Merric Blackman
Australia
Waubra
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My regular game-partners were playing Blood Bowl last Thursday night, so I needed to play a solo game of something. I did know this in advance, so I brought in my ASL Starter Kit materials and set up S45: Contested Settlement to play through. This scenario was an interesting conflict between the Poles and the Slovakians, where the Poles only needed to control ONE multi-hex building at the end of the game. The problem they had? A lot of terrain to cross before they could get to the buildings.

The tricky thing about this scenario for the solo player is that the Pole has to preregister a hex where two of his squads and a leader will enter on the second turn, before the Slovakian set-up. I was lucky enough to have Craig on hand - one of our better Magic players - who studied the map and gave me a folded bit of paper with the hex he'd chosen on it. It's still not perfect, but it made it a bit better.

Here's the set-up I chose for the Slovakian defenders:


The three units to the centre-right of the map are set-up in wooden buildings, not just sitting in the centre of Open Ground! I had a lot of half-squads as the Slovakians and not many full squads. The plan was to make it difficult for the Poles to cross the ground towards the buildings, with a LMG squad providing fire covering the bottom corridor of the map. Going along the road would prove difficult with half-squads providing twin points of resistance.

With the ensuing movement of the Poles, I made one major rules blunder: the group carrying the small mortar didn't have enough portage points to carry it as far as they did - even with a leader, the move to double-time should have reduced their IPC. It ended up in Z9, way too far forward.

In any case, the Poles went around the sides, with one squad engaging - poorly - the half-squads on the hills. Just getting into contact with the enemy was tough, but advancing through the forests, they were able to do it.



It was now time for the Slovakian first turn. Mortar fire broke one of the Pole units to the top of the map, and the Slovakians moved their half-squads on the hill to come up behind both Polish forces. Otherwise, not much of note occurred.



At this point, I located Craig's note and revealed the hex the Pole flanking units would appear in (or near - within 2 hexes): Q1. Considering the placement of the Slovakian forces, S1 would allow them to enter out of LOS from almost all of the Slovakians, so that's where they entered.

I moved them in, and the Point Blank Fire of the defenders broke one unit, pinned the leader, and left the other one fine; it promptly moved into melee.

Likewise, moving towards melee in the south wooden building was achieved, although a malfunctioned MG whose unit then suffered a 1KIA sort of went against the best results. A third melee was entered against the Slovakian half-squad that had been on the hill. None of these melees were resolved by the end of the turn.



One of the things I really like about good ASL scenarios is when both sides have to manoeuvre. This was definitely true of this scenario, with the Poles, able to see from which way the Slovakians were coming, moved to counter the threat. Some forces went to reinforce the melees, others moved to places where they had better fire-lanes against the approaching Slovakians.

One unusual movement is that in X7-8, where the leader is detached from the LMG unit; this is because they Prep-fired, the leader was pinned in Defensive fire, and then the unit - on its own - advanced into X8.

The melee in AA3 resolved in favour of the Slovakians, but the other melees continued.



The Slovakian third turn was far more successful, as the melee in the southern building resolved in their favour. Likewise, the northern wooden building fell as it was rushed by Slovakian forces; they lost one unit in the process, but the defender was eliminated as it attempted FPF. The unit in U1 self-rallied, and came to support that side of the battlefield.

At this point, the biggest concern for the Poles was the melee in R1, which - though mainly going in their favour - was going to become difficult with the addition of a Slovakian 9-1 leader.



It was time for the Poles to regroup, and regroup they did, winning the melee in R1 and otherwise taking up better defensive positions as well as breaking the Slovakian squad in Z10. The Slovakian advance along the bottom of the map had been stalled, and it was uncertain if they could get to the buildings in time.

Mortar fire from the 81 in the woods failed to dent the Slovakians in the building. Could the Slovakians come back?



