Monday, February 27, 2006

AAR: J98 - Lend-lease Attack

Zeb Doyle

After Eric and I finished up Bridgehead On The Berezina, it was still raining, so we cast about for another scenario to play. Time was running short, so we decided on J98 Lend-lease Attack, which looked like it played fast and would keep our Operation Bagration theme going. The scenario is 5.5 turns, and features two Tigers and 3.5x 4-6-7s trying to hold off 4.5x truck mounted 4-5-8s, two SU-85s, and four gyro'd Shermans. The Russians win by scoring 28 CVP/EVP, and the action all takes place on boards 4 and 19.

As can be seen, the terrain is fairly wide open, but with enough grain and hedges and clumps of trees to make things interesting. The armor battle comes down to the classic situation of the Tigers dominating at long range, but in an interesting twist, the Soviets rely more on technology than numbers to win, with the gyros being the difference between victory and defeat. The infantry, meanwhile, isn't quite a sideshow, but it's the tanks that will decide things.

As usual, Eric succumbed to the lure of the Tigers and set up a defense with one tank up front and the other back covering the exit area. The forward panzer was covered by plenty of infantry, and a HIP HS with a PSK also lurked out there somewhere. On the other hand, the Tigers weren't really covering each other very well, and so I decided to try and exploit that fact in my attack.

The Russians have to enter in two separated but balanced groups by SSR, and I sent the right-hand bunch racing down board 19 to go after the rear-most Tiger. On the left, my second group, covered by some trees, drove up to within a few hexes of the forward Tiger to threaten a swarm on turn two. I guess my attack was just what Eric expected, as he only did a minimal amount of defensive adjustment in his turn, with neither Tiger budging, although they did both go CE.

On my turn two, some fancy maneuvering brought the Shermans in the left-hand group into LOS of the rear Tiger. Eric spun the Tiger's CA two hexspines to face the Shermans, but would have needed a four to hit me and passed on the shot. My gyro'd Shermans, though, could get the Tiger on a seven, and just for kicks tried a few HE shots on the exposed crew. I ended up with one hit, which ended up being an NMC, and the 9ML Tiger promptly failed it...

That unlikely turn of events allowed my right-hand force to be very aggressive in their approach, and the Stunned Tiger quickly died to an SU-85 APCR shot through the rear. No crew got out, and that left me with 7 CVP and 19 EVP right next to the exit area. Obviously, things were looking dire for Eric at that point, but the closer he gets to losing, the better he plays. The remaining Tiger raced to the rear to try and cover the exit area, while the German infantry scrambled to both cover their panzer and block the Russian infantry from slipping off.

At this point, the scenario got a little gamey. The Tiger didn't have the MPs to actually get within LOS of the exit area in just one turn. That left me with 19 EVP of tanks that could just drive off untouched, meaning I'd only be two EVP or CVP short of a win. Since I also had two trucks and a 7-0/4-5-8 that could also exit that turn, I was able to maneuver with complete freedom with the rest of my force. Eric was compelled to hold his fire to deal with the trucks and exit-eligible infantry to avoid an instant loss. That let me get into great position with the rest of my infantry.

I decided to hold all my armor on the map as a threat, so my turn three ended with 19 EVP of Russian tanks still lurking near the exit area, but not actually off, one truck dead, one truck off, the rest of my armor pushing forward to also threaten to exit, and my infantry in really good position to take on Eric's troops. I did lose a Sherman to the HIP HS/PSK combo, but the HS ended up being out of position to threaten the rest of my armor, and I could live with the loss of a single tank at that point.

In Eric's turn, he tried again to cobble together a defense, but the early loss of the first Tiger had really unhinged things. Now, if the Germans weren't aggressive, I could easily exit enough to win, but aggressive German play would also lead to losses, giving me the CVP I need to win...Faced with this tough situation, Eric brought his Tiger up to cover the exit area and faced off against my two Shermans and the SU-85. All the tank fire in the turn was ineffective, and the situation would go to my turn four unchanged. Elsewhere, a German squad broke and was killed for FTR, bringing my CVP/EVP total to 10.

My turn four rolled around with lots of options for me to try and win that turn. Some lucky dice resulted in the Tiger getting smoked in, and then some more lucky dice from the rear SU-85 dropped another smoke round down, completely blocking all LOS for the Tiger. This allowed my remaining three Shermans to drive off, followed by much of my infantry, for a very anticlimactic win...

Overall, the scenario was amusing and it certainly fit the bill as a fast playing action. Eric made a tiny mistake in not setting up the Tigers to mutually support each other better, and I was able to get a lot of luck in exploiting the situation. As I mentioned, the scenario had a bit of a gamey feel to it, so I'm in no hurry to play it again, but it does seem like a great way to teach combined arms attack and tank tactics. In short, it's a reasonably fun scenario when you're pressed for time, but nothing to take too seriously. Assuming that's what the designer had in mind with it, he succeeded admirably. Thanks again to Eric for again fighting to the bitter end as I diced him twice in one day...

Thanks for reading,


AAR: OB12 - Bridgehead On The Berezina

Zeb Doyle

When I woke up to pouring rain Saturday morning, I realized it was perfect ASL weather, and luckily for me, Eric was of the same opinion. We settled in for a long day of gaming and decided on OB12 Bridgehead On The Berezina. This scenario is from Chas Smith's Onslaught To Orsha, and features a very interesting combined arms river crossing by the Soviet towards the beginning of Operation Bagration.

To simulate this operation, the Russians get 8.5 turns to cross the board 40 river, clear out all German units on or adjacent to the road from the bridge to the map edge, and exit 24 VPs off the far edge of the map. The attack occurs in several stages, with only eight 3-2-8s and amphibious jeeps starting on map for the Russians. They later get a Guards company of 4-5-8s on turn three, two fighter-bombers that show up randomly on or after turn three, and finally, four lend lease Shermans on turn 6. All in all, it's a very impressive force, albeit one that's lacking in heavy weapons (LMGS and DCs are all the Soviets have).

The German force, meanwhile, is quite the opposite of the Soviets. Instead of the Russian 8ML Guards, the German defense is composed of SS Police Group von Gottberg. This group is composed of five 4-4-7 SS squads, an HMG and some foxholes, and is later reinforced on turn two by a Stuka and on turn three by eight more SS 4-4-7s and two MMGs. The German squads are definitely inferior to the Russians, but they get the advantage of the bridge choke-point and with the three machine guns to cover that key terrain, the crossing is sure to be tough.

Overall then, the Russians have 16 total squads, the four tanks, and the two aircraft against the 13 German squads and the Stuka. However, the Russian force trickles in over the course of the game, most of them are forced to cross the bridge, and there is only a small numerical superiority over the Germans. Finally, the VC are demanding, requiring the Russians to completely clear a long stretch of road and exit a meaningful percentage of their force.

All these elements combine into a very interesting scenario. The Germans have lots of interesting options with their set up, as they can try to cover the river against the amphibious jeeps, set up on the Russian side of the river to contest the approach of the reinforcing Guards, or just sit back and cover the bridge. Meanwhile, the Russians have to decide just how aggressive to be with their initial eight 3-2-8s in the amphibious attack, and how hard to push with the reinforcements.

As is his wont, Eric chose to play the Germans, and set up a defense largely centered on covering the bridge, but with the HMG back on the board 40 level two hill. He took a while setting up, and I started to joke that it didn't matter what he did with his troops; it would all come down to the planes anyway. The Stuka shows up on turn two and gets to really dominate until the Russian fighter bombers show up some time between turn three and turn seven. If the fighter bombers show up late, the Stuka basically gets to harrass the Russians all game long, but if it does get shot out of the sky on turn three, the shoe will be on the other foot. Six turns of getting strafed by 12FP and no Stuka to compensate will make for a long day for the von Gottberg group.

Finally, Eric finished setting up, and I was able to commence my attack. I think the Russian needs to be very patient in this one, with the amphibious force in particular being held as a threat once across the river. The dangers of being defeated in detail are too large to risk doing anything aggressive as the Russians until more reinforcements arrive. With that game plan in mind, I started the river crossing. Eric had set up pretty much letting me cross unopposed on my right side of the map. That was where I wanted to cross anyway, as it would give me better access to the dominating board 40 hill later in the game, so I plunked my counters down and drove the jeeps into the swirling waters of the Berezina.

Amphibious crossings, rumors to the contrary, are pretty simple as far as ASL rules go, and so things proceeded smoothly rules-wise. Despite my attempts at a cautious approach, Eric's HMG did get a shot at one of the jeeps and promptly sank it with a roll of a 4. The turn ended with the jeeps still in the river, but in position to land and unload on my turn two. The German turn sped by with only some minor redeployment occurring.

My turn two saw the arrival of the Stuka, which waited for the amphib jeeps to land and unload before launching a strafing run. The run blew up a jeep, pinned three of my 3-2-8s, and rolled a 12 on the last attack to malf the machine guns. That was a huge break for me, especially considering all my pregame fears of how the planes would interact, and really took away a key part of Eric's defense. The Stuka would later drop its bomb, but missed entirely with that, and quietly left the game having done absolutely nothing.

The loss of the Stuka let me enter my turn three Guards reinforcements a bit more aggressively than I had expected, although that pesky German HMG KIA'd a squad with a sneaky LOS and a 6-1 shot. I was still in good shape though going into the German half of turn three. Here, the reinforcing units of the von Gottberg force stormed onto the map, many reinforcing the units covering the bridge, and the rest climbing the hill to contest my 3-2-8 amphib force, which was working its way up the far side.

