Mosse Stenström
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I have bought all the ASL Starter Kits separately, but decided to combine them all. So I have all the counters from three boxes in three counter trays, all seven maps in a single box etc. Together with the rulebooks (and Vehicle and Ordonance Historical Notes) these fill the three game boxes. All tables, scenario cards and printed player aid sheets (I very much recommend this Sequence of Play Table by Laszlo Somoskoi!) I've put in plastic sheets and gathered into a binder. Why do I tell you this useless piece of information? Because last week I went over to my Brother in Arms Mats' house to play ASL. I had brought my gameboxes, my dicetower, my digital camera, but not my binder with the tables and scenarios! Oh, the horror - as me and my brother actually had to spend the evening talking about life in general instead! We almost didn't survive it. Thankfully we got to wage war just a few days later. Yesterday it was time for the eighth encounter of the Brothers in Arms in Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit #2.

The next scenario in line was S11: A Long Way to Go, taking place on Sicily in July 1943. As tradition dictates the cubes of fate, sometimes referred to as dice, decided who would command which side. This evening I was to play the defending americans, with the new support weapons - a light 60mm mortar and a bazooka. Mats had the attack-responsibilty with his germans, who had to pass the entire map lengthwise (17 hexes) and exit 9 victory points (2 VP for a full-squad, 1 for a half-squad) over the south edge. The difference to other race-scenarios we've played in the past this time I could also collect points by eliminating german squads. If I would manage to get 11 VP, or the scenario ran out of time (6.5 turns) I would have the victory.

I had a completely free set-up and spent quite a while trying to figure out how to cover the most ground. I had learned from S4: Welcome Back that setting up far back would not be a good idea, as it would allow the enemy to enter the battlefield undisturbed and arrange their troops as they please. So I would have my initial placement close to the northern edge, which would put the germans under direct fire immediately. I would then be able to slowly retreat, still keeping the germans under constant threat. The mortar team was set up just about smack in the middle of the battle (wEE6, would later move to wDD4) from a position I thought would cover the most ground.

In hindsight - I'm quite pleased with my placements. Only the half-squad furthest north (wV8) was a tad too close. It was a calculated risk which didn't play off, but I probably would have been better off with it in the stone building in wW10. But it was do-or-die-time as I announced my set-up was done and let Mats start to think about strategies. He took at least an equal amount of time before moving out.

He could have waited until the Advance Phase and entered without taking fire, but didn't want to waste the time. He kept repeating his newly found mantra - I will not stack, I will have my leaders one hex behind the troops - after which he entered four high stacks of squads into the battle. These immediately attracted american fire. But my yanks were shooting from the hip, and not doing a great job at that. My entire line opened fire - and nobody got hit... At most I managed to produce a few morale checks, which the germans handled without problem.

Not even in the west, where my troops could fire at point blank range did they produce any results, leaving an enemy unit next door. With all his squads in good order the germans could then advance the rest of the troops onto the map - and move in on my poor men in the western house. With three full german squads against a lone american half-squad I could at most hope to hold them up for a turn, or collect a few victory points if I would manage to eliminate a squad. But the americans were overwhelmed, as the germans successfully conducted an ambush and killed my yanks before they could even try to return the favor. Things were not looking good.

On the east flank the germans were halted - not by great american shooting, but simply because Mats feared the distance between the houses occupied by his units and the house where my americans were waiting. Up on the center flank hill I was silently beating my head against the wall for placing the bazooka team in the wrong house. I hadn't taken into concideration the relatively short range of the light anti-tank weapon. Had I put it with the other squad (wW6 instead of wY5) on the hill it would have had two fantastic targets to shoot at. But at least the threat of it kept the germans to the north end of the hill. For now. The only troops to hold the west flank at this point was a lone squad on the smaller hill a short dash south.

I was afraid of completely collapsing the west flank so I decided to slowly abandon my positions - as I had no chance of winning any war of attrition. There were simply too many germans around for that. I also knew at this point that there was no point in me even trying to win by collecting german helmets off fallen soldiers. I would have to try and make the scenario last the lenght, just slowing down the german onslaught.

I backed the front squad down from the center flank hill - hoping to draw enemies into that newly vacated house. Those would then taste my bazooka. I thought Mats would feel pressed for time enough to move forward in spite of the big gun. But he didn't. He was content with prep firing - hoping to break the squad before advancing. My cover fire continued to be useless, so he had all his units able of laying down fire. And it wasn't long before his fire started showing results.

In the east he managed to eliminate one of the american squads - I responded by backing away one step, but remained in waiting just behind the house. Again, I was hoping Mats, feeling the clock ticking loudly would advance into the house - onto which I then could lay fire at point blank range. Up on the hill my troops were also tasting german lead - breaking from every shot fired at them. The few units still in good order attempted to retreat under cover of smoke - but failed to lay it.


