ASL Report: S19 Purple Heart Lane

Originally published in Operations #50 and now available on the MMP site, Purple Heart Lane features a situation shortly after D-Day where the Germans were trying to hold the town of Carentan whilst American paratroopers attempted to take it. ASL has quite a few scenarios of this sort, but this one is made quite special by the victory conditions. The basic victory conditions are for the Americans to capture ≥ 6 buildings in the main town, but the number of buildings required is increased by one for each German MMC that retreats off the map!

This makes for an interesting tension in the game. When should the Germans pull out? Instead of the standard stance of “defend to the last man!” the German is always conflicted. It’s the stuff of great games.

Michael chose to play the Germans for this scenario. We had very few units on the board to begin with – and Michael’s Germans were just two half-squads armed with light machine guns. This actually is quite problematic for the Germans, as half-squads can’t both fire their MG and use their inherent firepower. I had two units with 7 FP on the board, Michael effectively had two units with 3 FP. At least he didn’t have to move through a lot of open ground!

There are some interesting features of this map. By SSR, the grain fields (the lighter areas) are actually flooded and impassible. This really limits the way the units can move around. In addition, the woods on the right-hand side of the board (CC4) don’t exist. I didn’t take advantage of that, but I could have moved some units around the long way if I’d wanted to.

Unfortunately for Michael, I also had a number of paratroopers entering the map from CC7 (the road to the right), and, as is mostly the case with my play, I was extremely aggressive in moving them up. Michael was able to break some of them as they moved adjacent to his units in V6, but – for the most part – his fire was ineffective. The lower FP of the LMGs pretty much ensured this. I was able to break the half-squad in W6 using Advancing Fire, and moved to take the first building.

My broken stack of units in W7 (two units and a leader) chose to Low Crawl to X7, while Michael’s were able to rout through the orchards to U6, where a leader stood waiting. I was fascinated by his leader in R7 – it was fairly hard to get to – and I wasn’t sure of how useful it would be. Still, what do you do with a 7-0? I may have had one of his leaders in the forward hex to direct LMG fire, but that’s not how Michael chose to play it.

Advancing in W6 gave me a big stack, slightly in trouble if Michael managed to make a good attack against it with his LMG in V6!

As it happened, Michael chose not to Prep Fire, instead retreating backwards; probably not a bad move, as my chance of taking damage was low but my potential to exert massive defensive fire into his hex (with a 9-2 leader, no less!) was potentially devastating. Michael’s reinforcements moved in, taking positions in the main village section to the left.

However, even without point-blank fire, my kill stack in W6 could attack on the 12 FP table with a +2 modifier; this was enough to break his units there.

He retreated with those units back to his leader in R7, his men avoiding interdiction mainly by not being in LOS to any of my units during their rout! Michael advanced his new troops into good defensive positions, and prepared to deal great damage to whoever approached his men.

I really needed to neutralise that position. I moved to take on the good attack positions of U6 and V6, but my attempt to be bold failed as my squad in T5 was broken by enemy fire.

The great advantage these Americans have is their firepower – even after moving it is high. Michael’s attacks on me were nowhere as effective as mine on him. I moved my troops around during the Advance Phase, so I had two squads in U6, and one in V6. T5 routed back to V6.

Michael’s turn began, and he fired on U6 – no effect, even with an 8 FP thanks to his LMG. He then moved on of his squads into Q6 to attempt to increase his firepower. My attack during the Defensive Fire Phase had 14 FP, and a +2 DRM (+3 stone building, +1 orchard, -2 leader). It pinned one of his units – I could do better than that!

Michael fired in the Advancing Fire Phase – P6 against V6. It wasn’t a high attack – on the 4 FP table with a +2 DRM – but he rolled well, and my squad broke, and the broken squad went under DM. I routed them back to W6, out of the line of fire where they could recuperate.

I now had rallied my units in the building to the far right (Z7), so it was time to bring them up. First, I needed to deal with Michael’s units in Q6. My kill stack in U6 fired at them in the Prep Fire phase – and far more successfully than in my last turn, breaking one unit. I then moved forward with my troops, the unit in U3 (top of picture) skirting the lake to try and flank the Germans. It suffered a K/2 result, resulting in it being reduced to a half-squad, but it made the 2MC it was required to and stayed where it was. (I realise it still had movement factors left and could have kept going, but it stopped where it was). I sent a leader up towards it.

In the Defensive Fire Phase (after the Movement Phase), Michael fired again on the unit there, this with one of his rallied men in R7. This attack broke it. I routed it back towards where it came from – U3, and advanced the leader into the building to wait for it. I used a Low Crawl for the rout, as I didn’t want to risk fate by exposing it to Interdiction. Michael also routed his units back into P7, where his best leader waited to rally them.

Michael’s turn, and his Prep Fire was very ineffective. I don’t know why he didn’t attack with the unit in P3, because he wasn’t about to move it! My return fire during the Defensive Fire Phase was more effective – concentrating on R7, I managed to break his half squad there, wound his better leader and leave the other leader pinned.

He routed them, using Low Crawl, into P7. My half-squad routed to its leader in U3.

Michael now advanced another squad and leader into his forward position of Q5, whilst performing a shuffling move to put his DC-carrying squad in P3.

I now had a really big kill-stack in U6: three squads and a 9-2 leader. Fire power 21. That concentrated on R4, and broke one unit. I rushed in. However, Michael’s return fire was fierce, and quite effective. My 8-1 leader and its half-squad got next to R7, my squad in R6 was broken, and my leader and squad in R5 were pinned by his attack. Pinned in point-blank range in open ground just before Michael’s turn? Not that good!

The half squad (now) in R6 routed to S6 using Low Crawl. Michael’s wounded leader limped into cover, and my Advancing Fire was ineffective.

My Advance Phase came, and I advanced into close combat with Michael’s lone 7-0 leader. The close combat was short and ended with Michael’s leader dead.

Michael concentrated fire during the Prep phase on R5. He managed to pin my squad for his troubles. His rolls were bad!

Rather than stick around for my next turn, he finally realised that keeping troops in O6 was a mistake, and used the opportunity of his Advance Phase to pull them back.

And then I moved in force against him. Michael did manage to score a KIA against one of my squads as it moved into Q5, but otherwise my Prep Fire was very effective, and he broke another squad in Final Protective Fire. My half-squad up the top started capturing buildings, and I moved an 8-0 leader in behind him to make routing rather difficult.

This was not good for Michael. He was left with two unbroken squads in P5, two unbroken leaders, and a lot of broken squads. He routed those he could backwards. I moved into close combat in P5, despite Michael having more firepower than me.

At this stage, the units in O6 were dead – they’d be removed during the next Rout phase. The units in M6 were unlikely to ever rally. What would happen in P5? Well, I’d kill one of Michael’s squads and his leader, and he’d miss in return. At this point, Michael conceded: there no longer was any likelihood of him winning the game.

The game lasted four-and-a-half turns. It would have lasted six full turns if we went the distance. Michael and I agreed that his key mistake of the game was keeping too many squads in Q6 – indeed, any! Once I got my kill stack in U6 functioning, it allowed me to attack just too many of his forces at once, and in a scenario where the Germans have so few troops (and quite undermanned), that’s a problem.

Our next scenario will take us on to Starter Kit #3, although we have one more infantry-only scenario to go before we introduce tanks!

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