After our latest SFB battle, Patch and I returned to ASL, and thinking to get some time with the Italians in, went to the fourth scenario in the Few Returned pack (since updated in Hollow Legions as #274-282 & 287-289).

As ever with Action Pack #3, the scenario has unusual twists. The Russians have an Italian force trapped in a town, and the Italians are attacking with a relieving force. In the town are the corps HQ staff (represented with Axis Minor leaders), who need rescuing. The Italians get MOL and ATMM. There’s one of each grade of leader from 10-3 to 6+1 (but are not considered actual leaders, just SMC with that morale, and CVP/EVP value), and the Russians win if they kill 10 or more CVP worth of them. Failing that, the side with the most CVP wins at the end of turn 8, and the Italians can earn EVP for the HQ staff.

Patch set up the Russians first, who get two strips on half of board 10, and an area on board 42 for their sixteen squads (with good leadership) and five T-34 M41s. In the south, there was just a pair of T-34s, while about five squads set up on the north side of town. Board 42 got the rest, with one T-34 sitting on top of the walled hill, which had a few squads, and the rest on the south side of the main road, with a one-squad outpost facing the incoming rescue force.

The Italians have seven elite squads in the town, and a pair of German StuH (I didn’t notice the designation, and pulled M43 105/25s instead). There is one building the HQ staff starts in, and one assault gun parked next to it to give the staff cover as they exited. The other, and much of the available force was facing the walled hill, looking to advance on the Russians. The rest is eleven squads of assault engineers with two DCs and two FT, who all set up to enter on the north side of the main road in three groups.

The first shot of the game came from an assault gun which hit to ELR Patch’s LMG squad in 42E2. The first move was a probing HS who broke after taking fire from the one western guard. The DC squad came up through the woods and broke on a 2MC SFF. An MMG squad broke to fire from J3. This all upset what little timetable I had, since I had hoped to be sweeping the guard out of the woods on the first turn. The plan to break out also failed when my concealed 9-1 and squad took a NMC and both broke.

Patch’s first DFPh shot killed the broken 9-1 with a 2MC, and a later shot revealed a bad error in my setup. I hadn’t really thought about the south T-34s while worrying about everything else, and one had a clear shot at the rear of the assault gun. Thankfully the first shot missed, but it going to be a long time before I could do anything about it…. The good news was that Patch malfunctioned two of his MAs. And then I malfunctioned one in AFPh. I did manage to break his ‘tripwire’ squad, now that it had slowed me down.

Situation, Italian Turn 1, showing the full board. North is to the left. Which HQ staff is which isn’t known until they need to take a TC/MC, or break. By SSR, they use cloaking counters; I tried just bare concealed counters here, but it didn’t work very well.

Patch’s only rally attempt was the tripwire, which failed self-rally. He also failed to repair anything. I had a lot more attempts, but only rallied one squad in 42H8. Patch brewed up my StuH (M43 105/25) in 10AA2 with his rear shot, though he did have to go to intensive fire to do it. Then MG fire broke my 8-1 in Z1, which revealed the staff 6+1 and pinned him for the LLTC. The malfed T-34 on the hill then broke AA1 with MG fire, and a squad broke my squad in DD2.

Patch immediately moved into 10AA0 in his first move. With everyone adjacent broken, and further units firing through the smoke of the burning StuH hindering the only other real shot, there wasn’t much I could do. Everyone crept closer, and the middle T-34 platoon started and swung around to face the approaching assault engineers (bypass and platoon movement is not a good mix, he burned 17 MP just to shift a couple of hexes).

My defensive fire did nothing, but Patch CRed a broken squad… at the cost of my sniper breaking one of his. I had to self-break the pinned 6+1 and the 8-1 HQ staff to get them away from a CC.

Situation, Russian Turn 1.

My various self rallies did nothing for my second RPh, but I did rally a squad and a half in 42G8, and repaired the MA in 10AA6. Patch didn’t manage anything. I took a couple shots in Prep, notably an ATR at the rear of 42I3, but missed. The main challenge was to come to grips with the forces now facing my rescuing forces, and thankfully Patch was still a bit thin there. The first move got a firelane from I6 and pinned my HS. My second move took me across the road and over the wall onto the hill, breaking from an adjacent 2MC.

On the south side, I got my 9-2 and DC squad in next to his positions, and followed up with a FT squad, who unfortunately pinned on Patch’s last shot at them (I was still happy they hadn’t broken and Patch would have to deal with them on his turn). On board 10, I mostly milled around, but the StuH (which Patch noticed was what it should be at this point) came around to the road out of town, and Patch pinned on a PAATC to street fight it. I brought a concealed squad up to AA1 to try and get him, which collected a lot of fire until a PTC finally revealed him.

Final Fire managed to break 10X2, but Patch malfed another MA. I revealed my FT in 42E6, but Patch passed the resulting 2MC. During RtPh, he rejected the surrender of 10DD2, while I got into a couple of close combats. I managed to ambush the pinned squad in 10Z1, and still did nothing while taking a CR. The 9-2 lead his squad against the T-34 bypassing 42J3 and managed to destroy it.

Situation, Italian Turn 2.

Patch tried to repair both MAs on his second RPh, but rolled 5 both times. 42H1 self-rallied, the conscripts in 42F3 went berserk, while the squad in J2 CRed. Of the big mess piling up in 10AA3 the staff 8-1 rallied, and a squad went berserk.

I took a couple shots at the zerkie as it charged 42G5, and reduced it to a HS. The hilltop T-34 started and proceeded to overrun Italians. The squad in B2 failed a MOL check, survived a 1MC, had no ATMM, and rolled a ‘3’ for CCRF. A 2 would have been an unlikely kill…. The squad in B1 had a MOL, missed a kill by one, and then broke to the OVR, while the tank stopped in the hex.

