Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP21 Ripe for the Picking After Action Report (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP21 Ripe for the Picking After Action Report (AAR)

Scenario Background

This was July 26 1944 in Marigny, France.  The Americans needed to capture Marigny (apart from St Gilles) so as to enter the exploitation phase of the campaign.  Combat Command B, 3rd Armored Dvision, met the SS Panzer Division 2 “Das Reich” and Infantry Divison 353 outside of Marigny.

US 3rd Armored Division353rd German Infantry Division

Combat Command B 3rd Armored Division & German 353rd Infantry Division.

Memorial Cobra @ Marigny today

This is the Memorial to Operation Cobra that stands in Marigny today (credit : Google Earth)

Victory Conditions & Tactical Considerations

As the Americans, I needed to kill or move 100 VPs  through 3 boards from the top of the map to the bottom.  Halftracks must have a functioning MA (AAMG) or a passenger to count as Exit VP.  The top two boards are Bocage country and it’s real easy to lose time there.  Good thing the Germans were spread thin and I got 4 Culin cutters to help with landscaping.  The fastest way would be to run straight through the village but the Germans had two roadblocks to counter that.

I had two groups of units: The left group with 6 Shermans and 6 halftracks, one of which sports 2 x .30-cal 1 x .50-cal with 12 FP, the other a bazooka (M3A1).  The right group with 3 x M5A1’s, 2 x M8 HMC (SP howitzer) and 8 x halftracks (2 with bazookas).  The right side seemed to have a more open country but they carried less anti-tank assets.  On Turn 6, 2 American FB’s came into play, shortly after 4 x Pz IVH’s & a “Stummel” rushed in bearing flowers & fruit baskets.

My plan was to have the two groups stay apart at least until they reach the bottom map and not let the Germans converge.  I would avoid the road and built up areas in general.  I had the numbers to swarm whoever came our way.  Although with my numbers came traffic control issues.

After Action Report

Advanced Squad Leader BFP21 Ripe for the Picking After Action Report (AAR)

We were off to the races here.  The left group shot through an area where they thought they would be safe from a PaK.  The pair of Culin cutters worked in tandem.  A marauding halftrack dropped off its passengers by the roadside, skidded off to the middle of the map and spotted the first roadblock!  On the lower left, dismounted infantry took on a lone defender while its ride continued on and cut off all chances of escape.  The right group got itself tangled up in a perfect jam in the Woods while its cutters worked frantically to make a hole.  Vehicles stayed behind the bocage as they heard rumours of the other PaK covering the area.

In a surprising turn of events, all Pak related uncertainties were resolved when both PaKs popped out of HIP with their crews tugging them down south towards the bottom map!

Advanced Squad Leader BFP21 Ripe for the Picking After Action Report (AAR)

We were at the midpoint of the game.  Two halftracks in the left group caught up with the PaK in the Orchards on the bottom board!  They used their small size and speed to distract and to overrun the Gun!  We knew the Germans would show in Turn 4 and some of our elements were too far forward but the opportunity was too good to pass up.  A Sherman ran forward to help but sure enough, it was killed by a pair of PzIV’s coming in.  Tanks always operate in pairs.  My tanks get killed every time I violate that doctrine.  I thought about using that Sherman to overrun the Gun itself to take it off the board but I didn’t.  Had I done it, I wouldn’t have to fight SS troopers for the gun in the next couple of turns – another mistake.

The right group broke through to the middle map and was held up by the threat of PFs inside bocage country.  Their lack of anti-tank assets was a problem and we were hugging the last set of bocages before the Germans show on the other side of those hedgerows.

Germans in the meantime were in full retreat from the town.  The bocage protected road down the middle provided the perfect passage.  An HMG was last seen moving along.  I got to go stop that nonsense.

An M5A1 light tank and other vehicles of the 4th Armored Division

An M5A1 light tank and other vehicles of the 4th Armored Division, VII. Corps, pass through the wrecked streets of the town of Coutances, north-western France; 1944.

