Article by: John Knowles
Peter Palmer and I have been meeting on VASL regularly during weekends over the past couple of years. When I asked him what he fancied playing next, he suggested playing the scenarios of Hakkaa Päälle!, starting with the first one, and carrying on through in numerical order, with him playing the Russians/Germans, and myself as the Finnish. Peter had already played one of the scenarios (170), whilst I had played 4 (164, 169, 172, 175), was half way through another (171), and had even play-tested a few of them (162, 163, 176). I’m always quite keen to new scenarios, especially those of core modules.
Hakkaa Päälle! adds quite a facelift to the Finnish, by providing new squad types (5-4-8, 4-4-7, 4-3-7), new SWs (Russian issue, which were historically the most frequently used), and of course guns and AFVs. There are also a number of early war and rare Russian AFVs, Aerosans (D17), and some new rules for such things as Light Woods (B35), Prepared Fire Zones (B36), Russian Early War Doctrine (A25.212), as well as updates to the Finnish (A25.7) to bring them more in line with historical accuracy. It really is nice to now have a group of Finnish scenarios, which previously were something just played on isolated occasions.
I’d been posting our recent games to ROAR, so I thought I should continue to do so with our results. So, beginning on March 11, 2018, Peter and I kicked off.
Scenario 161 – Arctic Crossroads
This scenario takes place in arctic twilight, and uses a number (but far from all) Night (E1) to simulate this. To win, the Russians need to have 12 VPs, which they can earn by having Good Order units on/south of row Y on boards 16/19, and 3 VPs for each controlled location containing a Finnish gun. The Russians attack with 18 squads, 3 leaders, and 4 SWs. The Finns defend with 3 crewed guns (two 87* ART, and a 7.62 ( 8 ) AA), 7 squads, 1 leader, and 2 SWs. The Finns get reinforcements on turn 4, in the form of 7 squads, 2 leaders, and 2 SWs (plus an Ahkio to help slide them through the snow). In essence, the Russians will have an advantage in numbers early on, but the initiative will more than swing to the Finns when their reinforcements arrive, especially given the general superiority of the Finnish squads.
Initially, I thought this scenario wouldn’t be quite to Peter’s tastes, since he hasn’t really played much Night (E1) in recent times. I’ve been in the VASL Night league for a few years now, so that has help me to keep in practice. However, the challenge for me would be having to remember which night rules didn’t apply. When I set up the VASL map, I made a great many ‘cheat notes’ to give is a brief reference to the rules that applied, as well as a number that didn’t. We played this scenario with Russian balance in effect (which adds a MMG to the Russians).
In our game, Peter was aggressive from the start and continued to be until my reinforcements evened up the odds. My guns had been overrun, but had taken quite a toll on the Russian squads, with a number blown to bits during their bloody charges. I felt that my reinforcements would have every chance of running down the Russians and recapturing the gun positions, but in the last 3 turns, the Russians generally had the better of the firefights, the Commissar was a rallying superhero, and Peter’s Russians held on for a reasonably comfortable win in the end.
Scenario 162 – Armored Car Savikurki
This is a small scenario played on half of board 42. 4 Finnish 648 squads, 1 leader, 1 SW, supported by (a 9-1 led) armored car entering along the east edge have 6.5 turns to exit 5 VPs of (non-crew) Infantry off the west edge. Opposing them are 7 Russian squads, 2 leaders, and 2 (MG) SWs. Quite a small, simple scenario to play, where the armored car has to make an impact in order to allow the outnumbered Finns to exit safely. I had already play-tested this scenario, so we played this scenario with Russian balance in effect (which downgrades the Finnish 9-1 leader to a 9-0).
In our game, my Finns looked to try and wear down the brittle (ELR 2) Russians, but Peter generally managed to fall back mostly intact, and maintain a strong defensive line. Initially, I had kept the armored car out of most danger, but as time wore on, I needed to be more aggressive. Luckily for me, the breaks mostly went my way (especially for the BMG gunner, who frequently rolled 2’s and 3’s on IFT shots), and I was able to disintegrate the Russians during the Russian turn 6 MPh, allowing a safe passage for my ready-to-exit infantry.
Scenario 163 – Stopped Cold
This scenario is played on board halves of board 5 and 7, and features a Russian combined arms attack with Russian Early War Doctrine (A25.211). 25 Russian squads (mostly 426), 3 leaders, 4 SWs, and 6 light tanks entering along the south edge have 6.5 turns to exit 24 Exit VPs (6 of which must be infantry) off the north edge of board 5. The board 7 water obstacles are frozen, but the last sentence of SSR1 has it that ice will automatically collapse if entered by an AFV. The Finns oppose them with a much smaller, but well prepared group of 8 squads, 2 (228) crews, 2 leaders, 6 SWs, and fortifications (5 AT mines, 135 pillbox, 6 trenches, 4 wire, and 2 factors of PFZ). The Finns also get reinforcements on turn 4 in the form of 1 squad, 1 hero, and a DC.
I got to play-test this scenario several times, and my experience of it was that the Russian attack usually went as well as their FT AFV (OT-26) went. If it were successful, so were they. But if it got knocked out early or ran out of FT fuel, then the Russians ended up unraveling. The combination of ice and fortifications really channels the Russian AFVs, and that will give the Finns the opportunity to get close, and overcome them with MOL. This scenario is a lot of fun to play with its early war, twin turret Russian light tanks. We played this scenario with Russian balance in effect (adds a Russian 7-0 leader).
