Saturday, Sept 20 2014. I found the corner table just like George Bates did when he was the tourney director for the Malaya Madness tourney in Singapore and I set my bag down. The Hong Kong Society of Wargamers has 2 rooms booked at the KITEC (Kowloon International Trade & Exhibition Center) regularly for their meetings. Today, however is unlike any other day.
Today is the day for the Gin Drinkers’ Revenge 2014.
Twelve arrived. We had them divide up into three categories :
- Former HK ASL Tourney winners
- 5 years experience and above
We had 8 hours, 2 rounds, single elimination, 4 hours per game. We wasted no time in deciding on scenarios and bidding for sides.
Round 1 : J59 Friday The 13th
My first round was played against Aris Avi from Greece. He lived in Hong Kong for a little while and will be going back to Greece shortly after the tournament. He said however, that whilst he used to play Squad Leader, he’s more into miniatures back home.
I was hoping for J12 Jungle Fighters as some folks here are less versed with (or are even adverse to) PTO. We decided on J59 Friday the 13th instead. I have never played this but Aris said since he played the defenders last time, he would like to be the attackers.
If you would ignore the blue arrows for a moment, this was my defensive setup. The Germans had 3 JgdPzIVs that came in with 10 5-4-8 paras and 3 leaders from the left. The objective was for the Germans to capture all buildings around where you see the Russians concentrated. The Germans had 6 turns. I had my antitank gun (57LL with ROF3) pointed at where it could most likely take a side shot on the Jagdpanzers.
Aris opened up with an armour assault on the top part of the board. He had a small contingent heading towards where my AT gun was emplaced together with some wire. My AT gun fired during the Defensive Final phase, got a hit even though I lost ROF. YES! I will take one out of three. Side shot, TK looked great, I rolled.
BOXCARS – BOOOOOIINNKKKKKKKKKKK!!!
The round glanced off the Jagdpanzer closest to me and then of course the entire German force was then aware of our gun’s presence. Too late now, the paras closest to the AT Gun started to move towards it. On the top side of the board the Germans started getting shot up by the Russian HMG on the first level of the big house. The Russian HMG team held out moderately well and when it broke the half squad on the ground level advanced up to help, except that it couldn’t find the HMG of course (“What do you mean you can’t find the gun?? We left it standing by the WINDOW!!!”)
The Germans para were unable to reach the hedge. At one point most of them even low crawled back to the tree line. On Turn 3 or 4 two Jagdpanzers decided to jump the hedge. Believe it or not, I planned for it. That’s why I had a squad in a fox hole with an ATR looking for an underbelly shot when Jagdpanzers jump the hedge. However as the Jagdpanzer rolled over, I forgot. The first Jagdpanzer overran the foxhole. The good news was that Jagdpanzers with FP1 bow machine guns don’t offer much fireworks. The better news was the squad survived and killed the tank hunter in close combat. At this point, I started to move my Russian infantry up for a counter attack.
I was in a bit of danger on my left flank (bottom) though as the Germans killed the gun crew. One German squad was however caught in the wire and my opponent wasn’t sure whether my other wire was some where in the woods as well. The Germans stopped coming through the Russian left flank. Katya (the Russian sniper) once again came by and broke the remaining German squad for me.
The second JagdPanzer that jumped the hedge stopped with its gun pointed at the HMG farmhouse. I got it caught between two ATR squads as shown and blew it away from behind as my opponent was perhaps too focused on taking out the big farmhouse to let the German paras in. There were no survivors.
My opponent conceded.
Round 2 : T4 Shklov’s Labors Lost
My next opponent was Ted Kwong. Ted said he bought his Advanced Squad Leader modules a long time ago. It’s only recently that he started learning the system. He told me how terrific a teacher Erwin Lau is. Erwin is a local grognard who plays a variety of games and has been winning (multiple?) championships in past Advanced Squad Leader tournaments held by the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers. As a testament to how much Erwin has done in pushing ASL locally, Ted is the third person who told me recently as to how immensely patient Erwin is as a teacher.
Here you can see Ted Kwong on the left after rolling a pair of snake eyes on his opponent in ASL126 Commando Schenke.
We decided on T4 Shklov’s Labors Lost (Ted didn’t want to do PTO, so no AP84 Double Trouble). I would be the attacking Germans. JR Tracy told he they used to call this scenario “Gandalf vs the Balrog” because each side gets a 10-3.