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP21 Ripe for the Picking After Action Report (AAR)

With the PzIV’s in position on the left, I didn’t want scoot all my Shermans out on the same side, plus I gotta give the dismounted troops (bottom left) some help.  We needed to get and/ or destroy that PaK gun! The SS dismounted as well.  It’s going to get busy.  I exited one of my halftracks for the points and another went off to the side.  On the right, my guys pushed through the house and were getting into the Woods while the AFVs were getting away from the PzIV’s and threatening to come off the middle instead. At least we dealt with the German 9-1 team that was blocking the way.  We also had a pair of Shermans migrating from the left side to help with the anti-tank deficit.  The Germans got the remaining PaK inside that house in the middle though.

M8 HMC, 3rd Armored Division near Marigny, France (July 28 1944)

A company of M8 75mm HMCs (not a battery) from the 3rd Armored Division takes up firing positions near Marigny, France on July 28.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP21 Ripe for the Picking After Action Report (AAR)

It’s Turn 7 and the Thunderbolts were in!!  The Germans had very smartly hid their people in the Orchard on the left and in the Woods & Grain fields on the right.  The M8 self propelled howitzer was vulnerable to the SS firepower but proved itself useful by getting a WP round off into the woods.  To the left, troops in the Woods made an attempt on the PaK but failed.  They did manage to rout off the SS though!  They then moved in to mess with the PzIV’s.  A pair of Shermans whipped back to the middle while other AFV’s made for the gap in the woods.  One got hit and bursted in flames, probably a good thing for the rest.  Towards the middle, the Americans managed to break the HMG team that was toting it along and another squad raced to pick up the toy before the Germans did.  A mounted halftrack raced in, tried to get a squad close to that AT gun but was shot by the German SP gun via a LOS beautifully threaded between a couple of houses. I shouldn’t have stopped there!!  Another squad stayed up in the middle board to limit the number of Germans who could join the party down south.  To the right, an M8 raced into take a shot at the PzIV in the Woods but was stunned by the enemy infantry instead.  Meanwhile a number of vehicle slipped off the side.   Two more turns and a lot of our vehicles were in range to get off the board.  The fighter bombers were definitely slowing down the German OODA loop!

P-47 Thunderbolt firing rockets

P-47 Thunderbolt firing rockets!

Advanced Squad Leader scenario BFP21 Ripe for the Picking After Action Report (AAR)

We were close to the 100 VP mark but time’s running out.  The squads on the left had both went fanatic at this stage with their repeated attempt to close with the PzIV’s.  A M5A1 sped over, toughed out a shot that went wide, spun to the back of the self propelled 75 and fired.  It promptly malfunctioned and it was M5A1’s turn to be scared!!  The commander kicked the driver to start up again.  Good thing the 3 US squads nearby stunned the German open top.  A halftrack went for the PaK gun in the middle, went right up to the house and dismounted.  The PaK had to turn but lit up the vehicle!  The troops were okay, now covered by the vehicular blaze.  The Shermans decided it’s safer to run through the middle of the map now, away from the PzIV’s under the orchard.  When the FBs lit up the second PzIV on the right, the Germans decided to concede.  There’s nothing left to stop the Americans from driving off the board now.

US halftrack in urban warfare

“US halftrack in urban warfare” Italy, late 1944

How’s this Scenario Interesting?

This was a lot of hardware for me to manage through bocage country!  The Americans needed to blaze through the bocage and their speed helped them to not get penned up by the Germans.  The US armoured infantry reminded me of the new Terminator.  Halftracks could drop off its squad, “split into two” per se and motor the vehicular “half” behind the defenders.  Heck, my halftrack surprised the gun crew of the remaining PaK (holed up in the building nicely situation in the middle of the bottom map) by dropping off a squad at their door.  Their ride got blown up but they killed the gun crew in CC.  That’s so much more effective than having to shoot it out.

Terminator Dark Fate

Once I got my vehicles down on the bottom map, it’s important to be patient and to use my superior MPs to run around to where the Germans were not.  My tanks whipped around a couple times before exiting.  I could have left more infantry mounted but halftracks were poor sanctuaries when the action got going.  Fighter Bombers were a huge help in suppressing enemy’s ability to react even if they miss all their spotting attempts.  Once I was through the bocage it was tracks and shells flying all over in the bottom map.  This is an action packed scenario!!

Other Links

US Army in World War II, ETO, Breakout and Pursuit, M Blumenson

D-Day Overlord – D-Day and Battle of NormandyMarigny (Manche)

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。