FT S3 Last Stand on An-San (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

FT S3 Last Stand on An-San (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Scenario Background

This is 26 September 1950.  Lt Col. Taplett’s (gent in the pic below) 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines fought southeastwards down the slopes of An-San/ Hill 296 towards the city (see the red circle on the map below, credit “Battle of the Barricades” by Col Alexander).  The North Korean 78th Independent Infantry Regiment and the 25th Infantry lead by Colonel Pak Han Lin put up a stout defence.  

Battle of the Barricades Colonel Joseph H Alexander

Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations

The KPA (North Koreans) started on Level 3 or above.  The Marines entered from the left of the map at or above Level 2.  In about 6 turns, the Marines should fight their way to Level 1, the KPA should fight to stay on Level 3 or above.  The KPA started with 2×447, 4×426 (conscripts), an LMG and a 8+1 Commissar.  The KPA counterattack force, comprising of 2.5×458, 2×527, 2×447, 3xLMG and 2 leaders enter from the right side of the map on Turn 3.  The Marines started strong with 4×768 3×248, 2xMMG, 1xBaz and 2 leaders.  They had a reserve platoon coming from the left on Level 5 on Turn 3 as well.  All units counted “Exit Point” style (“Good Order”) toward the Victory Condition, prisoners excluded. USMC wins on ties. 

So the KPA had 31 VP vs USMC 22 VP in their OB’s.  The USMC would need to reduce the KPA force.  Soon it would mean tough decisions between putting your squads on your level to score vs going to your opponent’s level to prevent them from scoring.  The KPA had the last turn so we would have a chance to “Advance” back on Level 3.  

After Action Report

BoF2 Polish Requiem After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

The KPA was weak.  They were also forced to spread out in their setup.  The USMC could go anywhere and shoot anything.  The KPA had their Concealments easily blown, broke up by Assault Fire and Captured in CC.  Very quickly they pushed the KPA off Level 3 and took more than a few prisoners.  The area on the bottom of the map offered more cover for the counterattack, so naturally the USMC focused their forces there.  

BoF2 Polish Requiem After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

The original KPA defenders were no longer coherent as a force.  The way to Level 1 was wide open for the USMC on the top and the KPA  had only scattered remnants on the bottom.  However, the Marines weren’t on Level 1 on the bottom of the map yet.  I decided to send the stronger of my Turn 3 reinforcements to the top of the map and the weaker (and more short ranged) to the bottom of the map, just to keep the Marines off Level 1.  The boulevard’s gotta be where the Marines would make their stand with an additional -1, so we needed to cross before the Marines assemble in place.  So hopped along the river edge we did, to a point by the boulevard where there were orchard cover.  The KPA forces at the bottom of the map arrived in time to catch the defenders sent reeling by the USMC.  That (bottom, vertical) road’s where we would make our stand.  

BoF2 Polish Requiem After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

At the top of the map, we made it across the boulevard okay when the lone American squad cowered.  We decided to split into two groups and go around the USMC forces, to places where we could Advance up to Level 3.  We simply couldn’t do close range firefights with the Marines on Level 1.  The USMC would have to decide whether they would get off Level 1 where they needed to be to score in order to fight us.  At the bottom of the map we got in a few lucky shots that set some Marines back.  That probably got them more worried about the KPA making a rush for Level 3 rather than them trying to make Level 1.  Nonetheless, we would keep the line at the street.  

BoF2 Polish Requiem After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

At the top of the map, the USMC decided to keep their forces and hence their gains on Level 1.  No one’s coming after our eventual Advance onto Level 3.  We made a critical PREP at the middle of the map and broke one of the defending Fire Teams in the Woods.  That would allow at least 2 of our MMC’s to Advance up.  At the bottom of the map, our line of KPA conscripts held and so my opponent conceded. 

How’s this scenario interesting?

