Saturday, June 09, 2007

Got game!

Once more unto the breach! (Or: Still no room at the inn)

It'd been weeks since Tony and I had last got together for a game of Combat Commander Chad Jensen's recent hit for GMT Games. So I was well pleased when he came round last Sunday for another game. We ended up revisiting Scenario 4: Closed for Renovations, which had previously seen one of our closest games- when Tony had won thanks to my game-winning melee roll being pre-empted by a game-ending sudden death dice roll because my card-draw for that dice roll was the last card of my deck. (Sheesh!) With this history, you can imagine then what was at stake in this replay.

Here's the map.
Here are the forces.

Tony set his Germans up first. He put a squad in the building to the rear of each of his flanks to prevent my going for a quick end-run strategy involving Exit VP. His remaining 4 squads with most of his MG's- the 2 HMG's in particular- went into the chateau. The wire he placed to cover the forward flanks of my lines of advance to the chateau, in the hopes no doubt that I'd be channelled into a killzone on that road in front of the chateau. And that IG? Well he took his chance- as per the scenario special rules- to keep that until after he'd seen my setup.

For my part I decided in the end to grasp the nettle of the gambit represented by Tony's setting-up a lone German squad in the building to his southeast (north to the top as usual). And not wanting to charge up the centre, that set my strategy. My stronger force- best leader, mostly elite squads, satchel charges, most of my MG's- was going to go on my right, starting in those woods to the far northwest. The rest were deployed around their leader along the north edge of the map.

My plan was to advance under cover of smoke to the sheds on my right- ie. those small buildings on the western map edge, then use them as a jumping-off point for an assault on the chateau itself. On the left I was going to deal with Tony's holding force, then split my own force into 2
  • an exit force for extra VP and later reinforcements
  • a force to bring the chateau under pressure from the southeast to back up my main assault from my other flank.
This plan avoided the deathtrap of the German wire while simultaneously split the German forces. It was a good'un I thought.

Seeing my setup, Tony promptly put his IG in the sheds. Given my plan this worried me a bit. But I knew I'd be advancing under lots of smoke, so I shrugged and carried on.

The game opened perfectly for me: Tony was subject to vicious sniper attacks; I got fistfuls of Artillery Request cards which meant that I'd soon laid all the smoke I needed for my plans; and I got my left-flank force into action quickly for their part of my plan. Something just had to go wrong sooner or later, didn't it? What happened was that I got greedy and stupid (or was that stupid because greedy?). Instead of following my plan to keep my left flank's leader, elite squad and 50-cal safe from Tony's HMG stack, I put my stack in a positon to shoot at his. Of course, that meant they could shoot back. Soon enough I'd lost my entire stack. The consequences of this were to prove more serious than just the immediate cost in troops and VP.

Worse was to come. In the midst of all this action on my left, I decided to play an Artillery request as a FFE on the chateau. The chances of damage were slim, but I needed the card cycle at that point. Of course, that artillery order generated the Breeze event which cleared away all my carefully prepared smoke! I was able to lay more, but it wasn't quite so well-placed and, more importantly- that ate up lots of valuable time.

By this time the loss of that leader on my left was beginning to tell. Y'see: I'd planned on bringing my flamethrower-toting engineers on to reinforce my efforts on my right. But their leader was needed on my left when they arrived- so that was where they had to go. And this adjustment began to tell when I finally got my right moving. To cut a long story short: when I finally got in a position to attack the IG/LMG nest, it turned out to be a Pillbox and not just a building. Thanks to poor hand management and cardplay on my part, I got bogged-down in a bitter battle to clear that position, a battle for which those flamethrowers are tailor-made.

Meanwhile, over on the right, I'd managed to get those engineers with their flamethrowers into position behind the chateau. From there they'd been able to bring down some useful smoke. As the IG/LMG nest began to exact a heavy toll on my forces, I realised that I'd have to assault the chateau soon. When those pesky Pillbox defenders finally finished-off my lads in an oh-so-close melee, I knew it was time. I charged and assault-fired with a flamethrower: result!- I broke an entire HMG stack! A bit more luck like that and I could still put this game back from the brink.

It was not to be. The flamethrowers never delivered anything at all thereafter (mostly they just couldn't see the Germans through the thick smoke swirling through the shattered chateau), and Tony was soon able to rally, then to finish me off in melee. When my last engineer squad died, I conceded (I wanted to watch the Have I Got News for You? rerun on TV).

A crushing defeat- some 24+ VP, but what a great game! And lessons learned?
  1. Greedy is stupid. If your plan involves staying out of sight of enemy kill-stacks, STAY out of sight!!. Don't sucker yourself into opportunistic plays for the sake of marginal attacks based on passing hand composition.
  2. Don't advance under the barrels of an IG unless you've got the hand needed to destroy it right away; a.k.a. the 'You Won't Win a Firefight with an IG in a Pillbox' rule!
0-1 :(

- The Claymore mega-session
- Easter extravaganza #3: country-house carnage

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