Friday, October 15, 2010

ASLOK 2010 Final thoughts

I've been gaming for 35 years in both miniatures and boardgames. I've played competition miniatures events that wereso cutthroat and unpleasant I've lost friends and opponents and I was one of the less obnoxious competition players. The ASL community can be incredibly shitty online but over the tabletop they're some of the best people I've met.

I had an absolute blast at ASLOK. It was a real pleasure meeting so many good people and I made some good friends. I'm already hanging out for 2013 although I may get to Chicago for the Open before then. Thanks to everyone at ASLOK, but particularly to Bret for organising this, Bob Homstrom and Jim Burris for the jetlagged evenings, Fort for "That Game", Scott 'Tabby' Holst for being such a good sort. Oh hell, thanks to everyone I met and played. You made my first ASLOK one hell of a special memory!

Monday, October 11, 2010

ASLOK Sunday Day 10

Sunday 10th October - Bonus Mini: Tin Cans & Popguns#3

Steve Linton and I were paired up for the single elim game to find out who would play Nigel Blair for the plaque. We played SP186 Beaufort's Feast (Out damn' Schwerpunkt, out I say!) and I got so wound up worrying about interdicting the evil french infantry with my Panzer IIIs I left them in harms way of the Somuas. Of course that really didn't matter as I managed to critical hit one Somua and went ahead and diced Linton throughout the game despite losing my OBA without it even getting a chance to get radio contact.

I had to stay out of Linton's reach after the game, my dice weren't just smoking hot they were core-temp white as I went well past 60 snakes for ASLOk by the time I rolled a snakes in the last CC phase to sleaze out a win. OMFG I've won a game in a mini! 3 and 13 for ASLOK, 1 and 4 for minis.

On to the final against Nigel, who'd had a bad run at ASLOK until the Grofaz started where he went 2 and 0 to begin with and lost in a mini final. Nigel had already heard all about my dice, Linton hadn't exactly been backward about this although by this stage I was boring everybody with my dice stories as well, so he was hoping that my streak would have run dry now.

We played  AP53Far from Home, a scenario I think is a great one to finish ASLOK on a Sunday.
Not only did my streak not end it got even more obscene as I was just getting warmed up with 3 s and 4 helped by the odd snakes or five, and Nigel couldn't buy a roll less than 10! It got so bad I swapped dice, tried rolling in a cup as opposed to a dice tower, I even started using Nigel's unlucky dice which promptly rolled one 11 for me then picked up my karma again.

AP53 Far from Home, very apt really.
It came down to one final close combat roll almost in identical fashion to the game against Linton and sure enough, snakes! (later on Nigel realisedthat if only he'd moved one of his AFvs one more hex, he would have secured a VC hex.)

So here I am at my first ASLOK and I won a Mini! Okay it was an abbreviated one of two rounds duration and Linton reckons the plaque should be awarded to my dice not me, in which case I reckon it leaves me still eligible for the Biggest Loser mini in 2013 in that case.

Steve Linton and Nigel Blair

Well there had to be one more game of ASL in all three of us, so it came down to a winner takes all game of Dogs of War! I got picked on horribly by Blair and Linton but to be honest it was all great fun. Even traces of hot dice couldn't save my feral SS from dying in droves and Linton walked away as the partisan player with one last Mini plaque (Bret had scrounged another one that needed to be gotten rid of).

Dogs of War

Sunday, October 10, 2010

ASLOK Saturday Day 9

Saturday 9th October
Where the hell have the last 7 days gone? It's a Saturday morning I'm up ready to go straightaway and i get paired against Kevin Meyer again in the last PTO Mini - well at least i know this game is going to be fast and furious ...

2.5 hours later and I'm out of another mini, only this time Kevin goes on to win the whole thing! Seizing the Sittang Bridge, another Schwerpunkt design and it could be one of the last Schwerpunkt non-SK board scenarios I play (I bought that Rallypoint issue for a reason). Anyway i had a faint chance to win if I'd set up and executed the twin Banzais in the right order and with the right units...twasn't to be and Kevin deservedly won.

Great game, great opponent. So out of the four PTO minis I'd played, two of my first round opponents (Rich Domovic and Kevin Meyer) went on to win the mini and I played Kevin in consecutive minis. I don't feel I disgraced myself even though I was now 2 and 13 for ASLOK and 0 and 4 for minis.

Some more photos from ASLOK:

I was however totally gamed out, so I spent the rest of the day in a fugue state staring at the ASL crack I'd obtained from Alex Keys. The man is pure evil allowing me to buy all that stuff. Actually it wasn't so much gamed out as wondering how the hell I was going to get all the asl crack into my luggage.

Then Steve Linton came up with the idea of staging a Sunday mini for the those still jonesing for a plaque (Bret still had one left) but with entry limited to those with no outstanding minis games (which eliminated Cleavin from signing up and winning another plaque as he was still to play Matt Book) - for while we had JR Tracy on tap to play but in the event he went back to Noo Yawk...obviously the thought of facing the Dice of Doom had him running for cover.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

ASLOK XXV Friday Day 8

Friday 8th October

Now that Grofaz was a non-issue, I could just concentrate on the two remaining Minis. I was up nice and early once more back to my normal day to day waking routine of 5am. My scheduled opponent for the first round was AWOL so I paired up with Kevin Meyer for Schwerpunkt's SP65 Ayo Gurkhali!
It was a fairly tight game in the early and mid-part but I gradually lost focus and Kevin won pretty conclusively in the end. But it was a good, fast game. Even so I was starting to suffer burnout and my PML was starting to suffer as my ELR dropped to 2 for the day. Yesterday was really bugging me and I wasn't looking forward to the Saturday mini at all.
With all this weighing on me, I cut my losses and quit playing for the day. and got around to talking a few photos:

Went to Denny's with the Anzac crowd in the evening and retired to the bar chatting with Matt Book and Roger Whelan re potential modifications to the Biggest Loser mini (the idea is that only the actual scenario loser progresses and Kibitzing is encouraged and an official kibitzer is on hand so that people can't tank games - to deviate from the advice of the Kibitzer requires an NTC.

