Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Review

The Good:

  1. Attended CanCon for the first time
  2. Attended JunoBear
  3. Played as many games Face to face as I did on VASL
  4. Played close to 30 games this year despite 8 months offline
  5. Made contact with more ASLers in the region
  6. Found that I enjoy helping relative newcomers to ASL with the game
  7. Without actually trying, realised that I actually do know the IFT  by heart for the most part
  8. I am totally over my PTO phobia, to the point I look for PTO games now.

The Bad:

  1. Went 0 and 5 at CanCon
  2. PC died a very sad death, along with my entire eASL archive
  3. Stuck in tablet/iPad 1 Hell for 7.5 months
  4. Had to cancel my trip to ASLOK thanks to dental bills, PC crash and lack of $$$
  5. Am once more behind the curve in my ASL purchases
  6. The reduction in enjoyment at Gamesquad
  7. Lost track of exactly what scenarios I played this year.

 Looking Forward to:

  • Malaya Madness in February - this could be the start of something special
  • Junobear - It would be nice to win more than one game
  • ASLOK - Come hell or high water, I am attending this year.
  • Hitting the 50 games mark - given ASLOK should account for 20 odd, JunoBear 4 and Malaya Madness another 7/8, getting 18 games on VASL/PBeM and at the Bearz should be relatively easy.
  • Finishing off the Swedish Volunteers scenarios
  • Catching up on some of the ASL releases from 2013.
  • Finalising the Raaco setup.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2014: Malaya Madness - The Plan (Revised)

Still working on the setups and hopefully some custom printed scenario maps to take with me.

In the meantime, I've managed to take a look at G46 Triumph Atop Taraldsvikfjell (I cannot believe I managed to type that from memory) and I was obviously thinking of a different scenario. I looked at Board 2 under VASL and thought about both defence and attack.

In any case my Round 1 picks are now:

1. AP08 A Bloody Harvest - Board 43 - From the original Action pack, I've played this a few times over the years, so it's a solid and dependable choice. The errata exchanging the original two Polish LMGs for Assault Fire makes this scenario just that little bit tougher on the Polish player (eliminating 2 potential fire lanes), but it's a good scenario all the same.
2. G46 Triumph Atop Taraldsvikfjell - Board 2 in winter - Ground snow is the only real terrain SSR so that's a point in its favour. Straightforward, pretty mundane, but it has FFL and Norwegians vs a real Curate's egg of Gebirgsjäger and rear echelon deskjockeys. I'd be tempted to take the Germans at first glance, and wouldn't want to give the German player a third leader, especially a 9-1.
3. G40 Will to Fight...Eradicated - Board 12 - You can never go wrong selecting one of the original WCW pack as your #3 pick. The only reason I'm not putting this at #2 is because I have played it several times previously. The downside to this scenario is the amount of SSR defined terrain changes and overlays. If I knew how to print out a decent copy from VASL I'd do it that way and it'd be my first choice.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014: Malaya Madness -The plan


This is my primary goal for the first half of 2014: attending the inaugural Asia-Pacific ASL tourney in Singapore. Budget wise it is going to be very tight, but hopefully the OT due me will take care of that.

It will have been almost 40 years since I was last in Singapore for more than a stopover at the airport, so I'm effectively going there for the first time. As always, attending an ASL tourney is not so much about the results as it is meeting and playing other ASL aficionados.

I'm going to be bringing a travel kit of Brits, Japanese, Basic Soviets , Germans and US army along with core system counters. Thankfully most of the scenarios I've chosen are Infantry only so negating any requirement to bring along the British, Soviet and German AFVs.

The tourney list is already out and I've done a preliminary pick and choose, using the ranking choice 1,2,3 and X (discard):

Friday Morning, Round 1:

1. AP08 A Bloody Harvest -Board 43 - From the original Action pack, I've played this a few times over the years, so it's a solid and dependable choice. The errata exchanging the original two Polish LMGs for Assault Fire makes this scenario just that little bit tougher on the Polish player (eliminating 2 potential fire lanes), but it's a good scenario all the same.

