Let’s go, Rangers!


Or, my continuing adventures in the difficult and demanding, but intensely – with the emphasis on intensely – enjoyable journey towards better mastery of Advanced Squad Leader.

Ran was my patient teacher. He patiently smashed my attacking forces in two scenarios, proving I still have a lot to learn.

First up, Ranger Stronghold. (ASL scenario T3.)

A German force of a dozen squads (with four leaders, one MMG and five LMGs) backed up by a couple of Panzer IV F2 tanks, has to clear the five and a half squads of the USA 1st Ranger Battalion (with two leaders, two MMGs, and four bazookas) from the heights of board two. I was the Germans and Ran was the Americans.

The tactical challenge for the Germans is to get up close and personal with the defenders, without suffering too many casualties. I blew that for the following reasons, among others:

  • I forgot about the smoke generating capability of the tanks.
  • I was too cautious with the tanks.
  • I was too aggressive with the infantry.
  • Too often, my troops moved into hexes I thought were out of line of sight (LOS). I was wrong…
  • I did not pass a single bloody morale check throughout the scenario.
  • One tank main weapon malfunctioned. I tried to repair it – I shouldn’t have – and irreparably broke it. So the tank was recalled.

In fairness, Ran had a decent set of dice rolls when it came to taking his shots. But also in fairness, that wasn’t why he won; he played better than me.

Next up was Gavin Take. (ASL scenario T1.)

The roles were reversed this time, in that the Germans (played by Ran) were defending. They had seven squads, three leaders, a couple of MMGs and three LMGs. The Americans (under my control) had ten squads and three leaders, entering on either flank of the board three village.

Here, the tactical challenge for the attacker was to keep the defending forces occupied enough so as to be able to get troops around the village and off the board edge. I did better in this scenario, but at the end it was an easy win for Ran because I could not fulfill the victory conditions of exiting a squad and a leader.

Having learned one lesson from the first scenario, I was better at avoiding surprise LOS shots, but still couldn’t get the balance right between move and fire – or aggression and caution. When it came down to it, I didn’t make enough progress in time to threaten a victory.

For all the faults in my play, I have to give credit to Ran for the quality of his play. He did not let me off the hook, and it was impressive to watch the care and attention he gave to his moves, even when I thought the action to take was obvious. (It wasn’t…)

Another aspect is becoming crystal clear: it’s not enough to have a rough idea of the key rules. You need to know them – really, really know them. For example, my grasp of the LOS rules is not good enough. Neither is my knowledge of the vehicle smoke rules. If I am to make progress, I need to put some serious study time in.

I liked the short scenarios. I suspect they may be less enjoyable for Ran, because experienced ASL gamers seem to believe bigger is better. We shall see.

Meantime, I hope we can squeeze in another session before the ASL Israel Event – I need the practice!