Wednesday, February 09, 2005

SASL AAR - Mission 2: Pockets (Part 2 - Turn 1) 

First, before proceeding, this will not be a detailed Series Replay-type AAR, in which every move and specific attack by every unit is listed. There are two reasons for this. First, I wanted this AAR to be directed towards pointing out the mechanics of the SASL system and how they influence the progress of the mission, to give an overview of how the SASL rules work. Secondly, and more importantly, it didn't occur to me until already a couple of turns into the mission that I should save a VASL logfile, so those details are simply not available. My apologies.

Okay, my British troops move first. Wind Change DR is a 10, which causes Gusts to occur, but with no effect as there are no blazes or smoke on board. More to the point, I don't get a RE this turn. There is no Rally Phase (RPh) or Prep Fire Phase (PFPh) activity this turn, so I'll move on to the Movement Phase (MPh).

As stated during setup, I'll position about two-thirds of my forces to enter through the village. Thus I also setup two of my three leaders (a 9-1 and the 8-0) to enter with the larger force. In SASL, a Command Control (CMD) DR is required to allow any forces to move or fire. In this case, my 9-1 leader passes his DR by rolling a 10 or less (92% probability), and does so successfully. While not shown at left, I had my 8-0 leader setup within two hexes of the 9-1, and since the 9-1 had a higher morale, his successful CMD DR puts the 8-0 in CMD as well. By setting up the remainder of this force within two hexes of one of the two leaders, the chain reaction continues and with one successful DR, two-thirds of my entire OB is already free to move/fire this turn. As you can see, the concept of Command Control adds an additional level of complexity to the management of your leaders. In regular games of ASL, you have to decide between using your leaders as rally points for your troops or using them in firegroups to avoid cowering or to take advantage of negative modifiers. Now, you have another option consisting of keeping your leader where he can influence the greatest number of your troops, which might not necessarily be an optimal position for either rallying troops or positively influencing fire attacks. If your leader winds up out of position or, even worse, if he is eliminated or broken, you can wind up with a large number of your units having to roll their own CMD DR. A 9-1 leader might pass his CMD DR 92% of the time, but a 7 morale squad (needs a 7 or less) will only be successful 58% of the time. Thus, careful positioning of your leaders is important to allow your offensive (or defense for that matter) the greatest chance of succeeding. On the first turn, it's easy to setup my troops so that the most units possible are influenced by the smallest number of DR. Once my advance across the board gets underway and my troops become more spread out, it'll be harder to keep such force cohesion, and my progress may slow down. Once again, this is one of the major things that make SASL such a unique experience in the ASL world.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's start sneaking onto the board. First to move is my half-squad which enters the woods in 12L10. Activation of enemy suspect (S?) counters is checked either when fired upon with a concealment-loss result or when one of my units moves within a certain range depending on the possible DRM. In this case, my unit uses non-assault movement into a woods hex, providing a net DRM of 0 (+1 for the woods, -1 for FFNAM) for any defensive fire. Each nationality has a chart detailing the detection range for each possible DRM. For the Germans, a DRM of 0 will cause an activation check for any S? counter within 6 hexes of the moving unit (had this been a clear hex, the net DRM of -2 for FFNAM and FFMO could have allowed activation checks for up to 12 hexes away). In this case, the S? counters in 12L5 and M6 are within range with a clear LOS. L5 is checked first (randomly chosen between the two) and activates a 8-1 leader along with a 4-6-7 squad possessing a LMG. The subsequent attack (6 FP with a -1 DRM) fortunately fails to hurt my HS, but leaves 2 residual FP. Since my HS is still Good Order (and used 2 MF to enter the woods), the same units fire again as SFF, and again fail to have an effect. Unscathed, my HS slips into the gully in L9 and temporarily out of harm's way (normally, since he was still Good Order, the S? in M6 should've been checked for activation to possibly attack him in the woods hex, but I appear to have overlooked that possibility).

