Monday, January 25, 2010

Alert Levels around the globe

A Repost From Gents Down Under...

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

The Scots raised their threat level from "P*ssed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards" They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front-line in the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country's military capability.

It's not only the French who are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose".

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Americans meanwhile are carrying out pre-emptive strikes, on all of their allies, just in case.

New Zealand has also raised its security levels - from "baaa" to "BAAAA!". Due to continuing defence cutbacks (the air force being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper airplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister's bath), New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is "Sh*t, I hope Australia will come and rescue us".

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, mate". Two more escalation levels remain, "Struth!', "I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend" and "The barbie is cancelled". So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

AAR: BFP67 Coke Hill - response

Zeb Doyle

John, thanks a lot for taking the time to write up an AAR and for the kind words. Although I don't think you missed or omitted anything, I'd like to respond with my view of the action and give my own idea of the balance. So, here's my official BFP-67 Coke Hill AAR:

It all started with a white-knuckle drive from Austin to Houston on Friday. The plan was to spend the evening giving our own Nick Drinkwater a bon voyage before the oil industry drags him off to Angola, and then spend Saturday dicing John into oblivion. Things didn't start so well due to a delayed start and a pouring rainstorm following me all the way to Nick's house, but at least I arrived in one piece. The evening didn't improve, with Nick dragging me off to see Avatar, and afterward trying to convince me that the movie is a complex allegory about the American exploitation of the West and its indigenous people (for those who don't know, Nick is British and loves to tweak his American cousins about it). I swiftly reclaimed the moral high ground by pointing out that Avatar is clearly about the depredations of his own beloved oil industry. Forced to the defensive by my superior logic and wit, Nick quickly shifted gears to an asinine discussion of how to represent the final battle scene in the movie using ASL:

"So, the big hammer-head rhino thingies, are they more like a Panther or a Tiger?"
"Uh...I don't really care"
"No, no, wait, I've got it...Sherman jumbos are perfect for them. OK, and on to the Navi...obviously heroes, but I think their inherent range is greater than four, don't you? Oooh, and they need ROF, definitely!!! Two or three for the ROF???"
"Still not caring..."

I was never so happy when the sun came out Saturday morning and we headed out to actually play some real ASL. BFP-67 is a really good-looking scenario designed by Chas Smith and out of the just released Blood and Jungle pack. It's set in Borneo, 1945, and the attacking Aussies are trying in seven turns to capture eight level two hill hexes on board 50 and then move 24 EVP onto or north of hexrow U. They have plenty of troops to do this, with 14 elite squads, OBA support, and three Matildas, including a very nasty flame-spouting variant (I love the name Grond for this, BTW).

This is no simple mop-up mission, however; the Japanese may be at their end of their tether, but they still have plenty of teeth. Seven squads and four crews are supported by a 10-2 leader, a .50cal HMG, 2x DC, 2x MMG, a 75mn ART gun, several pillboxes, trenches, mines, and panjis. Factor in the jungle terrain, the lavish late-war availability of THHs and possibility of A-T Set DCs, and it's really a dream scenario for anyone that likes to construct intricate Japanese defenses. That certainly includes me, and so I was really looking forward to the game.

So, all excited, I showed up, greeted John, pulled out the required gear, and then hit the first of several speed bumps that was to doom me to defeat. Although we'd arranged to play days earlier, John wanted to be as fair as possible and roll for sides. Given that he's a relative PTO newbie, and I love playing the Japanese, I probably should have simply claimed that side and prepared a set up. Instead, we waited until that morning, the dice spoke and gave me the defense, and I set up with the clock ticking away in the background.

This was actually a fairly minor factor in the game, but I mention it because I disagree with John's assessment that the scenario has a somewhat pro-Australian tilt. As it turned out, I had bigger problems and even having an unlimited amount of time to prepare would only have slightly improved things for me. That's because my last ASL game was in June, and I was super duper rusty. As an especially embarrassing example, I thought long and hard about what to do with my DCs. Using one as a AT-Set DC per G1.6121 would be cool, especially since the Aussie tanks are 7 EVP each, can almost satisfy that part of the VC by themselves, are extremely difficult for the Japanese to deal with, and there are lots of road hexes. However, after some quick thinking, I arrived at what I thought was an even more clever plan.

Looking at board 50, the gully makes it very hard, especially for armor, to get to the back hill without using the V5 bridge. I'd just use my 10-2 to quickly set the DC, drop the bridge, and then the double crest-line created by the gully and the level one hills would prevent the nasty Matildas from crossing anywhere but on the most remote flanks. I could put all kinds of weapons back there and keep them safe from the 32FP mobile flame-tank! Even if I'd been right about the rules, I then only put the .50 cal on that side of the gully. The ART gun, in particular was way too far forward, and would have done much better on the far side of the gully as well. That's how I ended up picking a bad plan and only following half-way through on it. Did I mention I was rusty?

