Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Silly After Action Report Part 4 - Training Day - Artillery, Who Needs It?

So it all comes down to this.  Ivan cringes inside his fortified castle as my troops mass for the final attack checking the expiry dates on their flame throwers and desperately trying to persuade the Luftwaffe to get out of their holes and attack the enemy.  The final three turns of Training Day are upon us.  Ivan's tactics have been reduced to finding places to hide and then sneaking back into the fortress in the advance phase.  In one of his gun pits a close combat rages on.  Over on the right the tattered remnants of my flanking force can no longer even pretend to be a threat.  It all comes down to my main force on the right.

But first, bombs!  Yes, having stepped out of their stukas to ask a passing crow for directions my air support has finally done something useful.  A bomb dropped perfectly on top of a cupola has reduced it to splintered metal (no rubbling of the building sadly) but with two cupolas down and the other two ill placed to stop my troops I was ready to sweep forward.

And sweep forward I did.  I got my tanks up to the walls first and tried (without much success) to use smoke dischargers.  I finally got my radio man onto the plateau and put in a call for artillery support far too late.  My artillery handling was poor in a scenario where I thought I didn't do too badly in other respects.  

Finally I make my move.  Of course there are a few casualties along the way

Of course it wasn't all smooth sailing, defensive fire broke a couple of units but I was breathing down Ivan's neck now.  The picture above shows a totally illegal close combat in the building (Ivan and I had both forgotten it was fortified) which of course I didn't win.  In exasperation I poured fire into the melee and wound up breaking everybody.  I wasn't disappointed, I had the troops to burn.

Speaking of burning, in an attempt to create a right flank I rolled an early model Pz I around to the east side of the building whereupon Ivan revealed his final hidden gun.  I was quite proud of that Pz I, two 76mm shells bounced off its improbably thin armour, unfortunately the third sent the thing up in flames.  Nemesis was coming for the gun crew though, having spent a ridiculous amount of time hanging about on barbed wired a concealed half squad finally got underneath it and sneaked up next to the gun.  Meanwhile in the bottom right a recalled Pz I overran one of his squads on its way towards the exit breaking it and giving what was left of my force a somewhat clearer path forward.

But the left was where the real action was, the troops I had sneaked into a trench died horribly as I expected but I pushed a large number of squads into unoccupied fortress hexes and used a DC to drop one hex of the building down into the cellar with messy results for the halfsquad Ivan had there.  A half squad in a minefield self rallied, and charged forwards, ignoring the explosions around it and got into a cellar which was handy as the only way into the cellar was through the four stairwells at the corners three of which were still in Ivan's possession.

Half the building is mine and Ivan's force is in tatters.

But not for long.  Even with +4 modifiers the amount of firepower I had built up blasted a couple of defenders and the last turn came around with half the building in my hands and a couple of concealed Polish units hanging on in the remainder.  Now the destruction of my right hand flanking force came back to bite me.  Even a modest amount of pressure from that end might have made a difference and diverted his attention but the most I could do was kill his gun crew in close combat (generating a leader in the process), there was nothing else left that could make a difference.  It was all going to be down to my left hand troops.

My subterranean half squad trotted around taking cellar locations until it ran into a HIP halfsquad which neatly ambushed it and withdrew to another location.  Up above ground I smashed most of his units but the devious little rats routed upstairs to the roof and I couldn't make it up there after them.  The game ended with me tantalisingly close.  Ivan had precisely one and a half squads left plus the broken ruins of a couple more up on the roof but it was enough.  I had to completely clear the building of troops and even the presence of a single broken squad would be enough to deny me the victory.  And victory was thusly denied.

The end game.  It's a little difficult to see but Ivan has a single lmg squad left in the building and a half squad in a cellar, enough to give him the win.
My troops swarmed all over the building but couldn't quite reach the last location (and the roof was well out of reach).  Kudos to Ivan who fought a grim, patient delaying action, never losing his personal morale despite the gradual whittling down of his OB to virtually nothing.  As for me, I didn't play too badly with the exception of my artillery.  I didn't use it.  By the time my radio guy was in position my troops were already fighting in the building.  In retrospect I should have set him up directly in front of the fortress and tried to get at least one or two fire missions down to rubble some building at the very beginning of the scenario.  Given how close it was that might have been the difference.

Kudos too to the scenario designers, this one was awesome with swings of fortune and sufficient time for both of us to recover from the occasional piece of outrageous luck which can sometimes swing a more poorly designed scenario.  Still Ivan and I have now played five scenarios from Poland in Flames and I've only won two of them.  Time to get my act together before I head to Cleveland.

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