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Beyond Valor: ASL Module 1» Forums » Strategy

Subject: ASL Scenario 1 - Fighting Withdrawal rss

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Tom
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Preamble:

I've seen it mentioned a few times that there needs to be more ASL discussion on BoardGameGeek. I agree. Let's start some discussion threads on ASL scenarios. Each one is a little puzzle unto itself and there may be many ideas about the best way to tackle them.

Let me point out that I am NOT a ASL expert, but I enjoy the game greatly. My thoughts should not be considered authoritative in any way, but I throw them out there as a jumping off point for debate.

Fighting Withdrawal

The Situation:

September 2, 1941 -- It is the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union. The Finns are on the attack, aiming to reclaim territory lost during the Winter War of 1939. In the city of Terijoki, northwest of Leningrad, remnants of the Soviet 131st Border Battalion are forced into a fighting withdrawal against an onslaught of Finnish infantry.

To win the scenario, the Finns must exit more Exit VP off the board than the Russians.

What does this mean? The Russians have 32 VPs in their initial Order of Battle. The Finns have 35 VPs. If everyone just moves off the board without firing, the Finns will win. Therefore the Russians need to either slow down the Finns so they can't exit more than the Russians before the scenario ends, or the Russians need to inflict enough casualties on the Finns so they can't exit more than the Russians -- a fighting withdrawal.

Rules you need to review before playing:

B25.6 Spreading Fire -- There are two terrain blazes at scenario start, which will potentially spread throughout the course of the scenario.

A24.61 Drifting Smoke -- Since there is a Mild Breeze, the terrain blazes will produce drifting Dispersed SMOKE downwind three hexes from each blaze.

A19.131 Ammunition Shortage -- The Russians suffer from Ammunition Shortage which may turn several of the 4-4-7 Russian squads into 4-3-6 conscripts over the course of the game. But more importantly, it means the Russian MMG may not use Fire Lanes.

A25.22 Commissar -- The scenario date is before October 1942 which allows the Russian player the option of swapping either his 8-1 or 8-0 leader for a Commissar.

Pros and Cons:

Russian Pros
Less distance to cover
Hidden Initial Placement
Potential Commissar
High SAN

Russian Cons
Ammunition Shortage
Inequality of firepower

Finnish Pros
Self-Rally capability
Assault Fire
Deployment

Finnish Cons
Long way to run
Not enough time

Russian Setup:

The Russian player sets up first. Probably his first consideration should be where to utilize the two squads he may set up using Hidden Initial Placement.

Since the rest of the Russian force will most likely be constantly moving, giving a stationary HIP unit the heavy (5PP) MMG is a good idea. Since the HIP unit can setup anywhere south of hexrow AA, building J4 seems an obvious candidate. A MMG setup on Level 2 in either K4 or J5 provides decent LOS to the whole area. Plus he may be able to pounce on any Finns trying to sneak through the graveyard. My preference would be for J5 as this location has clear LOS to the areas around Q10 and I10, which are the few open areas in a east side "board-edge creep" -- any Finns hugging the east edge of the board may run through the open at those points.

Another MMG HIP possibility is the woods hex in H9. This location is only place in the Russian setup area that provides edge to edge LOS. An MMG in H9 can fire on every location in the H hexrow.

Next is the second HIP squad. I like either B2 or B9 for this guy. The two southern corners of the board are probable collection places for exiting Finns, so having a surprise unit in that area to get FFMO/FFNAM bonuses can be successful. If they survive or remain hidden, they are also able to exit on the last Russian turn for an easy 2VP.

After the Russians have their HIP units squared away, we have to worry about the rest of the setup. I see two alternatives here based on how the Russian player utilizes their eight OB given concealment (?) counters -- an Up-Front defense or a Fall-Back defense.

With an Up-Front defense, the Russian player could setup his forces in eight concealed stacks across a wide front. The advantage here is that the Russians would have the benefit of concealment to any game-opening Finnish prep fire, and then be able to lay heavy point blank firepower down onto initial Finnish moves in the open. The big drawback with this kind of setup is that if the Finns are able to blow right by you before you have a chance to withdraw, the Russians can be in big trouble.

A possible Up-Front defense.

I would prefer a Fall-Back defense with most of the Russian forces stationed unconcealed in the rear of the setup area. This allows the use of the OB concealment counters for dummy stacks with a few lone squads thrown in to keep the Finns honest. Hopefully, the Finns will waste most of their first turn of movement picking through the (mostly) phantom defense giving the rest of your force a head start in booking it southwards.

A possible Fall-Back setup.

Finally, in this scenario, I would definitely opt for the Commissar exchange. If any of the Russian squads require more than one rally phase to come back to action, they are going to be left behind. A commissar can crack the whip and get your troops back up and moving.

Finnish Setup:

I think playing this scenario as the Finns is hard for a beginning player. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to move, move, move. You have seven game turns to travel at least 28 hexes. That's a minimum of four hexes a turn so there will not be time to be cautious. Since there is little time for eating a turn of movement on Prep Fire, the Finns should rely instead on their Assault Fire capability (the Finnish 6-4-8s will fire with 4FP in the AFPh, not too shabby!).

