Friday, December 15, 2017

Grumble Jones 2017 in Review

2017...where do I begin...? What an absolutely amazing year for ASL. By time 2018 rolls up, I will have played 54 ASL Scenarios. My previous record year was last year at 26. I still cannot believe I played so much high quality ASL. 

I had the opportunity to play in two tournaments...March Madness in Kansas City and the St. Louis Tournament. I had a blast at both tournaments and look forward to attending both again in 2018.

Cardboard via SKYPE saw its best year ever. The opportunity to play nearly every Saturday with Dan Best has been an ASL blessing. There's nothing like a regular opponent who loves the game with the same passion as yourself. 

The Grumble Jones Blog continues to thrive and for that I thank my readers, who graciously spend their time here at Grumble Jones. It is sincerely appreciated. I look forward to blogging throughout 2018.

The year's video is long...too long really...but 50+ scenarios adds a lot of volume to any yearly recap video.

So let's raise a glass to 2017. It has been an amazing year and I can only hope that 2017 is equally as enjoyable as 2017!

Below is the link to this year's recap video of 2017!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Our Saturday Game - Scenario PAD 3: Earning Face

For our Saturday game - Dan Best and I broke out our Christmas gifts early in order to try out our new Broken Ground Design mouse pad maps. Shout out to Alan Findlay for this unique and very well-done product addition to the ASL system. Quality of the mouse pad is first rate and the map is a great throwback to the classic SL Boards 2 and 3. Suffice to say...I like this mouse pad and the accompanying four scenarios very much. I can see a great future for this to be the perfect...throw down game of ASL when time short. For those of you, who don't have this great product...I highly recommend grabbing one for yourself. Broken Ground Design

For our first game with our new mouse pads, Dan and I decided to go with PAD3: Earning Face by Brian Martuzas. The title was particularly appropriate...since I am on a 7 game losing streak at the moment and saving face was very much on my mind as I prepared for this scenario. But I would make one critical...did I say truly...epic critical mistake, which would cost me this scenario on the very first turn and very first die roll by my esteemed opponent.

Never forget...the Japanese can always have 10% of their force HIP at game start. I will be writing this down a hundred that I never forget it again....

One of the great challenges of playing a game like ASL is learning how to gracefully take the body blows that are inherent to this game and wargames in general. For me, my mental outlook on the game always suffers a bit...the longer I find myself struggling to play a decent game. After six straight losses, which were rough losses, I was trying very hard to approach this night's game with a positive outlook. Like the Cleveland Browns...I was determined to believe that...yes I can score a touchdown. Unfortunately, channeling the Cleveland Browns was probably not the right choice. 

Yeah...let loose the dogs of war baby and take those scenario objectives!!!

Oh come me your war face...I need you to get mean...c'mon this is serious business. Dan Best has the Japanese and he is SCARY with the least he scares me. Being cute won't cut it!!! 

Oh man...I'm in trouble....

After rolling sides, Dan ended up with the Japanese. He would command elements of the 148th Regiment, 56th IJA Division. His force would consist of a 4-4-8, 2 x 4-4-7's, 4 x 3-4-7's, 3 x 2-2-8's led by a 9-1 and 8-0, with 2 x MMG's, 2 x LMG's, a DC and a 70* INF Gun. Dan would use this force to defend the 4 multi-hex buildings, which constituted the Victory Objectives for the attacking Chinese led by Grumble Jones.

As the Chinese, I would be the scenario attacker leading elements of the 36th Division. My force would consist of 4 x 5-3-7's, 8 x 3-3-7's led by a 9-1 and 8-0 with 2 x MMG's, 2 x LMG's a DC and a Flamethrower.

Overall, my Chinese seemed well equipped to win the day. 

My Chinese ready to launch themselves into the fray and take on Dan's Japanese! Dan's HIP locations are circled. Ever the clever opponent, Dan used his crews to man the MMG's and was therefore able to HIP both of them. Now the G15 building is clearly a key position with great fire lanes. So yes...I found it curious that Dan didn't have anybody there. And brain didn't kick in and say...hey...maybe he does.

Yeah...I completely missed the sign..
On the left, my boys moved into position. On the disaster. My 9-1 lead his boys with both of my MMG's towards the G15 Building. And then Dan's first HIP MMG opened up and Dan rolled the first of several snake eyes. That's always fun to have your opponent's first roll out of the gate be death dealing snake eyes. My 9-1 and a squad both died. Oh and with  his rate, Dan laid down a fire lane to break my Dare Death squad with the DC. His second MMG in the church steeple missed my other two squads on the hill...but would later take them down.


 OK...that wasn't fun. In the opening sequence, I was down a 9-1 and a squad and a half. I  had secured a victory location.

I had taken a hard hit...but my boys were still on the move.

 My flame thrower did good service and managed to inflict some losses on Dan's Japanese. That was the only good thing in this sequence. Dan's steeple MMG went on a Rate Tear and both my 5-3-7's on the hill (each with a bazooka were DM'd). One was DM'd and disrupted after I rolled snake eyes on my MC and then a 12 on my Heat of Battle...cannot express my displeasure enough at this rule. Dan's 9-1 moved forward to destroy one of my abandoned MMG's.

