Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Forgotten Heroes: Vietnam - The Reverse Slope Defense for "Serious Firepower"

Despite owning several of the titles in the Lock 'n Load system, I'm not very good at it.  As a result, I've been reading up on real squad tactics and trying to understand how they can be applied to the game and its varied scenarios.  I've been especially interested in defensive tactics since most of the scenarios I play end up with the defenders getting stomped after the attacker finds a weakness in their setup and rips right through it.  Of course, the way to prevent all this from happening with great regularity as the defender is to understand the pros and cons of setting forces up in consideration of the available terrain.  I'll use the scenario "Serious Firepower..." from Forgotten Heroes Vietnam to just discuss how real life tactics can be translated into game terms.

In "Serious Firepower", the NVA has set up in a small village of Dai Do, trying to defend it from US Marines and tanks.  The NVA has a recoilless rifle, a 12.7mm machine gun, a mortar, and a couple of light machine guns along with quite a few squads.

NVA Setup Positions - Board 2 full hexes (area bounded by yellow box)
This scenario takes place on Boards 4 and 2 with board 4 inverted and placed south of board 2.  The NVA can setup first on any full hex of Board 2.  The US Marines and tanks start off-map and will enter Board 4 from the south on turn 1.  First, let's consider the terrain and likely avenues of approach for the enemy US player.

The first obvious thing to note about the playing area is that there is a large hill sitting on Board 4, which is situated to the south of the village.  The US player could opt to use this hill as cover to approach the village and assault over the hill.   The US player might opt to keep to the east of the hill and use tanks and machine gun fire to dislodge NVA troops defending on the east side of the village or they might try a little of both, breaking up their forces and hoping to find some luck with either the over-the-hill assault or moving steadily up the eastern edge of the map.  My fear in playing this scenario is that the US player will simply opt to rush over the hill and hit the village all at once with the bulk of his forces.  I've played this tactic several times before and the Americans tend to wipe out the NVA fairly easily.  

There are plenty of incentives for the Americans to go straight for the over-the-hill assault in this scenario.  If they take the eastern route around the hill, they will probably have to engage in a dangerous and long range firefight with only light defensive cover while the NVA fire away from the protection of some light construction buildings in 2J8, 2L8, and 4F8.  How does the NVA prepare themselves for the real possibility of facing a huge American over-the-hill assault then?

Looking at US Army Field Manual 7-8 "Infantry Rifle and Platoon Squad", there are several chapters on tactics and a particularly apt section on "reverse slope defense" (page 12), and this gives us some ideas of the advantages and disadvantages of such a deployment tactic.  A reverse slope defense simply means sitting on one side of a hill and waiting for the enemy to charge over it.  

The advantages of adopting this kind of defensive tactic are- 

1 - Enemy ground observation of the defensive position is masked. Game translation - hill blocks LOS and your forces cannot be spotted or fired upon while beyond the hill from the enemy

2 - There is more freedom of movement in the position due to lack of ground observation. Game translation - You will have at least one turn to comfortably rearrange and adjust your forces behind the hill to meet the oncoming American threat accordingly.  If you have an opponent rushing the hill, move your infantry into foxholes and defensive positions to meet them.  If your enemy is ignoring the hill and going for the east side of the map, you can safely shift your squads from defensive positions behind the hill to meet the enemy infantry and tanks coming up the east side.  

3 - Enemy direct fire weapons cannot hit the position. Game translation -  Seems obvious but this also means that this position can be used to rally your shaken troops if they get into a firefight on the east edge of the map.

4 - Enemy indirect fire is less effective due to lack of ground observation Game translation - This is probably not a consideration in this scenario but you never quite know if the enemy is going to be granted an artillery fire mission from an event marker!

5 - The defender gains surprise.  Game translation - Even if the enemy charges over the hill, defenders sitting in blocking or degrading terrain will not be spotted until they fire on the enemy or an enemy unit moves adjacent to them.

6 - If the enemy attacks over the crest, he will isolate himself from supporting elements Game translation - This is huge.  An enemy that runs over the crest will have few supporting elements, such as a base of fire with a leader, able to help or support the charge.  Without supporting firepower, manoeuvre is fatal.  

