A 'Monsters' AAR (Full Version)

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Joram -> A 'Monsters' AAR (5/19/2012 5:18:19 PM)

Monsters is arguably the hardest scenario in the game. But like any scenario, once you have played it a few times you start to get a good idea of how to beat it. Monsters is unique in the sense that there probably are less ways to win than in other scenarios and even if you have developed a tactic, you're still not guaranteed to win. Some people complain that you shouldn't need luck to win but I would argue that you make your own luck. If you don't put yourself in a winning situation in this game, luck will not help you. You put yourself in a winning situation, you still may require a little luck but it's even more satisfying when it all works out.

For those who want to figure out how to win this all on their own, I'd recommend not reading this AAR. For those who want to see what I think is a winning strategy (even if it doesn't always work!) please read through it and feel free to comment on how you think it could be done better because I certainly am not the perfect general!

Let's start off with the options screen. I am playing on 'normal' difficulty which gives the AI CAP and unit bonuses. I am leaving variable APs off and variable unit quality off. I also am playing with persistent APs which I feel for this scenario at least makes it much harder for the Germans. So that's my first tip, try playing with Classic Rules if you still find this scenario too hard.


Joram -> Initial Setup (5/19/2012 5:21:52 PM)

For those not familiar with Monsters, the real objectives are on the rearmost hills where the side that controls them on Turn 2 gets 2VPs and on Turn 5 get 5vps. However, the forward hills have two objective hexes as well and they give 1 VP per turn for the controlling side so they cannot be ignored. Also, this is where the bulk of the Russian forces start at so you might be tempted to go completely around them but I think that's a mistake if you ignore them completely. You can also see that the Russians are expected to get reinforcements on Turn 3.


Joram -> The Plan (5/19/2012 5:33:48 PM)

My initial plan is to try to avoid the forces on the right, particularly the AT-Gun, and concentrate on turning their left flank. I can accomplish this by first understanding the base range of the forward AT-Gun (the red line) and do my best to stay outside this range however with the proper placement of smoke, I can cut off a much larger portion of his field-of-view as well as nearly completely blinding one of their tanks.


Joram -> First Moves (5/19/2012 5:35:47 PM)

I won the initiative so my first move is to place the smoke as I indicated. Checking my LOS to him, I see that I succesfully cut his view off from the majority of my left. After all, if I can't see him, he shouldn't be able to see me!

The first thing the soviets did is fire on my lead PzIII. He chose to fire on my lead PzIII with the fortunate result that he missed at first and the second one while hitting, only suppressed my tank. I can still easily lose my tank but in the off chance he doesn't kill him this round, if I rally him, the damage won't be permanent.


Joram -> First Loss (5/19/2012 5:38:08 PM)

I also note that the AI used 2 CAPS in this fire. If he has 9 like I do (which I am uncertain) he would only have 7 left. It also pays to pay attention to the type of units that fired on me. The T-26 which starts with the same 7APs takes 5APs to fire. So the only way he is going to fire again is if he uses CAPs! His BA-10 similarly takes 5APs to fire and thus similarly has essentially taken itself out of the round without spending caps. He only has one tank that has full APs and can still see me. With this in mind, I think I will attempt to retreat my tank so unless he uses that last remaining tank to fire on him, I have a decent chance of moving my tank to safety and maybe rallying him later.

Unfortunately it didn't quite work. I was encouraged when he made an initial move with his BA-10 but then his next move was to fire on me with his other T-26 and he rolled a 10. Since his attack was 6, added one for height and again added one with a CAP, he rolled an 18 vs my defense of 15. He didn't need the +1's because of such a good die roll but in any case, my unit is dead. I added more smoke as well as you can see but the Soviets decided to advance out of the smoke.


Joram -> Middle of Turn 1 (5/19/2012 5:41:28 PM)

Since that didn't work, I'm going to begin my attack on the left flank. I start moving my PzII on the left and when all of a sudden a hidden BT-7 makes an appearance on my right flank. The first thing he does is fire and immobilize my far right PzII. Bad luck but I need to follow through on my plan for any hope. I have a choice of trying to force him to use some CAPs by moving next to one of his units that already fired or trying some shots at range 2 which won't give me any bonuses but is safer. I decide on the latter but surprisingly they didn't take the bait! Either they don't have enough CAPs or are saving it for later. I'm going to guess on the former and move a bunch of tanks next to him in an attempt to overwhelm it.

It's not often I will say this but the AI threw me for a complete surprise by waiting till my third tank (and incidentally his best chance of any damage) moved next to him. He fired and with the +3 short range bonus did hit me. Thankfully he only suppressed me so I can salvage the situation. I also haven't used any CAPs yet so unless he surprises me again, I'm going to use as much as I need to to get rid of this tank. Also I take note that with careful observation and checking the game log, it appears the soviets have used 10 CAPs (though please note this is some guesswork).


Joram -> End of Turn1 (5/19/2012 5:44:20 PM)

My luck turns real bad as I take a chance to rally my panicked tank, fail and then to my complete surprise again, he fires that tank. Since I know the tank is out of APs and I am to the rear, it would have taken a further 6 CAPs to fire! So I can surmise the Soviets have around 16 CAPs (recall this is on normal difficulty). Now, I really hope they are out of CAPs because he immobilized my PZII.

