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Subject: AAR - Rage Against the Machine rss

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J. R. Tracy
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Bo Siemsen was in town from Denmark this week and we enjoyed a real barn-burner of a scenario. We fired up Rage Against the Machine, scheduled for publication in the next Journal. This is a Peter Struijf/Chris Mazzei design set in Latvia in December 1944, with the Soviets pressing hard to collapse the Courland Pocket.

The card uses maps 3a, 42, and 40; despite the familiarity of the latter two the configuration felt very fresh. As the defending Germans, I had a pair of 468s, four 467s, two 447s, and a pair of conscript squads, with two 9-1s (one wounded) and an 8-0. For toys, I was allotted an MMG, two LMGs, a PSK, and a 75L PaK 40. I could HIP two MMCs and accompanying SWs/SMCs. I also had six dummy counters and was allowed to set up my forces concealed (in concealment terrain) despite the Soviet at-start on-board presence. My mission was to hold two of three disparate objectives: a bridge on my southern flank, a stone rowhouse in the center, and a pair of wooden buildings in the north. For his assault, Bo had sixteen squads (six 458s, six 527s, four 447s), a 9-1, 8-1, and 7-0, plus an HMG, three LMGs, and a pair of candygrams. In support, he had an impressive array of two ISU-122s, three ISU-152s, and three T34/85s. I would get armor of my own (two JgPzIV(L)s and a StuG IIIG (L)) on turn three of our six and a half turn scenario, plus a platoon of 548s with an LMG, DC, and 8-1 leader. As an added twist, I could assign Panzerfausts to my leaders as per optional rule C13.311, and the first leader to kill a Soviet AFV with a PF or in CC would instantly Battle Harden – this was a nice touch and meshed well with the historical background info.

Looking at the map and the objectives, I figured my greatest advantages were space and my HIP allotment. I needed to slow Bo’s armor (through either active defense or the threat of HIP) long enough for my TDs and StuG to get into place for the mid and end game. I also had to make sure each of my HIP units bagged at least one AFV. I immediately identified two good spots for my HIP MMCs: I put a 237 HS with a PSK in 3aN13 to defend the bridge, and I placed my wounded 9-1 with a 447 in 3aN1. I was reluctant to place a precious leader so far in my rear but his 3MF limited his usefulness in a fallback defense and I wanted a guaranteed PF shot for any Soviet AFV that rolled through that hex. It seemed like a good spot since it offered a nice flanking approach to the K3/J4 victory buildings. The squad was there to provide the HIP as per SSR and for a little extra firepower to handle Bo’s infantry support. The ATG was a little trickier – I initially had it in 3aN0, also guarding the flank, but that felt like overkill in addition to the HIPsters. The 40EE3/FF2 orchard hexes looked promising, providing flanking shots on tanks moving along the river, but I didn’t like the marsh hindrance and wanted a more generally useful position. I finally settled on the hilltop brush hex of 40EE9, facing west toward board 3a. This spot covered any attack on the bridge and could also site down into the 3aP8/P9 area where any Soviet attack on my center would be forming up. It was vulnerable to a sweep by Soviet infantry but I thought the benefits of the position outweighed the risk and hoped my own infantry could shield it effectively.


My German setup (click the '+' to enlarge)



I wish I had put as much thought into my forward defense. The general idea was to show a strong front, and fall back immediately, leaving my conscript scrubs behind to slow Bo down as best they could. I had 467s in 40AA7 and Z9 covering the south (and protecting the ATG). For the center, I had a 436 in 42H10, an LMG/467 in the stone building in 42H8 covering the path exit point at K8, and another 467 in F7. For the north, I had a 237 with Wall Advantage in 42H1, a 436 in 42F3, an 8-0/LMG/468 in 42E4, and a 9-1/MMG/468 in 42D5. I placed a pair of dummies in the 42H5 stone building, and four dummies in 30BB6; the latter was necessary or else Bo would easily identify the leader-led Bd 42 stacks as the ‘real thing’. This setup heavily covered the Bd 42 road, but I figured that was necessary as it led directly into the heart of the Bd 3a village and two of the victory locations. I was quite happy with the setup but overlooked two important aspects. First, it didn’t really limit Bo’s opening assault, as he could still move about as far as doubletiming allowed without exposing himself to negative drm shots. Second, my rout paths sucked. The 42F6 woods attracted anyone in the vicinity, and anyone south of that wasn’t getting past the 42C9 woods at best, where one of my precious leaders would have to come rescue them. Not an attractive prospect. My Fallback defense was really a Die In Place defense – I just didn’t know it yet.

