ANZACON 2008 an AAR by Simon Millar
What a brilliant tournament Army Group South put on this year. Congratulations to all the AGS stalwarts and in particular Gordon Stojadinovic the conventions chief organiser. I think there were a total of 11 players, though not everyone played all the way through. In addition there were several new players sitting in on the play, two of whom joined ASG on the spot.
This was only my second ever ASL tournament and I had a fantastic time. I had taken a long break from the game, only recently returning to regular play. At one stage I had wondered what had led to me to spend over $1000 dollars buying both new and out of print ASL material. Recent battles with my regular opponent Joe Moro and this tournament have banished all doubts. This tournament in particular has rekindled my love for this ‘best of all games’ and made me once again understand the mad passions it evokes. Here follows a broad outline (I had originally written brief description) of the action I encountered at ANZACON 2008. Before I start let me say this has all been written purely from memory so some inaccuracy’s are bound to be present.
Cattern’s Position A111-Simon Millar vs Neil Andrews
The first scenario was ‘Cattern’s Position A111’ and my opponent, Neil Andrews (a veteran ASL player whose fanatical devotion to ASL has kept AGS alive). It is set in Soupa, New Guinea, on the 20th of November 1942, with the Australian’s pursuing the Japanese along the Kokoda trail hoping to reach the Sananada coast before Japanese reinforcements could arrive. It is an all infantry affair over 8 turns.
The Japanese sets up first and has to defend three locations, two back on the track amidst the jungle, one forward in a medium sized clearing. The Australians win at games end if they control all three locations. We both wanted to play the Australians. I won the Australians but Neil got the balance, which meant the Japanese did not have to start under the no-move provisions of SSR 4.
The Australians can start on either the north or south side of board 39. I decided to start on the north side and avoid the south side’s bottled necks. This means all my troops will need to cross the clearing. Despite this I felt that they would still have adequate cover. Also Neil’s forward defence of the clearing seemed pretty light. My north side set-up means the Australians are also going to get some decent shots at the forward Japanese troops plus reach two victory locations in the quickest possible time. I will leave the third and most heavily defended location till last.
The risk with this strategy is the Japanese getting some lucky shots in early. I planned to minimize his chances by setting up the mortar on the edge of the clearing and hitting the Japanese with smoke, (the Australian’s also have infantry smoke).
My Australian’s entered the clearing using assault movement and survived some spray from the Japanese MMG squad. I delivered some damage in the advancing fire phase. I broke his half squad defending the victory location and flipped the squad manning the MMG. If I remember correctly another forward squad was soon flipped as well. My first mortar crew failed lay any smoke or hurt his MMG but it maintained rate and quickly had a –2 acquisition counter.
My only early mistake was assault moving as stacks into the clearing. I took this risk deliberately, banking on my high morale and the fact he could only bring a maximum of six fire power (FP) points to bear. I wanted to avoid residual firepower, but the hindrances would have eliminated the residual FP altogether. Luckily I didn’t pay for this error.
Neil had some hard choices. He either had to move squads forward and try to break my squads as they crossed the clearing. Or maintain the light forward defence while keeping the rest of his squads out of harms way. I had already damaged his forward squads so he decided it wiser to pull his limited number of squads back in a defensive posture.
My 9-1 kill stack (2-4-8/LMG +6-5-8/MMG) and my second mortar crew, headed up the middle of the clearing towards the victory location using the huts as cover. My aim was to set up the second mortar crew in the victory location while the 9-1 stack knocked out his remaining forward troops. These moves drew the Japanese fire and enabled my other stacks to leg it across the clearing unmolested. I continued to move in stacks as I wanted to use the leadership movement bonus.
Moving in stacks is always a dangerous move; he could have had some forward HIP squads (hidden initial placement). All it takes is a snake eyes to ruin your whole day. On the other hand ASL is a game of movement and quickly closing on your enemy is vital. Once you are moving in the jungle it is a bit safer to move as a stack as the enemy only has line of sight (LOS) when adjacent. I did take some unnecessary risks but I also gained important ground quickly. This meant I would have time up my sleeve if things started to go wrong. The magic of ASL is that they invariably do.
Not everything was going my way. I attacked his MMG+squad with my 9-1 stack and managed to malfunction both my MMG and LMG with one throw of the dice, (don’t’ you just love random selection). Later the MMG would end up as scrap when I rolled a 6 on the repair roll. My second mortar crew did successfully advance into the victory location; one down, two to go.
On turn three, as my squads advanced into the jungle and my mortar started to hit. I got to evoke one of the thousands of arcane ASL rules, which states that the residual FP left by a mortar firing in the woods shifts up by one column. Not that this had the slightest effect in this instance as no one entered the hex. (ASL is a game of small details. Remembering them and using them at the right moment is what separates the good, the bad and the ugly).
