01 February 2021

Armchair Generals - BoF16 Part 2

BoF16 Saluting a General

Series Replay: Andy Bagley (Russian) vs Jim Bishop (German)

This is the second part of a three-part scenario replay. Pregame commentary can be found here. What follows is the first four and a half turns of the scenario. Andy and Jim reflect on the outcome of each turn, and occasionally discuss their plans for the coming turn. I follow up with an overview of each turn. In the process, I add my two penni from the comfort of my armchair. 

BoF16 GT1 end of CCPh

German Turn 1

(Jim) Stupid play on my part to expose two squads and a leader to a 2-2. It deserved to get punished. Fortunately, I did not lose any Infantry to it. Having set this up over a week ago, I forgot about the Line of Sight (LOS) and was punished for hubris. The HS went down to a 6 -3 shot. Not too worried about paying that price to uncover the HMG. 

BoF16 GT1 MPh Board 85

(Andy) The German attack began as expected, except for the mistake that allowed a leader and two squads to be broken by a 2-down-2 shot. 

BoF16 GT1 MPh Board 42

(Chris) I like the way Jim was able to draw fire with his HS. In the process he confirmed my suspicions about the location of the Russian HMG. As I feared, the northern stack took advantage of the gap in the Russian line to move as far forward as 5W1. I’m not keen on this move, but I see the attraction. A Russian squad in 85W10 would have taken this approach off the table. It remains to be seen if the Russian mortar that I think is in 85N10 stalls this northern thrust.

BoF16 GT1 MPh Board 85

Moving the 8-0 stack to 85Y1 was an unnecessary risk. It may well have been a gaffe on Jim’s part and not deliberate. Whatever the case, the end result underlines the point I made earlier about the vulnerability of a three-pronged attack. [Jim: As I alluded to, this was a huge mistake. I wrote those units off on Turn 2.]

BoF16 RT1 End APh

Russian Turn 1

(Andy) My tanks came on as planned, one on each flank and the other four in the centre, not far from the victory hexes. The rest of the infantry ran away, except that I forgot to shift my 82mm MTR back from 85I5. I could probably have fallen back further in the village on board 85 too, but I wanted to impede his progress there. Not sure if I should have retreated my HMG straight away; felt brave enough to leave it there for the moment as it becomes concealed. [Jim: I was surprised you did not withdraw the HMG on Turn 1, or at the latest in Turn 2. I understand the allure of the HMG on the high-ground, but once my tanks were on board and closing in, that HMG had to retreat to the cover of your tanks.]

(Jim) In their half, the Russians “skulk” and bring on tanks. I sort out his tanks by MP’s spent. As such, I know his Lees are in the middle of the board. [Chris: Strictly speaking, skulking is the practice of limiting German Defensive Fire opportunities by moving out of enemy LOS, only to return to one’s previous positions during the Advance Phase (APh). In this case, Andy’s forces largely fell back to new positions.]

(Chris) I think that it was a mistake to move the unit that began its turn in 5W3 to 5R1. That building is a death trap. The Russians cannot afford to throw a unit away. I would have preferred to see this unit end its turn in 85P9, where (along with the unit in 85P8) it could continue to impede the German advance. 

I don’t understand why the “mortar” stack in 85N10 withdrew, unless the stack doesn’t contain a mortar after all. If any stack needed to withdraw this turn, it was the HMG stack. With eight tanks coming on next turn, this stack could come under a lot of pressure. Otherwise, the withdrawal of Russian Infantry was to be expected.

It appears that Andy (and Jim) overlooked the fact that Russian tanks have five less MP on their turn of entry. [Andy: Oops, you’re right! But I think I could have got my tanks where they were going on Turn 2 anyway.] [Jim: I did miss it. I don’t think this affected the outcome any. Andy was more than able to get where he needed to be.] Moving what I suspect is a Stuart so far along the woods road on board 5 serves little purpose in my view. German armour does not have enough MP to reach 5R6, let alone 5P4, on Turn 2. Considering that the Russians have a turn to react to any drive in this direction, the Stuart could have parked in 85I10 from where it can target 5H3 in a pinch. Alternatively, the Russians could have sent this tank to provide support for what I gather is another Stuart in 42W5. Although isolated and unsupported, the southernmost tank should be able to get two shots off at any panzers brazen enough to rush this HD position.