Bo set up the bulk of his infantry in the 42N8 woods mass, with some troops in the 40T7 ‘grain’ field (brush by SSR) and three squads and a leader in the north around 42N2. He balanced his armor on either flank, with an ISU-152, ISU-122, and two T34s in the south, and the other four AFVs up north. Bo was cautious in the north, with a number of choice brush and orchard hexes ripe with potential HIPsters. His armor moved no further than 42K4, though a Motion ISU-122 swung around to K1 with an eye to busting through the H0 woods to test my left flank. In the center and the south he went all out, CXing almost all his troops and testing my fire discipline. The LMG/467 in 42H8 pinned a squad, while my 467 in 40AA7 was ineffectual. In his Advancing Fire, however, Bo CR’d the AA7 squad and broke the 40Z9 concealed squad. At this point my poor setup and crappy rout options became apparent.


End of the first Soviet Movement Phase



Over the next turn and a half, Bo advanced methodically and shredded my already-thin screen. By the beginning of turn three, I only had two good order squads remaining of my initial eight and a half non-HIP squads. Fortunately, both were 468s, one with an LMG and the other with an MMG, stacked with the 8-0 and 9-1 respectively in 3aN6 and N7. At this point we were openly discussing moving on to a PTO playtest for Chas Argent, but I wanted to see if my HIP guys and/or reinforcements could turn or at least stem the tide.

Flush with success, Bo rushed his armor forward – an ISU-152 parked in 3aN12, an ISU-122 in 3aO10, a T34 in 3aQ9, and another T34 in 40EE10. In the north, three AFVs lined up along 3aQ5/42B5/C5, while the flanker indeed made it through 42H0 and on to 3aQ1. His infantry swarmed forward in support, and I sweated the possible inadvertent discovery of my ATG. Fortunately most of Bo’s squads stuck to ground level, and the one 458 blundering along the top of the hill went down to an MMG shot in 40DD9, just short of my gun. In DFire, my PSK killed the N12 ISU but I held fire with the ATG so Bo couldn’t swing his front armor toward me in Advancing Fire. In my ensuing Prep, I turned my covered arc to burn the EE10 T34, and took out the 3aO10 ISU with an Intensive Fire shot. Both my PSK half squad and my gun crew quickly succumbed to Soviet firepower, but their work was done.


The graveyard of Soviet armor



Suddenly I was back in the game, and I consolidated my position with my reinforcements. My StuG, supported by an 8-1/LMG/548, parked in 3aM18 to guard the bridge, while one jagdpanzer went to 3aK5 and another challenged the 3aQ1 ISU from behind the wall in I2. A DC/548 headed to 3aJ5, while the other doubletimed toward the center rowhouse. In the meantime, I scraped together a couple halfsquads and a fresh 8-0 with self-rallies. Everything was coming up Iron Crosses for a couple turns – an ISU moved to 3aO14 to challenge my StuG, but died for its troubles, and I maintained my poker face as Bo drove his northern ISU into my 3aN1 HIP trap. The wounded 9-1 whiffed with his side-note PF, but the 447 closed the deal with a panzerfaust of its own. To add insult to injury, Bo broke the MAs on an ISU and a T34, and 6’d them both out on repair rolls. He was now down to a single T34/85 against my three AFVs, and despite his infantry advantage it was looking pretty grim for the Reds. His one highlight was his 7-0 going Heroic – very handy for the large multihex firegroups Bo was stitching together to hammer my center.


Preparing to assault the rowhouse



Despite the turn of events, Bo was well positioned for the end game. By keeping most of his infantry concentrated in the center, he could threaten either flank objective while assuring the capture of the central rowhouse. His flanking infantry was able to set the table for his final rush as well, and though down to just one AFV, his surviving T34/85 was a formidable piece of equipment. Bo’s northern infantry quickly dispatched my wounded 9-1 and his accompanying squad, and moved forward to immobilize my I2 jagdpanzer in Close Combat, though I broke a squad in return with my sN. My other JgPzIV managed to break the Soviet squad in the K3 victory building, but subsequently broke both its BMG and MA. Finally, Bo killed my StuG, making the bridge a viable objective.

In my second to last player turn, I skulked my MMG/468 and 548 into L7, along with an 8-0 and 9-1, but missed an obvious LOS. Bo managed a PTC which both squads failed. Now I was in a bit of a pickle. My 8-0 slid into the street at L8 and the rest of the rowhouse garrison hunkered down and hoped for the best. Bo’s assault was swift and efficient. The first DC/458 moving into M8 was greeted by a panzerfaust from the 8-0 in the street, which reduced it to a broken halfsquad. Sadly, a PF leaves no residual, so the follow-up DC/458 was able to proceed unmolested and place its care package for a breach of the interior wall. The Soviet 9-1 and another squad followed. Bo successfully breached the wall, and the subsequent Advancing Fire and CC cleaned up the building nicely.

