This was my first non-solo game of ASLSK, and Jeff Thompson (Tompy) was kind enough to take on a complete newcomer and show me the ropes of the system. We played S6: Released from the East, which has the Russians trying to take control of at least 2 of 3 buildings from the German defenders. The turn limit is six turns, with the Russians getting the last turn. I took the Russian side first, Jeff took the Germans, and in our subsequent game we switched sides. We played using VASL and via email.
I was initially drawn to ASL because of its longstanding popularity, the complexity of the ruleset, and the devotion of its fans. Having VASL available was the only thing that made it possible for me to get into the game. I've since purchased the first two starter kits and the Beyond Valor set, and look forward to graduating from the SK rules to full ASL in time.
Released from the East is a really neat scenario. The Russians have the option of holding up to 5 MMC, 1 SMC and 2 SW in reserve. They enter on the 3rd turn from either the north or east, giving the Russian player some flexibility to apply his reinforcements where they are needed, or can be most effective. Because they only need to hold two of three objective buildings, the Germans need to mount a mobile defense to respond to changing lines of attack.
The Russians are helped by winter camouflage, which allows them to Assault Move in open ground without FFMO applying. The Germans, on the other hand, have their broken side morale increased by one, meaning they rally all the easier.
Jeff set up his Germans across the board, with a few squads strung out along the north side to greet my incoming units, and a few strong stacks in the line of buildings close to the southeast objective building. I put aside the maximum number of reserve units, along with the 8-1 leader, an MMG and a LMG. I was eying the road along the Y column as a potential route for this reserve force to take the southwest objective, but if it turned out that the southeast objective was left poorly defended, then they could attack that as well. Jeff had actually forgotten about this option to enter the reserves on the eastern board edge, but as it turns out it didn't harm his defense too much. The MMG was there to help support the advancing units.
The rest of the Russian force I placed along the north board edge ready to enter into cover, hoping to survive the first Mph and lay down some Advancing Fire. I didn't have the option of smoke grenades so the Russians would just have to brave the German fire and move forward.
My units managed to get on the board, taking some fire but getting neither broken nor pinned. In the AFPh they managed to break the 468 in M9, which routed down to M6. Knowing that I had to keep pressing forward, I advanced most of my units out of the woods into open ground, hoping that they wouldn't suffer for it during Jeff's turn.
In the German turn 1, the 468 in M6 promptly rallied, and the stack in M8 laid down heavy fire on L9 that broke the two units, with one of them failing ELR as well. This was my first lesson in the dangers of stacking! In the MPh the single MMCs in S9 and E9 fell back from the northern front, and the forces near the southeast objective building moved south, closer to the objective and taking advantage of cover. Defensive Fire had no effect, and the two broken Russian squads routed back to join the stack in M10, out of LOS and gaining the benefit of the 9-1 leader. The German stack in M8 advanced back into the objective building, and the two stacks skulked back to the edge of the Q1-F6 road.
I felt like things were going pretty well for me, in spite of those two units breaking, and luckily I managed to rally one of them. One of the 458s in J9 moved south into the building, took some defensive fire from L6 and promptly broke. The other squad wisely moved into K9 to avoid the residual fire. The two squads in H9 moved south into the building, and one squad from the stack in M10 moved into L8, taking fire but not breaking. Another squad moved into L8 carrying an LMG, and survived the residual, followed by the 9-1 leader. As much as I needed that leader on the front line, I realize now that I left by broken squad behind, and I think he never rallied for the rest of the game, effectively destroyed. Two 458s and the 8-0 leader carrying the DC moved into M9, getting ready for an assault on the northern objective building. Final Fire pinned the squad with the LMG in L8, and broke a squad in H8. As you can see my units are still suffering from being stacked. Advance fire was ineffective, and the broken squad in H8 routed to G9. In the APh I bravely moved forward with my stacks in M9 and L7, mistakenly moving the pinned squad, something that I fixed in the next log.
For the German turn 2, the units in M7 and L6 moved assault moved into M6, away from my advancing units. The squads in the southeast moved into the objective building, and some squads in the buildings in the center of the map moved south. I couldn't find any good defensive shots, and Jeff did not have any advance fire. In the APh he repositioned some units in the southeast objective building, and in the north objective building he opted to move his leader to M5, and set up his MMG in L5. This was a cautious approach that would force me to move into his line of fire, and which would keep his leader away from the action to receive any routing units.
