JR Tracy on : Gun Placement

f2a2eba99832432bb40e3e63422b312e“I think Stewart and Nadir offer sound general advice, which I will repeat in a slightly reworded form just because I love chiming in on this sort of thing.

Gun placement has to be considered in the context of the scenario, first and foremost. Think of your setup holistically, with mutually supporting elements, a plan for every piece, and a piece for every plan.

As Stewart says, know what your opponent needs to do and how much time he has to do it. That guides your general line of defense – up front to disrupt or even stuff an attack under severe time pressure, or deep to influence the endgame of a grinding assault. Also consider whether these are primarily tank killers or anti-infantry pieces. Even light ATGs can do a number on infantry, especially as acquisition stacks up and the crits start to flow.

Location-wise, try to identify obvious choke points, such as a bridge he has to cross. That’s probably the right locale for a gun, but sometimes a spot is so obvious it takes care of itself, as the enemy deliberately avoids it (but beware of the Sicilian Dilemma!). Also, if he starts on board with decent smoke assets, promising up front gun positions will find themselves socked in and possibly with no LOS whatsoever.

Nadir touches on terrain – buildings and woods are nice because a broken crew has rally terrain at hand without having to abandon their ordnance. However, that comes at the cost of doubled CA change DRMs. Also, note some ordnance can’t set up in buildings – the Soviet 76L ART piece probably tops the list of illegally set up guns, since so many people think of it as an ATG.

I find players are a little too afraid of hindrances when they place their ATGs. A wide field of fire suffering from +1, +2, or even +3 hindrances is more effective than a limited but pristine arc. Take this into account when considering the gun’s vulnerability, too. If a position is substantially more survivable but suffers from an added hindrance as a result, it might be worth embracing.

I am not a big fan of aggressive ambush locations, such as an isolated orchard hex on an extreme flank. You might get devastating flank shots but you also might not even see an enemy AFV. Some monster scenarios provide enough materiel to support such shenanigans but small and mid-range cards typically demand a coordinated effort. Gambit placements will leave you short-handed on the main axis of attack more often than not.

Finally, an out-of-place gun remains an asset as long as it’s hidden – the enemy will obsess over where and when it will appear. However, that fear and anxiety might not be doing you as much good as actual 50mm APCR rounds, so don’t forget manhandling. As Nadir points out, you can hustle a gun into position relatively easily if the terrain allows, and adding a squad to help out will guarantee you move a lighter piece a couple hexes a turn.

Good luck, and have fun!”

(A gentleman asked for advice on Gun Placement in ASL.  Mr JR Tracy gave it a brilliant writeup which I think bears repeating.  So I asked him for his permission.)

Point Blank! NorCal’s & SVASL’s Newsletter is here. Yes – THE set.

screenshot 2019-01-19 at 14.15.46

Gents, Witchbottles made his set of “Point Blank!” available!

In here, you will find gems like :

  • ASL rules for Vietnam
  • Discussions on the “reverse slope defense” in Red Barricades
  • Indepth study of the Waffen SS
  • A look at Edson’s Ridge (Operation Watchtower)
  • Attacking on a Timeline: Planning an Assault
  • A SASL CG involving “Tiger Ace” Otto Carius
  • A review of the excellent (and free) Provence Pack
  • Defending at Night
  • Scenario Analysis & AARs

.. and obviously much much more!!

Get the set here : https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kuvhe53eqjxn1ua/AADjM4622xPieSCzcBRW5zTaa?dl=0

 

The Truth About VASL

 

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VASL stands for “Virtual Advanced Squad Leader”, a platform created by Mr Rodney Kinney for the enjoyment of ASL’rs worldwide.

On one platform you have most if not all the mapboards, overlays and counters you need.  You can play online versus anyone anywhere in the world (with Skype or Discord).  You can also choose to play via email (PBeM).  I have regular live games sessions scheduled with few of my buddies weekly.  We pick up on a saved game and make a some progress every week.  We also chat about our jobs, our families and our lives – just like face-to-face gamers do.

VASL accelerated the development of ASL communities in Asia Pacific for example, where ASL’rs are spread far and wide.  No matter where you are, for as long as you have an internet connection, you will never run out of opponents.  In fact, you can play some of the most experienced ASL’rs in the world, folks who are delighted to show you how it’s done.  Before some Asia Pacific gamers even met each other in the Singapore, Manila or Siem Reap tournaments, we have already been talking to each other on a regular basis via VASL games.  When we met, we are already old friends.

It’s interesting to note that VASL is (largely) NOT created nor maintained by the companies that publish our ASL modules.  They are NOT part of our purchases.  We don’t have ANY rights to it.  We can’t expect any level of value but yet, it’s one of the best products I have ever used  .. and it’s free, freely updated and lovingly maintained.

