My week wrapped up Saturday with the "Chinese Fire Drill" mini. I was matched up in round one with Sweden's Robert Maglica. We chose Schwerpunkt's "Seizing the Sittang" bridge. I had the attacking Japanese.
Robert dug in two stacks in foxoles at the foot of the bridge, and sent everyone else forward to slow down the Japanese advance. My main force and one of my armored cars moved up on or around the main road.
The other car went left over the open ground and kunai to try to find a way to cut off the fallback of some of the Chinese units. This was a mistake. Although it did manage to KIA a squad with a point blank shot, with it's "truck-type" movement it was essentially out of the fight afterward.
Robert did a good job of shooting and falling back. Eventually he took out an armored car with an MG kill shot. My desperation turn five banzai went poorly, and I conceded.
Since Robert made quick work of me, and my lack of sleep was starting to catch up, I decided to head down to my room for a quick hour long nap. That turned out to be a 4 hour nap, and thus ended my ASL for the week.
I just did some hanging out with a few beers and got the gear together on Saturday night. There just wasn't any more ASL in me. Although I was disappointed in my 2-6 record (worse than my first ASLOK last year), it was a great time once again. Already looking forward to next year.
Friday morning brought the Schwerpunkt mini. I drew a first round match up against Bostonian Tim Kelly. We chose the curiously named SP179 Brittany Speared.
This may have been another case of gaining an advantage on the pre-game "dice for sides" roll. I drew the attacking Americans, who are tasked with clearing the Germans from two of the three low hills.
Tim quite properly conceded the near hill (with the exception of lone squad left behind to be a nuisance).
After that, I lost a Sherman to the AT gun on turn 3, and my infantry (particularly the flanking force) basically got their butts kicked by the German mortar for four turns. Still, a good rally phase gave me enough to sweep the German positions from the hill on the American right.
In round two I drew the gracious Anthony Flanagan, who had just eeked out a round one victory. We chose the east front scenario Tisza Tease. I again drew the attacker, the Germans.
My task was to cross board 57/44 the long way, and get 24 VP exited from the far edge. I should have known where this one was heading when I broke the main armaments on two of my 3 PzIVs in the advancing fire phase of turn one. Fortunately, both Panthers remained functional. Anthony malfed the gun on his T-34 on his first shot a turn later.
On Panther got into a game long shooting match with a SU-85 hull down behind a wall. The SU has a hard time penetrating the panther armor, and the panther conversely kept putting rounds into the wall. A comedy of errors.
Afraid of the ticking clock I tried to get an infantry laden halftrack past the SU. That ended badly. With Anthony's MG position in the center of town mauling my infantry, we called this one on turn four.
It was a bit after eight o'clock when Kevin Meyer talked me into one more. Not wanting to take on anything too large at that hour we chose SP173 Der Letzte Geburtstag.
Kevin's attacking Russians passed all of their turn one morale checks, even getting two Battle Hardening results, with a hero to boot. I conversely failed every MC I took. With only five squads in the German OB, it soon became a rout. Well, I did say "it has to be something small".
Thursday kicked off the night minis. (There were two this year). In the first round I drew Cliff Smith who I had played before and lost to (at Winter Offensive).
We selected A Midnight Clear, a new Pete Shelling scenario introduced at ASLOK. Dice gave me the Americans.
The scenario is an all infantry nighttime meeting engagement in the densely wooded terrain of board 37 (Pine Woods by SSR). Neither side starts onboard. The two sides grappled in the dark for four turns or so before Cliff conceded, his SS troops having a hard time getting across the stream in sufficient force. .
Cliff didn't do anything really wrong, and I certainly didn't play a stellar game. I had feeling I may have won this one when we diced for sides. That's okay. I'll take it. Movin on.
Round two of the night mini had me squared off against my old nemesis JR van Mechelen. JR is certainly responsible more than any other single person for my involvement in ASL. I may never forgive him for it.
The round two selections all looked a bit large, so we chose U29 Night Battle at Noromaryevka. This one from the Turning the Tide pack features a tough Russian force attacking the Germans on the board 3 village. JR had the defenders.