2-12 for ASLOK, 0 and 3 for the Minis - I suck at this game.

Friday, October 8, 2010

ASLOK Thursday Day 7

"I've checked into enbalming techniques for extremities...if you go before me, consider leaving your dice rolling hand to me, I've already picked out the walnut and silver stick on which to mount it."
- Gary Fortenberry, on Gamesquad after I posted my ASLOK AAR

This day has been the hardest one to write as my overall ASLOK experience was so overwhelmingly positive. I've hmmmed and hrrred over how to set down my feelings without coming across as a whiny bitch or being unconstructive. It helps that I've slept for 12 hours straight and finally killed the personal criticism is intended though it may come across that way and I'm aware that I'm no saint in this matter.

Thursday 7th October - Pacific
Up nice and early to get ready for the second Mini of ASLOK and perhaps a good start to the Grofaz. Paired off with Wai-Kwong Wang from Canada, one of John McDairmid's Canadian School in a playing of Schwerpunkt's SP125 Numshigum.

W-K was a great guy to play first up, and I was happy with the way I played although I contributed to my own misfortune in this game by forgetting to move my HMG in the backfield on one turn which left it out in the cold. I also missed a really significant LOS which cost me a 1st line squad at exactly the wrong time. I almost managed to pull victory from the ashes of defeat by rolling three snakes in three separate CCs over three turns, but in the end W-K won in the last turn so out of my second mini in the first round yet again. No disgrace as W-K went 2-0 for Grofaz on the Thursday anyway.

2 and 10 for ASLOK, 0 and 2 for the Minis , and I would need to get two more games in today to get to 2-0 for Grofaz (fat chance of winning both I know)
Got paired up with a very nice genuine gamer for my next game after lunch - I sort of stooged around after my game against W-K which finished in about 3 hours so I should have started before 1:30pm. We played WCW 10 Stand and Die from the Windy City Wargamers' pack as I was pretty confident I could knock this scenario off in about 4-6 hours max as it really isn't a complex OB.

Unfortunately after 3 hours we'd only managed to get through 1.5 turns and I was getting a little frustrated at the slow play. To cut a long and whiny story short I resigned the game despite being in a near impregnable position vis a vis the VCs at 9:30pm after only 5 turns. Yes I'd had a couple of smoke breaks but they were all of 5 minutes each. I lost it at the end and felt absolutely gutted about both my reaction and that I'd effectively crapped out of the Grofaz on the first game just as I was starting to play good ASL. Frankly the game was already a fait accompli and I offered my opponent the chance to resign to avoid needless continuance but stubborn intransigence and glacial play killed any spark of enjoyment for me.

2 and 11 for ASLOK, 0 and 1 and out of Grofaz
This is the bit I have to apologise for: I spent the rest of the night bitching and whining to fellow ASLERs about it. Frankly I needed to take some of my own advice and HTFU and get right into another game. Instead I moped. Sorry guys.
General thoughts: I'm a fastish player, to my own detriment most of the time, but I play on gut instinct and it gives me a good level of enjoyment in spite of the results. I can't do the whole paralysis by analysis thing at all, but I played some deliberate players at ASLOK who took their time to setup and plan yet were not molasses/treacle slow in their execution once play began. Frankly that pace of play is understandable and suits me as well. 

One hour to move 5 AFVs of which two failed Independent Movement NTCs and the other three were platoon moving is frankly unacceptable. I couldn't help feeling I should have cut my losses at about 4pm and said the game wasn't working at that point but IIRC I wasn't in nearly as dominant a position then as I was at say 6pm and I still held out hopes of a swift finish .

In this particular case, it didn't seem like the pace of play was caused by excessive care, just that the guy was just slow. I'll be honest, by the end of the game, I was pretty certain he was winding me up as well which is why I resigned in the end.

I ended up chatting to Glenn (GlennBo) Houseman of East Side Gamers, who had a few products out on display. Now I'll be the first to admit that I hadn't really seen or taken any of the Dezign paks seriously, but ever one to try something new, I grabbed a couple of scenario packs and Glenn through in an older one as a teaser. I'm really pleased I did buy the latest pack as it features a very good meaty tourney scenario - more on this later.

Not really in the mood for gaming, I actually had an early night.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

ASLOK Wednesday Day 6

Wednesday 6th October - The Emperor's Finest Mini

The first game of this mini was with Rich Domovic, another of the Chicago alumni and a genuine nice guy. We played what is probably my second favourite scenario from Journal 1, J09 A Stiff Fight (with J12 Jungle Fighters being my fave).

The Majordomo Hisself

I felt I was in the game right up until the last turn so I didn't disgrace myself although my weak spot seems to be handling armour in the early game - I am way too aggressive (as demonstrated later in ASLOK in two games against Linton).

So out after one round but as Rich went on to win the mini, I wasn't going to shed any tears over the result.

ASLOK 2 and 8

Because we'd finished by 11am (yay for fast players) I had enough time to arrange a rematch with Mark Pitcavage, this time playing what may have been acclaimed as the best new scenario at ASLOK - Schwepunkt's SP190 Bottcher's Corner. (although neither Mark nor myself saw it that way)

A few teething issues with setup, thanks to non-intuitive SSR defined terrain changes (these only work in VASL as far as I am concerned) and a misread of the setup area by Mark. Nothing that we couldn't fix quickly and no big deal for me.

Mark was a tad concerned about the dice, but even though I managed to stay moderately hot, I wasted no opportunity to show my bad rolls as well

I do need one of those larger Pleva towers though. Mark was too strong for me and I pretty much stayed in the game as long as I did due to the leader rolling well. I just couldn't get enough force there long enough to stick around. So The Pitman owns me 2 and 0 at ASLOK. Even Cleavin can't say that!

ASLOK 2 and 9

I took the rest of the day off to chat with people like Glennbo, Matt Book and Kevin Hill (sorry I ducked you all ASLOK Kevin, next time you're on my must play list) and wondered how long my dice would stay hot. I also got to meet JR and Steve Pleva so I'd pretty much accomplished my prime reason for attending ASLOK - meeting all these people I'd corresponded with on VASL, CSW, Gamesquad and the old mailing list.

