Round 6 paired me with Pablo Garcia for AVD. Pablo wanted to use ACTS to keep chit selection and DRs on the up and up. I'd never played a game with it before but said OK. RS gave Pablo the attacking Germans. I braced myself for the blitzkrieg that would happen on the first two turns. One great thing about AVL and AVD---there's no decisions with setup, just about chit selections.
On turn I chose 20A and 21A trying to keep order in the center of the board. I was happy to see Timonshenko finally come on and I tried organizing a defense around Krichev and Smolensk. Pablo took out 7 points from Minsk on turn 1 but no Russians were released. He managed 2 HQs which led to extra 9A chits and enabled his infantry to make great headway to catch up with the Pzs .When Timonshenko's chit is pulled, I get a chance to take out 4Pz but only manage a step reduction and they slip away (this will be a theme for me the whole game). By the end of Turn 1 both Krichev and Smolensk have fallen but the German infantry is still not there.
On turn 2 I choose 20A & 21A again along with Timonshenko. I come close to trapping 10Mot in Krichev, but Pablo's 9A chit comes just in time to prevent me from surroundning due to EZOCs. I loose Salfanovo and Roslov on turn 2 and really starting to worry. I get 3 ARTY missions for the 2nd time, but only cause retreats. I do bring in the Rockets on a stack and step reduce 12 Pz but that reallly doesn't slow down the Germans. Pablo releases 13 points from Minsk but I still don't get anything out of it with a 6 on the DR. I lose Roslav and Spas Demensk and feeling a bit punch drunk. Timonshenko makes it to Krichev and hooks up with 13A and 21A--the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Here's the situation at the end of turn 2.
On turn 3 my chit selections are 13A, 21A and Timo. I get 3 ARTY missions again and manage to force the Pzs out of Krichev and Roslav. There is quite the battle brewing around Krichev. I retake Roslav and draw a 5VP chit, In the center and north the Germans are making steady progress. I finally manage to take out 4Pz but other units slip away with infantry cover. Here is the end of turn 3:
On turn 4 I chose the same 3 chits as they are activating one another and I'm essentially getting all 3 each time. My ARTY gets 3 missions again, I evict the Germans from Krichev with a trio of DR2s and manage to retake the chit revealing 3 more VPs on the chit. I move 13A toward Spas Demensk to setup an envelopement. Pablo uses his bombers to take out my PVO in Vyazma and runs a motorized unit there for another VPchit. I complete my envelopement of Demensk--first combat results in an A2 due to Stukas, but my next chit yields a DR and they have nowhere to run. After all of the work, the recaptured Demensk chit is worth 0VPs. Here is turn 4 before I move to surround Spas Demensk:
On turn 5 I pick my same trio again. I take back Yelnya for 2 VPs but lose Krichev (and doubt I'll get it back due to the mass of infantry there). I've got double PVO in Belyy, but a quad of motorized units make it there and start working them over. There is a major frontline for both sides from Krichev to Safonovo---it will be hard for me to break through to make any headway. I've also got to start building up Moscow so that won't be an instant win for the Germans
On turn 6 I see that in the north Velizh is unguarded and my 19A is nearby with 2 infantry units so I pick that along with 13A and Timo. Belyy is surrrounded and down to it's last PVO step. I'm able to push the Germans back in selected places of the lines, but unable to kill the Pzs and only managing to step reduce some infantry. At the end of the turn Pablo rolls Guderian's Choice on the Hitler directive DR. I didn't think it was that tough a decision as right now he's got 9 of the 16 chits and sure to get a couple of more. But after sleeping on it he chooses Operation Moscow--meaning he doesn't lose 4 motorized units, the game goes to turn 10 and he'll get 5 chits the last 3 turns. Now I don't think I can hang on with that and have any chance of winning---have lost too many VP chits and most importantly haven't killed nearly enough Pzs. So I think my best possibility may be to try to run a unit back to Minsk for the instant win. The is one Cavalry unit with 6MFs that could use strat move if I can get it close enough (3023?). And if opportunity presents itself I can choose an extra HQ and chit during reinforcments to get me an edge.
Turn 7 sees me pick my standard trio again. I start pushing the seam just south of Smolensk trying to look like I'm going for that VP chit. It's slow going and Pablo keeps managing to block my way. There is no advantage to the extra HQ chit on turn 7 so I pass on a new HQ and pick 4 units instead-- putting what I can back in Moscow and the rest in the pocket. Here is the mess around Smolensk at the end of turn 7. Note up north the Germans also getting very busy.
Turn 8 goes much the same way---making some headway but can't get those cavalry free. This is the last turn with reinforcement points, and again I consider picking an HQ and putting a chit in the cup, but even with that I can't make the Minsk run so it's better to pick the bodies. I spread 3 units in the Smolensk/Krichev pocket and one back by Moscow to breakup any incoming attack. For the elite unit I get KVs back--nice, but not really going to help me at this point. With his last chit of the turn Pablo gets 9A and strat moves an infantry unit to 3020 just east of Krasnoye---is he reading my mind about the Minsk run or just getting reinforcements to Smolensk? I get ARTY as the last chit of the turn and force the Smolensk units to retreat. That is good because it will force Pablo to use his first chit to re-occupy and probably use up Guderian for the turn. Here is the end of turn 8---Note the "toxic" Zero VP Chit in Spas Demensk that the Germans are avoiding!
