On March 14 2015, Ken Knott aka “esprcorn” started a genius of a thread on Gamesquad : “Things I’m noticing the ‘experience’ players doing more than me …”. The response was overwhelming.
I went through 11 pages of posts, extracted what was said (newbies and grognards allke), applied some basic categorisation and present them to you for your reading enjoyment. These snippets are simply TOO good be left in Forum Purgatory.
- During APh, advance ADJACENT to the enemy in different Locations, including Open Ground, to force tough choices. (Swiftandsure)
- Prep should ALWAYS be used to launch Smoke before the MPh (witchbottles)
- Use the “amoeba assault” with low quality troops / low ML troops. (witchbottles)
- The rule of thumb is if you have positive DRM, combine the FP; if you have zero or negative DRM, divide it. (von Marwitz)
- I think a lot depends on WHY you are shooting, rather than the DRM itself. (witchbottles)
- It is wise to go through all the shots you plan on making and decide on an order. (Tater)
- Firing the units with the most important targets first .. lessen the risk of an untimely enemy Sniper negating that attack. (klasmalmstrom)
- ALWAYS FPF if the unit is a : fanatic; b : Japanese squad; c : a squad in a beach location during Seaborne assault (witchbottles)
- Not enough Op Fire counters placed (aneil1234)
- Use Firelanes a LOT (aneil1234)
- Spraying Fire is another underrated form of fire .. the real art is the use of Spraying Fire during DFF. (BattleSchool)
- A more frequent use of Snapshots (Bill Cirillo)
- Fire discipline (RevJJ)
- Always look for ways to use Firelanes and Residual FP on defence. Never First Fire on the adjacent Half Squad, First Fire on the bigger stack moving later and then Final Fire on the adjacent HS. (Hubbs5)
- You can opportunity fire units with SCW or potentially with SCW in a building. You then wait to fire, presumably on an AFV taeget, but maybe not, until the advancing fire phase. You take no back blast penalty AND you avoid the normal +2 for firing SCW from the ground floor of a building to avoid the bb penalty. (Carl Nogueira)
- If you are wondering if you should pull back, pull back (it even may be too late) (Swiftandsure)
- Thinking about order of movement is very important. By moving units in the “right” order you can force your opponent to have to make really difficult choices with Defensive First Fire. (jrv)
- First moves should be those designed to draw fire where you wish to draw fire. The immediate moves should be those which are designed to restrict enemy fire opportunity, and the last moves those designed to displace enemy positions. (witchbottles)
- Move to cover your units in “bounding overwatch” .. accept that losses to front line units will occur. You win or lose by influencing those categories a combined arms commander has full control over : the terrain to attack (or defend), the force development at the point of attack, the provision and location or reserve units brought into support the attack (or defense). “Action”, not inaction. Reinforce success (as the attacker) or weak points (as the defender). (witchbottles)
- Try to avoid encirclement and leave rout paths. Wherever you are planning to go in, make sure you can come back in a hurry. (Carln0130)
- Use a Banzai / Human Wave to cut off forward enemy units and force them to die or to surrender rather than rout. (witchbottles)
- New players have to learn to move quicker .. they don’t get anywhere NEAR where they have to be to win. (aneil1234)
Just because you are defending, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be moving. Skulk ‘em guys if nothing else (aneil1234)
- Use of Encirclement and moving units in a way that result in elimination for Failure To Rout. (Paul _RS)
- If you are not moving, you are dying. (Mr. Incredible)
- They are not afraid of Open Ground. New players have ‘hug the building’ syndrome, so in urban fights they never get across the street because they are so worried about staying in +TEM. When you have a superior position and can back it up and with superior FP, advance your MMC into the street adjacent to defending units. Many times if forces the defender to abandon that position and retreat to the next set of buildings behind the next road because the position is now too hot to stay and/or skulk back into. (RobZagnut)
