Advanced Squad Leader War Stories

Advanced Squad Leader War Stories

We were chatting with Witchbottles on ASL Discord today and he brought up a few outstanding war stories.  

Story#1: Overrunning with a Mk VIB

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I overran with a Mk VI B tank on a Crew Exposed Pz III crew that missed their initial shot, missed their ROF (rate of fire) shot and broke his MA on an Intensive Fire shot as the Mk VI B rolled over a wall and onto the road to OVR the exposed crew, then out the back. Stunned them too!!!

Story #2: A Tank Busting Buda

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My best was in a game of FB14 At the Narrow Passage, when a Buda Volunteer Regiment 7-0 with a DC waltzed out into the street behind a stopped Mk IV, it turned its VCA and fired MGs, NMC, 2.3 DR , pass, it fired its MA, Hit, 1 MC, 2,2 DR, Pass, fired its IF MA, hits, NMC, 2,1, DR, pass, then Mr Buda placed the DC on the tank, and placement DR in the AFPh was optimal and WHOOM!! on a 1,2 DR, up goes said Panzer in flames, while Mr Buda advanced back into the building and said nonchalantly…. ” THAT, gentlemen, is how you blow up a tank….”

Story #3: Stalin’s Nephew

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The other good one was in a Festung Budapest CG III. A Russian 8-0 took a 24 flat shot from a concealed FT, rolled 1,1 DR and battle hardened into a 8-1. He then advanced into CC in the next turn with a BU StuG. Threw a 1,1 DR and bye bye StuG. A HMG took a shot at him in his next turn, he turned Heroic on another 1.1 DR from a 2MC.

Later on as the Hungarian defenses were falling, Stalin’s nephew led a pair of 5-2-7s in as an assault team on the last 9-2 led MG nest…..

What are some of your war stories?  Let us hear them in the Comments!

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT228 Last Charge at Umbrega (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT228 Last Charge at Umbrega After Action Report (AAR)

Background of the Scenario

This is another scenario from Le Franc Tireur 14 Italians.  It’s 2 January 1941 on the Umbrega Plateau, Eritra.  Le Franc Tireur’s designs often bring you to rather exotic locations.  

The 1er Régiment de Spahis Marocains ran into an Italian bivouac on the Umbrega Plateau and commenced attacks.  That was to be the last French cavalry charge of the war.  

As such this scenario features the Italian cavalry against the French cavalry on a fairly open terrain where where Woods is Brush and all buildings are Collapsed Huts.  Brush is Woods for Rally/Rout pupose.  (ASL Zen : Woods is Brush and Brush is Woods)

Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations

The French wins immediately if they control 3 out of the 4 hexes identified as Italian campsites.  One campsite is on the lower left of the map around the depression.  Two campsites are on the top right and the last one is half way down the map from these two.  A French group enters/setup on the left and the rest can enter anywhere along a “C” shaped arc on the right board edge.  All units are Fanatic when Mounted/Bailing Out.  

The bit we forgot when we play was that any unmounted Italians must take a PTC at the start, but it didn’t affect the game too much.  

Cavalry in ASL

This is the first time I played with Cavalry rules.  Horses are a great way to extend your mobility in ASL.  They also carry with them a “permanent” -2 DRM when mounted, so you need to be mindful of the hindrance between you and any enemy units.  The Italians can setup 2 squads HIP’d in this scenario which further exacerbates the situation.  Cavalry charges however, allows the mounted unit to deliver Triple Point Blank Fire (Mounted Fire NA) into a target hex and render any defensive shooting Final Protective Fire.  So conceivably a Defender can break when forced into the FPF and break again when the charging unit fires!  There’s a great article regarding Cavalry units in Advanced Squad Leader Annual 1997 “A Cavalry Primer for Neighsayers” by Michael Puccio.  I know all of you got the official PDF version, now is the time to break it open if you still haven’t yet!  

After Action Report

IMG 4293

My French units started onboard to the left, with only a couple of half squads and a Hero mounted.  I figured the Hero might be a particularly powerful weapon since he sports a morale level of 10 when mounted!  I was also mindful that small arms can lit huts on fire especially when the EC is very dry but that didn’t happen.  I wondered about the significance of the Collapsed Huts until I reallized Cavalry can’t enter buildings but can ride through Collapsed Huts.  Most of my units moved forward on foot but when an Italian squad pin a mounted HS charged through a few collapsed huts and broke it!  Another French unit scored a KIA on a mounted Italian squad but the rest of them started moving away.

The rest of my French units moved in from the north from a point closest to two Italian campsites.  With only 5 turns, I figured we didn’t have much time to mess about.  Again, most of them were on foot, forcing the lower morale and lower firepower Italians into a shooting battle.  A couple of HS’s stay mounted on the far right, just close enough to be threatening.  

IMG 4294

I put my 9-1 LMG team into a position where they could interdict most of the open area in the middle of the map.  I wasn’t going to let the Italian units join up without a challenge.  Short with time, I had my mounted Hero earn his pay by charging through some orchards into a rather isolated Italian squad on the middle of the map.  If it fail to KIA my Hero, it would be tied down allowing my other mounted units to pass.  The one man charge was a success as the 2 down 1 fire in-hex broke that Italian squad as well.  

