Mike and I are gearing up to play Festung Budapest CG III and needed a warm up. Mike hadn’t played ASL in a while (a long while) and needed to knock off the rust. Usually a rusty Mike is not a bad thing for me. Rusty Mike is still a far better Squad Leader player than I am. We queued up FB2 The Devil’s Free to Have a Try. Now, I had not too long ago played Festung Budapest 1 Uncles and Pups and this scenario looked like a larger version of it.
I got the defending Axis troops and Mike took the Russian Hordes ™. My troops were a mix of German and Hungarian including Arrow Cross and Vannay units. I had some support weapons, a very important 75L German AT gun, a nice 81mm mortar, some mines and a couple of fortified building locations. The setup restrictions really limited where I could put everything.
Mike had elite and first line troops entering the fight with five SU76m tank destroyers and a flamethrowing T-34. He had to fulfill 4 out of 6 victory conditions.
The gun was required to go on my right, and I fortified the hex. This strategy was good and bad. Good because it would be difficult for him to get in there with the squad/MMG/Leader I had on level one and bad because destroying / capturing the gun was one VC and taking that building was another. So I was in effect putting two of his objectives in one place. The other fortified building was a couple of hexes away, and the 81mm mortar was over there as well.
Mike entered most of his troops through the northern buildings, easing into the scenario. He was being careful with his tanks. I had the 75L set up to try to intercept the SU’s crossing the open. And the 81mtr to catch infantry trying to cross. Mike’s first shot of the game activated my sniper which promptly recalled an SU that was only one hex on board. A good start.
He did get some units on over by the bridge, and I realized I should have mined the one hex he could cross that I couldn’t see. He found two of my minefields the hard way and my 81mm mortar x’d itself out of the game on it’s first shot, due to the ammo shortage penalties for the Axis.
By turn 3 he had blown through my northern building units. My rolls were piss poor and we couldn’t stand up to the Russian firepower.
The first fortified building gave Mike fits for a couple of turns, he simply couldn’t crack it. Bringing up a flamethrower squad to burn them out resulted in a broken half squad carrying the flamer as I almost punched it’s ticket for good. Mike got his smoke down, creating problems for me and him. He wasn’t sure he wanted it because it makes it more difficult to get where he needed to go.
He then tried to sneak an SU and the OT-34 Flame tank up to the fortified Gun hex. I burned the SU and knocked out the flame tank firing out of smoke with some well timed rate of fire. His troops on my left were making good progress, sweeping my Arrow Cross (crap) troops out of the way easily.
At the end of turn 5 I was feeling the squeeze a bit, but he and I both thought I was in good shape. These Axis troops in FB are not your dad’s Wehrmacht, these guys are fragile and you have to handle them with care.
By turn 6 Mike had finally taken the first fortified building, I had moved my squad/mmg/leader in the first level of the other fort downstairs to prevent his entry since I had only the gun crew down there. He VBM sleezed the hex, and I was only able to pin the tank crew. My trench line was still intact on the other side, and my AT mines had claimed another SU victim, although it was only immobilized.
Feeling pretty good with two turns to go, I had virtually eliminated the AFV threat, forced him to spend too much time on the first fortified building, and still had my trench line on the left. But fate had other things in store for me, as it seems to always have when I play Mike.
He busted his way into the second building, and I eliminated my own medium MG across the street with the ammo shortage problems for the Axis. If that wasn’t bad enough, I still had an AA gun on the left, HIP in a trench. Mike took an afterthought advancing fire shot at the concealed unit in the hex and got a morale check, revealing my gun and breaking both units. I would complain, but from that point on, we really started throwing deuces at each other. The problem was, Mike could absorb them, and I couldn’t.
With nothing but half squads and an Arrow Cross unit left, the VC Mike needed were easy pickings. I surrendered in the last turn.
A pair of unfortunate rolls were my undoing. Seems to be my lot in ASL life. I had him on the ropes, and he pulled the victory out in the end. I will have to play better than I usually do to beat him.
After a long absence of ASL for Mike and I, It was good to get back to it. I played better and gave him a good game. Now we embark on Festung Budapest CGIII – City of Eternal Heroes. Mike wanted the German / Hungarian forces. He loves playing the feeble troops, so this fit right in his wheelhouse. I will have to be on my game to be competitive, but I am looking forward to it.
Report coming after the initial scenario.
Thanks for reading.