At any rate, I made a few other minor gaffes during set-up with my squad placements, but I'm sure you're all getting tired of my whining, and so I'll try to focus on the positive. I was happy with my pillboxes in level two hill hexes in X2 and X3, each one guarded by HIP units and covered by panji and mines. The overall plan was to keep the .50 cal and 10-2 in the rear, chopping up the Aussies as much as possible and the rest of my covering force just running out the clock via delay tactics. I wasn't optimistic about taking out a tank and so I figured John would achieve the EVP target. My real hope of victory was to hide the pillboxes until late in the game. Hopefully at that point, the Aussies wouldn't have the time to clear out both the guarding units and the pillbox units and advance inside to actually Control every last level two hex.

Since John has already done a great job of describing the action, I won't be too detailed here. The opening phase saw the Aussies coming on and picking off two of my squads I'd left too far forwards. Some lucky CC rolls for me allowed me to trade bodies pretty equally, but I didn't slow John down at all and he was rightfully happy to kill Japanese at a one-to-one ratio. Meanwhile, my genius idea of blowing the bridge wasn't going so well. Needing a five or less on one die to place the DC (using a squad and the 10-2), I rolled a six and my best leader was kept away from the .50 cal post for a key turn yelling at a bunch of fumble-fingered wanna-be bridge blowers

This was especially annoying as John started to push over the Y6-Y7 hill going for my gun. The .50 cal squeezed off a shot, and would have kept ROF but with the 10-2 MIA they Cowered. That opened up my gun to far too many targets and it was overrun by a Matilda and then swarmed by a platoon of Aussie infantry. This was one of John's two really bad moves of the game in my mind: the gun was in the open and he advanced some concealed infantry in using the cover of the tank. Had he dropped concealment, my crew would have had a non-HtH 1:2 on one squad or something equally pathetic. As it was, the concealed infantry forced an ambush roll, albeit only with a -1 drm in my favor. I didn't get it, and my crew went down quietly as expected, but a 1:6 -2 HtH ambush attack looking for a 6 on the whole stack would have been pretty fun...

As the game wore on, a little bit of the 'non-average' luck occurred that John mentioned in his AAR. None of it was too material though; certainly watching him pull seven straight black cards for his OBA as he went after concealed targets was frustrating, but a series of high scatter rolls and the constricted jungle terrain meant he only ever got one mission off all game anyway. I also had a HS sitting next to an unsupported Matilda fail four straight THH rolls before watching the unscathed tank drive away. That was certainly frustrating as well, but not that unlikely, and I would have needed another good roll even had a THH appeared. Likewise, a Mild Breeze springing up allowed the Matilda sDs to generate some massive smoke screens, but by that point there were just too many Aussies for me to handle. In reality, most of the mid-game consisted of John doing a great job of taking apart my poor set-up and grinding down my Japanese.

By the end game, my brain slowly started to emerge from its self-imposed ASL hibernation and I belatedly remembered that B10.52 prohibits vehicles from crossing double-crest lines, but then goes on to mention that gullies aren't crest-lines. Oooops! If John wanted to, the Matildas could cross the stream despite my bridge-dropping tricks. At this point I realized I'd tried to be far too clever...not going for an A-T Set DC had been a criminal omission. With my prospects dimming by the second, I watched John continue his masterful attack. The .50 cal got smoked in by a MTR, the flame belching Matilda continued to run rampant, and large amounts of Aussie infantry converged on my pillboxes.

At that point, my remaining tricks and traps went off pretty well. Advancing against difficult terrain across a panji hexside into a jungle location containing a HIP Japanese unit is a recipe for disaster. The only problem was that my screening forces hadn't slowed and attrited John's troops enough, and I ended up needing him to advance a huge stack into CC for me to try to get with a good roll. Sadly for the suspense level of the game, he did a great job managing his risk with the infantry and never even gave me the opportunity. In fact, aside from a gratuitous Matilda ESB check that made my eyes go very wide and was his second bad move of the game, John used his position of strength to take me almost completely out of the game. When his avenging infantry peeled back the pillbox guards and finally attacked my Japanese actually huddled in their pillboxes, and I didn't get a miraculous CC result, it was all over on turn five of seven. Ouch!

Well, when I screw up that badly and still have a good time, it speaks very well of both the opponent and the scenario. I want to congratulate John on a convincing win. If my AAR has read like it was written by Paul Carell with a "I lost, he didn't win" style, that's only because I don't want to knock the scenario. I think it was my mistakes and not any balance problems that turned John's well-earned win into a blowout and has him thinking it might be pro-Aussie. For the numerous whiny reasons listed above, I disagree and feel that a solid Japanese set-up has a very good chance of victory.

That brings me to just a few brief scenario comments. The card portrayed a very interesting situation, with a powerful Australian force confronting a very entrenched foe. The Japanese, however, have enough tools at their disposal that it shouldn't devolve into a bug hunt (obviously, with a decent set-up!). Having played it, I still think that's the case. It's a situation where both sides can throw some punches, does a nice job of showing off the respective combatants approach to battle, and offers a lot of fun without being so meaty you can't easily play it in a day. Because of all that, I recommend it....but be sure to read up on A-T Set DCs first and then use one!

