Saturday, November 17, 2012

ASL scenario setup: Valhalla Bound

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.

Hard for me to believe that I haven't played Advanced Squad Leader in almost a year.  This is by far the longest stretch I've endured without dropping dice into a dice tower since I started playing Squad Leader 30 some years ago.  There are reasons for this hiatus, but perhaps I'll leave those for a later post.

Anyway, a rainy Saturday in fall in Portland, Oregon, got me to reminiscing on the game.  Rainy fall Saturdays will do that.  So, I got out an old copy of the ASL annual of '92 and, just for grins, threw together a setup for an old, favorite:  Valhalla Bound.

I've played this old chestnut a half dozen times, I suppose.  It's a nail-biter. 

As far as developing a setup, Valhalla Bound no doubt seems an odd scenario choice.  After all, as anyone who has played it will tell you, the real test of this scenario comes when the German's reinforcing Panthers crash into the Russian armor long about Turn 3 or 4.  The initial German forces, a couple platoons of infantry, supported by half-tracks and an armored car, are little more than a screening force.

But that initial force has three important objectives.  As I see it, they are:
  1. Slow the Russian advance for a crucial turn or two, buying your reinforcing Panthers time to gain position.
  2. Disrupt the Russian infantry.
  3. At all costs, prevent the Russians from forcing the paved road.
So, with an eye toward achieving said objectives, I submit the following.
The setup.
When I approach a setup, I have a look at the given order of battle and try to organize it into functioning groups with specific purposes.  In this case, I've divided my forces into three groups which I informally name Team Tank Trap, Team Fire Base, and Team Kamikaze.
  • Team Tank Trap consists of the PSW 234/4, the 8-1 leader, and two and a half squads.  They're tasked with guarding the road from Y10 to CC7.  The PSW is in Z10, HIP by SSR, and set up to open fire when a tank advancing down the road turns to face the infantry in Z9 and W6.  Hopefully the little armored car can score a side or rear hit.  At the very least, it will unsettle the advancing Russians.  Hex Z10 is a great hex for the armored car.  Russian infantry are unlikely to enter the hex and inadvertently discover the armored car and anyway they'll have to approach the position from one of two open hexes regardless.  (Credit to Dave Hauth for first discovering this position.) Meanwhile, the hidden squad and panzerschreck-toting half squad will threaten any armor that tries to skirt through the woods.  The 8-1 and his squad will hold off the Russian infantry. 
The setup, up close.
  • Team Fire Base consists of the 9-1, both half-tracks, and a full platoon of machine-gun toting stormtroopers.  This group is here to blaze away at Russian infantry.  If the Red Army tanks approach aggressively, these troops will rely on panzerfausts to keep them off.  The half-tracks can also provide cover for a fall back across the Y1-Z1 road.  (An optimistic scenario.)

  • Team Kamikaze consists of a half-squad, the hero possessing a panzerschreck, and the 7-0 possessing the demolition charge.  This group sets up hidden in hex W5.  Hopefully, this team will find itself with a plethora of targets when it reveals itself.  Hex W5 is an orchard hex where there is no backblast penalty for firing 'fausts or the 'schreck.  If circumstances allow, they will reveal themselves progressively.  That is, the half squad might reveal itself to fire a 'faust.  Then later in the same turn, perhaps when a Red Army tank seeks to overrun the half squad, the hero, assisted by the 7-0 leader fire the 'schreck. None of this team will likely survive beyond the turn in which it is discovered.  Hence, the name.
Ivan sees this.
The Russian wave will wash over the initial German force.  But if they've achieved their three objectives by the time the Panthers engage, they've earned their places in Valhalla.  Survivors can harass the Russians from behind, but there won't be many.  The Valkyrie maidens will be busy.

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