Meanwhile the French units on the upper right closed in on the Italians, KIA’d another unit and broke others.  HIP’d Italian units popped out of the ground but the French managed to pass MCs after MCs.  

The Italians conceded.  

The presence of LMGs and HIP’d Italian squads made mounted squads a decidely unattractive option for the French.  Throughout the game one need to suppress the desire  to ride your enemy down because even fire from PIN’d squads can be deadly with the permanent -2 DRM.  However, you do need to keep a few units on horsebacks just to keep your opponent uncomfortable and to mess with his routing.  

How is this Scenario Interesting?

This is a playground made for Cavalry.  Both sides have a choice of how aggressive (and hence how mobile) he wants to be.  The Italians got the short end of the morale and the firepower stick and I am not sure if their advantage in squads : 15 vs 10 balance it out.  The 2 HIP’d Italian squads definitely kept the French honest.  I’d say: play this for the Cavalry!  My thanks to Lionel Colin who designed this fun introduction to Cavalry rules for me.  I look forward to the next scenario in LFT14, FT229 A Push in the Bush by Philippe Naud & Jean Devaux.  

Advanced Squad Squad scenario AP139 Emergency Surgery After Action Report (AAR)

Advanced Squad Squad scenario AP139 Emergency Surgery After Action Report (AAR)

Background of the Scenario

This scenario from Action Pack 14 takes us to Chateau-Neuf, France, 4 August 1944.  Patton’s Task Force A, supported by the Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur Bretagne, ran into a retreating element of XXV Armeekorps.  The American cavalry units and the FFI were tasked with clearing this German blocking position.  

Victory Conditions & Tactical Challenges

The Americans could win by one of two ways : 

– at the end of any Game Turn: if there are more Good Order, non overstacked American infantry VP in buildings north of the river than there are Good Order German VP on the south side.  Or

– at Game End: by having >= 20VP American north of the river

The Americans had 2 tank destroyers (M10), 2 armoured cars , 2 half tracks, 2 scout cars and 2 trucks.  There were 3 bridges they can use: 1 Foot Bridge and 2 two-lane Stone Bridges.  I decided that blocking the 2 Stone Bridges is a priority over the Foot Bridge.  The Americans could still win by getting infantry over the Footbridge but there were only 6 US squads vs 10 German squads.  They would have to whittle down the Germany Infantry first.  

The challenging setup restraint of the day: Germans couldn’t setup on the top board, so they were all “up front”, with the Americans having the mobility advantage. 

After Action Report

The fun bit about this scenario is that the Germans get to spend 15 points on Fortifications, picking from a table.  I got myself 3 Road Blocks, 2 x 6 A-P mine, some Wire and a number of Trenches.  The lovely bit about Trenches is that they are roadblocks to non tracked vehicles, meaning 8 out of 10 of their vehicles.  

In terms of setup I located places to put the Road Blocks and situated everything else to defend the Road Blocks.  Unfortunately the Americans didn’t spent much time trying to clear the Road Blocks but used their mobility to seek ways around them.  

IMG 4286

My right side was too thin and failed to muster at the buildings immediately behind them by the river.  In fact, they couldn’t get out of there at all before the French maquis overwhelmed them.  I made a careless move when retrograding my 9-1 MMG team and was CH’d by the M10 and vaporised.  Another M10 went through the gap in the Bocage near the middle Bridge.  The 7.5cm IeIG 18 (leichtes Infanterie Geschuetz: light infantry gun) appeared and killed it in a blinding flash of light but everyone then knew where it was (where the “DM” counter is amidst the red arrows).  My left wasn’t touched at all and the troops started to run over towards the middle.  Meanwhile my Germans on the right couldn’t make it off in time and was tied down by the maquis in melee.  

IMG 4285

The American armor broke through even though in one last act of defiance, a retreating German squad stunned an OT vehicle.  The Americans in the middle started to rout the defenders and the second M10 made leaving problematic.  We couldn’t make it close enough to the bridge to lay down any meaningful fire on it.  (That blurb in the center meant to say “One squad here who COULDN’T find the LMG on the ground to save his life.”

The Germans conceded.  

I knew backing off to the river bank is key but I couldn’t find the balance between holding the Attackers off versus withdrawing intact.  That infantry gun didn’t last long either in  spite of the +2 emplacement.  Perhaps it’s too far forward but I couldn’t find a place (on the bottom map) where it could shoot across both stone bridges.  I would have to pick one bridge and defend the other with panzerfausts and MGs.  I should also have  heeded the “natural” cavalry bias for open country and put more resources towards the right side of the map.  

How is this Scenario Interesting?

This scenario is interesting because of the multi-faceted victory conditions that forced choices out of both the Attacker and the Defender.  The Defender being given flexilibity in his fortifications made for an interesting puzzle as well.  There are a range of possibilities you can try with this scenario.  So folks, this is AP139 Emergency Surgery by Pete Shelling from MMP Action Pack 14 Oktoberfest XXXIV.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 145 Shanghai in Flames (AAR)

This is the third time I am playing this scenario.  This is a great scenario that confers the heart pounding excitement of a PTO scenario without having to deal with PTO terrain.  As far as China battles go, this is perhaps the most famous one (internationally) and hence also the most over covered by ASL designers!

