23 April 2014

After Action Report: Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! - The Bunker

Angelo Ricci brings Wargamer a nice AAR that delves into the gameplay of the upcoming strategy game Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear!

Published on 6 MAR 2012 7:45pm by Angelo Ricci
  1. Western Civilization Software
  2. Matrix Games
  3. world war ii, turn-based, tactical, eastern front

In what follows you will find an AAR of a game between two human players. The chosen scenario (“The Bunker”) is set in the very first days of the Operation Barbarossa.

24 June, 1941. General Situation: The Germans have crossed the Bug River and are in full attack mode towards east. The Soviets have fortified Hill 53 with bunkers, anti-tank guns, and tank support. Portions of the German Panzer Grenadier Regiment 33 must take and hold the bunker and road in five turns. 

The game will be described from the German's point of view. Orders are clear: Wehrmacht forces must occupy the village, the bunker on the hill and secure the road.  ASAP. 

Our forces enter the motherland: 

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For the job our command give us plenty resources. Four panzers, three of which more devoted in the anti-tanks duties (two PzIIF and a PzIIIE) and one as infantry support (a PzIVD). Our enemy should be weaker on that regard, but at least a light tank and ATG guns are expected. On the infantry side, both forces are roughly equivalent, but as the German commander I must preserve foot soldiers in order to conquer the bunker. A couple of trucks are in our disposal to speed up infantry movements: we are also in race against time. Must be noticed that trucks have a bonus on movement, but only on roads: clearly this is not an easy task to pursue, with those hidden Soviet forces all around us and trucks are fragile to enemy fire. 

Although the Russians have relatively small numbers, both terrain and time are on their side. Woods and houses are very good places to conceal units and provides cover. Hills have a strong impact on visibility. To maximize that tactical advantage, four Soviet units are placed hidden during the setup and this means an almost total “invisibility”, not just the good old “fog of war” effect. The only way for us to reveal those units are by firing (and scoring a hit) on suspect hexes. If the enemy moves or fires, he loses the cloaked status, but especially in the latter case, can be to late… Moreover the Russians can setup almost everywhere in the map. As consequence, it’s quite hard for the Germans to know where & when the enemy will ambushes our men/vehicles, but of course some guesses have to be made to lay out a plan. 

At the onset of the first round, no enemies are in sight, as expected, but nevertheless they may be not too far, in order to protect the village. Assaults on those houses are tempting, because conquering it on the first turn will reward with precious victory points. To probe the village’s defenses, an infantry unit is sent into a woods hex with a good LOS on houses: a Soviet foot unit showed up, but nothing more. 

We know very well that our plan must combine speed and caution. My first guess is that Russians don’t put much effort in protecting the village and, more generally, the first section of the map. No suppression fire will be used to reveal potentially hidden units nearby. At the crossroad, the advance toward the village gives us other proofs that our speculations about enemy forces in the area should be true. 

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The first task is to destroy the infantry unit in the house, minimizing risks: the PzIVD seems the obvious choice for this assignment, but the dice are against us and this sturdy Soviet unit, although suppressed, has time to recover before eventually it bites the dust. Too bad: time losses have to be avoided! 

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Conquering the first objective was pretty easy, even if time consuming, and no further trace of the enemy presence showed up. 

Anyway, just going straight through the village, seems rather dangerous right now: it cannot be considered fully cleared, yet. For this reason, protected by both the PzIIF, trucks take their way in the clear terrain at eastern side of the village. Slower, but safer. During this advance, the escort panzers identify an enemy T-26B in woods (out of range till now). 

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The other major menace to disclose is the still hidden ATG, but let’s proceed to next task: clearing the village. 

Carefully, our infantry approaches the other objective hex, but the enemy doesn’t react, exhibiting a cold-blooded behavior. If the enemy is hidden there, we are in trouble because he will have a +4 on a close combat attack. Thus I decide to spread suppressing fire on the hex before actually entering in it. This is a slow maneuver, but if it works the enemy eventually loses its hidden status and gets a hit. I decide to proceed in this way to avoid losing units too soon: a fundamental assignment in small scenarios with few units. Damn it! A wasted shot! Nothing happens, but the victory hex is awarded without fighting: good. But where is the enemy? The village was almost empty. The Red Army left it nearly undefended, but anyhow it was enough to delay a bit the German forces.

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Now it’s time to face the Soviet tank. Unfortunately the approach isn’t painless. 

