Game play start: October 2nd, 2013.
Phew playing large games on VASSAL is a major beat down! The Blitzkrieg Legend was probably not a GOOD idea! Due to # of units. Given I had 2 previous plays, I knew what I was doing, but to ensure correct play is a bugger. You cant just slide the unit back in place. Its messy….well I was was messy, I’m so reluctant to play by email, due to my scattered approach to the board. Fortunately Bill was gracious with my errors and 90% came out in the wash. The good news is it is forcing some more structured play from me!
The initial setup around the Ardennes area:
5 hours at least to do turn 1 for the Germans. Let me say that again…5 hours. It took me a little over 2 hours when I played live. Oh did I mention that the Dice Gods utterly abandoned me today! More on that later.
Then in the North the Holland part of the map:
I started this game to learn a little more on how to play defense from a really cool guy and pretty awesome player (from what I know in OCS circles). So Bill is going to show me how it is ‘done’ as zee Frenchies and Allies! He has dozens and dozens of OCS game plays under his belt.
Turn 1 the Germans launch their attack upon the 3 countries. What a fricken debacle. I’m tempted to go back to the log and share the specific details of the opening air war…but I shall refrain. I used the Luftwaffe Surge and headed inland to harrass and ground all his air. That part was successful… I did forget FLAK… I ALWAYS forget FLAK.
I re rolled, – 2 step losses on about 10-12 attacks. COOL! we aborted nearly all his fighters, and some bombers.
Then came the Paras and 22nd LL, along with the opening moves that would place units adjacent so we can Hipshoot – STUKA dive bomb… yeah baby.
The paras land perfectly. We have locked the Dutch down as best I can tell with 7th Para and 22nd LL so that they will have to forage for supply in the supply phase and or attack to break into a port hex unobstructed. Looking good. The Commandos blew some bridges and took the fortress near the France Belgium border near Dordrecht (more on that in a bit).
Ok. Then this is where things become hairy. I start rolling out my ‘plan’ which I cannot share right now, as Bill may read this, suffice to say that it involves the penultimate Operational Art Strategic move! ;)..really. I’m serious. But if that fails, then we go ugly early.
I pushed a lot of the Scout units from Panzer formations, 1st,3rd, 9th, 20Motorized etc. Their job was to get adjacent to enemy units in the way of the primary routes for the invasion, so they could be Stuka attacked, Disorganized (DG’d [1/2 yer strength and a dip in effectiveness rating]) , then over run in generally rough terrain.
Once over run, in the Exploit phase all those tanks idling in reserve can motor thru to their objectives.
Genius. Simple. Done it before.
Hipshoot…yeah shooting from the hip. Missed. ALL of them.. At one point I spent 3 stukas on 1 itty bity unit. Yeah…whoohoo… this is not good. 2 x87b’s even take a step loss.
The rest of my air I send out on bombing missions to soften up other targets (next time I’ll wait and roll hipshoots first…stupid). So these other targets are not adjacent, which means big penalties on the Column shifts. The penalties are significant. ZERO hits. 2 step losses (I think) on flights in flak.
Are you feeling it yet?
The balance of the movement phase forces sees Germans roll up thru windy and winding treed roads, causing superb chaos on the map.
A few arty barrages kick off the combat phase, knocking out the fortress blockade into Belgium near Aachen. The Northern reaches see Arnhem fall. forces are poise to do battle in Exploit phase.
In the North routes that were not DG’d are now attacked, causing frankly annoying but not bad losses. The odds are not tipped in my favor. But you cannot really avoid these combats. The ROAD must be cleared. Your air failed, in you go.
“We going Ugly!!”
A simple example illustrates the point. Imagine a Battalion of cheery old Dutchmen minding a check point on the road. They duck for cover as the planes fly over. Then along come the evil Panzers – well Motorized Division, you get the idea. They attack in overrun mode.
Say 12 factors attack into a small town, the Germans have an AR (effectiveness rating) of 4. They are fighting a unit with a rating of 2, and strength of 2. If they were DG’d the combat would be at 6:1 (12/2 for the town, and the Dutch 1/2’ed for the DG and -1 to AR).
They Germans have however a 3:1 attack in Very Close Terrain (2nd worst) and the AR difference is only +2 instead of plus 3… Who cares about plus one. YOU DO!
With our odds in place we now check for surprise, either I get it they do or no one does. We need 9 or more from 2d6 to earn surprise in an over run (10 otherwise). See that +1 matters now when you roll….But today even when I rolled ok, the follow on rolls for the actual # of column shifts of benefit sucked! +1, +2…@ 3:1 in very close terrain it is equivalent of attacking at 1:1 in the open. you just dont do that…but I did. So we lose a fair few AC units.
So the final step in this little example is of course the 2d6 die roll for a combat result – 2,4,5,7…plus my +2 AR benefit. On this combat described above, you lose a step automatically on 2 thru 8! Several combats merely retreated the enemy, forcing me to take a step loss to secure the vacated hex. They are still on the road, just a few miles away, taunting me in little orange jackets.
So. That was the turn from hell so far…I ended up diverting an entire Division North to deal with these rolls. As we have to clear a road for the Supply of the 22nd LL and to force a quick surrender of the Dutch. If the Dutch hold on past Turn 3, it really slows down the entire offensive and you cannot ignore them. They likely cannot hurt you, but they sure as hell can interdict supply or get a lucky attack.
In the South more of the same, very few out right kills, lots of one hex retreats. However by over spending on attacks and blowing thru supply like a crack addict in a meth house, we got 75% of GD (Gross Deutschland) to Sedan. We are a country miles from Dinat. In Belgium in the center we avoided further combat and just took the bridge head.
In the North I have a minor error to repair, which will require me to pull a few units up short of their now exposed goal.
Now we roll for initiative to see who goes first in the 2nd turn of the game. If the Allies get it, this will be a long painful war…if not then I have a chance to compensate for the limited success.
One aspect which I can wait to see, but am eager to know is Bills play style. Is he an aggressive defender, pushing counter attacks, or conservative. I’ve left one or two tid bits for him to nibble at on purpose to see if he will bite 😉
My play in the second half of the turn was geared toward “not having initiative” in Turn 2. As that seemed to be the prudent course given we do not know each others play style.
We will see.
EDIT Update..well the Allies took initiative. No historical double turn. Grr. Can’t wait to see this log file coming my way.