Benji at McDonalds
I got up rather early on the last day and so I checked out, took my luggage to the venue and went down to McD for a nice breakfast. I met Benji there. Benji travelled in from nearby via Uber. He told me how he’s been playing Mark Humphries every Friday evening. As a matter of fact John Knowles told me about Benji earlier and said he’s one of those guys who’s been picking ASL up really quickly. Apparently this is his first tournament and he’s enjoying it. He knows there’s a learning curve to be surmounted and he is focusing on getting through the first 100 games. I, on the other hand, is on my 123rd game and I am no where close to NOT feeling like a beginner. I didn’t tell him that.
The China crew
The China crew showed up with 5 players this year (6 including myself). They have already been playing in regional tournaments so they are no strangers to most in attendance. These guys definitely held their own : after all Kyle, Johnny & Xavier are experienced players. Xavier, aka the X teacher, holds monthly ASL classes in a Shanghai game store. However, since he was never before ranked internationally, he is awarded “The Outstanding Newbie” award. Kyle & Zhen “Richard” Wang, are the two chief editors of the Chinese ASL magazine “Dare Death”. We even came in personalised team t-shirts, designed by Xavier.
Jamie Westlake’s Four Dice
One thing a lot of us noticed was Westlake throwing 4 dice at a time. He came in second in the tourney and so whatever he’s doing must have worked. Either that or it’s his superhero t-shirts. We asked him to explain this “Four Dice System”:
“Hi guys…..Aussie convention…..red and white first. Blue and yellow second. If multiple morale checks, top unit red and white, next blue and yellow. Then roll again for third and fourth etc. exception: if you roll HOB, blue and white become HOB resolution. If leader creation, yellow is next. When first introduced to this twenty years ago I hated it. Now I love it…..on a to hit roll, red and white is the hit, blue and yellow the kill. Instant gratification….whack!”
All the “other” folks I’d like to thank
With so many players coming in from overseas and with a good number of new players, we knew there’s going to be an issue with maps and overlays. Will Fleming worked meticulously to put together good solid printouts of scenario maps on thick paper.
George Bates couldn’t make the tournament because of real life issues. However, he’s instrumental to the success of Mayhem in Manila. He pushed through a lot of decisions and set the tone we want to bring forth in these tournaments. He was the one who went to Perry at Multi-Man Publishing and asked for sponsorship. That man showed me how it’s done.
Vlad See did the fantastic Mayhem t-shirts, amongst other things like driving players to airports. The graphics on the t-shirt is actually done by a professional design artist, not that it’s not noticeable.
The sponsors! Oh my god, the sponsors!! They go such a very long way to make this a proper tournament. I can’t be more thankful of their support.
The Blog of Five Rounds
AP89 To the Pain, Bruce Probst
This is a Gary Fortenberry scenario from Action Pack 9 “To the Bridge”. The victory condition is a little out of the ordinary, there are multiple ways you can win. If you fulfil certain number of VC conditions at a certain point in time, the game ends. Otherwise it goes on to the next checkpoint until the 6.5 turn scenario is over.
Bruce Probst was my opponent on this first round. I played him in a Dare Death VASL tourney round before and he’s really one of the nicest chaps you can get matched up with.
If you look the picture above, the locations marked with a “V” are the places that allows the British to score. The arrows show where Probst’s Gurkha Rifles roamed. Probst was probing the left, centre as well as the right. My attention was draw more to the right because my asset allocation was more towards the middle. I don’t worry about the left as much since it’s a much harder terrain to traverse.
Probst took advantage of his mobility and shifted his weight from the left to the centre, where he started focusing on around Turn 3, our first “checkpoint” so to speak. I wasn’t setup very well and so I had no multi-man counters around the middle VC. However, I was confident that I could advance a MMG crew into the area and extend the game to the next checkpoint (from Turn 3 to Turn 5).
As luck would have it, the crew had to roll for an NMC on the Defensive Fire and produced boxcars. It’s easy for me to blame the dice for this but I shouldn’t be in this situation to start with. I should have focused much better on the Victory Conditions.
Focus on the VC!
J150 The Sangshak Redemption, John Knowles
This 5 turn scenario is from ASL Journal 10. Both the Japan side and the Indian / Gurkha’s side get to attack as well as to defend. All the buildings are huts apart from the building in the middle of the VC circle which is a stone church. The IJA wins by winning ownership of the church (even just briefly) and keep two building within the VC circle at game’s end. My opponent was John Knowles, John and I play every Thursday evening, from “Into the Rubble” scenarios to Campaign Game playtests.
Initially, the IJA faced off a weak India setup. I needed to capture the church as soon as possible and to kill those 2 guns, to get into the right positions and to preserve my forces for the Gurkha onslaught. I didn’t move fast enough, I don’t think. I also saw an opportunity to banzai through cover and take out his ordnance. Those ordnance weren’t even pointed towards the banzai’er. Well, that didn’t turn out so well. I was able to pile into one of the Indian squads but neither of the guns.
My guys were off position and then John got a CH on the church from his 76mm mortar.
The expert that he is, he took maximum advantage of the opportunity to push into the church. My IJA couldn’t shoot at all that day, the Gurkhas were stacked and unloading barrages after barrages into the huts that the IJA were holding onto for dear life. In the diagram above, the bottom two arrows were how the IJA made their initial push. The arrows on the top and on the right were the Gurkha reinforcements.
I could have conceded after Turn 3, which was 2 Gurkha Movement Phases after his reinforcement arrived but I fought on. I surprised myself when the battle lasted through to Turn 5 until the necessary IJA forces were KIA’d off the map. To me this is a terrific reason as to why one should never concede. You never know how things will go.
AP59 Taking Heads, Zhen Wang
This is a 6.5 Turn scenario by another Fortenberry pack, Action Pack 6 A Decade of War. My opponent was Zhen Wang. Zhen’s one of the chief editors of Dare Death, the Chinese ASL magazine. The IJA attack down from the top of the map pushing against some ELR2 Philippines Army (“PA”) personnel. They could either win by exiting CVPs off the board, or by a combination of killing US units / capturing buildings (largely to the left of the “Fake HT”.
