I have been remiss in blogging about gaming, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been playing – and losing.
A summary of all my ASL games since the last blog post about it would be: I played, I lost. Pretty demoralizing, even though playing ASL remains the most enthralling, engaging, absorbing, and exciting wargame experience I have ever had. The essential conundrum is that the only way to improve is to play, and yet if every play is a loss, it somewhat saps the enthusiasm. I have tried one session as purely an observer, watching Ran and Josh playing a scenario I had already played with Josh. I did learn a lot. Putting the right lessons into practice at the right time is the main challenge.
Also, I doubt – despite protestations to the contrary – that it’s much fun for my opponents to keep on winning. I haven’t figured out a solution, and maybe I never will. But meantime, I am still playing.
Last time out, Ran, Josh, and I played Second City, a 1944 scenario featuring a Soviet assault force (Josh) trying to steamroller through a mixed infantry and tank group of Hungarian defenders (Ran) with a couple of Panthers and decent German infantry support coming on as third turn reinforcements (me). This allowed me to watch the initial turns, trying to take on board the lessons, occasionally asking questions.
Josh’s assault force almost, but not quite, wiped out the Hungarians. Unfortunately for him, Ran exacted a high price. When my force came on in, it was able to put paid to the bulk of the remaining Soviet armor threat, and take up good defensive positions. (I would have struggled to do this entirely unaided, but Ran’s guidance was excellent and he better deserves the credit.) That set of moves plus a flamethrower led attack that wiped out some forward Russian attackers ended the scenario.
ROAR records 17 German wins against 2 Soviet, so the outcome seems to follow the trend and suggests that the scenario is not well balanced.
Now, a pause for lessons learned.
Setup: as defender, do not setup somewhere that the attacker can use his firepower to too much effect. In this case, the Soviets start with a half-track toting 24 firepower, and that is to be avoided.
Gun crew: don’t forget final protective fire.
Tanks: don’t give the opponent a side (or rear) shot, even if it has a low chance of success.
Broken main armament: think about whether you need to repair the gun. Failure gets the tank recalled. Maybe the machine guns will do the job.
Smoke: think about the different ways this can be used, including placing smoke in an enemy occupied hex. Don’t forget vehicle smoke launchers.
Stacks: avoid, avoid, avoid.
I’m sure there were more lessons, and hopefully I have properly absorbed them. Thanks to Josh and Ran for the continuing education, and their patience.