They start rolling in

It's getting busy now - Joe Steadman in the Boonie Hat on the far right

173 ASLers don't leave much space

Oh yeah, I didn't forget to make my usual stop over to BP for more caffeine goodness.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ASLOK Tuesday Day 5

Clarification: Previous instalments are slightly out for when I met people, due to the issue of jet lag and the days all merging into one.

Tuesday 5th October
I'd finally managed to get some sleep and gawd was it needed. I had breakfast with some of the ANZAC crew and the Euros. Feeling more alive, I thought it'd be good to ease myself into the day with a game against fellow Anzac Scott Byrne, who like me was feeling a little shellshocked after a run of bad results.

We played one of Murray McCloskey's new Break Contact pack (in final playtest) BC15 Bagging the Bago Bridge. I'm not a big fan of high leadership in smaller scenarios generally and this one just struck me as nothing special. Scott won, restored his Personal Morale Level and went back into the fray for the World Cup - Mission accomplished. I may have lost but I was okay about it as it was nice to play a game without the whole World vs USA thing.

ASLOK 1 and 6, World Cup still 1 and 3 (that second win might be a while coming)

I'd arranged to play Tabby at some point in the afternoon, but he was engrossed in a game that was going rather long so Fort moved our scheduled game forward. To be honest I was nervous as hell about playing - I wasn't even remotely up to speed in terms of playing quality and i just wanted to make sure I offered a little more than being a speed bump.

Before we played, I laughingly remarked that I would need to bring my "A" dice game just to keep it vaguely close. Prescience can be a bitch.

I'd bought a bunch of Dispatches from the Bunker the previous day along with the new Friendly Fire pack, Schwerpunkt 16 and Rallypoint 5 so it didn't take long for Gary to select DB083 Block to Bataan as our game.

Fort's initial defence require some tweaking due to Brush remaining Brush not going to bamboo and he ended up with a hedgehog defence with the Stuart behind the roadblock and the ATG propping up the flank away from the roadblock.

I took a left hand sweep with the middle force being slow and steady after Fort's firelanes made a shambles of my initial thrust. I had got hooked up on the wire, but then my dice went nuts and it continued for the rest of the game...

My 3 tank platoon went up the centre left, swung out to engage the infantry in front blocking my own approach route and up popped the 37LL ATG. The Stuart boxed its MA on the first shot and the ATG missed. I didn't. Snakes (Improb CH) folowed by a 2 on the CH check. Bye bye ATG. Fort blinks but continues on relentlessly. The Stuart repaired the MA on its first attempt later in the game when it had to be taken but I had a turn or two of breathing space.

My dice got even hotter when I generated a Japanese hero from a first line squad (I really didn't see this as exceptional until I went through the actual mods as I've created about 4 Japanese heroes previously) and I had my good leader, a squad with DC and hero next to his Stuart who had already IFed. It was then that the 60 mm mortar rescued the situation, the ROF tear was expected, the final non-rof shot did all the damage though, causing a K/4 on the stack - you guessed it I rolled yahtzee. So athough I rolled 11 snakes (several Heat of Pins admittedly) during the game, I still couldn't pull out a win for the World.

Gary was a joy to play, his equanimity in the face of the satanic dice o' doom was to be admired. I'm not sure how seriously to take his idea of mounting my severed hand on a stick and using it to roll his dice though. I came away with a lasting memory of a game that I could dine out on forever (and I will) and my ASLOK experience was set in stone as truly great.

1 and 7 for ASLOK, 1 and 4 for World Cup.

The evening game was against Tabby and would be my last game in the World Cup with the Minis due to start the following day. I was keen to play something Eastern Front before diving into the PTO for the next 4 days so Scott and I looked at DB079 Mga Station - I liked the board setup, I liked either side and I thought it looked like real smash-mouth in yer face ASL .

The Streak continued with my first Prepfire attack of 20FP up 1 being a snakes. The game continued along those lines pretty much with another 4 or so snakes as I waxed most of Scott's HTs early on, and paced myself to not trigger the reinforcements before the default turn. I felt Scott left me too many reasonable shots early on, even though I never used the 82 mortar (I couldn't figure out where and when to use it).

Tabby's a lot of fun to hang out with at ASLOK. The trashtalking and smart-ass remarks flew between our tables all week. I don't think I could have asked for a better roomie.

ASLOK 2 and 7, World Cup 2 and 4 (final)

Looking at who I played in the WC, I'm pleased to have managed 2 wins:

Fortenberry, Burris, Holmstrom, Goldman, Pitcavage and Holst. I'll take that as a solid looking PIS record anyday. It looks daunting for a first time ASLOK attendee even now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ASLOK Monday Day 4

Monday 4th October
Finally able to play David Goldman (Mr ASL Open) from Chicago after a couple of failed attempts. I'm pretty wiped by this stage - it's been a long time since I had any real sleep.
David Goldman, Mr ASL Open and a man of exquisite musical taste.

David is one very nice gentleman and an absolute pleasure to play - personally I loved having Nina Simone as background music - it helped take the edge of my slightly manic stage. Poor Dave had to take a couple of work calls so the game was leisurely - this suited me quite nicely as I was starting to run on fumes now with Cherry Coke and more coffee being required.

David and I played Friendly Fire's FrF 51 Bite of the Bassotto where I was the Fallschirmjäger. I set up the Bassotto to make it last until the midgame as I'm shocking at keeping my AFVs alive past turn 2 (as demonstrated against Steve Linton in later games). This is the game where I start getting some good DRs together although Streetfighting a Staghound in the street with an ATMM pretty much contributed the best part of my game.

David felt the scenario may actually be a little tough on the FJs as he misread the VCs and so the game was over in the final NZ game turn. My first win in ASLOK and against the ASL Open TD! It was a memorable game with a memorable opponent. Thanks David.

