Monday, February 7, 2011

(Pyrrhic) Victory!


The day started badly. In the north the 81mm MTR was only able to place one Smoke counter in Z17. As a result, when the 9-2 was moving through hex Y13 the hidden 9-1 and Russian .50 cal HMG opened up from the upper level of CC19 with an 8 FP attack. Snake eyes; everybody dead. Yikes.

However, things quickly started looking up. My reconnaissance revealed a dug-in T70 in W18 and a HIP T-34 in U18. My first salvos of fire pretty much shattered the first line of the Russian defense. I was able to chase the tank out of the S17 factory and clear it of Russian defenders. As the Pioniers ground forward through the factories the sturm troopers pushed down behind them. I avoided activating any Reserve units and severely punished the Russian defenders. Two of the T-34s had been destroyed and the third was Immobilized and tied up in Melee with an 8-1 and an 8-3-8 when my opponent conceded on Turn 6. Two Stukas had just arrived, but they did not get a chance to take part.

This shows the furthest advance of the German forces and the approximate positions of the Russian defenders at the end of the game:

German troops had surrounded the AA25 building and were preparing to destroy everything inside it. There was nothing between the German line and the southeast corner of the map. If the game continued beyond Turn 6 the P33 factory would have been effectively surrounded and cut-off from possible reinforcement. The next campaign game day was going to feature at least one module of Heavy Artillery pounding the P33 factory while kill-stacks manned by 10-3s, 10-2s and 9-2s held off any counterattacks. With this looming the Russian conceded.

Important Factors:

1. Day One Rocket

The entire tone of this campaign game was set by the relative performance of the German and Russian Rocket Modules on Day One. The German Nebelwerfer drifted to the most optimal hex possible, and completely wrecked the Russian defenses in front of the Power Station. This allowed me to assert my armor and blow open the line. Taking the Power Station on Day One is not an easy task, and I was able to do it this time around.

Meanwhile, the Russian Katyusha just missed totally disrupting the entire northern half of my attacking force. Had it drifted in a more fortuitous direction - or, God forbid, drifted to an optimal hex - I would have been in real trouble. As it happened, though, the four points Dade spent on the Katyusha module were more or less wasted. Those points would have served the Russian much better were they spent on a Militia Coy or SMG Coy. Not buying those extra troops, and not extracting a heavy price from the German with the Katyusha, contributed greatly to the manpower shortage the Russian faced throughout the game.

2. Manpower Discrepancy

Usually in Red Barricades the German troops are superior in quality but badly outnumbered. When the German stages an attack, there is usually the threat of a Russian counterattack wherever the German is weakest. This threat helps keep the German honest and limits his options.

In this game I was able to continually maintain a numerical advantage over the Russian. This created a positive feedback loop: the Germans had more troops, which let them concentrate their firepower more effectively, which let them kill more Russians, which maintained the German numerical advantage.

In "normal" Red Barricades games the Russian force grows and grows until it's so huge that the German has no chance of beating it. Somehow I prevented this from happening and was able to win.

3. The Riverbank in CG I

The riverbank (i.e that section of the map east of hexrow U and north of hex coordinate 11, approximately) is a huge weight around the Russian's neck. He can't afford to leave it undefended, but at the same time the German has the option of completely ignoring it. This makes it very hard to invest resources to defend the riverbank, and very hard not to. When I finally took the Chemist's Shop (building W10) it opened the door for my Day Seven flank attack that won the game.

In CG III the riverbank must be addressed by the German, because it contains victory locations. Therefore any resources invested in long-term defense cannot be ignored by the German.

Next time...

Our next foray into the Barricades won't be for a while, but we are considering tackling CG III with some modifications:

  1. Ignore all modifiers to the CPP roll, except for historical modifiers.
  2. Ignore the CG balance provision, which awards negative modifiers to CPP rolls.
  3. Use armor redeployment rule from VotG rather than armor recall.
  4. Replace one or two Pioneer Coys with an equal number of Sturm Coys in the German OB
Our analysis is that the resource management phase of the CG contains a great number of subtle elements that pile up to make a German victory impossible. The modifications above are a starting point for a discussion regarding how to make CG III balanced. Maybe we will figure it out.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Live and Let Die

What does it matter to ya?
When you've got a job to do, you gotta do it well.
You gotta give the other fellow Hell!

Day Six: Aftermath

The day went essentially as planned.