This scenario represents an interesting problem for both sides and it really highlights the terrain in Seoul.  This is a multi-level fight amongst the Dense Urban Terrain.  If a unit’s CX’d, it won’t Advance up a level, so you have to time it right.  A KPA conscript unit has especially limited mobility in this terrain and you don’t want to be CX’d when you are Lax as a conscript (+2 Ambush).  I think USMC Fire Teams would be very useful here.  Fire Teams could block more venues up the hill and it’s not easy to break Morale 8 units in +2 TEM.  Plus each Squad, when broken into Fire Teams is worth 3 VP when it’s worth only 2 VP as a unit.  If every USMC squad’s deployed, the USMC OB is worth 28 VP (vs 22 VP undeployed) against the KPA’s 31.  Both players have to find the balance between pushing through and scoring points versus fighting the opponent on a different level to stop him from scoring.  While the KPA player has to fight uphill, there are more of them that can swamp up to Level 3.  This is a tight little puzzle of a scenario!

(Credits: Wikipedia)

205 Super Bazooka After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

205 Super Bazooka After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Scenario Background

M20 3.5 Rocket Launcher

An encounter west of Taegon (Daejeon) at the Nonsan-Kongju (Gongju) road junction on 20 July 1950 witnessed the debut of the US M20 3.5 inch “super bazooka”.  According to the scenario card “[the] brief dominance of North Korean armor had come to an end.”

Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations

So legend had it that the Americans got their bazookas to hit out to 5 hexes with a TK of 32 instead of 16.  Three of them were on the board with one HIP’d.  We had a map with dirt roads between irrigated Paddy Fields that bogs tanks at a +3 (net +4 with normal pressure).  One way to win is to weave 2 out of 4 tanks through for an exit.  The other way is to get more CVP points (+ Exit VP) than the Americans.  Each T-34/85 is worth 6VPs.  There were 9VP of US MMCs and 6VP of US Leaders.  So if the Americans kill half of my tanks I would have to wipe 80% of them out, or exit at least 1 tank.  I had no doubts that the Americans would stay concealed until they get a good shot.  The Koreans were pretty much forced to run the gauntlet because 5 turns doesn’t give too much time to just sit and shoot.  

(Source : MilitaryImages.net)

After Action Report

205 Super Bazooka After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

We decided to put a trail break in the Light Woods and round the left flank to avoid a baz at the entrance putting a wreck on dirt road and plugging up traffic.  We then put some acquisitions on the board just to shake the trees up a little.  We broke the team in the paddies and we thought the HIP’d baz team might be in the orchards on the right (middle of the board).

205 Super Bazooka After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

One team covered and the other team moved. There’s nobody in the suspected orchards but when the lead tank round the woods on the right (top left), the HIP’d baz team sprung from the brush!  First shot missed.  The US team tried again in the following Prep Fire and missed as well!  We got the lead tank turned around for a fast escape in the following turn.  

205 Super Bazooka After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Unfortunately, temporary insanity convinced us those baz has a TK of 16 (instead of 32).  Instead of speeding safely out of sight, the lead tank turned BACK around and bored straight down towards the (SUPER) baz team!  The team held fire until it was a hex away and took the shot.  The world went quiet when the turret did a graceful flip through the air.  Its partner decided to run straight down the road to see what’s what with the remaining 3 concealed stacks and promptly got lit up as well.  Team 2 came up and got a lucky Adv Fire CH on the offending baz team and killed it.  Two tanks down and one more MPh to go.  We would have to make a run for it!

205 Super Bazooka After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

As luck would have it, one of their 9-1 baz team broke cover and tried to run across the dirt road.  A CMG shot broke the squad no matter what their 9-1 said.  The other baz team went to the far side of the paddies (top left) for a rear shot on exiting tanks.  

205 Super Bazooka After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

First tank fired up and went straight to the wall and got Wall Advantage since the defenders stayed in the house.  The first shot missed and the tank exited.  It tried to lay some motion fire on the defenders but declined to use its sD for fear of increasing MP spend for the second tank.  As it sped off, the second tank came rolling down the road.  It fired and got a PTC on the defenders in the house anyway but didn’t matter now.  It rounded the turn and could feel a baz running up behind it.  Sure enough, before it could pop smoke the baz round went sailing pass.  We SURVIVED!!!  We absolutely can NOT believe we got 2 tanks through!!!

How’s this Scenario Interesting?

