Sunday, October 24, 2021

Dear ASL Diary...

Dear ASL's game sucked...

I know...what's going on!?! ASL never must not be ASL'ng right!!

So since last we blogged, Dan Best and I have played 8 games and blogged zero of those 8. Taking a break from the blog is never a bad thing. Sometimes, it's really nice to play a game of ASL and not have to worry about the after action reports.

But that's not why we didn't blog any AAR's. The honest truth is that many of these 8 games just weren't up to snuff to blog. They were either one-sided wins or just mashup games that were a bit more work than fun. 

And yes some of this is due to a bit of burnout. Dan has already played over a 100 games this year and yesterday's game would be my 98th...a new record year for me and I'll easily go over a 100 in what is left of the year. That's a lot of ASL and possibly too much.

Dan and I have been going through Yanks and Armies of Oblivion scenarios here and there as well as a few Quick 6 and other smaller scenarios. And a key takeaway for us is a shared dislike for dismantled support weapons. Let's talk about this. The rules allow the Player the option to enter off board with dismantled weapons. So Dan and I both question the need to require dismantled weapons. In short...maybe just the let Player decide if he/she wants to sacrifice movement points to gain the ability to use their support weapons immediately. 

So you kinda get the gist, that Dan and I...unbeknownst to ourselves were in a bit of a negative funk. So what put us there?  For Dan, scenario SSR's and other gimmicks sent him over the cliff. For me, it was a streak of lousy dice rolling that just absolutely wore me out. I would concede two of the 8 games after rolling my last boxcars. ASL is a magnificent game...on that we all agree, but we also can't ignore that some games, especially the smaller scenarios are often decided because of bad dice rolls and the negative impacts they provide. It's like being a Field Goal Kicker and shanking the ball from 41...31...and 21 yards out. You begin to doubt your ability to actually kick the ball and similarly in ASL...I often reach the point where I simply stop rolling my dice and quit Prep Fire or Defensive Fire...because I'm doing nothing to my opponent and actually hurting myself. 

So yeah...the past two weeks have seen some less than satisfying games...but at the end of the day...were were playing ASL...and win, lose or tie...that always a fantastic thing. I never tire of ASL...bad dice...yeah...I get sick of that nonsense...but bad dice rolls are part of the game. So you have to move on. And I would go on to win one of our games after deciding I had no chance and just started running in the open with stacks...and wouldn't you know it...I'd actually make it and win the game. Sometimes it's a wee bit ridiculous. 

Yes...I'm all about the cheese to go with my whine!!!!

So what games did we play and did we actually have fun???

So here are the games we played and some commentary...or not....

  1. 10/23 = The Tigers Wrecked 'Em SP113 - Dan as the Germans and me as the Canadians/British. Victory for me
  2. 10/22 = The Bend AP137 - Dan as the Americans and me as the Germans                                       Victory for me
  3. 10/20 = Not out of the Woods  ASL 185 - Dan as the Germans and me as the Americans                 Victory for Dan
  4. 10/17 = Death at Carentan ASL 184 - Dan as the Americans and me as the Germans                       Victory for Dan
  5. 10/16 = Munda Mash ASL 152 - Dan as the Americans and me as the Japanese                               Victory for Dan
  6. 10/14 = Defence of St. Oedenrode Q16 - Dan Best as the Germans and me as the Americans         Victory for Dan
  7. 10/13 = Mantes Meet Up Q15 - Dan Best as the Americans and me as the Germans                        Victory for me 
  8. 10/11 - Better to Sweat than Bleed PE6 - Dan Best as the Germans and me as the Yugoslavs          Victory for me
So Dan and I would split the 8 games with 4 wins a piece. One of the best aspects of ASL between Dan and I is that we are so evenly matched. We may not dominate with a win streak from time to time, but overall, we generally split the wins evenly and that keeps our  games fun. I've played other players that just dominated me and while you are learning and having fun...losing constantly is a bit of a drag.

Winning now and then is kinda nice.

So let's talk about the games and we'll start with the Tigers Wrecked 'em. This game looked very appealing when I selected it. I has 11 x TIGER I's. I can't remember the last time I saw so many Tigers in a single game. But the scenario itself would end up not being quite as much fun as 11 Tiger Tanks seemed to promise. It was over by the end of Turn 2, as Dan gave the concession.

Dan conceded after watching his fifth Tiger go up in flames to yet another hit from a Sherman Firefly. At this point in the game, Dan had lost five Tigers and destroyed zero of my tanks. My tanks were hull down and difficult to hit as a result. Dan and I spent some time discussing the scenario. An observation is that the scenario is based on the British/Canadians being caught by surprise. Dan did not like the fact that the British/Canadians can set up nearly all of their armor in hull down positions. As the British/Canadians, I have to admit that I love having Fireflys. The 76LL Gun can destroy a Tiger from the front pretty easily and I bagged five of them in just two turns. A big part of that was that my dice gave me good results and hits against moving targets. I would roll two boxcars in just two turns, but overall my dice allowed me to execute against Dan's Tigers.

The Bend would come after I had lost four in a row to Dan. I was not liking my chances as the German attacker on this scenario played on the Hatten in Flames map. This would be my second game on the Hatten map. It's a great map by the way. I would struggle against Dan's M10's and a single M10 would immobilize one Panther and destroy my other one. This broke my personal ELR and I just decided I didn't care anymore and started moving my infantry stacks in the open towards Dan's positions. And lo and behold, Dan would roll high and my boys would survive to take down the American positions. I prepared for Dan's counter-attack, but rather than launch the counter-attack, Dan gave the concession and I had my first win in five games. It had been a long night and Dan didn't have an interest in trying to brave 32 FP shots in the effort to take back victory locations. I don't blame him at all. Sometimes ASL forces a bloody ending on players...and sometimes we Players elect not to make that bloody...desperate attempt to wrest victory from defeat. 

