Wednesday, 5 September 2012

AAR - FAB: Sicily (VASSAL) Part 1

Having recently learned FAB: Sicily face-to-face we decided to give VASSAL a go and continue our play online. To make these AARs slightly more manageable I'm making them much briefer and hopeful more to the point whilst still giving a flavour of the play.

In this game I'm taking the Axis forces vs. GaryB's Allies for a full campaign scenario running through 9 turns.

The Axis player begins the game in full control of Sicily and therefore all of the available victory point areas (a total of 8VPs). A sudden death victory is available from the end of turn 4.

Session #1 (27/8/12) - Set-Up and Turn One

GaryB picked a Historical Landing Plan for his invasion of Sicily with his US forces assaulting beaches Joss (A1) through Cent South (A4) and his British forces assaulting beaches Bark South & East (B2) through Fustian (B6). A snapshot of the full set-up is pictured below.

Historical Landing Plan Selected By The Allies
 By the end of Turn #1 the Allies were comfortably ashore taking the port of Syracuse and the southern and eastern shorelines (A1 and A2). Syracuse and it's port give the Allies a VP and a "Fading Italian Morale" chit for the draw bag. During the Axis turn I moved forces into B1 and B2 to protect the airfields and VPs at Niscemi and Catania respectively. In B3 I placed the Elite 15th Armoured Infantry Div. to hold the intersection at Enna. I also blew the bridges south of Catania to slow any assault from the elite Allies in Lentini.

The VP marker stands at Axis 7VPs (-1VP this turn)

End of Turn #1

Session #2 (3/9/12) - Turn Two
Some really key passages of play in Turn #2 as the Allies cleverly dropped their 1st Airborne into Grammichele (C). My Axis forces did well in Val Di Catania but critically I chose to retreat them (D) from there to maintain some strength. I lost the VP there, but also cut my own supply to the units in the areas boxed in red (E). There is real benefit to be had by the Allies in releasing units from the restrictions of their starting zones of operation. In this case it enabled the Allies to drop their British airborne into Grammichele (C).

The VP marker stands at Axis 6VPs (-1VP this turn)

End of Turn #2
By the end of Turn #2 I had 4VPs locked in the red zone with limited hope of recovering them.


  1. This is my third game of FAB: Sicily and my first game over the VASSAL online gaming platform. I will start by saying that VASSAL is a great solution for playing this game. The module has a few glitches, for example we find that blown bridge markers become fixed after placement and the multiple chit draw option does not appear to work, but it is perfectly playable and a good representation of the game and components. This format will allow us to play through this game much more regularly than we will in real life. I think we are going to try Twilight Struggle over VASSAL also.

    I chose an historical set-up for the Allies as this will be our first full 9-turn play through of the game and I wanted to play the vanilla format of the game before I played with variant landings and tactics.

    From the beginning I had in mind a couple of strategies in mind to overcome difficulties we had encountered during the first two learning games. Key to these strategies was to release key allied units from their allocated operational zones, a tactic that GaryG and I had read was key to Allied success in this game.

    Both previous games saw a bloody and in the end fruitless battle in the port of Catania north of the British landing zones. This is a valuable if fairly obvious target for the British early in the game. I planned to avoid attacking it directly and hoped to circumvent it to the west cutting it off from its lines of support and making it easier to take later in the game.

    The second strategy was to use my paratroops to drop behind Axis forces encircle the Airfields at Niscemi isolate the forces there and combine this with an assault with the elite US 45th infantry.

    My third plan was somewhat of a distraction to draw Axis forces away from the main beachheads. I planned to release the US 2nd Armour cadre and have them race up the western road towards Palermo.

  3. Well we've just finished turn #6 and tensions are high, the Allies losing their first scoring unit. As we move into the last three turns they may just run out of time. All still to play for, but watch out for the write-up soon!

  4. TURN 1 - 2
    The landings went smoothly with only the Canadians taking noteable step losses. This was a little frustrating as they were part of my plan to drive the British forces to Grammichele. I dropped the British Para's into Palazzalo Acreide (6) and pushed the Italian Coastal garrison back to Vizzini (11) in hindsight Sortino (12) would have been a better insertion location but it worked out for me. For their part the US Airborne units were dropped into Butera (21) which was undefended.

    Luckly I immediately pulled the fading Italian Morale chit that I recieved for taking the port at Syracuse and this was to make any further contact with the Italian coastal garrison much easier.

    GaryG had predictably and understandibly reinforced the key locations of Catania and Niscemi with quality German units so in turn 2 I sent the US Airborne troops into the highlands of Caltagirone (22) to attack the two Italian units embedded there. This worked well and the Italian troops retreated into Piazza Armerina (23). The British Para's moved forward to engage the Italians in Vizzini (11) which allowed me to drop another Para unit into Grammichele (17). I was here that GaryG made an error of judgement and retreated the units in Vizzini (11) effectively leaving the units in areas 18, 10 and 7 (Area E on image 3) cut off and out of the line of supply. This was a big success for me early in the game and enabled me to put a huge amount of pressure on Niscemi. Unfortunately though I piled a lot of assets into the Germans on turn 2, they were able to hold on because of poor dice rolls on my attack.

    My elite British Infantry were poised to assault Catania but instead headed west to Val de Catania (15) driving the defending forces back to Ramacca (16) and earning me another VP. Another veteran british Infantry unit was brought up to defend the beachhead in area 14.

    The 2nd Armour released from their operating area stormed into Zone D at area 41 threaten to outflank the Axis forces. Hopefully these tanks will get GaryG's attention and pull some of his strong German units away from the middle of the line.

    At this point I am very pleased with my progress and I am probably on the winning side of the victory point curve. All I need to do now is continue to push.