As Patch tightened his noose in the town, his 9-2 and squad moved into the street, where they suffered a K/2 with random selection selecting both to wound the leader and break the remaining HS. His sniper went off and wounded the 7-0 HQ staff (…he grabbed the wrong sniper counter, but since they were adjacent, it would have gone to the same place anyway). His remaining platoon circled around the back, with the good tank sitting in the board 10 walled roundabout, at which point my StuH went into Motion. The T-34 in 42I3 backed out of harm’s way, turned around, got into forward motion, and then went into bypass of the melee in 10Z1.

Final Fire broke the squad in 42I2 and the wounded 9-2, but set off his sniper, which reduced my SAN to a 3. Advancing fire broke the wounded staff 7-0 and pinned the squad in 42B2. I lost the 7-0 and a squad to Failure to Rout. Patch went into CC in 10W3 and AA4, but two 628s failed PAATCs, so his 8-1 went to confront the StuH alone.

On top of the hill, we both rolled 11s for no result, in 10AA4, his concealed squad ambushed my concealed HS and killed it. He also ambushed the HS in W3, finished off my HS in Z1, but was unable to affect the StuH. The one good CC for me, the berserker in 42G2 had no result, and went to melee, tying up a MMG squad and 8-1.

Situation, Russian Turn 2.

For my turn 3 RPh, I rallied a HS and the staff 6+1 in 10AA3, and also rallied a squad in 42B6. Patch didn’t rally anything, but put the T-34 in 10Z5 under recall when it disabled the main gun. I had one prep shot that did nothing. When my berserk squad prepared to charge Z1, Patch dropped “?” in AA4, immediately reorienting them, and they survived a 2MC on the way in. (Frankly, I think having to worry about them and the mass of squads off near the board join was worse than anything the berserkers could do there.)

My StuH ducked out of LOS of Y5 on its first move, but Patch got two shots from the Z1 bypass, and my (former) ATR there, all of which missed, though he malfunctioned another MA with the IF shot. The StuH overran X1, breaking the squad before continuing on and stopping to look back the way it came. I pressed with the relieving force, but Patch wasn’t biting, though he did get a 1KIA on a squad. Final Fire broke a FT squad.

Advancing fire from the berserk squad broke their target (a good thing, since it was 4-6…), and my remaining FT broke 42G2. In B2, Patch CRed my squad, while nothing happened in G5.

Situation, Italian Turn 3.

Patch did not rally anything for his turn 3 RPh, but I got both squads in 42B6 back. The T-34 bypassing 10Z1 started up, cruised through AA3 towards some VBM sleeze, but my HS in BB3 managed to knock it out with a MOL. (We had some debate on if the HQ “leaders” could use MOL, not being actual leaders per SSR, but the SSR actually answers this one by just giving Italian MMC MOL-capability.) The crew bailed out but then broke to SFF from the same HS. All three of his other tanks, made nervous by this, later failed their non-platoon TCs. (Not-quite-answered question: does a Recalled radioless AFV need to roll for non-platoon movement?)

Even with that threat gone, there were a lot of Russians milling about a small number of Italians, and Patch generally passed all the MCs I threw his way, except his 8-1 broke to residual, and his 447s broke to Final Fire. …Just leaving three different 628s adjacent to various stacks of Italians + HQ staff. My squad in 42B4 found a MOL to kill the hilltop T-34, leaving him with one fully-functional T-34, if it would pass its TC.

Patch got revenge during Advancing Fire, breaking and wounding the staff 8-1 and 6+1, and breaking the HS in the hex with them. Another shot pinned my 9-2 and reduced and disrupted the DC squad with him (that’s three 12s in one fire phase…). I lost my 8-1 to FtR, but another Russian squad surrendered to me.

There was no result from the 42B2 melee, but I finally eliminated the berserk HS in G5. In 10BB2, I kept the two HQ staff cloaked in hopes they could walk out of the melee, but Patch eliminated the 9-2 and 10-2 while doing nothing in return. In AA3, the remaining staff stayed cloaked, and Patch killed the 10-3 and 9-1, putting him at 13 CVP in HQ staff leaders, and giving him the game.

Situation, Russian Turn 3.


Patch needed to get both CCs for a win at that point, and things were getting grim for him elsewhere. You’d think with a -2 differential, I’d get Ambush on him in at least one to just walk out of the hex, or failing that, he’d miss one of the attacks, but no. After a bad first turn, my dice had been fairly hot, and then it went south on me again at the end.

The opening mistake was going for an aggressive breakout stance, which helped put my head in the noose. I think that generally is a correct strategy, but not when the Russians are mostly set up to press on the town immediately. In that case, it would have been better to plan on keeping the HQ staff back, keep a perimeter at the far edge, and hope the cavalry makes it in time. Certainly, Patch was going to have to pay more attention than he wanted to with the anti-tank capabilities of assault engineers with MOL, DC, and FT.

Early on, Patch had racked up a pretty decent CVP count, with the death of the first 105/25—eh—StuH helping. The death of most of his tanks and the prisoners were turning things around fast. With the HQ staff, Patch was up to 30 CVP at the end, and, once you count the prisoners and the recalled T-34, I was at 29. If the game had gone on, the eventual CVP counts were going to be wild.

This game went extra-slow for us. Some of it was dealing with unfamiliar rules, like OVR and MOL. However, the main cause is that there’s a lot going on, and its a really tense situation. So far, every scenario from Few Returned has been good, and unique, and this is right there with the others.