ASL AAR: Cat’s Kill (G21)


AAR by: Michael Rodgers

Advanced Squad Leader AAR: Cat’s Kill (G21)

Here’s the historical situation:

Date: June 8, 1944 (D-Day +2)
Bretteville L’Orgueilleuse, France
German (SS) (12th SS Panzer Division)
Defender: Canadian (Regina Rifles, 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division/Regina Rifles HQ)

On June 8th, SS-Obersturmfuhrer Rudolf von Ribbentrop arrived in Normandy with his Panzer Abteilung as part of the attempt to bolster the German defenses. Ribbentrop’s troops were immediately ordered into a night assault to relieve the 1st Battalion of SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 26, which was believed to be holding the town of Bretteville and under intense attack by the Canadians. His Abteilung was joined by a reconnaissance company, and Kurt “Panzer” Meyer assumed overall command. The column passed the villages of Franqueville and Rots uneventfully, and pressed on toward Bretteville. Upon reaching the outskirts of the town, the two lead Panthers announced their arrival with a thunderous salvo. The salvo, an old Eastern Front trick, allowed the Germans to spread out into the village rapidly. For the Canadians, the attack became a desperate waking-nightmare.

I chose this scenario to play for several reasons. I was on a binge of night scenarios. The Allied side has Canadians; I am Canadian, so that is an extra attraction for me. This night scenario has vehicles on both sides, so the attacker will not trigger starshell opportunities as soon as his vehicles enter the board. The scenario has no designer credit on the card and the Scenario Archive shows “unknown”.

The date is June 8, just after D-Day. The Canadians occupy a town of mostly stone buildings, spread across one and a half of two boards (10 and 20). The map represents the town of Bretteville L’Orguilleuse outside of Caen. Soldiers of the Regina Rifles regiment, with their HQ are defending. The HQ units have a more restricted setup than the rest of the defenders. It was published in volume 29, number 4 of The General magazine in 1994.

The HQ consists of three 458, PIATs, two six-pounders and two leaders: 10-2 and 6+1. They must set up within two hexes of 20P8. The remainder of the defenders are a dozen 458, quite an assortment of machine guns, more PIATs, two more six-pounders and two Universal carriers with BMG. They are led by a 9-2, two 9-1 and an 8-1. Strangely, the Canadians cannot defend part of the town, but the whole town counts towards the German victory conditions. Bocage is in play, but there is not much of it.

On the map image below, the HQ area is marked in red. The rest of the Canadians set up to the right of the dashed yellow line. There are 34 stone buildings on the board. The rules tell they are all controlled by the Canadians at start.

ASL AAR: Cat's Kill (G21)
The Map

The Germans are from the 12th SS Panzer Division “Hitler Youth”. They have five leaders for twelve squads; one of each kind from 10-2 to 8-0. Three of the squads are the 838 variety, the rest are 658. They have a bunch of machine guns, a flamethrower, some PSK and two DC. Now for the armour component: six Panthers, four armoured cars and a SPW 251/16, the half-track with a flamethrower on each side. Unusually, the Germans also receive some extra cloaking dummies. It is a potent force, but the infantry component on the sparse side to achieve the victory conditions of controlling more stone buildings than the Canadians at game end.

ROAR showed eleven German victories to only five Canadian at the time of this match. That is not many playings, to be sure, but it is a ratio one doesn’t like to see. Two easily-forgotten night rules might be contributing to this record. First, un-cloaked infantry spend one extra MF in each concealment terrain location entered at night. Second, all vehicles pay an extra MP per hexside crossed, or bypassed along, at night. I believe we forgot the second one in our playing.

I played the German attacker. I saw an opportunity to possibly surprise and outflank a substantial amount of the Canadian defense. My idea was to hold back the vehicles (because they trigger starshell opportunities sooner than infantry) while the infantry advanced up the west side of the map to attack the north east section of the town while three squads and a leader take the south west part of town that is out of the Canadian setup area. The south west section has seven stone buildings. The northwest section has three stone buildings outside of the Canadian setup area, as well as eleven inside of it. If the Germans take all of those, they will have twenty-one stone buildings and leave the Canadians with thirteen stone buildings.

