Sunday, January 9, 2022

Our Games HazMo 15 Sticks and Stones, J119 Sovkhoz Haystacks and Q10 Most Important Thing

January 2022 has hit the ground running. Dan and I have already played four games this year and three more are scheduled for next week. Today's AAR will cover three games across HAZMO, Lone Canuck and MMP scenarios. For the first time, we will visit the Spanish Civil War, which ended up being an enjoyable game. Variety is one of the things that makes ASL such an amazing game. There is no other game at there that can pivot from 1936 Spain to 1944 Russia to 1939 Ethiopia. ASL stands by itself at the very pinnacle of WWII tactical gaming. 

Seriously, nothing...nothing comes close to ASL. I honestly can't think of another game that keeps me coming back for me the way ASL does...even when my dice completely suck and cause a game to completely blow...I'm ready for more the next day.

Todays AAR will cover three scenarios and we'll start with the most recent and work our way back in time. 3 Scenarios AAR's are a challenge, cause usually by the final game...I'm wore out and ready to quit. But I want to give fair coverage to all deep breath and here we go with number 1!!!

Our Saturday game would be J119 Sovkhoz Haystacks from ASL Journal 8. Designed by Ola Nygards, this scenario takes place in the Crimea in 1944. The Germans are tasked with taking control of a village and exiting AFV's at the same time. It's an interesting scenario that covers a lot of ground and provides both players with some tough tactical decisions.

My record as the Russians is abysmal. My worst record is as the Russians. I only win a third of the time. When you perennially roll high, using red to hit numbers and squads with only a 4 range becomes problematic. It's a bad combination and would show the truth of that during our game.

Playing against Dan Best is usually a tense experience when you are the defender. Dan is super aggressive and will take insane risks to get into your grill. And if you roll poorly...well you're in trouble, because Dan is right on top of you. Dan's risky attacks are possible against me, because I do roll badly on a more than regular basis. So yeah...go ahead and move that squad in the open against my 4-4-7 with an LMG, cause I just rolled a 10 and cowered.  Yep...I can't tell you how many times I've failed to stop Dan's boys just straight attacking me through open ground. Sucks to be me every now and then...(possibly all the time...).

ROAR has this scenario with 32 German wins and 23 Russian wins. 

Dan would get to be the attacking Germans of the 17th Army (kind of a generic unit description). This force would consist of 13 x 4-6-7's and a 2-2-8 led by 2 x 9-1's, 2 x 8-1's and an 8-0 with 5 x LMG's, and a Panzerschreck with 7 x Tiger I's, 2 x MKIV's, 2 x MKIII's, 2 x Marder 1's, 4 x half-tracks and a 75L AT Gun.  

NOTE: I cannot find any record of Tiger Tanks participating in the Crimea in 1944. So I would question the veracity of this engagement taking place in the Crimea. I spent way too much time trying to verify this...but hit the jackpot...

Interesting to see that this article neatly matches the action described on the scenario card...but then goes on to question if such an engagement actually occurred. This article confirms the action taking place, but near Vinnista and not in the Crimea. A Google search will on Sr. Lt. Kuleshov will show how a piece of information can find its way into many articles and even books...when it may or may not have even occurred. I'll be honest, it's extremely rare for me to check into the background of a scenario..but a scenario involving 7 Tiger I's in the Crimea just didn't smell right to me.

This page describes the same action, but suggest the Germans were part of the 1st SS Panzer Division.

Tiger I's were organized into Heavy Tank Battalions and the location of this engagement near Vinnista would make much more sense and a Tiger Battalion would have been available to the 1st I believe this engagement is probably based on actual event, but the location in the Crimea seems incorrect. Ok...that's enough about that.

As the hapless I mean Russian, I would command elements of the 4th Ukranian Front, 38th Army (again...questionable as I believe the 38th Army wasn't part of the 4th Ukranian Front until November of 1944.) My force would consist of 5 x 4-4-7's, and 2 x 2-2-8's led by a 9-1 and 8-0 with 2 x SU152's, 2 x SU122's, 6 x KV-85's with 2 x 8-1 Armor leaders and 2 x 45LL AT Guns.

