Friday, May 4, 2012

ASL45 Revenge at Kastelli

Took a 4-day weekend this week and with that, gave my wife 1 day and ASL 1 day (a customary thing for my longer-than-3-day weekends).  Today's live VASL foray was ASL45 Revenge at Kastelli against Spencer Armstrong.  This one was on my list for several reasons:

1.) Having come to ASL (fully) in the early 2000's (2001 I think), and having SL but never having played it really, most of the "old" scenarios are new to me.  This happened to be one of the many I have never played.
2.) It's a fairly straight-forward scenario with some easy-to-understand SSR's and VC's.
3.) It's all-infantry and I'm still not very good with tanks.

Having played 4 turns of it, now, we're shelving it.  I may do an actual AAR later (or maybe not), but here are my impressions.  One of the things I'm finding about the "old-school" scenarios (from the boxed sets) is that they are all 1.) really long and 2.) much more "historically based" in OB and conditions than "newer" scenarios as a general rule.

The key to this scenario is to surround and kill or even better, capture for FTR.  I've loaded the south board and while I've certainly taken my licks, have fairly well surrounded the Germans down there.  I left a token force in the north to try and force the Germans to move slower to reinforce the south and hopefully give my Greeks enough time to clear it prior to them getting there so that they can redirect their force.

The problem with the game is that there is simply no variety in the action within the scenario itself.  The playing area is large and the bulk of the Greek squads are green so they only move 3 normally.  It takes longer for them to get anywhere.  The hills and woods-to-brush terrain change make for an interesting modification to these boards because the hills make routing extremely difficult, and the brush makes movement-under-cover impossible.

Don't know if we'll pull this one out again or not (either live VASL or PBEM).  It's not a very "exciting" scenario (more of a slog-fest) and with there being so many other scenarios out there to play...  Who knows?

What WAS fun, however, was playing ASL with my friend Spencer.  For those of you that have not had that opportunity, I highly recommend it.  A great player, and even more important, a great guy.  I look forward to our next meetings both PBEM and live.

The Count

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

AAR for FrF45 Totensonntag

With this being my first ever game of PBEM, I would have thought it would be harder.  It's not.  I really enjoy the speed and medium of PBEM to fit my time needs.  Not that I don't like live VASL/F2F more but right now, this definitely fits my play availability better.

So I've set up a "permanent" opponent in my eASLeague partner-in-crime Spencer Armstrong.  This was our first scenario and at the beginning, he spent some time teaching me the mechanics of PBEM (but they're not hard to master).  He then proceeded to school me on how NOT to attack as the Polish in this scenario.

The Polish are set with the task of killing 6 SEq worth of Germans and/or capturing wooden buildings (with one building captured being the equivalent of one squad) in 6.5 Turns.  It is an infantry-only scenario on board FrF-A.  Below, is a screenshot of our final Setup (illustrating the board as well).

As you can see, there are several "open" hexrows that lie between woods and town that I'm going to have to cross - with NO smoke.  That was sucky.

This is the end of Turn 1:

I began toward rushing the right side because of how heavily the left was loaded (MG in the wooden building plus no cover.  Spencer shifted immediately, however ready to punish with -2 shots.  I was not able to keep enough pressure on him with the guys in the center to keep him from shifting.

At the end of Turn 2:
 I have forced him out of the stone building in the middle and taken the first row of woods.  The problem is that when you're advancing, you have no cover between the woods rows and the German can make you pay.  The trick for the German seems to be avoid adjacent units and especially CC at any cost (up to and including Voluntary Break) and NOT to let the Polish behind them.  The Polish, on the other hand seem to not be able to go down either side and rush the back field (both to capture buildings and/or kill for FTR) without taking brutal -2 fire which leaves the middle and cover for the Germans' retreat.  Seems a real pickle.

At this point, I wasn't losing excessive firepower and I had taken a half squad and he had broken one of his MG's.  Not quite as quick of progress as I'd hoped, but there was still 4.5 turns.  I had some time.

...Several turns later...

In Turn 3, I picked up another HS.  but had come up empty after that.  As you can see from the picture above, I had taken the second woods, but was drastically running out of time.  I had previously tried to flank with a squad and leader down the left (east) side but they got gunned down and were pretty well down for the count.  You can see here, Spencer is falling back like a pro leaving a few units as "speedbumps" and enough possible negative shots to funnel me through woods terrain that eats up my MF.  At this point, the game is very likely over, but I have decided that I want to play more endgames so I can see some of those last minute reversals (though with my luck at this game, that's not likely to ever happen but hey - "you have to play to win").

End of Turn 5:
This is my first foray trying to push through the last batch of woods.  I got a few through, but at this point decided that I hadn't been pushing enough.  The Polish player needs to be fairly aggressive in this scenario so that the German can be flanked.  If the German is always to the south, the Polish player will run out of time.

End of Turn 6:
Here's where I started pushing and formed up at the edge of the woods for a last ditch charge to capture some VP's.  At this point I had broken the eastern-most guy and passed him.  I would be able to kill him for FTR by moving adjacent.  I had stood up to a firelane to ensure it.  The guy in the building was now isolated, but I didn't anticipate him routing upstairs so taking him was not to be.  I had also gotten another HS as free points.