My northern squads move to the second victory location. Neil’s frontline troops had taken some more hits and retreated. My 9-1 stack, which had ghosted my second mortar crew, moved into the jungle on the southern edge of the clearing to apply pressure on the last victory location. Its job was to discourage Neil reinforcing the other two locations. My first mortar crew would take over the first victory location while my second mortar crew dropped its mortar and moved east into the jungle. (note: they were half squads carrying the mortars, not crews as per the rules)
Now I have a tactic I like to use against the Japanese. It is extremely risky and one I know Neil hates. Thus far in my extremely limited ASL career it has worked for me more times than not. It is also a lot of fun, (well I think so). The Japanese are notoriously hard to get ride off, as they don’t break (until they are a half squad). So the only way to get them in one shot is Close Combat (CC). (In the case of the Australians at Kokoda it is also historically accurate as many battles came down to CC).
I wouldn’t use CC heavily unless desperate; but when it is light jungle and your facing 1st and 2nd line Japanese it can quickly knock out some troops early. (I also use it when it looks likely that the Japanese will CC you. It is much better to get the jump on the Japanese first and avoid their dreaded use of hand-to-hand combat). The way I have employed this tactic is to use a couple of squads to maximise my chances of both flipping the squad and stripping concealment. Obviously never advance into the Japanese hex unless they are unconcealed (if the Japanese are still concealed advance away) as they have a great chance to ambush you. Finally I always wait if possible until I have 2-1 or 3-1 odds.
By turn four I had managed to flip two of his squads on and next to the northern most victory location. I then engaged these squads in CC. With 2-1 odds I came off the better with two squads to one eliminated. The second victory location was mine; one more to go.
In the following turn Neil engaged me in CC, this time hand to hand and unluckily came of slightly worse again; I think losing two squads and a leader to my one and a half squads. Importantly this gave me the freedom to move to the last victory location without being intercepted.
Neil’s reinforcements came in on turn four. He brought the majority, which included a 10-1 leader, down to reinforce the last victory location. He also brought another squad down the north flank. On the south flank Neil performed a very classy move. His survived a number of high FP attacks to get squads on either side of me and then break me. My dice were now failing me. I lost my 9-1 leader and a 6-4-8 squad for failure to rout, ouch.
Over the next two turns the game became very interesting to say the least. I had been whittling down his remaining troops and reinforcements around the last victory location. Meanwhile the Japanese squad that had made its way down the east flank managed to stop at the clearing, fire and break my first mortar crew in the victory location. Previously I’d had another squad hanging back but seeing as I had lost my 9-1 stack I needed it up forward. His squad retook the victory location. I was in a very dicey situation (literally!). I now had two turns left in which to retake two victory locations.
I used my leaderless squads to advance and fire on his 10-1 stack. I not only survive his defensive fire I also flipped the squad in advancing fire. I then moved my 8-1 LMG stack and a half squad down to retake the other victory location. They also survived defensive fire and I flipped the squad in advancing fire. I then advanced into both locations for CC.
My dice were running hot. There was no ambush. In the following CC Neil had to roll snakes eyes in one and three or below in the other to kill me. I had to roll 9 or below. We tipped the dice, Neil didn’t come close and I rolled two fours. In fact I think I my last six rolls were 4,6, 5, 4, 4, 4. I had just won a very tense and exciting battle. Neil warmly congratulated me on my victory and cursed the number four.
The main lesson I took from this game was that I had managed to stay calm even when things looked grim. This enabled me to see the strategy that would maximize my chances of winning and implement it. Things did go exactly to plan for a change but even if a couple of troops had broken I still would have had good odds of winning. So overall I think I played pretty well.
Neil commented that I shouldn’t have put my MMG with my 6-2-8 but rather with my half squad. It’s a good point but it is a hard choice in a game like this when you only have 8 full squads and 3 half squads. Do you sacrifice a half-squad’s firepower? Especially when you don’t have the opportunity to set that squad up in building and use the MMG at long range. Perhaps it would have been a good idea to set up a half squad with MMG in the victory location in the clearing. Having a half squad equipped with the MMG advance next to a target before advancing your main MMC is a very good tactic. It means your opponent has to fire at your 6-4-8 with 12FP or the MMG with 8FP plus rate.
I had my 9-1 stacked with a 6-2-8 and a half squad. As I was moving as a stack I had the MMG with the 6-2-8 so that if I was attacked I had maximum firepower. As I approached the victory location I could have passed the MMG to the half squad (if I had thought of it); but seeing as it became junk this tactic became mute.
My only piece of friendly advice for Neil is to learn to relax, stop getting so tense. I really think it must undermine your ability to think clearly. It also gives your opponent the impression that you are rattled.
I have had this problem myself. What it does to me is transfix me in the moment. This stops me being able to think ahead. Instead I simply react to what my opponent is doing, rather than sitting back and calmly thinking of what must be done in the timeframe left.
