Sunday, February 14, 2010

I come from a land downunder (Shebangabang)

Ever since I saw this ad, it has never failed to crack me  or my partner up. I guess now I'm an expat kiwi in Oz, I'm far less thin-skinned about certain topics. Of the expats over here I know, almost all of them now refer to enzed as shebangabang. I think I'll have to get a T shirt screen printed with Team Shebangabang for ASLOK.

With the pre-reg pack now ready for ASLOK, getting things in synch for that is taking all my attention for the next 4 weeks. I'm hoping for my annual work bonus to help out a little here as I'll be booking my ASLOK room asap. Tthere are a couple of still outstanding pre-orders for Journal 8 and Action Pack 6 due to arrive later this quarter which I'm really looking forward to. Having priced some Raaco lately, I think I'm going to have to wait until after ASLOK and get them for Xmas.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

ASL in 2010

With my miniatures projects all organised and scheduled, plus the costs already taken care of for the most part, it looks like that after 2 years of almost no ASL activity I will be doing a year of catchup. It's already off to a good start, with planning well advanced for the main event of 2010 - my trip to Cleveland, OH for ASLOK XXV. It'll probably be my one and only chance to attend this gathering of ASL gamers and I think the 25th anniversary is the perfect way to do it. 

2010 also seems to be the year in which many of my ASL pre-orders finally arrive - major gaps in my collection are now filled and I'm at the stage where I'm almost complete;y caught up on official ASL products. I still have a few Third Party Publisher products I need to acquire but thankfully, the ones I'm after in the main are still available.

I had thought I'd bought a fair bit of ASL in 2009, but I was surprised at how much I'd bought and how much I'd forgotten I'd bought, so I ended up with some duplicates - AP4 being the most egregious example. MMP puit up their limited Winter Offensive Pack for sale a couple of days ago, so I took the opportunity to pick up some more ASL and ASLSK items. 

With regard to the ASL Starter Kits, I'm not planning to use them as anything other than the basis for a portable ASL player pack. In that vein I am going to need to spend obscene amounts on a decent Raaco set up, especially as I'm now looking at replacing my very worn Beyond Valor and West of Alamein counter sets with the new versions.

My next lot of ASL gear to order are BFP's Operation Cobra, Beyond the Beachhead II and probably some Le Franc Tireur stuff - depending on availability. The Friendly Fire packs I'm going to grab along with the Raaco. This is all with a view to creating a decent ASLOK playlist. But more on ASLOK later.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

ASLOK XXV Pre-planning

The budget is done, annual leave approved, the timeframe for booking flights and accommodation is pretty much set. All I really need to do is figure out what I’m going to take with me in terms of actual ASL gear (mapboards, counters and scenarios) and what scenarios I’m going to try and play. The ASL gear is a bit of a conundrum: do I select my scenarios based on what I can reasonably expect to bring with me in terms of materiel or should I just go with the flow and rely on the locals to provide the OBs? My thought is that I’ll bring two planos of system counters (the standard Inf, AFV and Arty plus regular system) and what OBs and mapsheets I take will be limited to plastic baggies from the Starter Kits and a selection of the SK style boards I already have. With a limit of 20 kilos for checked luggage, I really can’t afford to take too much.

Aaron C suggested I take a netbook with VASL and eASLRB and a pendrive with the scenarios I want to play ready to print. I think that will help, but I’m nowhere near having the ASLRB familiarity that Aaron has, so I may have to bring all the QRDCs with me. Based on a couple of my scenario draft choices, I’ll definitely be bringing my non-desert overlays and a couple of the TPP mapboards from Into The Rubble, Beachead and LFT. If I can I’d like to play a solid mix of newer TPP scenarios and official classics (you will not see me playing Gavin Take though) and I may end up printing out a few winterized versions from VASL for some personal favourites anyway.

Provisional Scenario Playlist:

My themes: I want to play a few linked scenarios that I’ve not played before. Thus most of my new stuff was released in the last few years – AP3-5, some of J7, Into The Rubble, some of the LFT stuff and Action at Carentan because it looks fun. There are a couple of modern favourites and a modest selection of scenarios that I’ve been dying to play Face to Face rather than PBeM. Of course this is all subject to change based on what is released in J8, AP6, LFT12 and any of the other TPP scenario packs I’ll be picking up between now and October. Then there are also the ASLOK Mini-tourneys I may get shanghaied into, which I’ll probably have to take into account. You will not see me playing Gavin Take or Totsugeki ever.

