Cancon 2016 After Action Report
"I saw the Stalingrad ChoC tables, and thought 'dammit, I made the wrong choice of what to play at Cancon'" - Mr Zo
"Stalingrad 4/5 stars - would invade again"- Jygg
"It took my two days and four battles to take that damn fountain. I'm buying one and taking it home!"- The Bard
|Those are some hard yards in the middle|
Background:I ran a smaller 'classic tournament' game of Chain of Command in 2015, and others were at a ChoC demo game. Both went well. After 2015, Cancon organisers made a decision - no free demo games. This meant that next year had to different. Would the demo players become tournament players with me running it? Would a demo player step up and run a paid scenario? As it was, a third option emerged. Cancon tournament organisers need to make their mind up around July, to advertise by September. I received the notification email, and went fishing on Facebook for people who might want to run Cancon 2016 instead of me. Michael Parker and I had some discussions, and he proposed to bring ten members or so of his Victorian club, and run a big themed game. I checked that the demo players were okay with this, and sent him the needed details.
|Big Baddah Boom|
Run-up:Michael was added as an admin to the FB group, and outlined that we would get a pack and instructions soon. I am someone who likes to be organised early, and pushed hard for details - we have slow painters who need 3 month lead times to paint a new force if needed. The theme came out as Stalingrad - Germans and Russians. The painting and gathering could begin! We got the printed pack V1 in December, the V2 update mid January and a rules modification YouTube explainer a week out.
We received excellent run-up photos, and we knew the terrain was going to be great. Michael runs Battlefield Accessories, and we knew that he had his 3d printer and laser cutter running hot. So hot, in fact, that he had a fire in the shed! There were Christmas pictures of Michael holding up his presents - fire blankets and extinguishers. Let's hope they are never needed again!
My brother and I spent an afternoon puzzling out the modifications two days before go time. We were a little concerned, but hopeful it could be made to work on the day.
|I think we will be right as long as they don't have a flamethrower.|
Game One - Go Time:Saturday when we saw the tables, we were very happy indeed. Obviously Stalingrad, excellent design and layout decisions, and quality details everywhere. Side commanders were appointed, with Major Kosta telling all his Captains where to deploy. Germans attacked, and while there was some resistance, the Germans broke through. The main focal point had three Stugs and Elite Panzer grenadiers, who melted away Soviets at that point. My personal sector saw a German probe, and other than one squad electing to defend the back of the factory after a flame-thrower attack by Unteruberfuhrer Jygg., there was little movement. I even took the option of sending my mortar fire against the Elite Panzer grenadiers - to little effect.
|The man in the opposing sector: Jygg!|
Game Two - Containment:The Germans wanted to widen the front, and that made my sector a prime candidate for assault. Komrade Kosta sent me a artillery observer for a 150mm battery. Thus prepared, knowing I commanded tools to throw back the Nazi aggressors, I positioned my troops in such a way as to blunt further advance, and very nearly take back one of Fritzies Jump Off points. Skilful use of Reserves by Hauptman Lance prevented this. The Germans met the fury of the artillery barrage, and stalled their attacks, and blunted the effectiveness of their tanks. The Germans made some localised gains in other sectors, but our hearts were uplifted by the news of an anti-tank crew gaining the order of Lenin! Two fascists Stugs destroyed in two shells! All glory to Lenin and the Motherland for such effective tools of war, and hearts held strong!
|Many Soviets were lost trying to cut off the breakout|
Game Three - Grind.Hauptman Lance is a quick learner. The Germans might be totalitarian pigs, but they do understand war. The factory from which I commanded came under heavy artillery fire. In one flurry of shells, I lost a senior commander, a junior commander, and two mortar teams left their posts. We withdrew from that factory sector badly mauled. In the breakthrough areas, the Germans made hard gains.
|Defend the fountain!|
Game Four - Focus.I requested a quieter area for my mauled troops. Komrade Kosta was so happy with my ability to hold sectors with artillery spotters, he gave me a second one! Tanks, artillery, snipers are all handy at the right time - but boots on the ground matter. The Germans had tanks, we had artillery, but what mattered was who was in the building the Germans wanted. In the time we had there was no second building - we had generalised our defences, and the Germans had focused their attacks. With much pain, they pushed in two directions and got their two buildings.
|My Ivan's felt Jygg's burn|
Game Five - BoldnessWith my platoon back to full strength, we were thrown into the meat grinder. We were not without our Russian tricks. Sometime the best way to take away your opponents aggression is to put forward an impossible fear. The Germans had sent their best troops smashing through the Soviet line, and created a breakthrough. They then sent line troops to expand the frontage of the breakthrough. Smaller Russian forces were sent to defend, and possibly close the front. In this locality, Germans had better positions and had more troops. A focused attack would have broadened their frontage. So the Russians went on the offensive with a desperate dash to try and close the breakout zone, and leave the aggressors encircled. Fear stopped the attack, and put them on the defensive. The Russians used fear to stall a greater opponent. We received terrible casualties, but lost no ground. We actually took an area from the Germans, but they took it back with a lucky last minute double phase.
|Soviets preparing for deployment|
Game Six - BluntedThe Germans came to see their strength, and were emboldened by their anger. They assembled a mighty force to crush the Russians - who were saved by the mighty god of war, the artillery. On whatever whim, the artillery rained down on the Germans, covering, pinning, and smoking them out. By the time the incredible barrage had ended, the time allotted for the offensive was over, and the Germans stayed in their starting positions, stalled.
|The Fritzies have deployed the giant yellow dice!|