Once again, Peter’s Russians attacked aggressively, with a devil-may-care attitude. As a result, a great number of Russian squads broke, but my Finns always had their hands full with them, and I seldom got any good opportunities to hunt the AFVs. The OT-26 X-ed out it’s FT MA on the first shot, and it’s platoon partner (a T-26 M31), threw a track. However, the other 4 AFVs all gave useful support, and also managed to exit the map successfully. In the end, Peter’s Russians did manage to exit 24 VPs, but only 2 Russian squads made it off, which falls short of the 6 VPs of infantry required. I felt like I had had my back to the wall in the face of an aggressive infantry attack the entire game, but in the end, I had stopped enough of them to grind out a close Finnish win.
Scenario 164 – Torment At Tormua
This scenario is played on 2 full boards (32, 52) and 2 half boards (34, 42) and features a meeting engagement around a village. To win, the Finns must outscore the Russians. Both sides get points for CVPs, as well as 2 points per board 42 building. The Fins begin the game with a group of 10 squads, 4 leaders, and 4 SWs defending the board 42 village, and 2.5 squads, 3 leaders, and 2 crewed 45L ATGs defending the forest road of board 52. Finnish reinforcements arrive on turns 4 and 5 totaling 9 squads, 3 leaders, and 3 SWs. The Russians have 2 groups of infantry; 19 squads, 4 leaders, 5 SWs on boards 32 and 34, and 10 squads, 3 leaders, 2 SWs, and 3 T-26 M33 tanks in and around the woods-road hexes in the southern portions of board 52. In essence, the Russians have the advantage of numbers early on, but the late Finnish reinforcements bring some parity. The high number of leaders (10 Finnish, 7 Russian) makes for a fluid game, and both sides have strategic options, in regards to joining their groups up, or fighting out their own separate actions.
I had previously played this scenario as Finns, and although the Russians had run me close in points, had just hung on to win. One thing I recall was that there were a lot of CVPs tied up in the ATG ambush group on board 52. I thought this time around that I would pull them back to the village, with some double-time gun manhandling. We played with Russian balance in effect (BH a Russian 447, delete a Finnish 8-0).
In our game, the main Russian group was able to reach the outskirts of the village, but they were held there. The Finns on board 52 withdrew northward, and the guns proved handy in allowing the southern flank of the village to stabilize. The Russians took some more buildings, but with my reinforcements, I was able to take some back. In the end, we split the village 50/50, but Peter’s Russians just edged me on points, and he won 47-45.
Scenario 165 – Nothing But Courage
This scenario depicts Finland’s first armored attack, which I might have referred to as a combined arms action. Historically though, it was a lack of coordination that proved costly for the Finns. The scenario takes place in Deep Snow (E3.73) on 4 half boards (17, 24, 42, 44), with a railroad running northwest to east. The Deep Snow makes non-ski movement slow, and somewhat restricts the ability of the Finnish AFVs to ambush the Russians, since the minimum MP cost per hex is 2MPs. To win, the Finns must score 40 VPs (45 VPs with Russian balance in effect), which they can do with CVPs as well as 3 VPs per building/rubble location in the Russian setup area. The Finns attack in 2 groups, an onboard group with 6.5 648 squads, 2 leaders, 3 SWs, and 5 Vikkersi (Vickers) tanks, and another group entering along the west edge with 12 447 squads, 1 leader, and 5 SWs (with 2 Ahkios to help move them through the snow). The Russians defend with 3 458 squads, 17 447 squads, 4 leaders, 6 SWs, a crewed 45L ATG, and 5 (abandoned at start) AFVs (4 T-26s, and a T-28). The Russians also set up under the E1.21 restriction of No Move, which is removed as per E1.12 or at the start of game turn 3.
The Russians enjoy quite a close parity in numbers and quality for the most part, but the VCs mean that they must avoid vehicle losses, and defend a decent number of buildings (there are 42 points worth of buildings), which makes this quite a tough scenario for the Russians. The reinforcing Finnish group has a low ELR (2), so the Russians have it within them to really cause this group to unravel. But if they can’t keep vehicle losses to a minimum (note that they begin abandoned), then the Russians will be forced to defend too many buildings, and will most likely falter as a result of spreading themselves too thin. We played this scenario with Russian balance in effect (increasing the VP goal from 40 to 45). I was planning to playtest this scenario, but unfortunately never got the chance, since my FtF opponent that I was playtesting with had to return to Sweden.
In our game, I had hoped that some 648s could infiltrate down the east side, but the Russian 9-1 led HMG was solid as a rock, and pretty much dominated the area around board 42 for the entire game. My reinforcements advanced eastwards at a slow but steady pace, taking little more in buildings than what the Russians gave them. However, in the tank fighting, it was the Russians who got the upper hand, and I ended up losing all 5 of my AFVs, whilst only destroying 2 Russian T-26s, and it looked like Peter’s Russians might well prevent me from reaching my goal. The game went right to the very last CCPh, but fortunately for me, my CC DRs were vastly superior to those of Peter’s, and this allowed me to rapidly increase my CVP tally in the final phase. A good fun scenario to play, supposedly a little unbalanced is what I’m hearing, but I’d still be happy to try out the Russians some time.