There’s even a new movie on the battle “The Eight Hundred”!  

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The IJA are to control the building with 3 Fortified hexes on the bottom left of the map in 6.5 turns (GMT has the balance), a representation of the Sihang Warehouse no doubts.  Clearing a large (fortified) building is a time consuming task!  Hence I race my IJA forces down the board where I can.  Being able to cut off retreating Chinese forces would be good too but so far I hadn’t been too successful.  On the otherhand, I am not as keen as my earlier self in running Banzai’s through the map.  As a matter of fact, I did none so far.  IJA’s are great in their ability to go wherever they want to with striping.  However one they get reduced, they don’t recover.  So I want be very deliberate in any losses via striping.  The “IJA HS strategy” of course hinges on having IJA leaders who behaves like Commissars.  Unfortunately, they had been replacing units over half of my rallies so far.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 145 Shanghai in Flames (AAR)

We were almost all at the Sihang factory after 3 Movement phases.  Not the quickest really.  Let’s kill the gents in the rowhouse and figure out which hex is fortified!  The IJA has unfortunately broke though the Chinese right flank and was last seen streaking down the length of the map.  I, on the otherhand, should deploy more IJA to stop them from (unnecessarily) striping.  

145 Shanghai in Flames Advanced Squad Leader ASL AAR

 

The IJA ran through the rowhouse and came in front of the warehouse itself!  The massive firegroup broke the MMG stack in the fortified C6 hex (where you see an IJA 2-3-7).  The IJA were now in the house!  The platoon of IJA Banzai’d in from the right and fortunately broke the defenders in the “courtyard” and even trapped a defender at the wall (G8).  

Oh and the GMT sniper drilled a hole through my 10-0’s forehead.  His neighbours described him as nice, quiet and unassuming.  He will be missed.  Painful.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 145 Shanghai in Flames (AAR)

The GMT promptly counterattacked and took that MMG back.  Unfortunately, an IJA Death Star assembled (2 x MMG + 1 x HMG) and broke the GMT MMG team!  The IJA HS’s decided to do two Banzais into the factory, forcing GMT squads to FPF as much as they can.  The other IJA squads came in the right and left nowhere for the GMT squads to rout.  

It’s over.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT226 Veni Venezia! (AAR)

November 2 1940, the Italians found themselves in Treni, Greece.  They are to take at least 4 of the Stone Buildings and clear building 3M2 (large stone building on the bottom right) of all Good Order Greeks in 7.5.  That sounds like ample time until you realize running low Morale Level troops around with even lower firepower is like herding cats.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT226 Veni Venezia! (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT226 Veni Venezia! (AAR)

The Italian radio blew up once we managed to get a spotting around on top of building 3M2!  The right flank kept a steady push through the Woods and buildings on the bottom of the map.  The left flank came down the hill more or less intact, but behind schedule.  The middle group mounted an attack across the street (amoeba!!) and got blasted away by the Greeks!  My center is gone.  We have Move Phase to go and we are wonder if we can take any Stone Buildings at all. 

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT226 Veni Venezia! (AAR)

The Greeks managed to break the lone Italian MMG team that’s protecting the hordes of broken Italians hiding the woods towards the upper part of the map!  Very smartly a Greek leader dashed acrossed the street, hoping to grab the MMG that the routing MMG team would leave behind.  That was executed brilliantly except that the Greek leader couldn’t recover the MMG!  Two Italian leaders then rushed in (8-0 & 6+1) looking to CC him, MMA style.  The Greek kungfu master killed off the Italian 8-0 but it’s too late, an Italian squad arrived.  At the same time yours truly finally figured out how to do an amoeba attack properly and broke into the center fo the village from the top and the bottom.  

Unfortunately there was only 1 turn to go and we had brokies strewn everywhere.  We didn’t have enough time to take the rest of the stone buildings.  We conceded.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario AP137 Fear Naught (AAR)

This is 26 June 1944 St. Manvieu-Norrey (west of Caen), France.  Kurt Meyer’s “Hitlerjugend”  met up with the 6th Royal Scotts Fusiliers advancing behind a Creeping Barrage in the rain.  The Scots need to take the multi hex buildings and kill the Panthers.  The Germans need to have MMCs surviving within a big magic circle at the end of Turn 6.5 and blow the Scots’ CVP cap of 39.  .  

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As the Scots, we get two Creeping Barrages, which I did NOT manage well.  While I credit the left barrage for killing a Panther in the first turn, it crept way too slow, to the extent that it blocked our troops and hence protected the Germans!  The right one worked out okay.  You can plan for Creeping Barrages to go “forward” 2 hexes only in your player turn or on both your player turn and your opponent’s turn (Defensive Fire Phase).  An attacker should really count out where he needs to go and how quickly the Creeping Barrage would allow him to get there. A slow barrage gives defenders a good pounding (or encourage them to leave).  A fast barrage might run away from you and hop through the defending lines.  I needed the left barrage to take out the little enclave on the German left, so I made it go slow.  What I should have done is to plan for a lifting of the barrage post enclave so that my troops could hit the village.

