Baptism of Fire – Introduction to Tank Play via S21 Clash at Borisovka

German Tiger I of the 501st heavy tank battali...

German Tiger I of the 501st heavy tank battalion in Tunisia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am in trouble!

I just found myself regular face-to-face (“FtF”) games with the good people of the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers who, when they are not playing miniatures, meet regularly to play Advanced Squad Leader games.

I thought I would just drop by, watch and learn how ASL rules come alive in FtF play.  It’s my first meeting with these folks (names withheld since I didn’t ask for their permission) and I was determined not to be too much of a disruption.  I mean these are very experienced players who carry all the ASL tables in their heads, surely they don’t have time for newbies …

They would have none of that.

Before I knew it I was taking part in a scenario “S21 Clash at Borisovka“.  This scenario depicts a situation on March 14 1945, in Borisovka, where the German Grossdeutschland Division had penetrated deep into Russian lines and elements of the 3rd Guard Tanks Corps was sent to stop them.  It’s a tank on tank scenario where the Russians has 10 T-34s and the Germans has 4 Mark IVs and 2 Tigers.  I haven’t yet read Chapter D but soon after they took the time to explain gameplay to me, I was running a T-34 from behind the woods, speeding through open ground and ramming up against the side of a row of Mark IVs on our flanks and took two of them out!

The Tigers were much harder to deal with.  We were trying to run T-34s around them and even got some rammed up their sides but to no avail.  We though things were going downhill for the Russians when one of the Tiger’s gun malfunctioned!

You should have heard the screams!

At the end the Russians won, befitting the engagement’s historical ending.  If you saw the level of engagement (Advanced Squad Leader is a VERY interactive game), it’s not hard to understand how some folks devote a lifetime to playing it.

To my fellow newbies : It’s true – the best way to learn Advanced Squad Leader is to have seriously experienced players to play with you.  You’ll be amazed how quickly everything fall into place!

(If the above sounds fantastic, you should know that I was learning more than playing .. a couple of grognards did all the moves!!)


How about coming home everyday to 30 mins of PBeM game over VASL?

Whether you are a fellow newbie who would like to learn together or an experienced ASLer who don’t mind helping me up the curve. I play to enjoy and to learn. Please message me at jackson-dot-kwan-at-gmail-dot-com!!


7 thoughts on “Baptism of Fire – Introduction to Tank Play via S21 Clash at Borisovka

  1. Jackson, you certainly got talents in writings. This article is entertaining.
    For the record, the T-34s in the Russian right flank under your command nailed down all 3 PzKw IVs, one of them became burning wreck.

    • Erwin – thanks SO much for your kind comments!!! The honest truth is Simon and you are terrific teachers. Plus you probably let me do that just so I get a kick out of it.

      Thanks again and have a great week!!!

  2. To have a club to play at! bliss…

    Pleased you enjoyed it. ASL armor is a little daunting (I am only starting to learn them myself and my tank ‘placements’ are still rubbish)

    Provides wider opportunities for games as well. Nice write up.

    • PBeM or VASL you mean? No worries .. I will forward a few links to your Facebook acct when I get home. No commitment: you can check them if you feel like it. Have a great day Joss

    • This is the best place to get everything VASL really:

      Right in the middle of the screen you can download VASSAL. That’s the “engine” that allows a wide range of boardgames.

      VASL module is the module for Advanced Squad Leader.

      From the top you can download the maps and the extensions. Maps are all the ASL boards. Extensions are little add ons that forms the top menu bar when the program opens up – they give you the counters, they roll the dice etc.

      These are all the parts you need. DLAZOV assembled it from different places so as to make it more convenient for us all. He posted that on GameSquad if you are part of that board.

      This is THE article on PBEM play “The Joys of VASL PBeM”

      This is the other very helpful blog post about PBeM gaming (and installation instructions) “Playing ASL with VASL”

      That’s it. Take a look, kick it around and see if you’d like to move further on this!

      (I am also sending this to the “Other Mailbox” at your Facebook account.)


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