Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hell hath frozen over 

Sorry this site has been neglected for so long, and I'm not sure when it will become filled with fresh content again, but I had to post on this topic.


The MMP guys have brought copies to Winter Offensive and should start to ship out orders once the tournament is over. Here are more pictures to prove the existence of this module, which has attained almost mythic status with gamers, even among those who don't play ASL.

Hopefully the release of this module will help break up the logjam for ASL products. Already, Valor of the Guards has been added to the preorder page and hopefully Journal 7 will be just around the corner. Good times.

Friday, April 22, 2005


My apologies for those of you awaiting the next turns of my SASL game. I've been preoccupied by some other things recently (not least of which is GMT's new game Empire of the Sun). The next part of the AAR will arrive soon.

I've updated some of the links in the sidebar along the left side of this page, including links to the existing parts of my ongoing SASL AAR. One link in particular worth pointing out is a link to "CardBoard Warriors," a relatively new site. The moderator is trying to make the site a clearinghouse of sorts for news from the ASL world, especially as it pertains to new and impending releases. Given that ASL's online community is now spread among several sites (the mailing list, ConSimWorld, and the Warfare HQ forums), such a centralized news site is very welcome.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Go Heels! 

Sorry about the off-topic post, but have to give a celebratory shout-out to Roy Williams, Sean May and the rest of the Tar Heels. Congratulations on the National Championship.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

SASL AAR - Mission 2: Pockets (Part 4 - Turns 3 & 4) 

British Turn 3, Wind Change DR is an 11 which results in (meaningless) Gusts.

During the Rally Phase, nothing significant happens as a British HS fails to self-rally and the wounded German leader in 12L4 also fails to rally, thus preventing the other units in his hex from making rally attempts. During Prep Fire, my squad in O5 takes a shot at the German conscripts in K3 but without effect. My mortars along the west edge fire at the Germans in L4 but without effect.

During my MPh, my units on the southern end make tracks for board 5, ending in 5Y10. At the northern end, I take advantage of his lack of good order units and run my squads up to surround his stack of broken units. I send the HS up to K5 and the 9-1 leader with his three squads up to M5. Defensive Fire from the conscript HS in K3 is ineffective, allowing me to bring the last squad to M3. During my Advance Fire, a lucky shot KIAs the HS in K3.

So we reach the Rout Phase with his stack of broken units surrounded and unable to rout away. They surrender to the HS in K5, giving me 5 CVP worth of units (an 8-1 leader, a squad, and a HS). At game end, of course, they'll be worth double CVP, so with this one move I've made tremendous progress.

So, my units start towards board 5 during the APh, and with no active Germans in LOS, many of my units are able to claim concealment. Remember that the S? counters are considered (as per S3.1) to be "non-Activated, Good Order, unbroken Enemy unit(s)" and thus even though no activated German units remain on the map, the S? counters still serve to limit concealment gain.

At the end of two and a half turns, I've completely cleared out the units on board 12. Capturing the prisoners has also garnered me enough VP to start thinking about how much progress I've made towards victory. Right now, 14 S? counters remain (all in the board 5 woods), which are worth 2 VP each at game end. Combined with my squad eliminated on the first turn, my opponent has 30 VP if the game ended now. I've eliminated four HS and one squad for a total of 6 VP. My prisoners add another 10 VP (in game-end terms) for 16 VP total. Obviously I've still got a lot of work to do, but with at least 8 full game turns left to play, I've got lots of time to do it.

Of course, not much happens during the German 3rd turn. The Wind Change DR is a ten, providing more Gusts, but no reinforcements for the beleaguered defenders. The only other event is a successful rally of my broken HS in 12L10.

So on to turn 4. The Wind Change DR is a 5, giving me another Random Event. This time I get Infantry Reinforcements (RE #35), which prove to be four squads (4-5-7) with an LMG and an 8-1 leader. This is a nice bonus, but the player has to be a bit careful in how they are used. The units are considered "temporarily attached" since they won't stay with my company for the next mission in my campaign game. However, I can't just throw them into the front line either. As per S17.1321, these units are worth 1.5 times the normal CVP if they are eliminated or captured, a nice way to keep them from being used unrealistically. I mark them accordingly to remember that they are not part of my regular forces.

During the MPh, I move out towards board 5. The mortar crews along the west edge pack up their weapons and head out. The new leader and one of the reinforcing squads panic, but the other three squads get on board successfully. The majority of my forces head for the board 5 woods, stopping one hex short of making contact with the first line of S? counters. This will allow the concealed units to advance into contact without losing that concealment.

During the APh, my units advance into the woods, activating all three S? in the first line. They'll get first shot at my units, but the concealment should help reduce the effectiveness of their fire.

My turn 4 ends, then with my troops already having engaged the first line of German defense on board 5. So far, I've been lucky. I haven't activated any fortifications, vehicles or exceptionally strong positions. I've been left with plenty of time to accomplish my task.