As we worked through turn four, the scenario was just as much fun as it looked on the card. The Russian Guards had worked their way down to the bridge, but the German heavy and medium machine guns made it death to try and cross. Meanwhile, a tense cat and mouse game reigned on the hill, with my 3-2-8s and a recombined 6-2-8 generally giving better than they got against Eric's 4-4-7s. At this point, it was all a battle for position while I waited for my planes and tanks to arrive.

The Russian fighter-bombers finally appeared on turn five, and the complexion of the game took an immediate change. In my half of the turn, I got lucky on the hill, firing into a Melee and breaking the German squad but not my 3-2-8, and managed to push Eric almost entirely off the hill. In his turn, the Russian fighter bombers came roaring in and ripped up a large part of the German force. The terrain on board 40 is fairly open for the most part, and my strafing attacks led to 12+1 and 12+2 attacks on six or so of Eric's squads. This left only a single MMG covering the bridge and a large stack of broken Germans cowering in the rear.

As turn six started, my four Shermans rolled onto the board, and the pressure really intensified for both sides. The Germans were really hurting and the tanks had the smoke and cover so vital for bridge crossing, but my amphib force had really accomplished all it could do by itself, and my main force had only four turns left to cross the bridge, clear out all the Germans, and exit. Despite Eric's vile luck with the Stuka, it was still anyone's game.

At this point, though, Lady Luck reared up and threw the Germans a devastating sucker punch. In the Rally Phase, a lowly German sergeant was trying to rally a DM stack of three squads and an 8-1. The 8-1 rolled snakes on his rally attempt, creating much excitement for Eric, but then went berserk. Turning to the whimpering platoon of policemen behind him, he imbued them with his steely resolve as well, and the entire stack of 8-1, 8-0, 3x 4-4-7 all ended up with a 10 ML. The increased broken ML of the SS actually ended up hurting Eric here, as he kept rolling just low enough to send his troopers over the edge. Worst of all, the Germans were now down to a single non-berserk leader, and he was over fighting the amphib force, well away from the main action.

My turn passed quickly, with the tanks getting into position, my Guards preparing to rush the bridge, and my 3-2-8s pushing the Germans completely off the hill. During Eric's turn six, his berserk war criminals stormed out of their stone building, singing the Horst Wessel song at the top of their voices. They were promptly met by a 12-2 point attack from a fighter bomber which resulted in a 2KIA which killed all five units on a brutal Random Selection roll...

That really took the heart out of the German defense, and left lots of broken SS with no leaders to rally them. In my turn seven, Eric rolled a 6 with a HS trying to recover the key HMG, which could have laid a fire-lane across the bridge. It was another huge piece of luck for me and my Russians were able to cross the bridge without a shot being fired. Once the 4-5-8s and tanks were loose among the battered and broken 4-4-7s, it was all over, and Eric had to concede on turn eight with no good order units left.

Overall, it was a very cool scenario despite the luck being so one-sided. Both sides get some fun toy and (more importantly) lots of options on how to use them. I'd recommend the scenario to anyone as a very unique bridge crossing situation. The amphibious jeeps really make things interesting while adding only a minimal amount of additional complexity. The swing factor with the random arrival of the Russian fighter bombers is pretty large as far as balance is concerned, but doesn't detract from the fun factor at all. Congratulations to Chas Smith for creating a very neat scenario that also does a great job of recreating the feel of the Soviet doctrine of the period. Thanks also to Eric for hanging in there and taking me to turn eight despite facing not one, but several crippling blows of fate.

Thanks for reading,


AAR: SP94 Out of Order

Nick Drinkwater

German: Nick Drinkwater (ELR 5, SAN 4) Yugoslav Partisan: Tom Gillis (ELR 5, SAN 4)

A small part of Operation Rosselsprung involved the German capture and shutdown of Partisan telecoms centres - this scenario recreates one success part of this in which the SS paratroops and Croatian ground forces successfully cleaned out the fortified Post Office in the town of Drvar, only ultimately to fail in their overall attempt to capture or kill Tito.

Quirky things about this scenario is that for Turn 1, the SS have already infiltrated one corner of the Post Office with a 9-2, 658, DC and LMG on the ground level. They have 2 x 486s (non-SS) + LMG acting as an outside fire-base two hexes away before a force of Croatian (ELR 3) 4 x 447, 9-1 and 2 x LMG arrive on Turn 1 from the east to offer support. Then, reinforcements continue to trickle in (2 x 658, 8-1, DC, LMG in Turn 2 from the south) and a SS 838, 658, FT, DC and 9-1 in Turn 3 from the west. The Germans have to clear the multi-hex Post Office (large concrete building on one half of Board 22) of all Partisan MMC by the end of Turn 5.5, but of course, like most Schwerpunkt they are chasing the clock, especially with the slow infusion of the quality troops to the front line. The SS also came prepared for a tough urban fight: as they were issued with special small arms armour piercing bullets, they are able to fire up and down through ceilings at half FP to help dig out the tenacious defenders as a novel SSR (though we didn't need it).

Opposing this are 7 x 337, 4 x 527, 4 x LMG and 8 x?, with a 9-1, 8- 0 and 7-0 for leaders. As these are Tito's better-led troops, they are able to form multi-location fire-groups (unlike their impoverished Russian cousins). No quarter is in effect and both sides can declare HtH CC when they like. Setup means that the Partisans can setup within 2 hexes of the building, including directly on top of the infiltrating German team, but must do so with caution - as well as setting up first, the Germans also move first and hence shoot first and they already have a quite tasty team in the building - having concealed opponents doesn't really faze these bad boys. Finally, the Partisans receive the option of 7 building locations being fortified, but only 3 locations per level can be fortified so they must fortify upwards in either a 3-3-1 or 3-2-2 arrangement.

Understandably, Tom is wary of too many direct easy shots from the get-go, especially with the SS firepower available for me, and sets up and fortifies hexes primarily at the back of the Post Office (north side) for a last ditch hold out defense. However, my 9-2 group rolls snakes on its first attack and blows away a 337, even though they were concealed. Thus the tone of the game is set - I pretty much repeat this against a 527 in Turn 2 and I've barely got going. The Croatians slowly push on from the east and indulge in some long-range pot shots at a Level 2 stack that doesn't achieve much, but they are merely stalling and distracting while my two reinforcement groups wait to come on. I lose a couple of Croatians to breaks and the Croatian leader wounds, but generally things are going well, and a 468 pushes on into the core of the building while the 9-2 group advance up to Level 1. The dice are pretty horrible to Tom as he rolls consecutive two twelves and an 11 on big firepower attacks against the Croatians which they shrug off, also breaking the Partisan LMGs. In addition, he jumps my probing 468 with a concealed 337, but unfortunately gacks the ambush (-3) (rolls a 6) and then fails to kill me in HTH CC either. I reinforce the melee with a Croatian and eventually kill the 337. Tom almost catches out my Flamethrower stack out with a great long LOS 2-3 shot, but I just come through effectively unscathed. By Turn 4, I have broken the last frontal protecting squad and start to flood into the building - now is time to use the big guns...firstly a DC breaches a hole in one FBL, but does no damage to the squad inside, and then my FT gives up on the first shot (what a surprise), but with devastating advancing fire and more badly gacked Defensive fire (including a key failed FPF long odds shot) by Tom, I kill 4 more squads for FTR. The end game comes down to me surrounding Tom's last upper-level encircled stack in one corner of the building with nowhere to go (no stairway to escape), and despite surviving with a roll of 5 and 3 against an adjacent 24+1, goes down to the next 36+3 in my prep fire.

This is possibly a slightly tough scenario on the Partisans, especially with better than average rolling from the Germans - I rolled cars three times but two were on Wind Change die-rolls! Once the SS get rolling, they are actually fairly unstoppable and my boys' toys didn't even do very much either. Like all small games, a lucky roll from a sniper can do damage, but even with a SAN of 4 for both us, nothing major came of this. Perhaps if Tom had been a bit luckier with knocking off the Croatians early before they could become a nuisance, but even those guys are tough hombres as far as Croatians go. Anyway, we both liked this as a nice quick warm-up infantry scenario and would recommend it - ROAR has it 70% to the Partisans, but this seems odd and I wonder how much of this is to the inability of the Germans to chase down some annoying h/s at game end.

Even better, we finished up at the House of Pies where Tom introduced my to "Pie a la Mode" - unbelievably people were still lining up to get in at 11.47pm - having tasted the pie, I can see why!

Nick Drinkwater

Friday, February 24, 2006

Owlcon 06 Pictures

A snapshot of the gaming around us

Chris Buehler, deep in thought

Chris ponders his next move

Clint Howell

Clint In Action

David Stanaway

Doyle Motes and Ken Havlinek in Ace In The Hole

Doyle, Clint, and Mike Reed

My Brits push into the village in Down The Manipur Road

Nick Drinkwater, Tom, and the back of Stephane

Nick Drinkwater

The Mighty Tourney Director Flaunting His Power

Tom Gillis, looking very confident about his chances

Walter and Chris Buehler

Walter & Nick demoing the ASL Starter Kit

AAR: SP43 Deadeye Smoyer

Nick Drinkwater

German: Nick Drinkwater (ELR 2, SAN 4) American: Stephane Graciet (ELR 4, SAN 3)

As a bit of light relief, Stephane and myself played a quickie from the fourth SP pack, the first venture into these scenarios for both of us. This was a midweek 4 hour maximum game, so 4.5 turns of rounding up pathetic late war second line and conscript germans by an elite mobile American battle group in war-torn Cologne looked quite fun. Some of you are probably familiar with some quite famous photographs in which a Panther standing guard by Cologne cathedral has just toasted a Sherman - let's see if we can repeat history!