Scenario 166 – Skiing In Lapland
This scenario depicts a Russian attempt at a breakout from encirclement to rendezvous with friendly forces. Originally a very popular Friendly Fire scenario (FrF-035, named “Skiing In Laponia”), it was considered simply too good not to include (is what I hear), making it a rare case of a TPP scenario becoming a core module scenario (as opposed to an add-on). The scenario takes place on 2 separate boards (19 and 4) with Deep Snow (E3.73) in effect. The Russians have 2 groups (A and B), one of which set up on/east of row X on each board. Group A consists of 6 447 squads, one leader, 1 SW, and 4 T-26 M33 tanks. Group B consists of 9 447 squads, 2 leaders, 3 SWs, and a T-37. There is a third Russian group (ski detachment), which enters on skis along the west edge of any one board and consists of 4 458 squads, 1 (wounded) leader, and 1 SW. To win, the Russians have 7 full turns to have 1+ GO ski detachment squad and 1 GO Group A/B squad stacked together in 2+ locations at the end of any player turn. To oppose them, the Finns have 8 648 squads, 2 538 squads, 2 leaders, 4 SWs, a crewed 37L ATG (AP only), a sledge to tow it, and fortifications (4 dummies, 9 AT mine factors). All play on each board is considered separate, with no LOS between boards, and when the Russians commit their ski detachment group to one board, all play on the other board is discontinued. This scenario forces the Finns to keep reserves, ready to respond to the Russian advances.
In our game, Peter entered Group A on board 4 and Group B on board 19. I set up with 1 squad, 2 half-squads, and 2 dummies per board. The AT mines really need to be put in fields of 3, since the Deep Snow adds a +1 drm to their activation. I mostly defend the board edges to prevent any sudden rushes westward. Peter has contrasting form with his AFVs; malfunctioning their MAs, whilst rolling crisply low with their MGs. Each time I lose a squad, a reinforcement takes its place. Peter commits the ski detachment to board 19 at the start of Russian turn 5. I commit my last reserves at that point, but until they can arrive, I must keep the Russians out of the western board 19 woods. Unfortunately, I fail to manage that, and Peter is able to get past me and effect a rendezvous that satisfies the VCs in the Russian turn 6 MPh. A whole heap of fun to play this one, as it allows a rare opportunity in ASL to factor in the commitment of reserves.
Scenario 167 – Breakout From Praaza
This scenario also depicts the Russians having to break out of encirclement (as the title suggests). The game is played on 19 rows of (the heavily forested) boards 32 and 52. To win, the Russians have 10 full turns to exit 40 VPs of units off the north edge. For this task, the Russians get 13 squads, 2 leaders, and 3 SWs setting up on board 52 (on/south of row D). They get 10 more squads, 2 leaders, and 2 SWs entering on turn 1, 5 squads, one leader, and a T-28 entering on turn 2. In turns 6 and 8, 4 each of wagons and trucks enter, each of which is worth 4 Exit VPs. To oppose this force, the Fins receive 12 548 squads, 2 leaders, 2 SWs, and an ATR armed 149 hero. There are also 2 AT mines in 52N6, which is right on the north shoulder of the single bridge.
In our game, my Finns were able to fall back and establish a defensive line along the banks of the board 52 stream easily enough. But the large superiority in numbers allowed Peter to attack aggressively . Having formed up the 3 infantry groups, he committed a number of Human Wave (A25.23) attacks, which allowed him to outflank my Finns, and I had to fall back into the woods. I was able to break a good number of Russian squads, but due to the great amount of time that the Russians had, Peter was patient with their rallying, and kept the Commissar mostly uninvolved in rallying until well late into the game. Peter was first able to breach the minefield, and I would now have to rely on my infantry to block the exit. But I did not get the better of the forest fight, and after 8.5 turns, I had been completely eliminated from the map. In Russian turn 9, Peter was able to enter every vehicle, and a very healthy portion of infantry as well for a very convincing Russian victory.
Scenario 168 – Forest Bastion
This scenario is played on 2 half boards (37, 39) and depicts an assault on a fixed position. To win, the Finnish player has to eliminate/control all 3 pillboxes. The Russians defend the wooded hill of board 39 with 10 squads (2 458, 8 447), 3 leaders, 4 SWs, and several fortifications (3 135 pillboxes, 4 wire, 6 trenches, 10 PFZ factors). They also get a small group of 3 447 squads, 1 leader, and 1 SW that can set up HIP on board 37. The Finns start with 12 548 squads, 2 leaders, and 2 SWs. On turn 3, they get 3 more 548 squads, 1 leader, and 2 SWs. The Finns also get artillery support, in the form of an SSR delivered Smoke Barrage (E12), and one module of 80mm OBA with an offboard observer. Given the terrain and the complexities of controlling pillboxes, 8 turns is quite tight in time, so the Finns lack of overwhelming numbers has to be compensated by their squad quality.
