Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Good Weekend...

This weekend was pretty impresive ASL wise: I went through approximately 6 PBeM logs, including 4 for AP42 which is a fairly involved PBeM experience early on as the German player develops his attack through probing recce and manoeuvre.

John Knowles and I took advantage of simultaneous VASL time to get cracking on AP13, to the point we finished the game, and it finished really close, as John still had both Factories but ran out of troops to take and hold enough victory locations. If I hadn't held up his backfield squad in Melee, he would have grabbed that last location he needed, as I had almost nothing left myself.

AP13 Shielding Moscow at Game End, German Turn 6
Then this morning I finshed off a playtest with Adam Lunney of a design he's submitting to MMP. The scemnario is set during the Italain Camapign, features Board 60 and has enough meat to offer the attacker several options but the defender can arrange things to put a world of hurt on the advancing Brits. Board 60 has a bit of a bad rep already, but it's so different from the usual hill terrain that it may take some time for people to learn how to meet the cahllenge of assualting urban heights terrain.The game came down to the last CC phase where I had an even chance of grabbing enough VC locations to eke out a win but it was not to be.

So moving forward, this next week I'll be satring a  PbeM/live VASl game of WO2 Failure to Communicate vs John K,  I will shortly be looking at helping Ian Percy with some more playtesting, this time of another 6 turner tourney type scenario set in Crete, again for submission to MMP, and I've got ASL set up for Friday evening at Aaron's and Saturday at the Paddington Bearz.

I still have to go tghrough and sort out all my ASL gear as the last clean up in the study has resulted in me not being able to find a lot of the more recent ASL purchases I made at ASLOK last year. This becomes importantv as CrUcible of Steel is probably arriving sometime this week so I want to make sure all my BFP stuff is in the same place and not scattered to the four winds *.

(I don't think I'll ever get over the loss of almost all of my KE/ToT, early HOB and CH  scenarios from the late 90s to someone who never returned it and droppped out of the NZ ASL community shortly afterwards)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

As the PBeMing continues...

So I've finally got into the ASL groove once more. I'm really enjoying playing some PBeM games as they are so relaxed, although I played some live VASL today and will do again tomorrow morning which have been very good.

Here's the situation in AP013 Shielding Moscow at the end of the German turn 3 Rally Phase. It's very much in the balance still, the T-35 in the east is in the open and safe from being CCed to a pointand the Commissar is threatening the North West. 

The wounded hero in Z3 is accompanied by a Fanatic 468 so the conscript horde aren't exactly closing as rapidly as they'd like. The 8-1 has a 248 hs and 468 with him, while the 9-2 has the 548/mmg with him. I may have to pull back in the East  and go back towards the middle while attempting to extricate the Hero and fanatic squad. Highlights: so far the 9-2 has survived two snakes To hits, one from the 76* of thr T-35, the other from a 45L.

Monday, October 24, 2011

So What Am I Playing?

Land Battleship ahoy!

Now that the World Cup is over, I can devote the time to my nascent PBeM games.  I'm on a bit of a T35 kick at the moment, with two PBeM games on VASL (AP13 and AP42) and looking forward to the arrival of Schwerpunkt 17 so I can play SP194.

AP42 Frontiers and Pioneers

I'm playing AP13 Shielding Moscow versus John Knowles and AP42 Frontiers and Pioneers versus Joe Moro, an Aussie in Victoria who I've never played before. I'll see whether the Cleavinator is up for a game of SP194 Requiem for a Dreadnaught. Of these three scenarios, I've only played AP13 before, and that was almost 13 years ago, and I lost as the Soviets against John, with no memory of what happened during the agme so this will count as if it were a totally new scenario.

AP13 Shielding Moscow

In AP13, I'm playing as the German against John's two T-35 behemoths, while in AP42, I am again the Germans vs Joe's Soviets, only this time I actually have some decent Anti Tank weapons. As these are PbeM, I shouldn't have any problems drafting up AARs.

