BFP15 Cobra’s Venom

You are going to see a lot of bocage country. We are going to play the whole of BFP Operation Cobra front to back. We already did BFP14 Opening Phase, so this is the second one ..

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I started a New Twitter Feed!

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I started a new twitter feed today because there doesn’t seem to be a dedicated ASL twitter feed.  Yes – all things ASL.  I hope you will find it interesting!  @HWargamer .. or https://twitter.com/HWargamer

Please let me know what you think!

J168 Katyusha’s Embrace

This 1943 scenario offers the Russians a 200mm Rocket OBA with a preregistered hex.  The 200 mm is a massive but a one shot deal and it wanders by half a dr.  You can’t aim nor correct the thing (it’s automatically inaccurate)!  I started the scenario off being less than thrilled about the usefulness of it.

Since Rocket OBA uses a Harassing Fire’s Blast Area, I figured this thing will touch a 5/6 hex area (the rules don’t say whether the error’s rounded up or down.)  The GameSquad crowd pointed out there are certain merits to holding off on it so that the Germans will avoid crowding.  I put my PreReg hex on 63Q10.

The Russians (I) pushed through the middle – first by largely Assault Moving on board to avoid damage from the various machineguns trained in my direction. Then the Russians executed a Human Wave to rush into the woods ahead.  I’d love to say it’s a brilliant move but reality is that I benefited hugely from my opponent’s horrible die rolls.

Oh yes, the Russians get points for taking the multi-hex buildings and by rushing units into the circled area on the right of the map.  The Russians win when they stack up 8 points.

This one’s an interesting scenario.  I read the VC wrong though, or really, I didn’t really understood the VC.  The VC called for 8VPs and the Russians can achieve it in one of two ways:

  1. Get all the buidings in the middle of the board, rubble or not, they total to 8VPs;
  2. Move 8 units into the circle, AFV or squads.

The defender has to get the right balance between defending against the two – defend the buildings and risk getting surrounded or backup to the rear and risk losing the buildings.

Thoughts?

Advanced Squad Leader as a Window into Military History

An ASL newbie (but a veteran wargamer) from Taiwan shares his newfound love for ASL

Author: TouMu / Translator: Hong Kong Wargamer (The original in Chinese starts at the bottom of the translation.)

I’d like to share how I see Advanced Squad Leader (‘ASL’) as a vehicle to gain better insights to military history

First, let’s take a look at ASL’s shortcomings as such a vehicle:  

1. Each scenario generally portrays 12 to 20 mins of fighting, offering only a glimpse into the whole battle. 

2. Unless it’s a HASL (Historical ASL) module.  Geomorphic maps used in most scenarios offer only an impressionistic approximation of the actual terrain.  

3. Scenarios generally involve elements from actual fighting forces and not the whole.  

With these in mind, let’s talk about how ASL offers a great window (translator: a “Hollywood version” notwithstanding) into historical events.  

Allow me to build on the aforementioned “shortcomings”:

1. Precisely because generally each scenario involves less than 20 minutes of the most intensive fighting, ASL puts you right in the midst of the fighting.  You get better insights into the actual conditions facing frontline units.

For example: We all read about the intensity at Stalingrad, but how miserable was it?

Operational / strategic games give you stacks of counters that represents thousands/hundreds of people, which gets quickly decimated.  

ASL makes you learn what it means to have to battle for the first room and then having to regroup to clean up the next.

2. Yes, ASL scenario terrains are largely a combination of (translator: a huge number of) geomorphic boards and overlays (cost considerations?).  However, like miniatures, terrain features are meaningful. Hexes are not all generically designated “Movement +1” or “Defense +3” etc. It’s important therefore to consider your routes in both assault and retreat (translator: routs).  

You will also understand why it’s difficult to rally broken troops in the open and why it’s easier to gather your wits in woods and buildings.  

3. Although only elements of certain units participate in our cardboard battles, determination of unit combat power reference their real world counterparts. Ordnance and vehicles are also based on real world parameters.  

Perhaps ASL is a key to deeper insights into World War II battles.

Look  and you might gain better appreciation for the nameless heroes therein – a window into their bloodshed and sacrifices.

Yes, I don’t like being Eisenhower but I really appreciate heros like Major Dick Winters (translator: of “Band of Brothers” fame).   

If you hope to play ASL as “Eisenhower”, perhaps this game is not for you.  If you look to play ASL as “Winters” or thousands of other unnamed heroes, then ASL is your game.  

Here’s another thought: all war games are “simulations”, ie not real (translator: not even close simulations in most cases).

Real wars can’t be played.  Only games can be played.

Play ASL as a game, with all that it brings.  

War is not a game.  (Translator: and ASL is not war.)

Find a game that suits you and have fun playing it.  If nothing else, it’s a great platform to make friends all around the world.  

ASL is not for everyone but I hope this will give new players proper expectations for what ASL will bring.  

Note : Author TouMu is a leading member in the Taiwan ASLer Club, you can find their group on Facebook.  

(以下是原稿)

分享一下我怎麼從ASL學到歷史

先說它一般的缺點:

1、幾分鐘的戰鬥,無法一窺全貌。

2、除非是史實模組,否則地圖是用拼的,接近而非真實樣貌。

3、參戰只有某部分單位,而非全部。

有了這些先備知識,進一步來談,怎麼從「毛線棋」學到東西。

一樣是從缺點去思考

1、因為是幾分鐘的戰鬥,當你不是坐在後方,看著投影銀幕決定策略時,你更能體會前線士兵的真實感覺。

例如:我們都耳聞史達林格勒的慘烈,但怎麼慘?