Here is the Canadian setup:

ASL AAR: Cat's Kill (G21)
Canadian Setup

The Canadian player made one scenario setup error: he placed his AT guns outside of buildings; the scenario requires all the Canadian units to be inside buildings. When we found out, we played on leaving the guns where they were. Had I been playing the Canadians, I might have put at least half of my units on level 2, hoping to remove their “No Move” sooner by LOS to illuminated enemy. There was also a tactical error of putting two units in gullies. When we noticed, we guessed that maybe they were meant to be in crest status. Either way, they would have been on “No Move” counters for the same amount of time.

As the Germans, I was able to move without interference for the first three turns. Nine squads ran across board 10 while three squads (two of them deployed) secured the board 20 buildings outside of the Canadian setup area. My vehicles stayed well back, waiting for the battle to begin. It was a bit liberating knowing that the Canadians were restricted to buildings. At the end of the third turn, several German cloaks/units advanced within NVR of the Canadians on board 10. As planned, the Germans control ten stone buildings at this point.

ASL AAR: Cat's Kill (G21)
End of German turn 3

Of course, the Canadians started shooting on their third turn. Germans became known. Canadians started losing their “No Move” counters. On German turn four, the battle began in earnest. The armoured cars led the way for the vehicles and found the first illegal AT gun in grain in front of the board 10 town. The gun eliminated one AC, but went down to an overrun from a second AC. Since it was night, all the German AFV move CE as much as possible and not reckless. This led to an early small stun on Panther Echo from leader directed infantry fire. During Canadian defensive final fire, the second AT gun appeared in 10Y5, the hex with walls on every side. It had an AC and stunned Panther Echo in its sights. Amazingly, both survived that phase. German advancing fire broke only one Canadian squad, but it had a MMG. The Canadian sniper recalled CE Panther Charlie.

ASL AAR: Cat's Kill (G21)
End of German turn 4

In Canadian four, the broken unit with the MMG in hex 10V7 had stayed put, but rallied on its first try with a 9-1 helping; at least now it was a half squad instead of a full squad. I can’t remember the dr, but the AT gun targeting the side of Panther Echo did not kill it, despite using IF. The Canadians on the front line of board 10 moved back cautiously. The Germans broke one squad and stunned a carrier. The other carrier, after a successful sD in front of Panther Delta, decided to run over to board 20. The 10-2 leader of the HQ group tried and succeeded at his Freedom of Movement dr. German defensive final fire broke a second of the retreating squads. The Panther with its side facing the AT gun can finally pivot to face its front to the AT gun.

ASL AAR: Cat's Kill (G21)
End of Canadian turn 4

In German five, Panther Foxtrot moved adjacent to a carrier to attack it, gave it a second stun to force a recall, and then moved into its hex to lock its fire. The +1 Panther Echo moved away from the unlucky AT gun. Panther Delta was duped into attacking a dummy in the woods, for which it took a PIAT shell in its side facing. How embarrassing for its commander (me). The unlucky AT gun finally destroyed something: the AC in front of it. A German squad with a leader finished off the recalled carrier in CC.

I missed logging turns five and six. By the save files, I can see that the Germans pushed past the 10U row of buildings slowly. The mass of German firepower finally started to tell against the Canadians nearest to the 10U row. The lone Canadian carrier moved toward the south west corner where the Germans were guarding seven stone buildings. At the end of turn five:

ASL AAR: Cat's Kill (G21)
End of Canadian turn 5

A berserk 838, followed by the flame-throwing halftrack got the Canadians out of building 10W4. With some VBM fire-locking, the Germans moved into a few hexes of building 10Z6. The German 10-2 finally saw some action, helping to eliminate some of the defenders there. The German Kfz4 zipped back to the south west garrison to aid them. The Canadian carrier survived much fire to penetrate the German defense of the south west buildings. I was very worried that its half squad would unload; it did not. A lone Canadian concealed unit wandered south on board 10 to also make the Germans worry. Enough Canadians are moving now to force the Germans to defend the board 10 buildings that they have taken. German defensive fire eliminated the unlucky 10Y5 gun crew.

