Sunday, October 23, 2016

ASL Scenario AP 85 Slicing the Throat

Our Saturday game was ASL Scenario AP85 Slicing the Throat. Personally, I found the scenario title to be very apt as I very neatly sliced my own throat on turn 3 of this very enjoyable scenario. I had taken a week off from ASL to celebrate my 29th Wedding Anniversary and it was actually nice to have the downtime. My regular STL opponent continued to have technical problems and so our Friday game did not occur. Ancient computer equipment and a cheap @ss interent provider are the main culprits. Hopefully, this will get taken care of and we can resume our Friday games. 

In the meantime, Dan Best and I were again pushing the cardboard on a Saturday night. It was my turn to choose the scenario and so I picked Slicing the Throat. It would only be my second time ever actually playing the Japanese. The other time was this year at March Madness. It's astonishing to me to think in thirty years of playing this game...I have only been the Japanese twice. And showed!!!

On the other side of the field, Dan would have the 6th Burma Rifles consisting of 4-4-7's and 4-3-6's. At first glance not a sterling force. But...Dan would have 12 squads to go against my 12 x Japanese 4-4-7's. would be a fairly even contest from my vantage point. Although, I do believe a more veteran Japanese player would probably have made short work of the Allied Force.

Dan as the Allies, would be the defender, while I would be the attacker. One of the things that threw us a curve was the Victory Conditions. Initially, Dan and I got them wrong. We both thought that only the Japanese got points for controlling buildings. I noted on the ASL Archive that we weren't the first players to have that misunderstanding. After Turn 2, Dan I and began to question our understanding of the VC. At that time, the Japanese had amassed more CVP than the British. So we both laughed that my Japaneses could just hunker down and force the British to come at them. That's when the light went off in both our heads and we realized that the British had control of all buildings in their backfield (a substantial) number. So the British were in fact winning the game...not my Japanese. Turn 3 you will see some wild moves by my Japanese.

The game at the start of Turn 1. The Japanese are set up along their start line with the British defense in depth stretching towards the west where most of the building victory locations were located. The VC seemed simple enough. The player with the most CVP at the end is the winner. Building were worth 1 point. As mentioned earlier, Dan and I had not understood that both sides gained VC for the buildings.

Hey...we can't always be brilliant!!!

I started off trying to drop some WP on Dan's Bren Gun Carrier in N12. After several attempts, I did succeed. With that accomplished my infantry pushed off the start line and successfully moved ahead.

Overall, my two mortars wouldn't do too much.
My aggressive moves on Turn 1 went well and I managed to get into the positions up the middle where I had hoped to be by the end of the turn.

Dan's first line of defense consisted mainly of 2-2-6 Half-Squads. The Bren Gun Carrier on the hill proved a formidable opponent. In CC, my boys managed to immobilize it. The 2-4-7 crew would abandon it and move away. They would continue to be a thorn in my side.

My Arty, would ultimately succeed in brewing up the abandoned Carrier. But in hindsight, it would have been more valuable to have captured it.
Turn 2, I continued my movements forward. I succeeded in eliminating a couple of the 2-2-6 and a bunch of dummies that were in the axis of my advance. The British 8-1 and MMG revealed themselves at this time and gave me a bit of a scare.

As it turned out, Dan had placed his strongest assets along the P Hex wood line on the south part of the map. Dan had correctly ascertained that the best chance for a breakthrough was in that area.

Dan would make a lot of good moves during the game.

As stated before, Turn 2 was when Dan and I realized how the VC actually worked. As a result, I realized that I had to get moving or I'd never get into the building rich backfield.

I launched three separate Banzais and sent everyone else forward as if it was the last turn of the game. ( self-fulfilling that was!!!).

There's just something about a Banzai Charge in ASL that is just huge fun!!

My reckless charges resulted in some breakthroughs in the south...but none of the three squads that made it through were stronger than a half-squad. My casualties had been severe. Some squads were KIA'd on the spot, while others striped, ELR'd or otherwise were degraded. Dan's boys ripped into my charging infantry. And then in Advancing Fire, my boys did absolutely nothing.