This scenario felt like an arcade game.  There’s a certain amount of strategy but a lot of it depended on the dice.  “The dice giveth and the dice taketh away” like my buddy said.  I wonder if anyone risked the paddies and had things work out for him?  Hey, this scenario is good for a nice and exciting evening though!

Sources

FT S1 Sights on Seoul After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

FT S1 Sights on Seoul After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Scenario Background

The time’s 25 September 1950.  The 1st Marines were to clear the massive barricade on the wide Ma Po Boulevard (left of map), the hill top (center of map) and clear the way to the rail yard on the top right of the map.  

(photo credit : m1 pencil)

300px USMC 1st Battalion 1st Marines1st Marine 2nd Battalion440px USMC 3RD BN 1ST MAR 3

Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations

This gets interesting.  There are two groups of 4 VC conditions each, you are to meet a total of 4 with at least 1 from each group.  On one hand you might feel it’s complex and it can use some good re-reads between turns, but on the otherhand, it keeps the North Koreans guessing as to what you might do next.  

Group A involves taking some locations on the big hill top, controlling all 3 designated buildings on the right half of the map, exiting 10 VPs of Marines off 3 designated hexes on the top right or putting at least 28 FP on either/both of the Deep Embankment Streams (one top right and one bottom left).  

Group B involves taking/eliminating the Ma Po Boulevard roadblock, some of the buildings inside the Normal School compound (left of map), capturing the Marine HQ on the hill on the bottom left and one of 2 other buildings and exiting 10 VPs of Marines off 5 designated hexes on the top left.  

There’s an operational boundary down the middle of the map and left of the big hill through which the Marines can’t cross.  The Battalion Reserve shows up on Turn 4 and we have to decide which side to commit them to.  Once they enter, the Korean SAN goes up 1 level (and both sides have 2 snipers).

The Normal School sports High Walls that are 1 level high.  The North Korean’s got a secret breach in it that they could use.  The Ma Po Boulevard is a wide and dangerous place.  Units incur a -1 DRM to incoming fire on top of other modifiers.  The Deep Embankment Stream is a road + gully combo.  It’s not hard to get used to.  The Fanatic Roadblocks are massive affairs that makes North Korean units with Wall Advantage plus units in the Woods/Building on both sides Fanatic.  The brown hexes are all Steep Hills, ie they are Concealment Terrain.  Most of the little houses are Dense Urban Terrain.  They have effects on stacking & firegrouping (think Dense Jungle) and they prohibit bypass on some hex sides.  Lastly, take look at the road that on the right side of the big hill.  The back part’s (top) lower than the front part, which means it was difficult to interdict Korean units as they moved towards the Exit hexes.  

The rules also introduce the use of Marine fireteams.  This became a critical element in this battle (apart from being able to swamp the defenders).  

After Action Report

FT S1 Sights on Seoul After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

The Special Rules allow 3 single hex 107mm mortar hits in the first Fire Phase.  I used them for White Phosphorus to cover the Marine’s entry onto the map.  On the left it was a quick push forward to the Ma Po Boulevard to see where the barricade was and to take the Marine HQ.  A platoon crossed the Deep Embankment Stream into the Korean Grave Yard and threatened to turn the flanks of the bridge defenders.  Unfortunately they were beaten back quickly.  

On the right I planned to hit the big hill top once I get to the middle of the map where there’s much better cover.  There were a couple of squads (lower central) we bypassed and this would hurt us later.  We were already attacking one of the VC buildings.  We wanted to put some OBA on the hill top but our Spotting Rounds went very wide and in some cases out of our LOS.  

FT S1 Sights on Seoul After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

On the left, we got a spotter up on the first level (so 2 levels up including the hill) with a 60mm mortar behind.  We could see down Ma Po Boulevard and into Normal School’s compound.  We were shooting up the defenders across the stream and we spotted retreating Koreans entering the Normal School via a “secret” breach on the lower left of the High Wall perimeter.  The Marine in the graveyard on the right of the stream got shot up earlier.  I made the bonehead mistake of routing a broken guard and its prisoners together with another broken squad and broken leader.  The prisoners escaped, rearmed and CC’d the remaining brokies!  Good thing more Marines crossed the stream and bailed them out.  They started pushing up to the Korean lines in Turn 4 after much time wasted.  