BoF16 GT2 End APh

German Turn 2

(Jim) The dumb move continues to punish me. The units broken in Turn 1 don’t rally in my end. Then I compound it by not Moving the GO leader far enough to get there. Stupid play is keeping me out of this. I forget to advance from 5S6 onto the road and let him use the road to get out of there faster. My lack of play time is showing here. In the Russian half, my broken units from Turn 1 fail to rally (again). My dumb move continues to punish. These guys are almost out of the fight unless they rally soon. Andy moves the 8-1 off the upper level and I get the PIN/break on the HMG stack. His HMG squad routs, while the 8-1 stays back in order to man the HMG. I will kill the 8-1 and the broken unit next turn to clear up the bottom of the board. 

(Andy) Well, we now know where the German tanks are coming on, storming the southern approach! I was surprised by Jim moving CE with all these tanks, but this is probably a good risk as even the 8 +1 shot I got gives less than a 40% chance of a stun, and even this would not be fatal. Revealing the HMG meant I had to face a brace of 4 +3 shots, which I survived OK although retreating the guys in 42V1 will be harder. I declined to fire my tank in 42W5, although probably should have done—I was worried where his later tanks might end up.

(Chris) Not sure why Andy passed up a 6 down 2 shot at the 4-6-8/Anti-Tank Rifle (ATR) that entered 85T8. (A Lee in 85M7 could have combined its CMG and AAMG for 6 FP; a Stuart would have had 8 FP if CE.) It was either a bold or reckless move on Jim’s part. (Jim: I survived, it was bold!]

BoF16 GT2 MPh Board 42

Placing 4 “resid” in 42N4 was a good play given Andy’s decision to keep his HMG in 42V1. Starting the Lee in 85J2 not so much. The Lee would have had a minimum of two shots on the Pz IIIG in 42S2 during the DFPh, and another two shots in the Russian PFPh. Moreover, the panzer was at optimal range, which gave the Lee a base To-Hit of 10. It’s a missed opportunity that Andy is bound to regret. More on missed opportunities in a moment.

BoF16 GT2 MPh Board 42

Jim’s aggressive use of armour is admirable, although I would have preferred to see him commit a second tank to board 85. He had an opportunity to create a BFF sandwich and potentially break and eliminate the unit in 85R6 for failure to rout. As it was, I believe the Pz IIIH used one MP too many when it changed Vehicle Covered Arc (VCA) before stopping to Bounding First Fire (BFF). Because the attack proved ineffective, the incorrectly added BMG FP was not a factor. [Jim: The dice know when you have made a mistake and sort that all out for you. :) In hindsight, I agree a second tank on board 85 would have been better. I eventually correct this but it was too little, too late.]

BoF16 GT2 MPh Board 85

With a Morale Level of 8, Russian tankers should be CE in order to maximize their potential for hits. Case in point: the first shot (1,2) by the Stuart in 85J3 missed the Pz IIIG in 42S2 by one pip. However, the second shot did hit, which neither player realized at the time. On a Hull Hit, the Stuart needed a seven or less to destroy the panzer, and had two kicks at this baby cat as a result of scoring Multiple Hits with double twos! [Jim: This was arguably the largest mistake in the game and should have cost me a tank there more than 75% of the time. In my defence, I was looking at the rules at the time and Andy said never mind, it’s a miss. Still, in the long run, I have to catch that so mea culpa Andy.]

BoF16 GT2 AFPh

The drama that unfolded in 5R1 must have surprised Jim as much as it surprised me. [Andy: Surprised me too!] That Russian 4-4-7 is charmed. It was able to extricate itself from the trap by surviving two Interdiction rolls. It may be in one piece, but its now farther away from a leader and the VC area for no gain.

BoF16 RT2 End APh

Russian Turn 2

(Andy) In my half, I forgot to Prep Fire from 85J3, though this may not have been a good idea anyway, as I’m finding it harder than expected to retreat on board 85. I’ll take some losses here but it will delay the German infantry. My attempt to run back from 42V1 fails—Jim’s DRs have been pretty poor but he got the break he needed here. Tough decisions with my two tanks on the flank; I decided to move the northern one forward, behind his lines to threaten an attack from the rear. After much thought the one in 85I5 retreated back, because although it was HD behind the wall he could either swarm and surround it or simply risk driving past to attack the victory area from the south. 

