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 .