I learnt a valuable life lesson the other day. Moan like a girl long enough and eventually you’ll get your own way. For months I’ve been whining about Red Barricades overload, combined with bland Action Pack tourney prep fare. I’ve been on ASL crack for some time now, and to hit the sweet spot, I need the high of something just a bit different.
So finally my main FTF opponent Mark caved in (not literally – sadly not PTO). Instead I got to dig out my desert boards for the first time evah. Well I have played Khamsin once on someone else’s desert boards, and a cave scenario on board 25, but still a pretty poor showing for nearly five years and about 220 scenarios…
Despite their rep, the desert rules are pretty simple - hexes are open ground, hamada (loose stones) or scrub (two foot tall thorn bushes). Hamada and scrub are also open ground except hamada can immobilize you unless fully tracked, and scrub is concealment terrain for non-vehicles. Any other terrain will come on an overlay – which for this scenario means Deirs and a Hillock.
Deirs are slight depressions – gullyettes if you like. They don’t stop LOS to their interiors from ground level (unless entrenched) but do give +1 TEM and hull down status.
The Hillock LOS rules are some of the worst written in the ASLRB – and this from the people who brought you beach landings – but the pretty diagrams explain clearly enough. Basically a hillock is a half level hill that’s like a wide wall. It blocks ground level LOS between units on opposite sides, unless you are immediately behind it (and not entrenched) – where you also get +1TEM and hull down. On the hillock itself, the rest of the hillock doesn’t block LOS outwards, but you don’t get height advantage.
Anyway- six and a half squads of Australians with a 3inch mortar and two 2-pdr anti tank guns are defending against an Afrika Korps counterattack during the battle of El-Alemain. The bad guys get a pre-game bombardment, four PzIIIJ’s, a PzIVF2, a Marder and four halftracks with a squad of Rommels finest each.
The winner is whoever is King of the Hillock Summit at the end of six turns. The Aussies get three Brit Valentine II’s on turn three. It being desert there is Intense Heat Haze ( +1 IFT/TH every six hexes past the first six against infantry, or twelve for vehicles) and light dust. Light dust is an extra dr (rounded down) to every IFT/TH roll.
It sounds messy but you quickly get used to it. And it makes a big difference to gameplay – suddenly vehicles can maneuver without dying when you try to be creative. Long barrels do matter, and combined with the low To Kill numbers, suddenly there’s an interesting armour battle instead of the – in LOS – Hit – autodeath you usually see. Strangely enough infantry become much more vulnerable – although harder to hit – if you do break them, you have the movement to get behind them and kill them for failure to rout.
So….the panzers have to advance three board widths to get to the Australian Hillock which is flanked by Deirs on both sides. There are a couple of easily avoidable sand overlays (potential bog checks) on the way, but basically rev up the engines for two turns to get to firing positions, or three turns to start overrunning the Diggers.
I was the Aussies. The pre-game bombardment shouldn’t cause too many problems if you stick to the OB provided trenches and foxholes. With 8 morale troops you are fine on 10’s or less. But if you want to HIP a gun, and not give its position away you have to stick it in a scrub hex without an entrenchment. Emplacement TEM means a slightly more worrying 8 or less needed. As there are only about seven scrub hexes in the Aussie set up area, you should probably stick the guns in trenches and blaze away from the start.
But that didn’t appeal to my evil sneaky nature. The 2pdrs kill number is only 10 and most of the german armour factors are 6. I wanted the flank and rear shots. So I put it in a scrub hex on the left hand side, pointed at the hillock itself – perfect to hit anyone swinging round to flank that side. Of course if the germans came down the right hand I’d feel pretty stupid. So I tweaked my visible setup.
I put the 3inch mortar, some dummies and a squad with an ATR in the Deir on the right. Naturally with a Marder, the germans should swing round the other side to avoid this, but the mortar would be effective against the infantry who advance onto the hillock wheras a 2pdr with no HE wouldn’t be.
The other 2pdr was on the hillock summit with the covered arc pointing to the right hand side. I was counting on Mark going left, to make me take the CA change penalty (Only +1 for 360 traverse mind) and feel right clever with himself. The Hillock also got the three trenches, and the rest of the infantry.
So would the plan survive contact with the enemy?
The pre-game bombardment did nothing, as most of my positions were in the spared rows. Firing to map coordinates is clearly a bad idea. The HIP gun did have a scare though rolling an 8. It’s a fine line between tactical brilliance and gross stupidity – a mere pip of the dice.
The panzers stormed forwards on the first turn throwing up big clouds of vehicle dust. The 2pdr fired narrowly missing its target while the mortar was all over the place without effect. And it looked good too – a big empty map with loads of space to run round in, pristine boards with ochre overlays, vehicle dust counters following the vehicle silhouettes.
Eventually a 2pdr shot found the range and tore off a track from a PzIII. The crew bailed out but quickly recovered their nerve and remanned the tank in their Mph. The germans split into two groups, with the right hand group going straight for the Deir, while the other lot went pretty much adjacent to the HIP gun.
