|These guys really are trash, but they can still win|
I saw this scenario had a 5-0 record in favor of the Italians, so I took a closer look. I soon spotted what I thought was an aberration in the scenario that should make this sided towards the Germans despite the lopsided record. I asked one of my regular opponents if he would take the Italian side so I could see if my theory was correct, and he graciously accepted. He quickly spotted the same concern I had about the ability for the Italians to win, and with that knowledge on both sides we took a shot at the scenario. A large SS force with abysmal morale must try to escape past a decent morale but much smaller Italian force. Road control is also important. Both sides have a small OBA, Italians slightly better, but the Germans get to pull an aircraft every turn. Points are awarded one each for steps inflicted or demoralized, Germans score a point per step exited (double for the two tanks), and 10 points if the Germans clear the road or if the Italians maintain even one hex of control.
I count up the German steps available and determine ROAD CONTROL HAS ONLY A MINOR EFFECT ON THE OUTCOME OF THE SCENARIO. The best bet for the Germans is to avoid contact and run for the board edge. The Italians see likewise, and understand that winning while avoiding combat is always better than winning by combat. The defense is set well, with units controlling the town, a gun in the woods on the middle of the road, another gun on the hill overlooking the western expanse, and a reserve in the woods to the west blocking the road. The one flaw is the gun on the hill is not dug in. Italians have a great commander, and one other very good officer, and two poor officers. The Germans have two decent and three poor officers.
The Italians advance further into the town, but do not occupy the southeast or southwest corners. The Germans see this as a potential hole to avoid the slow terrain to the south, and immediately seize those town hexes. A few Germans push to the south, but most flow towards the town. The Germans even launch an assault into the northeast portion of the town just to pin Italians down, and while they take losses and the Italians guess as to the purpose of the assault, they gladly accept the opportunity to begin beating down SS units. German air on turn 2 makes its presence felt by hitting the not dug in gun on the hill and blowing it to bits. That’s about the effect of German support during the scenario (one late demoralization), but it opens the channel on the western board.
German forces loop through the town (and a few through the woods to the south) and head to the south edge and run. They clear the bottom of the central woods and have a choice to continue riding the south edge or drive up the center of the board and make for the road. A company of Germans also advance from the town along the road and force the ATG in the woods to fall back toward the western woods. The southern force decides to run along the edge, and the Italian reserve heads down the road to intercept.
The motorcycles get past before the Italians can intercept, but loop back north along the western edge towards the road. The Italian ATG tries to run down a tank unit, but is blown to bits by tank opfire in the only case of the tanks engaging in combat during the entire game. The Italian reserve takes up a great position adjacent to the German route of march on one side and the road on the other. The Germans send in their gun towing trucks as a rabbit, and they are destroyed by Italian opfire. Another platoon tries to get by, but is disrupted and ends the scenario one movement point from exiting. But the tanks are already gone, and three other German platoons head up the road past the now expended Italian force.
After pulverizing SS units in the town (six steps worth while losing only one), the Italians send reinforcements west along the road to try and block the German company moving north. The motorcycles get on the road and establish a roadblock east of the crossroads, blocking the advancing Italians while the German infantry runs to the crossroads and heads west. All German forces exit as the motorcycle rearguard chooses to run instead of conducting opfire.
In the end, the Italians have the road for 10 points, inflict seven step losses and leave two German steps demoralized for a total of 19 point. The Germans inflict three step losses and exit 24 points worth of forces for a total of 27 points. A minor German victory! I believe all the solo plays assumed that the game depended on the Germans attacking for road control, but in reality the Germans do not need the road. With such poor morale the Germans have no hope of engaging the Italians for victory through combat. If the Germans accept some losses to pin Italians, they have a great opportunity to win via exiting steps.
This scenario was better than I expected, and my opponent felt the same. There was tension on both sides, the Italians may have been able to close the gap if they had gotten a double activation on the last turn, and the scenario moved fast. I think the Germans definitely have an advantage in this scenario, but not as much as I expected. My opponent played the Italians well, and we both felt this was a solid 3, but with the poor fighting quality of some of the forces it just didn’t have the combat excitement to rate a 4.