The disadvantages of putting a bunch of your NVA on the north side of the hill and waiting, however, are:

1 - It is difficult to observe the enemy.  Game translation - You will have no LOS and you cannot fire on the approaching Americans on the south side of the hill.  

2 - Moving out of the position under pressure may be difficult.  Game translation - You have less room to move around and fall back/avoid bad melees if the US player gets enough forces over the hill and starts attacking at very close range with lots of firepower.

3 - Fields of fire are normally short.  Game translation - B6, D5, D7, and G6 are probably the only really good close defensive positions to set up squads with a good LOS that covers any charge over the hill.  You will probably need to stack some units in here or place some vital support weapons in these areas to get adequate firepower against a sudden rush of enemies over the hill. 

4 - Obstacles on the forward slope can only be covered with indirect fire.  Game translation - You might need to send an NVA leader forward to call mortar fire on the other side of the hill  if it looks like the US player is bunching up units for a big push over the hill.  Considering that the NVA has only two leaders, this is a major loss of resources if the leader is killed while being used as an FO.

5 - If the enemy gets to the crest, he can assault down the hill, giving him a psychological advantage.  Game translation - If the US player wants to assault over the hill, he will probably send a few units forward, hoping to soak up NVA firepower before sending in the bulk of his main force.  The NVA player would have to be willing to hold fire on those initial enemy units and let them come closer in order to get a shot at the main assaulting force.

6 - If enough OPs are not put out or not in the right position, the enemy may appear at close range without warning.  Game translation - Watch the other player for signs that he is sending the main bulk of his force over the hill.  The US player's forces are highly mobile so the NVA player may have to act quickly by shifting NVA forces around to deal with any oncoming rush over the hill. 

Suggestions for Setup and Play 

1 - The Forward Platoons are 200 to 500 meters from the crest of the hills where they have the best fields of fire.  Game translation - Again, B6, D5, D7, and G6 are probably a little too close to the hill crest but they will probably work okay here.  You may want to plant some guys in the kunai grass in E4 and F4 to cover the crest position too. 

2 - If it places them in supporting distance, a platoon should be positioned on the forward slope of the next high ground to the rear.  Game translation - It's probably a good idea to put some guys with RPDs in the building in the northwest of Board 2.  I believe this is a two-storey building so it would be very effective to have a squad or two up there covering both the hill's reverse slope and the NVA flanks.

9 - Platoon leaders plan indirect fire FPFs on or short of the crest hill to deny that area to the enemy and help breakup his assault as he crosses the crest.  Game translation - You may want to have a leader order mortar fire on a hex of the hill (or even place the mortar in line of sight of the crest) early in the turn to keep an FFE marker there and discourage enemy attacks over the hill.

10 - OPs withdraw before the become engaged by the enemy.   Game translation - The NVA will probably not win in melee versus the US Marines.  You may want to consider a collapsing withdrawal if the bulk of the enemy comes over the hill.  

11 - Against armor, motorized, or roadbound attack, anti-armor weapons and machine guns should be placed to the flank of the reversed slope.  Game translation - Your recoilless rifle and 12.7mm machine gun will probably be much more effective placed to the east of the hill, and perhaps moved south or put into a foxhole in a clear hex with good LOS to cover against any enemy armor and infantry grouping together on the forward slope of the hill, preparing for an assault.    


The NVA have a particularly hard task in this scenario since the Americans can come at their objective several different ways.  By at least setting up a good defensive position to protect against the possibility of an oncoming over-the-hill rush by the Americans, this will force the US player to fight along the eastern flanks where the approach to the village is considerably more deadly.  If the US player is clearly not going to come over the hill, you can at least safely send your units to help support any combat along the east side of the map.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tac Air - Scenario 1 "Covering Force" - A Turn 1 Snapshot


"Tac Air", Avalon Hill's Cold War-turned-hot game from 1987, is about air and ground combat in a modern fast-paced land battle between the Soviets and NATO.  In Scenario 1,"Covering Force", the Soviet 6th Guards Tank Division is pitted against the US 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Scenario 1 - Objectives

The 6GDT starts with all of its forces in East Germany and its objective is to get as many of their units as possible south to hex T22, a victory hex located just across the border with West Germany and over a river.  The 6GDT also want to inflict some damage on the American 2nd ACR, which is presumably covering a retreat by a much larger force that has fled somewhere off the southern edge of the map.  The 2nd ACR's job is to prevent the Soviets from reaching the objective hex without losing too many units in the process.

