Thanks to having gotten into ASL later than Patch… well, being active in ASL later than Patch, one of the things I had that he didn’t was Croix de Guerre. I like the early war period, and this particular module has some fine scenarios. Patch wanted to see the French in action, so we tried out “Bridge of the Seven Planets” in October 2006…:

Again, the game is in progress, and I’m getting started on the AAR writing early.

Though, if I can make a few more major rules mistakes, this could get short….

Anyway, Patch has been wanting to try out the French, so we’re playing this bridge crossing (gasp!) scenario from CdG [this was played shortly after Journal 7 and the -1 bridge TEM temporary errata]. It looks interesting, and seems good for getting me back up to speed with vehicles. (Not that I ever got much experience with them.)

The weekly Wednesday on-line session started the game, so there’s not too much to say, as we’re at the beginning of Turn 2, and it’s taking a bit of time to come to grips with each other.

…A bit more time than I’d expected, in fact. The most notable news is that I completely muffed a ‘remember the rule correctly roll.’ I walked a 9-2, squad and MMG into a 4 -1 firelane attack that I thought would be a 2 +1. The resulting 1KIA killed the squad, and the MMG is still lying in the road after the same HMG got a K/1 on the squad sent to retrieve it.

This all means I’ve barely got anything around 16L6, which was going to be the early firebase and jumping off point.

Overview of the map as of Turn 2 German Rally.

New Rules:
Trucks and all associated passenger rules.
Vehicular ordnance

Rules Lessons:
A9.22 Fire Lanes are one column to left, not 1/2 FP like other Residual FP.
A9.222 Fire Lanes ignore SMOKE, grain, brush, marsh, FFE, Dust, huts.

Patch provided most of the reporting for the scenario:
“Yeah, the 9-2 moving into the firelane path, followed by a snake-eyes was a dream come true. I on’y wish I’d nabbed the 9-2 instead of the squad. 3VP, and the 9-2 goes away! I’ll have to stick with the 2VP for the squad instead. My other fire was surpisingly effective, breaking two other squads.

“Rindis is coming in more spread out than I had expected. I’m hoping that works in my favor, as I’ve the board nicely divided into thirds with MGs. Too early to discuss my strategy as I still have a lot of Germans to hurt. More to come!”

“German Turn 2 movement continues through the mail. I’ve managed to Pin two squads at the expense of losing a MMG and HMG ROF, but a squad’s IFP at long range nailed a 467 on the 2FP -1 column with another snake-eyes, reducing it to a 237. Another VP! This is tempered by the fact that the more I look at my set-up, the more I realize I should have given it more thought. I’m less than happy with several features. Too late to deal with it now. *sigh*”

“I can’t go into what I’m doing until more units are on the board, but it looks like Rindis is doing what I predicted, but not as heavily (aim for the 16L6 area as a jumping off point). I’m curious to see how his Turn 3 reinforcements are directed. Should learn more tonight on VASL.”

“Well, Wednesday didn’t go well as Rindis didn’t show on VASL. Train delays kept him from getting home on time to play, so we’re still doing things via email.”

“Turn 2 went poorly for the Germans. Rindis still has yet to score a MC against any of my units, and I continue picking away at his squads, breaking two more and killing another HS. However, I still cannot damage that damn truck with my HMG. 20 hexes appears to be a nice safe zone for it. His units are too spread out, and I’ve managed to break all his units on the right side of board 16, where there’s no leader. I’m sending down a HS to see what mischief it can cause amongst those broken units. I don’t think the French were meant to counterattack in this scenario, but it’s not stopping me!”

“Several errors were committed by me up to this point, but it’s too soon to discuss as it concerns hidden units. More on that to follow.”

“I now await those turn 3 reinforcements. Things are about to get complicated for my units.”

Honus asked:

“Are you using the -1 Bridge TEM rule in this scenario? I speak of the recent errata in Journal 7.”

