DB134 March on Marche

This is a Running AAR.  New frames will be added when the game progress!

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J188 Grab and Go

I am the German defenders.  While I believe in bringing all my guns up front, I am not backing up fast enough.  I am not happy about exchanging casualties with the Russians at the present ratio (slight more than 1:1) since there are twice as many Russians as the Germans!  Even though the Russians are spread out, they have 5 leaders in this scenario (these are the Guards Para!).


Nor’easter XX Anniversary Pack & the Bunker crew

IMG_1514The ASL fanatics in New England got together two years ago and started building a scenario pack to commemorate 20 years of their involvement with ASL and more importantly, 20 years of their friendship via ASL.  

This is truly a pack built by ASL fanatics, for fanatics.  As such, standards are very high as these folks are well know players and scenario designers themselves.

One of the first ones that interests me is YASL#1 Full Immersion Baptism (Designer : Carl Nogueira).  I was involved in its playtesting.  This is the Spanish Civil War, replete with the Republican, the Nationalists, the Condor Legions and Moors with their ability to seek cover in the folds of the ground.  IMG_1226

YASL#4 The Twin Pimples (Designer : Andy Howard), it’s British regulars and commandos pitted against Italians in the desert and at night.  We are talking about 21 Italians & toys against 10 British squads and 9 commandos.  

My first game out of this pack will most likely to be YASL#5 Patrols on the Trail to Hell (Designer Vic Provost) perhaps for no other reason than that I have been a huge fan of Vic Provost’s & the Bunker crew’s PTO design.  This is a 5 turn USMC vs IJA jungle action that looks to be a good introduction for newer folks to the PTO terrain.  

Oh hey, gritty Ground Snow at Dusk, ’44 Eastern front action in YASL#6 Hein Olshana (Designer : Robert “Kedge” Johnson).  I know, you never get tired of ETO.  StuGs (with no radios) vs SU76Ms!  

IMG_1225YASL#8 Ass Backwards (Bob Tufano & Tom Morin) is the only other scenario in existence (according to ASL Scenario Archive) that features the British Archer.  The Archer is a tank destroyer with a 76LL gun pointing BACKWARDS.  This is a 6.5 turner that puts Panthers on the German side and plays on the Riley’s Road Map (from ASL Operation Veritable Historical Study).  

Tanks ONLY action?  You should take a look at YASL#9 Rack’em Up!  (Designer : Ted Wilcox).  This is German vs American (9 on 9), Jan 1945, Falling Snow and burnt out buildings (read : Open Ground).  It’s a fast one with 4 turns.  

Paratroopers on the IJA?  YASL#10 Dropping Topside (Designer : Michael J “Pooch” Puccio).   Two German tank destroyers vs SIXTEEN  T-34s?  YASL#11 Ja, Bix (Designer : Brian “Dr Death” Sullivan).  It’s a 5.5 turn where both parties can vary their OB.  

YASL13 Die to the Last Man (Designer : Joe Gochinski) features the CG style OB purchases that I was hooked onto since St Louis’s China-Burma-India The Lost Theater pack.  The IJA may run or they may fight.  It’s up to the British to figure out.  IMG_1227

Joe Gochinski is also the designer of one of my favorite scenarios – DB099 The Gin Drinkers’ Line, featuring Hong Kong.  

By the way, when I call them fanatics, they are real fanatics.  I don’t just mean they play like there’s no tomorrow.  This pack features some of the best ASL scenario designers.  Carl Nogueira is the designer for CH Dien Bien Phu and for the upcoming Dinant CG, Tom Morin is the designer for Valor of the Guards, Vic Provost (OB14 Pursuing Kobayashi), Stephen Johns, Ted Wilcox, Michael Puccio, Ralph McDonald and Joe Gochinski & the others have long lists of published scenarios in Dispatches from the Bunker, the New England ASL newsletter.  

Vic Provost – SSR: All Occupants of the Bunker Location are considered Fanatic [A10.8]

The Nor’easter ASL Tourney XX Anniversary Pack is truly a scenario pack designed by fanatics, for fanatics.  It’s product that these group of friends can all be proud of.  I am actually quite happy about the production (PDF) and the delivery (free & instantaneous).  I know a good number of these folks personally, out of which Carl Nogueira spent the most time teaching me how to play properly.  I just KNOW I am getting a top notched product.  I also wish to show my support and therefore encourage more of these publishing efforts from other ASL groups around the world.

