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

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

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).

After Action Report

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 https://lowammo.ca/

Going over 8300 hexes, one by one …

Credit: MMPGamers.com, “Sword & Fire: Manila”

Re-reading Mark [Pitcavage’s] post while also going through the final rounds of quality-checking the [MMP Sword & Fire] Manila map.

One map-related quality thing that I don’t think Mark mentioned is the sheer amount of attention to detail that goes into making a map that doesn’t hinder play. Simply put, there are many ways that map artwork can get in the way of play, either by being hard to visually discern or by being confusing to interpret, rules-wise.

I thought I was good at this, just from my years of doing dozens of VASL maps, where every pixel has to be right, or at least not-wrong. But these last few months have shown me that Perry, Klas, and Chas are just impressive this way. Sure, the Manila map has over 8300 hexes, but I’ve strolled through that map dozens of times just looking for things to clarify or fix. And yet these MMP guys have caught a bunch of things I’d missed or never even thought of. And without those fixes, people would have questions about how to play what’s on the map. And that’s not good ASL.

Visual things like making sure hex IDs are easy to read and not obscured by the underlying terrain. Making sure Bypass Movement is obviously NA by having terrain touch the hexside (but not go over!) if possible. Making sure LOS is not messed up by having edges of LOS obstacles being obscured in some way. Even just making sure the text characteristics are consistent throughout the map – all water bodies are labeled in the same way, all buildings, all roads, etc.

And then the subtle things like making it obvious whether units can move from one hex to another of the same building while staying entirely within the building outline itself – not so easy when you’re trying to mimic historical buildings or buildings that are partially destroyed, like we have in Manila.

All of this painstaking effort means that people will spend less time fighting the map and more time playing ASL. And that attention to quality is what makes MMP a pleasure to work with and buy from.

– By Tuomo Repetti and posted with his permission, first posted on Gamesquad, 29 December 2021

204 Human Bullets After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario

 

204 Human Bullets After Action Report (AAR) Advanced Squad Leader scenario 

Scenario Background

I am finally in South Korea!!  This is an early Korean war action.  On one fine day, June 28 1950, the North Koreans came cruising down Hongch’on Road.  

Google Map : Seoraksan

(Steep hills.  STEEP.)

The North Koreans had 6 x T-34/85 (some of which might have SD6’s) and 3 x SU-76M (ROF2) with 2 Armor Leaders.  They were unfortunately separated from a lot of angry North Koreans (24 squads) spurred on by 5 leaders, one of which a commissar.  The South Koreans had a 6 squads + 2 leaders reception committee, plus an unknown composition lying in wait in the Steep Hills.  Given the ROF 3 AT Guns, I thought it’s a no-brainer choice.  I picked the 3 x AT Gun combo.  

Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations

The North Koreans rolled into the narrow mountain passes (aka Steep Hill) where the South Koreans (HIP’d Fanatic units) prepared an ambush.  The North Koreans needed to exit 15 VPs (3 vehicles) in 8.5 turns.  I would have to kill all the tanks before the North Korean infantry overrun my blocking force, outnumbered 4 to 1.  

Fighting in Steep Hills

Steep Hills is a new terrain feature to Forgotten Wars.  This is some of the best ambush terrain.  

  • AFVs cannot venture offroad and these roads are one lane only.  
  • Open Ground Steep Hill hexes are Concealment Terrain. 
  • Guns with L or LL barrel lengths (all the AFVs in this scenario) cannot fire Main Gun / CMG at a higher elevation target if the LOS crosses any hill terrain in the hex adjacent to the firer that is of a higher elevation (but Guns on Steep Hills can fire down).  

Wait, the South Koreans (Ambush team) had Molotovs!  (They were Fanatic as well, a point that we completely forgot.)

As you know, Molotovs kill AFVs at 6 or less, -1 for Elevation Advantage +2 for  Moving and -1 for Crew Exposed.  

However, the SU76’s should be very afraid.  Some of the Hill hexes next to the Road were 2 levels higher than the Road.  That meant an Open Top AFV could be treated as unarmored!  (D5.311).  A Korean squad dropping a MOL into an SU76 from an adjacent hex would have an IFP of 8+4 or 12, which is 8 on the “vehicle line”.  If those rides don’t burn, there were scores of Human Bullets (remember ATMMs) and DC heros to get the job done.  