ASLOK 1 and 3, World Cup 1 and 2.
Other than the game, I ended up thinking seriously about making the Chicago Open in 2012. If possible I can bring Kirsty and we can make a week of it seeing the sights. Having met so many of the Chicago crowd, I'm positive I'll enjoy it even more.
The loneliness of a long distance ASLer - Jim Burris, sans Holmstrom, is able to use his dice cup safe in the knowledge that there are no remains of rum in the glass (for now). I swear Jim hardly moved from that chair all week.
My second game of the day was against another nice guy, Jim Burris from St Louis. Jim's a very thoughtful, deliberate planner who's been out of mainstream ASL play for a year or so. All I can say is based on his ASLOK record this year, he's not that rusty at all. He's also no slouch once he's got his plan sorted. The actual game (AP52 Into Vienna Woods) moved very quickly once he had his set up sorted - it was over at the end of the SS turn 3 as I had caused only one HS casualty and Jim was ensconced on the 2nd level with nothing remaining of mine onboard - I got my head handed to me - it's a scenario I need to look at in more detail for a sov setup (forgetting my second lmg didn't help at all there).

ASLOK  1 and 4, World Cup 1 and 3

At this point I was toast both physically and mentally - I needed to get some sleep so I stayed up for a little bit, had some scotch and crashed after being coma'd on the couch.

Great day for meeting people again.

Monday, October 4, 2010

ASLOK Sunday Day 3

Sunday 3rd October

Met quite a few of the Gamesquad denizens today. Started off with breakfast with Jim Bishop (Sparafucil) and Gary Fortenberry (Fort) - great guys and very approachable - way out of my league as ASL players - I potentially have Fort, Gary Trezza (of Albany ASL infamy) and Steve "ASL World Tour" Linton in one of my PTO minis.

The morning continues to be eventful when I meet Scott Holst (Tabby) and Mark Pitcavage (Pitman) for the first time. Scott is kind enough enough to pass on the two AoO hard mounted boards I'm missing which means I'm complete except for the desert and Board 52. He's also my and Aaron's roomie for ASLOK. The ASL community could show the minis community quite a lot when it comes to what's really important.
Tabby and the Cleavinator: Scott looks a bit run down and it's only the Sunday.I have no sympathy, he got way more sleep than I did and he introduced me to the world of Hozan.
Meanwhile the BP coffee addiction branches out into English Toffee - I'm going to miss those 24oz caffeine fixes heaps. Probably the only thing that kept me going for the first 4 days.

Start my journey in the World Cup by playing Mark Pitcavage in Melee Pack MP17 Bagging Burcorps. I'd previously played Brits against Jay White via VASL but Mark hadn't played it as the Brits. I like this scenario quite a bit although my play in this was sub-optimal. I'm still feeling my way with the Japanese and my attacking game is woefully poor as I send 20% of my force away on the left flank to accomplish sweet FA. At one poiint towards the end I still had a good chance to swinge out a win but selected the wrong unit to do a CX move for the last building/huts.
Chris Doary, Steve Linton and Mark Pitcavage - A Canadian, an Australian and an American walked into a the background is the ANZAC Squad's very own Drop Bear, Dave Longworth (he of everlasting Australian 'Bidding' System glory).

ASLOK 0 and 3, World Cup 0 and 1.

Hooked up with Bob Holmstrom and Jim Burris for a while in the morning and played Bob Holmstrom in Out of the Attic OA29 The Amy H. I think I played an okay game again, but for forgetting all about my Armour Leader in the Matilda as I had several near misses by 1 spot against Bob's tanks. Just goes to show that I don't always have hot dice.
Nigel Blair (who had the rottenest of luck all ASLOK) and Bob Holmstrom (who managed to soak an SK board in Rum without lasting damage). In the background Dave 'picnic' Ginnard and Dave Longworth are getting into it.

Bob wrote an AAR on Gamesquad Rum-Sodomy-and-ASLOK...and-Zombies which mentioned our game:
"Game 4: Amy H

Next up was Pete Palmer, my aforementioned smoking compadre. We went with yet another OotA2 scenario which has some cool rules including exploding Brit trucks and a nearly invulnerable Matilda.

"Pete put up a spirited defense and had a possible game winning move, exploding one of those trucks next to 3 of my squads in melee with his troops and one of my leaders. Fortunately for me, Pete rolled a 9 and none of my squads broke, while one of his did and I cleaned up the rest in melee. Pete did a real nice job of snookering me with his dummies, but I managed to win. Good times."
Bob's one of the most enjoyable ASLers to be around and an excellent player to boot. I look forward to meeting up with him again at ASLOK XXVIII.

ASLOK 0 and 4, World Cup 0 and 2.

Spend the rest of the evening chatting and shooting the breeze but unable to sleep yet again so spend the night talking to the security guard and on Gamesquad. Coffee good.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

ASLOK Saturday Day 2

Saturday 2nd October

Awake at 5:30am after 1 hours "sleep" (I think staring at ceiling counts). Discovered BP service station had 24oz coffee for $1.29 (Like Cleveland and venue for ASLOK already). Caught up with the other Anzacs and met Bill Hayward and Bret (I think - the first few days are a bit fused together) plus the Euros.
Ray Woloszyn (I think) second from left, Cleavinator staring out the window
Jim Burris on left getting settled in before Holmstrom comes along to spill rum over the mapboards, Ray W contemplating with equanimity that his subtle ambush may just have sprung perfectly. Either that or his opponent just generated two Japanese heroes and Ray's in shock.
Talk to Chris Doary and admire both the new dice and his Pleva tower. Blink at the cost of a tower but resolve to get one when and if another is available. Spend much of remaining cash on cool Battleschool precision dice including RS pair of dice and the ASL 25 anniversary set along with a Grofaz set (Aaron bitches about me owning Grofaz dice - I point out that I've beaten him twice now so I get to have a pair.
I managed to escape from Battleschool having bought only a gazillion dice plus some fancy suction cup tweezer thingymajig. I still want me one of them there Pleva Towers. Chris Doary (L) and Mike Faulkner (R).

The Dice of Doom: According to Fortenberry, Linton and Blair this was about as high as my dice rolled all week.