Advanced Squad Leader scenario AAR AP137 Fear NaughtAdvanced Squad Leader scenario AP137 Fear Naught

The Churchills are great smoke machines.  Unfortunately that thing is slow and I need to be careful about not getting it in places where it could get caught by a fast moving Panther!  It can’t do anything to a Panther frontally (apart from DI shots) yet the Panther can flick a toothpick at a Churchill and it will go “Boom!”.  I lost one of the Churchills that way.  Good thing another Churchill fired off its Smoke Mortar quickly and went into motion!  That barrage on the left was totally in my way on Turn 5, my folks had to walk around it.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario AP137 Fear Naught (AAR)

The unexpected happened!  Instead of walking away from the Panther, my infantry rushed it and the Panther malf’d it’s MA!  So one of Churchills spun back around and slid right next to the Panther in bypass.  It had to do an ESB for the extra 1 MP to stop the Churchill for the shot but since it’s a chance to bag the second Panther, we took it anyway.  The Churchill rolled and immobilized.  We then moved other assets in place around the Panther.  The Panther wasn’t able to repair it’s Gun but what followed was shots after shots from 2 Churchills, a Piat and a couple of CC attempts.  The Panther just won’t go down (DI or otherwise)!  Plus on top of it, my Piat malf’d and my Churchill’s MA malf’d!  Everything else went rapidly downhill towards the end of Turn 5.  We were absolutely blocked by our own Creeping Barrage on the left and everyone’s either malf’d or broken or straight up vaporized on the right.  The Germans must have rolled about 6 snakes.  It’s tragic!  

(A specific account on our attempt on the second Panther)

IMG 4241

In the last German turn the Panzer fixed its gun!!  It took out the immobilized Churchill sitting next to it and a shreck took out the other Churchill that was angling for a side shot.  The Germans just hit the Scots’ CVP cap!

I obviously mismanaged my Creeping Barrage but I will definitely do it better next time.  Apart from that this is quite the scenario!  There were tons of action and while I am really “hampered” by the slow Churchills, it’s a ton of fun!  

Next in Action Pack 14?  AP138 Red Horse Recon

This happened : AP137 Fear Naught Turn 3 of 6.5 (AAR)

AP137-003-Brits Jan 04 01 copy

AP137 Fear Naught Turn 3 of 6.5

German Turn

  • Panther G slid over into the view of my Churchill (where the 8-0 and “Motion” counter is) and stopped, spending only 2 MP in my LOS.
  • Panther G TK23 vs Churchill’s front AF14
  • Churchill crew woke up! Popped Smoke Mortar – got it. Rolled for Motion .. got that too!! Spun the tank around, ready to leave in my turn coming up.

My Turn

  • Moved a squad into the house next to the Panther, survived the vehicle MG shots.
  • Ran the 457 to the front of the Panther, the Panther shot and malf’d its MA!!
  • The panicking Churchill saw what happened, turned back around, went into bypass next to the Panther G. Rolled for ESB to stop (‘cause bogging will stop me anyway).
  • The other Churchill in Q1 went into position up on Level 0.

My Advancing Fire

  • Churchill in bypass shot and HIT! TK14 vs AF6. DUD!!!
  • Churchill on Level 0 shot, NO HIT!

Advance & CC Phase

  • Both squads passed PAATC.
  • First one went in with a Streetfight bonus, NO KILL!!
  • POW!! The German snooglewoofer got stuck!! We live!
  • Second squad attacked, NO KILL!!

FOUR ATTEMPTS AND NO KILL!!

German Turn

The dang Panther turned around.

  • Churchill in bypass went for DI shot, need a 7, NO HIT!
  • Churchill up top went for a DI shot, NO HIT!
  • Piat went for a DI shot, NO HIT!

Meanwhile 2 German snakes + a 4 on a DC toss vaporized 3 British squads and a 9-1 …

… and it’s only the fourth day of the year ..

The game’s fantastic, my opponents divine

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Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

In 2019 I completed 25 games :

  • Playtest 7
  • Win 7
  • Lost 11
  • PBeM 6
  • Live VASL 19
  • Carrying 9 games to 2020
  • Played 13 opponents (incl games carrying over to 2020 & games dropped/on hold)
  • 50% of my games are played with of my 2 opponents

I want to play more scenarios from Dispatches from the Bunker & Friendly Fire, which I achieved.  I want to try Carl Nogueira & David Lamb’s Dien Bien Phu, I did 2.  I want to try scenarios from Time on Target, I did 1.

In 2020 I’d like to continue playing through :

  • Dispatches from the Bunker
  • Friendly Fire
  • LFT14 Italians
  • Action Pack 14
  • Complete a play thru of BFP Operation Cobra
  • Get started with the Forgotten War (Korea)

I’d also like to eat right & to sleep tight so as to stay healthy for as long as possible so that I can play as much of my scenarios as possible. I wish the same of my opponents.

The game’s fantastic, my opponents divine. It’s a real privilege to be in touch with all of these gents regularly through the year. I love the weekly chats and I love getting emails that are not newsletters, alerts or bills.