Here’s the thing: we all knew it’s going to be ugly for the Korean tank column.  Should it move forward as per normal and hope to survive the ambush?  Or should it do what one of the playtester did, crawl along as slow as possible until the N Korea infantry catch up?

After Action Report

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 204 Human Bullets After Action Report (AAR) NK Turn 1

The N Koreans had to do PTCs at the start of the scenario, but it’s more of an inconvenience really.  Everything’s very quiet.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 204 Human Bullets After Action Report (AAR) NK Turn 2

The S Korean AT guns appeared and shot the lead tanks!  This One Lane Road obviously created issues for the convoy.  S Korean infantry then appeared and rained Molotovs  down from two levels up and burned the SU76M’s on the other end.  On the far left, the N Korean infantry rushed the vastly outnumbered S Korean defenders.  The only thing the S Koreas banked on was the open ground between the hordes and themselves.  There were 2 dozen dummy counters amongst the S Koreans on the left.  Hopefully their protected position would help delay the N Koreans some.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 204 Human Bullets After Action Report (AAR) NK Turn 3

We held off the first infantry onslaught but the N Koreas were getting too close for comfort.  On the right flank, we had to back off via the gully.  They could follow us into the gully but if they wanted to go faster they would need to get on Open Ground and take our point blank fire.  We must hold the flanks!  Up on the Steep Hills some Human Bullets started appearing.  One of surviving SU76M crews vaporized one of them as soon as he came into view.  The other got to a T34 and even remembered an ATMM but failed to do any damage!

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 204 Human Bullets After Action Report

A third AT gun appeared and completed the destruction that was the N Korean armor column.  It’s just as well ‘cause one of the other AT Guns malf’d.  The ambush team tried to dig some foxholes but got wiped out by the MTR (we forgot they were fanatic).  Over on the left of the map, the right flank was on the verge of collapsing.  They were pretty much just blocking the way with brokies.  The left flank was still firing away and leaving Residual on Open Ground.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 204 Human Bullets After Action Report (AAR)

Over on the left of the map, the right flanked crumbled and the N Koreans were rushing for the right edge of the map!  Their MTR kept pounding away at one of our AT Guns but good thing its concealment held for a while.  Unfortunately no one brought too many HE rounds and we were just pinging infantry with AT rounds.  We had very few warm bodies left to stop the N Koreans. Good thing they didn’t want to spend too much time messing with us.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 204 Human Bullets After Action Report (AAR)
We focused on putting a line of residual fire across where most of the N Koreans had to cross and it was deadly.  The N Koreans conceded when its apparent that they couldn’t squeeze 15 CVP’s of folks through the north.  

How’s this Scenario Interesting?

This is certainly a great lesson on how Steep Hills were hostile environments to AFVs.  I suspect it’s easy for the N Korea player to fail his Personal Morale Check when it didn’t take much to light the whole armor column up in flames.  This is my first game with a new opponent and I am very impressed with how resilient he was and how he kept pushing on til the very end.  It wouldn’t be such a great game had it not been him.  In case we start thinking that this is an unbalanced scenario, ROAR reads 8:9 North K: South K.  I’d love to hear what some of the winning strategies for the N Koreans are!

Advanced Squad Squad scenario AP139 Emergency Surgery After Action Report (AAR)

Advanced Squad Squad scenario AP139 Emergency Surgery After Action Report (AAR)

Background of the Scenario

This scenario from Action Pack 14 takes us to Chateau-Neuf, France, 4 August 1944.  Patton’s Task Force A, supported by the Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur Bretagne, ran into a retreating element of XXV Armeekorps.  The American cavalry units and the FFI were tasked with clearing this German blocking position.  

Victory Conditions & Tactical Challenges

The Americans could win by one of two ways : 

– at the end of any Game Turn: if there are more Good Order, non overstacked American infantry VP in buildings north of the river than there are Good Order German VP on the south side.  Or

– at Game End: by having >= 20VP American north of the river

The Americans had 2 tank destroyers (M10), 2 armoured cars , 2 half tracks, 2 scout cars and 2 trucks.  There were 3 bridges they can use: 1 Foot Bridge and 2 two-lane Stone Bridges.  I decided that blocking the 2 Stone Bridges is a priority over the Foot Bridge.  The Americans could still win by getting infantry over the Footbridge but there were only 6 US squads vs 10 German squads.  They would have to whittle down the Germany Infantry first.  

The challenging setup restraint of the day: Germans couldn’t setup on the top board, so they were all “up front”, with the Americans having the mobility advantage. 

