The next wargame played by Rob and me at PrezCon was a scenario from Combat Commander: Stalingrad. The eventual goal for the convention was to break this out and actually give the campaign system a shot, but to start we needed to just play a game to get the rules for the system back in our head.
We chose to play the first scenario of the Stalingrad battle pack, Spartakovka Salient, which depicts elements of the German 16th Panzer Division fighting through some rear-line Russian units in an attempt to get to the Volga River (which I didn't check, but I'm pretty sure they succeeded at). This scenario is different for this pack, since it's the only one that doesn't use any of the new Stalingrad special rules (rubble, the urban sniper, etc) since they aren't in the city quite yet.
I was playing the Germans, and Rob was the Russians. The Russians have fewer and poorer troops, whereas the Germans get reinforcements who are fairly elite. Since Objective W was an open objective, we both knew that exiting squads off the opposing side would be worth double victory points. I drew chit F for my secret objective, which listed that Objective #2 (the one on the far side of the board, to the right) would be worth 2 VPs. Rob drew one as well.
We did our set up, Rob first.
After Rob's setup, I began mine (also seen above) and formulated my plan for the battle. Given that units exiting off the map were worth double, and given the superior quality of my troops, that needed to be my goal. I'd lock Rob's main force (which you can see in the above picture) down with significantly fewer units, and advance the rest off of the board, claiming Objective #2 along the way. Each squad leaving would be worth 4 victory points, plus I'd get the squads back the next turn. Can't argue with that.
Of course, the wrinkle in my plan is that Rob is listed as the scenario defender. That means he gets a LOT of extra abilities through the cards to hinder me. Mines, wire, and all sorts of tricky things would be thrown at me to slow me down.
I begin the game by moving up on the right, into the woods, with a few squads plus a leader. My mortar takes a shot up the road into the woods, and I get a Time! trigger, but the shot has no effect. Turns in Combat Commander, for those who have never played, are determined by these Time! triggers- many random events happen during the game because of various triggers, as we'll see. Regardless, a Time! trigger in this scenario is a huge help to the defender (Rob) who not only gets a victory point, but also gets the game closer to ending (the game potentially ends any time after turn 7).
Rob tries to take a few shots at me, but doesn't accomplish anything. He decides to send a Russian squad down the road to the right of the lake, to try to make me hesitant to advance around and off the map. I Op Fire at him and manage to break him, however.
On my turn, I shoot at the broken squad in the open, killing it (and giving me 2 Victory Points).
Rob and I then take turns discarding cards (instead of playing cards during your turn, you have the option to discard a few cards with the hopes of getting a better hand- if one person discards, it's not generally a bad idea for the other player to do so as well, since he is basically given a free turn), but Rob plays an action once I discard to get some reinforcements- rolls, and gets another Militia squad (big help there). He then continues to shoot at me, but again accomplishes nothing.
I'm saddled with a hand of Command Confusions and Artillery Request/Denied cards... which are worthless in this scenario since we have no radios. I discard again.
Rob's shooting finally gets some results, as he breaks my closest German leader. With no Recover card in my hand, I have to just hope I stay lucky enough to keep him there (without a leader, it's hard to move my Germans in groups).
We trade a turn of me moving and him shooting to no effect, then on my turn, I finally some useful orders for once. I advance a Rifle Squad into melee with the Russian squad closest to me. Rob uses a Hidden Mines action which ends up breaking me, and I respond with two Ambush actions to kill his squad, followed by a No Quarter action to get some extra victory points. Can't complain about getting Victory Points!
Rob begins opening fire into my broken squad and leader, hoping for some kills, and succeeds in killing the broken Rifle squad. Some shooting also suppresses my Weapon team with the mortar (which has been rolling 4s all game for shooting, by the way). The leader recovers on my turn, and I begin moving them up the right, towards Objective #2 and freedom.
I believe Rob ran out of cards here, which is a free Time! trigger, much to my chagrin.