Game Final:
By the end of the game, I had killed the ninja squad (who had dodged ENTIRELY too much fire to not have some sort of ninja training) to the east for FTR and another squad with Boxcars on a MC.  Final tally 3/6 of the VP required with no buildings captured.  Win for Spencer.

A great game all around and one I recommend as a good all-infantry game.  Another great offering from the guys at Friendly Fire.  I look forward to our next fracas.

The Count

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Registration ends tomorrow!!!!

Registration for the eASLeague ends tomorrow.  We then start pairings and play begins April 1.  We have 72 players.  Yes, that's what I said, 72!  When we first discussed this thing.  Spencer and I figured we'd top out at some number approaching 50 with about 30 registering in the first week or so.  As it was, we had almost 60 in the first week.  So, if this is any indication of how reality is going to meet our expectations, we're in for one heck of a ride.

Another note that I didn't mention...also contributing to prizes this year is no less than:

Chas Argent at Multi-Man Publishing

OK, let me just say this again.  Thank you so much to our sponsors for their generosity.  The ASL community is truly one of the most amazing groups I have ever encountered.  Even after associating with it for 5 or 6 years now, I am still amazed.  I've met scholars, and lawyers, and geeks, and strange/wondrous British people ;) and even white trailer trash (Hi, John!!! :D ), and I still actually like chatting with them all.  Everyone that I seem to run into (virtually and IRL) seems to be a stellar person.

I'm sure that I also speak for my counterpart, Spencer, but I personally am looking forward to the opportunity to work with all of you over the course of this league and even play a few of you.   We are grateful for your trust and hope not to screw it up too badly as we work the kinks out of our system.  We've put a lot of time into preparing this and have tried to present the most durable product that we could.  This tournament, as all of them are, is a labor of love.  We're excited to be able to present it to you and have you all participate.

We'll see you all April 1.  Roll low and may you pass all of your PMC's.

Josh Walles
eASLeague Director

Thursday, March 8, 2012

eASLeague Official Rules Document

As we continue to prepare for the league, we have released the 2012 version of the eASLeague Official Rules Document.  The GameSquad post containing it is HERE.  We are asking that people review it and look for any holes we might have missed plugging (we're not perfect).  Spencer and I are both overwhelmed by the response to the tournament - 54 entries in 5 days!!!!

We're proud of what we've accomplished and put together so far.  We're excited to be able to host this event for all our friends in the ASL community.  We're grateful for the sponsors that have graciously agreed to help support this tournament with prizes and I particularly want to give a shout out to them:

Scott & Crystal Blanton at the Gamer's Armory
Chris & Helen Doary at BattleSchool
George Kellin at Lone Canuck Publishing
Xavier Vitrey at Le Franc Tireur

We have a couple more that we're working on bringing on-board as well and I'll post that information as it is available.

Most of all, we're grateful to you, the players, for your trust and enthusiasm.  We LOVE ASL.  We love playing it, we love talking about it, and we know you do too.  We hope our contribution to the proverbial "ASL table" meets with your approval and can be savored and enjoyed alongside the other wonderful offerings already out there.

More to come...

Josh Walles
eASLeague Director

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Introducing the eASLeague

Well, we went ahead and did it.  The eASLeague is open for business with the proprietors being myself and Spencer Armstrong.  HERE is a link to the GameSquad thread.  The following is a reprint of the original post:

First, there was the CyberASL Open; now we're creating the eASLeague. Pretty soon, it we'll just have a cool symbol that you can make an electric guitar out of...maybe one that looks kind of like an ankh...have to check on that...I'm thinking something in purple...

Anyway, with all of the interest expressed in our "...resurrected" thread, we have decided that we will ACTUALLY have...A LEAGUE!!!...muah haaah haa!!!
Excuse me, sorry...wrong voice.

So we are announcing, the eASLeague (or e-mail ASL League). As the name implies, this will be a League format as opposed to the Tournament one we thought about originally. We are in the final stages of developing the League rules document and it should be done next week, but I can hit the highlights here:

Registration is open to all and starts immediately. We didn't want to delay registration simply because the rules doc wasn't done and we wanted to start in Q2. Registration is to be an e-mail directed to both of the League Directors (LD's):

Primary LD: Josh Walles (countzeroasl at gmail dot com)

LD: Spencer Armstrong (ssa415 at gmail dot com)

We'll comfirm the e-mail back to you, and you're in. Prior to the start of a round, we'll send you an e-mail with your next pairing and contact information of your opponent. Play will commence on April 1, 2012. For the first year, we will likely have a single grouping. In later years, that may restructure and add something for ASLSK, but we'll worry about that down the line.

League rounds will be 3 months in duration with initial pairings determined by the LD's. That means for the year 2012, there will be 3 rounds. Scenario selection, play, and winner determination will be left almost entirely to the players as outlined in the rules doc. Normal years will consist of 4 rounds. Play should be completed prior to 3 days before the end of the round to give us time to do all administrative stuff required prior to the next round. For the most part, however, we don't want to interfere. It's like the famous signature line here on the forum "Shut up and play."

