How to Watch Live ASL Games on VASL & the Code of Conduct

Image from page 5 of "The Life of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America" (1840)I watch live ASL games on VASL like people watch TV.  There’s almost always something going on and it’s a good way for new folks to get some context for understanding the ASL Rulebook or simply to see how they can expand their opponent horizon from local to global.

Von Marwitz” on GameSquad recent wrote a great “Step by Step” to do just that.  So the following is posted with his permission.

#1. Don’t be afraid to try. Only the question that is not asked is dumb.

#2. To find an opponent, you can post in the “Opponents Wanted” section of this forum:
http://forums.gamesquad.com/forumdisplay.php?42-ASL-Opponents-Wanted
Describe your situation and chances are that you will find someone to play with in short order.  (Hong KongWargamer : plus the ASL Groups on VASL – https://www.facebook.com/groups/advancedsquadleader/https://www.facebook.com/groups/vaslmeetup/, https://www.facebook.com/groups/27083456599

#3. If you log on to the VASL server, you will find yourself in the “Main Room”. The actual playing goes on in the other rooms, often titled by the name or ID of the scenario. You can join a room by syncronizing with one of the players in it. Personally, I send a short Personal Message to ask if it is ok to sync before I do so. Usually I get a “Yes, sure.” in short order. Once synced, you will see the playing area, the log and counters moving about. Common etiquette is not to move their counters (you can do a mouse-over to expand stacks depending on your settings which they will not see on their screen). You do not hit any dice-roll buttons etc. Normally, you would not type anything into their log unless you previously by Private Message inquired if it is ok to do so. This is the basic etiquette.

Most VASL-players use a combination of VASL and Skype because communication is quicker. As an observer, this makes it a bit more difficult to follow the game, especially as a newbie, because you might not be able to glean what the reason for some dice rolls in the log were. If players don’t use skype, they will (necessarily) type that into the log. Sometimes, people are willing to add observers to their Skype call so that you can listen in (which you could find out by inquiring via private message). If they do, usually you would listen and not take part in the conversation. This might be different if you have become familiar with the players.

While being an observer, regardless whether via log or Skype, you do not give tactical tips to the players in an ongoing game. Usually, I would not point out rules mistakes to the players either unless I know they do not mind. And even then I would point out an illegal move via PM only to the player that just got a rule wrong.

In case you do not “see” the maps, then you might not have them in your “boards” folder and need to download them first (and resync). Same is true for overlays. Then there are some “extensions”, that might expand VASL with some extra counters or gadgets. Most of this stuff can be found in the downloads section of the vasl.info website.

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BPF30 Melee Near The Coast AAR – the superior mobility of the IJA

The time was 25 August 1937.  This was the second time the IJA attacked Shanghai.  The IJA Shanghai Expeditionary Forced landed troops around Liuhe (浏河), Wusong (吳淞) and Chuanshakou (川沙口) as a diversionary to draw GMT troops away from Shanghai.  This scenario depicts an engagement where the IJA troops pushed rapidly inland to encircle Shanghai.

This was a 7 turn scenario in which the IJA needed to control 10 or more buildings at the end.  The GMT (Chinese) had 13 first liners, 1 MMG and 1 LMG led by an 8-1 and an 8-0.  They were reinforced by 4 elite squads with 2 other leaders on Turn 4.  The IJA started with 13 first liners led by 3 leaders.  They were reinforced by a platoon of elite squads plus another leader on Turn 3.

There was an eastern approach for the IJA (top of the map).  That approach led through jungles paths and onto a hill before a group of target buildings.  There was also a western approach where the IJA had to navigate across a shallow stream and fight their way out of a depression.  I guessed the eastern approach would be guarded heavier as the trek was slightly easier and targets richer.

I deployed with 60% of the IJA troops on the east side and 40% on the west with 2 squads HIP’d.  Hopefully that would cause the GMT to lean a little towards the east.

IMG_1089

Chinese Turn 1: Calamity hit the attackers almost immediately.  An observant GMT sniper seek out the highest ranking (10-0) IJA officer amidst a concealed stack and put a round through his head.

Not that it bothered the troops too much, they stayed out of sight a little and continued moving on.

