Thursday, September 22, 2016

AAR: BFP20 Bypassed Lehr

Americans: Ed
Germans: Robert

Robert and I decided to play BFP20 Bypassed Lehr. During Operation Cobra the mobile elements of the Big Red One have bypassed a village occupied by remnants of Panzer Lehr and it is up to the less mobile following units to mop them up. The Germans are mostly 2nd line with some Sturm squads. The Americans are an even mix of 1st Line and Elite.ROAR has the Germans as the favored side so I let Robert have them. The Germans win at game end by controlling at least 4 buildings. There are 15 in play, all Stone. Tough for the Americans. At first I thought I would drive up the middle and spread out from there but decided to pick up the "easy" buildings on the flank, drive the Germans back into a "nut" and then use my firepower to crack the last few needed to win. It was a classic German vs American infantry fight, The Germans popping off 4 to 12 FP attacks while the Americans returned fire with 12 to 30 FP attacks. Robert did a good job of skulking and passing morale checks early on putting me behind schedule. Two of the larger buildings fell on schedule and I even managed to get a squad into the backfield to contest the last multihex building. As time was running out a German HS took out an American squad in melee to hold a flank building and another squad broke an American squad on a 4+2 shot to delay the attack on another flank building. We had to call it quits with a turn and a half remaining and the game too close to call although I give the edge to Robert because of the late setbacks on my flanks. I had to take 4 more buildings - I know I could probably take 3 but it would be tough to take 4. Robert can claim the chair in October by host decree.

Just a reminder, I will be hosting ASL gaming at my place in October on the 3rd Saturday - the 15th - since I will still be at ASLOK on the 8th.

We have 5 already preregistered for the November tournament, including a new attendee who also happens to be the Austin Tournament runner up. Visit the website * <>* for information on the tournament and preregistering. I will post the first half of the scenario list before I leave for ASLOK (the oldies but goodies) and the other half the week after I return (the latest and greatest). The tournament Tshirts are in, see the attached JPEG. You get one with your entry to the tournament. I will have a limited number available for sale after the tournament.

Hope to see you in October and at the tournament in November.


AAR: ASL43 Into The Fray

Germans: Matt
Poles: Ralph

At the last North Texas game day Ralph had been reading up on the Cavalry rules and as he put it, wanted to kill some horses. Matt took him up on the challenge; they played ASL 43 Into the Fray. Matt took the attacking Germans, Ralph the Poles (and the horses). The Germans have to either punch through a line of Polish reservists or wreak wholesale slaughter on the the Poles to win. Most of the Germans attacked on their left flank with a "keep em honest" group moving down the right. The right flank was stopped dead in their tracks. Literally. Most KIA'd with low rolls by Ralph. The other flank pushed on, assisted by reinforcing armor. One tank was immobilized but it was still possible for Matt to exit what he needed. Then the cavalry arrived... The Germans opened up on them and it got ugly as Matt started rolling KIAs too. I missed the details being wrapped up in my own game but apparently he killed enough horses to win.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

AAR: FT77 Suprised Buffalo

Ed Beekman
Italians: Jim Ferrell, Ed Beekman
Americans/Partisans: Zeke
We had three players so we looked for a scenario that could work for three.  We agreed upon FT77 Surprised Buffalo.  It is a December '44 Italy scenario with second line Americans and some Italian Partisans defending a town from a large Italian force wielding German support weapons.  The Americans are strung out in a picket line across the town and on the mountain behind.  The partisans are hiding in the approaches to the village.  The Italians have to cover a board's width of snow covered terrain to either take the majority of the buildings in the town without losing about 40% of their forces OR eliminate 20 CVP of the Allied force without losing an equivalent number of CVP.  Both sides have brittle units with 6 morale but the Italians have a small contingent of elite 7 morale troops.  It is also one of those rare scenarios where both sides have artillery.
Zeke wanted the defending Americans while Jim and myself split the attacking Italians.  Jim took more troops since he was attacking into the village section with more buildings while I received most of the elite troops since I was attacking into the teeth of the mountain behind the town.  We made a dispersed charge and Jim was able to cover the board width in a few turns without much trouble but I had to deal with the American .50 cal HMG, 60mm mortar and Battalion Mortar OBA.  Several squads were eliminated and the precious 9-2 Italian leader was lost to back to back boxcars but a rare Italian Hero emerged from the carnage toting a dismantled German HMG.  The American mortar lost a duel with the Italian 81mm Mortar while the artillery observer and .50 cal HMG team were eventually obliterated by Italian artillery.
Jim started forcing his way into town in what was turning into a tough battle of maneuver. I was also moving into town but the defense was manning a few locations that looked like a challenge to reduce. Unfortunately we had to call the game due to time about halfway through with the issue still in doubt.  We all really enjoyed the scenario, it has fun "toys" on both sides, many unusual aspects and definitely is worth a play.

Friday, June 03, 2016

AAR: LSSAH21 The Brickyard

Ed Beekman

Ed: Germans
Zeke: Russians

I played Zeke in LSSAH21 The Brickyard.  Zeke took the Russians since ROAR has it 2:1 pro-Russians and deservedly so.  The Germans have to take a 3 hex stone building while staying under a 31 CVP cap.  The Russians have a 2:1 infantry advantage which is significant even though they are 1st Line Russian Rifle squads to 5-4-8 SS squads who are mostly deployed in small halftracks.  I also had an smg halftrack and three Mk 4 panzers but they would be countered by 3 T34s on turn 2. 

My plan was to try and encircle the victory building to weaken the Russian numerical advantage with morale and fire modifiers.  Not gonna happen.  The left flank bounced a dummy stack while the right flank thought they had a LOS free approach to the brickyard.  NOPE, there was a HIP Russian squad that Pinned all three half squads although it broke on the FPF.  My smg HT was recalled by the Russian sniper before it could do anything.  The Russian AT gun nailed two half tracks when it revealed itself and a Russian ATR accounted for another.  Just over one turn down and I was already half way to my CVP cap.  When the Russian tanks came on in the required platoon movement, the middle tank immobilized when they rolled into position to fire on one of my tanks.  I had the advantage in the resulting gun duel and destroyed the lead T34  while maintaining rate but didn't get to use it.  The immobilized T34 responded with an APCR critical hit to burn the Mark 4.  The Russian infantry accounted for another halftrack and then the ATG, manned by a squad, intensive fired to hit and kill another Mark 4 throwing me over the CVP cap.  Congratulations to Zeke on his successful defense of the brickyard.

I am writing to relax.  I am hyper having just pulled out a colonoscopy win in the last turn of my VASL league game.  After being smacked around like a red haired stepchild for most of the game (my opponent averaged a 4 on his first 5 or 6 IFT shots).  I can't complain about those rolls though, I had several useful low rolls late in the game including snakes on a mortar hit versus a concealed HS in the jungle that would have sealed my fate and another snakes with a captured FT into a melee in a VC location that killed everybody.  That's why we love this game.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

AAR: WO12 Heart of Wilderness

Ralph recaptured the Chair from Matt by defeating him in WO12 Heart of Wilderness.  Matt had the defending Germans while Ralph, attacking with the Russians, had to seize a bridge on the east side of the battle field and one of two buildings on the west side.  The terrain is pretty dense, with lots of woods and orchards with a hill, stream and gully thrown in for good measure.  The Germans receive a mix of elite and first line troops, a pair of Guns, a pair of Pillboxes, and trenches.  The Russians attack starts in the east with near parity with the Germans in MMC and the bridge as their apparent target.  On the second turn a nearly equal sized group of Russians attack from the south, who should head toward the village to claim the requisite building.  Finally four BT tanks loaded with Russian SMG squads arrive on turn 4 to reinforce one of the attacks from any one of three directions.
Ralph started "turtling" towards the bridge although a brief loss of presence of mind cost him a squad.  He was cutting off most of the forward defenders, capturing and destroying their equipment.  Matt was able to barely pull out several units but at the cost of one of his guns - before the tanks  even showed up. 
Ralph was attacking a key position on the approaches to the bridge with a large fire group, only to roll an 11 for the lowest possible NE result.  He cobbled together another large fire group and said if I roll another 11 I'm out of here.  Of course he rolled another 11.  We managed to mollify him, get him to sit back down  and continue playing.
As the Russians drew within sight of the bridge an elite Russian squad rolled snakes but instead of going berserk as feared/hoped by the opposing players, it got the daily double - a hero and fanatic squad.  This potent force was able to grind its way forward to seize the bridge with the assistance of several other squads on the penultimate turn.  With units occupying the approaches, this Objective was securely in the Russian's hands.
In the south Matt slowed the Russians with effective use of dummy stacks and a fortuitous melee.  A German HS was tied up with a Russian squad, MMG and leader.  Ralph rolled a 6 to eliminate the HS but Matt responded with snakes, wiping out the entire Russian  stack, generated a leader which meant he only suffered CR due to the odds change but lost his HS by random selection.
The tanks rolled in to cut off the Germans slowing the southern advance and suppress the pillbox covering the approach to town.  Once the infantry formed up to assault the town, the tanks tied up German infantry until they could be relieved by Russian infantry engaging in CC.  The plan was to go for the more southern building but that plan died when it was discovered it was held by an elite German squad and a 10-2 leader.  A platoon of BT tanks continued their tactics but one died in a street fight.  Ralph bum rushed the northern victory building, finding only dummies in his way.  A SMG squad dared CC against the 10-2 building to keep them from counterattacking and managed to get AMBUSH.  Although nobody died, it effectively took Matt's last strong unit out of the battle.  A forlorn hope of retaking the building with the sole remaining unbroken HS died in a hail of vehicular small arms fire in CC.
It is a good scenario although a little hard on the Germans.  Matt was handicapped by lack of experience with fortifications like pillboxes.  This was his first time using them.  In analyzing the game we thought it probably best for the Germans to throw most everything around the bridge, all the trenches, pillboxes, guns and especially the 10-2 leader.  Leave enough troops and dummies in town to misdirect the Russians to over commit there.  Congratulations to both players on a well played game.
Ed Beekman
AAR: ASL 22 Kurhaus Clash 