My chief problem in tournament play, where you are pressed for time, is once my original tactics start to fail I am often unable to come up with a new strategy on the fly. It is easy to loose control of the situation in ASL through a series of bad moves and/or bad dice rolls. Learning how to win back control of the game is a skill in itself.
This is a great warm up scenario and well balanced. It has simple terrain and objectives. This gives new players like myself a fair chance of winning using a basic command of infantry tactics. One win up and thankyou Neil for a great game.
Lenin’s Sons J103 – Simon Millar vs Andrew Rogers
I had never met or played Andrew before as he hails from Canberra; being from interstate I had the sneaking suspicion that he would be a difficult opponent. In this battle I am the Russian’s and Andrew has the German SS. It is set in Yundinki, Russia October 1941 with the finest Russian Youth – the Lenin cadets, trying to hold back the SS Das Reich Division’s rush to the East. Here I have to prevent the German’s from taking eight building/rubble hexes by games end. The German’s also loose if I amass sixteen or greater Combat Victory Points (CVP’s).
The Russians only have seven full strength squads and two half squads. They do have a 10-0 commissar and a hero plus, two more leaders and some nice support weapons. The Germans have 13 full squads all elite plus a half squad. They also have four leaders including a 9-2. Their support weapons include a MMG, three LMG’s, a flamethrower (ouch) and two demolition charges.
The German’s have the choice of travelling down the south flank, which has lots of open ground or the North flank which has a large forest. I have to decide what troops to leave in the village hexes and where. I also have to decide have how many troops to put in the forest to delay the SS steamroller.
I decided to put my commissar, the hero and two 4-5-8’s in a stack slightly forward from the village on the northern flank of forest. It will be in a good position to mow down any troops who tried to run down the north flank while being far enough away from the German starting position that I can see where he was heading and react accordingly.
I originally had my mortar crew up the back on the level one hill. Andrew kindly pointed out that I would have limited targets due to the plateau effect and allowed me to move it up to hedge-line overlooking the northern flank. A 4-5-8 in a house mans my HMG; it is stacked with a 4-4-7 and an 8-1 leader.
I chose a good position at the back of the village overlooking the main road plus able to catch troops emerging from the forest. I had my MMG in a house close to the forest’s edge manned by a 6-2-8. My other 4-4-7 plus a 6-2-8 and my 8-0 leader are on the northern side of the village across the road. They will to be my last line of defense. I can HIP (Hidden Initial Placement) a full squad. I choose the 3-2-8 assault engineers each armed with a demolition charge. I also have nine dummy counters to place.
While Andrew set-up I looked at other Russian player’s defense. I sighed inwardly as I had already made some elementary mistakes. Everyone bar me had used their dummy counters right up forward. Instead I had placed most in the village and three towards the rear of the forest. The dummies up forward would have done wonders to help slow the initial German advance.
Andrew has the vast majority of his squads on the south flank the only danger for him early on is a clearing. On the far side of the clearing I have a half squad HIP. He also put some half squads on the northern flank.
What he successfully does first turn is to run these half-squads down my northern flank and draw a lot of fire. Sure I broke them all but at the cost of revealing my commissar stack and one of my HIP half-squads. What I should have done was put some troops from the village at the hedge-line and relied on them to mow down the half squads.
My mortar was at this hedge-line but it went the same way as my MMG from the last scenario. It fired once broke down and was subsequently destroyed on a repair roll. I had big plans for that mortar, it was going to blast his units as they emerged from the forest, plus provide smoke for my retreating units. As Andrew commented, you have to expect at least one or two of your support weapons to malfunction.
My dice rolls for the first three turns of this six and half turn scenario are red hot. I am secretly dreading this as I strongly suspect it wont last. Much better to have hot die rolls at the end. He had deployed a lot of squads and now sent them over the clearing. My second HIP half squad popped up and threw a DC wiping his squad out, surviving himself and leaving a whopping 12 residual. I had revealed both my HIP units in the first turn classic ‘newbie’ stuff.
I then moved my commissar stack into the middle of the forest towards his oncoming troops as well as a stack of three dummies. For the next few turns I would successfully tie him up and cause a fair bit of grief. Not due to any masterful play but rather incredibly good dice. I am passing every moral check, hitting everything I fire at. In contrast Andrew is failing morale checks plus killing himself with boxcars when attempting to rally. To Andrew’s astonishment, I managed to Final Protective Fire (FPF) my half-squads at least four or five times without breaking. (Like CC against the Japanese I also derive a guilty pleasure from using FPF with half-squads. There is a wonderful thrill when it works. Part of ASL’s brilliance are rules, such as FPF, which create a marvelous tension).
He jumped on my half squads in CC but got tied up in melee. Nothing is going right for the Germans. Andrew has lost three or four half-squads plus has several broken squads. He is still bottled up in the middle of the forest and we are half way through the scenario. I started to sense that I was in with a chance to win this.