On the right hand side, a halftrack debussed a squad while the armour stopped and started putting suppressive fire into the Deir. The 3inch mortar landed a shell directly on top of the Marder, with no survivors. The 2pdr on the hillock summit hit the PzIV and immobilized it – but they didn’t panic and kept firing. HE shells from them broke the mortar crew. The halftrack having disgorged it’s cargo went looking for iron crosses and overran the other squad in the Deir. They fired the Boyes ATR back and noone hit. A PzIII darts forward into the Deir and behind the mortar crew while the Panzergrenadiers sprinted forward. (We had a laugh at this point at Mark still not taking prisoners even though you can’t declare no quarter.)
On the left hand side, half of the 21st Panzer division drove by the scrub hex and I let them. It was so tempting to fire when they were adjacent, but no I waited until all movement was complete and they were stopped. They now had a 2pdr in front and behind, so I would get rear shots whichever way they turned, and I got DFph and Prep and Rate3 to make the most of it….Sweet. As it happened the first two shots hit a PzIII’s side (superior) turret and bounced off, but the third hit the hull rear for no survivors.
With the Valentines about to turn up, Mark failed his PMC and threw in the towel at this point.
Desert gets a thumbs up from both of us. Different but not in a crazy way like night, and feels right. Not a bad scenario either, small but enough going on to make it a puzzle. The first ever View from the Trenches scenario and probably one of the best – far too many silly ones.
We had a quick go with the sides reversed, and Mark opted for the two guns blazing away from start. I used a halftrack without passengers to create dust, and when acquisition counters mounted, other AFV’s used their dispensers and vehicle dust to mask them. The mortar and one of the 2pdrs malfed, and Mark wussed out again.
Well the Liverpool-Debrecen match was on, which we watched instead. Unlike 99% of football fans, wargaming maps meant I know where Debrecen was. Play World in Flames and pass your Geography exams! 1-0 to Liverpool for a pleasant evening all round.
- Last edited Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:48 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:29 pm
1-0 to Liverpool for a pleasant evening all round.
Was really enjoying your report until the last line. Now you get more thumbs down than there are extra time minutes at Old Trafford.
- Last edited Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:29 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:22 am
The stars have aligned to inspire my first microbadge purchase.
I am currently in turn 3 of a VASL-PBEM game of High Danger and was thrilled to see the session report. I have the Aussies entrenched on the hillock w/ a supporting pair of squads in the deir to my right, one at the lip, another with the 8-0 in a foxhole behind, one 40L on the summit, one behind the hillock looking left. My opponent brought the Marder and PzIV down his left/my right. The MTR and Marder squared off, but a CH from the Marder wiped out my guys. The remainder of his force drove right up the center and shells are flying everywhere. One halftrack immobile, one burning PzIII and another bogged on top of a trench. Great stuff!
When I read the last line and the first reply, my mood shifted a bit. My association with Everton has not been for a lifetime, more like 5 or 6 years, but long enough to have an aversion toward Red. I am a high school teacher and enforce the dress code not allowing references to alcohol to appear on clothing, but only by not allowing students to wear anything with Carlsburg on it. I don't have a problem with Chang (very few even know it is also a beer sponsor).
I love soccer, ... ahem football, slightly more than ASL. I have been trying to decide between the Everton badge and the generic soccer ball. This post pushed me to decision.
J. R. Tracy
Nice AAR - High Danger is a great intro to Chapter F and a fun, tight little scenario to boot. If you enjoyed it, try Khamsin, a real gem.
Who'd have thought there was that many Evertonians who played ASL? Well in line with the desert theme...I think it's time for a song...
Let me tell you the story of a poor boy, who was sent far away from his home,
to fight for his king and his country, and also the old folks back home,
So they put him in a highland division, sent him off to a far foreign land,
where the flies swarm around in their thousands, and there’s nothing to see but the sand.
And the battle it started the next morning, under the radiant sun,
I remember that Poor Scouser Tommy, he was shot by an old Nazi gun.
As he lay on the battlefield dying (dying-dying), with the blood gushing out of his head,
as he lay on the battle field dying (dying-dying), These were the last words he said…..
OOOH, I am a Liverpudlian, I come from the Spion Kop,
I like to sing, I like to shout, I go there quite a lot!
To support a team that plays in red, a team that we all know,
a team that we called Liverpool, to glory we will go!
We won the league, we won the Cup, we’ve been to Europe too,
we played the Toffee’s for a laugh, and left them feeling blue! 5-0!
1 2, 1 2 3, 1 2 3 4, 5-0!
Rush scored one,
Rush scored two,
Rush scored three,
and Rush scored four!
La La La Laa, La La Laa!
As Gygax intended.
“It is a trivial grammar-school text, but yet worthy a wise man’s consideration. Question was asked of Demosthenes, what was the chief part of an orator? he answered, action; what next? action; what next again? action.”
You would need West of Alamein: ASL Module 5 which is out of print and very expensive on the second-hand market.
I have a cunning plan
For King and Country will contain the British counters, but not the desert boards, counters and overlays. The are rumoured to be coming in the reissued Hollow Legions module, whenever it shows up.