I have a couple of ASL games to report on.
In no particular order, let’s start with L’Abbaye Blanche, from Action Pack 4, which I played with Josh. Here’s how he saw it:
This is an old Action Pack scenario where 10 SS squads plus smoke-generating half-tracks take on a rag-tag force of American defenders with three MMGs, one actual 6-6-6 squad and two 76L AT guns.
Sounds impossible for Americans right? Except that every time this scenario has been played, the American defenders win because the Germans run out of time and/or are hemmed in on the tight board by mines, AT guns, and fire lanes.
So knowing this, I cheerfully did my setup. Ellis comes on as German and blows right through me in the woods. I had an eight factor minefield in his way but he walked right through it like it wasn’t there. Also defending was a gun, which he basically bypassed (by going through aforementioned mines), and the full squad, MMG, and a 9-1. So the stack did some damage. Great, two Germans broken, here come eight more. And the ones who broke are already being attended to with their broken morale of 9.
Somehow I was able to hold Ellis off for the victory by bringing in reinforcements from the other side of the board. But it was close. Ellis probably had winning options which he didn’t exercise. Smarter bypass, maybe smoke, it felt like victory was his.
I also had some good luck. A killing sniper not once, but twice. And a gun that got a critical to win the game (I pushed the gun to a favorable position, after failing to manhandle several times).
One thing Ellis didn’t do right. The half-tracks just parked in front of my guns and were destroyed. They should had kept in cover until the guns are revealed/taken out. If the desire for the crews to prove they are not cowards is so great (and not afterwards incur the wrath of SS infantry), keep them in motion.
And my thoughts:
As Josh indicated, things went well for the Germans until the very end. This, despite a three-peating sniper. (Josh, those dice are banned from now on!) As things stood on the second last turn, I had lost only half a squad, and had everyone within reach of the board edge provided they crossed a road down which Josh’s gun had a clear line of sight. One guy made a successful dash. However, there were three other stacks which needed to get across as stacks – because without the leader and going CX – they wouldn’t be close enough to assuredly exit next turn.
Josh’s first shot at the solo runner missed. His intensive fire shot on the stack was a critical hit. If he had missed that shot, everyone gets across and the Germans win. But it wasn’t to be.
That’s not to say I couldn’t have played it better. For sure the half tracks died cheaply. But when I asked Josh about alternatives, he basically said his hid away from the guns and did nothing. At least mine put the guns at risk of malfunctioning!
I don’t think I got a single sniper the whole scenario. So, Josh never rolled a ‘2’. But he rolled lots and lots of 3s and 4s.
The hero of the defending force was the crew that manhandled one gun into that crucial position to block the road to German victory.
Now onto the other game: I played Pavlov’s House from Victory of the Guards with Ran. This is Ran’s narrative:
I played as Germans, and had to get through mines and wire and clear Pavlov’s house from it’s fortified, elite, fanatic and armed to their teeth residents.
I did my best, but it was not enough. I used very aggressive assault tactics. For example, one of my Stug III crashed into a fortified building, created a breach and put SD smoke on top of the defending 6-2-8, immediately followed by DC placement. The assault went well after some initial setbacks (a broken flamethrower HS that rolled a 12 in the rally phase, leaving me without a desperately needed flamethrower). Eventually I recovered the FT and the defensive positions began to crumble. I was able to penetrate Pavlov’s house, but Ellis cleverly spread his units in every location in the building, which prevented me from clearing the building on time.
It was a very intensive game – typical Stalingrad show – with huge stacks, lots of firepower, 36+6 shots, hand-to-hand close combat, and edge of the seat thrills.
First, a confession. With one and a half turns to go, I was convinced that Ran would win. (Just as I was (correctly) convinced that Josh would win our last game.) I was wrong. However, I only won it by the skin of my teeth.
Second, some pointers on what I saw as the material events.
Ran’s tanks did very little. They shot and shot and shot at Pavlov. He did break, a couple of times, but quickly recovered. His luck was not good there.
One tank did lead from the front with a smoke dispenser and a breach into a fortified building. But when it went deeper into the Russian defenses, I luckily killed it with an ATR shot. Another tank was shocked by an ATR shot. My luck was good there.
Earlier, in the approach to contact, I managed to break the unit carrying the flamethrower. That surely slowed up his progress, as it is deadly.
Also, I think Ran lost three squads/half squads to boxcars rolls on morale checks. We both lost a mortar to a malfunction and a blown repair.
Finally, Ran was ever the gentleman. I offered him the Soviets, but he thought it would be too hard for me to get the attack right. I can see why he felt that way. So Ran gave up a sure win for the love of ASL and an attempt to get a result against all the odds.
As usual, an intense, and thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable experience.
There’s one other impact that ASL is having now. I am quite unable to play any other squad level WW2 games. I like Band of Brothers – really like it. But each time I think about getting it on the table to play, I think about how I do not have any opponents to play it with, and wouldn’t I be better reading the ASL rulebook? The same goes for Lock ‘n Load’s tactical game. The only one that might get out to be played is Combat Commander, because one local opponent has expressed an interest in trying it, but there’s no way he will go for ASL at this time. Interesting.