Now this is when Andrew stopped and spent a good ten to fifteen minutes looking at the situation before making his next move. Rather than use this opportunity to work out my upcoming moves, I just sat there resting my tired brain (picture a thought bubble with a hamster running in a wheel). What followed was the most masterful ASL playing I have ever witnessed.
He snuck a stack past me on the far south getting into the rear of my commissar stack. He then brought squads adjacent to mine. I have split my main stack into the commissar plus a 4-5-8 and the hero plus a 4-5-8. Now the dice started to change, I fail to break the squad that is behind me. He breaks my 4-5-8 but not the commissar in the advancing fire phase. I am now forced to rout forward. He then moves in behind my hero stack and reveals my dummy stack.
This is where the saga of my psycho commissar Bail began. He rallies the broken MMC and continues to move forward in an attempt to get behind the Germans. Andrew’s stacks are huge and I have no faith I could survive a frontal assault. So I surmise it’s better to try and gain time by pulling his troops after me. Andrew surrounds my commissar stack again with a couple of MMC’s. He breaks my squad who is eliminated for failure to rout. He then jumps on my commissar with a single squad for close combat.
My commissar survives one and a half turns of CC (that’s three rolls where he had to roll nine or less to kill me). Then on a Sniper check I roll a one. My sniper, offcourse, lands on the German squad in melee with the commissar, breaking it. The commissar then eliminates the withdrawing squad in the following CC. So Andrew has to send another squad in to kill the commissar. Commissar Bail finally died in CC in my turn 5, may he rest in peace.
My hero plus squad are also doing well. They have inflicted some breaks on the Germans, which Andrew converts to kills by rolling boxcars. Andrew has killed more of his own troops than I have. Again Andrew pauses here to think, time was running out and he has not reached the village. He then took a gamble and moved another stack adjacent to my Hero stack. He survived both the four FP residual and my defensive final fire. As mentioned I had been final protective firing very successfully. I could see the writing on the wall so even though I would be eliminated for failure to rout I fired. The squad broke but the hero survived. He then jumped on my hero for CC and did the dirty sanchez. He had cleared the forest of troops.
Despite these unfortunate losses I still felt confident. While my defense hadn’t been the most elegant it had held up Andrew until the start of turn five. German losses now totaled two squads and five half-squads. He also still had some broken units. I estimated he had eight healthy squads left to take eight buildings and defeat five and a half Russian squads with three machine guns (HMG,MMG,LMG). He has also taken two of my squad’s prisoner, this has hampered him a little, but it stopped ‘No Quarter being in effect.
This is when my dice turned on their master. (Earlier in Neil’s match we talked about having a dice blender set up. In ASL tournaments some players have been known to throw dice, jump on them, curse them and of course replace them. We thought blending the offending dice before replacing them would add a certain dramatic touch).
So now he is moving out of the forest and into the village proper. Fire from my MMG lost rate but broke a half squad. He move a half squad out of the forest into open ground. It is out of range of my MMG’s subsequent first fire. I wish I had held my fire but I wanted to lay down residual FP and stop units getting adjacent (ASL is full of hard choices).
I broke concealment across the road in an attempt to break the squad in open ground and failed. I held my HMG kill stack’s fire and waited until he moved his main stack into my LOS. Here he took a risk but time was running out. He assault moved the stack rather than risk the residual. I rolled low and hit, all his units passed a two morale check. I had rate but failed to hit this time.
The dummies I had placed in the village quickly become obvious as I fired at his troops emerging from the forest. These dummies did not draw one volley of enemy fire. Once again it is clear they should be placed up front in the forest, perhaps keeping one dummy stack in the rear.
Now this is when things went rapidly down hill. He fired his main stack during the advancing fire phase back at my HMG. He broke the 4-4-7 but the 4-5-8 manning the MMG plus the 8-1 leader passed their morale checks. Then tragedy struck (pause for ominous organ music). Next turn during rally phase the broken 4-4-7 did the unthinkable. He rolled a snake eyes but of course boxcars for effect. Not only did this squad have to immediately surrender, he has also activated the German sniper. Andrew of course rolled a one, AAAAAHHHHH! Now Andrew has a choice between breaking my MMG squad or, depending on random selection, killing my 8-1 leader, breaking the squad manning the HMG or both. He chose the 8-1/HMG stack and of course took out my HMG squad. I fire up the blender!
From here it all rapidly goes downhill. He breaks my MMG squad who can not rout over the road without being interdicted by that pesky half squad in open ground. Because Andrew has taken prisoners rather than effect ‘No Quarter’, I can not low crawl. Thus I lose my 6-2-8 for failure to rout. Good things come to those who wait.
My 8-1 can’t rally my broken squads under a desperation morale(DM) counter. Now if I had of got my commissar back to the village or had him back here in the first place, I would of rallied my broken 4-5-8/HMG and made it hard for him to cross the road by laying down a fire-lane (the beauty of commissars is two fold. Not only do they raise the moral of your troops by one, they also ignore DM’s).
