PP08 No Simple Victory AAR – the ASL March Madness Partisan Pack

PP08 No Simple Victory is from the ASL March Madness Partisan Pack , produced by the Kansas City Irregular ASL Club for the March 13-15 2009 March Madness tournament.  According to Mark Pitcavage’s Desperation Morale site, only 75 copies were made.  I am lucky to have access to one and let me tell you, the storylines therein FASCINATE me.

An NKVD badge replica


The setting was May 1945 in Kurylowka Poland.  The Soviets had just “liberated” Poland and the Soviet NKVD started to hunt down former members of the “Armia Krajowa”.

A number of anti-communist partisan groups sprung up.  One such group was the National Military Alliance or the “NZW” and one of their biggest battles happened here.  The NZW prevailed, but the NKVD returned the next day and burned the village of Kurylowka to the ground.

PP08 R1 001-proc

Introduction and Setup : The NKVD officers are all Commissars.  The Poles on the other hand have 5 MPs instead of the usual 4.  The NKVD enters from the right and a trench in the middle of the village square is the “Victory Condition” hex.  I was the Partisans and Carl Nogueira the NKVD (Carl’s analysis of the scenario is at the bottom of this post).  I made a number of mistakes in this scenario.  One of which was putting my SSR given Set DC in the VC hex.  Since the NKVD wins immediately upon seizing that hex, blowing them up subsequently really doesn’t help.  I elected to exchange my 2 Fortified Location into 2 tunnels : one leading to the pillbox that oversee the VC hex and another leading from small clump of buildings to the right of the village so that units could rout back.

There are two approaches to the village.  One is to take the long way through the Forest on the bottom of the map.  That burns a lot of time.  The other way is to move through the open ground from the right to the left.  That carries a much higher risk of casualties which the NKVD player has to mindful of.  One of the SSRs states that the NKVD is subjected to BATTLEFIELD INTEGRITY (A16).  There’s a number on the broken side of each counter.  The NKVD starts up with a Battlefield Integrity score of 260.  When the NKVD takes casualties a running total of the number on the back of the counters is taken.  The NKVD is then subjected to an Integrity Check every 10% (or 26 in this case) of the starting score.  Fail it once, and the NKVD has their ELR reduced.  Fail it twice and the NKVD pack up and go home.

I assumed Carl would take a frontal approach through the scant cover the open ground offers (the NKVD had no smoke).  The Partisans had Molotovs though.  I tried to use Molotovs frequently early game (couldn’t be used inside the forest though) in the hope of setting something on fire “accidentally” but I completely forgot to use it late game when it really counted.

PP08 R1 002 - OPs .. R are coming from a different angle!-proc

Turn 1 Russian : The Russians, I mean ALL the Russians headed for the forest!  I started thinking about how I could redeploy to a completely different angle of attack.

PP08 P1 001 - Redeploy Notes-proc

Turn 1 Partisans : The Partisans had to redeploy to a very possible attack through the forest and from the bottom of the village!  My tunnels and my pillbox were rendered useless.  A few units had to come out of HIP to redeploy.  Anyway, it was what it was – a new game.  Good thing our Partisans had 5 MF instead of 4!

PP08 R2 001 - After MPh-proc

Turn 2 Russian : The Partisans in the forest had to do the best they could now.  I didn’t move far enough from the NKVD and therefore got my units surrounded a few times.  The NKVD was of course deadly at close range.  Concealment didn’t offer enough protection.

PP08 P2 002 - Moved LMG out to the right : Definitely using brokie to block-proc

Turn 2 Partisans : The three Partisan squads in the forest were of course completely outnumbered.  I hope to delay the NVKD as much as possible by using brokies to block the way as they rout.  I moved an LMG squad out to the clump of trees to help protect the “heavies” in case the Soviets change their mind and decide to skip long the edge of the forest instead.

PP08 R3 001 - After MPh-proc

Turn 3 Russians : The Russians came in strong.  The Partisans were quickly surrounded and destroyed.  The Russians tested the scene at the edge of the forest.  The Partisan HMG appeared to convince them otherwise.