Ralph and I had a mini-game day at his place a few weeks back.  He was hoping to play ASL 22 Kurhaus Clash and I accepted  the challenge.  Ralph took the German SS, I got the Americans.  The Germans are counterattacking the Americans in Aachen with the objective to have more good order infantry in the open "park land" board on the American side of the battlefield.  The first problem the Germans have is crossing a wide boulevard (-1 DRM to all fire against units on the road).  The German SS have an 8 (9 broken) morale to the American's 6 (8 broken) but the Americans out number the Germans by about 4:3 on the other hand the Germans can pick the point(s) of attack.  A couple  other interesting features of the scenarios is a 3rd level location in a building in which the Germans can put a HMG in overwatch of a much of the board.  The Americans receive a HIP radio observer who once he has contact does not have to draw for access as long as the SR/FFE is on/next to a known enemy unit.
I set up troop concentrations on each flank with MGs covering as much of the boulevard with potential  fire lanes as possible.  My mortars were in the park with LOS  to as many woods hexes and some upper  level building locations in the German zone.  The OBA observer set up in a stone building in the middle of a lightly wooded area in the middle of the front lines with LOS to the 3rd level location.
Ralph set up to attack on the flanks, a StuG supporting each attack, with his 9-2 with the HMG on the 3rd level.
The first couple  of turns  the Germans simply pounded the Americans and nearly a quarter of my squads not only broke but reduced to 2nd Line.  I mainly skulked away from the German fire power while my OBA  just couldn't get the range right on the 9-2 overwatch position.  A StuG obliterated one of my squads in a stone building with a critical hit.
Things started looking  up for me when my sniper took out the 9-2 (Ralph complained about all the  sniper checks I was getting but I told him to just stop rolling so low), OBA  finally landed an SR on the HMG and I broke a MG squad and leader on the other flank when a MTR rolled snakes on the IFT.  But Ralph moved the HMG  out of LOS which forced me to draw two cards to call down an FFE.  I immediately drew a red card and lost a well placed SR.  I snuck a couple  HS to  upper level  encircle  the  MMG  unit  but the squad self rallied.  I lost the squads but it took a couple turns to mop them up .  Eventually Ralph broke through on that flank and pushed forward in an enveloping motion.   Game changing sniper shots were enjoyed by both, which allowed 8 CVP of Germans to get into the victory area but then kept them from expanding the bridgehead.  The other enveloping arm ran into OBA which decimated those units.  The supporting StuG was immobilized by a BAZ shot  which caused the crew to bail out.  With a turn to go, the Germans still had 8 CVP  in the victory area but no hope of increasing that number.  I only had 4 CVP but had another 8 to 12 CVP that could safely move  there for the  win on my last turn.  
I think  if the Germans load up on just one side and simply punch their way across the  board  using the StuGs for smoke and cover this is winnable scenario for them.

Ed Beekman

Saturday, January 23, 2016

AAR: FT KGS8 The Battle in the Tunnel and Organ Gully

Ed Beekman

Ed Beekman: Russian
Zeke: German

Zeke and I were on the second stage playing a scenario from Kampfgruppe Scherer - The Battle in the Tunnel and Organ Gully.  It is a low intensity scenario; Zeke had the Germans (6 squads) and I the Russians (11 squads).  I had to take the bridge and tunnel locations.  I spent the turns moving into position, planning to breach the tunnel barricade with my DC and then surge through.  My sole elite squad aided by the Commissar moved concealed up to the barricade only to be stunned by Zeke's first DFire.  It was only a 1MC which the commissar passed  but the squad failed by more than its ELR - now I only had leaders who could place  the DC without the non-qualified penalty.  Although I took the bridge, I was never able to clear the tunnel although some conscripts got in through the back door only to be captured in CC.

Monday, December 21, 2015

AAR: J103 Lenin’s Sons

Arlen Vanek

Arlen Vanek: German
Chris Casten: Russian

Basic strategy; since it looked (9 concealment counters) like Chris set up heavily in the woods, that’s the route I took. Provide a base of fire in hex V2 with three squads and MG’s to try and prevent his guys from backing up the victory buildings while the main force group attacks the left flank. Worked good until we met up with the Russian Hero with a DC in hex J5. The hero throws the DC, breaks two squads and a leader, and survives the morale check. Then in close combat said hero ambushed the attacking squad and killed him at 1-4 odds. Then in the final turn, Chris used FPF to try and prevent a squad from getting adjacent to a victory building. The squad rolled snakes, gets the KIA and goes HOB. Great win for Chris and the Elite Russians. Great scenario and well balanced. It could have easily gone either way and provides for many approaches depending on setup. 

AAR: FT178 Niederburg Farmhouse

Ed Beekman

Ed Beekman: Americans
Ralph Garringer: Germans
The Germans are clearing a pocket of American  resistance in Luxemburg during the Battle of the Bulge.  Ralph chose to attack as the Germans.  The battle is on board 10, hexrows A to P, in the MUD by SSR.  Also by SSR, the stone building at the hill top cross roads has two levels and the Germans must control both at game end.  The Americans have only 3.5 squad equivalents of elite infantry, a pair of leaders, but plenty of support weapons including a MaDeuce, and 2 of those squad equivalents can start HIP.  As scenario defender, the MGs can be  boresighted (Ralph didn't enter either location I selected, I think they may have been too obvious).  I hid the best leader, a HS and the .50 cal upstairs in the victory building with a squad holding downstairs.  I dug in a HS with my other leader behind the building.  A HS with the MMG was on the right flank to sweep all the open ground there and lay down a FL in front of the building if needed.  Finally two BAZ teams hid on the left flank among the hedges.
Ralph attacked with his 8 squads of Volksgrenadiers (2nd line with a couple stormtroop squads thrown in) on my left.  I lost a Bazooka team to a low FP shot led by the German -2 leader but then I got lucky and pinned that leader, broke the accompanying squad and raked the following Volksgrenadiers with the 50.  This is when the Hetzer showed up finding the infantry in shambles.  It saved the day by locking the units in the victory location by going into bypass.  I couldn't kill it with Reaction, CC nor 50 cal fire onto its roof.  This allowed half the broken Germans to rally and renew the attack.  The Hetzer turned around and smashed into the building! and all the Germans rushed after.  My MMG on the flank slowed the attack a little but then was lost to malfunction, the 50 cal team broke on a low odds NMC shot and were FTR while all the other nearby supporting groups broke.  If I could keep alive downstairs in Melee, I could deny control of Level 1 and still win.  In the penultimate German CC phase I had the advantage (3:2 -1) failed to kill as I did the following turn.  On the final German turn, the Hetzer sallied forth to lock up my last infantry not in the building (the MMC team rushing to help) and all the remaining Germans but a HS jumped into Melee - overstacked by 1 MMC.  Ralph then Withdrew one squad upstairs (-2 withdraw, -1 my leader, -1 overstacked, +6 supporting units for a 3:2 +2 if I attacked him - need a 3 to eliminate - CR not sufficient) to control upstairs.  I was attacked at 2:1 -1 and was eliminated while managing to get a CR on a 6, leaving the Germans in Victorious control.

Monday, June 30, 2014

AAR: 105 Going to Church

Vincent Maresca
Vincent Maresca: British
Frank Morehouse: Germans
Frank Morehouse and I played ASL 105 “Going to Church” (revised version in FKaC).
Well – Frank’s SS panzermen were hunkered down into the fortress church with MGs on multiple levels looking down on the Canadians forming up below. My master plan was to have a small holding for to the front and the bulking pulling a flanking attack. LESSON ONE – I was now divided but unable to conquer. Obviously the German MG firegroups took out my HMG and had a few good shots on my flank force. I had plenty of time, right - so gave out some very ineffective Prep Fire. I have plenty of time to move later. My holding force now had a broken 9-2 and squad leaving the HMG alone in their building while the remaining half-squads with the LMG and mortar dogged around in the building sand woods. Meanwhile, my flanking force was making its move through the city streets while the German sniper kept nipping at their heals (the Canadian sniper was getting his helmet polished by some French typist and never stuck his rifle out the window once). Frank’s sniper activated maybe 7 times and really slowed up my flank attack as I had to divert leaders to rally duty (as the sniper killed my 8-0 with a headshot).