(Chris) As I feared, the HMG squad broke while trying to bug out. Not only is the weapon a write-off at this stage, it failed to have a significant impact on the battle. [Upon reflection, the HMG stack did keep at least one enemy tank occupied, or rather distracted for a another turn. So there’s that.]

BoF16 RT2 MPh Board 42

A number of German AFV took advantage of the Lees jockeying for position to gain Motion and change VCA. In addition to making them harder to hit, Motion status saves them one or more MP in their next MPh. 

Not happy about the Stuart making a half-hearted flanking move up north. It’s going to be out of position again, meaning that it won’t have any impact on play again. I am happy to see some Russian Infantry enter the VC area. I wonder if they intend to entrench. I’m dismayed that Russian tankers are passing up shots in order to reposition. 

BoF16 RT2 MPh Board 85

The Stuart in 85J3 was HD, and had a -2 acquisition on the panzer in 42S2. Even though it was BU, it had more than a 70 percent chance of hitting its target, while the panzer needed to roll seven or less, and a turret hit. Moreover, it was guaranteed a shot if the Stuart moved. Abandoning the HD position in order to move to 42X7 with his other Stuart is likewise questionable, leaving the Lee in 42Y1 isolated and without flank protection. I expect Jim to make the most of this. [Jim: I tried and failed, but more on this later.]

BoF16 RT2 DFPh Board 85

Russian Infantry continue to fall back, but not all are successful. Concealment doesn’t save the Russian 4-4-7 that Assault Moves from 85R6 to Q7. The Pz IIIH fails to leave an impression, but the German ATR squad manages to Pin the Russian unit. The 9-1 stack finishes the job.

BoF16 GT3 End CCPh

German Turn 3

(Jim) The units fail to rally again. Then the GO [Good Order] leader I put there [42J1] gets clipped by a SAN [Sniper Activation Number] and DMs [Desperation Morale] the pile again. I lose the Pz IIIH in 85P6 to an Immob result but do it busting a unit up and freeing the flank a little. I am a little concerned by the Stuart which has broken out. I managed to kill one of the Lee’s with a Bounding First Fire shot—glad I planned on that 1,1. :) I have another Stuart in trouble. Depending on how he moves in Turn 3, I think I can swarm more of his tanks on the bottom half of the board.

(Andy) Interesting battle in 85P6. I kept concealment but Jim’s overrun broke the squad anyway, although at the cost of waking my sniper who then killed a leader in 42J1. But his tank was then in LOS of my M3 Lee down the road, and a 75MM shot Immobilizes him. Jim’s poor luck with the dice changes however with a snake-eyes hit that kills my M3 Lee in 42Y1. This is a blow, as I’m now feeling outnumbered on that southern side of the board. 

We took the game break at this point. I see a tank battle coming up, and if I can knock out a couple of his tanks without further loss I think I may be in with a chance. Otherwise, I worry that his tanks will surround the victory hexes and break my infantry there, allowing his infantry to walk in.

BoF16 GT3 PFPh Board 42

(Chris) Two turns later, and the 8-0 and one 4-6-7 in 42J1 remain broken. Were it not for the lacklustre performance of Russian armour and the demise of the HMG stack, I would be questioning whether this stack would be able to make it to the objective in time. Based on what I’ve seen so far, German armour will probably carry the day, needing only a handful of Landsers to gain Control of the victory area.

BoF16 GT3 MPh Board 85

The sideshow that is 42J1 heats up as the Russian Sniper takes out a second 8-0 leader that entered the hex earlier in the MPh. The attack puts the broken units under DM again, further reducing their chances of rallying. Meanwhile when the pesky Pz IIIH busts up a Russian squad in 85P8, a Lee fires on it from 85J5 using its SA. The players determine that the panzer is Immobilized. However, the LOS is blocked in L6 and M7. [The result stands, just as the failure to resolve the Multiple Hits on the Pz IIIG a turn earlier stands.]

BoF16 GT3 MPh Board 85

More serious is the failure of the Lee in 42Y1 to hit a Pz IIIG when it stops in Y3. The Main Armament (MA) of the Lee misses by one pip! Again, should have been CE! And in retrospect, should have fired the SA, keeping the turreted MA free to fire at other tanks approaching from outside the Lee’s VCA. It came as no surprise when a Pz IIIJ with a 9-1 Armour Leader entered 42U1 in Bypass and stopped to shoot. The first shot hit and failed to penetrate. The panzer nonetheless retained ROF. The Lee could have turned to face the threat by firing its BMG. It didn’t. It could have traversed its turret and Intensive Fired its MA. It didn’t. The panzer fired again and scored a CH. The Lee went up in flames!