Now that 'The Temporary Distraction' is over...


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Are we in a Golden Age for ASL?

For me the answer is an unequivocal Yes. Maybe if I was unemployed and unable to afford to keep up with new releases, the answer would be qualified (as was the situation a few years ago).

It's not just about the flow of excellently produced products either. I'm seeing quality discussion on game play, scenario design and tournament reports occur regularly. People who had a major impact on ASL play in the early to mid 90s are coming back and contributing to the hobby with even more impressive results (Fortenberry and his introduction of the new style boards in Action Pack 6 and 8, the actual introduction of ABS in official scenarios). Despite the nutso world economic situation, ASLOk is thriving year by year and ASLers are embracing the concept of community.

On product releases, it's not just about scenario packs etc. Countersmith and Battleschool are providing those enhanced experience items that can make all the difference for some gamers. (The only downer for me is not owning a Pleva Dice tower)

We're also seeing high quality releases from most as well. Bounding Fire Productions and Le Franc Tireur are the standouts there with items such as Crucible and Cholm, but Friendly Fire scenario packs such as Friendly Fire 6 and the gradual but effective consolidation of Core modules and the new action packs from MMP along with Out of the Bunker plus the Journals are keeping the torch burning brightly.

I don't think numbers are declining in the player base, but what we are seeing is a change in proportions of the player base in terms of skill levels. It's been noted that the top 20 players are pretty much the same group of people that have been there for the last 10 years, but it's the middle tier of players that has expanded  in numbers - players are getting better more quickly and maintaining a skill level that has meant it has become easier to find an opponent who will challenge you without beating on you like a red-headed stepchild.

So yeah, I'll take this Golden Age and run with it, even after a 6 month sabbatical.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Outside the world of ASL

Okay so if I'm a bit distracted this weekend, it would seem there's some wierd sports event taking place in Aotearoa which as a Kiwi is claiming my almost psycopathic attention and has done for the last 5 weeks.

Yes, I'm talking about the Rugby World Cup where the Mighty Men In Black aka The Blackness aka The All Blacks are set to play some assortment of Shackledragging, Laptop and Breadstealing Convicts, sometimes known as the Wallabies on Sunday evening.

Before that however I'm off to the Returned Servicemen Leagues club tonight  with my Welsh neighbour Dave (what other name aprt from Owen would you expect) so we can watch Wales take on the evil, mercurial and totally unpredictable French.

I expect to get rather mulleted.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Making the most of what you have

Ian of Wall Advantage posted an excellent overview of the new Friendly Fire scenario pack on his blog today.

One point he raised about the use of counters from Blood and Jungle along with board FrFA got me thinking.  MMP obviously cannot really utilise TPP boards and counters in their scenario offerings, and so it really is up to the TPP scenario publishers to take advantage of the wider array of ASL resources at their immediate disposal. Sure some will grumble, as Ian points out, however in my experience BFP would be one of the more widely known and obtained of TPPs these days, particularly for those who are aware of Friendly Fire in the first place.

There are some excellent TPP boards and overlays out there that could be helpful in avoiding new mapboard overkill, as happened with board 10, Croix de Guerre and to a lesser extent Doomed Battalions and Armies of Oblivion. Now admittedly the pace of release of official boards from MMP has been quite astounding, and Action Packs looks to be continuing that ray of sunshine, but even Critical Hit has produced some excellent SK style boards in products such as Total Axis pack 1, Finland at War, 1st Ed/Boxed Ed Dien Bien Phu.

Personally I think it's been well overdue for at least one or two scenarios in a pack to go somewhat off the heavily trodden path of official mapboards and countermixes. Sure some won't have access to the products but in todays smaller active ASL community, the print runs are such that for the most part you're working with an audience and userbase who can now utilise more of their collection.