PP08 P3 - End - more to the forest-proc

Turn 3 Partisans : The NKVD needed to be contained in the forest.  A few more Partisan squads were sent in there to rack up more casualties if they could.  At this point, I was a little reluctant to send even these folks.  The NKVD had an advantage up close while the Partisans were better in open area because of their enhanced mobility and longer range.  Molotovs couldn’t be used in forests either.  Kindling is NA for this scenario but I certainly hoped to set a few structures on fire “accidentally”.

Here’s also where I realised my next stupid move : I got my mortar (ideal against folks trying to come out of the forest, no?) in a trench BEHIND a hedge.  They couldn’t see anything.  The gun crew had to scramble to re-situate the mortar now.  Could they do it in time?

PP08 R4 001 - After MPh - HMG RF took out 2 HS Partisan holding out-proc

Turn 4 Russian : This was an epic turn.  The NKVD studiously picked a spot to come out of the woods that avoided the HMG.  So an LMG unconcealed to plug the gap.  Did it ever!  That residual where the path open up from the forest saw a good number of casualties.  A few came forth nonetheless, led by a 9-0 Commissar, and rushed the mortar crew.  One of the partisan squads was met by a number of NKVD and was presented with a DC pack as well ..

PP08 R4 002 - Partisan strong after 1 DC + tons of AdF-proc

Turn 4 Russian still : Our partisan squad survived all Advance Fire AND a DC blast!!  NKVD fixed bayonets and looked to move in ..

PP08 R4 004 - Forest CC ambush infiltrates right CC partisan withdraws-proc

Turn 4 Russian Close Combat : The NKVD squads moved in and even managed to ambush our partisan squad!  Fortunately they rolled infiltration for our brave partisan squad.  While the partisans were pinned and couldn’t move, the NKVD squads thought better of it and moved off.

On the far side of the open ground, the Russians wrestled with a partisan squad sent to mess with them.  The partisans got the ambush here and decided to move off to the Russian rear.

PP08 P4 001 - After MPh - getting out of the forest - HMG moves right Notes-proc

Turn 4 Partisan : Our brave partisan squad moved off to another position where the NKVD might decide to emerge.  The other partisan decided to back off to get some distance between them and the short range Russian bear.  On the other hand, the HMG crew grabbed their toy and ran off to the woods to get a better angle at the emerging NKVD.

The mortar crew couldn’t get away with their toy unfortunately, they were broken by fire from pursing NKVD.

PP08 R5 - 001 - After MPh - Heroic defense BPV up to 39-proc

Turn 5 Russian : At this point the NKVD had already breezed right through their first Battle Integrity check.  Two partisan squads fought hard at the edge of the forest the best they could.

Russians on the far right decided to rush the HMG in the woods as well.  Thank goodness to mutually supporting positions they would all eventually be broken.

PP08 P5 - 001 - End MPh-proc

Turn 5 Partisans : The partisans sent another squad to the far right to go after the broken NKVD squads.  Who knows?  May be they will force another Battle Integrity check!

Partisans were trying hard to back off into the clearing before the roads lead into the village – but it was hard.

PP08 R6 - 001 - After MPh BPV59-proc

Turn 6 Russian : The Russians tried the captured Polish mortar, hoping to get smoke for the final attack.  Fortunately it melted in their hands rather patriotically

The Poles kept backing off and putting residual on open ground.  I was also starting to think that I should bring the partisan squads on the far right back into the village for the final fight.

PP08 P6 - 001 - End - Reposition Guns-proc

Turn 6 Partisan : I saw the left side of the village as being particularly vulnerable.  I moved a few more squads up from the back to cover that.  The HMG and 2 LMGs were moved to the open so they could take advantage of their range.  The Russians would have to decide whether to divert squads to them or let them be.

PP08 R7 - 001 - After MPh - BPV 88 MMG revealed-proc

Turn 7 Russians : The BPV was now at 88.  The Russian passed the last 3 Battle Integrity Check without breaking a sweat.  The next one’s going to be 16 BPV off – which meant 3 or 4 squads, depending on what they were.

Fire lanes were deployed where possible to wear the NKVD down – but they kept coming.  When they got adjacent, the Partisans knew they wouldn’t last much longer.  An MMG deployed on the left opened up as well.  Unfortunately it broke down almost immediately.

PP08 P7 - 001 - after DFph - Firing Squads-proc

Turn 7 Partisans : We ran out of room to back off now.  The front row of NKVDs got too close and the Partisans got blown away, firing squad style.