I should also mention the designers I work with, I learn sooooo much from them. Good Lord, are they knowledgeable!

I wish you and yours the absolute best.

Katz: Designer’s Response to the Desperation Morale Review of Forgotten War

Kenneth Katz is a member of the designer team for MMP’s groundbreaking Korean module – Forgotten War.  This is Ken’s response to Mark Pitcavage’s extensive critique of MMP’s Korean module – Forgotten War.  I find it so interesting by its own right that I asked Ken’s for his permission for HKWG to carry it.  While you can certainly read Mark’s critique first, I am sure you will get a lot out of this even if you read it as a “standalone”.  I certainly did.  These two learned gentlemen certainly make our ASL lives richer with their exchange.

ThumbnailOn behalf of the Forgotten War design team, I want to respond to Mark Pitcavage’s recent review of that module on his highly regarded ASL website Desperation Morale. Obviously, we have a protective attitude towards Forgotten War. Its development dominated much of our free time over the years (for some over 18 years!) and Mark’s critical review is less than pleasing to us as a team. However much we disagree with elements of the review, we want to commend Mark for his thorough critique.

The Forgotten War core design team consisted of Mike Reed, Ken Katz, Paul Works, Andy Hershey, and Pete Dahlin. Each brought a very strong skill set to the team and our differing styles and capabilities meshed well. The Forgotten War extended team included approximately thirty additional participants from across the globe; all such participants were included in the Korean War ASL Yahoo Group and had access to all development material, to include the rules. Any intimation (or direct statement) that development was done in isolation is false.

Mark’s discussion of the history of the product is generally correct up to a point but does not accurately describe the relationship between Forgotten War and the Kinetic Energy ASL module which was never published. It is true that one of the co-designers, Mike Reed, worked with Mark Neukom on the Kinetic Energy design and we are certain that earlier work influenced Mike’s contributions to Forgotten War. Personally, my only connection with the Kinetic Energy design was a 5-minute glance at it. The major design elements of Forgotten War, including Steep Hills and the CPVA rules that we created, did not come from Kinetic Energy. This is true for all the other core Forgotten War team members as well. Furthermore, the Kinetic Energy style did not mesh well with MMP’s vision for ASL, so a new design was necessary since a primary of objective of this project was to design a product that would become “official.” MMP put the product under contract in 2011. It then waited in MMP’s development queue for several years, with intensive work resuming around 2015 and publication in late 2017.

Steep Hills and Semi-Geomorphic Mapboards 80-83:

Korean terrain had a tremendous influence on the conduct of the Korean War. Through research, it became apparent that the existing variety of ASL terrain types did not represent the tactical effects of much militarily significant Korean terrain. The result was the Steep Hills rules (W1.3), which could be described in a nutshell as doing to Hills what the Dense Jungle terrain does to Woods. The essential requirements of Steep Hills were to deny off-road movement for vehicles, burden infantry movement particularly by heavily laden troops, and provide some protection because the terrain is broken. Note that such terrain is not unique to Korea. Terrain with such characteristics can be found in places as diverse as Afghanistan, Italy and Israel. The use of Steep Hills terrain puts a premium on infantry and greatly restricts the use of heavier support weapons and vehicles, which is accurate for many Korean War battles. The mapboards not only represent the hills and valleys which were the sites of many Korea War valleys, but the topography of those mapboards combined with the Steep Hills rules mean that there are ample opportunities for an attacker to infiltrate and withdraw while being protected from enemy fire. Using Forgotten War boards and Steep Hills terrain, a defender cannot just sit on peaks with a MG and sweep the hill clean of attackers, and that was very much the intent. Taken as a whole, the rules and mapboards provide the “design for effect” that was intended and reflected the team’s research.

Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (CPVA):

Probably Mark’s most serious objection to the Forgotten War design is the CPVA. Before addressing the finer points of the CPVA rules (W7), we should preface our responses with several “big picture” points. The CPVA was a major combatant that fought in distinctive ways that deserves distinctive nationality characteristics. All nationality characteristics are exaggerated stereotypes, but that does not mean that they don’t have a significant element of truth. The best way to appreciate the CPVA in Forgotten War is not to focus on each rule but to see how the totality of the CPVA rules, the scenario orders of battle, and the scenario victory conditions combine to incentivize the CPVA player to fight the CPVA in accordance with its distinctive doctrine and tactics. The portrayal of the CPVA in Forgotten War was based on extensive research that utilized a wide range of sources. These included numerous historical books/narratives by Western (U.S., British, Canadian, French, Belgian, etc.) authors using multiple original sources; U.S. Army historical documents, to include multiple, previously-classified documents; U.S. Army operations research books/documents that included analyses of operations and interviews with CPVA personnel; South Korean historical documentation; and multiple books by Chinese authors. The CPVA’s representation was available to the entire, extended Forgotten War team. Scenarios and Chapter H content were informed by a Chinese-speaking team member that had access to additional Chinese-language source material.

