For round 5 I was matched up against Pablo Garcia. A quick look at the Ironman standings told me that Pablo was not only joint top to the table but also only 2 points ahead of me. It was a chance for me to catch up and get back into contention for the Ironman title! Pablo and I discussed the scenario choice well and ended up going for AP 23 Agony at Arnautovo. Rolling for sides I ended up as the Russian and Pablo took the Italians.
Looking at the map I decided to attack the building cluster around ff2 first and then sweep around to the north. I though sending a couple of squads to enter the north edge would be a good idea. They could work as an anvil to my hammer. After I saw Pablo’s Hordes of concealment counters, I decided to deviate a bit, I had originally planned to use the full allotment of 5 squads in the north arriving force, but decided against it, and placed a few to attack through the center of the map.
Looking at Pablo setup I guessed that DD4, Z3, W5 and S4 were dummies but I was worried by the lack of forward defense. I had expected at least something at hill 497. I therefore sent 3 squads with the DC and a 7-0 to enter the north edge on turn for. 3 squads were placed in 43Z8 to attack through the tree line. I placed the MMGs in AA8, along with the 8-0, and BB8 ready to deal with any threat that popped up on hill 497. In EE8 I placed two squads with one LMG and in FF8 I placed the 9-1, two squads and another LMG. Those were meant to capture the buildings around 41FF2. The two T34 were placed as anchors in my line, one at FF8 and the other at Y8. My plan was to use them to lure out the guns, hopefully and once they were found and dealt with to overrun everything they could.
Turn 1 Russian.
Turn 1 was simple. I armored assaulted one squad with the tank to EE1 and then moved the rest of the squads forward towards the town. I moved cautiously, keeping concealment as I could. No reaction from Pablo as I took control of the first buildings around FF2
Turn 1 Italian.
It started to snow! Other than that and some basic skulking nothing else happened during that turn!
Turn 2 Russian.
And it stopped snowing! Now the partisans arrived in the south and my flanking force at the north edge. Still there was no prep fire, mainly because of lack of targets. The north flanking force AMed into the map with no reaction from Pablo. The partisans then moved in, two squads moving to FF4. Another entering on DD10 made Pablo reveal a squad in BB8 how proceeded to pin and reduce the unfortunate partisans. His fire attack did spur the Russian sniper into action, pinning a squad in V6. That meant I found 2 of his squads already. The rest of my movement was a cautious advance to the east side of the village. Advanced fire from FF4 revealed the DD4 as a dummy stack. To me it looked like Pablo had left his left flank completely unguarded. In an attempt to take out that lone squad in BB8 I charged at them with the 8-1 and a partisan squad but FPF was effective breaking the leader and pinning the squad in CC9. The rest of the turn was uneventful.
Turn 2 Italian.
Prep fire broke the partisans in CC9. Elsewhere the skulking continued. I still had not found any of his guns but I expected them to reveal themselves soon.
Turn 3 Russian.
The turn started with the 8-1 in CC10 failing to self-rally himself so he couldn't try to get the squad up either. I knew I had to deal with that pesky squad in BB9 ASAP so I could get the partisans back in action. Luckily I had just the right tool for the job. With no prep fire I headed straight to MPh. The T34 in EE3 started up and charged west to CC9 help the beleaguered partisans. Otherwise the cautious soviet advance kept on moving towards the town. The stack in Y5 troubled me. I only found two squads at that moment so I expected that one to be a real squad, probably equipped with something nasty. Because of that I reckoned that VBM freezing them was in order, even though it might put the tank at risk. My second t34 quickly moved over there and as I moved into bypass of y5/x5 hex side, Pablo revealed his AT gun and fired. Fortunately for me his shot missed completely. He IFed the gun, and although he missed he now had a nice -2 acquired marker on my tank. In an effort to minimize the odds of him actually doing something to my steel monster I turned the turret towards his AT gun. Other than that I didn't move very aggressively, preferring to AM to keep concealment on my stacks. I did lose concealment on some of the more southern stacks though, as I moved my forces from FF4 and EE4 to get into position for an assault on the area around AA7 next turn. During DFPh BB9 squad fired at CC10. The 8 flat shot forced a mc on my broken partisans reducing the squad to a half squad. In the AFPh the T34 fired back, pinning that pesky squad in BB9. Elsewhere things were quiet. During APh most of my units moved forward. The 9-1 moved with two squads into AA6 and two Partisan squads advanced into BB6 by going CX. I felt that I was not in a good position to assault the z7 area to prepare for the arrival of Pablo’s reinforcements.
Turn 3 Italian.
