Sunday, February 01, 2009

Serious ASL Problem -- Too Much Stuff

- or a review a Turning the Tide and AP#5
Matt Shostak

This is serious. Seningen just arrived at my place yesterday to exchange some ASL goodies we had gotten for each other. He dropped off the East Front Action Pack and the Turning the Tide Scenario Bundle, and in a very nice touch added a bonus of Operations #52, which includes some nice articles on A Victory Lost, a truly tremendous game that I enjoy very much. Now this is on top of recent purchases of Schwerpunkt 14, Rally Point 3, AP #4, AP #3, and the fantastic Into the Rubble. I also have had a peek at some of what may be coming down the pike from our friends Chas and Sam at Bounding Fire, and the plethora of scenarios to choose from is getting, well, ridonkulous. The situation is quite grave. I'm afraid that I'm getting so far behind in playing scenarios, that I might never catch up. And many of them look so fantastic that I'm chuffed, psyched, pumped, wired, and ready to head-butt my dog. And I don't even have a dog.

So yesterday after playing Bill Dorre (and hanging with Bill for any length of time is enough to leave anyone chuffed, psyched, pumped, wired, and ready to head-butt their dog), I opened up the new packs to look through them. And what did I see? First, I examined the Turning the Tide pack. It has 20 freaking scenarios! Are you kidding me? And they're old school, because they are remakes in ASL form of a lot of classic oldies that you might remember. I only went as far as Cross of Iron in the old days, but even for me the nostalgia meter took a big jump. Many of these are bigger scenarios with greater turn lengths. Remember those? There are a couple of German vs. Polish actions that actually have some heft to them. Assault on a Queen has Germans going all Easy Rider with a bunch of motorcycles and sidecars as they try to capture part of the Dutch royal family. There's a German-Polish night scenario, another motorcycle-and-sidecar affair in Belgium, and a French-Norwegian-German action. Hasty Pudding, Road to Kozani Pass, and Rehearsal for Crete are all big, multi-board actions with lots of combined arms between the British and the Germans. Somebody keep a close eye on Nick Drinkwater, as he may get so manic when he sees these that we may not be able to hope to stop him any longer, we'll have to just hope to contain him. And, lo and behold, they have Breakout from Borisov, the big 5-board monster from Cross of Iron, which seemingly used every counter that was in the mix at the time. Wicked. Old school. This one was from back in the day when there were only 5 boards, giving it a weird configuration, and we liked it. "No 6th board? No problem. Just deal with it." Remember when we had to walk to school in the snow, uphill both ways? Yeah, that's right. Now you get it. They even have the fabled Sowchos 79, a whirling, complex combined action taking place on 4 boards over 10 turns. Swatting at Tigers features 5 of the big cats against Americans in Italy. Remember when scenarios actually had 10-3s in them? Yeah, Ringo, you catch my drift. Two in this pack put the vaunted 10-3 into play. Wow.

Then I cracked open the East Front Action Pack. These scenarios have a decidedly more modern style to them, and many of them look very playable in an afternoon or at a tourney. They run the entire length of the campaign in the east from 1941 through 1945. We have Germans trying to deal with impregnable monsters like the KV-2 in 1941 in The Meat Grinder. Does the land battleship T-35 make an appearance? You bet, in Frontiers and Pioneers. If you like the horses, break out Escape from Encirclement. Not ready for tanks yet? Try The Burial Mound. Are you a big fan of alliteration? There are Russians vs. Romanians in Reaping Rewards. In Up Inferno Hill, we get a rough-and-ready Kursk action featuring the seldom-seen Panther D, and a flammpanzer too. Kursk is the battleground again in Insult to Injury, a Pete Shelling creation that features a variety of German armor including two Tigers, against T-34s and KVs, and promises much carnage. If you're a bit more of a late war heavy metal fan, try Panzergeist, which has a couple of Panthers and a few Stugs duking it out with ISU-122s, T-34/85s, and T-34M43s, in a combined arms 1944 battle in the mist. If you feel like your Axis Minors have not been getting enough play lately, you can play the Slovaks against the Germans in Retrained and Rearmed. Oh, and by the way, boards 56, 57, and 58 all look pretty cool too.

Now, how the heck am I going to play all this stuff? I'm going to need your help.


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