2. G40 Will to Fight...Eradicated - Board 12 - You can never go wrong selecting one of the original WCW pack as your #3 pick. The only reason I'm not putting this at #1 is because I have played it several times previously and I don't want to involuntarily shark a lesser experienced player.
Edit: Who am I trying to kid? I have Buckley's Chance of winning Malaya Madness, even if I start approaching ASLOK XXV levels of Snakey Pete-itis. See my thoughts on Tettau's Attack as to why this got bumped to #2. The lesser experienced players will probably roll me anyway, given the quality of their analyses that I've seen so far. They grok ASL already. 

Downside to this scenario is the amount of SSR defined terrain changes and overlays. If i knew how to print out a decent copy from VASL I'd do it that way.
3. A33/107 Tettau's Attack - Board 17 - Originally part of the Market-Garden linked scenario series from the 1991 Annual, I've not played this one before in it's current form so it will be interesting to see how it plays out  with the revisions.
Edit: It would seem there are no revisions apart from a general tidying up of the wording. It's freaking 11 turns long! This scenario length is not so much about the VCs as it is a design decision predicated by the scenario being part of a linked mini-campaign where campaign VPs are awarded on the basis of how quickly the scenario VCs are accumulated. In a stand alone situation, the scenario length is overkill. Not a good one to start with after the plane flight.

Can we say Concealed Assault Move after Concealed Assault Move on the German's part along with a mass deployment for the HS blitz? I thought so. Three Exit VPs, even on board 17, is just laughable in 11 turns. There just aren't enough mid strength fire lane capable weapons to block a HS AM wave. So bidding for the Germans in this. This goes down to #3 as of right now and I would even contemplate G46 instead. 

Finally, it's Board 17. I only own the Map Bundle version and that has never been, nor will it ever be folded. Therefore it fails my Air-Transportable selection criteria, unless some nice perosn has a copy of board 17 at the venue.

X. G46 Triumph Atop Taraldsvikfjell - I seem to have lost my copy of this one, but IIRC it was one of those Alpine Hill, snow and drifts things that really is too much work in the first round of a tourney. In any case, I don't recall it as a must play as it has never featured on my to play list at any point. Secondly, it's one of the G series which apart from a few stellar examples are all too reflective of thye time period they were designed in and don't really fit the current ASL meta.

Friday Afternoon, Round 2:

1. A32 Zon with the Wind - Board 24 - The starting Market Garden series scenario from the 1991 Annual, this is another I either haven't played before or it's been 20+ years since I last played it. Board 24 is one of those boards you either hate or love. I hate it, but the scenario is worthwhile.

2. J103 Lenin's Sons - Board 42 - A personal favourite from Le Franc Tireur, republished in Journal Seven and a perennial default scenario. It's a Xavier Vitry Ost front design, what could possibly go wrong? Of course, that presumes that I am not one of the people playing said scenario.

3. RB3 Bread Factory #2 - I had to include this as I promised George I would bring a few copies of the mapsheet specifically for this scenario. It can be dicey, but it's a lot of fun.

X. A89 First Day at Diadem - Oh look a scenario featuring board 9 and from the 1995 ASL annual. Pass. 18 years of scenario design experience has left many of the scenarios from that era in the wake and I really can't be bothered checking whether this was one of the scenarios that needed errata, not when there are three solid alternates.

Friday Evening, Open Round

Here's where I bring out some of my favourite PTO scenarios that are excellent teaching scenarios for those just getting into Rising Sun or if Mark Humphries is agreeable, we may finally get BFP 99 Ivanovskii out of the overdue schedule pit:

SP 125 Nunshigum - Played this as a warm up to ASLOK in 2010 and rate it as one of the top 10 PTO scenarios I've played.

SP 65 Ayo Gurkhali, SP 80 Die Gurkha Die, SP 95 Burn Gurkha Burn and SP 127 Bleed Gurkha Bleed - along with Numshigum, these are some of the best and most intense short-form ASL PTO out there.