This one went my Russians' way in the early turns, as JR's PzIVs bounced several shots against my radio free T-34s rolling nines and tens. JR had terrible luck with starshells on turn three, blinding almost his entire force, and allowing the Russian to move pretty freely into the village. At one point around turn four, JR was making noises about conceding. I've played JR enough times to know that's not really going to happen.
Sure enough, the bad guys turned it around. JR bagged a few T-34s and got their platoon mates de facto immobilized as they failed nearly every task check required to separate from their platoons.
The NVR was bouncing all around, at one point dropping to zero, before recovering to one.
We played into the last turn, but it would have taken a miracle for a Russian victory at that point. I did get to pull off an SMC overrun, which was a small moral victory.
After getting in on Tuesday night, I decided to have a beer and get some sleep in preparation for the days ahead.
Started the Jungle mini early on Wednesday against Rich Domovic. I had the Japanese attacker vs Rich's Gurkha's in J9 A Stiff Fight.
Rich played a smooth fall back defense. He fell back very quickly and voiced concern about making to easy for me to gobble up ground. However, he also fell back almost entirely in tact. In the end, he had too much left for me to clear from the road.
Knocked out of the mini, I found a pickup afternoon game against Guy Chaney in Romania Mare from the latest Friendly Fire pack.
Again I drew the attacker (Romanians). After my morning frustration I was more aggressive about trying to prevent the defender's escape. I went for a 1st turn 1 MP ESB to get one of my Panzer IV's into position and of course, that didn't go well.
My attack had built some pretty fair momentum when the Russian reinforcements appeared in the form of two ISU-22s which totally outgun the Romanian armor. I got a critical hit from a TACAM T-60 to burn one ISU, and a miracle immobilization result against the other. I thought my dice were going to pull this one out for me.
The VC's require the Romanians to capture buildings and keep two of their AFV's alive. I had planned to use my remaining PzIV to drive into the final victory building either to overrun or bypass, but when Guy took out a lightly armored TACAM with a MG to kill shot, I couldn't take the risk.
Guy had the final victory building well defended, and his fire broke or pinned each unit that made an approach to get in. Terrific scenario. Great game.
The reworking of this classic Beyond Valor scenario for the VotG map owes much to the original, maybe too much.
For sure the addition of NKVD squads, and the possibility of an NKVD strongpoint add welcome VotG flavor. The one criticism both Jim and I had is that the random Russian reinforcement procedure is overly complicated and can lead to the Russians getting VERY strong with a little luck.
Still, we came down to the last turn, so not much to complain about.
The VASL map shows my roadblock and HIP MMG locations. Harder to see on this map is the HIP INF gun on the ground floor of CC21. There were two other hip squads toting ATRs out in the field.
The two northernmost ground floor locations of the Brewery were fortified, along with all ground floor locations of the state bank, which I declared an NKVD strongpoint.
It seemed to me that an upfront defense is needed in this 10 turn monster to delay the Germans at least a little bit. However, one way this update is harder on the Russians is that 9 of the Russians 15 at start squads are conscript (the original had no conscripts). Falling back in order through the rubble strewn city with 3MF troops would be tricky.
The first line of resistance was along the hexrow R road. There were six squads up front backstopped by two of the four commissars. After taking a few pot-shots at the Germans crossing, everybody voluntarily breaks, and routs to the commissar.
This is more or less how it worked for the first three turns. On the fallback, I lost two conscript squads, with a third cut off in an upper building level. That was a loss rate I could live with. I was not able to cause many German casualties on the way back, causing only a few breaks. However.
Maybe the most important event of the game occurred in turn three when the Russian sniper found the German 10-2 and ended his war early. Later, when the German kill stacks would start hammering away at the fortified stone locations, he would be missed.
After the fall back, we settled into a midgame static slugging match, as the German StuGs took up positions, and the infantry formed kill stacks. My MMG's and my gun didn't last long. All were lost early to the Russian ammo shortage.