In my last turn, I moved my LMG/468 into J4, and my DC/548 reoccupied K3. Bo’s T34 was sitting in M15 looking down the bridge, with my infantry acquired, so I skulked the LMG/548 out of LOS to N18 while the 8-1 slid forward to M17, dragging the acquisition marker with him. After the 8-1 survived D-Fire, I left him there while the LMG/548 slid back under the StuG as I performed a “Please don’t cower” rain dance.

Bo opened his final turn by starting up his T34; my LMG/548 immediately fired and left four residual in the bridge entry hex. Bo successfully blew his one-shot sD and moved to M16, where I again fired for another two RFP. At this point the T34 halted, and Bo followed up with his infantry. Uncle Joe was disappointed to see a squad and a half fail to get past the residual, so it looked like the bridge was out of reach. However, Bo had plenty of tricks left in his bag. Up in the north, despite a firelane laid out of J4, Bo got two squads adjacent to K3, albeit one was CX. I was forced to drop concealment to fire on a third squad, paired with a 9-1 leader, that skipped past my FPF-crazy crew in J2. I managed to break the leader and pin the squad, but I lost the benefit of concealment for the upcoming AFPh and CC. My J4 squad rolled a three on a Spray Fire Final Fire shot, but an unpinned Russian squad survived to take the building once the DC took down my 468.

The game came down to the CC in K3. Bo opted not to advance his CX 458 into the hex – it would only take his odds to 3:2, more than offset by the CX penalties in Ambush and CC. 527 vs 548 – I won the Ambush, and generated a CR result. Bo missed his return shot so I retained control for the win.

This game was a blast, with two tremendous swings of fortune. Bo had me down for the count, but my HIP got me back into the game. By the fifth turn, I had the game well in hand, but Bo regrouped and regained the advantage. With all the snake-eyes, threes, and boxcars flying around it was a surprise to see things come down to a 1:1 CC on the final turn. We both made some mistakes – I really pooched the setup and I think Bo will probably be a little more cautious with his armor next time, but there were some clever moves as well. I think this is a very resilient scenario with several options for both sides and appealing orders of battle. Both sides have the opportunity to attack, always a plus, and the SSRs convey the tone of the action and give the scenario a unique flavor. Highly recommended – I look forward to seeing it in the next Journal.

I enjoyed playing Bo; when he told me his regular opponent is Michael Hastrup-Leth, I knew I was in for a challenging game. Michael and I played a couple of very tight, exciting games at ASLOK and Bo shares Michael’s combination of intelligent play and sociable demeanor. My sample size of Danish wargamers is quite small (three) but all have been good company and excellent players. I hope I get a chance to visit Copenhagen some day to see if that’s the norm or the exception! Until then, skål!

JR




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Martí Cabré

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Very nice AAR, JR. It's exciting how ASL can throw you back into the game even when the situation is so dire that you were just discussing to play another scenario.
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Eoin Corrigan
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Great AAR, many thanks.

Looking forward to seeing this one in the next Journal.
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Pierce Ostrander
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J.R. - I know it takes a lot of time to put one of these together – I really appreciate the effort.

I was slated to playtest this scenario on an MMP playtest night a few months ago and prepared a set up. Unfortunately, Chas had other plans for me and I ended up not playing it. Because I had taken such a “deep look” at the German situation, your AAR was especially enjoyable. Thanks.

Please forgive me, but I'm going to use your excellent AAR to pontificate for a minute with on one of my favorite ASL riffs. J.R. knows all this (and may disagree), but since I think that a good part of the Boardgamegeek ASL audience is made up of less-experienced players than other internet audiences, I’ll indulge myself.

Begin Rif

In ASL there are two different parts to the game that require mastery in order to become a great player the "Company Commander Perspective (CCP)" and the "Squad Leader Perspective (SLP)".

The CCP involves terrain analysis, unit analysis, scenario analysis and scenario planning – most of which happens before the scenario (but some during, as you make the “big decisions” during the game - primarily about pacing).

The SLP is all the plethora of "little things": mostly rules-driven techniques that all the best players have learned to use.

I hope that the distinction I’m making is clear. I tried to explain this (inappropriately) in a different forum and botched it up badly.

The reason I’m “crashing” J.R.’s session report is because it provides some great examples of what I mean.