On the right, the North Koreans marvelled at our wandering Spotting Rounds, the boys finally kicked their radio down the hill in frustration.  The Reserves decided the right half was winning and therefore entered there to threaten the Korean’s flank.  Some of the units made it to the middle of the map but the Hill team was getting shot up and was harassed by the Koreans we bypassed earlier.  

FT S1 Sights on Seoul After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

We had 2 Movement Phases left.  On the left the team sweeping up the graveyard forced the defenders away from the stream, but it was slow going amongst the Dense Urban Terrain.  I started to have doubts as to whether we could get to the Fanatic Roadblock or exit any units in time.  A hero jumped into the Deep Embankment Stream with a DC and breached the High Wall.  Some Marines clambered into the Normal School compound and was surprised by a 45mm AT gun!  They got shot up and tumbled back out into the stream.  We were afraid that the North Koreans might counterattack back across!  

On the right, the Hill team continued to get in trouble, although they did put up an amount of distraction.  The big Korean 82mm mortar blew up though!  We hit the last VC building we needed to fulfill 3 objectives.  Turned out it was a Commissar standing with a lot of mops and broomsticks behind the windows!  The man did accomplish his mission to waste our time though!  We closed in on the last Fanatic Roadblock and the 3 hex exit.  

FT S1 Sights on Seoul After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

Last turn!!  The Marines on the left return to the stream to secure 2 VCs out of 4. The Marines on the right ran towards the exit!  I got behind the Fanatic Roadblock which meant I had access to a Exit Hex.  The Korean MMG team took some casualties but when the Marines shot back, they KIA’d the stack.  There was one Korean conscript squad left from across the street and we thought we were home free.  Unfortunately these Conscripts decided it’s important to NOT cower and laid down enough residual to make the Marines 1 fireteam short of meeting it’s 4th objective!!  

The North Koreans won!  Yes folks – we lost by 1 fireteam.

How’s this Scenario Interesting?

The 3rd Battalion on the left could take two VCs without crossing the stream. I decided to bypass the Normal School, leave the forces inside bottled up and make for the Ma Po Boulevard Fanatic Roadblock VC and together with it, the VC for exiting squads.  Hitting the Normal School might burn up my resources for the gain of 1 VC.  On the right, hitting the hill will no doubt give me an advantage over the whole battlefield but that’s only if I manage to take it quickly.  The “3 Building” VC required that the 1st & 2nd Battalions go all the way to the top right, which put me in reach of the Stream VC and the Exit VC.  So I decided to bypass the hill top as well especially after the big 82mm mortar blew up and we got the MMG’s smoked.  I could have done better in moving more of my troops forward, unfortunately the 2 Korean squads I bypassed earlier continued to threaten one of my VC building on the bottom right.  

A thing to note is that each Marine Squad in LFT Fight for Seoul is worth 3 VPs (1 per fireteam) instead of the “standard” 2 VP per squad.  It certainly makes a difference on the exit.  

This is an interesting introduction to the different terrain involved in the Fight for Seoul – Seoul map.   It’s also a good one to get your head wrapped around the use of Fire Teams.  My opponent and I are moving on to FT S2 Besting Basilone, which is a Night scenario around the Normal School, the Ma Po Boulevard and the Marine HQ on the left of the map.  

LFT Rat Pocket Charts 3rd Edition

I have been a faithful user of Le Franc Tireur’s Rat Charts since the first edition. This is easily the most used item I have on my desk apart from my laptop. You can therefore understand how I excited I am about version 3. We are talking checking my mailbox once or twice a day excited. (I hardly deal with my metal mailbox otherwise.)

It’s here along with my daughter’s Taylor Swift Special Edition CD!! For while, I can’t honestly tell you which one of us squealed the loudest.

Le Franc Tireur Rat Pocket Charts 3rd Edition (WW2 & FW)
To Hit To Kill Charts

Flipping open the chart, I am delighted to see that the To Hit To Kill charts are now moved from the middle of the pack in ed2+ to the front. There are so many more tabs down on the bottom! They have added charts for Molotov Cocktails and for Sewers.

