Friday, November 18, 2011

ASL scenario replay: Raus' Sour Krauts (Pt. I)

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.

Greetings fellow ASL players!

Dave Hauth and I are scheduled to play the Vincent Maresca scenario, Raus' Sour Krauts.  I found this scenario on Tim Hundsdorfer's ASL web site. I loves me some Kursk scenarios, so I talked Dave into giving it a try.

This engagement is part of a Soviet counteroffensive in the last stages of Kursk.  Dave chose the Russians, so I get to set up.  I'll lay out my plans today, then blog over the weekend to relate how it all turned out. 

Wish me luck!

Yay!  A new Kursk scenario!  Of the great battles of World War II, Kursk and Stalingrad are the two that are best represented in the Advanced Squad Leader game system.

One of the most attractive aspects of Raus' Sour Krauts (apart from it being a Kursk scenario) is the Victory Conditions.  They're very clear.  Whichever side controls the most level 3 hill hexes (there are a total of 25) wins the scenario.  These kinds of Victory Conditions make it easy to gauge one's progress over the course of the game and, therefore, make it easier to calculate what constitutes acceptable risk for any particular move.

In this scenario, I'm the Germans.  My forces must keep a superior foe off the hill.  The Russians have infantry superiority and are at least equal to the Germans in armor.  But the scenario is only 6.5 turns.  Time is on the German side.

The German at-start force consists of 2 ATG, a panzer, 2 platoons of 1st line infantry, some fortifications and a couple unarmored half-tracks.  This force must absorb the shock of the initial Russian wave. 

It's a sad duty, I'm afraid.  The on-board Germans will be overwhelmed.  They're outnumbered 2 to 1.  But they must buy precious time for the stronger German force that arrives on Turn 2, and which will be ascending the hill from the south. 

The Russians have a highly-mobile armored force.  Their initial wave includes a platoon of T34s and a platoon of T50 light tanks.  The German ATGs and the Panzer must blunt this force as it approaches from the north.

Above all, I must guard against the Russians storming across the stream in the center of the map.  That is the most direct route to the hill and the most attractive to the Reds, given the time constraints placed on them.

Pretty straight-forward, methinks.

The key to the German defense is the ordnance.  The tubes.  The big caliber weapons. If I can place my ordnance in mutually-supporting positions with good fields of fire, the rest of the setup will fall into place.

So, here's what I came up with. 

Mutually-supporting ordnance
The 50L ATG in 58S10 is set to open up on tanks that may emerge from the stream and come down the Q-R road in the middle.  The Panzer in 58J8 guards 13Y7 bridge and can set up a nasty crossfire with the 50L.  The big ATG in 58O5 can provide support to both the 50L and the Panzer, and can also overwatch the western flank (especially the bridge in 13K6), should the Russian choose to attack from that side.

Now that the ordnance is placed, it's a matter of setting up the infantry.  I have six squads, three machineguns and three leaders, so that makes it easy.  Each leader gets two squads and a support weapon.  The two lesser leaders are assigned guard duty over the ATGs, while the 9-1 with the MMG takes overwatch position on the hill.

The western half of the map looks like this.

Western defenses

The 8-1 and his squads guard the western approach to the hill.  If the attack comes this way, they'll look to pick off tank riders, and fall back up the hill.  If the attack doesn't come this way, they'll fall back up the hill as well.  The only question, I suppose, is whether or not they'll be falling back under fire.

The 7-0 and his two squads are placed to guard the 50L ATG from Russian infantry.  Corporal Braun has orders to stand and hold at all costs.  If the Russians bypass them, these guys will fire to interdict as the Russians charge up the hill.

The half-tracks, it would seem, are for towing around the German ATG, but this scenario is so short (6.5 turns) that it is hard to imagine towing guns around.  Nonetheless, I have placed one of them in location with the 50L ATG.  I placed the other half-track out on the west flank as a deception.  Hopefully, Dave will see it there and guess (incorrectly) that there is an ATG in its vicinity.

Eastern defenses
On the eastern half of the map, there's not much to tell.  The 9-1 and MMG provide over-watch across the entire board.  Targets of choice are enemy leaders, of course.  The Panzer will stand and die in place, if the Russians attack this way.  If they do not, the Panzer will attempt to get to the top of the hill for the final fight.  Foxholes are prepared for the German reinforcements.  The relief infantry can advance into the foxholes rather than onto a completely bald hill.

Final setup
This setup is heavily weighted to guard the center.  Arguably, it neglects the two flanks.  But any flanking attack means the final assault on the hill will be at an oblique angle, allowing me to concentrate my forces.

Besides, if the Russians try to flank, time may buy me what my on-board forces cannot.  The clock is ticking, Ivan!  Can you hear that rumbling on the far side of the hill?  That is the Tiger, Ivan.  He is coming.  He is hungry.

Dave sees this.

Let us see what we shall see...

To be continued...

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