Examples of the Company Commander Perspective

jrtracy wrote:
The general idea was to show a strong front, and fall back immediately, leaving my conscript scrubs behind to slow Bo down as best they could.


jrtracy wrote:
Looking at the map and the objectives, I figured my greatest advantages were space and my HIP allotment. I needed to slow Bo’s armor (through either active defense or the threat of HIP) long enough for my TDs and StuG to get into place for the mid and end game. I also had to make sure each of my HIP units bagged at least one AFV.

--- snip ---

This spot covered any attack on the bridge and could also site down into the 3aP8/P9 area where any Soviet attack on my center would be forming up. It was vulnerable to a sweep by Soviet infantry but I thought the benefits of the position outweighed the risk and hoped my own infantry could shield it effectively.


jrtracy wrote:
This setup heavily covered the Bd 42 road, but I figured that was necessary as it led directly into the heart of the Bd 3a village and two of the victory locations.


jrtracy wrote:
I was quite happy with the setup but overlooked two important aspects. First, it didn’t really limit Bo’s opening assault, as he could still move about as far as doubletiming allowed without exposing himself to negative drm shots. Second, my rout paths sucked. The 42F6 woods attracted anyone in the vicinity, and anyone south of that wasn’t getting past the 42C9 woods at best, where one of my precious leaders would have to come rescue them. Not an attractive prospect. My Fallback defense was really a Die In Place defense – I just didn’t know it yet.


Examples of the Squad Leader Perspective:

jrtracy wrote:
I placed a pair of dummies in the 42H5 stone building, and four dummies in 30BB6; the latter was necessary or else Bo would easily identify the leader-led Bd 42 stacks as the ‘real thing’.


jrtracy wrote:
In my last turn, I moved my LMG/468 into J4, and my DC/548 reoccupied K3. Bo’s T34 was sitting in M15 looking down the bridge, with my infantry acquired, so I skulked the LMG/548 out of LOS to N18 while the 8-1 slid forward to M17, dragging the acquisition marker with him. After the 8-1 survived D-Fire, I left him there while the LMG/548 slid back under the StuG as I performed a “Please don’t cower” rain dance.


jrtracy wrote:

Bo opened his final turn by starting up his T34; my LMG/548 immediately fired and left four residual in the bridge entry hex. Bo successfully blew his one-shot sD and moved to M16, where I again fired for another two RFP. At this point the T34 halted, and Bo followed up with his infantry.


Now for the controversial part (if you have made it this far). All of this is just my opinion (JMO) and I’m testing it to see what other people think – if I get no response, I guess I’ll find I’m still alone.

1. Separately discussing these two aspects of ASL is useful.

2. The CCP skills are the more interesting part of the game.

3. The CCP skills are the ones that are hardest to acquire.

And now for the most controversial part:

4. The CCP skills are the skills that nearly all ASL tournaments fail to test. This is a disservice to the better ASL players. It makes tournament play less interesting.

Does anybody care?
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Eddy del Rio
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I found your (fubar awol) analysis most interesting, but have no opinion on the matter of tournament efforts. I think too that we gain the SLV skills through hard study and gain the CCV skills (and promotion in rank) through hard experience.
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Brent Pollock
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CCV = Close Combat Value for Infantry vs AFVs in CC. How about switching the View to Summary or somesuch?
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Andy Beaton
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Tournaments are a pretty small proportion of the games I play, so I have no real beef with them skewing the focus.

That was a great AAR. Those Friendly Fire guys really do produce the best scenarios around.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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fubar awol wrote:
4. The CCV skills are the skills that nearly all ASL tournaments fail to test. This is a disservice to the better ASL players. It makes tournament play less interesting.

Good food for thought, Foob. However, what is your evidence for this assertion (#4)? I would think that planning how to handle a scenario is precisely tested in a tournament format, under pressure no less.
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J. R. Tracy
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Foob wrote:

Now for the controversial part (if you have made it this far). All of this is just my opinion (JMO) and I’m testing it to see what other people think – if I get no response, I guess I’ll find I’m still alone.


Great thread.

Quote:

1. Separately discussing these two aspects of ASL is useful.


Agreed.

Quote:

2. The CCV skills are the more interesting part of the game.


Emphatically agreed.

Quote:

3. The CCV skills are the ones that are hardest to acquire.


Mostly agree, though I've encountered savants who seem to have a natural intuition for this sort of thing, and not just in ASL.

Quote:

And now for the most controversial part:

4. The CCV skills are the skills that nearly all ASL tournaments fail to test. This is a disservice to the better ASL players. It makes tournament play less interesting.