Thanks again to John for playing, and thanks to you for reading,


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

AAR: BFP67 Coke Hill

John Hyler
Australians: John Hyler
Japanese: Zeb Doyle

Last Saturday, at Jay Harms' house on our Monthly HHS ASL meeting, I had the pleasure of playing Zeb Doyle. I had not played Zeb since Owl-Con, 2008, so I anticipated a fun match. I was not disappointed. I have wanted to get into the PTO, so we decided upon BFP-67 Coke Hill, from the new Blood and Jungle scenario pack published by Bounding Fire Productions. Upon arrival, we diced for sides with Zeb being the Japanese player. This was good since Zeb is one of our best Oracles of ASL, so I was looking forward to seeing the tricks of the Japanese trade at work.

Prior to game-day, Zeb had vowed vengeance for an Owl-con defeat and had sharpened his skinning knife. I decided that I needed my finely honed fileting knife, and since this was Coke Hill, a 100pound note to savor the fruits of victory should providence smile upon me.

Coke Hill is a small, but violent scenario played on half (R-GG) of board 50. The attacking Australians are tasked with clearing out and controlling all of the level 2 hill hexes south of the stream, and also to have at least 24 exit VP on/north of hexrow U. To accomplish this, they have an impressive force: 14 4-5-8s and 3 2-4-8s, well lead by 5 leaders ranging from 9-1 to 8-0 with an assortment of SW, 3 LMGs, 2 51MTRs, 2 PIATs and 2 DCs. Supporting this INF force are three Matilda IIs, two of the late versions, with HE for the 40L MG, and a very nasty Frog (Grond), with a 32FP flamethrower MA, along with a module of 80mm OBA

The defending Japanese have 7 4-4-7s, 4 2-2-8s and one 1-2-7, lead by three leaders ranging from a 10-2 stud to 8-0. They are well armed with a 50Cal HMG, 2 MMGs, 2 LMGs, 2 DCs and a 50MTR, with a 75* ART, 2 1+3+5 pillboxes, 4 Trenches, 5 hexsides of Panjis and 18 mine factors, along with level A booby trap capability.
After Zeb set up, I arranged my forces to on the south edge for their turn 1 entry. I deployed an additional squads to have an additional four HS for scouts. I split and placed the HSs on the flanks. The remaining squads were stacked with leaders and set up to advance through the jungle primarily on the west side of the road. The tanks set up to enter on the road.

Grond crawled on: Turn 1
In Aussie one, my infantry swarmed on, CXing to move as far as possible. The tanks entered, with one sucessfully popping smoke in BB4, adjacent to concealed Japanese units. Grond followed, belching flame into BB4, stripping concealment, but doing no further damage. There was no DF, and the squads advanced further on board.

During Japanese one, Zeb's attempt to mine the bridge in V5 with a DC failed, prompting a brief discussion of why this should qualify for a Labor -1(-2) counter. The unit in Grond's crosshairs beat a hasty retreat, with other Japanese units repositioning themselves out of LOS.

Grond crawled on: Turn 2
My OBA gained battery access, attempting a SR on X6, where there were concealed Japanese in the huts. It was inaccurate, ending up in DD8. This marked the first turn of overall futility for my OBA. With only a narrow LOS window from my off-board observer, I was forced to draw one additional card after the other. I managed to do this successfully six times in a row during the game before drawing the first red card. The HSs east of the road bumbled into two of Zeb's minefields, one in Y1 and the other in Z2. Y1 survived the attack, Z2 broke. Zeb revealed one of his pillboxes in X2 during my MPh, I think perhaps breaking who they fired at. This prompted me to start one of the 40L Matildas in that direction to provide support, ESBing to stop in Y2. After initially thinking to move Grond forward to X4, I decided to wait with it in a holding pattern in AA5 while the infantry caught up. The HSs west continued to move north on the left flank, being positioned to enfilade another concealed Japanese unit. In CC, a Japanese HS revealed itself and demonstrated how deadly the Japanese are in CC by ambushing and subsequently killing the HS in HtoH combat.

In his turn, Zeb's 75*ART that had been exposed in Y7 by advancing Aussies in Z5 pivoted and fired upon those units. A hit with no rate HOBed and rendered Berserk one squad. I think that the other occupants broke. The squad with leader successfully placed the DC on the V5 bridge, moving into U6 during the APh. Faced with Grond's emminent arrival, the concealed unit in X6 skedaddled down into the dry stream. Zeb attempted with no luck to generate a TH hero from the HS in Y1. In the DFPh, I corrected and dropped the OBA on the ART in Y7, it was inaccurate, scattering to X6. The gun crew survived the FFE.

