Game Description

Squad Leader (SL) is one of the classics of the wargaming hobby. It's a John Hill design of small-unit infantry and AFV combat published by Avalon Hill in 1977. While called Squad Leader, the player really has the role of a company commander in most cases with most scenarios featuring 6 to 30 squads until his control. Each counter represents a single squad, leader, support weapon or armoured fighting vehicle (AFV). Each map hex is 40m across.

Follow-on modules (Cross of Iron, Crescendo of Doom and GI: Anvil of Victory) added on new rules and revised old ones to the point where AH released Advanced Squad Leader in 1985.

While the Squad Leader system became more cumbersome over time, basic SL is still a tense, very playable game of infantry combat with armour support. The rules are presented using a Programmed Instruction method popular at AH at the time where a subset of rules is presented, a scenario featuring these rules is played, then new rules are introduced and so on. This means the player doesn't have to swallow a lot of rules to begin play immediately.

Squad Leader centres around leaders and their importance in rallying broken units, directing fire and performing other acts of heroism. This is not a game of technical precision where x millimeters of calibre is guaranteed to penetrate y millimeters of armour. The human element is present. Squads fire and are fired at, they break and retreat, they rally and return. Squad Leader is a game about men, not equipment.

Details of this PBEM Game

Germans: Eric Pass
Russians: Chris Edwards

Scenario 1F 'The Russians Counterattack' is a variant scenario I designed to explore some 'fog of war' options in Squad Leader. Basically each player picks an reinforcement package for both sides of the scenario. The player bidding the lowest German reinforcement package plays the German while the other player takes the Russians and the 140 point reinforcement package he preselected for them. This creates some strategy in selecting packages from the DYO Point Values on page 28 of the basic SL rulebook, 4th edition. as well as keeping the opposing player off-balance until both reinforcement packages are revealed.

In this game:
Chris' German Package
7x 4-6-7 @ 25 each = 175 points.
Upgrade 8-0 to 8-1 = 20 points.
Total 195 points.

Eric's German Package
1x8-3-8,upgrade 8-0ldr to 9-1ldr (115)

so I am playing the Germans. Per the scenario rules, Chris will receive his as yet unknown 140 point reinforcement package on his Turn 3.

Events so far

The German set-up features the new 8-3-8 and 9-1ldr on the front line with a 4-6-7 and 2xLMG in J4 to cover the open ground between buildings G4 and G6.

The Russian set-up remains essentially fixed but a more defensive posture is adopted for building N4 with 2x4-4-7 back in N3 and 2 more 4-4-7s with the 8-0ldr in N4.

Turn 1
The Russians remain in place for Turn 1, trying their luck with some Prep Fire. They break 1x4-6-7 in H5 and 1x4-6-7 in K5 but otherwise are unsuccessful. 3x6-2-8 Guards try to sneak around to D4 for a Turn 2 assault on Kelso's position. The return Defensive Fire is ferocious and there are some wild and wooly results! The 3 Guards units in D4 are all broken on a 4IFT+1;MC+2 from Kelso and squad at F6. The squad under Dottski in J2 breaks on a 8IFT+3;MC from H5 and in the most spectacular result, J4 fires on G4 with a 16IFT+2;MC+1 causing Col Berki to go BERSERK. Another Guard squad is also inspired to go berserk. (Rule 18.5)

As a result of this unexpected turn of events, Chris advances his Guards en masse into the street towards building F5 rather cleverly splitting up the mix of berserk Berki and the 3 Guards squads with him. (See Summary and Analysis below)

In my German Turn 1, my fire is mostly ineffective. Pointblank fire from H5 -> G5 (16IFT+0) nets only a MC which Berki and the 2 Guards squads with him easily pass. However, my firebase in I7 (9-2ldr,3x4-6-7,2xLMG) KIAs 3x6-2-8 in the wooden building in H3. Concentrated fire from L6 and M7 break both single point squads in M5 & N5. I move the 8-1ldr,1x4-6-7,1xHMG from M9 to M7. In the Defensive Fire Phase, Chris gets a KIA of his own, as the return fire from G5 -> H5 (24IFT+1) KIAs the lone 4-6-7. Finally, in my Advance Phase, I move an 8-1ldr,1x4-6-7,1xLMG into N6 to see if I can push the units out of building N4. Also, 1x4-6-7,1xHMG join the firebase in L6.

Turn 2
In the Russian Turn 2 Rally Phase, no broken squads rally anywhere and 1x4-4-7 in N4 is eliminated on the dreaded 12. Chris foregoes any Prep Fire and charges forward with the Guards and the berserk Berki. Predictable results happen in the Defensive Fire Phase as Berki and 2x6-2-8 in I4 and I5 are KIAed by fire from Wetzelberge's I7 position and point-blank fire from J4. A single LMG firing from J4 to J2 keeps the units there in DM and fire from L6 breaks 1x6-2-8 in H5. Kelso and 2x4-6-7DM abandon F6 fleeing to H7. The Russians have captured one building but paid in blood.