Jim made the tactical decision to get his MG victory conditions fulfilled by exiting the 17FP, rather than getting into 2nd level building locations. With the Russian gun and MMG covering the southern flank out of the way, the exit was more or less wide open. That left just the other part of the VC for him to worry about: getting control of all ground level locations in the Brewery and State Bank. (beer and money, it's all he ever thinks about)
In the end, Jim seemed to be second guessing that decision. I'm not sure which way I would have gone. Getting those MGs into firing position would be pretty useful when the Russian reinforcements start rolling in, but I can certainly see the appeal of not having to fight your way upstairs.
After six, it was still a standoff by the bank, while a German platoon or so began to close in on the Brewery
Killing off NKVD squads in a strongpoint is not easy. By rule, when in or ADJACENT to a location with a commissar OR NKVD MMC, they must try to self rally. AND that rally occurs as if being rallied by a commissar (i.e., DM is N/A, if they fail to rally they are subject ELR). NKVD have broken side morale of 9. In the strongpoint they are fanatic making it 10. Put a commissar in the location and it's 11. They do not stay broken long.
(Edit: As pointed out in the comments, morale can not actually go above 10. Oops)
Conversely, the militia (conscript) squads tend to get whittled down by this rule over time, as failing to rally, which they do with much greater frequency, results in casualty reduction (again, the commissar effect).
Through turn 7-9 as the Russian reinforcements began coming on The Germans broke into the north end of the Bank by breaking the squads at that end and making it across the street. At the south side of the bank they finally breached the fortification by driving a StuG through the wall and moving MMCs in behind.
At the Brewery the Germans breached a fortified location with a DC and broke in there.
At the start of turn 10, with Russian reinforcements now pouring up from the Volga docks, the Germans controlled all the needed locations in the Bank, but there was still a H-T-H melee in the ground of CC20. The Germans also controlled 2 of the 3 ground level locations of the Brewery, and held a substantial advantage in the H-T-H melee going in the third.
In CC20 the Germans had 3-1/2 overstacked squads against 1 NKVD squad and the now wounded 8+1 commissar. When Jim rolled a 4 eliminating the Russians, it was looking bad for the good guys. But when they answered back with a 4 of their own, taking out the entire German stack with them(!), there was suddenly a hole in the German line.
In the bottom of the 10th Russian reinforcements moved forward under fire getting ready to move into the now vacant CC20 and retake control. When Jim had fired his last defensive fire shot, and there were still Russians ADJACENT to the now empty CC20, the game was over.
All in, we gave the scenario an *okay* rating. The Valor of the Guards map and chrome are always fun to play with. On the downside, it did bog down into a static shooting match through the midgame.
As noted before the random Russian reinforcement system is a bit silly in it's complexity. Can't really blame the Bunker guys for that, as it was pretty much brought over wholesale from the original scenario. It also allowed the Russians though some lucky dice to get three HMG's. That fact made my opponent um... a bit grumpy ...to put it mildly. However, they really didn't help much.
At that point in the game there is +2 dusk LV in effect, making shots into the stone buildings +5 (+6 into fortified locations.) In the end, my boys left the MGs behind to get on the move towards the goal line.
In fairness, the biggest factors in the Russian victory were the early death of Mr 10-2, and the NKVD miracle CC roll clearing out that location. Not the strength of the reinforcements.
If you really like VotG (which most or all of us do), you probably want to give this one a shot at some point. Wouldn't really call it a "must play" though.
The plan is to head back to the Valor of the Guards map on Monday have a go at VotG18, In Sight of the Volga. Jim will be on the attack with the Germans, I'll have the defenders.
This reworking of the Beyond Valor scenario for the historical map appeared in last summer's Operation Special Edition #1. The scenario is all about the Germans trying to get machine guns into the upper building levels overlooking the Volga. However, it's also a bit more than that.
The Russians get five ground level fortified buildings, and SSR 1 also states that NKVD strongpoints are in play. In practical terms, this means that the Russian may turn either the State Bank or the Brewery into an NKVD strongpoint, but not both.