In our game, I landed the Smoke Barrage turn 1 and used it to reach board 39 rapidly. It took about 2 turns to get into assault position, but once there, I was finding that the Russians were able to give as well as they took. One key factor was that somehow I lost 2 (of only 3) leaders, and this was a big problem for me. The rallying side of things is pretty well covered by the Finns ability to Self-Rally, but when you are assaulting up wooded crests (@ 4MF), a leader allows Assault Movement (to retain concealment) as well as simply a bit of extra movement range. Things got very complicated for me when the OBA started a forest fire (in spite of the Wet EC), which spread to the extent of really splintering my attack, and by the start of Finnish turn 6, I still hadn’t captured a single pillbox. A blaze was also now in one of the pillbox hexes, and although it eliminated all the contents, the pillbox was unaffected (meaning that it’s location remained). To win, I would need to remove the pillbox with a Critical Hit from the OBA, and also capture the other 2. I thought that it would be near impossible, so I conceded to Peter’s Russians at this point.
Scenario 169 – Night Fans
This scenario depicts a night assault on a small island across a frozen lake. In order to depict this, 3 desert boards (26, 27,28) and a number of hill overlays are used. Night (E1) rules are in effect (NVR 4), as well as Ground Snow (E3.72). To win, the Finns need to control hexes 26oS3 (wood building) and 26oM1 (level 3 hill hex) within 6 full turns without losing more than 18 CVPs. The Finns defend the small island with 9 squads (5 548, 4 447), 2 leaders, 4 SWs, and 2 wire counters. As a Night Scenario Defender (E1.2), the Finns also get 9 dummy counters, 3 HIP squad-equivalents, and all SMCs and SW that set up with MMCs can use HIP also. The Russians arrive in 3 groups, the first arrives turn 1 in the form of 6 628 squads, 1 leader, and 1 SW entering on the north edge. On turn 2, 3 NKL-26 (armored aerosan) enter on the north edge, and 6 527 squads, 1 leader, 1 SW, and 6 NKL-16 (transport aerosan) to carry them.
This was my second playing of this scenario, I previously played as Russians. We played this one with Russian balance being in effect (adds an 8-0 to the turn 2 infantry group). I think that this is a real fun scenario to play, and that the aerosans are not overly complicated to learn. Another night scenario for Peter puts him in less-than-familiar waters, but VASL is such an awesome medium for playing night, especially the way that the illumination really allows one to ‘see’ what is happening. For that reason alone, I knew Peter well enough to know that he would find it a rewarding experience.
In our game, I put the wire on hill hexes (26oM1, 26oQ2) solely to spoil the Russians ability to ski (I recall from my previous game that my Russians were able to pull off some deft moves down the slopes). Peter brought on his groups at a slow-but-steady pace for the first couple of turns. The pace of the game increased on turn 3, and Peter managed to overrun the hill by turn 5. I remember Peter using the aerosans to do overruns, and while this did result in him losing a few, they certainly helped the Russians stay on schedule. But during my turn 5, I had enough units to simply get in the way and limit Peter’s final assault on the house to exposed frontal assaults. One of the key factors in taking the house is that you need to attack from the ice side. Coming down the hill into a building at night will cost 4MF (unless cloaked, and you’re not likely to have anyone still cloaked by then), so CX units cannot even advance in, and non CX units are going to be vulnerable in CC at best. In the last Russian MPh, my defensive fire was sufficient so that no Russian MMC would be able to enter (and thereby contest control) 260S3, which clinched the game for my defending Finns. I thought Peter could have moved a lot quicker earlier on, but managed the aerosans quite well, and overall played a good game of it. I think he enjoyed the VASL night experience plenty, too.
Scenario 170 – 11th Company Counterattack
This small scenario depicts a combined arms attack along a thin peninsula of land. To simulate this, 2 adjacent half board river banks are used (8, 40), with some Railroad (B32) overlays, too. The Finns win this scenario if there are no unbroken Russian MMC at the end of 6 full game turns. The Russians defend the peninsula with 6 squads (3 628, 3 527), 2 leaders, and 4 SWs. The Finns attack with 7.5 548 squads, one leader, and 2 SWs entering along the west edge on turn 1. On turn 2, the Finns receive 2 BT-42 (captured T-26 tanks with an artillery howitzer for its MA) for infantry support. These tanks can provide useful support, but their thin armor makes them vulnerable to the Russian MGs and ATR.
In our game, Peter slowly exchanged ground for time, and fell back towards the obvious ‘Alamo’ position of the 8C9/D9 wooden building. My AFVs were well ready for this, and had taken ideal positions along the Elevated Railroad (ELRR) in 40EE10/FF10. This allowed me to somewhat close the net around the Russians, pounding the building with the 114* gun, while my infantry rounded up the rest. But unfortunately, one BT-42 was lost to a LATW, and the other simply ran out of ammo before I could break the last remaining 628 squad, and Peter’s Russians held on to win.