Turn 9 is here fast and I pick my standard trio again---really no other choices to help me out. Luck pulls one of my chits first forcing Pablo to trump with Guderian. He reoccupies Smolensk and moves his purple Pzs to surround and take Sukinichi (this is my punishment for not taking out more Pz units early). Now at this point all of my chits are recaptured so it is easy to figure out the point standings. I've got 20(10 doubled) in VPs and 12 in kills (32 total) so Pablo has 40 VPs. That is closer than I thought but don't know if I can hold what I've got let alone take anything new---the Minsk run is looking like my best shot. For the 2nd chit of the turn I get 13A right back but am still bottle-necked. ARTY comes early this turn, but I can't clear out Smolensk this time (is only a 1.5:1 attack anyway). Pablo gets two chits in a row and on the 2nd says this is a "tense game" and he needs to mull it over--I can't imagine what he is worried about with the point spread and the threat of taking on Moscow. His next chit is PzGr3 and they toss aside my picket line unit outside of Moscow and another group takes out two units (including a T34) southwest of Smolensk. I am running out of bodies and time. Next to last chit of the turn gives me Timo and I take out another German infantry unit and try to look like I really want Smolensk. Pablo gets 9A for the end of the turn but his HQ network doesn't reach south to Krichev and he only shifts units around to defend Smolensk and unbelievably there are no combats. Even more remarkably Krichev is now unguarded with a path wide open for me!! I still have a chance at immediate victory on turn 10 but I need: 1) Moscow to hold, and 2) to get 2 chit pulls consecutively or without Pablo noticing what I'm upto. Here is the situation near the end of turn 9 before 9A moves---after they are done, there is an opening for me to Krichev.
So coming into turn 10, I pick my standard trio again and luck pulls 21A as the first chit. Pablo has to trump this to activate PzGr2 to try to make it back to Krichev, but all of his units are too far away and there are minimal combats. Next I get 21A again and move my 5-6 Cavalry to Krasnoye---within strat range of Mensk. I try to make that move subtly while I continue going after Pzs and Smolensk. I also march a 5-4 straight into Krichev gaining a 5VP chit and making the score now 42-35 in my favor. Next chit is ARTY but I get only one mission---have to clear out Smolensk!! It's only a 1.5:1 attack but I roll high and clear out the defenders. Now even if I don't get the next chit, Pablo has some distractions in that he'll need to re-occupy Smolensk and try to retake Krichev (I'm sure he can do both!). But finally after being frustrated by chit draws for the whole game, I get Timo and am able to Strat Move my cavalry the 17 hexes to Minsk. OR SO I THOUGHT!! There is a German HQ at 3318 that prevents me from strat moving down that road. Damn, I need to read ALL of the rules!!! So I use Timo to retake Smolensk (not that I can hold it but need to give Pablo another distraction), but come up with a big Goose-Egg for VPs. I also manage to take out a 3-3-10 motorized unit to make the score 48-35.
I still have a chance at winning, but can't give up one of the 5VP chits (meaning I have to hold Krichev AND Roslav).
Pablo gets PzGr2 and moves to retake Yelnya but comes up one step short. Next is a 9A and he shifts from attacking Roslav to Krichev. He probably has a 9A and PzGr3 remaining. I get my last chit (13A) and he tells me he'll hold his Stukas for the final assault on Moscow. I do some quick calculations and at best he'll have 4:1 with Stukas and can only take out 3 of the 4 steps there so Moscow cannot fall. So what damage can I do with 13A? I manage to get a 3:1 on 2 step reduced Pzs and they have nowhere to rout due to overstacking. The dice give me a DR for 2 more kills and the score is now 60-35.
Pablos last two chits are a suprise as both are PzGr3 meaning he'll get two attacks on Moscow. First one is 4:1 and he only gets a DR. 2nd attack is now a 3:1 and the result is NE. Moscow holds and the Russians are victorious. Here a shot of the showdown at Moscow.
I was very lucky to pull this one out. As I stated before, I didn't do a very good job of blocking the roads to prevent strat moves by the German infantry early on. I also put too many reinforcements in the south with Timoshenko---that left too much ground wide open for those Pzs to take what they wanted. I also didn't do a very good job in killing Pzs early on---that was both bad execution and bad luck (on both chits and DRs). I was almost ready to throw in the towel as I figured I'd just continue to take a pummeling. The (incorrect) idea of the Minsk run kept me battling it out and I was able to seize the opportunities (Krichev & Pz Kills) when they availed themselves. And what made the Pz kills possible on turn 10 was me wearing away the German infantry on turns 7-9----kind of like body blows to a boxer and finally getting him to drop his guard for the TKO.
Some comments on using ACTS for the DRs and RS in this one. At first I thought it was pretty clumsy going back and forth from VASSAL to ACTS, but I did get used to it. You have to make sure to put all of the info in the VASSAL file to make it clear what is going on (it took us a little while to get used to that). The first turn of ACTS was a bit intimidating as you get an email for each DR (which is pretty disheartening for the Russian on turn 1), but it was a nice way to track the game as you could look back at everything that had happened/been rolled for. It probably is a good way to keep the game on the up-and-up as well, but I'll likely only use it for tourney play such as Ironman.