Sunday 29 July 2016, Mayhem in Manila
We did a quick vote towards the end of Mayhem on the location of the next tournament. Siem Reap came out to be the winner and Raphael Ferry can’t be more enthusiastic in taking the challenge on.
Siem Reap, does seem to be a top notched idea. “Snake eyes in the shadows of Angkor Wat.” I can see that slogan already!
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 at the ASL tournament means the both of you didn’t have too bad a year. It’s a blessing really.
See you there again in the Summer of 2017. Have a good year!
Thursday 27 July 2017 Inflight
Almost exactly a year afterwards, I got up at 0430 and is on my way to Siem Reap. I worked my travel kit over and again and is proud to say that it’s less bulkier than last year’s. I got everything in a backpack that I will bring up to the cabin with me. However it is still frightfully heavy. My clothes are in cargo. I guess between my clothes and my ASL gear, I can risk my clothes.
Direct flights to Siem Reap don’t run every day. I have to switch flights in Singapore. It will be the same thing on the way back, apart from the fact that I will spend the night in Singapore before boarding the second leg. I plan to hit the Kinokunya in Takashimaya that evening and load up even more on my military history library.
As it turns out, there will be 12 participants this year. There will be 5 rounds over the next 3 days. The last round will be a mystery round. Scenario-wise, I am definitely not as well prepared as I was last year when I played through every one. This year, life is busy and I am more relaxed towards the notion of tournaments. I am just gonna go and play some ASL. Besides, have you seen the field? These are not 12 uncles off the street, these are the most fanatic across Asia (and we even got one from the UK). I am going to get my butt royally kicked and I am going to look graceful in the process.
Alright, I should take a look at the victory conditions again.
Thursday 27 July 2017 Siem Reap
The Victor Angkor hotel, the venue of the Angkorfest is simply a scene out of the movies. The whole French Indochine atmosphere looks fantastic, from the lighting to the decor. Raphael Ferry said he’s going to meet up with me at the hotel and take me shopping for a local sim card and a few “kramas”. Kramas are long cotton scarves that differentiate the Cambodians from their neighbours. It’s also known as the Khmer “Swiss Army Knife” ‘cause it’s simply used for everything – from neck wrap to wrap to baby hammock to padding for heavy loads to backpack. Raphael introduced me to his motorbike and for a town like Siem Reap, there’s no better way to experience it than from the back of one.
If Raphael doesn’t know everyone around downtown Seam Reap, he certainly looked like it. We stopped and talked to everyone: shop keepers, shoppers, ladies sitting outside cutting hair, little kids with a puppy, restaurant staff having dinner before their shift in the back alleys. At one point I found myself having a beer on the street with a group of tuk tuk drivers while Raphael chatted away in Khmer, French & English.
Friday 28 July 2017 J76 Ultimate Treachery vs Ivan Kent
This is IJA versus French, March 1945 in Hanoi. The IJA has to control 45 out of 74 building LOCATIONS in 4.5 turns. We generally feel it’s pro French especially when there seems to be barely enough time for the IJA to walk through 45 locations unopposed in 4.5 turns. (No Quarters is on and therefore Mopping Up is off.) Ivan Kent got the French though.
I have been to three tournaments with Ivan but have never played him FtF. He’s A TON OF FUN to play though.
At the end it was a very tough reach but somehow for a moment, not giving up seems to pay off. Then the French sniper pinned one of my squads that was supposed to Advance into a new location (45!). In the next second, the situation brighten up again when one of my IJA HS went berserk and piled into a much needed location unscathed!
The berserk unit lost the HtH (idiots) and Ivan hit my CVP cap with me being 1 location short.
Friday 28 July 2017 DB92 The Streets of Kharkov vs Aaron Cleavin
Really? I am playing the Grofaz? My life was about to go from good to even better.
This is a terrific gem from the Bunker crew where the NKVD attacks the SS bridgehead with 2 to 1 superiority. Both sides have offensive options.
I was the Russian attacker. Aaron’s setup was very focused. The two roadblocks put his Marder in hulldown next to the left bridge. He focused the rest of his OB on the big building in the middle and the two smaller ones on the right.
Two T34s found his AT Gun on my right when Aaron screams “APCR!!!!!!” and promptly blew up one of my T34 while it scooted into a factory. The other one took a CH (Aaron: “WOOOOOOOSSSSH-KAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!! And the turret flew off the T34!!!!!!!”) He had Darth Vader (10-2) on Level 2 across the river with an HMG getting rate after rate as NKVD bodies stacked up. We were decimated by the end of Turn 2. Thank goodness I managed to put an OBA on his Vader dude by Turn 3 but it was too late. (I drew Red on the first OBA chit and the SRs kept wandering into Russian lines.)
I can still see Aaron making “wwwwooooooooooommm, wwooommmmm” laser sounds and sweeping his fingers left and right as he looked for the next target. Those guys subscribed to a lifetime supply of bullets.
Talking about the scenario afterwards Aaron feels that I should always consider “Russian Smoke” – burning tanks. Even if it gets knocked out it provides cover for the NKVD to Advance thru. If the Germans use Panzerfausts and burn the AFV, it gets even better. The NKVD commissar rallying workflow needs to be worked out nicely as well.