Scenario 171 – Retaking The VKT Line
This scenario is a large, combined arms attack, where the Finns need to establish a dominant battlefield presence. 6 half boards are used (5,16,17,19,42,52), which always gives the impression that its a HUGE scenario, but in reality, its just 3 boards, and whilst large, it certainly isn’t in any way a monster-sized scenario. To win at the end of 11 full turns, the Finns need to have 45+ VPs (calculated as Exit VPs) of Good Order units on boards 17/42. This total is reduced by the doubled CVP value of Good Order (non-crew) Russian Infantry on boards 5/16/19/52. The Finns enter in 3 groups, on turn 1, 15 648 squads, 3 leaders, and 5 SWs enter along the west edge. On turn 2, 8 648 squads, 2 leaders, 3 SWs, 2 armor leaders, a Sotka, and 6 Sturmi enter along the west edge of board 16. On turn 5, a Pitkaputkinen Sotka, a KV-1M42, and 2 Postijuna enter along the west edge of board 16 also. In Exit VP value, these 3 groups are worth 35, 67, and 26 points respectively for a grand total of 128. The Russians set up with 14 squads (4 628, 10 458), 3 leaders, 6 SWs, a crewed 76L ART, ans ISU-152, and a T-34/85. All these units must set up 5+ hexes from the west board edge, and the 76L gun and vehicles can only set up on boards 16/19. The Russians get reinforcements on turn 7 in the form of 5 squads (2 628, 3 458), one leader, 3 SWs, an ISU-152, a T-34/85, 2 T-34/M43, and one module of 120MM OBA with an offboard observer. The starting Russian force is worth 53 CVPs, whilst the turn 7 reinforcements add another 40, bringing the Russian total to 93. I must say, that I found it a bit surprising that the Finns are enjoying an ELR of 4 in 1944, whilst the Russian Guards have only 3 (in an 11 turn game, ELR is going to be a big factor).
Whilst the Russian reinforcements will bring a great deal of parity to the conflict (especially the 120mm OBA), they first need to survive 6.5 turns being heavily outnumbered. 45 points from a starting group of 128 is not a huge ask for the Finns, so the Russians will likely have to have some kind of salient of units on boards 5/16/19/52 to inflict a sizable deficit. I actually played about 4 turns of this scenario before as Russians (and would be quite keen to complete it at some time), and had made an effective salient along the board 19 peninsula of woods that is adjacent to board 17. I showed this to Peter and we had some discussion about it, and I sensed that he was quite impressed with the concept, and planned to emulate it to some extent. It will take the Finns 2-3 turns to reach this area, and this will afford the Russians some time to entrench (A25.21 comes in handy here).
In our game, Peter set up the Russians in a salient fashion in the board 19 woods, some delaying squads on board 16, and a few more in the woods of board 52, much like I had done in my previous game (although Peter put a more sizable group in the board 52 woods, something that I wished I had have done). As my infantry took to forcing the Russians back, my initial assault on the board 19 salient did not go at all well, and I suffered too many AFV losses (for VP purposes, an immobilized AFV is virtually the same as a loss). But the firepower of 23 648 squads is quite devastating once it gets within range, and because of this, I did eventually overwhelm the salient, just as the surviving stragglers fell back to rendezvous with the arriving reinforcements. Peter used the Russian OBA to attack my AFVs, and whilst this was successful in immobilizing/wrecking a pair of Sturmi, my infantry continued to put pressure on the remaining outnumbered Russians. By Russian turn 11, I had pretty much cleared boards 5/16/19/52 of all Russians, and had had 54 VPs on boards 17/42. However, at the time, Peter and I had carelessly misunderstood the VCs to the extent that we were under the impression that all Russian units on boards 5/16/19/52 were deducted from the Finn total. So, in the last MPh of the last turn, Peter tried to rush a T-34/M43 onto board 5, which would deduct a game changing 14 points from the Finn total. I had prepared as best I could for this, with several (Panzerfaust capable) infantry nearby, and even 1 PSK. Despite several attempts, my infantry couldn’t come up with a hit, and the T-34 scurried on to board 5, and what we until recently thought was a Russian win. However, the VCs have it that only (non-crew) Russian infantry are deducted, so the deft little T-34 move made no impression on the VCs, and we now see that it was actually my Finns that got the win in the end. This is a very enjoyable scenario to play, but I think the ELR values make the Finnish infantry just a bit too bullet-proof in 1944 for my tastes.
Scenario 172 – The Last Attack
This scenario depicts an infantry assault supported by assault guns in a heavily forested area with scattered buildings. The scenario takes place on 4 half boards (17/32/44/52), and the Finns need to control buildings 17W3 and 32oB6 at the end of 8 full turns to win. The Finns initially attack with 16 squads (12 548, 4 447), 3 leaders, and 7 SWs. On turn 3, the Fins are reinforced by 3 648 squads, 2 leaders, 2 SWs, a Sturmi, and a platoon of German Assault guns consisting of 3 StugIIIG, a StuH 42, and an armor leader. The Russians select 7 of 8 available groups and add them to a 458 squad, 3 leaders, and 6 foxholes. The final Russian defending forces will be between 14.5 – 18 (mostly elite) squads, 3 leaders, 11-16 SWs, and 2-3 Guns (82* MTR/45LL AT/76L ART). SSR3 gives the Russians the option of bringing on 1 group as a turn 5 reinforcement instead of setting it up on board. This scenario takes place at close quarters, which makes the Russian 628s in particular a difficult adversary to pacify. The Axis vehicles suffer from a number of ammo deficiencies, which limits their effectiveness a bit. But 8 full turns does give the Axis enough time to complete the task at hand. I had played this scenario previously as Axis, and had narrowly lost.