The GOOD...


And the UGLY...

 Turn 1 had been an absolute killer. My attack on the right flank was done...over...kaput.

 Turn 2, I tried to salvage my advance. I worked the left flank and made some progress. Back on the right, Dan's steeple MMG continued to pound my DM'd 5-3-7's on the hill.

 My efforts on the left flank continued to show some success.

 Despite being relatively successful throughout the game, Dan did manage to break all of his machine guns. By game end, he would intentionally destroy both of my MMG's, and also one of his LMG's and one of his MMG's. In fact, Dan would end the scenario with no functioning machine guns.

 Even without his MMG, Dan's 9-1 and 2-2-8 crew managed to push back my assaulting 3-4-7 squad with the DC. 

This 2-2-8 Crew would be Dan's standout unit of the scenario.

 In the center, Dan tried to place a DC, but failed in the attempt. He would ultimately throw it, but it wouldn't do much damage. His 9-1 would move back to rally a broken squad.

 On the left, my boys had scattered and were trying to flank Dan and my goal was the church. I didn't get there.

 Dan's 70* INF Gun finally showed up and would stop me in my tracks.

 As the game neared the mid-way point, I had two squads pushing around the left flank and then three squads moving up the center. Dan's defenders were still barring my advance. And Dan's hero crew decided to go into my backfield to take out my broken squads and destroy my remaining MMG. was that kind of game for me...

 Dan's 2-2-8 would essentially roll up my backfield.

 I tried hard to keep my personal ELR intact and keep trying to make a game of it. But my efforts were just prolonging the game.

 Dan and I had a number of close combats, which surprisingly would go in favor of the Chinese for the most part, but in one case both sides would be KIA'd. I couldn't afford the losses.

After rallying my long disrupted 5-3-7, my 8-0 would be poised to move into the village from the right. But as luck would have it...I would miss my morale checks and it would be game over for my 8-0.

 With Dan pressing me in the center and with his 2-2-8 running rampant in my backfield, I had to pull back to deal with those threats.

 I would manage to restore my position in the center, but on the left, my squads would fall to Dan's Japanese.

 As the battle ended in the village, I would finally get revenge on Dan's 2-2-8 Crew. As bold as every, they charged up the  hill with a captured DC. I would take them down in CC.

As we began Turn 7, I gave Dan the concession. I had played the scenario to the bitter end. In reality, Dan had defeated me on his first Defensive Fire. I never recovered from it. 

Once again, my congrats to Dan on yet another Saturday Game Win! You are on a roll my friend!

Join Dan and I again next Saturday for BtB 4 Firestorm in St. Manvieu as we battle in the Normandy Bocage! Panzerfausts and Crocodiles...should be fun!!!

And lastly, thanks again to Alan Findlay for his mouse pad. It's a fantastic addition to my ASL Kit!

Cleveland...I feel your pain...

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Our Saturday Game - ASL Scenario 82 - For Honor Alone

For our Saturday game, Dan Best and I met once again on the fields of 1940 France. We had both recovered from he Thanksgiving festivities and were ready to roll some dice and wage cardboard war once more.

Our scenario of choice for this renewal of the 2017 ASL season would be ASL Scenario 82 - For Honor Alone. Dan and I are both fans of the 1940 French Campaign and were both psyched to play this scenario. The scenario takes place in Saumur, France on June 20th, 1940. At this point, Marshall Petain has already called for an Armistice. But the Cadets of the Ecole de Cavalerie were not interested in giving up their nation and their freedom without a fight. Following a misunderstanding, the Cadets had failed to defend against a German river crossing and so established a defense at the Aunis Farm. It would be here that they would fight for honor alone.

 ROAR has the scenario as 42 German and 60 French wins. The victory conditions required that the Germans control buildings 16O3 and 16L6 at game end. 

The game length is 8-1/2 Turns. Our game would end after the end of Turn 4.

After rolling for sides, Dan would take the French and command the Cadets of the Ecole de Cavalerie and elements of the 19'eme Dragons, 1er Groupe Franc de Cavalerie. This force would consist of 10 x 4-5-8's, 2 x 2-4-8's, led by a 9-2, 9-1, and 8-0 with an HMG, MMG, 2 x LMG's and with 8 x Trenches for cover. 

On Turn 2, Dan would receive 4 x 37* H39 Tanks with a 9-1 Armor Leader. And on Turn 3, Dan would get the Cadets of the St-Maxient Ecole d'Infanterie consisting of 8 x 4-5-8's, 8 x 4-5-7's with 3 x LMG's led by a 9-1, 8-1, and 8-0. A very nice force to say the least.