Getting folks in their final position ..

PP08 R8 - 001 - Start-proc

Turn 8 Russian : So this is just a shot of the start of the final turn.  There’s still an MMG that remained “HIP” on the (hopefully) more vulnerable looking side.

PP08 R8 - 001 - After MPh-proc

Turn 8 Russian, after the Movement Phase : Carnage!  The Russian kept running squads though the gauntlet, even tried to place a DC on the squad in the target hex.  After they got a few in for the ensuring Close Combat phase, they ran the rest of the NKVD away from village to avoid more casualties!

PP08 R8 - 003 - Adv F - End-proc

 Turn 8 Russians – the end : Then it happened – the Russians fired into the concealed partisan squad in the target hex.  They got a morale check even with the +2 TEM.

Box cars.

The partisan squad reduced and broke.  The Russians were therefore in a position to advance in.

The Russians won.

Here’s the Analysis from Carl Nogueira :

It was a pretty intense game. I looked for opportunities to launch a human wave, to try and close up the ground needed to be crossed faster. However, that was of course not possible in the woods. Once out of the woods, I had a chance to do it, but I was not happy with the preparation of the defense. I had been unable to soften him up/draw off enough shots with the non-human wave crowd. It looked like the boys would be heading into a meat grinder and these guys don’t do meat grinder with the BPV rules. Not to mention the last sentence of A9.222. This makes human waves suicidal if the opponent has the ability to lay down several firelanes. Jackson had that opportunity. Human wave called off. Of course with these clowns, it was more of a sub-human wave anyway.

As Jackson alluded to, I initially went through the forest on the bottom board. It appeared to be lightly defended and it afforded me the ability to shoot back at his forces. Something my short range and lack of long range SW didn’t afford in the open. That combined with the Battlefield Integrity made my NKVD boys “vulnerable” in the open. (I always wanted to use NKVD and integrity in the same sentence. It’s a lot tougher than it looks.) The forest looked lightly defended to boot, so I was hoping to blow through there as fast as possible.

In the even, it took about turns, using my best Tampa style tactics to whip Igor forward. The attempt to put pressure on the Koresh compound and use those forces to be a diversion against the center, failed spectacularly. Fortunately, they graced me by not dying in the process. If there is one lesson that Jackson will take with im from this game, it is entrenched units behind a wall/hedge only see adjacent to the wall/hedge. No farther. His mortar was positioned under a foxhole thusly. As was a flanking squad and the VC hex guard. It didn’t cost him the game, but it did cost some opportunities.

I popped out of the woods and headed up the road, mostly to the right of the road, straight for the VC hex. Jackson’s units are quite fleet of foot by ssr in this, so they easily repositioned and got in front of us. Their mf base of 5 for MMC making that easily possible. After some early success heading up the road, I determined I was a turn behind. As a result I really took some chances. Even running some units into hexes I knew they couldn’t rout out of to try and force the pace. I was soon dissuaded. However, Jackson did decline a surrender which enforced NQ for my boys surrendering. That was more blessing than curse for me as I was able to have more liberal rout routes after that, FTR not withstanding.

I had to change the axis of attack to straddle the road more, as he had too many fire lanes to the right of the road. I was able to ooze out over the road and get enough fire down to open a path through the stone building that guarded the VC buildings left flank, but only on the next to last turn. That meant running through the open to try to get to the last VC hex.

It had looked really grim since Jackson had a 4.35 average DR over 7 key shots to start Russian turn 7. As a result, I had to take two tests for BI. I passed the first but failed the second. If it happened one more time, he gets the win. Fortunately, as is wont to happen, the dice turned back the other way. My boys discovered their meat sacks and my morale check DR improved drastically at just the right time. One 5-2-7 went berserk and tied up a key piece on the approach march. We were able to survive a nice fire lane Jackson laid from a HIP unit leading to the VC hex. Finally, I was able to get a G/O 5-2-7 and two 3-2-8 HS, one of which had a DC, ADJACENT to the VC hex. The 5-2-7 fired at his concealed unit in the trench, a 4+2, to try and strip him of concealment. The thought being it would make the thrown DC that much more effective done in that order. I lucked out with a 3-1 for a NMC. Jackson boxed the NMC and that was the game.