Not out of the Woods Yet would test my nerves and leave me just a bit disillusioned with the game. I had to set up Shermans and Infantry on wooded Level 4 hill positions and advance down to a an in my face defense. I would have 4 Shermans and need everyone of them. Within in two Turns, a 50L Gun had destroyed two of them. I would MALF the MA on a third and then roll a 6 on the Repair roll and see it Recalled...another of ASL's rules that hurt you. One of the aspects of this game that would cause me much pain was Dan's ability to do 2 things very well. 1) get rate of fire and 2) hit on Intensive Fire shots. Dan is extraordinarily good at both. Getting Rate of Fire is tough for me, but in these 8 games, Dan would get great Rate of Fire and killing me on Intensive Fire Shots is just one of the norms of our games. If you aren't using Intensive Fire...let me recommend it to you. It has risk, but is generally very effective. So this would be a game that I would give the concession after losing three of my tanks and seeing my infantry degraded by losses and ELR to the point that they could not carry on the attack.

Death at Carentan is a fun little scenario and this would be my third playing of it and my last. As the Germans, I was pummeled by Dan's extremely aggressive attack. His smoke blinded me and this 7-4-7's managed to run right up on me...because I rolled pitifully with -2 moving in open shots. Dan is a very dangerous player as he comes right at you. You have to get your hits or you will go down as I did in close combat. Dan is good at getting ambush and wasting you in Close Combat and you die without even getting a chance to fight back. It's very demoralizing. By the time my reinforcements were due to enter the game, Dan had taken every victory building...not one or two...all of them. He then proceeded to shred my incoming reinforcements. Watching my boys go down was enough for me and I gave the concession and tried to forget this game.

Munda Mash would be one of the games that leave a bad taste in my mouth. Honestly...of all the games we played...I hated this one...not because of the scenario, but because of how things went down. Sometimes ASL can be a very unfun experience when one player struggles to get average rolls and the opponent is enjoying better than average rolls. It's not your opponent's fault and he has to take advantage of the dice roll bounty that he receives. It sucks for you...but that's the game. Sometimes, the momentum is not on your side. 

In this scenario, I would concentrate my Japanese and bunkers deep in the jungle...assuming Dan's Stuart Tanks wouldn't be able to impact the game. WRONG...nope...Dan's Stuarts just moved into the woods and never bogged and proceeded to annihilate me. My HIP flamethrower would roll 9's with 24 factor flame and Dan would generally shrug it off. And so at the halfway mark...I called it quits after rolling boxcars on the first shot of my ATR on a Stuart. I had waited patiently for that shot all game....and then a &%$&&&&% 12. This is the point at which ASL just sucks. I love this game and will always love it...but can suck hard at times.

"You say that like it's a bad thing!?!"

uh...well ASL...but we digress...

Defence of St. Oedenrode, oh where do I begin...and the Americans, I was forced to set up in the middle of the board on either side of a stream with Germans coming from two sides. And yes...I question...

Mantes Meetup would be another of the Quick 6 Pack games that keep the action tight and intense. My only complaint would be the excessive number of support weapons available to both sides. It was just too much in my opinion. But it made things very interesting as both players had some formidable fire opportunities. My Germans would get across the stream and throw the Americans out of the victory locations. Dan's counter-attack would nearly succeed, but a final break on the last American movement phase would give my Germans the win. 

Better to Sweat than Bleed would our third Lone Canuck scenario of the 8 we played. We always enjoy George's scenarios even when he make us lug dismantled support weapons around! This scenario would be a bridge scenario and those tend to play out the same way. Lay a fire lane across the bridge and see who make it across. My Yugoslavs and Partisans wasted a lot of Germans as they ran the fire lane gauntlet across the bridge. But on a snakes Morale Check, my boys in the bunker with the MMG would go berserk (another of ASL's hurt you with the dice moments). Naturally, Dan's Germans were only to happy to mow me down as I charged out in the open. Talk about disheartening. But despite the bad moments, my boys were able to hang on for the win.

Okay...that's a wrap on this sad night's blog. Dan and I will get our mojo back and blog a proper game next week!

But for now...I'll finish my exclusive interview with Ms. Jameson on the finer points of ASL...(and my safe word is N

See you next week!!!

1 comment:

  1. I understand your frustration. On the past I was preparing to play an ASL scenario: US paratroopers against 91st German Luftlande Division (I can't recall the title). Reading the scenario card, I saw and ELR ridiculously high for the Luftlanders, and immediatly I began to play disheartedly (Even before the setup). I said to my opponent: "Well, let's play it, but this is a scenario made with a historical base and, in the playtest, they founded the Germans were to be anihilated (as they were, BTW), so, they began to apply corrections and balances and came with this unhistorical, ridiculous, and useless turkey". When I play ASL, I'm not a player of chess, ready to play whatever is put before me. I have read and enjoyed History books, and I'm frustrated when an ASL scenario, which depicts an actual action, is forced to balance forfeiting History. Should have limits to do that. ELR was the most subtle, as is the most non-evident element of an scenario. I feeled cheated, and I played without spirit.