Friday, November 25, 2011

My inglorious return...

Today, I made my return to the world of ASL in typical playing a scenario and having my strategy explode in a spray of blood and body parts to a counterpoint of flaming wrecks. The impersonal nature of VASL + Skype did not do much to dull the sting. My opponent, Spencer Armstrong, a true gentleman, was as nice as can be as he mocked my feeble attempts to get to the Victory Objective while laying waste to my critical assets.

We had previously decided to do some PBEM, but due to his impending move back to the land of promise, we had put it off, and put it off. Since I had today free, we decided to play it today live and pick another for my first foray into PBEM. The scenario we had chosen was one of Pete Shelling's ShellShocked scenarios that are freely available from the ASLOK website (here), Backs to the Saare. This scenario has the US devil squads (6-6-6) with some assault engineers backed up by some M36GMC's, some M4A3's, and an M4A1. They get tubes, footballs, and a torch. Opposing them are the Germans, with 1st and 2nd line squads some decent leaders, AT/AA assets and some dummies with a tube. There are some Pillboxes and tradable trenches (for wire, and roadblocks for fortified bldg locations, but most importantly, on turn 4, the cavalry arrives in the form of a PzKfw VG, a PzKfw IVJ and a couple of StuG IIIG's. The goal for the US is to take either 21Z2 or 20Z3 by game end.

My initial thinking was that if I were defending, I would probably reinforce the wooden building in 21Z2 heavier due to the TEM difference. I briefly thought that attacking up the middle would keep him guessing for a couple of turns while I felt out the defense, but if I were him, I would have the excellent fire lane of 20Y1 - 21Y1 set up so that no matter which way the attacker turned, I'd have a back shot with a decent chance of totalling my target. Experience bears this out in spades (more later). Based on that, I tried to do a force wedge on the board 20 side and attack what I believed would be the more lightly defended stone building. I should have tried the middle somehow.

The scene below shows the situation at the beginning of Turn 2 (after some maneuvering). I drove pretty well, not allowing my infantry and armor to spread out and become isolated by firelanes or HIP guys. I lost smoke rounds on basically everything, but made effective use of smoke mortars and smoke grenades to go forward. Then, I had the unfortunate luck of losing a M36GMC to a sniper of all things. Recall. That set the tone for things to come...

This is where things started to break down. I had some issues driving to the victory building and getting across that street. The momentum got held up through turn 3 and I couldn't afford to lose it. Below is the scene mid-way through Turn 4. Ready to cross the street finally. Unfortunately, this is about a turn too late and the German has way too many troops in 20Z3

Below is the scene at the beginning of American Turn 5. German tanks are closing in and the Americans are still not across the $@#&ing street.

Below we have the German Turn 5. I tried running a tank around to flank and attack the lower Pz IVH. I was concerned that if I left the tanks to the south unopposed, I'd get flanked and having tanks running around unopposed in my back field was NOT something I wanted to deal with. Not the worst plan ever, but it left me with a flaming wreck to show for it. See also the other M36GMC in the middle of the board flamed in turn 4.

Below is American Turn 6 in which the Americans finally grow a pair and go for the endgame. One tank, who can't really go anywhere where he would be effective, so I have him putting smoke down still.

I get a whole bunch of assets into the street where somehow they survive two firelanes at which time the germans brought down some HE from one of the Guns (can't remember which) and it took care of that stack, hard. The last shot here is the final image of the game where the American's trying to finger their way into the victory building evaporate into a fine red mist. At that point, there was no possible way I had either the time or the resources to take the building. So I ceded victory.

Final thoughts:

1.) OT M36GMC's should have been kept in the backfield and used once the other tanks were brought out.
2.) Should have pushed harder with the infantry. There was plenty of leadership to rally and they come back on 8's.
3.) As mentioned before, I probably should have split his forces by going up the middle instead of allowing him to reinforce bd. 20 from the south.
4.) Flamethrowers IGNORE TEM. An FT can take care of those pesky fortified building locations with ease.

I'm sure that there are more, but those are some really big ones.

To quote Spencer: "Play ASL to (in this order), have fun, learn/teach something, win - 2 out of 3 is good enough."

In summary, I'm not in any danger of winning a GROFAZ title or mini wood any time soon. I am in the market to have a lot of fun in this game again, though. I'm still finding great guys to meet and play. It just doesn't get any better than that.

The Count

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Random ASL-ery

Interesting times a-happening:

1.) My daughter, Meagan, has decided at the precocious age of 9 (she'll be 10 in December), that I "need to teach her to play ASL, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!!" I've started running her through Chapter K slowly. To my surprise and delight, if I go slow enough, she's actually picking it up. Who knows, I might develop a "for real" ASL opponent here local that wants to play often...and I get to bond with my daughter at the same time. LOTS of up-side.

2.) Having made yet another "ASL friend" in Spencer Armstrong, I've got a VASL game lined up for over Thanksgiving Break. 4-Day weekend = 3 days for family + 1 day for ASL. Everybody wins! Additionally, I'm going to have him walk me through a PBEM game. I figure with the small timeframe that it takes to build a log file (or portion thereof) and the small amount of time I actually seem to be able to put towards ASL on a regular basis, that it would be a match made in heaven (until circumstances change). Good times.

