BoF4 About His Shadowy Sides – Advanced Squad Leader AAR

BoF4 About His Shadowy Sides – Advanced Squad Leader AAR

Scenario Background

The date was 24 June 1941, the place was the west of Dubysa (a stream), Lithuania.  Russian units debuted their new KV-2 the day before and shocked the Germans.  Another attack hit Panzer-Abteilung 65 by surprise and neighbouring units were called in to prevent a penetration.

Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations

The Russians win at game end by controlling 9 or more building hexes and/or by eliminating 3 or more AFVs than the Germans eliminated.  The first part of the Victory Conditions means I have to take 9 building hexes and hold them til game end.  The second part means if I lose 1 KV-2, I have to kill all the German AFVs.  The Russian forces enter from the right on Turn 1. The Germans have some units onboard but they have 8 squads with 2 minus 1 leaders entering from the top on Turn 2, 4 PzIVDs on Turn 3 from the left.  There are 13 building hexes below the water bodies on Board 17 (lower board).  These I would have to take and hold against the German counter attack.

KV-2The Russians have 8 Movement Phases.  They will have to do 5 hexes per phase for 4 phases to put them in the vicinity of the 2 hex Wooden building on the left half of Board 17.  That leaves them 4 turns to fight.  The KV-2, on the hand, is a real monster.  It is big enough to give a -2 to any TH for size.  It spots an armor factor of 8 all around, 11 if you hit that turret from the front.  Its 152mm gun dishes 30 IFT / TK21 (AP9 & no IF).  On the otherhand, it can only turn it’s turret by paying NT penalties (we played it wrong: we played it as if it’s an NT), goes 9 MP per turn and that’s only if you pass the Mechanical Reliability DR.  The PzIVD offers fantastic mobility [amended, see footnote 1].  It packs a good set of MGs (totalling 8 IFT) but it’s 75* (short barrel) with a TK of only 10 (AP7).  It’s hard to kill a KV-2 with anything less than a swarm but all you need is to kill one and scatter (the remaining Russian tank will have to kill all the PzIVDs to win via that route).  The Germans can also immobilise one first (net +3 and a hull hit), hopefully in some awkward position/location.  Their smoke dischargers (s9) can help the German reinforcements cross all that open ground from the top to the middle of the map!

My KV-2’s have to cover each other’s blind spots, It’s best to stick to congested areas where it’s harder for the nimble PzIVD to get around.  We also need to keep them away from Deliberate Immobilisation shots.  I am tempted to have them keep the PzIVDs from helping the German reinforcements but that will open them up to being swamped and killed.  I decided to have them operate strictly in the village (bottom map, ie Board 17).

Advanced Squad Leader AAR

BoF4 About His Shadowy Sides After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

I had about 4 turns to get in position, so all Russian units rushed in from the right.  We got lucky when we knocked out the Level 1 MMG perched up on that two hex Wooden building in the middle of board #17.  Up in the woods in the middle of the map, we situated our range weapons – our MMG and our MTR.  Their job was to stop/ delay the German reinforcements.  A couple of other squads were there to pick up the 2 buildings nearby.  The KV-2’s quickly reached the stone wall from which we wanted to fight from (good defence against Deliberate Immobilisation).

BoF4 About His Shadowy Sides After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

The Russians made great progress by the start of Turn 5.  We were closing in on the 2 hex wooden building on the left of Board 17.  We picked up 7 building hexes at this stage.  However the team on our Northern flank’s getting crushed by the 3 PzIVD’s (CH’s in Advancing Fire helped) and the German regulars.  They were cowering in a big broken heap near the pond.  We moved the KV-2 up to the left to help our flank out and to keep the German tanks away from our last building objective.  A 152mm HE shot sent some of the Germans flying back for a bit but that won’t last.  We need to get (and hold) 9 buildings before the German reinforcements come through to the village (Board 17)!

BoF4 About His Shadowy Sides After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

The Germans got through!  Worse, they came in from behind us with 2 PzIVDs and recaptured one of the buildings.  Our northern flank recovered somewhat but so did the Germans in that 9-1 stack.  We could see them getting ready for another go.  Our KV-2’s decided to relocate but one of them promptly broke down!  Fortunately the crew decided to stayed with the biggest chunk of metal on the field.  The other KV-2 had no choice but to break formation and go right up to the stone wall in full view of the pair of PzIVD’s (right of map).  That would give them something to think about.  Both the main assaulting team and the flank protection team were told that no help was coming.  Our captured buildings were defended by Disrupted units but that would have to do!

BoF4 About His Shadowy Sides After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

The 9-1 Germans indeed had another go at the second building in the Woods (middle of the map).  Most broke through the Russian fire but one unit survive to recapture another of our buildings!  The Russians were now down to 8.  The PzIVD on the left tried its luck but was the first to brew up by the immobilised KV-2.  Both PzIVDs on the right tried motion & smoke but had no luck with the dice.  One of them did fled but the one remaining was hit and burned as well!  If the Russian hit another PzIVD we might win the game.  The German infantry was coming in from the rear and I couldn’t spare any of the men to keep them away!