It was time for my reserves to enter the game. Looking at the strong force Jeff had ready in the southeast objective building, I opted to come in from the north, planning on using the T8-T4 road to assault the southwest objective, staying behind the cover of the buildings in R5-R8. Looking back I probably could have used the Q column road, and benefited from the road bonus right away. I wanted to keep them out of the line of fire until they were at the building, however.
My 458 in K9 self-rallied, and I had no Prep Fire so it was straight to movement. The two 458s and the leader carrying the DC in M8 assault moved into M7. The German 468 in O6 fired on them but it was ineffectual. The DC was placed in M6.
The two 458s and the LMG in L8 moved in to the objective building, ending up in L6 facing a German squad and an MMG. It was followed by the 458 in K9 which joined the 9-1 leader and another squad in L7. The lone squad in M8 pressed forward to K6, followed by that squad from L7. Part of my plan was to put more targets in front of the MMG than it could fire at.
For the reserve stack of two 458s, the MMG and the 8-1 , everyone except the leader went double time, giving them 6 MF, and they hustled down the road to T5. The other stack of three 458s and an LMG also went double time, ending up in S6. I knew I had to get them into position fast, before the units in the southeast could respond and take the southwest building.
Defensive fire was pretty punishing. The German squad in M6 fired at M7, and although the leader and one squad passed their NMC, the other squad rolled boxcars, breaking, casualty reduce, and failing its ELR. The 468 and MMG in L5 fired at the two squads in K6, and the boxcars from the last roll was followed by snake eyes, killing one of the squads outright but denying the MMG its ROF. In the AFPh the DC exploded, inflicting a 2MC on the German squad, which it promptly passed. A couple other AF shots had no effect. The broken now-HS in M7 routed back to L7, and the broken squad from K6 ran past it to L8.
In the APh the reserve stack in T5 moved into the building cover of S5, and their compatriots in S6 did the same, advancing into R5. In the northern objective building, the two stacks in L6 and M7 both advanced south into close combat. This really reflects my lack of experience, as I could have stayed put and continued the firefight with the German defenders. As it was I initiated a 1-1 and a 2-1 close combat battle. Neither combat had an ambush, in M6 the attacks had no effect, and in L5 the Russians did nothing, while the Germans killed the squad with the LMG.
In the German turn 3, the Russian HS in L7 managed to rally, partially redeeming it from its 6,6 MC roll earlier. The 8-1 leader in M5 joined the melee in L5, but neither melee had any results this phase. By the end of the APh, the German 468, LMG and 9-2 leader in the southeast objective building had double-timed it over to M2, followed by the other units who lined up in I4, H4 and G5, leaving behind only the 8-0 leader to protect the objective.
At the start of turn 4 I realized that I was in a much worse position than at the start of turn 3. Although I had managed to get my reserves down into position to attack the R2 building, in the L6 building I was locked in two melees, outnumbered in one and at even odds in another, with only a ragtag group and my 9-1 leader in L7 to support them. Clearly getting into close combat so early was a mistake, but at the time I still hoped for a victory in melee before the German squads could make their way up from the southeast.
In the RPh my 458 in L7 rallied, and suddenly I had a small force available with a 9-1 leader. I had no Prep fire, so I went ahead and assault moved the two 458s into M7, and the HS and the leader into L6, evidently ready to join the fray. The stack in S5 assault moved into S4, and was fired upon by the 468 in R3, breaking one of the squads. The stack in R5 also assault moved south, coming under fire from R3 which was ineffectual, and a long range shot from H4 which broke two of the squads. Again, being stacked really made these shots more effective than they had to be.
Advancing fire did nothing, and the three broken squads in the west routed to S5. The surviving squads along with the 8-1 leader advanced into CC in R3, and the units in the north objective building all advanced south to join the melee in progress. The CC in R3 had no ambushes, and the German squad was killed without any Russian casualties. In M6 one squad from each side was killed, while in L5 there were no casualties, and both melees continued.
For the German turn 4, the two squads in H4 moved up to H6 and H7 just outside the building, while the squad with the LMG moved up to G8 to force the lone broken Russian squad into DM. The stack in M2 assault moved to L1, and the squad and LMG in G5 moved up to K5. My single defensive shot did nothing, and the broken squad in G9 routed up to H10, presumably able to open up the cache of vodka they had stashed there on their way in. The squad in H8 advanced south, and the mighty stack in L1 advanced into L2, able to cover both objective buildings quite well. K6 and K7 moved into the building and the squad in K5 joined the melee in L5, which by now had grown to a total of 4 MMC, 3 SMC and 2 SW.
The melee battles worked out thus: in M6 the Germans rolled 6,6 while the Russians passed their roll, eliminating the German 468 and winning the melee. In L5 the Russian HS was killed but no Germans fell, so the melee continued.