- Move more than shoot (Jazz)
- Moving more often and more aggressive than me (ecz)
- Smoke smoke WP and smoke some more (aneil1234)
- Not smoking may be a health hazard (Mr. Incredible)
- SMOKE, SMOKE, smoke, WP and more smoke (Jazz)
- Using a lot of Smoke, trying smoke also with squads having “1” exponent (ecz)
- I ALWAYS say at the beginning of the PREP fire phase…onboard smoke, off board artillery…even if I don’t have it JUST to remind myself… (Mark De Vries)
- One should take care not to move vehicles into hexes where a defender can make a To Hit DR with his MGs and more easily lay down a Fire Lane that could impede infantry movement later. (klasmalmstrom)
- Use a fully tracked AFVs to generate “instant” fortified building location breaches. (witchbottles)
- Always rush armour from outside CA, then go CE when point blank from behind to win Gun Duels (Westy)
- Setup AFVs behind walls with TCA towards the enemy and VCA pointing towards a quick getaway without reversing. (Mr. P)
- Motion attempt (Jazz)
- Moving AFVs while BU most of the time, going CE only if absolutely necessary (ecz)
- Using MGs (usually) to position AFV armoured facing for free after the use of the MA in another direction. (esprcorn)
- Here’s a creative use to a captured AFV : line up your Russian squads to “auto-deploy” as crew. You can create enough HSs for a more “economical” Human Wave! (Simon Lai)
- Don’t attack in CC to retain concealment, then move away or TPBF in Prep Fire. (Westy)
- Using lots of dummies is not dumb. (Mr. Incredible)
- Using OB designated dummy counters as 5/8” dummies (esprcorn)
- HIP Guns .. Russ Bunten .. stated (HIP Guns) should be placed first and then your defence created around it. (RobZagnut)
- HIPs .. you should only be surprised by its appearance once. Then it gets death by fire and/or manoeuvre. Then you learn to cover the likely spots with overwatch units while moving along.. a great way to do this is with light AFVs that are not critical to achieving the VCs. Park them in motion bypass of likely spots – which the HIP GUNs appear as you announce the end of that AFV’s MPh. Then knockout said Gun with follow on units. (RobZagnut)
- HIP Ignorance – Not knowing potential HIP sites before and during play is not good. (RobZagnut)
- Face the HIP – take the inevitable loss it will bring, and use those overwatch forces you positioned for that eventuality to then eliminate the HIP position or at least neutralize it with fire. (witchbottles)
- HIP Guns .. Russ Bunten .. stated (HIP Guns) should be placed first and then your defence created around it. (RobZagnut)
- Have minefields and wire covered by fire (Swiftandsure)
- Have units in trenches and/or pillboxes in mutually supporting positions (Swiftandsure)
- Place minefields in one hex buildings (Swiftandsure)
- Use your OBA SR to indefinitely hover over enemy positions to make him shift around (Swiftandsure)
- Odds against that are so high that allowing OBA to determine your play is what is the most damaging. (Tater)
- Stack as many prisoners as you can….. they are excellent bulletproof devices when your enemy score KIA results on the guard….. (Simon Lai)
- Speaking of prisoners. The Russian prisoner hot potato trick is a great way to deploy squads from a nationality that normally does not deploy. You just transferred the prisoners around to different units until you are satisfied (Carl Nogueira)
- Yuh, a single prisoner in the same location with your Death Star can feed and pull back all your berserkers in this location, just in case your 10-3 of the Death Star goes berserk…… (Simon Lai)
- Always take prisoners when you must capture buildings, for if you invoke No Quarter you cannot Mop Up. (Justiciar)
- Shoot BEFORE the AFV moves in to cause VBM freeze (leave residual in the entry hex to deter followup infantry). (witchbottles)
- Deploy lots (Westy)
- Use Foxholes to create rout paths in Open Ground between buildings (Swiftandsure)
- SAN – don’t let it stop you doing things (MrP)
- Give DCs & FTs to -0 or +1 leaders (Swiftandsure)
- Use and abuse skulking, VBM freeze and all legal recourses without scruples. (Swiftandsure)
- Expect to lose troops (MrP)
- Don’t check ROAR or read an AAR on a scenario before you play it. (RobZagnut)
- Know when to move in deliberate, well-planned, and coordinated sequence and when to “bum rush ‘em”. (G.L.O.A.T.)