With this many broken squads I needed a rally point, and the house just south of the center flank hill (wAA4) was a good spot. I sent in a leader, and managed to rout all my broken units there. The bazooka changed hands to another squad who took it north. The bazooka is a difficult weapon to use defensively, I think. As it can only be fired at units in buildings, but preferably not from within the good defensive position of a house. Although I haven't tried it - I suspect it works better as an attack weapon. The bazooka team took position just behind the wooden house inbetween the east forest and the center hill. At this point I knew Mats wouldn't move into the house - I hoped this would plug the east flank advance enough so that I could concentrate on the failing west flank.

In the center and west flanks the germans had now moved to within range and line-of-sight of my mortars. I knew I wasn't going to get great results with the relatively weak mortar, but scoring a hit with a 7 or less, and a Rate-of-fire allowing continous fire about 50% of the time - I should at the least get something done. Nothing. It fired northward, didn't hit and didn't keep rate-of-fire. In the west, Mats now spotted his opportunity. He repeated his mantra - I will not stack, and double-timed a stack of three full squads and a good leader southward just along the west edge. My units on the small hill opened fire, and missed. My mortar opened fire, and missed - not keeping rate-of-fire... I saw all my plans crumble to pieces thanks to poor shooting. I gathered firegroups to get more firepower placed on the germans, and missed...

The east advance was halted, as Mats found out the west flank was the road to victory. With his first mad dash he successfully gathered eight of his needed nine victory points. He assembled a second stack ready to double-time through the western pass. This time he feared the squads on the small hill, so he decided some squads had to die for the fatherland. Two squads first ran straight up the hill. Even though I could smell the trap I had no choice but to step right into it. If I shoot defensive First Fire at these squads, I wouldn't be able to shoot Subsequent First Fire on any units running further away. I announced First Fire... and would you believe it - I missed...

The germans on the center hill had made it forward enough to sight my mortar team, and even though they couldn't amass any great firepower, they took a shot, and naturally hit. Thus breaking my mortar team. So Mats activated the second runner stack of units, announced Double Time and sent in running the same path the first stack. As they passed the hill I knew I had no units in range to stop them - and surrendered on turn 5.

There was no doubt as to what cost me the defeat, at least so early. My shooting was absolutely appalling. Don't get me wrong - I didn't throw only tens, elevens and twelves - but I did when they hurt me the most... And I did throw the occasional three and four - but only when the advantage was minimal. Having said that, Mats did come up with a couple of smart maneuvers and certainly deserves his victory. The bazooka, as I already mentioned turned out to be a tricky weapon to use effectively, whereas the mortar probably is at least a bit better than it delivered (more like failed to...) this time. Sure, it only attacks with a FP of 4 when it hits, but should theoretically hit its target with an accuracy of 58.3%, maintaining rate-of-fire (being capable of firing again immediately) 50% of the time. In this scenario I made four or five attempts to fire the thing, and it never hit, and never managed to fire a second shot.

The scenario was, in my opinion, an interesting one - and I'm just a bit sad that it was my rotten luck that killed my chances. Well, time to shake hands, and Mats' wife Pia immortalized my defeat in the legendary handshake-picture.

After 9 scenarios:
Mats (Coast jaeger sergeant/infantry) 6 victories
Mosse (Fire command corpral/artillery) 3 victories

More pics at: http://themosse.net/blog/index.php?s=show&i=673
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Ben Potter
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Hemel Hempstead
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Another excellent Session report!

I really enjoy reading your reports as I have played through many of these scenarios and it's interesting to see how someone else approaches them.

I must add though that it sounds like you need to get some new dice after this effort.
 
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Erik Nicely
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Very good report. Thanks.
 
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Lee Massey
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Teachey
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Great report. Your pictures are cool! How did you do them?
 
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Mosse Stenström
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Thank you for your kind words!

heavymetalhamster wrote:
...sounds like you need to get some new dice after this effort...
I sure do - these were washed down in holy water, then burnt under a constant stream of ethanol after which the remains were shipped to a voodoo witchdoctor in order to be damned for eternity!

JackFlash wrote:
Your pictures are cool! How did you do them?
Thanks. I do them by hand in Photoshop. I used to be a graphics designer years ago, and part of my job still is graphics work. When one is as ugly as the brothers in arms, you need a lot of Photoshopping.

There are some great tutorials on the web with tips and tricks in Photoshop (or Gimp if you want a freeware program), just google for "Photoshop tutorial". Or did you want specifics on the pics I used here?
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