At the start of turn 5 I had mixed feelings about my chances. Although I had occupied the southwest objective building with a strong force and won a melee, in the northern building I was quite outnumbered. I also had three broken squads in S5 and no leader to help them rally. My plan was to leave a small defensive force in the southwestern objective, and move as many units as possible up to the fight in the north. The LMG in L2 was not going to make that easy, and there was the squad in H7 that I knew was coming to reinforce the Germans in the north building.
The turn started with one of my 458s in S5 self-rallying. The squads in M6 prep fired at L6, but to no effect. The S5 squad double-timed it to O5, and got mowed down by the Germans in L2, bringing it down to a HS and pinning it. Plus the LMG retained ROF! One 458 with an MMG from R3 moved to P3 to put pressure on the Germans in L3, while another 458 and the 8-1 leader moved up to O6, coming under fire from the ROF-retaining LMG, but to no effect. I had no advance fire and no routs. The survivors of the Battle of M6 had no time to recover, as they were thrown into the melee in L5, now 11 counters strong. The O6 squad advanced into the road, trying to enter the objective building.
The big melee pitted the Russians at 3:2 against all the Germans, with the Germans going 3:2 against the squad with the 9-1 leader. Both sides enjoyed a -1 bonus. Both attacks rolled 2,1 resulting in the Russians winning the melee, but losing a squad and their 9-1 leader.
The German turn 5 began with the 468 in L7 assault moving out of the objective building to L8, followed by L6 moving to L7. The killer stack in L2 double-timed to Q2 and threatening the objective building. The Russians in P3 opened up with small arms and the MMG, breaking first the leader, then the squad. H7 also double-timed, heading to join the squad in L7. The Russians in L5 took a shot to no effect.
Advancing fire had no effect, and the broken stack in Q2 routed to R2 and into the objective building. This really surprised me as I thought I had done a good job in taking them out, and here they were poised to take control of the objective. The CX 468 and LMG in L7 advanced into L6, the other 468 advanced into M7, and the last 468 in the area skulked back into L7.
This was my last turn to take and control two of the objective buildings. The southeast building was a lost cause, the southwest building was threatened by a powerful stack, and the north building had 3 German 468s with an LMG, against two Russian 458s, a HS, an LMG and two leaders. Not horrible odds, but this was my last turn to control the building.
I rallied one 458 in S5, but the German stack in R1 failed its rally, giving me control of the southwest building. The stack in L5 prep fired at L6 but rolled boxcars. The 458 in P3 dropped its MMG and moved up to N6, joined by the HS in O5. The newly rallied squad in S5 double-timed up to O6, while a 458 and 8-1 leader in N6 moved up to N7, trying to get within striking distance of L7, but got pinned by fire from M7.
This ended the game, because the squad in L7 could not be touched during that turn. The Germans ended up holding one building, the Russians one, while the northern building continued to be contested.
So what did I learn from my first game of ASLSK? Stacking is dangerous unless you are protected from LOS, CC and melee should really only be used as a last resort, or when the odds are very much in your favor, and it's important to keep leaders back from the front line to act as a rally points. Thanks to Jeff for his patient instruction during my first game. I am definitely hooked. Next we switched sides and played the same scenario, expect a session report on that from me soon.
Edit: Fixed some formatting errors
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- J.(JBellor)United States
- Great report! Nicely detailed. The "it's not a good idea to stack" lesson took me a few games to learn, too. Have you solo'ed all the other scenarios? I'm thinking this one is my favorite of the 6 SK1 scenarios.
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- I've done a couple of the other scenarios solo, but never S6, and in any case, playing against an experienced player is really a different type of game. S6 is definitely a wild ride, though it does feel like the Russians have a really tough job set out for them.
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Update: Jeff and I played this scenario again, switching sides. Here is the final state of the board:
This time the Germans came out on top again. The southeast objective building didn't come into play, and a strong Russian force came down the T8-T4 road but was held back from taking the southwest building. The north objective building was again the scene of intense fighting. In the end it was a very close battle that could have gone either way.
After two plays of this scenario, I'm left wondering if the Russians wouldn't do better just to avoid the northern objective building altogether. They have the option of entering the reinforcements from the east, which puts them very close to the D3 objective, and can come down along the road, taking advantage of the building cover to attack the southwest building. Then the Germans have to decide whether to reinforce the east or west from the center, and have to move a fair distance to get there.
In any case, this is a fun scenario, although winning as the Russians seems to be quite the challenge.
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