The battlespace for this scenario is great and provides some interesting action.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Germans must clear the farm complex on board 43 (a.k.a. the Koresh Compound) and exit two armored vehicles.  The turn one forces will enter on board 43 and attack the farm.  Mostly moving into position to fire at the farm.  The tiger tanks will engage the enemy armor while the Pz IIIs and Pz IVs will engage the Russian infantry.  Turn 2 the tigers continue to attack armor but the Pz IIIs and Pz IVs will smoke the Russian AT guns and infantry.  This will allow the German infantry to cross the open ground and get into the farm.  The turn 2 entry team will cross the boards and engage the turn 2 Russian reinforcements.  Hopefully the farm can be cleared, and the German tanks can go for exit."

The pain...I mean the game begins! Anytime you are facing up against 7 Tiger Tanks and the best gun you got is an 85L...well you know it's not be a fun game for you. I only had 5 squads defend the village. Honestly, I had not expectation of actually holding the village. I went with a single fortified location, because I simply didn't have the troops to concentrate two squads in the same building and I didn't want to provide Dan with a fortified location for his own use. And I would have to pray that my dice would slap me around like normal...

I had anticipated a flanking attack from Dan. I really believed he would move up board 43 with full movement and then swing onto 4 and come out from the north side. I thought this because, it would put his armor in a position to quickly exit the board once control of the village was established. But I would be wrong and my defense would be inadequate to the task at hand as Dan hit me hard from the south of 43.

My Defensive Fire would suck..just straight up suck as I rolled an average of 9. Can't hit moving tanks with those kinds of rolls or affect infantry moving in the open. I would pin a squad, but that would be it.

In my Prep Fire, I would X out one of my SU152's as I was already under Low Ammo from my earlier DR10 with the same gun. My other SU152 would knock out a MKIV, but that would the only tank Dan would lose in taking the village.

My recalled SU152 would go down, then my other SU152 and finally my KV85 in the middle of the field. Just like that I was down to 2 tanks. But Dan's dice would bite him and he MALF 88's on two Tigers. He would 6 the Repair dr's on both and see two of his precious Tigers recalled. It was better than I could do.

But with just 1 full turn played, Dan and I had combined for 4 boxcars. And I'll just say it...sometimes ASL just blows as a game. Each turn represents 2 minutes of actual did half of Dan's Tigers just show up to the battle with no ammo...or inexperienced crews that couldn't load the shells properly. There does come a point in this game that enough is enough with the constant self-inflicted wounds of rolling the dice. There is no other game that I am aware that hurts you as often and in so many different ways than ASL. 

"Man...we gotta stop rolling these dice..."

Dan's Turn 2 reinforcements would roll on the battlefield. This would be the expected exit force. Meanwhile, Dan's MKIII's smoked my HMG and LMG positions. And his Tigers would turn my hull down KV-85 into a burning wreck with snakes...

My Turn 2 reinforcements would roll on and take up blocking positions in front of the German exit zone. This would prove to be one of my mistakes. My SU122's would not be able to intensive I should have placed everybody on hilltop positions to take long range shots at Dan. But...I didn't....

Dan would knock out my last KV85 in the village and then swing his Tigers into my backfield. I had lost one of  my 45LL AT Guns to Dan's infantry, but the other one had waited patiently for exactly this scenario. And as Dan's Tiger rumbled past and showed me his rear...I would fire penetration...intensive penetration. Dan's infantry would eliminate the gun in Close Combat. So that was fun...not...

The fight for the village was pretty one-sided. My smoked guys could do little to stop Dan's infantry and my boys on the opposite of the village found themselves surrounded. I would get some breaks as Dan's boys came at me in the open...but the writing was on the wall. I was going down.

