Thursday, August 6, 2009

VASLeague Round 3 - AAR - Purple Heart Lane

GET UP!!! Remember this scene from Band of Brothers? When Winters had to get the paratroops out of the ditches and charge the MGs set-up by Fallschimjagers in the sleepy little French town of Carentan, before they were cut to ribbons? That heart-stopping moment is the focus of ASLSK S19 - Purple Heart Lane. (This scenario is available at MMP's website here.) This is the AAR for my VASLeague Round Three game of that scenario with BryanS (as the Germans). It definitely lived up to the drama of the television show!

Thanks to Winters and Andy -- my opponent from the day before my VASLeague session -- I learned that aggression is important in these sorts of scenarios where you are attacking entrenched defenders. Though to be perfectly honest, the German troops here are hardly "entrenched" per se, but still elite. So a hearty thanks goes out to Andy for teaching me that pussyfooting around when you need to take an objective is stupid. (See D1 AAR!)

Below is a screenshot of the set-up. Due to SSR, the grain fields are impassable flooded fields that do not block line of sight. This was historical reality in Normandy as German troops tried to narrow the approaches to key locations. There is one other minor terrain transformation (and I'm still a little hazy on why it was necessary -- was it just to give more breathing room to the entering US Airborne?) in that hex CC6 is considered Open Ground*. The final SSR of note is that starting on Turn 4, German squads could start pulling out of the town and concurrently raise the VP locations required to be taken on a one-squad to one-building basis.

Essentially, the 101st Airborne have to charge into the town and capture/control at least 6+ buildings by game's end. They have one squad almost to the crossroads with a leader, one squad starting their run and five off board raring to go. Opposing them at first are a couple of German elites with LMGs and leaders. Four more squads come in on turn one from the south (left side of the board) with leaders, MGs, and a DC.

The plan was simple. Charge!

Above is a shot of the board after my first turn, at the start of BryanS' Rally Phase. I've established a fallback position (very very important tactic kids!) at Z8 where I put a leader to rally anyone who broke during the charge up the middle of the intersection. I actually laid some smoke in the wrong position accidentally which slightly hindered my charge but basically allowed me to move about to set-up the Z8 command post. Through sheer weight of numbers (BryanS simply didn't have enough squads to fire at me) I got close enough to ambush the building in W6 despite the tenacious defense. Buildings controlled after one turn: 1.

The Z8 hex turned out to be an excellent position to prep fire from and fix the enemy in the first set of buildings. Twenty-one leader-led-FP is nothing to sneeze at.

BryanS spent his turn deploying his reinforcements around the main set of buildings, probably with an eye to trying to hold out as long as possible before bugging out to increase the victory threshold. His advance forces were basically down to a single leader who continuously survived multiple point blank shots and wounds to limp away.

Above is the board disposition after two full turns. The 101st have taken the two outlying buildings and another to the west (top). That top squad would perform a sweep around the right flank and doubletime to secure the other buildings on the fringe of the town.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Aggression proved the better part of valour and I charged again, carefully, with single units, trying to find cracks and seams in the defensive fire. The key is to use the terrain as much as possible. I conciously also tried to "fix" defenders with the non-moving elements of my forces.

The shot above is Allied Turn 3, just after Movement. Note the residual laid down. In probably the most critical DF shot of game, BryanS had the misfortune to roll boxcars -- if I'm remembering right it either allowed my guys to sidle right up to him in the main buildings or was a FPF shot breaking his men or both. And again, if I remember correctly, I annihilated his men in another round of CC.

On, as it would turn out, the last turn of the game, BryanS had one last ace up his sleeve in a DC-toting squad next to my megastack of Airborne. He attempted to operably place the DC and in my DF I rolled five-hojillion point-blank-fire snakes, or the equivalent. His squad was vapourized and he conceded.

Red Stars are controlled buildings
Doing the math, by the half-way point of the game I already had my required six buildings with few casualties while inflicting some grievous damage. There was no way Bryan could disengage without taking more hits and even if he did, I had more than enough manpower to capture the additional buildings to make up for it.

It was a ridiculously successful assault borne of massive aggression. Part of it was evoked by the memories of the Band of Brothers show and part of it was the game I had had with Andy the previous day. In retrospect, this scenario (by Brian Youse, head honcho of MMP) really captured the "feel" of combat in Normandy. I actually tried and succeeded in the use of fire and manuever.

I think I've heard this somewhere, not sure of the source, but there are wrong answers, but there are never any wrong questions -- in essence, my forces asked too many questions of BryanS' and I won a hard fought victory.

Thanks to Mr. Youse for a fun scenario. Thanks to BryanS for being a great opponent and gracious in defeat. As per usual, my VASLeague opponent was a gentleman. Thank you to anyone reading out there. Sorry I haven't been on in a bit but I've been enjoying the sun -- yes, the scrub does go outside!

Roll low!

p.s. next VASLeague opponent and I are playing S15 - Hammer to the Teeth!

* - Talloaf has explained this terrain SSR: the SSR says "woods mass" so it's the whole bloody woods! You can now run to the top of the map (west!). Don't do it coward!


Talloaf said...

Hey Scrub, I think you misread the SSR. Not only is CC6 open ground, but the entire woods mass connected to CC6 is open ground as well.

Guess who looked me up on BGG to play a PBeM game of Gueryev's HQ!
Jay Richardson. THE Jay Richardson.

scrub said...

1. Holy hell that makes a lot more sense!

2. Don't let him beat you!


Andy said...

Hey! You listened to me! I claim partial credit for your victory!

Luke Sineath said...

I think this scenario is easier for the Germans, provided they have a good setup--it isn't very forgiving. When I played I deployed reinforcements in O10 and P1 to hit the oncoming Americans with fire and then exit the board.

scrub said...

Andy, I fully went into this game thinking about punishing the Germans with merciless intensity thanks to you.

Luke, I really like this scenario. Straightforward with some nuances possible.

Andy said...

The Force is strong with you, young Scrub. But you are not a Jedi yet.

Let me know when you're up for a rematch.

Anonymous said...

I would like you all to know that I have defeated this young Jedi in our last two meetings.

He is nothing compared to me!


P.S. Hehehe, I know I am going to pay for that comment somewhere in the future.