Order of Battle

While the Soviets have a straightforward order of battle with similar types of combat units (tanks with tanks, infantry with infantry, etc.) grouped together, NATO has a mix of helicopters, tanks, and infantry all working together under the same HQ. This reflects the different doctrinal approaches of both armies.

In this scenario, the 6GDT consists of the 51st Guards Tank Regiment, (with 3 tank battalions) and the 22nd Motorized Rifle Regiment (with 3 infantry battalions). Each regiment has its own HQ along with its own anti-air defense (2 units apiece), supply, and artillery units.  To back up the HQs, the 6th Guards Tank Division HQ is also present in this scenario and it can effectively command both regiments even if the lower regimental headquarters were to be wiped out.  If that's not enough, Soviet 6GDT assets such as engineers and attack helicopters are also provided for the Soviet player.

The US 2nd ACR has 1 tank battalion and 3 infantry battalions along with 2 attack helicopter battalions.  The 2nd ACR has only 1 anti-air defense unit, consisting of a HAWK SAM battery.  The lack of American anti-air defense quantity is made up for by the HAWK's very long range and deadly effectiveness.  The US commander just has to hope that he doesn't run out of missiles.

As for air assets, the Soviets and Americans are somewhat evenly matched.  The Soviets have 2 flights each of MiG-29 Fulcrums, great for air-to-air combat, and Su-25 ground attack aircraft. The Americans get 2 flights each of F-16s and A-10s.

Assignment of Air Assets

One big advantage for the Soviets is that they start off with a recon unit.  Looking around on the forums and going over the rules, there seems to be different interpretations of line-of-sight and spotting distances.  The rule that seems to work okay for me is to double the spotting range of recon units to 12 hexes while regular ground and helo units have just a 6 hex spotting range.  This means that the Soviets start the game off with a better idea of how the Americans are deployed while the Americans have a good idea of how the Soviet frontline combat units are positioned but not so much how the rear elements are deployed.

This affected how air units were assigned to their targets at the start of Turn 1.  The Soviets and Americans both played it smart by assigning their air units to the proper roles (F-16s and MiG-29s to air control roles and A-10s and Su-25s to close air support).  As a solitaire player, my preference for assigning exact roles and specific target hexes basically involved trying to look at the situation logically and making a list of potential decisions based on die rolls at the end of the manoeuvre phase.  This kept me from "cheating" during the maneuver phase by basing decisions about unit movement on what was going to happen later in the air phase.  In the regular game with two players, the exact targets and roles of enemy aircraft would be kept secret until the air phase commences so I thought this method was the next best thing.

Turn 1 Maneuver Phase - Soviets

With a list of potential decisions and targets made up, I started turn 1 with the Soviets moving first.  The 22nd MRR moved southeast towards the long road going straight down to hex T22 while the 51st Guards tanks rumbled slightly to the southwest, ready to smash the Americans sitting in a small city further to the south.  Positioning your combat units is tricky in any turn where you know the enemy air is coming.  Air and helo attacks against ground units sitting in a road hex are potentially devastating, as there is no defensive terrain bonus for units in such a hex.  Another headache is making sure that your air defense units have a proper line of sight needed to defend nearby units.  Finally, slower-moving supply lines need to be maintained so combat units are often forced to slow down a bit to stay in range of logistics units.  As a result, any attacker is going to find themselves constantly trading off mobility and speed for the sake of cohesion and mutual support, which seems to make sense.

Turn 1 Maneuver Phase - Americans

With the Soviet maneuver phase over, the Americans now had the chance to move their ground and helo units.  The first thing the American commander did was to have the engineers blow up the bridge nearest hex T22.  This could slow the Soviets down but not stop them entirely - especially since the Soviets brought along their own engineer units for river fording.