I now have two and half squads left plus a 8-0 leader. In turn six the Germans stream across the road. I think I may have broken one more squad before being smashed. The forces of darkness had won with half a turn to spare.
This was the best ASL playing I had ever seen. Overall the dice had been well in my favour. He had rolled lots of boxcars, fluffed moral checks, failed to hit me, got caught up in long melee’s well in his favour but in the end it didn’t matter. I learnt a hell of a lot, especially the benefits of probing half squads and the deadly execution of movement designed to bring about failure to rout. Andrew stayed completely calm in the face of lots of hot dice from me and bad dice from him. That pause he took mid-game changed everything. For a while his bad-luck did continue, but the dice as they must did start to turn. Meanwhile he simply focused on where he had to move his troops. From here on I was reacting to him and playing to his terms.
Looking back I would still have a strong defense in the forest. Instead of 4-5-8’s plus the commissar I would use the 6-2-8’s and the half squads with an 8-0 leader for rallies or perhaps the 8-1. If the SS get to the village quickly it is a lot easier than you think for them to take the eight buildings. Rather than risk the commissar I would keep him back with my HMG in the village as a rally machine.
Also I should have not revealed my northern most HIP unit in the hope Andrew would sweep past me, or at least waste movement points searching for me. A strong forward defence combined with dummies and a HIP half-squad would have had an even better chance of delaying him another half to full turn. This would have made it touch and go (losers in ASL always have lots of would haves and could haves).
I would keep a second HIP in the village in the hope that it could possibly retake some of the houses at the end of the game (also there is psychological value in your opponent worrying that there is still a HIP unit loose). Also I think I should have moved my MMG + 6-2-8 across the street early and let him take those huts near the forest edge.
Andrew went on to win the tournament but I felt I played well enough to challenge him, which as a newbie was all I expect to do, though midway through the game I did have delusions of grandeur. I wish that commissar Bail had survived that would have been truly epic. Thanks Andrew for a marvellous game.
Rocket’s Red Glare G6 – Simon Millar vs David Wallace
It is the next day and I feel rested. I had spent the preceding night re-reading articles on tactics to try and give my play some desperately needed finesse. I have played David once before at the first ever ANZCON I attended. I had managed to win my first ever battle with tanks (Blazing Chariots) with a helping hand from Jamie Westlake who sped up the final moves by calculating all the modifiers for me. Once again I am faced with an opponent with far more experience and skill than me, but what better way to learn.
Rocket’s Red Glare is set in Cheneux, Belgium December 22nd 1944. Colonel Reuben Tucker appealed to General Gavin to be allowed to clear Cheneux of SS Panzergrenadiers with his 504th Parachute Regiment. We both wanted to play the Germans but I lost the dice roll so David got the Germans but had to replace the SdKfz for a Flak Pz IV/20. I was glad in a way to get the Americans as I prefer to attack. I had wanted the German’s mainly because I need more experience in setting up a quick defense and using combined arms.
The battle is set on board three, to win I have to capture one of two buildings. As soon as the building is captured the game is over which always adds an interesting element to the play. The Germans set up anywhere on hexes numbered four back. The Americans can enter all or some of their troops off-board but are restricted to two entry points. Troops starting on board are restricted to a row of houses in front of the town roughly in the centre of the south edge.
My set-up consisted of having a strong squad start off-board, which would enter on the eastern flank. The rest of my squads were set-up in the centre houses and my tank destroyer would enter from the west side road hex.
Examining David’s set-up I thought that the closest house to me, at the rear of the town centre, simply looked impossible to get unless he was forced to move his troops. The strategy running through my head was to send a sizeable number of squads into the centre of town so as to force the bulk off his forces to stay put. Meanwhile I would send squads behind the hills to the west, then cut back along the north edge of the map towards the other house. I would also send two stacks around the eastern flank, with the aim of occupying the northern most house. If the opportunity arose I could cut back and take the town house. My tank would initially support my western flanking movement.
I also had to worry about two armored fighting vehicles (AFV’s) and one 105mm Artillery piece. The American’s go into battle with twelve 7-4-7’s, four leaders, four MMG’s, four bazookas, four panzerfausts and a 90L tank-hunter AFV.
The game begins and all my infantry moves went off without a hitch, I got the central squads across the road, another squad with a 9-1 leader headed west. My most important stack, with my 10-2 leader, headed to the large stone building to the East. Its job to neutralise what is obviously a machine gun squad covering the road that separates the houses on the south edge from the town. Then my off board infantry squads CX’ed and headed off around the east flank, keeping out of Line of Sight(LOS). Finally I moved my AFV north towards the hill and climbed to level one (I actually hadn’t realised I could enter it from the east side though it would have meant a bog check).
I expected his deadly 105mm ART was going to be covering one of the victory locations. He cleverly revealed his gun to be hidden on the west side of the hill. With one shot my tank was immobilised, though my crew did survive and scrounged the gun. This was a mini disaster. This tank was meant to provide some vital infantry support and hopefully knock out one or two of his AFV’s. Strangely I remember not having a clear idea where I wanted the tank to go and changed direction mid stream. If I had of just continue down the west side as I had originally planned I would have survived the first shot, as it was the flank shot that made the difference.
