Thursday, March 10, 2011

Battle Report: Combat Commander: Stalingrad, Scenario 35- Spartakovka Salient

The next wargame played by Rob and me at PrezCon was a scenario from Combat Commander: Stalingrad.  The eventual goal for the convention was to break this out and actually give the campaign system a shot, but to start we needed to just play a game to get the rules for the system back in our head.

We chose to play the first scenario of the Stalingrad battle pack, Spartakovka Salient, which depicts elements of the German 16th Panzer Division fighting through some rear-line Russian units in an attempt to get to the Volga River (which I didn't check, but I'm pretty sure they succeeded at).  This scenario is different for this pack, since it's the only one that doesn't use any of the new Stalingrad special rules (rubble, the urban sniper, etc) since they aren't in the city quite yet.

I was playing the Germans, and Rob was the Russians.  The Russians have fewer and poorer troops, whereas the Germans get reinforcements who are fairly elite.  Since Objective W was an open objective, we both knew that exiting squads off the opposing side would be worth double victory points.  I drew chit F for my secret objective, which listed that Objective #2 (the one on the far side of the board, to the right) would be worth 2 VPs.  Rob drew one as well.

We did our set up, Rob first.


After Rob's setup, I began mine (also seen above) and formulated my plan for the battle.  Given that units exiting off the map were worth double, and given the superior quality of my troops, that needed to be my goal.  I'd lock Rob's main force (which you can see in the above picture) down with significantly fewer units, and advance the rest off of the board, claiming Objective #2 along the way.  Each squad leaving would be worth 4 victory points, plus I'd get the squads back the next turn.  Can't argue with that.

Of course, the wrinkle in my plan is that Rob is listed as the scenario defender.  That means he gets a LOT of extra abilities through the cards to hinder me.  Mines, wire, and all sorts of tricky things would be thrown at me to slow me down.

I begin the game by moving up on the right, into the woods, with a few squads plus a leader.  My mortar takes a shot up the road into the woods, and I get a Time! trigger, but the shot has no effect.  Turns in Combat Commander, for those who have never played, are determined by these Time! triggers- many random events happen during the game because of various triggers, as we'll see.  Regardless, a Time! trigger in this scenario is a huge help to the defender (Rob) who not only gets a victory point, but also gets the game closer to ending (the game potentially ends any time after turn 7).

Rob tries to take a few shots at me, but doesn't accomplish anything.  He decides to send a Russian squad down the road to the right of the lake, to try to make me hesitant to advance around and off the map.  I Op Fire at him and manage to break him, however.

On my turn, I shoot at the broken squad in the open, killing it (and giving me 2 Victory Points).

Rob and I then take turns discarding cards (instead of playing cards during your turn, you have the option to discard a few cards with the hopes of getting a better hand- if one person discards, it's not generally a bad idea for the other player to do so as well, since he is basically given a free turn), but Rob plays an action once I discard to get some reinforcements- rolls, and gets another Militia squad (big help there).  He then continues to shoot at me, but again accomplishes nothing.

I'm saddled with a hand of Command Confusions and Artillery Request/Denied cards... which are worthless in this scenario since we have no radios.  I discard again.

Rob's shooting finally gets some results, as he breaks my closest German leader.  With no Recover card in my hand, I have to just hope I stay lucky enough to keep him there (without a leader, it's hard to move my Germans in groups).

We trade a turn of me moving and him shooting to no effect, then on my turn, I finally some useful orders for once.  I advance a Rifle Squad into melee with the Russian squad closest to me.  Rob uses a Hidden Mines action which ends up breaking me, and I respond with two Ambush actions to kill his squad, followed by a No Quarter action to get some extra victory points.  Can't complain about getting Victory Points!

Rob begins opening fire into my broken squad and leader, hoping for some kills, and succeeds in killing the broken Rifle squad.  Some shooting also suppresses my Weapon team with the mortar (which has been rolling 4s all game for shooting, by the way).  The leader recovers on my turn, and I begin moving them up the right, towards Objective #2 and freedom.

I believe Rob ran out of cards here, which is a free Time! trigger, much to my chagrin.

He follows this up by breaking my Weapon team, but isn't sure what to do about my guys on the right.  I follow this up by bringing on my reinforcements- a bunch of elite squads to help deliver the hurt to the Russians!  I work on moving my entire army up, but Rob uses some Hidden Wire actions to shut down my movement towards the top of the map (guess he was sure what to do ;) ).  Rob doesn't accomplish anything on his turn, and I move out of the wire, and up some more.

Rob moves a leader, and I take a shot, drawing a 5 for my attack roll, which I use the Initiative card to re-draw, and get a 4 instead.  Rob of course grabs a 12 for the defense roll, which is another Time! trigger for him.  Sigh.

