Monday, January 23, 2023

Our Games - A Recap

Well...some days you win...and some days you lose. ASL is a fickle mistress, and you never know what she'll give you from one game to the next. You always hope for that fun and exciting scenario that comes down to the final close combat. You rarely look forward to the SNIPER breaking your only squad on the flank and losing the game as an enemy half-squad casually runs by and takes the final victory location. Nope...not too many of us looking forward to that scenario.

It might have...

There I was playing along, feeling pretty good. And then I had a knife in my eye...

ASL, like life will have its less than satisfying moments. It's a game of random dice rolls (though we hate to admit it) and the dice bow to no man. For me, my war with my dice has raged for years and reached a climax last night when I hurled a Chessex die at my hardwood floor and watched it bounce ten feet in the air and hit the ceiling fan. That was a little over the top on my part...but I didn't succumb to my fantasy of taking my hammer to the underperforming die. No, I stopped short of extending my nonsensical behavior to further levels of personal shame.

In my quest for average die rolls, I have used three Dice Towers, 3 glass tumblers and 1 plastic tumbler. And of course, rolled multiple pairs of Chessex, ASL, and Battle School Dice. And nothing has helped. I feel like Brett Maher at the Super Bowl....oh bad...

You may laugh, when I suggest that I'm cursed, but there are times when it really feels like that. I've mentioned this previously, but playing Dan Best is a clinic in facing an uber aggressive opponent. Never tell Dan it's an 11-turn scenario...he's going to battle as if it only has three turns. It makes for exciting games of ASL, and you have to be on your toes defensively. But it can also create incredibly upsetting moments. Most ASL players think twice before charging across open ground with a -2 modifier. Not Dan....he doesn't care...he just turns that negative into a positive. 

As a defender, I always try to place open ground between myself and my opponent. This works against some opponents, but not Dan. Dan comes at me and forces me to roll the dice...which I don't want to do...because...they are nearly always bad rolls. 

So, in our third game of a 4-game weekend, I would have German 2-3-7's rushing towards my American 5-4-6 in a foxhole. First shot would be a 12...cowered and final fired. This opened the door to all of Dan's flanking Schwerpunkt to kick in my entire flank with the board edge creep. My squad would be broken, and casualty reduced in Advancing Fire, because Dan didn't roll 12's. Nope, he was rolling 3's and 4's even with his CX guys. And my morale check rolls were every bit as bad as any of my other rolls.

This would continue throughout that game but has become a staple of all of our games. I cannot stop my opponent from moving in the open. Even with the -2, I struggle to do more than a Pin Check. Over time, your opponent recognizes your apparent weakness and exploits it. 

Yep...I tried...

Poking fun at the situation is the only way to get past it. This is especially true when you can't change it. You just have to move on. Easier said than done of course. 

And I do want to mention Cowering (one of the dumber rules in our game). I really hate it and have watched many a snake eyes come to nothing because of it. You have to wonder at the designers of ASL who must have giggled for hours as they found new ways to have a player's own dice rolls provide ever more opportunities for self-inflicted wounds.

I imagine by now, you realize this won't be the standard AAR and hopefully won't be more endless whining least as we move forward!!! As a life-time Dallas Cowboys'd think I would be more used to in game collapses. Naturally, I'm not the only one to suffer from bad luck in ASL. Dan has had his fair share of that in our games as well. His German 5-4-8's are notorious for glass jaws and have a tendency to break early and often. Dan's leaders also have a tendency to break as well. But Dan's has some other unusual quirks to his rolls. When checking for casualty reduction (when hit with a "K" result, Dan usually hits his leader if one is present. This is good, because they normally wound (rarely do they die from the wound severity dr). And in SNIPER checks, they are rarely hit, with the squad normally absorbing. It's a strange phenomenon, but it happens. For me, the dice tend to give me the best results with the least fire power. When I have 16 or greater, 10's, 11', and 12's are the typical roll.  But what can you do...dice will be dice.

You may be wondering if Dan and I infact played any ASL. We did and got in four games this weekend. We were both working from home this Monday, so scheduled a 5:00 PM game. So, we played, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. That's a rare occurrence to be sure. 

Two of our games would come from Alan Findlay's excellent COVERED scenario pack. We would play BG1 A new Kind of Cavalry and BG2 First Horse Army. BG1 would play through about 4 turns, when Dan's Poles successfully exited two tanks off the board. It was a less than fun game as my MMG's couldn't do any damage to the tanks and after MALF'ing one of them, it was pretty game over as the tanks hit the exit ramp. I didn't enjoy playing the Bolsheviks in this one. I don't like not having a reliable way to defend against tanks, especially in an exit scenario. The Poles have five tanks in this one with low movement factors and having to move in platoon movement. But relying on MMG's is as you might guess...very dicey. So, Dan would take the first win.

I had planned to do a full AAR on BG 2 First Horse Army, but after it was decided on Turn 3, Dan and I both felt like it just didn't have enough to blog about. Here's the picture of respective starts. Dan would stay mounted for the duration and make a final charge against my dismounted skirmish line on Turn 3.

