Well, I can now report that I have played my first proper full all out game of ASL. (The earth shakes.)
I would also like to report that I was gloriously successful, routing my opponent – Ran – and crushing his forces across the board, securing me a wonderful, wonderful win.
Yes, I would like to do that, but unfortunately I cannot. Instead, the exact opposite happened, and my feeble efforts were in vain. I wasn’t truly surprised, but wish I had put up a better show. We played Zon with the Wind, a 1944 scenario of Americans versus Germans. It takes place on board 24 (a valley) with about 5 German squads backed up by a couple of 88mm guns, commanded by Ran, trying to hold off my vastly larger American forces.
The picture above shows the action after I had entered my turn 1 reinforcements. [The bottom board is where I set up my reinforcements before they came on, and it is not in play.] Ran gave up the chance to hide his guns by sticking them on top of my VP exit route. And, as you can see, his opening shot with one gun and a machine gun managed to do some damage to my guys. Under the pin marker is a leader. I think there’s a broken squad under that. There’s another broken squad under the acquired marker. It went downhill from there.
Here are a collection of random thoughts about it all:
- I was too cautious in the early turns. That meant I had to advance too aggressively in the later turns (ie in the open) and got clobbered.
- I should have swarmed around the outnumbered defenders, instead of going through the steps of setting up a fire base, trying to use smoke, and advancing with support.
- I tried to attack on too wide a front.
- Ran told me I should have tried to set up a fire position with my MMG and offer some threat to the guns. That makes sense now.
- I did use bypass movement, but got the LOS rules wrong. For some, inexplicable reason, I thought LOS had to be to two vertices, not one vertex. So, one stack was hit in the open and died.
- I did use dash, but still was hit.
- I correctly guessed – no idea why – that the two stacks of Germans in the building next to the US sniper in the picture, were dummies. However, instead of having the courage of my convictions, I chickened out. This gave Ran time to move across and defend the place.
- Ran’s fighting withdrawal was well timed.
- I struggled with the terrain and LOS. The valley was new to me, and I could not properly get my head round it. I suffered because my guys were caught when I thought there was no LOS. I also suffered because when I thought there was LOS, there wasn’t!
- Sniper activity was almost non existent.
- Beyond the issues mentioned above, I did not have a major problem with the rules. I had to carefully check a sequence of play cheat sheet, and had to look at the main rules on several occasions. However, the game was not bogged down by that.
- That having been said, I can see why players say that knowing the rules well is part of the required skills set. I do not know the rules well enough, and will need to devote time to that.
- My ASLSK experience was a big help. The leap to full ASL is still a big one. In that respect, choosing a scenario free of vehicles and OBA was the right thing to do.
- Luck was not truly a factor. (Though, on reflection, having 2 guys stopped dead in their tracks by rolling a 6 for smoke grenade use was less than helpful.)
- Ran was, as always, patient. It took us about 4-5 hours from beginning to end. I conceded with a turn to go as there was no way I could achieve the victory conditions.
Did I enjoy it? I enjoyed playing it. I didn’t enjoy the losing as such. However, expecting anything else at this stage is lunacy. Even if Ran were not a good ASL player – and he is – ASL is such a rich system, and the tactical possibilities in each scenario are so dynamic, it’s unrealistic to expect these to be mastered without a lot of effort and experience. Experience as in mistakes. In that respect, I made a good start.
And do I want to play some more? You bet. And here’s the first part of my essential ASL kit that has turned up:
Which means it is time to start work on these guys:
In short, this was the start of my ASL experience. I am very much looking forward to more of it, even though it may be a long, long time before I will be able to get a win under my belt. Expect to see more ASL session reports.