AAR – ASL RPT3 – Varosmajor Grange

On the last morning of the 2018 ASL tournament, I sat down with Rich Burton to play an ASL scenario published in Rally Point 3. I really like playing as the minor powers, and I jumped at the chance to play as the Hungarians. My family came here from Hungary three generations ago, so I will almost always take them if given a chance. I find the low firepower, low(er) morale minor powers to be more enjoyable than playing the heavyweight SS vs American paratroopers that is commonly seen in ASL.

The scenario for the day was a late war Russian vs Hungarian engagement in Budapest. The Russians were the defenders, and my job as the Hungarians was to completely clear the Russians out of four listed stone buildings. One was a large, multihex building, and the other 3 were small buildings all in a row.

I gave my opponent time to set up his defenses, and was greeted with this when I returned:

The red squares marked victory buildings. You cannot see the middle red square under the (?) counter, but that is the fourth building. I knew that I would have to deal with the Russian tanks, so my attack strategy was to come up multiple streets, force him to commit, and then get behind him for a kill shot. I was not particularly concerned with his infantry. I felt confident that I could move in and kill them as long as the tanks were dealt with. His reinforcement tank was a flamethrower tank, and it had the potential to be devastating.

There were no major engagements in the first turn. Some shots were traded to no effect and most of his defenders were satisfied to lay low and let me come to them.

The tanks started to engage as the infantry continued to move into position. His western defenders broke under my flanking force. My tank did not hit his, but started to acquire. Unfortunately, his tank had better aim than mine. His guns leveled on me and sent APCR my way…

Fortunately for me, the peasant that loaded that particular shell was having a bad day…

And the shell failed to explode. I will always take luck when the dice are willing to give it to me.

By the next turn, it didn’t matter because the next shell actually contained explosives. Nevertheless, his delay gave my second tank time to try to race around and get behind him. You can see him in motion at the top of the screen. My southern forces moved into the first victory building and began to clear it out. You can see my Panzerschreck in the street there. That will come into play later. For now, I am mostly concerned because I can hear the rumble of his flamethrower tank approaching the battle.

On his next turn, his priority was to kill or at least slow down my forces attacking the large victory building. He prep fired from the adjacent hex, to no effect. All through the game, both of us were continually frustrated by the dice, particularly during prep fire. There were long series of play where prep fire was completely ineffectual. I think that there was one turn of his later in the game where he prep fired every unit on the board without a single broken or pinned Hungarian. As you can see though, the dice do roll sometimes, and I have a conscript half squad that went berserk. One firepower charging toward you – are you scared? The best thing that happened was that when his flamethrower tank made its appearance, I was able to shock him for a possible kill. Worst case scenario, he would lose a turn with that horrendous weapon. Best case, he would lose a major piece of his defense.

The berserk charge went exactly as expected, but for the most part my plan was still going well. I started breaking support weapons, which slowed down my assault from the south. In addition, my flamethrower crew broke and ran just as they were about to start putting pressure to the next layer of defense. Unfortunately for me, his tank crew was fine after they cleared the cobwebs, and they were ready to start the BBQ. I had to get that PSK into play. His flamethrower was in order, my was out of play. For now.

I started closing in and had a great round of shooting. His southern defense collapsed, and I was moving in on the trio of buildings that would determine the victor. He was running out of good order defenders, but he still had tanks. My tank that was attempting the end around was caught in the process and suffered a possible kill of his own.

At this point, I felt good about my chances, but I knew that I had to be aggressive. He was going to get a lot of close range shots, but I had lots of grist for the mill. At the same time, I had to leave at least some defenders behind to make sure he did not rally and move into the southern building. I took a hit as I moved into one of the victory buildings and had to rout back to H6. That’s OK. I might be able to rally them and get them back across that street…

And for at least one turn, the Russian dice got hot. His T-34 rubbled the building, killing everyone inside. I was now officially nervous.