This is a short and sharp firefight in which the US has to control one large multi-level stone complex (the "town hall") across the town square from the monster Board 45 mega-building which in this case represents the cathedral in the centre of the city. The Germans are everything you'd expect at this point in the war - a bunch of part- timers who are more interested in saving their skins than any real last ditch defiance and will almost certainly melt away in front of a very efficient US scouting force. To reflect this, I get 3 x 447, 3 x 436, an 8-1, an 7-0, a MMG, a LMG, a PsK and a Panther (more anon) to take on an at- start Sherman (with 76L), 7.5 x 667s, an 8-1, 8-0, MMG and a single Baz (from an M3 halftrack). The Americans get a certain degree of flexibility in their entry, effectively being allowed to come on any of 3 sides of the area that needs to be defended. In addition, they get an armour leader Pershing that comes on in turn 2 on any west edge hex. So, a couple of dummies go in outlying locations to try and give a hint of a threat, but most of the squads go in the main building office complex where they can dominate the main central plaza and also do a fallback for the last couple of turns. I do leave a 447 / LMG combo in an outlying building to watch over the eastern US entry area and try and speedbump things down a bit.

The big unknown for the US is where my Panther is - the other half of the VC mean I can win by having a LOS from the Panther at game end to 2 open-square hexes right under the nose of the cathedral, even if I lose the "town-hall". SSR means the Panther is able to setup HIP even in open ground, as long as it is accent to at least 1 wall. Keeping the Panther alive is obviously a key feature of the defense, so I put it in an obvious spot to dominate the town square and control the western approaches to the main VC buildings.

Stephane comes on hard from the eastern direct approach which is the least open for me to dominate, but sends 2.5 squads flanking in from the west. He tries a very VBM brave move with his M3 to force my 447/LMG to drop cover - bad move as it turns out as late-war germans are totally lethal in CC vs OT AFV even if they miss with the PF. Easy points. The smoke from the now burning HT actually helps me as Stephane gets into a bit of shooting match with my guys and now I'm at +5 with in-hex blaze smoke as well. All his other long-range fire and assault fire rolls high and the US waste a lot of ammo against dummies - always nice.

Turn 2 sees the entry of the other key US asset - the Pershing. Now mentally, I'm treating the hidden Panther like an HIP gun, but of course it's not, and it gets put on board as soon as anything has a LOS to it. Hmmm. The Pershing comes onto directly threaten me from my western flank: expecting it to go hull-down behind a wall, I am somewhat surprised when he barges through the wall and comes after me...I miss with the first shot, declare IF, need about a 5 or less to hit, roll a 4 (hull shot), need a 5 or less to destroy it, roll a 3. Scratch the non-shooting Pershing. Things really looking up! I carry on to machine gun the escaping crew (which could have been nasty for affecting later rout paths). Afterwards we realised that Stephane should have done the vehicle swarm and come at me with both tanks from opposite sides, but he became fixated by my AFV CC burners and continued to pop off shells at them when he should have been a movin'.

So two big slaps around the face for Stephane and we're only in Turn 2. Nice start. From then, Stephane grinds slowly on towards the Victory building - I am not optimally placed to stop this (rushed setup) and with the numerous walls on the edges of building hexes with copious smoke grenade potential, getting across the streets is not too hard for the US - I am reluctant to claim wall advantage as my troops are so weak (with +2 ELR) they need all the TEM help they can get - so I stay concealed in the buildings. My half-track-killing stars get wiped in a CC, and in T3 Stefan is in the building already. This is decision point for the panther - firstly I move it adjacent to the main building to try and interdict some of the US street crossing tricks. I even had a CH vs. a squad with the cannon, but the effects die-roll are pitiful and they shrug it off. At the same time, my very weak infantry are trying to juggle maintaining concealment with actually hurting the American but it's not going too well. The America is just shrugging off every attack I make. Then Stephane breaks my linchpin - my 8-1 leader and sends the 447 (with HMG) berserk with a cheap 8+2 - typical! All is going wrong and the main VC building is doomed to fall.

Facing imminent ruin and the threat posed by the Sherman + Bazooka tank-hunting combo, I decide to do something aggressive with the Panther. I send it on a Valkyrie death ride against 2 x 667 and a 9-1 leader in a road hex at the far southern end of the square - these guys had been busy murdering my berserkers so there was no CCRF for these boys who were fired out. Therefore the majesty of a 16-1 Overrun takes place - awesome! Then I roll the 11 and they don't even pin - classic ASK at its finest. Dumb move as I should have sent the tank back to skulk somewhere for the last gasp LOS to victory hex win, but think of the style points from an Overrun in a Panther baby! Anyway, I end in motion adjacent to Stephane's in-motion Sherman. A nice turn of events is that Stephane immolates himself with a back-blast from the bazooka and breaks the squad and the leader - yes! Finally, he tries to advance a bunch of MMC into the Panther's hex, but most fail their PAATC and the one that passes gets toasted by the Snoogie - oh yes, we had it all in this game....

So for the last German turn, all I need to do is get the tank out of the hotspot it is in and back down to the town square and I'm in great shape for the win. The bazooka team are DM, the other infantry at this end of the town is stranded and even the now-stopped Sherman is not guaranteed to kill me from behind, especially if I pop Smoke. But wait, what's this? Luck starting to abandon me again? Surely not. I fail to find and fire the SN so "No smoke for me" (you'll get it if you watch Seinfeld). OK - I can still pull this one out with luck. Then the DM 7-0 leader self-rallies on a 3, the DM bazooka-holding squad rally (roll a 4), find a bazooka shell and at 3 hex range, put one up the exhaust pipe of the Panther. To say I was gutted is an understatement.

I am completely resigned to losing now with just going through the motions of losing the "town-hall" building to endure. My last good order squad goes down in CC and all I'm left with is an unbroken 7-0 and a broken 436 on Level 1. We play it out - Stephane thinks to mop up, but this would still leave the unbroken SMC to deny building control to the US so he maneuvers several squads around to be able to take the prisoners (and chooses not to fire at them in the Advance Phase in case of freaky HOB results). This just leaves a single 7-0 to face a 13:1 CC at -1. I do dodge the ambush but am unable to ambush them back.

Last dice roll for the very uneven CC - only a 12 roll (letting me withdraw into the one unoccupied Level 1 hex) by Stephane can stop this one going to the good guys.

He rolls the dice: 12.


Another absolute nail-biter and for the second time in recent history, I deny Stephane Building control through the survival of an SMC. It doesn't get better than that. We actually worked out afterwards that he could have got an MMC in every hex to prevent that one, but not on this occasion. As always, Stephane was a total gent to play and took this massive kick in the crotch with dignity. I was totally ecstatic on the other hand!

This game had it all - crap troops, PF attempts, Panther overrun, successful ATMM CC vs vehicle, the Snoogie killing a squad in CC, self-immolation, successful IF to knock out the Pershing, CC withdrawal, huge last-ditch self rally attempts, Berserkers! But weirdly no snipers. Basically all the really fun things and why this game is just so damn cool to play!

Nick Drinkwater

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Owlcon TD Musings

Walter Eardley

Howdy Folks,

Once again I would like to thank all of those people who attended Owlcon this year. Without you, it would just be me hanging out with a bunch of Warhammer folks.

A special thanks goes out to Ken for letting us gather at his house on Friday during the day. An extra special thanks goes out to his lovely wife for bringing us BBQ for lunch. The Valentine from his daughter was a nice bonus as well. What can I say, an all around wonderful family. Thanks again!

Another special thanks goes out to Chris for his help on Saturday morning with the Starter kit session. We had two new players attend and both were able to learn the game and complete a scenario in the 4 hour time period. In my opinion, the Starter Kit is the perfect for this situation. My victim … err … Opponent was Johnny (a list lurker). He has both of the Starter Kits plus many of the modules and a good grasp of the basic rules. We played through War of the Rats with my Russians holding on to the last building. With another session or two, Johnny would be ready to hand me my head along with the rest of Texas. Chris’ opponent was Justin who was new to the game (I think). By the end of the 4 hour session, Chris had instructed him how to play and they completed the first scenario. I again can’t thank Chris enough for giving me a hand with this teaching session.

This year we were in the Main Hall all weekend. Over all, space was a bit tight with the main problem being storage of the game systems while we played. Friday night we had enough room for 5 games. On Saturday, we were able to get an extra table to spread out a bit. I actually really liked being in the main hall. Downtime between games was easily filled by wandering around and observing the other games being played. Food was easily accessible and reasonably priced. There were lots of interesting people to observe as well. It was not near as noisy as I expected. We also had a lot of folks walk by and comment about not knowing people still played ASL or wanting to know about the game. I handed out about a dozen flyers with our info about our club to people who showed genuine interest.

Parking is a royal pain in the ass. I think by Saturday evening we had the parking worked out by organizing our own shuttle service. Having to shut it all down by midnight was also a problem. The early closing time put me in the worst of all positions as a TD. I had to adjudicate a very close game between Ken and Doyle. It really sucked and I hope I never have to do it again. If they had another hour they could have finished. Of course, you guys had been playing Ace in the Hole for 13 freaking hours without taking a break for dinner. While it is not small it is not Hill 621.

Certainly one of the highlights for all of those attending was the unexpected appearance of Mike Reed (also a list lurker). I was disappointed I did not get to play against him. He seems like one of those folks you have so much fun sitting across the table from you don’t realize he is beating the crap out of you.