This early knock out really rattled me and I lost faith in my original tactics. I got bogged down on the west side but eventually broke his ART gun crew and the LMG squad. This shouldn’t have happened as it did. David was calculating my morale checks and for some reason thought I had a 9-2 leader there. It was only a 9-1 and squads that should have been broken went on to break his LMG stack. At the time I was only paying attention to David telling me I had passed or pinned, luckily we discovered the error next turn. He then brought squads around to block my passage through the forest north of the hill.
On the east side I was successful early on. I quickly broke the HMG squad and leader with my main 10-2 stack. My other stack, lead by an 8-1, made it safely into the forest adjacent to the northern victory house.
In the middle I was stuck. I had a fair amount of firepower but couldn’t see a way of flanking his 9-2 ‘deathstar’ without getting blown to bits. I tried advancing a stack in close in the hope that by some quirk of fate it would draw all its fire and even break some squads. The plan was to use this opportunity to flank it with my central force lead by my 9-2. All it had to do was break a 6-5-8 squad carrying a panzershreck. Of course my first stack was decimated by the ‘deathstar as it brought 40+FP to bear; it also kept rate. So when my other squads tried to go forward they were broken by the deadly combination of the panzershreck squad and rate from the deathstars machine guns. They all ended up routing back to the 9-2 for rallying. Upon reflection this was well and truly the most like result.
The next event was an all time doosy. I had my main 10-2 stack up on the first floor of the east side stone building. David brought his Stug tank hunter up the road and within bazooka range. Now this is when my temporarily lost my mind. One of my chief shortcomings as a player is a lack of familiarity with all the rules. I often don’t have a clear idea of consequences. Also I am overly aggressive, if I see a valuable target I find it hard not to shoot. (I think Davidl probably having just read the Art of War sensed both of these flaws).
Now I had forgotten that the back-blast damage is based on the coloured die of the to hit roll; for some reason I thought you rolled a separate dr. I needed snake eyes to hit the Stug and being on the 1st floor I had to accept the back-blast. As they say be careful what you wish for. I rolled snake eyes and flamed the Stug; then came the bad news I had to take a K/1 result. I thought, this shouldn’t be too bad, I couldn’t be more wrong. I lost my 10-2 leader through random selection and a wound severity roll, both squads ended up broken after a combination of the 1 MC followed by the 2 MC required for the leader loss task check. My main stack was no more. I could not complain as I had brought it on myself. (I have this image of my dead charred 10-2 leader, surrounded by blackened troops, hair on end, with the bazooka guy saying ‘oops’). My chances of winning this scenario were literally going up in flames.
Still all was not lost, I had my stack in the forest next to victory house.
David pointed out that all I needed to do was enter the house and the game was won. (I had committed another cardinal sin and not fully absorbed the victory conditions. Up till now I had assumed I needed to take and hold either house until the scenario’s end). David brought up the Flak Panzer to protect the house. Its main armament has a 20 FP IFE equivalent. I had two squads parked adjacent to the house; a half squad by itself and an 8-1 leader plus a full squad armed with a bazooka.
To cut a long story short he managed keep my deadliest stack broken by hitting it with 40FP.
My half squad got in two attacks, either of which would have won the game. The first attack needed a four or below, the second a six or below using the vehicle column on the IIFT. Despite my general bad play I couldn’t believe I had a 33% followed by a 50% chance of winning the game. Both times I failed and my window of opportunity had past. His infantry units arrived and chased my broken units off to the east. Looking back I should have stacked the 8-1 leader with the half squad, but my rolls were so high that it would not have made a difference. Maybe I should have jumped on his AFV in CC.
I had totally lost confidence that I could break through from the west. If I had looked more carefully at the terrain and his set up and understood what it was telling me, this would have been obvious from the beginning. I was running out of time so I pulled my units back towards the center in the hope of a lucky break. Somehow I had to get past the ‘deathstar’ my problem was I couldn’t think of a sound strategy. I needed to pause and study the board but time was running out.
I continued to get absolutely nowhere in the center, his excellent set up combined with great dice meant that every time I exposed myself to fire I would be broken and sent scurrying back. I failed to break one unit in the center. It came to the end of turn five and David politely pointed out that I couldn’t reach the Victory location even if I had a clear path. I conceded and congratulated David on his resounding win.
This is a terrific scenario and one I am very keen to play again. Looking back it was pretty obvious that his weakness was on the eastern flank. I should have sent half my forces down the eastern flank while applying pressure on the middle and ignored the western flank all together.
My original plan was fundamentally flawed; I had split my forces three ways. Trying to take the Western route to the northeast house was never going to work; he had plenty of time and countless ways to cut me off. By the time I realised this it was two late.
