Enjoy the AAR!
Objective: Italians win at game end of they control 6 buildings. One less building is required per Russian Artillery Gun captured / eliminated.
Playing Time: 7 Turns, 5 1/2 hours approx
Playing Area: Boards 11 and 19 with overlays X9 on 11T3, X13 on 11P0-P1, and X25 on 11S1-S2
Russian & Italian OB's: (Set Up Within 3 hexes of 11R1)
My Defensive Strategy: The Russian set up is tricky due to the potential of a double flank and potential encirclement from the east and west. The main attack was sure to come through the woods in the middle of the boards, so I placed 2 Conscript squads at the head of the wooded area near my defensive positions to block advances from the northerly wooded area, with another Conscript in reserve in the woods just behind with the (9-0) Commissar to provide support and for rallying. I planned to skulk to good effect with these units, and at some point fully expected to be overwhelmed and the enemy to break through. Two (4-4-7) squads (positioned in a building in front of the hill and in the woods to the south west) to combat the Italian tank advances that would surely come over the hills on 11 and through the open ground on 19. These squads could fall back to other VP Buildings if required. (4-4-7) with MMG was kept to the south, due to how many VP buildings could be covered by it's fire, plus if broken, can very easily rout through the nothern woods. One ART gun placed in 11 03 to cover a few buildings in relative safety, whilst the other in P4 to block any Italian Tank assaults. With the turn 2 reinforcements to armored assault in two stack across 19's open round with all the best squads, and (10-0) Commissar and (7-0) leader. The other squads would run across the road (seemingly foolishly) in an attempt to force Italians to fire at them, rather than at the kill stacks. My prediction was that if I can get most of my reinforcements across, the Russians win, if not, the Italians do.
Game Play Turn Summary:
Italian 1- Italians move through the woods with large infantry numbers, but no firing taking place. Large stack with leader CX along the western edge of board 19's southern hill out of LOS. Two tanks move over the hills on board 19 to begin flushing out and assaulting my guns. The other three move to cover the open ground on board 11 where my reinforcements must cross.
Russian 1 - Skulked 'front line' conscripts in the woods to avoid being fired on.
Italian 2 - Italians using deployed squads plus half squads to remove concealment, and to be in positions to cause failure to rout if my conscripts break. One tank moves adjacent to my gun in P4 and becomes a blazing wreck after my gun fires. Due to LOS, both Guns on board.
Russian 2 - Russian ATR wrecks tank 10 hexes away. Tanks in platoon movement armored assault with one (4-4-7) under each. One tank remains in bypass in front of the CA of an MMG plus squad and (8-1) leader to prevent firing over open ground. 2 stacks of three squads with leaders / commissars run CX across the open ground. Hero Creation and Fanaticism with the leader stack, and all squads break in the Commissars stack. 6 squads across the board to safety with good order Commissar and Leader. Defense of wooded section in the middle of the playing area still holding and causing enemy hold ups and MC results, with (9-0) Commissar rallying brilliantly.
Italian Turn 3 - Russians rally 3 broken squads in the northern woods with (10-0) Commissar. Italian tanks advance slowly on both sides. Both Russian tanks fire at the armor in board 19 and break both their MA's. The other Russian tank on board 11's hill is wrecked by the other Russian ATR. Pot shot made at Italian (8-1) leader, squad and MMG at long range within stone building - achieved snake eyes and broke everybody.
Russian Turn 3 - Bringing forward of Turn 2 reinforcement into strong defensive positions in woods and VP buildings, whilst (9-0) Commissar makes a retreat, as three conscript squads will soon be overwhelmed entirely.
Italian & Russian Turn 4 - Very little firing by both sides, positioning by both sides to gain maximum concealment. Italian victory looking unlikely due to the time remaining, even getting one building may prove tricky.
Italian Turn 5 - Tight circle around the Church and other VP buildings by the Russians. Italians move both tanks in to the woods after passing Bog Checks to sit on top of Russian squads and to harass squads, in an excellent move.
Russian Turn 5 - Guns open up on the remaining Italian tanks, wrecking one, and missing the other. One gun malfunctioned due to Intensive Firing. Take half squad down from level 1, in order to run into as many Italian Concealment's as possible (and Level 2 LOS is no longer an issue). Italian flamethrower at 1 hex range over wall rolls a 3 on fanatic 4-5-8 and hero, with KIA's to both.
Italian Turn 6 - Italians break into the church building with one squad and SMC due to the gap created by the Flamethrower KIA. Another KIA result by the Italian flamethrower on Russian 4-5-8 with LMG.
We continued the remainder of the game for purely academic purposes to see how may VP buildings that the Italians could take, and they captured two, with the Russians for the fun of it being Russian and charging at all the enemy occupied VP buildings to regain them. I ended up with only one gun crew left on the board at game end!
Game End Analysis - This game was actually played by Haggis and I, as Haggis previously played it as the Russians with his opponent claiming that the Italians could never win. The game seems to hinge on one thing-the Russian reinforcements. If they can get across in numbers whilst mounting a reasonable defense to cover their movement, then the Russians are far more likely to win. And vice versa, for the Italians. My opponent and I concluded that the Italian tanks should be used almost exclusively to block these reinforcements getting across the board, and only after can they be used for other purposes. An Italian win is possible at the hands of a very skilled player or a lucky one (against an 'average opponent').
Final Comments - After reading the SSR's regarding steeples, the level 2 location is for LOS only and only can be used by a half squad equivalnet anyway, so sadly the Russian 2-3-7 and MMG cannot be place on level 2 to cause havoc, as far as I am aware! For background knowledge on steeples please check rules A31.2 and A31.21
If you have read this, please leave your feedback, I would really appreciate it!