VASL program, maps, overlays and counters are made & maintained by a group of ASL gamers like you and me, not game company executives who also play ASL, ASL gaming consumers like you and me.

You know, ordinary people: Dudes.  Bros.  Blokes.  Chaps.

Folks who have lives, families, jobs and aspirations.  Folks who love, laugh and worry.  Folks who sometimes struggle, like all of us do, to find time to play ASL.

Folks who feel compelled to give back to the ASL community, amidst all the conflicting priorities we all have.

Each VASL counter (substitute : overlays, maps) has to be created from scratch.  Two graphics to each counter, four for a nationality that step reduces.  Each piece of info : graphics and numbers are sized for visibility.  After the graphics are done (and info properly put in), intelligence is coded in to make VASL extensions.

We want squads to ELR or Battle Harden properly.  We want Chinese counters to go “Dare Death”.  We want SMCs to go “Heroic” but not MMCs.  We want IJA squads to stripe to the correct numbers.  We want LOS strings to work from any point to any point.  We want terrain to transform properly, or have entire sets of transformation built for specific scenarios.  Should that gun unlimber when you flip it over?  Can that support weapon dismantle?

We want NIGHT to look glorious and it does.  We want SNOWscapes to look chilly.  We want PTO to look unforgiving.

Someone somewhere decided to not do something else but to do VASL, for you and I.

Someone somewhere decided to do this day after day, and to do all this for free.

Versions after versions, bug fixes after bug fixes, modules after modules – one of the best things in life IS free.  There IS such a thing as a free lunch.

Next time you deal with / report issues to the VASL crew, perhaps you can also offer to help?

Advanced Squad Leader as a Window into Military History

An ASL newbie (but a veteran wargamer) from Taiwan shares his newfound love for ASL

Author: TouMu / Translator: Hong Kong Wargamer (The original in Chinese starts at the bottom of the translation.)

I’d like to share how I see Advanced Squad Leader (‘ASL’) as a vehicle to gain better insights to military history

First, let’s take a look at ASL’s shortcomings as such a vehicle:  

1. Each scenario generally portrays 12 to 20 mins of fighting, offering only a glimpse into the whole battle. 

2. Unless it’s a HASL (Historical ASL) module.  Geomorphic maps used in most scenarios offer only an impressionistic approximation of the actual terrain.  

3. Scenarios generally involve elements from actual fighting forces and not the whole.  

With these in mind, let’s talk about how ASL offers a great window (translator: a “Hollywood version” notwithstanding) into historical events.  

Allow me to build on the aforementioned “shortcomings”:

1. Precisely because generally each scenario involves less than 20 minutes of the most intensive fighting, ASL puts you right in the midst of the fighting.  You get better insights into the actual conditions facing frontline units.

For example: We all read about the intensity at Stalingrad, but how miserable was it?

Operational / strategic games give you stacks of counters that represents thousands/hundreds of people, which gets quickly decimated.  

ASL makes you learn what it means to have to battle for the first room and then having to regroup to clean up the next.

2. Yes, ASL scenario terrains are largely a combination of (translator: a huge number of) geomorphic boards and overlays (cost considerations?).  However, like miniatures, terrain features are meaningful. Hexes are not all generically designated “Movement +1” or “Defense +3” etc. It’s important therefore to consider your routes in both assault and retreat (translator: routs).  

You will also understand why it’s difficult to rally broken troops in the open and why it’s easier to gather your wits in woods and buildings.  

3. Although only elements of certain units participate in our cardboard battles, determination of unit combat power reference their real world counterparts. Ordnance and vehicles are also based on real world parameters.  

Perhaps ASL is a key to deeper insights into World War II battles.

Look  and you might gain better appreciation for the nameless heroes therein – a window into their bloodshed and sacrifices.

Yes, I don’t like being Eisenhower but I really appreciate heros like Major Dick Winters (translator: of “Band of Brothers” fame).   

If you hope to play ASL as “Eisenhower”, perhaps this game is not for you.  If you look to play ASL as “Winters” or thousands of other unnamed heroes, then ASL is your game.  

Here’s another thought: all war games are “simulations”, ie not real (translator: not even close simulations in most cases).

Real wars can’t be played.  Only games can be played.

Play ASL as a game, with all that it brings.  

War is not a game.  (Translator: and ASL is not war.)

Find a game that suits you and have fun playing it.  If nothing else, it’s a great platform to make friends all around the world.  

ASL is not for everyone but I hope this will give new players proper expectations for what ASL will bring.  