We discussed later and both felt the scenario is rough on the Russians. That said, the ROAR record now has it 3-2, pro-Russian. Still, I think the Russians have the longer road. That low ELR and short range for their force are real handicaps. Combined with needing to keep an eye out for the battlefield integrity makes it tough. As for the Partisans, they have typical partisan issues. The 5 mf rule for the MMC is a real nice touch. One thing the scenario is though is fun. All in all, it was a very enjoyable time and game.

Map of Poland from 1944

March Madness 2015 Videos

March Madness is a hugely popular Advanced Squad Leader tournament, held annually in Kansas City.

This one’s done by Tom Meier, the preview.

http://www.kansascityasl.com

This one’s a tribute, done by K Scott Mullins, aka GrumbleJones

http://boxcarsagainaslblog.blogspot.com/

Dinant : Chasseurs on the Meuse AAR

Notre Dame de Dinant & the Citadel. Source : Wikipedia

Calm down, you didn’t miss it.  Dinant is not out yet.

Dinant is a project in development.  Dan Dolan’s the designer, Nadir Elfarra did the map and Carl Nogueira, the campaign game.  Stanley Neo and I have been playtesting the Dinant scenarios, so this perhaps one of the rare times when you see an AAR on a product not released.


This scenario, “Chasseurs on the Meuse”, depicts an action that took place on May 13 1940.  The Belgian 8th Chasseurs de Ardennais, fighting a series of delaying actions, was chased all the way up to the edge of the Meuse by Rommel’s Ghost Divison (7th Panzer).  The French arrived at the west shore and did their best to help out.  The Germans are to seize the victory locations marked on the top of this map within 7 turns.  The German Recon company can choose to come in from the marked locations on the right side of the map.  Their HQ and Armoured Car platoons can come in from the south (bottom of the map) as well.

Chasseurs - Start-proc

This was my Belgian/French setup.  The three VC locations were on the top part of the map.  One of the VC hexes was under the stack of Belgians to the right of the VC stone building.  The Germans start with 13 elite squads, 5 leaders, 4 armoured cars and a host of motorcycles.  .  The Belgians fields 9 first liners and the French, 3 first liners immediately and 3 on Turn 3.  The Allies have 6 leaders, 2 self propelled guns and a module of OBA with scarce ammunition.

The Belgians had 2 HS HIP’d with ATRs around Rue Saint Jacques (the road through the valley from the right) and one on the first level of Notre Dame de Dinant.  The big set of concealment counters in front of the roadblock at Place Reine Astrid (in front of Notre Dame de Dinant and the Citadel was a decoy to turn enemy AFVs that way.

Place Reine de Astrid. http://www.citadellededinant.be

Citadel de Dinant.  http://www.citadellededinant.be

Chasseurs - T2 German - Miss the first car Shooting at the passengers in the square.  Mass of Germans.  Mortars suppressed-proc

Turn 2 Germans : The German infantry decided to heap through the Rue Saint Jacques en masse.  The French mortar managed however, to catch their counterparts from across the Meuse.  The armoured cars got a bit of harassing fire from the French across the river.

Hearing the Germans in the Plaza outside, the Belgian HS in the Notre Dame threw off their cover and went to the windows with their ATR. One entrance to the narrow streets was blocked but the other one needed to be sealed as well, best with a wreck.  The first armored car passed by and was about to turn into the narrow streets to the north.

Boom!!  The anti tank grenade missed,

The targeted AC continued to speed away and the second followed suit.  The other ACs started firing into the church and the German infantry got the headsup about Notre Dame.

Chasseurs - T2 Belgian - Forgot to Skulk.  Hit and Killed the AFV-proc

Turn 2 Belgians : The intrepid ATR team survived the initial German fire.  It now sounded like half the German army was running for the church.  The Belgians went to the windows again and fired.  This time wrecking the 2nd armored car and therefore successfully blocked the armoured car platoon from the action to the north!

In the north, the Belgians were nervous about all the Germans coming down the valley but they felt a little too smug about lying concealed in stone buildings.  They decided not to skulk.

Big mistake.  The Belgians in the first 2 building hexes got blown away by the massed German firepower.