Dan's armor and infantry were working well together.

With the village fight winding down, Dan could begin moving for the exit. 

The village was completely in German hands. It had cost the Germans a half-squad and a MKIV. Two Tigers were lost to recall and that was the only thing keeping me alive in this game. 

Yep....I was still in the game...

In the next series, my tanks would knock out two Tigers and a Marder I. But it wasn't enough.

A final look at the game. Dan would knock out one KV85 with a Panzerfaust and one of his Tiger's would knock out the other two. All I had left to block the exits were two SU122's, which not intensive fire. I would knock out the other MKIV, but a Tiger, MKIII and the half-track would successfully exit for the win.

It had been a great win for Dan. He would sustain relatively few losses and annihilate the Russians. It's the kind of win you look for in this game. It had been a bitter game for me. I was playing against Dan and my dice, which tied one hand behind my back for much of the game. I say it often and it remains true...dice rolls matter. If a Defender cannot get some results from his Defensive Fire attempts...then the defense will collapse.  My congrats to Dan on what was a bit of cake walk. There were a couple tense moments for the Germans, but overall, the result was never in doubt after Turn 2.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan worked.  Thanks to good shooting by the tiger tanks and good placement of smoke the farm was cleared quickly.  The Russian reinforcement knocked out two tiger tanks but German infantry were able to use PF to take down one KV and another was hit on the bounding fire by the German armored leader.  In the final turn the armored leader took out the last KV and the door was open for 4 AFVs to exit3 made it for the win.  This is a good scenario with much fun but I am not sure tiger tanks were historically in the Crimea.  It seems a little pro-German.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a great game of ASL!"

Our next game was played on Friday evening and was Q10 Most Important Thing from the Lone Canuck Quik 6 Pack II. Dan I would once again be battling it out in the snow covered steppes of Russia. This time I would be the Germans and Dan would be the Russians, but he would also be attacking again. Our playing of this scenario would be the first one to be recorded on ROAR and the ASL Archive.

George Kelln's excellent Quick 6 Packs are a favorite choice for the short week night games. They generally play very fast and provide a great couple of hours of quality ASL. 

Small scenarios of course can be harmed by boxcars and/or other results than take away one players support weapons or render a key position untenable.

In this scenario, the German Nordland Regiment is attempting to hold a fortified line against a determined Soviet infantry assault.

And for the second game in a row I would only have 5 squads.

But wire and pillboxes and trenches would be a big help.

As the defending Germans, I would command the men of the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division, Nordland. My force would consist of 5 x 4-6-8's, led by a 9-1 and 8-0 with 2 x HMG's, 6 x Trenches, 2 x Pillboxes and 4 x Wire.

As the attacking Russians, Dan would command the men of the 109th Rifle Division, 2nd Shock Army. This force would consist of 2 x 4-5-8's, and 14 x 4-4-7's led by a 9-1, 8-1 and 8-0 with 4 x LMG's, an MMG and 2 x DC's. 

A look at the battle space. 

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Russians are attacking to clear the town of SS thugs.  What is not to like?  The first group will attack along the west board edge to avoid the valley and move into town.  The second turn the 8-1 and four squads will attack along the east edge and three squads will reinforce the west edge.  The Russian assault engineer squads will attempt to use that rare supply of infantry smoke and the DCs.  The 9-1 will have three squads and all the MGs for a fire base.  Hopefully we do not get hung up on the wire and can close with the SS thugs for some close combat."

I've been improving my game with fortifications and I would be pleased with how my fortifications worked in this scenario. Wire can be tricky, but this scenario shows where to put it. I placed my pillboxes with my officers and HMG's to cover the valley. I would get some good hits on Dan's initial Turn 1 advance, but the bulk of Dan's boys made good progress up the west board edge.

Dan would get reinforcements on Turn 2 and send a large group up the east board edge.