When I was last looking at some scenario designs, I tried to make use of the various Time On Target counters and rules, particularly those from ToT2 and ToT3. Maybe it's time to revisit this concept in the form of a ASL Grognards pack, targeted firmly at those who have access to most TPP materials. All I know is that for some TPPs, their strength of scenarios is derived from  the freshness of the designs rather than the actual tactical situation.

An 800lb gorilla

Counter Storage
Sometimes deciding on the method used for counter storage can be a meta-hobby unto itself. Does one go with Hozan, Raaco, Plano, Matchboxes, Ziplocs or Fort's low profile tray solution or will it be head-explodey time as per usual when I have to make a decision?

As someone who doesn't own a car or motorised transport and as I don't have the room to play ASL at home as yet (SWMBO is enthusiastic that new house will have a dedicated room* set aside for not just ASL but miniatures), I have particular requirements for Travel ASL kits, especially as ASLOK is going to be a biennial attendance for me (more on that later) from 2013.

An ASL Travel kit for international travel of necessity will be much more streamlined in scope than for domestic travel by train and bus.

With regard to the varying types, I can buy Plano here at the local K-mart for around AUD$8 per 7301 but to be honest, I'm past Plano as a solution. I have a modest ASL collection compared to some, but I have enough to do three separate comprehensive sets in terms of counters:

Home set: Hozan B-50s

Domestic Travel: Raaco Handibox

International Travel: Box-Box

What I think will happen is that my home set will feature a mix of all three anyway, so I'm only kidding myself if I even contemplate selectng a single option to begind with.

* I'm thinking more along the lines of complete basement/ground floor but haven't told her that's what the building plan allows.

Feeding the addiction

There are times when you just have to go "Stuff it!" and spend money on ASL crack. I just saw that Operation Chariot is now OOP (but I have my copy), so I have made damn sure that I don't miss out on Cholm. in case it goes OOP as it may well do, given the more familiar subject matter in terms of Eastern Front as opposed to one off large scale commando raid.

Of course this probably wouldn't have had the same sort of impact if I hadn't also snuck under the pre-order wire for a copy of Crucible of Steel from Bounding Fire. I effectively bought this without any knoweldge of the actual contents other than the subject matter was Kursk, it had a monstrous scenario called "Flying Turrets" and there were multiple sheets of counters, both new and improved reprints from previous BFP modules. Imagine my thoughts when I actually bothered to look at the product info and saw there were 6 freaking mapboards (three of which are double sized) and 32 scenarios.

I didn't even blink at the price either, which shows either I'm addicted (yes) or am still blasé about paying half as much for Crucible as I did for BV in 1986.

I have just realised that I've bought all these very nice examnples of ASL eye candy from BFP starting with Into The Rubble and I'm actually yet to play a single freaking scenario from any of them, whereas Le Franc Tireur have managed to get a few playings out of me inthe last few years , admittedly via the Journal exposure.

I wonder if I could make it a theme to complete 100 BFP scenarios by the end of 2012?

Update: Kampfgruppe Scherer: Cholm and From the Cellar 6 are now ordered, the Cleavinator is ordering Friendly Fire 7 on my behalf and I've pre-ordered Action Pack 8 for us both as well.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why this blog?

 NB: ASLOK XXV AARs now have photos.

In the last year or so, there's been little or no progress on the miniatures side of things, thanks to a combination of several factors, not the least of which has been a resurgence in interest in all things ASL and the demise of the local wargames club. It's always been part of my overall plan to separate the ASL and boardgaming from the miniatures side of things and as my blog on Wordpress was primarily focused on miniatures while the original Hex & Violence wordpress blog was stuck in limbo, I thought i'd start again from scratch.

Most of the ASL blogs I read are on Blogger already so it made sense to open a new Blogger account particularly as it's linked through Google now which makes accessing it very easy. I've spent most of the last day porting over the ASL wordpress content and I'm taking the opportunity to flesh out some of the posts with decent AAR pics and photos from ASLOK.

It also allows me to add more detail and correct a few errors in the original posts, plus I have better recall now of minor details that make for a better ASLOK AAR.