Do not let Valuable ASL Time slip by – Walter Branham, Berserk Commissars

Do not let Valuable ASL Time slip by – Walter Branham, Berserk Commissars

Hi Comrades –

I just want to send a little encouragement to those of us waiting for face to face. to begin learning.

in my opinion, playing face to face is the ultimate ASL experience, however there is a lot to be said about VASL online.

First, I believe VASL is a far superior learning tool than face to face.

It provides fast and quick exposure to counter retrieval. easy and fast set up, easy counter movement, easy Hidden Initial Placement (“HIP”), common dice rolls, easy guide to Off Board Artillery, and as a bonus: easy saving/storage of the game.  You can sit down and play/learn for a couple hours, save the game and start up later. A lot of the mechanics and important charts are built into VASL.

You avoid the time it takes to travel to the game and the time it takes to set up…….time that can be better used for actually playing the game.  In addition, if I piss you off, you can give me the finger and i won’t even know it!

Even when things get back to normal and it is easier to play face to face, and that could be a long time, i still believe VASL to be a great way to increase your ASL skills and abilities.  The two most important things to learning ASL is to make time to do it and to play.  Every day you delay you let valuable ASL time slip by.

Finally, in response to someones who said, “I want an understanding, sympathetic, and patient opponent for my first game. I have a lot of questions; and your after action reviews raise even more”.
I would just like to say that there are quite a few of us who fit that bill.  I would say most of us, some more than others.  Personally, it would be a pleasure for me if we can spend some time helping you learn the game and I know others who feel the same way.

I am grateful to the fellows in BC [Berserk Commissars] who were patient with me 12 years ago and still are today.

Of course, you have your own opinions and you must do what makes you most comfortable, but should you change your mind and decide that may be now is the right time to give this a try, feel free to hit me up and we can get started.

Kindest ASL regards, 

Walter Branham, Berserk Commissars of Portland. Oregon

Advanced Squad Leader scenario RbF1-1 Weather the Sturm After Action Report (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario RbF1-1 Weather the Sturm After Action Report 

Scenario Background

We are going OLD SCHOOL baby!!  Rob and I want to take a crack at the HOB Recon by Fire series of scenarios.  

We are talking Dubrovno Russia on June 23 1944.  The Germans got a double row of mines laid out to keep the Russians away from the Moscow-Minsk highway.  The Russians come in with 6 tanks, a pair of fighter bombers, 15 squads and 4 leaders.  

As the Russians, I have three IS-2 or the Iosef Stalin heavy tanks and an ISU-122 assault gun which used the same chassis.  Both had limited ammunition storage (circled 11) but the assault gun had smoke rounds (S8).  Five squads of assault engineers and a couple of PT-34 minerolling tanks round up this special assault group.  The Germans have a Nashorn sporting an 88LL plus two STuG IIIGs (small targets with 75L’s and plenty of smoke) working together with an 88LL Pak 43 (ROF2) to discourage the neighbours from scratching their minefield.  

Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations

The Russians win by exiting 20 EVPs off the west (left) edge or by inflicting 38 CVPs on the Germans in 7.5 turns.  

The initial problem here is to decide which part of the mine belt to work on.  Looking at this from the Russian point of view, the middle part provides a wide playing area for the Russians to bring their arms to bear and eventually no where for the Germans to rout.  Operating there will also offer some measure of cover against the German offboard observer.  The downside about the middle patch is that there’s not a lot of Woods for the Russians to established a beachhead into.  Plus I’d expect the Germans to put wire on the right tip of the Woods to deny places for broken Russians to rout back into.  The Woods on the right flank (top of the map) offer quite a bit more cover for the Russian Breaching team.  Unfortunately we have very short ranged weapons and won’t be able to fight the Germans in the middle patch of Woods as we race through.  Plus the right flank is open to the German offboard observer.  

