ASL SK#2 S20: Go the Russian POWs!

S20 “Joseph 351” is the first scenario in ASL SK#3, and the only one without tanks. However, it isn’t a simple scenario, and beginning ASL players would be well advised to begin learning the game with the much simpler scenarios in ASL SK#1.

In the beginning of this scenario, the Germans have a hill.

The Germans protect the hill

Interestingly, the Germans don’t have to keep the hill to win the game. No, instead they’ve got to keep it until at least the fourth turn, and after that they can retreat to the south (that’s to the left on these images).

Against them are ranged a force of elite Americans and not-so-elite Free French, which are approaching from the north (right). Of course, that brings them into the range of the Germans machineguns. Foolishly, I allowed the American MMG to come under a particularly withering burst of fire – original DR of 3! – which eliminated the squad and its leader, and malfunctioned the MMG.

Use more cover, Merric!

I’d rationalised that the US forces needed to reach the hill quickly. It wasn’t a tactic that worked that well.

The Americans make their initial advance

Luckily for the Americans and the Free French, they were being supported by a group of escaped Russian POWs that were guarding the German escape route to the south. These Russians, represented by conscript 4-2-6 units, are probably meant to skulk around until the Germans tried to escape. Instead, they went on the warpath. Go, Joseph 351!

Initial Russian casualties were heavy, but they all had self-rallying capabilities, and they certainly outnumbered the Germans on that flank!

The Russian POWs make their way northwards

I should note that SSR #5 meant that all brush terrain on the map was considered to be Orchard hexes. As it was August and in-season, this meant the Orchard hexes were providing an obstacle to the German machineguns on the hill. The Americans began to creep around the east and west sides, keeping away from the “field of death” that had hurt them so badly in the first couple of turns. Thoughts of capturing the hill were now impossible – the Allies would have to win by eliminating the German forces.

Americans in the eastern woods

One unit did try to recover the US MMG. It ended badly.

The German units facing the Russians became broken, and one was eliminated as the Russians surrounded it and stopped it from retreating. The other Germans began to fall back towards the hills. “Retreat will be a problem, mein Kapitan!”

The Germans in possession of the hill; the Allies advance

The Germans weren’t being helped by one of the LMGs malfunctioning and then being eliminated by a botched repair job – the hut to the east was unprotected! The American units swarmed in and took it, and various skirmish actions took place around that hut as control of it traded back and forth. Eventually the Germans were forced to retreat, and the remaining US forces continued their advance.

The Russians were also doing extremely well in clearing out the southern German elements. They were taking some casualties in doing this, but mostly the Germans were broken and retreating.

The Allies are now hard-pressing the German defenders

The German machineguns proved ineffective against the weight of attackers coming from all around; honestly, the dice were no longer loving the Germans. Demoralised Germans retreated into the western woods on the hills, only to be faced by American squads advancing through them. This caused some problems, and when a Russian unit blocked their path to retreat, the only course was death. (Prisoner rules being non-existent in the ASL Starter Kits!)

Russian and American troops surrounding the Germans

As the game reached the seventh turn, the Americans needed only a couple more victory points to win, and with only one LMG unit of the Germans remaining unbroken, this seemed a formality. There were no late rallies, no final glories left for the Germans. They were surrounded and eliminated.

Victory to the Allies!

This had been a really fascinating scenario. One aspect I haven’t touched upon is how the Allies have varying forces and victory conditions: an initial dr determines their initial forces and VPs required. In my case, I rolled a 1, and so had 3 6-6-7 american squads, 9 5-3-6 free french squads and one 2-2-6 half-squad, and needed “only” 15 VPs.

It was also a close-fought battle, with victory only coming in the final turn. The Germans had the early ascendancy, but the tactical “wising up” of the Allies – and the bravery of the Russians – had proved enough for the win in the end.

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