My issue started before the game even began and is perhaps the key weakness to date in my game. The “weak” Americans also get a 37LL AT Gun and two M3 GMC’s which are halftracks with 75mm guns. If you look at the diagram above, the 2 “bright” red dots are where they were located. The 37LL gun was at the back and never got used. They never really got into the right and is a big reason why I failed to get as many IJA kills as I should when they advance down over the top part of the map. To prevent CVP losses by losing those halftracks, I took them out of play myself. It absolutely obvious but it never hit me until now.
Zhen was able to demolish my PA troops piecemeal all the way back into the village buildings.
Put all your assets into the fight!
ITR1 Debacle at Sungkiang, Akira Lu
I was the defending Chinese in this 6.5 Turn Scott Holst scenario from “Into the Rubble”. My opponent was Akira Lu who is a relative newcomer into the hobby. He came to the tournament with nothing, not even Beyond Valor, but he left the tournament with Mark Humphries’ old Raaco boxes & bag set. I guess he’s finally convinced!
Alan Smee had a quick chat with me about what he saw in my play. He said I need to get as many assets as possible into the fight. I can even fall back into Fortifications but don’t put my assets out of play by putting them the backfields. He told me how he’d do a A103 Mayhem in Manila defence and that point came through loud and clear.
The red points on the map are where I placed my two 76mm artillery.
I put most of my assets forward and engaged the attackers for half the game around the top part of the map. The IJA had to capture 11 of those multihex buildings I won this one by adjudication as we ran out of time. My opponent is a newbie but I could feel the difference from my change in approach.
Push your assets forward, you can always back into fortified positions
AP90 Smashing the Hook, Benji Dayco
This is my other favourite scenario out of Action Pack 9 “To the Bridge”. This is a fast 5.5 turn scenario. The British needed to either destroy both roadblocks or clear IJA units from around the roadblock area.
My opponent was Benji Dayco whom I met that very morning at McD!
I figured we will fight this one in front. I put my 75mm infantry gun on the hill overlooking the first ridge. I had a MMG there in case the gun needed support. I also had HIP units on both sides of the road in front just in case some of these British breaks or if a leader wandered to the wrong place.
This worked out every well. The British seemed torn between running for the first roadblock or fighting it out. I won this one by concession as I had to make for the airport.
Defenders can still choose to fight the attackers in the ground of their choice.
Siem Reap, Cambodia?
We did a quick vote towards the end of Mayhem regarding the location of the next tournament. Siem Reap came out to be the winner and Raphael Ferry can’t be more enthusiastic in taking that on.
Siem Reap, home of Le Franc Tireur, does seem to be a top notched idea.
Snake eyes in the shadows of Ankor Wat.
I was chatting with Witchbottles the other day. Given all the issues and problems we have in life, whether personal or professional, to be able to see each other once a year means the both of you probably didn’t have too bad a year. It’s a blessing really.
See you there, Summer 2017. Have a good year!
The ASL fanatics in New England got together two years ago and started building a scenario pack to commemorate 20 years of their involvement with ASL and more importantly, 20 years of their friendship via ASL.
This is truly a pack built by ASL fanatics, for fanatics. As such, standards are very high as these folks are well know players and scenario designers themselves.
One of the first ones that interests me is YASL#1 Full Immersion Baptism (Designer : Carl Nogueira). I was involved in its playtesting. This is the Spanish Civil War, replete with the Republican, the Nationalists, the Condor Legions and Moors with their ability to seek cover in the folds of the ground.
YASL#4 The Twin Pimples (Designer : Andy Howard), it’s British regulars and commandos pitted against Italians in the desert and at night. We are talking about 21 Italians & toys against 10 British squads and 9 commandos.
My first game out of this pack will most likely to be YASL#5 Patrols on the Trail to Hell (Designer Vic Provost) perhaps for no other reason than that I have been a huge fan of Vic Provost’s & the Bunker crew’s PTO design. This is a 5 turn USMC vs IJA jungle action that looks to be a good introduction for newer folks to the PTO terrain.
Oh hey, gritty Ground Snow at Dusk, ’44 Eastern front action in YASL#6 Hein Olshana (Designer : Robert “Kedge” Johnson). I know, you never get tired of ETO. StuGs (with no radios) vs SU76Ms!
YASL#8 Ass Backwards (Bob Tufano & Tom Morin) is the only other scenario in existence (according to ASL Scenario Archive) that features the British Archer. The Archer is a tank destroyer with a 76LL gun pointing BACKWARDS. This is a 6.5 turner that puts Panthers on the German side and plays on the Riley’s Road Map (from ASL Operation Veritable Historical Study).
Tanks ONLY action? You should take a look at YASL#9 Rack’em Up! (Designer : Ted Wilcox). This is German vs American (9 on 9), Jan 1945, Falling Snow and burnt out buildings (read : Open Ground). It’s a fast one with 4 turns.
Paratroopers on the IJA? YASL#10 Dropping Topside (Designer : Michael J “Pooch” Puccio). Two German tank destroyers vs SIXTEEN T-34s? YASL#11 Ja, Bix (Designer : Brian “Dr Death” Sullivan). It’s a 5.5 turn where both parties can vary their OB.
YASL13 Die to the Last Man (Designer : Joe Gochinski) features the CG style OB purchases that I was hooked onto since St Louis’s China-Burma-India The Lost Theater pack. The IJA may run or they may fight. It’s up to the British to figure out.
Joe Gochinski is also the designer of one of my favorite scenarios – DB099 The Gin Drinkers’ Line, featuring Hong Kong.
By the way, when I call them fanatics, they are real fanatics. I don’t just mean they play like there’s no tomorrow. This pack features some of the best ASL scenario designers. Carl Nogueira is the designer for CH Dien Bien Phu and for the upcoming Dinant CG, Tom Morin is the designer for Valor of the Guards, Vic Provost (OB14 Pursuing Kobayashi), Stephen Johns, Ted Wilcox, Michael Puccio, Ralph McDonald and Joe Gochinski & the others have long lists of published scenarios in Dispatches from the Bunker, the New England ASL newsletter.