The After Action Report

Advanced Squad Leader scenario RbF1-1 Weather the Sturm After Action Report (AAR) Russian 1

Our Support team came under heavy fire from their Nashorn and 88 FlaK gun immediately.  We expected them to be there but made a conscious choice to have the Breach team enter right (top).  Hopefully the Support team would survive long enough to keep their Nashorn & 88 occupied.  Our armor stand a decent chance again the STuGs.  We noticed the Nashorn’s OT and in Woods.  That could get pretty nasty with Air Burst if we could get a shot off!  Our Breach team went to work right away under an OBA smoke cover.  The Assault team laid in wait.  They might be able to sneak past the German HMG’s (pillbox) CA.  Having said all that, our ISU122 was the only AFV that had smoke and it was the first to go.  I didn’t like my chances running down those Woods (there’s a 2nd Pillbox) since the German reach was longer than mine.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario RbF1-1 Weather the Sturm After Action Report (AAR) German 4

All Russian armor apart from an IS-2 were shot by Turn 4 but we vaporized the 88 and airbursted the Nashorn.  It’s now the IS-2 vs two STuGs.  They didn’t have a good chance against the IS-2’s armor but the IS-2 couldn’t hit the side of a barn.  The German 100mm OBA then came down on the Woods right over my chaps!  We made a decision to bank on our 8 morale and push through so as to not lose time.  The Germans then drew a RED card which was a welcomed break.  We made several trails through the minefield but we spent too much time there.  One of our fighter bombers caught a STuG in the open and stunned the commander but its bombs missed and disappeared into thin air.  We would have to get as close to the Nazis as possible.  HUG THE ENEMY!!  Perhaps that would save us from their OBA.  

 Advanced Squad Leader scenario RbF1-1 Weather the Sturm After Action Report 03

By Turn 6 it’s quite apparent that we might not be able to exit 20 EVPs (so we start counting CVPs).  The Germans made a bid for my IS-2 while my infantry hid deep in the Woods to avoid the OBA.  Thank goodness for those fighter bombers!  I was just waiting for one of these to miss its Sighting DR and finish off the last tank on the board.  Two German leaders got to the wrong side of my IS-2, one of these guys’ got to have brought a Panzerfaust along.  The world’s going to turn into a giant fireball at any moment.  I laid harassment fire on my IS-2 to give it some cover.  

 

Advanced Squad Leader scenario RbF1-1 Weather the Sturm After Action Report (AAR)

That German MMG team up (top) in the Woods really did a number on my Russians.   A squad placed a DC on them but it didn’t do a thing, nor did the flamethrower.  So a HS enthusiastically jumped in so as to hold them for another turn.  My Russians light up the Melee again (who needs friends?) and broke everyone in the brawl (K/4 the German).  I was counting on capturing the HS for my last CVP.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario RbF1-1 Weather the Sturm After Action Report (AAR)

Last Allied turn. we didn’t think we would but we drew a black chit for our OBA.  We requested for the OBA to be moved on top of the wounded German 8-0 who was still frantically padding his pockets for a Panzerfaust … 

The OBA came down, rolled snakes, vaporized the 8-0 and gave the Russians their last CVP!

How is Scenario Interesting?

As the Russians, we got two problems to work on and at least two approaches to take.  Reading Chas Smith’s article “Breaching Operations” in Recon by Fire #2 helped me get things organized.  That ferocious gun fight with the Nashorn and the 88 luckily resulted in (with a lot of help from the fighter bombers) the Russians having the only AFV on the board.  We lost every other tank but that gave the Breaching team enough time to work through the mines and let the Assault team through.  The German OBA almost ended it right there in the Woods.  The battle turned when the Russians realized they could no longer get off the board and hence didn’t have to care about casualties as long as they could take enough Germans down with them.  

I wonder still as to whether I should have went down through the clump of Woods in the middle of the board instead.  It’s there that Russians can fight with their short ranges (high firepower) and numerical superiority.  We lucked out.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FrF3 The Swedish Voluntary Corps After Action Report (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FrF3 The Swedish Voluntary Corps After Action Report (AAR)

Scenario Background

It’s March 2 1940, Märkäjärvi, Finland.  Russians discovered a Swedish base camp and decided to move in to shut them down.  It’s minus 47C (-52.6F)!!

Victory Conditions & Tactical Challenges

The situation’s not pretty from the start, the Swede OB was cool but not Finnish-self-rallying cool.  The Russians came in two directions with 24 (6 on ski’s) squads and 2 leaders.  The Swedes had 9 squads and 3 leaders and all of them on ski’s.  Extreme Winter, Winter Camoflage and Deep Snow’s in effect (did I mention it’s cold?).  The Russians have to force all Good Order Swedes out of a 7 hex magic circle drawn in the Woods within 5.5 turns.  

