Re-reading Mark [Pitcavage’s] post while also going through the final rounds of quality-checking the [MMP Sword & Fire] Manila map.
One map-related quality thing that I don’t think Mark mentioned is the sheer amount of attention to detail that goes into making a map that doesn’t hinder play. Simply put, there are many ways that map artwork can get in the way of play, either by being hard to visually discern or by being confusing to interpret, rules-wise.
I thought I was good at this, just from my years of doing dozens of VASL maps, where every pixel has to be right, or at least not-wrong. But these last few months have shown me that Perry, Klas, and Chas are just impressive this way. Sure, the Manila map has over 8300 hexes, but I’ve strolled through that map dozens of times just looking for things to clarify or fix. And yet these MMP guys have caught a bunch of things I’d missed or never even thought of. And without those fixes, people would have questions about how to play what’s on the map. And that’s not good ASL.
Visual things like making sure hex IDs are easy to read and not obscured by the underlying terrain. Making sure Bypass Movement is obviously NA by having terrain touch the hexside (but not go over!) if possible. Making sure LOS is not messed up by having edges of LOS obstacles being obscured in some way. Even just making sure the text characteristics are consistent throughout the map – all water bodies are labeled in the same way, all buildings, all roads, etc.
And then the subtle things like making it obvious whether units can move from one hex to another of the same building while staying entirely within the building outline itself – not so easy when you’re trying to mimic historical buildings or buildings that are partially destroyed, like we have in Manila.
All of this painstaking effort means that people will spend less time fighting the map and more time playing ASL. And that attention to quality is what makes MMP a pleasure to work with and buy from.
– By Tuomo Repetti and posted with his permission, first posted on Gamesquad, 29 December 2021
BFP23 Prelim to Death Night – Advanced Squad Leader AAR
The 2nd Armor Divison “Hell on Wheels” broke through to the Germans’ rear in Operation Cobra and put the German 84th Corps in a pocket. The Germans
started to disengage and to withdraw. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier “Götz von Berlichingen” was one such unit that ran into an American blocking position held by the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment at St Martin de Cilly at around 0430 on 29th July 1944.
Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations
The Germans need to get at at least 12VP at Game End to win. VPs are earned by occupying buildings on the right half of the map. Each VP corresponds to the # of ground hex locations a building occupies, the exception being the long wooden rowhouse which is only 3VP and not 5. This being early in the morning, there’s a +1LV for the entire game. The bocages are Light Bocages, meaning they are half height obstacles, don’t throw a blind hex behind and are not as onerous to cross. A particular evil element to note are the few Up-Slope hexes in the German setup area that allows them to look beyond the Light Bocages.
The Germans set up with 15 squads, 4 leaders (3 with -1) and a Hummel sporting 150mm HE but with a B10.
The American set up with 10 squads, 2 HS, 4 leaders (2 with -1), a pair of HMG and a pair of bazookas. They can also set a squad up HIP, which I didn’t do and kept my opponent looking til mid game.
The Germans have great leadership, great morale, the +1LV and the Hummel going for them. The Americans would need to break off and head back to the village safely. The lack of rout locations by the bocage concerned me. I thought about largely giving up the bocage and setting up the majority of my OB in the village. Considering the Germans should have to fight the clock as well, that seemed too much to give. So I lined the bocage with units, put the two HMGs on the flanks in the village and the two MMGs high up in overwatch. They had grain hindrances and better morale, but we had grain hindrances plus bocage. We hoped to kill their timetable by breaking a few or encouraging most to Assault Move/ Advance concealed.
Advanced Squad Leader AAR
SS units were building a firebase on the up-slope on our right (top of map) but we drove them back with some lucky shots. We thought of chasing after those brokies but the SS still had enough firepower to take an issue with that. Our center was getting knocked back though, those chaps routed into the woods. The right started to fold towards the center as well so as to get some cover when they fall back.
On our left we were able to knock back a stack of SS troopers as well. They came through the line of orchard so as to get some cover from our MMG overwatch. Our MMG went after the Hummel but to no avail. As a matter of fact, I had our sniper parked right next to the Hummel but I think he’s on leave this whole game.
Our MMG overwatch on the right (top) kept knocking the SS brokies back, that allowed the rest time to scamper back into the village behind the woods. We moved the HMG team up top get ready for when the SS eventually bust through those trees.
On the left (bottom), their Hummel landed a smoke round in front of our building. While we held onto the bocage Wall Advantage, the squads filed into the building back into the village. The Hummel (on up-slope) could see everything beyond the bocage, so there weren’t a wide choice of escape routs. The SS has 4 MPh’s to go, we wondered if we withdrew into the village too quickly!
The SS spent Turn 4 regrouping and were successful enough to look menacing on my right flank. We kept the HMG towards the middle but put our MMG out to the flank to prevent any SS men running around doing house grabs. We envisioned two firelanes covering our right. What’s tougher to cover would be our center, especially where the “Y” shaped wall was. Having said that, we sent 2 HS to the left flank because the SS were already in the front building. In retrospect, it’s probably not the smartest move. However having done the VC count, I knew my left had more points up for grabs than my right.
On the left, we moved the MMG and HMG in from the side. There’s still the possibility of a crazy SS run around the flank there but we would need the firepower to blow the SS away from our houses.
The Hummel moved up, threatening our right. My opponent’s probably still wondering where my “HIP’d bazooka HS” was.
