Two months in a row I’ve managed to get my Combat Commander ladder game in. The ladder is run by Patrick Pence and is a great way to play a monthly game against some good people and maybe (I don’t know, probably not) rise to the top of the ladder!
That would require winning every game you play. I was off to a great start in May and July! I had moved up to #16!
But that sadly ended with my August game, “Encircled at Hill 30”.
My opponent this time was David Stewart-Peterson, an incredibly nice guy who was willing to play me in two sessions over my lunch hours earlier this week.
The scenario is “Encircled at Hill 30,” from the Paratrooper scenario pack. These scenarios involve US paratroops (David – Green) either just after the Normandy landings or during the Battle of the Bulge. This particular scenario takes place on June 8, 1944, two days after the landings, with a contingent of paratroops defending a hill against a vicious German (Me – Blue) counterattack.
The Americans just have some foxholes but they are holding all but one of the objective hexes on the map. David set his men up so that a number of them were up on the hill but some troops were down in the farm house, keeping the Germans honest.
The Germans are limited in setup to the first two columns, and there are too many German troops to all fit up on the hill and brush in the southeast corner. Most of them are up on the very high hill in the corner with one squad sitting in the wide open.
Both sides have a mortar and the Americans have artillery. The Germans will get artillery after the second Time event.
Let’s see what happened!
To start, all the Germans could do is shift a little bit to get their troops out of the open.
No Move cards! Just three Advance cards.
This left a large cluster for the American artillery to fire at.
The artillery hit pretty hard, and worse is that it was accurate! Much like my last scenario, a Time event was drawn on the first card. I wanted my artillery, so I let it pass. This meant the artillery was accurate and only slightly drifted.
This burned through a lot of German cards as I had to do morale checks for all of them surrounding where it hit.
And then I drew another Time event! Wow, the German radio is on the scene! And we thought we might finish this game up in one session rather than two. After that, another Time event during the morale checks!
This was moving way too fast for the Germans, who actually needed to do something before time ran out, so I gave up the Initiative to David in order to get a reroll.
David had another Artillery Request, so there was even more artillery fire on the hapless Germans!
Thankfully, though a number of units broke, I had a Recover card that healed them all up. After all that, one German squad was suppressed and that was it.
As the Germans slowly started to move around the hill (having only Advance cards kind of sucks when you’re on the attack), American fire caused another Time event!
This was getting ridiculous.
A subsequent event during German fire produced a new objective, which in this case made every objective hex worth 3 VP, putting the Germans in an even deeper hole.
David got his artillery going and flooded the German hill with Smoke to keep the heavy machine gun from being able to see the American troops. It didn’t quite work, though it did inhibit the Germans some.
The two sides traded some ineffective fire (though the Germans did manage to break both a squad and Lt. Blankenship, both of whom rallied the next turn) and then the Americans tried to lay more smoke.
And drew a Time event again!
This smoke effectively cut the Germans off from having any kind of effective fire.
The Germans had to get off that hill and actually do something, so the illustrious Private Herzog tried to get some troops to head to the village.
And they paid the price.
Broken units galore!
Sadly, Pvt Herzog never recovered from that and eventually was eliminated. It’s a good thing that Sgt Biermann had made it over to his troops! He really shouldn’t have let Herzog do all the heavy lifting.
Thankfully, during the American constant firing at the exposed troops where Herzog died, a Breeze came and blew away all that smoke!
Yes, the Germans were back in the firing business.
A lot of firing back and forth occurred and another German squad bit the dust.
Finally it was time for Sgt Biermann to attack! Even though he only had 2 squads. Something had to be done.
And they were all quickly suppressed.
Then, miracle of miracles, German Air Support killed a squad!
The Germans were starting to think that maybe they could win by making the Americans reach their Surrender Level instead of trying for Victory Points.
It just might work!
If there was time.
To do that, the Germans would have to attack some more, so smoke was desperately needed.
Thankfully, the German artillery finally came through.
The cursed American machine gun (the only American weapon with range across the battlefield) was shrouded in smoke!