National Capabilities Charts

The National Capabilities Charts are so much richer! The Italians are beefed up with the “new joiners” from LFT14 : Folgore, X-MAS …etc. The Spanish volunteers for the Wehrmacht – División Azul – are here. The French now has the Foreign Legions, Colonial Troops, Corps Francs and the Free French.

“Chapter D” now includes a “STUN/Stun/RECALL & SHOCK/ UNCONFIRMED KILL chart, together with a small but rather handy chart for AFV Phase/ Motion Fire Modifiers.

A brand new Weather Chart!

There’s a brand new Weather Chart for Fog, Mist, Gusts, Rain, Mud (I got a question on that just yesterday) and Snow. The top right corner there in the lower chart is the Desert (DTO) Low Visibility DRM chart (Sun Blindness, Heat Haze & such).

Landing Craft Attack Tables

What makes me REALLY happy are the 4 pages of Landing Craft related charts : LC Attack Tables, Damage vs LC and the Collateral Attack Effects. These will really speed things up on the approach in a Seaborne Assault!

Preview(opens in a new tab)

One of two non-Cartoon Rat characters in the Charts

Last but not least are the charts for Forgotten War (Korean War)! From the Terrain to the Nationality Characteristics, from Searchlight Sightings to Variable Time Fuzes, the Korean War is given a full treatment and will never be forgotten!

Rat Chart 2nd Ed+ has served me well as did all the preceding versions, but I am happily switching this out for the 3rd Ed now, in that slot in the bookshelf I got 1.5 feet to the left of my head.

You never know when you’ll need it. (Okay you do, I am just trying to do a dramatic ending.)

Le Franc Tireur Rat Pocket Charts 3rd Edition WW2 & FW

Katz: Designer’s Response to the Desperation Morale Review of Forgotten War

Kenneth Katz is a member of the designer team for MMP’s groundbreaking Korean module – Forgotten War.  This is Ken’s response to Mark Pitcavage’s extensive critique of MMP’s Korean module – Forgotten War.  I find it so interesting by its own right that I asked Ken’s for his permission for HKWG to carry it.  While you can certainly read Mark’s critique first, I am sure you will get a lot out of this even if you read it as a “standalone”.  I certainly did.  These two learned gentlemen certainly make our ASL lives richer with their exchange.

ThumbnailOn behalf of the Forgotten War design team, I want to respond to Mark Pitcavage’s recent review of that module on his highly regarded ASL website Desperation Morale. Obviously, we have a protective attitude towards Forgotten War. Its development dominated much of our free time over the years (for some over 18 years!) and Mark’s critical review is less than pleasing to us as a team. However much we disagree with elements of the review, we want to commend Mark for his thorough critique.

The Forgotten War core design team consisted of Mike Reed, Ken Katz, Paul Works, Andy Hershey, and Pete Dahlin. Each brought a very strong skill set to the team and our differing styles and capabilities meshed well. The Forgotten War extended team included approximately thirty additional participants from across the globe; all such participants were included in the Korean War ASL Yahoo Group and had access to all development material, to include the rules. Any intimation (or direct statement) that development was done in isolation is false.

Mark’s discussion of the history of the product is generally correct up to a point but does not accurately describe the relationship between Forgotten War and the Kinetic Energy ASL module which was never published. It is true that one of the co-designers, Mike Reed, worked with Mark Neukom on the Kinetic Energy design and we are certain that earlier work influenced Mike’s contributions to Forgotten War. Personally, my only connection with the Kinetic Energy design was a 5-minute glance at it. The major design elements of Forgotten War, including Steep Hills and the CPVA rules that we created, did not come from Kinetic Energy. This is true for all the other core Forgotten War team members as well. Furthermore, the Kinetic Energy style did not mesh well with MMP’s vision for ASL, so a new design was necessary since a primary of objective of this project was to design a product that would become “official.” MMP put the product under contract in 2011. It then waited in MMP’s development queue for several years, with intensive work resuming around 2015 and publication in late 2017.