Doomed Battalions and Action Packs (six):
Definitely want to play some of these. I’ve played a couple of DB scenarios on VASL but never in the flesh so to speak.
  • 083 Round One
  • 140 Round Two
  • AP31 First Cristot
  • AP33 Second Cristot
  • AP42 Frontiers and Pioneers
  • AP52 Into Vienna Woods
Journal Seven (eight):
I really liked this journal alot. I played the scenarios from LFT and really enjoyed them enough to play any of them again, especially as they’re pretty quick and fun. The others are the meatier scenarios I never really managed to play, I guess because they were not schedule friendly for me and John at the time, when it was all about maxing out our number of scenarios played while we could.
  • 122 Extracurricular Activity – never played
  • J102 Yelnya Bridge
  • J103 Lenin’s Sons
  • J104 Flanking Flamethrowers
  • J105 Borodino Train Station
  • J106 Marders not Martyrs
  • J110 Prelude to Spring – never played
  • J111 Prussia In Flames – never played
Red Barricades Mini Scenario Theme (eight):
These little lot of RB scenarios are ones I’ll be bringing mini-maps over to play particular to each scenario. I’m hoping to get through each of these scenarios as my ASLOK project. If anyone attending ASLOK this year is interested, then don’t hesitate to contact me and we can confirm details closer to the event.
  • RB3 Bread Factory #2
  • RB4 To The Rescue
  • RB6 Turned Away
  • RB7 The Red House
  • HASL A Ghosts in the Rubble
  • CH15 No Further
  • J22 Oh Joy!
  • MP11 Vulcan’s Forge
All Time Favourites (four):
a quartet of favourites – the two scenarios that I loved in the COI era of SL and two PTO scenarios:
  • T7 The Dead of Winter
  • T9 The Niscemi-Biscari Highway
  • CH Children of the Kunai
  • J12 Jungle Fighters

I should be arriving in Cleveland on the Thursday evening (Sept 30) but I will be taking most of Friday to recover from the flights. I intend to start gaming proper on the Saturday along with some of the other early arrivals – whether The World Team really wants me on their side is whole different matter – I doubt I’ll even make it past 1 and out in terms of the Grofaz in any case but I reckon given the scenarios I’ve selected so far as my free-form selection I should be able to get 2-3 scenarios done per day with minimal fatigue. 
So up until the Grofaz starts properly on the Thursday I’m looking at 5 days of free-form gaming equalling around 10-15 off my list. Once Grofaz starts I’ll probably slow down to 2 games per day but by the end of ASLOK proper on the Sunday evening, I should have managed to get around 18-23 games played – I’ve built my playlist around getting games I want to play accepted as scenario choices by opponents but I could very easily skip playing any of the J7 scenarios I’ve previously played and still get through most of my list. 
Postscript : 
Friendly advice from Steve Linton received a couple of days later:
Hi Pete,

After several years of long-haul flights to Cleveland, I would suggest that you take as little as possible - no overlays, no maps and a rulebook only if you intend to spend your evenings reading it.

Scenarios are a good idea, but I've always found everyone so keen to try the new product that pre-determined playlists tend to get dissappear other than a couple of 'must dos'.

Counters. Took them once, and never got to use them. Its a nice thought, but in nearly 100 games at ASLOK I've never had a problem with borrowing them. If you really want to, buy a small plano and be very harsh - bare minimum. When you think about it, 10 of most is enough for the mains, and the rest a couple of each can be chucked together in a small box.

Charts - definitely the main ones - and dice. Good to bring your own dice. You can catch things like bad luck off other peoples.

Remember - you are in a room with over 100 people who are mad keen about this game. You wont need boards, because there are hundreds, including the TPPS. The same is true of the rulebobok. The weight is not worth the transport, and you'll need the space to bring back the stuff you can't stop yourself from buying.

Games. Speaking as a junkie, I try the 3 games a day, all the ASL you can eat approach. That equates to 97 games at 5 ASLOKs (I would have done more but those hospital trips cut into gaming time) 5 in one day was the highest. Its great fun, but pacing yourself is well worth it (I can hear Bret laughing from here). Over that length of time, you'll want to take some time off. Remember - 3 scenarios a day equals 15 hours play (NOTE: Americans, on the whole play at a more sedate pace - the Mollusc is not considered a slow player over there.)

The minis are great fun - and a way to ensure game hookups. If you're not in the minis, you could miss out in the mornings.

BUT - there are some very important things you HAVE to do if you go to ASLOK:

  • Play on a 3D board. If you are very, very good, Jeff DeYoung might even bring along one for one of your list of scenarios.
  • Steal a glass for rolling dice (no, its a terrible way to roll dice, but its a must have)
  • Ask Evan to take paypal when you buy Schwerpunkt :-0
  • Harrass anyone from MMP about slow delivery schedules
  • If He's there, check out the Pink Pixie counter (Latrs Thuring will show you)
  • See what Scott Holst really looks like
  • Check out Pleva's tower

And the world will be very happy to have you on the team. We like to give the locals every conceivable advantage before we take the trophy.