My dismounted Poles had formed a skirmish line covering the entire board. Dan would win if he could exit 6 mounted squads at game end. The charge went badly, and the Bolsheviks were decimated. Dan would give the concession at the end of the charge. Not sure what was intended to happen here. There are victory condition penalties imposed on the Poles for any dismounted squads. The Bolshevik Player can reduce the number of mounted squads that have to be exited for each dismounted Polish unit.  But I cannot imagine any Polish Player not dismounting his force to concentrate his firepower and prevent any Bolshevik's from exiting. An interesting scenario and Dan and I both concluded that charges aren't the way to go.

So, after two games, Dan and I were tied at 1-1.

Our third game (played on Sunday) would be from the latest Lone Canuck Quik 6 Pack. Our choice would be Q26 Holzthum Hold Out with Dan as the attacking Germans and me as the defending Americans. 

Dan would set up a kill stack (9-1, 3 x LMG's, 3 x 4-6-7's) on a level 2 hill. I had two mortars and both of my MMG's zeroed on that location. But I only a single 5-4-6 on my left flank. Two other squad were in support, but couldn't fire in front of that 5-4-6's position. Dan's Schwerpunkt would hit me hard, and turn my left flank. I would force his fires support kill stack on ff the hill, but that would prove to be a distraction from defending the real threat to my left flank.

Throughout the game, my Defensive Fire shots were awful, with high average rolls that negated any benefit from a -2 moving in open TEM. Dan enjoyed pretty decent freedom of movement as a result. Dan's rolls were generally quite good and he was passing most of his MC's, but did miss a couple and ELR as a result. 

A look at my setup with the single 5-4-6 in the foxhole at the left board edge. I thought I had decent coverage and with my elevated MMG's, had developed a false sense of confidence in my ability to stop a flank attack. The Germann Player wins at game end by controlling three of the 4 mutli-level stone buildings. In the course of this game, I would not get a single hit with my mortars. My high rolls would adversely impact my defense and undo some of the good rolls that I got. Dan would break through and turn my left flank.

So, pictures are limited to just the first and last that I took...this is because I accidentally deleted the final pictures for this AAR. Seems like fate was against a full-blown AAR this week. Additionally, I was feeling effects of my COVID Bivalent Booster. My wife and I had gotten the shot at Noon and around 7:00 PM we both felt it. But a good night's sleep and plenty of hydration and I was back to normal on Sunday. This last picture shows Dan's penetration in the village on Turn 4. On Turn 5, Dan would successfully break both of my top center 5-4-6's. The Sniper would break the second in this instance, which allowed Dan to run a half-squad into the church for the win. I had exited the church to reinforce in the center...thinking I had enough stuff to control my flanks. Turns out that I did not. I shot a ton at that half-squad but failed to hurt it. I would break it after advancing adjacent. That would prove disastrous for me, as Dan's half-squad routed away into the church. I had no more movement phases left, so Dan would retain his control of the building at that was game. It was a solid win for Dan that made up for his Bolshevik cavalry being shot to pieces the night before.

At the end of three games, it was Dan 2 and me 1.

Our fourth and final game of the weekend would be Q25 Encounter at Le Valtru. Set in Normandy during June of 1944, this game pits a Canadian force against the 2nd Panzer and 2nd SS Panzer Division. There are two Panthers and three Churchills in the game along with high quality squads. All my favorite stuff in pretty compact scenario. 

This scenario is ready made for Cardboard via SKYPE as both sides set up simultaneously, which is easily done with this method of play. A single die is rolled to see who moves first. In our playing, the Germans would move first. As all vehicles on both sides begin in motion, whoever moves first has a chance to get the jump on the opponent's armor. I figured, I was about to lose two Churchill tanks.

Turn 1 Canadian - I would lose one tank, but Dan would MALF the MA on the second and one of my Churchills would successfully hide behind a building. 

Turn 2 German - Dan moves ahead. I do the impossible and roll snakes with my PIAT against the Panther with the MALF'd MA. Then I roll snakes on the effect. Good grief...a holocaust of burning Panther tank. These were the same dice that thwarted my every effort the night before... 

I would also get some hard hits on Dan's advancing Grenadiers. And another snakes from my northern Churchill that would blast the advancing Grenadiers. I was experiencing a surfeit of good luck.


The victory conditions for this scenario are twofold. The Germans win immediately upon exiting 15 VP, 4 of which must be infantry or at game end if the Germans keep the Canadians from moving past Row I and have visibility to the west board edge. 

Dan's remaining Panther went on a vengeance ride and would knock out a second Churchill. I tried to destroy it in street fighting CC but failed.

The final photo from the game. Dan's remaining Panther escaped from my infantry and went after my final Churchill. My mortar would successfully smoke him, but my Churchill would still be destroyed. And then my PIAT team (same one that rolled a CRIT on the first Panther) would roll snakes again and destroy the last Panther. Down to 11 available VP and with the Canadian infantry largely in control, Dan would offer the concession and a Canadian victory.

"Harry...did I tell you about the time I knocked out two Panther tanks?" "Yeah...three times already!!"

It was time to celebrate the final game of our four game weekend. I must say that I enjoyed the last game the most. It was in Normandy with top flight tanks and troops...and rolling a whole lot of snakes didn't hurt any!!!  My thanks to Dan for another epic weekend. We finished 2 and 2, which was fantastic. Something for everybody!!

That's all for now! 

Dan and I will be back in two weeks with more Panzerschrecking ASL!!!

We will see you then!

1 comment:

  1. If it's any consolation, I was playing a VASL match recently and my wife accused me of being "uncharacteristically whiny". Happens to the best of us on occasion. :-)