Steep Hills and Semi-Geomorphic Mapboards 80-83:

Korean terrain had a tremendous influence on the conduct of the Korean War. Through research, it became apparent that the existing variety of ASL terrain types did not represent the tactical effects of much militarily significant Korean terrain. The result was the Steep Hills rules (W1.3), which could be described in a nutshell as doing to Hills what the Dense Jungle terrain does to Woods. The essential requirements of Steep Hills were to deny off-road movement for vehicles, burden infantry movement particularly by heavily laden troops, and provide some protection because the terrain is broken. Note that such terrain is not unique to Korea. Terrain with such characteristics can be found in places as diverse as Afghanistan, Italy and Israel. The use of Steep Hills terrain puts a premium on infantry and greatly restricts the use of heavier support weapons and vehicles, which is accurate for many Korean War battles. The mapboards not only represent the hills and valleys which were the sites of many Korea War valleys, but the topography of those mapboards combined with the Steep Hills rules mean that there are ample opportunities for an attacker to infiltrate and withdraw while being protected from enemy fire. Using Forgotten War boards and Steep Hills terrain, a defender cannot just sit on peaks with a MG and sweep the hill clean of attackers, and that was very much the intent. Taken as a whole, the rules and mapboards provide the “design for effect” that was intended and reflected the team’s research.

Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (CPVA):

Probably Mark’s most serious objection to the Forgotten War design is the CPVA. Before addressing the finer points of the CPVA rules (W7), we should preface our responses with several “big picture” points. The CPVA was a major combatant that fought in distinctive ways that deserves distinctive nationality characteristics. All nationality characteristics are exaggerated stereotypes, but that does not mean that they don’t have a significant element of truth. The best way to appreciate the CPVA in Forgotten War is not to focus on each rule but to see how the totality of the CPVA rules, the scenario orders of battle, and the scenario victory conditions combine to incentivize the CPVA player to fight the CPVA in accordance with its distinctive doctrine and tactics. The portrayal of the CPVA in Forgotten War was based on extensive research that utilized a wide range of sources. These included numerous historical books/narratives by Western (U.S., British, Canadian, French, Belgian, etc.) authors using multiple original sources; U.S. Army historical documents, to include multiple, previously-classified documents; U.S. Army operations research books/documents that included analyses of operations and interviews with CPVA personnel; South Korean historical documentation; and multiple books by Chinese authors. The CPVA’s representation was available to the entire, extended Forgotten War team. Scenarios and Chapter H content were informed by a Chinese-speaking team member that had access to additional Chinese-language source material.

The intent of the portrayal of the CPVA in Forgotten War was to represent several characteristics of that force: its mass, its willingness to tolerate very high casualties, the primitive nature of its communications and logistics, and its tactical doctrine which emphasise closing with the enemy. The latter both leveraged the strengths of the force and reduced the ability of its enemy to use its superior artillery and airpower. In the interests of brevity, we won’t take a deep dive into every rule, but we believe that to those who understand the CPVA and the CPVA rules in Forgotten War, the logic behind the rules makes sense. Needless to say, far from denigrating the CPVA, the Forgotten War rules and scenarios in combination show the CPVA to be a formidable foe.

CPVA Step Reduction:

The following represent the primary reasoning elements we used to select Step Reduction (W7.21) to represent the CPVA. Taken individually they are evidential and indicatory. Taken as a whole, and leveraging existing ASL rules constructs, Step Reduction was the answer.

  1. Prisoner ratio. Using estimated casualty numbers, we have the following historical percent-of-casualties data (i.e., these percentages show the percent of total casualties that prisoners represented): Allies WW2 (Pacific Theater) 24%; Japanese WW2 2.2%; CPVA KW 2.8%. Although more than moderately suggestive, these estimates do not address a number of related considerations (such as the huge number of Chinese troops freezing to death vice being combat casualties).
  2. Numerous personal narratives from KW participants about CPVA troops weathering huge amounts of firepower and still coming. Sort of like being berserk in ASL, except they were not berserk and could change what they were doing when commanded to do so (i.e., they did not just always charge right toward the nearest enemy).
  3. Accounts of many CPVA soldiers, who would begin a charge/human wave (HW) unarmed, picking up the weapons of their dead/wounded comrades and continuing forward. Some similar accounts appear in descriptions of Russian HWs (in Stalingrad, for example); in the CPVA case, however, the descriptions do not describe large numbers of Chinese troops breaking. Going to ground and melting away, yes. Large groups of them breaking and running away (like what can result in a standard ASL HW), no.
  4. The political indoctrination and presence of POs in even the smallest units had a major impact on how the CPVA troops behaved. They were more motivated by such indoctrination than typical Russian troops and were motivated as such to continue on in the face of significant casualties.
  5. Step Reduction is an existing ASL rule that will be familiar to most intermediate- and advanced-level ASL players.