- Use spotted mortar lots (Westy)
- Use dummies with elevation to deny concealment at setup (Westy)
- Deploy on attack to scout and to draw fire. Deploy on defense to cover more ground. (aneil1234)
- Deploy on the first RPh (dspurlock)
- Reading the Victory Conditions (Jazz)
- Reading the Vehicle Notes (jrv)
- Full utilisation and mastery of their OB. Every unit has a job. They know exactly what needs to be used when and what needs to support what. (RevJJ)
- Timed aggression. They mitigate their risk until it’s time to go for it (RevJJ)
- LOS mastery – this is huge. (RevJJ)
- They play their game, not yours. (RevJJ)
- Setup stacks out of all LOS then gaining concealment with the leader possessing the SW on the bottom of the stack, then followed up with an out-of-LOS Support Weapon transfer in the first RPh – leaving the otherside clueless as to the leader and Support Weapon placements. (witchbottles)
- Deploy HS on the first RPh in addition to the allowed set up limits, and send them scouting and swamping the defence. (Swiftandsure)
- If you stack it, you might stack (lose?) it (Mr. Incredible)
.. and this is from Jim “Sparafucil3” Bishop, Master Yourself
I play Fort a lot. I have had the pleasure of playing Pleva, JR Tracy, Paul Sidhu, Toby Piling, Lars Thuring, Bob Bendis, and many other “top-notch” ASL players. What I notice they do better than anyone is not letting the bad luck get to them. They accept it and move on. It’s like the game starts over again right at that point, as if it never happened. When they are ahead, they are willing to take a few more chances to go for the kill. When they are behind, they tighten up and look for better opportunities. Anyone can read the rules, learn the tactics, study the odds tables, etc to find a way to play more effectively. The true champions are masters of themselves first and foremost. My best ever run at ASLOk (last year, three mini wins and 3rd overall in the GROFAZ), this is what I worked on more than anything else. Master your own emotions and you’ll often find that things eventually break your way and its your opponent who will be tested by his. If he can’t pass that, you have him where you want him. — jim (still a struggle to master myself consistently)
See also ::
Learning jungle terrain in ASL153 Totsugeki is one thing. Learning about Marine Raiders in the dense jungles of Guadalcanal is another matter entirely.
This is HS8 Bailey’s Demise, from MMP’s Operational Watchtower Historical Study. The date is September 26 1943. This scenario as with the whole History Study, is centered around Guadalcanal. The river depicted on the map represents the Matanikau river. The Marine Raiders were looking to cross the river to the west bank to complete an encirclement. Unbeknownst to the Marines, the IJA had crossed the river and was on the east bank when the engagement occurred.
The Marine Raiders came in from the top left into a wholly hidden (HIP) deployment of IJA troops. The Marine Raiders, like the IJA 1st-liners, were also stealthy. They were to cross at least 6 CVP (3 squads or other combinations) to the west bank of the river in 7.5 turns.
All interior jungle hexes are dense jungle. All jungle hexes next to non jungle hexes are light jungles. The difference being while light jungle are similar to woods, dense jungle has a terrain effect modifier (TEM) of 2, does not permit fire groups and allows a stacking limit of only two. This map’s marked with “crags” (4 point stone formations) merely to remind ourselves that the marked hexes were dense jungles.
The map above was my IJA setup, units unhidden for your perusal. The mortar team down on the bottom left was largely ineffectual against American counter-battery fire. I should have spread them out.
This was the Marine Turn 2. The Marine made contact with the defenders and withstood IJA fire rather well. Taking the risk to move in stacks (given the +2 cover of the dense jungle) their Advance Fire was devastating round after round for the IJA. The IJA looked to block the Marines as much as possible, rout back (squads breaking “automatically” into half squads in the process) when in doubt and take advantage of their leader’s “Commissar-like” ability to rally them without (DM) penalty.
As I expected, the Marines avoided the bamboo patches on the right and came in from the top down.
Please keep in mind that IJA counters in faded yellow were hidden units that the Marine player couldn’t see.
This is the IJA Turn 2. Some of the frontline IJA routed back. The IJA mortar team on the left was completely shot up.
American Turn 3. The rallied IJA put up a fight in face of the advancing Raiders.
IJA Turn 3. The IJA rallied and reconstructed a respectable line of defence. In retrospect this approach didn’t work well. The IJA, even concealed, could hardly withstand the withering Marine gunfire. Perhaps a better strategy is to pair up the half squads. One half squad would go aggressive, knocking off US concealment counters and drawing fire. The other concealed half squad will close and either hope for an ambush in close combat.
Talking about close combat, the Marines with their overwhelming firepower are deadly in normal CC (plus the IJA has no favorable modifiers). Here you have a HIP squad that sprung out in the hopes of assassinating the Marine 8-0, they were promptly killed in CC.
I should have avoided normal CC with Marines to start with. Hand to Hand (HtH) combat, when done with sufficiently lopsided odds (IJA half squad vs one or two Marines squads) offer a good trade for the IJA since the results of most are mutual annihilation! Other than that, I should have ran!
Marine Turn 4 : here you can see how the Marines were already crowding the last passage way towards the river. A Raider squad jumped a concealed IJA half squad and was ambushed and killed. That was unfortunately the only time when close combat went happily for the IJA in this game!