Patch answered:

“Ya know, we’re not even that far along yet and it hasn’t come up. Personally, I’m more inclined to abide by what the counters say, as it avoids a whole host of new questions. Must be discussed with Rindis, however.”

And then I responded:

I had meant to mention this when we got going….

Personally, I was planning on using the errata. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I generally support it, and I’m not changing that just because I’m attacking across a bridge.

Besides, at this rate I’ll be lucky to clear out the French in front of the bridge….

“Turn three proceeded slowly last night, only bringing us through the entry of German reinforcements. We’ve now a light breeze blowing to the SW, and I’m hoping that it will kick up to heavy winds and eliminate Smoke cover for the eventual bridge crossing. I’m doing rather poorly, not only managing to muff near every die roll, but I also broke an HMG on the right flank for the second time (thankfully, Rindis also broke an MMG). Rindis went gun hunting with his trucks, and I managed miss with every infantry shot against the vehicles as they trundled nearly to hexrow Y, even surviving my MMG’s boresighted hex. Guns are still hidden, and I’ve my first broken unit. I’m hoping things turn around over my turn 3 and I break another unit or two, and maybe bag a vehicle.”

Yes, German Turn 3 movement was something of an epic.

After the mistakes on turn 1, my attack pretty much stalled before it even got to the initial defenses. This put a lot of pressure on me to ‘get it right’ this time. I futzed around with pre-RPh placement for two evenings, and then had a disagreement with the interpretation of the scenario card, which had me going back to do it again during the Wednesday session.

Towards the end of my movement, Patch asked me, “You do realize you have four trucks, right?” I looked at the card, and sure enough, there was a ‘4’ beside the truck counter (as the line was long enough to wrap ‘up’ at the end), that I had missed when pulling counters on Vassal.

…So I pulled out three more and moved them on as part of the end of my movement. With how things have been, this isn’t a big loss for me. They couldn’t have really gotten anywhere I’d want to go that I couldn’t reach on foot and unload. I’ll admit a second one to begin with would probably have gotten used.

Beyond that, the turn went fairly well. My position is better, French units are finally coming out from under concealment, and I’m finally causing casualties. I’m probably a full turn behind the schedule I wanted to keep, but I’m certainly not out of it yet.

Now where are those darn French Guns?

Situation East of the river, end of German Turn 3. Three trucks are in motion, the CX at the right is a French HS, the center DM is a French HS, and the ACQ is where the PzII is firing on a suspected Gun location.

“It’s turn 3, and I’ve managed to malfunction an HMG for the third time. T_T”

“Thankfully, though I don’t know how to shoot them, I know how to repair them. I’m hoping this one comes back on line fast, too.”

“Prep Fire nabbed another squad due to casualty reduction. That’s 7VP so far! Woo!”

“Turn 4, and I fear Rindis is failing a Personal MC (hasn’t broken, but I believe he’s Pinned). I nailed a 9-1 and another squad, giving me 10 VP total and he’s only CR’d a single squad. He’s now getting reckless and making errors. The tank has driven forward to try and clear the 16N1 woods, but I revealed an ATG and promptly Shocked it. I expect it to die my Prep Fire, and with luck, a truck.”

“I have managed to successfully malfunction an HMG for the fourth time this game during Defensive fire. I’ve been fortunate in that I’m repairing them straight away, but this is ridiculous! This is getting as bad as the time I rolled 20 boxcars in a 6-turn game. My only saving grace is Rindis’ attack has become disorganized. Can he still pull it off? Yes, but it will take some work.”

I think I ELR’d to a 6+1….

I just could not come up with a something that would get me where I felt I needed to go, and not lose everything doing so.

The good news is I figured on loosing the PzII as soon as I found a Gun…. Armored tactics are not something I’ve had any practice with, and this is my first time I’ve had an AFV that had to worry about other than MGs.

Now if I could just get my infantry game back….

“If Rindis didn’t fail his MC last turn, he’s struggling with one now.”

