As it turns out, of course, I really didn't think about just how much was coming at me. Gwaedin really really went left hard and 15 squads and 5 leaders with 5 SWs (add one of mine he captured too -- doh!) looked early on like a massive blue tide coming at me. You'll notice that all the squads on the right are CXing like mad to get to the buildings in the centre or at the rear asap. Note too the 8-0 with MMG squad in the left building getting pasted in CC.
Here's a shot of the action later in turn one (Allied side I think). Notice that the Germans don't believe in a fair fight and are piling on in the CC. Boooo!!!
Now, this was where we left the action after our first session. The three squads on the top were the FT with a 2nd line squad (bad set-up I think but still has to be respected by the Germans), another 8-0 with Elite squad, and the 10-2 with Elite 6-6-7 and the dreaded HMG (more on the HMG later). At this point there was an Elite 7-4-7 running in on the right and two broken squads in the middle. The rear broken squad routed there with the final MMG and was lucky to self-rally in a later turn, holding that side of the map closed for exiting Germans. The bulk of gwaedin's Germans were still on the left with one big stack in the bottom who had taken some unlucky shots and routed.
The session tonight started inauspiciously for gwaedin. His Rally attempt with his leader resulted in casualty reduction and he wounded. To balance things out, my crappy 2nd line squad with the FT broke it immediately and they faced a mass of fire and died in short order out in the open on the left.
Here is the map a half turn later (I think) and I've had to retreat my squad and leader in yI2 to yJ1. The squads I've thrown into the middle were all routed in short order and would basically be non-factors in the game. They were target dummies I threw out to keep the rear German units occupied.
The key development at this point in the game was the standoff between gwaedin's mega stack in yI4 and the only guys they could see in yJ1 (the aforementioned 8-0 and squad). Gwaedin's stack could muster up a 20-FP attack at will. In what he believes was a critical point in the match, his first prep fire with the stack was a DR of 11 (+3 or 4) and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I think, in hindsight this was super important because, if you know the flow of the game, this put him back one turn in terms of initiative. I would get a subsequent shot in the DFPh and be basically "one-up" on him. The other important thing was that gwaedin, by his own admission, thinks he fell in love with the power of the mega-stack. He made the cardinal error of forgetting the Victory Conditions and, in my opinion, spent too many turns just Prepping with that mega stack to break my guys rather than sally forth and exiting for the win.
This is a subsequent turn. The Germans are bringing in their routed units from earlier and testing the middle of the map. My sacrificial squads in the middle were little more than small speedbumps to these two other stacks. But it was getting late...
We could both see that the left was turning into a big logjam that wasn't going to be pretty. However, in the middle, gwaedin attempted to start exiting squads (he had all the way to the Y column to do it and seemingly only my MMG in yP1 to worry about. He dashed two half squads all the way to yV4 and placed a MMG and squad in yO5 to cover for the main stack's run for the border. This is where the HMG I had made it's long awaited debut.
To be perfectly honest, I knew the .50 cal HMG in yK2 was a beast but man, it was absolutely vicious in this game. First, I DFed with the squad in yP1 to no result. This forced my hand and I used the HMG, leader-led on yO5. I not only KIAed them I retained ROF and then KIAed the guys in yV4 -- no cheap exits for gwaedin unfortunately.
Another half-turn and it was the final Axis turn (Allies do not get a sixth turn). Critical points: The 7-4-7 in yJ0 was holding the door shut on the extreme left exit hex (yI1). The 6-6-7 with 10-2 and HMG in yK2 were itching to turn the streets red with German blood. I did some quick math and it seemed clear that the big German stack in yI4 was going to have to be broken up and CX for it...
The Rally Phase did not help -- the broken units in Q6 did not want to move so gwaedin was left with trying a lone squad leader to attempt exit. The funny thing was I ignored the squad and jumped all over the wounded leader who had to make a beeline to the board edge. Of course my idiot squad in yP1 rolls boxcars, cowers and basically Final Fires and we laughed about how they peed their pants seeing a lone sergeant with a limp and covered in blood approach them.
Regardless, the right side was done and we got to the true business of the left.
The yI4 stack started breaking up and rounding the corner on yK2. I let one pass and then had to lay down some residual in yJ3 to keep him honest. I was able to keep ROF (all fingers crossed here) and really laid into subsequent squads that tried to run. An HMG here is 8FP. For the running squads it was usually a -1 FFNAM and -1FFMO AND a leader-led -2. Not only is this very very scary, I kept rate, I think, 4 times. For those of you without an IFT handy, that's an average roll of 3 on the 8FP column for a K/2 result. Of course I kept rolling less than that and squads were vapourizing all over. The residuals on the screenshot were from the squad (2), and the HMG (4) when it finally lost ROF.
By this time gwaedin was forced to try his squads in the G column and one group made it to yI1 where the 7-4-7 who had rallied a turn earlier laid down a 6 residual and broke them. It was basically over at that point. In order to exit, the Germans had to have units move off in the MPh (impossible now) or get to the last row and Advance off -- but these were either covered in residual or I could Final Protective Fire to make difficult.
Here's the final state of the gameboard when gwaedin conceded with not enough German squads left to make the VP total.
Some quick thoughts at the end of the game?
1. Gwaedin was a gracious opponent in defeat. We both clearly were having fun and for me, personally, I was a bit regretful to win over such a great opponent. I've asked him to write up some thoughts and I will include them in a subsequent post. Gwaedin was clearly more knowledgeable on the rules and better with the VASL interface. I learned a lot. There is no question that playing him in my first exposure to the VASLeague was lucky. I had an awesome time.
2. Did I set-up well? Was my plan a good one? If anyone has played this more than once I'd like to hear what you think. I firmly believe I was more lucky than good, but then that's always a given!
3. I have some BAD counter discipline. I frequently forgot to place Prep Fire or DF counters and the like -- granted that's not such a big issue in this relatively small scenario but if I intend to go on to full ASL I have to do better.
Hope this was an entertaining read and not that dry. Part Two soon with reflections and learning, hopefully with some input by gwaedin!
Go play ASL!
[EDIT: Sorry about the size of the maps being so small, I have no idea when and how blogger.com decides when to link to an expanded image. I'll try to upload again tomorrow if I have time.]