My charges had managed to get me toe to toe with the British MLR. But the cost had been too high. My forces were critically reduced as a result of the Banzai Charges.
One of the more remarkable aspects of the Close Combats, which followed the Banzai Charge was just how well Dan's 4-3-6's performed. The close combat against Dan's 8-1 officer stack resulted in mass death as both sides were eliminated in CC. My 9-1 died along with Dan's 8-1.

The Banzai Charges had been awesomely fun to conduct and the Hand to Hand contests with Dan's boys were equally fun. ASL is really at its most exciting in these kinds of moments.

But then Dan's 7-0 Officer Stack rolled snake-eyes. In the blink of an eye, three Japanese Half-Squads were eliminated with no chance to hurt the 7-0 stack even though I had rolled their elimination. The snake eyes just killed me...literally.
Dan's, 7-0 Stack would go on to take charge of the battlefield.  Had my Japanese eliminated the 7-0 stack and then survived, the game may have ended very differently...but instead, my valiant Banzai Charge has resulted in the destruction of my force.

Despite the brutal losses, my Japanese had sustained, I continued the fight. There was still the slight chance, that my remaining forces could get into the British Backfield and start taking building locations.

Dan wasn't about to let that happen, so he went on the offensive in Turns 4-6. Essentially, he conducted a mopping up action as my forces were isolated and unable to support one another.

Who knew mopping up could be so much fun!!!

Dan's second Bren Gun Carrier had also moved forward to help mop up my boys, but its overrun attack would ultimately result in the Japanese capturing it. A last success for my Japanese.

My boys would take the Carrier for a nice joy ride!!!

I can't remember the last time I had captured a vehicle in Close Combat.

Meanwhile back in the north, the British were finishing off my remaining forces.

A final three CC's would pretty much wrap up the game.

My remaining forces were 2 x 2-2-8 Crews. One had the captured Bren Gun Carrier and the other was still with my Arty.

With the game basically over, Dan was gracious enough to allow me to play it out for the remaining turns. This allowed me to take my capture carrier on a little joyride into the British backfield.

The final act of the game was watching my captured Carrier conduct two overruns on the British who had surrounded it.

The view of the map as the time ran out on my Japanese. Dan had successfully annihilated my force. It really was a complete Allied Victory. While the Banzai Charges had been a blast to conduct and play out...they were ultimately my undoing. I never recovered from the losses sustained in making those charges.

Kudos to my opponent for a great game and a great win. 

We shall meet again comrade and we will have HOT ZEMLYANKAS!!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bonus Halloween Scenario GJ038 - Croc Night

A recent article posted on the Facebook Advanced Squad Leader Group told the story of the Japanese experiences during the Battle of Ramree Island off the coast of Burma. Apparently, while moving through dense mangrove swamps, the Japanese were beset by a large number of saltwater crocodiles, who proceeded to devour quite a lot of them. Whether true or not, one of the group members, Vitus Themad thought that this event would be a great Halloween Scenario. So here is my humble attempt to create a scenario for that unhappy and horrifying event. 

As always, these basement quality scenarios are for fun only!!!

Remember to open pictures in a new window in order to maximize the size. 
And as always, the PDF for this scenario can be downloaded from The ASL Scenario Archive 
(just search on Grumble Jones).

Sources of inspiration for this scenario in addition to Vitus Themad are listed below:

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Grumble Jones Annual Halloween Scenario GJ037 - "DAS GOLEM"

In 1985, while attending university in Reutlingen, West Germany, I had the opportunity to visit Prague. It was still under Communist Rule at that time and I can still remember the border crossing at Cheb and the lines and lines of Tanks and APC's hidden (in plain view) in the woods along the railway. Clearly, the Warsaw Pact wanted Western visitors to see what forces were ready to go through the Fulda Gap. It's hard today to imagine how close to WWIII, we were in those days. 

Reutlingen, West Germany was in the French Sector, so the only troops I saw on a regular basis were French. I still recall walking right into a live French commando style exercise while walking near the Georgenberg. Helicopter gunships, bomb-laden Tornados and Leopard Tanks moving through the night were very common in the Fall of 1985. 