Obviously the default format is PBEM with the Honor System governing things (some clarifications and structure are in the rules doc, but things are largely left up to the players per the "we are all adults" comments in the other thread), but if needed F2F or Live VASL can be used to finish a game at the end of a round.

There will be a prize pool at the end of the year (also outlined in the rules doc). We already have some things lined up thanks to Chris Doary of BattleSchool fame and Scott and Crystal of The Gamer's Armory generously sponsoring us and are working on a few more surprises to be announced later.

The League is designed to be very low-key. What we really want is to get more people playing more ASL in a format that meets their needs. We want to give them an excuse to meet new opponents and get a wider breadth of experience. Most of all, we want everyone to have a good time playing ASL.

So while you're waiting for the rest of the details, give us an e-mail shout and register for the hottest ASL event since that one that was run by that guy a while know? Come out and participate. We'd love to have you. In the meantime, roll low and may you pass all your PMC's.

Day 1 saw 24 registered.  Huge!  And there's still 25 days to go.  Rules doc is going through it's final revisions between Spencer and I after which, it will be released to the general populous.  We're already funneling in prize material.  Things are looking up.  We have seen a lot of excitement about this idea.  It seems to fill a need in our community.  Not a giant one, mind you, but a need nonetheless.  It's nice to be able to offer this as a way to contribute.  This is something I can do to make a difference to a few people.  I'm happy to do it.

We're excited to see how this all plays out.  Come join us for the ride, if you've a mind...  We'd love to see you on the field of battle.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I MUST be crazy...

Well, one of the interesting side effects of participating in a mostly fan-based community such as the ASL community is that there are, by nature, more opportunities to contribute.  People playtest new scenarios, edit articles and rules submissions, work on layout, write code, and so on.  The game owes almost as much to these volunteers as to the big funders like Mr. Schilling.

For a while now, I have been pondering how I could include myself in this effort.  I used to playtest for MMP and was even credited in AP5 and possibly AP6 (not sure).  I attended tournaments and helped when I could.  Here in Texas, though, as I have said, there's really nothing and no one close.  Out of necessity, to play, I have turned to PBEM.  And now we come to the crux of the issue.

There was, at one point, a tournament run by Chris van Wyk from South Africa where the default format was PBEM.  It was a tournament for "the rest of us".  Quite suddenly, however, he dropped off the map.  I have tried contacting him to no avail.  This absence leaves a hole for those that want the competitiveness of tournament play, but can't afford to get to a tournament or can't make their schedules fit.  Enter naive me.

I am going to try to resurrect this tournament as my way of giving something back to a community that has provided me with hours of enjoyment and many wonderful friends.  My primary PBEM opponent, Spencer Armstrong has even agreed to help.  We're still in the beginning steps of the process.   Look for more information on GameSquad and here in the coming weeks.

For those of you who PBEM, we welcome you.  This tournament is for you.  Roll low, and have fun.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

ASL by baby steps

Time for a new post.

So here in Lubbock, TX, as I have posted before, there are no ready opponents.  Attempts to interest other members of the community have struck a thick wall almost exactly the size of the ASL rulebook.  No one wants a challenge anymore.  No one wants complexity.  Don't get me wrong.  There's a place for games like Catan, and Pandemic (which I LOVE) and Munchkin and others.  My gaming "bride", my "old woman" if you will, the one I'll always come home to at night, will ALWAYS be ASL, though.

With that in mind, I have embarked on a "new" method of play since all previous attempts at setting aside amounts of time required to play VASL or finding a F2F opponent have failed.  In fact, saying that they have failed miserably is actually insulting to those that fail miserably.  There's no word in the English language for the amount of suck those efforts have attracted...

So I have begun to play via email using VASL logfiles.  I come to this method desperate for my fix.  The monkey has grafted itself on to my poor back and I am helpless against its power.  It has been my hope to find an answer.  I am not and have not been disappointed.

I have been able to average almost a log a day.  It takes between 10 and 20 minutes to put one together.  I can do this after I put the kids to bed and before I get incredibly tired.  All told, I am pushing 4-6 logs out a week right now.  Play is in chunks I can wrap my head around.  I have time to investigate rules as I need them.  I can think about tactics and strategy.  Most importantly, however, is the fact that I am PLAYING again.

I've even posted for a second opponent over at the GS forums.  I should easily be able to keep up two games and in doing so, will get a wider view of playing style.  Something else to sharpen the pencil...

On top of that, the opponent I have is one that is worth knowing as a friend outside of ASL.  Not that I am particularly surprised.  Most of my best friends have come from some form of gaming, whether RPG's as a young adult and college student, to ASL in my adult life.  I love hanging around people that game.  There is an almost inherent acceptance in us, for we are almost always outcasts.  We know what it is to be misunderstood - we play a game with a manual that rivals most computer language technical specifications in complexity for pity's sake.  Who DOES that?!?  But we look at it and don't even flinch.  That's a special breed and the people that do that are often the most generous around.  Hopefully, the second one turns out just as well as the first.

In short, the monkey has his banana, and all is right with the world...