Play Chris Doary in an open game of OotA20 Revenge of the Greys. I get schooled like a borstal boy, but have a great time and find combo of precision dice and Pleva tower soothing in lack of aggravating noise (very useful if I intend to sample scotch in quantity later in the week).
I too can split my forces and fritter away any local advantsge in firepower. I suck at this game.

I'm not going to miss the hardboard maps as much as I thought.

Just out of shot, I'm holding a wicker basket that contains my head

The Blue one is staged, the Red is not.
So I'm 0 and 2 for ASLOK already and the World cup games are already underway. There seem to be a lot more gun US players turning up earlier according to Steve Linton and Aaron. Not really up to playing another game as too busy meeting and greeting ASLers. About 2am realise that sleep is not going to happen. Chat to security guard for a while and start getting stuff set up for Sunday gaming...

ASLOK Friday October 1

Friday October 1
Up at 6am to catch the 9am train to Sydney for the 2:35 pm flight to San Francisco. I was bringing my PTO boards, a folder of Action Pack scenarios and the AP6 boards, the rulebook, some dice, system counters and the Japanese, Chinese and Soviets along with some Red Barricades mapsheets.

Met up with Aaron Cleavin, Andy Rogers, Neil Andrews and David Longworth at Sydney. bought a couple of litres of single malt 12yo scotch at Duty Free only to have to get Aaron C to take one bottle with him due to duty free restrictions.

The flight to SF was pretty dire - I used to really like the window seat but I was hemmed in badly by two heffalumps and suffered mild clautrophobia for the whole flight. Not a great start as I managed to not sleep at all which is unknown for me while travelling.

Clearing Customs at SFO was pretty straightforward but getting through to domestic was a nightmare as the security alert had gone to Orange and the queues were horrific - ended up missing my flight to Denver and had to get placed on a flight to Chicago with a later arrival at Cleveland around 11:30pm.

Caught up with the Cleavinator at Chicago which was good. The Cleavinator had unfortunately dropped the ball and forgotten to transfer the Glenfiddich to his checked luggage before transiting through domestic which meant TSA got the benefit of a litre of scotch gratis. The day was only getting better.

Arrived Cleveland at around 11:25 and managed to get to the hotel by around 11;45 after much fluffing around on my part. Credit Cards are blocked by bank at home despite specific instructions to the contrary - some heads will roll. Pay hotel bill with spending cash

Aaron had me playing a scenario by 11:55pm so we could say we were playing on the Friday - as I was wired as by now, finishing at 4:30am was no hardship. Result as expected: a win to Cleavin.

Friday, October 1, 2010

ASLOK: Here We Go...

Bags packed, laptop, camera, phone all charged and US adaptor packed - ASL gear all sorted and ready to go. Now for a few hours sleep then the two hours commute to the airport...should be able to logon at there hopefully.

See you in Cleveland in approximately 36 hours!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ASLOK: 1 day to go...

Alrighty...RB mapsets are 75% done - waiting to print out the winterised RB7 board - as per usual new printer = trial and error. Played a teaching game of Nunshigum last night versus Aaron. Pleased with some of the options - I'm still a bit too free and easy on the approach - like the scenario though. Feeling much better about playing Schwerpunkt designs. Now to fit everything in the small suitcase...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ASLOK: 2 Days to go...

Let's get one thing straight - I'm going to ASLOK to have a good time. I chose the PTO theme for my visit because it's an aspect of ASL that I've subconsciously avoided and I want to improve my play base by playing as many different people and corresponding playstyles as possible. Results are incidental. Enjoyment is not.

I've been subbed to the various ASLML iterations since about 1995-96 I think. In that time, I've read the ASLOK reports the scenario discussions and the general conversations about ASL with a 'Damn I want to be able to go" viewpoint. But really it's about meeting some of the people I've played via VASL, PBeM, in one case PBM and saying hello and thanks in person. I've been playing ASL since 1986 now and in that time the number of face to face opponents I've played is around 20-25 at the outside. I expect to almost double that by October 11. So getting off my butt, having the money to attend and having SWMBO understand that I may not get another chance to attend so missing my step-daughter's birthday is okay this one time.

I'm keeping a journal of my time at ASLOK because I want to record as much as I can so I can look back in a few weeks time and think I came away from ASLOK as a much improved player, with a higher PMC threshold and get over my "ASL stagefright" where sometimes playing the game feels like a chore.

But it's the opportunity to touch base with fellow ASLers, put faces to those nicks and personalities to the written word that excites me. I'm hoping I don't come across as a 5 year old in a candy shop, but ASLOK is huge for me. It will cap off a year in which I've played some good, some bad and some truly fortunate ASL and finally caught up with all the ASL I missed out buying during the 'poor years" (well apart from KGP2, ABTF and OtO which are still on my to do list)

Yes I might be a bit trigger happy with the camera and I might ask you for your name a lot (I have a memory like a sieve for names, but not faces) - I'm hoping to generate a few regular VASL opponents out of ASLOK and very importantly meet people like Burnie Fox who helped a newbie with VASL 2 all those years ago - but I want to be able to recall as much about ASLOK as possible.

Damn straight I have high expectations of ASLOK as an experience. I wouldn't be coming if I didn't. Those expectations apply to myself though as well. I'm going to get my head handed to me on a plate most of the time so I'm going to focus on being a good sport and learning the lessons from each defeat. Who knows, I may start winning more than one game every 20 years against the Cleavinator. All I hope is that I provide some kind of challenge and a good game for my opponents.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ASLOK Pre-planning The Minis - Friday and Saturday

It's going to be interesting coming back and viewing how I managed and whether I got my preferences. No doubt I'll get trampled à la Lomu on Mike Catt but it could be really amusing if I get absurd dice against one of the big names.

Friday - Samurai of the Rising Sun

It's going to be just me and Murray McCloskey representing Team ANZAC this mini - but there will be some familiar faces (by now) in Stan Jackson from Wednesday and Nelson Harris from Thursday. Not one of the scenarios on offer has featured in my ASL playlist before so it's all frighteningly new.