In our game, Peter selected all but Group 4, opting for the Groups with higher ( 8 ) morale. My attack was basically a hard push towards 32oB6, with a ‘recon in force’ of a few squads heading towards 17W3. The idea was to overwhelm 32oB6, then reinforce the final push on 17W3. Initial progress was slow and steady, as the Finns sought to get in close. The Russian guns were keeping the assault guns busy, so the infantry were having to do it alone for the most part. After about 5 turns, I was able to gain the upper hand around 320B6, and took control on turn 6. At the same time in and around the approaching woods to 1703, the Russians seem to have a bit of a morale meltdown, where they could scarcely pass a MC (given that Peter had specifically selected 8 morale troops to defend with, this must have really torn his pants!!!). By turn 7 there were hardly any Russians on board 17, and I was able to enter 17W3 virtually unopposed.
Scenario 173 – Father Sunshine
This small scenario depicts a Finish armored counterattack in mixed terrain of woods and grain. The scenario takes place on 2 boards (37,50) and the Finns win by exiting 5 AFVs with functioning MA on/between 37P10 and 37R10 within 5.5 turns. Each (at start) T-34/85 eliminated counts as 1 AFV exited. The Finnish infantry support of 5 548 squads, 1 leader, and 1 SW set up on board, while 3 groups of AFVs enter during the first 3 game turns. On turn 1, a captured ISU-152 and 2 Sturmi. On turn 2, 2 Sotka and an armor leader. On turn 3, 2 T-26 and a BA-20. One Finnish 548 squad may be designated as an Assault Engineer (H1.22) squad. The Russians defend with 4 458 squads, 1 leader, 1 SW, 2 T-34/85, and 3 dummy counters. The Russians also get reinforcements on turn 3 in the form of a 458 squad, 1 SW, and 1 more T-34/85. SSR2 allows the 2 at-start T-34/85 tanks to set up hull down across 1-6 hex-sides, which makes them a formidable opponent to any AFVs wishing to duel with them. There is also a +1 LV DRM throughout the game for all shots at ranges >=3.
In our game, I tried to get my infantry to lead the way, but the Russian infantry screen were well up to the task of protecting the dug-in tanks. I then committed the ISU-152 to battle, hoping that it’s 14 AF of hull front armor would allow it to survive long enough to get a telling hit on one of the T-34/85 tanks. But this did not work out at all in my favor, so I then had to resort to hit-and-run tactics, but again without success. Next I sneaked a Sturmi into a position to ambush on of the currently distracted T-34/85 tanks, but it couldn’t manage a turret hit, so that failed, too. Nothing I tried seem to work. With time running out, and most of my useful AFVs now wrecked, I dashed off my remaining AFVs (a Sturmi, 2 T-26, and the BA-20) in the hope that my infantry could eliminate one of the T-34/85 tanks. But Peter was well aware of the threat, and made it murderous for me to get any infantry in close enough. But in the last CCPh, I did manage to get 2 half-squads into CC (one of which was an assault Engineer) with a T-34/85. Immobilization wouldn’t be good enough, so my Assault Engineer half-squad would need to roll a 3 or less to eliminate the tank. My CC attack DR was a crisp [1,1], which burned the tank for a lucky, last turn Finnish victory. The CC dice roll might have been a lucky low one, but I can at least give myself a little credit for perseverance (A.KA. passing my PMC) when little else was going my way.
Scenario 174 – Lagus Assault Guns
This scenario depicts a medium sized combined arms assault across tow quite different boards (17,32). One depicts a small rural village (17), whilst the other is heavily forested with a stream running through it. To win at the end of 6.5 turns, the Russians need to either have 5+ GO squads and 2+ mobile AFVs with functioning MAs on/north of hexrow 17M/32U, or they can win by controlling 6+ buildings within 3 hexes of 17R4. The Russians initially enter with 8 squads (4 458, 4 447), 2 leaders, 4 SWs, a SU-152, and IS-2, and 2 T-34/85 tanks. On turn 2, the Russians are reinforced with 6 628 (Assault Engineer) squads, 1 leader, and 5 SWs. The Finns defend in 2 groups with a total of 10 648 squads, 2 leaders, a 149, 4 SWs, a crewed 81* Mtr, 2 Sturmi, and 6 dummy counters. The Finns also get to HIP one squad equivalent, and are permitted to assign 2 PF to any unit (as per C13.311), so this allows for 2 HS to HIP, each with a PF. With the high volume of FP available to each side, this is likely to be a brutal affair. The Finns need to defend 2 objectives; stop the Russians penetrating deep, whilst holding onto enough of the board 17 village. The Russian Assault Engineers, armed with DCs and FTs look ideal to take the village with, but the relatively open terrain will make the approach quite difficult. 6.5 Turns isn’t a ton of time, either.