I would break my HMG with my 9-1 and then destroy it on the Repair dr. Boxcars...screwing up scenarios since 1978. As I mentioned earlier, boxcars can really unwind a Quick 6 game. You simply can't afford to lose a critical asset like that when you are facing 3-1 odds. Overall, my dice rolls were sucking life again (a common theme of this 3 game AAR). I wasn't getting results on Dan often, but I got enough to slow Dan down and particularly at the wire.

Dan was stymied on the east flank and adopted fire positions to try and break my two squads holding the flank. I had sent my 8-0 with my only functioning HMG back to the Alamo Position. This would be my single game winning move.

My success at holding the flanks would be key to winning this scenario.

Dan's attacks were unrelenting. But he got hung up on the wire on both flanks.

In the center, I broke my 9-1 and squad and routed them away. I couldn't afford to lose them in Close Combat when they were pinned. This would be another game winning move. As I would easily rally them in the next phase and they would go on to reinforce the Alamo.

Dan finally broke through on the west flank. the boys on the east flank had failed to get through the wire and were mission killed going into the final turn. My boys were in position to receive the last desperate attack. If Dan could get into CC and keep my boys in Melee, he would win the game.

My defense managed to push back some of Dan's boys, but he would enter into close combat with all of my units. Three would end up in Melee, but in the Alamo, only his 9-1 would enter into close combat. He would be eliminated and my boys would have the victory. This had been an exciting game, but Dan was frustrated by bad rolls on moving through the wire and a DC that did nothing when placed. 

I would be frustrated by poor dice rolls that led me to toss my dice tower across the room (onto a couch) and go back to using my dice glass. I was seriously on the verge of a breakdown as my dice kept rolling 10's and 11's. I kid you was like I was cursed. I went to the dice glass just in time. I managed to roll average again and hold my line. This dice issue that plagues my game play seems to have no cure. And I will honestly say, that I will stop playing as often if it continues. I just don't need that level of frustration on a persistent basis. My thanks to Dan for another great game. We had fun inspite of the dice frustrations.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan did not work.  The Germans skillfully defended and when broke rallied quickly to keep in the fight.  The Russians got hung up on both board edge wire hexes and lost the final CC in one hex for a GO German MMC to be in the victory area for the win.  Great scenario for some bloody east front action.  Well played by Grumble Jones who won despite abysmal die rolls.  This scenario plays quickly (as advertised) but is full on intense action.  My Thanks to Grumble Jones for another great game of ASL."

Our third and final game was played on Monday and would be HazMo 15 Sticks and Stones. Designed by Chad Cummins, this scenario would depict an attack by Nationalist Forces to take a Republican stronghold at the Convent of San Marcial. This would Dan and my first time playing a scenario set during the Spanish Civil War.  We were both looking forward to seeing how it played out. It would turn out to be a very fun game and my favorite of the three that we played.

Stick and Stones is found in the second Hazardous Movement Pack. They have produced two fine packs in a short time and I believe more are in the pipeline.

We are truly living in a golden age of ASL content from both MMP and third party publishers.

There is no lack of scenarios to play these days...only the time to play them all!!!

As the defending Republicans, Dan would command elements of the People's Militia supported by Asurian Miners. This force would consist of 1 x 4-5-7, 9 x 4-3-7's, and 4 x 2-2-7's led by an 8-1 and 8-0 with an MMG and 2 x LMG's with a 2 x Roadblocks, 4 x Trenches and one fortified building location.

As the attacking Nationalists, I would command the men of the Lt. Colonel Beorlegu's Columna. My force would consist of 12 x 4-4-7's and 6 x 3-4-7's led by a 9-1, 8-1, and 8-0 with 2 x MMG's, 3 x LMG's and 2 x tanks with CMG's.