Round 1 -
Oh gawd, a completely schwerpunkt round. Cursed, I am! Ayo Gurkhali would be on my shortlist except my copy has disappeared somewhere between The Shaky Isles and Convictland. Which leaves Malignant Mahrattas which i do have and Last Full Measure which is so new it's not listed on ROAR.
1st Preference - SP126 Malignant Mahrattas - very much by default.

Round 2 - another Schwerpunkt duo to taunt me and the alternate is the reappearance of 800 Heroes from Thursday. I'll go with the non-Schwerpunkt scenario cause it's the afternoon session and I'm probably not going to get past the first round anyway. The scond choice defaults to a scenario I have.
1st Preference - AP54 800 Heroes - ticks all the boxes for me. Second choice is Chiang's Finest.

Round 3 - By now I'm sick of the sight of Schwerpunkt (really it's all in good fun , I actually think Evan and the guys do a great job - the particular design ethos post SP issues 1-4 just doesn't suit me and I'm shallow enough to not enjoy the text format of the scenario OBs. ) so I'm going to choose the Action Pack offering as it's the last round of the day which means I'll be mellowing out with a few beers and using the new boards.
1st Preference - AP55 The Generalissimo's Own - by default

Saturday - Rumble in the Jungle

This mini sees the return of Neil Andrews and Rich Domovic from the Wednesday PTO mini, Kevin Meyer, Stan Jackson and Murray McCloskey repeat from yesterday (plus Stan and Murray are by now old friends after seeing them in Wednesday as well. Linton makes his appearance with the big boys in the PTO after bottom feeding in the Heinz Baked Beans and DIce Lucks minis so another dominant showing for Team Anzac is on the cards. By this time, I'm hoping to have bought Op Spec Ed 3, Bunker issue 31 and Out of the Attic 2 so more options will make themselves available. There's even more 'ooh new shiny" to be picked up but those are the relevant ones.

Round 1 - Seizing the Sittang Bridge is disqualified due to possible earlier playing of Round 2 on Wednesday (you really think I'd choose to play the same scenario twice at ASLOK, let alone playing the same Schwerpunkt one? Come over here, there's this bridge I'd like to show you...) and Block to Bataan is already in a default second choice earlier in the week. Bailey's Demise looks to be it, with the Hell's Corner map being the drawcard (plus I liked playing several of the Operation Watchtower scenarios).
1st Preference: HC2 Bailey's Demise - It's easy to choose this one today and it gives me even more imper\tus to help out with the Suicide Creek playtests - I'll never reach the level of a Cleavinator in the PTO but it'll certainly help me give him a stronger game.

Round 2 - Default choice again, but not because of Schwerpunkt - this time I may have already played one alternates earlier in the week, although Brigade Hill will get top billing if I can get past round 1 as I cannot see myself getting to Round 3 on Thursday where it would have been my only choice. Whaling Good Time will be too new for me to digest (I prefer to look over a scenario for a bit before playing it and I'd not want to delay starting the second round) and similarly so Taking heads.
1st Preference: J116 Brigade Hill followed by Whaling Good Time (due to being part of Hell's Corner).

Round 3 - two choices here really, neither one of which I have played. The third choice is a no go as I want to finish the Minis with a bang not a whimper at having to play a Schwerpunkt scenario as my final game before starting on the new From The Cellar, Friendly Fire and Out of the Attic stuff. So it';s a toss up between Raider Ridge and Philippine Fireman, East Side Design gets the nod 'cause it's a non-East Front scenario which is a departure for them to my albeit limited exposure to their designs.
1st Preference: ESG55 Philippine Fireman - if I get this far, I may need the benefit of a perception that East Side Designs don't get as much play compared to mainstream releases such as OotA. I'll take every edge I can get. I hope it's got some vehicles.

So there we have it, my initial preview of the minis I've entered. I've probably gone overboard in the faux-disdain for Schwerpunkt stuff so sorry if anyone's views got dissed. Frankly I'd rather play ASL than no ASL - and I have enjoyed a lot of Schwerpunkt scenarios - they just don't suit my playstyle as much as other design philosophies and styles seem to do - Ola Nygards I'm looking at you. I was surprised to see no Chicago or SoCal designs featured - but then Stand and Die and Bagging Burcorps are some of my favourite PTO scenarios out there.I'll probably see whether i can get a game of them earlier in the week as prep for the minis.

ASLOK Pre-planning The Minis - Wednesday and Thursday

The Cleavinator and I chatted last night re the Minis Lists and taking into account my thoughts on some scenarios and to maximise my chances of providing some form of reasonable challenge (unlikely versus Fort, Trezza and Linton if I'm unlucky to face them first up - second round games are very much a non-certainty anyway) here're my thoughts on the choices (I intend to try and play the Allies versus Japanese whereever possible as I'm not good enough to do the Japanese justice or play to their strengths)

Wednesday Mini - The Emperor's Finest

4 Anzac team members in this round, but I've only played Murray McCloskey via VASL and Adam Lunney is one of the few people I've played Face to Face over the years. At least he doesn't do the whole Paddo bears roling 4 dice thing either. Getting Trezza or Ronnblom first up could be daunting and short-lived.

Round 1 - pretty easy choice for me here as I've only played one of the three scenarios before and that was when Journal 1 first came out.
1st Preference: A Stiff Fight J9 - I want something familiar to start off with and FrF37 Crossing Swords at Kyauske looks a bit too hard on the Chinese for my liking. I've not seen SP177 Tic Tac Toe as yet and I'm not really a fan of the Schwerpunkt designs anyway, at least not until I've seen whether they're too balls to the wall Tampa-style. Plus I want to make sure I'm playing at a comfortable clip - J9 shouldn't be a problem to finish well before 2pm. Second Choice will be Kyauske if required.

Round 2 - I doubt I'll make it this far but it's a very easy determination - Totsugeki can burn in hell as a choice for me - I've played it twice now and that's twice too many times - plus most people at ASLOK will have played it umpteen times so I'd be getting buzzsawed straight away. Tangled up in Blue is a Nphum Ga scenario - not a scenario setting I like at all so that leaves SP118 Seizing the Sittang Bridge, a Schwerpunkt scenario - ugh an ugly round for me if I get there.
1st Preference: SP118 Seizing the Sittang Bridge - at least it has funky armoured cars and the Chinese.