As far as my gaming goes, I played three scenarios over the weekend and looked up a bunch of rules for people. All the rules lookups were actually a very good thing. It is amazing what you can learn when you read the rules. Go figure …

My first game was Red Wave against Doyle. The dice gave me the Russians while Doyle took the Germans. This scenario should be renamed Red Rover because it is really a dog. We knew it was a dog so we gave the Russians the balance (removing a MMG for the German OOB). Even with the balance, I was not even close to winning the game. To add insult to injury, the only building I would have probably taken I set on fire with a crit from a Mtr shot. I was just trying to acquire the hex to make it a little hotter for Doyle who was about to advance into the building. The flame and subsequent blaze made it to hot for me.

My Friday evening game was Strength through Unity against David Stanaway our Card Carrying member of the Paddington Bears who drove up McAllen. David had to run a mixed bag of Belgians across board 16 against some 467s and a couple of leaders. My 9-1 directed MMG was too much for the right side and the 7-0 with an LMG and another couple of squads on the left were enough to keep the Belgians at bay. I would have to agree with David it is not something I would want to play again but was good for the compressed time frame we had on Friday evening.

On Sunday I matched up against Zeb in Blockbusters on the Nham Gumahuchie map. The dice gave me the defending Japanese. I feel I played a decent game and even had Zeb distracted for a while but Zeb being Zeb very efficiently rolled over my defense for the win. In true Japanese tradition, my OOB was entirely destroyed. I would actually recommend this scenario although replay value is probably pretty low. I am a sucker for this map. It is everything that is wonderful about PTO. Lots of jungle, in your face PB shooting. Lots of CC. The IJA fighting to the last man. What is not to like.

With the exception of having to call the one game, it was a very fun weekend with a bunch of great guys.


AAR: FF14 The Hunted

Nick Drinkwater

Ken Havlinek and myself kicked off in a brief warm up for Owlcon next week by playing one of the mini, one-evening specials from HOB's second Firefight pack. This is the first ASL either of us had played since October and man, were we rusty or what? We couldn't even remember which underlined indicator meant Assault Fire - yes, THAT bad!

Anyway, we gave this one a spin - it is designed by Chas Argent and we really like his designs, but we really struggled to see how the Germans can win this one. Basically it is Day 1 of the invasion of the Low Countries in May 1940 and a platoon (3.5 squads) of super tough Belgian elites are holed up in a hilltop stone building village with a chunky 10-2 and a not so wimpy 9-1 plus 2 MMG and 2 LMG. The random reiforcements for the Belgians are either a choice of 2 light tanks or a 8-1 / 248 / ATR reinforcement that arrives in turn 4 (of 5). To win, the germans get a couple of -1 leaders, 2 x LMG, an LTR, 7 x 468s and a huge amount of very open terrain to run through. Their random reinforcements were either a MkII, a PSW 222 or a PSW 231 (6rad), the last of which has no smoke-laying capability.

Setup is simultaneous though the Germans start offboard. The half- board configuration means the direct route is across an essentially open valley, with a few orchard road hexes. Either side of the valley is a wood building / walls / ploughed field complex, which offer a possible route laterally around to the hill - the lower slopes of the hill are completely bare and the 5 stone buildings are all on level 2, three of which are in frontal crest-lines dominating the approach. At the German entry side is a small strung out woods which offer a little cover to build a possible German firebase.

And so we were away - I rolled for the Belgian's and just did the obvious things - put a series of 458/MMG or 458/LMG stacks in the frontal three buildings to dominate everything coming onboard. To stop any sneaky flank tricks, I put a h/s + LMG in the right-hand small wooden house - the left hand (and longer) flank side was left empty. Basically the plan was to shoot early and often at anything that dared to sneak across the valley, and with that leadership, I'd be looking at several -1, -2 and -3 shots. Ken came on with 2.5 squads on a flanking attack (the long way) and the 5 squads and PSW 231 rad inching across the short axis by assault moves and armoured assault. My shooting and dice were OK to average, but Ken had nowhere to hide and was just knocked for six - the PSW 231 (6rad) is actually the weakest of the possible armour with no Smoke and the weakest frontal armour (AF0) and it was soon stunned and then malfunctioned it's main armanent. I manged to berserk and then wipe out one of the two flanking attacks with the deadly -2 leader, and even playing HOB's crew-served weapon rules (loss of ROF by 1 and a decrease in Breakdown number), I wasn't even scratched - I had two malfunctioning MGs by turn 3, but by then it was over. Even when Ken tried to form big FGs, the +3 defensive TEM made it a nightmare and I didn't have to roll a MC - there was no way up that hill for the Landsers and it was over very quickly.

So, we swapped it round and played it again. We had identical reinforcement rolls again, but this time I opted put a big german firebase in the backwoods with my two LMG and try and knock out the main Belgian stronghold containing the 10-2, while the other 5 squads go right to get into the flanking house with the long route to the hill. Ken went the same way with his defense and we kicked off. Things started brighter for the germans and by the end of T3 I'd pretty much been able to get almost all the team into position at the base of hill, but I would need miracles to get these elite troops up to the 5 stone buildings, particualrly as the Belgian's could do a simple fallback defense. I'd even got smart with the PSW (which also got stunned and malfunctioned its gun), and used it to drive straight upto mr 10-2 and VBM freeze him, which he did, but at the same time going down to an Immobilization in reaction fire. Unfortunately the range from the woods to the houses was 9 hexes which just made my LMG heavy firebase useless as I was looking at 6+2 instead of 8+2 and that was not enough, so I couldn't make any hole in the defense. On Turn 4 and 5 my landsers valiantly charged up those bare slopes but in 2 turns, this was just far too much to ask and I couldn't even get into the first VBM'ed house through all the -3 and -2 shots + resid and the attack just withered. I lost an 8-1 through a sniper shot to the head but that was the only misfortune - the rest failed due to withering defensive fire in the clear wide open.

So, we're after any advice on how to get the germans across this yawning divide and beat elite troops in an uphill stone building defense. We double-checked all the LOS rules to make sure we weren't doing anything fundamentally stupid, but we were happy we weren't. Possibly smoke from any of the other support vehicles (apart from the one that we both had) might have been useful but it struck us that a lucky shot or two was really going to be needed - I even managed to inflict a 2MC on the 10-2 but they passed that with ease and watched the bullets bounce of their adamantine chests. If anyone's played this, feel free to let us know how the germans do it!

I'm looking forward to playing some more from these packs as they are a simple evenings entertainment and I by no means mean this to be a slam on Chas - he does great stuff! We just failed to 'grok' it I guess.

Nick Drinkwater

Owlcon AAR

David Stanaway

Thanks for the kind words Tom :) I feel the same about the Houston crowd (And the visitors from Austin and soon to be Chi-Town) a fine group of good sports, and an enjoyable 2.25 days of gaming, I got in 4 games.

Friday - Walter Eardley - Tac 51 - Strength through Unity - Since time was limited, we played this. Straight up infantry only scenario with Belgians needing to exit through the German defence if I recall. There was a lot of open ground to cross, and the Germans were able to defend in a position with fairly good routing lines. I made the mistake of splitting my force with a small group moving with the mtr up the left to try and give some covering fire for the force moving up the right, but they were cursed with a yahtzi k/ on an attack from the 8-1 led mmg on that side, and they never recovered. I lost as the Belgians, the scenario seems fairly balanced, but I am not sure I would replay it again.

Saturday morning - Zeb Doyle - CH TTF3 - Pebbles in the Stream - Zeb had some interesting short scenarios in the this CH pack which looked interesting. This one plays on one corner of it, and didn't really capture any of the character of the map (Could have easily been represented with some geoboards) and the Russians have to exit tank group off the other end of the board with infantry entering as riders. The Germans had a handy 75L ATG and I think some PzIVJs coming on as re-enforcements. These were quite potent against my 4 T34M43s and 2 T34/85s. I was able to exit a few of my tanks, but the infantry got bogged down, and was not able to make it to the exit by the end of the scenario.

I lost as the Russians, and would gladly replay again as either side.

Saturday afternoon - Stephane Graciet - J94 - Kempf at Melikhovo - Stephane picked this scenario from the latest Journal. It has some nice toys. The Germans had to take control of three buildings from a Russian defence with a 57LL ATG, and a re-enforcing KV- variant (I think KV-85), and a hipster with an ATR. Stephane set up a good defence, but was bitten with a string of bad luck that I was able to capitalize on with some good mobility of the tanks. Early on the big weapon for the germans, the PzIII(fl) with a TF30 was actually doing more damage with elimination FTR. I won as the Germans

Sunday Morning - Mike Reed - Tac 49 - Big Cats at Bay - The challenge was up. We couldn't let Zeb leave Houston will all the trophies, so we hunted through my scenario book for a fun looking scenario that with give Mike and I both a chance to beat Zeb's tank ace claim. This tactiques scenario fell out on top with a IS2 - T34/85 vs PzIVD / PzVIB match up with the russians having to beat up all the German tanks (The tigers came on 1/3 way through), or controll all multi hex buildings at game end. There was a pregame bombardment that spooked my setup with the Germans defending, and I miscalculated the Russian entry hexes and made an all-round botched up defence. I basically went 1 for 1 with the T34s with my Panthers, but mostly it was the bailed out panther crews Fausts that brewed the T34s. We ran out of time just after the big group of Russians came on with a large infantry force and the SP Assault guns (2 ISU152s and 2 SU100s), Mike was about to launch a massive human wave an sweep the town clean of the Germans that had been pounded by unrelenting 120mm OBA for several turns, and had not been well positioned due to being spooked by intel of the pending pre-game full board barage of the town, and had decided to come and take their posts. I pretty much overestimated the potency of the initial barage, and underestimated the punch of an off board directed 120mm OBA. Unfinished, but It would have been unlikely that I could have pulled off a win with my Germans. It was fun to see the cogs turning with Mike getting back into the game after a long break from playing, even if I was at the receiving end of the devious tricks :) This is one I would like to play again, as the Russians.

