08 November 2014

Something a Bit Different

Today Morningstar Games in Savannah hosted a charity game day event. Any board / card games were welcome. Mike Baker has been trying to get me to play Advanced Squad Leader for ages so today was a perfect opportunity.

About 30 years ago I had a copy of Squad Leader and my buddies and I screwed around with it a bit but didn't expend a serious effort on it - we were much more into Dungeons and Dragons at the time. So, I was slightly familiar with the mechanics, but this was really going to be a learning game for me.

The scenario name was Guryev's Headquarters from the Streets of Fire module. The basic setup was that the Soviets and Germans were both trying to capture the same building, presumably Guryev's headquarters. Whichever side had more unbroken squads in the building by the end of turn seven would be the victor.

Mike and the wargaming neophyte, whose name I didn't remember because I'm terrible at that sort of thing, took command of the Germans and I was handed control of the Soviets. Suits me fine - I generally like using the red hordes. Here's a shot of our setups and the map.
I set my forces up in stacks with modicum of subterfuge since I was graced with five "hidden" markers. I put the assault troops closest to the target building and set up the machineguns to hamper the German advance. I didn't count the counters, but it seemed that I was outnumbered. I did have six SMG squads and a leader (who I forgot to use) as reserves.

Another view of the setup with a better view of the Germans.

My initial advance towards Guryev's HQ is met by a belt of 7.92. Defensive fire is nasty. A "recon by fire" procedure locates German gun positions. I then have my first "ah-ha" moment of the game and realize the hex with the black die in it is in defilade from the machineguns here:

Filthy Germans...

Since I'd located a safe route to the target building, given my opponent's deployment, the remainder of the game for me was an exercise in patience and distraction. I had to wait for my reinforcements to arrive, move them forward and just wait for time to expire - I was quite confident in my SMG squads firepower and their ability to defend Guryev's Love Shack.

A turn or two on. I've got plenty of troops into the HQ, including the poor guys who got shot up earlier. The squad with the light machinegun (yellow circle) would prove to be the toughest nuts of the Soviet side. Although they weren't deadly, they were practically invincible and were a major thorn in the Germans' side for the whole battle.

The fight for the HQ begins in earnest! I was able to run these Fascists off, even though I took a few losses in the process.

Mike and company had moved their machineguns into a better position and were hammering the shit out of my "staging area" hex in the building. My troops really weren't affected by the fire but not wanting to give them any additional chances, I moved the two squads forward, out of LOS of the really nasty guns. My troops readied themselves for the inevitable rush since turn seven was about to begin.

The German assault was not terrifically effective, although our squads in hex L1 there did manage to wipe each other out in close combat. His leader brought three squads with him into my old "staging area" hex and camped. At the start of my turn seven my platoon of SMG troops opened up on their neighbors and mauled them - wiping out two squads completely and breaking the other and their leader. That was all it took - it was turn seven and the Soviets had taken the headquarters building!

Halfway through the game I was ready to throw in the towel. My guys were getting murdered by long-range firepower and things were just sad for the Ruskies. I had killed off three of my own squads by rolling "12" on rally attempts. My only ray of hope was being able to feed wave after wave of my own men into the objective building, so I kept at it. The rest of my force, as bedraggled as it was, was just enough to keep a bit more than half of the German force completely tied up to the point where they couldn't properly support the assault.

The scenario was a blast, a real battle in a phone-booth with the small battlefield and large number of troops. It was truly a nail-biter that came down to the final few moves. Good game Mike and other guy, thank you very much for the great afternoon entertainment!

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