A look at the battlespace. I enjoyed playing on this map and the objectives were nicely put together.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Republicans must defend the convent building.  The location under the steeple will be fortified.  The 8-1, 1st line squads and MMG will set up there with a green squad.  Another green squad will set up in the on other hex of the building with the 8-0 and a 1st line HS will set up in the steeple.  The trenches will cross the road and go up to the third level hill and then to the two send level hills on the face of the hills.  Each will have a green squad with the two on the second level face having LMG.  A mix of HS and green squads will set up in the village with the assigned mission of being speed bumps, to slow the Nationalist attack.  Hopefully the speed bumps will slow the enemy and give time for the fortified location to hold."

My plan of attack was to approach the hill from the south with a diversionary force on the north side.

Turn 1 - I move forward and make good progress.

I keep my 9-1 in the backfield with both MMG's to try and soften up the Republican trench line. I would accomplish my goal and pin the unit at the end of the trench line and my primary objective.

Turn 2 - I made my way up on to and adjacent to the hill. 

A look at my progress after 2 turns.

Turn 3 - up the hill I go. The fight for control of the village crossroads would be a tough back and forth fight with broken units on both sides.

Dan's Militia were proving to be tough to root out of the houses.

I was up the hill and into the trench line. Rolling up the trench would go ok until I got locked into Melee with a pinned unit that I should have eliminated with an 8 or less. I would roll 10's twice in a row. My close combat woes are one of the issues that really hurt my game. I never enter a close combat with the confidence that I can win...even with 3 to 1 odds...which is just ridiculous. This failure to eliminate a single 4-3-7 for nearly two turns would cost me the game.

Dan's MMG would prove to be an awful thing. Dan was rolling very well and he would go on to destroy both of my tanks with the HMG. And yes, it's ridiculous that machine guns take down tanks with some regularity in early war ASL. But it is what it is...

With both tanks down and my boys being broken by Dan's good shooting, would leave me in a precarious position. I would have to pin or break the concealed 4-3-7 in the fortified location or lose the game.

A last look at the game. In the final turn, everything hinged on Prep Fire. And I failed to pin or break the 4-3-7, which was game over. I couldn't enter the fortified location in Advance Phase and therefore could not get into Close Combat. In the final turns, Dan's dice were hot and he was getting results with 2 factor shots, which broke or pinned my boys. And on my side, I was rolling terrible...16 factor shots...and rolling 9's and 10's against a fortified location. I was really bummed, because my attack had been good. I had rolled up the trench and was in good position to finish off the Convent...but poor dice rolls in close combat and in the fire phases sealed my fate. My congrats to Dan on a fantastic desperation win. He managed to knock out both tanks and win the game with a single 4-3-7 that had remained unbroken. We both played a great game and the outcome wasn't decided until the very end. This is a very good scenario and one you should play.

And now for Dan's Post Game Comments:

"The plan worked.  The final good order green squad was able to advance concealed into the fortified building and stay good order on the last turn.  Thus keeping the Nationalist out of the convent.  This game is a great early war battle with tin can tanks and low firepower attacks.  An excellent battle and fun scenario for my first playing of a HazMo scenario.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a great game!"

As Dan and I were in the middle of our game last night, we learned of the passing of John Dober III. While I never had the fortune to meet and play against John, I was well aware of his contributions to this game and the ASL Community at Large. I often imagined having the opportunity to attend his Hallowed Ground Tournament. He and his family are in my prayers this weekend. I know that Sam and Ian and countless others have already seated John at the Heavenly ASL Table. 

This blog post is dedicated 
to the memory of John Dober III. 

God speed John.


  1. First RIP John.

    Second, I love how you started your post with such praise of the game. Then following on, that love is fighting the rage of the dice.

    I feel somewhat similarly about my dice and my play frankly. I wonder why I play sometimes. So I guess we need to figure out how to win when we know we’ll roll high.

  2. Really excellent AARs, informative and very enjoyable to read with really entertaining images LOL - thank you!

    1. I do need to go back and edit. It’s amazing how many sentences come out incorrectly. Drives me crazy!

  3. Did Dan every get to use any dynamite sticks? :)