After several rounds of us shooting at each other, I do manage to break one of his squads in the woods to the left, but he manages to Rout it out of there and into safety (and eventually recovers).

I also, over the course of a few rounds, move point blank to his lone squad on Objective #2, and advance into it, killing the squad, and claiming the objective.  My shooting also breaks another Russian squad.  Rob isn't exactly idle, but his shooting isn't doing a whole lot (breaking or suppressing my weapon team a few times, but I keep recovering).  He doesn't want to move out of the building, since it's an objective, and he doesn't know what mine is, and he can't really get the guys out of the woods on my left because I'll take chunks out of them as they try.  He's just stuck waiting until I get things off the board, and trying to recover from that.

After drawing through my deck (another Time! trigger), I oblige him.  My two squads and 1-command leader exit the board, giving me 12 Victory Points, finally moving the VP marker to my side of the track (oh yeah- the VP marker starts on the 11 space on the Russian side of the track ;) ).  These squads will come back on as reinforcements next time there's a Time! trigger.  Some of my shooting then causes a Walking Wounded Event! which lets me bring back a squad.  I now have a lot of guys on the board, and coming on.

Rob figures that I might have the Objective #2 chit, so moves back to reclaim it, and again continues to shoot at me, without effect.  I then discard cards again, and Rob again plays the action to give him a reinforcement roll, this time getting an Assault squad with a Flamethrower.

We don't wait long for it to influence the game.  Rob sends him into melee with the adjacent German squad, and we tie on the combat draws, wiping everything out (a net gain of like 4 Victory Points, I think).  On top of that, Rob's next shot gives us another Time! trigger, bringing the game closer to the end. 

I focus on moving things up and around, but groan as I draw 4 Recover cards when I refill my hand.  That slows me down for a turn as I discard them.

Rob has decided to start trying to get the game over.  He shoots, but fires as many individual low strength shots as he can in order to increase the chances of either of us drawing Time! triggers.  He doesn't get any yet- but does manage to draw another objective chit.  Realizing I'm going to be pressed for time, I move up quickly (dropping some smoke next to me to help protect me from shooting), but shoot and break another Russian squad.  Rob responds on his turn by playing a Recover card... unfortunately the Event drawn ends up killing the Russian before the roll could've recovered him.

I finally make it up to Objective #2, and have a move order in my hand to blow the game open next turn.  However, Rob finally gets lucky- his shooting brings up a Time! trigger, and we are now at the point where we roll for the game end.  It doesn't happen yet though.  However, my Defense roll brings up ANOTHER Time! trigger, and this time the game does end.  I never got a chance to move those guys off :(.

Ah well, we move onto figuring out the final score.  Due to casualties and the turn I moved units off the board before, the victory point marker was at 1 on his side.  My objective chit gave me 2 victory points for control of Objective #2.  Rob's objective chits were L and J, which were 3 Victory Points for Objective #4 (controlled by me), and 2 Victory Points for Objective #5 (controlled by him).  That means we ended with a net score of 2 Victory Points for me- a very narrow win!

This scenario has a very different feel than any I've played with Combat Commander so far, and it was certainly a good time.   Rob's shooting wasn't very effective, and a lot of that was due to poor luck.  He had several good turns of fortune though, so it probably evened out.  Overall, my luck was good as well.  Rob thinks that his main mistake was setting up too far forward.  I don't know if it would've helped, but it may have.  I mean, he was close to winning as is- one or two more things going his way may have done it.  Had the game gone another turn, I would've ended up with a pretty significant win.

Hopefully we'll get a campaign started one of these days.  Just another thing to add to the to-do list.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Battle Report: Conflict of Heroes: Price of Honour, Scenario 2- Cavalry Charge!

The first game Rob and I brought out at PrezCon was Conflict of Heroes: Price of Honour.  I had received this for Christmas, and I was really excited to put it on the table.  After realizing I didn't have the trucks handy to do Scenario 1, we decided to play Scenario 2, called Cavalry Charge!  It depicts the Charge at Krojanty, where the 18th Pomeranian Uhlans Regiment bravely slowed the advance of a German infantry regiment which was supported by some armored vehicles.

In the scenario, a forward German force is pounced upon by a numerically superior Polish force with significant cavalry support, with another small German force 'behind the lines' coming in as reinforcements.  The Germans get an armored car coming on mid-game for support, which should be a little problematic for the Polish, who don't have too much in the way of anti-tank support here.

I played the Germans, Rob took the Polish.  Conflict of Heroes is an interesting game, as we'll see, because the turns are very integrated- there's no 'I go- you go' mechanic going on here.  Both players' units are moving and acting one right after the other, and interrupting each other's actions.  It means that the battle report here will actually have several things going on at once, so it should be... well, interesting.

