Over Memorial Day weekend, I attended Enfilade 2008 in Olympia, WA. It has been 7 years since I attended a gaming convention and I have MISSED it. I relish the opportunity they afford of meeting new people and entering new situations. This one was no exception.
My first game was on Friday afternoon around 4. I got there and immediately introduced myself to Sam Belcher who promptly asked me if I was interested in a game. Was I ever....After looking through his scenarios, I saw one that caught my eye that I've been wanting to play for a long time. Commando Schenke is a scenario that has gone through three versions (Tactiques, ASL Journal, and Beyond Valor 3rd Ed.). We played the one from Beyond Valor 3rd Edition.
On rolling for sides, I got the Russians.This scenario is played on board 1. The Russians are defending a fortified building and their defense must include 6 or more forward squads. My strategy was to sacrifice these squads as a delaying action. The configuration of the board makes it difficult if not impossible to rout from their setup area. The rest of the OB was deployed back with ample fire lane opportunities.
My goal was to make it as difficult as possible for Sam to get to the fortified building even if it was more difficult for me to fall back there. I did have a leader with my outside MG groups to rally them.I also changed up my 8-0 to a 9-0 commissar and put him in the victory building.The Germans have a decent amount of ground to cover but I made a judgement call and I decided that the first road they had to cross was indefensible by my forward 6 squads so I gave it to him. Again, this was a rout decision. Also, if he got careless, he might step in front of my rear machine guns whereas if I put the squads even further forward, once he dealt with them, he would be even more careful on the approach and I probably wouldn't get an early shot with them.
My 6 squads, one in particular, put up a heroic effort and slowed the Germans. Sam, living up to his reputation as a very competent player did not give me any shots for my MG's. So it went squad to squad as he tried to cross the second row of streets. One of mine survived everything that Sam threw at him until he brought up a demo charge. That took care of that squad.He then moved down the board, I laid a few fire lanes and he got into the building. At this point, he made a rules error. I didn't even notice. You cannot advance into the same hex as a Good Order enemy unit in a Fortified Building. We fixed it in a gentlemanly manner and moved on. This is where I started hurting.
In turn 5, we had a real issue. I had taken out two DC's but there was still a DC and a Flamethrower out there. DC's start as a 30 shot and FT's IGNORE TERRAIN. So once at the victory building, that nice +4 TEM is basically useless and if the FT is up close and personal, we're talking about a 24-flat shot. OUCH!
By the end of the second to last German turn, I had 2 squads left at the top of the building. He had finally picked up the dropped DC outside and was going to be in a position to use both that and the FT on the remaining two squads his next turn. It is theoretically possible that I could have gotten lucky on the dice, however, at this point I conceded the game.
My play on this scenario, was pretty solid. I didn't make any glaring setup mistakes, and my original plan held up. I needed to hold him up around turn 3 for one more turn and I would have had it. All in all, though, I vindicated myself well. A bit of better rolling and I think I could have won this one. This is a great infantry only scenario. The only hitch for the Russians are the FT/DC. They are KILLER because they ignore terrain and/or have high shot values. It is important to identify who is smoking and who is carrying the footballs early on and eliminate them if possible. If the Germans and the Russians go toe-to-toe for the building with the Germans sans FT/DC, I think this is a Russian win. Even with the FT, if the Germans can be delayed to Turn 4 on the outskirts, I think the Russians will win because they can rout upstairs. The commissar is also important because of the ignoring DM factor as well as the morale bump. Rallying at a broken 8 for the Russians is HUGE.
Sam is an excellent player and a very kind individual. Bob W. said that he was a great ambassador for the game and I wholeheartedly agree. If you ever have the chance to play Sam on VASL or F2F, I highly recommend that you avail yourself the opportunity. You will not regret it.