In the North, my bold plan to knock out the forward-most T34 M41 failed. However I did achieve my Turn One objective: spur the Russian to move aggressively and expose himself. He drove his tanks into P4 and Q4 in an effort to put pressure on the machine gun nest in N5. When my Sturm Company entered on Turn Two, it caught the Russian completely flat-footed. One tank went down to a DC, the other to an ATMM in CC. With the tanks out of the way, the 5-4-8s pushed their way up the W and X hexrows and captured the Chemist's Shop without many casualties.

In the Center the Russians wilted under the massive firepower arrayed against them. I avoided risky moves (for the most part), using Assault Move and Advance to make my way forward. I knocked off six squads on Turn One and kept the pressure on. I made some headway and destroyed many squads, but the Russians were able to hold on to much of the terrain in this area. The hidden gun popped up at just the right time and prevented my troops from blowing a hole in the line.

In the South, however, I got whacked. I realized going in that I had defended this area lightly and was hoping the reinforcing Rifle Company would be able to shore things up. I did not count on the T34 M43s roaming so far into German territory. Dade drove them all the way down to the E hexrow, which put them in danger of isolation at the day's end. I hit them with about a half-dozen shots from the light mortars but did not generate an effect. I had two or three Streetfighting opportunities but could not cash in on any of them. As a result, the reinforcements were torn up and the original defenders in the P33 factory and the eastern housing complex were decimated.

In addition to all of that, I misplayed my artillery. My plan was to interdict any reinforcements entering from offboard, but I got distracted by the dug-in tanks. I almost scored big when a Flame was created in the rubble next to one of them, but then it extinguished itself. I did get lucky with a Critical Hit and blew up one of the T60s, but overall I would have preferred to disrupt the infantry.

As a result of the ground gained in the South, the Russians won the scenario. It is rare for the Russians to win in October, but I am not too worried. I laid a real hurt on the Russian. The final CVP tally was:

German: 110 CVP
Russian: 63 CVP

Not quite 2:1, but the sheer volume of casualties makes up for that. At the end of Day Six the Germans have a 2:1 manpower advantage over the Russian! I cannot recall any game of Red Barricades in which that has happened - the German is always outnumbered. I really can't explain how I have managed to create this situation. "Dumb luck" is all I got.

Day Seven: October 23, 1942

In the Refit Phase I battle-hardened five 4-6-7 squads and one 7-0 leader. The German ELR remained at 4, despite losing the scenario. German SAN remained at 2. I rolled [5-3=2] for CPP Replenishment and received 18 CPP.

Retained Forces:

1 x 10-3

2 x 10-2

1 x 9-2

1 x 9-1

7 x 8-1
3 x 8-0

1 x 7-0

1 x 6-1

20 x 5-4-8

1 x 2-3-8

13 x 4-6-8

1 x 2-4-8

4 x 4-6-7

1 x 2-4-7

6 x 4-4-7

1 x 2-3-6

1 x 2-2-8

5 x HMG
11 x MMG

7 x LMG

2 x Lt MTR
1 x Lt MTR(r)

1 x DC

1 x 81mm MTR

In addition, there was an isolated pocket containing:

1 x 7-0

1 x 5-4-8

1 x 4-6-7

1 x 2-3-7

1 x LMG

These forces will start play with Ammunition Shortage.


Pionier Coy, On-Map Setup [8-1=7 Full] (6-1=5: 9-2, 8-1, 7-0) 17 CPP

Stukas 1 CPP

Here is the Day Seven perimeter:

German perimeter in Blue (Isolated Pocket in Light Blue), Russian perimeter in Red, No Man's Land in Gray, Russian Reserve set-up limit in Yellow

I think Dade is expecting me to be fed up with his tanks by about now, and he's right. Nevertheless I opted not to purchase any AFV this day and sunk all my points into an on-map Pionier Company. Why do this? Well, I have a 2:1 manpower advantage and there will not be a better opportunity any time soon. In addition, I have GOT to tip the balance in the factories. I'm killing lots of Russians, but not making much headway. Pioniers are the best way to push the Russians back, and the 3 CPP spent to have them pushing from Turn One on (instead of spending 2-3 turns getting into position) is easily worth a platoon of PSW 221s, a battery of AT Guns or a module of Battalion Mortar.

I spent my remaining point on Stukas, in the hope that they enter early and harass Russian reinforcements.