That said, the Finnish setup may depend on the initial defense the Russian player presents. However, I believe there two viable axes for movement -- down the middle and along the east edge.

Down the middle has the benefit of allowing the Finns to spread out and present more moving targets than the Russians can shoot at, especially if the Finns deploy aggressively into an "electric football attack".

An eastern side "board edge creep" denies one whole flank to the Russians as well as providing a lot of cover, e.g. the long stone wall. You will need to use bypass movement frequently in order to keep up the pace.

A west edge creep scares me. There seems to be much more open ground that way. If you can pull that off, then you get bonus style points.

Conclusion:

As of this writing, this scenario has a 231-198 Russian advantage on ROAR. I think that reflects the difficulty some players have in being aggressive enough during movement.

Here are some session reports of this scenario already on the Geek:
Andrew vs. Paul and Merric solo.

Please let us know how your playings of this scenario have gone. What have I missed or got wrong? Discuss!
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Jonathan Davis
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This was a great read, let's keep this series alive.

When I played this, it was PBEM and both me and my opponent were just starting to try and transition from the SKs. On the very first DR of the game, the wind stopped never to pick back up. I had the Russians and was afraid I had just lost important cover for my retreat. And I didn't know about exchanging for the commissar, that would have been nice.

I opted to put my 2 HIPs as goal keepers in A4 and A7, each with an LMG. The biggest mistake that we made was on the spreading fire. If the blaze successfully spread, we put another blaze counter instead of a flame counter. Those buildings went up in flames fast. (We realized the mistake about halfway through the game.)

I eventually won as the Russians as I got my opponent to do a lot of Prep Fire. He was bottled up north of hexrow R and his last few turns was just a mad dash down the board. I never even had to reveal my HIP goalies.
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Jeff Thompson
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One suggestion to make it a more balanced game...

Use both balance provisions. I believe this takes away the Ammunition Shortage from the Russians and adds 1 turn to the game length. (I could be wrong as it has been years since I played this one, so check your card.)

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Tom
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Tompy wrote:
Use both balance provisions. I believe this takes away the Ammunition Shortage from the Russians and adds 1 turn to the game length.

That is correct. Seven turns is tight for the Finns. If you Prep Fire even once, I don't think you can make it. Then again, it trains you to move rather than fire which is always a good strategy.
 
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Tom
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Talloaf wrote:
When I played this, it was PBEM and both me and my opponent were just starting to try and transition from the SKs.

How was the transition? I learned ASL from transitioning from Squad Leader way before there was such a thing as a Starter Kit. What's the jump from SK to Beyond Valor like?

One of my goals is to help generate some more ASL content on the Geek for all the SK players out there who are interested in the full game. Fighting Withdrawal is a likely first leap into the deep end.
 
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Paul Franklin-Bihary
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TwirlingTF wrote:
Talloaf wrote:
When I played this, it was PBEM and both me and my opponent were just starting to try and transition from the SKs.

How was the transition? I learned ASL from transitioning from Squad Leader way before there was such a thing as a Starter Kit. What's the jump from SK to Beyond Valor like?


My friend and I played through the starter kits to learn the game, and recently transitioned to full ASL. We're about 3 scenarios in. The transition is challenging, but not difficult. I still wish that MMP would create a 'transition pack' of some kind to help with the 'extras' that one must learn to play the full game. We are using the programmed instruction article available on MMP's website to do this. It's working really well, but has some giant leaps in it. It's definitely do-able. I figure that even veteran ASL players still have to access the rules regularly, so I don't feel like an idiot being a new player, anyway.

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Tom
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paulus22 wrote:
We are using the programmed instruction article available on MMP's website to do this. It's working really well, but has some giant leaps in it. It's definitely do-able.

The article that Paul mentions can be found here. It suggests the ASL version of the old SL scenario "The Guards Counterattack" as a first foray into ASL. I think that is still good advice.

paulus22 wrote:
I figure that even veteran ASL players still have to access the rules regularly, so I don't feel like an idiot being a new player, anyway.

I haven't played a game of ASL yet where I didn't crack the rulebook.
 
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Merric Blackman
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For my plays of this scenario (solo), what became quite obvious was that Concealment and Deployment were two key rules.

Concealment: The Russians will most likely begin concealed and able to resist the initial barrage of Finnish fire as a result. When the Finns move, they can drop concealment and wipe them out in the open. The Russians may also - should - have Dummy stacks.

Deployment: To counter this, the Finns need to start with units deployed (that is, a squad becomes two half squads) and then use these units to "scout" - that is, move into a concealment counter. The Russians don't have that many units so firing at a half-squad is probably a poor use of their FP. The Finns also don't need leaders to deploy and recombine, which is key.

Opportunity Fire: Whilst the Finns are scouting, some of their stacks can be made to be firing in opportunity mode - putting "Bounding Fire" counters on them during the Prep phase, but the firing doesn't occur until the Advance Fire phase... at full FP!