Disabling the mortar was their best bet - and they managed it, breaking the crew and forcing it to retreat. With that line cleared, the Slovakians were able to menace the central multi-hex buildings with a squad and an 8-0 leader!

A melee also started in X8 - this game was very heavy on melees, although it's a very risky strategy. I was hoping that it would stay around long enough for the Slovakian leaders to rally some of their men and race to the conclusion past the otherwise otherwise occupied Polish squads.



The chief movement of the Poles was to reinforce the middle buildings against the advance of the Slovakians - and otherwise make the side buildings harder to take.



The fifth Slovakian turn (of six) was key, and there was an unusual result. One can see the Slovakian 8-0 leader and its squad having captured R5, but suddenly there's a broken Slovakian unit in S6. What's up with that? In fact, the S6 unit is the original 8-0 leader, who was broken in defensive fire. A *new* 8-0 leader was created in the melee that cleared S6 for the Slovakians!

Strangely enough, the Polish half-squad in AA8 has made things easier for the Slovakians, as it forced two broken units (and their leader) to rout across to X6, closer to their goal! The scenario was hanging in the balance.



The number of units had significantly dropped this battle, and the Poles were just holding on. The Slovakian squad menacing R1-2 was broken by MMG fire and retreated back, and the Poles brought up their last units to reinforce P5-G5.



The Slovakians got a big break this turn: The broken squad in T1, under Desperation Morale, Self-Rallied and created another 8-0 leader! This was enough to charge towards the Polish units in R2 (who suffered a catastrophic malfunction of their MMG in defensive fire) and then rout them away in Advancing Fire. The odds on this are really, really low. The Slovakian victory now looked almost assured - whilst their defeat, just a turn ago, was very much on the cards.

Meanwhile, the Slovakians also eliminated the units in Q5, advancing afterwards to possibly claim the building.



At this stage - the final turn of the game - the only thing that could win the game for the Poles was a big rush against R2. It was an unlikely scenario, and so it proved, the units being broken before they could reach the building. And so, with that, the Slovakians had won the scenario!



This was a very enjoyable scenario. I think - with the exception of the mortar porting - I didn't make *too* many misplays in the rules. Given the mortar then malfunctioned early, that error didn't have a lasting effect. It's a tough scenario, though, and I would have laid odds against the Slovakian victory. Some unlikely events won it for them, but I'm pretty happy with the shape of the game. To be fair, some of the melee wins by the Poles were pretty unlikely as well!
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Eoin Corrigan
Ireland
Wexford
Wexford
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Great AAR, many thanks.

I've played another Polish vs Slovak scenario from this pack (S44 Across the Border), which was also fun and has some funky armoured cars. Highly recommended.

Good idea to ask your friend to select the entrance hex!
 
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Erik
United States
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Thanks for submitting a solo aar.

I've always been interested in both trying ASL and being able to run it solo. What's your take on solo ASL?

Many thanks in advance.

/Erik
 
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Todd Reed
United States
Clayton
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Solo ASLSK is probably easier than solo ASL because there's little to no concealment and HIP.

I enjoy ASLSK as a solo player.
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Merric Blackman
Australia
Waubra
Victoria
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I've played quite a bit of full ASL and the Starter Kit versions solitaire, and the full ASL has a lot of issues played solo. The problem tends to be hidden information: there's a lot of it. Concealment is omnipresent, which are units concealed by decoy markers, but there's also a wealth of scenarios with Hidden units or pre-registered (and secret) information. I find it very difficult to play these days without those things interfering and thus changing the balance of the game dramatically. It really is a game better played with an opponent.

However, the Starter Kits have no concealment rules, and only a few of the scenarios use hidden units. I've found it a much better game for solo play.

Probably my favourite wargames that should be played two player but I play solo are those of the Great Battles of History series, but ASL SK sits just below them.

Cheers,
Merric
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Paul Osborne
England
Canterbury
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Thanks for the review, I really enjoyed it particularly the way you brought the ebb and flow of battle across.
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