Biermann had to get off the road, so even in his suppressed state, he and his men moved into the wheat field. The subsequent American Opportunity Fire depleted the American deck and then the German one!
Would the game end with the Americans way ahead in VP and the Germans barely able to do anything? The US had the Initiative so could force a reroll if the Germans didn’t end the game.
The Germans drew a 12! The game would continue (David didn’t want to force the reroll and give up Initiative since I would have needed to draw a 6 or less to end the game).
On that note, I had to get back to work, so we agreed to meet up the next day to finish the match. The Germans saw a spark of hope, though it was pretty dim. They would have to kill 4 American units in order to cause a Surrender victory and there was little chance they could take enough victory points to win that way.
Throughout the first day, none of the numerous Sniper events drew any blood.
That changed on the second day.
On the first German fire attack of the day, the German sniper finally found range.
And on the next fire attack, it hit again…
Where was this earlier in the game?
The subsequent fire attack killed the Paratroopers in the wheat field. I was only 3 kills away from winning!
To do anything else, though, the Germans would have to really attack. Lt. Schrader led the charge through the other wheat field!
And thankfully the smoke kept them safe.
And then, just as Biermann starts to make his move, another Breeze comes up and all of that beautiful smoke disappears!
What horrible timing.
Lt. Blankenship and the American machine gun decimates Schrader and his squad, but thankfully the Germans had a Recover card and quickly righted themselves.
Biermann tried to lay down some more smoke to cover the machine gun, but it drifted away and laid a smoke cloud where it essentially had no effect.
Desperate to get out of the wheat field, even though it was dangerous, Schrader and his men start moving again…and thankfully David didn’t have a Fire card this time! The move was safe.
Biermann and his men ran toward the farm house, taking advantage of the lack of fire from the American side. Maybe that smoke wasn’t useless after all!
Biermann and squad, along with two Ambushes (sadly, not the three I meant to have) advanced into melee in the farm house, desperate close combat to see if they could eliminate some more Americans!
While Sgt. White unfortunately died, the fresh American paratroops actually outnumbered and outgunned the attacking Germans…and the Germans paid the price.
I should have used those two Ambushes and attacked the paratroops on the hill with Schrader’s stack. The two ambushes would have killed it without the Germans being harmed at all.
Thankfully, two turns later, with two more Ambushes, Schrader did the job and eliminated the American squad.
Doing so, however, caused a deck to run out and another Sudden Death roll!
The Americans have the Initiative so can force a re-roll.
The Germans roll a 12! On the re-roll, an 8 is rolled so the game will continue.
The Americans take the opportunity to lay down more smoke, completely blocking the German fire group on the heights again.
That won’t stop them from firing, but it will make it harder!
Desperate to do something but with no Ambushes or Advance cards, Schrader starts calling down artillery near his location, hoping it doesn’t drift into him.
The Americans try the same thing.
The Germans were discarding like crazy, trying to get a suitable card to make a final assault.
But the American deck ran out and there was no third continuation.
The game was over, with the Americans having 21 victory points.
Here’s the final map.
This was a great game. I thought I was hosed early on and had no real chance. Slowly but surely, though, I started getting some breaks and an American surrender was a distinct possibility.
Here’s the casualty chart at the end.
Just one more unit killed and I would have won!
The snipers early on the second day really helped with that. Without them, I really did have no chance. That and some Air Support.
Sadly, I just couldn’t get that Advance card that I needed right at the end. I had one Ambush so I probably would have chanced it, knowing Time was coming up soon (though I was hoping for at least one more Ambush).
David was a great opponent and very accommodating of my time constraints. We had a lot of laughs during the game and I believe we didn’t make any rules errors this time!
My first loss on the ladder means I’ll fall back down into the 30s. That just means September’s scenario I had better win, eh?
I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of the scenario. I know many of my readers probably got bored with it, so sorry about that. I’ll try to make a post for you next week.
(And yes, that lonely broken squad in the southern wheat field never actually rallied. They just sat their hiding in the wheat stalks and maybe playing some music or something)
Combat Commander Ladder – After Action Reports