In our game, I HIPed 2 248 HS, each with a PF in ambush positions on board 17, and defended the board 32 forest heavily, in order to force a village fight, and hopefully dissuade Peter from attacking heavily in the woods. Peter was quite reluctant to cooperate with my plan, and for the early turns, the majority of the fighting occurred on board 32. Towards the middle of the game, I was able to knock out the IS-2 with the PSK, which meant that my Sturmi would be able to hold their own against the remaining Russian AFVs. But the turn after, the Russians generated multiple KIA results with FT and DC attacks, removing several Finn units. The KIA results started a big forest fire, which essentially forced the Finns to attack the village, so despite the losses, I was able to scrape together enough defenders to make a stand in the village. Peter’s Assault Engineers were not especially crisp on their morale checks, and weren’t able to apply the pressure that they might have liked, and in the last turn, Peter needed 4 CCs to go his way, which is a credit to his perseverance to even have any chance of victory. But it wasn’t to be for him, as his rather benign CC attacks left his Russians 3 buildings short. At the time of writing, this scenario is 56-23 pro Finnish on ROAR, but it feels a lot more even to me than what ROAR is showing, and I expect this to be a popular scenario.
Scenario 175 – Hunters At Ylimaa
This scenario depicts a Finnish attempt to break the German line, and I think it’s the first official Finn vs German ASL scenario, too. This scenario takes place on rows A-X on boards 35 and 37 with Mud (E3.6) in effect. The game is 7.5 turns long, and the Finns win instantly by exiting 35+ VPs off the north edge on/between 37X5 and 35X5. The Finns have 18 squads (12 648 6 538), 3 leaders, and 7 SWs (total VP value 40) entering on turn 1, and 5 Sotka tanks of various models (total VP value 35) entering on turn 1. The Germans defend with 10 58 squads, 3 leaders, 4 SWs, 2 crewed 50L AT guns, and a radio operated module of 100mm OBA. They also have 8 Sangars (as per SSR 3, Entrenching is NA). Despite Mud being in effect, the tanks can have a fairly safe time of it, due to a paved road running north-south along board 37, and plentifully linked Orchard and Brush (which are not subject to Mud Bog) hexes across board 35. I had played this scenario once before as Finns, and had little difficulty exiting 35+ points by turn 7. The Finns advantages in FP and (self-) rally made them a constant handful to the German defenders, and the ATGs were only powerful enough to penetrate the sides and rear of the AFVs.
In our game, I brought on the vehicles via 35A2, and only had to risk for Bog when crossing the 35A5-O5 road. Groups of squads with MGs advanced along board 37, but the real push was always going to be through board 35. My infantry were able to advance at a steady pace, and the Finnish advantage in total FP provided me with a dominant position after Peter got the worst of the high FP firefight. I suffered an ELR here and there, but Peter had a bad day with his rallies, and subsequently the German defense was never able to properly crystallize. I got my vehicles across the road all right, which really spread out the area that the Germans would have to cover. Peter got in one good ROF tear with the HMG around turn 4 or 5, breaking a number of squads. But that was about the only thing that went right for Peter’s Germans, and with 3 vehicles exited and 2 more ready to leave, they were forced to make suicide charges to try and prevent exit, but were cut up by the heavy Finnish FP before they got very far.
I’ve played this scenario twice now, looked at the Mud (E3.6) rules several times just to make sure I haven’t missed something, but from how I understand it, Brush and Orchard are not defined as being Mud hexes, and in both games my Finns have had too much room to move, and the Germans never looked like they were going to be able to cover the ground. This might sound a bit radical to some, but I wonder if this scenario would work better if just board 37 was used (with the entire north edge of board 37 available for exit). The Germans could then try and form some kind of line of defense, and at least hold the Finns for at least a while.
Scenario 176 – The Only Way Out
This scenario depicts a Finnish ambush of a German breakout attempt. The game is a full 10 turns long, and takes place on boards 39 and 7, with some woods overlays added. The German player wins at game end by exiting at least 10 VPs off the north edge and scoring more VPs than the Finnish. The Finns defend with 12 squads (10 548, 2 447) 3 leaders, and 5 SWs, which are split into 2 almost even groups that set up roughly north and south of the board 39 bridge. The Germans start with 3 groups on board; a (HIP) rear guard group of 2 468 squads, 1 leader, 2 SWs, and 2 foxholes. Group 2 features infantry on foot, and consists of 11 squad equivalents (468, 7 467, 6 247), 3 leaders, 3 SW. Group 3 features passengers on trucks and consists of 4 467 squads, 1 leader, 3 SWs, and 4 Opel Blitz trucks. On turn 3, the Germans get reinforcements in the form of 6 468 squads, 2 leaders, 3 SWs, an Opel Blitz truck and a 50L ATG and 228 crew. In total, the Germans outnumber the Finns by about 2:1, but Groups 2 and 3 begin scattered along the board 39 road, which gives the (moving first) Finns the opportunity to ambush the Germans. The HIP German rear guard will give a little pause for thought, and when the turn 3 reinforcements arrive, the now outnumbered 2:1 Finns have to be careful not to be engulfed. Beginning turn 2, the Finns suffer from Ammo Shortage, which prevents the use of Fire Lanes (A9.22), but I expect the Finns will mostly be on the board 39 hill, so there likely wouldn’t be so many opportunities for Fire Lanes until maybe the closing stages of the game.
