How I got there : I took the South West Train from Waterloo Station in London. The ride is about 2.5 hours. I then walked for about 30 minutes from Wool to Bovington.
This is their website : The Tank Museum
How I got there : I took the South West Train from Waterloo Station in London. The ride is about 2.5 hours. I then walked for about 30 minutes from Wool to Bovington.
This is their website : The Tank Museum
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”.)
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.
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.
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)
ESG6 Clean Up Crew is the first round scenario of the Asia Pacific VASL tourney, Deathwish 777. This is the first Eastside Gamers scenario I have ever played. This is also the first time I played Will Fleming.
This is an interesting situation. The 2 hex building on the top right is considered ground level only stone while all other buildings are wooden. The German wins at Game End if they control this building. If you look at the map in quarters, Germans setup on the top left and bottom right. A Russian patrol comes in on Turn 1 from either the left edge or the bottom edge of the bottom left quadrant. Both sides get to attack and to defend, the 6 turn limit on this scenario promised rapid and violent action!
The Germans have a mix of elite and first liners. The Russians have a mix of first liners and conscripts (one elite squad too) but unfortunately an ELR of 2. They get 2 leaders on board, an 8-1 and a 7-0. A 9-1 comes in with the patrol later on from the lower left board. There was a bit of a debate as to whether to switch the 8-1 out for a 10-0 Commissar or not. Bruce Probst cautioned against the idea on GameSquad, stating that there really is no where for the Russians to properly rout to and that they should take the -1 Leadership from a fighting 8-1 instead. In hindsight, he’s right (no surprise). At the time, I swapped the 8-1 for a 10-0 in the hopes of cycling whimpering conscripts back into the fight again.
German Turn 1 : The Germans were on the move. The Russians looked to reveal as little information as possible until the Germans came within their (largely) 2 hex range, less when negative modifiers were in play. There wasn’t much action apart from the outer ring of “speed bump” conscripts. They didn’t expect to survive the slightest German fire and so their first shot needed to count.
Russian Turn 2 : The Germans built a deathstar with a 9-2 in the left sunken road. Our HMG team had to relocate. Will Fleming also pointed out that mortars cannot fire from CREST positions so the mortar team had to figure out a plan B. One of the “speed bump” conscripts broke another German unit instead of running but got disrupted and was captured in the return fire. The rescuing Russian patrol had entered the map but not the fray at this point from the left edge.
German Turn 3 : The Russian HMG went on a hellish rate tear in Defensive Fire, they KIA’d 2 German squads and broke the rest in the open!! The Russian prisoners found their guards killed and started eyeing the German DC laying in the grass…
Russian Turn 3 : The rearmed prisoners (Conscript HS) grabbed the German DC. There was a German DC HS on the left end of the sunken road to the right. A Russian squad assault moved away to draw fire in the safest way possible but was disrupted anyway. The rearmed Russian HS then rushed down the sunken road with their captured DC!! They survived the Final Fire from the “targeted” German DC HS, threw their DC and broke that HS. Unfortunately it was pinned itself and couldn’t advance to rout the broken Germans out of the foxhole. The Russian commissar decided to vol break and head towards THE house as Russian troops around him were either disrupted as conscripts or ELR’d into being conscripts.
German Turn 4 : The Germans moved towards the house and the Russians didn’t have too many live units left around the target building. A German MMC on the left put a fire lane down through the grain fields and made it tough for the rescuing patrol getting into the fight on time.
Then a horrible thing happened.
A German stack Adv Fired into the Russian HMG team through the brush – and rolled snakeeyes. The random selection that followed slated the full Russian squad for destruction, leaving a broken 7-0 with the gun. There was pretty much no one, save the routing commissar and a solitary conscript squad, in the target building.
German Turn 5 : The Commissar finally pulled himself together and joined the conscripts in the stone building. Between stacking up for better mutual support or spreading out to keep the Germans out of the building, they chose the former. The conscripts dutiful fired at the incoming Germans and did brilliantly well for the most part but things came apart at the end when the Germans rolled another snakeyes in the Adv Fire and broke the squad.
German Turn 5 (contd) : The commissar found himself the sole defender of the house when the German broke through the windows and doors. The ensuring close combat was 6-1. For a moment I had hope that the commissar would roll snakeeyes as well to kill off the entire German stack but it was not to be! The hardy commissar got wounded and finally succumbed to his wounds into the long quiet night.
A number of thoughts after the game :
Thoughts? Comments? Alternate strategies? Additional thoughts on 10-0 commissar vs 8-1?