The Wind Change DR for the German 4th turn is a 7 with no effect. His Prep Fire is ineffective, thanks to my concealment. During my Defensive Fire, a number of things happen. His squad in 5M9 battle hardens. His squad in O9 gets KIA'd, with the resulting sniper check breaking my HS double-timing through the village, the only casualty I suffer this turn. Finally, my concentrated fire on N9 breaks his 8-0 leader and causes his conscript squad to surrender, leaving his MMG behind.

The leader routs back to N7 in the second line. The remaining 4-6-8 squad has the opportunity to advance into CC but fails his required NTC.

So ends the 4th turn. The British juggernaut continues, smashing through the first line of defense with the only casualty coming from a sniper. I also took another prisoner, adding another 2 CVP to my game-end total. Can anything stop me?

Somehow I think the answer will likely be yes. Such is (S)ASL.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

SASL AAR - Mission 2: Pockets (Part 3 - Turn 2) 

Okay, moving right along.

Wind change DR is a 5. This is a Random Event number for the British, so a roll on the RE table yields a 15, which is "Enemy resistance is fading." I get to make a DR and remove that many S? counters from the board.

Well, here is part of what's fun about SASL. The random nature of the process ensures that playing through a specific mission will be different each time. Based simply on the boards used, a task can prove to be simple, moderately difficult or nearly impossible. If the first enemy unit activated proves to be an elite unit such as SS or Paratroopers, all subsequent units will be of that type as well, making for a very long day. And RE rolls can make the job much easier or much, much harder. This is also part of why playing a campaign is likely to be much more satisfying than playing a single mission. In regular ASL, balance is something highly sought after, since nobody wants to play a scenario in which their chosen side has little likelihood of prevailing. In SASL, however, missions frequently do not end up being "balanced" as the random factors mentioned above skew things strongly to one side or the other. Such is the unpredictable nature of combat as depicted by SASL. Playing a campaign makes this more palatable as an impossible task is likely to be balanced out in a future mission when the Fates decide to smile on you, the player.

So I'm not going to feel guilty over this good fortune, especially knowing that a RE for the Germans could just as quickly make my life much more difficult. A quick DR and I now can remove eight of the pesky S? from the battlefield. I'm worried about clearing the woods on board 5, but at the same time I don't want to get hung up on board 12 too long either. So I'll compromise, and remove four S? from board 5, but also remove two of the three remaining S? on the south end of board 12 and two of the S? from the group north of the village. This should allow me to get board 12 cleared a little more quickly and move on to board 5 a good bit ahead of schedule.

So let's go. My three mortars lined up along the west edge take potshots at the remaining Germans, and one gets lucky and breaks the squad in 12L4 (Gotta love ROF and Airbursts - always take a mortar shot at units in woods when given the chance). During my MPh, I first assault move one of my squads from under the 12CC7 bridge to check the lone remaining S? for activation. A dr of 6 eliminates the S? and the southern end of board 12 is now clear. The remaining units in the gully move out. I'll combine them into one stack in the APh so as to be able to use the leader bonus and starting moving towards board 5.

In the village, I assault move most of my troops into the O6 building, except for one squad who moves into P5 so as to have a shot at the S? down the road in K3. During the DFPh, the Germans in M6 fire ineffectively at my squads in O6. During my AFPh, those same squads hit paydirt, getting a K/1 result on M6, which Casualty Reduces one squad and breaks the remaining squad and the leader. My squad in P5 takes a shot at K3 and activates a conscript Half Squad, who survives the attack unscathed. The Germans don't have to rout, and during the APh, my troops leave the O6 building and advance into the street. At the southern end, I combine my squads into one stack as I stated earlier.

Thus ends the top of the 2nd. No S? remain on board 12, thanks in large part to a lucky RE. Of the remaining German units, the only one still in Good Order is the conscript HS. The others are all broken, which means a great opportunity to take prisoners with their doubled CVP at game end. Things are looking good for now.

Not too much happens in the German half of the 2nd turn. The wind change DR of 6 yields no effect. The Germans fail to rally anybody and Prep Fire from the conscript HS fails to make an impression. During my DFPh, I fire at M6 and get another K/1 result, wounding the leader, eliminating the HS and casualty reducing the squad. During the RPh, the surviving M6 units rout back to L4 to join the broken squad there.

So here we are at the end of two turns. The southern end of board 12 is cleared of enemy units and my forces there are moving out to make contact with the enemy lurking in the woods. At the northern end, things should wrap up in the next turn, as all of his units are broken except for a lousy conscript HS. During this next turn, I'll maneuver my units to cut off rout paths and try to take prisoners, and hopefully will be able to turn all of my attention towards board 5 by turn four.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

ASL Journal 6 

MMP's sixth ASL Journal is out and now being received by subscribers (it was actually first released in limited numbers to the participants in last month's Winter Offensive). The big attraction this time is the first historical map with accompanying scenarios to be included in a Journal since the second issue, more than five years ago. Although irrelevant to reviewing the actual content, this issue does include one of the nicer cover paintings used in quite a while. The back cover provides an advertisement for Fire in the Sky, MMP's planned reprint of a Japanese game on the war in the Pacific and which is currently on their preorder page. The remaining pages are all given over to ASL material. Overall, this is a nice looking magazine and very good to see. MMP appears very optimistic about this year's schedule of releases, and hopefully this will prove to be the first in a large series of products for both the new and the experienced ASL gamer in 2005.