The Americans rushed two infantry units to the dense forests just south of the 22nd MRR advance.  Positioning the units here on their non-moving side (which gives them a higher defense rating) helps to cut off the 22 MRR from advancing quickly along the road going straight for hex T22.  One of the attack helo units was sent along to hang back and potentially help out with any combat in the area.  The 2nd ACR HQ also moved up right behind this defensive line, which serves as an automatic removal of disruption each turn during the disruption removal phase.

The remaining tank, infantry, and attack helo were kept back in the setup city (Dreisechseckigdorf) as a reserve.  With the 51st Guards Tank Regiment to the northwest of the city, it seemed very dangerous to commit everything against the 22nd MRR.

End of Turn 1 Maneuver/Air Phase

Turn 1 Air Phase

Finally, the air turn came and I basically rolled a d10 to determine the turn in which each air unit would come on the board.  When each air unit entered the map, I rolled for their actual specific mission and targets.  The MiG-29s drew defensive CAP over the Soviet frontline units while the American A-10s flew straight for the lightly protected 6th Guards Tank Division HQ.  American F-16s entered on the same turn and I decided that it would be most logical for them to clear the air of MiGs.  The Soviet Su-25s entered quite late and went directly for one of the American infantry units sitting in the forests to the northeast of Dreisechseckigdorf.

It all panned out rather messily for both sides.  The F-16s closed in on the MiG-29s but heavy AAA fire forced them to abort their mission.  The A-10s, however, managed to drop bombs on the 6th GDT HQ but only scored 1 disruption (which would be easily shaken off automatically at the start of turn 2).  As the A-10s egressed from the target, the MiG-29s pounced and shot down an entire flight of Warthogs. The Su-25s were forced to abort after being fired at by American HAWK SAMs although they did not take any losses.

Turn Record Track - all air units return to base...except for one unfortunate flight of A-10s

An Analysis of Turn 1

Although no ground combat had occurred in Turn 1, the Soviets scored a huge victory by destroying a flight of A10s in the air phase.  The major strength of the Americans in this scenario is the sheer destructive capability of the Warthogs and with half of them out of the picture for the remainder of the scenario, the US commander was indeed hurting.  However, the game is nowhere near decided at this point.  The Americans could play a clever stalling game with the Soviets, drawing them around their defensive lines and forcing them to take the long way to the victory hex rather than the short route.  This would indeed force the Soviet commander to sacrifice defensive terrain and unit cohesion for speed, making their forces vulnerable to air attack. The Americans can also start laying mines with their engineer unit and building up defensive positions in cities to help blunt Russian attacks.

On the other hand, the Russians, may decide to fix the Americans with one regiment while the other slips through their fingers.  This would dampen the number of Soviet victory points but still provide a nice win for them in the end.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lock 'n Load Melee - 4 Examples

I'd like to write up a short article describing how the melee rules in the Lock 'n Load system works.  Just to be clear, this is just my own take on the rules.  Others may play melee differently and that's fine if it works better for them.  This article is intended for those who are just starting with the LnL system and may have played a few games, have some familiarity with the rules, but might be a little hazy on some aspects of how melee works.

Melee occurs when two opposing units are in the same hex.  Melee in LnL is an abstraction of close range combat where grenades are thrown, bayonets are fixed, and general bloody chaos occurs.

Here are some examples to illustrate how the whole process works.

Example #1 - Basic Melee

Above, we have a 2-5-4 squad from the 82nd Airborne Division adjacent to a 1-6-4 Wehrmacht squad.  The US player gets an impulse and decides to move his 2-5-4 squad into the H6 hex, thus initiating melee.  Now, although the 2-5-4 squad is essentially moving, no opportunity fire can occur since they are moving directly into melee.  It is essential to note that no one can fire into a hex where melee is happening.  

So now that the 2-5-4 squad has entered into H6, melee immediately begins.  Now the players are going to alternate rolling dice in an attempt to eliminate the opposing player's unit(s) in the melee hex.  The side that is picking targets and rolling the dice in melee is referred to in the rules as the attacker and the side that is having its units rolled against is referred to as the defender.  Both sides, therefore, will take turns attacking and defending.  It should be noted that only a single round of melee may be fought in the melee hex per turn.  In our case, the Americans have entered the hex, so I will conduct the American melee attack first and then have the Germans conduct their melee attack next.   