At this point, his infantry was withering under my assault, but he still held E7, and as long as you are in a stone building, you have a chance. My possibly dead tank crew never woke back up and all of my AFVs were now dead. His flamethrower tank was already being used to great effect. I think it had something like a 34 FP attack. It was likely that one OT-34 was going to be able to deny me this victory. But I had a plan.

 

NOTE: WE MADE SOME RULES MISTAKES, AND A BIG ONE IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. I KNOW NOW, BUT AT THE TIME, WE BOTH THOUGHT THIS WAS LEGAL. A WOUNDED LEADER CANNOT FIRE A PSK ALONE. SINCE IT IS A SUPPORT WEAPON, WE BOTH ASSUMED THAT HE COULD. THAT SAID, ONE OF THE FIRST RULES IN ASL IS THAT IF YOU MAKE A RULES MISTAKE, YOU JUST GO ON FROM THERE. 

That wounded leader was going to pick up that PSK and walk up the street and kill that damn tank.

Now I am going to tell you the story of the greatest Hungarian hero. I am going to call him Kovats. He was wounded, but he picked up the Panzerschreck from a broken half squad. He saw the Russian flamethrower tank killing and destroying all that he had worked for, and he knew what he had to do. He limped into the middle of the street, facing machine gun fire and desperate Russian soldiers. The flamethrower tank swung around to turn him to ash and RAN OUT OF FLAMETHROWER FUEL. Kovats levelled that PSK and blew the OT-34 sky high. As the tank burned, he lit a cigarette from the flames and collapsed to the ground with a smile on his face.

At this point, I held all of the victory buildings, and my opponent was forced to the point of desperation. He tried to soften a building up with machine gun prep fire. He tried to blast the building with his last tank. He tried to get across the street. My boys held.

And that is the story of how I went 1-4 at the 2018 St. Louis ASL tournament.

Thanks to my opponent, Rich Burton, for a great game, and to Jim Burris for organizing a great tournament.

After Action Report – Hold the Line: Frederick’s War

Chad and I got together to play a small, quick tactical game set in the 19th century. Hold the Line: Frederick’s War looks very much like Commands & Colors: Ancients at first glance. There is a small hex board that can be overlayed with various types of terrain, and the units have a number of morale points (MPs) that function as health points, or number of hits that they can take before being eliminated.

Hold the Line: Frederick’s War

I like the quick action gameplay and the tactical movement. The game is quick to set up and quick to learn. It has a small footprint, which is nice, too. We played the first two scenarios. Chad won one and I won one. In both cases the “attacker” lost, but there were so many turns left over that the attacker has plenty of time to move slowly and methodically if he chooses to do so.

The only thing that we did not like was the swingy-ness of the dice. Chad was rolling nothing but ones for a few turns and could not buy a five or six to save his life. He was frustrated, but took it well. We have all been there with any game that uses dice resolution. I would like to play C&C:A with him sometime to see how the two games compare. He also wants to learn Advanced Squad Leader. Let’s see if the dice still come up snake eyes then!

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/136890/hold-line-fredericks-war

After Action Report – Advanced Squad Leader

BFP 129 – A Bitter Day

From Bounding Fire Productions’ Poland In Flames module

Saint Louis ASL Night, October 12, 2017

The scenario is set in Poland, 12 September 1939. Contrary to what you would think, the Poles are the attackers and the Germans are the defenders. In order to win, the Poles need to control every building on board 7b. Any time I see a victory condition that requires 100% control, I get nervous, but the Poles 21 MMCs with associated leaders and support weapons to drive out a group of 13 squads and 2 half squads (along with SWs and leaders). The ASL Scenario archive shows it to be extremely balanced.

I did not have a great number of options for defensive setup, so I thought that I would try to slow him down as much as possible holding the first set of buildings and then fall back when pressed. I did not want to concede the south side of the board, so I made sure to cover that area as much as possible. This was definitely secondary in my mind, though, and he was able to sneak one unit past those defenders to get to the solitary building in R8. Little did we know at the time, but the entire game would hinge on that control. More on that later.