I failed to rally the leader in DD9 and since Pablo had nothing to do in RPh he went straight to Prep fire. His AT gun pounded my bypassed T34 and managed to kill it! Luckily for me it didn't catch fire, but I had hoped that it would escape. Serves me right for being aggressive I suppose. Pablo then revealed another gun in z6! Right next to my 9-1 stack. His shots were effective, breaking one squad, and making the other one go berserk! He then revealed ANOTHER gun, this time in V7 and fired at U5, but at least this time with no effect. Then he revealed his HIP squad in CC7, along with a LMG and a 7-0 but luckily for me his fire was ineffective. During DFPh I managed to break that pesky squad in BB9. At least some success! But otherwise the little firing I did was ineffective. I routed the 9-1 and broken squad down to BB5 where the CC7 units interdicted them, but luckily for me with no effect. They then continued to CC5. During APh Pablo moved the crew from Z7 to Z8 giving up the cannon there. He moved his stack in Y5 into Z4 and charged into CC from CC7 into BB6. CC there was a stalemate.
Turn 4 Russian.
RPh saw the leader in DD9 rally along with the HS in there. The 9-1 also rallied the squad in CC5 without many problems. I prep fired my units in Z4, expecting the 8+2 attack to be enough to at least strip concealment from Y5, but unfortunately I rolled an 8! Z2 also fired at W5 but was just as effective! Clearly those Russians needed more training! During MPh the Berserkers charged into BB6 joining the melee there which I figured would be over quickly. The partisans moved from DD9 and up to CC7 and DD6. I expected that some of Pablo’s reinforcements would come in on the south west side to challenge my ownership of FF2 cluster and I wanted those guys to slow them down a bit. I then assault moved from U5 into V5 and proceeded to place a DC in V6. Pablo was unlucky there as he didn't manage to force a MC on them. I kept on assault moving into favorable positions and had one partisan squad move to AA6, intent on getting my hands on that gun in Z6. I moved my remaining T34 to AA5 to deal with that AT gun before it caused more damage to my forces. In DFPh Pablo managed to strip concealment of my squad in T5 and pin them to boot! He then revealed his HMG and 8-1 using them to break my squad in W4. Luckily for me his MG could handle getting rate and malfed in the next shot! In AFPh the DC went off, breaking the squad in V6. Other than that my fire was completely ineffective. During APh the partisans bravely charged into Z6 I advanced units into Z4, expecting a cc to develop. I also advanced from V5 into V6, intent on taking out that pesky cannon in V7. But lo and behold! The Italians in Z4 AMBUSHED my units and bravely withdrew into Z3 those sneaky gits! I would have to spend another turn dealing with them! In BB6 I managed to wound the 7-0 there which in turn died to the wound severity roll. But the squad remained, locked in melee with 3 of my squads. Should we dealt with quickly no?
Turn 4 Italian.
During RPh Pablo reduces the squad in Z9 by boxcaring the rally. He also rolls a 6 on the repair roll for the HMG. In Prep his AT gun malf's while IFing at Y5 but his gun in V7 manages to break the 458 in V7 AND kill the 7-0 there to boot! His other fire attacks where ineffective. But in MPh his reinforcements arrived! Pablo brought 3 big stacks in at Y10 and one at 43R10. That stack CXed to W10. FromY10 Pablo moved one stack to Z9 another to W8 and the third to Y9. In DFPh I finally scored a hit on the stack in Z3 revealing them as dummies and the T34 broke the AT crew, other than that my fire was very wasteful. At that time I was hoping my guys wouldn't simply run out of ammo! In APh Pablo charged into CC in Z6 with and 8-1 447 and the crew from Z6. Her spread his stacks around but a large, suspicious looking stack advanced into Z7. In CC my Partisans actually managed to ambush his forces in Z6 and withdrew into Y7. My only plan for them was to draw at least some fire during the next turns. In BB6 the melee continued with neither of us managing to score a hit on the other.
Turn 5 Russian.
Prep fire was basically very ineffective. In movement phase I started to move troops to the north to deal with Pablo’s flanking forces. Two squads and a MMG moved towards Y2. In the north I moved the squads from T4 and T5 into V4 and V5 to deal take W5. My Partisan in y7 AMed to X6 and took almost all of Pablo’s available defensive fire, breaking in the process. My remaining tank moved to Z5 and stopped there, acting as cover for a squad that AMed into the hex also. There they were pinned by accurate Italian fire. Pablo then revealed his stack of DOOM. In 41Z7 he had two squads, the 10-2 AND the Hero. They proceeded to fire at my MG plus 8-0 in Y5 scoring a K/1, reducing the squad and breaking the 8-0. Pablo then lucked out as he Xed his gun in Z6 intensive firing at my stack in Z4. In AFPh V4 and V5 FGed to fire at W5 scoring a MC which Pablo failed, breaking the squad there. That came as a bit of a surprise to me. I had pegged that one as a dummy. Clearly my counter counting skills need some work.
