a probably-too-simple tenet, I'd say that the campaign is over if the Germans take an Idle Day.  Or, to put it another way, if the Germans do not win with their initial 4 or 5 day thrust, they lose.

Thanks, all

Anyway, thanks to all of you who followed our game.  It was great fun.  I've really enjoyed blogging about it.  I may write up blog posts for future scenarios as I play them.  And I hope to see some of you at Enfilade this May.

1 comment:

Stewart King said...

The Germans can win with a long grinding offensive. Obviously they need to kill plenty of Russians every day - taking territory isn't what you're after. I think that one key is to avoid winning too many scenarios. What you're aiming for is at least one day in every three where you conduct an assault, don't take any stone locations, and kill 23 CVP more Russians than he kills of you. Thus, a Phyrric Russian victory between each pair of crushing German victories.

The CG balance provision sounds rather lame: German units who possess FT's or DC's are fanatic. I think a better balance provision is to allow the side with the balance to choose five days on which they can apply an extra -1 historical DRM to their various refit phase rolls.

I'll play you this summer with this in effect.