While my Canadians were taking a beating just trying to get up to the edge of the Church building, a dim recollection of mine said “hey dummy, look at the back of the Brit mortar”. Well hay, hay, my, my – this little piece of crap can chunck smoke! so starting on turn 2 – the smoke started to rain down and the German MGs found a new target. the mortar lasted another turn and but was out for the remainder of the game. LESSON TWO – always check your forces and what their special ASL capabilities are in the game. The designer included them for a reason!

The Germans were now scrambling around to get out of the smoke hexes allowing the Canadians to try a break-in on Turn 4. This was it, my HOB generated Hero with the DC charged into the first church hex to meet his fate. Now Mr. hero had to eat 36 FP but had a +4 TEM. Frank grinned, as he rolls very well on small attacks, and threw out an “11”! I couldn’t believe it! in SFF this same stack rolled a “12” and broke the HMG (but it quickly returned on next RPh). DC placed and now to finish off the Huns and free France! I rolled a “9” resulting in NMC and all passed. LESSON THREE – DC are shit and if by some miracle you get it placed, it never does squat!

Well Turn 5 of 6, assault failed to do much, time was running out (had dinner plans), no KIA German units throughout the game and Germans holding the stairwalls to upper levels containing more(house) troops, meant the Canadians had failed to liberate the church. Another nice win by Frank who claims not to remember much ASL after not playing for 10 years – you could have fooled me! Good Job Frank.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

AAR: J159 Tropic Lightning

Brian Roundhill
Americans: Rick Reinesch
Japanese: Brian Roundhill
Reproduced from Picture of defensive setup is available there.
First game day of the year, matched up against the champion of the 2013 North Texas Shootout, Rick Reinesch. If you do not know Rick yet, you should, either as fantastic director of the Austin Team Tournament, editor of Banzai, member of the Bounding Fire staff, or the all around great guy that he is.

Tropic Lightning is the return to Manila, with a superior American force attacking a tenacious and tricky Japanese defense. The Americans must control all the stone buildings, which means the scenario will usually hinge upon two separate building areas - 56R4/Q5 and 56Z1/Z2. The first is the usual board 56 stronghold, while the latter are located farthest away from the American setup area. This means the Japanese must determine how to slow the American assault in the first half of the village while also preventing any flank detachments.

The MMG and MTR on board 35 has the job of shooting riders, while the Gun eliminates vehicles. The Set DC is in the most likely location for an AFV to shoot Smoke from, and Tank Hunter Heroes can be setup as desired. The plan is for Infantry reinforcements to defend the 56Z1/Z2 complex, and the AFV reinforcements can be used as necessary or desired.

Rick brought his Americans straight up board 56 to begin with. His tank destroyer moved into the HIP DC Location, but I got greedy and hoped for a Sherman to move through as well. Net result - wasted DC. The Japanese duig-in tanks stalled the American AFVs in the centre and right, but two Stuarts meandered along the board 56 edge and through a couple of huts, push the Japanese on that side back towards the centre. The American firepower took its usual toll, and my Japanese started melting.

The Japanese AFVs came on turn 2 - half heading to the rear of the battlefield for the final combat, while the other half moved into positions for a tank battle. Two Japanese AFVs snuck around and into the 35N10 woods and eliminated one US tank at the cost of both Japanese AFVs. The US halftracks raced along the board 56 battle edge, carrying troops as far as possible.

The finale came, and the Japanese were ready. With two turns left, several Japanese squads were in the 56Z1/Z2 area as well as in 56X1/X2. The MMG and crew took up residence in 56W5 while two AFVs lurked behind the bamboo in 56X5/X6. The US AFV swarm came as expected, and took out the Japanese AFVs with a couple of losses, but the final stone buildings remained strong. The final rush into firepower and residual resulted in no American troops able to get into the final victory buildings.

Final thoughts: This scenario revolves around those final buildings, and the Americans must find a way to get firepower onto them by Turn 5. Otherwise they will come up short and lose. With my setup, Rick did the correct thing by not racing down board 35, but I believe he neede to find a time and/or a way to race some riders earlier than he did. Perhaps the Stuarts on the opposite side of the battle needed to load up and portage the troops.

I also discovered I need to learn more Japanese tricks to combat US firepower.  
-- Brian Roundhill

Thursday, September 27, 2012

AAR: FrF4 Barbarossa D-Day

Nick Drinkwater

German (ELR 4, SAN 2]: Walter Eardley
Russian [ELR 2, SAN 2]: Nick Drinkwater

A very rare Drinkwater-sighting in Houston!

Yes, its true, I'm on a flying visit through H-town to do the annual medicals, dentists and opticians, but as well as all that work-related crap, I'm able to squeeze in a single night of gaming with Mr. Eardley, as well as pick up and pay for this year's games stash that he's been secreting for me. This year coming back with me to Angola, we have GMT's Infidel and Flying Colors 2 - the Serpent of the Seas, as well as MMP's Kingdom of Heaven and a good quality, used version of B-17 which I snagged on ebay. Funnily enough I have to leave behind my new copy of the game 'Angola' by MMP as that wouldn't be well received by the customs agents in Luanda!

As ever with me on these trips, time is of a premium but there is just enough to get in a quick scenario so that I can pretend to keep my hand in / give Walter easy win points (delete as appropriate). The last scenario I played was a year ago when Matt completely outplayed me and handed me my ass in a game of Ivanovsski so it’s been a while...

Rolling for sides gives me the godless proles from Asia who have to try and hold onto the Board 43 Alamo until game end (6.5 turns) vs. a bunch of Hitlerian hells angels. (In English, six 447s, a couple of LMGs and weak leaders at start, vs. a 221B armoured car and seven mixed 467s and 468s on motorbikes and sidecars). Armour support comes in Turn 3 for both teams - two 50mm Mk IIIs and an old style 37L one for the Hermans (all with those stellar bow and co-ax MGs) and six T26s for the Ivans - great gun, but that's about the only high point - saddled with the killer platoon movement to make their life harder, they also have red mechanical reliability issues and paper thin armour. If there's a good order Russian MMC within two hexes of the center of the Alamo, then chalk up another annoying delaying victory for the Glorious Revolutionaries; if not, then its bratwurst eating time in Moscow.

The first three turns were effectively the appetizer to the main event, the appearance of the tanks. Walter comes on with the most direct attack from the southern board edge of Board 44 and despite having a half-squad shot off bikes, is pretty quickly into my speedbump which sadly go down as prisoners. The defenders of the perimeter of the Alamo are made of sterner stuff though, and though I was ambushed even though I was the concealed first line squad jumping onto a 467 (go figure), I was able to eventually dispatch the fritzes to bring it back to a 1 vs. 1.5 squads lost by Turn 2 – and this is a game where the infantry matter. Some inspired shooting and hang-tough defense meant that I was twice able to break and roll back the point of Walter's attack, even with mega tank MG attacks in Turn 3 – I was even able to dash and then battle harden a squad back to the main festung - style point city!

So far, all good. Walter kept breaking MA guns and I was rolling with inspiration instead of desperation for once. All was brewing nicely for the main course of the armour battle...the 37L came on to weigh in against the Alamo defenders, while the two 50mm gun ones moved ready to recieve the rush, sorry, make that grinding crawl of my six armoured heroes of the Soviet Union across the large grain field immediately east of the Alamo main building. The first T26 platoon inched on and ground their way to the back entrance of the Alamo dodging a bunch of first fire from the two 50mm Mk IIIs, leaving themselves able to suppress any Germans trying to cross the innermost Alamo courtyard. My other T26 platoon humped their way into the Grainfield but missed every shot in advancing fire, of course breaking one gun, but at least leaving acqisitions on their opponents for next turn. Finally my Commissar with the newly toughened 458 and another 447 leapt into CC with an adjacent 50mm Mark III. Needing a 7 and a 5, they both missed their cc attacks which was hugely disappointing and a grim addition to the three missed advancing fire shots from the grainfield platoon…in a pattern not unfamiliar to my visits to Walter’s house, my dice go cold just at the wrong time. Plus ca change…

The German Prep Fire phase of Turn 4 was basically the game – after a succession of hideous German rolls for the first three turns, the two 50mm Mark IIIs decided it was now time to became marksmen, first class…hit with a three, keep rate, kill T26, hit with another three, keep rate, kill T26, hit with a 5, lose rate, kill T26, other tank hit in-hex Commissar stack with MGs, miss, hit commissar stack in-hex with MA hit, break, break, break. Done.