The first thing to do is to consult the melee chart and find the odds.  Comparing the firepower of the Americans (2) with the German firepower (1), we look at the melee odds table on the back of the LnL reference card and find the 2 - 1 column.  Underneath this column is a single number which shows the dice roll required (on two dice) to eliminate a targeted enemy unit in melee combat.

Under the 2-1 column is a 6, which indicates that for the American squad to eliminate the German squad, the American player must roll a 6 or better on 2d6.

The American player rolls two dice and gets an 8.  The Americans eliminate the German squad! Before we celebrate, however, the Germans now get a chance to attack the Americans before being removed from play.  With the German squad, we again have a firepower of 1 against the American firepower of 2, so we have 1 - 2 odds and we look at the melee table to find that we need a roll of 10 or better for the Germans to eliminate the American squad.  The German player rolls a 9, which is not enough to eliminate the Americans. 

Melee ends and the German squad is removed from play.  The melee marker, however, remains in play until the next turn.  Although the Germans are gone from the hex, the US squad cannot be fired upon by the Germans until the melee marker is removed at the beginning of the next turn (unless the German player should enter units in the H6 hex this turn).

Example # 2 - Multiple squads in Melee

So the first example was a little basic.  Let's complicate it a little more by throwing in more squads.

Let's say we have two squads on both sides entering melee so there are two US 2-5-4 squads stacked together and two German squads, a 1-6-4 and a 1-4-4 squad, also stacked together.  Things work a little differently now.

So the two American squads move into the H6 hex with two German squads.   The American player can try to eliminate all of the German units in the stack or both (or even more if there are more enemy units in the hex).

The American player calculates the firepower of all his units and support weapons involved in the melee, for a total of 4 FP.

For the sake of this example,the US player selects one of the German squads to attack.  The American player decides to attack only the 1-4-4 German squad, giving us a melee odds ration of 4-1 and a "kill number" of 4 or better needed to eliminate the German unit.  The Americans could have just as easily (and probably more wisely) opted to try and eliminate both German units at melee odds of 4-2 (rounded down to 2-1) for a kill number of 6 or higher.

In any case, the American player goes just for the 1-4-4 squad and rolls an 8, which will eliminate the German squad. However, just as I noted before, it is not immediately removed from play.

The German player now gets a chance at attacking the Americans.  We combine the firepower of the two German squads and get a 2.   The Germans will attack one of the 2-5-4 American squads, resulting in 2-2 (equivalent of 1-1 ratio) odds.  Checking the melee table, the Germans will require an 8 or higher to eliminate the US 2-5-4 squad.  The German player rolls a 6.  It is not enough to eliminate the US 2-5-4 squad.

This melee round is now over and the German 1-4-4 squad is removed from play.  A melee marker is placed on top of all the units in H6.

No further melee can occur in this hex for the rest of the turn, even if other units should enter the melee hex.

On the next turn, the melee in H6 needs to occur again at some point, initiated by either player at some point during one of their impulses or the instant when a new unit enters the melee hex.  Consult 8.0 for more information about continuing a melee in subsequent turns.

Example #3 - Leaders and Support Weapons

Let's move this along with a slightly more complex example, which includes leaders and support weapons.

Above we have an American leader, Sgt. Fury with a single 2-5-4 squad that possesses a BAR support weapon.  The whole shebang moves into H6 and melee begins against the single German 1-6-4 squad sitting there.

Now we calculate firepower for the Americans.  Note that unlike ranged combat, the leadership rating is NOT added to the firepower value but is instead added to the dice roll for melee.  So we have a firepower of 2 from the American squad with its 1 firepower BAR for a total of 3 firepower.  The German firepower is 1.  At 3 to 1 odds, the US player only needs a 5 in order to eliminate the Germans.  The US player rolls a 2, modified by +1 due to adding in Sgt. Fury's leadership rating. The modified total dice result is a 3, which is still not enough to eliminate the German squad.