He follows this up by breaking my Weapon team, but isn't sure what to do about my guys on the right. I follow this up by bringing on my reinforcements- a bunch of elite squads to help deliver the hurt to the Russians! I work on moving my entire army up, but Rob uses some Hidden Wire actions to shut down my movement towards the top of the map (guess he was sure what to do ;) ). Rob doesn't accomplish anything on his turn, and I move out of the wire, and up some more.
Rob moves a leader, and I take a shot, drawing a 5 for my attack roll, which I use the Initiative card to re-draw, and get a 4 instead. Rob of course grabs a 12 for the defense roll, which is another Time! trigger for him. Sigh.
After several rounds of us shooting at each other, I do manage to break one of his squads in the woods to the left, but he manages to Rout it out of there and into safety (and eventually recovers).
I also, over the course of a few rounds, move point blank to his lone squad on Objective #2, and advance into it, killing the squad, and claiming the objective. My shooting also breaks another Russian squad. Rob isn't exactly idle, but his shooting isn't doing a whole lot (breaking or suppressing my weapon team a few times, but I keep recovering). He doesn't want to move out of the building, since it's an objective, and he doesn't know what mine is, and he can't really get the guys out of the woods on my left because I'll take chunks out of them as they try. He's just stuck waiting until I get things off the board, and trying to recover from that.
After drawing through my deck (another Time! trigger), I oblige him. My two squads and 1-command leader exit the board, giving me 12 Victory Points, finally moving the VP marker to my side of the track (oh yeah- the VP marker starts on the 11 space on the Russian side of the track ;) ). These squads will come back on as reinforcements next time there's a Time! trigger. Some of my shooting then causes a Walking Wounded Event! which lets me bring back a squad. I now have a lot of guys on the board, and coming on.
Rob figures that I might have the Objective #2 chit, so moves back to reclaim it, and again continues to shoot at me, without effect. I then discard cards again, and Rob again plays the action to give him a reinforcement roll, this time getting an Assault squad with a Flamethrower.
We don't wait long for it to influence the game. Rob sends him into melee with the adjacent German squad, and we tie on the combat draws, wiping everything out (a net gain of like 4 Victory Points, I think). On top of that, Rob's next shot gives us another Time! trigger, bringing the game closer to the end.
I focus on moving things up and around, but groan as I draw 4 Recover cards when I refill my hand. That slows me down for a turn as I discard them.
Rob has decided to start trying to get the game over. He shoots, but fires as many individual low strength shots as he can in order to increase the chances of either of us drawing Time! triggers. He doesn't get any yet- but does manage to draw another objective chit. Realizing I'm going to be pressed for time, I move up quickly (dropping some smoke next to me to help protect me from shooting), but shoot and break another Russian squad. Rob responds on his turn by playing a Recover card... unfortunately the Event drawn ends up killing the Russian before the roll could've recovered him.
I finally make it up to Objective #2, and have a move order in my hand to blow the game open next turn. However, Rob finally gets lucky- his shooting brings up a Time! trigger, and we are now at the point where we roll for the game end. It doesn't happen yet though. However, my Defense roll brings up ANOTHER Time! trigger, and this time the game does end. I never got a chance to move those guys off :(.
Ah well, we move onto figuring out the final score. Due to casualties and the turn I moved units off the board before, the victory point marker was at 1 on his side. My objective chit gave me 2 victory points for control of Objective #2. Rob's objective chits were L and J, which were 3 Victory Points for Objective #4 (controlled by me), and 2 Victory Points for Objective #5 (controlled by him). That means we ended with a net score of 2 Victory Points for me- a very narrow win!
This scenario has a very different feel than any I've played with Combat Commander so far, and it was certainly a good time. Rob's shooting wasn't very effective, and a lot of that was due to poor luck. He had several good turns of fortune though, so it probably evened out. Overall, my luck was good as well. Rob thinks that his main mistake was setting up too far forward. I don't know if it would've helped, but it may have. I mean, he was close to winning as is- one or two more things going his way may have done it. Had the game gone another turn, I would've ended up with a pretty significant win.
Hopefully we'll get a campaign started one of these days. Just another thing to add to the to-do list.