Here I disagree. In my experience, a superior plan ("CCV") almost always trumps rules wiliness ("SLV") beyond some basic threshold of rules comprehension. This holds true in tournament play as well as more casual sessions. From time to time I've encountered gimmicky short scenarios where there is some sort of rules-driven trick for one side or the other, but they are the exceptions. From my perspective, tournaments do in fact test CCV and reward its effective application.

Quote:

Does anybody care?


Absolutely - thank you for the long, thoughtful response.

JR
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Perry Cocke
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jrtracy wrote:


Here I disagree. In my experience, a superior plan ("CCV") almost always trumps rules wiliness ("SLV") beyond some basic threshold of rules comprehension. This holds true in tournament play as well as more casual sessions. From time to time I've encountered gimmicky short scenarios where there is some sort of rules-driven trick for one side or the other, but they are the exceptions. From my perspective, tournaments do in fact test CCV and reward its effective application.




I agree with J.R.

I know, going out on a limb.

Where I might differ with other analysis is in thinking that the ability to adapt your plan to changed circumstances is the mark of a superior player. I have heard many good players say "Make a plan and stick with it." I don't think I have heard any great players say that. Knowing when (if at all) to change and _how_ to do so encompasses all aspects of good play, IMO.

Perhaps the truly superior plan has enough flexibility built into it to accommodate changed circumstances. I cannot plan that deeply, however.
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Pierce Ostrander
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WBRP wrote:
CCV = Close Combat Value for Infantry vs AFVs in CC. How about switching the View to Summary or some such?


Ooops - sorry about that. It will have to stand since there are already responses that use my Three Letter Acronym (TLA) and changing it in my response would create confusion. I hesitate to use the words "strategic" and "tactical" because they are loaded and I don't want to get side-tracked in a discussion of what those terms mean – so, I create my own terms. “Company Commander View” (CCV) and “Squad Leader View” (SLV).

I should have used “Perspective”.

Foob wrote:
And now for the most controversial part:

4. The CCV skills are the skills that nearly all ASL tournaments fail to test. This is a disservice to the better ASL players. It makes tournament play less interesting.


jrtracy wrote:
Here I disagree. In my experience, a superior plan ("CCV") almost always trumps rules wiliness ("SLV") beyond some basic threshold of rules comprehension.


Here, we are in total agreement.

jrtracy wrote:
This holds true in tournament play as well as more casual sessions. –snip-- From my perspective, tournaments do in fact test CCV and reward its effective application.


Here is the crux of the disagreement and controversy.

In order for a specific player’s “Company Commander Perspective” to win out: the scenario being played must be fresh to both players. Most tournaments fail to ensure this And I believe it to be vitally important because of my views about the superior nature of the Company Comander Perspective in ASL.

If either player has played it before, discussed it with his friends or (worse yet) read an AAR or “how to set this up” article about the scenario in a magazine or in an on-line forum then it is no longer a contest between those two specific players abilities in this area.

For Example: Every novice or mid-level player who has read your AAR (above) now has advantage over all his same-level opponents. They can use J.R. Tracy’s set up and plan - as well as J.R. Tracy's lessons learned the first time they play the scenario.

The worst possible type of Tournament is “pick list” style. There was a guest on The Two Half-Squads podcast not long ago who stated (matter of factly) that he was in the process of playing through every one of the scenarios that were made available on a pre-published pick list “in preparation for the tournament”.

I was horrified.

The second worst possible is the “open style”. Two honest players who are interested in having fun and testing their skills can pick a scenario (from the 5,000) that neither have played. There is always the risk of being “scammed” by someone – but that makes it all the more fun to kick their ass anyway. : ) Frankly, I don’t worry about it. It’s all for fun anyway and if someone is willing to lie and cheat in order to win a tournament – they want it a lot more than I do and probably need it to maintain their self-worth.

The best kind of tournament is one where all the scenarios are new to all competitors. And in my view, is the only type of tournament that can ensure that the Company Comander Perspective is tested. Of course, this is fraught with peril too – what if a scenario is particularly imbalanced? To this I say: I’m willing to take that risk. The pleasure of testing the entire range of my abilities against another player wins out.


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Pierce Ostrander
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perrycocke wrote:
Where I might differ with other analysis is in thinking that the ability to adapt your plan to changed circumstances is the mark of a superior player. I have heard many good players say "Make a plan and stick with it." I don't think I have heard any great players say that. Knowing when (if at all) to change and _how_ to do so encompasses all aspects of good play, IMO.

Perhaps the truly superior plan has enough flexibility built into it to accommodate changed circumstances. I cannot plan that deeply, however.