We staggered on some more but from a really strong position, I was now in a majorly losing position – the other T26 platoon managed to confront the 37L Mk III that had just broken its gun (for the second time), but both my clutzes missed on their advancing fire phase. Next turn, the 37L repaired its gun (of course) for the second time, found a shell and killed off the fourth T26 before eventually succumbing to return fire. A lone 447 failed to kill a 247 in Melee for three turns before succumbing himself – typical – and Walters HMG squad survived a hit and a critical hit from the last T26 with only a pin. Finally with only the 7-0, a LMG and a 447 concealed and unbroken on the top level of the Alamo left unbroken on the board, I conceded when my last T-26 rolled boxcars on the bottom of Turn 5. Walter still had both 50mm Mk IIIs, the armoured car, the HMG, 2 x LMGs and 5 of his original seven squads plus a 9-1. Time to say goodbye.

A fun game – not bad from me but clearly still pretty rusty as it was my first game in months and only fourth in the last 3 years, but I mis-played the first of the two tank platoons and that was my downfall – the first platoon should have stayed around to help knock out the German tanks and aid the grainfield platoon by keeping them in a cross-fire. However, I became fixated with helping out the desperately stretched infantry in the Alamo by sending them immediate armour support, and at that point the lack of tactical maneuverability due to platoon movement hit home hard. We both thought the CC attempt with the Commissar was the right play, but my dice went cold just at the wrong moment and left them hideously exposed. Walter played his usual methodical, steady game, despite some hideous luck on early dice, and ruthlessly exploited the opportunities when they became available. Well played!

And so back to Angola for some more fun there – hope everyone well and will see you all again in the future!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

LFT 178: Niederburg Farmhouse

Eric and I played Niederburg Farmhouse a few weeks ago, and the Americans (Eric) won in our match.

I did a deployment, multi-hex attack, but the ROF on the MGs and my bad MC rolling did me in. I advanced my 9-2 led MG kill stack into J10, but Eric's prep fire ruined my DFF surprise.

After thinking it over, I think the German MG nest needs to position itself in H9, and the blue wave needs to come from hexrows J thru P. Two things factor into that thinking

  • the 5-4-8s can man the MGs and still be in normal range to I6.2
  • the Americans in I6.2 must choose a covered arc for either H9 or the hill and its approaches in hexrows J-P

With my MG nest in J10, Eric could shoot both it and anybody else on that half of the board in each fire phase.

It seems like a tough puzzle for the Germans, but with only a few units, any cracks in the American defense can be exploited. It's a great 2 hour scenario, and hopefully my thoughts will help an Axis player out there somewhere.


Monday, May 28, 2012

AAR: BFP90 Early Morning Action

John Farris
Germans: Gregg Parker
Russians: John Farris
Gregg Parker and I finally got a game in.... has it been 5 or 6 months? Seems like it. We played a very interesting game from Crucible of Steel, entitled Early Morning Action - BFP-90. I think I can say that it is a good one to play.... pretty straight forward.

Gregg played the attacking Germans with 12 SS 658s, one each 9-1,8-1 and 8-0 leaders with 5 ELR , an MMG and 3-LMGs and 2 StuG IIIGs...I played the defending Russians , 5-458, 5 447S, 1 - 426, 4- Crews, one each 8-1 AND 7-0 with a 2 ELR.... along with an MMG, 2-LMGs, one ATR, a MOL-P, 2-50*MTRs and 1- 37L AT gun and . Gregg had to take all the hexes within 4hexes from BFP L Q6.

It looked like the Russians would be butter to the SS with the low Russian 2 ELR, but since the Germans had to clear 4 dummy stacks it took the Germans a little time to get to the center of the town. The 2 level building at X1 on the North side of the victory area housed the Russian MMG, 458 and the 8-1 leader in an overwatch position on the second floor. They forced the German to be careful! One MTR was in a foxhole at K5 just south of the victory locations and with a LOS to the southern victory hexes. The other MTR was at T0 with a view of the cross road in the victory area. The 37L AT was initially located south of the town in the woods at E4... since one German Stugs circled to the north and one came directly from east the little 37L was out of place so the crew rolled it to H5 with a nice view towards the crossroads.

The German attack advanced smoothly but the Russian MMG and a Sniper(!?) slowed down the northern arm of the German assault. The other Stug did a little bypass freeze at P6 and stopped in bypass. The next Russian turn saw the MOL-P, sitting quietly in N4, attack the Stug with an immobilization shot!

To make a long story short.... the ebb and flow of the battle ended with the Germans having to make a rush towards the final 4 victory locations. If any of those attacks failed it would necessarily be the end. Well the Germans would have been in place to advance into all the necessary locations but there was an unfortunate failure of the SS troops to make their moral check in the street hex at N5.

All and all it was a fun scenario well worth playing again!!

Best regards,

Monday, May 14, 2012

AAR: PL7 Tigers to the Rescue

Matt Zajac
Germans: Matt Zajac
Russians: Tom Gillis
On Sunday, Tom Gillis and I faced off in Tigers to the Rescue from Critical Hit's new release Panther Line (which is a revision of their Tigers to the Front pack). Set in June 44, this pack focuses on the desperate fighting by Army Group North along the Panther (Gustav) Line just prior to the collapse to their south of Army Group Center during Operation Bagration. This 6 turn scenario requires Tom to simply have more CVP at game end than I do, but I have an option of retreating off an edge for double CVP - but there's a lot of open ground to cross and I don't see this as a likely game winning strategy. ROAR shows it at 6-6 so clearly achievable by either side.
What really made me want to try something from this pack is the map. Beautifully done, it depicts a high hill (level 5 max) in the center with several small villages surrounding it. Historically accurate defensive trenches and wire obstacles are printed on the map, with multiple trench lines running along the third, fourth and fifth levels.
After dicing for sides, Tom pulled the attacking Russians with a decent force mix of 6-2-8s and 4-4-7s, a 76L ART gun, and a T34/43 with reinforcements of 4 AFVs coming in on Turn 2. There are two groups available and decided by dr, and Tom pulled the 2 ea T34/85s, a KV-1S, and an ISU152 - some heavy firepower. The Russians can set up >=3 hexes from any Level 4 or 5 hex giving Tom lots of options for his onslaught and the potential to start with the hill encircled. He masses on the east side of the hill with a supporting force on the south edge of the hill.
Facing him I had 8 ea 4-6-7s with two leaders - and 8-1 and an 7-0. In Turn 1 I had three Tigers arriving from off board, one early version with red MPs and two late war Tigers, with both a 10-2 and a 9-1 armor leader. All my initial forces must set up on either level 4 or 5 hexes on the hill. It's a lot of ground to cover and not much manpower to do so, but if I can delay his advance uphill then go into a reverse slope defense on level 5, and get the Tigers up quickly, I think I can stem the Russian tide.
Well, Turn 1 sees Tom get his infantry and supporting tank into position, with his 76L ART firing up one side of the hill. Fortunately my concealed units in their trenches held their own and the first turn passed without much loss to either side. However, Tom's gutsy decision to reposition his 9-1 leader across open ground was too good a shot to pass up - or so I thought. Of course the resulting morale check turns up snakes, and Tom both Battle Hardens and turns his leader Heroic - so now I've got a heroic 9-2 to deal with. To neither of our advantage, the WX roll starts rain, hindering some longer shots but not really affecting our already close-in fight.
Turn 2 sees Tom advance further up the lower levels of the hill - but the sides are steep (many double crest lines) and its a slow advance. I'm able to break a few squads and move around within the trenchline to avoid repeated acquisitions, but my perimeter is already compressing due to a couple key positions being compromised. Added on, Toms ISU152 takes up position to hammer the opposite end of the hill from the 76L ART while his tanks join the push up the center. In the German half, the WX turns to heavy rain - a mixed blessing for both of us as even point blank shots are affected by a +1 LV hindrance. I manage to get the two late war Tigers into position - one on level three where it can fire across the advancing infantry's front and one on level five in a reverse slope position. As for the early war Tiger, it goes into hunting mode to take out Toms 76L ART, but quicly malfs both its coax MG and MA. At this point I'm sure Tom has the advantage as the flank with the 76L ART is now wide open. As for casualties, it's been light with only a single Russian squad eliminated to a German half squad.
Tom's very aggressive on Turn 3 and his combined tank / infantry attack in the center punches a hole but due to the difficult slopes I manage to avoid having to surrender or eliminate units for failure to rout. Tom sends a T34/76 to finish off my MA-malf'd Tiger on the flank and then up the back side of the hill where it will not only have a great firing position but will deny route paths. The T34 moves adjacent to my Tiger, stops and BANG - boxcars! So now we have a T34 facing a Tiger, both with MA malf'd. Tom barely holds it together ;-) He's in good position though with his infantry across level three, mostly in one long line inside the first trenchline, with a couple units up on level 4. I doesn't look good for the Germans with another halfsquad lost bringing us even in CVP, about a third of the remaining Germans broken, and still three turns to go.
Well, this game shows that however bleak the outlook, things can change fast. On the German half of Turn 3, the WX changes back to rain, and I manage to pull my infantry back behind the crest line on level 5 except for a couple sacrificial units who hopefully with the steep movement costs, burn up another two Russian movement turns and bring us into Turn 5 before the Russians can mass their firepower again. However, I decide on one risky move with the Tiger on level 3 - it moves directly behind the now-Russian controlled level 3 trenchline to overrun a squad in the open. My audacity comes at considerable risk though as Tom throws a DC at the Tiger, but while it hits it fails to damage the Tiger. Sadly though the throwing 6-2-8 squad suffers a MC, rolls HOB, then rolls a 12 and promptly surrenders to an adjacent German squad. After breaking another squad in it's overrun and surviving DF shots from the ISU152 and a T34/85, the Tiger is positioned to take flank/rear shots o n Tom's armor advancing up the hill. At this point the CVP have swung into the German's favor, and the next turn looks ugly for the Russian armor with a Tiger behind it. Being as it is getting later in the day and Tom has to work tomorrow, we decide to call it with a German win. I still think it could have gone either way, with the Germans likely losing most of their remaining infantry but the Russian's hard-pressed to overcome CVP losses from destroyed vehicles.
All-in-all a tense game with bizarrely changing weather - 3 changes in 6 opportunities, dismal sniper performances (11 attempts, only one PIN result), and MA malfs for both of us at critical times.
I highly recommend this scenario as it's a great example of of a deliberate combined arms attack on a well-prepared position. Besides, it has 3 big cats to play with too!
Matt Zajac