The Germans need to control all ground level locations of the State Bank and the Brewery, and also get 17FP worth of functioning machine guns into their upper levels. The wrinkle here is that the Germans can also exit MG's off the east edge to count towards that total. So, the Russians can not just hunker down in the fortress and play "come and get me". They have to spread out a bit, and be concerned about a German exit.
German troops exited off the east edge also reduce the number of reinforcing troops the Russians will receive starting on turn 7.
I was going to post a detailed AAR of The Bloody Torokina Perimeter. But since I am still fried from yesterday's long and tense playing of that Dispatches From the Bunker scenario, I am glad that my opponent, JR, saved me the trouble.
There were other players and games at the Brackin Bash, but I'm not sure what they played or what the outcomes were, as this 12+ hour slugging match was nearly all consuming.
This Saturday will be a return to for-real ASL action at the roughly semi-annual "Brackin Basement Bash". One of my regular opponents, Jim Brackin hosts these ASL days at his house from time to time. I've been to four or five by now, and none has ever been in the basement. I think a new name is in order for the event.
Anyway, I've drawn JRV for an opponent and we've agreed on Dispatches From the Bunker's "The Bloody Torokina Perimeter" (DB057).
I dropped a die to randomly determine sides and got the Japanese. When JR said he preferred the Japanese if it was all the same to me, I gladly handed them over. Not that I think the Americans have any real advantage, but giving a player like JR a week to set up a fixed defense is not a strategy endorsed by Sun Tzu.
I have the American defenders behind the fixed fortifications.
BTW, JR, This is not my set-up. :)
The Japanese have two reinforced companies moving down from the jungle to fling themselves at the dug-in Americans. The VC require them to exit infantry or capture pillboxes. Each wire hex in this map also contains a 6FP AP minefield.
The Japanese get 8(!) DC's and a flamethrower among other toys. Some of the DC's will surely be used to send DC heroes rushing in to attempt to blow a gap in the wire. The setup restrictions force most of the Japanese troops to setup on the road in the north, so they will take a turn or two to get to their line of departure, giving my Americans a chance to react and shift.
The American on board forces counter with 4MMG's, a 40mm AA gun, and a 37LL AT gun which hopefully have a few rounds of canister ammo. The good guys also get some high quality reinforcements on turns 3 and 5 including a 10-2, a .50 cal, and a flamethrower of their own.
Both sides have small OBA modules. The Japanese will most likely fire smoke or WP with their first mission.
There promise to be banzai charges through minefields, firelanes and all the rest. Looks like a real brawl.
Another ASL free weekend and I'm wishing that ASLOK started yesterday.
Last year was my first Ohio trip. I wasn't really sure what to expect, and so my anticipation wasn't all that high. This year it's in overdrive. Can. Not. Wait. to get in the car, crank up the iPod, and make that long highway drive through the scenic Pennsylvania countryside, to that bleak, flat, gray Ohio-scape.
The hotel is just about perfect. The games are in the top floor meeting room. The space last year was a little tight, but not terribly so. Just outside the room is a lounge with a few sofas, a bigscreen TV, and a cash bar! ASLOK is the only group on the floor. No wedding bands or trade shows to compete with.
So, I'm spending some lazy Sunday time trying to decide what scenarios to print out and bring, making sure my kit is travel ready, etc. I know it's seven weeks away, but come on!
Will be spending four full days this year. I'm signed up for a mini- tournament each day. You might think that won't leave any time for any relaxed "open" games. But the thing is, when you're not very good, you get knocked out of the mini's early, and have the rest of the day free!
Recalling last year, I was fortunate to win the first two rounds of the night mini. As per ASLOK rules, when you win the first two rounds of a Thursday mini, you are automatically 2-0 for the Grofaz, regardless of the mini final match outcome.
I lost the final round of that mini to the gracious and affable Philly native Randy Rossi, when I conceded at about 2:45 AM. An appropriate ending for the "night" event.
Problem was that I was to play Bill Cirillo the next morning at 8:00 AM in the "Grofaz" mini. MC Bret was herding all 2-0 players into these. Now, Bill is about 20 times better at this game than me on my best day. Maybe 21. However, on 3-4 hours sleep, it's like a prize fight between Evander Holyfield and Renee Zellwegger.