Thanks to Walter for making the event happen, and Ken and family for accommodating the pre-tourney play.

I didn't mind the gaming in the main play area. The noise didn't intrude too much. EG: There was a dealer next to us that every once in a while would bring out a power drill and coil a batch of wire onto a rod to make some more links for some chain mail creations he was hawking. And the crazed warhammer GMs in the distance calling out some momentous result. It was good to be able to have a walk around and see some of the historical minis in the next room, maybe next year they could put us in with them if the naval sciences building is again unavailable.

David Stanaway

My AAR on OwlCon '06

Tom Gillis

This was a great event guys. First of all, MANY thanks to Walter Eardley for organizing and leading us ASLers during the convention. Because of his on the spot prepardness our event went all weekend long w/o a single glitch. Kudos to you Walt! I had a blast. Even though the turnout was a little down from last year I think I had even more fun this year. This was mostly due to the great and fun opponents I had. As always, even a doggie scenario can be fun with a sporting and fair opponent. I was lucky to play three guys who are all top notch sportsmen in all regards. There was not _one_rules disagreement with any of my opponents all convention long. (That means a lot to me.) In fact, we only hit the rule book a couple of times, and that was mostly for clarification purposes. It was a little disappointing that only one Austin guy showed up. There was a little discussion about this. Some of the guys seemed to think that being in the big gaming hall turned a lot of them off from wanting to make the trip down. But actually, I found the hall to be quite ok. The noise didn't bother me, and the sights (Las Chicas,) were much better than a bunch of ROTC posters on the wall...) :-) Being in the ROTC building does have its pluses: you can leave your gear and games set up. You can play as late as you want. But to me, the big hall was ok. Hey, I got to play ASL all weekend long with cool players. And thanks to Zeb for coming down. He got to smash us Houston and McAllen players and so enable himself to trash talk us for months now...In fact Zeb crashed out at my place on Saturday night. I could only offer him a cold floor and some ragged blankets but it was fun hanging out with him and discussing ASL, politics and life in general. My blue eyed cat even liked him. Now on to my matches:

1. first up Fri evening. "Roses for Vandervoort." A tactiques scenario that everyone whose played it said was pretty fun. Its Normandy mid 44 with bocage. My opponent was Stephane Graciet. We rolled for sides and he got the Germans and I got the Amis Paratroops. I was a little worried about winning this one. While its not the most steller of German infantry forces, they do get an HMG and a MMG and several LMGs. And of course the inherent late war German benefits of PFs and ATMMs. Also two 75mm atgs with B11. To finish it off, they have two of those deadly infantry killer 37L AA guns with IFE 8. All this sets up on bd 17. The Americans get some good Para infantry, a couple of Shermans, a couple of 81mm mortars, some various support weapons, and of course Col Vandervoort, a 10-2! Stephane chose to set up with what turned out to be several stacks of fakie ?marks up front and one MMC with an LMG. Mid bd was his HMG, and as it turned out in the rear near the victory buildings he had most of his HIP guns. The two 75s were set up in grain hexes adjacent to key buildings and a lone 37L was further back in an orchard hex. The other 37L was actually in another grainfield much further to the front, but though I ran several squads around it, I never entered its hex, and Stephane never chose not to reveal it, hoping for greater victims. The first shot of the game went my way, and it presaged how the dice gods were going to look on this match. I fired some WP onto a concealed stack, it turned out to be his lone upfront MMC/LMG squad. I rolled very low and kept rate and forced him to take the WP NMC. Now here is one of the three mistakes I made this weekend. We should have applied the bocage TEM to his NMC as a modifier to his roll but we didn't. I don't think it would have mattered because Stephane rolled very high anyway, and his guy broke. I fired again and laid another WP round out in an open ground hex near them, and so had good smoke coverage to start my race to the VC buildings. My troops took off and made good progress in the difficult bocage terrain. And to sum up the early game, Stephane could not roll lower than an 8 on his Prep/Def fire/MCs and I did not roll higher than a six. (To make matters worse, I had forgot my dice, so we shared his dice...) My Shermans came on, accompanied by some more infantry, managed to lay more smoke on some of his infantry with more incredibly low odds chances and just blitzed through his middle defence. I was able to break the 9-1/ MMC/HMG combo he had in a cool central position on an 8 flat or 8 +1 shot and he chose to rout them away from the HMG instead of trying to stay there with it and rallying under DM/facing mucho Para squads aimed right for them. Finally the Americans were pouring into the VC area and his atgs opened up. Now he may have had them HIP'd next to some french barns, but these gunners couldn't hit the side of one if they tried. That breakdown 11 made its self known when he had a flank shot on a Sherman from two hexes away, acquired, motion but large, and he rolled boxcars! That was about it for Stephane and he threw in the towel with one more turn to go. Of note also was the fact that my sniper was very active and kept his guys busy all game long. I think we both gave it a 7 on ROAR. To me it looked tough on the GIs, but it turned out, due in part to my good luck, to be a little of the opposite. record 1-0

2. Sat morning. I've been trying to play Nick Drinkwater for over a year now, but we never seem to have the same time off, so it was cool that we finally were both at the same event. He and I picked "No.8 Plt overrun" fom one of the journals. This is a "A Bridge to Far" scenario with the ragged Brit Paras trying to stop an incursion of a mixed bag of SS and Panzers. We rolled for sides and I ended up with the brave, but spread out Brits. Now there is an unwritten axiom in ASL about you don't want to be the side in a scenario title, that has the "destruction of..." or "massacre at...or" ...overun" applied to your force. So it was with some trepidation I started setting up my forces. I had some good troops: a 9-2, some 648s, and a couple of 458s and two 228s. For weapons I had an MMG, several LMGs, two piats and a 57L atg that by SSR cannot set up HIP. (The SS must have scouted it out.) Also some 81mm OBA with scarce ammo. (They get automatic BA on the first draw.) Facing them were some goosestepping 658s/ss548s, a Panther, two MKIVs, and a STGL! Fortunately the tanks have to wait a bit before they come in on turn three I believe. The VCs are basically that the SS have to capture buildings and get from 1 to 2 points depending on how strategic it is. The game takes place on the eastern half of the ABtF map, ending just at the bridge itself. (Not in play.) Its a long way for the SS to go, but they have the force to do it with the good infantry and panzers. I set most of my force up in the little block in the far NW of the playing area, thinking this would offer the best cover, and still maybe enable me to sally forth to other areas to regain/cover them if the bad guys threatened. Mostly 648s, the 9-1, MMG/228 combo and a lone concealed 458 up front to cover some open areas the germans would have to cross. I set some 648s, the 9-2, and a LMG in the big central factory. I thought it was the dominant board feature and therefore wanted the 9-2 in it. But I also set up some forces way up front. Two 648s, a 458 which I broke into two 248s, and a 7-0. A big oversight here though was not giving the troops a piat. I think my original plan was to not have them fight, but just contest the open ground a little and then pull out towards the rear. Well except for the two HS. I placed them both on rooftops on factorys, hopeing to tie SS down trying to clear buildings. I thought it was a good plan, but in reality they got shot up quickly by massive SS FP and died straight out or broke twice. And finally I set the 57L way in the southwestern back to cover the long road next to the Rhine that leads to the bridge. Well Nick opened up by shooting most of his troops at concealed guys and basically missing. He then tried moving a few, with me catching a 548 in the open with a long range rifle shot by that up front 458 I had. It was a sneaky LOS, but it was good, and my good dice rolling continued when I rolled low on a 2-2 shot. Scratch one SS sq. My HIP 8-0/radio guy brought down some harrasing fire, keeping the SS in their stone buildings and hampering movement in the NW sector. I had the 8-0/radio in the big central factory. (He had good LOS to the Germans there, but I did later make a LOS mistake with him, and called down fire were I couldn't see, but it turned out to have no effect, and when I realized my mistake we pulled the mission off.) Nick cagedly moved other units and turn one ended in some slight SS position gains, and one dead SS sq and one dead Brit HS. Middle game became basically Nick prepping most of his infantry and moving a bit in the eastern edge near my erstwhile roofies and the 7-0/648s. He didn't make much progress, but then come the panzers. He sends on MKIV, and the STG towards my main defence in the NW to support his attack there, the Panther down the center: he realized I had no piat up front. Good move to cause FTR for my front guys possibly. He moved the last MKIV against the up front 7-0 group. Mid game was a slow gain by the SS. Churning up some Brits, while losing a few squads, and finally corralling the 7-0 and remnants of the two up front 648s into surrendering. Both our snipers became very active! His especially. He went on a tear where he got at least four '1' sniper events IN A ROW! This broke my atg gun crew, and then selected them again and finished them off w/o ever having fired a shot! This would have major end game impact as my whole southwestern area was now open, my front line guys marching over to POW camp, and me finding my sallying forth plan to be completely useless. Nick also started to go on a 'how many SS heros can I generate' run. In mid to late game he got three of them! But these Brits weren't tough Paras for nothing. I managed to break up his first assualt into my NW block defence, somehow contest the central factory, and frantically move troops over to the southwest to block an end run to capture those now undefended victory buildings. A key final result was getting a pin on some riders on the MKIV near the SW victory buildings, forcing them to bail out. Unfortunately for nick they broke, effectively ending that threat to my back door. Anyway, it all came down to Nick having exactly the number of buildings he needed to win, with my last gasp turn to reclaim at least one. The battle was now concentrated in my NW block, with two 658s and a hero tenaciously holding on to several buildings. He had managed to capture the big factory when another 1 sniper result selected the only 648 I had left in there and breaking, and chasing him out of there. My 8-0/radio fellow decided it was better to surrender to two SS squads rather than go down fighting for King and country, and all in all the Brits looked on the ropes. No piat shots had been effective all game long. (Nick didn't give me many.) And the last turn was no exception when I missed and broke my last one shooting at the STG. All my prep was ineffectice, several movers got broke or pinned, including the 9-2, and it came down to me moving a cx'd 338 HS and the 9-1 into CC against a pinned 658. I'd either have to ambush him for the withdrawal or kia him to claim the building back. A real nailbiting end to a great scenario. We rolled for ambush, me being stealthy, -1 ldr, but Cx'd for a net -1. He being pinned for a +1. I roll a four, so net three...Nick rolls...a six! I withdraw into an unoccupied VC building and take it back. Too close. This was a blast of a scenario. Nick was a great opponent and I look forward to playing him again soon. We both rated it a 9 on ROAR! 2-0

