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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or here on facebook.
To get our own subscription to Dispatches from the Bunker:
Contact Vic Provost at email@example.com
(I backordered all copies apart from keeping a subscription going forward, it IS that good.)
Dare-Death is the world’s first Chinese ASL magazine created by Richard “Ferguson” Wang and Grandiose Pz.Kpfw.V Ausf G Driver (or “G Driver”. The term “Driver” in Chinese is the equivalence of “Grognard”.)
Player Interview – “Flying No. 7”
Our interviewee for our Premier Issue is 飞翔的七号 “Flying No. 7”. He started ASL only 6 months ago and had already finished reading Chapter D. Displaying a remarkable grasp of the rules, he took the championship at our recent ASLSK tournament. Today we invite him to share his insights about learning ASL.
It was love at first sight.
Ferguson : First of all, we’d like to thank you for doing our interview.
No. 7 : You are welcome.
Ferguson : If memory serves not only did you stopped playing wargames for 2 years, you have never played ASL before. Is that correct No. 7?
No. 7 : Right, almost 2 years, that’s when I stopped playing “panzer”. No, I have never played ASL before.
Ferguson : Right. I miss you at DAK2 (laughs).
No. 7 : (laughs)
Ferguson : Well, I stopped playing OCS myself. How did you get into ASL? You decided to play again and you got right into a ASL, I can’t think of a better call.
No. 7 : Life got busy before. When life freed up a little, I missed playing again. I guess having played other wargames I have a better feel for what I like. I decided ASL is a good fit for me.
Ferguson: That’s great! I am always curious as to how people hear about ASL. For me, I learned about ASL from the “Science Fiction World” magazine.
No. 7 (“7” going forward): I don’t remember how I heard about ASL. It was probably from BGC(note: a China board game site). Then I went to an ASL coaching session in Beijing and I was hooked ever since.
Ferguson (“F” going forward): That’s ASL for you! What about you, “G driver”, how did you hear about ASL?
Grandiose (“G” going forward): It was BGC for me too.
F: Which one’s your first scenario?
F: Hahaha .. it’s S1 for most people, including me.
F: 7 do you know why we want to interview you?
7: Because I am new?
F: That’s part of it. The other part is because you are the fastest developing newbie that I have ever seen.
F: Any advice for folks learning ASL rules? I think you are well on your way to become a “human rule machine” (laughs). You have a better handle on the rules than I do.
7: You need to read the rules at least once. Those rules flowcharts we find on the internet help a lot as well.
F: Oh yes, those rules flowcharts are a huge help! I really appreciate the grognards who took the time to prepare them.
7: The most important thing is to play. Don’t worry about getting the rules wrong. You learn the most from playing seasoned players.
F: Right. We make rule mistakes all the time especially when we first started playing but if you don’t play you won’t know which rule you got wrong.
7: Agreed. We didn’t even know we were making rules mistakes when we were going through ASLSK until we played more experienced people.
F: I am still discovering points in the rules that I wasn’t entirely clear about and am often reminded of details that I should know with every new game I play. ASL is a game of fine details.
7: My biggest motivation for reading the rules is so that I don’t lose games because of (the lack of) rule knowledge.
F: Hahaha, this is a great motivator!
G: Avoid getting killed by the rules huh? This is a big one.
F: Well, reality is grognards aren’t always stumbled by the rules because even they don’t always know they made rule mistakes!
7: Yup, that’s why I like studying the rules.
F: True, you do have a deep grasp of the details inherent in a wide section of the rules.
G: How do you remember all that?
7: Well, at the moment, I am really just keeping the ASL rules in my short term memory, that’s why I remember with such clarity. I think over time I will lose details. I really don’t have a method to it, I just play as much as I can!
G: I prefer to match up the rules I read to actual game situations. The more sense the rules make, the easier they are to remember.
F: G’s right. Understanding the context of ASL and actual situations being modelled helps one learn the rules better.
I Like to Attack!
G: How many games have you played, 7? Which ones do you like better?
7: About 15. I like scenarios featuring complex terrain like in urban battles, and preferably those with a more balanced OB.
F: Out of these 15, which one do you remember best?
7: I’d say S18 Baking Bread. I was really just starting then (although I am still starting..).
F: I see! What is it about this scenario that gives you such a deep impression?
7: That game went all the way to the wire! The fight was a swirling brawl. It’s also my first win against an experienced player.
F: Oh yes, I love those games that teeters on the balance until the end!
7: S18 is also one of those rare scenarios where both players have to attack relentlessly to win.
F: That’s true, most ASL scenarios draw clear delineations between attack and defense.
G: 7 must feel that’s his tactical style.
7: Attack all & fear none! I am not well suited to ASL scenarios that make clear differentiations between attackers and defenders.
F: I actually think ASL’s designed for the attacker. We have an article in this coming issue around that view.
7: Oh I look forward to reading that!
G: Whether warfare favors the defense or the offense is determined by tactical parameters of the prevailing times. “On War” for example, written in the 19th century, describes a tactical world when battles favored the defense.
7: I actually think ASL rules favor the defense as well.
F: Okay, I agree the rules favors the defense when it comes to the IJA, their troops don’t even need to rally.
7: I agree with that.
G: What do you think of F’s and my fighting styles? (Laughs)
7: Well, the two of you are of course well experienced.
F: 7 must really like being the attacker right? “Attack all & fear none!”
7: I don’t like playing defense, no.
F: Why’s that?
7: I haven’t been playing too many ASL scenarios yet. Most of the ASLSK scenarios where I played defence pit Germans defenders against US attackers. I win some and lose some but whenever I win as the defender, those battles were never glamorous. They were really just me dragging things out until time ran out on the attackers.
F: Hahaah .. you are saying defense wasn’t as bold and as sweeping as the attack.
G: I think the mental stress is higher for defense.
7: Especially in S3, I have never been able to win that one as the defense. I don’t even know where to start!
F: True. I am more nervous when I play defense.
G: Well, it’s the same with ASL scenarios as with ASLSK scenarios.
7: When there’s too big of a numerical difference between the attacker OB and the defense OB, I feel especially helpless as the defense. Oh man, when I get all 447 and 436 defending against a mass of 666 and 747, the pressure is horrible!
G: Then again if the defense OB has absolutely no issues holding the line, the game will be hard to balance. The ASL rules though do give better mobility vs the ASLSK rules.
7: I haven’t played ASL that much, but I think “concealment” rules give a big boost to the defense.
F: I just think defense is harder with ASL rules. 7 you have played a lot of nationalities, which one do you like the most?
7: I have used about 5 or 6 and I like playing Germans the best. Then again, when I get a better handle on the IJA, that might be a fun choice too.
F: The IJA sure are special.
7: I really like the Step Reduction capabilities of the IJA.
F: Looks like your next port of call is Chapter G then?
7: Actually no, I’d like to learn AFVs first.
F: Oh yes, makes sense!
7: I have never played AFVs under ASL rules.
F: Yes, take it step by step. One last question : what expectations do you have for yourself in the upcoming ASLSK tournament? Have you set yourself any targets? You can be frank about this one! (laughs)
7: Most opponents there are experienced players. I will just do my best. If I win even half the games I will be happy.
F: I think you are being modest. That wraps up our interview nicely though. 7, I would like to thank you again for doing this interview and I wish you the best of luck in the ASLSK tournament!
G: Thanks 7
7: You are welcome.
(Translated from Dare-Death magazine Issue 01)