Saturday, October 17, 2009

Best wife ever

I am consistently reminded of how wonderful a wife I have to support this hobby the way she does. She told me last night that as her present to me for my birthday next month, to go ahead and order For King and Country while it was at the pre-order price.

With this purchase, I will have all the core modules required to play any action at all that interests me in Europe or North Africa (I may need a few desert boards, but I COULD use VASL). Now all that is left is to pick up the revised Code of Bushido at some point (read: when I get some more available cash - not likely to happen prior to next year).

Now I just need a F2F player....

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Panzer Commander

It's been a while since I've posted. Moving and the new job have absorbed the bulk of my time. I have not been able to make any F2F contacts for ASL here in Lubbock, so it is probably going to have to be VASL until I can convert someone to the One True Game. ASL posts, therefore, will probably be a little sparse until I can get a schedule working. In the WWII vein, however....

I had the pleasure of finishing a new book this afternoon. Based on recommendations from the GS forums, I picked up Panzer Commander, by Hans von Luck. Hans von Luck was the commander of the 7th and 21st panzer divisions under Rommel. As a strict study of tactical doctrine, the book is somewhat lacking. I had hoped for a little more in that arena. However, it was an extremely pleasant read. I am a big fan of the writing style of Stephen Ambrose and this book presented his history and doings in much the same vein. I was particularly struck with the sentiment (and I have seen it in other books) of camraderie between former enemies (soldiers from different armies): German and Russian, German and American, German and French, and German and British. Having never been in the military, the respect that seems to exist, even for enemies, between professional soldiers is very appealing. The distinction between the Weremacht and the SS also struck me as profound, and seemed to be readily accepted, even by von Luck's Russian captors.

If you are looking for a strict study of tactical/strategic doctrine, I'd suggest that you keep looking. If you want a decent feel of what being a soldier in the German Army during WWII was like, this is an excellent read.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Enfilade AAR in brief

Well, ASL fans, Enfilade 2009 is over. And what a tournament it was. Bruce Billett eeked out a win over Rob Wolkey in a last turn last phase CC. A nailbiter if there ever was one. I am going to give a brief AAR of my experience (including my first EVER win - a team win - against Sam Belcher and Larry Spangler). I say brief because I don't have much free time right now. I'm packing for my move to Lubbock, TX. Over the holiday weekend, I received and accepted a job offer as a Project Engineer for Caprock Manufacturing. I start on June 10. Unfortunately for this blog, that means that it's time as the "unofficial" (or maybe by now it's the "official") home of the Spokane ASL club has come to an end. As I am able, I will continue to post to this blog my ASL AAR's, however, I will be working around 55 hours a week now, so my time for that even will be limited. I refuse to give up my hobby though and hopefully will be able to find some players in Lubbock.

And now, for your reading pleasure, our feature presentation......Enfilade 2009: A Rookie's Rerspective. (For the visually inclined, pictures can be found here courtesy of Brian Pickering. Thanks, Brian!)

Enfilade for me started on Friday at about 7pm. The convention started at 2pm and I actually got into the area around 3pm, but we stayed with some friends of ours and they wanted us to have dinner with them. It was BBQ chicken, BBQ corn, fresh fruit and vegetables. What was I supposed to say? It was BBQ!!!

