Sunday, May 12, 2024

Our Games Dispatches from the Bunker #57 - DB183 St. Oedenrode Bridge and DB185 Pipkorn's Attempt


Well, after a bit of a break, I'm back with an AAR for our games played this weekend. Dan and I would play two from the new Dispatches from the Bunker #57. We have two very fun games from this latest offering from Vic Provost. If you aren't currently subscribed, I highly recommend it. Great value for the money and some excellent scenarios.

Our first game, played on Friday evening would be DB183 St. Oedenrode Bridge. Set during Operation Market Garden, this is a fun little encounter between the 101st Airborne and second line Luftwaffe Field Division troops. Naturally, this will be an uneven encounter as the tough US Paras roll roughshod over the hapless Germans. Interestingly, the scenario is 3 German to 4 American at the moment in the ASL Archive. JR Dev has been MIA of late and these scenarios are not yet entered into ROAR. Hopefully, ROAR will get back to normal. 

As the attacking Americans, Dan would command elements of the 101st Airborne Division. His force would consist of 9 x 7-4-7's, and 2 x 3-3-7s led by a 9-2, 8-1, 8-0 and 7-0 with an MMG, 2 x BAZ 44s, a DC and a 60 MTR.

As the defending Germans, I would command elements of the Luftwaffe Einheits Battaillon. My force would consist of 2 x 4-4-7's, 2 x 5-3-7's, 3 x 4-3-6s, and a 2-3-7 led by an 8-0 and 7-0 with an MMG, 2 x LMG's, a 50 MTR and Panzerschreck.

Board 66 would be the site of this scenario's action. 

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Americans must control the bridge and 8 building near the bridge.  The 9-2 and 7 squads will attack through the brush and then across the bridge.  While the 8-1 and 2 squads plus a HS with the MTR will attack on the other side of the stream.  Hopefully the Germans ELR and disrupt."

One of the fun aspects of playing ASL, is setting up and working out a viable defense. This scenario has a few setup constraints that do seem to force a certain narrative. And the attacker is similarly constrained by the entry area. The placement of the Orchard Overlay O2 definitely contributes to the narrative in this scenario. The P9 Stone Building is a pretty good location for a German machine gun as it covers the entirety of the American entry area and has a direct line to the bridge. Ahh...but then the O2 overlay appears and disrupts the critical line of sight. I would elect not to place a key unit in P9. Were I to play this scenario again, I definitely would do so. 

My defense would depend largely on 4-4-7's and 4-3-6's who had their minds on something else other trying to stop a bunch of Screaming Eagles. Yeah nothing good about an ELR of 2, when you love to rolls 11's...

Dan's boys line up and are ready to take a beating to my boys in blue.

As we have discussed for years, Dan Best is an ueber aggressive attacker. Losses be damned, he is coming for you and he can't wait to gut you in Close Combat. I would get in some licks, but nothing too terrible. Dan's 7-0 would be KIA'd by the German Sniper. I would get my Sniper several times during this short scenario. And I came very close to hitting the American 9-2. 

Turn 1 and the Americans were already up to the bridge. I wasn't panicking yet, but should have been.

Dan sent a squad at me with a DC and they were broken and casualty reduced. My mortar would attempt to break up the upcoming 21 factor fire group and failed. My mortar contributed nothing to my defense.

Their failures would however be short-lived.

Turns 2 and 3 would go badly for the Germans. Dan's 60 MTR would get a CRIT Hit on my doofus mortar team and KIA them. He would then go on to break squads across my MLR.

Our final look at the game just before I gave the concession at the end of Turn 4. Dan's Screaming Eagles would break my boys and force us away from the bridge. He them moved forward and rolled over my shattered units. It was a disheartening loss. Ineffective performance from my Mortar and the constant ELR'ing sapped my joy for the game. The cards and the narrative were against me, as indeed they were in real life. My congrats to Dan on one of his signature wins. 

And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:

"The plan worked.  With the American firepower winning the day especially in advancing fire phase.  Many Americans broke but they rallied back quick.  This scenario plays toward the Americans strength of high firepower and high broken morale.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a great game!"

Our second game of the weekend was played on Saturday. We selected DB185 Pipkorn's Attempt. This is a late war scenario set in Germany. A kampfgruppe made up of remnants of the SS, Polizei-Grenadier-Division 35 was in the vanguard of the German Ninth Army's effort to escape from the Halbe Pocket.

There are a few good books out there regarding the tragic events that unfolded at Halbe, but my person favorite is Tony Le Tissier's book on the subject.