3. Last one Sat eve/Sun. I've known Chris Buehler for over a year now and had played in some KASL events with him, but never directly against him. We had never been able to match up in any scenarios either so it was with great expectations for fun when we decided on "Down the Manipur Road" from Schwerpunkt. This pits average Brit infantry with three Lee tanks against a starved, and ammo short Japanese force. Its raining, and by SSR the rain will never stop. It can increase to heavy, and go back down to rain. But it will not go away. We diced for sides and I got the Japanese. I always like playing the Japanese, but this force has a lot of its flavor diminished so to speak. No Japs are stealthy by SSR. 2nd line are lax, ammo shortage reduces the breakdown #s on sw's and negates firelanes. The Japs get a 9-1, (more on him later,) and 8-0, an 8+1 and two 447s, eight 347s, and four 336s. The Japs get 8 foxholes, 3 trenches, and 2 135 pillboxes. Also two 70mm inf guns, four 127 crews, two MMGs, 4 LMGs, 2 50mm Mtrs, and 2 demos. Not a bad force really. And there are tough VCs for the attacking Brits. They have to control all hut hexes on bd 37/overlay 1. The Brit force consistes of 16 457s, a 9-2, and some other ldrs, two MMGs, 4 or so LMGs, and those big behemoth Lee tanks. Four 457s and an 8-1 LMG get to start on the other side of the stream that dissects this board. The rest must struggle across as best they can. I set up my conscripts up front, with the idea that they are eventually going to die anyway, maybe they will slow him down a bit. Everything else mostly goes to the very back of the hut line, thinking that there is were the final battle will end up. I just station a few MMCs in the central area hoping to slow him down. I do HIP one 347/Demo in the middle of a big kunai field inside a lone bamboo hex. The other Demo I leave with the 8-0. I probably should have HIP'd some tankhunter heros, but I didn't think of it during set up. Anyway to make a long story short, It all went my way the first turn with only a few Brits being able to make it into the stream unbroken, his across the stream squads not making much progress, and the Jap line looking pretty good. Turn two the rain increased! This happened several times and impacted both of us. It makes you add one to all shots under six hexes, and really cramped my frontline concripts attacks. Chris' Brits were better shots, and my concripts, while realizing duty to the Emperor was tantamount, decided to serve him better by reducing, breaking and leaving their foxholes for the better vantage of light jungle. A turn or two later they were able to honor the Emperor even more by blissfully disintegrating into cherry blossoms. Permanently. I took a squad or two of Brits down. ELRing a few, and breaking many. But these Brits, knowing their King had sent them big daddy tanks, were able to recover mostly and head back into the battle. Mid game saw Chris pushing into the huts, again having many Brits break, but also (permanently) reducing the Japanese. I tried to desperately hold the center huts to stall for time, but the English wave kept pushing on. My squads decided to wait for better opportunities when I finally decided to call on some tank hunter heros, none showing up for the first 5 attempts I tried. I probably should have started my backline HIP guns shooting earlier, but with the heavy rain coming on and off I wanted to get as good of shots as I could. I finally brought one out in late mid game, and he broke a couple of squads and a HS before I realized I'd brought him out in the wrong hex! Third big mistake of the tourny. I was really angry at myself for goofing this up. I had continually mixed up the set up rows in my defence area because of the overlay, and thought I had straighted it out by the time game play began. I offered to let Chris completely rally one or two squads, but he very gamely said, no its A.2 lets just play on. I still felt very bad about it so we decided to just eliminate the entire gun and crew. I think this was the right decision. It was a tournement game after all, and it being under ammo shortage, how much longer would it have lasted? Anyway end game saw the very depleted Japanese vainly trying to hold the last line of huts. A terrific canister shot by Chris on a 447 and 347 in bamboo and hut respectively shattered what was left of my right flank and the Brits were into the line. My MMGs/LMGs died. My mtrs were overrun or broke, One tankhunter was able to kill a Lee. (And it was the one that had malf'd its BMG, AAMG, MA, and SA!) Several demo heros charged for the Emperor to meet eternity without effect, both my 8-0 and 8+1 died from wounds, and my 9-1 was wounded. Last movement turn for the Japanese saw the 9-0 pull out his Katana, and say to the troops behind him, (there were in actuality none left,) "let us bring war and terror onto our enemies!" Wounded though he was he struggled thru massive enemy fire to remain adjacent to a Lee/457 squad. Several remaining Japanese MMCs occupied the few huts they could, some trying to no success to regain captured ones. In my final advance phase, my wounded 9-0 was able to enter the hex, ambush the squad in it and CR them, chop several heads off with his katana and exit into an unoccupied hut! But it was to no avail. Chris played a very steady, meticulus game with few, if any mistakes, and he was simply too much for my starved, tired troops. On the last turn of the game he simply overwhelmed the few remianing MMCs I had left and went on to claim a well deserved victory. I rated this one a 6, and Chris gave it a 5. I was going to rate it even lower, but I like to include the fun factor when I do, and Chris was certainly a fun opponent. I know some of the other guys who played rated it even lower than us with 4s! On ROAR it looks balenced, but the opinion by us who played it this weekend was that it was tough on the Japanese. As always, if several things had been different, especially the heavy rain, it could have been closer at the end. And I must say my Japanese sniper was very active. Even after being reduced by one itself. I had four '1s' and one '2' result in a row I believe at one point in mid game. Final tally 2-1

Some final notes on the tourny. There was an adjudicated game on Saturday evening by Walter the tourny director. These are never fun. Who wants to spend hours playing a game only to have it go to a referee'd finish. I know Walter felt bad for the loser, but I know he made the best decision he could with the info left on the board and with the stated intent of final actions by the players involved. As Zeb said on Sunday morning: "that's why we pay the tourny directors the big bucks..." I didn't see much of the game, or how it looked at nights end, but the talk from most who did said that Walt had made the correct decision. I met two more ASLers. Mike Reed, the TOT designer. He was an enthusiatic player, and I successfully dodged him all weekend; he looked like a ferocious opponent. ;>) And Dave Stanaway from the land of Oz via McAllen TX. Both were cool guys and I look forward to getting matches in with them both in the future. Maybe at the Austin Tourny in June? Thanks again to all for letting me hang out with you and throw dice and have a blast of a weekend!

See you all soon,


AAR J58 No 8. Platoon Overrun

Nick Drinkwater

British: Tom Gillis (ELR 4, SAN 4) German: Nick Drinkwater (ELR 3, SAN 6!!!!)

What a simply outstanding game against one of the nicest guys in ASL - Tom Gillis is great to play against and we both had been wanting to play each other for 18 months now. Owlcon 2006 gave us the opportunity.

(Note: I've just seen Tom's awesome AAR of this game - it is really cool to see that we pretty much saw things in the same light. The correction of the British OBA in Turn 3 was done with both our agreement, and probably hadn't impacted much at all).

This is simply a classic - it takes place on the "Red Barricades- light" part of the Bridge Too Far Map: the big factory complex in the far southeast corner of the map. Conditions are moderate, both sides reduce normally due to weakened ELR, and there is fun stuff like gammon bombs and juicy OBA. The Germans get single VP for buildings taken from the British within the British set-up area (and some buildings like the big factory and all the HQ buildings adjacent to the bridge are worth 2 VP). The board configuration naturally divides the stone buildings into 4 parts. 11 victory points-worth are small factory buildings in the advanced-right position, 3 points are in the centre with the mega-factory, and there are 8 or so more closely spaced single hex buildings forming the left mid-field area (the "village"). Finally, the remainder of the buildings are in the backfield, and possibly open to a sweeping cavalry charge of riders on tanks. Looking at this, I thought the advanced factory complex was fairly easy to take, the mega-factory area somewhat tougher (for a total of 14) and I would definitely need to get either into the very- tough village or the back field to pick up the all-important 15th VP.

The trouble is that in between these building complexes are open streets or, worse, wide-city boulevards. Yuk. BUT, I do have 100mm OBA with offboard observer, 9 x 658s, 5 x 548s, a MMG, HMG and a couple of LMGs. The leadership is 9-1 with some 8-0s, but the SAN of 6 is amazing (I am on the attack!). This lot alone would not be enough by themselves, but on Turn 3 of 7, I receive some welcome support of a Panther, two MkIV Js and a Stug from the 10th SS Panzer Division to really get the attack motoring. The other big problem I have is that separating me from the Brits is very wide-open, polished concrete square, so until either a) OBA Smoke or b) the Armour arrives I'm going nowhere without committing suicide on the wide open platz in a British-dispatched rain of lead.

