Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 eASLeague Final Results

OK, everyone.  The year is over and it's been a good one.  The 2012 eASLeague final results are in and are as follows:

Place/Name/Total Points
1 Ken Dunn 42
2 Enrico Catanzaro 42
3 Lionel Colin 40
4 Bernie Howell 40
5 Pablo Garcia 40
6 Keld Hjortskov 40
7 Jesus Pie 36
8 Pierce Mason 36
9 Chris Chapman 36
10 Xavier Vitry 34
11 Jeff Sewall 29
12 John Bays 29
13 David Haasl 29
14 Kevin Klausmeyer 27
15 Jeff Hollick 27
16 Thomas Lynch 27
17 Curtis Brooks 27
18 Steffen Knippel 27
19 Miikka Sohlman 27
20 Martin Vicca 27
21 Ian Willey 27
22 Rusty Shields 25
23 Chuck Tewksbury 25
24 Brian Roundhill 25
25 Davide Bendazzi 25
26 Paul Lauger 25
27 Michael Lucey 25
28 Douglas Roubidoux25
29 Mario Aceto 25
30 Jim Traver 25
31 Santiago Penabella25
32 Josh Gilbert 25
33 Dave Reenstra 25
34 Dave Childs 24
35 Rick Carter 20
36 Angel Gonzalez 20
37 Eoin Corrigan 20
38 Jason Burnette 18
39 David Clemons 18
40 Sergio Puente Diaz18
41 Blake Ball 18
42 Rick Nieznanski 16
43 Chandler Braswell 16
44 Dave Wardzala 16
45 John Bock 16
46 Ivan Kent 16
47 Alessandro Demichelis16
48 Robin Reeve 16
49 Jamo Munn 16
50 Rami Saarinen 16
51 John Barkoviak 16
52 Bruce Childs 16
53 Burnie Fox 16
54 Don Holland 16
55 Lee Thornton 16
56 Lars Nordstrom 16
57 Corey Todaro 14
58 Nicolas Sabido 12
59 Chris Bryer 12
60 Pete Palmer 12
61 Spencer Armstrong2 10
62 Alan DeRosa 10
63 Don Lazov 10
64 Paul Franklin-Bihary9
65 Chris Trout 9
66 Rob MacGinley 9
67 Steve Cummings 9
68 Joe Moro 9
69 Gareth Evans 6
70 Roy Connelly 6
71 David Langer 6
72 Bob Eury 6
73 Spencer Armstrong6
74 Robert Shuster 3
75 Scott Kippen 3

We have kicked off 2013 with a new League - the Front Line League.  The top 16 players still with us from 2012 will be playing for what we anticipate to be some SWEET prizes.  There are also going to be 4 Reserve Leagues this year instead of 3.  What this all means is that we're growing.  It is happening because of all the people out there that are participating, then telling others.  It is happening because of the people we have gotten to support us with prize material.  It is happening because the ASL community is the best community in gaming.  I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity this last year to help give back to that community in some small way.  I may not play as often as I want.  I may not even be any good when I do play.  But this is something I can do well. and I am happy to contribute.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank my partner-in-crime, Spencer Armstrong.  This journey would have been significantly more difficult without his help.  Additionally, I found one of those rare people that I call friends.  I have been truly blessed.

Here's looking forward to a new year full of ASL, fun, and new faces.  2013 eASLeague:  Bring it.  We're ready for you.

Josh Walles

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 back..you 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...


Friday, November 25, 2011

My inglorious return...

Today, I made my return to the world of ASL in typical fashion...by 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.