The T-26B fires and hits one of my PzIIF, but with some luck the damage isn’t mechanical and I have the right card to counter psychological and crew injuries: “Auto-Rally”. The Soviet tank can be very dangerous for our panzers, but two powerful shots per round are unlikely: the second Russian shot is ineffective, indeed. Now it’s my turn to fire and the odds to hit are 27%: two shots, zero hits and the Round ends. Wunderbar! 

Clearly, enough forces adopted a defensive, in-depth strategy in order to delay our advance. In the next round we have to decide if it’s time to speed up our action or take our time in further “seek and destroy” operations. 

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Luckily enough, the Germans again gain the initiative. It’s a very important advantage right now since it gives us the chance to operate without suffering immediate risks from the enemy tank. First of all I decide to play the “Dual Attack” card. It permits us to skip the next two turns of the enemy: should be sufficient to destroy the T-26B. 

The idea is to attack the tank from behind, where the armor is thinner, and obliterate it with a single powerful shot. Mission accomplished… almost. The tank takes a hit and cannot fire back and tries to take cover seeking safer hexes. 

It’s quite evident that if this tank remains alive and kicking, it will be an annoying delay factor for our plans. Last but not least, our blood lust must to be satisfied! A quick chase, an “11” with dice and the T-26B became history… Move on! 

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We are ready to go forward heading for the last two objectives, but without forget caution. There are other dangerous enemies around. At last our units are well positioned to launch final the attack… 

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But the Russians are setting up a nasty surprise: a counterattack! The little town is the target, and a lonely German unit will be not enough to defend against the upcoming Soviet forces. In the first firefight, though an opponent rifleman take a hit, the “Auto-Rally” card now helps our enemies. 

Our adversary relies a lot on this counterattack. He is trying to find us unprepared and take back objective hexes. We have to answer by diverting a significant amount of our forces, from the main attack, to village defense. 

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Let’s start with bad news: Soviets have the initiative. Their counterattack almost fully succeeds. The Russians recapture an objective, while in the other one a bloody close combat fight is ongoing. Our detachment will join the battle in the next round, but to accomplish this result, the proficiency of our chain of command was posed under a severe test (aka we have spent a lot of the so called CAP: Command Action Points). To conquer the bunker we have only an LMG Squad: this unit must be kept alive at all costs! 

Soviets cannot be everywhere. To counterattack behind the lines, the forward objectives must be relatively unguarded and actually the rearmost objective falls without fight. Now the LMG men are bearing for the bunker, with the support of two panzers. The approach through the hill will be safer but also too costly in terms of Action Points (these are points that will be needed for more than just moving) an so too slow and time is up! We have to take our risk: the main concern is the ATG that, soon or later, will appear.  And there she is! The 45mm ATG fires and barely miss! 

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A panzer take cover, but the 45mm gun must be destroyed! I decide for a frontal assault. The Russians put also a Maxim machine gun in the fight, but none of the next four Soviet attacks succeed, even if the odds are near 60%! 

Meanwhile the LMG squad reached the bunker’s rear side: it was a relatively risk-free maneuver because units in the bunker cannot change facing: they are unable to attack my men. 

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It’s the showdown. Once again, I have luck on my side for initiative roll. With the initiative won, the ATG is destroyed before it can fire back. Our panzers are safe now, and with their support the bunker falls in the hands of my brave MG34 men. Meanwhile, unfortunately, Soviets recapture all the village’s key points, but our forces are far superior now and it’s time to strike back. After a chain of house by house firefight, the German forces are exhausted: enemies do well and keep the partial control of the village. 

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Anyway, the Russian efforts are not enough and I win the scenario (Victory Points are 16 to 10 for the Wehrmacht) thanks to the heavier casualties inflicted and to the objective hexes awarded. I have to say that my opponent definitely grants the honor of war, since in crucial moments dice behaves as another enemy for the defender of Mother Russia. The greater anti-tank/anti-personnel potential given by our panzer did the rest of the job. The last screenshot shows the map at the end of the game. 


Acknowledgements to: 

Roberto B. I played this scenario several times with him (also in the boardgame version). He was a very challenging opponent as the Russian commander! 

Marco I. (aka cyberdisc). He helps in proofreading and also translated this AAR in English, moreover he transmitted to me his passion and enthusiasm for this game. 

The Dice: For this roll destroyed the Soviet Tank! 


AAR written by: Angelo Ricci, Contributor


For more information on the upcoming Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear!, click here for the product page on Matrix Games and Slitherine site.