By the end of the first turn there were no surprises. He was coming in as I expected him to, and I was trying my best to maintain discipline and remain concealed. We were both able to get some hits in but there were no major developments yet.

 

In turn 2 he really started to advance toward that lone building on the south side. I think that I made the right play in keeping my MMG concealed and pulling back slowly because it really delayed his advance and the threat of it tied up a large number of his troops. In the main cluster of buildings, His advance was stalling, and he was rolling really poorly. Every time he rolled an 11 we both laughed (What can you do?) and every time I reminded him that the dice always come back around. How right I was! You can also see here that I decided to use the cover of the hill to start falling back even though I was still in good order with the initial cluster. I did not want a series of bad roll to wipe me out and allow free access to the North side of the building. As defender, I like to maintain the threat of force as mush as the actual show of force.

By turn 3 he was finally able to overrun my initial cluster of buildings, and also sprint up ahead to grab that lone building on the South side. He was also able to encircle my lone hill defender – an excellent bit of tactics on his part. Nevertheless, my initial strategy of delaying and falling back was working, and my reinforcements had started to arrive.

On turn 4 he started to organize to make his final push, and I started digging in to cut off his movement lines and make sure that it would take him more time than he had to grab every single building. You can see that I was starting my counter attack on that southern building as well. It was very lightly defended.

In turn 5 he was coming at me hard, but I still held the buildings. I was feeling good about things, knowing that I was going to get a bunch of point blank shots. My MMG finally revealed himself as well. He was much more effective as a threat than he ever was in use, but as defender I think he did his job.

Turn 6. Ugh. Remember what I said about the dice coming back around? Holy moly. I rolled nothing but 11s. He had my northern reinforcements cut off, and my troops in the buildings could not shoot straight. The dice completely failed me and I was overrrun. Retaking that solitary building to the south was my last hope. But I had a chance.

Rest in peace, men.

Turn 7. My last chance. I had to have that building, so I moved in. My men charged bravely. Some broke on the way, but one squad made it in. This is what is all about. Last roll of the game. I am the attacker, so I get to go first. I may be wrong remembering the numbers, so please don’t look it up and yell at me, but I think I needed a 4 to kill. Rolled it. Bam. I am one roll away from my very first ASL win. He needed a 3 to kill me (There was no ambush.) If he rolls it, he wins, since we are both broken and he controlled the building. If he rolls 4 or higher I win.

I am still winless, but I love this game more than ever.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/243/advanced-squad-leader

After Action Report – Cuba Libre

Saturday, January 27, 2018

For the first session of the STLHGC, I wanted to bring a few games that people could get into easily and would be good for a variety of players, including solo if necessary. Command and Colors Ancients is a quick set up, easy to play game, but is only really good for two players. Cuba Libre is the simplest of the COIN games in my opinion and also has a small footprint. I threw the Blackbeard game in there because it looks fun and I have never had a chance to actually play it. I am trying to get it off of my shame shelf. I realized after I took this picture that I am a really big GMT fanboi. Guilty as changed.

It looked like it was going to be three of us playing today, so I decided to set up Cuba Libre. The small footprint and relative simplicoty makes it a great gateway game. In addition, for a three player game, letting the AI take the government seemed like a good choice.

As it turns out, I ended up playing the game solo and had a great time. Rev Kevye stopped by several times and asked about it. He was interested in playing but couldn’t do so at that time. Chad and Andrew both sat down for a few minutes later in the day to talk about the game, and this is definitely going to get some play time. I cannot say enough about how much I enjoy the COIN games, and now that I own over half of them, with a couple more on the way, the more people that are familiar with the system, the more we can expand our horizons.

In case you were wondering, the Syndicate won. I did not do a proper AAR since it was just me, but I will have some pictures and a real AAR next time. Please join me on Saturday February 24, 2018 if you want to play.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/111799/cuba-libre