I continue my left flank with the lone exception of taking my other PZIII and advancing on the T26 he advanced out of the woods and with a couple shots I destroy it. On the left flank, while using lots of CAPs, I do manage to destroy his tank in the woods. I would note that if I had fired my PzII which started with a 58% chance to hit before he took a shot at me, my PZII may not have ever been immobilized, a bad tactical mistake on my part. I finally decide to advance one of my PzIV's up to the first victory hex. Out of CAPs, I use both my command action cards and score one hit. I felt it was worth playing both because I would have gotten an extra VP if it succeeded and in this scenario, every VP counts.


Joram -> Turn 2 (5/19/2012 5:47:06 PM)

Turn 2 starts and my first move is to try to finish off the tank on the VP hex since unless his gun is damaged, he still has a real good chance of taking me out. I can't afford another immobilized tank so I roll the dice and pump in 2 CAPs right away to bring my odds up to 83%. I rolled an 8 which with all my modifiers gave me a 16 which is 3 greater than his defence of 13. Sadly this meant I didn't need to use my CAPs but you never know!

His first action is to use his BA-10 to take a shot at my loaded units and he winds up killing the APC but the LMG survives. A bit more bad luck but I'm glad the LMG survived.

I start laying more smoke to screen off his ATGun but not before he gets another good shot at me and immobilizes my other PZIII. It's a little discouraging at this point but I press on.


Joram -> Mid Turn 2 (5/19/2012 5:49:45 PM)

I take my forward PZIV and advance on the BA-10's flank. I use the PZIV because while it has a poor anti-armor attack, it has the best armor giving it the best chance of surviving a hit. Since the BA-10 fired and I'm advancing on it's flank, the soviets would have to use at least 4 CAPs to fire on me but it chooses not to. This time, I am not going to repeat the mistake I made earlier and am going to take advantage of my proximity right away by pumping some CAPs into the fire bonus and firing on it.


Joram -> End Turn 2 (5/19/2012 5:52:06 PM)

I roll a 12, killing him outright which is the first bit of luck I've had. At this point, I'm down to three mobile tanks, one of which is already panicked. I can see that he has one tank moving around (A BT-7) but he's staying at range. If that was truly the last mobile element he had, I'm in good shape but to be honest, I think he has one more which I've lost track of.

Just as I am thinking that, I move more forward and he reveals yet another BT-7 on my right flank! His first shot is to pick off the immobilized PZII on my right flank giving him another VP. I move my LMG up to capture the other hill VP hex and follow up with my trucks. I also successfully rally my panicked tank and then with my last CAPs, I move my LMG forward and take a shot at a couple soviets I just revealed, hitting both but killing neither.


Joram -> Mid Turn 3 (5/19/2012 5:55:18 PM)

Turn 3 begins and right now it stands with the Russians with 9 VPs and the Axis with 6 VPs. This isn't too bad a situation to be in but I have a choice, do I make a mad dash to the rear to grab those VPs or try to mop up the russians near me just gaining VPs that way?

In any case, the Soviets won the initiative and their first action was to make an unsuccessful rally attempt. My smoke is fading as well and I still want to screen off the russians so I have to decide to take a potshot with my LMG on the wounded russians or lay some smoke. I decide to lay some smoke since my LMG has a decent chance of re-wounding them even if they manage a rally.

The plan works ok but since he has both BT-7s lying around, he managed to kill off my LMG before I could fully implement my plan. Not a great time for them to make a reappearance! LMG's are not good at close assault so there was not much I could do about it.

He also advanced a truck onto my victory hex which is a really annoying move because I had placed my AT Gun there and it can't close assault either making it nearly impossible to dislodge. So in desperation, I start advancing my PZIV towards the back objective when all of a sudden he charges me with a T-34 I did not see. This may be my best chance of ever killing the T-34 so I'm going to pump all the caps I have into it and hope I can wound him.


Joram -> End Turn 3/Beg Turn 4 (5/19/2012 5:59:15 PM)

I hit! But did not kill him. He immediately moves off telling me it's he's panicked (since he can move but not fire). Since he is moving beyond me towards the hill, I move my PzII to intercept and luckily he moves right into it. My PzII has a decent chance of hitting him point blank without CAPs but I don't want to take any chances so I take a command action to be able to fire and then pump to CAPs for roll bonus into it and fire. Success! One T-34 down, two to go.

Sadly, I'm almost completely out of moves this turn and he still has 2 T-34's to move. I can only wait and see what happens.

I pass a couple times but as I see his T-34's sweeping around my right, I move my lone PZIV onwards towards the back objectives and then the turn ends.


Joram -> Early Turn 4 (5/19/2012 6:01:33 PM)

Those T-34's are fast! He advances his second T-34 right by me and I have about one chance to be able to hit him before he winds up on the victory objective. So I pump a couple CAPS (I'm down to 4 a turn at this point) and hope I can hit him with my PZII. Success but again it must just be a panic because he moves onto the victory hex. He's still a tough nut to crack.