Monday, January 16, 2012

AAR: FrF49 One Last Might Hew

Doyle Motes

Russians: Doyle Motes
Germans: Matt Zajac

Tom's event on Saturday was a must see. It has been a long time between meetings for me. But, enjoyed the early moring drive and the ASL event.

I matched up with Matt Z. of north Houston. I was the Russians in FrF 49 - One Last Mighty Hew. Matt Z was the early war Germans. The objective was to hold one objectives and there adjacent hexes (there were 2 objective hexes 50x5 and FrFAI4). The Russians had a mixture of Infnatry, AFV's , AA-Truck, and Trenches. [Typical Russian 1941 units] -- The Germans has a mixed infantry, and AFV's units [PzII(Fl) x 2].

I used my trenches and the trees as my first line of defense (with my Conscrips in some of them). My Conmmissar was there back up if need. My second line was going to be my 1st line infantry (ELR of 2) with a MMG and single ATR. One 107 Art unit, one KV-1 M39 and one ZIS-42-AA on board (on board setup), Turn 1 saw a BT-7-M37 and a BT-7-M37 (4CMG) enter from the east. Also a samll force of 527's x 2, leader, 50 MTR, and LMG joining the battle on turn 1 from the North / East (mine came on form the North).

This turn 1 reinforcements were to be the last line of defense on the hill next to 50x5 and adjacent locations.

The stage is set for the battle: (quick over of game)

Turn 1: was Germans feeling out and finding first line of defense. Russian Armor takes the hill next to VC locations and reinformements move toward VC location. Russian tanks unable to go HD on hill.

Turn 2: Germans hit Russian forward defense line and discover some Trench locations. Small arms fire and one Russian Conscript Consript broke (no ELR on him) and one German Squad broke and one pinned. But, one of the two Pz II(Fl) move up to attack and rolled a 12. This was Matt's typical rolls in this game very hight when he did not need it. The dice were not his friend the entire game.

Turn 3: The Germans made headway into the second line of Russian defense. Now, my Russian Armor could see infantry and started shooting at targets of oppertunity. My dice roll were low to average. But, very low in critical situtations and again Matt's dice were very high. About 50% of his infantry were broken but still in good positions when my Sniper KILLED his 9-2 Leader. He was down to two leaders now and troop rallys became critical thus they could not be on the front lines to aid in firing most of the time.

Turn 4: Germans moving into positions but taking some heat. Russian falling back in some what good order with a ELR of 2 what do you expect - several disrupted units and Failure to routs in the Conscripts ranks. Then Matt decided to use the other Pz II (Fl) as a club on some units and again fate was against him. He rolled an 11 ending that units effectiveness in battle. He still pushed on into the teeth of the Russian Armor sitting on the hill looking down on his units. The end was near for the Geman assult. and Thus we ended it. Russian victory.

Matt this was our first time to play enjoyed the scenario. I feel the scenario is a little pro-Russian even with the German's having 2 PzII(Fl)'s. 55% Russian / 45% German's. Matt may feel a little differently on the precentages.

Thanks again Tom for hosting, Steve for the food, Rob for comming down, and for Matt the game.
Looking to see all in the future.

Doyle Motes

Sunday, July 17, 2011

AAR: Shooting Gallery (STONNE(2ND)9)

Scott Bell

French: Art Douglas
Germans: Scott Bell

Art Douglas and I played an interesting scenario this weekend, called "Shooting Gallery." It is scenario #9 from the Critical Hit pack titled "Grossdeutschland at...... Stonne 1940." (2nd edition).

The map is outstanding. It encompasses the fight for the town of Stonne, which is on a hill. The terrain is unlike anything I have seen on any other board. There is lots of barbed wire that channels the attacker. It is difficult terrain.

The battle for Stonne (historically) was bitter. The French represented themselves well, and the town of Stonne changed hands 17 times over 3 days. The Grossdeutschland Regiment lost approximately 51% of its total losses for the French Campaign in just 2 days of fighting in Stonne. Germans have referred to it as the "Verdun of 1940."

Art got the better of me in this scenario, and gave me a "schooling" on the effectiveness of the 25LL French AT gun vs. the German Panzer IV D. The potency of the gun (for this time period), combined with the relative thinness of the German armor, makes the German tanks quite vulnerable. The rate of "3" for the French gun is daunting. I continually faced TK shots of 4 or 5, and with rate like that, it was only a matter of time. Art had a very smart defensive gameplan, and executed it exceptionally well.

I was very interested to discover, when researching the battle, that our game held true to history with regards to this gun. I read some individual accounts that record this matchup (French 25LL gun vs. German Panzer IV D) exclusively. Our game seemed to mirror what occurred historically. Very interesting!

Art and I agreed that we are going to be playing additional scenarios from this pack. It was fun, and I learned a few lessons that I will be taking forward into my next engagement against the French at Stonne!

I like this pack from Critical Hit.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Initial Thoughts on the Map Pack

Brian Roundhill

Just got my Starter Kit style map bundle in the mail, and I already have several thoughts. Let's take a trip.

I do like the crisper art for the buildings. Not sure about some of the shading of the buildings, but it is not bad. Board 1 just pops at me.

Ooo, 3-d looking shellholes. Real nice.

Board 5 feels sterile. I think I prefer the old style woods. Board 7 is completely different - water and marsh have new graphics. It is going to take some time to adjust to it, but I think I like the new marsh. Not sure yet about the water.

Yowza, graveyards are very different. A little too busy for my taste, but very distinctive. And the rogue boards match the rest of the boards. Board 13 especially is much easier to look at.

Desert boards - hammada and scrub are now recognizably separate. Cha-ching!

And those are my thoughts. I think MMP has done a great job of bringing the maps into the new times, and it will be fun to play some of those old favorites with a new look.

-- Brian Roundhill

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Quick first impressions of two new CH products

Zeb Doyle

The Christmas elves at CH have been busy this holiday season and have brought us Kursk-Devil's Domain and Peleliu: White Beach One just in time for Christmas! My copies showed up yesterday, and I've spent all of 40 minutes looking at the new products, so this is in no way a review. Instead, I'd like to share my first few preliminary impressions.

First off, let me say that I understand ASL is a niche hobby. Anyone producing stuff for it is participating in a labor of love and not a business that's going to bring them wealth and fame. So, I try to give all those people the benefit of the doubt. If a few words are misspelled, if the grammar isn't perfect, if a tank is identified as a Panzer IVH instead of the correct PzIVJ because you couldn't justify the cost of a $300 reference book, that's completely understandable to me. Every time I comment on an ASL product, that's in the back of my mind and I hate to be overly critical.

That said, ASL is a game of details, and when those details get neglected, it can lead to a lot of questions and clarifications. Unfortunately, I think both these new CH products fall into this category: they look like real labors of love, with attractive maps and interesting situations. However, even a quick examination of both Devil's Domain and White Beach One seem to show a lack of development and polish such that I can only recommend them to people with a deep interest in that specific historical action. Again, I hate to be critical, but a) it's somewhat frustrating to see so much time and effort short-circuited and b) it's really frustrating that, based on CH's track record of doing this, I volunteered to help proof-read for both these, but never heard back from anyone.

Let me move from abstract rant to two specific examples. Peleliu, for instance, is an attractive product with eight scenarios that all look interesting, a large HASL-style map, and a 12 page booklet with new terrain, rules, and historical commentary. Great stuff, until you actually start reading the commentary. Due to the multiple repeated sentences and slight incoherence, I assume it's a cut and paste job that was never edited. For example, in the section 'The Imperial Japanese Navy,' you read "While the IJA fought for the beaches the IJN units having built the airfield and assigned to the island much longer than the IJA controlled the airfield area." Later in the same paragraph, we learn that "While the IJA fought for the beaches the IJN units having built the airfield and assigned to the island much longer that the IJA controlled the airfield area."Other sentences don't repeat but still require repeated reading to puzzle them out: "Although they did have improvised explosive devices, which are more reflective of a set demolition device, as they were command, detonated."