Saturday 29 July 2017 SP223 Road Warriors vs Eres Ba
This is German motorcycle gang + armor vs 2 x French Waffys and a couple of AT assets lying in ambush.
I got the French. I had the 37 Infantry Gun and the ROF3 AT gun on my left and the 2 Waffys on the right, right after the depression. Eres saw my layout the left and hence focused on my right. Eres lost an Panzer when he tried to VBM my squad. I then blew up two others but that wasn’t enough. I couldn’t put enough fire to keep him in the depression. The motorcycle gang came up and killed my 2 Waffys as they tried to get away. My 25LL AC came in and overran his lead bikers. Unfortunately one AC is not enough to stop his reinforcing AFVs.
In hindrance I should use a fixed AT asset together with a Waffy on each side. That way neither side is more vulnerable.
Saturday 29 July 2017 FT139 Ride of the 200th vs Peter-James Palmer
Pete and I met in my first tournament, the Malaya Madness in Singapore. He couldn’t make it to Mayhem in Manila last year and so it’s good to see him again.
This is Chinese armor attacking an IJA position in a mountain gap on the dry desert lands of western China. The scenario is only 5 turns long and Vehicular Dust is in play. Traditionally, best way to attack a mountain gap is to go via the hills but the AFVs couldn’t make it up Abrupt Elevation Changes and it’s going to take time for the infantry, not something I can afford in a 5 turn game.
I need to do Platoon Movement better and work out the use of Vehicular Dust. I managed to put up cover for the infantry over open ground but some invariably got shot. When they broke they could only Low Crawl one hex back since there’re hardly any Rally Destinations. On top of it there were only two leaders (on each side really), one was on the hills, and so the other one was trying to get to the scattered troops over open ground on the flat lands. I was happy that I was able to execute a VBM in Motion with a platoon and then encircle a IJA squad in a hut (yay – textbook exercise). We striped the IJA in question even but CC with IJA is always a gamble. Without a Dare Death squad, you need to pile enough troops in to kill the IJA in one go. Otherwise the Melee will turn HtH (or worse, if you got ambushed) and the IJA will kill everyone even on a 1:2. Well we did kill the IJA in one go but our Point Blank fire in the Advance Fire phase started a Flame which promptly bursted into a Blaze (low kindling for huts and very dry conditions). We had to vol break the victorious pile and add to the terrified rabble on the plains.
At the end we went out of time, we were about 2 to 3 huts short of the 11 required but man, it’s good to play Pete Palmer again. He taught me a lot about PTO when we played BFP30 Melee Near the Coast a while back. He recommend that I do a lot more early war French / Russians so that I can fight with Platoon Movement properly. I also made the mistake of platooning the radio tanks with the radioless tanks. While the radio T26 with the 45L can support the little radioless L3/35, none of my tanks could run free.
Sunday 30 July 2017 Mystery Round FT168 By Dawn’s Early Light vs Jon Cole
This is a Mystery Round that is made known to the participants only this morning. It’s 1944 Ardennes when the Germans with 2 StuGs and 3 PzIVJ went up against a Hellcat, a Sherman, bazookas and a pair of 75 Artillery with Cannister and HEAT. The scenario is only 4 turns long and the Germans can either go for one big stone building or 4 multihex buildings. I am a PTO guy but I really like this one.
I went all out as the Germans with riders and armoured assault, HIP’d guns or not and we quickly ran through a couple of “big” dummies that I correctly guessed aren’t tanks. I also went up point-blank against one of his guns. One of my 548 survived a CH from the gun, went Fanatic and generated a hero. The gun crew broke was captured. Unfortunately his leader led MMG did the number on a few of our 548s which never seem to pass any MCs all game, 3 broken squads and a leader was kicked further and further down the street like a dented tin can. On the right side a pair of Pz IVJ found the Hellcat and the other gun, one got promptly destroyed and the other after Jon fired his AAMG down the street to test LOS (note to self : classic textbook procedure to remember). The battle turned the other way briefly went his Hellcat (with 24 MPs!!) went behind my pair of STuGs. One of my STuGs laid sN smoke and the other went into motion (saw him for 4). The Americans forgot that Dispersed Smoke disappears the next turn and stayed in sight. I spun that StuG around and acquired the Hellcat! Burned him in Prep.
A pair of 548s arrived at the Sherman sitting in the big stone building. One couldn’t find a panzerfaust but the other one with a 9-1 leader could. So the 9-1 made an executive decision to brave the backblast. The 9-1 broke in the backblast but the shot connected!! The Sherman BURNS.
The Germans broke into the big stone building but unfortunately can’t isolate our target in classic urban combat fashion. The Americans managed to pile into the building as well. (Remember troops with Winter Camo can Advance into Open Ground without losing Concealment). I am out of time: I just couldn’t clear out the blocking Americans.
