Saturday, August 6, 2016

Our Friday Game - ASL OA19 The Queen's Prequel

At the end of every work week...I look forward to my 6:00 PM Cardboard via Skype ASL game with my regular STL opponent. I can't think of a better way to end the week and start the weekend. Game night Friday's are nearly always followed up by Blog Day Saturdays. My wife of course isn't always so thrilled with my Blog Day Saturdays.

Our game this night would be ASL OA19 The Queen's Prequel. Having already played Gunter Strikes Back, we were both familiar with the boards and the objective building Hex of 14H9. We thought this game would play fast and furious and be done in a single night's play. We were far more correct than we could have anticipated. Our game would indeed play fast and furious through three turns and then abruptly end with a concession. So today, we will evaluate what led to the concession. 

Joining me for today's AAR will be Professor Rollwright from the ASL Academy of Tactical and Strategic Studies in Salisbury, MD. 

A few of you may remember a previous guest appearance by Prof. Rollwright a few years ago.

Since our game ended with a bit of time left last night, the good Professor was only too kind to do a post-game wrap up with me.


For OA19, I would be the German defenders with 5 squads of the Panzergrenadier Regiment 10. 1 x 5-4-8, 2x 4-6-7 and 2 x 4-4-7 with an LMG and a mortar. Not much to play with...but it would prove to be sufficient.

And of course, as you all know...I'm always happy to be fielding the boys of the Wehrmacht in any scenario. Leading this small group would be a 9-1 and an 8-0. 

I would also have 2 x 20L AA guns at the airstrip, but these would not come into play during the game.

My opponent drew the British 2nd/6th Queen's Royal Regiment, 169th Brigade and would be the attacker. The men of this storied unit would consist of 2 x 4-5-8's, 6 x 4-5-7's and be led by  9-1, 8-1 and 8-0 officers.  For support, they would have 1 x MMG and 2 x 51 Mortars. As with the German OOB...not a whole lot to play with.

 The British actions in the Salerno campaign have always interested me, so I was excited to see how this scenario would play out.

A member of the Grumble Jones Kriegsberichter unit would be capturing the action.

 The black line denotes the setup line for both sides. The Germans are north of the road and the British are south of it. On the right flank, I placed two 2-3-7 Half-Squads as I expected a British Kill Stack to setup in the O6 House and blast anyone on that side of the board. Surprisingly, my opponent concentrated in the middle of the board and was exactly where my Mortar in I5 and my 9-1 with LMG in J2 could range in on the British in the J7 woods hex.

The arrows indicate where I expected my opponent to hit me. His center concentration surprised me...but then I remembered that my regular STL opponent is a big Prep Fire guy. He was essentially setting up just to fire at me. Keep in mind that my guys were all under concealment (5 concealment counters in the German OOB). And in most cases, my boys were outside the British 5 Hex range. So my opponent would only have about a quarter of his firepower available in a given shot. 


During our post game wrap, Professor Rollwright was surprised that the British mortars didn't immediately smoke the German positions. 

 No smoke was fired, instead my opponent went right into full Prep Fire and had nearly all of his units fire.

The mortars were actually successful in removing concealment on my I5 and J2 positions. But otherwise had now effect.
 Having lost my concealment, I went ahead and traded fire in my Defensive Fire Phase.

I had a good chance of damaging the stacked up British in the J7 woods. My mortar with it's tree burst -1 would offer me the best chance to do some real damage.
 And that is exactly what happened as I rolled a 2 for effect. 1 x4-5-7 was KIA'd outright, a broken 4-5-7 was reduced to the a broken 2-4-7 and the 8-1 officer was broken. first Defensive Fire effort of the game had just been huge. 1-1/2 of my opponents 8 squads were KIA. And worse, his center position was pretty much rendered ineffective for the next turn.
 I often read posts where folks decry the value of the small mortars in ASL...but I must say my experience is that they can be a game changing asset on the ASL battlefield and shouldn't be underestimated.

 Having seen where my opponent was attacking, I moved my 5-4-8 out f the woods on the left flank and sent them to occupy the 14H9 building objective. I left a 4-4-7 to watch the flank...but felt pretty confident that my opponent would not be moving in that direction.

 My 4-4-7 on the left would pretty much play Skat for the remainder of the battle.
 It wouldn't be all sunshine and unicorns for me as the my opponent succeeded in breaking my 4-6-7 mortar boys in I5 and then I rolled a 12 for my 9-1 on an NMC. Not very normal in my opinion!!!

My 9-1 would be wounded and rout towards the medical station to get some help from the Sani. The game would be over by the time his wounds were dressed.

 Going into Turn 3, my opponent's boys were rallied and making some tentative moves forward. My I5 position in the orchard was empty and I had been pushed out of the building on the right flank as well. With the clock ticking...I was convinced that my opponent had to start moving...but he didn't.