IMG_1090

Chinese Turn 2: As the IJA approached the Chinese forces, an IJA HS was indignant that these brothers of the Greater Asia Co-prosperity Sphere shot at them.  They went berserk but their target GMT squad routed away.  A concealed GMT squad then moved in but failed to ambush the fuming mad IJA berserkers.

IMG_1091

IJA Turn 3 : The IJA decided to Banzai through the bottleneck on the left flank around the lake.  They almost immediately ran into a dangerous “Banzai” trap – a previously concealed stack of high fire power GMT that killed the led Banzai troops and threaten to suck in more.  Good thing I was able to avoid having an IJA leader sucked into that hex.

IMG_1092IJA Turn 3 still : The IJA on the right flank begin the second Banzai to motor across the shallow stream!

IMG_1093

IJA Turn 4 : The turn would see the right flank of the IJA banzai the rest of their troops over the shallow stream.

IMG_1094

IJA Turn 4 still: The left flank answered with a Banzai to the center of the board and not directly up the hill itself.  This was where I channelled my inner IJA and looked to infiltrate!

IMG_1095

IJA Turn 5 (errata – picture is wrong): The right flank banzai’d over the hill and looked to encircle the GMT defenders.  Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out.  Always an issue banzai’ing in the open.

On the otherhand, the left flank got up (and around) the hill and encircled the defenders there.

IMG_1096

Chinese Turn 6 (errata -picture is wrong) : Quick as you might think the IJAs were, I began to run out of time. I shift the IJA troops from the right to the left in preparation for the final push.

But look – the GMT ran a couple of squads and a leader around the IJA right flank and threatened to reclaim the buildings again!

IMG_1097

IJA Turn 7 (errata again!) : The IJA did a massive Banzai charge on the left flank into the cluster of target buildings behind the bamboo forest.  GMT troops in the jungle to the west put up a ferocious volume of fire! The IJA couldn’t get into all of those buildings (missed 1, IJA pinned).

IMG_1098

The End : At the close of IJA Turn 7 – the IJA got 9 buildings but stood to lose a few more in the counter attack – plus looked to lose 2 to 3 more to the GMT troops reclaiming buildings to the north (left of board).

It was a great game played with Peter-James Palmer in Australia.

Game Designer Carl Nogueira was asked “What do you like about ASL?”

FullSizeRender-1Likes, damn near all of it, but I’ll try to focus:

The way in which the game is layered: The rules are complex, master that, the tactics are complex, master that, the psychology of the game can be challenging too. Even then, there is no one way to win at this game. I know many top players with very different styles, who all have had enjoyed a good deal of success with the game. There are many ways to skin a cat. Everyone can succeed by refining their own approach to the game.

Obviously, because it is fun: If it wasn’t for this, there isn’t a thing I could list that would make it worthwhile. Of course what is fun for one person may not be for others, but there is room for many at the table. I am a competitive cuss, so I love the challenge of competing against my fellow gamers. Others approach it from a beer and pretzels perspective, but everyone who comes to embrace the hobby, ends up having fun with it.

The people: The camaraderie in ASL is unparalleled in wargaming. It is a niche hobby within a niche hobby and you can strike up a conversation with any player from here to Hong Kong, and immediately be speaking the same language. Because the bond between players forms quickly, many of my closest friends over the years are fellow gamers. I do not hesitate if I can extend a helping hand and have not encountered many who won’t the other way around either. There really is a bond. Certainly not on a level of military compatriots or police officers or others who have dangerous occupations, but certainly more than most with merely a common interest linking them. Such has been my experience.

The game itself is varied and handles moving from theatre to theatre VERY well: If you play many operational games, the difference between playing in the desert or the hills of Italy is pretty superficial. Here, moving from the Winter War, to the desert to the jungle to the steppes is absolutely worlds apart and FEELS like it is worlds apart. Put simply, ASL is the ultimate triumph of design for effect and there are literally thousands of scenarios and well north of one hundred CG’s. If you can’t find something to play, then you would quite rightly be likened to a little kid sitting in his room surrounded by toys screaming “I’m Bored!!!”