IMG_1223Who knows?  We might even see a couple starting to come out of Asia!!  

To get your own copy of Nor’easter ASL Tourney XX Anniversary Pack:

The cost of the Pack is $15.00. Please forward your payments to the PayPal account of Carl Nogueira if paying by PayPal or to:
Carl Nogueira
7 Green Street
New Bedford MA 02740
If paying by check/money order, please make payable to Carl H. Nogueira.
If you have any questions regarding any aspect of the scenario pack, please contact Carl at chnogueira@aol.com, or here on facebook.

To get our own subscription to Dispatches from the Bunker:

Contact Vic Provost at aslbunker@aol.com

(I backordered all copies apart from keeping a subscription going forward, it IS that good.)

IMG_1222.JPG

PP08 No Simple Victory AAR – the ASL March Madness Partisan Pack

PP08 No Simple Victory is from the ASL March Madness Partisan Pack , produced by the Kansas City Irregular ASL Club for the March 13-15 2009 March Madness tournament.  According to Mark Pitcavage’s Desperation Morale site, only 75 copies were made.  I am lucky to have access to one and let me tell you, the storylines therein FASCINATE me.

An NKVD badge replica


The setting was May 1945 in Kurylowka Poland.  The Soviets had just “liberated” Poland and the Soviet NKVD started to hunt down former members of the “Armia Krajowa”.

A number of anti-communist partisan groups sprung up.  One such group was the National Military Alliance or the “NZW” and one of their biggest battles happened here.  The NZW prevailed, but the NKVD returned the next day and burned the village of Kurylowka to the ground.

PP08 R1 001-proc

Introduction and Setup : The NKVD officers are all Commissars.  The Poles on the other hand have 5 MPs instead of the usual 4.  The NKVD enters from the right and a trench in the middle of the village square is the “Victory Condition” hex.  I was the Partisans and Carl Nogueira the NKVD (Carl’s analysis of the scenario is at the bottom of this post).  I made a number of mistakes in this scenario.  One of which was putting my SSR given Set DC in the VC hex.  Since the NKVD wins immediately upon seizing that hex, blowing them up subsequently really doesn’t help.  I elected to exchange my 2 Fortified Location into 2 tunnels : one leading to the pillbox that oversee the VC hex and another leading from small clump of buildings to the right of the village so that units could rout back.

There are two approaches to the village.  One is to take the long way through the Forest on the bottom of the map.  That burns a lot of time.  The other way is to move through the open ground from the right to the left.  That carries a much higher risk of casualties which the NKVD player has to mindful of.  One of the SSRs states that the NKVD is subjected to BATTLEFIELD INTEGRITY (A16).  There’s a number on the broken side of each counter.  The NKVD starts up with a Battlefield Integrity score of 260.  When the NKVD takes casualties a running total of the number on the back of the counters is taken.  The NKVD is then subjected to an Integrity Check every 10% (or 26 in this case) of the starting score.  Fail it once, and the NKVD has their ELR reduced.  Fail it twice and the NKVD pack up and go home.

I assumed Carl would take a frontal approach through the scant cover the open ground offers (the NKVD had no smoke).  The Partisans had Molotovs though.  I tried to use Molotovs frequently early game (couldn’t be used inside the forest though) in the hope of setting something on fire “accidentally” but I completely forgot to use it late game when it really counted.

PP08 R1 002 - OPs .. R are coming from a different angle!-proc

Turn 1 Russian : The Russians, I mean ALL the Russians headed for the forest!  I started thinking about how I could redeploy to a completely different angle of attack.

PP08 P1 001 - Redeploy Notes-proc

Turn 1 Partisans : The Partisans had to redeploy to a very possible attack through the forest and from the bottom of the village!  My tunnels and my pillbox were rendered useless.  A few units had to come out of HIP to redeploy.  Anyway, it was what it was – a new game.  Good thing our Partisans had 5 MF instead of 4!

PP08 R2 001 - After MPh-proc

Turn 2 Russian : The Partisans in the forest had to do the best they could now.  I didn’t move far enough from the NKVD and therefore got my units surrounded a few times.  The NKVD was of course deadly at close range.  Concealment didn’t offer enough protection.