Axis Turn 5 was tiring!! They opened with a big 20+4 shot to my HMG team but thankfully it didn’t work out. The Hummel laid smoke on my right (top) and three stacks of SS men kept streaming out from behind the woods like crazy shoppers on Black Friday! We put down residual/ firelanes the best we could. As predicted, a big stack of SS men broke into our center and threatened to jump a couple of buildings in HtH. Good thing our luck held, and we broke/ pinned that 9-2 stack in Defensive Final.
On our left, the SS pushed against our green wall and killed a squad in HtH. Good thing they still had a stack of “unralliable” brokies out behind the bocage!
Last US turn and most of us decided to stand and shoot, which got us good results on both flanks. We did move a 6ML squad off to the right because they wouldn’t be able to stand up to pointblank fire anyway. It could shore up our right if anyone breaks.
The SS conceded before we advanced back into some of the “lost” buildings hexes.
How’s this Scenario Interesting?
I honestly had the best of the dice in this whole scenario. The Americans had high firepower but 8ML SS squads with a +1LV shouldn’t have broke as much as they did.
This was a tight little scenario where neither side could play it safe. The SS needed to bust through the bocage quickly and the Americans needed to run away fast enough to get back into the village in force. Had the American line at the bocage collapse one turn earlier, we would be in town doing CQB with the SS, were they would get equivalent cover and we would suffer for our lower morale.
The Hummel threatened to collapse buildings and it did put the fear of God in us. However, I think my opponent used it smartly – primarily for Smoke. Too bad I couldn’t come close to put it under any threat!
CH97 Final Crisis at Blackpool – Advanced Squad Leader AAR
It’s 24 May 1944 near Namkwin, Burma. “Blackpool” was the hill in the scenario that served as a blocking position against the Japanese. The 111th Indian Infantry Brigade constructed an airfield against it. However on this day in the Monsoon rain, the IJA cut inside the perimeters of Blackpool. Elements of the King’s Own Royal Regiment, the King’s Scottish Rifles and the 3/9th Gurkha Rifles mounted a counterattack in the torturous terrain, dense jungle and heavy rain.
The IJA wins at game end if they have Good Order units who can lay down >= 4FP on the Flooded Pool you can see on the top right of the game map.
The IJA starts in two groups. The first group of 6 squads setup in the airfield (no Smoke in the rain) in the face of a 75* Artillery, a murderous Bofors AA (IFE 8 ROF 2) and a leader who can make it rain 70mm OBA. The second group of 9 squads setup on the east side (lower side on the map) of the hill. To counter that group, the King’s Own Royal Regiment and the King’s Own Scottish Rifles setup on the hill top. A group of Gurkhas setup within 3 hexes of the Flooded Pool.
The IJAs in the airfield have a short trip over Open Ground, barely protected by the falling rain drops. So I had them spread out as much as possible. The biggest task was to guess at where those ordnance were. Their task was to not have British ordnance shooting at the back of the group of IJAs making their way up the hill. The group of IJAs on the hill had a tough time ahead of them still. Going up the hill is 5MF per hex. Unless they were with a leader, that would make them go CX, which of course prevents them from Advancing further. Of course, if they managed to go 1 hex per turn they would theoretically make it to the Bamboo on the west (top) side of the hill. (Note: going downhill is 3MF, but there are Abrupt Elevation Changes which takes 5MF.)
On the other hand, there were concealed Scotsmen on the top of the hill and Gurkhas moving up the path. Being CX’d wasn’t the best thing to do, considering concealed Scotsmen would get -1 vs 0 on the CX’d IJA’s on Ambush rolls (+1 for non first line troops). Concealed Gurkhas would do -2. (Assuming the CX’d IJA would get advanced on.).
I thought about having a band of IJA making an end run around the hill long the path on the left, but they won’t come into play until Turn 3 or after. I set that aside as an option.
Advanced Squad Leader AAR
The Bofors went on a rate tear and wiped out half the IJAs (and their 8-0) down at the airfield. As a matter of fact, it tore up folks on one side, turned CA and continued to tore up folks on the other side! Their 7-0 got so emboldened that he ran out with his radio to get a better view of the IJAs going up the hill. The 75* ART came out on the left and shot at the IJA coming down the field. That prompted one of the squads from the hill to come down behind to help kill the crew. We killed the gun as well so as not to have a gun shoot us in the back later. The folks on the hill started to head up the path on the left, pushing some of the concealed enemies to respond. We hoped to get into the jungle before the Indian units in the airfield free themselves up.
The Gurkhas went up the west side of the hill path and really started shooting the IJA up with their heavy inherent firepower (12 pointblank!), HMG & MMG. Heavy Rain started which gave an addition +1 to the Dense Jungle’s +2 but the IJA forces kept shedding away. The Scotsmen on the left came into contact with IJA units and gave the CX’d IJA units an excuse to Banzai up another level! We needed to hit the Scotsmen on the flank quickly before our troops melt away like ice cream. Down in the field, we decided against making an end run around the hill but instead, move to tie down the Indian assets in the airfield. The Brit with the radio went into the Jungle after an IJA brokie, so we went after him and send a squad after the Bofors, which decided to move into the airfield for a better shot up the hill.
It’s Turn 4 and we were getting shot up at every fire phase. This could not be allowed to continue!! The Commonwealth troops were in contact still, so we triggered off 2 Banzai’s to propel IJA forces up the hill. The Commonwealth line was still holding. Three more MPh’s to go and their HMG/ MMG teams were still intact.
Down at the airfield we caught and killed the radio guy (no OBA!), meanwhile the Bofors moved further into the airfield.