I got to play-test this scenario several times, and on each occasion, the ambush did not go at all well for the Finns, especially when they broke, as they were usually forced to rout up the wooded board 39 hill, which at 4 MF per hex meant that they Germans were able to pursue them and precipitate a collapse. In our game as the defending Finns, I contemplated abandoning the ambush all together, and using turn 1 to extricate the south group. But that would leave a lot of exiting units to block, and with their numbers, leaders and SWs, the Germans could muster some imposing Fire Groups and take full advantage of 10 turn with which to blast their way out. So, feeling compelled to do the ambush (and get a lead in CVPs), I set up the 2 groups along the road and tried to punch hard on turn 1. The way the DRs of SSR3 worked out was that nearly all of the German leaders got positioned from rows B-F, which meant that forward units might struggle to recover when broken, but that the Germans would be able to add extra impetus to their push for the exit. So, overall this was a real blessing for the Germans. Nonetheless, I was able to inflict some casualties, and destroy most of the trucks. And so began a fighting withdrawal along the board 39 hill, interdicting the road as beast I could. This time, the Finns were able to make a game of it, and I carried my lead in CVPs throughout the game. By turn 9, it was starting to look like the Germans would come up a bit short, and Peter had to make a number of desperate dashes for the north edge. By the last (10th) turn, I still had enough units and FP to block the German exit, and was probably in the better position. But in a game that went right to the wire, Peter exited a total of 16 VPs and scored 18 CVPs to beat my total of 33 CVPs by 1. It was a really fun game that was enjoyable to play from start to finish. Peter in particular enjoyed this one, I suspect that it was one of his favorites, and commented that it had a nostalgic Crescendo Of Doom kind of feel to it.
Scenario 177 – Anabasis
This scenario depicts German SS squads attacking Finns at night. The game is 7.5 turns long, and takes place on rows G to AA on boards 2 and 19 with an initial NVR of 2. SSR 2 makes all woods Pine Woods (B13.8 ). Both sides are considered Stealthy. The German player wins by controlling al level 3 hexes, provided that there are no Good Order Finns on/adjacent to the 2Q1-T2-U3-U7-Y10 road. The Finns defend with 14 squads (8 548, 6 447), 4 leaders, 5 SWs, and foxholes for those in suitable terrain. They are reinforced on turn 3 by 5 squads (3 58, 2 447) 2 leaders, and 2 SWs. The Germans attack with 3 groups, one of which enters in each of the first 3 game turns. Each group consists of 6 658 squads, 2 leaders and 3-5 SWs. A SMC and radio, representing an 80mm OBA module may be added to any 1 group. This tends to become a savage night battle, as the low NVR will lead to a lot of short range fighting. Both sides are able to rally quickly; the Finns with Self-Rally, and the SS with their high broken morale, which somewhat overcomes the burden of rallying at night. The SS have to do a lot, but they field a high quality force (with -8 worth of leadership DRM), with which to do the job. The Finnish force is no pushover, but the ELR of 2 could likely see a number of units suffer Unit Replacement (A19.13), which is significant when it happens to 447 squads, as they are replaced with (non-Self Rallying) Conscript (A19.2) units.
This was my second playing of this scenario, I had previously played it as Germans, and had my attack come unraveled as the Finns rolled an uncanny high number of HOB MCs, generating not a few heroes, which made the high FP IFT attacks and CC especially dangerous. Defending this time as Finns, I sought to delay the German’s route to hill 621 and make a point defense of 2J4 and 2K4. I sought to be as deceptive as possible, so had my 4 HIP squads on Hill 621 (in 2O5 and 2O8), along with the bulk of my forces, a few half-squads in a picket line along the southern approach, and the rest ‘threatening’ to interdict the VC road. With their Self-Rally ability, the Finns really do die hard, and the SS really need to eliminate virtually all Finns not in Good Order, which strains the SS manpower to its limits. If I am able to inflict any kind of setback, it should see the time start to slip away fast for the SS, much as it had done for me.
Peter’s three groups entered on turns 1-3 in Entry areas 3, 1, and 2 respectively, and for the first few turns, it was simply a matter of me playing Cat and Mouse with him in order to delay the assault on 2J4/K4 for as long as possible. My reinforcements were able to reach 2J4/K4 without any incident, and after 4 turns, I held all of the level 3 hexes except for 2Q6. In turn 5, I got hit quite hard by some crisp German IFT shooting, but still had plenty of resources to defend 2J4/K4, as I continued to delay the fall of Hill 621. Peter’s Germans got hot with their shooting again, so I got hit hard a second time, almost beyond the point of being able to recover. Peter actually managed to force me out of 2J4/K during turn 7, and I was in danger of not being able to oppose him in the game’s final turn. But some shrewd routing allowed me to get a number of units into 2J4, one of which I was able to Self-Rally in the final game turn, but in the final CCPh, Peter was able to clear out 2J4 and earn the SS a close fought victory. Another really good game that went right to the final CCPh.
All in all, Peter and I had a blast playing all the scenarios of Hakkaa Päälle!. The new style of (Russian-equipped) Finns definitely gives them a new flavor, without making them seem at all like ‘supermen’. The new rules (Russian Early War Doctrine (A25.212), Light Woods (B35), Prepared Fire Zone (B36), Aerosans (D17), Ahkio (E4.8 ), as well as other fine-tuning to the Russians and Finns) really offer a number of new possibilities, and also make fighting in the snow just that bit more intriguing. I liked every scenario I played, except for ASL-175 “Hunters At Ylimaa” (which I feel offers the Finns too much room to maneuver), and would be happy to play any and all again. I would like to say a big thanks to all those involved in bringing this module to the ASL community.
.END OF BRIEFING.
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