In the German Turn 2 Rally Phase, a broken 4-4-7 in N4 rallies and surprisingly BOTH 4-6-7DM squads in H7 rally under Kelso's sure hand. More accurate Prep Fire from I7 to J2 again breaks Dottski and eliminates the broken 4-4-7 already in the hex. The 3x6-2-8 Guards who have advanced to F5 all survive a 16IFT+2; MC+1 from J4 in good order. Taking advantage of the revival of the 2x4-6-7s rallying in H7 move to H6 and G7 respectively to try and re-enter building F5. The 8-1ldr,1x4-6-7,1xLMG who were approaching the N4 building (in N6) scuttle back to M7 in light of the rallied Russians in the building. The window of opportunity has closed! Chris' Defensive Fire has few targets and has no effect. The combined Advancing Fire from H6+G7 generates a 6IFT+3; MC on the 6-2-8 in H5 which surprisingly breaks and is eliminated. No routs and in the Advance Phase, 1x4-6-7 advances to H5 to man the LMGs there while the other advances back to H7 to await developments. Seeking more targets, 1x8-3-8,1x4-6-7,2xLMG advance from J4 to K4 as well Finally, a single squad sneaks from J4 to J3 trying to get into J2 which is a stone building and undermanned by the broken Dottski (9-1ldr).

Turn 3
The Russian Turn 3 Prep Fire from F5 breaks the crawling 4-6-7 in J3 so I won't gain any cheap stone buildings this time around. Prep Fire from M4+N4 concentrates on the new menace in K4 but the 24IFT+3; MC+2 attack is narrowly passed by both the 8-3-8 and 4-6-7 squads. The mystery reinforcement package of Russians arrive this turn and it is ... 7 x 4-4-7. 3x4-4-7 move from D0 to E3, 3x4-4-7 move D0 -> F2 and the remaining 4-4-7 moves F0 -> G2. There is not much in the way of targets in my Defensive Fire. I7 has only J2 in LOS and the 16IFT+1; MC+2 attack breaks and eliminates Dottski. The counterfire from K4 -> M4 is effective too, a 16IFT+2; MC+1 breaks two of the three 4-4-7 squads therein and they fall back to the comforting arms of Cohenov in N3 during the Rout Phase. The firebase in L6 scores a 20IFT+2; MC+3! on N5 but the 4-4-7 rolls a and passes. Lastly the M7 group tries a 6IFT+2 attack but it has no effect (This was dumb, both M7 and L6 have 8-1ldrs so the attacks could have been combined with no difference in the leader DRM on the attack). There's no Advancing Fire and my 4-6-7 in J3 crawls back to J4. In the Russian Advance Phase, the reinforcements move up and occupy building G3 as 3x4-4-7 move into E4, 1x4-4-7 moves to F3, and 3x4-4-7 in G3.

For the German Turn 3, one of the DM 4-4-7s in N3 rallies while my 4-6-7 continues to cower in J5. My Prep Fire is a mixed bag, I manage to break 2xLMG in K4 by rolling a 12 but KIA the lone 4-4-7 in N5 on a 24IFT+2 shot from L6 & M7 together (combining the -1 leader DRMs this time!). I reinforce the central building by moving 1x4-6-7,1xLMG from I7 to J5, the squad passes a MC+1 and makes it joining Kelso and the other broken squad. K4 is having more trouble than a couple of broken LMGs though as a 20IFT+3 MC+3 breaks both the 8-3-8 and the 4-6-7. During the Advance Phase, I consolidate control of building K5 by advancing the 9-1ldr,1x4-6-7,1xLMG from J5 to J4 to be joined by a 1x4-6-7 dragging the 2xLMG - Brkn. Perhaps I can repair them here.

Turn 4
In the Russian Turn 4 Rally Phase I do indeed repair one of the two broken LMGs in J4 but no rallies in J4 or H7. In the Russian Turn 4 Prep Fire though, Chris pours fire into J4 from G3 (a 12IFT+3; MC+1 eliminates the already broken 4-6-7) and from F5 where an 8IFT+3 MC+1 finally breaks Kelso and the position disintegrates leaving only a DM Kelso and 1x4-6-7DM. Encouraged by their success the Russians edge forward on both flanks. My only Defensive Fire is from I7 to N3 a LOS I never realized exited before! but my 12IFT+1 shot rolls an 11 and has no effect but to put the broken 4-4-7 therein back in DM. Chris is moving well and I don't have many shots at his troops. The Russians conduct a general advance on all fronts in their Turn 4 Advance Phase boldly exposing themselves to the firelane from L6 northward.

