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


Spencer Armstrong said...

Nice AAR, Josh, even if I would dispute "mocking." ;) An enjoyable game. That's the main thing. :)

The "lower StuG" was actually a PzIVH, and that huge shot (4 TH, 2 effects) was from the Panther's MA.


Peter said...

Great AAR, Josh. I'm also one of those who will never win the big one, but I'm enjoying ASL these days as much as I ever have. Playing and writing up AARs seems to help with added enjoyment and the new opponents add even more.

I think you'll find that you retain more from your games because you're enjoying them and you're thinking about the Game while writing up the AARs.

PBeM can be an excellent tool for reinfocing the learning of the mechanics of ASL and even with the slightly interrupted sequence of play, your tactical appreciation improves simply because of the practice and practical element.


Ian said...

Yes Spencer is a nice gut whilst handing out the loss LOL.

You have the right order to the game too, thogh winning (3) helps with 1 LOL

Josh said...

@Spencer: Thanks for the correction, I'll make the change.

Spencer Armstrong said...

Wasn't really meant as a correction, I was just in a clarifying mood since you'd mentioned "not sure which gun..."

Great fun playing with you, looking forward to doing it again.


Josh said...

@Spencer: I understand, but in times of war, accuracy is key. :)

I look forward to playing you again soon as well. You're aces in my book.