The Commonwealth forces got smart and studiously avoided contact with our folks, so as not to trigger off more Banzais. At this point, I was pretty sure the defenders had more people than we do. We kept their brokie stacks under pressure but continuing to bash ourselves up against the Gurkha wall didn’t seem viable at this point. Things were not going well, the Indian troops even ambushed and killed our mortar team and stole our toys – the NERVE! Our folks at the airfield rushed up the hill in a bid to keep some of the Commonwealth forces on the airfield (east) side of the hill.
We realised however, that we didn’t have to get up close. We could bring our MMG/ LMG to the right side down the road and hit that pond (Flooded, hence at Level 0) with 4FP from a distance! (Credit goes to my opponent. We have been playing regularly for years. He’s the smart one.)
At this point, I told the scenario designer – Joe Leoce – that the IJA’s getting wiped out and that the Gurkha HMG & MMG were still there. He answered “you know where they are”.
We started to slide towards the left with our 2 leaders escorting our MMG & LMG squads. Other full squads piled in as well but half squads stayed on the ridge (abrupt elevation in a lot of places) to screen the Commonwealth off. We maintained a continuous line so as to threaten a massive Banzai. Some of the enemy forces filed down the hill path, looking to shoot us down on the road no doubts. We stripe but not break so we should be okay but hey, that’s what half of the dead on the airfield thought.
We moved onto the road with our 2 leaders. The Gurkhas opened fire in their last Prep while our folks closed their eyes and cringed!! They wounded the 9-1 and striped the crew but the MMG remained operational. With 10 FP on the pool, the Commonwealth conceded.
How is this scenario interesting?
We got tired just thinking of the 4 level hill, the Dense Jungle and the Heavy Rain!! Both sides battled the terrain as much as each other. As unforgiving as the terrain was, once you are committed to one course of action, there’s hardly any turning back. Sure, playing against the IJA can be nerve wrecking but so’s the IJA player’s need to manage his rate of attrition as the turns roll by. Putting the Gurkhas on the field also give the IJA something to be scared about. I think this scenario showcases the best elements in the ASL PTO experience. The IJA 28 vs Brit 25 scoring on ROAR suggests I am not alone.
This is a great scenario done by a talented designer no doubt: Joe Leoce. I met Joe back in 2014 when I dropped by the Albany tournament for a day. He took such great care of me that it shaped how I feel about the whole global ASL community to this day. Here’s a video I cut from that beautiful day:
It’s 14 September 1939. Guderian’s Panzers broke through the defensive lines at Wizna and Mlawa. The Blitzkrieg headed towards Brzesc-Litewski, the lost of the latter would mean the encirclement of the Polish forces in Warsaw. The Poles fielded some old FT-17’s to stop the tide.
Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations
The Polish 82nd Regiment fielded 4 squads onboard with an MMG and a 8-1 (plus 5 Concealment counters). They were supported by four FT17’s from the 113rd Light Tank Company, two with CMG’s, the other two with 37mm guns. They would have to hold the line before they were joined by four other FT17’s, 7 squads & a 8-0, an MMG and a pair of DCs.
The Germans had to run 8 squads, 2 9-1s, a 7-0 down the length of the board in 6 turns. They were supported by 7 tanks, two of which had to arrive in the magic (VC) circle with everything intact along with 3 squad equivalents . Turned out that was a bit of a challenge.
Advanced Squad Leader AAR
The German AFVs sped forth using their sD to lay smoke for the infantry where they could! They also looked to provoke the 37* wielding FT17C’s to shoot so they could tell which was which. The moving German AFVs made pretty bad targets in that the 1MT (1 man turret) Poles needed at least a +4 to score a hit. The troops then flooded forth ‘cause it was either losing by the squad or losing by the clock. An AFV shot a FT17M and ATR shot another. A Bounding Fire shot from behind killed a FT17C. The other one’s peeling off. The German lucked out in the Polish turn when one of their 75*s PzIVC scored a hit on the unconcealed MMG in the Board 4 double hex wooden building and they eventually encircled and overwhelmed the tenants there.
Polish reinforcements arrived. A stack got rather unlucky and was shot and broken by a low power shot (it’s always the low power shots that kill). A pair of FT17C’s appeared ominously BEHIND us.
Plus you know what? I already X’d one Gun and malf’d another one at this stage. That’s five left and I needed two.
The Poles blocked up my left flank! The pair of reinforcing FT17C scored a critical hit on one of my AFVs while a second German tank got recalled – four left. A PzIIA and the ATR HS went after a FT17C. That thing failed its non-platoon movement roll and had to stop! Down at the bottom of the map, a PzIB tried to speed away after FTR’ing the stack of broken Polish reinforcements. The Polish 8-0 had a DC and looked to exact revenge but yet failed his PAATC and was pinned and separated from the rest of his troops. (Note: I played this wrong because SMCs are exempted from PAATC’s. This would have been interesting in that it might have taken me down to three functioning AFVs. My apologies to my opponent.)
It was Polish Turn 4 and the Germans only had 2 MPh’s left to make it to the magic circle! From the looks of it we could BARELY make it especially with that bloody grain field there. I needed to do something about the 3 MGs (two FT17Ms and an MMG) on the bottom left. To that end, a PzIIA ran to the end zone to spook them a bit and the ATR team went up the hill. That ATR’s also there to cover the pair of AFVs that went up the other side of the hill to face off the FT17C(37*) closing the range behind us. The rest of the troops hurried across the board as fast as they could.