ASL AAR: Cat's Kill (G21)
End of Canadian turn 6

Building 10Z7 fell to the Germans, with some Mopping Up to be sure it was clear. Other small buildings that had to be bypassed earlier were also taken. The FT halftrack took its last shot, rolling eleven during an attack. The Canadians did not get a lot of illumination this time in the board 10 town, so the Germans moved a lot more freely than the previous turns. The berserk 838 became a HS during its charge, but still tied up a Canadian squad, one of only two left in the immediate area. The Canadian 9-2 HMG combo appeared this turn during defensive first fire. An AC went back to deal with the Canadian carrier; a nearby German squad also went after it. In CC, the Germans eliminated the Canadian carrier in the south and one squad in the 10AA4 building. The berserk 338 is eliminated for no gain. During Canadian seven, the 9-2 HMG combo put a big stun on Panther Foxtrot to recall it. The lone Canadian squad mixed up with the board 10 Germans decided to retreat to avoid being shot at many times. A lot of Canadian units, however, are coming to help and maybe take back some buildings. I have no idea how many are dummies. In the south west, the Germans had good illumination to discourage Canadian attack.

ASL AAR: Cat's Kill (G21)
End of Canadian turn 7

The Germans did not Prep Fire in turn eight. They needed to secure more of the empty buildings and position themselves for the coming Canadian units. With all the Canadian AT assets in two hexes, two of the Panthers buttoned up and moved adjacent to challenge and hopefully subdue a clump of Canadian units, including the HMG. They both bounding fired, breaking one of the two squads attacked. In the south west section, two German units assault move towards a Canadian building. Defensive fire by a half squad breaks one of them. Defensive Final fire by the Canadians is ineffective this time around. I’m doing this because I’m concerned about losing some buildings in the north east.

During AFPh, the German 10-2 creates a Canadian hero. A cloaked German HS goes into CC with a Canadian HS in south west building X3. The German got the ambush, but did not eliminate the Canadian so a melee ensued. Canadian Prep Fire was unsuccessful; it got results, but the Germans passed their MC. The Germans obtained decent illumination in the north east to make it difficult for the Canadians to approach the stone buildings. The squad adjacent to the Panthers tried to get away, but it was broken. In the south west, a Canadian squad got into position to reinforce the melee in building X3. In DFPh, the German 10-2 broke a squad, but triggered a sniper that broke a German HS that I sorely wanted to claim building locations. Panther Bravo with the 9-2 armour leader fired at the 9-2 HMG combo. MG rolled twelve. MA first shot had rate and hit. Both the leader and squad broke. Second shot hit again with a K/3 result. Leader took the K and died. Squad failed the 3MC and then failed the LLMC. Poof! No more HMG team. In CC, the Canadians rolled snake-eyes to reclaim full ownership of building X3 and generate an 8-0.

ASL AAR: Cat's Kill (G21)
End of Canadian turn 8

Turn nine had no German Prep Fire and saw the Canadians receive poor illumination. This allowed a German unit to skirt around an illuminated area to get into position to claim the newly un-occupied building 20U2. The Germans in the north finished claiming the board 10 buildings and started to move towards board 20. The Canadians conceded at this point.

I felt like my plan worked. It was partly successful because of the Canadian setup, but the idea of not allowing starshell opportunities for as long as possible paid off. The Canadian balance of one less turn is probably called for, in my opinion, based on the ROAR record and this playing.

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