3.) Yet another guy that is tops is Chris Doary, the proprietor of ASL BattleSchool. This is one of the crispest, most well put-together blogs for ASL I have seen yet. He also runs a raffle every month for blog subscribers. This month, some poor schmuck in Lubbock, TX won (me). Take includes 4 precision BattleSchool custom dice and a $20 gift certificate to the site's store, KitShop. I find it incredible that the members of our community can do things like this. I have been in others where although the people were great, they were not nearly this generous. So many (like Chris) contribute blood, sweat, tears, time and no small amount of money to this hobby to keep it alive. Not everyone can be a Curt Schilling, but the smaller contributions to the community, like BattleSchool, are both humbling and appreciated. They make ME want to continue contributing and to contribute more.

Hopefully, this doesn't sound sappy, because it's not how it's meant. I just am continually grateful to have met the people I have and found this hobby/community. For all our quirks, we really have some of the nicest people I've met yet.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Doing work, For King and Country

On Tuesday, my wife called me at work saying that my long awaited package finally came.  After waiting almost 2 years for my 2009 birthday present, For King and Country (the British OB to the ASL System) had arrived.  I wanted to rush home right then.

Today, I have finally finished taking care of all the pieces.  They have all been plano-ized, the boards are in sleeves and put away, the scenarios and pages are all in page protectors (I needed another scenario binder, because these put my old one over the limit.  My Second rules binder is at the limit too.  Not sure what I'm going to do when Rising Sun comes out with Chapter G and a whole bunch of Chapter H pages...

I can't wait to mix it up as the British here soon...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ian Daglish

A sad day for the ASL community...

WWII historian, published author, and eminent scenario designer Ian Daglish was killed in a plane crash. Chas Argent reported it on the GameSquad Forums (here is the thread). My prayers go out to his family and friends in this time of grieving. He will be sorely missed by our little community.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

At Last...

Got the opportunity to play Rob again while I was in Spokane on vacation. We played an infantry scenario from Bounding Fire's Blood and Jungle. I really need to find a way to play more regularly, because playing with Rob was like coming home. I'm not sure why I allowed myself to stop playing, but I will be working out a way with the missus to play at least once a month starting as soon as possible. Part of this will be figuring out how to deal with the kids during that time (who, while I love them, make concentrating difficult at best).

I will not post an AAR for the scenario (for those who have read my past blogs here - Rob slaughtered me...again), however, I will say this: For those of you thinking about making the leap to ASL from ASLSK. Don't think. Do it. For those of you who have stopped playing for whatever reason, find a way to come back. I have made some of the best friends imaginable through gaming and ASL is no exception. I can't wait until I have the opportunity to make a new one. Perhaps I'll even find a way to make it to the Texas Team Tournament in the near future. Whatever the venue, I'll be ready with my rules and dice for my next adventure.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rant: Cramping my style

For those of you that have left the simplicity of bachelorhood behind, have you ever noticed how having young kids/pets cramps your ASL-style?

Before you get the wrong idea, let me first say that I LOVE my kids. As much as I don't want him to know, I even like my cat, Rambo. However, working 60 hours a week every week does not leave much time for ASL. When I get the energy I want to get out the counters and play, but a couple of hours of ASL does not allow me to play a full game (I'm not speed racer when it comes to this game).

My 9 year old daughter has learned to leave my stuff alone. My 6 year old son, however, still looks with his hands. As for the cat, do a search on the Gamesquad forum for "FOBA" (or Feline OBA) - enough said.

The next response is usually "go with VASL". This is a hard one for me. VASL is a wonderful program (I say that as both an end user and as a programmer - though not in Java). The community should be forever grateful to Herr Kinney for his creation and CountermanCX for his ongoing contributions, not to mention all the map trolls and extension elves quietly and diligently adding their two cents. The fact of the matter is, I use a netbook for most of my computing. Screen size is an issue. I have, however, also done VASL with both one and two monitor setups. 2 monitors is tolerable. I don't happen to have two monitors at home.

Another problem with VASL is that I spend much of my day on a computer anyway. Often, I have a hard time generating the desire to get back on even to play this awesome game. This doesn't seem fair to my opponents to me so I am extremely hesitant to even begin a game. Case in point: my last attempt ended as a miserable failure. I had a very patient and understanding opponent. I am almost certain he bears no ill will that life was stepping in the way, but I feel guilty all the same. We did not even finish a single game.

Perhaps the more important and less concrete reason is that there is some aesthetic attraction for me to pushing cardboard stacks around a hard board (and occasionally tipping them over). There is also something about actually looking your opponent in the eye. I suppose I have been spoiled by living in Spokane and having a friend like Mr. Wolkey living so close. Here in Lubbock, I have not found nor been able to make a regular opponent.

It makes me wonder if any of my other "readers" suffer in silence. Speak up! Tell your stories. I'd love to hear them as well.

And so this doesn't end on a negative...Play often and roll low!!! Happy ASL-ing.