Now, it's true that this is just the historical commentary. In a sense, it's just a bonus, and certainly any problems here won't affect game play of the scenarios. Unfortunately, some of the new rules and scenarios have similar puzzling issues that would appear to require emails to the designers to sort out. Again going with Peleliu, rule 5.3.1 states that Marine 7-6-8 squads may deploy in their RPh by passing an NTC even if no leader is present. 3-4-8 half-squads can freely recombine, and the Deployment limits of A2.9 are increased from 10% to 25% for this squad type. There's even a historical footnote to justify the SSR, explaining that these Marine squads were highly motivated and trained to split into fire teams. Great stuff!

However, let's take a quick look at G17, the standard ASL rules for the Marines. The stuff covering Marine squads is exactly a half page long, so it's not as though there's a ton to look over. A17.11 already allows 7-6-8s to Deploy in its RPh by passing an NTC or during set-up with no limits at all. So, 100% of the Marine 7-6-8s could Deploy pre-game if they wanted, not just 25%. A17.15 mentions that these 7-6-8s are the standard Marine squad for all actions 4/44 and later, and since Peleliu takes place in 9/44, it would certainly seem as if the CH 7-6-8s and the standard ASL 7-6-8s are the same squad. The CH SSR seems to be trying to give the Marines a bit of historical flavor but is blissfully ignorant that this is already covered in the core rulebook.

The problem here is that the mere presence of an SSR like rule 5.3.1 with the deploying Marines, greatly strengthens the case of those critics who argue that CH designs mainly for their ATS line and then converts the scenarios into ASL without a great deal of playtesting and via someone who may or may not be conversant with ASL. I'm agnostic on that debate myself, but rule 5.3.1 does really make me wonder if the skeptics are right. If CH does have a good explanation for this apparent lack of knowledge about a fairly basic Marine nationality trait, I'd love to hear it.

At any rate, I mentioned above that I didn't want to get overly critical, so I'll attach a list of questions/clarifications I have so far below, and end here. Again, I'm sad to say that there are enough little flaws here that I can't recommend these products to most people, but if you like playing on attractive historical maps or have a strong interesting in either Kursk or Pelileu, these look worth checking out.

Thanks for reading,

Kursk Questions:

Rule 3.2 reads that "trenches are equivalent to woods for both rout and rally purposes (e.g., units in a trench receive a -1 DRM to Rally attempts)" The -1 DRM is already a standard rule (A10.61). Is it your intent that trenches be treated as woods per A10.51 Direction, and that units can therefore use them as rout targets?

Per rule 9.1 Civilian Interrogation is NA. Does that mean that standard Interrogation does apply?

Rule 9.12 discusses A-T Ditches. By SSR they may set up HIP and any AFV entering a hidden A-T Ditch is automatically eliminated. However, per A12.33, all fortifications always set up HIP. Is that part of the SSR redundant? Also, per A12.33 any fortification is revealed once an enemy unit is within 16 hexes and has LOS. Given that none of the scenarios appear to take place at night, I don't see how an AFV could ever move into a location with an HIP A-T Ditch. What am I missing?

Rule 9.13.1 says that Fougasse FTs have an X10 number. The example in 9.16 says that Fougasse FTs malfunction on a roll of 11 or higher. Which is correct?

Peleliu Questions:

Rule 3.12 says that all ponds are treated as Deep. Generally in ASL, only Rivers have a Depth. Is there any affect on game-play to having Deep ponds?

Rule 3.24, same question as Kursk rule 3.2: it reads that "trenches are equivalent to woods for both rout and rally purposes (e.g., units in a trench receive a -1 DRM to Rally attempts)" This is already a standard rule (A10.61). Is it your intent that trenches be treated as woods per A10.51 Direction, and that units can therefore use them as rout targets?

Rule 5.8.1: should read drm and not DRM

Rule 6.7: same question as Kursk rule 9.1: Civilian Interrogation is NA. Does that mean that standard Interrogation does apply?

Section 8 of the rulebook says that "The Japanese force on Peleliu did not have access to standard mines; therefore minefields are not available in Peleliu scenarios." In scenario 1 Spitfire Three, the Japanese OB is listed as having 24 AP mine factors and 12 AT mine factors. Is this correct?

Scenario 6 Valley of the Dead. SSR 7 read "The Japanese player may secretly choose to receive an Offboard High Caliber Mortar. If the Japanese player chooses this option the Marine player may make a secret pre-game purchase" of various fortifications. If the Japanese choice is secret, how does the Marine player know whether to purchase fortifications? If the Marine player gets to buy the forts, are the Set DCs they can buy in addition to the DCs in the Marine OB or are they subtracted from that total?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

AAR: BFP42 Bukit Full of Trouble

Zeb Doyle

Australians: Matt Schwoebel
Japanese: Zeb Doyle

Anyway, moving onto actual ASL content, work and the flu have kept me away from doing much lately, but I was fortunate enough to get in a game with the redoubtable Matt Schwoebel a few days ago. We went with BFP-42 Bukit Full of Trouble, one of the many good-looking offerings from Bounding Fire’s Blood and Jungle pack. The scenario is set in 1942, one of the darkest periods of the British Empire, and pits some desperate Australians trying to hold a vital Singapore crossroads against a Japanese onslaught.

The Australians have a simple enough task; to hold a single building on the village boards of 42 and 43 for the 7.5 turns of the scenario, and they have a very solid force to do it as well: a company of mostly elite troops, a -2 with several HMGs, some DCs, a 40L AT gun, lots of dummies, and some roadblocks, wire, foxholes, and mines. It’s the makings of a very solid defense, but it pales in comparison to what the Japanese bring to the table: 18 squads, half of whom are elite, a 10-2, two HMGs, two FTs, lots of DCs, Ha-Go tanks, 70mm OBA
with a PR hex and lots of ammo, and even a Ki-48 Lily bomber.

With all that combined arms goodness, I volunteered to take the defense, but Matt wouldn’t hear of it. He’s had more success defending against me than I care to admit, and perhaps he was trying to keep his streak alive. We did end up giving the Australians the balance, however, which downgrades the Japanese 10-2 to an 8-0…just eyeballing the scenario, it appeared that the Japanese had plenty of tools even with that change.

Matt proceeded to add to his reputation as defensive wizard, putting together a very interesting set-up that would never have occurred to me. There were a few units placed in the forward compound on board 43, a fair number of troops in the main village on board 42, and a lone building far in the rear of board 43 was protected by an entire platoon. That last building was protected by a huge thicket of bamboo, leaving me to approach it directly through a ton of kunai or via a long and indirect route of open ground. Not fun.

Looking it all over, Matt had certainly make things tricky for me, but one downside to his gambit was that no single area was especially well-defended, and the Japanese are the best nationality in the game at taking advantage of that situation. I decided to swarm over the defense in the forward compound and the village as quickly as possible, and only then turn my attention to that last building.

The game started with my pre-registered OBA trying to dump WP on the forward compound. Matt had a bunch of concealed units there, but I figured the risk of the extra chit draw was worth it with a 7/2 draw pile. This worked well, with the WP revealing a single Australian squad and a bunch of dummies, and was the start of a game-long trend of aggressive Japanese play being rewarded with good luck.

That single Aussie squad was swiftly overwhelmed, and I then started to push into the main village. My dice weren’t great, and Matt’s weren’t terrible, but there was a definite pattern where everything I tried typically worked and most of Matt’s tricks came up empty. For example, my OBA pulled four straight black cards (one of which was replaced) and always scattered to a decent spot. Meanwhile, when some of my Japanese hit a wire/mine hex, Matt rolled 10’s on both mine attacks and I rolled a 2 on my wire MF dr, allowing me to avoid the trap painlessly.

As it turned out, Matt had other issues as well. He’s a die-hard Michigan graduate, and his alma mater happened to be playing The Ohio State football team that day. We had the game on…background noise for me, life and death for Matt. This led to a few surreal moments: “OK, my Aussie 4-5-8 and HMG will fire at your DC guy, 8 flat shot…snake-eyes, goddammit, FML!” “Huh? You killed my squad and kept ROF.” “Yeah, but Michigan fumbled AGAIN!”

Between my dice and Matt’s distracting Wolverines, I was easily able to envelop the village. Here, the full Japanese toolkit was put to use, and OBA, DCs, and FTs tore apart the defense. Since the scenario is early in the war, No Quarter is not automatic, and I was able to capture everyone pretty much as soon as they broke. After the entire Australian village force had been bagged, I tidied things up with a quick Massacre and turned my attention to that final building over on board 43.

At this point, I was in a good position to get the win. One reason the village had fallen so fast was that Matt had protected his final bolt-hole with mines, the 40L gun, his 9-2, an HMG, and several squads. That meant I had my work cut out for me, trying to come through kunai and open ground, but also meant I still had three turns and a largely intact force to do it. If the village had held out for even one more turn, the end-game would have been much more interesting.