BoF4 About His Shadowy Sides After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

To my surprise the “escaped” PzIVD didn’t go far.  It kept after the Russian flank.  The KV-2 decided to hop the stone wall and go after it.  To be honest, I was wary of having this last KV-2 immobilise as well but the VC was on the line!  Meanwhile the main assault team made for the “Alamo” on the bottom map.  We had 3 squads against 1 German squad and a wounded 10-2 (how hard can that be?).  Well, it was hard.  The Germans broke 2/3 of the assaulting teams.  The good news was that the guys on the North flank crawled back up, encircled and recaptured one of the buildings!  We got 9 and would had to keep it that way for the remaining turn.

BoF4 About His Shadowy Sides After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

I expected a mad dash from the Germans (from the left) for some of the center buildings.  I had a squad of conscript and a rear facing MG in the KV-2 to counter that.  That didn’t materialise.  One of the PzIVD came around the left and took a shot at my immobilised KV-2.  We both forgot that the KV-2 turret could in fact turn, albeit with a NT penalty.  The Northern flank held onto their recaptured building (we got 9), even though the 7-0 who had the MMG to himself jammed it in a live demonstration of what not to do with a Maxim!  The PzIVD on the left gunned its engines in a bid to pull off another escape but was hit and killed.  The Germans conceded.
BoF4 About His Shadowy Sides After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

How’s this scenario interesting?

KV-2Both sides had a chance to attack and to defend.  There’s a lot of force allocation decisions to be made especially for the Russian player.  The Germans couldn’t afford to be distracted by buildings on the fringes, they had to make it to the village on time in order to disrupt the Russian attack.  The KV-2’s were a real challenge.  Nothing short of a nice “dance of death” would do (with the survivors running off to the far corners of the map).  Then if that’s the case, they wouldn’t be helping their reinforcements cross that vast Open Ground on the top half of the map.  Typical of the best scenarios, there are a good number of what-if’s and tradeoffs to be made.  I thought I was on track for an easy win but my opponent obviously proved me wrong.

[Footnote 1] I previously said the PzIVD is a “small” target.  It’s not.  Thanks to Michael Rodgers for pointing it out.  You can read Michael’s blog on

Do not let Valuable ASL Time slip by – Walter Branham, Berserk Commissars

Do not let Valuable ASL Time slip by – Walter Branham, Berserk Commissars

Hi Comrades –

I just want to send a little encouragement to those of us waiting for face to face. to begin learning.

in my opinion, playing face to face is the ultimate ASL experience, however there is a lot to be said about VASL online.

First, I believe VASL is a far superior learning tool than face to face.

It provides fast and quick exposure to counter retrieval. easy and fast set up, easy counter movement, easy Hidden Initial Placement (“HIP”), common dice rolls, easy guide to Off Board Artillery, and as a bonus: easy saving/storage of the game.  You can sit down and play/learn for a couple hours, save the game and start up later. A lot of the mechanics and important charts are built into VASL.

You avoid the time it takes to travel to the game and the time it takes to set up…….time that can be better used for actually playing the game.  In addition, if I piss you off, you can give me the finger and i won’t even know it!

Even when things get back to normal and it is easier to play face to face, and that could be a long time, i still believe VASL to be a great way to increase your ASL skills and abilities.  The two most important things to learning ASL is to make time to do it and to play.  Every day you delay you let valuable ASL time slip by.

Finally, in response to someones who said, “I want an understanding, sympathetic, and patient opponent for my first game. I have a lot of questions; and your after action reviews raise even more”.
I would just like to say that there are quite a few of us who fit that bill.  I would say most of us, some more than others.  Personally, it would be a pleasure for me if we can spend some time helping you learn the game and I know others who feel the same way.

I am grateful to the fellows in BC [Berserk Commissars] who were patient with me 12 years ago and still are today.

Of course, you have your own opinions and you must do what makes you most comfortable, but should you change your mind and decide that may be now is the right time to give this a try, feel free to hit me up and we can get started.

Kindest ASL regards, 

Walter Branham, Berserk Commissars of Portland. Oregon

RPT72 Yangtze Doodle AAR

Same Setup on VASLRPT72 Yangtze Doodle is a scenario from the latest Rally Point pack – “Sons of the Rising Sun”.  It presents a rather interesting layout between the Imperial Japanese Army (“IJA”) and the Chinese.  The date’s Oct 5 1937.  The IJA had crossed the Wusong Creek (also known as the Suzhou Creek).  Wusong Creek is a river that cuts across Shanghai from the west to east which, in 1937, divided Shanghai up into the Japanese concession and the International Concession (Americans and British).  Tangbeizhai was one of the Chinese garrisons that stood between IJA and a new line the IJA wanted to establish from the river crossing.