Mr. Patrick LeBeau sent a beautiful message to the “Squad Leader PreASL” YahooGroup to remember John Hill. I asked and he kindly gave his permission to republish it here, for all of us whose memories Lt. Hill will forever be a part of.
Farewell fearless leader
The original John Hill Squad Leader counter: Lt. Hill, a modest 9-1 leader.
When I purchased the famous purple edition of John Hill’s 1977 Avalon Hill game, Squad Leader, at the Origins held in Ann Arbor, Michigan that same year, I and many others were immediately hooked on the game system and ease-of-play. We attended all of John’s lectures and in a day or so mastered the game. By the end of the convention many of us were combining our game boards and units to play monster self-designed scenarios after having played all 12 scenarios in one long weekend.
Squad Leader would also win the title of Best Tactical/Operational Game of 1977
This was not my first encounter with John or his many excellent board and miniature games. Most notably in the mid 1970s was Johnny Reb, now known as Johnny Reb One. I still have the original mimeographed legal size cheat sheet printed on both sides, which was all you needed to play the first iteration of the Johnny Reb system. In that playtest addition, resolution used a single 12-sided die.
I mention these two games and I call them systems because they have an incredible longevity through continuous reprints, revisions and new editions, including new games derivative of earlier manifestations. Although the 1977 edition of Squad Leader is my all time favorite, the game would generate many supplements, which would lead to the development of Advanced Squad Leader. The whole Squad Leader family of games has sparked a gamer following that keeps the game alive (SL or ASL) to this day after almost all of the SL and ASL games are long out of print. ASL is directly responsible, I believe, to the development of the online VASSAL game engine for playing board/miniature games virtually.
Johnny Reb would lead to JRII and JRIII. From my perspective, I see Across the Deadly Field as John’s Opus Majus and final version of the Johnny Reb system. From my point of view, I believe ADF is his finest version and I hope it will emerge as his most popular American Civil War gaming system. I spent the entirety of 2014, from Fall In 2013 to Historicon 2014, and all those conventions in between, promoting ADF.
This brings me back to Lt. Hill, the U.S. 9-1 leader counter of the original Squad Leader. Many of us literally wore out our original counters due to continuous game play and finger handling. We of course replaced them by purchasing new games. This is not true with 99% of the board games I own. Further, in 1977, we understood the game as cardboard version of a miniatures game. Today I play the game using 15mm figures and terrain. My point is that as long as gamers continue to play John’s games he lives on.
In untold thousands of games, his old Lt. Hill counter has often suffered a KIA result or has broken under fire. At times it has conducted heroic acts, or has rallied squads at critical times. Whatever the outcome, Lt. Hill reemerges game after game to fight on and on to the enjoyment of the table top gamer whose only purpose is to have fun, learn history, study tactics, engage in competitive play and build friendships.
John was a good friend and his games build many life-long friendships.
I will miss him. We will miss him. However, as Lt. Hill, he will always be in our games, not only as a counter, a figure, a GM, a moderator, a game designer, a human, a man, and as one of the greatest game designers of all time.
January 13, 2015
This scenario took place on Dec 15th 1927, a full 12 years before World War Two. It’s based on some of the earlier conflicts between the Red Chinese and the Nationalists (Guomintang, GMT or Kuomintang, KMT). The conflict took place in Canton 廣東, not too far away from Hong Kong. The Canton Red Chinese overestimated their strategic position, started a general uprising on Dec 12th and the Nationalist Chinese came for a brutal visit.
Carl Nogueira and I played this scenario twice. I was the attacker – KMT Chinese and Carl the Red Chinese. We then switched sides and played it again, you will read about the second one from a later AAR.
The victory conditions of this scenario is structured around the multi-hex buildings on the map. The ones north of the canal are worth 2 points. The ones south of the canal are worth 1 point except for the two building designated as factories. The game ends on Turn 4 if the KMT Chinese get 8 points, Turn 5 for 9 points, Turn 6 for 10 points and Turn 7 for 12 points. The KMT has to accomplish that while losing no more than 24 CVPs.
I planned to focus the main body of my troops to the right. They are to capture the building on the right. From there they can attack the factory immediately to the south of the canal, meeting up with a smaller force on the left flank. Capturing the right building also allows for the possibility of forces wading across the canal for the higher value buildings on the north bank. The small force on the far left is to protect the buildings from possible Red Chinese reinforcement on Turn 3. You see, the Red Chinese can choose to introduce their reinforcements from the north (top) side of the map, or the west (left) side of the map. However if they come in from the south side of the canal, the VP requirements for the KMT drops by 1.