Joram -> Mid Turn 4 (5/19/2012 6:03:15 PM)

That put me in a real quandry because he has 3 other tanks out there that haven't even moved this turn and I've already moved 2 of mine. I think I'm going to waste time by moving a truck to see what he does as well as try to get it out of the line of fire since it is useless now.

While moving my truck he reveals yet another hidden BT-7 who takes a shot at my PZIV. Thankfully the well armored tank doesn't get injured. Back at the first hill, he moves one of his BT-7's in front of my Pak gun. Finally, a trap of mine works! I take a shot and damage him. He tries to rally but fails meaning unless he spends a lot of caps, that tank is out of it this turn. This is the point where i really wished I Hadn't made that mistake on the left flank earlier since I can see my immobilized tank just sitting around like a bump on a log. Since it's in a forest, it can't even see out!


Joram -> End Turn 4 (5/19/2012 6:06:34 PM)

His second BT-7 unfortunately fared a bit better and advanced on my AT-gun. Even though I hit him, he spent CAPs to rally his tank and fire on my twice destroying my AT-gun. His final (I hope) T-34 revealed itself and made a beeline to my PZIV and while I was able to take a potshot at him, I missed. My other PZIV maneuvered back towards the hills VP hex and at this point the soviets were passing so I was fairly comfortable (but don't automatically assume!) that he was out of CAPs.

If I hadn't seen his BT-7 fire rally and fire a few times I would be less comfortable about this.

I did have a little bit of luck destroying that truck he had parked on my VP hex giving me an extra VP and freeing up the second Pak gun to be able to fire. The turn ends in this position and the score is 12 to 12. A real nailbiter.

Unfortunately he is in a better position than me since while I may be able to retake the single VP down south, I don't have enough mobile units forward to be able to take (and keep) the rear hexes so I am not sure at this point how I'm going to pull this out.


Joram -> Turn 5 (5/19/2012 6:10:25 PM)

Turn 5 starts. I manage to win the initiative and after considering my options, I felt my only real one was to take my northerly PZIV and advance onto the VP hex. He may or may not fire on me considering he had a unit in the hex and he chooses not to. Unfortunately, his BT-7 down south chooses to take out my last PZII with one hit. Bad luck. I really can't afford for him to have more VPs.

I retaliate by destroying the infantry in the VP hex and he then fires his T-34 at me and misses. He fires his T-34 again and hits. He fires his T-34 yet again (must still have a lot of caps) and destroys my tank! However, the VP is mine because it turned as soon as I killed his VP hex. That spot is open but he must have run out of APs so maybe I can still hold it!

Down south he advances his BT-7 against my Pak and I hit him on the first shot. He fires back at me and hits me. The score is so close that I can't afford to lose him so I pump 2 CAPs into my next shot and destroy his BT-7. The score is now 15 to 15.

In desperation I fire at his T-34 twice in the lower VP hex and miss each time. I only need one hit and the game is mine!


Joram -> Last Chance (5/19/2012 6:13:59 PM)

There is very little left for me to do. I have two command actions and my only hope is to destroy his T-34. So I spend one command action and fire. I missed! I then spend my remaining command action and my last CAP. This gives me a 41% chance to hit. I've already missed 4 times now so I'm hoping this is my lucky moment.


Joram -> Victory! (5/19/2012 6:15:45 PM)

I hit! I win the game with a score of 22 to 19!


Joram -> Final Thoughts on Monsters Scenario (5/19/2012 6:19:47 PM)

Let's face it, this scenario is hard. I was a little lucky that on normal difficulty his extra units were the hidden BT-7s.  Which while important, were only revealed later and didn't scuttle my plan early.  I've played several games where they get an extra BA-10 and/or T-26 and it is harder when that happens.  At least for my plan of attack. 

I would recommend that for most people, this scenario has to be played on easy to begin with.  If it's still too hard, I would recommend changing the rules to 'Classic' which is what the original board game was balanced for.  Only after you get comfortable with it, should you move on to Normal unless you simply like a really difficult challenge.  But as I've shown, it's not an impossible one... 

junk2drive -> RE: Final Thoughts on Monsters Scenario (5/19/2012 6:29:37 PM)


JFalk68 -> RE: Final Thoughts on Monsters Scenario (5/19/2012 6:43:12 PM)

thanks Joram! Can't wait to try out your strategy.

Lebatron -> RE: Final Thoughts on Monsters Scenario (5/19/2012 8:06:02 PM)



If it's still too hard, I would recommend changing the rules to 'Classic' which is what the original board game was balanced for... 

It seems to me that even though the human player is using classic AP the AI seems to continue to use persistent AP. That would only make things even tougher. Do you know if this is the case or not? I can't recall.

Joram -> RE: Final Thoughts on Monsters Scenario (5/20/2012 1:04:25 AM)

No, I can't say that I have noticed that.  I felt the AI follows the same rules except of course on Normal they get a lot more CAPs. 

ericbabe -> RE: Final Thoughts on Monsters Scenario (5/21/2012 4:24:43 PM)

Good AAR! Thank you.

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