The intent of the portrayal of the CPVA in Forgotten War was to represent several characteristics of that force: its mass, its willingness to tolerate very high casualties, the primitive nature of its communications and logistics, and its tactical doctrine which emphasise closing with the enemy. The latter both leveraged the strengths of the force and reduced the ability of its enemy to use its superior artillery and airpower. In the interests of brevity, we won’t take a deep dive into every rule, but we believe that to those who understand the CPVA and the CPVA rules in Forgotten War, the logic behind the rules makes sense. Needless to say, far from denigrating the CPVA, the Forgotten War rules and scenarios in combination show the CPVA to be a formidable foe.

CPVA Step Reduction:

The following represent the primary reasoning elements we used to select Step Reduction (W7.21) to represent the CPVA. Taken individually they are evidential and indicatory. Taken as a whole, and leveraging existing ASL rules constructs, Step Reduction was the answer.

  1. Prisoner ratio. Using estimated casualty numbers, we have the following historical percent-of-casualties data (i.e., these percentages show the percent of total casualties that prisoners represented): Allies WW2 (Pacific Theater) 24%; Japanese WW2 2.2%; CPVA KW 2.8%. Although more than moderately suggestive, these estimates do not address a number of related considerations (such as the huge number of Chinese troops freezing to death vice being combat casualties).
  2. Numerous personal narratives from KW participants about CPVA troops weathering huge amounts of firepower and still coming. Sort of like being berserk in ASL, except they were not berserk and could change what they were doing when commanded to do so (i.e., they did not just always charge right toward the nearest enemy).
  3. Accounts of many CPVA soldiers, who would begin a charge/human wave (HW) unarmed, picking up the weapons of their dead/wounded comrades and continuing forward. Some similar accounts appear in descriptions of Russian HWs (in Stalingrad, for example); in the CPVA case, however, the descriptions do not describe large numbers of Chinese troops breaking. Going to ground and melting away, yes. Large groups of them breaking and running away (like what can result in a standard ASL HW), no.
  4. The political indoctrination and presence of POs in even the smallest units had a major impact on how the CPVA troops behaved. They were more motivated by such indoctrination than typical Russian troops and were motivated as such to continue on in the face of significant casualties.
  5. Step Reduction is an existing ASL rule that will be familiar to most intermediate- and advanced-level ASL players.

Initial Intervention:

CPVA Initial Intervention squads represent troops armed with weapons obtained from the Nationalists (GMD) and the Imperial Japanese Army. The Soviet-Armed squads represent troops armed with Soviet weapons, primarily “burp guns,” which is what Americans called the Soviet-supplied PPSh submachine gun and its Chinese-manufactured version Type-50. The dates given in W7.12 and W7.13 are a simplification; the Soviet-Armed squads will not be available before April 1951, but the Initial Intervention squads obviously do not all instantly disappear or rearm after that date.

The CPVA that intervened in late 1950 in Korea lacked any significant amount of radios and motor transport. In general, CPVA troops on the front line during that period suffered terribly from cold, hunger, and lack of ammunition, the latter being exacerbated by the wide range of ammunition types used by the variety of weapons in the CPVA arsenal. That primitive and deficient CPVA communications and logistics generally caused the effects portrayed in W7.11 is no surprise. Nor is the absence of OBA during that time period surprising, given that artillery is particularly dependent on good communications and ammunition supplies. Of course, a scenario designer can add an SSR when these generalisations did not apply.

Leadership:

The CPVA leadership model in Forgotten War (W7.3) is not a slight against the quality of CPVA leadership any more than similar leadership models are intended to denigrate Finnish and Japanese leadership. Again, look at the big picture rather than each element of the module in isolation. The leadership model that was chosen by the designers works well with the rest of the rules for the CPVA.

CPVA AFVs:

Later in the war, the CPVA did have a significant armored force in Korea. However, the only evidence of which we aware that claims this force (as opposed to the odd captured UN AFV being used) was actually engaged in combat with UN forces is traceable to one Chinese claim. We discovered no American after-action reports that describe losses to American armor caused by Chinese AFVs (one suggestive original source claims that Chinese tank guns were firing at U.S. troops; but after care examination of related sources, it is appears these “high-velocity rounds” were from direct-fire artillery). It’s axiomatic in military history that measures of one’s own losses are usually more reliable than claims of losses inflicted on the enemy. We disagree with Mark that including counters for vehicles that were present in theater but never saw combat is a good use of a finite number of countersheet spaces. If a scenario designer chooses to portray CPVA armor in a scenario, he can use Russian T-34/85, JS-2 and SU-76M counters. In addition, MMP informed us that if a counter did not see action it does not go in the box.

CPVA AA Guns:

As the war progressed, the CPVA became well equipped with AA guns. Such AA guns rarely were present in the front line within the scope of a typical ASL scenario. If a scenario designer chooses to portray CPVA AA guns in a scenario, he can use Russian 37mm and 85mm AA guns. Again, finite countersheets forced choices.

Night Rules:

It is true that Forgotten War has a lot of night scenarios for the simple fact that the Korean War had a lot of night actions. The US Army today likes to say that “We Own the Night” because of its excellent technology and proficient use of that technology. But during the Korean War, that technology did not exist and the Communist enemy preferred to fight at night because it tended to negate American advantages in artillery and airpower. Mark does not like the current night rules in E1 and laments that the Night rules were not revised in Forgotten War. But there is an unwritten but very real policy in “official” ASL that new additions to the ASL system must be backwards compatible with the existing system, including counters, rules, and scenarios. Making general ASL changes was simply outside the scope of Forgotten War.