Grond crawled on: Turn 3
During the PFPh, I found myself on the horns of a dilema. My OBA FFE was sitting on the location that my Berserk squad needed to charge, and I would need to charge through one clear hex of FFE (16 down 2) enroute and another when entering the gun's hex, and this was before facing any DF from the gun. After no little hemming and hawing, I decided to cancel the FFE. The Matilda in Y2 start firing AP rounds into the pillbox with no effect. In the MPh, the berserk squad charged the gun, only to meet with a grisly end, courtesy of a CH. I then moved a 40L Matilda in an overrun attack. The tank survived the DF, which maintained ROF, but the overrun was unsuccessful. Due to the gun maintaining ROF, I left the tank in motion in the hex.. A squad moved into Y4, only to get mowed down by the 50cal in T5. I opted for a more circumspect approach, easing the rest of the OB forward. Another squad, having in an earlier turn survived entry into Zeb's third minefield in Z3, assault moved out into Y3, surviving exit and DF. Grond Moved to X4, but I do not remember if it fired or not. I advanced three concealed squads and leader into the hex with the gun, three squads into Y4, one of which had survived fire from the 50cal during a bonehead stroll through Z4 during the MPh. Two squads, each with a 50MTR and a leader into Z4, and a HS, squad and leader into AA8 where another concealed Japanese squad waited. The squad in Y3 advanced onto the pillbox in X2, only to break and leave various precious body parts dangling on the now-revealed panji they had blundered into. CC saw the gun crew killed and the Japanese squad in AA8 CRed to a half squad and the hex left in melee.

In his turn, Zeb's PF into the stack at Y4 from both the 50cal and a MMG from a newly revealed pillbox in X3 was ineffective except to battle-harden a squad into fanatic status. In the MPh, he unleashed a HIP T-H hero on Grond in X4. It took just about every bit of firepower able to fire at the T-H hero to finally kill him. The leader and squad in U6 moved into T5. A second attempt to generate a T-H hero in Y1 failed. About this time Zeb started to mutter that he was running out of bodies to do things with. In the CCPh, the melee in AA8 ended with both sides completely dead.

Grond crawled on: Turn 4
In my PFPh, my 50MTRs fired smoke at T5 and U5 with success in T5. OBA gained battery access and tried to place a SR in T5, which was inaccurate and scattered off the board, sigh. In the PFPh, two of the three squads in Y4 fired at X3, with no effect on the Japanese in the pillbox. The tank in Y2 finally got results and reduced the crew in the X2 pillbox to a vehicular crew. In the MPh, the fanatic squad in Y4, now kitted with a RPh transferred DC, moved into Y3 and attempted to place it. Deadly accurate fire from the MMG in the pillbox ended that terminally. The three concealed squads and leader in Y7 assault moved into the hut in X6 and the Matilda in X6 moved into the dry stream in V4. Grond started the MPh with a bounding fire shot into X3. I think that it may have killed the crew in the pillbox, but I cannot be sure. It then went into motion and ended up in by-pass in W4 on the W4-X3 hexside. Elsewhere, the HSs on the left flank continued to roll up a gaggle of broken Japanese HSs to the north. There was no advance fire since everybody had shot or moved. In the APh, I eschewed moving the two squads in Y4 either into X3, figuring that I would skewer myself on more panjis, or into Y3, into the CA of the pillbox, so they stayed put. One squad with MTR advanced into Y5.

In his turn, Zeb fired the HMG out of smoke, but now directed by the 10-2 into my squads in Y4. The result was a MC that the first squad passed and the second squad rolled another snakes. The ensuing HOB DR was yet another snakes, resulting in a hero. With very little else able to fire, the turn went quickly. My AR in the DFPh scattered off the board again. In the APh, Zeb advanced a concealed unit into X3, leaving another concealed unit in W3.

Grond crawled on: Turn 5
In the PFPh, I finally drew a red card on the OBA, ending their misery, my MTRs started to home in on his kill stack in T5. In the MPh, the Matilda in Y2 started up and moved to X4 and stopped. The two squads and hero in Y4 assault moved to Y3, surviving the DF. The three squads and leader in X6 moved singly, all ending up in X4. Grond continued the bypass movement in W4, ending up in V3 with the TCA facing W3, stopped and fired again. A three on the 32 column removed the dummy stack. The last Matilda I seem to remember continued moving up the stream bed. Zeb's DF with the 50cal again did not have any effect on the squads in X4. In the APh, the squads and hero in Y3 braved the panji, remained good order and advanced into X2. The squads and leader in X4 all advanced into X3. I was happy that there were no panjis on that side. CC eliminated the Japanese units in both pillboxes, and with that, Zeb conceded.

I liked the scenario, but it has a pro-Aussie feel to it. My moves were far from perfect, but my mistakes were made up by above average dice rolling. I cannot complain. The Matilda Frog destroyed a good third of the Japanese OB all by itself. If the Japanese player can destroy that tank, they have a much better chance of holding off the Australians. Zeb was also the victim of some bad dice. Afterwards, Zeb said that in retrospect, he should have setup some things, like the ART elsewhere. Hindsight being 20-20 that perhaps may be the case. But I had a great time versus a fun and knowledgable opponent, and I was able to see some of the neat tricks that the Japanese can do. Thanks a lot, Zeb. I will approach my next PTO scenario will much less trepidation. We are now 2-2 against each other. I look forward to our next game.