Having drawn the Germans, I would be the scenario attacker commanding elements of Schwadron3, Kavallerie Regiment 1.  Dan and I would both be commanding 8 morale Cavalry Troops. Of course, Dan and I both have experienced "glass jaws" with our 8 morale troops. It's always amazing how often 8 morale troops end up breaking in a game. My force would be made up of 12 x 4-6-8's, 4 x 2-2-8's led by a 9-2, 8-1, 2 x 8-0's with 2 x MMG's, 3 x LMG's, 2 x ATR's, 2 x 50MTR's, 2 x 81MTR's and 2 x 37L AT Guns. On Turn 2 I would get 12 x 4-6-8's led by a 9-1, 2 x 8-1's, and an 8-0 with 2 x MMG's, 3 x LMG's, 2 x ATR's and 2 x 50MTR's. On Turn 3 I would get a truck with another 37L AT Gun. And lastly, I would get to roll for air support of one ME-109 with no bombs.

Overall, I wasn't particularly happy with my force. I would be advancing against a concealed and emplaced enemy with lots of open ground and wheat fields to traverse under fire. My AT-Guns and 81 MTR's would find it challenging to set up in places where they could really make a difference throughout the game. I would spend a lot of time manhandling my 37L AT Guns into better firing positions. I sure could have used some boys were Cavalry after all!!!

Now...before I begin the AAR...some full disclosure. While transferring the pictures from my camera to the computer to begin the editing process...I accidentally deleted Turns 1 and most of Turn 2. Soooo....this AAR will be incomplete to say the least. In fact I almost didn't blog this particular scenario. But, like Walter Mitty...I went ahead and so we'll see where we end up at Blog's End.

      So join me as we dive into this scenario AAR in progress!!

The map above should give a good idea of the initial German (blue) and French (red) positions and the white arrows indicate my advance routes. Dan did a great job of placing his 9-2 with his HMG behind the center building. I couldn't see him, but he was in a position to lay a fire lane across the width of the wheat field. Dan continue to educate and impress me on the effective uses of machine guns.  I remain the pupil...

After 2 turns, I had made some progress, but overall, Dan's forces were still mostly in their original positions and still concealed. While Dan was playing some ASL...I think I was trying to play Stratego or connect four...

 So we pick up the action at the end of  Turn 2. My reinforcements came in from the west edge and I moved one group to begin heading to where the French Tanks and infantry were to come in during the next French Phases.

 French phase of Turn 2 saw the entry of the 4 x H39 Tanks. My ME-109 was already overhead and preparing to start its strafing run as Dan's tanks lined up perfectly for the attack run. One of my better planned moves during the scenario. My plane would fail to do anything, but it was still cool!

 The H39's were all buttoned up and my machine guns didn't phase them.

Not a bad little tank for this particular scenario. My 37L's managed a lot of hits throughout the scenario, but not one round even from the rear managed to do anything. 

One of my 81 Mortars would succeed in immobilizing one...but that was all the damage I would do to these tanks.

Dan's plan was to hang on the 16L6 building. He was willing to sacrifice the 16O3 Building and focus all his efforts on creating a fortress around 16L6.

Dan's 9-2 had the situation well in hand.

 Meanwhile back in Grumble Jones land...boxcars would plague me...and hard...

 In the north and in the west, I was pretty well stymied by Dan's defense. For most of the game, Dan never even had to use his boys hiding in the trench line. Essentially, his 9-2 with the HMG and his 8-1 with the MMG fought the battle against my boys almost by themselves.

French machine guns were winning the day.

 Heading into the French part of Turn 2, I had made very little progress.

 The white lines show the fields of fire that were available to Dan's HMG and MMG.

 Turn 3 - Dan's reinforcing infantry arrive. A total of 16 Squads. And honestly, Dan had already stopped me with just 2 I was less than excited to see 16 more come onto the field.

 Dan's fortress of Tanks had been completed. 4 hull down tanks with supporting infantry on the way.  UGH!!!

 As Dan's reinforcements came on, my ME-109 swooped down and took out two squads.

 At the end of three turns, a look at the situation. The French were still solidly in control. I still had not taken the 16O3 Building. Dan managed to hold me in melee until we called the game. So I would not even succeed in taking a single victory location.

 Back in the southwest, I would finally take out Dan's 8-1 MMG position and start to swing around from behind his trench. But it would be too little too late. And the black circles show my three wounded leaders. All three wounded by boxcars on their Morale Check rolls. A terribly frustrating night for me with more "12"s than I care to remember. I could only look at my dice and wonder...

 I'll admit...I did go No Quarter on Dan's 8-1 and 4-5-8 with the MMG. I...know...I'm a bad man...

 As we entered the bottom of Turn 4, my ME-109 came in for it's final strafing run of the game. I would fail the task check and pull off to circle back around.

As Turn 4 came to an end, Dan and I checked the was nearly 10:30 PM and we had played over 5 solid hours of ASL. We had two options...stop the for the evening and play the bottom half of the scenario next Saturday or call this one complete and play a new scenario next Saturday.  I went over my options as the attacker and decided that the odds of me pulling out a victory were not over 50%. So I gave the concession and congratulated Dan on a great win. 

Dan's boys had spanked by backside pretty good throughout the scenario.

Dan and I spent the rest of the evening going over the game highlights and selecting our scenario for next week. We will be playing Scenario PAD3: Earning Face to test out Alan Findlay's great mouse pad map!

As always, my thanks to Dan for a great Saturday of ASL. Always the best part of the week!

See you next Saturday!