The pair of FT17C burned another one of my PzIVs on the hill – three left. The PzIIA in the end zone shot one of the FT17Ms and the ATR team shot the other, but wait, there’s more – the Polish MMG malf’d itself out. You really can’t do anything wrong when the stars line up! The other AFVs tried to laid down smoke but none of the sD’s worked. Nonetheless, it’s time to rush it or lose it. We made it to the other edge of the grain field, CX’d but otherwise intact. The Poles conceded.
How’s this scenario interesting?
BoF2 A Polish Requiem has long been a classic. It’s a whirling dervish of a battle!! Polish AFVs were slow but those 37* kills on a 7, pretty respectable considering most German AF’s 1. The German forces might seem overwhelming but these guys were tied to a timetable. If the player on the Polish side keeps his PMC (read: Personal Morale Check) he might win this scenario yet. The German AFVs might X themselves out or folks might get delayed just enough. Had the Polish MMG at the end zone not X’d out it would have been harder for the Germans. Scoring 37 (Poles) vs 27 on ROAR, I recommend this scenario unreservedly.
FT S4 Dilemma at Ma Po Boulevard – Advanced Squad Leader AAR
It’s September 26 1950, Captain Stanford’s Marine’s fought to clear Ma Po Boulevard. Upon meeting a North Korean roadblock at a junction, he had to decide on whether to run straight up and clear the way to Deoksu Palace or to take the right fork and clear that road instead.
We have three North Korean (Fanatic) Roadblocks in 3 specified locations. The main one is located at the fork of the road, where a 45LL AT Gun gets matched up with 2 medium machine guns and a Pillbox with an ultra wide CA. The North Korean player gets a choice between a second 45LL AT Gun or a 76L ART. There are 15 NK squad equivalents of various descriptions, managed by 2 commissars and 2 other leaders. They have an ATR, 6 Minefield factors and 2 Fortified Locations.
Against this the Marines have a forward team of 3 squad equivalents (one being an Assault Engineer with a Smoke Factor of 5). This is followed by 10+ squads, a M26A1 Pershing, a M4A3 Tank Dozer and a POA-CWS-H5 Flamethrower tank that I was last playing with in Okinawa scenarios!
The Americans have 7.5 turns to take one Roadblock and exit 12 VP (4 squads) or take two Roadblocks and exit 9 VP (3 squads) or take three Roadblocks. The North Koreans can stop the game when they kill or immobilise two out of three AFVs. To do that, the NKs have the aforementioned guns, as well as an ATR and 6 Suicide Heros (read: THH) that can setup HIP somewhere or bust out of a squad when the mood strikes. The confining terrain in this scenario definitely doesn’t make it tank country. The NK’s can also stop an USMC victory by taking out 19 CVP, which in this case is 6 squads + 1 fire team.
Having said all that, the BBQ tank doesn’t have to stop moving. The tankdozer has a blade that adds a +2 on a Hull Hit. The Pershing is impervious to most shots on the battlefield but can still be DI’d.
Advanced Squad Leader AAR
From the left of the map, F Company immediately started to setup their MMG and got their fire teams to probe NK concealments. The E Company came up from behind and a bit more than half went for the right of the map. The AFVs rolled down the road but the higher level Burning Wreck that’s there on setup made it a little hazardous to roll up in front of a ROF3 AT gun. Plus it’s impossible to be on the boulevard without being in DI’able range. I thought the right of the map would be a more straightforward travel but it’s confining nature made it easier for the NK defenders and didn’t facilitate armour support. By Turn 4 it’s evident that the NK’s were very effective there. A large number of broken fireteams routed towards the rear. The BBQ tank and the tank dozer lend their support on the left and found they could safely sneak shots into the boulevard. The left side met some initial set backs but were able make better progress. The AFV’s were making Bounding Fire shots where possible but they couldn’t bring it up close in most cases because of the chance of meeting Suicide Heros in Street Fighting. The strategy was to try to flank the NK’s down both sides while putting AFV fire to defenders down along the boulevard.
In August 2021 I attended the ASL Scandinavian Open tournament in Copenhagen. The French have OBA in WO33 “One-Eyed Jacques.. Walking around the room twice I observed players incorrectly convert a Spotting Round to a Fire For Effect (FFE). The scenario is an ideal case study for this all-too common error.
For this article I have excerpted a section of the OBA flowchart I will be referring to throughout the article. Understanding this section of the flowchart is key to placing and converting a SR effectively. Conversely, knowing the nuances of this section will help you frustrate your opponent’s attempts to attack with OBA. To make our discussion clearer I have labeled two of the bubbles, one called A and one called B. Also recall the errata posted in Journal 11 changing AR to SR in bubble B.
For our purposes, we will assume you have successfully navigated the flowchart to the point where you maintained Radio Contact, announced your intention to convert, rolled for accuracy, and corrected the SR if needed. You are now ready to convert it to a FFE.
It is not enough to simply announce your intention to convert a SR as some players presume. There are a couple of crucial conditions which must be met before a SR can be successfully converted to a FFE.
We will first consider bubble A. There are two possible conditions tested in this bubble to determine how we proceed:
The Observer has an LOS to the Base Level of the SR hex. Normal LOS rules apply (Blind hexes, LOS Obstacles, LOS Hindrances, etc).
The Observer has an LOS to the Blast Height of the SR (C1.32) AND a Known Enemy Unit in or adjacent to the SR’s hex. Because the blast of an SR is visible two levels above the Base Level of a hex, it is possible for an Observer to see a SR in an otherwise Blind Hex. If there are no KEU’s in or adjacent to the SR’s hex the SR remains in place unconverted (the “No” path from bubble A).