Monday, January 18, 2010

AAR: DB074 Sole Success

Mike Cadieux

Good little scenario here. It features early war Filipino troops against Japanese in Dec, 1941. The Filipinos had 10 squads, three leaders, two MMGs, two LMGs, an ATR, mortar, some foxholes and some concealment counters. The Japs had 11 squads equivalents, two tankettes, two mortars, three LMGs, one MMG, one crew and three leaders.

It played quickly with the Japanese making their main assault up the eastern side of board 43 taking advantage of all the kunai and hoping to get close enough to capture the majority of the huts/buildings on the second board, board 17. A small "at start" force moved up the middle of board 43 to prevent the covering force on the west side board 43 from quickly moving east to reinforce.

Two turns to move up midway through the Kunai. No really good shots for the Filipinos due to all the kunai hindrances and restriction against forming FGs in like terrain.

The Japs found they had no WP and quickly depleted their Smoke capability for the force going up the middle. But one tankette kept one enemy squad with MG frozen and smoke enabled the small force to move forward. But the force in the east was also close enough to the enemy to launch a dreaded Banzai charge at the beginning of Turn 3...After the dust settled, the Japanese had eight and a half GO squad equivilants while the Allies had three and a half and the way to the buildings and huts on the eastern side of board 17 was wide open.

The Filipinos surrended at that time feeling they would not have enough strength to counterattack to get the buildings back.

It was fun to acually kick off a Banzai Charge and to see it succeed. Thanks to Greg for a good day.


The Cactus Farm: The Viewpoint from the Other Side

Nick Drinkwater

Jay is doing himself a bit of a luck wasn't great admittedly but he did set up a really good solid defense and I pretty much found every one of his BS locations the hard way with fairly grim consequences each time - amazingly I walked away from the 9-2/MMG boresight spot with only a couple of pins, but pretty much everyone else got shredded. I smoked in as much as I could but even when shrouded in Smoke, Jay's squeezebore still managed to Shock two Churchills - double acq and the -1 size mod is a killer whether you're +4 trying to shoot out or not.

Never really got any momentum going at all in this one - once the left flank attack had been stopped cold, the re-alignment just cost time and more importantly MF/MP I didn't have and I was going to be forced to cross a cactus hedge the hard way to get anywhere. And I was actually lucky in that Jay X'ed out one of his AT Guns and his 20L AA Gun early in the game as well, but even with this, my infantry just kept failing simple NMCs and worse from his two MMGs, and then scuffed their rally attempts on my own turn (four elevens on rally attempts in a row!!) and it all went south fast. The timing of the Gusts couldn't have been worse as it was just when I needed those Churchills to be at their smokey best...sadly, only one of my Mk I Churchills was placed to place Prep Fire Smoke, the other was re-positioning and of course all SD and SM smoke from the other MkIV Churchills was NA for that crucial turn. As Jay relates the other problem I had was getting the 9MP behemoths through the trail-breaks...pretty much one tank a turn at most when the trailbreak is in Brush and with a smoking, burning Churchill sat there too.

Overall, I did very little damage to Jay: my sniper wounded his 9-2 and he X'ed two of his own guns out, but after 5 turns all I had to show were two dead German para half-squads in return and one broken squad. Amusingly, in my only lucky moment of the game, Jay had a Para h/s fail to place a DC optimally on a Churchill and then failed to kill it with a subsequent ATMM Cc with a squad and a half in CC - the only plus point for me! When we called it, Jay was just about to bring 100mm harassing OBA down onto my few remaining attackers after I had just been ambushed and lost two squads in CC with the wounded 9-2 SMC. I wasn't even at the cactus farm perimeter itself at this point, but this game was pretty much over by the end of turn 2.

This is a pretty good scenario and with slightly less hot German dice and a more competent British attack than I was able to offer it definitely should go more towards the distance...however I still don't fancy the British chances much of having to try and take the Koresh compound against 8 morale defenders in stone buildings with first and second line infantry across the Cactus hedge with 6IFT factor OBA dropping around your ears. And also, having to remove them from entrenchments on the hilltop at the same time.. Didn't even get close on this one!

Verily, spiked on the cactus farm indeed!

Well played some point in the future, we'll try again!

AAR: RBF14 Third Hotspot

Jay Harms

Germans: Jay Harms
Americans: Tom Gillis

Game two saw me facing off with Tom in a meaty RBF scenario "Third Hotspot -RBF17". Again I was the German defender against some corn fed Americans. This game was more balanced from a luck standpoint with Tom using his Arty very well. He came on spreadout hoping to surround my troops who are holed up in the board 10 town. Highlights included his 9-2 failing just about every 1MC and NMC I threw at him. Despite this, Tom fought his way into the town at the center, but had a bit more trouble with the two flanking attacks. My left flank held up well thanks to a 81mtr and several 548s with LMGs in foxholes, but even then, I was down to 2 squads holding the whole area. On my right flank, that was where the game really was decided. I had a 75L AT gun way in the rear of my defenses and Tom came zipping around the town to flank me. I took a shot with a 238 and psck an missed his sherman. he then brought up another sherman and a HT with a 667 in it next to the first fired 238. Little did he know, he parked this collection of soon to be wrecks with their sides and rears to my 75L. I kept rate a few time, and there was not much left. My other 81mtr then started dropping rounds on another half track out of site to the 75L, to good effect. With the Americans limited by CVP cap of 52, and my AT gun and mtr accounting for half the points all by themselves, Tom ended up calling it with a turn to go. It was late, and he had reached 48 CVPs and would have need to run the PF / AT gauntlet. Good game also, and Tom is a great opponent. So Tom did not snatch the pebble from my hand yet!