PP08 P2 002 - Moved LMG out to the right : Definitely using brokie to block-proc

Turn 2 Partisans : The three Partisan squads in the forest were of course completely outnumbered.  I hope to delay the NVKD as much as possible by using brokies to block the way as they rout.  I moved an LMG squad out to the clump of trees to help protect the “heavies” in case the Soviets change their mind and decide to skip long the edge of the forest instead.

PP08 R3 001 - After MPh-proc

Turn 3 Russians : The Russians came in strong.  The Partisans were quickly surrounded and destroyed.  The Russians tested the scene at the edge of the forest.  The Partisan HMG appeared to convince them otherwise.

PP08 P3 - End - more to the forest-proc

Turn 3 Partisans : The NKVD needed to be contained in the forest.  A few more Partisan squads were sent in there to rack up more casualties if they could.  At this point, I was a little reluctant to send even these folks.  The NKVD had an advantage up close while the Partisans were better in open area because of their enhanced mobility and longer range.  Molotovs couldn’t be used in forests either.  Kindling is NA for this scenario but I certainly hoped to set a few structures on fire “accidentally”.

Here’s also where I realised my next stupid move : I got my mortar (ideal against folks trying to come out of the forest, no?) in a trench BEHIND a hedge.  They couldn’t see anything.  The gun crew had to scramble to re-situate the mortar now.  Could they do it in time?

PP08 R4 001 - After MPh - HMG RF took out 2 HS Partisan holding out-proc

Turn 4 Russian : This was an epic turn.  The NKVD studiously picked a spot to come out of the woods that avoided the HMG.  So an LMG unconcealed to plug the gap.  Did it ever!  That residual where the path open up from the forest saw a good number of casualties.  A few came forth nonetheless, led by a 9-0 Commissar, and rushed the mortar crew.  One of the partisan squads was met by a number of NKVD and was presented with a DC pack as well ..

PP08 R4 002 - Partisan strong after 1 DC + tons of AdF-proc

Turn 4 Russian still : Our partisan squad survived all Advance Fire AND a DC blast!!  NKVD fixed bayonets and looked to move in ..

PP08 R4 004 - Forest CC ambush infiltrates right CC partisan withdraws-proc

Turn 4 Russian Close Combat : The NKVD squads moved in and even managed to ambush our partisan squad!  Fortunately they rolled infiltration for our brave partisan squad.  While the partisans were pinned and couldn’t move, the NKVD squads thought better of it and moved off.

On the far side of the open ground, the Russians wrestled with a partisan squad sent to mess with them.  The partisans got the ambush here and decided to move off to the Russian rear.

PP08 P4 001 - After MPh - getting out of the forest - HMG moves right Notes-proc

Turn 4 Partisan : Our brave partisan squad moved off to another position where the NKVD might decide to emerge.  The other partisan decided to back off to get some distance between them and the short range Russian bear.  On the other hand, the HMG crew grabbed their toy and ran off to the woods to get a better angle at the emerging NKVD.

The mortar crew couldn’t get away with their toy unfortunately, they were broken by fire from pursing NKVD.

PP08 R5 - 001 - After MPh - Heroic defense BPV up to 39-proc

Turn 5 Russian : At this point the NKVD had already breezed right through their first Battle Integrity check.  Two partisan squads fought hard at the edge of the forest the best they could.

Russians on the far right decided to rush the HMG in the woods as well.  Thank goodness to mutually supporting positions they would all eventually be broken.

PP08 P5 - 001 - End MPh-proc

Turn 5 Partisans : The partisans sent another squad to the far right to go after the broken NKVD squads.  Who knows?  May be they will force another Battle Integrity check!

Partisans were trying hard to back off into the clearing before the roads lead into the village – but it was hard.

PP08 R6 - 001 - After MPh BPV59-proc

Turn 6 Russian : The Russians tried the captured Polish mortar, hoping to get smoke for the final attack.  Fortunately it melted in their hands rather patriotically

The Poles kept backing off and putting residual on open ground.  I was also starting to think that I should bring the partisan squads on the far right back into the village for the final fight.

PP08 P6 - 001 - End - Reposition Guns-proc

Turn 6 Partisan : I saw the left side of the village as being particularly vulnerable.  I moved a few more squads up from the back to cover that.  The HMG and 2 LMGs were moved to the open so they could take advantage of their range.  The Russians would have to decide whether to divert squads to them or let them be.