After Action Report

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FrF3 The Swedish Voluntary Corps (AAR)

By Turn 2, the Swedes were already suffering heavy losses (KIA’d a 8-0 too) plus morale’s breaking all over, level 8 or not.  They had the same range as the Russians, which didn’t allow them to take good advantage of the Open Ground that he Russians had to cross.  Russians were taking on an orderly pattern of moving and doing big firegroups.  What we were most wary of were Human Waves that would propel the Russian quickly over that Open Ground (snow).  We tried to keep LMG’s in firelane positions and put Half Squads out to catch Human Wav’ing Russians forward.  However at the rate at which we took casualties, I would be amazed if we could hang on (as the Swedes) to the magic circle for 5.5 turns!  

IMG 4277

Somehow we kept the Russian hordes in the open for a little while longer.  We were still careful about  keeping HS’s between our main forces and the Russians to fend off potential Human Waves but none materialised.  Timing is everything, if we duck into the Woods too early it would give the Russians free passage across the snow.  

IMG 4301

We fought hard to not let the Russians flank us.  Unfortunately two berserkers popped up and punched holes in our lines.  At the end of the turn we would see one melee and most Swedes melting into the Woods.  We ran out of Open Ground already!  Okay, 2 more Russian moves to go.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FrF3 The Swedish Voluntary Corps After Action Report (AAR)

We deployed to cover more ground and some of our troops rallied.  In our last MPh, a HS drew fire by placing a Demo Charge on a 2 x 447 stack.  It got shot to bits, a Hero ran in, picked up the DC and tried to place it again, he too got blown away by Subsequent Fire, The good news was that the Residual wasn’t placed in our “escape” hex.  A leader picked up the DC, backed up through the escape rout and casually chucked it at the 2 x 447 in Advance Fire Phase.  That package of love didn’t do anything to anyone.  Well, we did try!  On the otherhand a Hero on the right sneaked up to a Russian brokie.  He ambushed the brokie, killed it and positioned himself to interdict the incoming Russian MMG team.  The rest of the Swedes formed up into a hedgehog inside the magic circle.  The Russians conceded.  

How is this Scenario Interesting?

This is classic quantity vs quality.  I count myself lucky to not have seen a Russian Human Wave over the snow.  That would have likely given the Russians a lot more time to work the Swedes over in the Woods.  I mean, these guys had more squads than I had bullets!  Close Combat in the Woods with 9 squads vs 24 is not a welcomed prospect either.  As I mentioned earlier, timing is everything with this scenario.  The Swedes had to hold their ground until towards the end even though Russian firegroups (and Berserkers) were breaking the Swedish lines all over.  Then again, the ROAR records on this scenario is 11:4 in favor of the Swedes, perhaps I am being a bit of a drama queen here.  

The game’s fantastic, my opponents divine

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Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

In 2019 I completed 25 games :

  • Playtest 7
  • Win 7
  • Lost 11
  • PBeM 6
  • Live VASL 19
  • Carrying 9 games to 2020
  • Played 13 opponents (incl games carrying over to 2020 & games dropped/on hold)
  • 50% of my games are played with of my 2 opponents

I want to play more scenarios from Dispatches from the Bunker & Friendly Fire, which I achieved.  I want to try Carl Nogueira & David Lamb’s Dien Bien Phu, I did 2.  I want to try scenarios from Time on Target, I did 1.

In 2020 I’d like to continue playing through :

  • Dispatches from the Bunker
  • Friendly Fire
  • LFT14 Italians
  • Action Pack 14
  • Complete a play thru of BFP Operation Cobra
  • Get started with the Forgotten War (Korea)

I’d also like to eat right & to sleep tight so as to stay healthy for as long as possible so that I can play as much of my scenarios as possible. I wish the same of my opponents.

The game’s fantastic, my opponents divine. It’s a real privilege to be in touch with all of these gents regularly through the year. I love the weekly chats and I love getting emails that are not newsletters, alerts or bills.

