|Lines? What Lines??|
Looking through my collective titles for a good skype game to play against Wayne Baumber, I looked at several of my supplements that I had not cracked open yet and came across Indian Unity. Looking over the components and scenarios, several of them looked good and I really liked the look of Hyderabadi Burgundy Red against Indian Cream against the light brown of Eastern Front boards. Wayne and I narrowed it down to 2 and I selected this one as the one to play. Even though I lost, I am glad I did.
The 4 objectives for the Indians are "simple": Control the roads on both boards (2 of the 4 objectives), capture the town of Kodad and suffer no more than 4 step losses. Wayne selected the Hyderabadi forces and on looking at the units (and reading the previous AARs), though I would have the significant advantage in firepower, I also had the disadvantage of having to attain at least 3 of the 4 for an Indian Minor victory. The Hyderabadi Razakars (RAZ) were setup hidden in the woods and the regular militia were setup in Kodad with a CAPT, AT gun/wagon and 2x INF in 0303 and a LT, INF and HMG in 0302.
Immediately, the Nizam's militia moved his CAPT and 2xINF down the road to setup a dugout position on the road. The Indian Armor rushed down the road to round up the rebels. The Stags moved on with 3 platoons moving north of Kodad across the plain and 2 platoons moving south of the road towards the woods, hopefully looking to setup a cross-fire. With the Indian infantry not expected for at least an hour (5 turns), the armored units would need to try and catch the Stags in a position where they could be eliminated and then force the town. For 5 turns the Shermans and Stags played cat and mouse and by the time the infantry showed up on the board, (turn 6) the Shermans had eliminated an armored car platoon and were chasing the others. The Gurkhas arrived on the scene, splitting 2 platoons off under command of a CAPT to engage the RAZ rebels in the woods south of the road while the remaining troops used the road to get to Kodad as soon as possible. Halfway through scenario (turn 9) the CAPT and his RIFs were able to rout the RAZ but seeing what it took to take one, decided that the focus should be controlling board 1 and the town and proceeded out of the woods to follow the other Infantry. About this same time, the first of two step losses inflicted on the Shermans occurred and another Stag was destroyed. Over the next 6 turns, I spent the time trying to corral the "mice" and getting into position to remove the dug-in units and assault the town. In addition, The RAZ began popping up all over board 6 and moving slowly towards the rear of the Indian area. Another shot from "Dead Eye Pete" on the 6-pounder took another Sherman step as the Gurkhas closed on the Hyderabad positions on board 1. Those Sherman steps were the only step losses I would receive.
Looking at the board at this point, I had no objectives achieved except one (suffer no more than 4 steps) so I began to look at safer attack options. I thought that I could bring Gurkhas within 3 hexes of the dug-in units (Hyderabad INF has range of 2) and do a turn with direct fire with a 3-stack of 2x INF and a WPN to possibly inflict morale results, separate and then charge into the dugout, taking the road and then assaulting the town. Wayne immediately recognized the attempt and moved his HMG unit to support the dug in troops, causing me to abandon this plan. This turned into a hectic battle as the bulk of the Gurkhas assaulted the dug out positions after surviving adjacent and HMG fire, eliminating the position and engaging the HMG unit. With time running out, The CAPT with 2 RIF advanced passed the dugout position to attack Kodad. The lone full-strength Sherman braved the AT fire from Kodad and came to help - eliminating a Stag unit positioned with the defenders in town just before the RIFs moved into assault. The push was not enough - The road had been cleared but the bulk of RAZ units in the woods were able to move into position to dig into the road behind the Indian lines despite the present of Shermans, even going crazy enough to assault the Shermans on the remaining turns. An attempt on the final turn to dislodge the RAZ from the road and at least salvage another objective failed and I conceded the game. The result: a major Hyderabad victory.
I normally don't like road control objectives as it tends to gear play towards using "gamey" tactics, though in this game it lended itself well to the play. Indian Unity pits a superior Indian force (both firepower and morale) against what is basically a militia force that in a head-to-head battle would never stand up. It showed in this scenario, where every battle or assault involving infantry ended up as a rout for the Hyderabads - the only step losses were 2 Shermans by long-range shots - and had it been a simple matter of taking the town, this would have been a rout. However, as Wayne mentioned in our post-game discussion, it’s not the counter mix or maps that makes the scenario a great one (though that is part of it), it is well written and designed victory conditions, along with those tactile components that truly make a great scenario, and the road control objectives really turned this one into an interesting puzzler. Though these victory conditions seemed a bit steep for the Indians given the time (Wayne mentions adding 4 turns) this was another one that I enjoyed, even though suffering the Major defeat.