He has a written several volumes regarding the final days of the battles before and in and around Berlin in 1945.

Highly recommended.

As the attacking Germans, Dan would command elements of Kampfgruppe Pipcorn. His force would consist of 3 x 5-4-8s, 3 x 4-6-8's, and 10 x 4-4-7's led by a 9-2, 9-1, 2 x 8-1's, and an 8-0 with 2 x MMGs, 4 x LMG's, 3 x Panzerschrecks, 2 x Hetzers, 2 x Panthers and a King Tiger.

As the defending Russians I would command elements of the Soviet 329th Rifle Division. My force would consist of 4 x 6-2-8's, 4 x 4-5-8's, and 2x 2-4-8's led by a 9-2, 9-1 and 8-0 with 2 x MMG's, 3 x LMG's, a BAZ 44, a 50 MTR, 2 x DC's, 2 x IS-2's and 2 x T-34/85.

Keep in mind that I would not get the 9-1, 2 of the 6-2-8's and the T-34/85's until Turn 4...which would matter in any case. They can't do much even if they do arrive.

For 4 Turns 7 Russian squads have to hold off 14 German squads with 4 Tanks and excellent leadership. SPOLIER ALERT - I didn't last 3 full turns, before I was completely defeated.

Board 12a with a very liberal quantity of mud-filled hexes constitutes the battle space. Very unforgiving terrain for both King Tigers and IS-2's at work in this scenario.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The SS thugs are attacking into a Russian held village (with stone buildings).  The King Tiger and Hetzer will go up the middle with the 9-2 leading the way.  The 9-1 and Panther will attack one flank while the 8-1 and Panther attack the south flank.  The 8-0 with three squads will go between the 8-1 and 9-2.  Hopefully the King Tiger can take out the dug in JS tanks." the map comes equipped with two easy board edge creeps to allow a German pincer movement to pretty much move as it wishes on Turn 1. A lot of effort went into putting in the plowed fields...whole bog thing and a single road...and then you set up the board, so the Germans can avoid that stuff altogether. I'll be honest, the map should have eliminated that board edge creep opportunity. Just my two cents worth. 

Remember boys...avoid the mud and just go up along the board edge. "Verstanden!"

Turn 1- Dan's sends his first Hezter up the road with the intent to draw fire and then flank both of my IS-2's covering the road. The Panthers with armored assaulting infantry easily accomplish the board edge creep. Dan also sends 4 x 2-3-7's up the road to draw fire and reveal my defenses. My first IS-2 fires and knocks out the Hetzer on the first shot. Bore sighting has its uses I suppose. That would be the extent of my good luck.

Dice would become a dominant factor and royally screw the game. I would MALF both MMG's, an LMG and my BAZ 44. Dan would KIA my MTR team and continue moving forward.

While my dice were sucking great big donkey duck...Dan's were rewarding him like the genie from the proverbial lamp. 5 Snakeyes in the course of 2 turns. He would battle harden a 2-3-7, create 2 Heroes, and his 9-2 would battle harden to a 10-2...not to mention that I didn't break anyone as a result of those rolls. So, Dan was able to just move up as he wished. After the 5 Snakes...I was checked out. I already knew that I had lost.

My poor rolls would also keep me from destroying the King Tiger. I would get three hits and never roll less than a 7 to penetrate. Clean bounces were all that I could manage. Dan would get a hit and then boxcar with a dud shell...late war sabotaged ammo no doubt! But eventually, the King Tiger would destroy both IS-2's. I would MALF the BAZ 44 and that was pretty much it. Both of MMG's were also MALF'd. I was shooting 4 factor shots to Dan's 24 and 16 factor shots. As my infantry crumbled, Dan's armor along with their new reinforcements surged around my flanks and that was game. I was done and gave the concession. 

Congrats to Dan on two relatively easy wins and the weekend sweep. Both games ended with my forces pretty much wiped out. Dan is a very aggressive player and I often wonder if scenarios are designed to take into account the player that will just rush into your grill and force you to miss shots, MALF guns and otherwise hit the ball into the net. Dan's losses in our second game were 2 half-squads and a Hetzer. I was essentially wiped out. My IS-2's had no rate of fire and could not intensive fire. They were basically one-shot wonders and there wasn't much wonder to behold.

In both of these scenarios, the defender is a tad weaker than is good if you roll like shirt and I do rather more often than not. Not much else to say. Move on and see what next week brings.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan worked.  Good shooting by the King Tiger won the day.  While the German infantry passed morale checks with no less than three snakes.  Making two heroes, battle hardening the 9-2 and one HS.  The Germans hustled into the village and began taking building and breaking the Russians.  The Russians also broke both MMG, a LMG and the Baz 44.  Very bad dice for Grumble Jones.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for some fun ASL!"

