Ambeleve and CLAG
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Offensive on the Ambeleve!
[How did it end?] [Game Definitions] [Time Preserved] [The Players]

Across the River Ambeleve: The game that was

A truly monster game, On All Front's scenario used some 18 boards, nearly 700 units, an additional 500 informational counters, 45 turns, and stultified seven players at it's maximum. We started in January 1995.

It's the first day of the Bulge Offensive, the German units are surging across the thinly held American lines. The objective is to cross the bridges at the other end of the map but hold certain terrain objectives at the same time. For this push, the Germans have put together the greatest force of armor forces yet. There are Tigers, King Tigers, Hunting Tigers, Panthers, flame throwing tanks, self propelled artillery, assault guns; some 110 AFVs in all. Add together with the 200 infantry squads and assorted support units and a formidable fighting force equal to the heyday of the German army is created. Gone are the demoralized troops of tragic years.

Facing the Germans are a small but determined starting force of Americans. All begin hidden, with over 35 anti tank guns waiting to pop the Germans in the pooper - if they can. While few guns are a threat to the big steel, a well placed side shot can disable one of these behemoths, all but destroying it for the offensive. Later, the Americans will get more units, the 7th Armor with their 84 tanks, including the mighty 'Jumbo' whose front armor challenges the best of the German tanks. The 101st Airborne with their 45 elite American squads and the 14th Inf Division, a ragtag collection of troops that are melding into hardened veterans right before the German's eyes.

How did it end?

In a truly disastrous turn of events, the game is finally over. The Germans faced the critical task of taking a town from entrenched Americans; the Americans, monkey wrenching a German army behind schedule, low on fuel and mounting causalities. Was it Fate or Providence that guided the massive armies toward each others destiny?

The outcome rested on neither. A storm, the kind for which Houston is famous, blew in one night. The tragedy was the result of several failed safeguards.

  • The plywood board that normally was on the game during the week was off. Dirk and myself had just met on Wednesday night to discuss strategy and we did not bother to replace it since we were going to play in two night's time, at least we thought.
  • The garage back door was left open. No ones fault: he has a wife, small kids and a really fat cat; all come and go quite often.
  • The storm itself. This was not the first storm that hit Houston, but it was tempestuous enough to blow through the door and swirl around the garage, and finally
  • Dirk was out of town when the storm hit. Had he been there, he could have done something about it As always, if any one of these conditions had not been met, the game would still be going.

So after 22 turns, 14 months of continuous playing, 10 billion rules fights, 33 cases of beer, eight players, 124 threats by Doyle to quit and leave, 150 offers for Phil to quit and leave and two new wives, what did we do then? Play Kampf Group Pieper, of course. But that is another story...

Game Definitions

As with any game, certain events, trends, or personalities will affect the group. This motley crew is no exception. Game Definitions

Moral Check - The automatic breaking of German units.
Moral Check - Assurance an American unit will not break - no affect on play.
Fanatic SS Troops - See Broken/Rout. They start the game in the unbroken state.
Moral Check Minus Four - Additional assurance an American unit will not break. - no affect on play.
128LL - A one-shot German weapon - otherwise no affect on play.
Bog Check for American vehicles - A mythical die roll - no affect on play.
Intensive Fire - Those rare moments that American weapons actually lose their rate of fire, Intensive fire allows them to kill something the first ten shots never did.
American AFVs - Mobile smoke and flame creation sources used to impede the German advance. Apparently these coffins were never meant to be used in combat since neither real armor nor a gun was ever installed.
Bob Fire - Firing blindly into hexes hoping to reveal hidden units. This task is so boring only I end up doing this.
Doyle - verb. 1) To yell out an answer; usually done so before the question is finished but always based on what favors the person giving the answer at that exact moment; 2) To roll so low you hit in spite of the fact you thought the odds were much higher; 3) To roll so low so consistently you obliterate the opposition.
Dirk - verb. To look rules up and actually use them as a framework for the game. As in "Infantry have only four movement points?! You're dirking us."
Phil - No definition., Just a constant source of irritation and amusement. We giggle like school girls at his hair cut.

A Moment of Time Preserved: Turn 20

[German Positions] [American Positions]

The was the last update; the game would end less than two turns later. The river is obvious and to win, the Germans must cross it at points on both boards. They can get an additional level of victory by exiting units. The turns are going slowly and we are getting about four weeks/turn. Do the math and the game is going to be long. The Germans take about 2 1/2 weeks and the Americans, week and a half. This number is going up, since the 101st paratroops enter now with their 45 squads.