Vic Provost – SSR: All Occupants of the Bunker Location are considered Fanatic [A10.8]
The Nor’easter ASL Tourney XX Anniversary Pack is truly a scenario pack designed by fanatics, for fanatics. It’s product that these group of friends can all be proud of. I am actually quite happy about the production (PDF) and the delivery (free & instantaneous). I know a good number of these folks personally, out of which Carl Nogueira spent the most time teaching me how to play properly. I just KNOW I am getting a top notched product. I also wish to show my support and therefore encourage more of these publishing efforts from other ASL groups around the world.
Who knows? We might even see a couple starting to come out of Asia!!
To get your own copy of Nor’easter ASL Tourney XX Anniversary Pack:
The cost of the Pack is $15.00. Please forward your payments to the PayPal account of Carl Nogueira if paying by PayPal or to:
7 Green Street
New Bedford MA 02740
If paying by check/money order, please make payable to Carl H. Nogueira.
If you have any questions regarding any aspect of the scenario pack, please contact Carl at email@example.com, or here on facebook.
To get our own subscription to Dispatches from the Bunker:
Contact Vic Provost at firstname.lastname@example.org
(I backordered all copies apart from keeping a subscription going forward, it IS that good.)
British Turn 3: The British were in general retreat .. erm .. retrograde. The idea here was to stay ahead of the Germans and get to the next building before the Germans get their guns on and to keep the inside lines open. On the right, a rallied British green squad switched a second liner out as the rear guard. These guys would see a few medals before the day is over.
German Turn 4: The action heated up on German Turn 4. On the British left, a German tank tried to get to the back field. The British ATR team held their shot until the tank went to the other side of the building. However they bounced a second round off the German tanks even when they had a side shot. The 18 pounder (typo in the picture) on the British right “appeared” and wrecked the German tank in the Defensive Fire Phase.
British Turn 4: The British green squad on the right dispatched the German first liners who held them in melee!! The rest of the British squads got to the last line of buildings. They cut it quite close, as the Germans shot some of them between the gaps. The British continued to get to positions that were a little out-of-the-way but cover grounds the Germans would move into.
British Turn 5: The Germans started building a death star on the British left and the left British gun appeared!! It promptly put a round of white phosphorous into the building. The British ATR teams repositioned towards buildings where they could prevent the German tanks from exiting. On the right, the malfunctioned British gun couldn’t be fixed and was eliminated from the game. The Germans sent another squad in on the right flank and killed the pesky British green squad that was holding up traffic but these heroes had already saved their brothers.
German Turn 6: The Germans were almost of top of the British now. A German tank got inside the British lines but one ATR team was broken and the other one couldn’t get close enough. Good thing the white phosphorous forced the German death star to move.
German Turn 7: The Germans got up to the right ATR team and was wrecked at pointblank range! The Germans rushed up on the British left as well. They advanced up and captured the gun hex in the CC phase!!
British Turn 7: The British couldn’t let the Germans have a fire phase to spike the left gun. The British squad fired pointblank and KIA’d the squad! This led to an interesting revelation after a few rounds of discussions on the forums. There’s no way to kill the gun by small arms fire without a crew / possessing infantry (A9.74) present! So the only chance of the Germans getting a tie is to kill it with the tank ordnance.
We never got to that so here we go. It’s a three hex range with an infantry target. The base TH is 8. The gun was emplaced, so there’s a +2 DRM.
SNAKES!! The Modified TH# is 8 .. rolled a 2+2 which is not less than half but it’s an original 1,1 nonetheless.. so we need a subsequent roll .. That’s equal to half the Modified TH# of 8!! CRITICAL HIT!!!
As AZslim pointed out to me on GameSquad, guns (and crew) are automatically destroyed on Critlcal Hits. So both British guns were gone. This game went all the way to the last roll – and it’s a DRAW!!
Gotta admit, this is some finish!! Witness the narrative power of an ASL game – and that’s why we love it.
This scenario reflects the seaborne assault by the IJA on a relatively lightly held beach in the Philippines. The landing took place on Dec 22 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbour. Conditions were not ideal on this beach – the wind’s heavy and so’s the surf. The Japanese launched their attack on these “shohatsu’s” (or “LCs” for landing crafts) which were really big steel boats.
As such, neither the crew nor the passengers get to button up. They were therefore subjected to a +2 CE DRM (Crew Exposed DR modifier) at all times. The Filipino defenders had problems of their own as well : they were using MGs that were stored since the 1920’s. The defenders’ machine guns were therefore a lot less reliable than usual (X11 instead of B12).
The IJA wins immediately if they manage to exit 25 or more VPs (“victory points”) off the right edge of the map and/or gain that number in CVPs (“casualty victory points). The entire IJA force had 22 squads, 3 crews and 5 leaders – a total of 58 VPs which meant they needed to exit half. The entire Philippines force was 29 CVPs should the IJA decides to focus on CVPs instead.
IJA Turn 1 : This was a humid day at a peaceful beach. I could almost see people frolicking in the shallow waters (almost).
The terrain on the top of the map was very restrictive, especially compared to the bottom of the map. It would be difficult for the IJA to exit the map via there. The terrain was more ideal on the bottom half of the map. The orchards provided a degree of hindrance whilst requiring only 1 MF per hex to move through. Defence looks pretty sparse on the bottom of the map and I suspect that’s because the Filipinos stationed their 4 squad equivalents there. The way this was setup, the bottom of the map looked too inviting for me. I therefore aim the IJA landing forces towards the top part of the map. My opponent had gracefully given me the balance, so there were 2 MMGs and 1 HMG instead of 3 MMGs and 1 HMG, but those MGs still encouraged me to head for the jungle. Jungles are ideal banzai terrain after all.