To delay the inevitable agonising end of Colonel Frost's 2nd Parachute Battalion, Tom has a motley crew of approximately 8 458 and 648s, a 9-2, an 8-1, a MMG, some PIATs and LMGs and a concealed (but not HIP) 6lb AT Gun with the 57LL Gun which will knock any of my tanks cold. He also has a hidden radio observer directing 76mm OBA onto my head with guaranteed (black) battery access for the first roll.

If ever there was a game of three parts, this was it. For the first two turns, I could do nothing...I kept pinging away at Tom's concealed squads in the village across the square and just kept rolling tens and elevens. I did manage to blast off a couple of HS off the rooftops in the factory complex, but then pull a red on my first OBA request. I try to push left into the advanced parts of the factory complex but grind to a halt with good maneuvering by Tom. Tom's OBA starts dropping, but though I largely pass the morale checks, my shooting in return from the elite SS is farcical. I try to creep and dash a couple of squads around for better maneuver, but one squad is riddled by a long range 2-2. That hurt.

Then the tanks arrive and everything inverts...I start dicing the crap out of Tom. In the mid-game, I roll snakes 8-9 times, I generate three heroes, I go fanatic twice, I pass every MC going, I eliminate Tom's two and a half squads and 7-0 (including the rooftop guardians) in the advanced mini-factory complex through a combination of dead- eye shooting with a Mark IV, some nifty maneuvering by the Panther and solid infantry support and by the end of Turn 5 (I think - memory is hazy now), I have cleaned out all the factory comlplex for 11 VP in the bag. Tom is still dropping his OBA and gets a Shock on a Mk IV but I roll a 2 for "OK" next turn, and I have now found his hidden observer who is taken prisoner in the front bit of the megafactory (new definition to the term Forward Observer). He deserves the Victoria Cross for calling the OBA on to mine and his own position, but to no avail. My sniper is ultra-hot, firstly with two consecutive ones eliminating the AT Gun crew who don't fire a shot, and then breaking a single 648 who are the last ones still holding the mega- factory.

At this point (roughly end of GT5), I now have thirteen VP in the bag and Tom has lost a lot of troops and the AT Gun; meanwhile the 9-2 and a broken squad (who just refuse to rally) are in the Level 1 building directly behind the mega-factory, and are stuck on the wrong side of the road from the "village", and my tanks are now prowling. In addition, with direct fire from tank support 1-hex away, I am able to get troops across the square and have now taken 4 of the village buildings as well to be at 17VP.

And then lady luck just starts to swing back the other way. What a surprise! After one fire mission, my OBA pulls its second red chit (hmmmm...), and for a round of Infantry fire, I completely fail to damage Tom's stout defenders (even at point blank range with SS and heroes) in the core of the village and a couple of my squads break in return - one 658 faces upto the HtH CC challenge posed by the red devils and comes off second best (i.e. dead). Even though I control four of the village buildings, my hold there is not strong, though the two fanatic squads and two heroes are just hanging in. I also start to think about a hail-mary to Tom's backfield: I load up a couple of squads on tanks and then put pedal to the medal: unfortunately, orchards in orchard road hexes are still orchards and one of my squads bails out (successfully) into the edge of the village for no real gain. Stupidly, I keep a tank in motion, where I should have either stopped and shot the Brits from 1-hex range from the side, or even crashed into a building, risked a cellar, but claimed the hex...I could have even abandoned a tank, but I really don't like that tactic to much. The other hail-mary looks good though...Tom has moved two HS back to the backfield building, but I'm not too worried about that...I put the MkIV down the south road CE into top gear and think that two or more VP are mine for the taking...yeah right Nick! Tom's 9-2 gets a long-range 2 flat shot off (hindrances) and of course, I fail the PTC, bail and break. The best- laid plans of mice and men and all that... no chance to get the backfield buildings now.

The end-game is simply the last half of the last game turn, Tom has reclaimed two of the four buildings, but I am still in 15 (and one of my remaining two in the village is empty). He has three squads in separate buildings, and all to play for to get one back...I am down to 1 squad in the buildings, and two tanks firing in at one-hex range plus various units firing in across the square from the distance. Tom tries to dash the -2 across the street but I break that. I then go a Def Fire ROF spree (5 shots + IF) with my stug against a 9-1, a 458 and a 348 - amazingly the 9-1 comes out unscathed, but the rest are pinned and broken. Other fire from my MkIV pins a 338 HS, but despite repeated fire and rate, I am unable to break Tom's only other MMC in the buildings.

So it all comes down to the Advance Phase, where the 9-1 and a 458 are pitted against a pinned 658. Close combat - amazingly Tom rolls a 6 on his die-roll!! I'm back in the game again. All I need to do is avoid rolling a six (+1 for being pinned = 7 compared to British total of 4) and I can avoid the ambush and Tom's subsequent withdrawal into my controlled but empty building behind them. In H2H I could even kill them and be killed myself, but still retain the hex for the win - awesome.

The dice rolls, the glass tinkles and the inevitable six is of course staring up at me. Tom withdraws into my empty building. I lose on the last roll of the game. Again. For the second-time in a row. Un- freakin-believable.

Somewhat stunned and now 0-2 for Owlcon on last turn, game-ending, CC rolls, I congratulate Tom - despite having the sh1t kicked out of him all mid-game he just kept in there and played an awesome defense and kept his spirits up all the way through. Simply excellent and I can't wait to play him again. Well, maybe a week or two to let the mental scars heal over. Or a month even!

Play this looks pro-German, but I don't think it really is a 4 turn game as until the tanks show up, the germans are pretty limited in what they can do, especially if there is no OBA. The Brits, if played skillfully, have every chance in this as they are tough to beat. We both made mistakes (Tom's AT Gun was not optimally placed nor were the rooftop gardeners, whilst my late- game tank handling wasn't my best), but the rest was pretty smooth. The dice were extreme (8 or 9 eyes for me, 4 cars at least for Tom) and an amazingly hot sniper for me, but Tom was also good for some long-range 4+1 and 4 flats that took some of my early sting away. The one other thing that possibly affected this was that Tom's OBA kept falling during my penultimate turn for a FFE2 (after his observer had been captured) - this meant my reinforcement team with a MMG had to go around a couple more hexes to not get blasted and meant they couldn't directly contribute to the last-ditch fight in the village in Turn 6.

Lesson to self - think the end-game some more and be a little bit more thoughtful about possible game-end options - both my opponents in these played the last round slightly better than me and that contributed to my slightly weakened positions in both these last round CCs.

Also, can I have some CC luck please??!

Nick Drinkwater

AAR: MP7 Guerra En La Selva

Nick Drinkwater

Peruvian (yes you read it correctly, Peruvians!) (ELR 3, SAN 2): Clint Howell Ecuadorian (and yes you read that correctly too) (ELR 2, SAN 4): Nick Drinkwater

This is a small 4.5 turn special from the first SoCal Melee pack - we were looking for something short and sharp and this 1941 border skirmish looked kind of quirky and fun. Interestingly, the US stepped in and "imposed" a peaceful settlement on both parties to preserve a united front! Anyway, it is played on the woods-half of Board 10 and PTO-light is in effect: there are light jungles, no roads but the paths are in play and a little bit of Kunei at the edge of the board. Buildings are buildings and not huts. Both sides act like Axis Minors, but the invading Peruvians are given about 18 Axis Minor squads (a mix of 447, 347 and conscripts) with a MMG, a couple of LMG and a 9-1, 8-0 leader. To defeat the evil, invading, back-stabbing Peruvian, I am given about 8 or so of Ecuador's finest (a mix of 347s and conscripts), including a MMG, an LMG, a 8-0 and a 9-1. The Ecuadorians are italians in disguise.

To win, Clint has to exit 20 VP off any hex of my edge of the board - units that come off at the P hexrow road hex are worth 1.5 times, the key wooden building in my area is worth 4VP, while the two buildings closest to Clint's entry area are worth 1VP each (quick and easy points for the Peruvians). There is also a 12 CVP cap set on the Peruvians so they can't be too wasteful of troops in this. I set up in hexes > or equal to row 3 on Board 10. In light of this, I spread out in an arc to see which way Clint is coming - I suspect he'll use the big woods and path combo to get close to the backline so I set up slightly heavier on that side so that there will inevitably be a bunch of PB and CC in the jungles - all good for delaying tactics. I leave the 9-1, 347, LMG in the jungle pavilion and a dummy stack on the far left in the kunei to put off any large-scale board-edge dash and to try and dominate the open half of the board, a couple of squads go in the backline woods in the middle as a fire brigade, and then most of the infantry in the jungle in centre-right to slowly advance concealed upto the firebreak in the jungle and put bodies in the way. I also try to leave one squad adjacent to the P row exit hex to dig a foxhole so that I can lay out residual fire along the 0 and 1 hexlines during the end game.