While one of the Belgian self propelled guns moved into place.  The one to the north refused to budge without their partner and a radio to contact them with.

Chasseurs - T3 German - Brute force CC 3-proc

Turn 3 Germans : The Belgians to the north were simply not retreating fast enough.  The Germans caught them in 3 locations where Close Combat killed 2 Belgian squads.

Chasseurs - T3 Belgian - The Other tank finally moved Belgians tried to do AA-proc

Turn 3 Belgians : Hey! The French reinforcement arrived, together with a radio to call down the artillery.  Yes, ammunition was scare but it’s something.  Given the rowhouse configuration, the French could only look for line of sights through the gaps they could find.

The other Belgian self propelled gun was touched by the change in sentiment and moved into one of the narrow streets to cover the German advance.

Chasseurs - T5 Germans - B Tank fired but HIP ATR appears-proc

Turn 5 Germans : The Belgians finally got the hang of just how far to move back and how to shoot the Germans in bypass.

The Belgian SPG closer to the river was shooting at the Germans moving through the little plaza.  When it Firist Fired, the lead German AC moved forward, turned and faced it.

The other HIP’d HS ATR team who sat through the Close Combat downstairs sprung out of hiding.

They shot and killed the lead AC!

Chasseurs - T5 Germans - B Tank fired but HIP ATR appears - Close up 01

A Close Up shot of how the lead German AC was killed by a HIP’ed Belgian ATS HS.

Chasseurs - T6 German - Belgians backed off Tank moved again ATR guy ran off Scare Ammo OBA no joy-proc

Turn 6 Germans : The Belgians continued to back off just enough to shoot at the Germans in bypass.  The French OBA was of no help whatsoever.  By the time they got a response from obliging French gunners their radio went dead.

Our second Belgian ATR HS managed to run away though!

Chasseurs - T6 German - Last-proc

The Germans, running out of the time, got even more aggressive and jumped onto a concealed Belgian stack.  The Belgians chose NOT to unconceal and NOT to fight.  To the German’s disappointment, Belgians survived the German attack and retained the option of moving away in the next Belgian turn, blocking the Germans for another round.

Seeing the distance between themselves and the VC building, the Germans decided that they won’t be able to make it to the VC objectives in time.

Overall : I think the long lines of rowhouses presented an interesting problem.  The Belgians had to be far enough to not invite close combat given the German superiority in numbers and to not be shot in their retreat.  However they needed to be close enough to in turn shoot the Germans in bypass.  This is especially important when they do not have enough firepower to take the Germans inside the stone buildings.

The mass of Germans was unnerving but had some of the Germans came in further to the north and down the cliffs, they would have been a handful.

Trying to get the French to help from across the Meuse is a problem as well.  Finding gaps between buildings though you can shoot was tough.  The OBA was practically useless in my game.

Thoughts from Stanley Neo : I packed the Germans’ entries via the XX13-XX16 while 3 choices were given. After some thoughts, I should have spread the force into two groups, one taking the top XX03-XX13 and the other remaining in XX13-XX16 to put more pressure on the Allies that is on the same side. At least some Germans would then be able to attempt to climb down and do a flank from the North.

Germans on the East were stuck around the entry zone for too long and should have pushed more aggressively. LoS study of the terrain may eliminate issues of troops getting pinned or broken by Mortar fire from the West.

The roadblocks were wisely placed at a chockpoint around QQ17/RR17 with ATR. This effectively blocked out the rest of the German’s AFV support making it harder for the Germans coming from the East to push.

Overall the scenario is relatively great to play. Would be interesting to replay the scenario with the afterthoughts built into the attack plan.

What are your thoughts with regards to this module?  Are you looking forward to it?

Haakka Päälle! The Unboxing

Notes from fellow gamers ..

  • Robin Reeve : There are actually 17 scenarios
  • “Srynerson” on GS : The Hungarian counters you noticed are errata counters for AoO apparently: http://forums.gamesquad.com/showthre…ight=hungarian
  • Chas Argent : Yes, the box says 4 (ASLRB chapter dividers) as well, but we added one more divider after the box went into production (and a 17th scenario). ‘Cuz we love you.Well, most of you.

