Played ftf with Hugmenot
Warning, this is very tough for the Indian player to win. There is just a little bit too much for them to do and although the Hyderabadi forces will evaporate upon contact they can pop up in some very unpleasant locations. The armored cars are faster than anything you have and they can threaten any place on the board. Given that your victory conditions are to clear the road and the town while taking few losses you really have your hands full. I believe that Daniel did VERY well to have two victory conditions in hand (of the four). Unless the Hyderabadi player decides to have a stand up battle with the Indian player this one seems destined to go to the Hyderabadis.
The situation is this; the Indians have entered the battle area with a large force of high morale infantry supported by a company of Shermans. The Hyderabadis have hidden masses of Razakars in the woods (and they are hidden under rule 16.6) with the regulars holding a road block through the woods and some substantial forces located in the town at the far western end of the field. They will receive 10 armored car platoons during play as reinforcements.
The mindset of the Hyderabadi player must be to have surprises in store for the Indian. the first surprise was two companies of Razakars waiting for the Indian infantry at the very entry to the wooded road. This caused the Indians to have to break formation and immediately assault the Razakars who performed beyond my wildest dreams and actually caused several losses and disruptions. They were, however, short-lived as the Indian eventually destroyed all but the Lt. who spent a large chunk of the game circumnavigating the Indian force to rejoin the main force.
A second force of Razakars hid deep within the largest forest causing the Indians to have to sweep the woods in search for them. When they got there the Razakars were able to be joined with some Humber armored cars who made the ultimate reduction of the force difficult and time consuming as the Indians no longer had morale superiority (the armored cars have identical morale to the Indians). Reduction of some of these forces caused the Indians to commit their Shermans to the woods giving rise to the next surprise.
Some surprises have to await the right conditions. If I said that sending some armored cars through the woods was a well planned strategy I would be lying. I noticed that there was a hole in Daniel's line coming through the woods caused by some assaults tying down his forces. I snuck a Humber through and into his rear areas. At the same time, given that the Shermans were held up in the woods (I rolled an obscene number of 6's in assaults which, even given the low strength I had forced Daniel to constantly worry about disrupted and demoralized Indians in the woods), I ran a Stag around to the south and also into his rear areas.
These fast moving intruders caused a lot of effort to be spent hunting them down. It wasn't that the forces sent to do so were huge but that the early activations had to be spent on them. Fog of War (an unintended ally of the Hyderabadis in this circumstance) caused the main advance to stall during the third quarter of the battle.
Yet another surprise awaited the advancing Indians. The Razakars were not done. A final group of two companies of Razakars were hidng in the woods on the final board. These were put there not to contest the advance of the Indians but actually on the concept that they would be bypassed as the Indians attempted to clear the road and then they could swarm to the Indian rear and through numbers alone overwhelm whatever security awaited them. It almost worked as Daniel ran into them trying to get into position to eliminate another of those pesky armored cars and in the ensuing fight the Razakar leader was demoralized and therefore only light forces were needed to keep the Razakars from their task. Even then only a poorly timed FOW roll on the next to last turn resulted in their failure.
Meanwhile back in the Indian rear areas the armored cars were dancing around threatening the road and causing no small amount of fuss for the Indian. Eventually the need to cause the tenth step loss to the Indian made me try to get aggressive with these units, a mistake I was to rue as both units were ultimately destroyed, one to the Shermans guns and one to an assault. In both cases I counted on getting the initiative, a bad bet when one is down 1 on the initiative roll.
The last surprise was the ever present long range AT gun. In his rush to destroy one of the last Stags on board Daniel let his Sherman get exposed to the 17 pdr which was holed up in the town. This caused a step loss and kept the Shermans from being a factor in the final battle. I was not able to cause the last step loss (Daniel ended with 9) and therefore Daniel was able to claim two victory conditions (light losses and a cleared road on the first two boards). Both of those conditions were fairly won but endangered throughout the game. As a matter of fact, afterwards Daniel mentioned that he thought that after the AT gun hit he had already lost that condition. The only reason that the road condition was not lost was my aggression with the Stag and Humber, both of which got too close to the road and ended up getting caught by the Indians. In retrospect this aggression was unnecessary and may have cost my a major victory.
The Hyderabadi has to consider themselves a bit of a flake in order to be most effective in this battle. The armored cars are powerful (well the Stags are, the Humbers are at least fast) but fragile. The primary strength of the Razakars is that they can be hidden in the woods. And the ONLY place to have a true stand up fight is in the town. Harrassment, surprises and evasion are the main focus of this battle. I certainly had my share of great die rolls during the fight but even at that the eventual result, a Hyderabadi minor victory seems assured.
I had a great time with this one thinking out of the box. I imagine that it was frustrating for Daniel but that may be the point. It wasn't that the Hyderabadis were effective fighters but that there were so darn many of them. The armored cars are their elite and performed as such in this one. I give it a "4" for ftf. It might be tough to pull off the same surprises solo but the result will probably be the same.