Initial Intervention:

CPVA Initial Intervention squads represent troops armed with weapons obtained from the Nationalists (GMD) and the Imperial Japanese Army. The Soviet-Armed squads represent troops armed with Soviet weapons, primarily “burp guns,” which is what Americans called the Soviet-supplied PPSh submachine gun and its Chinese-manufactured version Type-50. The dates given in W7.12 and W7.13 are a simplification; the Soviet-Armed squads will not be available before April 1951, but the Initial Intervention squads obviously do not all instantly disappear or rearm after that date.

The CPVA that intervened in late 1950 in Korea lacked any significant amount of radios and motor transport. In general, CPVA troops on the front line during that period suffered terribly from cold, hunger, and lack of ammunition, the latter being exacerbated by the wide range of ammunition types used by the variety of weapons in the CPVA arsenal. That primitive and deficient CPVA communications and logistics generally caused the effects portrayed in W7.11 is no surprise. Nor is the absence of OBA during that time period surprising, given that artillery is particularly dependent on good communications and ammunition supplies. Of course, a scenario designer can add an SSR when these generalisations did not apply.

Leadership:

The CPVA leadership model in Forgotten War (W7.3) is not a slight against the quality of CPVA leadership any more than similar leadership models are intended to denigrate Finnish and Japanese leadership. Again, look at the big picture rather than each element of the module in isolation. The leadership model that was chosen by the designers works well with the rest of the rules for the CPVA.

CPVA AFVs:

Later in the war, the CPVA did have a significant armored force in Korea. However, the only evidence of which we aware that claims this force (as opposed to the odd captured UN AFV being used) was actually engaged in combat with UN forces is traceable to one Chinese claim. We discovered no American after-action reports that describe losses to American armor caused by Chinese AFVs (one suggestive original source claims that Chinese tank guns were firing at U.S. troops; but after care examination of related sources, it is appears these “high-velocity rounds” were from direct-fire artillery). It’s axiomatic in military history that measures of one’s own losses are usually more reliable than claims of losses inflicted on the enemy. We disagree with Mark that including counters for vehicles that were present in theater but never saw combat is a good use of a finite number of countersheet spaces. If a scenario designer chooses to portray CPVA armor in a scenario, he can use Russian T-34/85, JS-2 and SU-76M counters. In addition, MMP informed us that if a counter did not see action it does not go in the box.

CPVA AA Guns:

As the war progressed, the CPVA became well equipped with AA guns. Such AA guns rarely were present in the front line within the scope of a typical ASL scenario. If a scenario designer chooses to portray CPVA AA guns in a scenario, he can use Russian 37mm and 85mm AA guns. Again, finite countersheets forced choices.

Night Rules:

It is true that Forgotten War has a lot of night scenarios for the simple fact that the Korean War had a lot of night actions. The US Army today likes to say that “We Own the Night” because of its excellent technology and proficient use of that technology. But during the Korean War, that technology did not exist and the Communist enemy preferred to fight at night because it tended to negate American advantages in artillery and airpower. Mark does not like the current night rules in E1 and laments that the Night rules were not revised in Forgotten War. But there is an unwritten but very real policy in “official” ASL that new additions to the ASL system must be backwards compatible with the existing system, including counters, rules, and scenarios. Making general ASL changes was simply outside the scope of Forgotten War.

Searchlight Combat:

Searchlight operations played a major part in the later stages of the Korean War. As mentioned previously, the CPVA used massed night attacks to mitigate American firepower and were very effective. The longest retreat in U.S. military history (U.S. Eighth Army in late 1950) was a direct result of effective CPVA manoeuvre and envelopment…at night. Searchlights took that advantage away from the Chinese.