Note : Author TouMu is a leading member in the Taiwan ASLer Club, you can find their group on Facebook.  

(以下是原稿)

分享一下我怎麼從ASL學到歷史

先說它一般的缺點:

1、幾分鐘的戰鬥,無法一窺全貌。

2、除非是史實模組,否則地圖是用拼的,接近而非真實樣貌。

3、參戰只有某部分單位,而非全部。

有了這些先備知識,進一步來談,怎麼從「毛線棋」學到東西。

一樣是從缺點去思考

1、因為是幾分鐘的戰鬥,當你不是坐在後方,看著投影銀幕決定策略時,你更能體會前線士兵的真實感覺。

例如:我們都耳聞史達林格勒的慘烈,但怎麼慘?

戰略棋的呈現方式:就是投入了好幾萬人的算子

然後丟棄很快。

可是,ASL會讓你體會:才剛佔領客廳,卻又要清理廚房,那種寸土不讓的激烈。

2、雖然地圖是拼的(成本考量),但跟微縮模型一樣,地形是有意義的,不是抽象的移動力花費+1,防禦+3這樣而已

你的進攻與撤退,都是要考慮路線的。

你也會明白:為何潰散士兵,士氣很難重整,但在樹林與建築物,為何可以冷靜下來。

3、雖然是部分單位參戰,但戰力的設計,卻是有參考真實世界,武器、載具,也都是完全參照史實去設計。

而這一切,不妨想成是一把鑰匙,幫你打開通往該次戰鬥的故事大門。

去查,就會發現更多我們不知道的無名英雄事蹟。

而戰爭,正是他們去打,流血犧牲的。

所以,我不愛艾森豪。

我很敬重溫特斯。

當然,如果你是喜歡當將軍的,那麼,這遊戲也不太適合你就是。

還有一個很深刻的體會:所有的戰棋,都只是「模擬」,假的。

真實的戰爭,是不能玩的。只有「遊戲」才可以玩。

所以,就當遊戲去玩,其他,都是附加的。

戰爭的本質,不是遊戲。

找到適合自己的遊戲,開心的去玩它,並非勸退。

不玩,一樣可以是朋友聊天啊!

我是會希望留下來的人,知道自己在玩什麼遊戲,就不會用錯誤的想法,去要求它給你的感覺。

CPVA Machine Guns in Forgotten War – the Designer’s Supplement

Shortly after Mr Paul Weir lent his expertise in CPVA firearms.  The chief designer for Forgotten War: Korea 1950-1953, Kenneth Katz gave us even more details.  The following is reprinted with his permission.

CPVA Initial Intervention MG

The CPVA entered the war with a little bit of everything, which made their logistics a nightmare. That is why their Initial Intervention MG are B11. I assumed that the MG which were acquired in the 1930s were mostly gone by 1950, either destroyed in war or worn out beyond repair. So the most common types of LMG in service with the CPVA in 1950 would have the the weapons that were either manufactured in China during the 1940s (the ZB-26 in 7.92 x 57mm), captured from the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) (Type 11 and Type 96 in 6.5mm and Type 99 in 7.7mm), and supplied by Lend Lease (mostly Canadian-manufactured Bren Mk II in 7.92mm). cvpalmg2-7The LMG counter artwork is for the ZB-26, probably the most common weapon.

Type24

Type 24

Using the same logic, the most common MMG/HMG was the Type 24, which was a Chinese-manufactured Maxim design in 7.92 x 57mm. Just as with the German MMG/HMG, the MMG and the HMG are the same weapon, with more ammo for the HMG. The CPVA also used Japanese MMG/HMG in 6.5mm and 7.7mm, and assorted other weapons.

CPVA Soviet-Armed MG

 

cvpalmg2-6cvpammgr4-10cvpahmgr6-1236e609cb-8019-4bca-a4b6-64c56dbbee07

The artwork on the counters represents the standard Soviet MG of the period.
LMG = DP-28 or DPM or Type 53 (Chinese-manufactured DPM)
MMG = SG-43 or SGM or Type 53 (Chinese-manufactured SG-43)
HMG = PM1910
0.50 cal HMG = DShK-38 or DShKM (Chinese-manufactured DShkM was the Type 54, so first entered service after the Korean War)

How difficult was CPVA logistics?

The CPVA was using 7.92 x 57mm (Mauser), 7.62 x 54R mm (Soviet), 6.5mm (Japanese), 7.7mm (Japanese) and smaller amounts of 30-06 (American) and .303 caliber (British) ammunition for rifles and machine guns at the same time.