Taking the jungle-route means the Peruvians need to motor, even with using Paths, as these guys can't run fast. We forgot that conscripts only get 3 and 5 MF, but that probably didn't matter too much in the end. Clint tried to use his 447 and MMG 9-1 combo as a flanking blocker to lay down a firelane to block any lateral movement by me to the woods, but I was able to creep across the very far hex, and most of my force was already in the jungle. Through some sharp maneuvering and deploying, Clint was at the firebreak by the end of T1 and I had advanced concealed up to it. Clint then tried a half-squad blitz across the gap, but the important thing when really out numbered is to retain fire discipline - the juicier targets will start to appear. Effectively this happened as I ignored all the pesky 126 halfsquads and Clint didn't probe me to make me lose concealment. Even after a couple of breaks of some Peruvians, i was confronted with a wall of half-squads that were going to jump me in CC. In addition, Clint thought he had a very large multi-hex firegroup to hit my line with some tough advancing fire, but unfortunately the key component of this was a LMG and a ?, the accompanying infantry having been sent out in to the open, so it became 2-3 smaller FG. In hindsight, the planned FG may have been illegal (planned at least to include 5-6 hexes in light jungle??), but through accident it didn't happen anyway. I survived the diminished and CX advancing fire with ease. Then the killer move happened: Clint jumped into CC against one of my 347s with 3 half squads (including a concscript) and a 347. We both missed ambush, but I thought I'd be clever and try and take this bunch of infantry prisioner...I gaffed the attempt, but Clint rolled a 12 and I was able to withdraw back into my own three hex firegroup (again illegal?). I then devastated this juicy target with Prep Fire next turn (rolled a 3 on a 22 IFT attack), and then took the remainder prisoner.

This combined with a breakdown of the Peruvian MMG and one of my conscripts proving to be supermen passing two 1MC on the extreme left flank and denying the Peruvians a simple flank exit, deflated Clint. I was rolling like a demon, he was really struggling to make even the simplest MC. We realised that at the end of Turn 3 that with only 2 movement phases left, I was unbroken across the board, I had blocked every peruvian move, I had now captured, broken or killed approx 25% of his force and he was still going to need to fight his way through me and get 9 more squads off the board to do it in jungle - there was no way that was going to happen and that was that.

Not a bad scenario - plays quick and bad troops are always fun to play with (one of the great things about ASL) - even though it's across a board, the Peruvians need to motor on this - every broken squad or half-squad of theirs probably isn't going to make it off, and the Ecuadorians just need to delay, delay, delay and throw the bodies in the way. It helps if you have really HOT dice too! And when will I ever play the Ecuadorians again?

Clint took the dicing well and we was diced hard - when your opponents conscript squad shrugs off two 1MC checks in a roll, and you've just suffered a withdrawal from CC followed by a 3 on an 22 IFT attack, you really know its not your day. Thanks for playing Clint - it was fun and I hope you had a safe drive back to Carthage.

So, 1-2 overall for Owlcon but it was a hell of a lot of fun. Hope you enjoyed the AARs and see you all again soon.

Nick Drinkwater

AAR: ASL 105 Going to Church

Nick Drinkwater

German Player - Doyle Motes (ERL 5, SAN 4) Canadian Player - Nick Drinkwater (ELR 4, SAN 2)

Board 23 northern half (with the Cathedral) - no canals, open ground instead. Moderate conditions.

Owlcon 2006 in Houston and my first game up is six turns of short, sharp brutal urban combat somewhere in northern France in August 1944. The Canadians have a simple but tough task - make all german MMC in the Notre Dame Cathedral (big churchy building on Board 23) broken and they win immediately. A nice, simple instant win VC you'd think, but mentally we thought this meant that the Canadians have to have sole control of the church, a slight but very significant difference, and we were both playing our games in a slightly different way. We only woke up in Turn 3 to the "real" VC!

Anyway, the Canadians have to go over a lot of open ground hexes (no canal by SSR) and walls to even get close to the gothic montrosity, and that is facing a 4.5 SS squad-strong defense with upper and second level views across the board, a hero, 8-0 and a 9-1 with MMG and LMG. The germans can set up within 3 hexes of the central cathedral hex, so Doyle put a couple of HS concealed in the approach buildings to act as speedbumps. In response, those crazy canadians get three key assets to achieve this - a HMG, a 9-2 and a Lt Mtr with its smoke, plus 9 elite rifle squads, a DC and a couple of LMG. With the timing, I need to be knocking close to the cathedral by Turn 3 and hope to around the back encircling in the very final end game.

Even with a whole board to set across, it is tricky to get set up to launch this attack due to the wide roads being dominated by the overwatching SS, and especially for the Mtr as the LOS is limited and there is little initial cover for this which has a good LOS to the direct approaches to Notre Dame. Also, mentally I'm planning the need to get inside the church and do loads of CC whereas I actually just need to break all the squads. I put the mortar on the right flank and move up with a couple of squads to give LMG and fire group support to my main attack which is driving up from the west. This goes not too badly at first with a couple of breaks to some long-range fire, but my HMG breaks down in the second half of T1 (not to return until T4), and then the sniper whacks my 9-2 between the eyes in T2. Finally, my mtr loses its smoke on the first shot - all three of my main assets out of the game. Great. I do knock out both outlying half squads through some intricate fire and maneuver amongst the rowhouses, so I am able to get behind the wall and in the rectory just to the south and west of Quasimodo's home, but I am a really long way from winning this, and the PMC is startng to fail.

At this point, we both wake up and realise the true nature of the VC, and things start to brighten for me. I manage to separate the 658 & MMG from the 9-1 and I break a squad and now Doyle is down to about two "victory-denying" MMC that are still unbroken - any two good shots or a lucky sniper or two can win this for me. It's gone from no chance, to barely possible, to now an outside chance. Over the last two turns, I really try to screw Doyle's SS down and remove both leaders for FTR and blow up the DC with no real affect. In addition, the non-cowering of the Brits is REALLY helping, as I am able to keep 1.5 squads of Doyle's broken SS DM, as even a 2+3 shot from a HS is enough to keep them in the DuMps (bad pun). I am now adjacent in places and blasting away for all I am worth but Doyle always just manages to keep two MMC unbroken, and I'm unwilling to jump into CC too early against stealthy ambushing troops who outgun me. Finally, I try to bring a 458, LMG and 9-1 combo around the back of the cathedral to start pouring yet more pressure on - Doyle scrags them for a 6+1 and crucially the leader breaks, and then breaks one of the only other two squads that can significantly hurt him with a lucky +3 shot. Eventually, all that he has left in the last player turn is a single 658 adjacent to a hero - somehow we come down to the last CC attack of the game, and I'm ending up pinned. He ambushes me, but he gacks his CC kill. To win, I HAVE to kill him, but I'm ambushed and pinned and I need a 3 or less to do this.

And of course, its a 10.

OK, OK, long-ish odds indeed, but it would have been nice to pull this one out of the fire, and after losing all the main assets so early I could have done with a break. Doyle played the defense really well, and didn't really miss much (apart from the true nature of the VC like me!). I played pretty well, especially after the disastrous start, but I did miss a crucial encirclement opportunity that would have affected the final CC. The loss of the 9-2 was even more crucial than the loss of the light mortar smoke but not having the HMG for half the game was a killer. Also, I was a little bit shy with using the Mtr in the early game as I thought I'd really need the smoke to assault the church in the last turns and I didn't really want to risk breakdown on a batch of 2+3 shots before the smoke was in place.

This was a fun little game, easily done in 4 hours and should be very tense. I recommend this strongly. With full use for most of the game of all the main assets, it could be very slightly pro-Brit, but without any of the three in the end game, SS in stone buildings are a real tough proposition, and it was just too much for me. There was no real dicing per se - the only freakish one was Doyle's only effective sniper check to zero in on my 9-2 - give that man the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Diamonds I guess.

So that was that, 0-1 for Owlcon on the last DR of the game. Awesome, and mentally draining, but more was to come...

Nick Drinkwater

Summary Owlcon 2006

Nick Drinkwater

Hi Folks,

I saw the excellent AARs from Tom and David and the results update from Walter and Ken and this prompted me into a brief summary of my impressions of the w/e. This was my first real con and I came away 1- 2 after two last turn cc defeats to Doyle and Tom followed by a right royal dicing of Clint Howell in my last scenario - it was an excellent time and thanks to everyone for making it a great occasion despite the slightly lower numbers.

I'd really like to thank Walter especially for organising the whole event and also for offering (with Chris Buehler) to play ASLSK on the saturday - maybe there will be two new converts through this. As Tom remarked, adjudications cannot be easy and this was a tough one for Walter, but it sounds like common-sense prevailed. Many thanks Walter for doing all the grunt work on the whole weekend - he too also became ground beef to Zeb's mincer so I'm glad he was able to get a game or two in. Like Tom, I wasn't put off by the venue, though a table or two extra for the saturday for next year would be good. Being part of the main hall was reassuring to be reminded regularly that there are still people out there lower on the "sad, desperate, lonely and fanatic" scale than us ASLers! We may look slightly odd towing around our beautifully packed toolboxes and wheeled holdalls, but compared to your average warhammer-head, we are the straight and normal ones. Honestly.

The best thing for me was to meet more of the Houston ASL crowd which was cool, to get to play against all my gracious opponents but particularly to get to play against Tom who is excellent (looking forward to more of that), to share a bench with Mike Reed (yes that Mike Reed) in the House of Pies (cool C.B. Hash!) and catch up on the progress of ASL Korea (and it does sound awesome, and no we're not telling - you just had to be there!) and to finally meet Mr 4-0 himself, Zeb Doyle who crushed the best that Houston had to offer and take the plaudits back to Austin with him. Obviously my cunning plan of losing the first two games worked, and so I'm still 0-0 against Zeb! YESS! A success at last. Would definitely like to have my ass handed to me by the master in the future but also prepare to learn at the feet of the great and mighty...

So on to the AARs...well I'll post them in separate emails so they can be added to the AAR archive.

Already warming the dice up for next February!


Nick Drinkwater