Philippines Turn 2 : The 9 IJA boats were still coming in okay. None of the boats were lost in the heavy surf yet. The Filipinos started shooting at the incoming LCs. Stunning the LC crew would cause the boats to flounder and throw the IJA off their landing schedule. Unfortunately both MMG clogged up and random selection designated both for the junk heap (and there was much cursing).
IJA Turn 3 : It was difficult to beach the LCs properly in the heavy surf. One LC was swamped and ran aground. One LC’s crew struggled hard with the waves and wasn’t able to do much. One LC broached against the swells and was destroyed, no survivors. One LC got shot up bad and was floundering in the shadow seas. The 5 that beached okay, started to unload its passengers. Infantry on the beach are fanatic. However, if they fail morale checks they casualty reduce.
The 5 LCs that beached, started to unload. However being a first time seaborne assaulter I was concerned about pushing entire stacks out on the beach risking -2 shots on everyone. So I decided to offload the heavy weapons first, those chaps would need to assemble their toys on the beach away. This decision would cost the IJA a few more platoons as more LCs got broached in the heavy surf.
I asked my mentor Witchbottles about it afterwards, and he said to get off the boat absolutely as fast as we can!
Philippines Turn 4 : The IJA got inland on the left flank. It’s great news apart from the fact that they could get boxed in with a few Filipino squads against the board edge especially with this terrain. The remaining Filipino MG, the heavy machine gun expired as well. The defenders were caught with a beach full of fanatic IJAs and no high rate of fire weapon to do anything about it. However, they had moved inland methodically to key locations. The IJA got a bad feeling about what was to come as they couldn’t stop the Filipinos from slipping away.
IJA Turn 5 : The IJA got another LCs broached!! The IJA had lost a total of 11 squads and the best 3 of the 5 leaders. Considering that the IJA started with 22 squads 5 leaders ad 3 crews, that was almost half of the force!
IJA Turn 6 : This is Turn 6 and the IJA just got off the beach. Witchbottles’ advice to always read the scenario victory conditions at the start of every turn definitely helped here. The IJAs couldn’t move fast enough to get 25 VPs off the board, especially not with the Filipinos shooting at their backs. The IJAs decided to change tack and to round them up in the jungle instead.
This was the second banzai attack of the game. The first one was almost exploratory. The aim ws to catch and kill the blocking force in front.
IJA Turn 6 (contd.) : This is the third banzai to catch the bulk of the Filipinos in the woods. The jungle was just perfect banzai country!
IJA Turn 6 : This was the aftermath of Turn 6. The IJA lost a total of 13 squads and 4 leaders but have scored 16 CVPs in total. They needed 9 more to win the game. The Filipinos were wiped off the top of the map. However, there were still enough Filipino troops retreating into blocking positions.
Philippines Turn 6 : The IJAs used fire lanes to delay the Filipino retreat. Meanwhile, the left flank looked to be clear all the way to the goal line!
IJA Turn 7 : The IJA sprung their 4th banzai. It was a big decision considering they had only 1 leader (8+1) left. However the way he was positioned he definitely didn’t need to get too intimately involved. You can see by the red arrow, how the IJA looked to catch the rest of the defenders. The IJA now had 18 CVPs.
Philippines Turn 7 : The Filipinos got themselves a hero! The hero, when coupled with the remaining 8-1 produced a fairly respectable stack with a HS and an IJA LMG. Either way, the IJA moved into positions where they could lay down fire lanes to delay the Filipino retreat. My opponent had already seen the bottleneck on the top right of the map where there was a lake. To get to the board edge, the IJAs on the left flank had to run through the one hex that was 4 hexes from the top and 2 hexes from the right.
IJA Turn 9 : The Filipino leader / hero / HS / LMG stack got into a position to lay a fire lane down on the IJA exit. The first fire striped the lead IJA squad. The IJA had about 7 VPs worth of squads who could exit off in this very turn and we needed only 5. We had to get rid of that fire lane and one good way was to force the enemy squad into Final Protective Fire. The Filipino leader-hero stack’s collective hearts must had skipped a beat when they looked away from their gleefully laid fire lane and saw the bunch of IJAs looking menacingly at them from their left.
The fifth banzai attack had no problems crashing through the open and into the fire lane stack. There was nothing the Filipinos could do. The fire lane stopped after a quick struggle and the 7 VPs worth of IJA squads exited at their leisure.
IJA Turn 9 : This was the end of the game as the IJA killed and exited more than 25 VPs.
As my opponent warned me, seaborne assaults are not for the faint of heart. The attackers should expect to lose more than half the force to the elements and to casualty reduction until his troops hit the hinterland. For the IJAs, only 4 LCs managed to head back to the ships. 4 others were wrecked and 1 went aground. Half the force was dead at turn 6, mostly to broaching LCs.
I got to remember to get EVERYONE off the LCs immediately next time.
It was December 20 1942. The Italian Bersaglieri Regiment approached the Russian town of Meshkov in their retreat. The Russians got there ahead of them and used its “fairy tale castle” ie. catello fatato cathedral as a strongpoint. It was dark, it was extremely cold and yet the cathedral was illuminated by a portion of the building that was on fire.
The scenario opened with 20 squads of Italians doing a human wav across the snow towards 2 squads of Russian SMG units plus 6 rifle squads of the Russian 1st Guards Army. The above is my defensive layout and where my machine guns were positioned. Typically in a night scenario, support weapons and leaders are HIP’d (“hidden initial placement”) as are 25% of the defenders. The Italians win when they control the cathedral (the hex with the “Blaze” counter and the hex to the upper right of it. )
Italian Turn 1 After the Movement Phase : The NVR (“Night Vision Range”) was 5, so the screaming Italians were spotted. The Russians tried to break as many Italian squads as they could. Italian squads have a moral level of 7 and a broken side morale of 6. At night, units don’t get to remove their “DM” status until they roll less than its current printed morale. Running with 4 leaders (2 of them 6+1), these Italian should be very hard to rally once they break. Turns out it was the Russians who couldn’t rally for most of the game. The Italian 6+1’s were rather successful in convincing their troops to get back into the fight.