Per footnote d, Concealed Units in non-Concealment Terrain are considered known to the Observer for purposes of conducting OBA actions.
Next, let’s look at converting the SR to an FFE covered in bubble B. To convert we need two things: a LOS to at least the Blast Height of the SR and an enemy unit. There is a case where an enemy unit is not required and we will examine that shortly.
Observer only has LOS to the Blast Height: When an Observer cannot see the Base Level we already know what happens if there are no KEU in or adjacent to the Blast Height; the SR remains unconverted and we never make it to this bubble. Since there must be one or more KEU and at least one of them must be known to get to bubble B, the SR is converted to a FFE and resolved (the “No” path from bubble B).
Observer has LOS to the Base Level: It gets more interesting when an Observer has LOS to the Base Level of the SR’s hex. Here we will be following the paths from bubble B. Again, we have to ask if there are enemy units in or adjacent to the SR hex. If the answer is no, the SR is converted and resolved using the “No” path. If the answer is yes, we must ask a second question: are all of them Unknown to the Observer. Note footnote “d” telling us Concealed Units in non-Concealment terrain are considered KEU for the purposes of conducting OBA actions. If the answer is no (i.e. at least one of the units is known to the observer) then the SR converts to a FFE using the “No” path. If the answer is yes (i.e. all enemy units in or adjacent to the SR hex are unknown to the Observer) then an extra chit draw must be made from the existing OBA pile. This is the “Yes” path. If the xdraw is black, the card is shuffled back into the draw pile and we follow the “Black” path converting the SR into a FFE. If the draw is instead Red, the card is again shuffled back into the deck and follow the “Red” path resulting in Access Lost and removal of the SR.
Keep in mind the special case of Harassing Fire. While all of the rules about enemy units in or adjacent to the SR remain in play, any units located in the “outer ring” of a Harassing Fire FFE mission do not force extra chit draws. If an Observer has an LOS to the base-level and there are no unknown enemy units in or adjacent to the SR’s hex, the SR will convert to an FFE regardless of how many unknown units there are in the “outer ring” of the affected blast area.
From this brief note, there are some lessons to be learned here:
As the Defender:
Concealed Units are your friend. They make conversion more difficult.
Carefully watch placement of AR/SR and see if you can sort out where his Observer is. If you can stay out of his LOS, conversion is more difficult.
If you can force an extra chit draw it is possible you can negate the mission and make him start over again with a new card draw.
Knowing the flowchart is essential to effectively defending against OBA
As the Attacker:
Be careful where you place your SR. If it drifts to a hex where you have LOS to the Base Level of the SR’s hex and there are only unknown enemy units in or adjacent to the SR’s hex you could be forcing an extra chit draw.
An enemy skulking in a woods line can be mauled pretty badly with Harassing Fire even when out of LOS.
Knowing the flowchart is essential to effectively attacking with OBA.
Examples: For this section please refer to the illustration. The Observer is in 13aI5 on level 2. Three SRs are on the labeled SR — A, SR — B, and SR — C. We will discuss each of these in turn.
SR — A: The Observer has LOS to the Base Level of the SR. As such, we flow from bubble A to bubble B. There are enemy units in or adjacent to the SR’s hex. The unit is un-Concealed and in the LOS of the Observer. As such, it is a KEU meaning we flow from bubble B via the “No” path and convert the SR to an FFE and resolve it.
Were the 4-6-7 Concealed the situation would be entirely different. In that case, there are units in or adjacent to the SR’s hex and they are unknown to the Observer. We would flow from bubble B via the “Yes” path and make an extra chit draw. If the draw is a black chit we follow the “Black” path and convert the SR to an FFE and resolve the attack. If instead a red chit is drawn we would follow the “Red” path, Lose Access, and remove the SR.
SR — B: The Observer does not have LOS to the Base Level of the SR’s hex but he does have LOS to the Blast Height. Looking in bubble A, when the Observer has LOS to the Blast Height, we need to determine if the Observer has LOS to KEUs in or adjacent to the SR’s hex. In this case, there are two units Adjacent to the SR, but both are out of LOS of the Observer and do not meet the requirements of bubble A to leave via the “Yes” path. As such, we leave bubble A via the “No” path and the SR remains in place unconverted.
SR — C: For this one, the Observer is trying to convert the SR to an FFE Harassing Fire. In this case the Observer has LOS to the Base Level of the SR. We leave bubble A via the “Yes” path. In bubble B, we ask if there are enemy units in or adjacent to the SR. There are none so we exit bubble B via the “No” path and convert the SR to an FFE Harassing Fire. Even though the two 4-4-7s will be attacked by the FFE AND they are out of LOS of the Observer, the SR will still be converted. These units are not in or adjacent to the SR’s hex so they do not affect the conversion to FFE process.
Clearly, there is more to attacking with, and defending against, OBA than offered in this brief note. If you would like to see more about this or some other topic let me know what interests you and I may take that on. I hope this brief article is useful and if you find any errors please let me know and I will correct them. — jim
Recently, players have posted questions surrounding Moving, Motion, Starting, Stopping and how these interact with C6 Target-Based To Hit DRM. These questions appear cyclically and I can recall answering them for as long as I have played ASL. Much of the information in this article appeared in Ole Boe’s Stop and Go Traffic article which originally appeared in the ‘96 ASL Annual. These old Annuals are available as PDF files or can be picked up used, through all the usual outlets. I highly recommend you read the original as it is still informative but for those who can’t, I offer this summary of that article here.