So there I was in Prague and on Halloween Day no less. During the visit, I happened to go into the old city and the old Jewish Quarter to see the oldest Synagogue in Europe and the cemetery where Rabbi Loew was buried. I stood in a long line to approach his headstone and witnessed the placing of wishes into the cracks of his tomb. Of course, the legend of Rabbi Loew's mythical Golem were relatively unknown to me at that time. But I must say, that Prague had a much deeper and eerier feel of any of the major cities I visited such as Berlin, Paris, or Munich. There is something much older and of course the dark footprints left by the Nazis and Heydrich were not difficult to see as you walked the old city. So, as I searched for inspiration for this year's Halloween came quickly to mind to do one with the fabled Golem of Prague. 

Why no zombies...well...folks are tired of the same old zombie schtick. So I thought I would draw upon some actual history and throw in a small amount of supernatural spice.  As with last year's Die Glocke, I also tried to add some additional story elements to help players get into the feel for the scenario. To that end, I researched sample US Intelligence Interrogations in order to create the fictional interrogation of Hauptmann Schenk, who serves as the primary character in our Scenario of Das Golem. 

 One of the big regrets I have with the Halloween Scenarios is the large...(LARGE) number of SSR's that naturally must accompany scenarios involving supernatural occurrences. I really do apologize and hope that the three pages attached to Das Golem don't become such a burden as to detract from actually playing the scenario. And of course, always feel free to rework these SSR's anyway that you like to get the flavor of this scenario as much to your personal liking as possible. I refer to this and my other scenarios as "Basement Productions". In short, these are the kinds of scenarios, that my old gaming group and I would come up with in the basement of my first house. We would throw together our ideas and cobble together scenarios, which we would then play. Those were awesome times and my scenarios are an attempt to recapture some of the old gaming joy we shared back in the day when ASL was young.

So here is this year's Annual Halloween Scenario - GJ037 - DAS GOLEM. I hope it provides a little bit of pumpkin spice to your ASL this Fall.  
Remember to open pictures in a new window in order to maximize the size. 
And as always, the PDF for this scenario can be downloaded from The ASL Scenario Archive 
(just search on Grumble Jones).

The Interrogation File for Hauptmann Kurt Schenk. 1945

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Our Saturday Game - ASL Scenario 135 - ACTS of DEFIANCE!

For our Saturday game, Dan Best and I selected ASL Scenario 135-Acts of Defiance. This scenario is an urban brawl between lots of Soviet Infantry and German Fallschirmjaegers with Hitler Youth in the sewers, Goliaths down by the river and Russian artillery thundering overhead. In short...everything that makes ASL so much FUN!!!

I drew the Germans and was the attacker, trying to reduce a pocket of Soviet infantry that had penetrated the Breslau defenses. In addition to my Fallschirmjaeger, I also had one Brummbar and one Jagdpanzer IV. I would go on to lose both in about as embarrassing a way as possible. But we'll leave that for later.

Facing my boys would be Dan's mixed bag of 6-2-8's, 4-5-8's and 5-2-7's. Dan would also have three T-44's, and one module of 120mm Arty, which would knock me senseless throughout the game. Additionally, the Soviets would get 2 x IS-2's along with 5 more 6-2-8's. But interestingly, this reinforcing group would suffer the greatest losses of any of the Russian units.

This would also be the first time that I had used my T-44 counters. And believe me, it took me some time to find those bad boys. At one point, I began to doubt if there was such as vehicle.

But, they were indeed real and would be fairly efficient for the Russians in this scenario.

Now, we are once again joined by Professor Rollwright, who has offered to critique some of the game's more interesting moments. The Professor was rather interested in some of my tactical choices, which he found lacking in wisdom. I fear his logic on this subject is rather well founded as we shall see.

It's always nice to have the good Professor's insights and he never fails to tell it like it is.

Now of course, it was also nice to get some diagramming tips from a real master of the art....that's right...John Madden was in the house as well.

A few of my readers have commented over the years on the arrows and other squiggly lines that are frequently observed in my AAR maps. Well now you know the inspiration as I learned my art from a master. 

