|Our swimming location, earlier in the day|
Keeping things straight-forward we opted for 88s at Zon, which is the starter kit conversion scenario of Zon with the Wind. I'd not played it before and with just a half board in play it seemed like a sensible option.
Playing Starter Kit scenarios in a full ASL setting can be a little tricky. Do you allow bypass, defender's concealment, snipers, multi-level buildings, etc? Marc had ruled that the scenario should be played under full ASL rules, with SANs of 2. The question about prisoners (counting double, or usual VP or nothing) for exit conditions was also tricky. With just 7 VP needing to be exited by the US, under normal rules a squad with a German squad as a prisoner would make up 6 of those points. We decided to try to play the game without exiting prisoners, to keep it unambiguous.
The scenario itself is relatively well balanced, 30-35 in favour of the Germans. With the lack of a high German sniper number often seen in situations like this, the Americans would also benefit from both a speed boost thanks to bypass and danger from any difficult LOSs to deal with from the Germans up in higher level buildings. However, the German concealment would mean that the initial defensive and first prep fire shots in the US turn 2 would be probably ineffective.
Bypass for this scenario exposes the US to more open ground to cross, and with 2 88s holding up the German OoB I felt they would have enough to stop 10 US squads. We both bid Germans - so diced for sides. I won the Americans with balance, an extra 7-0 leader, and I left John to set-up.
I tend to struggle with exit VP scenarios. They probably are the hardest to judge when attacking from a timing point of view. The first turn tends to be a struggle to get on board, the second usually has the infamous prep-or-move dilemma that is extenuated due to the time shortage issue. Turn 3 is the consolidation turn and turns 4 and 5 are all about moving into position for the final push off the board on turn 6.
John's set-up looked like he was defending in depth on my right, where the majority of my forces were due on, in turn 2, but plenty up front to keep me honest at the start with 2 squads on the left covering the grain and hilltop. I'd need to push hard at the start on the left and exploit any weakness that the might occur - giving him the dilemma of weakening his left to prevent the break through just as the new troops were arriving.
|John, smiling after the pain of my dice..|
John pulled inwards to defend the hill a little stronger but in doing so a gap appeared along the left, I pushed a squad along the foot of the hill and generated a hero who became instrumental in encircling the front line squads.
The heavy side of the US OoB arrived to take their place on board, but I was hesitant to give them too much open ground to cross. At the beginning of turn 3 they faced 3 concealed stacks of defenders, open ground a stone buildings on hills to occupy.
"If in doubt, don't prep" is a mandatory thought for these types of games, but with a MMG, 3x747s and a 9-2 leader, it's awfully tempting! My heart sank when I announced "no prep fire" on turn 3 and began the dashes. A few sneaky half-squad 'bumps' to drop concealment helped turn the close combats my way and I got lucky with some morale checks, making it largely in tact. Feeling good that I had traded 3 or 4 hexes in movement for not taking the prep-fire shots John's problem was now one of having to shoot at me and reveal himself to the oncoming 8+3 shots from the assault firing 7-4-7s or remain concealed with the squads that hadn't yet shown themselves.
|The view from my bedroom window|
The defence on the right was crumbling, and although the melee was holding me up, 6 points of squads had made it off board. The Gun had fired, lost rate, intensive fired but there were gaps free of residual and it allowed the 9-2 to jump from his spot on the hill to race past the finish line.
The second gun never revealed itself - it too being on the back hexrow - we discussed how maximising these Guns was key to the German positions, and perhaps one Gun needed to be in a more advanced position.
However, I'd won the game thanks to some solid morale check dice results and I like to think, avoiding the prep-fire phase in T3.
We wrapped up and finished off a bottle of wine. Marc had beaten Jan in the Men from Zadig, but although happy with winning the tournament, I was pretty sad not to be seeing these kinds of views in the mornings..
I'll upload some more pictures later, as the prizes were great. I was presented with a book on the Tatsiskaya raid, which I'd like to put a scenario together about (although one does exist already), and almost as importantly, an ASL umbrella!
I headed back off the next day, thanks to John and Wally driving me back to the station, where we said our goodbyes. I was left to reflect on again, the hospitality, camaraderie and good times that we'd had over the last 3 days. Marc's organisation of the tournament was first class, the food was great and the weather had been perfect (rain when we were playing, sunshine when we swam, overcast and cool when I'd hiked).
The flight back was mercifully uneventful and all too soon I was back in drizzly London. The bank holiday gave me a chance to recollect all the great memories and new friends I'd made.
John, Jan, Wally and of course, Marc - thank you!