Thanks again all, look forward to the next game!

AAR: J50 The Cactus Farm

Jay Harms

Germans: Jay Harms
British: Nick Drinkwater

First off Thanks to everyone who showed up to make the game day a blast! Doors opened at 9am and by 10 we had 5 games going! I was lucky enough to face off against Nick in ASL J50 - The Cactus farm. And I mean it when I say lucky enough as Nick is an oustanding opponent who plays a quick and very friendly game. Also, his luck is not something you really want to have, so just by playing him, it feels like you are lucky! Nick drew the attacking Brits, and I had the Germans. The scenario is set in Tunisia so this was the long awaited Africa Cup game. The Germans get to set up behind a known AT minefield and have two 40LL AT guns and a 20L AA gun to augment 8 548's led by Lt Stahler. The brits bring on 9 Churchhills, which are veritable smoke making monsters, or at lease should be with normal luck! A dozen 457s and four 447s round out the attack. Victory conditions are for the Brits to take a cactus farm buildings while also denying the germans the nearby lvl 2 hill.
Turn 1 saw the brits enter and Nick failing 7 of 8 smoke rolls. This was not a good start and because of this, I was able to flame a chruchill in one of the 3 known trailbreaks through the 3 AT minefield belt, (hey rolling snakes on the TK is nice). Lt Stahler also contributed when the Brit 9-1, a 457 and dm'ed HMG wandered into a sneaky LOS. I promptly rolled a 3 resulting in diced tommy. Another mmg shot, also wiped out a 247 HS and this really stopped the attack on the german right flank. Although we didnt know it at the time, this was one of the turning points as it forced the Brits to focus on the trailbreak through the minefield, and in effect losing a valuable turn. Turn 2 saw the Brits get some smoke and begin to move through the brush cover (there was very little cover, hence the need for smoke) and begin to threaten the Germans. Just when it looked like the Brits would get in place to threaten the cactus farm, Nick rolled a 12 on weather and gusts magically blew away his smoke cover. Lt Stahler again made his presence known, and my one remaining 40LL got big Shocks on 2 of the Churchills that were through the minefields. This really slowed the attack as it cost the brits another turn, with Nick never really recovering after that. We ended up calling it on turn 5 as there looked to be too little time for the brits get into the cactus farm. Crossing all the cactus hedges is nasty... So thanks to a few lucky rolls and Nicks timely gust roll, the Africa Cup is mine!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

TAP22 Last Outpost: Japanese and Italians fighting????

Zeb Doyle

It's a fun scenario, but I think a bit of a stretch in terms of the history. All the Great Powers had diplomatic outposts in China (I think Shanghai) that the Japanese shut down after capturing them early in WWII. The Italian outpost was the one exception, since they were an allied Axis power, and the embassy just carried on. Apparently, that state of affairs continued until Italy switched sides, triggering a Japanese attack. Now, the historical aftermath is roughly (going from memory here) something like: The Japanese launched a few minor probing attacks, didn't get anywhere, brought up a gunboat and shelled the embassy, upon which the Italians surrendered. Doesn't quite sound like the action should translate into how the scenario plays, which is mostly the typical "launch banzai, VBM freeze, go balls to the wall, etc."

In fairness to the designer, there is a CVP cap for the attacking Japanese, and some interesting VC: the Japanese have to capture two big buildings or score a certain level of CVP. The twist is that prisoners count for zero and you can't invoke No Quarter (again, if memory serves). It gave Schwoebel a great chance to win our playing as the Italians. Fiercely defending two buildings, he had me in a position where I was going to pretty easily take one and have to work really hard to capture the other in the allotted time. Thankfully, I was able to kill off all the Italians in the doomed building and get enough CVP for the win. Had he timed it right and voluntarily broken everyone in the doomed building, I wouldn't have been able to get the CVP and would have needed a lot of stuff go right to take the second building.

To sum up, it's a fun scenario with some design elements that capture the dynamics of the Japanese not wanting to take many losses, and the Italians being willing to surrender after enough of a fight to salve their pride, but I am highly skeptical that the historical intensity of the action ever came remotely close to how the scenario plays out.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hasty Pudding - A Response

Walter Eardley

Nice over view of the scenario. While my dice were not great, I made mistakes early which really cost me in the end. The initial force was setup too close to the entering British. It should have been further back where it could have hopefully survived. My second mistake was attacking one way and then deciding I really needed to attack the other way. While I was able to shift, it left most of my remaining infantry at least one turn behind where they needed to be at the mid/late game. Combine this with my mighty 9-2 doing literally nothing the entire game, my 838s being less then supermen and some timely high dice rolls and the Pudding was not very tasty to me in the end.

