Red Barricades: Clash of the Tight Ones--Day Four/Five
by, 09 Jun 12 at 05:49 (1831 Views)
Day Four--"BALL PEEN HAMMER OF THE GODS" (20/21 Oct 1942)
It's not unusual for a big game to become unbalanced despite the intention of the designers. I've seen it in a lot of games. PWG's Korsun Pocket rulebook asked that players report to the designer how the games turned out...the designer hadn't even bothered to playtest it to the end and otherwise didn't have clue about the balance. Historical games are always fighting on two fronts: on one front, both players must feel that they have a chance to win (playability); on the other front, the game must somehow stay historically accurate (reality).
Red Barricades is a great game because it manages to keep both playability and reality present throughout the entire campaign (and if a player suddenly finds his forces outnumbered 7-1, then it was surely his own poor decisions that led to such a disaster.)
It's only Day 4, and I'm on the cusp of a great victory. The Germans are crippled and 90% of the city is mine. But the game's strategic limitations for the Russian player prevent the ahistorical disaster from happening. I'm limited to one Attack chit for every four days, and at this point I can't attack again. It's reality in action--it was very difficult to keep the Russians supplied, as everything had to sneak across the Volga at night. And besides, Russian high command had an entirely different plan building up...keep a toehold on the city, keep German units feeding into the area, and trap the entire Army. So, I won't bemoan the fact that I can't attack again, as I appreciate the realities given by the game designers.
I'm forced to choose an Idle chit on Day 4, but I'm somewhat surprised that Marsholio chooses one as well...it's the obvious thing to do, but I figured he would attack and immediately try to swing the initiative back to his side. The Idle day helps him rebuild his forces, but it gives me time to build more defences. His move was the right one, but I'm still feeling great about the batlle...our forces are about equal, but I have a lot more mines and fortified buildings out there now, and I'm not worried at all. With hindsight, I can see that I was lulled into a false sense of security, and made a lot of mistakes because of it.
As before, I (Kommissar Kipper) will be writing the majority of this blog, while Field Marshal Marsholio (my Axis opponent) is the author of the italic musings of the German side. And, as always, feel free to leave any comments and insults that might be appropriate (or even inappropriate, we don't care.)
Russian Strategy:: On Day 4, I purchased 2 SMG coys, raised my SAN to 4, wasted 2 points on recon, and spent the rest on fortifications. For Day 5, I purchased an AT coy (depleted), another SMG coy, bumped my SAN to 5, spent 2 points on recon, and rest on fortifications. I'm no longer defending the west edge down to B27/C28, but I've left several minefields in the area. Also heavily mined is the H27 debris area, and I have HMG HIP units in the H19 fortified building.
I have a rather conservative battle plan since I fear a heavy bombardment will spearhead his attack. I deploy my forces spread out in 3 defensive lines: a front line formation to engage his advancing units; a second line a few hexes back to immediately reinforce the front line, and a third line for end-game reinforcement. The front line includes a few solid kill stacks. I also have my unused rocket battery from Day 3. Things should be very bloody for my opponent...he has to take ground back, and I just have to react to his movements.
German Strategy:: 20th went idle, landed 15cpp, ELR went up to 4, purchased Sturm coy reserved, some FPPs, and a reserved Rifle coy to recoup my losses from the previous day's slaughter. 21st I plan on destroying as many ruskies as I can shoot at, nabbing 17cpp I bought a SAN increase, Pz IV's and a rifle coy for on map deployment. I wasn't out for cappin stone locations today, just trying to inflict as much damage as I can to ensure the next time I want an idle day, it happens. Sparked up my flame throwers, built some massive deathstar stacks(36fp), and some where along the line I managed to get a 10-2 promoted. 10-3 with 36fp lays it down just right. Deployed half squad's in a few adjacent locations with DC's to throw them in the first fire phase, bet he wont expect the nazi suicide half squads. I also brought out a few fine handrolled Honduran and Dominican smokes and a couple of mini kegs too keep morale up.