Russian Turn 1 After Advance Fire Phase : The Russian should perhaps have skulked at least part of their forces but I was determined to break a few more Italian squads. The Italians fired their Austrian made Cannone da 47/32 (ROF3), broke a squad on the ground level of the church and the heavy machine gun (“HMG”) team in the trench next to it. The HMG was later lost to the Italians and never served under Russian use again.
Katya, our Russian sniper did miracles though! She identified an 8-1 leader from a stack of brokies and put a hole through his head. He was the highest ranking leader the Italians had and the only one with a negative modifier!
Italian Turn 3 : The Russian couldn’t find any star shells!! Since illuminated units cannot see into the darkness outside the zone of illumination, it was safe for the Italians to move around the rim of blaze illumination and sneak an Italian squad into the cathedral. The Italians had also jumped both of my flanks and tied them down in mêlée. Given the huge disparity inmanpower, the Russians should have done a fighting retreat and leverage on their advantage in troop quality. Once the Italians closed, the difference in morale level was gone and they could keep reinforcing any mêlée.
Case in point : the Russian’s right flank got a little agitated and turned fanatic along with the production of a hero (I promptly named him after my esteemed opponent .. heh heh), the Italians jumped on them immediately in the Close Combat phase, nullifying their qualities.
Russian Turn 3 Close Combat Phase : There wasn’t a lot to do in this Russian turn. The fellas steadfastly refused to be rallied. Since one of the Italian guns malfunctioned and the Russian SMG squads hid in fortified cellars, there wasn’t much damage. One of those Russian SMG squad decided to come out of hiding however, advanced up to see if it can ambush the Italian squad up top. It didn’t, but it took out the Italian squad anyway in close combat. In face of all the firepower and the important job it had to do, advancing up was a risk. However the act might burn more time from the Italians.
The sparky Katya (sniper) continued to work hard, she found a 7-0 in another big stack of brokies and wounded him. The Italians had 2 healthy 6+1’s left. Both of the Russian flanks continued to be tied down in mêlée.
Italian Turn 4 After the Movement Phase : There were only 3 functional Russian squads left : 1 rifle squad and 2 SMG squads in the cellars. The rifle squad spit out a fire lane with the Italian Breda M30 LMG, just to deter the Italians from rounding the building on the right. As luck would have it, the Italian squad on the lower right in the dark would be hit and broken by Katya, who was obviously making it a late night tonight.
Italian Turn 4 later in Close Combat : Two Italian squads made it into the left side of the cathedral. There’s still a concealed SMG squad in the left cellar. Since the cellars were fortified, they would need to pin or to break the Russian SMG squads before they could go in for close combat!
Russian Turn 4 : The Italians continued to rally quite well, although they had some casualties from the cold (Extreme Winter E.3.742). The Russians on the hand were still hanging on with a few squads. To make matters worse, the German sniper showed up an pinned the fanatic Russian squad in the midst of their mêlée on the right. Fortunately they survived and the fight continued, tying down that flank still for the Russians.
Italian Turn 5: Again, the Russians had no luck with star shells, and the Italians moved in. The Italians managed to pin the Russian SMG squad in the cellar on the right and so two Italian squads advanced downstairs to say hello. The mêlée on the far right was hit by German snipers again! The Russian fanatic squad was broken and they were all killed when the hero found himself fighting the Russians alone. The Russians outside were beginning to rally but listening to the sounds around them, SMG squad in the cellar on the left felt the darkness rolling rapidly in.
Russian Turn 5 : The Italians got star shells in some choice positions! Nonetheless the rallied Russian troops started to move back. Fortunately, the other Italian gun broke as well, adding to the Russians’ fighting chance.
Italian Turn 6 : GUSTS!! The burning first floor of the cathedral collapsed! Good thing it didn’t crash into the cellar.
The Italians had to think defence now. The Russians were getting back into the fight from the lower left of the map. The Italians had to get into blocking positions while continuing to reinforce the mêlée. The Russians couldn’t do much about stopping the Italians from reinforcing the cathedral. You might also notice that the remaining Italian gun was operational now and again tried pounding the cellars.
Russian Turn 6 : The Russians plodded towards the sounds of gunfire inside the cathedral. First up was the 7-0 who looked to pop into the church hex on the left. The choice for the Italians was either to spend firepower on him or to let him get into the ground floor and make the Italians do a +3 task check for “Infantry Overrides” in next turn to get in. They shot him. Next up is a Guards rifle squad that broke against the fire lane on the far left.
It looked even tougher on the right.
One squad got pinned and finally the last squad moved in with the 8-1. Russians elites are stealthy and Italians are lax. If the Russians could get an ambush they could infiltrate into the cathedral. Unfortunately, it was the Russians who got ambushed, and the Italian squad withdrew into the cathedral.
At this moment, the cathedral cellar on the left was held by a good order Russian SMG squad and in the right, there was a mêlée raging on between a Russian squad and two Italian squads. The Russian counterattack could only watch from outside the cathedral.
Italian Final Turn : It all went down to one question (read : dice roll) – whether the Italians could break or pin the Russian SMG squad holding out in the left cellar so that the Italians have a chance in close combat.
The Italians moved, trying to focus more fire power into the cellar during advancing fire. The Russians outside managed to pin one of the 3 squads that got into the cathedral, directly above the stubborn Russian SMG squad. The Italians mustered up a firepower of 6, so that was a FP6+4 shot.
The Italians rolled an 11.
The Russians won.
I love PTO. However, jungles do not present decent tank country. Too much time spent in the PTO as a newbie can result in lopsided development that is short on armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) experience.
This scenario took place near Borisov (Russia), mid-1941 – the opening stages of Barbarossa. Elements of the 1st Moscow Motor Rifle Division was sent to block the spearhead that was Guderian’s 18th Panzer Divison.
