AAR by: Michael Rodgers
Advanced Squad Leader AAR – Between the Anvil and the Hammer II (TAC14).
Here’s the historical situation:
Attacker: German (196th Infantry Regiment, 68th Infantry Division)
Defender: Russian (351st Siberian Rifles Division, LVII Army)
Benefitting from the winter, Marshal Timoschenko decided to launch a significant offensive against the German Army Group South. The Russians managed to create significant openings aimed at reaching the Donetz basin from Izyum. The Russians made every attempt to take Khristishche but all were pushed back. It was only at dawn on the 25th of January that a patrol succeeded in penetrating the city.
How many times do you hear ASL players say “I like a scenario where both sides get to attack”? This scenario gives the attack to both sides at the same time, as well having both sides defend at the same time.
The scenario is set in Russian during January of 1942. A town (on board 1) defended by the Germans has been penetrated by Russian forces during the night. The Germans have a quick reaction force to try to eliminate the pocket, while the Russians send additional forces to take advantage of the penetration.
This Tactiques scenario appeared in two versions: as TAC 2 being a daylight scenario and as TAC14 being a night scenario. The scenarios are similar in forces and map usage, but not identical. Bruno L and I played TAC 14, since we are having fun with night scenarios.
The special scenario rules make the Germans that set up on board the Scenario Defender. The reinforcing Russians and the reinforcing Germans are treated as Scenario Attackers, meaning both sides will have cloaked units. The Russian infiltrators set up first near the victory building K5, but are restricted to no more that two squad equivalents per building. These units (a 527, 4×447, 3×237, a LMG and a commissar) are neither Scenario Attacker nor Scenario Defender, but they are concealed. The Russian reinforcements are 3×527, 12×447, 2xLMG, 8-0 and 7-0. There is a secondary concern for the Russians; after German turn three, the Germans if there are no good order Russian MMC north of row D at the end of a German turn.
The German garrison forces (6×467, a 247, 2xLMG and 8-0) set up second with the benefits and restrictions of the Scenario Defender at night. They must decide how much force for their two missions of interdicting the Russian reinforcements and helping to take the victory building. The German reinforcements are 3×468, 6×467, MMG, 2xLMG, 9-1, 8-0, and 7-0.
The Germans move first. Both sides receive their reinforcements on turn 1. The scenario designer did not specify the Majority Squad Type for either side, but did reference rule E1.62, which states that Germans are Lax at night prior to 1943 unless stacked with a SMC. I believe the designer expected us to deduce the Russian Majority Squad Type according to E1.6, but E1.6 also states to use an SSR to specify it. If one plays that the MST affects only straying, it is not a big issue. Some people, I’ve learned, play that the MST also applies to other things like ambush. I believe that is incorrect.
As well as taking place at night, the scenario features Extreme Winter, Deep Snow and Skis (for the Russians). I played the German side. Here is the map after my setup.
On such a small map, it was difficult to enter the German reinforcements without triggering starshell attempts. I decided it was best to take a direct path to the victory building rather than try to avoid triggering those attempts. Bruno had decent luck with his starshells. He chose to keep his troops concealed; a reasonable choice because I did not give any shots with negative net DRM. This is the situation at the end of German turn one.
I was not happy with my starshells during Russian turn one. I achieved only one starshell on the side where the Russian reinforcements entered. The reinforcements stayed out of the illumination, but did move to within NVR. German defensive fire eliminated some dummies and broke one squad. Near the victory building, Bruno started contracting his defence towards the victory building. Close combat on the south side eliminated some German dummies.
During German turn two, because of good Russian illumination the Germans moved cautiously, then advanced next to the victory building. Germans also moved into the building east of the victory building to push the Russians out of that one and have a force on the flank of the victory building. The Germans also had good illumination in Russian turn two to slow the Russian advance. In and around the victory building, the Russian skulked. At the south end, the Russians moved a lot of units toward building F3. Two squads broke out of the six making the attack. Both sides had a unit break under fire near building K5 and the Russian sniper broke a HS in the German backfield. The Russians initiated three CCs in building F3 that resulted in one melee and dead Germans in the other two.
German turn three: prep fire broke the last Russian unit outside of building K5 and just east of it. Good Russian illumination around K5 forced the Germans to once again move cautiously towards building K5. Outside of that, however, they were able to hustle towards building G6 and I7. These buildings would help the Germans prevent the Russian reinforcements from reaching K5. After the rout phase building K5 has three concealed Russians in three hexes; the forth hex has a HS, the commissar and three broken units. The Germans advance in CC in two of the K5 hexes. One turns out to be dummy Russians, the other is a HS which keeps a German squad in melee. The melee in F3 continues as well. The night rules allow the broken Russians to stay in building K5 adjacent to the Germans. In Russian three, all the units with the commissar rally, but their prep fire is ineffective. That hex now has 2.5 good order squads. The German illumination manages to surround building K5. The Russian reinforcements move closer to K5, but stay out of open ground until the advance phase, so they do not enter the K5 building. German defensive fire breaks most of the units with the commissar. The melee in K5 ends in the German favour.
In German turn four, the commissar rallies up his brokies again to make a stack of 3.5 squad-equivalents. German prep fire breaks some of them again. Russian fire breaks a German squad in the K5 building. Bruno chooses to have the commissar and one unit exit the K5 building. The Germans are a mix of known, concealed and cloaked, so he doesn’t know what is coming. One hex has a 447. The other has 3 HS, one of them pinned. I send two squads and an 8-1 against the 447. I send a squad and a HS against the 3 HS. The 447 is ambushed and eliminated. The other hex becomes a melee. Russian turn four sees them take building G6 from the Germans, but they don’t move towards building K5, because it is well illuminated and covered by German fire. The melee in building K5 is won by the Germans, so they now hold the victory building.
The Germans spend their turn five skulking and put their best foot forward when they resume their positions. The Germans had their best leader with two squads, a MMG and a LMG covering the building from a flank position in K8. In their turn, the Russians moved lots of units next to the victory building, but German defensive fire broke all of them. In the advance phase, several more Russian units advanced adjacent to building K5.
During German turn six, they skulked again with the K5 troops. Their other troops fired and broke more Russian units. The K5 Germans took some fire because the Russians were partly around building K5. That fire generated a hero and made a squad fanatic. Bruno had enough at that point. He believed that his remaining Russians could not take back the victory building K5.
I liked the scenario. It felt dynamic and challenging for both sides.
.END OF BRIEFING.
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