I got there, registered and found the room. This year since we had more than 9 (there were around 20 there this year), we got our OWN ROOM. How cool is that!?! When I got there, there were already 4 or so games going on. Bruce Billett was not playing anyone and I had never played him (although I was gunning for friends that I'd made last year and wanted to play one more time before I wouldn't have the opportunity - in case I moved - a good thing I DID that). We decided on AP18 - Village of the Damned from AP3. I'm going to preface this whole thing by saying I never had any intention of playing to "win". I'm don't care that much about winning, though, I will certainly bring my "A" game when I play, I'm more interested in the playing. That being said, against Bruce, I chose the Italians. Why? I'd never (not even once), played the Italians, so I figured I'd try. I need to remember not to make that mistake again. They just flat out suck. Their infantry is brittle and they can't hit a darn thing. That being said, the scenario calls for a mixed bag of Italians and Germans and many are walking wounded. Even with those handicaps, I held out until the last half of the last turn. There was a berzerk squad that just wouldn't quit. Last Russian turn, he surrounds me after my charge. I'm going down anyway and he tries to add insult to injury. He surrounds me with squads and the vehicle I charged goes to leave, turn around and Overrun. I stop him. Since I'm just in it for the fun, I say, ", no, NO. If you're going to do it, do it RIGHT. Start for one, move for two. Stop for three. Start in reverse for four. REVERSE MOTION overrun for eight." We both start to laugh. When you are about to die a gruesome death in ASL it stops being about mechanics and statistics and it starts to become about Style Points. I suppose that is why when Pete Shelling designs a scenario, he so often adds into the VC stuff about caputing AFV's for double CVP's. I mean, how often, have you EVER seen anyone capture an AFV? But it's about the Style Points, Right??? Bruce was great, even if he is into 14 year old cheese (I'll never understand that fascination - sorry Bruce).

Saturday AM saw me facing off against my last-year nemesis Brent Morris. We selected another AP scenario, AP52 - Into Vienna Woods. This is a Russian/German scenario. I picked it for two reasons. It had 6 turns so it should have been playable quickly. It also has alpine hills and a pine forest, two terrain features that I never have used. I'm not sure I EVER want to play an alpine hills scenario EVER again. The whole LOS thing SUCKS!!! I tried for height advantage to negate the same-level LOS issues. I should have probably just started everyone except one MG squad forward. They were all going to die anyway and maybe they could have made the Germans pay more for the ground. As it was, the Germans had the hill all but locked by turn 3 and I couldn't dig them out with my blitz on turn 6. I ceeded at the end of my turn 6. Brent, as always was a gracious opponent, but don't be fooled by his calm, soft exterior. He's a tiger on the field of battle and an excellent opponent. If you ever have the opportunity to play him, bring your "A" game. You'll need it.

My game against Brent lasted quite a bit longer than I'd anticipated. It didn't look like I was going to get to play both Happy and Sam. Sam was looking for a game and so was Brian Pickering. Then Larry Spangler walked in and was looking as he had just gotten done running his afternoon 3D ASLSK game. I saw an opportunity. I suggested to the three of them that we set up and play a game as a 4 player. After some indecisiveness (we're all older married men - what do you want?), we settled on A68 - Acts of Defiance. Brian and I took the Germans (he was the Hitlerjugend, Armor, and Assault engineers, and I was the main infantry attack force) and Sam and Larry took the Russians (Sam was the main force and Larry took the Reinforcements - which enter on turn 1). We started around 9pm on Saturday and Finished Sunday at 10 or 11. The game ended on turn 3 after I blitzed the building holding the majority of the Russian troops in the victory area and clobbered them. This was the capstone of a long string of bad events for the Russians. The game started out well for the Russians, we blitzed the setup area. In an impulsive move, Brian ran to the road and tried to ESB to get an extra MP to stop. That immobilized the TD. It DID, however, have a VERY interesting facing and the Russians didn't really have anything to hit it with at the time. I was tying up their infantry and their tanks didn't want to get near it. Turn two, however, things started going our way. We took out a tank or two and the reinforcements couldn't get into place fast enough to bring their .50 cal HMG to bear. I think that sealed their doom. Sam got and kept Radio contact and even brought down some heat on top of my German supermen. It just wasn't enough. That TD kept firing and I was able to blitz the street. They couldn't take out the infantry, and that was it. I got into the building, Brian killed off all but one of the tanks, and Sam ceeded the game. The most interesting thing to happen is the mushroom cloud we saw rising from the board when 2, 36FP Goliaths 'splodied a bridge, limiting the Russian reinforcement entry to a one bridge front. I'm not sure what the Geneva Convention would say about it, but it looked cool.

