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Saturday, December 27, 2008

The best laid plans...

So Badger came round for our wargamers' xmas as we'd been planning for months. Unfortunately he'd just gone down with the flu, so he spent most of his visit dozing in the corner!

We did get in 1 game - of Combat Commander, naturally enough. As had been the case with Scenario 20, A March in December last October, there was a particular scenario I wanted to play, prompted this time by a discussion last month over at CSW. The scenario this time was Scenario 7. Bessarabian Nights, in which I played the Russians, with the aim of investigating a viable strategy for a partisan force with a 4-card hand and a mere 1 order.

With 14 units setting up in random hexes the Russians really need some luck in this scenario. The crucial good fortune the Russians are looking for is to find 1 or both of their 2 leaders set up with a squad or team, to protect them from the standard German strategy, which involves hunting down and killing the isolated Russian leaders to cripple their already limited manoeuvrability. I didn't enjoy that bit of luck, but my deployment wasn't too bad:
  • I had a significant force deployed around the objective to the north of the map, where they were in a position to offer mutual support, and where they might quickly regroup should I get a leader up there.
  • My better leader was on top of the objective smack in the centre of the map, from where he could make a quick dash northwards if Badger gave me the chance.
Of course, Badger wasn't going to give me that chance easily. Sgt. Maisky was precisely the leader he chose to target, literally surrounding him at point-blank range with his 2 platoons. Undaunted, Maisky started the game by lobbing his satchel charge at a weak point in the German ring, in the hopes that he might blast his way out. His target unit broke, but I couldn't finish them to breakout before the Germans advanced into close combat and Maisky bit the dust.

Badger then went on a bit of a spree, picking off isolated Russian units in close combat. Things looked to be going quite well for him, but he was taking big risks attacking without prepared ambushes. Badger paid the price for his rashness soon enough, losing a squad and a leader. I promptly played No Quarter for an extra 2VP, so that Badger had lost the advantage of his early assault.

The Germans couldn't keep up their pressure for ever, and a discard eventually came, allowing me to play my carefully husbanded Hidden Unit. I couldn't really've asked for better from this: a 2-command leader, who I was able to position up north to bring a platoon south to reinforce the main action.

Badger meanwhile was striving manfully to regain the advantage through firepower and close combat. He made a neat advance with 2 ambushes which could've made all the difference, but I pulled a sneaky trick, playing the Light Wounds action to keep my leader unbroken, thus eking out an extra FP or 2 in the ensuing melee. I can't remember whether or not this was crucial, but I won in any event. This melee was pretty much the end for Badger. He waited a bit to see if his fortunes might change; when they didn't he surrendered, leaving me victorious in time 2 with 21VP.

Looking back, I'd have to say that Badger made 2 crucial tactical mistakes as the Germans:
  • He should've sent his 2 platoons off to strike in different directions, which would've had the effect of forcing the Russians to respond on 2 fronts with just 1 order.
  • He shouldn't've been quite so rash in his early close combats, because it was that early kill I achieved which completely changed the tempo of the game.
Badger would probably agree with this, but he just wants the world to know that he was full of the flu, so that it wasn't really a fair contest. He might be right, in which case all I can do is to ask for a rematch! ;)
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