The combination should allow them to break up any initial Russian barrier - for they really have to scurry to get off the map!

Cheers!
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Jonathan Davis
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TwirlingTF wrote:
What's the jump from SK to Beyond Valor like?


Well, it wasn't my first full rules scenario. While I was just starting to play SK (only a couple scenarios under my belt), I found out about the annual tournament in NC (Bitter Ender). I knew I had to go to that so I got the organizer of the tourney to get me a few emails of people who could hold my hand through a few full rules scenarios prior to the tournament. I also got a lot of hand holding at the tourney, but I managed to finish in 3rd place out of roughly 30 people.

Fighting Withdrawal was my first full rules scenario where I was actually responsible for the rules. I.e. I couldn't just ask my opponent "Hey, I want to do this. What are the rules about it?" My opponent hadn't yet ever seen concealment, snipers, or bypass so I had to teach him that. We both had to learn the flame/blaze stuff. We were clueless about the finesse stuff like deployment and commisars.

So my transition wasn't bad at all, since I had a good bit of FtF hand holding.
 
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It's just a ride...
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Great write up and great idea. Please keep 'em coming.

I am absolutely salivating at the prospect of getting ASL.

 
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John Brady
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Excellent thread, and a great idea! Here is a great write up with thoughts/strategy of a replay of this scenario. I've used it to help teach/re-teach myself the rules a few times, and to give myself some sort of clue as to "what to do next" after I set the board up :

http://home.comcast.net/~tomrepetti/xop/FWXOP.pdf

 
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Sorry, I know this is a little off topic and I can anticipate the most likely respone, but I still have to ask. Is it worth it. I have recently acquired ASLSK#1, but have thought about getting Beyond Valor and the gargantuan rule book also. I have heard this will be the last printing of Beyond Valor and have seen how much some of the other modules sell for, but I'm still hesitant.
 
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Tom
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By "last printing" I'm fairly confident what is meant is "last edition" in that the contents of Beyond Valor are not expected to change again (as they did between 1st, 2nd and 3rd Editions). It will always be reprinted whenever it goes out of print, as long as ASL is being produced by MMP.

If you enjoy ASLSK, it's worth it.
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Andy K.
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I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I've played only a few ASLSK #1 and #2 scenarios, but it's fun to think about the great beyond of full ASL.

One question: you mention a 231-198 Russian advantage as though that's not so great. But that's 53.8% Russian wins. Is that really an unbalanced number? Seems pretty dang close to an ideal 50/50.
 
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Tom
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ACK ACK wrote:
One question: you mention a 231-198 Russian advantage as though that's not so great. But that's 53.8% Russian wins. Is that really an unbalanced number? Seems pretty dang close to an ideal 50/50.

An excellent point, and an aggressive Finn should bring that number even closer to 50/50!
 
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Michael Taylor
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Firstly, my apologies for being late to the party.

I've played this scenario several times (but it's been a while, so details are fuzzy), and it seems like the Finns have an advantage. A four-hex-per-turn average isn't that difficult when you have leaders and the advance phase. Theoretically, the movement can be done in four turns. The Russian troops can't all be sitting around blasting away, they have to move as well or be lost far behind.

The fire can have a big effect as well.

I do agree with one point above, the hidden squads can make a big difference in the ending. Place them well, and they can win the Russians the game.

Mike
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paulus22 wrote:
I figure that even veteran ASL players still have to access the rules regularly, so I don't feel like an idiot being a new player, anyway.



Well...I can't speak for the 2nd Edition Rulebook, but the 1st edition had this statement in it that basically said any time a new player misses a rule or does something incorrectly it should only be addressed at the discretion of the more advanced player because knowing the rules is part of the advantages more experienced players enjoy.


Now...what I *think* was being said was really...if you miss a rule don't try to undo a full turn of stuff or a phase and just move on using it as a learning opportunity. If you don't...games will take forever and new players will continue to make new player mistakes.
 
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medlinke wrote:

Well...I can't speak for the 2nd Edition Rulebook, but the 1st edition had this statement in it that basically said any time a new player misses a rule or does something incorrectly it should only be addressed at the discretion of the more advanced player because knowing the rules is part of the advantages more experienced players enjoy.


Now...what I *think* was being said was really...if you miss a rule don't try to undo a full turn of stuff or a phase and just move on using it as a learning opportunity. If you don't...games will take forever and new players will continue to make new player mistakes.


I'm a pretty new player (a little over 6 months). I was playing a veteran a few weeks ago

Me: Moves 8-3-8 German next to a concealed Russian squad.
Him: "Do you want to Search?"
Me: Not remembering exactly how it works, except that it can strip concealment, "Sure"
Him: Maniacal laughter

Lessons I will never forget:
1) Searching makes you TI (no advancing fire). You can get casualty reduced (which I did).
2) Never try and use a rule if you don't remember exactly how it works. Look it up or ask "How does that work exactly?"

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