Anyway, that’s the plan .. until bullets start flying.
KMT Turn 1 : The KMT rushed across the street. A fearful death star appeared on the left flank in the single hex two storey building I never paid attention to before. On the 2nd level, there was an MMG, a HMG and an 8-1. On the ground level, there’s the 37mm gun sporting an ROF of 3. These guys shot up a few of the squads on the left, rendered my HMG team useless for the duration of the scenario and made the rest of the folks very nervous. The fortunate bit was that the elite Chinese squads were well placed to offer smoke grenades in support.
I was perhaps too careful with the armoured cars. They are 5 CVPs and 7 CVPs (with a 9-1 armour leader) each, points that I hope won’t contribute to the Red Chinese 25 CVP goal. Fearing a gun on the right side of the board, I planned to sneak around the side of the roadblock. However when we ran into the death star, we froze. In retrospect, the 37mm infantry gun has little more than 6% chance (HE only) of killing the KMT Type 22 armour truck (Chris Edwards’ Kill Calculator). Granted, MGs can kill these vehicles but freezing in place is not the proper tactic either.
Red Chinese Turn 1 : Folks in the Red Chinese death star probably didn’t get their ancestors properly lined up. First, a sniper killed the 8-1 .. and then both the MMG and the HMG malfunctioned on the same shot! The concealed squads in the factory advanced out to the walls, which was brilliant. I am not entirely sure why I never made use of the upper levels of the buildings I had to negate the walls.
KMT Chinese Turn 2 : KMT attacks! The turn opened with squads advancing into the smoke that the élite squads laid down. A 8-0 leader on the right went across the street and kicked the door in with the squad behind him ready to fire. Other squads moved up and found the second gun at the rear of the building to the right of the map, as expected. You can see the laid and the Red Chinese squads putting down residual fire very efficiently. The deathstar saw the HMG fixed but the sniper returned and broke the crew!
End of KMT Chinese Turn 2 : This showed how ineffective the KMT attack was. Losses was light fortunately, the Red Chinese accrued 4 CVP so far.
Red Chinese Turn 2 : On the right of the map, the KMT squads in front of their target building hope to survived enemy fire and return a massive Defensive Fire back. The KMT got a MMG team together with a 9-2 and kept the MGs in the death star suppressed. The KMT Chinese were getting ready to attack again.
KMT Chinese Turn 3 : KMT troops advanced forward on the right into the building. LMG fire from across the canal came straight down the street. On the left flank the KMT Chinese figured they should take advantage of the crippled death star and tried to rush the building, only to find the bottom floor fortified. Worse – it’s fortified with a building full of self rallying crew!
End of KMT Chinese Turn 3 : We got into the building on the right. The rush on the left failed as the squad got shot up and bounced off the side of the fortified building. The centre was pretty decimated. The leaders were working hard to convince a few to get back into the fight.
Red Chinese Turn 3 : The reinforcement came in from the north. Things were not looking up for the KMT Chinese. We only had a foothold on the right. The troops on the left and in the middle were broken in huddled masses. KMT didn’t seem to have enough people to make a third try.
KMT Chinese Turn 4 : The KMT made an all out attack for the factory and the rightmost buildings. Whilst they would get the right most building, the KMT Chinese got shot up everywhere else.
End of KMT Chinese Turn 4 : The KMT Chinese captured the gun on the right although they haven’t quite secured that building. The force in the middle were almost entirely reduced into broken stacks. Folks on the right who were there to guard against the Red Chinese reinforcement decided to move north to have a go at the death star. I really like Carl’s demonstration of high level tactics. Here we have a position where, if I attack, makes no contribution to the CVP. However if I don’t, it will always interfere with my attack elsewhere.
Red Chinese Turn 4 : The Red Chinese counter attacked! Can you see the stack with the “DM” counter on top and a grey dotted line that extended to the left? There’s an MMG in the stack and I should have laid a fire lane down that path to stop the Red Chinese from counter attacking. However instead I was distracted by the first squad that rushed up. Now I got 2 big stacks of broken troops threatened by marauding Red Chinese troops. Since the Red Chinese already racked up 25 CVP, the scenario ended and Carl Nogueira won as the defender.
Notice the 2 fortified locations Carl revealed after the game. He had the commissar situated in a fortified location in the middle of the factory. He also had the other fortified hex immediately behind. That last hex would be his “Alamo” before the Red Chinese bow out of the building. Capturing a building like so was going to take a few turns more.
I would have the opportunity to improve my play by being the Red Chinese defenders against Carl’s KMT Chinese.
That will be in the next AAR!