PP08 R7 - 001 - After MPh - BPV 88 MMG revealed-proc

Turn 7 Russians : The BPV was now at 88.  The Russian passed the last 3 Battle Integrity Check without breaking a sweat.  The next one’s going to be 16 BPV off – which meant 3 or 4 squads, depending on what they were.

Fire lanes were deployed where possible to wear the NKVD down – but they kept coming.  When they got adjacent, the Partisans knew they wouldn’t last much longer.  An MMG deployed on the left opened up as well.  Unfortunately it broke down almost immediately.

PP08 P7 - 001 - after DFph - Firing Squads-proc

Turn 7 Partisans : We ran out of room to back off now.  The front row of NKVDs got too close and the Partisans got blown away, firing squad style.

Getting folks in their final position ..

PP08 R8 - 001 - Start-proc

Turn 8 Russian : So this is just a shot of the start of the final turn.  There’s still an MMG that remained “HIP” on the (hopefully) more vulnerable looking side.

PP08 R8 - 001 - After MPh-proc

Turn 8 Russian, after the Movement Phase : Carnage!  The Russian kept running squads though the gauntlet, even tried to place a DC on the squad in the target hex.  After they got a few in for the ensuring Close Combat phase, they ran the rest of the NKVD away from village to avoid more casualties!

PP08 R8 - 003 - Adv F - End-proc

 Turn 8 Russians – the end : Then it happened – the Russians fired into the concealed partisan squad in the target hex.  They got a morale check even with the +2 TEM.

Box cars.

The partisan squad reduced and broke.  The Russians were therefore in a position to advance in.

The Russians won.

Here’s the Analysis from Carl Nogueira :

It was a pretty intense game. I looked for opportunities to launch a human wave, to try and close up the ground needed to be crossed faster. However, that was of course not possible in the woods. Once out of the woods, I had a chance to do it, but I was not happy with the preparation of the defense. I had been unable to soften him up/draw off enough shots with the non-human wave crowd. It looked like the boys would be heading into a meat grinder and these guys don’t do meat grinder with the BPV rules. Not to mention the last sentence of A9.222. This makes human waves suicidal if the opponent has the ability to lay down several firelanes. Jackson had that opportunity. Human wave called off. Of course with these clowns, it was more of a sub-human wave anyway.

As Jackson alluded to, I initially went through the forest on the bottom board. It appeared to be lightly defended and it afforded me the ability to shoot back at his forces. Something my short range and lack of long range SW didn’t afford in the open. That combined with the Battlefield Integrity made my NKVD boys “vulnerable” in the open. (I always wanted to use NKVD and integrity in the same sentence. It’s a lot tougher than it looks.) The forest looked lightly defended to boot, so I was hoping to blow through there as fast as possible.

In the even, it took about turns, using my best Tampa style tactics to whip Igor forward. The attempt to put pressure on the Koresh compound and use those forces to be a diversion against the center, failed spectacularly. Fortunately, they graced me by not dying in the process. If there is one lesson that Jackson will take with im from this game, it is entrenched units behind a wall/hedge only see adjacent to the wall/hedge. No farther. His mortar was positioned under a foxhole thusly. As was a flanking squad and the VC hex guard. It didn’t cost him the game, but it did cost some opportunities.

I popped out of the woods and headed up the road, mostly to the right of the road, straight for the VC hex. Jackson’s units are quite fleet of foot by ssr in this, so they easily repositioned and got in front of us. Their mf base of 5 for MMC making that easily possible. After some early success heading up the road, I determined I was a turn behind. As a result I really took some chances. Even running some units into hexes I knew they couldn’t rout out of to try and force the pace. I was soon dissuaded. However, Jackson did decline a surrender which enforced NQ for my boys surrendering. That was more blessing than curse for me as I was able to have more liberal rout routes after that, FTR not withstanding.

I had to change the axis of attack to straddle the road more, as he had too many fire lanes to the right of the road. I was able to ooze out over the road and get enough fire down to open a path through the stone building that guarded the VC buildings left flank, but only on the next to last turn. That meant running through the open to try to get to the last VC hex.

