Sunday, January 11, 2015

Conflict of Heroes: Pursuit from State Farm 158

Yesterday Marco and I played two rounds of Scenario 5 from Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel. This was something of a learning experience, getting used to rules for elevation, line of sight, and special terrain. The map has a large balka (ravine) down the middle, with two hills (3 and 6) to the west and two (4 and 5) east. A panzergrenadier platoon sets up behind the western ridge; for the Russians, infantry elements of the 67th Guards start in the balka ,and mortars and machineguns lurk on the hills to the east.  German objective is to destroy the Red Army units, clear the balka and take Hills 4 and 5. We used the Two Player option without the additional armor units.

Starting forces: Germans have 6 PzGren squads, two 8cm mortars and a HMG. Russians have 6 rifle squads and two submachinegun squads hidden in the ravine; each hilltop has a 5cm mortar, a Maxim machine gun, and one or two 8cm mortars. Germans roll 1d6 for each unit and lose it on a 1, simulating casualties from the previous battle; Russians roll 1d6 for each mortar and machinegun (but not infantry), losing them on a 1-2.

Game 1:
No losses from the pre-game attrition rolls; this puts the Germans at a significant disadvantage.
The Red Army rifle platoons started at the north end of the balka; the two SMG squads started at the south end, in hopes of coming over or around hill 6 onto the two German mortars.
Early fire from the Russian hilltops destroyed the German HMG and suppressed one of the mortars; the crew got it back into action and both mortars dropped smoke across the front of Hill 3. The panzergrens advanced across the hill, but found no prey in the gulley below them. One squad swung out to the balka north of the hill; it discovered two Russian rifle squads at point blank range, and couldn't get back to cover fast enough to survive. By this point, the German units had used up all their activations and command points, and couldn't respond to Soviet actions; taking advantage of this, a Red Army assault squad scrambled over Hill 6 and waded into the two mortar teams, destroying them in close combat. This brought us to the end of Turn 1, and the Germans resigned.

Game 2:
In pre-game rolls, the Russians lost three of their seven hilltop units, which pared down their artillery considerably; however, two of the survivors were their 8cm mortars hidden safely on the reverse slopes. Their infantry set up spaced all along the balka.
The German HMG destroyed one of the units on Hill 5; counterfire suppressed the HMG and an advancing PzGren but couldn't manage to destroy them. A second infantry squad slipped through the gap in the hills during a lull in the firing, and discovered a couple of Soviet squads in the balka; they destroyed one before falling to the second. That second squad, however, had given away its position; the Germans advanced over the hilltop and poured fire down into the trapped Reds, who were unable to shoot effectively up the steep slope. With the southern half of the balka cleared, two German squads rushed Hill 5 to assault the mortar and take control of the heights; a third squad worked their way up the slopes of Hill 4, as 105mm rounds polished off the Russian mortar there. The remaining two German squads cautiously advanced up the balka, more to put pressure on the surviving Russians than to actually engage them.
At the end of Turn 3, the Russians had lost 4 infantry squads and three of their hilltop teams, and were about to lose their last mortar. The Germans controlled Hill 5 and had a unit on Hill 4, and had only lost a couple of units. The Russian resigned.

Controlling the tempo is crucial. Specifically:

  • Using group activations can help you attack faster than the enemy can reply, or can help you get out of the way of an enemy attack; but you have to be careful or you'll be left at the end of a turn with all your activations expended and your enemy free to maneuver as he likes. The Soviets have an incentive to pass, to run out the clock, so as the Germans, you have to be careful to get the most out of your units without leaving them vulnerable.
  • The Germans have "only" six turns to clear take the board; however, six turns is actually a fairly long time (note that the first game ended at the end of Turn 1, the second game at the end of Turn 3). You can prepare an attack instead of going all in on turn 1. However, you also can't be too leisurely. The Russians score points every turn from round 3-6 for control of their two hilltops; if you don't get over there and take them, point-wise it's the same as losing half your force. 
  • It's extremely tempting to spend your Command points early in a turn. And then you don't have any at the end of the turn, when you desperately need them.
Lessons for this scenario in particular: 
  • Use your artillery to good effect, and protect it as best you can.
  • As the Russians, don't set up in the balka at the foot of Hill3, unless you like being a fish in a barrel.
  • The Russians have incentive to pass....but if the Germans have plenty of victims in the beaten zone of their 105mm fire mission, they also have incentive to pass, so their rounds can land before the enemy gets out of the way. The Russians need to think hard about dispersing early. 

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