Searchlight Combat:

Searchlight operations played a major part in the later stages of the Korean War. As mentioned previously, the CPVA used massed night attacks to mitigate American firepower and were very effective. The longest retreat in U.S. military history (U.S. Eighth Army in late 1950) was a direct result of effective CPVA manoeuvre and envelopment…at night. Searchlights took that advantage away from the Chinese.

Our research uncovered that searchlight tactics used against the Chinese were so effective that searchlight-equipped M46 and Centurion tanks became primary artillery targets, especially during the Battles for the Hook. Hide and seek tactics were developed. Tanks operating in pairs or groups. Shutters that could be opened and closed very quickly to minimize highlighting/silhouetting. We worked very hard to replicate these tactics in the rules. Searchlights are certainly chrome. That said, leaving them out or oversimplifying them would have been neglected a tactically significant aspect of the Korean War.

Two-Tone Counters:

Mark doesn’t like two-tone counters. De gustibus non est disputandum (“In matters of taste, there can be no disputes”), but we have been around the ASL community for 25 years and have never been aware of a significant group of players who don’t like two-tone counters (as opposed to the vocal opponents of overlays and terrain altering SSRs). The problem is that the sorts of colors that suit ASL counters (various shades of brown, tan, green, blue, and gray) are already taken, unless you want to either use minor and nearly indistinguishable variations of shade (which some find difficult to see) or use colors which just don’t seem to fit the game. Lavender counters, anybody? Furthermore, the use of two-tone counters has other advantages. ROK and Other United Nations Command forces were equipped by the US. Since their counters have a green border like American counters, they easily can use American SW, Guns, and Vehicles. The CPVA counters have a brown border like Russian and GMD counters, and they can easily use both Russian and GMD SW, Guns and Vehicles. In fact, MMP requires designers to fit their numbers of counters within a finite number of countersheets, and two-tone counters for some nationalities reduces the requirements for counters.

Small Forces: Rangers, American Paratroopers, Royal Marine Commandos, and Korean Marines:

Rangers, American Paratroopers, Royal Marine Commandos, and Korean Marines are unabashed chrome. These all were interesting forces that can be represented with very little rules overhead. Mark doesn’t seem to like this kind of chrome. The Forgotten Wars designers disagree. Judging by the plethora of obscure yet fascinating things in the system, so do most ASL players. Rangers and Royal Marine Commandos were true elite special operations troops, and their capability in Forgotten War are indicative of their training. The 7-4-7 American paratroop squads in World War II imply that those troops had a high percentage of submachine gun-armed soldiers. American paratroopers in the Korean War were armed with the M1 Garand rifle and not many submachine guns, hence the 6-6-7 value.

Rules Pertaining to Bayonet Charges and VT Fuzes:

Bayonet Charges were in fact occasionally used by UN forces in the Korean War. The inclusion of the rule in Forgotten War is simple and appropriate. Variable Time (VT) Fuzes for field artillery were first used by the U.S. Army in the Battle of the Bulge. They had an important effect on that battle and were very valuable in Korea when defending fortified positions against massed infantry attacks. Again, the rule in Forgotten War is simple and appropriate.

Rules Pertaining to HEAT and Bazookas:

The ASL armor penetration rules (C7) are fundamentally flawed and unrealistic in that they significantly misrepresent the actual interaction between ammunition and vehicle targets. Unfortunately, it is wildly impractical to do a wholesale overhaul of those rules, given the imperative of “backwards compatibility” and to maintain relative simplicity (if anyone has ever played the fun but very-detailed Tractics they know the issue). But the Forgotten War designers had a problem. The BAZ45, which equipped US Army and ROK troops in 1950, is somewhat effective against the T-34/85 in ASL. However, in 1950 Korea, the M9A1 launcher and M6A3 rocket which are represented by the BAZ45 counter were notoriously ineffective against that target. This is not an issue of chrome. The difference between ASL and historical performance greatly affected certain scenarios and had a real-life tactical impact. As a result, the Forgotten War designers chose to use rules W.8 and W.8A to model this important effect while avoiding an undesirable revision to C7.

Errata:

Players will observe that the astonishingly small amount of errata for Forgotten War is a testament to the combined efforts of the designers, the playtesters, and MMP.

In Conclusion:

The designers of Forgotten War remain confident that they have created an accurate, playable, and high-quality portrayal of ground tactical combat in the Korean War that fits well in the ASL system.

Kenneth Katz

Listen to Kenneth Katz’s interview on the 2HalfSquads: Episode 187 Kool Katz in Korea

Paul Weir : Did the 1st SS at The Battle of the Bulge have any Tiger Is?