“Turn 4 opened with me failing to repair an HMG for the first time, so I was worried about how much fire I could drop this turn. Rindis is finally deploying for an assault on the 16N1 woods, and I’ve got several squads adjacent to my units and a tank up front. My Prep Fire needed to count.”

“Rindis’ first mistake of the turn was leaving a truck (towing the INF gun and MTR) in LOS of an HMG. I missed, got ROF, then turned it into a burning wreck. The next ROF malfunctioned the gun, so I’ve no active HMGs on board. Not good. My ATG in X1 fired next, getting multiple ROF and finishing off his Panzer and destroying a truck. Infantry fire broke a squad and a HS and battle hardened one of his leaders to a 9-1. I’d be a bit worried by that result except for the fact that I’ve now acquired 23 VP. 2 more and it’s over.”

“I think Rindis’ attempt to attack on a wide front is what initially hurt him the most. With squads spread out across the board, I’ve been able to break units away from leaders, which has his officers trying to rally units rather than direct fire. In addition, since he’s spread out he’s not been able to direct effective return fire against my units. I think a more concentrated assault would have worked better.”

“Sorry, still no pictures.”

I am going to call it… after one more spiteful fire phase. I’m a bit tempted to drag it out a bit, to get a better feel for a few things, but I don’t think it’ll tell me much at this point, and I’m certainly not getting across the bridge without giving up the final CVPs.

If I can find time, I should go back and fiddle with turn 4 some, and try to figure out what to do.

I began with not a bad plan. But it was a bit too much for the starting forces. The general idea was to have some flankers to try and keep his flanking forces occupied while I tried to start reducing the defenders in front of the bridge. I think the real mistake was having an extra squad out behind the Z hedge. Spreading out that far left me too vulnerable to taking losses in the center, which I promptly did.

Of course, the real mistake was feeling too much time pressure on turn four, and trying to force the foxholes. I needed to take another turn for it. I don’t really know if I could afford that turn, but I could certainly afford it much more than the losses I took. Also, part of that rush involved me changing plans in the middle. I decided against my earlier idea on the moving the truck towing the INF and carrying the 81mm MTR (which wouldn’t be the same vehicle if I’d realized that I had more than one…). Whether it would have been any safer continuing to slog through the wheatfield is hard to say. I probably could have kept it safe from all the currently known Gun positions, but there’s still two out there that I haven’t seen….

“I think you definitely needed to get your Guns unloaded and deployed, and started dropping Smoke on 40D1 and around the woods to start blocking LOS and permit your infantry to assault. Your radio also needed to get into play. Once you got units forward, it was frightening how fast the French folded.”

“If you wish to reverse roles and try again as the French, I’m game.”

…Patch’s guesses about my personal Morale Check were off. The real problem (reflected in my lack of reporting) was failing the PMC in the first MPh where I walked my best leader, squad and MMG into a firelane, not realizing that Grain Hindrance would not apply. The dice promptly punished me with a ‘2’, and my heart was not in the rest of the scenario. Some of the later events showed that this was indeed not a game-killer, but it was hard to see it that way, and I still struggle with keeping reverses in perspective. Of course, I’ve seen Patch do it on occasion too.

The broad-front attack is a theme you’ll see a few more times. I think… that may be trained into me by strategic-level games (which is my usual interest). My instinct is to try to ‘tie down’ troops away from the main action to keep it from being reinforced. In ASL, the attacker usually needs most everything supporting the main thrust so that it can continue after being blunted by enemy fire.

Timing issues on pressing ahead (like in turn 4 here) have been a recent problem for me too. Here, I was feeling pressured by the fact that it seemed like I had gotten nowhere for three turns, and wanted to have time to put pressure on the far end of the bridge before trying to cross it (with a -3 FL down the middle of it) instead of being forced into a last turn rush across. As it was, I didn’t get that far.

At some point, I certainly do need to give this one another try. The parts of the scenario where I wasn’t blundering into rules and setup errors were very interesting, and it needs a proper go.