For the Record
Tournament Champion : Will Fleming
1st Runner up : Aaron Cleavin
2nd Runner up : Alan Smee
Sniper Elite : John Knowles
HtH CC : Peter-James Palmer
- Le Franc Tireur
- ASL BattleSchool
- Lone Canuck
- Bounding Fire
- Kansas City ASL
Tournament Director : Alan Smee
Tournament Organiser : Raphael Ferry
VASL Map Production : Will Fleming
Marketing & Sponsorship : Jackson Kwan
Scenario Special Rule
- When travelling in a “tuk tuk” (a motorbike drawn wagon) on a sunny day in Siem Reap, Vehicle Dust F11.74 is in effect.
Aaron Cleavin & I ate sand & dust all the way in the 30 min trip to the airport. I had sand between my teeth until we met up with Will Fleming & Alan Smee for a quick lunch before our flights.
Note to Self : Take sunglasses and use a krama next time
One day in February 2013, I chanced upon a copy of Squad Leader on eBay. I was a Squad Leader player back when I was in high school. Unfortunately when I went to university, I found a few other things more interesting and I forgot about wargames all together. So, decades later, while I stared at the screen, memories of great times came back and I bought myself that copy. The internet connected me with some very active Squad Leader groups. I planned to learn the game again and get back into it.
I then came across the tiniest military bookstore one day. It’s the size of a small walk-in closet, except that it’s wall to wall military books. There it was, up on a shelf near the ceiling, a shrink wrapped copy of the Advanced Squad Leader Rulebook v2. I asked to have a look at it, and I never put it back down.
The ASLRB is not an easy book to read, so I asked to see a live game one Sunday afternoon. The local ASL’rs would have none of it. Erwin Lau & Lorricount Hall shoved a Pz IV my direction and said “Here, you are in charge of this one.” They then proceed to tell me what to do with my Pz IV every step of the way. I couldn’t fathom why people who I have just met would let me break into their Sunday game and spend that much time teaching me the mechanics, but they did.
It was a fun afternoon but it’s not an event I can attend on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the rulebook became a lot easier to understand now that I have context.
One day I got an email from Don Lazov. He said if I want to learn ASL, he could teach. I know then it’s choice between continuing to read the rulebook and solo’ing scenarios or having a mentor and actively playing. It was a choice between being a tinkerer and an active player.
I said “Yes but give me a few weeks to finish up Chapter A and Chapter B.” I wasn’t sure why I wanted to push it off. He asked again “Do you want to do this or not?”
I jumped in with both feet. Our first scenario was “RPT1 Ferenc Jozef Barracks”.
After that I ran into Witchbottles, who helped me get permission from Rodney Kinney (who created VASL) for permission to use VASL graphics in my blog. To me, Witchbottles is the embodiment of the modern day Renaissance man. We play ASL and we spent countless hours chatting about history and about life.
I don’t remember how I heard about “Malaya Madness” the 2014 ASL tournament in Singapore. I didn’t give it any thought at first but both Don Lazov and Witchbottles thought I absolutely must go. I struggled with it for a while. I mean, paying for flight and hotel to play a boardgame is crazy! I brought up the topic to my wife, expecting her to kill it (for good reasons). She thought about it for a minute and said “Yes”.
I rented a bunk bed in a hostel to save money but I went to Singapore for the tournament. There’s something truly magical about ASL that ties people together. Playing 1 on 1 on a weekend is one thing. Being in a room with other ASL’rs and playing games after games is definitely something else!
I got a bigger group of opponents after the Malaya Madness. I went on to help organise and to promote the 2014 Hong Kong ASL tournament, “The Gin Drinkers’ Revenge”. I was in New York City on Dec 2014 and I jumped on the train and stopped by Albany. It is THE Albany, the New York State ASL Championship. Joe Loece and Gary Trezza are simply some of the best hosts I have ever met. I met so many people at Albany. I met a lot of the best known names in ASL. I decided to shoot a video for these guys and leveraged on that to chat with as many people as I could.
That of course open me up to more venues and to more people. I picked up a chat from Carl Nogueira when I was walking down the street at lunch one day and he wanted to know if I want to play and to learn. I was getting so used to jumping in at that point I said “yes” immediately.
So you see, ASL is about people. ASL is about the guy on the other side of the table. ASL is one of the few good reasons in life that pulls guys together periodically, to share identical experiences and to chat about other thing as well. If you do solo play most of the time, you are truly missing the best thing ASL has to offer.
ASL is about playing. That rulebook is not for reading. It’s for referencing and as such, the INDEX is the command central for the ASL rulebook The value of an ASL kit is much higher when used and played than it will ever get on eBay.
ASL is about self discovery. As we compete with others, we learn more about our fears and shortcomings. We learn about our risk management and our decision making processes. The man to overcome game after game is yourself. This not something you will realize from ASL not played or ASL played solo.
Dare Death is an effort to arouse and to maintain that interest. Dare Death is the embodiment of a group of ASL’rs who play on a regular basis and discuss rules and tactics on live chats when not playing. If enthusiasm sells then Dare Death is a powerful force in ASL.
And enthusiasm sells.
This is the promotional video I did today for the ASL Open 2016’s ALL CHICAGO TEAM TOURNAMENT