Hi Perry,


Straw man #1 was Company Commander Perspective trumps Squad Leader Perspective. - we all agree.

You've introduced straw man #2.

Adapting a plan when necessary is yet another mark of an excelent player.

We all agree on 2 things now.

What don't we agree on?
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J. R. Tracy
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Foob wrote:
.

The best kind of tournament is one where all the scenarios are new to all competitors. And in my view, is the only type of tournament that can ensure that the Company Comander Perspective is tested. Of course, this is fraught with peril too – what if a scenario is particularly imbalanced? To this I say: I’m willing to take that risk. The pleasure of testing the entire range of my abilities against another player wins out.


One year MMP constructed a set of new scenarios for the WBC tournament - they even had secret victory conditions! It was an absolute hoot. Sadly, it was also an absolute pain in the ass to create and was not repeated. Still one of my favorite tournament experiences.

ASLOK remains my favorite event because so much new material is released that I can play fresh scenarios throughout the week, new to both me and my opponent. I don't even take any scenarios to ASLOK - I just play what I pick up there. Like you, I like the adventure of the unknown - sometimes you stumble into a howling dog, but that's part of the challenge, and the fun.

JR
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Pierce Ostrander
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jrtracy wrote:
It was an absolute hoot. ---snip--- Still one of my favorite tournament experiences.


I still remember with glee the thrill of simultaneously flipping over a never-before-seen scenario card along with everyone else in the room eighteen times a year back in the early 80's at the tournaments sponsered by the Southern California ASL Club during the thrice-per-year Stratigicon Conventions. Nothing matches it for ASL fun-factor. Nothing.
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Malcolm Cameron
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fubar awol wrote:
jrtracy wrote:
It was an absolute hoot. ---snip--- Still one of my favorite tournament experiences.


I still remember with glee the thrill of simultaneously flipping over a never-before-seen scenario card along with everyone else in the room eighteen times a year back in the early 80's at the tournaments sponsered by the Southern California ASL Club during the thrice-per-year Stratigicon Conventions. Nothing matches it for ASL fun-factor. Nothing.


The ASL tournament at Cancon in Australia went back to this format this year, thanks to Andrew Rogers.

Andy cooked up six diverse and balanced scenarios. They had all obviously been playtested prior to the tournament. Hopefully some or all of them will eventually be published.

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Pierce Ostrander
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ASLNoob wrote:

And yes I would agree with you. There is a trend in ASL towards shorter scenarios in general. When you look at the early ASL Annuals, for example, you'll see that most scenarios are 8 to 12 turns long. But in the most recent Journal most every scenario is 6 or 7 turns long.


ASLNoob wrote:
These modern tournament sized scenarios, designed to be playable in roughly 4 hours by good players, emphasize the application of rules knowledge at the squad level over the Company Commander view. JR is right when he says that there is always a CCV but relative focus of the view shifts to the SLV in the shorter, quick playing scenarios.

In contrast, look at ASL scenario 11, Defiance On Hill 30, from Paratrooper. This was designed as a beginner level scenario and it's 9 turns long. The attacker has to enter the map and make a long approach towards the enemy. There are a lot of CCV decisions to be made.


You have a point, but it is not central to my argument. I don't agree with the statement: "if a scenario is short then it doesn't measure Company Commander Perspective skill". I don't think you are saying that, but I wanted to clarify. Well-designed small scenarios can test both skill sets: some do it better than others. Any scenario that is new to both players will do it better than one that isn't.

One of the reasons we were motivated to design all-new scenarios for the early ASL tournaments was because there were so few tournament-length scenarios "back in the day". Short scenarios are not a necessarily a modern phenom... Perhaps we were ahead of our time but we made a bunch of them back then. Many of them we published in "In Contact" Magazine (the first issue of which I produced on one of the first Macintosh Computers). A portion of those were republished in Out of the Attic #1.
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Pierce Ostrander
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Advanced Squad Leader » Forums » Sessions
Re: AAR - Rage Against the Machine
fubar awol wrote:
Short scenarios are not a necessarily a modern phenom... Perhaps we were ahead of our time but we made a bunch of them back then. Many of them we published in "In Contact" Magazine (the first issue of which I produced on one of the first Macintosh Computers). A portion of those were republished in Out of the Attic #1.


I just saw the news that Bill "Fish" Conner has died. I met Bill in 1986 at one of our ASL tournements when Origins was in Los Angeles.