North is on the right of the map. The Germans deployed on the top map (west) and the Russians came in from the bottom (east). The Russians win when they exit more than 15 victory points (VPs) off the top edge of the map between the road on the top middle to the road on the top right. The other way to win was to kill enough Germans. The KV2 was worth 7 VPs, the T-34 was also worth 7 points and each squad was worth 2 points. As you already know, the Russians had a KV2, a T34 M40 and a couple of BT7s. The Germans had a couple of PzIIIGs, a halftrack sporting a 37mm gun with a high rate of fire (I forgot about the ATR that it also carried) and a couple of halftracks with the usual machine guns. They were backed by a 28mm antitank gun and further reinforced by a pair of PzIVEs in Turn 4.
The above was the German Turn 2. You can see the two Panzers on the left lying in wait and hoping to get a first shot at the Russians. The antitank gun was towed to a clump of woods near the exit for a last-ditch defence. The half track with the 37mm gun was on the right and they could hear the speedy BT7s and a convoy of trucks rumbling towards them.
This was the Russian Turn 3. The T34 came up the left and the PzIIIG fired, looking to scoot behind the woods quickly afterwards.
I rolled a 1,1 .. and a 1. Critical Hit!!
The T34 exploded into a burning wreck, and the German tankers sat stunned as bits of Russian tank rained down. On the right, the 37mm gun pumped shot after shot into one of the BT7 and killed it.
This was the German Turn 3. I am very inexperienced in tank warfare so you won’t see an end to idiotic moves in the near term. This was one of them. I backed a PzIIIG up over the bridge on the left in the hope of being able to get away faster when the Russian tanks appear. Not only did I presented my rear facing to the Russians, I forgot to button up. The tank was immediately stunned by infantry fire and then killed by a Russian antitank rifle (ATR). Things worked out better on the right as my 37mm gun shocked the other BT7.
This was the German Turn 4. To the left you can see another one of my moments. The Germans were hoping to crash a halftrack through the woods on the left, get back on the road and circle around the back of the Russian trucks on the right. However, they realised that trail breaking took a little time and by the time the half track emerged from the woods, it was looking down the barrel of a KV2! So instead of breaking to the right of the map, they sped towards the left to escape. The KV2 fired but the halftrack speed and its size saved it. The surviving BT7 recovered from its shock and killed the gun-toting halftrack. Unfortunately the reinforcing PzIVEs arrived and got it bracketed from two directions.
This was Russian turn 5. Our escaping halftrack on the left had a Russian ATR squad on its tail. The KV2 on the other hand laughed and used the trail-break created by the charitable halftrack to get to the “inside line” of the Germans. The BT7 blew out its gun in a shootout with the PzIVe on its left (which also malf’d its gun) and was killed by the PzIVe on its right. The right PzIVe proceeded to shoot up the Russian trucks one by one.
During German turn 5, one of the German half squad had a berserk moment. They got tired of the shooting and concluded that the proper thing to do was to charge the Russian medium machine gun. So off they went. They ran through Defensive First Fire, then Subsequent First Fire … jumping into the MMG nest, they survived Final Protective Fire!! “.. and THIS is how it’s done!!” they yelled. Meanwhile, Katya, the peasant girl sniper rolled her eyes, spat and muttered “Men” before shooting up the marauding German half squad and ended the lunacy.
This was Russian Turn 6. During the last German turn, the only Panzer with a functioning gun sped into its final position while its colleague proceeded to kill all the Russian trucks with its MGs on the right of the map. However, the KV2 killed the halftrack that tried to escape from in front of the wooden house. The escaping halftrack to the left survived another shot from the Russian ATR and ran. The KV2 crew watch incredulously as the crazy halftrack ran across its covered arc. Then it realised that KV2 can’t intensive fire. The halftrack disappeared behind some woods. In this turn, the KV2 followed. I can only imagine the commotion on the halftrack as the KV2 reappeared on its “rear view mirrors”.
This was Russian Turn 7. The mighty KV2 lumbered towards the goal line. The PzIVE and the antitank gun bounced shot after shot off its front armour. The KV2 went to a “fork” position, threatening the German truck with its rear MGs while shooting back at the antitank gun with high explosives from its terrifying “bunker busting” 152mm gun. The antitank gun crew worked as fast as they could, dreading the massive fireball that the next moment must bring.
Then for a moment, there was silence – the 152mm gun malfunctioned.
I played ASL153 Totsugeki! a while ago with Brian Y. I played a few PTO (Pacific Theatre of Operations) scenarios before but this is my first foray into full-blown jungle terrain.
The usual Chinese vs Japanese (IJA) or Canadian vs Japanese scenarios occurred in China or Hong Kong, both of which are not in PTO terrain. ASL153 Totsugeki! however, took place in northern Burma. “Totsugeki” is Japanese for “Charge”. Chinese gunners, working with the Americans, were cut off in the jungle with fields of fire still uncleared. The IJA 55th Regiment pushed in and everyone in the 6th Field Artillery Battery found themselves fighting for their lives.
IJA pushed in from the top of the map. There are three Chinese guns in specified hexes. The Victory Conditions for the IJA is to eliminate or to capture all three Chinese guns and to occupy their hexes with good order crew/half squads/squads (“MMC” in ASL parlance) in 6.5 turns. The Chinese has 14 first liners vs the IJA’s 11 but they were understandably shaky (ELR 2).
This is Japanese turn 1. The IJA wasted no time in rushing both flanks. They showed that the IJA squad will almost always get to where it wants to go. The jungle hindrance of course helped a great deal.
End of Chinese Turn 1 : you can see the IJA was successful in turning both flanks. The Chinese 2 squads stack with the leader posed an issue though since it occupied a key position in the center of the map. Approaching IJA units invariably got shot up.
Japanese Turn 2: The IJA decide to get the party going with a DC Hero (“CANDYGRAM!!!”, a phrase favoured by one of my ASL mentors, Witchbottles). Unfortunately the Chinese weren’t ready to go wild yet and promptly shot the messenger.