The board at the start of Turn 1. Essentially, the Germans win by eliminating all good order Russian Units in the circled setup zone. Any other result is a Russian Victory. Historically, the Germans annihilated the Russian Pocket...well...I guess you could say that history doesn't always repeat itself...

"Hmmm...well, academically, I would have to disagree with your last statement. History does indeed repeat...and certainly the right tactical decisions help make that a probability."

errr...thanks...Dr. Rollwright...I'll keep that in mind.

I marked two fire groups in the back with opportunity fire. My 9-2 with the MMG was on the east edge and a single 4-6-7 with an LMG was in the center with line of sight down the center road. Neither stack would do much of anything throughout the game. And I would leave three vital 4-6-7's in the backfield for the entire game. Not very brilliant on my part.

Again Dr. Rollwright's imparted some wisdom that in ASL, moving is often more important than firing. I know...I know...old habits die hard...along with my counters.

On the South edge, I moved the two Goliaths towards the bridges, which were the only way for the Russian reinforcements to cross the canal. I muffed my initial placement and was not able to move the second Goliath to the other bridge. It was of course my first game ever with the rookie mistake on my part. 

Oh c'mon guys...can we get serious for a minute...this is ASL...not Stratego...

Another interesting aspect of this scenario was the single Hitler Youth Half-Squad with a Panzerschreck in the sewers. has been a looong time since I used sewer movement. Suffice to say I played whack-a-mole and lost.

 Sorry Peter bad...

 My strategy...(I know as if I had one) was to drive along the West edge and then have my boys by the bridge come in from the East. My Brummbar was going to go up against the Z2 Building and my Jagdpanzer IV was going to go hull down behind the wall and control the Y Road. As you will see I went a different direction.

 Now, one of my plans that did go according to plan occurred on the east board edge. I had moved in such a way as to put two panzerschrecks in range of the T-44 guarding that flank. When it started up the squad in GG1 fired, hit and knocked out the first tank of the scenario. Many more tanks would fall before this game ended.

This panzerschreck team would go on to take out an IS-2 later in the game. From a mission contribution standpoint, they would be a standout unit for my Germans.
 Turn 2 also brought on the Russian reinforcements. The two IS-2's came rumbling on and my 9-1 with the MMG tried to rake the riders off the tanks. I failed on the first try, but the residual fire pinned the riders on the second IS-2. They would never make it across the canal.
 My Hitler Youth half-squad moved and prepared to pop up in the Z6 hex. 

Professor Rollwright questioned the wisdom of having the squad pop up adjacent to two Russian tanks and with supporting infantry encircling the hex as well. 

I told the good professor...that I'd get back to him on what I was thinking...because at the time...I really had no idea...
 It was also at this time, that Dan activated his OBA. I never did find the HIP'd observer, but suffice to say, he brought down the rain on me for the remainder of the game as Dan pulled 4 black cards in  a row. 

 On my next movement phase, my first Goliath approached the Russians. They successfully and safely destroyed it. Drats...I had such high hopes for my Goliath.

 Now we come to the tragedy of my Turn 2 movement. I should have stuck to my initial plan...but no, I changed it midstream. I decided to move both tanks to support my attack to the center and east portion of the map. I was stalled there and felt that success there would open up the battle. And I figured that crossing through just one hex in LOS of Dan's T-44 and IS-2 was a pretty safe bet.
This is what a bad idea looks case you were curious.

With the Brummbar knocked out, I sent the Jagdpanzer forward and it actually made it...but I needed one more MF to stop. So I decided to take the ESB roll...I rolled my dice..."11" immobilized. Great...just like that both German tanks were out of the fight. 

As a side dice plagued me in this game...I mean plagued. I rolled so many 11's that even Dan was commenting on the terrible dice rolls I was coming up with. But the dice cannot be controlled, so you just carry on and hope the next roll will be better or the next...or the next...

Then the air grew still and the shrieks of incoming artillery filled the city. My boys hunkered down in the ruins and hoped that Dan would roll high.

