Berlin. I don’t know what it is about this part of the WWII conflict that mesmerizes me. I love reading about it, writing about it, and gaming it. For whatever reason, the history of the battle for this city at the end of the war compels me to pay attention to it.
Adam Lunney and I had played Tactical Doctrine , the first scenario in Berlin: Red Vengeance, released by HOB many years ago.
Opera of Death is a scenario about the battle for the Kroll Opera House. The Russians had crossed the Spree and taken Himmler’s House. Time was running short to meet Stalin’s schedule for taking the Reichstag. As they prepared for that battle, the Germans surprised them with fire from behind. They had fortified the Opera House and the Russians would have to deal with it first.
There are times when reading the scenario prelude and the aftermath will give you a clue as to what you need to do to get the job done. This is one of those times, and I missed it. Frankly, Adam missed it too, but it hurt my chances to win more than it did him. I’ll bring that up later.
I got the Russians and the tall task of taking 15 or more LVP (location victory points) than I started with. The buildings along the Spree are worth 1 for each stone hex, the small building next to the Opera House is worth 2 per hex, and the Opera House proper is 3 per hex.
I had some pretty good troops, the whole range of Russian quality from 628 all the way to 426. Good leadership and some tanks, two T-34-85’s and an IS-2. Adam’s troops were definitely Nazis. 658 and 436 SS with plenty of support weapons and a 75L anti-tank gun. Six turns
This will be a short AAR.
I moved out, and immediately ran into trouble. Simply crossing the street to get to the Spree buildings was a chore. Adam’s conscripts over there put up a stronger than expected fight and my guys got bogged down. Close combat was indecisive and any momentum I wanted to get was lost. I began to cross the open ground to assault the Opera House, but that was tough sledding too.
I started with the T-34-85s in building hexes, and the IS out on the flank. I wasn’t going to give Adam any shots with Panzerfausts. I got to the rubble on the right in pretty good shape, but was still being cautious. I moved the IS up to support those troops, keeping my distance.
Adam revealed the 75L. He got some fortification points to use for purchases and fortified the levels of the Opera House on the right. The Gun was upstairs, and took out one of my T-34s.
My troops at the top of the map were getting beaten up pretty badly. Even the 10-2 was struggling mightily. The right flank guys finally got chopped up and Adam moved a couple of units out of the Opera House to take my IS out with a PF. They did it with nary a whimper from my side.
So, here is the frustrating part. The prelude on the scenario card had this passage:
Turns out, I could have left the Opera House alone and just taken the buildings along the Spree. There are 16 stone hexes there at 1 point each. But I was so focused on the subject of the scenario that I tunnel visioned on it and didn’t look at the buildings along the Spree that could have won the game for me. Instead, I continued to smash my head against the Opera House needlessly.
I realized this with two moves left, so I still had a chance to pull this scenario out of my ass. Being good friends with Adam, and having played him for so long, and out of sportsmanship, I advised him about what I had figured out. Yep, he had overlooked it too. I tried to get my guys across the only street keeping me from possibly pulling this victory out of thin air, but Adam caught them dashing across the street, ending my chances.
I am a big fan of Berlin: Red Vengeance. I have played numerous scenarios and the campaign once, but this scenario disappointed me. I could have won without taking the Opera House, when I think the scenario should have been all about taking the Opera House, but hey, I didn’t design it.
Adam has agreed to pick up a game in my Road To Berlin when he gets back from ASLOK. I am really looking forward to it.
Thanks for reading.