Finally, to succeed at this game you have to be very detail oriented and know how to plan on the fly when the best laid plans go up in smoke. Very challenging indeed!

The accessibility of the hobby in terms of helping new guys: With everything from questions, advice on everything from purchases to game tactics.

What I don’t like:

Some of the rules can be gamey, but then, it IS a game. Also, there is always the magic of the SSR to fix that which truly galls you.

– Carl Nogueira, May 6 2015

Link to the Original Text on GameSquad

March Madness 2015 Videos

March Madness is a hugely popular Advanced Squad Leader tournament, held annually in Kansas City.

This one’s done by Tom Meier, the preview.

http://www.kansascityasl.com

This one’s a tribute, done by K Scott Mullins, aka GrumbleJones

http://boxcarsagainaslblog.blogspot.com/

Dinant : Chasseurs on the Meuse AAR

Notre Dame de Dinant & the Citadel. Source : Wikipedia

Calm down, you didn’t miss it.  Dinant is not out yet.

Dinant is a project in development.  Dan Dolan’s the designer, Nadir Elfarra did the map and Carl Nogueira, the campaign game.  Stanley Neo and I have been playtesting the Dinant scenarios, so this perhaps one of the rare times when you see an AAR on a product not released.


This scenario, “Chasseurs on the Meuse”, depicts an action that took place on May 13 1940.  The Belgian 8th Chasseurs de Ardennais, fighting a series of delaying actions, was chased all the way up to the edge of the Meuse by Rommel’s Ghost Divison (7th Panzer).  The French arrived at the west shore and did their best to help out.  The Germans are to seize the victory locations marked on the top of this map within 7 turns.  The German Recon company can choose to come in from the marked locations on the right side of the map.  Their HQ and Armoured Car platoons can come in from the south (bottom of the map) as well.

Chasseurs - Start-proc

This was my Belgian/French setup.  The three VC locations were on the top part of the map.  One of the VC hexes was under the stack of Belgians to the right of the VC stone building.  The Germans start with 13 elite squads, 5 leaders, 4 armoured cars and a host of motorcycles.  .  The Belgians fields 9 first liners and the French, 3 first liners immediately and 3 on Turn 3.  The Allies have 6 leaders, 2 self propelled guns and a module of OBA with scarce ammunition.

The Belgians had 2 HS HIP’d with ATRs around Rue Saint Jacques (the road through the valley from the right) and one on the first level of Notre Dame de Dinant.  The big set of concealment counters in front of the roadblock at Place Reine Astrid (in front of Notre Dame de Dinant and the Citadel was a decoy to turn enemy AFVs that way.

Place Reine de Astrid. http://www.citadellededinant.be

Citadel de Dinant.  http://www.citadellededinant.be

Chasseurs - T2 German - Miss the first car Shooting at the passengers in the square.  Mass of Germans.  Mortars suppressed-proc

Turn 2 Germans : The German infantry decided to heap through the Rue Saint Jacques en masse.  The French mortar managed however, to catch their counterparts from across the Meuse.  The armoured cars got a bit of harassing fire from the French across the river.

Hearing the Germans in the Plaza outside, the Belgian HS in the Notre Dame threw off their cover and went to the windows with their ATR. One entrance to the narrow streets was blocked but the other one needed to be sealed as well, best with a wreck.  The first armored car passed by and was about to turn into the narrow streets to the north.

Boom!!  The anti tank grenade missed,

The targeted AC continued to speed away and the second followed suit.  The other ACs started firing into the church and the German infantry got the headsup about Notre Dame.

Chasseurs - T2 Belgian - Forgot to Skulk.  Hit and Killed the AFV-proc

Turn 2 Belgians : The intrepid ATR team survived the initial German fire.  It now sounded like half the German army was running for the church.  The Belgians went to the windows again and fired.  This time wrecking the 2nd armored car and therefore successfully blocked the armoured car platoon from the action to the north!

In the north, the Belgians were nervous about all the Germans coming down the valley but they felt a little too smug about lying concealed in stone buildings.  They decided not to skulk.

Big mistake.  The Belgians in the first 2 building hexes got blown away by the massed German firepower.