Here is the Russian setup:


I expect that my opponent has purchased three Infantry Companies, and two of those have been set up in Reserve. He has no more Militia Companies to buy, so no purchased companies can set up inside the factory complex without paying an additional 2 CPP. I don't think he can afford to to do this, and expect the third company will enter as reinforcements.

He has clearly spent points on Fortifications, since the T34s are nowhere in sight. I also spy a cleverly-placed AT Ditch in O34 to prevent me from driving more tanks in through the vehicular entrance in P34. He also added another Trench in R32. Altogether that accounts for 43 FPP. I expect Dade purchased 80 FPP (2 CPP). Assuming he bought HIP for the maximum allowable number of squads (10% of 44.5 squad equivalents = 5), that would make an additional 15 FPP (58 total). Throw in a couple of HIP leaders and a few Fortified Buildings and he's at 80.

The Commissar's House is full of Reserve Cloaking counters, and I expect the bulk of whatever company they represent will be set up in this building. I would also expect the Heavy Weapons Platoon to be HIP upstairs somewhere, if not here then in the AA25 building. The approaches to the Commissar's House are suspiciously void of defenders (again).

I know he has a retained artillery module, presumably with pre-registered hexes somewhere over by the P33 factory. He may have purchased more artillery, but I think not. I think he spent his points on quality infantry.

Here are my plans...

In the North:

Three half-squad and a 7-0 leader are tasked with mopping up the Strategic Locations in this corner of the map. There might be a hidden Russian counter-attack force lurking up here, and if so these guys will find it. I expect not, though, and I should be able to take control here.

In the Center (North):

I plan to completely avoid the Reserve units. Right now, I have a 2:1 manpower advantage. Activating Reserve units only reduces this. My objective is to isolate those Russians in the factory complex and destroy them all. As I mentioned previously, I am suspicious of the lack of defending units in hexes X15, X16, X17 and W18. I think that my opponent has set up his maximum allotment of HIP units, and I believe that some are in this building/rubble cluster.

The 81mm Mortar is set up on the roof of the Chemist's Shop and will try to put Smoke in AA18 and Z17. There is a Mild Breeze from the North that will drift the Smoke in front of the Commissar's House. After that, the mortar will spin and try to hammer the entrenched units in U19.

The stack in W14 has an important and probably lethal task. It consists of a 6+1 Leader, 3 x 2-3-7 and 1 x 2-3-6. These units will attempt to discover hidden Russians and draw their fire by entering every location in hexes X15, X16, X17, W18 and V17 on Turn One. If they don't get blasted by the .50 cal HMG from the Commissar's House or by a lurking 6-2-8 in the buildings they will be in good position to interdict reinforcements and prevent routing. If they do stumble into an ambush, better they get whacked than a 5-4-8.

The big stacks in the S17 factory will start shooting. The 8-0 has an 8-3-8 with a Flamethrower in his stack; they will clean up what the 10-2s don't break.

The 9-2 in X11 has two HMG. His job is to move into Y14 and prevent reinforcements from crossing Leninskii Prospekt. A platoon of 4-6-7s will provide flank protection for the machine gun nest.

The isolated units will take control of the buildings around CC10 then help out the 9-2

The remainder of the force will drive south along the V and X hexrows, cutting off the escape routes for the Russian units in the factories.

In the Center (South):

The objective in this area will be "KILL, CRUSH, DESTROY" as on the previous day. The 10-3 and the 9-2 will blast hexes T22 and T24 respectively. There is a good chance both Russian units will break allowing the Pioniers in hex S24 to Assault Move into T23, place a DC to Breach the interior factory wall and hose down the Russians in U23 with a Flamethrower in the Advancing Fire Phase. I am concerned that there may be a hidden T34 in S26. To allay my fears, I will use an 8-1 and 5-4-8 + LMG in R25 to shoot an 8+0 shot into S26. It will reveal the tank with any result (9 or less) and then an 8-3-8 will hit it with a Flamethrower. If nothing is there, the 8-3-8 will Assault Move forward.

The remaining units will simply blast what they can and take what ground is given. I do not plan on making a strong push toward the P33 factory early in this game; I will wait until I have overwhelming force.

In the South:

The light mortars on the rooftops in G33 and G34 will take as many pot-shots at the dug-in T60 in T31 as they can, hoping to get a cheap kill. Everyone else is to hold fast.


Next game is scheduled for Saturday 2/5/11.