It’s August, and time for another tale from the Combat Commander ladder (yes, I stole that from the preeminent Patrick Pence, head of the Combat Commander ladder and all around great guy).
I’m into my second year on the ladder now and it’s been a wonderful time (marred a little bit by the loss of one of our own in July).
I was 9-5 on the ladder going into August’s game, but I received a tough assignment (Thanks, Patrick…grrrrrr).
Scenario #30 is from the Paratrooper Battle Pack but it’s an unusual one as it involves Russian paratroops! They are faced with some German units who are just starting to get into position.
It takes place in 1943 with the Russians in Recon mode while the Germans are in Attack mode.
That means no nasty Defense surprises like Mines or Wire!
That was a godsend.
The rest of it?
My opponent was Greg G and he was the Germans. I was the Russians and they are in a tough spot.
They have to set up at the top in hex columns A-H, but only one unit per hex. So really it’s just a matter of the order that you set them up in because there’s only one hex that won’t have a unit.
The Russians have a mortar, which is nice, and a couple of LMGs.
(Don’t forget that you can click on each picture to enlarge it)
The Germans start on the bottom of the map in the first two hexes with their four foxholes within 4 hexes of the bottom.
This was Greg’s setup.
They also have reinforcements that the Germans can decide when they show up. The Russians can’t exit the map and get VP until the reinforcements come in, so the Germans have to decide how they want to do it.
Thus, the Germans have to get Move cards to get into position while the Russians have to get Move cards to try and consolidate their troops.
This is a really hard scenario for the Russians.
Would I buck the losing trend?
Let’s take a look.
The Germans started by discarding. Which is good for the Russians! Especially because they had a Move card.
But with only one leader, not many of the units can move with one order.
They did scootch over and take Objective 5. It may not be any points, but it can never hurt!
A bunch more discarding ensued, before the Germans on the right were able to advance onto the ridge.
The Russians with Lt. Gulkevich kept advancing toward the hills, but the fact that they would now be facing some withering HMG fire gave them pause.
Should I have kept advancing on the German right, since it was only the HMG and squad that I would be facing?
Did I do that?
Of course I didn’t.
The Germans on the left managed to make it onto the ridge and into their foxholes as well.
This put them in the position to lay down some withering fire on the Russians who hadn’t been able to move yet.
Which Greg did, with deadly precision.
The Russian mortar tried to stop Lt. Bolter and his men in their tracks, but their sighting mechanism must have been broken and they missed.
Instead, Bolter and his HMG fed merciless fire into the Russian squad that was sitting there in the open. The HMG broke it and then the squad with Bolter (which was barely in range) killed it because the Russians rolled terribly on their morale check.
Thankfully the mortar wasn’t in range of the squad!
The German HMG on the right moved into the Foxholes, making them even harder to kill. I think that’s one reason why I didn’t try to go that way, even though I had a Satchel Charge.
Or maybe I’m just stupid. That may be right as well.
The Russian mortar fired again and actually suppressed Bolter’s team that was manning the HMG!
That didn’t last long, though.
The squad fired on the mortar (I missed that they’re not actually in range, though I remembered later) but nothing happened.
The Russians fired the mortar again, and some Rubble (Wire) appeared in an unimportant hex as well as foxholes! Then the Command & Control event came out, giving the Germans 3 more VP (would have been 5 if I hadn’t taken Objective 5!).
This was when I decided to move Gulkevich and my other stack back towards the German Left. Why did I do that?
In hindsight, as I’m writing this, I don’t know. It was very stupid.
The Germans fired but didn’t do any damage, thankfully.
The Russians moved forward one more hex and more German fire came down! Thankfully, only the squad broke, but that was enough to stop them.
Then the Soviet Hero appeared! That rallied the squad and they were all good to go again.
A lot more discarding happened, which was sad because the Germans discarding meant that they didn’t have Fire cards!
The broken Gulkevich and squad (though not the Hero) advanced into the Woods to give themselves some cover.
The Germans switched their stacks on the German left so that the HMG and Bolter were in the foxholes, able to rain fire down on Gulkevich’s men.
The Russian hero moved into Gulkevich’s hex and one of the Russian Guards squads started advancing toward the hill.
The Germans didn’t have any Fire cards, or at least neglected to use them.
The Russian Guards squad and Hero fired on Bolter, and got a Commisar event! That basically means that you choose one broken Russian unit and make a morale check. If it fails, it’s eliminated. If it makes it, it rallies! Gulkevich was the only broken unit and he must have said the right things to the Commisar because he ended up rallied.
That fire that caused the Commisar event also ran the German deck out, which meant that the German reinforcements came onto the board.
While this also meant the Russians could exit, they certainly weren’t in a position to do so though.
They were trapped.
The Russian deck ran out but more withering German fire broke and eliminated the Guards squad with Gulkevich, along with the Hero! Gulkevich was on his own.
Pfeiffer and his men decided to run up toward Gulkevich and see what they could do!
Would that work?
The brave Russian Guards advanced even further in front of the hill, using Assault Fire to actually break the squad right next to them!