Moving and Vehicular Target:
To properly apply all the DRM it is important to first understand the difference between Moving and Moving Vehicular Target. Moving Vehicular Target, sometimes referred to as Moving Target, is defined in C.8. Any vehicle currently in Motion is a Moving Vehicular Target. In addition, any vehicle which starts ITS MPh in Motion, has entered a new hex, or bypassed a new hexside in its current hex during ITS MPh is a Moving Vehicular Target during Defensive First Fire or Final Fire. The key here is the vehicle either started in Motion or has moved to some new position on the board.
Moving is slightly harder. Not only is it not defined in the Index, it is never well defined in the ASLRB. In ASL, Moving means the unit is currently conducting ITS MPh. There can only ever be ONE moving thing. That thing can be a single unit, multiple units moving as a stack, a Human Wave or some other Impulse-based movement, etc. The unit or units actively spending MFs/MPs are Moving regardless of how many units are doing it or if they successfully use the MF/MP(e.g., failed Smoke Attempt DR/dr). Even though Moving, a unit which doesn’t spend MP/MF’s cannot be fired upon unless they actually spend the MP/MF. The closest the ASLRB comes to stating this is in A8.1: “… The portion occurring during the enemy MPh is called Defensive First Fire and can be used only vs a moving unit(s)…” It would eliminate a lot of player confusion if such a key concept was in the Index.
Stopped and Non-Stopped:
The Index defines a Non-Stopped vehicle as one which has not expended a Stop Movement Point (MP) since its last Start MP expenditure during ITS MPh. This should sound a lot like the earlier definition of Moving. That’s because it is. A vehicle can only ever be Stopped or Non-Stopped while it is conducting ITS MPh, i.e., Moving as defined earlier. Knowing what Non-Stopped is, we can surmise a Stopped vehicle is one which has spent a Stop MP or somehow become Immobilized/Bogged while Moving. This is covered in C.8.
A Moving vehicle, i.e., one conducting ITS MPh, cannot be in Motion status. It is either Stopped or Non-Stopped. A vehicle which ends ITS MPh without spending a Stop MP is covered with a Motion counter to reflect its Motion status and is treated as a Moving Vehicular Target. A vehicle which begins ITS MPh covered with a Motion counter has the counter removed and the begins ITS MPh as a Non-Stopped, Moving Vehicular Target. A vehicle not covered with a Motion counter begins ITS MPh as a Stopped, non-Moving Vehicular Target.
From all of this, it should be clear a vehicle can be Stopped but still qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target. Conversely, it is possible a vehicle can be Non-Stopped and not qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target. A vehicle under a Motion counter is ALWAYS a Moving Vehicular Target. In all cases, Moving, Moving Vehicular Target, Motion, and Stopped/Non-Stopped represent different states. Understanding those states along with a careful perusal of the various charts will make it easier to correctly apply DRM when the time comes.
With this as background, we are ready to explore how all these rules interact and how they are properly applied. Knowing the correct application of these DRM is among the first steps to better combined arms and AFV play. Onward.
EX 1: An AFV begins ITS MPh NOT in Motion and spends 1 MP to Start. This AFV is now conducting ITS MPh (i.e., it is Moving). Since it spent a Start MP it is now Non-Stopped but not yet a Moving Vehicular Target. Looking at the C6 Target-Based TH DRM Table, we see Case L would be NA (the AFV is a Non-Stopped target). Additionally, Case J would be NA (the AFV does not qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target). For the purposes of CC Reaction Fire or CC, the AFV is Non-Stopped so a +2 DRM would apply (A11.51). If the AFV survives all in-coming fire on the Start MP, it may enter a new hex or bypass a new hexside. Once it has done this, it qualifies as a Moving Vehicular Target, but not before. This has some serious implications. If you start for 1 MP and change the VCA 2 hexspines before entering a new hex or hexside, that would be three potential shots before Case J DRM applied.
EX 2: An AFV begins ITS MPh in Motion. As it is conducting ITS MPh, the Motion counter would come off and the AFV is considered Non-Stopped and Moving (i.e., conducting \ITS MPh). All fire against it during Defensive First Fire and Final Fire suffer Case J DRM. If it spends 1 MP to Stop, it becomes a Stopped vehicle but would still be considered a Moving Vehicular Target. As such, Case J DRMs would still apply but Case L could now also apply making it possible for an AFV to be both Point Blank and a Moving Vehicular Target. Also, once the AFV becomes Stopped, there is no +2 DRM in CC/CC Reaction Fire against that AFV even though it is still considered a Moving Vehicular Target.
EX 3: An AFV is covered by a Motion Counter outside ITS MPh. Case J would apply to all shots as the AFV is a Moving Vehicular Target. Case L would be NA as the AFV is In Motion. All CC would suffer a +2 DRM for attacking an AFV in Motion. The AFV is Non-Stopped.
EX 4: This is an extension of EX 2. The AFV survives all fire on the Start MP and moves 3 MP to a hex adjacent to an enemy AFV. Surviving all incoming fire, the AFV Stops for 1 MP. The enemy AFV could shoot at the Moving AFV. If it does so, it would pay +2 Case J but also qualify for a -2 Case L since the Moving AFV is now Stopped having spent a Stop MP.
EX 5: An AFV starts adjacent to an enemy AFV. The Moving AFV spends 1 MP to Start. The enemy AFV elects to shoot. It would not qualify for Case L (the target is Non-Stopped) but it would also not be hampered by Case J as the target does not qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target yet.