I should also mention the designers I work with, I learn sooooo much from them. Good Lord, are they knowledgeable!

I wish you and yours the absolute best.

Advanced Squad Leader scenario FT225 Blue Hell at P.A. Abries (AAR)

The date is June 21 1940.  A unit of the Italian mountain infantry, the “Fenestrelle” battalion of the 3rd Alpini Regiment launched an attack on the French Chasseur Alpins (“Alpine Hunters”) at Abries.  The Chasseur Alpins are informally known as “Les diables bleus”or “The Blue Devils”.  This scenario’s designed by Mr Alexandre Rousse-Lacordaire “in memory of [his] great-grandfather Capitaine Télèphe Rousse-Lacordaire (111th BCA) KIA on August 27th 1914.”

This is an Advanced Squad Leader scenario from LFT14 Italians : FT225 Blue Hell at P.A. Abries.   The Italians are to score more CVPs than the French (and to grab 3 buildings/pillbox) in 7 turns.  The Italians have three attack groups that can setup from four different areas.  That makes for a rather large area that the French has to worry about.  Whichever side has higher CVPs win but the Italians can also gain CVPs by claiming buildings on the top left quadrant of the map (top half of the map and left of the white dotted line).

The Italians opened quite nicely from the valley.  I focused on shortening my lines and bringing the French forces together and traded space for time.  The issue is that I could have takened better advantage of the Italians having to cross open ground with 6 morale.  My OBA went silent quickly after a couple of Access.  The Italian artillery was still going strong on Turn 6, wrecking havoc all along the French retreat. The Italians avoided open ground and got stuck up the hills on the top right.  The French defenders on the top right were able to scramble back and really had to do so when the Italians started threatening the hills to their immediate right.  The Italians didn’t go for the bottom left either but went up via the middle where they get better cover (but slower progress).  So far we have been able to fall back just ahead of the Italians and avoided Close Combat.  Unfortunately we had to move out of the woods when the Italian artillery started coming in.

IMG 4166By Italian Turn 6, the French were behind by 4 points, but that’s not counting the buildings ceded and the buildings the Italians will move into in the remaining turn.  We failed to put ourselves in a position to surround and kill their brokies.  Hard to rally as the Italians might be, they do rally.  Their OBA continues to wreck havoc on our positions, aside from hindering our ability to relocated.  One more Italian red chit and it would be gone, but there’s no chance of that now.  A French counterattack in the cards (down in the middle of the board)?  

Advanced Squad Leader AAR FT225 Blue Hell at P.A. Abries

I should have read the Victory Conditions more carefully and shouldn’t have retreated out of the hill in the middle of the map.  Apart from killing more French than they lost, the Italians have to get at least 3 buildings from the top quartrant of the map.  Moving the defensive line to the north hold things together but left the Italians with 7 buildings.  That is of course not a huge issue if we had OBA, but we drew 2 “Reds” early in the game!

Holding the hill in the middle of the map longer will leave the defensive line on the top of the map and around the buildings near the church thinner.  A more spread out set of defenders will also make it harder to keep the Italians from winning in CVPs.  Ah well, perhaps that’s the way it would have to be!

Advanced Squad Leader scenario 42 Point of No Return (AAR)

One sunny day in Libya, Nov 1941, a victorious column of New Zealanders from the 25th Battalion got ambushed by a counterattack personally directed by Rommel!  One Valentine caught several rapid shots from their ROF3 guns but 2 managed to ran off!  The New Zealand infantry were caught in the open and were getting shot at, blasted and overranned.

This is an Advanced Squad Leader scenario: 42 Point of No Return.  Unfortunately for my cardboard Kiwis, this is my first real DTO ..

ASL AARASL AARASL AARASL AARASL AAR

DTO is definitely not as open as the mapboards might lead you to think.  There’s light Dust that affects every shot and there’s Vehicular Dust that every vehicle drags around.  There’s also a Mild Breeze in this scenario that creates Drifting Smoke (changed direction too!).  The southern group has kept the bulk of the Germans engaged for 6 turns now.  Unfortunately it’s not quite enough, the Kiwis probably need to tie them down for 8 out of 10 turns to get a victory.  The good news also, is that the reinforcements largely arrived intact from the north.