Next to move is a squad who enters the N10 woods hex. The S? in K7 fails his activation check (AC) and is removed from the board. The S? in K5 is out of range (7 hexes with a 0 DRM), so the squad proceeds into N9. The K5 S? passes his AC and produces a 4-6-7 squad. The 4 FP attack with a -2 DRM pins my squad. Next, another HS enters the board through P10 and O10. The units in L5 can't fire since they're already marked with Final Fire. Upon entering O9, the HS triggers an AC (finally!) for the S? in M6, yielding a 4-4-7 squad. His First Fire and SFF attacks cause no harm. Now, with the German units all marked with Final Fire (M6 and L5) or out of range (K5), the rest of my northern force can enter the board without much concern. My 8-0 enters N10 along with a mortar-toting crew. The other crew with a mortar remains offboard for now rather than enter the 2 FP residual in L10. The remainder of my units (along with the 9-1) enter along the Q10 road and push towards the marketplace.

Down at the southern end of the battlefield, my other units prepare to enter the fray. My 8-1 leader passes his CMD DR. First to move is a HS which enters play through BB10, with the purpose of seeing what the closest S? counters might reveal (with a 50% chance of them proving to be dummies). Upon his entering BB9, the S? in DD4 is checked, resulting in a 4-6-7 German squad being activated. His attack breaks the HS. Seeing that discretion might be the better part here, my remaining forces directly enter the gully in the hope of getting closer to the Germans without drawing further fire, with the exception of my remaining crew with a mortar, who sneaks into Z10. Thus no further activations are made.

No action takes place during the Defensive Fire Phase (DFPh), and no decent attacks are available for me during the Advancing Fire Phase (AFPh). The broken unit in BB9 routs back to the woods in Z10. During the Advance Phase, the HS in the L9 gully claims Crest Status, and the crew and mortar which had remained offboard now advance into the L10 woods hex (since the residual FP is no longer present). The forces in the village advance into cover and my units in the southern gully advance one hex farther. Other than a couple of my squads gaining concealment, no significant action occurs during the Close Combat Phase (CCPh), and the British First Turn comes to an end. I've pretty much achieved the goals I had for this turn, mainly to get most of my force on the board and begin activating the German forces. Other than my one broken unit, no blood has been shed yet.

Now for the German's turn 1. The Wind Change DR is a 7, yielding no effect. During the RPh, nothing happens since the only broken unit on the board can't self-rally. Next to determine what the German units will do. During the enemy player's PFPh, each activated unit on the board is checked to see if they will fire, move or Panic (and thus do neither) during that turn. When on the defensive (such as in this mission), the enemy units are more likely to fire (or else entrench if no target is available) than move. Once that decision is made, charts are used to determine each Location's target (if selected to fire) or movement command (if selected to move). In this case, the German units in K5, L5 and M6 are all given fire commands, while the unit in DD4 is selected to move and is marked with a "move" counter for now. The German units do well with Prep Fire, managing to break the HS in Crest Status in the gully and, even worse, getting a lucky KIA result on the poor squad which had been pinned in the open in N9 on the previous turn.

Down at the southern end of the battlefield, the German squad in DD4 doesn't fare as well. Instructed to move towards the nearest British unit in LOS, he makes his charge towards the units in Z10. However, upon entering the first hex (CC5), he suddenly finds himself exposed in front of my units in the gully (which he couldn't see prior to the move). A lucky roll on my part and he goes down with a KIA as well. During my DFPh, no real action takes place except for my crews assembling their mortars. In the RPh, my HS in the gully routs back to L10. The German uses his APh to get his units out of the K5/L5 grain and into better cover and no action occurs during the CCPh.

So, here we are at the end of one complete game turn. I've moved well onto the board in both locations. My units in the village are positioned to use the 12O6 building to get in close against the activated German units while keeping good cover. The units in the southern gully should be able to get close enough to find out what lurks in the orchard with a little bit of reconnaissance by fire in the next turn or two. My mortar crews should be able to provide a little harassing fire in addition. Overall I'm pleased with the position. CVP are even with 2 CVP per side, thanks to the matching KIA results. However, there are still seven S? counters just on board 12 and still another 18 on board 5, so there's still a lot of work left to do. Fortunately, I'm just one turn into the game, with a minimum of ten more turns left.

On turn 2, I plan to assault move the forces in the village into the O6 building, with maybe one unit moving behind the wall in P5 to get a shot at the S? down the road in K3. The units in the gully will stay in the gully, claiming Crest Status in the APh and plan to hit the German units with Defensive Fire in the German 2nd. With a bit of luck, I could get most of board 12 cleared by the end of the 3rd (or at worst the 4th) turn, leaving plenty of time to tackle the ominous woods on board 5. On to the top of the 2nd...

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