Saturday, May 29, 2004

Infiltration: The Final Word 

Yeah, right.

Infiltration (A11.22) is one of those rules which give ASL so much of its flavor. It isn't really intended to replicate any specific combat situation or maneuver ("Chapter A Footnote 40: This rule is designed in part to simulate tactics such as the legendary McMurphy Evasion Technique, which so often allowed the Aussies to escape hand-to-hand combat unscathed, leaving their dead opponents behind…"). It seems to exist more as another means to reflect the capricious nature of combat.

It's also one of those rules that make ASL so hard for the new player, taking just a few lines in the Rulebook but seemingly very difficult to comprehend (and taking a document as long as this one to explain). Part of the problem is the rule as written (taken with the following rule A11.3 which begins "There are three other instances in which CC is not considered simultaneous; rather it is sequential…") implies that when Infiltration is invoked, CC becomes sequential. Thus, A11.22 suggests sequential CC when it's actually not sequential, yet also proves that the normally simultaneous CC is not actually simultaneous. Confused? Many people are. In the last couple of months, there've been at least two lengthy threads on the ASL Mailing List, as well as one on the Consimworld forum, debating this very issue, accompanied by several Q&A sent to MMP (and indeed even as I was writing this on Friday, a new question appeared on the ASLML). Between these discussions and the "Perry Sez" that have been issued, I think things are pretty well set and will try to explain how it all works.

First, read the explanation given in the ASL FAQ. I'll try to complement this with some more explanation and examples.

The basic mechanics are simple. If either player rolls an original 2 or 12 on their CC DR, Infiltration comes into play. (And don't forget of course that an original 2 may result in Leader Creation per A18.12.) If a player rolls a 2, then he has the option to withdraw his attacking units from that Location, with their attack taking effect but at the same time avoiding any yet to be resolved attack by the other player. If a player rolls a 12, then his opponent has the option to withdraw the units being attacked although the effects of that 12 DR (if any) still take place. The hard part is understanding the timing.

As laid out in the CC rules, the Attacker designates his attacks, the Defender designates his, then the Attacker resolves all of his attacks before the Defender does so. This sequence is important. Under most conditions, effects only take place after all attacks from both sides have been resolved, thus making CC seem "simultaneous." Infiltration changes all of that, but only slightly. If the Attacker rolls a 2, he can withdraw his forces, (likely eliminating the units being attacked) without those forces facing any return fire. However, if the Defender rolls a 2, any attacks already made by the Attacker still take effect. Likewise, if the Defender rolls a 12, the Attacker's units may withdraw after having already resolved their attacks, but if the Attacker rolls the 12, any Defender units which withdraw give up the chance to make their attacks. This gives the Attacker an advantage in CC, and is the reason why CC is never actually "simultaneous."

However, as stated earlier, Infiltration doesn't make CC completely sequential either. In sequential CC (as laid out in A11.3), a unit can be eliminated by the opponent's attack before it has a chance to retaliate. Infiltration makes things kind of conditionally sequential. The only thing that really changes is the ability of a side to withdraw units while CC is still going on. The effects of any Infiltration attack still do not take place until after all CC attacks (from both sides) are completed, just as with normal CC. The player who rolls the 2 must take the option to withdraw in order to avoid any subsequent attack. If he chooses not to withdraw, then subsequent attacks by the other side are resolved as if Infiltration never happened. However, even though, for instance, the Attacker may withdraw before being attacked, the Defender unit attacked by that 2 DR is not eliminated until after all attacks (from both sides) are resolved. Thus, if multiple units are involved and that Defender unit is predesignated to attack a unit that did not withdraw, his attack will still take place.

One other tactical issue. You may wonder why the Attacker would ever want to withdraw, since presumably he sought CC by advancing into the Location in the first place. A11.2 which deals with withdrawal from melee (and presumably governs withdrawal as dictated by Infiltration) does not in any way restrict the direction in which the Infiltrating unit chooses to withdraw, other than prohibiting entry of a Location containing a Known enemy unit or a Location that unit couldn't normally enter during the APh. Thus, an Attacker could take advantage of this rule to actually escape CC by advancing farther towards enemy-held objectives, potentially also threatening enemy Rout paths.

Now for the examples.

Example 1 - Start simple, right?. A Russian 6-2-8 squad advances into CC against a German 4-3-6 squad with no ambush. The Russian squad rolls a 12, not sufficient to eliminate the German Defender. Facing long odds, the German squad chooses to withdraw from the Location, but is thus unable to make his own attack.

Example 2 - Same situation, except the 6-2-8 rolls a 5 which at 3:2 odds is low enough to eliminate the German. The German then rolls a 2. Leader Creation results in an 8-0 leader. The odds of the first attack are refigured with the new leader, resulting in the Russian's attack becoming 1:1, at which point it is now only good enough to Casualty Reduce one of the German units. Random Selection results in the new leader dying from a wound. The German attack takes place at 1:2 odds (5:6 in FP counting the leader). Since the German squad has survived the Russian CC attack, he can still choose to withdraw if he wishes. Of course, if his attack eliminates the Russian he can also remain in the Location.

Example 3 - Two American 6-6-6 squads (A&B) advance into a Location containing three German 4-6-7 squads (C, D and E). No ambush occurs. The American player predesignates his attacks. Squad A will attack squad C at 3:2 odds, Squad B will attack squad D also at 3:2 odds. Squad E will not be attacked. The German player then predesignates his attacks, choosing to have squads C&D attack squad B at 1:1 odds, and squad E attack squad A at 1:2 odds. The American, as the Attacker, goes first, choosing to perform A's attack first. He promptly rolls a 2 but no leader is created. The American takes advantage though to withdraw squad A into the next Location. Squad B rolls a 12 against D, failing to eliminate the unit. Squad D chooses not to withdraw since doing so would forfeit his role in the upcoming attack. Now it's the German's turn. Squad E has nothing to do since his designated target has already left the building. Squads C&D attack squad B as planned at 1:1 odds (since C won't be eliminated until after resolving the attacks). Continuing the run of bizarre rolls, they roll another 12, allowing squad B to withdraw into the same Location as squad A. C is eliminated, leaving D&E in the CC Location, but in a more precarious position with A&B now behind them.

Example 4 - This happened in a game of mine. A German 4-6-7 advances into a building Location containing a British 4-5-7. The Location also happens to be a victory objective. No ambush occurs. Both CC attacks will be resolved at 1:1 odds. The German rolls an original 2. Leader Creation results in an 8-0 leader being created. This doesn't change the odds and the 2 will still eliminate the British squad. Now the German has a choice to make. If he chooses to withdraw, he will eliminate the British squad but will leave the victory Location unoccupied. If he chooses to remain in the Location (either the squad, the leader, or both), he then will be attacked by the British squad's CC attack. Again, it is not sequential; i.e., he cannot both stay and avoid the return attack. He chooses to stay, hoping to survive the CC attack and gain control of the Location. However, in one of those "only with the VASL dicebot" moments, the British squad also rolls an original 2. Again, Leader Creation results in an 8-0 leader. Both attacks are now refigured with new odds (since this is not sequential CC). Total FP is now 5:5, again resolved on the 1:1 column, and both attacks still result in elimination of the other side. The British squad does not have the option to withdraw, since he is the Defender and will be eliminated by the German's attack. The net result then is that both sides are completely eliminated, including the newly-minted leaders, leaving the Location empty. And moments like that are why I love this game.

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