ESG6 Clean Up Crew AAR – Deathwish 777 Round 1

ESG6 GT1 - start-procESG6 Clean Up Crew is the first round scenario of the Asia Pacific VASL tourney, Deathwish 777.  This is the first Eastside Gamers scenario I have ever played.  This is also the first time I played Will Fleming.

This is an interesting situation.  The 2 hex building on the top right is considered ground level only stone while all other buildings are wooden.  The German wins at Game End if they control this building.  If you look at the map in quarters, Germans setup on the top left and bottom right.  A Russian patrol comes in on Turn 1 from either the left edge or the bottom edge of the bottom left quadrant.  Both sides get to attack and to defend, the 6 turn limit on this scenario promised rapid and violent action!

The Germans have a mix of elite and first liners.  The Russians have a mix of first liners and conscripts (one elite squad too) but unfortunately an ELR of 2.  They get 2 leaders on board, an 8-1 and a 7-0.  A 9-1 comes in with the patrol later on from the lower left board.  There was a bit of a debate as to whether to switch the 8-1 out for a 10-0 Commissar or not.  Bruce Probst cautioned against the idea on GameSquad, stating that there really is no where for the Russians to properly rout to and that they should take the -1 Leadership from a fighting 8-1 instead.  In hindsight, he’s right (no surprise).  At the time, I swapped the 8-1 for a 10-0 in the hopes of cycling whimpering conscripts back into the fight again.

ESG6 GT1 - After MPh-proc

German Turn 1 : The Germans were on the move.  The Russians looked to reveal as little information as possible until the Germans came within their (largely) 2 hex range, less when negative modifiers were in play.  There wasn’t much action apart from the outer ring of “speed bump” conscripts.  They didn’t expect to survive the slightest German fire and so their first shot needed to count.

ESG6 RT2 - Adv Ph-proc

Russian Turn 2 : The Germans built a deathstar with a 9-2 in the left sunken road.  Our HMG team had to relocate.  Will Fleming also pointed out that mortars cannot fire from CREST positions so the mortar team had to figure out a plan B.  One of the “speed bump” conscripts broke another German unit instead of running but got disrupted and was captured in the return fire.  The rescuing Russian patrol had entered the map but not the fray at this point from the left edge.

ESG6 GT3 - DFPh - Hell Rate - KIA 2 broke others .. Prisoners Rearm-proc

German Turn 3 : The Russian HMG went on a hellish rate tear in Defensive Fire, they KIA’d 2 German squads and broke the rest in the open!!  The Russian prisoners found their guards killed and started eyeing the German DC laying in the grass…

ESG6 RT3 - MPh - Conscript rush in w: DC-proc

Russian Turn 3 : The rearmed prisoners (Conscript HS) grabbed the German DC.  There was a German DC HS on the left end of the sunken road to the right.  A Russian squad assault moved away to draw fire in the safest way possible but was disrupted anyway.  The rearmed Russian HS then rushed down the sunken road with their captured DC!!  They survived the Final Fire from the “targeted” German DC HS, threw their DC and broke that HS.  Unfortunately it was pinned itself and couldn’t advance to rout the broken Germans out of the foxhole.  The Russian commissar decided to vol break and head towards THE house as Russian troops around him were either disrupted as conscripts or ELR’d into being conscripts.

ESG6 GT4 - Adv F - HMG got taken out snakeyes KIA-proc

German Turn 4 : The Germans moved towards the house and the Russians didn’t have too many live units left around the target building.  A German MMC on the left put a fire lane down through the grain fields and made it tough for the rescuing patrol getting into the fight on time.

Then a horrible thing happened.

A German stack Adv Fired into the Russian HMG team through the brush – and rolled snakeeyes.  The random selection that followed slated the full Russian squad for destruction, leaving a broken 7-0 with the gun.  There was pretty much no one, save the routing commissar and a solitary conscript squad, in the target building.

ESG6 GT5 - Adv F - Snakeyes finally got the conscripts-proc

German Turn 5 : The Commissar finally pulled himself together and joined the conscripts in the stone building.  Between stacking up for better mutual support or spreading out to keep the Germans out of the building, they chose the former.  The conscripts dutiful fired at the incoming Germans and did brilliantly well for the most part but things came apart at the end when the Germans rolled another snakeyes in the Adv Fire and broke the squad.