戰略棋的呈現方式:就是投入了好幾萬人的算子

然後丟棄很快。

可是,ASL會讓你體會:才剛佔領客廳,卻又要清理廚房,那種寸土不讓的激烈。

2、雖然地圖是拼的(成本考量),但跟微縮模型一樣,地形是有意義的,不是抽象的移動力花費+1,防禦+3這樣而已

你的進攻與撤退,都是要考慮路線的。

你也會明白:為何潰散士兵,士氣很難重整,但在樹林與建築物,為何可以冷靜下來。

3、雖然是部分單位參戰,但戰力的設計,卻是有參考真實世界,武器、載具,也都是完全參照史實去設計。

而這一切,不妨想成是一把鑰匙,幫你打開通往該次戰鬥的故事大門。

去查,就會發現更多我們不知道的無名英雄事蹟。

而戰爭,正是他們去打,流血犧牲的。

所以,我不愛艾森豪。

我很敬重溫特斯。

當然,如果你是喜歡當將軍的,那麼,這遊戲也不太適合你就是。

還有一個很深刻的體會:所有的戰棋,都只是「模擬」,假的。

真實的戰爭,是不能玩的。只有「遊戲」才可以玩。

所以,就當遊戲去玩,其他,都是附加的。

戰爭的本質,不是遊戲。

找到適合自己的遊戲,開心的去玩它,並非勸退。

不玩,一樣可以是朋友聊天啊!

我是會希望留下來的人,知道自己在玩什麼遊戲,就不會用錯誤的想法,去要求它給你的感覺。

DB133 A Deadly Landscape

This scenario is played on part of the Red Barricades map.  SAN starts at 4 for the Germans and 5 for the Russians and increases to 5 & 7 respectively on Turn 2 and 6 & 8 on Turn 4.  The Russians are given the chance to open the attack but German reinforcements will come in on Turn 3 (of 5).

They largely compete for the buildings, trenches, rubble, bridge & storage .. but every sniper kill counts as well.

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CH18 Raging Furnace

This week we started with an old design, CH18.  The Germans have to take 2 out of 3 hilltops and earn more CVPs than the Russians.  Aside from the standard CVPs, the Germans get points for clearing out the six hexes around the hilltops.  Likewise, the Russians get (a lot more) points if they can stay around the tops.

This scenario has a very interesting simultaneous setup with a die roll deciding who’d go first.  As my opponent quipped, going last might not be a bad thing as you can simply advance onto the hilltops.  The nature of this arrangement means opposing forces might “materialise” right in front of you at game start!  There’s an SSR that gives the defender in the first Prep Fire phase the ability to Gun Duel and shoot back.

The German entry edges are the top and the left.  However, since the Russians can only setup in the red circles.  Germans can attack from the right if they like, if they are comfortable with Russian reinforcements coming in behind them from the right and the bottom of the screen.

I am very mindful of a few things when I did my Russian setup.

  • I can’t win shootouts between the Russians and the Germans AFVs.
  • I can put my AFVs in trenches and thereby HD’ing them even to same level shots but that will condemn us to doing frontal shootouts (and the lost of all mobility) when the Russians really need to get in side shots to kill the German AFVs.
  • The high ground the Germans have on the top left will be used to sweep the hill tops, especially with the Tiger + Armour Leader
  • I can use my 76L artillery gun (s8!) and a combination of the Russian .50cal, the 10-2 (aka Jedi Master), the ATR and the Hero to setup a pretty good firebase on the bottom right of the screen to contest the hill tops a little.  That’ll be -3 out to 12 hexes and -2 out to 16 hexes.

img_3122Ladies & gents – don’t be like me.  I misread the SSRs to this scenario and thought that German reinforcements can only come in from the top and to the left.  No – the German reinforcements come in from the top and the RIGHT and the Russian reinforcements come in from the bottom and the left.

Let me elaborate further.  This scenario has a rather creative SSR which allows you to purchase half your lost CVPs as reinforcements.  The restriction is that you can only purchase half the # of each unit type in your OB.

While my 76L Artillery (hill top on the bottom right) finally fixed itself and did a number on a German deathstar, my deployment was oriented towards attackers coming in from the left and not the right.  *Horror*

The Germans sent a STuG up Y9.  Since it’s bypassing the woods, it’s considered on the upper level.  Non Turreted as it is, its TH after all the modifiers was comparable to mine, even though all I had to do is to turn my slow turret.  I fired and missed, APCR and all.  He fired and connected.

The Germans then sent a STuG up “behind” us on the right, looking to take out the KV1 with the 9-2 Armor Leader.   Fortunately its’ within reach of the Hero & his ATR on the hill on the bottom right.  He directed the pinned HMG to stun the STuG crew.  The KV1 then swung his turret around and Shocked him.

Unfortunately, the Germans got rid of that Shock immediately after.  The KV1 now faced a choice : whether to run or to shoot the STuG again.  If I run, it’s quite likely that I will be shot.   If I stay and shoot, my TK is 13(+1) vs his AF of 8.  I have a 3 CVP 9-2 armor leader in this thing.

I shot, connected and killed the STuG, much to our relief ..

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One more German move to go and all three hill tops are still under Russian control, Germans resigned.

Those Ragged Bloody Heroes CG, Nov 29 PM

This is December 1942.  The Australians are looking to dislodge the IJA from the Gona mission in 5 CG dates.

This is not looking good.  I forgot how in Platoon Leader (CH’s “standard” campaign) rules, you need to put a slew of foxholes in as strategic locations.  In this case I need to link up my troops with the 3 entry points.  The good news is that I might still have one Prep Fire left.  The bad news is obviously that FHs usually need a couple of turns to prepare, turns that I don’t have.