It is now later in turn 20. The blue-striped areas has been cleaned up by the advancing Germans and is controlled by them. The cyan circles are still being contested. The big area between 'A' and 'G' is a humongous armor battle. The Americans have 12 tanks, the Germans slightly less. Both sides are rushing additional forces in there. The close range and dense terrain is being used by the Americans to minimize the German steel but the Hun's have infantry with PFs and good leadership. With the bridge nearly closed, the battle is not expected to last too much longer and while precious armor was lost by the Americans, it did buy them needed time and sapped strength away from city battle at 'D.'

German Positions

A) Army Group Dirk. 1st SS. The American defense is slowly yield, not the greater firepower of the Germans, but that there are more Germans and can surround positions. Taking a beating, the closing of the bridge is nearly at hand. The fuel depot is almost ready to be captured and the German vehicles might be able to blitz again.

B) Army Group Phil. (Position 'B') Charged with simply destroying everything he can see with his big tanks, Phil pulled off an incredible series of back-to-back CHs on emplaced gun positions. Another two similar attacks knocked key infantry positions. The center is now open. With little to restrain the German forces, combined elements of the Army Groups Dirk and Phil are pouring in virtually unopposed, with lead units actually reaching the river. So bold is this opportunity, that the two commanders abandoned their long practiced theory and sending big armor into the new areas without infantry support.

C) Army Group Bob. 12th Volksgrenadier. The first wave of assault troops made it over the ridge and started the attack on the city. Subsequent waves and support units are flooding into the city as well. While I should have a picture of this, we are attacking out of the sunken city board into the village with the marketplace. Awaiting are dug-in troops, some even still hidden from the initial setup, well defended with SW and mortars. While the first wave was successful over the ridge, they fared less well moving adjacent to US units. Taking several causalities and nearly 50% routing, some units did make it. Supporting them from AG Phil, are big tanks, including a Jadg Panther, Jadg Tiger, two Panthers and two Stugs.

American Positions

D) .This is a dense village (the board with the marketplace building). Not bad city fighting like Red Barricades, but bad enough. Since this is within the initial American set up area, he has hidden units all over the place. In addition, half of the newly arrived 14th Division is there by now. The 14th isn't a crack unit, but he does have 30 squads of various levels waiting.

E) The rest of the 14th Division. We managed to split this group because of our airborne troops and well timed rockets. Nevertheless, the remainder of the division, about 20 squads and bizillion halftracks are coming across. As an interesting note, a German prisoner escaped after a rocket barrage broke the guards. They managed to create a 8-1 leader, kill the guard and possess their HMG. Not a fatal blow for the Americans but it was fun.

E) and G) The main force of the US 7th Armor, consisting of some 84 tanks including the Jumbo and the 90L tank-killer, entered and proceeded across the river towards AG Dirks advancing armor. The battle was a wild free for all with both sides taking a beating. Apparently, the battle is over for the German side of the river but the effect was to draw German resources away the battle at the city. At a time, when German fuel is low and mobility is at a premium, the out-matched American tanks did a wonderful job. With the Germans on one side of the river, the Americans on the other side, it will be the fate of the 45 new US paratroops appearing this turn to force a decision.

The Players

As gruesome and pathetic as this looks, here is Dirk (left) and Phil, two of the three German commanders. It's little wonder why we're having as many problems as we do. Both are primarily armor leaders and resent having to slow down for the foot soldiers; yet they suddenly become real appreciative when the grenadiers finally catch up and clear the place of anti tank guns.

Dirk's Quotes

"I should be home in ten minutes."
"Not with only four movement points you're not."
"It's blocked - like it was last turn."
"Beer me."

Robert (aka "Bob"), the third of the German commanders. All doubt is now removed as to why we are having bad troubles. I am mostly infantry, a small compensation next to my steel-packing buddies.


Doyle. The American commander. The beer isn't his; Dirk and Phil would resent the alcohol intrusion. While I always encourage my opponents to drink and to so heavily, Doyle doesn't touch the stuff but my team members do.



Art Gorksi, CLAG founder. I saw him once without that disgusting thing in his mouth.

CLAG - Clear Lake Area Gamers. Located in the steamy mists of Houston (Clear Lake actually), founded in 1991. CLAG aimed to bind gamers together. Currently inactive, it met the 3rd Friday of each month and was open to all gamers and any wargames. Often group games, up to seven players, are the popular choice for the evening. There is a D and D faction and M:tG has a following. Spin off groups include bigger more traditional wargames. This ASL cadre is one such group.

It was founded by Art Gorski after he moved here from Chicago. Apparently wargame clubs are popular there and he wanted to continue the spirit of one. He has since moved on to better things and I don't say that euphemistically.