The Battle in the Tunnel and Organ Gully
This Saturday was the day of the semi-regular ASL game day and Alan and I met up to play a scenario from the Kampfgruppe Scherer HASL from Le Franc Tireur. The module covers the battles in Cholm from February 1942 to March 1942 as German units attempt to hold out against a Soviet siege while being supplied by air.
The scenario we played was The Battle in the Tunnel and Organ Gully which pitted German defenders against a Soviet force attempting to take out a barricaded tunnel section under a bridge. The Germans had barricaded the end of the tunnel to stop traffic coming through the gully.
The bridge is in hex HH15 and the barricade blocks movement from II15 and II16. The barricade needs to be breached in order for the Russians to be able to enter the hex. Traffic from the upper level of HH15 cannot move directly to the lower level. The Russians win if they control HH15 or of there are no Good Order German units left at the end of turn 5.
Alan set up his German defenders first. Despite having the ability he didn’t use HIP for any of his units. He placed an 8-1, 4-4-7 and an LMG in the HH15 VP hex, two HS in Foxholes at the top of the HH road and then the rest of his troops behind the HH road. Some of the troops have to set up west of the DD hexrow which forces the Germans to have to move up troops to defend the bridge and gully location.
The Russians set up east of or on the NN hex row. This really gives the Russians few safe places to start. The most obvious, of course, is to set up in the gully and use that as a way to safely move up towards the bridge. This is what I did. The 9-0 Commissar and the 6+1 leader both set up in the gully to move troops as quickly forward as possible.
The 7-0, the 4-4-7 squads and an LMG were positioned as far north as I could, the play area was quite small, with the task of rooting out the troops in the foxhole and then applying pressure to and interdicting any movement of Alan’s troops to reinforce the bridge.
I made a few errors setting up. I have a squad with an LMG in the church with the intention of using it to fire at Alan’s troops in the woods but the steeple wasn’t actually high enough nor did the LMG have the range. I also failed to put the DC with any of my two elite units when I set up.
The first two turns were rather quick as both if us used cover to move up troops as quickly as possible. I used my leaders to try to rush my troops forward and also positioned my Conscript squads at the front of the troops in the gully to take the first Defensive Fire shots and also to be my initial wave of attackers against the wooden barricade.
Once my troops got close to the bridge the units in GG14 stripped Concealment from them. Alan’s own reinforcements had made it to the bridge while my troops were in the woods across the road trading fire with Alan’s troops.
My northward push towards HH12 was stalled somewhat by my 7-0 and a squad breaking from Defensive Fire from GG14. The 7-0 rolled a 12 for a Rally Check and took a wound. The rest of the troops were able to break the Germans in HH12 over the course of two turns. Alan attempted to rout them across the road in GG13 but both times his Interdiction attempts failed and the HS were eliminated. I was able to take HH12 and II13 and begin to fire into the troops in GG14 and GG15.
The Conscripts that I threw at the barricade, understandably, broke and fled. One unit was Disrupted and attempted to surrender to the Germans in HH15. They refused to take the prisoners and No Quarter was in effect for the Germans.
The Commissar must have been annoyed by this sort of cowardly behaviour as he then spent the next turn Casualty Reducing the other Conscript squad for its failure to rally. The Commissar took the DC and lead a 5-2-7 to attack the barricade. Defensive Fire broke the Commissar and he routed back to his starting location.
The broken squad and leader in KK12 rallied and the squad went Berzerk. Happily he didn’t have LOS to any enemy units so it battle hardened instead. My troops in II13 were able to rush to take the top of the bridge in HH15 but that really didn’t do anything for me. I was able to use them to break the defenders around the bridge. The squads from KK12 attempted to move towards the bridge but were hit by Defensive Fire. The Leader and one squad broke but the second squad went bezerk and ran into GG15.
Alan’s sniper was finally effective and killed that wounded 7-0 leader. It seems that the poor fellow really didn’t have any luck in the game.
The Commissar and the second Elite unit, now carrying the DC, made their way into II16. They survived the Defensive Fire but I didn’t have enough MF to place the DC and so I threw it instead. I rolled a 7 for the German units in the bridge and then oddly rolled a 7 for my units as well. The Commissar was able to save all of my units but the German Leader and the squad behind the barricade broke. The squad suffered from an ELR failure but were unable to reduce further and were Disrupted. I refused their surrender in the RtPh and sadly my turn 5 ended with no German troops in the VP location but with me unable to advance anyone into the hex to take it.
We called the game without playing Alan’s turn 5 as there wasn’t really any point.
Alan was able to toss a German HS into GG15 and that was enough to stop me from being able to take the VP location from the open end of the bridge. I made a few mistakes during the game but none of them lost the game for me and I still thought that I had a chance to win. Whether that was the case is another thing of course :-)
The scenario has both sides with a mixture of units and both with an ELR of 2 which explains the two Disrupted squads in the game. Given the terrain there was not a lot of long-range fire and then game really heated up quickly once the Russians got to the bridge.
Alan was quite circumspect with his Defensive Fire and I do not think that he ever availed himself of any of the FPF opportunities that he had. Especially with his troops in the VP location. Alan really had to resist the temptation to do so on two occasions but he did resist and I think that he made the right choice in both circumstances since you really don’t want to lose the game because you rolled high in FPF.
The scenario was quite a lot of fun and I think that the limited area makes the German initial set-up quite important and offers players a good number of replay opportunities since one can try out quite a few different initial set-ups.
This was my first experience with the Kampfgruppe Scherer module and I have to say that I was really quite impressed with the quality of the maps and the rule booklet. If you are looking for an interesting HASL module you might want to check it out. Its unique in that it isn’t Stalingrad or a heavily developed urban area and the two maps (WInter and Summer) giving you a sense of the developing battle for Cholm.