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Grumble Jones May Scenario GJ135 The Merville Rush

So, as I type this, a tornado outbreak is occurring here in Oklahoma. A very large tornado is to the southwest of us and angling towards Tulsa. After nearly 20 years of Oklahoma springs...I'm fairly exhausted of these awful spring storms. Hopefully, all we be well.

May's scenario is taken from the Osprey's Combat France 1940 German Infantryman versus British Infantryman.

The Combat series really are some of Osprey's best offerings. Generally, they cover three separate actions involving the same forces and give a lot of great small unit action detail. They are truly easy to adapt to ASL scenarios.

The series covers much more the WWII and those books are quite good as well. 

This month's scenario is a Deluxe ASL offering. I really enjoy putting these together and find DASL to offer some unique ASL experiences. 

I understand that many readers do not prefer these, so apologies if you are in that community of readers. Next month will be regular ASL.

Not much else to say at the moment as I'm stressing big time as thunder begins to boom in the distance. Some scary stuff is moving this way. 

As always, these monthly "Basement Quality" Scenarios are offered for fun only and as a thank you to the readers of this blog.

Remember to open pictures in a new window in order to maximize the size. 

All Grumble Jones scenarios are available from the ASL Archive website. 

               (Just search on Grumble Jones) 

POSTSCRIPT: storms finally passed through on the way to Arkansas and Missouri around 1:30 AM. It was a very long and tense evening as our Sirens went off repeatedly as tornadoes touched down all over the area. 17 confirmed with a catastrophic F3 or higher hitting Sulphur, OK.

Prayers to community of Sulphur, OK.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Grumble Jones April Scenario GJ134 - A Bloody Vorpost


As we head into Spring, my ASL life is moving into high gear! A week has now passed since the March Madness Tournament. I had a great time and enjoyed the four games that I got to play. I went 2-2 and historically that's what I usually do at March Madness. I have attended 12 Tournaments since 2013 and my Tournament Record is 20 Wins and 25 Losses. For an average player, I'm very happy with that record. 

I say this often, but it's worth repeating. If you haven't attended a tournament, please give it some thought. Generally, all skill levels are welcome and you will find plenty of people to both play against and learn from. I was very intimidated when I attended by my first tournament. But by the end of Day 2, I was extremely glad that I went outside my comfort zone and made the leap into both tournament play and a much higher level of ASL play and a greater engagement with the ASL Community.

My next tournament venue will be the 2024 Texas Team Tournament in mid-June. Can't wait!

Oh Osprey Campaign Series book...what a surprise ๐Ÿ˜‚. This month's scenario was inspired by yet another Osprey color plate. I picked up this book, because I really wasn't well versed on the Brittany campaign. It was definitely a gap in my knowledge of the Normandy Campaigns. 

This month's scenario is large...maybe a bit larger than I like. But this particular scenario depicts the simultaneous assaults on Hill 103 conducted by the US 29th Infantry Division. It's also the first time, I've focused the entire scenario on a single trench line. This game will be all about the German trench and who owns it.

Dan Best also reviewed it as he normally does each month. His initial thoughts were that 1) it's big and 2) should the Germans have some mines? Short answer is of course yes, the Germans had mines in their defense, but I felt that given the proliferation of Panzerfausts and Panzerschrecks...well mines were just one more pain in the butt that the Americans didn't need. So, I kept mines out of the mix. One of the scenario victory conditions allows the Americans to win at the end of any turn, during which they control the 3 Level 3 Hill locations. I believe that the mines would of course find their way onto those hexes and well...yeah...not a preferred situation. And I think that some of the fun of the scenario will be the Germans attempting to repel any American assault on those hill hexes. Time will tell...(assuming of course anyone ever plays the scenario!!! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚)

As always, these monthly "Basement Quality" Scenarios are offered for fun only and as a thank you to the readers of this blog.

Remember to open pictures in a new window in order to maximize the size. 

All Grumble Jones scenarios are available from the ASL Archive website. 

(Just search on Grumble Jones)

Monday, March 18, 2024

Kansas City March Madness ASL Tournament 2024 (March 15th-17th)


This year's Tournament Directors: Paul Works and Dave Mareske with able assistance from Dan Best and other members of the Kansas City ASL Club. 