BoF16 GT3 MPh Board 42

Across the road to the south, three panzers ganged up on the lone Stuart. The Russian tank failed to land a hit. The German tankers were also unsuccessful. However, the situation looks grim for the Stuart as two Pz IIIJ are HD to it. The Stuart should be able to hit the Pz IIIG in 42W6, but whether it succeeds in knocking it out is another question. I’d be surprised if the Stuart survives Russian Turn 3. [Jim: I didn’t either. Be prepared to be surprised. Sigh.]

BoF16 GT3 MPh Board 42

In spite of my reservations regarding the three separate lines of advance, Jim’s Infantry has largely coalesced into two groups. The southern force is finally making progress along the lateral road on board 42, with some units are far east as the V row. A reinforced platoon of largely Elite squads is making steady progress on board 85, but has yet to pass the Q row. The erroneous Immobilization result strips this force of its Pz IIIH cover. Smoke discharged in the 85O6/O7 followed by some BFF would have helped get 4-6-8s across the O-row in one piece. Depending on how Andy reacts, the Russians may be able to keep the Germans from gaining the 85N5 woods on Turn 4. What Andy does with his armour next is critical. He’s lost a Lee tank and two-and-a-half squads in one turn. [Jim: The immobilized tank here was probably far worse for me than a dead tank in the grain field. Given the choice, I would have preferred we get this correct. Sadly, we didn’t. I am just happy I didn’t cheese a win here with a mistake (or in this case, mistakes).]  

BoF16 GT3 MPh - DFPh Board 42

First Intermission

(Jim) We took a break at the end of German Turn 3. Other than my mistake with those two squads and a leader, I am doing OK. In return, I have eliminated 1.5 squads, and I have broken 3.5 more. In addition to that, another two more full squads are not going to make the VC area and are going to have to work hard to be relevant. The HMG is also being manned by an SMC and will not be making it back to the VC area. I have also managed to kill one Lee and I have one Stuart. The ATR is out of position as well. 

In return, I have lost an 8-0 leader and a HS. I have one other squad which is broken and out of the fight but he could still play a part. My Infantry is lagging but running forward as fast as they can. They are knotted up in two groups around a leader. The southern group is going to struggle to make the battle and may be part of some last turn rush. I have also had my PzIIIH Immobilized. 

I have some concerns at this point. Andy has one Stuart in 5W6, which is a threat to my Infantry in the center. As my Infantry is lagging, they are kind of on their own. The only real Anti-Tank (AT) asset they have up there is the ATR and a Demolition Charge (DC). My immobilized PzIII is also there but he moves next and gets to take the first shot. I don’t think the PzIII will be there to defend. The Stuart in 85L3 is also concerning. There is really not much I can do if he pushes that into my Infantry in the center. 

His Stuart in 42X7 has about a 40% chance to kill my PzIIIG in 42W6. If he gets rate or IF’s, he could get lucky and kill 1-2 more. That would be a disaster. As long as he doesn’t kill more than two, I can trade with him 1-for-1. If he doesn’t make a move to collapse his tanks into mutually supporting positions, I will continue to isolate a small portion and bite off more of his armor. The problem for me is going to be control and I need to get some Infantry to the VC area to do that. Breaking these units is not going to be enough. 

Looking back on Turn 2, I think the PzIIIG to 42S2 was a hit on the 2,2 and not a miss. The DRM’s were different. Since it was doubles, it would be multiple hits and immobilized on a 8. Odds are, I would have lost that tank right there. In my defense, I did not look at the DR as Andy said miss. In addition, the shot from 85J5 which Immobilized my PzIIIH in 85P8 was blocked. Looking at the board again, I still don’t think that LOS should be blocked. I wonder if it would be on the actual boards. Alas, I guess I am still looking for the perfect game of ASL. [Chris: turns out that the LOS on the VASL board doesn’t match the physical board.]

(Andy) We took the game break at this point. I see a tank battle coming up, and if I can knock out a couple of his tanks without further loss I think I may be in with a chance. Otherwise, I worry that his tanks will surround the victory hexes and break my infantry there, allowing his infantry to walk in.