During RtPh my 8-0 routed to perceived safety of Y4 and the partisans in X6 were eliminated for failure to rout. Pablo’s squad in W5 offered surrender but No Quarters were evoked eliminating the squad. In APh my squad advanced into W4, gaining control of the building. I advanced the squads from Y2 into X1 ready to deal with the flanking force. In CCPh the melee in BB6 continued, with neither side managing to hurt the other one. At this moment I held 14 buildings vs Pablo’s 10
Turn 5 Italian.
With no rallies successful Pablo started his PFPh with boxcaring his death star, MALFing one of his MMGs. Unfortunately his attack was still effective as it pinned my 9-1 in BB7 although the squad with him was ineffective. His gun in V7 had better luck as it blasted W5 breaking one of the squads there. In movement a stack AM into AA8 and got hit by a 1 flat attack that incredibly managed to break both squads there. Further fire attacks at that stack stirred the Italian sniper into action, pinning the squads in X1! That was exactly what Pablo needed. The rest of the moment was rather uneventful. Pablo moved his forces around to secure the west side of town and my defensive fire was very ineffective. On the east side the concealed stack AMed into 41X0 drawing fire from the pinned stack in X1 with no effect. In APh Pablo moved his forces around making a secured fortress out of the west side of town. He then advanced into CC in X1 with a concealed stack against my pinned troops. That would make or break my game I felt, if he won that CC he'd be in position to encircle my forces. Luckily for me he didn't manage to ambush me in X1 and neither one of us could hurt each other. The same happened in BB6 as the melee continued. I was starting to feel the pressure of having those 3 squads locked in that melee. I really needed them to deal with the west town defense. The score then was 13 - 11 in terms of buildings controlled.
Turn 6 Russian.
I managed to rally the 8-0 in Y4 but my other rallies failed miserably. Pablo had the same luck with his rallies and Xed his MALFed MMG to boot. That took the pressure of me a bit. My prep fire from AA7, Z4 and Z5 was ineffective. In MPh I moved the 8-1 and HS to AA9 to put pressure on the broken HS there. Then my T34 started up. It charged to W7 to overrun the squad there, but only managed to pin it. I kept moving and in W8 Pablo threw a DC at it. After a few tense moments his throw missed completely. The tank kept on moving to Y9, narrowly escaping an ESB but staying in motion. Defensive fire was mostly ineffective, but fire from Z6 did manage to pin the squad in Z5. The stack of doom now fired at AA9. Through a nice rof they managed to eliminate both the 8-1 and the HS there with accurate fire! In APh my forces around Y5 returned to their positions, the squad in X2 joined the melee in X1 and the HS in AA7 charged into Z6, hoping to ambush the Italians and hopefully locking them in melee for a bit. In Z6 the HS failed to ambush the Italians and was promptly killed by the elite Italians. In BB6 the stalemate continued as neither side managed to hurt the other... again. In X1 things started happening. Pablo managed to eliminate a squad there along with destroying their MMG. I on the other hand, attacking the whole of the Italian forces managed to roll a CR. The random selection roll was 4,4,4,4! That left Pablo with a HS and a wounded leader in the melee, facing two full Russian squads. That effectively ended his flanking attack. The score was still 13 - 11.
Turn 6 Italian.
Rally started well for Pablo this turn. Most of his squads in X7 rallied, although on HS thought it would be a good idea to go berserk. Pablo then started his Prep fire by MALFing his last gun while IFing at my MMG HS in Y5. He had been IFing at every opportunity, and unfortunately had to pay the prize. The Doom stack in Z7 managed to get revenge though as they broke the HS in Y5. Z6 squad also broke the squad in Z5 with ease. In MPh the berserk half squad charged the tank in Y9. Pablo then moved against W5. AMing from V6 into V5 he survived the defensive fire there when he moved from W7 into W6 the ensuring final fire broke the squad. His third move was from X7 to X6 to which I responded with FPF, reducing and pinning the unfortunate squad. Next came the 8-1 and a 447 moving from X7, moving into x5 where the W4 finally broke through FPF. The 8ö1 then continued to X3 threatening the X2 and Y4 buildings. In rout my squads routed everywhere. 8-0 and HS from Y5 headed to Z3, Z5 headed to Z3 and W5 ran through the graveyard to V3. With no leader to rally the squads to the north I feared they would not take any part in the remainder of the game. In APh the Italians captured the W5, AA7 and Y4 building and moved his forces into the road ready to pry the rest of the east buildings from my now shacky possession. In CCPh the melee in BB6 finally ended with the Italians killed, but they did manage to CR one squad in the process. In X1 I did managed to see of the remainder of the Italian forces there. We were squarely in the end game now, with the score at 10-14 buildings controlled, in the Italians favor.