Now the German player gets to return fire.  Since leaders cannot be chosen as targets in melee, the German player must pit its 1-6-4 squad versus the American 2-5-4 with its BAR.  Rolling at 1-3 odds, the German player needs to get a result of 11 or 12 to eliminate the Americans.  The lucky German player gets a 12.

The American 2-5-4 squad w/ BAR is eliminated.  Leaders who do not possess a support weapon (and many other SMCs such as chaplains, nurses, medics)  are also eliminated in melee if they are alone in a hex or not with a good order unshaken MMC or hero.  As a result, poor Sgt. Fury is also removed from play.  As with all the other examples, the melee marker remains in H6 for the rest of the turn despite the fact that the Germans have won this round.

Note that the BAR support weapon is not removed from play.  It will remain in hex H6 and the German squad may pick it up during the rally phase of the next turn if it is the only unit in the hex.

Example #4 - Heroes!

Heroes get a special bonus in melee, which I'll talk about a little further down.

Here we have the almost the same units as the previous example with two exceptions - the Americans have a 2-2-6 hero (Hinshaw) with them and the Germans in H6 have an MG42 machinegun (not in its tripod position).  The American player moves everyone in G5 into H6 and melee begins.

The Americans calculate their firepower.  The 2-5-4 and BAR make for a firepower of 3 and the hero has a firepower of 2.  The total firepower here for the US units is therefore a 5.

The Germans have a 1-6-4 squad with the MG42 for a total firepower of 3.

With 5 vs 3, we need to do a little math to work these into odds that fit into the melee table.  The closest odds we can get here after reducing the ratio is 1-1.  However, since we have a hero involved in the melee, the US player gets a bonus shift of one column to the right on the melee table.  So the US player is now using the 3-2 column for the attack and needs a 7 or better to eliminate the German squad.

Rolling two dice, the US player gets a 6, which is modified by the US leadership rating to a 7.  This means that the German squad will be eliminated.  However, as with all melee, the eliminated player gets a shot back at his enemies.

The German player picks a target for his melee.  He can either go for the US 2-5-4 squad or the hero.  He decides to attack the American hero.  The German total firepower is 3 and the US hero's firepower is 2.  Looking at the 3-2 column, the German player needs a 7 or better to eliminate Hinshaw.  Note that the hero does NOT get any bonus column shift when he is the melee defender.

The German player rolls 11, which is enough to eliminate the US hero.  Both Hinshaw and the German squad are removed from play and a melee marker is placed on H6 for the rest of the turn.  Note that the support weapon (MG42) remains in place and can be picked up by the Americans in the hex during the rally phase of the next turn if no enemy units are present in the same hex.

Notes of Caution:  One mistake I made while learning the game was to allow dropped support weapons to be picked up by units while still engaged in melee, which does not appear to be correct.  I also heavily recommend consulting the Support Weapon Portage and Usage table on the reference card when calculating firepower for melee as this can be a bit tricky when still learning the game.  Finally, take note that many nationality characteristics (German SS in Band of Heroes, Viet Cong in Forgotten Heroes, Belgians in Heroes of the Blitzkrieg, etc.) involve bonuses or special rules for melee, which may need to be consulted when melee occurs.  When I was just learning the Lock 'n Load rules, I often deliberately ignored the nationality characteristics until I was more comfortable with the system.

Final Thoughts:  There is a lot more to melee than I've written here but I think this is enough to get new players started (along with a thorough reading of 8.0 in the rulebook).  If anyone has noticed some errors here, please feel free to leave a comment.  You can also check the BGG forums for lots of good questions and answers about the workings of melee.  However, as with all rules sets, there are little grey areas. If all else fails, don't be afraid to go with whatever makes the game enjoyable for you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sniper! - Patrol in the Orel Sector, 1943

I recently played a game of Sniper! (2nd edition) published by TSR way back in 1986.  Sniper! is a single man counter man-to-man combat game not unlike Avalon Hill's Firepower (1984).  Although both of these games deal with the same themes and share some similar characteristics (chit pull activations, for one), Sniper! seemed a bit simpler to learn and easier to jump into for someone looking for a casual night of gaming.  This is a hex-and-counter game but I thought it would be more interesting to illustrate what happened by using miniatures.