Japanese Turn 2 still : IJA forces slid down the left flanks, ambushed and killed the Chinese medium machine gun (MMG) team. This flank looked shaky but the Chinese held firm in the middle. That double squad Chinese stack in the middle were still chuckling over their DC hero kill.
Japanese Turn 3 : The IJA was getting frustrated about not being to make much inroads in the centre and on the right flanks. On top of it, trotting through the jungle was a very slow going affair. So they decided to do a banzai attack!
This is my first banzai attack in jungle terrain and I started to appreciate how well banzai attacks go together with jungles. It is got to be terrifying to have IJA troopers crashing out of the trees and falling into the ranks with bayonets and swords waving! This charge allowed the IJA forces in the centre to link up with the right flank.
Japanese Turn 5 : The IJA spent turn 4 bringing the troops together for the final assault on the guns. The IJA mass assault moved through the jungle. The two guns on the flanks fired pointblank at the incoming IJA and they both malfunctioned!
Japanese Turn 6: The IJA came into contact with the Chinese troops around the gun and one last banzai ensured!
Sensing that the game was almost over, a DC hero decided to gave it another go. He too was shot before he could deliver the payload. On the other hand the last banzai piled a few IJAs into the last gun hex.
The IJA captured the last Chinese gun and surrounded the defenders.
Totsugeki is a great introduction for me to the PTO terrain. Going toward I’d very much like to explore the best ways for DC Heros to play together with Banzai’ers.
I’d also like to commend Brian Y as a terrific ASL player. Thanks for a great game Brian!
Please see also my friend Joss Attridge’s experience with Totsugeki : “Totsugeki (ASL 153)”
Round 1: AP8 A Bloody Harvest
Maik Brinkmann is a methodological player with a great personality. He stores his counters in boxes of little white envelopes which hints at an equally efficient and practical mind. We decided on playing A Bloody Harvest through email correspondence before I arrived at Singapore.
Germans started from the top of the board and their goal was to clear the area I got marked at the bottom of the board clear of “good order” Poles.
I played the Poles. I decided to place my medium machine gun on the 1st level of the stone building that faced the grain field. From the Pole’s angle there were three possible approaches.
There was the right side that is heavily lined with trees where the German could very well approach. I placed 2 trenches within those woods to delay the Germans. I made sure that the two trenches upfront can support each other (and not be able to shoot at each other).
There was the grain field in the middle that my medium machine gun (MMG) covered from the first level of the stone building. I also had a squad in a trench that covered the road leading up to the grain field.
There’s also the left side that’s less wooded and was the longer way around. I had a trench with a squad on the immediate left of the village, plus another squad in a stone building on the left covering that approach. If needed, they could move back to the village to help.
Maik divided up the Germans and attacked down both flanks. He was bogged down on my right as the Poles withdrew into the village. He made better progress on my left but couldn’t converge onto the village in time.
The funny part was a stubborn Polish half squad that kept running retreating through the grain fields while harassing the Germans on the left. It absolutely refused to be broken.
It was a great game that introduced me to a new friend.
Round 2: J103 Lenin’s Sons
Mark Humphries need no introduction in Asia or globally in the ASL world. He runs the ASL Ladder from the Philippines. We decided on Lenin’s Sons and he gratefully allowed me to play the defending Russians.
The Germans attacked down the length of the board looking to capture most the buildings on the bottom of the board. From the Russian point of view, the left side of the board is open ground. The German had a big wooden building at their jump off point. The Russians had a hedge and an orchard in front of the buildings they are to defend. On the right side were the woods.
From Mark I could see how ASL is really a game of movement. The Germans would always move forward in every turn. I failed to create a cross fire on the left and the SS was able to process across the open ground without breaking much until their rifles came into range.
In the woods on the right side Mark was constantly looking to encircle the retreating Russian troops. The Russian had a demolition squad hidden in the woods and were able to channel a leader and a squad towards them but my timing was wrong. The demolition squad sprung out, got shot, and the demolition pack went flying harmlessly through the air.
It was a slow game but Mark made progress in every turn. By mid game he was already in the orchards in front of my buildings.
Another great game! Mark showed me how it’s done : attacking in open ground and in the woods alike.
(PS : if I play this scenario again, the 10-0 commissar will go into the woods and the Russians will do a fighting retreat like IJA in the jungles.)
Round 3: ASL145 Shanghai in Flames
Jamie Lee is an experienced war gamer who is a newbie with ASL rules but is very well versed tactically. The Singapore ASL’rs warned me about him. On the other hand, he’s very unassuming and can easily disarm the unwary.
The scenario was Shanghai in Flames and I played the Chinese. I played this a while back with Erwin Langlois before and I enjoyed it immensely.
The large building on the bottom left of the map was the Sihang Warehouse (factory). The IJA were to clear the factory of all “good order” Chinese squads. Squads in the factory were fanatic (a point I forgot at the tourney).
From the Chinese point of view, the likely angle of Japanese attack would be down the left side of the board along the line of buildings. The big stone building in the middle of the board was a good jump off point for the final attack as well.
The row house along the right of the factory was an important landmark. As long as it stayed in Chinese hands, it allowed them skulk and to rout safely. Once it fell into Japanese hands it became a beautiful fire base for the IJA
The Chinese got 3 fortified hexes and instead of fortifying the 3 top hexes of the factory to prevent the Japanese from charging directly in, I only fortified the middle hex the hex to it’s right. With the risk I took from not fortifying the left, I exchanged that for a tunnel that linked the building on the left to the row house on the right in front of the building.
My plan was to fight a delaying retreat down the left side while a leader and a squad start a fire on the building to the left in front of the factory. They could use the tunnel and go to the row house on the right and start fires there too, thereby denying the IJA of jump off points.
There was also a Chinese MMG team together with a protective squad and a 7-0 leader all the way down the street on the right side of the board. Given there were two long streets, I plan to cover the first with a long fire lane, and move to the street closer to the factory when the IJA broke through. Guess what? The 7-0 overseeing the operation was none other than “Corporal Kwan” recently designed by the talented Sava Toufexis.