I hung around for several more hours, even meeting my friend we were staying with and showing him around the room. He was interested enough that he wanted to leave go home and play. We set up Gavin Take and I ran him through 3.5 turns, showing him the basics of infantry combat. I have heard it said that to the like-minded, ASL is like a rich cut of crack cocaine. Those of us that play new players and introduce people (like the incredible Larry Spangler and his beautiful wife, Diane) are like the pushers. "C'mon, try it. The first hit is on me..." Sure enough, my friend is VERY interested. Even though Rob R. left for New Jersey, I'm leaving for Texas, Chris L is tied up in a new job and Jess is always gone flying, I'm not leaving my good buddy Rob Wolkey destitute. Josh Raymond is going to be moving to the Spokane area in or around August of this year and he has all the contact information and websites necessary to start down the road to ASL-crack addiction. My work here is DONE.

To those in the Spokane ASL scene....Thanks for the ride. Even if I don't know you well, or maybe I do, I am proud to call you all my friends. To those of you that fate may lead to Spokane or the Pacific Northwest, may I say: "Bring your A-Game. We'll leave the light on for you."

Monday, May 4, 2009

May is a FINE month for ASL...

A couple of announcements:

1.) Enfilade 2009 is coming up May 22-24 in Olympia, WA. It is being hosted by the famous Sam Belcher (one of the nicest players I have the honor to know). He can be contacted at sambelcher cablespeed com or his phone number is also listed on the Enfilade Page. The tournament is all kinds of fun and a lot of great people show up every year. Not only that, Larry Spangler and his wife Diane are going to be there to do their 3D ASLSK scenarios again. This is some of the most BEAUTIFUL ASL I have ever seen. Not to mention it's ASL! In 3D! How cool is that? For pictures from last year, check out Sam Belcher's website here. I am SO excited. Not only that, this year, my wife is going to come visit her friend who lives in Olympia (go figure), and her friend's in-laws are NOT going to be there monopolizing the time. She'll have someone to hang out with and I won't feel quite so bad about getting spanked at my favorite board game...Good times all around!

2.) In order to get ready for the tournament (well, Rob's going to get ready, I'm going to get my butt kicked and have fun doing it), we are going to be dusting the cobwebs off our rulebooks and ASL implements on Friday, May 15 at Rob's house. Anyone who would like to come, please join us for some counter carnage. If you need directions, contact Rob at rwolkey hotmail com. Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 24, 2009

I am SUCH a geek!

I was surfing tonight and through following a chain from a page I follow somewhat regularly, (the Escapist, if you're curious), I arrived at one of the three funniest webcomics I have ever seen (xkcd and DorkTower being the other two). This guy is great! His blog entries aren't too bad either (he's an electronic journalist and IT guy). The comic is DM of the Rings and the hook is a group of hack-n-slash gamers being introduced to Tolkien through a Role-Playing Game. It's hilarious. You can check it out here. I know I will definitely be coming back for more...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spokane ASL Club

The Spokane ASL Club is meeting this Friday at 6:30 pm at Rob Wolkey's House. We will either play some Bocage scenarios or playtest out of AP6. Come join in the fun and cardboard carnage.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spokane ASL Club

The Spokane ASL club will be meeting this Friday at 6:30 at Rob Wolkey's house for some cardboard carnage. It doesn't look like I'll be able to attend (unless some things shift around some), but get yourself out and play some ASL! It does a body good....

Friday, March 27, 2009

New ASL Resource

For those of you that are active on LinkedIn, I have created an ASL group called "Advanced Squad Leaders" as kind of an ASL networking tool. This is a private group so any of you worried about "non-professionalism" on your profile can stop worrying. According to LinkedIn, only fellow members will see your association with this group. The group can be found here. Was just working on my profile and was told you can do this. There wasn't a group already, so I made one.

My idea for this group was that if there can be networking for professional societies, companies, and alumni, why not for those of us that share the same hobby. Everything I have seen myself and heard from others is that we're a bunch of great people to get to know and willing to help people out when we can. Perhaps with the US/world economy (particularly the US) in question, perhaps we can band together to help with jobs and professional topics as well. And if some ASL actually gets discussed here....when is that EVER a bad thing?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spokane ASL Club

The Spokane ASL club will be meeting this Friday at our usual 6:30 - 7:00-ish time at Rob Wolkey's house for some cardboard carnage. Come join in the fun and don't forget to brush up on your Bocage rules...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lots of ASL goodness...