Turn 7 Russian.
Now it started to snow! Looking at the situation I knew I had to clear out the forces Pablo had managed to get to the east side of town. I knew if I could retake those buildings and hold them I would manage to win. The turn didn't start so well as nothing managed to rally! But in PFPh the 8-1 and squad broke to concentrated fire from Z4 reducing the squad even. Some success at least! In movement the T34 moved from the berserkers in y9 and charged into X5 overrunning them with no effect, and then continuing on overrunning Y6 also with no effect. Staying in motion the tank could not leave that hex. I then moved one squad from X1 into W4. The second squad from X1 charged up the road to X4 where it was pinned, but in return the HS in x5 broke during FPF. In DFPh Pablo managed to pin my forces in BB6. In RtPh the 8-1 and HS in y4 were eliminated for failure to rout. In APh I charged into combat in W5 and Z5 but neither cc was decisive. At least the assault on the east side had been stopped but I still needed to capture two more buildings, and I only had one more turn to play!
Turn 7 Italian.
Rally phase was rather ineffective again for both sides. Only a handful of squads returned to the fray on either side and in Z2 a HS decided it was too much and CR into nothingness. Prep fire from AA7 pinned a HS in BB6 but left the remaining forces there intact. Fire from Z7 broke and ELRed the squad in X4. In movement Pablo moved his 8-1 and HS from V6 to V5 to which I was unable to respond. Clearly he intended to reinforce the CC in W5. In DFPh BB6 returned the favor, breaking the squad in AA7 with a well concentrated fire. Otherwise the turn was uneventful. Both of us had a number of squads that were well out of position, broke and would play no part in the game anymore. Pablo clearly played to keep his current buildings as that would ensure his victory. As a final move he advanced his 10-2, hero and one squad into AA7. In CC I did manage to remove one squad from W5 but there was still a HS and a leader to deal with there. It was far from over. I still needed to capture two more buildings and I had one player turn to do it!
Turn 8 Russian.
The turn started with the squad in Z2 rallying but incredibly went berserk! Damn I sure didn't need that! In CC6 both HS rallied with one going fanatic even. Prep fire started with BB6 firing at AA7, a 16+2 resulted in a 1MC to which the 10-2 rolled boxcars! Fortunately for Pablo he survived the wound roll. The ensuring LLTC pinned the squad but managed to cause a Russian sniper attack that pinned the squad in Z6! Suddenly the south defensive line didn't look as unassailable as I had thought. Movement started with the berserker charging at W5 and reaching his target in one piece despite Pablo’s attempt at stopping him. The added firepower would come in handy there. I then moved both HS from CC6 to AA6 and the concealed 9-1 into BB6. The T34 moved into AA6. I honestly had no idea what I was supposed to do with it at that time. Defensive fire from AA7 managed to strip the 9-1 of his concealment and pinned a 447. Pablo was doing his best to make things hard on me! With no effective Advance fire I moved to APh and CCPh where the game would be decided. Y5 advanced to Y4, recapturing the building for the soviets. I now just needed one more building! I then advanced a 237, 337 and the 9-1 from BB6 to AA7 while the half squads in AA6 advanced into Z6. Of those three hexes I just needed one to finish with a victory for me and the game would be won. Both W5 and Z6 ended in a stalemate but AA7 the 9-1 lead an attack that took out the squad and Hero leaving me in sole possession of the building. Final score was then 12 buildings in Russian hands and 12 in Italian hands making it a victory for the Russians!
Boy that was a fun game. I loved every second of it. I must admit that I did forget my original plan as soon as the action started but I felt that it wasn’t as bad as it looks. Pablo is a great opponent and did suffer a lot at the hands of the dice gods during the match. That 4,4,4,4 RS and boxcars on the 10-2 MC turned the game around. Although I did have some bad luck as well, I feel that in my cases it was much milder than Pablo. Pablo is a great sport I must say. He took the bad luck with a great attitude and played his hand as well as he possibly could. He wasn’t that far from pulling it off either with the game decided in the final CCPh. So far, without taking anything away from my previous opponents I’d say Pablo has been the best opponent in the tournament.
What I feel I could do differently is be a bit more aggressive during the opening turns. It’s a bit strange for me to think in that way, since I’m usually over aggressive, but in this match I held myself back maybe a tad too much. I did the punished when I allowed myself to play aggressively as my T34 found out. Had I had that one available to overrun squads at the end of the game it would have been a different ballgame.