Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT225 Blue Hell at P.A. Abries (AAR)

The date is June 21 1940.  A unit of the Italian mountain infantry, the “Fenestrelle” battalion of the 3rd Alpini Regiment launched an attack on the French Chasseur Alpins (“Alpine Hunters”) at Abries.  The Chasseur Alpins are informally known as “Les diables bleus”or “The Blue Devils”.  This scenario’s designed by Mr Alexandre Rousse-Lacordaire “in memory of [his] great-grandfather Capitaine Télèphe Rousse-Lacordaire (111th BCA) KIA on August 27th 1914.”

This is an Advanced Squad Leader scenario from LFT14 Italians : FT225 Blue Hell at P.A. Abries.   The Italians are to score more CVPs than the French (and to grab 3 buildings/pillbox) in 7 turns.  The Italians have three attack groups that can setup from four different areas.  That makes for a rather large area that the French has to worry about.  Whichever side has higher CVPs win but the Italians can also gain CVPs by claiming buildings on the top left quadrant of the map (top half of the map and left of the white dotted line).

The Italians opened quite nicely from the valley.  I focused on shortening my lines and bringing the French forces together and traded space for time.  The issue is that I could have takened better advantage of the Italians having to cross open ground with 6 morale.  My OBA went silent quickly after a couple of Access.  The Italian artillery was still going strong on Turn 6, wrecking havoc all along the French retreat. The Italians avoided open ground and got stuck up the hills on the top right.  The French defenders on the top right were able to scramble back and really had to do so when the Italians started threatening the hills to their immediate right.  The Italians didn’t go for the bottom left either but went up via the middle where they get better cover (but slower progress).  So far we have been able to fall back just ahead of the Italians and avoided Close Combat.  Unfortunately we had to move out of the woods when the Italian artillery started coming in.

IMG 4166By Italian Turn 6, the French were behind by 4 points, but that’s not counting the buildings ceded and the buildings the Italians will move into in the remaining turn.  We failed to put ourselves in a position to surround and kill their brokies.  Hard to rally as the Italians might be, they do rally.  Their OBA continues to wreck havoc on our positions, aside from hindering our ability to relocated.  One more Italian red chit and it would be gone, but there’s no chance of that now.  A French counterattack in the cards (down in the middle of the board)?  

Advanced Squad Leader AAR FT225 Blue Hell at P.A. Abries

I should have read the Victory Conditions more carefully and shouldn’t have retreated out of the hill in the middle of the map.  Apart from killing more French than they lost, the Italians have to get at least 3 buildings from the top quartrant of the map.  Moving the defensive line to the north hold things together but left the Italians with 7 buildings.  That is of course not a huge issue if we had OBA, but we drew 2 “Reds” early in the game!

Holding the hill in the middle of the map longer will leave the defensive line on the top of the map and around the buildings near the church thinner.  A more spread out set of defenders will also make it harder to keep the Italians from winning in CVPs.  Ah well, perhaps that’s the way it would have to be!

DBP3 Down & Dirty

DBP3 takes us back to Dien Bien Phu again!  The French Legionnaires, the Algerians & 2 Chaffees start with 3 trench networks on the right and need to take 3 more in 7 turns.  Heavy Rain’s in effect and so is Mud.  The going’s slow and the malf numbers are low.

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Product Review: Broken Ground Design Nationality Counter Sets

A designer in Canada, Alan Findlay of Broken Ground Design, endeavoured to rethink the whole (minus Japanese & Chinese) ASL counter set.  In the process, he also expanded into new counter designs as well – Snipers with SAN, Fanatics, Heroic Leaders, Wounded Leaders, Partisans, Berserkers, Free French and more.  Those who know me, know I am as far from a “counter-slut” as you can get – almost all of my games are on VASL.  Not only do I not have the space, I don’t have the patience to deal with physical counters.  I believe if I can do counters, I can be playing.

So I don’t like dealing with counters to start with and having seen the designs that Alan posted, I also thought they are too cartoonish to be part of ASL games.

But you know what?  These counters are NICE.  (Okay … and I was wrong.)

I am going to post a lot of pictures in this review.  I am also going to give you my thoughts and my experience with the Broken Ground Nationality counters, so you can make your own decision as to whether you should make the purchase.

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SS

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Partisans (Balkans) & Axis Minors

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French MMC

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French SMC

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Polish

Now before I continue, Alan stated two known issues :

  • Due to the short run, this batch was digitally printed. This means a higher possibility of mis-alignment with the die-cutting. The full project will use professional offset printing.
  • This batch is too thick. Four of my counters stack as high as 5 official counters. The next sample batch will be corrected for thickness.

Oh, you should also know that I don’t clip counters, not ever.  So chances are if you think these images are nice, your purchased counters will look even nicer than these.

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I mentioned that when I saw Alan’s counter designs earlier in the year, I thought they were too cartoonish.  Now that I’d seen the actual counters – they are not.  They sure look like they belong to ASL games.

I had only made cuts down each side of the rows, took entire strips out and broke each counter off by hand (stop screaming like a little girl).  The high quality of the die cut makes it possible.  However in a few instances, the back of the counters came off and shifted.

The good new is, I was able to “coax” the shifted graphic back in place with properly applied pressure (and meditation).

The graphics look terrific and the numbers are very visible, including the MMC identification letter on the top left.  The issue I have is with the smoke number.  Not only is the smoke number important by itself, the smoke number in a swapped colour set differentiates the Assault Engineers.  Not that it’s any worse that the existing counters we have, but I can’t comfortably see the smoke numbers on Broken Ground’s counters without proper lighting and magnification.

Broken Ground counters laid out a lot of SMCs.  There are:

  • “normal” leaders
  • wounded leaders
  • fanatic leaders
  • wounded fanatic leaders
  • heroic leaders
  • fanatic-heroic leaders.

I have only been playing for 4 years but I can hardly remember a leader going heroic, much less fanatic (by SSR mostly?) or fanatic-heroic.

Having said all that, having “specialised” SMC counters is nice, instead of piling on information counters on existing leaders.  If nothing else, the Wounded Leader counter will be used quite a bit.  Having Assault Engineer full squad and half squad clearly differentiated is nice as well.

Here are the Broken Ground counters against the new MMP Yanks 2 counters …

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French 1st line, Fanatic Elite, Polish Elite

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French Fanatic Heroic Leader, Wounded Fanatic Leader, Jedi Master, Fanatic Polish Hero

A couple of action shots …

A wounded leader huddles in the gully with a broken unit while the 2nd line squad is about to head into the smoke laid down by the neighbouring 1st liner in the woods

 

Here I have my AH French counters alongside the Broken Ground counters ..

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The French MMC & the 8-1 First Fired at the SS HS that Assault Moved down the path ..

I find the Broken Ground Nationality Sets to be attractive and highly visible.  The “extra” counters that Alan added are useful and contribute towards lessening the stacks.

Alan asked :

If your FtF opponent wanted to play a scenario using Broken Ground counters, would you say “no”?

No I won’t.  However the Broken Ground counters are so visible and looks so much better that it’s going to put a positive modifier on my Personal Morale Checks.  Postgame that Flame in my wallet is going to turn into a Blaze and burn a hole right through!

Any questions or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

(All Photos are Copyrighted to the Hong Kong Wargamer.  Do not use without permission.)

Product Review : Broken Ground Design Vehicle Counters