I am also sure that there were ways I could of improved my attacks in the center, but I was too flustered and continued employing the same failed tactics. Better use of half squads and infantry smoke may have helped. The fact that I got a chance to win the game was the only fault in David’s play; he should have rushed a squad to that building. If I had won, it would have been through good luck rather than good management. This scenario highlighted my many limitations as a player. I need to go back and re-read the rules plus learn to pay attention to the small details. I didn’t research his unit’s capabilities, especially his AFV’s and guns.
David’s defense worked like a charm. He went on to take third spot overall. Well done David, I hope I will have dramatically improved my game the next time we meet.
The Five Pound Prize SP115 – Simon Millar vs Bruce Probst
My last opponent is Bruce Probst another AGS stalwart, a rules guru with decades of ASL experience. Bruce has worked with Neil Andrews in extensively play testing official and third party ASL products.
The ‘Five Pound Prize’ is set in Fontenay Le Pessel, France, June 25th 1944. In the opening phase of OPERATION MARLET, Company D entered Fontenay and set up along the river Bordel. Soon a German counterattack hit them. The commanding General had offered them a five-pound prize for the first Panther Tank knocked out, hence the name. No Panthers where involved but the gun crews had plenty of Panzers to keep them occupied.
I have played this Schwerpunckt scenario once before and its a beauty. It’s a combined arms affair that only goes for five turns. It looks like a short scenario but it’s not. We both got the sides we wanted, Bruce the Germans myself the British. The Germans win at games end if they control eight buildings three hexes or less from the stream.
The British start with nine full squads, 3 leaders, a Carrier and two six pounders. The Germans are again SS with eight full squads, three leaders (plus one armour leader) and three Panzer IV H. Both sides get reinforcements, the British get a couple of Shermans and an armour leader on turn 2, while the Germans get another two Panzer IVH’s.
I was determined to play better this game. I felt more confident as I had played the British before and knew what to expect. The British have to choose which buildings to defend as you cannot defend them all. The majority of the buildings are on the east side of the stream so I put my strongest leader, half the squads plus the carrier here. The rest are set up on the other side of the stream with an 8-1 leader.
On each side I had put the bulk of my troops in the middle section of houses with a unit up forward. The placement of the 6 pounders is crucial. I had one in the brush on the western side of the stream close to the north edge. Its job was to stop tanks getting in my rear. Sometimes people forget that brush is concealment terrain. Brush also allows you to change you covered arc without penalties.
Then I placed my second gun in a slightly risky position in orchard terrain on the eastern side of the river. It has a great view straight down the road that separates my troops from the first houses the Germans will occupy. The only risk is the Germans entering at this point which is very unlikely. (it is not a trick you could pull on the same player twice).
Unfortunately I made two important mistakes before I had even begun. I forgot to boresight either gun and discovered only now looking at the order of battle that I had used 4-4-7’s MMC’s rather than 4-5-7’s DOH!
The first turn went all the Brits way. Bruce had placed squads as riders on his tanks. Bruce could see that I had a weak underbelly and was bringing two tanks plus riders in from the southeast. His tanks raced towards the road running along the north edge (which is my rear).
His third tank with riders had entered on the north edge, east of the stream. I fired my forward squad and hit. From memory he broke due to a failed bailout MC not the attack itself. He brought in another two stacks just the west of the stream and I broke the main stack in my prep fire phase. The remaining MMC and my other forward squad would enter into a Mexican standoff for the next three turns. Bruce’s die rolls were awful. The last of his troops entered from the southwest and moved to engage my main forces in the centre.
In turn two Bruce was moving two tanks with riders down the north road hoping to get into my rear. As he cross the bridge he came into my HIP six pounder’s LOS. I had to spin 180 degrees to hit him. No problem, I hit but didn’t kill the tank, I did break rider twice, once with the attack and again he fail the bailout MC. The other tank decided not to risk the gun and instead poked its head into the rear of my troops on the west of the river. Still I manage to fire on his riders breaking them as well. Meanwhile his other infantry had taken four buildings on the southern edge but had as yet failed inflict any damage on my troops.
My turn two and my armor reinforcements came on. He had three tanks spread out in my rear, one in the center and two on each flank. My plan was to use two tanks to take out his Panzer IV on the eastern flank. I moved my first tank up the road behind a wall and fired. I rolled the three needed to hit and killed the tank. AWESOME!
Now this is when I made a MAJOR error. For some cosmic reason I felt my luck had been too good and couldn’t last. So rather than take on his middle tank I opted to send the two tanks forward to support my infantry on the east bank. I sent my third tank to support my infantry on the west bank. I should have focused on using twin tank rushes to take out his remaining tanks.
Meanwhile my infantry was still doing well, I had lost my forward squad on the east side but the rest were intact. He had taken most of the houses on the south edge, had a stack up close to my squads on the west bank but had not made any further progress, in fact he still had 3 broken squads.