Round 3 - why am I even thinking about getting this far? J9 is out because I expect to have played it in Round 1, Burn Gurkha Burn looks too cool to pass by and AP59 Taking Heads I own but have no idea how it plays or what the board setup looks like. An easy one and two choice here though.
1st Preference: SP95 Burn Gurkha Burn - cripes, two out of three of my first choices are Schwerpunkt scenarios? I must be slipping.

Overall, I reckon I'll be a speed bump at best, but almost certainly so in Round 2 should I get that far. Hopefully I put up some kind of fight in round 1.

Thursday Mini - Pacific

This is the mini where I've not seen hardly any of the scenarios at all and the lineup of ASL talent is scary (Trezza, Fort et al) - A quick exit is pretty much guaranteed here. Just the two Anzacs in this mini - Me and Lunney again - I'd whine a bit louder about the prospect of facing Fort and Trezza but I've seen the Cleavinator's draw for one of his minis and it's the stuff of nightmares.

Round 1 - I own Nunshigum and 800 Heroes and I'm hoping to pick up the latest Dispatches from the Bunker issue at ASLOK . 800 heroes looks a tad large for the first round otherwise it'd be a certainty. Looks like Schwerpunkt will get my time again - is this some kind of karmic revenge for my views on Piano Lupo and the "Tampa style"?
1st Preference: SP125 Nunshigum - with AP54 800 Heroes if I get a fast player, second choice will be DftB083 Block to Bataan just cause I've only ever played one Bunker scenario and that was early war French versus Germans vs McCloskey.

Round 2 - Generally I've found I prefer the Euro-school of scenario design of late so my first choice is from Friendly Fire with Bailey's Demise losing out to Broken Bamboo because of availability - personally if I owned Op Spec Ed 3 by the time this round took place I'd have it as my second choice. Yay, no Schwepunkt to be seen! Of course, I'd have to actually win my first game.
1st Preference: FrF17 Marco Polo Bridge Incident - It'll be interesting to see how this compares to the BFP and Tactiques takes on the same action.

Round 3 - Damn the best round of choices for me and the odds on me winning two games in this field up to this point are like those for Ireland or Scotland beating the ABs any time soon. (Yes! the obligatory kiwi reference to Rugby surfaces, about bloody time!) Oh well, I would have chosen Brigade Hill as my first choice having won against the Cleavinator playing the Brits with Die Gurkha Die shading Melee near the Coast purely down to situational interest. Plus Gurkhas, the Finns of the PTO!
1st Preference: J116 Brigade Hill

So there we have it, my thought on the first two ASLOK minis I'm entering - I'll crash and burn no doubt, but it's going to be fun. Now if only Jungle Fighters from Journal 1 was an option - that's the scenario that helped me rediscover the joys of PTO/facing the Japanese.

ASLOK: 3 Days to go...

Winter is certainly over and Spring is getting to be quite warm here - 25 deg Celsius today.

By this time on Friday, I should be arriving at Sydney Airport to get all the pre-flight stuff out of the way.

The Minis lists are out now and I see that there're a few of us from Down Under planning on multiple PTO entries. I'ev already spent a few hours sorting out which are my preferred scenario picks, a combination of owning the scenario and being able to at least provide the boards, overlays and Japanese or Chinese counters or both when required.

Went out and bought a couple of Plano 3500s for my system counters and two 3600s to redo the Chinese and Japanese - got them home and only one out of 4 had any dividers! Aaargh!

On a good note I've got some colour photocopies of the Red Barricades map sections I need to create custom mapsheets for the various RB mini-scenarios. Just have to print out the RB7 winterized map section for my Monday game versus Chas A.

The hardest part is trying to scale down how much ASL gear I'm bringing - I've got an eASLRB in HTML and PDF form on my netbook but I really do need to bring the full ASLRB with me plus QRDC.

Adding in the PTO boards and the Japanese/Chinese OBs, I'm really starting to struggle with keeping everything in the one small utility case. (If I could have afforded a Pilot case, it would have been easy to have it as Carry-on. I dread losing luggage with my ASL gear, clothes are easily replacable, PTO stuff not so much.)

So here's what I'm actually bringing:

  • Boards 34-39
  • Overlays
  • Japanese and Chinese (pseudo-planos x 2)
  • RB mapsheets
  • System Counters (2 small pseudo -planos)
  • Soviet Counter mix to do the RB scenarios (in baggies)
  • German Counter mix as per above (baggies)
  • Scenario Folder for the minis and RB
  • Action Pack 6
  • SK boards for the minis scenarios where possible.

Most of this should fit in my carry-on laptop bag which has the netbook, adaptor plug, headphones, camera and some basic stationery - I may be a geek but I still like to write things down.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ASLOK with net capability

With ASLOK fast approaching, I really needed to find a solution to my lack of portable computing - I don't need a great big powerful laptop just something that will play media, do some office apps and above all be highly portable - so I went for a netvertible - I've already installed VASL, my eASLRB and some useful pdfs - I really have to minimise what I'm taking to ASLOK.

The Netbook o' Doom

It's a bit sluggish at times, but it's only got 2 gig of ram. It plays video nicely (I use Media player classic with Klite codec pack to avoid ruinous resources consumption à la media player 11/12) - Battery life is pretty good, around 5 hours so far and it's only a week old , so I'm bedding in the battery which should reach 6-6.5 hrs - the real test will be on the flight to the USA.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

3 Weeks and counting...

Booked the hotel today over the phone, website shows no vacancies but calling the hotel direct = goodness.

Arriving Cleveland at around 10pm Friday 1st so should get to Hotel by 11pm at which time the Cleavinator will be arriving as well.

I've entered all the PTO minis so this will be either crash and burn or major diceage guiding me to wins:

  • Emperor
  • Pacific 
  • Samurai 
  • Jungle

Just working through what I shall be bringing with me - a small amount of stuff but I don't expect to be playing PTO all ASLOK .