As it turned out Jamie was a lot faster than I expected in fighting through my retreating squads on left flank. A dare death half squad made its début by playing dead for a while and finally snapping off its concealment and delivering point-blank fire into a stack of passing IJA squads and a 10-0 leader. The shot wounded the 10-0 and decimated the IJA squads. Another volley from a squad between building killed the 10-0 and further amplified the misery. The Chinese managed to set fires to the building and woods on their left flank and routed to the row house on the right. By that time the IJA forces had already arrived to prevent further acts of vandalism.
By mid game the IJA was in the row house along the right of the factory. I lucked out in that the building to the left of the factory was on fire, denying its use to the IJA and making my unfortified left factory hex less of an issue. After a few turns the IJA broke through into the factory from the right but the Chinese squads had spread themselves out on the factory floor, promising another 2 to 3 turns of close combat. The IJA simply ran out of time.
Jamie is very strong tactically. He’s also very fluid in his thinking, making him a very tenacious opponent. This scenario went for 7 hours before we called it.
Round 4: J116 Brigade Hill
Vlad has been ASL’r for a while. He was one of the first guys I came into contact with when I got into ASL. I remember one of my first chats with him was about how he felt about his Kampfgruppe Scherer purchase.
We agreed to Brigade Hill with me being the IJA.
I adopted Chris Doary’s setup. (Erwin: Spoiler Alert .. we still got a game going, if you look you will ruin our game! 🙂 )
There were four hill tops on the map. The Australians started the scenario owning the hill-top on the top left of the map (approached by concealed IJA at the time of the photo). They were to control, three or more hill tops out of the possible four.
Starting from the general direction from the foxhole on the top left of the map, the Australians probed both sides of the big hill before moving onto the first hill top. That might have burned more time than the Australians could afford. While I had the hill top bore sighted, I forgot to use the die roll modifier in the excitement. However when an Australian half squad, a squad, a leader and a machine gun moved into a nice clump of woods to set up a fire base on the hill-top, I remembered to spring forth a hidden IJA squad! The IJA initial triple point-blank fire on the stack didn’t have any effect but the Australian advance fire striped the IJA. They reduced the Australians in the mêlée and ultimately killed them all in the next close combat phase.
The Australians made a bit of headway chasing a mop of IJA half squad rabble through the woods on the right flank beyond the first big hill. They cornered and killed off a half squad and the 9-0 IJA leader and one of the Aussie half squads went fanatic. When the Aussie reinforcements appeared from the bottom right encircling the “bottom right hill” it looked bleak for the IJA. The Australians who killed the IJA leader jumped another IJA half squad in close combat and got ambushed instead. The Aussie half squad got slaughtered and I was going to infiltrate the victorious IJA half squad back closer to the “bottom right hill” but suddenly I had a thought.
I moved the IJA half squad behind the pursuing Australians.
That IJA half squad then eliminated a stack of routing Aussies!! When the leader and a squad among the incoming Australian reinforcement broke, I double-timed a squad of IJA through the orchard behind them as well, a lone surviving Aussie squad defensive fired through the orchards but IJA squads had ever been stopped from going wherever they wanted to go. The IJA squad was in a position to eliminate the routing Aussies against the board edge in the following turn.
The small IJA reinforcement found the Aussie foxhole on the top left guarded by a lonely squad. They advanced up the hill and did a one hex banzai charge into the foxhole. The “score” between the IJA and the Australians went back to 3 hill tops to 1. The Australians had two more turns left and decided to concede.
Vlad is a meticulous and a very fair player. Throughout the game he kept reminding me of repairs, missed negative die roll modifiers (on my shots) and (my) SAN etc. It is an honor to play him.
(PS Vlad reminded me that I can’t boresight if the attacker didn’t start offboard.)
Later at Singapore Changi’s Airport
I wrote Don Lazov and Witchbottles, my two ASL mentors from the airport. Don wrote back and said:
“I sincerely hope you not only had a lot of fun, learned a bunch of new things, ideas and concepts, but most important (beside/or next to having fun) made some new friends, and many memories. To me that is what ASL is really all about. Playing a great game but playing that game with great friends and making memories.”
I had seen a lot of new tactics. Whether I had truly internalized them remains to be seen:
- Jamie Lee’s aggressive and effective use of half squads
- Mark Humphries’s constantly flowing half squad amoeba attack through the woods
- Vladimir See’s tactical planning and creative movements that made great use of available cover
- Ian Percy’s comment I overheard about him not “doing things” to his opponents but “constantly presenting tough choices to the opponent” and “making HIM do all the work”. Given enough choices his opponent is bound to make the wrong choice and choke.
- The power of IJA behind the enemy and the horrific efficiencies of eliminating the stacks of enemy squads for failure to route.
Quick Note to Fellow Newbies
I wasn’t going to pay for a plane ticket to go to Singapore for the Malaya Madness. The thought of putting up the time and the expense to go to Singapore to play ASL when I can play games with anyone over VASL was simply too crazy to consider. However, my two mentors : Don & Witchbottles both advised me to go see for myself. My family, surprisingly was easier to convince than I myself.
My initial thoughts were :
- I don’t know anyone there but a lot of the ASL’rs must know each other already. They are just going to talk and to play with each other.
- I am just a newbie. What’s the fun in losing all my games?
The Tourney Director matched players based on their skill levels. Besides, everyone I met are a total pleasure to play with or without the competition.
- I played quite a few people around the world too on VASL. I can lose games equally well on VASL without having to travel, thankyou.
Face to Face games carries a dynamic that just doesn’t exist via other mediums. The chatter, the shrieks, the comments, the groans and screams of delight over die rolls, make FtF experiences second to none. Besides, it’s even more fun to play people over VASL (afterwards) when you know who they are.
There are a lot of ASL tourneys every year. If it’s within your realm of possibility to go, go. Go at least once.
And tell me how you feel. It might just change your ASL life too.