IJA Turn 4 : The situation doesn’t look good for the IJA but they were still fighting hard. Here you can see a Marine stack breaking voluntarily and routing away from possible IJA close combat. Here’s a thought : had I not used the hidden IJA units in close combat, they could have sprung up now and kill the whole stack!
Marine Turn 5: the Marines started to cross the river!! A repositioned IJA machine gun put the west end of the bridge squarely in its sights but it couldn’t stop the flow.
IJA Turn 6: This was how it ended for the IJA, decimated and encircled.
The next time I play as the IJA against Marines, I will try :
- Using my HIP units largely for cutting rout paths.
- Pair up units (half squads), keep one concealed and use one for knocking off enemy concealment, with the hope of trading half squads for bigger stacks of Marines in hand-to-hand combat.
- Rush IJA squads through openings created by successful hand-to-hand combat and go for encirclement
- I thought of stacking IJA units to give them heavier fire power since I can’t create fire groups in dense jungles but I think that will just create bigger targets for blistering Marine firepower.
- While retreating and blocking as the IJA might be a good idea at times, I should keep at least a 1 hex distance from the Marines. That way the Marines would need to use advancing fire against my concealed units.
- What happened to Banzai charges?
What’s your experience with fighting cardboard Marines in the jungles? What are your thoughts?
- Having prepared for all 25 tourney scenarios, I read a lot more of the rulebook and the scope of scenarios I can play expanded.
- I met some great folks around the region as well. I have a few more regular “Live” games now on VASL apart from my usual stable of PBeM (“Play By eMail”).
- I play a little faster.
- I play differently too, having seen different styles of play. For example :
- I know I should be more aggressive with my movements. Moving and encircling is way more effective (and time efficient “turn wise”) than sitting and shooting.
- I know what establishing a tempo as an attacker feels like.
- I don’t care about the die rolls anymore. “Reversion to Mean” dictates that it will all even out at the end. Good decisions win the game not die rolls.
- I overheard Ian Percy and George Bates said (and this is far from an exact quote) : “it’s not so much about what you do, it’s more about presenting your opponent with a serious of tough decisions and one way or the other, he’s going to mess a few up. Make him do all the work.”
- It’s important to plan out where you should be on the map and also when you should be where on the map especially as the attacker so you don’t run out of time.
- There was an earlier poll on GameSquad asking whether folks are more comfortable attacking or defending in a scenario. I can’t find it now but someone said “Is there a defence?”. This thought rang in my head during my last round as the IJA (Imperial Japanese Army) defender in J116 Brigade Hill. The IJA were infiltrating and cutting the attacker’s rout paths. My understanding of Book VI (“Defence”) in Clausewitz’s “On War” echoes the thought : defence is just a different form of offensive action – counterattack!
- Now I am getting ready to support the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers‘ Advanced Squad Leader Tournament this year!!
Lastly I want to share something from the tourney with everyone. John Charles Knowles, who’s teaching me jungle warfare through Operation Watchtower at the moment, wrote a cheat sheet for the PTO for our benefit. Here we are :
I still remember my Grade 9 math classes on Probability. Those classes are perhaps one of the most useful ones I ever had. My teacher took all the most common casino games and lotteries schemes and had us calculate the probabilities of different outcomes for each. You can imagine how delightfully interesting that semester was.
One result is that I don’t gamble all my adult life because we proved to ourselves mathematically that the house ALWAYS win.
Probability plays a huge part in Advanced Squad Leader through the use of dice rolls (“DR”). As with life, different decisions carry different levels of risk and are reflected through the use of dice rolls in the ASL world. Grognards I play with have probability tables committed to memory.
So what does this all translate to?
A Light Machine Gun (“LMG”) rate of fire is “1”. That means LMGs have a 16.67% chance of firing again and a 2.78% chance of firing 3 times. For Heavy Machine Guns (“HMG”) with their rate of fire of “3”, their chances of being able to fire again goes to 50%. There’s a 25% chance of the HMG being to fire the third time. If you take into the account that HMGs malfunction at a DR of 12, the probability of HMGs being able to fire a third time without malfunctioning is 22.97%.
Think of that the next time your squad face one down.
Sniper rules in ASL are interesting. For some, it stops us from firing off every squad on the board when the odds of shots having any effect is low. However, the probability of a DR triggering a SAN and for the sniper to active is actually pretty low. A SAN of 4 gets triggered only 3 out of 36 possible outcomes with two dice. You need a further roll of 1 or 2 on a single die for that sniper to be active. End result? A SAN of 4 triggers a sniper with some effect only 2.78% of the time.