 Saturday Morning, Round 3:

1. J46 Strongpoint 11 - Never played this as I only obtained Journal 3 in the last 12 months and I'm yet to play through the scenarios. It looks rather cool to be fair.

2. 145 Shanghai in Flames - Boards 20 and 1 - Not played the revised version with the additional Japanese 447/LMG - It's worth a crack though

3. HC1 First Matanikau - another one I promised George I would bring the map.

X. 153 Totsugeki - If I never play Totsugeki again, I will be a happy ASLer. As formulaic and scripted through over-exposure as Gavin Take and with a very static role as the defender - no thanks.

Saturday Afternoon, Round 4:

1. J128 Opium Hill - I've played it three times in the last 6 weeks, losing once as the Japanese, winning both as Brits and Japanese. Tough on the Japanese, but a great scenario if the Japanese player is aggressive and maintains his composure. I'll be looking to play as the Japanese in this.

2. 147/J9 A Stiff Fight - When I first played this, I hated it but I'm a much better defender vs Japanese than I was back then after almost 100 games of PTO in the last 3 years. I will be interested to see what changes have been made. (hmm supposedly no changes made in the Rising Sun version - in which case I would rather chew my own arm off than play this three-legged canine again, unless someone is nice (read naive) enough to give me the Japanese.)

3. J71 TOMFORCE - I don't own Journal Four, the one Journal I never managed to get hold of, so this will be a completely new scenario to me as it pre-dates my PTO interest. Given that I am shocking at grokking a scenario at first sight, this could be a real curveball for me.

Edit: I just had a look at this and I pity any newbie who ends up taking the Brits in this. 
A) It's a Markuss/Carter design, which means it's all about knowing the UK vehicle Chapter H notes  backwards and it's fiddly and ,
B) it doesn't just involve Carriers, it involves the IP (India Pattern) wheeled carriers, an even more esoteric subset of a complex vehicle type as it is. Moved to last position because of this and because J11 is ruled out because of the Deluxe logistics issue.

X. J11 In The Old Tradition - This was a blast to play, but it is Deluxe, and given the expected number of newbies attending, I doubt they will have the necessary boards to play, while I am not going to be able to fit Deluxe boards in my luggage given how much I will already be taking with me.

Boy, what a tough round, the only one I want to play is Opium Hill. Nice if I get it but I am not looking forward to playing either of the alternatives.

Saturday Evening, Open Round:

This is where I will be looking to play someone I have not played online, via PBeM or face to face before. It may mean dealing with a Rising Sun scenario, but I'd prefer to try out something from Rally Point 8 (the PTO edition), WO13 or from the new Friendly Fire pack. Something short and vicious with a couple of Tin Cans may well do.

Sunday Morning, Round 5:

1. J116 Brigade Hill - Small, vicious and with counterattack opportunities for both sides. Yet to win a game of this, but if I was in the running for a placing, I'd be looking to play this, probably as the Brits.

2. AP68 Odd Angry Shot - not played, but has some interesting SSRs putting limits on Australian movement.

3. A111 Cattern's Position - not played, again some interesting SSRs affecting the Japanese ability to manoeuvre, the set-up looks to be all important for the Japanese player in this one.

X. 99 Probing Layforce - another redo of an early Annual scenario (A43 in this case) and set in Crete rather than the PTO. Not that interested, particularly with OBA featuring and the Matilda basically being impervious to anything other than Close Combat.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Man Dollies and Miniature Wargaming

It's only taken 5 years, but I've finally started my miniatures blog on Blogger:


If playing with toy soldiers, painting and photography is your thing, please feel free to drop by.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 2013 Paddo Bearz meeting

Trooped down to Sydney for the monthly Paddo Bearz meeting today, and yes I played some ASL face to face.

Jeremy Dibbens and I played a game of BB5/G35/ASL105 Going To Church with Jeremy taking the attacking Canadians and myself playing the point defence SS. I almost made the cardinal mistake of reading the VCs and leaving myself vulnerable to a loss after a single Prep Fire attack, but realised just in time.