Would that help?
Maybe. (I’m being quite cryptic, aren’t I?)
The Germans played a Recover card, but the squad refused to rally!
Greg did move them back a hex so they couldn’t be fired on again. That was disappointing.
The Russians tried to Rout them off the board but that failed (that would have been too helpful).
Pfeiffer advanced even closer to the broken Gulkevich, who was lying in wait with his pistol.
Much more discarding ensued, and then the Germans tried to rally the squad again!
But Pfeiffer decided to lead all of his troops (a squad, a team, and himself) onto the broken Gulkevich in the Woods.
But the Russians had 3 Ambush cards! Gulkevich, even while broken, was laying a bunch of traps leading into the Woods.
The German Team was eliminated with its LMG and Pfeiffer broke, meaning that the melee was going to be 5-0 instead of 12-0.
The Russians rolled a 2 on the Melee roll, though, dooming Gulkevich.
But he extracted some blood before dying!
With a new target that wasn’t up on a hill, the Russian mortar decided to finally do some good.
It fired on Pfeiffer and the squad in the Woods, and it broke the German squad (Pfeiffer survived, sadly, though he was Suppressed).
A subsequent German Recover finally recovered the squad on the hill and Pfeiffer, though the squad under him rolled a Time trigger and thus failed to rally.
A bunch of discarding happened until the mortar got another shot at the broken squad and Pfeiffer.
The squad died! And Pfeiffer was broken.
Unfortunately, Pfeiffer eventually rallied and ran like a scaredy-cat back over the hill. He retreated back to the other German HMG to give them “leadership”.
The Russians, one kill away from Surrendering due to unit elimination, decided to try and get around the hills again. A Guards squad with an LMG ran out of the foxholes in the gully but stupid me reminded Greg that he had line of sight to them with Bolter’s HMG (I’m not sure why I did that).
That fire broke the squad, ending their movement.
The Russians tried to Recover but only managed to suppress the broken squad!
Then the Russians, in desperation, tried to charge Bolter’s position (I have no idea right now what I was thinking, which seems to be a common theme!).
German Opportunity Fire ended up not only breaking them, but causing a KIA event that eliminated a Russian broken unit and ended the game due to the Russians reaching the “4” Surrender level (meaning that 4 Russian units had been eliminated).
The German secret objective gave me 4 VP for the objective that my charging squad took just as they died, making it a 5 VP German victory (though even if I had the VP advantage, since I lost by Surrender it would still be a Russian loss).
Greg was a gracious opponent, and he has said that my dice rolls did not do me any favours.
But I did make a major mistake that, even though it perhaps would have still resulted in a loss given my rolls, doomed me to require perfect rolls.
I should have gone around to the German left. One HMG is manageable, if you have a few good cards (Moves and Recovers).
It may not have worked (he could easily have moved to block me, though maybe the Russians I left over there would have gave him pause to move too much over there), but it had more of a chance to work than what I ended up doing.
Then my mortar started finding the range and it did some good, though not enough to make a difference.
I’m now 9-6 on the Ladder, and September’s game will take us back to the Pacific (I erroneously said last month that August would do that….whoops!).
I’m looking forward to that!
If you want to join the Ladder, just contact Patrick (email address is at the Youtube link above). There are enough people on the Ladder that you would certainly be able to play somebody reasonably close to your time zone! (hint hit, Michal).
Combat Commander Ladder – After Action Reports
May 2021 – Scenario #112 – Sonnenwende
July 2021 – Scenario #23 – No Man’s Land
August 2021 – Scenario #34 – Encircled at Hill 30
September 2021 – Scenario A – Grassy Knoll
October 2021 – Scenario M6 – Breakout
November 2021 – Scenario #35 – Spartakovka Salient
December 2021 – Scenario #51 – The Uneasy Wait
January 2022 – Scenario #65 – Road Trip
February 2022 – Scenario #75 – Sturmgruppe Beton
March 2022 – Scenario #90 – The Man Who Would Be King
April 2022 – Scenario LoM9 – Operation Mercury
May 2022 – Scenario #119 – Sky Fall
June 2022 – Scenario #9 – Rush to Contact
July 2022 – Scenario #14 – At the Crossroads
August 2022 – Scenario #30 – Red Skies At Night
September 2022 – Scenario E – West Tank Barrier
October 2022 – Scenario M4 – Templeton’s Crossing
November 2022 – Scenario #41 – The Commissar House
December 2022 – Scenario #53 – Deeds Not Words
January 2023 – Scenario #67 – The Orient Express
February 2023 – Scenario #82 – Hidden Guns Lash Out
March 2023 – Scenario #91 – The Battle of Trafalgar
April 2023 – Scenario LoM8 – Codes in the Sunrise
May 2023 – Scenario #105 – La Fiere Counterattack
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It seems a tough luck this time for you Dave. On a side note, I appreciate all those hills scenarios as they allow for a lot of tactical movement and opportunities.
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Yeah, this one’s a toughie. I think there have been 3 Russian wins so far.
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