I read Mr. Robert Medrow’s excellent article “First Impressions – A Introduction to Advanced Squad Leader : Infantry Training” almost a year ago when I first looked to learn the game. It didn’t hit me much at the time. A big stack of games afterwards, it certainly does. It’s in Avalon Hill The General Magazine, Vol 22 Number 6.
Take a look at Mr. Medrow’s Table 5 “Probability that a single unit will survive and attack either unharmed and unpinned or (unharmed and pinned)”. One of the games I am currently playing has SS troopers (Morale level 8) attacking 1st Line Russian squads (Firepower 4). That means if a SS squad run across the open, its chances of survival is 49% (Table c). Those opportunities are hard to come by however, if the squad decides to Assault Move on open ground, its chances of survival is 60%. If I can’t hit it while on the move but try to shoot at it during my Prep Fire, its chances rise to a whopping 94% sitting in some stone buildings! However while I have 6% chance of doing anything to it, I have only 0.93% chance of being sniper bait (German SAN 2). I might just go head and take the shot anyway, for lack of better alternatives.
On the contrary, my Russian squads are fine 91% of the time sitting in stone buildings against inherent firepower from the SS squads. They have a 84% chance against an HMG firing once but a 70.6% against HMG being able to fire twice, which is 50% of the time. Against HMG firing 3 times (25% probability), their survival dropped to 59.3%. That is lower odds than squads getting caught in the line of fire while skulking – 64% against inherent firepower.
See how much fun it is? Plus that’s just with one of Mr. Medrow’s probability tables. Every action in ASL carries with it the inherent benefits and risk. It’s the optimisation of these choices that makes Advanced Squad Leader so perpetually engaging!
- “Basic Probability Primer for ASL” by von Marwitz
If you are a Advanced Squad Leader player and you are not on online forums such as GameSquad yet, I suggest you do. You will find a terrific community of ASL’ers discussing rules, giving their reviews on scenarios and products. You will find a lot of support and from time to time, a better alternative to eBay in acquiring Advanced Squad Leader modules and Third Party Products.
Lately the grognards discussed ASL training articles that changed their (ASL) lives. This is obviously too good of a thread to pass up, so here it is:
- “The Geometry of ASL” by David Hailey, Banzai!! newsletter Volume 5 Number 2.
- “Squad Leader Clinic : The Fallback Defence” by John Mischon, Avalon Hill General Magazine Volume 21 Number 6
- “Squad Leader Clinic: Point Defence” by John Mischon, Avalon Hill General Magazine Volume 23 Number 2
- “Tactics 101” by Mike McGrath, Avalon Hill General Magazine Volume 30 Number 1
- “A Case for Infiltration” by Brian Youse, ASL Journal 3
- “Series Replay : Streets of Fire, Scenario 1” by Mark C. Nixon, Avalon Hill General Magazine Volume 24 Number 1
- “Swimming with the Sharks” series by Robert Banozic, ASL Junk
- “First Impressions : An Introduction to Advanced Squad Leader: Infantry Training” by Robert Medrow, Avalon Hill General Magazine Volume 22 Number 6
- “The Beginner’s Blues” by Robert Wolkey, ASL Journal 10
- “Gunned-Up in the Desert” by Mark C Nixon, ASL Annual 89
- “Tips for Learning ASL: That’s a Mighty Big Binder” by John Slotwinski, ASL Journal 4
- “Series Replay : Beyond Valor, Scenario 8” by Charles Kibler, Avalon Hill General Magazine Volume 23 Number 3
- “Tips for Making the Transition from ASL Starter Kit to ASL” by John Slotwinski, ASL Journal 8
- “Panzer Gegen Panzer” by Bruce E Bakken, At the Point 7, 8/9, 13/14 (3 parts)
- “Dying by the Half Squad” by Tim Robinson & Tom Ruha, Critical Hit Magazine 2
- “Cross Town Traffic” by Carl Nogueira, ASL Journal 8
- “Got OVHS? “Got Milk?” is a Great Start by Oliver Giancola, ASL Journal 7
This is the original thread on GameSquad forums. I hope this helps you as much as it helps me!
Do let me know however of articles that helped you!
- “The Best Advice Garnered From Many An ASL’r Much Better Than I” (hongkongwargamer.com)
- “The ASL Gameplay Article Index” (desperationmorale.com)