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Plane Ticket bought

Bought the Ticket today, plus did the ETSA registration now to organise a room (yeah I know I left it late but first things first - for a while there cancellation was looking a major possibility.

Flying to San Francisco then Denver then Cleveland  - I wanted to avoid LAX at all costs

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Not Really ASL

After 5 years of working with this same PC setup of 1gig of RAM, 120Gigs of storage and a 128meg graphics card, I've hit the wall. I needed to do something to tide me over until I get a new PC post ASLOK (see, there is ASL content) so I went for the easy option. Keep the case, Mobo (Gigabyte K8fn7) and CPU (AMD 3200XP+), but upgrade the RAM to 4Gig, replace the scabby 300W PSU with a decent one, add a 512meg Geforce, and replace the very old HDDs with a 500 and a 320. I already have a couple of TB externals waiting to be used to archive all the data off my collection of drives that date back to 1995 (I think I've got the ASLML from 1995 to 2001 archived amongst them).

As I'm not into PC gaming at all these days (CivIII, Quake 1-3 and the original 5 Close Combats are the entirety of my gaming library), I can easily make do with an FFR for this machine. As long as I can get decent speed VASL/VASSAL using dual monitors I'll be happy. Bought myself a new Samsung colour laser printer so I can print out some winterised boards for ASLOK.

Of course I couldn't spend money on the PC without more catching up on ASL stuff, so I picked up Boards 49 and 51 from Scott B @ Gamer's Armory, along with a few scenario packs I just had to have (Melee Pack III, Friendly Fire #1, Bracchi Hills, Purple Heart Draw and Rally Point 2). I grabbed Fo3R: Berlin from Aaron @ Noble Knight and OC/BTB2 plus that damn elusive ASLRB2 from Stephen @ warchest. Almost there now, just have to get Mounted boards 48 and 50 for AOO to have complete mounted set pre-Hakka Paalle.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Pre-Reg is done, Maaan!

Okay so I've done the pre-reg Paypal thing, bought the T-shirts and made my Mini-tourney selections.

I was originally going to be staid and safe at my first ASLOk and keep to the basic ASL themes, but instead I've gone with setting first chouces as anything involving PTO and Japanese. I've had Code since about 2 years after it was published (I actually managed to acquire Gung Ho first due to availability issues) so it's long overdue for me to immerse myself in all things PTO. I've played a few PTO scenarios over the years against Knowles and Cleavin (usually getting my head handed to me by both) but it'll suit me to try and maintain a core theme throughout ASLOK. Of course this means I'll have to actually read Chapter G (but then again, Panji stakes and caves can't be that hard to master right? Insane cackling is permitted at this point.

Oh well if I can find a decent copy of Watchtower I should be okay.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bloody Cleavinator

So I'm slumming on VASL 'cause the Cleavinator emailed me and while I'm watching poor Damon's dice cause at least 4 escalating PMCs on himself against Aaron in Vienna Woods, Aaron whispers something about Blood and Jungle. Not really paying much attention to B+J because I'm still waiting to pick up Operation Cobra and Beyond the Beachhead 2 first, but now Aaron's saying it's freaking awesome and available locally from Warchest! Oh gawd, just as I got my annual bonus as well.

So I'm now up for a shedload of expenditure from one TPM this month. And next month it's LFT and then HOB. And I still haven't found a copy of Orsha!

I think I'm going to be on a PTO kick this year. Watchtower was really good (haven't been able to find a copy yet) but I want to try a little more and really grok PTO properly. Seems a shame to have Chapter G for all these years and not really pay attention to it. Blood and Jungle looks as nice as Into the Ruins which I was really impressed with.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I love the smell of new counters in the morning. It smells like...victory!

I’ve been a bit forgetful in terms of ASL lately. All my focus has been spent on plotting and planning my attendance at ASLOk. This would be okay if I was actually playing ASL at the Bearz or via VASL, but I’ve been too tired after work to play, even when I don’t fall asleep on the train and miss my stop. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about ASL, just actually playing the game has been an issue. In the interim,  a fair bit of ASL stuff has arrived on my doorstep in the last 4 weeks, notably so with Doomed Battalions which contained even more ASL goodness than I had thought possible. LIke Valor of the Guards, it’s an impressive amount for the money.

Midway through last week, I had another MMP box delivered. This was my much-anticipated February order of the limited printing Winter Offensive 2010 ASL for ALS bonus pack. Really it wasn’t so much the bonus pack, but the additional items I ordered to defray the postage charges that was the source of my joy. Two Starter Kits (1 and 2), Starter Kit Bonus Pack (Bocage), the one Action Pack I didn’t have (Few Returned) and a scenario pack (Turning the Tide). In itself that’s a fairly sizable gap that has been filled in my ASL collection.

BoardGameGeek ASL Starter Kit #1

I’d been fairly non-committal about the new SK manufacturing style of the boards, and a little less than enthused about the actual SK boards themselves. However I’m a huge convert now (having just compared the portability of my SK style boards directly with a similar number of the old mounted boards. Being able to fit so many boards within a single SK style box is certainly a bonus. I just have a lot of counter trimming and organising to do and definitely it’s time for RAACO!

BoardGameGeek ASL Starter Kit #2
The Raaco order will have to wait until after ASLOk, due to budget considerations. Sadly it’s the ideal time to be purchasing from UK & Europe with the strength of the Australian dollar vis à vis the Euro and Sterling.Otherwise I’d be grabbing a double sized Raaco setup for my ASL now. I shall make do with a couple of planos for my Starter Kit setup as that’s about all I want to take with me to ASLOk. A small folder of scenarios and pre-printed VASL maps will round out the deal.

Still to come this year in terms of ASL pre-order goodness are Journal 8 (my card’s already been charged), ASL Action Pack 6, Starter Kit Expansion pack 1 and hopefully the reprints of For King and Country, Journal 2 and Starter Kit 3. Add in a few more catch up purchases and 2010 is definitely my ASL year.