Monday, April 06, 2009

Austin Gameday Report - April 2009

Zeb Doyle

I'm happy to say that the April game day was flawlessly hosted by Matt Shostak and was a big success. There was a decent turn-out, boosted by Mark Carter from Houston and Scott Bell and Hondo from San Antonio. Thanks for making the drive, guys, and thanks even more for bringing the great coffee, Mark. A lot of good ASL got played, but the best part of the day was seeing all those motivated newbies. They really lucked out, getting Shostak, Seningen, and Reinesch as their tutors. With ASL gurus like that showing them the ropes, they'll be more than ready for action in time for the Austin team tourney. Hope to see and play some of you guys there!

Some of the scenarios played included classics like The Duel and Fighting Withdrawal. I was lucky enough to get a great opponent (David Longstreet) in a great scenario (ASL61 Shoestring Ridge) that I'd been wanting to play ever since Code of Bushido first came out. It's a night scenario on the bare ridges of boards 2 and 25, with a thin American force trying to stop a horde of Nipponese from exiting. I got the Americans and was pretty worried after setting up. I actually spent a ton of time preparing, something I rarely do, but never felt like I could figure out a solid defense. In the scenario, the Japanese only have to exit 20 of a possible 70 points (and that's not even counting the possibility of exiting captured American equipment) and have a leisurely 8 turns to go 16 hexes.

Shoestring Ridge is balanced on ROAR, so I figured I was missing something, but I still didn't fancy my chances against the skill and savvy of Longstreet-san. Once the game got going though, it became apparent that yes, I was missing something....the terrain (especially on board 25) is wide-open enough to give the Americans a good view of the attack, but there are enough gullies, craigs, crazy elevation changes, and cliffs to really channel the Japanese. I also had a secret weapon: my dice. I rolled about a bajillon boxcars, but they were all on starshell scatter rolls and as such were relatively painless. Pretty much everything else I rolled was under David's SAN of 5, and he added to the fun by rolling nothing but 10s and 11s on his MCs. He saved his boxcars for minor things like MCs for leaders and crews carrying HMGs. The one snake-eyes he had sent a 4-4-8 Berserk and charging into a 16-1 attack...where I rolled a 3. With one-sided luck like that, the Japanese attack ground down pretty fast and we called it on turn six. Great scenario but marred by crazy dice. If anyone is interested, I'd love to try this one again as the attacker. Thanks to David for meeting my torrent of threes and fours on 2+0 and 2-1 shots with a smile.

The game of the day might have been Eric Gerstenberg vs. Brian Roundhill in CH167 The Warlord's Estate. I'd just played this one last week, and it was a lot of fun watching these two wily veterans matching wits and seeing what they did differently. It's a Japanese vs. Chinese scenario and both sides get some fun toys, with a Zero, a 50-cal HMG, a pre-WWI Italian mountain gun, and a Mark C carrier all making an appearance. Even though Schwoebel trashed me in my playing ( my Japanese attack went nowhere against a solid Chinese defense), we were all thinking it's mildly pro-Japanese. Now though, after having seen a few tricks Brian pulled, I think there's a Chinese set-up that could be pretty nasty. Putting the balance question aside, the game between Brian and Eric turned out to be super close and featured a pretty amusing end game situation that might be worthy of discussion:

Let's say it's the last turn of the game, and you have to break one last Chinese 3-3-7 squad. He's in a foxhole with open ground all around it. You've got a 4-4-7 adjacent who has already prep fired, and enough assorted crews, half-squads, leaders, and striped squads around that you can get another 6FP of units adjacent and potentially get a 4+2 AFPh shot. The only problem is that the unbroken Chinese 3-3-7 is almost entirely surrounded by brokies (from your PFPh) that you can't move though, so all your units have to move into a single adjacent hex. You also have a nearby tank that has enough MP to park on the 3-3-7 but not overrun him. Do you lock down the 3-3-7 by parking the tank on him or just run everything you have into the adjacent open ground hex to support the 4-4-7 there eating a 6-2 for someone and 2-2 resid attacks? If it matters, your units are a mix of 7 and 8 ML, with two 9ML leaders. So, what do you do?

In the actual game (no peeking ahead for answers, now!), things didn't work out quite this smoothly, but more or less Eric parked the tank on the 3-3-7. There was a 4+2 AFPh shot from the infantry and a 6+2 from the tank and the 3-3-7 ended up pinned. The Japanese infantry piles in for a 3:1 HtH attack and wins easily, right? Not quite...the presence of the tank makes CC sequential, and the cunning Brian goes for a 1:4 attack on the bulk of the Japanese infantry. He needs a 5 and gets a 4, dropping Eric to a 1:1 return attack. The Japanese now need to roll a 7 for the win and just barely do pull it out. If the 3-3-7 hadn't pinned, Brian could well have wiped out the entire stack for the win. So, VBM sleeze-freeze, not always the war winner it's reputed to be!

One other note, this one for anyone still on the fence about LFT's Operation Chariot. I brought it to the game day and passed it around. The overwhelming response? "Wow, lots of new's not for me."

Thanks for reading and a huge thank you to Shostak for hosting the great game day,



Anonymous said...

As to Zeb's question, was banzai an option for Eric's Japanese at that point?
You mentioned that he had leaders.


Anonymous said...

Good question on the banzai, but that wasn't an option. The Chinese 3-3-7 was in a reverse slope position on a hill and no one had LOS to him at the start of their MPh.


Anonymous said...

One other question on that endgame. Since there was a vehicle in the 3-3-7's hex, and CC thus becomes sequential, does the infantry still have to use HtH CC #'s since it was the Japanese player turn, or does the Chinese player have the option to declare non-HtH CC? (This might have actually been worse for the Chinese.)


Anonymous said...

According to Zeb, who I think looked it up then, HtH is declared, then sequential comes into play. So the Japanese force it into HtH.

-- Brian Roundhill