Got together with Rob W., Rob R., and a new addition to our group, Issac W. (Lots of "W"'s in our club...). Rob R. and Issac squared off against each other in The Meat Grinder from AP5 with Rob pulling off the win. Row W. and I on the other hand playtested a new Chas Argent scenario from AP6. This one's about done, we figure.

I don't recall the name of the scenario but it is a 7.5 turn romp in 1944 France. It uses 1/2 (A-Q) of board 50 and 1/2 (R-GG) of one of the new boards. The Germans (SS Panzergrenadiers supported by two tanks - A StuGIII and another one) have to enter on the narrow end of board 50, attack and take two buildings on board 50 (B6 and C5 to be specific) and then exit > 12 VP off the opposite narrow end on the new one. The Americans win by preventing this OR killing both tanks. The Americans can set up anywhere on the new board or in hexes A-D inclusive on board 50. The Americans also get to HIP 1 squad equivalent and SW.

As the Americans, I decided to deploy a 2nd line squad (simply because the 1st and 2nd line squads have the same unbroken morale - though, if I had it to do over again, I'd probably split one of the devil 6-6-6 squads) and I needed to HIP 2 of my 3 bazookas to keep Rob guessing. I chose to do so in the back field (on the new board) where they could overlap their 3-hex "effective" range on the side of the board where I assumed he would drive the tanks down, but not in the obvious places. I put them further back to try and lure him into complacency figuring if he had to constantly search concealment terrain for BAZ troops, eventually, he'd have to give up and just go for the finish line and I could get him then.

The rest of my strategy was one of retreat. There is NO WAY the Americans are going to hold these buildings against the Germans. Don't even try. The trick is to make them waste time trying to get to them while falling back past them into the trees where the new board begins. I set up forward (mostly on Hexrow 50D). I evened out my two machine gun stacks so that Rob wouldn't know exactly where my 9-1, 6-6-7 and HMG was versus my other 6-6-7 and MMG. The rest of the counters I used as dummy stacks, even placing one set in one of the Victory buildings and then "filling" out the rest of my front line and adding a "mobile reserve" a few hexes back on the new board to start a fallback support group. I put the HMG up on the level 2 hill on the left side of the board and the MMG in the grain on the right.

The plan was to make the Germans take 3 or 4 (preferrably 4) turns to get to and take the buildings (falling back on turns 3 and 4 to the woods area you first get to when you enter the new board. The MG's would fall back first to take up support positions in the woods covering the "exit" approaches and helping to get as many of the remaining squads back as possible. Then for another turn or 2 (preferrably two) the squads would hold up the german advance or die trying. Finally, the Germans have to rush for the finish line where my two BAZ HS waited to "splodey" some tanks.

The plan was actually working reasonably well up until turn 3. I was keeping the Germans cautious and they were slowing a little bit. I decided to shift the HMG down off the hill and get it back to the woods where it could support the retreat. Bob couldn't let that happen, of course and took a shot along a really CLOSE, unblocked line of sight and got a KIA (and my sniper), keeping rate on both his LMG's. "That 9-1 leader's DAID, son!" DOH!!!!! Squad fails LLTC and breaks. Rob rates again with the MG's, I fail again on the MC, now it's a HS. Rob FINALLY looses rate but hits, I fail the final MC and just like that, one of my MG's is gone (destroyed even). Sniper was hot, though and killed his 9-1 leader - something anyway. THAT was a disheartening turn, to say the least, but OK...I'm going to pass my PMC and go on.

I start to fall back with my other MG, trying to keep to cover to get back to the patch of woods on the right side. Same German kill stack. KIA. MMG left in hex. At this point I'm in REAL TROUBLE. Turn 4 sees the Germans advancing on the Victory Buildings. I try to do some damage because I'm going to need to take less fire as I fall back due to no support. I actually get some decent shots in but only one has any effect. It also activates his sniper. Bang. 7-0 leader Dead. No MG's, No Leaders. I retreat in earnest. Guys putting on their blue hats on the way back. No one to tell them they're out of style.