Our research uncovered that searchlight tactics used against the Chinese were so effective that searchlight-equipped M46 and Centurion tanks became primary artillery targets, especially during the Battles for the Hook. Hide and seek tactics were developed. Tanks operating in pairs or groups. Shutters that could be opened and closed very quickly to minimize highlighting/silhouetting. We worked very hard to replicate these tactics in the rules. Searchlights are certainly chrome. That said, leaving them out or oversimplifying them would have been neglected a tactically significant aspect of the Korean War.

Two-Tone Counters:

Mark doesn’t like two-tone counters. De gustibus non est disputandum (“In matters of taste, there can be no disputes”), but we have been around the ASL community for 25 years and have never been aware of a significant group of players who don’t like two-tone counters (as opposed to the vocal opponents of overlays and terrain altering SSRs). The problem is that the sorts of colors that suit ASL counters (various shades of brown, tan, green, blue, and gray) are already taken, unless you want to either use minor and nearly indistinguishable variations of shade (which some find difficult to see) or use colors which just don’t seem to fit the game. Lavender counters, anybody? Furthermore, the use of two-tone counters has other advantages. ROK and Other United Nations Command forces were equipped by the US. Since their counters have a green border like American counters, they easily can use American SW, Guns, and Vehicles. The CPVA counters have a brown border like Russian and GMD counters, and they can easily use both Russian and GMD SW, Guns and Vehicles. In fact, MMP requires designers to fit their numbers of counters within a finite number of countersheets, and two-tone counters for some nationalities reduces the requirements for counters.

Small Forces: Rangers, American Paratroopers, Royal Marine Commandos, and Korean Marines:

Rangers, American Paratroopers, Royal Marine Commandos, and Korean Marines are unabashed chrome. These all were interesting forces that can be represented with very little rules overhead. Mark doesn’t seem to like this kind of chrome. The Forgotten Wars designers disagree. Judging by the plethora of obscure yet fascinating things in the system, so do most ASL players. Rangers and Royal Marine Commandos were true elite special operations troops, and their capability in Forgotten War are indicative of their training. The 7-4-7 American paratroop squads in World War II imply that those troops had a high percentage of submachine gun-armed soldiers. American paratroopers in the Korean War were armed with the M1 Garand rifle and not many submachine guns, hence the 6-6-7 value.

Rules Pertaining to Bayonet Charges and VT Fuzes:

Bayonet Charges were in fact occasionally used by UN forces in the Korean War. The inclusion of the rule in Forgotten War is simple and appropriate. Variable Time (VT) Fuzes for field artillery were first used by the U.S. Army in the Battle of the Bulge. They had an important effect on that battle and were very valuable in Korea when defending fortified positions against massed infantry attacks. Again, the rule in Forgotten War is simple and appropriate.

Rules Pertaining to HEAT and Bazookas:

The ASL armor penetration rules (C7) are fundamentally flawed and unrealistic in that they significantly misrepresent the actual interaction between ammunition and vehicle targets. Unfortunately, it is wildly impractical to do a wholesale overhaul of those rules, given the imperative of “backwards compatibility” and to maintain relative simplicity (if anyone has ever played the fun but very-detailed Tractics they know the issue). But the Forgotten War designers had a problem. The BAZ45, which equipped US Army and ROK troops in 1950, is somewhat effective against the T-34/85 in ASL. However, in 1950 Korea, the M9A1 launcher and M6A3 rocket which are represented by the BAZ45 counter were notoriously ineffective against that target. This is not an issue of chrome. The difference between ASL and historical performance greatly affected certain scenarios and had a real-life tactical impact. As a result, the Forgotten War designers chose to use rules W.8 and W.8A to model this important effect while avoiding an undesirable revision to C7.

Errata:

Players will observe that the astonishingly small amount of errata for Forgotten War is a testament to the combined efforts of the designers, the playtesters, and MMP.

In Conclusion:

The designers of Forgotten War remain confident that they have created an accurate, playable, and high-quality portrayal of ground tactical combat in the Korean War that fits well in the ASL system.

Kenneth Katz

Listen to Kenneth Katz’s interview on the 2HalfSquads: Episode 187 Kool Katz in Korea