It had looked really grim since Jackson had a 4.35 average DR over 7 key shots to start Russian turn 7. As a result, I had to take two tests for BI. I passed the first but failed the second. If it happened one more time, he gets the win. Fortunately, as is wont to happen, the dice turned back the other way. My boys discovered their meat sacks and my morale check DR improved drastically at just the right time. One 5-2-7 went berserk and tied up a key piece on the approach march. We were able to survive a nice fire lane Jackson laid from a HIP unit leading to the VC hex. Finally, I was able to get a G/O 5-2-7 and two 3-2-8 HS, one of which had a DC, ADJACENT to the VC hex. The 5-2-7 fired at his concealed unit in the trench, a 4+2, to try and strip him of concealment. The thought being it would make the thrown DC that much more effective done in that order. I lucked out with a 3-1 for a NMC. Jackson boxed the NMC and that was the game.

We discussed later and both felt the scenario is rough on the Russians. That said, the ROAR record now has it 3-2, pro-Russian. Still, I think the Russians have the longer road. That low ELR and short range for their force are real handicaps. Combined with needing to keep an eye out for the battlefield integrity makes it tough. As for the Partisans, they have typical partisan issues. The 5 mf rule for the MMC is a real nice touch. One thing the scenario is though is fun. All in all, it was a very enjoyable time and game.

Map of Poland from 1944

Farewell Fearless Leader John Hill

Art by Rodger MacGowan, Photo by Jackson Kwan

Mr. Patrick LeBeau sent a beautiful message to the “Squad Leader PreASL” YahooGroup to remember John Hill.  I asked and he kindly gave his permission to republish it here, for all of us whose memories Lt. Hill will forever be a part of.  

Farewell fearless leader

The original John Hill Squad Leader counter: Lt. Hill, a modest 9-1 leader.

When I purchased the famous purple edition of John Hill’s 1977 Avalon Hill game, Squad Leader, at the Origins held in Ann Arbor, Michigan that same year, I and many others were immediately hooked on the game system and ease-of-play. We attended all of John’s lectures and in a day or so mastered the game. By the end of the convention many of us were combining our game boards and units to play monster self-designed scenarios after having played all 12 scenarios in one long weekend.

Squad Leader would also win the title of Best Tactical/Operational Game of 1977

This was not my first encounter with John or his many excellent board and miniature games. Most notably in the mid 1970s was Johnny Reb, now known as Johnny Reb One. I still have the original mimeographed legal size cheat sheet printed on both sides, which was all you needed to play the first iteration of the Johnny Reb system. In that playtest addition, resolution used a single 12-sided die.

I mention these two games and I call them systems because they have an incredible longevity through continuous reprints, revisions and new editions, including new games derivative of earlier manifestations. Although the 1977 edition of Squad Leader is my all time favorite, the game would generate many supplements, which would lead to the development of Advanced Squad Leader. The whole Squad Leader family of games has sparked a gamer following that keeps the game alive (SL or ASL) to this day after almost all of the SL and ASL games are long out of print. ASL is directly responsible, I believe, to the development of the online VASSAL game engine for playing board/miniature games virtually.

Johnny Reb would lead to JRII and JRIII. From my perspective, I see Across the Deadly Field as John’s Opus Majus and final version of the Johnny Reb system. From my point of view, I believe ADF is his finest version and I hope it will emerge as his most popular American Civil War gaming system. I spent the entirety of 2014, from Fall In 2013 to Historicon 2014, and all those conventions in between, promoting ADF.

This brings me back to Lt. Hill, the U.S. 9-1 leader counter of the original Squad Leader. Many of us literally wore out our original counters due to continuous game play and finger handling. We of course replaced them by purchasing new games. This is not true with 99% of the board games I own. Further, in 1977, we understood the game as cardboard version of a miniatures game. Today I play the game using 15mm figures and terrain. My point is that as long as gamers continue to play John’s games he lives on.

In untold thousands of games, his old Lt. Hill counter has often suffered a KIA result or has broken under fire. At times it has conducted heroic acts, or has rallied squads at critical times. Whatever the outcome, Lt. Hill reemerges game after game to fight on and on to the enjoyment of the table top gamer whose only purpose is to have fun, learn history, study tactics, engage in competitive play and build friendships.

John was a good friend and his games build many life-long friendships.

I will miss him. We will miss him. However, as Lt. Hill, he will always be in our games, not only as a counter, a figure, a GM, a moderator, a game designer, a human, a man, and as one of the greatest game designers of all time.

Patrick LeBeau

January 13, 2015