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Rankorian

The scenario Assault-Allied: a gamer's perspective. spoilers

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I have mentioned this scenario before.  But after tinkering with the scenario, very intermittently for months, I wanted to write more about it--not as a historian, or a military person, but as a gamer, who is looking for a good game.  Some people may blast though a scenario, getting perhaps a big victory, and then move on.  But I like to savor the work that went into the scenario's construction.

I plan multiple posts, and no pictures.  This will be retro and conceptual.  You can fire up the scenario to see most of what I am writing about.

First, to me the scenario is a "puzzle".  I mean that in a positive sense.  If you play this scenario and get a big victory the first time, I am going to say you, even if great, were lucky.  You cannot, I don't think, look at the scenario for the first time and know what approach, of many possible approaches, is going to be successful.  There is just too much unknown, and unknowable, about the German force and the location of each unit of the force.  The scenario usually shows you some shadows initially of AT guns and a few other units--which is clever.  But the locations are vague.

I tried more than a dozen hours trying to attack down the right flank.  I finally realized the scenario was not built for that approach to be successful.  Indeed, I am sure there are many people who very much dislike this type of scenario--where the designer seems to have some approach in mind.  But if the puzzle is interesting, so is the scenario.  I think the puzzle is interesting in this case.

The reason for these posts is to make the scenario even more interesting for players.  Even with the information I am about the give, it will still take much time to operationally move and use the units involved.  And people can find out how to improve, and comment on the improvement, about the approach I will be describing. 

 

Next post: general issues.

 

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1.  The T34/85s are fun.  Mobile.  Not a SU-Monster, for sure.  Not uncommon.  Reminds me of a Panther, or even more, an early war MK-4.  By this point in the war, the T-34 part was mostly under armored. But as an infantry support tank, such as in this scenario (and those types of scenarios are my favorite), it is very good.

2. I have seldom been able to spot a German AT during my tinkering.  That is delicious.  The guns are far enough back, and in good cover, that I can have one of my tanks blow up and still not see where the fatal shot came from.  This puts the AT units back as an important unit.  (I still don't know where they are.  I won't load the other side and look--that would be too boring.)

3. Tied to that, the inaccuracy of the mortars/artillery seems much more realistic than the initial CMBN launch.  This raises the cost-benefit analysis of trying to take a gun, or a forward observer, out--no longer mortar/sniper, more shells have to be allocated.

4. Tied with that is that even a direct hit on a gun might not silence it.  If even one crew member is still left, the gun could fire/kill. 

 

Since you only have 3 T-34/85, unless you do something "gamey" like blast a position, move a tank forward, but if it gets hit reload the turn and blast the position more--again, to me that would be boring--you can't be sure that a gun is knocked out, and you don't have enough armor to "test by seeing if the AFV will be blown up".  The result is that you have to respect the attack lanes which are denied to you by AT guns.

Again, I spent multiple hours thinking how to "break" the scenario by taking out enough AT guns to let my armor roam wild.  Couldn't do it--at least, not in a fun way.  The flanks are covered.

Great. Have to go up the middle.    The scenario briefing basically says that is what he wants you to do.  The construction of the scenario backs that up.  Fine.  I actually like that much better than having a deceptive briefing--I know people sometimes try to be clever with deceptive briefings, but I am not usually a big fan of that.

 

The basic objective is to cross a creek and take hill 400.  But note the hill just before the creek, and overlooking hill 400.  Note the paths in the dense forest on the hill.  The scenario designer has spent a lot of time constructing a map with all those interlocking forest paths.  Probably will be of some use?

I also like how the artillery is not dominant in this game, at least in the early part.  Initially you get two 82mm mortars.  The one "gamey" thing I did was set one of  them to "harass", maximum, with a delay, into the German rear, near the burning building.  That is to try to throw off the well-advertised AI counterattack.  After much agonizing, I left the TRPs in their initial placement.  I am not sure that is optimal, and it is the kind of thing that can have me agonizing for a long time before I proceed with my first turn, but, again this is good to me, I don't think their placement/artillery will be the crucial factor in this scenario. 

To me, the "gamer" mind is one sort of style.  At times, when I really begin to think about the death involved, I have to step away and take a break. But what I want is a challenge, sufficiently immersive in reality, and then a narrow win.  No struggle = no fun.  But, for the fun, eventually a narrow win, generally, is important--even if I have to define for myself what is a win.

 

 

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