After Action Report

The fun bit about this scenario is that the Germans get to spend 15 points on Fortifications, picking from a table.  I got myself 3 Road Blocks, 2 x 6 A-P mine, some Wire and a number of Trenches.  The lovely bit about Trenches is that they are roadblocks to non tracked vehicles, meaning 8 out of 10 of their vehicles.  

In terms of setup I located places to put the Road Blocks and situated everything else to defend the Road Blocks.  Unfortunately the Americans didn’t spent much time trying to clear the Road Blocks but used their mobility to seek ways around them.  

IMG 4286

My right side was too thin and failed to muster at the buildings immediately behind them by the river.  In fact, they couldn’t get out of there at all before the French maquis overwhelmed them.  I made a careless move when retrograding my 9-1 MMG team and was CH’d by the M10 and vaporised.  Another M10 went through the gap in the Bocage near the middle Bridge.  The 7.5cm IeIG 18 (leichtes Infanterie Geschuetz: light infantry gun) appeared and killed it in a blinding flash of light but everyone then knew where it was (where the “DM” counter is amidst the red arrows).  My left wasn’t touched at all and the troops started to run over towards the middle.  Meanwhile my Germans on the right couldn’t make it off in time and was tied down by the maquis in melee.  

IMG 4285

The American armor broke through even though in one last act of defiance, a retreating German squad stunned an OT vehicle.  The Americans in the middle started to rout the defenders and the second M10 made leaving problematic.  We couldn’t make it close enough to the bridge to lay down any meaningful fire on it.  (That blurb in the center meant to say “One squad here who COULDN’T find the LMG on the ground to save his life.”

The Germans conceded.  

I knew backing off to the river bank is key but I couldn’t find the balance between holding the Attackers off versus withdrawing intact.  That infantry gun didn’t last long either in  spite of the +2 emplacement.  Perhaps it’s too far forward but I couldn’t find a place (on the bottom map) where it could shoot across both stone bridges.  I would have to pick one bridge and defend the other with panzerfausts and MGs.  I should also have  heeded the “natural” cavalry bias for open country and put more resources towards the right side of the map.  

How is this Scenario Interesting?

This scenario is interesting because of the multi-faceted victory conditions that forced choices out of both the Attacker and the Defender.  The Defender being given flexilibity in his fortifications made for an interesting puzzle as well.  There are a range of possibilities you can try with this scenario.  So folks, this is AP139 Emergency Surgery by Pete Shelling from MMP Action Pack 14 Oktoberfest XXXIV.  

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

4 The Commissar’s House

November 9 1942, Germans at the Barricady noticed a nice red house.   They pulled up some fresh pioneers and told them to go mess with it.

What follows is one of most beautifully crafted, and an oft played ASL scenario (150:147 G:R).

(Typo Russian Turn 3)

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“Big Data Analysis” on ASL Scenarios

This is nothing that is as sophisticated as the title might suggest.  It’s just that I got a free trial to a data visualisation software called “Tableau”, so what better data to play on it with than ASL data?

First, I took Tom Kearney’s excellent “Master ASL Scenario Listing III” from the Texas ASL website.

Years vs TO

1944 wins out.  We got a couple of ETO scenarios at around 1919!

Years vs TO 2

We clearly have a lot more Western post-Normandy scenarios.  “MTO” is the Mediterranean, in case you are wondering, this theater comes in 3rd in front of PTO.

Years vs Publishers

The tall blue line is of course Avalon Hill / MMP.  What caught my also is the very long (light blue) lead that Le Franc Tireur (LFT) has early in time.  We are probably talking about their Russian Revolution scenarios here.  The red line running along LFT is Dispatches from the Bunker (DB) and the orange Bounding Fire Productions (BFP).

Locations

No surprises here for the most part, but I didn’t know we have that many scenarios on events that took place in the Philippines!

The following are the Nationalities featured by different Publishers, ie get BFP if you want to play more Chinese OB, BFP & SP for more IJA (assuming that we all get core modules by default).

AlliesAxis

 

Finally I took the 100.000+ records we accumulated on ROAR and worked out the Percentage of Wins minus Losses per Nationality.  (Get the IJA, don’t take the Canadians .. )

ROAR

 

Again, I am a novice when it comes to the science of Data Analysis, so please take everything with a grain of salt.  It certainly interests me though!  I hope this is entertaining for you as well.