As I brought up my tanks, called in the OBA, and rushed my troops through the kunai, Matt’s remaining troops suddenly started fighting as well as his Wolverines were playing. A 12+1 attack from the OBA took out the 40L, a sniper broke an LMG squad, an Aussie squad whiffed on a 2:1 HtH CC roll, and a Ha-Go hit the 9-2/HMG stack and rolled snake-eyes on the resulting 4+0 attack to break everyone. Suddenly, there weren’t any good order Australians left, and the game ended with a whimper.

Despite the anti-climactic finish, Bukit Full of Trouble is a solid and enjoyable scenario. It’s hard to comment on the balance, given my good dice and Matt’s distractions, and the 4-0 Japanese W/L record on ROAR is too premature to offer much insight. If playing it, I’d try giving the Australians the balance and make sure the more experience player takes the defense. Regardless of whether you tweak it or not, it offers up the full Japanese combined-arms experience, which is always a lot of fun. The Australians get the challenge of trying to stop it, and as Matt demonstrated, they have more than one way of going about doing it. I think his unorthodox defense is certainly a viable way to win, and a more conventional ‘pack the village’ approach could certainly succeed as well. Good times for both sides.

Thanks to Matt for the game and the hospitality, and thanks to you for reading.


Monday, September 27, 2010

AAR: OA22 After the Disaster

Jay Harms

Germans: Jay Harms
Russians: Randy Garlington

I had a great time at the gameday this weekend over at Matt Zajac’s place up on the north side. Randy and I sat down to a game of “After the Disaster” from one of the Out of the Attic journals. We diced for sides and I got the Germans who were attacking a Russian trench line. The setting was Oct 44, with the Germans counterattacking a Russian position. The Germans enter on board 17 and have to clear the farmhouse on Board 4 as well as take out two 122L Art guns also on Board 4. Both sides get some fun toys.

Turn 1 started with me bringing my 2 King Tigers up the left flank along with the 2 Stug IIIG’s. Infantry tried to keep pace along with the tanks. Right off the bat I run into his 9-2 and friends. Randy had set up the 9-2 to cover the flank and a few def fire shots later I sensed a failure to rout chance if I could get around his 9-2. Moving my last Stug IIIG around the 9-2, I had to go CE to get behind him. Randy announces a FPF shot on the stug crew (4 even shot). Morale check, which I promptly boxcar! Drat, one recalled tank for nothing! This just started the epic battle on the left flank with this Russian 9-2! Over the coarse of the game I think I broke him 3 times, and Randy rallied him the next turn each time. This leader would not go down! Most of the rallies were under DM. Turn 2 and 3 saw the Germans push up the left flank and Randy shifting to cover my attack. By German Turn 3 I had one of my King Tigers in LOS of the farmhouse and had for the most part avoided his 122Ls. At this point the game could go either way as we both had big reinforcement groups coming.

In the Russian 3, Randy brought on his 4 JS2’s on my left flank (the low armor ones, but still much to be feared). One parked in LOS of my King Tiger and eventually succumbed after trading shots for a turn. The other three stayed out of LOS and in motion. In my turn 4, the worm turned for Randy and I brought on my reinforcements which was 3 Panthers and 5 halftracks. I blitzed through Randy’s left flank after he had spun one of the 122Ls to cover the King Tigers approach. This was the key to the game as I was able to get into his backfield and threaten the farmhouse with 3 panthers and five 468’s that were loaded on the HT's

By my Turn 5 I was able to encircle and cut off rout paths on the remaining Russians and close with the farmhouse and his 122Ls. The JS2’s didn’t go quietly as we traded a King Tiger for another JS2. Unfortunately by then it was all over but the mopping up by turn 6 and Randy conceded.

All in all a fun scenario, but I would say a bit tough on the Russians. A lot of thought has to go into the Russian setup and I was able to exploit an opening with my reinforcements that was able to pull it out for the Germans.

Finally, a big thanks to Matt for hosting the gameday on Saturday! The homemade chili, homebrew oatmeal stout, and the hospitality was all excellent! Good times!


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

AAR: TAP20 The Buda Probe

Zeb Doyle

Russians: Zeb Doyle
Hungarians: Eric Gerstenberg

My next fun August ASL experience was with Eric Gerstenberg in TAP20 The Buda Probe. This is a mini-monster East Front action somewhat reminiscent of G34 The Liberators. A huge Russian force of 32 squads and 15 tanks gets to slap around a dug-in company of Hungarians, who are reinforced on turn three by a bunch of Germans who arrive in style with King Tiger, Jagdpanzers, and all kinds of fun half-tracks in support. All in all, it looked like some fairly standard meat and potatoes east front action, standing out for its size more than any unusual SSRs or VC. Sometimes meat and potatoes makes the best meal, though, and Eric and I ended up having an incredible game with more wild swings and shifts in momentum than you’d get out of a season pass to Six Flags.

For all the excitement that lay ahead, the game started off surprisingly slowly. Even in their improved new era of production, CH scenarios often have some rough edges. In this case, we needed a pre-game email to the designer to clarify the pre-game rocket strikes, there was also a typo (the JgPz IV/70 is listed with a 75L instead of the proper 75LL…no big deal, I thought), and the German Field Phone is directing OBA meaninglessly designated as ‘Battalion MTR.’

Finally underway, things went great for my attacking Russians. Eric broke and X’d out his Hungarian MMG and HMG and drew a red card for his OBA, allowing me to make great progress. The attack slowed a lot when the reinforcing Germans arrived, but I was happy to see that Eric parked one of his JgPz IV/70s in clear LOS of an ISU-122. I opened up, and several fire phases of annoying high dice later, still hadn’t hit. I finally got curious and asked why the JgPz wasn’t returning fire. Eric pointed out my 14 AF and said he didn’t think his 75L 17TK had a good chance. Yup, he was so busy looking at the scenario card, he hadn’t realized he was actually working with a 75LL. Making up for lost time, the tank destroyer swung its VCA and launched a shell at the ISU-122. CH and burning wreck! Well, I guess the typo didn’t make a difference after all…

Fortune swung back towards me after that though. My 120mm OBA strayed perfectly, hitting an entire platoon of 5-4-8s that Eric had carelessly left stacked. The resulting 1MC broke them all and opened a real hole in the middle of the Axis lines. Elsewhere, his 9-2/5-4-8 advanced into CC with a CX, pinned 6-2-8. Ambushed attained, Eric went for the (SSR-allowed) HtH attack, only to roll a 12. In the next CCPh, everyone there died in a maelstrom of bayonets and rifle butts, robbing the Axis of their best leader.

This was no small thing, as one of the more subtle but interesting aspects of this scenario is the miserly leader allotment for both sides. The Axis, after deducting one SMC to man the field phone, have four leaders for 23 squad equivalents. Not terrible, but not great considering the wide front they have to cover. The Soviets are in the same position, with five leaders for 32 squads, and so both sides are often forced to either play very conservatively in a leaderless sector or risk having broken squads out of play for long periods of time. Very neat!

At any rate, I was well positioned to really bring the hammer down on Eric in the middle. I started off placing a DC on an unfortunate Hungarian 4-4-7 and bringing up every single body I could muster to exploit the hole. Sound tactics, except when the building rubbles and falls over, wiping out a platoon of 6-2-8s with DCs. Turns out this particular ASL story is a lot more fun to hear than to experience.

The Soviets have plenty of bodies in this one, and so despite that loss, I kept pushing into the center. Then, Eric rolled a sniper. The Axis SAN of 5 is a real threat, and so I’d protected my kill-stack (10-2, 3x 4-5-8, .50 cal, 2x HMG) with some of those numerous Soviet bodies and surrounded it on two sides with 4-4-7s. That didn’t stop the 1 in 36 sniper hit on my 10-2’s location, and there was no way I could guard against the yahtzee that killed him and broke a squad. The ensuing 2LLMC broke everyone there and snuffed out my kill stack. Another ASL story that’s not too fun to experience, especially when you’ve already had it happen to you.

That left me with very little to throw at Eric’s weak spot, but I still had one trick up my sleeve. The only infantry he had in this sector was a stack of 2x 4-6-7, HMG, MMG…very nasty, but vulnerable to my OT-34. I’d bring that up, burn them out, and still break through with the few good order squads I had left. The Germans were in a key VC building, and it put Eric in a tough spot as the OT-34 rolled up. He decided to risk going for a PF and got one on his first roll. Needing a 4 TH (base 6 at two hex range, +2 for motion), he took the backblast, turned the OT-34 into scrap, and had both squads pass the 1MC. For the next few player turns, I was, as the song has it, “speaking a language the clergy do not know.”

