[Four parts?! How self-indulgent!]
My half of the fifth turn was quiet as I waited for the inevitable counterattack from the remaining Russian squads their reinforcements. Lady Luck was still on my side however. The first-line reinforcement squad armed with the LMG was vapourized by yet another very low roll by yours truly in hex T3. And of course, the Commissar offed another hapless conscript half-squad when they failed their miserably low MC.
In the MPh I even brought in my HMG stack from M5 to O5...
Allies Turn 5
Paul was massing one last big push into the Bread Factory from the east. The question was whether he could mosey around the inevitable blasting from my stacks o' death.
In the interest of brevity and following the axiom of "a picture is worth a thousand words", here is the answer to that question:
OUCH! -- The Wall of Lead
They couldn't make it past the Wall of Lead. Stacks were blasting from O5, P5, R5 and the Bread Factory itself. It was a brave charge that ended in tragedy. Turn Six saw some little bit of maneuvering (one stack approached the Russians directly and the HMG stack went to good ol' N3).
On the final Allied turn the rally checks for the last couple of squads failed and that was that. Appropriately, I guess, the Commissar was the last to shoot in this meeting engagement around the Red Barricades' Bread Factory #2.
S18 Baking Bread - End of Game
Here's a final shot of the map at the end of the scenario. The last of the Russian forces huddled up in R1, their AT Gun still sitting alone in R5, and a ton of their discarded support weapons littering the field of battle.
For the Germans, the MVP was Sgt. Esser himself who, after watching his stack get blasted away, picked up an LMG and voluntarily forfeited his leadership modifier for the rest of the game -- who says there's no "Berserk" in ASLSK?
Notes from the Rubble
1. Once again, I'd like to thank LTC Paul for being such a good sport. In retrospect, I think he was a good guy for trying to the very last in the face of such long odds. He definitely passed his PMC.
2. I really, really, like S18. The more I think about it, the more I like the densely urban scenarios a la Stalingrad.
3. I think this was my very first scenario with a Gun. I wasn't too worried about it; AFVs are moving Guns after all... I think Paul did a fine job with the HIP -- perhaps he could have rotated the CA once counter-clockwise? But how would he know that I wouldn't be charging Esser on a route north?
4. A Commissar really changes the rally calculations. I'd say Paul was unlucky for the most part early, but seriously, no halfway decent squad should be failing the rally checks?
5. Gun crews self-rally?! Oh crap!
6. My counter discipline is a LOT better. My language about doing things is not as precise as it needs to be. You must always be very clear in what you intend to do, and with whom or what you intend to do it with.
Example: In the early game I prepped or DFed a line of squads in big FG. Later on, I added anothe squad into the stack in the group. When I DFed again later I said "same guys" doing the DF. Well, when I was placing the Fired markers I discovered I had neglected to mention that new squad and Paul and I had to judge what to do. Had I intended to fire with them or was I holding them back...? The answer was honestly in between... I intended neither but as a courtesy I should have been more precise in my language with Paul and explicitly said what I was NOT firing with I guess. I was a LOT more precise after that. You have to be if you're in a competitive situation -- amongst friends it's a different story.
7. HMGS still rock.
8. Seeing as I hadn't played an ASL game in anger since the last VASLeague round I was a bit rusty at first but I really had no problem getting right back into the swing of things by game's end. I was almost taking a "mini-break" from the game. There's no question it's still in the top echelon of games I've ever enjoyed and this match really reinforced that. I may dabble in Memoir '44 or SCS or Ancients or whatever but I think that ASL is still in that sweetspot of complexity, scale, and sheer nervous excitement over every single die roll.
On to Round Three!