BoF16 RT3 End CCPh

Russian Turn 3

(Andy) Between sessions we discovered that the line of sight between 85P8 and 85J5 (which we both assumed went straight down the road) is in fact blocked. We agreed that the fairest way to resolve this, since I had intended to fire, was for me to Prep Fire the 75mm of my Lee in 85J5, at which point we would call it blocked. This left his tank in 85J5 immobilised but still alive, so I abandoned my plan to overrun his squad with DC in 85S10 and held back that Stuart in the north. My other Stuart in 42X7 looks doomed but manages to take out a PzIIIG whilst a Pz IIIJ malfunctions its MA shooting back at him.

(Jim) So the dumb move on Turn 1 continues to punish as I fail again to rally the 8-0 leader and squad on board 42. As the saying goes, life’s hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid. As expected, I lose the PzIII in 42W6. I still think that favored me slightly, but I was willing to take the risk. I need that tank gone before my Prep Fire Phase so I can move a little more freely next turn. I was surprised to see the Stuart move into 85O2. I know the odds of killing that Stuart were slim but then a 2,1 on the TH came up. Stupid me forgets to call for the APCR shot. It shouldn’t cost me. Of course, I rolled a 10 on the TK. The TK# on a 50mm Gun is 11. Taking that 11 against a turret side Armor Factor (AF) of 3 yields a Final TK# of 8. The TK# for 50mm APCR is 14. Against that same 3 AF, the final TK# is 11 meaning I would have killed that Stuart right there. Then he came back through the Location with the acquisition counter, and again I forget the APCR shot giving me just one bite at the apple and I miss. Pretty disappointing play on my part. This one is already looking to be like a loss for me and I can’t afford to throw away opportunities like that. I can’t control the dice but I can control what I shoot and I just plain flubbed this. Otherise, Andy is able to safely withdraw to the VC area and reposition his tanks. I am grateful the Northern Stuart wasn’t more aggressive in pushing into my Infantry. In my Final Fire, I break an MA on a long 50 (of course my AL is in there) and I cannot believe that Stuart has survived that many shots. (Counting APCR shots, I think I have taken 7 TH attempts against that tank and it’s still alive.) I probably shouldn’t have fired the 50L at the 8-1 but I would like to flow past this position in my MPh so I was hoping for a break.

BoF16 RT3 PFPh - DFPh Board 42

(Chris) The Russians open strong by destroying the Pz IIIG in 42W6. I don’t think that Jim needed to force the issue by risking this tank last turn. It could taken up a HD position, along with the other panzers on the road, and each taken a shot at the Stuart if it tried to bug out. Granted Andy scored a turret hit, but would have missed due to the brush and being BU (and no case L). I know I’m beating a General’s dead horse here, but the Russians really need to capitalize on their first TH attempts by being CE.

The Stuart on board 85 plays a dangerous game baiting the Immobile Pz IIIH, especially when it reentered the acquired hex. But the gambit worked and the light tank ended its MPh safely HD in 85J3. The last Stuart inched forward to take up a position from which it can frustrate German efforts to get Infantry forward quickly. I still feel that Andy is under utilizing his armour, and this tank in particular.

BoF16 RT3 MPh Board 85

I expected the Stuart on board 42 to be destroyed, Shocked, or Immobilized in the DFPh. Aside from the obvious loss in combat strength and effectiveness (three panzers are effectively out of the armour battle: one Immobilized, one destroyed, and one with a malfunctioned, long-barrel MA), this leaves the Germans in a predicament. Prep Fire next turn, or move and risk being hit by the Stuart. Even if they successfully disengage, the panzers are left with the problem of how to counter this threat to their flank. I think Jim needs to bite the bullet and accept that one of his tanks is not moving next turn. The Germans need to destroy this pesky Stuart, and sooner rather than later.  

Part 3 is here!


Unknown said...

Gidday Chris, great to see you're posting again. Regards to you and Helen.

Chris Doary said...

Thanks for dropping by Gents.

@Grumble Jones, hope things improve on the homefront for you. I was in my mid 40s when I realized that I'd never earn as much as I had in previous positions, and was unlikely to ever find anything but menial work. The older we get, the tougher it is for many of us to chart a new career path. A lucky few have been able to retire into a dream job. At least we have ASL.

Take care!

@Unknown, will pass on your well wishes to Helen. She's been the best part of me for almost three decades.