Russian Player: His attack comes. I have a good idea what he has, thanks to a great recon roll (which turns out to be the only good roll I'll have for a while!) Killing stacks vs. killing stacks. I weather the first half of the turn, and counterattack. My rolls are terrible, I cause hardly any casualties at all, regardless of the IFT column. Turn 2, the same...he goes on his own lucky streak, rolling KIAs and even 2MCs with feeble 6FP attacks. My units break, wither down into half-squads, and disappear. My second line suffers the same fate as the turns go by. Half of my rocket attack lands offboard, even though it's pre-registered. After several turns, I've killed 1 enemy squad, and I'm complaining like crazy about the rolls. I'm wearing myself out going to the chit tray to swap out SMG squads for conscript halfsquads.
My opponent suggests that I take some some Midol or Pamprin and quit *****in' about the dice. Finally on the last 2 turns, my debris minefields cause some casualties to his advancing forces, and I also kill a few squads with some CC involving my third and last line of defensive units. It is without a doubt the worst luck I've ever had in any ASL scenario. While all of that was going on mid-map, his tanks were racing down the western edge, clearing trailbreaks through the previously hidden minefields, while my 45 AT shells were bouncing off his turrets. By the end, I've lost 1/4th of the map, and outnumbered at least 3 to 1. I'm gonna have to find a place online to buy more DM markers, cuz I the ones I have are getting too worn to read after this scenario from hell.
German Player: Whoa! That's about the only way I can sum up the battle. Death, carnage, destruction beyond anything I have previously witnessed in ASL. Turns took forever with all the shooting the greycoats slung out. I got a lot of lucky rolls that helped push things along too. Lost a tank to a HIP AT gun, stumbled in a few minefields, found a few boobytraps... Around turn 3 I was just chasing the Russians down with my infantry, trying to keep up with the DM counters that were fleeing from the battle.
BATTLE BREAKS: Senor Lopez came for a visit, spouting his usual communist rants and sharing a bunch of burritos from Taco Bell. We decided to treat to him to something besides a Django movie, since things were already getting too stereotypical at that point. I picked out the previously-unwatched Tarzan the Fearless (1933), starring Buster Crabbe. It was a terrible movie, and I later found out that it wasn't actually a movie at all, but several serial episodes spliced together. It did feature Tarzan spanking a monkey (actually it was an ape), but it was otherwise an awful film that required most of a mini-keg to get through. I think it should have been called Tarzan the Witless, or even 'Tardzan. We'll use the disc for skeet-shooting later.
When dawn came, and there was enough light to avoid the dog turds on the porch, we went outside and compared the engine in my Ranger to the engine in Marsholio's Mustang. Marsholio also showed me how to add brake fluid to my clutch reservoir, since it was bone-dry and getting hard to shift. I had no idea that the reservoir even existed. Then we played some baseball on the PS3, finished off the ale, and passed-out for 4 hours. All-in-all, it was a very productive day.
Russian Player: After this one, I seriously considered conceding defeat. I had almost no squads left, which would be ok if the Gods of War had made the battle just as bloody for him. The final score is a bit deceptive...I bumped his losses up a little by taking out one of his tanks, a few leaders, and a couple of good German stacks in CC on the final turn. It was a terrible defeat for me, due to awful rolls on my part, great rolls on his part, and what was obviously a terrible battle plan on my end to begin with. I should have taken the fight right to him on Turn 1, and not set up in such a conservative manner. Marsholio talks me out of conceding defeat, and I know it will take a very cunning plan to survive the next few scenarios with my meager force.
German Player: I gained a most of the lost ground back, and met my main goal. He will think twice about skipping a lull in the fight next time.
Final Casualty Tallies:
Russian: 97 total CVPs (including 5 leaders) lost; Germans: total CVP lost : 42 (adjusted for the wounded leaders lost), including one Pz IV.
NEXT: WHEN A PROBLEM COMES ALONG, YOU MUST WHIP IT