Sources:

Kangzhan: Guide to Chinese Ground Forces 1937-45, Leland Ness with Bin Shih, Helion & Company, 2016
Chinese Civil War Armies 1911–49, Philip Jowett, Osprey Publishing, 1997
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army since 1949, Benjamin Lai, Osprey Publishing, 2012
The Communist Chinese Army (DA 30-51), Department of the Army, September 1952

http://www.gamesquad.com/forums/index.php?threads/forgotten-wars-3-guns.146997/#post-1925691

Counter Art : Hong Kong Wargamer
Photos : 抗战机密档(中日军队轻武器史料)

Chinese People’s Volunteer Army Machine Guns

cvpalmg2-7cvpalmg2-6cvpammg4-12cvpammgr4-1044b1ecde-031c-4ee3-9ee7-e8f494f0798bcvpahmgr6-1236e609cb-8019-4bca-a4b6-64c56dbbee07

Having gotten Forgotten Wars : Korea 1950-1953, I asked about the machine guns I see in the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army’s (“CPVA”) OB.  The following is Mr Paul M. Weir’s response, reprinted with his permission.  I researched and inserted the illustrations – so any errors are also mine.

(By Mr Paul M. Weir)

There are 2 sets each of LMG/MMG/HMG as well as 1 0.50″.

One set is Soviet LMG, MMG and HMG in CPVA colours, the other set are the MGs from the GMD/NRA in CPVA colours, the .50″ being common to both Soviet and GMD in values.

Czech ZB vz 26

Czech ZB vs 26

Madsen

Denmark Madsens

The 2-7 LMG represents Czech ZB vz 26/30 (the Bren’s predecessor), a widely exported weapon, also locally manufactured versions, as well as odds and sods like Madsens.

DP28

Soviet DP28

The 2-6 LMG(r) represents the DP aka DP-28 or DPM Soviet LMG.

 

From both text and photos the Chinese, all sides, had very few air cooled MMG/HMG until either supplied in WW2 by the US with M1919 or captured Japanese MMG/HMG. Most seem to have been versions of the classic Maxim design, the German MG08 being the commonest but you would also see Schwarzlose, Browning M1919, Vickers and even some Italian (possibly part of the shipment that brought the L3/35 tankettes) MG. If a MG ever saw production, it is likely at least a few saw service in Chinese hands.

Now that I think of it, the PLA had large number of Japanese MG, the 2-6(r) being closest match to the Japanese LMG., the non-(r) MMG/HMG to the Japanese MMG/HMG. Note that the Japanese 50mm mortar comes in CPVA and ROK/KMC colours.

Schwartzlose

Schwarzlose

The multitude of Chinese factions prior to 1949 got whatever they could whenever they could and the PLA inherited that mix. The eventually standardised on Soviet pattern stuff but that took time. So apart from the non-dm Soviet MMG/HMG ‘feature’, you could use whatever mix you want and you would not go too far wrong. The potential mix of weapons was really that bad.

http://modernfirearms.net/machine/mg03-e.htm

Soviet 12.7mm DShK (modernfirearms.net)

hotchkiss_1930_mag-fed

French 13.2 Hotchkiss (modernfirearms.net)

As for 0.50 cal type MG, there were really only 3 moderately common designs; the US 0.50 cal Browning, the Soviet 12.7mm DShK and the French 13.2 Hotchkiss. The British had their own lower powered Vickers .50″ round that was also used by the Italians but their guns were mainly used in aircraft (Italians), multi-gun AA mounts and in tanks (mainly British). The Brownings and DShK have seen use everywhere since WW2, but in WW2 were really only issued to US+US Lend Leased forces and Soviet forces respectively only. The Hotchkiss was used by French, Belgian and Greek forces and license built by the Japanese. Unlike the Browning and DShK and while the bare gun was about the same weight as those two, the Hotchkiss mainly saw use in weighty AA mounts and AFV, plain infantry style ground mounts seem to be rare.

The CPVA had anything and everything that was left over from the Chinese Civil War period. German, Italian, Czech, US, Soviet and Japanese as well as locally manufactured rifles, MG and mortars. A very common rifle was the German Gewehr 1888, locally manufactured as the Hanyang 88. Ditto the German MG 08 was locally manufactured in Hanyang as the Type 24 and the Czech ZB-26 done in Gongxian Arsenal. Of course as the 2nd Sino-Japanese War (’37-’45) dragged on, increasing number of Japanese weapons of all types were in use and likely copied. The Japanese 50mm MTR seems to be one weapon copied, though I could not swear on that. The Chinese seemed to really like the US 60mm MTR and various RR and eventually produced their own clones as well as using captured stocks.

http://www.gamesquad.com/forums/index.php?threads/forgotten-wars-3-guns.146997/#post-1925273