Bill made very quick work of me in Rocket's Red Glare, and my Grofaz dream was over. But I was in contention! For like 5 minutes, sure. But still!
Another ASL free weekend for me, but I at least I had a new product to pour over.
HOB's The Long March showed up my mailbox last week. It's a 17 scenario pack from the iconic period of the Chinese civil war, as Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists chase Mao's Red Army all over China.
$32 is a bit high for just a scenario pack, but it's ASL, and Heat of Battle has a well deserved reputation for quality products, so....what else are you going to spend your $32 on?
With one exception, the scenarios are all infantry. Standard Chinese counters are used for the Nationals and partisan counters represent Red Army troops. Scenario size runs the gamut. There are rules for linking the scenarios at a quasi-campaign game. The folder features a historical summary.
Many of the scenarios have unique SSR's to add historical flavor (and frankly, to give the all infantry scenarios each something distinctive.) For example, LM 11 ,Medieval Warfare, is played on DASL boards and depicts the Red Army scaling city walls and being attacked by cauldrons of boiling rice porridge. A Porridge Cauldron apparently attacks with 12FP (duh!), and is not penalized for use as advancing fire. Yeah. I guess not!
Looking forward to trying one of these.
I'm signed up for the Chinese mini at ASLOK this year, so maybe Bret will pull something from this pack.
On the Two Half Squads podcast this past week, they covered the rules involving Molotov cocktails. I realized that this is one of those rules I never take full advantage of. Usually when my side has Molotov ability, either I forget about it, or I'm hesitant because I don't want to do the rules dive and figure it isn't worth it.
I'm typing this post as a quick exercise in committing to memory the basics of Mol rules once and for all.
A) When does your unit have one?
On a Mol check dr 1-3. Mods are: CX +1, HS +1, SMC +2, vs, non-AFV +1. There is no penalty for rolling a '6' on your Mol check dr. A Mol check counts as use of a SW
B) What happens vs infantry?
A unit with a Mol adds 4FP to it's IFT attack.
c) What happens vs an AVF?
A unit with a Mol attacks an AFV on the HE & Flame TK table.
D) What's the funky part?
It's all about the colored dr. Again, the chrome on the mol rules are all about the colored dr.
If the colored dr of the IFT attack is '6', the unit possessing the mol is broken, and if in burnable terrain, a flame is placed in it's location.
If the colored dr of the IFT attack is a '1', a flame is place in the target location.
And the rule I never knew until T2HS mentioned it: You can not use a mol across a woods or orchard hexside.
Now I just have to re-read this post 400 times, and maybe I'll remember it all when it matters.
...adding. Trying to come up with a mnemonic device for this. Something like "Roll a one, burn the hun, roll a six, ...uh...flick your bics.."? Guess it needs work.
For those who may not be aware, there is a podcast devoted to ASL! The 2 Half-Squads are Dave and Jeff, two Chicago area ASL players who host the lighthearted discussion of all things ASL.
They sometimes have a third voice in in the mix (Joe), and have even done interviews with ASL luminaries like Keith Dalton and Lars Thuring. They've already produced 20+ episodes.
This past week, they took another step on the technology ladder by doing a live show broadcast on the internet. There were some technical bugs with the call-in feature, but still it was fun interact with the hosts and the other listeners in the chat room.
A combination of real life workload and general blog-laziness have conspired to keep Blind Hex dark for the last few months, but I'll try to breath some life back in.
First of all, The ABTF CG is over, ending in the British concession predicted by absolutely everyone.
At the end of the second CG date my British were holding only block H. We had about 27 squads (nearly half of which were walking wounded), ELR had dropped and the ammo shortage had gotten worse. The worst blow was the attrition in the leadership ranks.
The Germans on the other hand had lost the vast majority of their AVF's, and also had about 27 or so squads. However, the majority of them were elite. Most importantly there were a lot more of them available for CPP purchase, while the Brits of course can not get ANY additional infantry at all.
As I considered my strategy for the next CG date, the only thing to do would be to max-out on fortifications and dummies, and bump up the sniper. I would try to keep him shooting at ghosts and try to get some open ground shots.