This was the setup from memory. I got the Germans who had 9 4-6-8s with a star-studded leadership team : 10-3, 9-2, 8-1 with 2 armor leaders 9-1, 8-1. There were also 2 STuGIIIB to help them with taking 5 designated Russian buildings in 6 turns. The Russians had 7 and a half 4-5-8s led by a 10-0 and a 10-3.
The placement of the Russian 10-0 made me wonder if they had their MMG up front. The HMG was probably with the 10-3.
Ted just won his last game against Christopher Chu and he was in a pretty good mood. We shook hands and the game got underway.
We opened the game with a 2KIA! Great omen I’d say, I gripped a little tighter my pair of lucky dice that saw me through Malaya Madness as well. The commissar stack vaporised before the commissar had a chance to rub his eyes. The STuGs led the way with armoured assault, chucking smoke out of their smoke dischargers at key points down the left and the right. The Germans had no intention of doing frontal attacks. The Germans entered the commissar building from the Russian right flank and went slightly behind the first building on the Russian left flank. The STuG from the Russian right came across, discharged smoke immediately before reaching the MMG building and did a bypass freeze on the MMG hex (froze the ground level only). The Germans then piled in through the front and from the side under the cover of a timely smoke grenade.
The German deathstar later moved into commissar building and joined the 9-2 and his team. At around Turn 3 the Russian 10-3 was pinned and the Russian HMG squad went berserk!! They dropped the HMG, ran into the street and the berserkers were UNSTOPPABLE. All the heavy German firepower had assembled in the commissar building at that point but apart from bring critically reduced, the Russian berserkers made its way across. It was only when the deathstar final fired at it from an adjacent hex.
The Germans then looked up and met the eyes of the lonely Russian 10-3. The Russian quickly grabbed the HMG, admirable but futile. The STuG rode by and put down smoke from its dischargers. The Germans 9-2 led 2 squads across the street into the Russian 10-3 hex. The STuGIIIB continued its way and got behind the VC buildings. Four buildings down and I would take the Russian HMG as well after we shoot the 10-3.
Ted gracefully conceded.
So here we go. We have a front runner from each of the 3 groups :
- Tourney winners – Erwin Lau
- 5 years Experience and above – Anthony Leung
- Newbies – Jackson Kwan
There will be games arranged at a later date to determine the final rankings amongst these three, subject to Hong Kong Society of Wargamers’ scheduled events and venue availability.
Watch the video!!
I am in trouble!
I just found myself regular face-to-face (“FtF”) games with the good people of the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers who, when they are not playing miniatures, meet regularly to play Advanced Squad Leader games.
I thought I would just drop by, watch and learn how ASL rules come alive in FtF play. It’s my first meeting with these folks (names withheld since I didn’t ask for their permission) and I was determined not to be too much of a disruption. I mean these are very experienced players who carry all the ASL tables in their heads, surely they don’t have time for newbies …
They would have none of that.
Before I knew it I was taking part in a scenario “S21 Clash at Borisovka“. This scenario depicts a situation on March 14 1945, in Borisovka, where the German Grossdeutschland Division had penetrated deep into Russian lines and elements of the 3rd Guard Tanks Corps was sent to stop them. It’s a tank on tank scenario where the Russians has 10 T-34s and the Germans has 4 Mark IVs and 2 Tigers. I haven’t yet read Chapter D but soon after they took the time to explain gameplay to me, I was running a T-34 from behind the woods, speeding through open ground and ramming up against the side of a row of Mark IVs on our flanks and took two of them out!
The Tigers were much harder to deal with. We were trying to run T-34s around them and even got some rammed up their sides but to no avail. We though things were going downhill for the Russians when one of the Tiger’s gun malfunctioned!
You should have heard the screams!
At the end the Russians won, befitting the engagement’s historical ending. If you saw the level of engagement (Advanced Squad Leader is a VERY interactive game), it’s not hard to understand how some folks devote a lifetime to playing it.
To my fellow newbies : It’s true – the best way to learn Advanced Squad Leader is to have seriously experienced players to play with you. You’ll be amazed how quickly everything fall into place!
(If the above sounds fantastic, you should know that I was learning more than playing .. a couple of grognards did all the moves!!)
How about coming home everyday to 30 mins of PBeM game over VASL?
Whether you are a fellow newbie who would like to learn together or an experienced ASLer who don’t mind helping me up the curve. I play to enjoy and to learn. Please message me at jackson-dot-kwan-at-gmail-dot-com!!