The 2024 venue has been the site of the tournament since 2018. The Holiday Inn Express in Shawnee, Kansas has a ton of gaming space in their conference room. Folks are able to spread out and extra-large kit doesn't block aisles or otherwise impede traffic in the room. 

2024 would be my 7th March Madness. I look forward to this event each year. I have made a ton of great memories over the years and of course many great friends as well.

The total scenario list for this year's tournament.

ROUND 1 = British Army


ROUND 3 = Eastern Front

ROUND 4 = American Army

                 I would get in four games during the course of this year's tournament. 

ROUND 1 = SP258 Operation Blackwater vs. Richard Burton

ROUND 2 = J150 The Sangshak Redemption vs. James Treu

ROUND 3 = J246 Loser Takes All vs. Randy Shurtz

PICKUP Game (Day 1) = RPT52 Death Rattle vs. Mike Bistodeau

ROUND 4 === well...we'll talk about that...

Friday - Round 1 kicks off. My opponent Richard Burton prepares his attack plan for SP258 Operation Blackwater.

Great example of how much space this room provides and easily accommodates some large kit.

Larry Zoet and Gary Bradley prepare for their Round 1 Contest.

Dave Mareske and Rick Reinesch.

Paul Works, Dave Mareske and Rick Reinesch...Tournament Directors' conference!

Richard Burton finishes up his plans for slicing and dicing up my defending Germans.

SP258 Operation Blackwater begins. Richard's British force was tasked with taking the hill (bottom center) and ensuring that neither of the German Tiger I's was within 4 hexes of Hex 71I5.

This would be our fourth game. We faced off in the 2015 and 2017 March Madness Tournaments and again in the 2019  St. Louis Tournament. We are very evenly matched and I have always enjoyed our games together. 

Richard's early luck would be lacking. Smoke is critical to taking the hill. Richard would only get a single smoke and it didn't affect my HMG.

Richard would divide his force into two groups with one assaulting the hill and the other driving into the town to evict my infantry screen and get at my two Tiger I's. 

The tank fight would favor the Germans as two Sherman III's and a Firefly would be destroyed in the course of the fighting. Richard's infantry would get a single squad up on the hill, but time would run out before he could successfully evict the defending Germans. So, my Germans would carry the day and give me a Round 1 victory. 

Jeff Ital (right) would also play this scenario as the attacking British. His force would successfully smoke the hill and bum rush it. Once the hill was under control (having lost none of his tanks), he swarmed the Tiger I's. At the end of the game, he managed to knock out one, but the dice wouldn't give him the other, so in both our games, the defending Germans would win the day.

In between Rounds 1 and 2, my good friend, Mike Bistodeau and I got in a pick-up game. We would play Scenario RPT52 Death Rattle. Mike and I first shared sides in a playing of A Winter Melee at the 2013 Texas Tournament. Then during that same event we would face off in the Ferocity Fest game Die Gurkha Die. In the 2018 March Madness, we would play a pickup game of J178 Old Friends. Until our 2024 game, I had never beaten Mike, who is a very good ASL player and possessed of much greater skill than myself. 

Mike would play a disciplined game and take some chances. He would successfully drive a Comet Tank through the woods to grandma's house. I have never not bogged going through the woods. And on too many occasions would lose the game because of those bogs. So, I was impressed by the success of getting through the woods and avoiding German Panzerfausts. Our game would go down to the last movement phase as my Germans held off the last British assault. I would take the win, but only just barely. This was also my favorite game of the event. Just a ton of fun.

Round 1 at March Madness is an open round where you choose your opponent. Round 2 begins the bracketed matches and the TD's determine your opponents. But once you lose, you're done. You can continue to play the scenarios for each of the succeeding rounds, but you are no longer in the running to win the tournament. The good news...there are several Mini-Tournaments on Saturday for you to participate in and potentially win prizes and battle honors!

Richard Burton prepares for his Round 2 game.

Dave Mareske sporting the new KC March Madness hat.

My good friend and ASL battle buddy, Dan Best begins his Round 2 Game.

Other Round 2 Action underway.

ROUND 2 Game - J150 The Sangshak Redemption vs. Jame Treu. James and I have known each for years, but never had the opportunity to play one another. I don't usually win my Round 1 games, so I don't always get a chance to play against the Round 1 winners. James is another very good player and our game would be a fierce fight as his Japanese went after my Gurkhas. 

James would get smoke production out of his mortars and at least one critical hit as I recall.

James would launch two Banzai attacks on Turn 1. I would lose my mortar and AT Gun during this charge but did manage to inflict some stripes and casualty reduction on the Japanese.