Later that year, I made the pilgrimage to Youngstown for the ASL Octoberfest where I got to know Bill a bit better. There, he proposed publishing an ASL 'zine named "In Contact". I went back home, gathered together a bunch of the SCASL Club tournament scenarios and put out the first issue (using the aformentioned Mac). Together, we distributed it. Bill did the second issue. I'm pretty sure that was it (not a long run as fanzines go, but it had HEART).

Bill was a great guy and will be missed.

Edit: here is the link to the discussion on Gamesquad.

http://forums.gamesquad.com/showthread.php?105283-Bill-quot-...
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Magister Ludi
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Malcolm C wrote:
fubar awol wrote:
jrtracy wrote:
It was an absolute hoot. ---snip--- Still one of my favorite tournament experiences.


I still remember with glee the thrill of simultaneously flipping over a never-before-seen scenario card along with everyone else in the room eighteen times a year back in the early 80's at the tournaments sponsered by the Southern California ASL Club during the thrice-per-year Stratigicon Conventions. Nothing matches it for ASL fun-factor. Nothing.


The ASL tournament at Cancon in Australia went back to this format this year, thanks to Andrew Rogers.

Andy cooked up six diverse and balanced scenarios. They had all obviously been playtested prior to the tournament. Hopefully some or all of them will eventually be published.



Yep, secomd Malcolms comments...great to play totally fresh scenarios. All of them had opprtunities to attack and defend and generally came down to the wire.
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Tom Hudson
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Love your AARs, J.R.--tanks
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jrtracy wrote:
Foob wrote:
.

The best kind of tournament is one where all the scenarios are new to all competitors. And in my view, is the only type of tournament that can ensure that the Company Comander Perspective is tested. Of course, this is fraught with peril too – what if a scenario is particularly imbalanced? To this I say: I’m willing to take that risk. The pleasure of testing the entire range of my abilities against another player wins out.


One year MMP constructed a set of new scenarios for the WBC tournament - they even had secret victory conditions! It was an absolute hoot. Sadly, it was also an absolute pain in the ass to create and was not repeated. Still one of my favorite tournament experiences.

ASLOK remains my favorite event because so much new material is released that I can play fresh scenarios throughout the week, new to both me and my opponent. I don't even take any scenarios to ASLOK - I just play what I pick up there. Like you, I like the adventure of the unknown - sometimes you stumble into a howling dog, but that's part of the challenge, and the fun.


JR,

Back to the thread after a long pause... someone posted and it came up in my subscription window.

A new disucussion: It is not hard to design scenarios that can be balanced at a tournament. I'd like to highlight JR's comment:

jrtracy wrote:
they even had secret victory conditions!


That is what we did in our tournaments - sort of.

Our process was to describe the objectives of the Attacker in the Victory Conditions. They were required to have the following two characteristics:

1. Quantifyable - for example: "take as many buildings in the village as you can" or "exit as many VP as you can".

2. A wide range of possible outcomes - for example: there would need to be dozens of buildings to take. If there were only 3 then it wouldn't work for our system.

Then, we would score the players after all the tables had completed the scenario. The top half (or so) would be awarded a victory. The bottom half a loss.

Playtesting needed not be exhaustive... it just need to verify that there were no tricks that could be used to garuntee a win and it also needed to "prove" that there were a wide range of possible outcomes. If all the attackers took the entire village, then we had a problem.

Our tiebreaker was casualties. The better job you did preserving your force the better you did in tiebreakers.

So, in a sense, our VC were "secret" - but not really. They were simply unknown until after all the tables had completed playing.

To state it another way, the Attackers were graded on a curve compared to each other. So were the defenders. We had a few people who didn't like the system but most found that it was worth it - you never got a scenario that was completely imbalanced against one side or the other and you always got to play completely fresh scenarios.

After the tournament, we would use the results to inform the VC that we established for the scenario for purposes of publishing it.
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fubar awol wrote:
J.R. - I know it takes a lot of time to put one of these together – I really appreciate the effort.

I was slated to playtest this scenario on an MMP playtest night a few months ago and prepared a set up. Unfortunately, Chas had other plans for me and I ended up not playing it. Because I had taken such a “deep look” at the German situation, your AAR was especially enjoyable. Thanks.

Please forgive me, but I'm going to use your excellent AAR to pontificate for a minute with on one of my favorite ASL riffs. J.R. knows all this (and may disagree), but since I think that a good part of the Boardgamegeek ASL audience is made up of less-experienced players than other internet audiences, I’ll indulge myself.

Begin Rif

In ASL there are two different parts to the game that require mastery in order to become a great player the "Company Commander View (CCV)" and the "Squad Leader View (SLV)".

The CCV involves terrain analysis, unit analysis, scenario analysis and scenario planning – most of which happens before the scenario (but some during, as you make the “big decisions” during the game - primarily about pacing).

