A Victory Denied

The night before and afternoon of PitCon ’09, #4 and I gave A Victory Denied a playing.  AVL follows up on A Victory Loss, using much the same system with some streamlining.  This takes us back earlier in the war where the Russian army is in a last ditch effort to keep the Wehrmacht from blowing through and taking Moscow.  I took the Germans and he took the Russians.

AVD uses the same chit pull headquarter(HQ) activation system as AVL.  There’s some additional chits in there though.  An air chit that replenishes a Luftwaffe attack for the German player and also enables a one game use German bomber attack.  An artillery chit which allows the Russian player to make a variable number of artillery attacks and also enables a one game use Russian rocket attack.  A supply chit for when supply is checked.  And a reinforcement chit that triggers the the first and sixth turn German reinforcements, first turn Timoshenko reinforcement group for the Russians, special Russian reinforcement buys, and German releases of Minsk Pocket infantry reserves.  As normal, there’s your normal crop of HQ’s that get placed in the draw cup.

A couple things are different for normal HQ activation.  The drawn active HQ also activates any HQ’s in range.  The German 9th army HQ pull allows any infantry HQ to be activated.  Panzer groups don’t have HQ’s on the map.  When their group is pulled, you pick one unit from each corp under the group, and can keep chaining to additional units from the same corp within 3 spaces of each other.  The Guiderian chit can be picked by the German and placed off to the side.  It can put any chit pull and immediately activate the 2nd Panzer Group.

The victory point cities are all randomly given VP point chits that neither player sees.  So you won’t know where you truly stand until the end of the game.  At the end of turn 6, the German player rolls a die to see if he must take Moscow by the end of turn 10, or panzer units are drawn away and the game ends after turn 8.

As par for the course, we got a few things wrong.

  • The Germans start with a cavalry unit next to the 2nd Panzer Group.  We weren’t sure about it, so just said it was part of the nearest Panzer Corp and moved it when they did.  This had pretty much no effect on our game.  From checking out the Geek, an infantry HQ needs to get within command range to activate it.
  • We were under the impression that if the Russian strung a series of HQ’s across the board within command range of each other, they could all activate when any of them activated.  While this super-massive activation never happened, I did purposefully overrun some HQ’s to make sure it didn’t.  I’m not sure if we had any extra activations that weren’t supposed to happen or not.  This probably didn’t have much impact on us other than maybe diverting some of my panzers to overrun HQ’s.
  • Retreating panzers that can retreat through a hex with friendly unit can ignore zone of control losses.  Overlooked this and it had some impact.
  • Probably the biggest thing we messed up was for some reason I was under the impression that when a German 9th Army chit was drawn, all German infantry HQ’s were activated.  In reality, you are supposed to pick one and then it can activate additional HQ’s just like the Russian activations.  You would think this would have had a huge impact on our game and enabled an easy march to victory for the Germans.  You would be wrong.

Let me just clear up the outcome and then give my excuses.  🙂

#4 and the Russians won by a 41-21 margin, an embarrassing huge defeat for my Germans.  We had the Hitler distracted roll and the game ended after 8 turns.

Things could have been a lot closer if I would’ve been a little more careful with some of my panzers, or remembered the retreating through hexes containing friendly units in enemy ZOC.  I lost 16 points from lost Panzers.  Remembering that rule might have saved me a couple, but I need to be a little more careful and not go for a complete encirclement.  Artillery causes bad things when I do that.

Late in the game, I left one of my captured cities totally undefended and it was taken back by a penetrating Russian.

The final excuse I have is my die rolling.  Messing up the 9th Army activations should’ve given me a tremendous advantage, but I look at it as play balancing out my horrific die rolling.  If we would have played that right, the Russians probably would’ve thrown me off the map.

To start the game, the 2nd Panzer Group gets to make free attacks.  My first two rolls were 1.  Things didn’t get much better from there and my free attacks did very little.  So little in fact, that I used my once per game bomber attack at my first opportunity and rolled, yep, 1.  I swear, I probably rolled 1 or 2 over 50% of the time.  #4 would have to attest to that.  It was the worst spat of die rolling I’ve ever had in my life.  If I would’ve been playing Advanced Squad Leader, I could’ve won any scenario with a single assault engineer, even PTO.  (In ASL, low rolling is good.)  If I needed to roll anything to cause a desired affect, I’d roll a 5 or 6.  If I needed anything but a 1 to cause an affect, I’d roll a 1.

It was horrible and I hope I never experience such a lopsided bit of rolling again.

Given all that, I still really enjoyed the game.  I find things to move a lot quicker than in AVL.  The additional chits introduce some additional variability with not knowing when the supply phase or reinforcement phase will be triggered.  It plays faster than AVL.  It probably took us around 8 hours total, but that involved getting familiar with the rules, a lot of chit chat, and getting distracted.  Now that we’re pretty familiar with things, I think we could get it done in half that time or less if we stayed focused.

Probably the only thing I don’t like is the Russian artillery attacks.  These can be made by any unit against an enemy unit in an adjacent hex, or two hexes away if the unit is on a hill.  I think if the unit is out of supply they shouldn’t be able to act as the spotter.  I had units completely surrounded and still had artillery ruin my day.

#4 and I are planning to start another game of it Friday night.  I’m definitely going to have to rethink my strategy, but I’m looking forward to giving it another go.

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One Response to “A Victory Denied”

  1. FloydWing Says:

    I was corrected that the actual final score was 42-21. My mistake.

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