One of the rockstars in the GameSquad ASL forums is the resident armor super-genius human Chapter H, Mr. Paul M. Weir. Mr. Weir has gratefully allowed the publication of his posts here.

pzvibThe Tiger II that accompanied 1SS belonged to 101/501 SS sPz Abt (heavy tank detachment). 101st got renumbered to 501st about Sept. ’44. 501st was a corps level unit (1ss Pz Korps), though originally built around the former 13th sPz Komp of 1SS Pz Rgt (1SS Pz Div). At full strength 501 had a HQ of 3 Tiger II and 3 14 Tiger II companies for a total of 45. At the start of Wacht am Rhein only 30 of the 45 took part in the initial offensive, the remaining 15 arrived after Peiper’s drive had long died, due to transport difficulties.

1SS had a Pz Regt with 2 Abteilungen (detachments/battalions). The 1st Abt should have had 76 Panthers and the 2nd 76 or 96 Pz IV with 3 Panthers and 5 Pz IV in Regt HQ. The Germans were only able to scrape up close to 37 Panthers and 34 Pz IV. That was sufficient for an Abt HQ (3 Panthers) and 2 each 2 companies of 17 Panther/Pz IV respectively. I can’t be arsed to check but I think it was 1st & 2nd (Pz IV) and 6th & 7th (Panther) that made up 1 Pz Abt. So they only had a single Abt’s worth of their own tanks and were loaned 501 SS SPz Abt to stand in for the missing 2 Pz Abt. 1SS Pz Div also had 21 Pz IV/70 aka JgPz IV L/70 but no StuGs, Marders, Wespes or Hummels. They did have SP 7.5cm (SdKfz 251/9) and 15cm sIG 33 on SdKfz 138/1 Grille.

pzvie1SS did get issued a company’s worth of Tiger I early in ’43, I think just during/after 3rd Kharkov. These were used through Kursk and until 1SS got sent home and rebuilding. The genesis of 101 SS sPz dates to the removal of 1SS, for West rebuilding, diverted to Italy. The 3 SS Pz divisions each had a Tiger I company but as 1SS and 2SS were withdrawn 3SS Totenkopf was the only one to retain Tiger I. Totenkopf and the Heer’s Grossdeutchland were the only divisions to finish the war with any type of Tigers and also both Tiger I not II. So 1SS had not had any Tiger on the books by the end of ’43. The SS Tiger I in Normandy belonged to 101 sPz SS Abt and 102 SS sPz Abt.

The only Tiger Is that I can think in WaR of belonged to sPz 301 (Fkl) which had 31 rebuilt Tiger I acting as command vehicles for RC demolition vehicles (Bogward IV) and that was a Heer (army) unit.

So 1SS only had the loan of Tiger II in 501 SS sPz Abt and had had no Tiger I since leaving Russia.

Were there any ‘Ferdinand’ TDs in the battle, at Bastogne, with Peiper, or at St. Vith? What TD or AG or SP, which looks most like a Ferdinand TD, was deployed with the VG divisions?

While I can’t recall the details, I’m fairly certain that KG Peiper was doomed by the time the last 15 arrived. With the demise of KGP, the 501 SS sPz Abt was in need of rebuilding. After the dregs of KGP escaped the 1SS withdrew for reorganisation and eventually reappeared near Bastogne. By that time 501 SS sPz Abt was no longer rigidly attached to 1SS and had reverted to being a corps unit, though obviously strongly associated with 1SS. So post KGP time would have been spent regathering scattered vehicles and repairs, including the 15 latecomers.

I don’t have a good number for the Tiger II losses in the initial offensive, but have a vague memory of only about 7 Tiger II pocketed with KGP. The buggers were just too slow to keep up and be pocketed. Allowing for recovered breakdowns 501 should have had about 2/3 of its official strength at least recoverable if not yet fit for combat by the time of the end of KGP.

pzjgNo Ferdinands/Elephants in Wacht am Rhein (WaR). The source of the confusion might have been the presence of sPzJgrAbt 654 which was one of the original two Elephant battalions, was in WaR but equipped with Jagdpanthers and the other, sPzJgrAbt 653 was involved in Nordwind and had Jagdtigers.

The VG divisions had a PzJg Abt with a towed 7.5cm PaK 40 battery (9, usually 12 guns), a SP light FlaK company (12 x SdKfz 10/5) and a SP battery with 10 (HQ 1, 3 platoons of 3) or 14 (2, 3 x 4) Hetzers or StuG III. All WaR divisions might also have had support from corps and army level StuG (usually 31 StuG, though up to 45) and sPzJg (45 Hetzers or 30-31 Hetzers and 14-15 Jagdpanthers) units. They also had either a Füsiliere (recon+assault) company or battalion which was mainly bicycled infantry and a few armoured cars (if they were lucky).

Pz IV/70 aka JgPz IV with 7.5cm L/70 gun were only issued to Panzer divisions PzJg Abt, typically 21 Pz IV/70 and 12 towed PaK 40.

Marder I/II/III usually equipped Pz and PzGren divisions but by then had practically disappeared, being replaced by JgPz IV and Pz IV/70.

StuG III could be in nearly anything; anybodies PzJg Abt, StuG Abt/Brigades or even Pz Regt, replacing the by now scarce Pz IV.

Paul M. Weir

(Note: I added the counter art, any error’s all mine.)