ASL 231 - In front of the storm
Next up we have another CdG scenario early in 1940. A large force of Spahis (originally light cavalry recruited from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco) are pushing towards a bridge on the outskirts of Aessan. This is defended by a mixed group of elite German Glider troops and some regular army anti-tank formations commanded by a Luftlanekommando Werner Hedderich. I have the German defenders so have several elite paratrooper squads along with a door-knocker anti-tank gun a medium machine gun and some 1st line regular infantry. Standard excellent German leadership will be needed as there are a lot of decent quality Elite French coming our way along with three H35 tanks.
I decided I really didn't want the French sweeping in from the right so setup my defence to nudge them in a more central direction. Machine guns commanded the roads and a sacrificial half squad sat on the edge to prevent anyone sneaking around the flank. My intention is that the 2nd row troops will hold back the enemy while the better officers and troops get back over the bridge.
The French setup up apparently intending to ignore my flanking squad
Unfortunately we soon found that I had accidentally written the half squad hex down incorrectly and the French thought it was in B4. Since it was my mistake the half squad had to move but this did mean that my defence was already marginally compromised. Plus I had misplace the medium machine gun bore sight in a location the squad could not see. Nice start. Competent..Bodes well....
The first turn went reasonable well as the French steadily approached.
and essentially massed in the centre. I was keeping my boys under wraps bar the one elite squad and 8-1 leader. Unfortunately in turn two a low odds hit forced a morale check and the key defensive squad box-carred the result and casualty reduced and ELR'd down. This mattered for two key reasons. The first was that it was in a stone building that the enemy could now get into. The second was that it meant my 9-2 was now locked in place in low TEM terrain whereas the original plan was to bug him out quickly. Now without him the French could potentially swamp the entire defence before I could do anything.
End of French turn two and already my collapsing bag defence is in danger of imploding as opposed to collapsing.
The melees lasted longer than I could have hoped but with the tanks moving forward and a lot of firepower coming my way my defences were wobbling badly.
In the end the only way to get the 9-2 back whilst not allowing an out-flank was it to follow its squad as it broke. Not in a good position for survival so started checking the swimming rules..
My 9-2 did do a sterling job of damaging all the stacks massing next door but eventually broke (on another low odds MC) and he had to move backwards. This put him in the unenviable location of being stacked with two broken units next to an open ground hex. We stopped here for the week (just before the German advance phase). I have to hope that A) my 9-2 rallies one of the two squads with him. If not then B) the tank I fully expect to move to I1 will be blown up (and potentially that my squads on the river can keep people from moving next door. It probably wont work so I may just have to give him up for good. Then the defence switches to the river defence. It will be hard as the French still have a lot of firepower and plenty of time to make it count.
I started with a key roll. Could I rally either squad with the 9-2? The answer was 'yes' but only the half squad - the far more useful full elite squad with light machine gun stayed down. As expected the tanks rolled forward over the bridge and in the Defensive Fire Phase I dropped concealment on the gun and opened up on the rear tank. It took two hits but I only managed to make it Immobilised. My last remaining 4-6-7 north of the river succumbed this turn before a very weird turn four.
One tank down to the dynamic duo of 9-1 and a Hero.
It started really, really badly as I rolled another three on the weather roll and then followed this with a hostile territory 6 roll (again) which managed to TI my gun. This was horrible as it was a key piece of the defence and had three stopped tanks lined up like tin cans. I then did what you should probably never do which was 'just to see what might have happened' rolled the guns attacks 'just' to see if it would make a difference. First shot was the weird HEAT fin thing against the lead tank. Needed a 6 rolled 5. It blew up. Then I shot at the middle tank and missed three times before losing rate (smoke from the forward wreck and a lowered ROF post HEAT fin). Either way it had a good chance of taking out the front tank, blocking the bridge AND making a nice smoke barrier. Now nothing :( #sadface. As a very small reward the second tank malfunctioned its main armament but I would have preferred my gun..
The hero and 9-2 are standing by the destroyed tank at the entrance to the bridge defying the entire French army in front and behind. My poor gun is out of action at the bottom of the shot.
It got worse in the DFF phase when that very tank critical hitted the gun on a low odds shot, the random selection got both gun and crew and wiped both. Slight bonuses were that I also snake eyed a morale check on the wrong side of the bridge and generated a hero in the forward half squad and although the half squad was then pinned the 9-2 and Hero proceeded to wipe out the rear tank (these two are really scary in combination.) These two stalwarts then laid down a hail of fire to wipe out two French squads and break another before succumbing in a 'death to all participants' melee. Not surprising perhaps when moving next to them on the road without assault moves was generating a 1 down 5 final protective fire..That gallant defence had held the French back a turn and my dice temporarily became hot as firstly the medium machine gun broke two squads plus officer on the far French right before doing the same to a French medium machine gun squad on the left.
Possibly my last chance to 'luck' out. The medium machine gun (central Prep counter) after breaking the entire French stack on the left has just broken the squad holding a French Medium machine gun on the hill in the upper right.
My other light machine gun was less than useful, It's first shot re-dmd the left stack but then on its second shot it broke. I fixed it 'huzzah' then the French broke the owning half squad 'booo' but they rallied 'huzzah' and then broke the machine gun again next shot 'booo' then were hit in the face with a number 1 sniper and broke again 'booooooo'. Meh. Did not matter though as firstly the lead tank rolled another low odds HE attack and broke the medium machine gun squad then after a brief burst of heroics from my last standing elite squad I lost them too. The gallant French attackers had won and much like the actual battle only a few German survivors had staggered away from the bridge.
The end. The French gallantly push across and the lead tank breaks the last active combat worthy defender.
This is a fun little scenario and I don't think the French were tested quite as heavily as they should have been. The first key loss - of my paratrooper squad in the stone building to a low odds shot was unfortunate but more a problem with my defence setup as, in ASL, shit happens. The TI was just nasty though. Whose to say if I hadn't rolled a three with two dice then a six with a single on two turns in a row that it would not have malfunctioned next turn? Perhaps.
The bridge does a lovely job of funnelling the French forward and a forward defence at the entrance to the wood with the majority of forces might have been a better choice. Would play again though so recommended.
The French were imagining the victory parade...