Chris Harrod and I played my Russian Scouts Crossfire Scenario. Despite the fact I’ve played this scenario before I really botched my job as a Russian scout. Sigh. Penal battalion for me I suspect. None-the-less there were some insights into reconnaissance scenarios and how, specifically, to improve this one.
Difference from previous play tests
- Dropped the morale of the Russian Scouts from Veteran to Regular
- Give a +1 to rallying for troops in fortifications (nod to Concarti for the suggestion)
- Changed the Russian PCs to provide +1 for rallying but not for close combat; the reverse of normal Soviet PCs
- +1 squad for the Germans; -1 squad for the Russians
- Changed the victory conditions
- No Draw
- Germans get VP for holding the Collective Farm and killing Russians
- Any Russians left on table at the end of the game are counted as “dead” for Victory conditions
Nice photo of the table from overhead. Notice the water tower on the near side, the collective farm in the middle ground and woods on the far side.
The collective farm is the nominal objective. At least the Germans are nominally trying to protect it.
However, the key position for the Germans is the hill with the water tower. This has visibility over a fair chunk of the board. At least over the chunk I chose to advance over.
At 0300 Hours my scouts came on table. I clustered my entire force behind Russian hill then pushed a single squad up the slope.
That was it. That was my mistake. The moment I lost the game. As soon as there was a stand visible Chris opened up with his machine gun positioned on the water tower. Although it doesn’t show it in the photo this MG nest also contained an FO for an off-table 8.1cm mortar battery. These two stands would win the game for Chris.
Having revealed his guys on the water tower Chris started to inflict a steady stream of suppressions on the guys on Russian hill.
I tried smoking them off however my FOs couldn’t see the water tower, only my guys on the hill. So I could drop smoke in front of one, maybe two stands at most. Then try to rally the stand with “no enemy in sight”. Generally I failed my smoke rolls and even when I got smoke I then failed the rally rolls. Bad to worse.
After some effort I finally got an entire reinforced platoon on the hill. Unfortunately it never got a chance to fire, partly because of the guys on the water tower and partly because I got distracted by a sprint down the flank.
There was a line of advance right from the woods to a field near the outlying farm building. So I sent a squad down it in a sprint. Nothing happened. So I sent another. This time Chris reacted and shot with his guy in the farm but only inflicted a PIN.
So I sent another squad down the sprinting track. Chris revealed a squad in an entrenchment in the nearby wood and SUPPRESSED the moving stand.
The guys on the water tower now started with their grim harvest. The combination of indirect fire, which doesn’t lose the initiative, and an HMG was quite potent. Two lots of 3d6 into cover are pretty likely to cause a SUPPRESS and quite likely to cause KILL. The first casualty was my HMG on the hill – it had never even fired a shot.
I decided to rescue the sprinters with smoke. The smoke meant I could push a HMG up the to field without risk. Then I moved up the PC to rally the stranded squad. We were playing that Scout PCs had the reverse characteristics of normal Russian PCs, i.e. +1 for rallying and 0 for close combat. This change had quite a bit influence on the game. In this case it meant the rally was relatively easy (+1 for PC and +1 for no enemy in sight).
But while I was distracted by the sprinters Chris keep laying into the guys on the hill.
Things just went from bad to worse as more suppressions landed.
I tried more smoke but it just wasted a FM and didn’t achieve much.
The next stand to expire was from my small platoon. I was moving a squad past the hill to get up to where my forward unit was located. But the HMG got it in the open. SUPPRESSED turned into KILLED.
Psychology is an interesting thing. I went to all the trouble to move my big platoon up the table and then did nothing with it. There was a moment when the two squads facing it were NO FIRE and the HMG on the water tower couldn’t get line of sight. If these had been the Veteran scouts of previous play tests I would have been in. Even with Regular troops, if the PC had been +1 in close combat I would have chanced it. But all I could stack up was two squads against one of his giving me a +1. If I lost I would have lost 12 points. Not worth it. So I did nothing.
Which led to more grief back on the hill.
The 30 minutes between 0430 and 0500 hours saw the Russians attempting to rally on the hill. Without much luck.
The incessant mortar and machine gun fire and continued to take a toll of my platoon on the hill. Another one bit the dust.
Soon after I lost my fourth stand. -24 points and no way to recover. I conceded.
Conclusions and observations
My experience was quite different to the previous Battle Report by Mark Bretherton. Superficially I used the same tactic as Mark’s opponent, i.e. climb the hit to enable RBF of much of the table, but the outcome was significantly different.
Generally I played a pretty poor game. Having adopted a strategy I became fixated on it and it lost me the game. Actually I lost the game the first time I moved a squad onto the hill. That is when Chris’s MG opened up from the water tower, followed soon afterwards by the mortar battery whose FO was also on the tower. They slowly, over the course of a few game hours, chewed up the Scout Platoon on the Russian hill and forced me to concede.
In general I don’t think I knew what kind of game I was playing. I was using assault tactics with troops that weren’t good at assaulting and victory conditions that discouraged it.
Despite my own failings I do think there is something wrong with the scenario.
Chris and I had a big debate after the game about the composition of the Russian force. He voted for a smaller force (two platoons) of Veterans. However, if I were to change the Russian order of battle I’d be tempted to leave the order of battle the same but make the PCs +1 for both close combat and rallying.
I think the map needs a tweak. I found, once I was committed to the right flank, that I couldn’t switch to another line of advance when I discovered this one was too “hot”. The table gave the Germans several lines of fire to my base line. I’m tempted to change the map to correct this.
One of the things that felt odd to me was that my Scouts couldn’t sneak. Particularly as it was nominally night time. Although Crossfire has spotting built in the scouts didn’t have any advantages. I’m tempted to give them some such advantage. It might be as simple as giving the scouts an extra level of cover while sneaking. I’d be tempted to restrict this to the period before the alarm is raised (say a Russian squad is SUPPRESSED or KILLED) or dawn comes; after that normal rules apply. To compensate the Germans probably need to benefit from the Reveal on a 1 house rule. This would make the scenario more complicated but would also give it more of a reconnaissance flavour.