While one of the Belgian self propelled guns moved into place.  The one to the north refused to budge without their partner and a radio to contact them with.

Chasseurs - T3 German - Brute force CC 3-proc

Turn 3 Germans : The Belgians to the north were simply not retreating fast enough.  The Germans caught them in 3 locations where Close Combat killed 2 Belgian squads.

Chasseurs - T3 Belgian - The Other tank finally moved Belgians tried to do AA-proc

Turn 3 Belgians : Hey! The French reinforcement arrived, together with a radio to call down the artillery.  Yes, ammunition was scare but it’s something.  Given the rowhouse configuration, the French could only look for line of sights through the gaps they could find.

The other Belgian self propelled gun was touched by the change in sentiment and moved into one of the narrow streets to cover the German advance.

Chasseurs - T5 Germans - B Tank fired but HIP ATR appears-proc

Turn 5 Germans : The Belgians finally got the hang of just how far to move back and how to shoot the Germans in bypass.

The Belgian SPG closer to the river was shooting at the Germans moving through the little plaza.  When it Firist Fired, the lead German AC moved forward, turned and faced it.

The other HIP’d HS ATR team who sat through the Close Combat downstairs sprung out of hiding.

They shot and killed the lead AC!

Chasseurs - T5 Germans - B Tank fired but HIP ATR appears - Close up 01

A Close Up shot of how the lead German AC was killed by a HIP’ed Belgian ATS HS.

Chasseurs - T6 German - Belgians backed off Tank moved again ATR guy ran off Scare Ammo OBA no joy-proc

Turn 6 Germans : The Belgians continued to back off just enough to shoot at the Germans in bypass.  The French OBA was of no help whatsoever.  By the time they got a response from obliging French gunners their radio went dead.

Our second Belgian ATR HS managed to run away though!

Chasseurs - T6 German - Last-proc

The Germans, running out of the time, got even more aggressive and jumped onto a concealed Belgian stack.  The Belgians chose NOT to unconceal and NOT to fight.  To the German’s disappointment, Belgians survived the German attack and retained the option of moving away in the next Belgian turn, blocking the Germans for another round.

Seeing the distance between themselves and the VC building, the Germans decided that they won’t be able to make it to the VC objectives in time.

Overall : I think the long lines of rowhouses presented an interesting problem.  The Belgians had to be far enough to not invite close combat given the German superiority in numbers and to not be shot in their retreat.  However they needed to be close enough to in turn shoot the Germans in bypass.  This is especially important when they do not have enough firepower to take the Germans inside the stone buildings.

The mass of Germans was unnerving but had some of the Germans came in further to the north and down the cliffs, they would have been a handful.

Trying to get the French to help from across the Meuse is a problem as well.  Finding gaps between buildings though you can shoot was tough.  The OBA was practically useless in my game.

Thoughts from Stanley Neo : I packed the Germans’ entries via the XX13-XX16 while 3 choices were given. After some thoughts, I should have spread the force into two groups, one taking the top XX03-XX13 and the other remaining in XX13-XX16 to put more pressure on the Allies that is on the same side. At least some Germans would then be able to attempt to climb down and do a flank from the North.

Germans on the East were stuck around the entry zone for too long and should have pushed more aggressively. LoS study of the terrain may eliminate issues of troops getting pinned or broken by Mortar fire from the West.

The roadblocks were wisely placed at a chockpoint around QQ17/RR17 with ATR. This effectively blocked out the rest of the German’s AFV support making it harder for the Germans coming from the East to push.

Overall the scenario is relatively great to play. Would be interesting to replay the scenario with the afterthoughts built into the attack plan.

What are your thoughts with regards to this module?  Are you looking forward to it?

Haakka Päälle! The Unboxing

Notes from fellow gamers ..

  • Robin Reeve : There are actually 17 scenarios
  • “Srynerson” on GS : The Hungarian counters you noticed are errata counters for AoO apparently: http://forums.gamesquad.com/showthre…ight=hungarian
  • Chas Argent : Yes, the box says 4 (ASLRB chapter dividers) as well, but we added one more divider after the box went into production (and a 17th scenario). ‘Cuz we love you.Well, most of you.