The SLV is all the plethora of "little things": mostly rules-driven techniques that all the best players have learned to use.

I hope that the distinction I’m making is clear. I tried to explain this (inappropriately) in a different forum and botched it up badly.

The reason I’m “crashing” J.R.’s session report is because it provides some great examples of what I mean.

Examples of the Company Commander View

jrtracy wrote:
The general idea was to show a strong front, and fall back immediately, leaving my conscript scrubs behind to slow Bo down as best they could.


jrtracy wrote:
Looking at the map and the objectives, I figured my greatest advantages were space and my HIP allotment. I needed to slow Bo’s armor (through either active defense or the threat of HIP) long enough for my TDs and StuG to get into place for the mid and end game. I also had to make sure each of my HIP units bagged at least one AFV.

--- snip ---

This spot covered any attack on the bridge and could also site down into the 3aP8/P9 area where any Soviet attack on my center would be forming up. It was vulnerable to a sweep by Soviet infantry but I thought the benefits of the position outweighed the risk and hoped my own infantry could shield it effectively.


jrtracy wrote:
This setup heavily covered the Bd 42 road, but I figured that was necessary as it led directly into the heart of the Bd 3a village and two of the victory locations.


jrtracy wrote:
I was quite happy with the setup but overlooked two important aspects. First, it didn’t really limit Bo’s opening assault, as he could still move about as far as doubletiming allowed without exposing himself to negative drm shots. Second, my rout paths sucked. The 42F6 woods attracted anyone in the vicinity, and anyone south of that wasn’t getting past the 42C9 woods at best, where one of my precious leaders would have to come rescue them. Not an attractive prospect. My Fallback defense was really a Die In Place defense – I just didn’t know it yet.


Examples of the Squad Leader View:

jrtracy wrote:
I placed a pair of dummies in the 42H5 stone building, and four dummies in 30BB6; the latter was necessary or else Bo would easily identify the leader-led Bd 42 stacks as the ‘real thing’.


jrtracy wrote:
In my last turn, I moved my LMG/468 into J4, and my DC/548 reoccupied K3. Bo’s T34 was sitting in M15 looking down the bridge, with my infantry acquired, so I skulked the LMG/548 out of LOS to N18 while the 8-1 slid forward to M17, dragging the acquisition marker with him. After the 8-1 survived D-Fire, I left him there while the LMG/548 slid back under the StuG as I performed a “Please don’t cower” rain dance.


jrtracy wrote:

Bo opened his final turn by starting up his T34; my LMG/548 immediately fired and left four residual in the bridge entry hex. Bo successfully blew his one-shot sD and moved to M16, where I again fired for another two RFP. At this point the T34 halted, and Bo followed up with his infantry.


Now for the controversial part (if you have made it this far). All of this is just my opinion (JMO) and I’m testing it to see what other people think – if I get no response, I guess I’ll find I’m still alone.

1. Separately discussing these two aspects of ASL is useful.

2. The CCV skills are the more interesting part of the game.

3. The CCV skills are the ones that are hardest to acquire.

And now for the most controversial part:

4. The CCV skills are the skills that nearly all ASL tournaments fail to test. This is a disservice to the better ASL players. It makes tournament play less interesting.

Does anybody care?



yep, see where your comming from...so until you master most of the rules you can still lose even if your tactical skill level is higher than your opponent?
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Martí Cabré

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Some scenarios are more prone to that than others.
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Martí Cabré

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On the other hand, some scenarios are more dicey than others.

I think that it is the whole set that makes ASL a great game.
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Pierce Ostrander
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P3kill wrote:
yep, see where your comming from...so until you master most of the rules you can still lose even if your tactical skill level is higher than your opponent?


I'm not sure I know what you mean by "tactical". I avoided using that term in order to keep the discussion focused.

Anyway - knowledge of and the effective use of rules details (the "squad-level perspective") will make you a better player as will being good at the company-level perspective.

IMHO - the rules details and squad level perspective can be learned much more quickly by most people than the company level. The Company level skills come from experience, but as J.R. pointed out- some people just have a knac for it.

My experience: Back in the 70s, I played the original SL for several years against the same opponent (we learned the game together) During that period I don't think I improved much at either level. I certainly was not particularly confident about my skills.

After GI: Anvil of Victory came out, I started playing other opponents in and around Southern California. I found Steve Sulzby. He Kicked my butt for a half-dozen games, but in that brief period, the way I thought about and played the game changed radically. That's all it took for me. After those few games, I was a new player.

This isn't rocket science.

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