Thursday, September 26, 2019

ASL ROCGII: A hopeless case

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


The Sound and Fury desk is mighty dusty. If the boss walked in and saw this, he would not be happy. Let's see if we can spruce things up a bit.

Our return to form is another of our favorites: a write-up of an ASL campaign game. And this time it's for the long-awaited follow up to the best ASL CG of all time (and the only one that really works in my opinion): Red Barricades.

(Valor of the Guards? Give me a break! The Barricades is where real men cut their teeth.)

My joy at finally receiving this module can only be hinted at with words. Escapism! Obsessive organization! Calculating! Recalculating! The agony! The ecstasy! And so, immediately upon receiving the module and lacking an opponent, I set to work creating Russian defenses in anticipation of eventually finding one.

But when I arrived at CGII, the Hubertus campaign I was flummoxed. When I set up the perimeter and looked at the respective OBs I determined that the Russians have no chance to win this game. I'm convinced this is an error on the part of MMP.

(If there are political sensibilities around criticizing MMP publicly, I'm blithely unaware of them. This is just what I see, regarding the game.)

Sorry, Ivan. There's just no way...
Allow me to explain.

When I create a defensive set up for a CG, I try first to determine the most vital points of defense. A look at the RO map instantly reveals that the northeast edge of the board is crucial for the Reds. Their reinforcement groups must enter on or between hexes JJ0 and JJ16 unless these hexes are no longer under Russian control, in which case the Russians may enter on the southern board edge. This makes the approaches to these hexes vital for the Russians. A shrewd German player will extend his perimeter 4 or 5 hexes short of the board edge, then in subsequent CG days, set up a devastating kill zone into which all Russian reinforcements must enter.
German Day 1 perimeter goal. Reds must not let this happen!

So, clearly, the Russian must avoid this situation at all costs. But when you look at the starting perimeter, the Germans are already three-quarters of the way across the map. Indeed, the Russians have been driven from all the factories except for the Martin Ovens in the middle of the board, which is surrounded on 3 sides. In fact, the Germans already have two toeholds toward the eastern edge of the Ovens in hexes X23 and V23. How many resources is a wise Russian player going to dedicate to defending that foregone conclusion?

Oh, hell no!
My initial thought, as the Russians, was to set up a defense of the easternmost hexes of the Martin Ovens, and to fight like hell to protect the vital entry area. But then I looked at the German OB that I would be facing.

The Russians are given 3 elite companies, a heavy weapons platoon, some AT and ART pieces, 85 FPP, and 12 CPP.

The Germans are given 3 elite companies, 4 rifle companies, an infantry battery, a platoon of STGIII smoke-layers, and 17CPP.

That, my friends, is a wipeout.

Consider this German strategy for Day One.


Considering the manpower advantage the German is given to start the game (7 coy to 3 coy), I wouldn't bother purchasing infantry. My purchases would be thus:

150mm OBA w/pre-reg = 7 CPP
80mm OBA w/pre-reg = 3 CPP
HW Platoon = 6 CPP

Total CPP: 16, save 1 CPP for the next day.

Push to set up the perimeter for Day Two.

The German player should recognize the importance of the JJ0-16 hexes to the overall CG immediately. Therefore, the spearhead of this awesome OB should be aimed directly at it.

In this avenue of attack, the vital points are buildings V1 and BB9, plus the Slag Heap. So, I set up a Sturm Company to attack V1, the Pioniers to attack BB9, and the other Sturm company to attack the Slag Heap. Further, in support, I pre-register hex BB11 for the 150mm module and hex AA9 for the 80mm Smoke FFE. Since this attack is so vital, I also add in the StgIIIBs and dedicate my HW platoon to raking the Slag Heap and building BB11. Given that the Russians are stretched beyond their capacity, it's doubtful that they will do much to defend build V1. And whatever they put in BB11 and on the Slag Heap will be vaporized in short order.

Containment and attrition

Everywhere else on the map, it's about containment and attrition. I've got 4 rifle companies that will surround any Russian pockets, advance to contact, and then maintain position. The key is to keep the Russians from expanding the perimeter in the south. Not that it matters all that much. That infantry battery will start pounding away at building GG23 to soften thing up for the next day.

On Day 2, the Rifle companies will man the perimeter in the northeast, to shoot up Russian RGs as they enter, while the Pioneers and Sturm companies will begin reducing Russian pockets in the now-isolated factories.

Contain, don't attack

This is a pretty general description of a German plan, but it's as obvious as the nose on your face.

And, hey, if you think I'm wrong, go ahead, Ivan! Set up your Elite SMG company, and your 2 Guards Rifle companies, your HW platoon, your 85 FPP, and your 12 CPP and see if you can stop me.

Some folks claim that this is an intentional disadvantage placed on the Russians to simulate the desperate situation they faced historically during Hubertus.

Well, that's as may be, but in terms of a competitive game, as printed this is not worth playing.

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