Turn 1:
The Polish cavalry comes on board, and I turn the nearest squad around to face them, hoping to make them more cautious about coming in at me.  Rob, to try to draw off my activations, used CPs to bring on some other units adjacent to the cavalry, and I oblige by shooting at them, but don't do anything.  He uses a Dual Attack card to unload into a Rifle Squad, killing it, and I return fire, damaging one of his AT Rifles.  Rob's cavalry decides to charge into my LMG unit....

And kills it pretty easily.

I use the card I drew to put a Hasty Defense on top of another LMG, hoping to use the unit to buy some time for my guys to back up and link up with my reinforcements.

Rob responds by moving his cavalry into the building, claiming the objective, and putting a lot of pressure on my guys who are still in the open.

I fire a few ineffective shots, and Rob's cavalry reinforcements come on and get behind my advance force, making a retreat a bit more difficult.  They get there pretty much untouched, despite some shooting by another of my Rifle Squads.  I manage to put some small damage on one of them, I believe.

With nowhere to go, I have my squads continue taking shots at the Polish forces surrounding them, causing a hit on one of the Horses in the building, but not really doing a whole lot else.  My first group of reinforcements gets in position in one of the other buildings (out of the picture).

Turn 2:
I continue into the second turn by shooting, but I don't get any effect out of it, primarily due to some poor shooting die rolls.  Rob's HMG comes on the board and starts moving towards the south-western objective.  My reinforcements work to get into position for the inevitable Polish advance on the other objectives, and I try to get some results up on the front, but my shooting just can't seem to do anything.  Rob eventually rolls over my front German lines, and I'm left only with the reinforcements to fight the Polish tide.

German reinforcements almost in position.

And on the east side, the Polish have cleared out the German units.

Turn 3:
Rob and I start the turn by dancing around the southern objective.  Rob uses his HMG to advance towards the objective, and I counter by having my Rifles move onto the objective.  Rob moves his HMG and a supporting Uhlan, I believe around the objective, trying to get an opening to shoot at the Rifle without taking a shot in return.  The Uhlan moves into line of sight of my supporting LMG and takes a hit from CP shooting, but thankfully the HMG decides to back off, and the objective is fairly safe. 

The LMG finishes off the Uhlan and my LMG helping defend the northwestern objective moves forward a bit and starts taking pot shots at the Polish stacks, doing some significant damage (I think I ended up putting hits on 4 out of 6 counters in one stack in a single shot).  Rob works to rally them to begin the late-game push, but doesn't get too many of them back quickly.

German situation in the west.

Polish situation in the East.

Turn 4:
This is a helpful turn for the Germans, since a SdKfz 231 (an armored car) comes on the board as a reinforcement.  Just as happened historically, the Polish really don't have a lot of tools with them handy which can easily take it down- those Anti-Tank Rifles need an 11 on 2d6 to put a hit on it if they aren't point blank (and don't have help).

My LMG starts the turn out by shooting some more at those vulnerable Polish stacks, continuing to do a bunch of damage, and giving me some VPs (I'm pretty far behind at this point).  Rob focuses his efforts on the bottom objective, finally clearing it out, and claiming it, depriving me of 5 VPs, and gaining 2 for himself.

My armored car comes on, moves into a supporting position, but doesn't manage to deal any damage on the Polish attackers.

Rob ends the turn by running an ATR right behind the Armored Car- a certain way to have me sweating starting next turn.

Turn 5:
I win the initiative, and turn, preparing to get the vehicle to safety.  Rob happily fires his ATR, getting a hit, but thankfully the damage draw is damage to the gun... meaning I can't fire at vehicles.  No loss there. 

The vehicle gets free, and I start putting the pressure on the southern objective, shrugging off the ATR fire in the meantime, and taking a pot shot at the ATR, putting a hit on it.  I charge in and start unloading on the unit there, but don't manage to do anything worthwhile.  Rob and I trade shots, but nothing much is done, and the game ends with me impotent to get anything done to change the result.

We calculated the Victory Points.  Rob had killed 8 of my units, and had taken 2 of the objectives, giving him 12 VPs.  I killed 9 units (mostly horses), and didn't control both B11 and G17 (just one), meaning I ended with 9 VPs, a Polish victory!

I'm guessing, the next time I play, that I shouldn't bother trying to fight with those front units- just get them running to the back objectives, and work harder to hold them.  Holding both the back objectives is worth 5 VPs to the Germans, which is pretty significant.  Combined with a few casualties as the Polish advanced past the first guys, that would probably be enough to win.

I haven't played this game since Awakening the Bear, and it's undergone some pretty serious changes.  I really like the new version however, a lot more than the previous one.  The components are still beautiful, but the basic game mechanic is so involved that you never feel like you have down time, even horridly outnumbered there's still a lot you need to do every turn.

We finished our first day at PrezCon by playing a game of Dust Tactics, but I'll throw some pictures of that when I'm done with my wargame battle reports.