At this point the plan has completely fallen to pieces. Instead of having the exit lanes covered by MG's and BAZ, there is BAZ with no leadership. The right side of the board is completely open except for a lone BAZ HS in the backfield. Instead of the Germans having to rush for 1.5-2 turns to get off the board, they can leisurely take 3.5 while searching out my BAZ HS and killing them making way for the tanks to exit with impunity. We decided to call it.

Aside from my atrocious luck, this scenario is actually pretty well balanced. I think that the strategy I hit upon is a pretty sound one. Instead of putting the MG on the hill I might have considered starting it in the woods on the new board. Other than that and some minor movement mistakes with dummy squads, I think I played pretty soundly (from a tactical perspective). Rob will be sending an AAR to Chas with our balance recommendations, but from a straight OB/VC/SSR perspective, I think this one's pretty well done. So does Rob.

As a side note, I also got my first look at the finished AP5. Man it was neat to see my name listed as a Playtester. Doin' some work for the hobby. Feels good. I already have a scenario I want to try from the pack as well. Good times. I LOVE this game.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spokane ASL Club

We'll be meeting this Friday at Rob Wolkey's house. Available are AP6 playtests, AP5 scenarios, or bring something else you want to play. We'll play it. 6:30 pm (or 7:00 if you're me) as usual. Hope to see you all there.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Light Airline Reading

So as some of you know I flew out to PA this week for a job interview. I AGONIZED over what to bring on the plane to read. I finally decided to get a book out of my collection that I had only half finished. The book is Strategy, by B.H. Liddell Hart. I then proceeded to finish the section I was on (Napoleonic Wars) and skip WWI for now to get to WWII (my not-so-secret love affair where history is concerned). I was TOTALLY blown away.

This guy is amazing in his analysis of strategy and its application to the battlefield. He even takes a chapter and sums it up. The whole time, I'm thinking about ASL (and other wargames I've played, but mostly ASL) and how all of this applies perfectly...For example.

The points he makes in Chapter 20 (his summary) are as follows:

1.) Adjust your end to your means
2.) Keep your object always in mind
3.) Choose the line (or course) of least expectation
4.) Exploit the line of least resistance
5.) Take a line of operation which offers alternate objectives
6.) Ensure that both plan and dispositions are flexible - adaptable to circumstances

7.) Do not throw your weight into a stroke whilst your opponent is on guard
8.) Do not renew an attack along the same line (or in the same form) after it has once failed

Now, several of these have more applicability to a campaign game (simply because it is longer and usually has a larger field of operation with more objectives, however, even longer (non-tournament-sized) scenarios can benefit from these suggestions (eg. the 8 turn scenarios in the modules themselves). Not to mention the possibilities for games that actually offer operational strategy gaming (like MMP's OCS and RCS series or the GMT games). Admittedly there are some "gamey" things you need to consider to stay within the prescribed rules, but it certainly give the player some broad guidelines for good strategy. I was VERY impressed.

I highly recommend giving this book a read if you are at all interested in military history. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

For all you readers out there (since none of you are women anyway...). It's valentine's day. Do something special for one you love, give the gift of geekness. Like this picture from XKCD for starters...
Or maybe a card from Dork Tower:

Either way, have fun today. Give some lovin' (Bowm chicka wow wow)

Friday, January 2, 2009

More ASL Resources

This link was posted over on the GS forums and is about the coolest thing I have seen yet for introducing new players to Full ASL. Each portion has a "tutorial explanation" along with a scenario that utilizes only rules that have been explained so far (a la Starter Kit style). It looks like they were originally designed by the Vae Victis guys. They are AWESOME! Have a look: Here.

Spokane ASL Club

The Spokane ASL Club will be meeting tonight at Rob Wolkey's House at 6:30 pm (7:00 if you're me) for some cardboard carnage. Hope to see you all there.