Turn three arrived and it was here that both the dice and game began to shift in Bruce’s favor. First off he rallied some squads, which is always handy. Then he brought on his two tank reinforcements. The first advanced from the east and flamed my tank. I exposed my remaining six pounder too early and tried to take him down but failed. He used his on board tank on the west-side to sneak up behind and kill another tank. My only compensation was the crew surviving. Finally to top things off he then brought his other tank in from the southeast, so I now had two tanks hunting my single tank in the west.
He sent a half squad off to towards my east side gun but I broke him in transit. This gun was working well as a threat but now the dice had turned. I got rate 5 times with my gun, firing at a MMC stack in a house on the west bank. I hit his stack once causing a 1MC, which he shrugged off. The previously broken squads in my rear had rallied and now took three buildings, bringing his total to nine.
I did get some sweet revenge on the tank that had killed my Sherman near the north bridge. His tank approached the rear of my east side troops. He got a bit to close and I had two PIAT’s there to discourage just such a move. The first PIAT shot and missed but second went KABOOM and grilled his tank. He replied on the west bank by trapping my remaining tank there. I tried to set off my smoke mortar and flee, no such luck. I then tried to stop and fire but was blown up by the first shot.
In my prep fire phase I broke his squads threatening me from the west as well as one of his squads in my rear. It was now his turn four. He finally tried to get a half squad across the main road on my east side. It survived a two-morale check crossing the road but I broke it in the building. He finally broke my forward squad on the west bank and he now had a total of eleven buildings.
Unfortunately we had run out of time and had to stop playing. We called for adjudication. We each had to explain how we thought we were going to win the game. I really thought I a good chance of winning, though most likely it was going to be close. I had three buildings that could easily be retaken, one by taking my gun crew across the stream and another by moving a squad due south. The other location contained a broken squad so it was simple a matter of advancing a squad. I still had my carrier which had an elite half squad armed with a PIAT inside. It was an ace up my sleeve that could get to a wide range of locations. I had only lost two squads outright and still had both my guns in play. I think the main thing in my favour was the fact that I had the last move. Bruce would probably have taken back a location or two but I would have that last turn to retake his weakest positions or move into locations he couldn’t occupy.
The adjudicators did think the Brits looked more likely to win but rightly said it was too close to call. So the game was called a draw. It was a fantastic battle, with Bruce keeping his nerve throughout despite lots of terrible dice. In fact Bruce won himself a big boxed game for rolling the most boxcars. I think I had a good defensive set up and generally played pretty well; though Bruce pointed out I had missed several shots by not seeing LOS when there was one.
I still lack confidence and direction using tanks. He totally outplayed me in the armor battle, which kept him in the game. An experienced player would have capitalised on my earlier position and used the British armor to support each other in taking out his tanks one at time. If this had succeeded it would have put the game beyond doubt.
I also got three infantry squads broken unnecessarily, two by misreading a LOS and another by moving in building when I didn’t need to. Finally if I had of held my second guns fire (as well as having boresighted) then I think I could of made my first shot count. The fact I had 4-4-7’s on the board rather than 4-5-7’s also didn’t help me.
This is an awesome scenario, it is only five turns but Bruce and I had been playing for nearly 5 hours and still had a turn and a half to go. For a beginner like me it’s the perfect scenario to get a feel for using combined arms. It also has a habit of coming down to a nail biting finish. I really wish we could have finish the game even if was at a later date but it was not to be. Thanks for great game Bruce.
Well the winner of the tournament as a whole was Andrew Rogers He won every game and had the second highest number of boxcars. This shows that while dice rolls are obviously important in ASL its skilled play that is truly decisive. I came in fourth with one and half wins and had a hell of a lotta fun in the process.
This tournament has rekindled my love of ASL, I truly believe it’s the best board game ever. I bought myself ‘Valor of the Guards’ which looks fantastic. Once I finish my current Pegasus Bridge campaign that will be next. Finally this AAR will hopefully show other new players like me what not to do. Hopefully others will submit their AAR’s from this years ANZACON as I would love to read them and pick up some tricks.
Once again thanks to Gordon and Army Group South for a terrific weekend and I look forward to next year.
- Last edited Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:20 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:39 am
Thanks for posting your AAR.
I'm an 'old' AGS Member, but due to family commitments been away from the ASL scene apart from one or two trips to CANCON over the last 'few' years.
Is the group still active at all? I noticed your post is a bit ancient too. Any reason for the delay?
I also agree ASL is one out of the box!
Please consider gaps between paragraphs and bolding some of the headings... Wall of text...
Have done so hope it helps
What prompted you to post an AAR from six years ago?
I am only a recent user of bgg,and I remembered I did have an ARR lying around on drive somewhere. Also trying to up my geek gold so I can join the elite bgg forces and have my own avatar.
Sorry about the late reply. Unfortunately AGS is no more as Neil moved inter state. I still play face to face with an x member though.