Those Matildas are really tough early war. My only real shot at dealing with them was to use the DCs. My one opportunity was thwarted by a TCA spinning 8 up three shot from the CMG which caused my mighty 838 to pinned. I had another opportunity but could not pass the PAATC. On the very last turn, I finally got a 467 and 9-1 in one of the hexes but rolled a 9 and missed the attack. Bummer ... I REALLY wanted to kill at least one of those buggers. The other option for the Matildas was to just out run them. A squad with a leader going CX will be able to leave then in the dust especially if they are moving through a village.

In the end, I was reduced to using Slimy Truck Tactics to try to provide cover. One valiant driver ever tried to over run a squad in the street with an HMG. I really needed that HMG to fire so the driver took one for the team. I still felt like I needed to shower after making the move.

This was also a good example of how HTs can be really dangerous by either providing mobile rolling fire power or death traps for your infantry. I lost 3 of the 4 HTs with a squad inside. This really hurt my chances. On the other hand, I was able to build some very impressive FGs in places where Jay was not really expecting me to be (I think). The final HT I lost, the squad actually was able to roll its CS number and then rolled a 3 on a subsequent 2MC while bailing out. Unfortunately this activated Jays SAN. He rolled a 1 and the sniper selected the abandoning squad to be broken. It died for FTR. I just laughed. Pretty typical "Luck of Jay".

I would definitely recommend this scenario. If you want a challenge, take the Germans and try to kill a couple of those Matildas! It is large so make sure you have plenty of time for the Pudding to setup properly.


AAR: U19 Hasty Pudding

Jay Harms

Germans: Walter Eardley
British: Jay Harms

Sat down with Walter the over the last month and we just finished playing “Hasty Pudding” out of one of the recent scenario packs (Turning the Tide). It is an old scenario that was redone recently, and featured a “speed bump” force of Germans (two 467s MMG and 9-1) covering a board 7 bridge initially against ~9 squads of brits led by a 9-2, two 94* art guns and 7 rolling pillbox Matildas. On turn 4, a powerful German counterattack enters and then has 6 turns to fight through a town and at least get 1 MMC onto the bridge by game end. The German counterattack has about a dozen AFV’s, a 9-2, and ~12 squads, including four 838 Assault engineers toting bombs. We diced for sides and I got the Limeys. The first 3.5 turns were a blur as I rushed the bridge and wiped out the speed bump at the end of turn 2, but not before immobilizing one of my 3 “good” matildas. I then rushed to set up a perimeter prior to the German counterattack. Having 2 turns to do so, I was able to get most of my units in place, except for the 6 MF Matilda I’s which were also radioless and road MF not allowed. Talk about the slowest tanks ever! Walter initially came at my right flank but as all but about 4 of his tanks had 1 armor, everything was vulnerable to MG fire. His “heavy” tanks had a frontal armor of 3. I was able to slow the attack down, and thanks to Walters’ dice, was able to break and wound his 9-2 and almost 40% of his infantry. The 9-2 eventually rolled a snakes on a rally, but promptly then rolled a 12 on the HoB, and ended the game as a wounded broken disrupted leader…never did rally. I expect the SS shot him afterwords for cowardice. The 838s were no better, and rarely passed MCs. This really slowed the German advance, and by turn 7, Walter had switched the axis of attack to my left flank, and in the one brief showing of good dice on his part, his big tank Mk IV 75* went hull down and shot up and pinned one of my gun crews, broke the other gun crew, and trashed some infantry all in one phase. His armored car then overran the pinned crew, and another tank then finally shot it up and broke it. This opened up my left flank and I was scrambling. Thankfully Walters dice then went cold and both 838 were broken while crossing the roads (under cover of wrecks) by long range 2 even and 4 even shots. With Walter down to only 3 good order squads, and only 2 turns to reach the bridge (where I had my 4 Matilda I’s parked we called it a game. Very fun scenario that has a lot of interesting give and take on both sides. I would recommend it. Early war armor is a challenge, and is a totally different flair than late war monsters roaming the battlefield.


Monday, January 04, 2010

AAR: SP154 On The Road To Hell

Scott Bell

Germans: Scott Bell
Americans: Dan Preston

I had an opportunity this past Saturday, to play against the Minister of Defense (Dan Preston), in an interesting scenario by Schwerpunkt (SP154 "On the Road to Hell")

This scenario takes place in Holland (1944), and involves a remnant German force that attacks and gains control of a portion of Hell's Highway, near Koevering, Holland. The Allies needed to keep the road open to support the Allied troops that were participating in Operation Market Garden. Therefore, the Allies need to take the road back.

