Thursday, October 25, 2007

Review: Friendly Fire Pack 3

Zeb Doyle

Of all the ASL releases in October (and thanks to ASLOK, there are a lot), I've been looking forward most of all to the Dispatches From the Bunker and the Friendly Fire stuff. Walter did a very nice job summarizing the Bunker scenarios, so I figured I'd quickly comment on the Friendly Fire creations. These guys are based out of Sweden and do great work. I've played a lot of the scenarios from their first two packs and really enjoyed them all. The designers have a knack for creating tourney-sized actions with simple SSRs that still provide lots of replay value and require lots of thought. Their stuff is much less cookie-cutter than Schwerpunkt and overall I'd currently rate them as my favorite design group. The Friendly Fire scenarios are also a great value for the money at $15 for 8 scenarios, especially considering that out of each pack six or seven of the scenarios look like fun to me. Obviously tastes will vary, but I'm generally pretty picky and usually buy packs expecting to be only interested in about half the enclosed scenarios. In short, if you're looking to expand your ASL collection, I highly recommend all the Friendly Fire stuff. You can get it at various retailers in the US or directly from them at I've ordered from them in the past and shipping is actually very quick, about six days from order to arrival. With the praise phase concluded, and the disclaimer that this is largely based on a 30 second scan of the scenarios, let me run down the details of the latest pack:

FrF17 The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: Japanese attacking Chinese, 5 turns, 35 total squads, two tanks.

As you can guess, this scenario revolves around the famous clash just outside Beijing that led to the Sino-Japanese war and involves a tough force of Japanese being attacked by a ton of not-so-tough Chinese. It's also a cool example of how the Friendly Fire guys make their scenarios simple but interesting. The Japanese win at game end by hanging on to some buildings, but each squad of prisoners they capture counts as a building too. Given the large number of Chinese conscripts running around, that VC provision sounds like it'll really complicate the attack. Cool!

FrF18 Through Fire And Ice: Russians attacking Finns, 6.5 turns, 23 total squads, 11 vehicles.

This is a Winter War scenario with Deep Snow and has the Russians attempting to break through a Finnish defense and exit some trucks. Interesting situation, but doesn't excite me as much as some of the other scenarios.

FrF19 About His Shadowy Sides: Russians attacking Germans, 7.5 turns, 23 total squads, six tanks.

Barbarossa action here, with some monster KV-2s crashing into a German battalion HQ and fighting off some late-arriving PzIVDs. I got to play this one at the San Antonio game day and it's definitely a lot of fun. I'll try to write up a full AAR later, but let me just say that after commanding the 75mm howitzer armed Panzers, I can really see the KV as Kraken comparison.

FrF20 Adolf's Amateurs: German SS attacking Russians, 6.5 turns, 19 total squads, four tanks

This is more Barbarossa, and the SS are 4-4-7s and Green by SSR. I've always thought the SS (especially early war) are overrated in ASL so I like that aspect. Both sides also get some armor and the BT-7s vs PzIIID and PzIIA looks challenging for both sides.

FrF21 Cavalry Brigade Model: Germans attacking Russians, 5.5 turns, 23 total squads, three tanks.

Another East Front scenario, but this time in 1942. On the dense terrain of boards 32 and 37, German cavalry gets to clear out some hapless Russians. Cavalry is always fun, especially when it can enter from any board edge and this is another I'm looking forward to trying.

FrF22 Wunderwaffe: Russians attacking Germans, 6 turns, 26 total squads, nine tanks.

Still 1942 East Front, and the Russians are on the attack against those 75LL squeeze-bore guns I was asking about the other day. They're cool weapons with the 24TK and 2 ROF, but the VC are even cooler: the Russians win by capturing buildings or a working squeeze-bore, so the German has to be very careful about where he places them. Really want to give this one a try.

FrF23 Elephants Unleashed: Germans attacking Russians, 5.5 turns, 17 total squads, 13 tanks.

Kursk action now, with 6-2-8 and 8-3-8 assault engineers battling it out as SU-152s and Elephants trade shots. Russians get a few fortifications, Germans can win by capturing buildings or exiting. Another scenario I am anxious to try.

FrF24 Forging Spetsnaz: Russians attacking Japanese, 6 turns, 33 total squads, three vehicles.

Late war scenario with a bunch of very tough Russians (6-2-8s with the 4 smoke exponent) tearing into a rather feeble Japanese force. Both sides are pretty intermingled, which is always interesting and makes things tricky for both sides. I need to actually set up the boards for this one but it looks very intriguing.

That's it for the overview. I think I spotted a few inconsequential typos and one minor one (In FrF24, Elements of 140th Reconnaissance Detachment set up two hexes from 23GG5. Should that be two or less hexes? Again, I haven't pulled the boards, so this may make more sense when looking at the map). Regardless, all the Friendly Fire packs are very high quality and my only real grip with them is the funny-sized paper those Swedes insist on using :) If you're looking for ASL products that are high quality and offer great bang for the buck, you can't go wrong with these.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Sam for doing the data input on these so we can play them!


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