Our game would be fun throughout and just a great example of how good a PTO game can be. It came down to the final Close Combat H-to-H fight. James needed a 7 and I needed a 7. If I won, I would win the game. We rolled and mutual elimination as everybody died...but James was last to control the huts, so he would get the Round 2 win. And with that I was out the bracket. But super fun game and you cannot ask for better with it coming down to the final CC.

Round 3 Pairings for Saturday. I was finished with the bracket, but still wanted to play the scenarios for Rounds 3 and 4. 

Randy Shurtz was also out of the bracket and so he and I would select J246 Loser Takes All. This is a 1945 scenario with German SS and Russians. I would be the defending Russians. Randy and I had also known each other for quite some time but had also never played one another. Randy is usually playing for the title and has many Tournament wins over the years both at KC and at STL. I didn't have any illusions about my chances. I such as the Russians and was facing off against a tournament winning player with SS and a Jagdpanther to boot...up...I was going to go down. I just wanted to go out with dignity.

In this scenario, the Germans attack from two sides. I really picked the wrong scenario to go up against an opponent of Randy's caliber. The odds were just way stacked against me.

Randy consults the rulebook during out game. Fortunately, I really didn't have to go the rulebook too often during this year's tournament...what I'm saying...I never look at the rulebook...

I like to leave that up to my opponents!!!  ๐Ÿ˜

This scenario played fast and I wouldn't have to concede until near the very last turn. And yes, Randy kicked my butt all over the map. My 3 x SU-100's never got a single before all three knocked out. Randy had some pretty good luck on his bounding fire shots. My SU-100's had to pivot to take shots at moving the odds of getting hits was pretty low. My infantry did passably well but couldn't maintain a buffer between themselves and the Germans. Randy was pretty much unstoppable through every turn of the game. Overall, another fun game, but I do wish I could have given Randy a better game.

Scenes from Round 3

ROUND 4 - Larry Zoet and prepared to play ASL Scenario 196 Patton's Prayers.

But fate had other plans for me...

So, this year, I had my wife come up to the tournament with me. We spent Thursday in Shawnee and then my daughter and Grandson were coming to spend the weekend at the hotel with my wife, while I played with the boys.

My wife and I were super excited to see our Grandson. Fortunately, the drive from Quincy, IL to KC is an easy 4-hour trip. Much better than the full 8-9 hours to Tulsa. And of course, we want to see our Grandson at this age before he grows up too fast. 

My Grandson assisted me while I loaded my Day 1 results into the ASL Archive.

As Friday night was good. I had another full day of ASL awesomeness ahead of me...

Randy and I were beginning our round 3 game when my phone was my wife...oh no...what now...???

My wife was supposed to be at the Shawnee Hills park with my daughter and Grandson having fun..but no...they were at Urgent Care and they wouldn't accept my daughter's insurance..."Is it ok to put the $180 bill on your credit card??" 

Yep...not what I was expecting. Wind Change DR yes...$180 medical bill...NO...but it gets better. I of course give the OK and return to my game...and yes...a lot more distracted than I let Randy know.

What was the medical emergency you might ask? Turns out my daughter woke up Saturday morning with a severe case of Pink Eye and couldn't even open her eyes. Yeah, that's bad, so a trip to Urgent Care was certainly in order. The really bad part was that my daughter needed to drive home that same day. I went ahead and finished my game with Randy and the plan was to wait and see how my daughter's eyes felt after the medicine she received. 

So, I set up my Round 4 game with Larry Zoet. Larry leaves for lunch and I go upstairs to check on things. No improvement and my wife tells me that we are going to have to drive our daughter and Grandson back to right now.

I had to be back to work on yeah, we had to leave right then and there to get to Quincy in the evening and then drive the 8-9 hours back to Tulsa on Sunday. I was not a happy camper. I ran back downstairs and packed up. Poor Larry would return to find me gone. I bid Paul, Dave and Dan a hasty goodbye and hit the road. My Tournament was over...something I had looked forward to for a year. Of course,

it couldn't be helped and taking care of my daughter and Grandson were certainly more important than a fifth game of ASL...but just barely...right...๐Ÿ˜Š.

I followed behind my wife and she drove our daughter's vehicle back to Quincy. I spend the four hours replaying the weekend's games. They were all great games and I got to play four different opponents. Despite the early exit, it was a great weekend of ASL.

Dan posted the final tournament results on the Gamesquad Forum.

Congrats to Wes Vaughn 2024 Champion at the March Madness ASL Tournament.
Jeff DeYoung came in second.
Doug Kirk placed third.

Time to start thinking about
 March Madness 2025.