I have not covered Motion attempts in this briefing but from the last few examples you should be able to extrapolate how powerful it can be to save your AFV. If an AFV is being attacked by an enemy, making a successful Motion attempt instantly qualifies your AFV for Case J and negates any potential for Case L, a +4 DRM in favor of survival. Combine this with a free CA change as part of the Motion Attempt and you can point your thickest armor to the threat. In your friendly fire phase, freely change your VCA to point in a direction where cover is hopefully available, saving the AFV from destruction.
I hope this brief article is useful and if you find any errors, please let me know and I will correct them. Thanks and go read Stop and Go Traffic. It’s worth your time. — jim
FT S3 Last Stand on An-San – Advanced Squad Leader AAR
This is 26 September 1950. Lt Col. Taplett’s (gent in the pic below) 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines fought southeastwards down the slopes of An-San/ Hill 296 towards the city (see the red circle on the map below, credit “Battle of the Barricades” by Col Alexander). The North Korean 78th Independent Infantry Regiment and the 25th Infantry lead by Colonel Pak Han Lin put up a stout defence.
Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations
The KPA (North Koreans) started on Level 3 or above. The Marines entered from the left of the map at or above Level 2. In about 6 turns, the Marines should fight their way to Level 1, the KPA should fight to stay on Level 3 or above. The KPA started with 2×447, 4×426 (conscripts), an LMG and a 8+1 Commissar. The KPA counterattack force, comprising of 2.5×458, 2×527, 2×447, 3xLMG and 2 leaders enter from the right side of the map on Turn 3. The Marines started strong with 4×768 3×248, 2xMMG, 1xBaz and 2 leaders. They had a reserve platoon coming from the left on Level 5 on Turn 3 as well. All units counted “Exit Point” style (“Good Order”) toward the Victory Condition, prisoners excluded. USMC wins on ties.
So the KPA had 31 VP vs USMC 22 VP in their OB’s. The USMC would need to reduce the KPA force. Soon it would mean tough decisions between putting your squads on your level to score vs going to your opponent’s level to prevent them from scoring. The KPA had the last turn so we would have a chance to “Advance” back on Level 3.
Advanced Squad Leader AAR
The KPA was weak. They were also forced to spread out in their setup. The USMC could go anywhere and shoot anything. The KPA had their Concealments easily blown, broke up by Assault Fire and Captured in CC. Very quickly they pushed the KPA off Level 3 and took more than a few prisoners. The area on the bottom of the map offered more cover for the counterattack, so naturally the USMC focused their forces there.
The original KPA defenders were no longer coherent as a force. The way to Level 1 was wide open for the USMC on the top and the KPA had only scattered remnants on the bottom. However, the Marines weren’t on Level 1 on the bottom of the map yet. I decided to send the stronger of my Turn 3 reinforcements to the top of the map and the weaker (and more short ranged) to the bottom of the map, just to keep the Marines off Level 1. The boulevard’s gotta be where the Marines would make their stand with an additional -1, so we needed to cross before the Marines assemble in place. So hopped along the river edge we did, to a point by the boulevard where there were orchard cover. The KPA forces at the bottom of the map arrived in time to catch the defenders sent reeling by the USMC. That (bottom, vertical) road’s where we would make our stand.
At the top of the map, we made it across the boulevard okay when the lone American squad cowered. We decided to split into two groups and go around the USMC forces, to places where we could Advance up to Level 3. We simply couldn’t do close range firefights with the Marines on Level 1. The USMC would have to decide whether they would get off Level 1 where they needed to be to score in order to fight us. At the bottom of the map we got in a few lucky shots that set some Marines back. That probably got them more worried about the KPA making a rush for Level 3 rather than them trying to make Level 1. Nonetheless, we would keep the line at the street.
At the top of the map, the USMC decided to keep their forces and hence their gains on Level 1. No one’s coming after our eventual Advance onto Level 3. We made a critical PREP at the middle of the map and broke one of the defending Fire Teams in the Woods. That would allow at least 2 of our MMC’s to Advance up. At the bottom of the map, our line of KPA conscripts held and so my opponent conceded.
How’s this scenario interesting?
This scenario represents an interesting problem for both sides and it really highlights the terrain in Seoul. This is a multi-level fight amongst the Dense Urban Terrain. If a unit’s CX’d, it won’t Advance up a level, so you have to time it right. A KPA conscript unit has especially limited mobility in this terrain and you don’t want to be CX’d when you are Lax as a conscript (+2 Ambush). I think USMC Fire Teams would be very useful here. Fire Teams could block more venues up the hill and it’s not easy to break Morale 8 units in +2 TEM. Plus each Squad, when broken into Fire Teams is worth 3 VP when it’s worth only 2 VP as a unit. If every USMC squad’s deployed, the USMC OB is worth 28 VP (vs 22 VP undeployed) against the KPA’s 31. Both players have to find the balance between pushing through and scoring points versus fighting the opponent on a different level to stop him from scoring. While the KPA player has to fight uphill, there are more of them that can swamp up to Level 3. This is a tight little puzzle of a scenario!
RbF I-4 Used and Abused – Advanced Squad Leader AAR
This is the Mokmer Airstrip (today’s Frans Kaisiepo International Airport) on the island of Biak, 15 June 1944. The IJN had 3 airfields built and captured by the US 41st Divison. The IJA decided to recapture them, aided by the remaining 4 IJA tanks on the island.