ESG6 GT5 - CC - 6 to 1 Wound-Killed Commissar-proc

German Turn 5 (contd) : The commissar found himself the sole defender of the house when the German broke through the windows and doors.  The ensuring close combat was 6-1.  For a moment I had hope that the commissar would roll snakeeyes as well to kill off the entire German stack but it was not to be!  The hardy commissar got wounded and finally succumbed to his wounds into the long quiet night.

A number of thoughts after the game :

  • Will Fleming is a terrific person to get to know and to play ASL with.
  • The 10-0 (if indeed a decision’s made to swap the 8-1 out) should be in the fight and helping to raise conscripts morale.  The ELR of 2 had a material impact on this game.
  • Seeing that most of the Russians ELR’d and/or Disrupted – routing, rallying and fighting was not the right strategy.  Taking a fighting 8-1, fighting and dying in place might be a better decision.
  • As a rout path, my foxholes were not properly lined up especially when there were Germans coming in from 2 angles.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Alternate strategies?  Additional thoughts on 10-0 commissar vs 8-1?

Farewell Fearless Leader John Hill

Art by Rodger MacGowan, Photo by Jackson Kwan

Mr. Patrick LeBeau sent a beautiful message to the “Squad Leader PreASL” YahooGroup to remember John Hill.  I asked and he kindly gave his permission to republish it here, for all of us whose memories Lt. Hill will forever be a part of.  

Farewell fearless leader

The original John Hill Squad Leader counter: Lt. Hill, a modest 9-1 leader.

When I purchased the famous purple edition of John Hill’s 1977 Avalon Hill game, Squad Leader, at the Origins held in Ann Arbor, Michigan that same year, I and many others were immediately hooked on the game system and ease-of-play. We attended all of John’s lectures and in a day or so mastered the game. By the end of the convention many of us were combining our game boards and units to play monster self-designed scenarios after having played all 12 scenarios in one long weekend.

Squad Leader would also win the title of Best Tactical/Operational Game of 1977

This was not my first encounter with John or his many excellent board and miniature games. Most notably in the mid 1970s was Johnny Reb, now known as Johnny Reb One. I still have the original mimeographed legal size cheat sheet printed on both sides, which was all you needed to play the first iteration of the Johnny Reb system. In that playtest addition, resolution used a single 12-sided die.

I mention these two games and I call them systems because they have an incredible longevity through continuous reprints, revisions and new editions, including new games derivative of earlier manifestations. Although the 1977 edition of Squad Leader is my all time favorite, the game would generate many supplements, which would lead to the development of Advanced Squad Leader. The whole Squad Leader family of games has sparked a gamer following that keeps the game alive (SL or ASL) to this day after almost all of the SL and ASL games are long out of print. ASL is directly responsible, I believe, to the development of the online VASSAL game engine for playing board/miniature games virtually.

Johnny Reb would lead to JRII and JRIII. From my perspective, I see Across the Deadly Field as John’s Opus Majus and final version of the Johnny Reb system. From my point of view, I believe ADF is his finest version and I hope it will emerge as his most popular American Civil War gaming system. I spent the entirety of 2014, from Fall In 2013 to Historicon 2014, and all those conventions in between, promoting ADF.

This brings me back to Lt. Hill, the U.S. 9-1 leader counter of the original Squad Leader. Many of us literally wore out our original counters due to continuous game play and finger handling. We of course replaced them by purchasing new games. This is not true with 99% of the board games I own. Further, in 1977, we understood the game as cardboard version of a miniatures game. Today I play the game using 15mm figures and terrain. My point is that as long as gamers continue to play John’s games he lives on.

In untold thousands of games, his old Lt. Hill counter has often suffered a KIA result or has broken under fire. At times it has conducted heroic acts, or has rallied squads at critical times. Whatever the outcome, Lt. Hill reemerges game after game to fight on and on to the enjoyment of the table top gamer whose only purpose is to have fun, learn history, study tactics, engage in competitive play and build friendships.

John was a good friend and his games build many life-long friendships.

I will miss him. We will miss him. However, as Lt. Hill, he will always be in our games, not only as a counter, a figure, a GM, a moderator, a game designer, a human, a man, and as one of the greatest game designers of all time.

Patrick LeBeau

January 13, 2015