ASL Scenario S
By Robert Delwood
(c) 1998, Wayward Publications
A dream scenario for the Germans. An all infantry game except for the German Whirlwind, the scenario's namesake. Except for some Americans in the way and their two bazookas.
While not technically a Battle of the Bulge scenario has was required during the 1998 Puget Sound ASL's Christmas BulgeFest party, the scenario did at least feature Germans and Americans, which was close enough for us. The scenario, The Whirlwind (scenario S), named for the only vehicle in the game, saw a small 12 squad and single Whirlwind assault an eight squad defending American force in wooden buildings. In essence, the Germans had to take all the buildings in the town including the ones on the far side of the city center, in seven turns.
After dicing for sides, I would get the Germans and Mark Wanahasan, the defending Americans. A word about the Whirlwind is needed. It is truly an amazing weapon, 20IFE with a ROF of 2. The Americans had two bazookas and represented the only threat to the thin-skinned vehicle. That and the fact all Americans begin HIP. Clearly, the infantry had to protect the weapon. Even though the bazooka had a five range, the Whirlwind could stay outside of the five range. Except for tricky LOS, there was no need to ever expose it to a shot.
The second tactic to be employed is the aggressive us of half squads. On set up, four HS may be automatically deployed. I would reserve the use of addition ones on a need basis during the game. After all, with a 9-2 it should be easy to deploy new HSs. At least one would think. The importance of the HS would be threefold. First, they can draw fire as they scream across the open fields. Second, those making it could then search. I did not want to move the Whirlwind before knowing it had a secure spot to stop. The most important use of the HS would be during the assault. The Germans have to deny rout. There is not enough time or fire power to out kill American squads or double break them. Therefore, they have to dispatched while broken. There is very little maneuver room, so the attack has to be head on. Even the HS could not move around the village. That leaves the last option of simply running through the lines. The Americans would have a tough choice now. They can not allow Hun units to get behind them but who wants to fire at 2-3-7 HSs while the real attack force is in front of you?
Those were the tactics I would follow for the game. Reality had different ideas for me. The first, last and only thing to go right was the initial assault. I took advantage of the set area and placed many of my units in the open forming the smallest distance to the woods in front of me. It is a curious gap in the setup rules. There are occasions the attacker would want to set up in the open in order to get good Prep Fire or, in my case, get a better position to dash across the fields. In either case, no unit would want to be caught dead in the same location otherwise. It seems like a sleazy thing to do. However, my conscience clear, the HSs took off and by moving first, they accomplished their initial goals. Enemy units came out of their hiding places like cockroaches with the kitchen light on and important First Fire was expended. Freed of the uncertainty of hidden units and the threat of deadly fire, the big kill stacks and Whirlwind moved. The entire first turn cost me two broken HSs. Giddy like a school girl, I planned for the assault on the village itself.
I managed to malfunction the Whirlwind in the Advancing Fire of my first turn. An 8+1 shot on a vulnerable American squad seemed so reasonable. The vehicle's problems would not end there. In a later turn, it would be stunned by a sniper. However, the big question was to repair the weapon or not. With equal chances of fixing the gun or recalling the weapon entirely this question merited some though. Remember, the vehicle still had worth in the game. First, it was still a threat. While it was on the board and had the chance of being fixed, the Americans would have to guard against it. It also had overrun ability (should any squads be caught in the open), a 3 FP MG and it could move and deny rout. In the worst case, it was able to provide cover either in the form of an Armored Assault, a stationary object or a flaming wreck. However, the 20 FP was the deciding factor. It represented too much fire power not to try. In a tough decision, I choose not to attempt to fix it quite yet. while I continued the assault. When the assault was fully committed and the 20 FP would be best used, I then attempted to fix it. Naturally, breaking it again, the stunned crew was recalled off board and its commander was executed.
The Americans played defense quite well and quite effectively. He decided from the start he would not stand and fight. Rather he would skulk and retreat. Time and distance was on the American side. With barely enough time to reach the far side of the village, the Germans would also have to assault two building in the process. Additionally, with little threat of being surrounded or the retreat lanes interdicted, the Americans could redeploy at will. As a result, they managed to dilute my fire power even more by denying me my Defensive Fire Phase. Ironically he even gypped me out of good Prep Fires. While that allowed me to move, I was not killing or breaking units - at least fast enough.
It was clear by turn three, the German stood little chance of winning. With a marginal fire power advantage, Germans were now attacking units in wooden buildings while they themselves had nothing more than orchards and open hexes as they charged. Even so, ASL being what it is, the impossible is always possible. In a desperate attempt to snatch victory, a grand assault was planned. The remaining HSs would charge across the open and attempt to get behind the defending troops. Surviving the DFF attacks, two of them successfully made it. Now a broken unit was the same as a dead unit. Things were looking up. I flanked the village from the German left with a squad and a half. During the course of their two turn assault, these two units would actually make it to the last building on the last turn and capture it in CC. Now the main force had no option but to conduct a frontal assault. I reserved a kill stack with a 9-2 in rallying position as the assault's hammer. I suspected, and rightly so, the Americans would not stay around and fight. While they could not rout because of my HSs, they could dash across the street not fearing the pathetic 2 FP attacks. In other words, my front assault would have to endure a single defensive fire phase but not the additional Prep Fire in the American turn. While some of the assault units broke, two did survive and capture the building.
The situation was still grim. Constantly about half the main assault force was always broken, that is, three squads. My fire was marginal and while it did break a unit, the Americans still have four with to contend. In the end, no matter how brave and ingenious my attack plan was, the Germans simply did not have the units to both break four units and capture buildings. I only had enough units to capture the buildings.
On the last turn of the game, I launched a series of attacks across the open. My units had to get into the buildings and also break the units with assault fire or CC. Neither was to happen. In the end, I captured all but one of the buildings but the last one had three squads and an 8-1 leader. Mark played it well.
I would like to think how different the game would have been if my Whirlwind had played a part of the game. Would I play this again? You bet.
As always, I encourage discussion. If you agree or disagree, feel free to write me.