The small band of survivors in the south are trapped by the German onslaught.  The rest of the armor broke off to the left along the bottom of the map.  The carrier thought about picking up the 8-0, HS & the MMG.  Unfortunately that would burn off too many MPs.  The infantry stepped back and hope to recover the radio and the “double small” carrier sped off.  It was largely shielded by Smoke, Dust, Vehicular Dust and Wrecks.  The carrier headed straight for the German truck with the 50L 5cm PaK 38 onboard.  The two Valentines followed quickly in support ..

ASL AAR

We have 4 German Movement Phases to go.  I thought the Kiwi armor breakout will hold the bulk of the Germans down at the bottom of the map but doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the case.  The 2 Valentines and the carrier were all in CC at the end of the German turn.  One Valentine was NOT in motion and was caught with the German 10-3 “Darth Rommel”.  Darth Rommel alone adds 4 CCV to any squad and practically ripped the Val apart with his barehands!  All the southern Kiwi infantry are wiped out and the Germans start to converge on the final VC to the north.

Will the surviving carrier and the Valentine be able to hold off the Germans longer?

IMG_4176.JPG

Reality was that even though the hedgehog outpost held out til Turn 7, it wasn’t enough to keep the German off the main cluster of VC hexes.  Drifting Smoke and Vehicular Dust wrecked havoc here.  The 2 Valentines down at the Alamo couldn’t keep the German AFVs off the squads.  The Kiwi’s didn’t have anything about ground to keep the Germans from aggregating either.  When the Germans blew the Alamo apart, no one can reinforce the hex and hence we lost at the last turn!

I like this introduction to the DTO though.  The Desert is really not as “plain” as it looks.  Vehicular dust and (in this case) Drifting Smoke make the landscape as variable as Night.

BFP18 Necklace of Pearls

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP18 Necklace of Pearls

Next one up in our Bocagefest (BFP Operation Cobra) is another one by George Kelln.  The Americans were still trying to breakout of the neverending Normandy bocages.  This time they need to clear a road from the north to the south in 7.5 turns.  The difference here from the last scenario is that there are now 3 Panthers and they are mobile (*shudder*).  Oh, there’s also this big 81mm ROF3 mortar that, my opponent gleefully reminded me, can be dismantled and loaded onto a Panther.  Sure enough, the mortar scored a critical hit firing through the trees at a Sherman moving behind a Bocage!

.. and the world went quiet for a moment as it rolled slowly to a stop.

img_3945IMG_3957

FrF67 Collecchio

We have Brazilians in Northern Italy, April 26 1945.  They are to capture 5 out of the 8 buildings on the map in 6.5 turns.  The map has the buildings split up, 4 to each side.  The Germans have 3 Italian AB41.  The Brazilians have these really nice M8 Greyhounds as well as 3 Shermans, one sporting a 105mm howitzer.

 Shermans

Your pretty common M4A1.

M4 with a 105mm Howitzer!!  This thing has S7, WP9 & sM8!  Should be able keep them smoked for a little while.

M8 Greyhound

Fine, it’s OT and not the most well suited in an urban environment.  However, this sweet little car has Cannister shot (C7) aside from FP8 from its CMG & AAMG.  Its 36 MPs & urban pave roads yells “go anywhere shoot anything”.

m8_greyhound_ffl

M8 Greyhound from the Tank Encyclopedia http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/US/M8_Greyhound.php

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1 Fighting Withdrawal

I finally get to play one of the most oft played ASL classic, the first scenario in Beyond Valor: 1 Fighting Withdrawal.  I see almost 600 games reported on ROAR!

I got the Finns and my new-ish opponent got the Russians and the balance – ie the Russians do NOT suffer from ammo shortage.  The Finns need to exit more VPs than the Russians in 7 turns!

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BFP16 Snake Charmed

It’s July 25 1944, the 83th Infantry Division “Ohio”, tried to pushed through a bocage area held by a few SS squads and some REALLY good guns.  They are to push from the green dotted line to the red dotted line with 37VPs (minus German CVPs) in 7.5 turns.  The action came hot & heavy on Turn 1 where all German HIP units (apart from the Raketenwefer) were revealed and the “Ohio” lost 3 out of 8 AFVs .. IMG_3754