Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In The Mail

Back from a revitalising holiday to find that Mark Pitcavage's Scenario Designer's Guide was part of the accumulated mail waiting for me. First glance - nicely done. Lots of reading to do and a few notes to make before a fuller report is on the cards. Not sure that it'll be as useful as might have been suggested for non-ASL scenario designers but more later on that.  So much to do today and I haven't even typed up the updates.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Advanced Squad Leader Schedule

Now that I've settled in here and have a modicum of connectivity, it's time to get back into some game playing. ASL still manages to feature on my playlists because I find it easy to arrange games via the VASL online utility and PBeM suits me. When I last was involved in PBeM/Live games via VASL, I was playing the following:

  • CH15 No Farther: vs Jay White - Set on the Red Barricades map, this is the fourth mini scenario of its type Jay and I have played. The others have all been exceptional games with wacky events and some outrageous swings of fortune. It helps that we get along so well. It will be a lot easier for us both once I have ADSL and Skype operating again. [CH issue 2]

    • J88 Escape to Wiltz: vs Chris Wendel - A small yet vicious scenario set during the Battle of the Bulge, it started out okay for the US, but from what I remember I've run into real time/space issues in terms of clearing away the German blocking detachments. Losing one of my two light armoured vehicles really hurt. [ASL Journal 5]
      • DASL6 Draconian Measures: vs Vic Behar - We only managed to get as far as Turn 2 before real life interrupted the game, but thi scenario is one of those tooth and claw fights where the advanattges of the Tigers are offset by the urban terrain and the Soviet firepower that can effectively wipe away the escorting infantry. [Streets of Fire]
        • U8 Weissenhof Crossroads: vs John Knowles - John and I have been playing ASL against each other for almost 20 years now, and we're currently working our way through the GI's Dozen scenario pack, a collection of SL system scenarios updated to ASL format. This is one of our mutual favourites from GI, and is a winter Bulge scenario that works better in VASL with all the terrain changes than it does in hardcopy. This one is starting to run John's way as attrition begins to bite hard and the threat of the big 15cm Self-propelled Infantry cannons is lessening as I take the Ammunition restrictions into account. [GI's Dozen]
        I'm about to head off for an 18 day break in Aussie so I'll be getting these games back up and running when I return, and maybe even with the benefit of Skype/ADSL.

        Thursday, May 25, 2006

        Plus ça change...I could post more if I'd actually achieved anything

        The only gaming I've been doing in the last two months has been Advanced Squad Leader on VASL.

        I've completed several games:

        • Vulcan's Forge (Melee Pack II - Red Barricades)
        • Bread Factory #2 (RB3 - Red Barricades)
        • Rescue Attempt (Doomed Battalions)
        • Thrust and Parry (GI's Dozen)
        • Moldavian Massacre (Hero Pak)
        • Riposte (GI's Dozen)
        • Clearing Qualberg (Schwerpunkt)
        I'm currently playing several others via PBeM and the occasional live VASL session, which seems to be working nicely although I'm starting to get a pasting in one which is the result of a poor series of initial moves.

        The Stalingrad project is stalled for the meantime owing to lack of discretionary cash while the winter power bills mount up and I'm still looking for a new job. However I do at least have a solid grasp of what I need to do, although spending US$500 on three source references is making me wince a great deal.

        Friday, March 31, 2006

        Stalingrad: The Maps

        Here are some pics of the various maps:

        This is the reworked version of the Dzerhezinsky(sic) Tractor Works map, as you can see it has a yellow clay tinge to the map rather than the familiar Red Barricades brick-dust look. Unfortunately for ASL players, Critical Hit's superb quality assurance came to the fore and they shrunk the hex sizes to 3/4 inches across so they could fit the map on one sheet. Brilliant decision guys, for a game that will end up with some of the most counter intensive scenarios around. This is one map where the expense of getting the mapsheet enlarged is worthwhile. I'd say that the best way to do this is to enlarge it by 33% so you can match the RB sized hexes, as Don Petros most likely worked to the same hex size as Charlie Kibler. What you won't notice is that very original map is wider by four hexrows (the rework begins on the D hexrow) and 9-15 alternate hexgrains. Outside of a few coordinate changes in the setups (and they got them wrong) CH didn't alter anything in the scenarios - really tells you about the playtesting doesn't it.

        This is the reworked map from Valor of The 37th Guards (yeah CH, you're real original in your titles). As you can see, the colour is closer to RB in style but again there are some issues with the map. Personally I actually prefer the original scope of the DTW map but the new Vot37G one works as well. The good thing is that I think you actually get both the original 3/4" hex map and the revised, smaller area RB style map in Vot37G for all of $15 US. Don't buy from CH, they're gratuitous on shipping.

        This is the actually the map of the Stalin's Fury module from CH, which is a modified version of the infamous Grain Elevator mini-CG from the 1997 Stalingrad Special Edition. From all accounts, the CG is a complete crock but the map as you can see is pretty. Such a shame therefore that CH dropped the ball (again) when it came to actual playtesting/design. Oh well at least it gives me something to tool around with regarding designing a CG.


        The reason for looking at getting Stalingrad after years of hmming and hawing about it is that I've decided to undertake a long term project for Advanced Squad Leader. With Valor of the Guards due in July or August, and having played a couple of scenarios on the Red Barricades map, my interest in ASL Stalingrad has been piqued. I've always intrigued by Critical Hit's Dzerzhinsky Tractor Works product, despite the noted flaws with it and the Grain Elevator mini-module. I've decided to look at turning my hand to fixing DTW and the GE,even if this means designing new CGs and scenarios from scratch.

        This is very much a long term project (gee, I'm really good at planning these and lousy at completing them) but with no time pressures I can obtain the necessary reference materials at a sustainable rate.