Counter Art : Hong Kong Wargamer
Photos : 抗战机密档(中日军队轻武器史料)

Kenneth Katz, chief designer of Forgotten War: Korean 1950-1953, gave us more details here … CPVA Machine Guns in Forgotten War – the Designer’s Supplement

 

Dare Death 3 Preface (Original) “What ASL is to me”

Dare Death 3One day in February 2013, I chanced upon a copy of Squad Leader on eBay. I was a Squad Leader player back when I was in high school. Unfortunately when I went to university, I found a few other things more interesting and I forgot about wargames all together. So, decades later, while I stared at the screen, memories of great times came back and I bought myself that copy. The internet connected me with some very active Squad Leader groups. I planned to learn the game again and get back into it.

I then came across the tiniest military bookstore one day. It’s the size of a small walk-in closet, except that it’s wall to wall military books. There it was, up on a shelf near the ceiling, a shrink wrapped copy of the Advanced Squad Leader Rulebook v2. I asked to have a look at it, and I never put it back down.

The ASLRB is not an easy book to read, so I asked to see a live game one Sunday afternoon. The local ASL’rs would have none of it. Erwin Lau & Lorricount Hall shoved a Pz IV my direction and said “Here, you are in charge of this one.” They then proceed to tell me what to do with my Pz IV every step of the way. I couldn’t fathom why people who I have just met would let me break into their Sunday game and spend that much time teaching me the mechanics, but they did.

It was a fun afternoon but it’s not an event I can attend on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the rulebook became a lot easier to understand now that I have context.

One day I got an email from Don Lazov. He said if I want to learn ASL, he could teach. I know then it’s choice between continuing to read the rulebook and solo’ing scenarios or having a mentor and actively playing. It was a choice between being a tinkerer and an active player.

I said “Yes but give me a few weeks to finish up Chapter A and Chapter B.” I wasn’t sure why I wanted to push it off. He asked again “Do you want to do this or not?”

I jumped in with both feet. Our first scenario was “RPT1 Ferenc Jozef Barracks”.

After that I ran into Witchbottles, who helped me get permission from Rodney Kinney (who created VASL) for permission to use VASL graphics in my blog. To me, Witchbottles is the embodiment of the modern day Renaissance man. We play ASL and we spent countless hours chatting about history and about life.

I don’t remember how I heard about “Malaya Madness” the 2014 ASL tournament in Singapore. I didn’t give it any thought at first but both Don Lazov and Witchbottles thought I absolutely must go. I struggled with it for a while. I mean, paying for flight and hotel to play a boardgame is crazy! I brought up the topic to my wife, expecting her to kill it (for good reasons). She thought about it for a minute and said “Yes”.

I rented a bunk bed in a hostel to save money but I went to Singapore for the tournament. There’s something truly magical about ASL that ties people together. Playing 1 on 1 on a weekend is one thing. Being in a room with other ASL’rs and playing games after games is definitely something else!

I got a bigger group of opponents after the Malaya Madness. I went on to help organise and to promote the 2014 Hong Kong ASL tournament, “The Gin Drinkers’ Revenge”. I was in New York City on Dec 2014 and I jumped on the train and stopped by Albany. It is THE Albany, the New York State ASL Championship. Joe Loece and Gary Trezza are simply some of the best hosts I have ever met. I met so many people at Albany. I met a lot of the best known names in ASL. I decided to shoot a video for these guys and leveraged on that to chat with as many people as I could.

That of course open me up to more venues and to more people. I picked up a chat from Carl Nogueira when I was walking down the street at lunch one day and he wanted to know if I want to play and to learn. I was getting so used to jumping in at that point I said “yes” immediately.

So you see, ASL is about people. ASL is about the guy on the other side of the table. ASL is one of the few good reasons in life that pulls guys together periodically, to share identical experiences and to chat about other thing as well. If you do solo play most of the time, you are truly missing the best thing ASL has to offer.

ASL is about playing. That rulebook is not for reading. It’s for referencing and as such, the INDEX is the command central for the ASL rulebook The value of an ASL kit is much higher when used and played than it will ever get on eBay.

ASL is about self discovery. As we compete with others, we learn more about our fears and shortcomings. We learn about our risk management and our decision making processes. The man to overcome game after game is yourself. This not something you will realize from ASL not played or ASL played solo.

Dare Death is an effort to arouse and to maintain that interest. Dare Death is the embodiment of a group of ASL’rs who play on a regular basis and discuss rules and tactics on live chats when not playing. If enthusiasm sells then Dare Death is a powerful force in ASL.

And enthusiasm sells.