Session #4 (11/9/12) - Turns Seven, Eight and Nine
With three full turns left we were beginning to find our stride and play through the phases slightly more quickly, although some of this was certainly driven by a desire to finish the game in one more session.
Turn #7 saw a real push from the Allies as they advanced to push the Axis lines back, re-enforce their own central positions (U) and create battles at Enna (V) and Adrano (W). I thought at this point that GaryB had left it too late to assault on this scale across the board and that he would run out of time before capturing enough VPs/Objectives.
|End of Turn #7|
During my Axis turn I re-enforced Randazzo (Z) and decided to assault Licato over the Salso River (Y). This was a big call from me as one of these armoured units may have served me better in a defensive position further north, even protecting the areas around Messina (top right of picture). I had a surplus of elite German assets to use and I piled into Licata hoping for at least 1VP from defeating units there. I rolled okay, but didn't do enough to destroy any single unit and the Axis managed to bring in additional support after the battle (in the form of step gains for their units in Licata). My main concern now was the road from Leonforte (U) through Nicosia ("35") and onto the northern coast giving access to the VPs in and around Messina. Maybe I should have re-enforced after all!
The VP marker still stood at Axis 3VPs An Axis sudden-death victory at the end of Turn #7 was 5VPs.
Turn #8 was the most action-packed turn we've played to date as the Axis forces dropped down a gear and advanced across the board. They began by cycling their units around Catania (AA) in an effort to surround the Elite 15th Panzer Units in there, finally cutting them off with the British 51st Infantry taking Mount Etna (AB). Not holding a unit at Mount Enta was a big mistake from my Axis perspective.
|End of Turn #8|
My forces were struggling to re-position and I elected to cut-off the U.S. armoured units in Capo Di Orlando (AE) by taking Sant' Agata Di Militello (BC) and fall back to protect Messina and it's neighbouring areas (BC). To the south at (AF) the U.S. 1st Infantry had moved across the Salso River to cut-off the two German armoured units in Licata, so I was forced to attack back across the (now blown) bridge their and I almost took the U.S. unit there, taking them down to one pip of strength.
In another counter attack, I assaulted Val Di Catania from Catania itself (BB) to move my Elite 15th Panzer units closer to a supply area. In this move I had given up 1VP in Catania and another airfield. Fortunately I managed to force the U.S. 50th Infantry unit in Val Di Catania to retreat and I took 1VP back for this area.
|Axis - Weak around Messina|
Moving into Turn #9 I was looking very weak in and around Messina and the NET 5VPs the U.S. could potentially capture there.
In the final turn the Allies would make their last push for Messina and the VPs available in that area. Consolidating their position they reconnected their out-of-supply U.S. 2nd Armour units in Novara (CB) by moving Elite Infantry into Radazzo (CA). This would be too late to give the armoured units a full movement action this turn and they would have to settle for an assault on Novara (CA) and contest the VP objective marker there. Meanwhile the 1st Canadian and 1st British Armoured units assaulted Taormina (CC) just north of Mount Etna. I'd played a roadblock here during the admin phase and they couldn't press on to Messina itself. The final north-east coast battles would both fall short of the prized Messina.
These two attacks ultimately failed to clear out either the Italian Napoli Infantry in Novara (CA) or the Coastal Garrison troops in Taormina (CC) and both VP opportunities were lost to the Allies. Further south the British 78th Infantry invaded Val Di Catania and forced the out-of-supply German armour there to break and flee to Sortino, claiming the VP in that area for an effective 2VP swing to the Allies.
|End of Game|
I attacked one final time in Palma Di Montechiaro (DC) and brought the 1st U.S. Infantry down to one strength, but critically could not eliminate them. Moving my beleaguered German armour into (DD) was my final play. They successfully took the beachhead marker for a VP, but both failed their morale checks and were eliminated giving that Allies the 2VP required to tie the game. Agony!
Final Result = A Draw
Okay, so we just played through 4 sessions and 10+ hours for our 9 turns and ended up with a draw! Sounds like a wasted time? Well, no... :) This game ebbed and flowed and always kept the decisions both interesting and critical to your own success. I always felt that I was both on the edge of a victory or a loss, right up to that final morale roll.
Indeed during the last turn or so we had many points that could have swung the victory to either GaryB or myself:
- No air-power left resupply to his U.S. 2nd Armour (CB) prevented almost certain victory as he would have been able to assault Messina as wells as Novara (CA) and Taormina (CC).
- My engineer allowing me to roadblock Taormina (CC) and prevent him getting to Messina that way.
- Twice I almost wiped out the U.S. 1st Infantry at Palma Di Montechiaro (DC), the second time missing it by rolling a 7 on a target of 6 or less.
- I also failed both morale checks at the end when one success would have given me the single VP to make the difference.
I must concede though that GaryB's strategy throughout was stronger than mine and that if he'd pushed harder perhaps even a turn earlier, he would have walked into Messina and won by 4/5 VPs. I did scramble well and could have had more success in my counter-attacks, this game almost forces you to track back over your moves and think about where and when you missed the opportunities to win.
A great experience all round!