As admitted by the editors, the Table of Contents looks a bit skimpy, but this is a 48 page magazine nevertheless. There are only three articles, but each is considerable, thus accounting for the appearance of the Table. First up is a Series Replay of scenario J73 "Tired and Unsupported," published in Journal 4. The players are J.R. Tracy and Paul Sidhu, with commentary supplied by John Slotwinski, all of these being familiar names in the ASL community. As pointed out by the participants, this scenario nicely demonstrates the Wall Advantage and Bocage rules as laid out in the 2nd edition of the ASL Rulebook. As always, the article provides a step-by-step listing of every action taken during the playing of the scenario, allowing the reader to set up the pieces and play along at home. While the scenario was a little one-sided, it looks like a nice demonstration that should be of benefit to new players and to anyone interested in the WA and Bocage rules. Plus, anytime you read about the play of a particular ASL scenario, you're likely to have some rules pointed out that you may tend to overlook. Did you remember that a sniper counter must be initially placed in an unoccupied Location as per A14.2? I'd forgotten that, but it's pointed out in the setup comments. Looks like a nice replay, and if anyone's interested I can suggest a couple of articles to browse before reading it.

The second article is by David Olie, and is a "nearly exhaustive" review of Fire Lanes and Residual FP. Given the importance of using these tactics to defend in ASL, both by channeling an attack and by protecting vulnerable routes of attack (such as streets), this article should be of benefit to any ASL player. Helping to clarify things even more, the article is accompanied by a two page "Comprehensive Example" to illustrate the concepts David lays out in the text. Like the previous such comprehensive examples, this appears to be very thorough and should be quite instructive.

The final article is the one most likely to elicit grumbling from some ASL players, but happens to be of a type that I like. Charles Markuss has written several extensive historical articles in the past dealing with the nationalities depicted in ASL. His earliest was entitled "Tommy Atkins at War" and appeared in Volume 25, Number 6 of Avalon Hill's magazine The General. The article discussed the British troops and weapons and their portrayal in ASL. The article in Journal 6 is intended as a follow up and revision of the original article, given the new historical material that Charles has come across since the original was published. It is also the first part of a two-part article, with the second part to appear in Journal 7. I like historical articles. While some players undoubtedly like wargames primarily for the gaming aspect, I have always found the historical context to be very important, seeing wargames and printed historical material as being very much complementary in my desire to learn more about military history, something that has been true since I first found Midway on a toy store shelf shortly after reading Walter Lord's Incredible Victory. I understand that articles like this may not be for everyone, but I am looking forward to reading this and to reading the second part when it comes out.

The centerpiece of this issue is, of course, the Primosole Bridge (PBr) map, accompanied by three scenarios and a Campaign Game portraying the fighting around that Sicilian objective during July, 1943. The map itself is a very nice Kurt Miller creation, depicting the bridge itself with a large area of vineyards next to it. The hexes are the larger size as has become standard in most historical products. Included with the map is a 20 page supplement to the ever-expanding Chapter Z containing rules for using the map along with three Campaign Games. No new terrain types are introduced, although the map contains a new depiction to represent vineyards, previously represented as an "alternate terrain type" in Chapter F. The Chapter Z supplement reprints the rules for Vineyards and Olive Groves from Chapter F, along with the rules for Barbed-Wire Fences and Irrigation Ditches from Pegasus Bridge, all of which are found on the enclosed map. As stated above, there are three Campaign Games ranging from three to 12 Campaign Dates. Two of the CG (which cover the initial landing) have British troops entering the battlefield both by Paratroop Landing and in Gliders. Three scenarios are included as well, with a promise of more to come in the next issue of the Journal. Overall, this a nice module, consistent with MMP's established standards. The only complaint I have is that there is no historical summary provided. In fact, the only historical information provided is the standard prelude and aftermath information on the three scenarios which use the map (one of which doesn't have an aftermath listed). Perhaps that is why MMP has included a brief overview on the Journal 6 page on their website:

The Chapter Z supplement does have an extensive bibliography for the battle, but I was surprised not to find at least an overview of the circumstances surrounding this action, given that I doubt it is widely known to the wargaming public.

As for the scenarios, there are 12 total, three of which involve action on the Primosole Bridge map. They appear to be a nice mix of actions, including PTO, West Front, East Front (both early- and late-war) and even a desert scenario. They are as follows:

This looks like another well-done magazine, with only a few minor problems. I would have liked to have had an historical article for PBr as stated earlier, and there are a few typos, some of which are corrected on an errata sheet included with the magazine. Overall a very nice product.

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