Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CC: Stalingrad Campaign - Battle #5

Matt R came over last night to continue our now-epic Combat Commander: Stalingrad campaign game. We have now completed 5 games since February (we're taking our time), and there's been a lot of back and forth. For this game, I decided that since we were in sudden death mode (where the campaign can end at any time after a game, and whoever won the last game is the person who wins, assuming they don't win the campaign by the usual rules) that I would throw my carefully hoarded assault platoon at the central Gully O' Death, along with a platoon of SMG troops (who did very little and whom I almost certainly could have saved). Matt brought in a single platoon along with this veteran reinforcements from the previous game, so it was the Wall Of Angry Russians against the Handful of German Crack Shots.

Negating the Crack Shot aspect of Matt's plan by managing to roll a smoke-producing radio, I sent the assault platoon up against Obj4 (in the lower left corner of the board from my perspective), and the stock Elite Rifle platoon (with my good leader) against an MG nest about halfway up the right side of the board and in a good staging position to go after Obj5. Interestingly, most of the rubble (and there was a lot) ended up in such a position that Matt had to either contest Obj4 or trust to the rubble to hold me back. One of the markers produced a +5 to movement and cover, having three other rubble markers around it. Needless to say, that was going to be a major speed bump.

I began, as one does, by dumping as much smoke into the area as I could, although we were burning through time triggers surprisingly quickly. I'd laid three big smoke rings on the board, one of which was hindering defensive fire from the Germans in Obj5, and managed to advance my Elite Rifle platoon up into position to assault Matt's forward position on the right side of the board. I did so just after a stiff breeze blew the smoke away, and took it easily. I also managed to rout Matt's veteran Rifle squad off of the board after an Air Support mission flipped it, giving me a very cheap two points and one unit toward surrender. Unfortunately, one of those two units got back on the board via a Walking Wounded event, and his Elan increased his surrender level to 7, so now I was going to have to kill eight units.

Which I did. First, it was a forward unit next to Obj5, then I made a big push on Obj4 with the Assault platoon. One thing about Assault platoons, you don't have much you can do about those flamethrowers so you have to either wipe them out or run like hell. Matt failed to do both despite a few concerted efforts at taking out my flamethrower (I rolled very high on defense in both cases). Once I had his units broken and he was unable to rally, it was just a matter of getting the right cards (a Fire and an Advance) to mow the rest down in the HMG nest at Obj4, and another Fire card the next turn to take out the final German to get the Surrender victory.

Of course, now I've used up that platoon for all practical purposes. Or have I? Since I had more than 25 units on the board, I was able to bring five back next game as reinforcements, so the team I got via event with the medium mortar, the team with the flamethrower, that leader, and the two assault squads are coming back. They won't start the game, but they will be useful so long as I'm attacking. However, I fully expect Matt to come back with two or even three platoons next time. This will be the first game we'll have played all the way in the backfield of either side, this time on the hill's summit, which is mostly open ground and there will be a *lot* of rubble - 24 markers.

Much will depend on the divisional reinforcement draws, which we didn't do yet. Even so, we're getting close to a sudden death ending, so just winning the scenario is worth shooting for. It's possible we'll see a scenario at some point, however, where we each have our Command platoons and nothing else! Hilarious.

I should mention that Matt played a very good game. There weren't really any options for him to avoid losing the units that he did. I only played one Ambush the entire game, but I had overwhelming force in the two Advances (I had three total in the game) that created melee situations. My awesome defense rolls with my flamethrower unit were augmented by me having Recover cards the two times Matt *did* break the unit. About the only other thing he could have done was move his veteran unit from the edge of the board, but even then the loss of that unit was a statistical anomaly. It just goes to show that those things happen in this game.

Also of interest was that we only got through three time triggers, although two were very early in the game. It was unfortunate that Matt drew an objective chit that forced him to defend that area, and it's a tough one because even a strong stack will be limited in what it can shoot at. He also used his wire quite well, but I was able to move through it largely thanks to the smoke. I don't think I ever got rid of a single wire counter due to demolitions.

Very exciting, but I fully expect Matt will take the next round, especially if he has enough rubble to move assault units up and I'm defending.

Man, I love this game. While it was probably a little anti-climactic for Matt, up to that point it had been very interesting and just shows how critical smoke is to an assault, even in "interesting" terrain. I'll be a bit sad once we've finished the campaign, to be honest, but then we'll just move on to CC:Pac (or something completely different, I'm easy!)

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