 Now we get to the moment when my Hitler Youth crept out of the sewers. Naturally, tragedy ensued as they were fired on from all sides and would even be overrun by the IS-2 before finally being eliminated.

 Having bloodied me pretty good, Dan went on a min-offensive with this armor. His infantry in the center skulked for much of the game, which kept me from focusing effective Defensive Fire against them.

 Dan's hard fighting infantry would be the difference in the game.
 Back in the South, things continued to go well for my Germans. The IS-2 in this area was knocked out by an 8-3-8 with a Panzerfaust and the Russian infantry routed back.

 So at the mid-point of the game, things were actually looking very good for the Russians. The Germans had not gotten very far forward and lacked the firepower and leadership to do much. My decision to leave the 9-2 in the background continued to be a bad one.

 My boys upfront...were simply losing the battle at the line of scrimmage.
 Dan's Russians in the South moved up to try and put some fire on my boys.

 Dan continued to be aggressive and jumped into CC with my boys under the Jagdpanzer in X2. Hand to Hand fighting ensued as we were locked in Melee.

 Things were definitely getting medieval!!!

 Dan and I both experienced some great rolls to take the edge off of so many bad ones. The Russians would create one Hero and the Germans would go on to create two Heroes.

 Now...some more fun times occurred as my second Goliath sped like a Mini-Cooper right for the Russians. The HMG fired away....and destroyed the Goliath but also set if off, which DM'd the Russians.

 Meanwhile, medieval hand-to-hand melee participants were about to share an awful fate.
 The Russian 120mm Arty rained down again and everyone in the X2, hex including the Jagdpanzer IV were KIA'd. Germans and Russians alike were vaporized in the blast.

 Feeling pretty down at this stage of the game, I nonetheless soldiered on and sent my infantry back into the fray.

 I continued to have success in the South. I sent one 3-3-8 across the bridge and they succeeded in capturing the Russian HMG...but they wouldn't keep it for long.

My 8-3-8  successfully placed a DC on the broken 6-2-8 and eliminated them.

 As we neared the end of the game, things were not looking good for the Germans. The Russians were still well entrenched and I lacked the firepower to dislodge them.

 Dan's boys did a great job.

 With his two remaining tanks, both T-44's, Dan moved them in an intricate dance to shield his X6 stronghold. It brought a moment of comic relief as we watched these tanks pirouette in the midst of Breslau's ruins.
 I'll was a thing of beauty watching those T-44's move into position.

 The infantry battles continued to be intense and fun as the game neared the end. The 6-2-8 in V4 would be unsuccessful in stopping my assaulting troops.

 Just maybe my boys were going to get lucky!!

 Back in the South, the Russians eliminated by audacious 3-3-8 and reclaimed their HMG.

 In my final Prep Fire of the game, I unloaded on the 6-2-8 in V4...and guessed it, I rolled an "11".  I will not lie...I was bummed out...just way too many "11"s all night long. 

 Well...if Prep Fire don't work...jump into Melee. Dan and I would enjoy some great Hand-to-Hand struggles in this game.

 With time running out, Dan's Russians continued to hold out in their strong points.

 The last act of the game, would be my boys firing off a final round of Panzerfausts, which succeeded in destroying one of the T-44's. At game end, only one tank, a T-44 would be left. All the others were eliminated.

With the conclusion of Turn 5, I offered the concession. We had been hard at it for nearly five hours and it was clear to me that I didn't have the force or the time necessary to push the Russians out of the victory location.

My boys had given it their best, but the combinations of bad decisions, bad rolls and a stout Russian defense conspired against them.

Dan's Russians would celebrate!!!

Professor Rollwright would offer some post-game observations. He definitely saw room for improvement on properly moving the Goliaths and destroying the bridges, which would have stranded the Russian reinforcements and allowed that group of Germans to support the main effort.

And the Valkyrie Death Ride of the German armor in turn 2...was nothing short of stupidity. Those assets, particularly the Brummbar should have been more carefully employed to shatter the Russian infantry.

But live and learn, I thank Professor Rollwright for joining us for this latest AAR.

My thanks to Dan Best for another great game.

Goodbye for now...until the next post.