In the first scenario, two patrols meet each other by chance.  The system allows you to pit any forces from WW2 up to more modern engagements and since this was my first game of Sniper! in a long time, I chose to have a chance meeting engagement between a Soviet and German patrol in an urban area in the Orel sector during the Battle of Kursk.

Both patrols entered the southern area of the map, the Germans from the west and the Soviets from the east.  They quickly found each other and combat ensued while some of the men on either side had still not yet entered the map!  What ensued was the craziest and most intense couple of rounds of any game that I had played in recent memory.

The firefight between the two squads seemed to revolve around control of a few small buildings in the middle of the southern area of the map.  Early in the game, the Soviets had caught the Germans with the bulk of their squad sitting in an alley behind a group of buildings and two Soviet soldiers each threw a grenade at either end of the alley, miraculously only wounding one of the several Germans caught in the blast.

Next came a fierce battle for control of the buildings.  The Soviets, with the aid of some good activations, entered a large three-storey building.  The German squad leader tried to play the hero and go around the back of the building where the Soviets were entering.  He was shot point blank by a Soviet waiting around the corner and immediately killed.

Germans on the left side / Soviets on the right.  German squad leader attempts to sneak around back of building...

This event triggered a massive close-range firefight throughout and around the building.  A German soldier who had snuck through the window of the building in an earlier turn peered around the corner, only to be shot at by a Soviet rifleman in the next room.  Rattled, the German went prone behind some nearby furniture.  The crack of the Soviet's rifle caught the attention of another German outside the window of the building, who turned and fired through the opening.  The shot killed the Soviet solider immediately.

On the next round, our panicked young German soldier got a hold of himself and charged through the rear entrance of the building.  This started a messy couple of rounds of hand to hand combat.  The German lunged at the Soviet soldier with his rifle and missed while the Soviet attempted to counter him but only managed to clumsily drop his submachine gun in the street - a fatal error that cost the Soviet his life in the ensuing activation round.

German rifleman in hex 1627 kills unarmed Soviet soldier in hand-to-hand combat in hex 1728.

By this point, the Germans had already managed to kill two Soviet soldiers and a lucky shot from a German sniper outside on the street nearby scored another kill on a Soviet squad member who peeked his head around the corner of a building far down the street.  With nearly half of the Soviet squad killed or incapacitated, the Soviets were quickly reaching their breaking limit.

In the next turn, the wounded assistant German squad leader managed to hobble into a nearby building with a Soviet standing at a nearby window.  The Soviet rifleman had been firing at a German machine-gun squad slowly making its way down the street from the east.  Hearing the wounded German approach from behind, the Soviet rifleman swiveled around just in time for another German soldier to burst into the room behind his assistant squad leader and fire on the Soviet, hitting him twice and killing him.

Wounded German asst. squad leader sneaks behind Soviet rifleman at window.  
Another German bursts into the room and kills the Soviet rifleman.

At this stage, the Soviets have just had enough.  Their preservation score has been easily surpassed and the remaining three Soviet soldiers run back to the east.  With the Germans in hot pursuit, they manage to get enough activations to get off the map.

Soviets make a break for it, heading to the west and trying to get off the map.

One of the Soviet squad leaders, who made his way to the roof of one of the buildings earlier in the game, is captured.  The German patrol, having suffered 1 KIA and 1 WIA, made their way back to their lines with a prisoner.

The Soviets actually fought quite well in the scenario but were plagued by problems with pulling high activation chits early in the round, which severely limited what they could do.  The Germans, meanwhile, consistently pulled low numbered activation chits and got to perform actions for several rounds while the Soviets could only sit and watch.  The Germans also rolled unusually high (and the Soviets unusually low) for their attacks.  Although luck was the determining factor this time around, the Soviets could have admittedly done a better job of placing their sighting markers for better opportunity fire.  Sniper! can take a few turns to really get going but once the bullets start to fly, it can create some very fun and interesting narratives as long as you don't take it too seriously.