In the German Turn 4 Rally Phase, I have high hopes but my 9-1 misses his self-rally by 1 (rolling a 6) and I roll a 12 on my non-DM 4-6-7 in H7 eliminating him too :( There's certainly no shortage of targets in my Turn 4 Prep Fire Phase with lots of opportunity for penetrating fire. My I7 stack fires at the 3x6-2-8 Guards in G6. The 12IFT+1 scores a MC+1 and breaks 1x6-2-8. However, a nice LOS from L6 to L3 by 3x4-6-7,1xMMG with penetration to L4 and L2 by the MMG only rolls a 10. A single 4-4-7 in L3 breaks and none of the penetrating fire is useful. I needed that one to keep the hordes out of building K5. However, I have a second shot at it with a L6 to L2 shot with the 8-1ldr,1xHMG (fired by a 4-6-7). However, this shot rolls a 9 and again there's no effect. Egad, I had hoped one of these shots would be good. The low DR comes in my last fire attack from M7 to L3 by the 8-1ldr,1x4-6-7,1xLMG with penetration to L4. The DR of 4 KIAs the 2x4-4-7 in L3 and the ensuing MC+1 on L4 breaks that 4-4-7 as well leaving only a 4-4-7 in L2 in good-order. I still have to reinforce that centre building so I move the 9-1ldr,1x4-6-7 in H7 through to J7. Chris' Defensive Fire Phase is also poor and only a 30IFT+3 MC+1 on I7 gets through breaking a single 4-6-7. I position my units carefully in my Turn 4 Advance Phase for the final turn. The 9-1ldr goes to I8. The 4-6-7 to I7 and the 8-1ldr,1x4-6-7,1xLMG from M7 to N7 (yes, there is a reason for this as you will see)

Turn 5
I have little luck in the Russian Turn 5 Rally Phase as the 4-6-7DM in I8 fails to rally and while Kelso in J5 rallies, the 8-3-8DM with him fails to rally and another 12 eliminates the 4-6-7DM therein. Looks like I'd be better off NOT trying to rally. In Chris Prep Fire, F6+G6+H5 pour a 30IFT+3 shot into I7 for a MC+2 which breaks all units in the hex (9-2ldr,2x4-6-7). Chris' reinforcements move up to join the fray moving 3x4-4-7 to occupy J3,I6,I5 attempting to eliminate units in I7 & J5 for failure to rout. My Defensive Fire is concentrated on preserving building J4/J5. L6 fires at L3 at 12IFT-2 resulting in a MC+3 which breaks the 1x4-4-7 but an 8IFT-3 shot from L6 to I6 garners only a MC+1 DR of 10 and the 1x4-4-7 passes this ensuring that some units will indeed be eliminated for failure to rout come the Rout Phase. Chris' Advancing Fire is ineffectual and in the Rout Phase I lose an 8-3-8DM in J5 and the 9-2ldrDM in I7. In the Russian Turn 5 Advance Phase, Chris moves single 4-4-7s into K4, J5 and I7 and killing Kelso in Close Combat in J5.

To come: my last turn as I desperately try to get units back into buildings to deny Chris sole occupation.

Summary & Analysis

Turn 1
Chris has rather cleverly (I thought) turned a possible disadvantage into an advantage for him with his Advance Phase. By advancing the berserk Berki with the 2 non-berserk squads he ensures that they will receive a -2 DRM to any MC as MCs against berserk units (including leaders!) are treated as NE.

The German Turn 1 fire illustrates the importance of those high DRM leaders as my basic 16IFT+2 becomes a 16IFT+0 KIA when directed by a 9-2ldr and Chris' 24IFT+3 becomes a 24IFT+1 KIA directed by a 10-2 leader. The positioning of these key leaders is essential to controlling the flow of the battlefield!

Turn 2
Illustrated here are the disadvantages of the berserk squads, predictably cut down by high FP Defensive Fire Phase attacks backed by negative leader DRMs. Wetzelberge was firing at a net -4 and the units in J4, point-blank at -3. Not much Chris could have done here, such are the fortunes of war!

Turn 4
I suffer a real setback in J4 when two low-odds attacks virtually wipe out my troops therein. I can only hope that Kelso can self-rally quickly or I will be forced to rout out of the building.

Chris' advance into my L6 northward firelane is bold and pays off when two of my Prep Fire attacks roll miserably and my bacon is saved by the DR of 4 on the 6IFT-1 fire from M7 to L3 with penetration to L2 leaving only the single 4-4-7 in L4 in good order.

Turn 5
With this good Prep Fire Chris is approaching the 3:1 threshold of unbroken Russian to German squads (12:4). His reinforcement package of 7x4-4-7 greatly aided this.

See Chris' analysis of the scenario so far. Wow, just like Point and Counterpoint!!

Other Links for Squad Leader information

Game Info
Squad Leader Mailing List

Books & Magazine Articles
Avalon Hill General articles

This file last updated 05/06/97.

This page is maintained by Eric Pass

Please email with comments and corrections.