(“Soldiers of the 41st Infantry Division, after emerging from the jungle, overcoming Japanese resistance, advance on an open field on the South Pacific island of Biak, off the New Guinea coast; May-August 1944.” Credit: https://www.ww2incolor.com/)
Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations
The IJA broke out of the Dense Jungle with 12 squads and 4 leaders, which included a 10-1 and a 9-1. They had 4 LMGs and 2 MTR that could pump WP out to 6 hexes. There were also the 4 x Ha-Go’s described in the Historical Perspective. The Americans had 11 squads: 3×667, 7×666 & 1×546. They had 3 leaders, which includes a 9-1 and a 8-1, plus 1xHMG, 2xMMG, 4xBaz44 and a 60 MTR. The IJA win at the end of any Game Turn if they have 7 CVPs or more than the Americans (unbroken) on/adjacent to any runway hex, and they had 7.5 turns to do it.
The IJA didn’t really have an advantage in manpower (so no unnecessary CC), and the Americans outranged and outgunned them. They did have an advantage in leadership and morale, plus they could get to where they wanted to get to if they want it bad enough. The 4 AFVs were key for preventing the Americans from backing off into the airfield. These bazookas had a range of 4 but the Ha-Gos were small. So TH on a moving Ha-Go is 6 @ 1 hex, 5 @2, 4 @3, 1 @4, ie they were effective at 2 hexes at best unless they catch you stopping. The 2 knee mortars had WP and these Ha-Gos had vehicular smoke grenades, apart from being able to provide Armor Assault or vehicular hindrances if needed be.
The IJA setup on row 3 while their tanks come in from offboard. Americans setup near the bottom edge of the top map, however in doing so, would have to retrograde across plenty of Open Ground, first to the tree line on Board 14 (bottom) and then across the airfield (where you get an additional -1 to incoming fire). We needed to back up before the IJA tanks got behind us!
I took on Brian William’s US setup in his AAR from Jan 2000. The idea here was to defend the left and the center where it’s closest to the airfield. We would try to hold the line for as long as possible before backing off onto the airfield. Having the IJA AFV hooking behind us would definitely be an issue. Hopefully our bazooka’s would deter some of that. The HMG (plus 9-1) and the 60 MTR were in the trees located in the center of the board. One MMG was in the middle with the 8-1 and the other MMG guarded the left side.
After Action Report
The IJA wasted no time moving in. Too fast perhaps, they already made me felt like I’d made a mistake and gave them too much ground upfront. On the left, they prodded my lone squad (which promptly broke and ran) and was well on their way hooking around to the airfield. In the middle, an IJA tank ran into the dense jungle in a bid to freeze my MMG. We killed it in CC. Slightly to the left of it, another IJA tank did the same with another MMG team and was unfortunately bogged in the jungle which only made it easier to kill. Its partner AFV pivoted and stopped right in front of a HS bearing a Baz but they wouldn’t be able to hit a thing this whole game. A couple of squads came through the middle with their knee mortars. They weren’t able to do much damage to the HMG-Mortar team but they laid down smoke for their comrades to the right. On the right, a body of IJAs came through the dense jungle unmolested. That gully in middle of the field would be an ideal jump off point.
In the middle, the concealed units that sat behind the MMG team were in fact, a Baz team! They slid up under the wreck, shot the other AFV and immobilised it. Given where it was, we figured an immobilisation was as good as a kill. The remaining IJA tank (that stopped in front of the Baz team) started up! The Baz team immediately fired but missed again. The other Baz team fired but couldn’t connect either! That Ha-Go waltzed all the way down to the HMG team (with 2×666 and a 9-1, no less!). The HMG fired and got snakes!! Pity you can’t CH with a 50 cal. However, the TK’s 7 (AF1) at that range and the last AFV was put down as well. The hoard of IJA on the right decided not to wait and did 2 Banzai’s (over OG!). Meanwhile on the far left, the IJA platoon continue to make their way down south. The Americans were fortunate enough to keep a team in front of them. We couldn’t win most standing gunfights though, we had to always try to get the first shot in.
We were able to decimate enough IJA troops to be able to pull a big withdrawal on the right. We ran to the end of the airfield and hoped to advance across the runway (add’l -1 to incoming fire). The IJA tried another Banzai on the far right but some pretty heavy firepower got in the way (and killed the IJA 9-1). The IJA pulled another Banzai through the kunai on the left towards our MMG as well. We had a flanker harassing that Banzai but it got hit by the IJA sniper halfway through.
IJA Turn 6 – they had lost a good number of troops to the Banzai’s already. The broken MMG HS from our first position finally managed to self rally! So even though the IJA tried to run some troops up from the back, they didn’t get too far. They did a final Banzai attack to get to the edge of the airfield, and lost their 10-1 in the process. This was when they decided to call it quits and started pulling out RbFI-5 (ATF1) Paper Line ..
I think movement across Open Ground was key for both IJA and US troops. The IJA had 4 tanks to help hook around and to interdict American movement (their 4 LMGs would have extended the 4 hex IJA range nicely). Plus their cover / smoke grenades should have provided protection for IJA troops in the face of heavy US firepower. The Americans couldn’t win standing firefights and as I mentioned before, we had to always get the first shot in. We would have a very hard time with our low morale if we had to retreat through opposing fire. We lucked out early on when the first couple of Banzai’s didn’t leave the IJA with enough troops to see beyond the tree line, thus allowing US escapes. Once we settled into the buildings around the airfield it’s all open ground for the IJA, those AFVs would have been helpful.
I really like Brian William’s setup. The bazooka teams in particular were looking over the narrowest places (and/ or where those AFVs had to turn). I couldn’t have done something as good as that. I might have made the mistake of setting up a little to forward, increase the difficulty of my retreat and enabling Banzai’s through those jungles.