That sequence really turned the game around and put me in a bad position. The rest of the game was a great exercise in improvisation, as I tried to regroup and throw my shattered force again and again against the stout German resistance. Bringing my armor forward, I managed to take out Eric’s weaker AFVs. Knocked out JgPz IV/70s and Hetzers choked the streets, but his PaK 43 88LL AT guns took a heavy toll on my armor as well. Then, both guns broke firing at infantry, leaving the King Tigers as vulnerable as King Tigers ever get. In one of my proudest moments, I successfully managed to Overrun one with a T-34 M43. Finally, a cool ASL story that actually is good for me! Now we were both dealing with the pressure of forces crumbling away. The game started to feel increasingly like a scene out of a Paul Carell book, with flames, smoke, and desperation everywhere. It is terrible history, but it’s fun reading and great ASL.

As time ticked away, freed from the menace of the PaK 43s, I managed to maneuver my two IS-2ms into a great spot. Peering through a miasma of drifting smoke and flame, they spotted one of Eric’s two King Tigers with a very tight LOS. We were within six hexes, there were four hindrances, he was double large, I was CE with armor leaders, it couldn’t get any better. DFPh: hull hit, bounce. Hull hit, bounce. PFPh: Hull hit, bounce. Hull hit, bounce. Eric’s DFPh: His BU King Tiger swings his slow-traversing turret around and fires at my normal sized target. Hull hit, but when it’s a CH, it still penetrates and burns the IS-2m. Arrrgh! At least the newly-placed smoke from the wreck blocks LOS and prevents Eric from using the ROF to kill my last IS-2m…

My infantry has not been idle during all this, swinging around to challenge Eric’s right flank. He has a Hungarian 4-4-7 there with one of those ungainly 20L, 2 ROF ATRs. He’s in a line of anti-tank ditches, and I send a platoon of 6-2-8s down it to take him out. The first 6-2-8 goes down to the 8+2 shot. Annoying, but it happens. The second breaks on the 4+2 residual shot, and so does the third. Getting desperate now, I send a 4-4-7 into an adjacent patch of woods, only to fall victim to the ATR…and it keeps ROF! That stupid ATR (and I admit to laughing at it pre-game when I saw it on the card) goes on to break another 4-4-7 and a 4-5-8. Ugh, and there goes any threat to Eric’s right.

Racking my brains to their utmost, I see one last slim chance on my left where a 5-4-8 in a fortified building location is protecting another VC area. I throw everything I can towards him, but most of my troops have to come from pretty far away and it tips my hand. Eric has a chance to respond, and drives a King Tiger right into the building to guard against the threat. He shifts his OBA over to the area, and it drifts right onto his 5-4-8. A little risky, but the OBA does make a good shield around him. With one turn to go, I still have a chance, but it’s a slim one.

With no margin for error, I bring a T-34 around for a BFF shot on the King Tiger. He has APCR, and the King Tiger (with 10-2 AL) is destroyed. Tasty, and it frees a second T-34 to go and park on the 5-4-8 and lock him down. That 5-4-8 is feeling pretty lonely right now. My few remaining Soviets get sequenced forward to draw off as much fire as they can and get into the VC building. There’s nothing I can do about the OBA though, and it’s cursedly effective as my troops run into the stone VC building and get hit by it. A series of 16+4s break and pin several of my units. Now it’s time to bring up my ace in the hole, a 6-2-8 and FT. I cross my fingers and he plunges into the OBA. Eric gets a good roll, and it’s a 2MC. The 8-1 with the FT squad pins. The squad passes! There’s still hope! It’s AFPh now, and with the game on the line, the FT goes to fire. A 24+1 through the OBA at the 5-4-8. The dice roll and spin and….boxcars. Germans win!

But wait! We’re fourteen hours in right now, and my brain is fried. I’m more confused than a baby at a topless bar. For some reason, I decide that the tank parked on the 5-4-8 makes him non-good order, and so I can advance in across non-breached hexsides. This is, of course, totally wrong, but thankfully Eric wins the ambush roll and withdraws for a slightly delayed victory. Germans win! My apologies to Eric for wrongly delaying his celebration there.

Well, I hope I managed to convey at least a faint impression of all the excitement we enjoyed playing this one. I think this is a very good scenario, and the dice and action gave both Eric and me a truly epic experience. We’ve both been playing ASL for years now, and we still had multiple events occur that we’d never seen before. Great times! I didn’t even get to mention my crazy OBA or the fact that our combined four FT units got off a single successful shot or that…

Thanks for reading!


AAR: BFP32 Slaughter At Nanyaun

Zeb Doyle

Chinese: Matt Schwoebel
Japanese: Zeb Doyle

For most of this summer, I was in an ASL drought, but fortunately things picked up in August and I got in some really fun gaming. One of my more entertaining battles was against Matt Schwoebel in BFP-32 Slaughter At Nanyaun. This is a nifty 1938 Japanese-Chinese battle across the relatively open boards 43 and 17, with the Japanese trying to get 80 points of CVP and EVP.

It’s a bit of an unusual scenario, since the attacking Japanese infantry are numerically outnumbered by a 3:2 ratio, and in FP roughly 1.3:1. That’s not even counting the four heavy-hitting 150mm and 75mm ART guns that the Chinese also get. To make up for this, the Japanese do receive some 70mm OBA (made very powerful by an offboard observer at level three, which can see vast expanses of the map) and three flame-throwing engineer vehicles, which operate much like the German SPW 251/16, in that they have two side-mounted flamethrowers and can thus get two shots per turn if maneuvered correctly.

This all makes for great fun if you like brain-teasers. The Japanese need to very cautiously work their way forward, identify the Chinese positions, and then work over any exposed Chinese strong-points with the flame-throwing vehicles. They have 2 AF, enough to ward off most MG fire, but not enough to stand up to the Chinese guns. This ends up being very tense but lots of fun. Every Japanese piece is precious, so there are no throw-away moves, and deciding how bold to be with the flame-throwers and what targets are worth risking the X11 20FP shots on is especially tricky.

In my playing with Matt, I sent my first wave of Japanese all down the left flank. He’d set up his Chinese scattered about in foxholes, and completely ignored the compound of stone buildings on board 43. Initially, I thought that he’d made a mistake, but it turns out the LOS from there isn’t especially good and any Chinese units placed there are probably thrown away. Instead, by concentrating his infantry further back in the foxholes, he maintained his numerical and FP edge, and had better TEM as well when my force finally contacted him. So, nice job, Matt...this is the second time your 'in-depth foxhole defense' has caused me all kinds of grief!

I sent some Type 94 tankettes rushing forward as scouts, and managed to find a 75mm and a 150mm gun at the cost of a single AFV….a very acceptable loss ratio to me. I then felt bold enough to send forward a single flame-throwing tank, and it managed to burn out several pockets of Chinese, before finding the last 150mm ART piece at the cost of its own destruction. Unfortunately, that left the bulk of Matt’s force positioned on my left flank, well covered by his big guns, and with no easy way of rooting them out. Things only got tougher in that sector when the Chinese reinforcements arrived with most of them also moving under the protective cover of those nasty 150mm monsters.

With my own reinforcements arriving, I decided not to reinforce failure, and would instead send my second wave of infantry up the middle. I would also redeploy my flame-throwing tanks to that area and see if I could force my way through an area that would have, at most, a single 75mm gun covering it. The downside to this was that the tanks would have to spend two turns moving into position, and since it was already turn four of a 7.5 turn game, I didn’t have any time to waste.

The push up the middle turned out to be a good move. As Matt’s Chinese scrambled to reposition, they had to move through a large patch of woods on board 17, and my offboard observer was able to rain airburst OBA pain on a huge number of them. Several missions, shifting between harassing fire and WP did an amazing amount of damage, with almost every 4-1 attack or 1MC breaking everyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the blast. That really cleared a path for my second wave of infantry to exit, and more importantly, I think it rattled Matt’s morale some. He reacted by bringing the Chinese armor aggressively over to block me. This is one reason I enjoy scenarios that have dual VC, like EVP and CVP-it makes a lot of otherwise easy decisions into painful trade-offs. Here, Matt threatened my infantry EVP with a bunch of 6FP CMGs, but also put a bunch of his 0 AF, 5 CVP vehicles in harm’s way.

As it turned out, my 37mm crewed infantry SW had a field day with the Chinese armor, going on several big ROF tears and killing most of it. That 3 ROF and 7TK has the potential to be deadly to everything in the Chinese armored force. The PSW 222 survived, but I managed to toast that threat with one of my flame-throwing tanks. When a scouting CX’d 9-0 Japanese leader managed to find the last 75mm gun, survive a 24-2 CH and a 24+0 CH, and then advance in and kill the crew in HtH CC, the floodgates really opened up for me, and the game ended on the last turn with the Japanese scoring 100 VP. Had Matt been a bit more judicious with his armor, or had my OBA not been so smashingly effective, it would have been a very tense and close finish.

So, BFP-32 Slaughter At Nanyaun is highly recommended. Since every move feels so vital, we both felt extra-drained and tired at the end, so be ready for that. The balance felt even to me, although I’d say the Japanese might be slightly more fragile. If they lose the OBA and several of the flame-throwers on fluke events, they aren’t going to win this. If the Chinese boxcar out those 150mm guns right off the bat, they are in trouble, but it’s not an auto-loss. I’d still take either side though for some fun Asian early-war action.

Thanks for reading,