Perplexed by the British tactics, Professor Rollwright read up on some basic fire and movement concepts.  

I explained to him that my regular STL opponent is not fond of risking movements in the open and is very concerned about losses.
 From my perspective, I felt like my opponent was missing a great opportunity to smoke my J2 LMG and then just go forward. My boys in F3 were blocked by the orchard to get any good shots and all I had left on the right flank was a concealed 2-3-7. 

The moment seemed right for a risky move...especially with only 2 turns left in the game.

 But the British pretty much stayed in place and once again went full out in Prep Fire.

 The British in J7 managed to DM my 4-6-7 with the LMG in J2. So things were looking good for a strong move. But...he rolled a couple of threes...which activated the German Sniper.

 As we will see, this would lead to tragic consequences for the Queen's Royal Regiment.
 I was feeling the heat at this point in the game. My defense was shattered...there was nothing to stop a strong British move up the center.

Professor Rollwright concurred...this was the best opportunity for a risky move up the middle.
 But just as my opponent was finishing up his Prep Fire phase...he activated the German sniper for a second time. Once again it landed on his boys in P8. It was a "1" he rolled to see which unit was impacted....he rolled the dice one at a time...8-0 Officer..."a 3"....4-5-7..."a 3"...the 4-5-7 with mortar.."a 3"...we both just gasped...we could not remember a time where a Sniper had hit every unit in a stack. The 8-0 crumpled to the ground KIA'd, both 4-5-7's went broken and DM.

(BLOG note: a reader pointed out that the other two units would by rule receive a separate Sniper Roll. For clarification, this was done and both received a "1", which I believe is what really sent my opponent over the edge. At any rate, I don't always walk through the rules process as I do my AAR's, but this was a rare situation and as our reader pointed out, could be beneficial to other players to see how that went down.)

 I was pretty shocked myself...but of course...I had to be happy with the result. My Sniper had just won the game for me.

 On the other end of the Skype line...I could hear the resignation, frustration and yes...anger in my opponent's voice. He cleared his throat and said..."That's it...I concede."

Professor Rollwright did a little checking and gave me some historical examples of Snipers impacting a given battle.

I must say, the Sniper mechanic is one of those things in ASL that is completely unpredictable. You can't build it into your attack or defense planning...and yet you can't ignore it either.
 So...there we were with less than a hour of game time elapsed and the scenario was over. My regular STL opponent and I picked out our scenario for next week...diced for sides and talked about work, family, and the vagaries of ASL.

Recently, there was an active thread about when to give a concession during a game on the GS Forum. That thread was running through my head as my opponent conceded this game.  I couldn't blame him, as with only two turns of movement left and with very little opportunity for movement in Turn just looked like he couldn't get the win. But you never know...and that's the kicker. His forces were on the verge of a breakout when the Sniper took out the 8-0 and two squads...but those two squads had they weren't going to move anyway. His 9-1 and troops on the right flank were still ready to advance.

 But none of that mattered at the time to my opponent. He had ELR'd and disrupted. For him, the losses he had suffered were more than he wanted to lose. And that's a key element to my opponent's ASL psychology. Of course that can be limiting in a game...where pieces will be lost and will have to be lost if victory is to be achieved.

In's the Nick Nolte's will to win driving the Cardboard Staros to take the matter the cost. That's the math in a game about war. I have to admit that I respect my regular STL opponent's grasp of the human cost inherent in the game. 

 On that aspect of war, both Professor Rollwright and I were in earnest agreement.

I thanked the good Professor for joining us on this AAR and look forward to our future collaborations!

Until next week...good night!


  1. First off thank you for doing what you do. Love the blogs. As for the sniper - did you forget that you would have to roll a subsequent sniper effect roll for each of the two squads. ".....If the Random Selection results in multiple targets, only one (Sniper's choice) is attacked by the initial Sniper attack dr; the others are each subject to a new Sniper dr.

  2. Great comment. Yeah, we did it as per rule, which made it even more amazing as the other targets each took a "1" result. I don't always walk through the rules step by step in the blog narratives. I tend to assume the readers know the rules, but I think you are correct in this instance that walking through it might be helpful. I will keep that in mind for future AAR's where rare situations occur. Thanks again !

  3. I don't remember where I saw it but a Sniper may represent something else such as a stray artillery round. In this particular case I'd assume that this was something along those lines instead of a lone sniper. :shrug:

    1. True enough John, but I loved the idea of a single sniper causing all that carnage. That is one of the great aspects of ASL is that way it comes together in our imagination as the game unfolds.

    2. John & Sydney are my kids & although my name's John as well everyone in the ASL world knows me as Psycho or Richie.