North is to the left of the map.  The Chinese squads in the little village in the middle were elements of the 3rd Battalion, 467th Regiment, 78th Division that were surrounded by the IJA.  The Chinese squads on the far left were the 2nd Battalion sitting in reserve.  The IJA would get reinforcements coming in from the far right.  Chinese were 4-4-7s, IJA were 4-4-8s except for the two stacks you see on the right on the map.  Both the Chinese and the IJA would have to fight in two directions.  The IJA winning conditions were to control the bridge hex (which could be on the bridge or under the bridge, see A26.131) and to clear the village buildings in the middle of the map of any good order Chinese squads in 5 turns.

This was a “face to face” game, with me being the IJA and a visiting friend “John Doe” who wants to remain anonymous.

RPT72 End of C T1

The IJA moved first and this was the end of the Chinese Turn 1.  If you noticed the two hidden (“HIP”) IJA half squads deployed as speed bumps on the left of the map, you know I wasted  an opportunity.  The better use of HIP would have been to put the in the hamlet to the left of the stream and jump the Chinese while in concealment.  Anyway, since the “hidden” IJA half squads were not in concealment terrain, they were spotted immediately and overran.  The IJA LMG malfunctioned on the first shot (a common affliction for the IJA) but the IJA sniper broke a Chinese squad in the village to the right of the stream.

RPT72 End of C T2

This was the Chinese Turn 2.  In the preceding IJA turn, an IJA half squad tried to move to the bridge hex but was broken on the way.  The Chinese rushed head-on to the hamlet from the left.  I made the mistake of leaving an IJA 9-1 leader by himself with the enemy in close proximity.  While two out of the three incoming Chinese squads were pinned on the left, the Chinese 8-0 slipped through and swung around to the IJA leader.  See that smoke counter?  The IJA mortar smoked out the Chinese medium machine gun (“MMG”) and the Chinese hero dropped the gun and rushed in to kill the IJA leader from the right.  The striped squad you see would eventually ran off and dived under the bridge.  In the ensuring close combat, the IJA 9-0 was wounded and killed by the 8-0 and hero tag team.  However the half squad under the malfunctioned LMG would withdraw from close combat (Chinese rolled boxcars) and killed the Chinese 8-0 and hero in hand-to-hand during the following IJA turn!

RPT72 End of J T3

This was a shot of the cleared hamlet in IJA Turn 3.  The striped IJA squad mentioned in the earlier turn survived defensive fire and dove under the bridge.  This IJA half squad just avenged their 9-1 leader with their bayonets.  (Yes, all my counters have four healthy corners.)

RPT72 J T4 Banzai

This was the IJA Turn 4.  The IJAs on the right had to break into the village before the Chinese on the left cross the bridge and link up with the surrounded garrison.  Since the IJA sniper broke another Chinese squad in the village (he’s really earning his pay today), it’s time for a Banzai attack!

RPT72 J T4 Banzai after

Three IJA squads got reduced into 2 half squads (they do a great podcast by the way) but where they pointed, they reached.

RPT72 J T4 Banzai Took All

Hence in turn 4, the IJA sniper, a Banzai attack and a separate close combat took the Chinese garrison!

RPT72 J T5 Rush Bridge

The Chinese to the left however, wiped out the avenging IJA and took the bridge hex.  Hence in the last IJA turn, the situation called for another Banzai charge into the stream.  All IJA personnel within running distance piled in.  The other IJA squads and the MMG crew occupied key buildings in the village to prevent a Chinese counterattack in the last turn.

So one striped squad and one half squad made it through the enemy fire and piled in on 2 Chinese squads.  And do you know what I rolled?

RPT72 J T5 CC roll


Two Chinese squads got wiped out in an automatic ambush.  The bridge hex went back to IJA hands!

In the last Chinese turn, a Chinese squad piled in after some ineffective preparatory fire.  They had to kill all Japanese units in the bridge hex to retake it.

So it all boiled down to the last Close Combat die roll.

When the chatter in the dice tower died, the IJA won!!

Looking back at this,  we have a few thoughts:

  • the IJA sniper played a key role in breaking two squads in choice locations today.
  • as mentioned before, I wasted my HIP option via improper use.  A better use would be to put them in the hamlet on the left of the stream and jump the incoming Chinese while concealed.
  • I should have CX’d the IJA reinforcement coming in from the far right.  I was struggling to get enough IJA to rush the bridge at the end.  Had the IJA reinforcement got on the scene earlier, I wouldn’t have this issue.
  • On the last IJA turn I could have run another Banzai attack on the other side of the village, making it two parallel Banzai attacks for the bridge.  That would give me enough mileage to hit the bridge hex and a heightened morale level to do it with.  However that could also open the village to counterattack.

Any thoughts?  Comments?  Suggestions?   Happy to hear from you as always!!

Suzhou Creek

Suzhou Creek (Photo credit: Wolfgang Staudt)