On the last morning of the 2018 ASL tournament, I sat down with Rich Burton to play an ASL scenario published in Rally Point 3. I really like playing as the minor powers, and I jumped at the chance to play as the Hungarians. My family came here from Hungary three generations ago, so I will almost always take them if given a chance. I find the low firepower, low(er) morale minor powers to be more enjoyable than playing the heavyweight SS vs American paratroopers that is commonly seen in ASL.
The scenario for the day was a late war Russian vs Hungarian engagement in Budapest. The Russians were the defenders, and my job as the Hungarians was to completely clear the Russians out of four listed stone buildings. One was a large, multihex building, and the other 3 were small buildings all in a row.
I gave my opponent time to set up his defenses, and was greeted with this when I returned:
The red squares marked victory buildings. You cannot see the middle red square under the (?) counter, but that is the fourth building. I knew that I would have to deal with the Russian tanks, so my attack strategy was to come up multiple streets, force him to commit, and then get behind him for a kill shot. I was not particularly concerned with his infantry. I felt confident that I could move in and kill them as long as the tanks were dealt with. His reinforcement tank was a flamethrower tank, and it had the potential to be devastating.
There were no major engagements in the first turn. Some shots were traded to no effect and most of his defenders were satisfied to lay low and let me come to them.
The tanks started to engage as the infantry continued to move into position. His western defenders broke under my flanking force. My tank did not hit his, but started to acquire. Unfortunately, his tank had better aim than mine. His guns leveled on me and sent APCR my way…
Fortunately for me, the peasant that loaded that particular shell was having a bad day…
And the shell failed to explode. I will always take luck when the dice are willing to give it to me.
By the next turn, it didn’t matter because the next shell actually contained explosives. Nevertheless, his delay gave my second tank time to try to race around and get behind him. You can see him in motion at the top of the screen. My southern forces moved into the first victory building and began to clear it out. You can see my Panzerschreck in the street there. That will come into play later. For now, I am mostly concerned because I can hear the rumble of his flamethrower tank approaching the battle.
On his next turn, his priority was to kill or at least slow down my forces attacking the large victory building. He prep fired from the adjacent hex, to no effect. All through the game, both of us were continually frustrated by the dice, particularly during prep fire. There were long series of play where prep fire was completely ineffectual. I think that there was one turn of his later in the game where he prep fired every unit on the board without a single broken or pinned Hungarian. As you can see though, the dice do roll sometimes, and I have a conscript half squad that went berserk. One firepower charging toward you – are you scared? The best thing that happened was that when his flamethrower tank made its appearance, I was able to shock him for a possible kill. Worst case scenario, he would lose a turn with that horrendous weapon. Best case, he would lose a major piece of his defense.
The berserk charge went exactly as expected, but for the most part my plan was still going well. I started breaking support weapons, which slowed down my assault from the south. In addition, my flamethrower crew broke and ran just as they were about to start putting pressure to the next layer of defense. Unfortunately for me, his tank crew was fine after they cleared the cobwebs, and they were ready to start the BBQ. I had to get that PSK into play. His flamethrower was in order, my was out of play. For now.
I started closing in and had a great round of shooting. His southern defense collapsed, and I was moving in on the trio of buildings that would determine the victor. He was running out of good order defenders, but he still had tanks. My tank that was attempting the end around was caught in the process and suffered a possible kill of his own.
At this point, I felt good about my chances, but I knew that I had to be aggressive. He was going to get a lot of close range shots, but I had lots of grist for the mill. At the same time, I had to leave at least some defenders behind to make sure he did not rally and move into the southern building. I took a hit as I moved into one of the victory buildings and had to rout back to H6. That’s OK. I might be able to rally them and get them back across that street…
And for at least one turn, the Russian dice got hot. His T-34 rubbled the building, killing everyone inside. I was now officially nervous.
At this point, his infantry was withering under my assault, but he still held E7, and as long as you are in a stone building, you have a chance. My possibly dead tank crew never woke back up and all of my AFVs were now dead. His flamethrower tank was already being used to great effect. I think it had something like a 34 FP attack. It was likely that one OT-34 was going to be able to deny me this victory. But I had a plan.
NOTE: WE MADE SOME RULES MISTAKES, AND A BIG ONE IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. I KNOW NOW, BUT AT THE TIME, WE BOTH THOUGHT THIS WAS LEGAL. A WOUNDED LEADER CANNOT FIRE A PSK ALONE. SINCE IT IS A SUPPORT WEAPON, WE BOTH ASSUMED THAT HE COULD. THAT SAID, ONE OF THE FIRST RULES IN ASL IS THAT IF YOU MAKE A RULES MISTAKE, YOU JUST GO ON FROM THERE.
That wounded leader was going to pick up that PSK and walk up the street and kill that damn tank.
Now I am going to tell you the story of the greatest Hungarian hero. I am going to call him Kovats. He was wounded, but he picked up the Panzerschreck from a broken half squad. He saw the Russian flamethrower tank killing and destroying all that he had worked for, and he knew what he had to do. He limped into the middle of the street, facing machine gun fire and desperate Russian soldiers. The flamethrower tank swung around to turn him to ash and RAN OUT OF FLAMETHROWER FUEL. Kovats levelled that PSK and blew the OT-34 sky high. As the tank burned, he lit a cigarette from the flames and collapsed to the ground with a smile on his face.
At this point, I held all of the victory buildings, and my opponent was forced to the point of desperation. He tried to soften a building up with machine gun prep fire. He tried to blast the building with his last tank. He tried to get across the street. My boys held.
And that is the story of how I went 1-4 at the 2018 St. Louis ASL tournament.
Thanks to my opponent, Rich Burton, for a great game, and to Jim Burris for organizing a great tournament.