The five and ½ turn scenario seems to recreate this battle quite well. As the Germans, I had a mixed force consisting of an interesting mix of squads as follows:

3 x 5-4-8

2 x 4-6-8

2 x 4-7-7

1 x Jagdpanther

1 x Marder

The Allies have the following:

8 x 7-4-7 (American)

3 x 4-5-8 (Brits)

3 x British Sherman III(a)

The setup for the Germans is restricted to within 4 hexes of a building that is close to the road on board 17. The victory conditions require that the Germans have at least one MMC within 3 hexes of LOS of the road (that runs east-west) or a mobile Jagdpanther with functioning MA within 3 hexes of LOS of that same road.

The Americans that initially enter the board have a very large area with which to enter. They come down from the North. The Americans can choose woods on the left (west) or woods on the right (east) as they attack the Germans to the South. They can also head South thru open ground, directly towards the Germans, though I suspect that few would go that route.

Dan chose to separate his force into 2 parts. His larger force of Americans and British squads attacked my "left" flank. Dan used a smaller American infantry group along with his Sherman tanks to come down towards my "right" flank. As the Germans, I pivoted my Jagdpanther, towards my right flank, along with my supporting squads (with PF) to protect against my tank being swarmed by the Sherman tanks.

I was in a classic "2 front" situation, and was reminded of why this is so undesirable. Initially my flanks were holding up quite well. My initial decision was to hold firm in my position with the Jagdpanther, in order to maintain the strongest defensive position possible in anticipation of being swarmed by the Sherman tanks. In hindsight, this is where I believe I probably lost the game.

Dan did an "excellent" job of exercising patience. He held firm on my right flank with his smaller force of squads and the tanks (rather than immediately engaging), and waited for his force to my left flank to be completely engaged. This, in my opinion, is where Dan won the game.

This aspect of the game was the most interesting part, for me. Many years ago when I used to spar in Tae Kwon Do, I trained and fought against multiple opponents, which was a very difficult but very necessary part of my training. Trying to fight 2 people at once is a losing proposition, and you have to actually engage in such a fight to truly understand the disadvantage. The strategy to fight multiple opponents is to fight against one person, and to use him as a shield to keep between yourself and the second opponent. It requires a lot of movement during the course of engagement. The only other option is to attempt to "take out" preferably by KO, one of your opponents quickly, to return the odds to 1:1.

This scenario reminded me of my earlier sparring days. What I should have done, in my opinion, was to use my Jagdpanther and a mobile force, to quickly engage the smaller American force along with the Sherman tanks on my right flank, in an attempt to quickly destroy this force; to eliminate the two front situation that I faced. I recognized this too late, however.

My left flank deteriorated more quickly than I anticipated. I went after the Sherman tanks a couple of turns too late. I did manage to destroy 2 Sherman tanks with my Jagdpanther, which might have made more of a difference, had I done it a couple of turns earlier.

My left flank quickly broke down to the assaulting American squads. Those 7-4-7 squads are awesome on the attack. I did not have enough defensive firepower to break them with any regularity, and Dan was able to move adjacent to my squads for multiple and powerful shots during the AFPh. In this manner, Dan was able to whittle my forces down by breaking them and killing them before they could rout. My situation became bleaker as my Marder tank, which entered on turn 2, broke its gun on the first shot. I immediately began a systematic and desperate retreat to the south, moving further away from the road that was a part of my victory conditions. The game was slipping away from me.

At this point, it was apparent that I was not going to be able to retake ground that was close enough to the road. Therefore, I made a decision to fall back with a major hook movement towards my left flank, in an attempt to get at least one squad close to the road (further west) to fulfill my victory conditions. My Jagdpanther moved back and to the left (west) towards that same objective. Basically, I used every available squad to move at full speed in that hook movement to try to get around Dan's attacking front, in order to gain LOS to the road. Initially it looked like I might make it. Dan, however, did an excellent job of shifting with me, and by using the road was able to get back in front of me.

On my final movement phase, I had 1 squad, 1 half-squad, along with 2 leaders and my Jagdpanther, in position to view the road. Now, all I had to do now was to survive. During the AFPh of my final turn, I fired my Jagdpanther at Dan's infantry, to gain target acquisition for his final assault. On that shot, I broke the gun on the Jagdpanther, which eliminated that tank for victory condition purposes. This enabled Dan, on his final turn, to swarm my very small remaining force that had the LOS to the road, for the win. Even with a functioning gun, it is still doubtful that I could have survived Dan's final assault, which easily overwhelmed what I had left.

It was a very interesting game, and Dan and I both enjoyed this one immensely. According to ROAR, this one is about dead even on balance. In the final analysis, I really enjoy watching a good plan of attack unfold as this one did. Dan executed one of the better and more tactically coordinated attacks that I have witnessed. He has always been an excellent defensive player, which he prefers. He had wanted to develop his skills on the offensive side. I would say he has "arrived." Judging from the confident grin on Dan's face at games end; I would say he knew that as well. Nicely done!

For those who have not played this one, I would recommend that you add it to your list. It is a lot of fun.