As my scheduling problem drew on, and I considered the travel time between Joe's place and mine, I decided that I had to call it. I would have loved to have played one more CG date to see how it would go. As I told Joe, if we lived 10 minutes apart I would certainly not concede yet.
In the end, it just seemed like the chance for victory was so slight, that calling it a day was best the course.
I also left the SP101 Jura Juggernaut AAR hanging.
I've been unable to find my notes, but the Russians won. Here is the endgame photo:
Jim got his exit points pretty easily by the appointed time, and the game continued. My Russians were able to work the shrinking perimeter defense around the southern bridge as the Germans pressed in.
In the last turn, Russian squads at either end of the bridge were in place as roadblocks to prevent any German infantry from getting on the bridge (without some kind of miracle). However, Jim still had some vehicles that could drive through get onto the bridge.
He tried to get there from both directions. As a tank from the eastern bank was rushing through, it was engaged in CC reaction fire which eliminated it.
Another vehicle from the west rolled right through the squad guarding on that side. I thought I had lost as the tank would easily move through both bridge hexes and gain control, right? Wrong.
As Jim correctly pointed out, a vehicle can only control the location it is in. Once it leaves, control reverts to it's previous status: enemy or uncontrolled (A 26.12). Woo-hoo, Russians win!!
I'm certainly not the first to say that this is a terrific scenario. It's very spread out, there are lots of options for both sides, and there is a lot going on. I would take either side.
SP101 Jura Juggernaut gets the Blind Hex stamp of approval.
Will be posting a bunch more often hopefully in the near future as my schedule starts to settle back down.
It was my turn to suggest scenarios for a game with Jim, one of my regular opponents. From my short list he chose this one, saying he had wanted to play it since it was released by Schwerepunkt a few years ago. I agreed that it looked pretty cool.
This is not a the sort of small, quick and dirty scenario Schwerepunkt has a reputation for producing. This Brian Williams design pits 20 elite German squads with 7 halftracks, supported by 9 tanks of the 1st Panzer Division, againt 20 Russian squads reinforced by 7 tanks of their own. It takes place during the opening hours of Barbarossa.
The German task is to enter from the west and exit 49 CVP off the east edge by the end of turn 4, and capture all three of the bridges over the Jura River by game's end (turn 8). Jim chose the German side, leaving me to come up with a defense.
Most of the Russian force is restricted to setting up in buildings on board 49, west of the river. Furthermore, the Russians are permitted no more than one MMC per building (exclusive of gun crews).
I decided fairly quickly that preventing the German exit would be very a difficult gamble, requiring my defense to spread out. The more viable strategy for victory seemed to be concentrating on holding a bridge. Just one would do. I chose the southernmost bridge, in the shadow of hill 520.
Given the setup restrictions, there really aren't many obviously good places to put the two Russian 37mm guns. I chose to put them both in the area of the southern bridge. One in F8 with a long line of sight down the board 49 road, the other in K10. K10 itself is not a good place for the gun, but the little m12 could be pushed with relative ease into the woods of 40L0, for a good look at two of the bridges and much of the western bank.
I was pretty thin in the north, with just a few squads and somne dummies to try to slow down the German onslaught.
Jim entered all of his turn one force in the north, in a "hit 'em where they ain't attack." I opted to let him maintain concealment rather than reveal by default which units might be dummies.
Meanwhile in the South, the 9-1 and a squad with an HMG high-tailed it across the bridge to set up on the western side. They would eventually dig foxholes at the foot of the bridge, with two other squads sliding down from hill 520 and to doing the same in the grain.
Not much blog-love going on lately. Blind Hex has been dormant since December. Hopefully that will change somewhat in the near future.
I had a case of post-Winter Offensive ASL burnout, which has now thankfully passed. I've Also been involved with helping to playtest some Top Secret projects, which don't make the blog for obivous reasons.
I did get in a game of (SP98) Jura Juggernaut with Jim, one of my regular opponents, which I'll posting an AAR for sometime soon. Also hope to pick up the ABTF game in the not too distant future.