Jeremy has good taste in ASL, he picked up  a full Raaco set, an LFT dice tower and Battleschool dice so his ASL gear is all shiny new and freshly punched. However he has not clipped the counters, although as he has been playing Ivan recently, he now knows the True Path of ASL Counter Righteousness.

Here's a picture of my still flawed final setup and tactical plan. The 238 stacked with the hero and 8-0 should have been on Level 2 in E4.

Pre-Game Setup and Plan.

Jeremy is still relatively new to ASL (I felt rather bad handling his shiny new counters - it just felt wrong) so he was up against it a little bit in that I had played this scenario before as both Germans and Canadians, plus I had an idea on how to prepare for the end game with blocking half-squads on stairwell locations.

Despite generating a second hero from the 238 in the belltower, Jeremy was still in a very strong position by turn 3. I feel he wasted time in crossing to the stone wall, particularly as he had managed to get Smoke into G3 on Turn 1 and I was hurriedly redeploying to get at least a 658 and 348 back to the church.

Sadly for Jeremy, he bum-rushed his 9-2 plus 458 into OG adjacent to a waiting 348, 6 down 2: DR: 1,2 = Final DR of 1:  2KIA. The good thing is that my end game was pretty well played, and Hjeremy took away some insights I hope, particularly with the Cleavinator kibitzing with our total approval.

I think I am at the point where I am more comfortable "teaching" ASL to someone who is not a complete novice, because both of us get to learn things. Next up for Jeremy, a delivery of US counters (my duplicate set of Yanks) and Chapter H, plus a few Schwerpunkt scenarios that will help him (and me) with understanding Shermans and US infantry capabilities - there is no way I would ever expect someone to grasp US infantry and Shermans from scenarios such as Kurhaus Clash or Among the (skulking) Ruins.

I also picked up my copy of Friendly Fire 8, so expect a few overviews of the scenarios to come...plus hopefully some PBeM/Live VASL updates - a lot of games on the boil or just starting to simmer now.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

J126 Ugly Faces: An Ugly Dicing

John Knowles and I sat down this afternoon to play J126 Ugly Faces from Journal Nine, a Chas Argent design that initially seemed to get some bad press and some fairly rough treatment for the Germans.

The omens were not propitious as I knocked over my best coffee mug onto the tiled floor before the game even started. Cacophonix may even have struck up a dirge about Toutatis and the sky falling around that time. 

John took the Germans with balance (and that additional 20mm FP is damn useful) and we started to play:

Now I will claim that 8 months away from playing ASL stultified my normal defensive brilliance, but we all know that to be an outright falsehood. I set up the 37* INF far too far forward and had nothing really to stop an end run by the Sdkfz 222s on the right.

And so it proved..because I did absolutely nothing on German Turn 1, apart from stunning the Bathtub. I lost the two squads in U9 because I let them get caught in CC rather than leaving one concealed and/or vol breaking the other and john ambushed me. The only shots I was taking were either decent TH shots or 8+ FP DF or 4FP resids, all the DRs tending to match my MCs and PTCs which were averaging 7.5+ already. Not good when you are French.

So after Turn 1 I was in a power of trouble. Turn two was just annoyingly vicious as I was flanked, broken and routed as well as dead from FTR. The 222s were already in the backfield up by the stone wall on the Y hexrow crossroads.

Turn Three was just bad, and I had a chance to rectify it , but I ended up with 14/60 non-wind change DRs being 9+ versus John's 14/50 of 4 or less. There was an opportunity to cause some havoc as Johnhad not safeguarded the ongoing Melee in W1 which if I had surviuved would have allowed me to threaten the three multi-hex buildings in the south. Alas it was not to be, and the final straw was the last possible 4 up 1 snakes vs one of my 18pdrs that took out the truck, the crew, the gun and a 237 hs that was to assist in bringing the gun into action.

An Ugly game of Ugly Faces , but the scenario deserves a lot more respect than it gets. I won't be counting this game as truly representative as the dice were extreme on both sides.

So it didn't even get past the CC phase of Allied Turn 3. Says it all really. Still want to play this again though as either side.

Time Just Flies By

While I was unable to access this blog, a small but significant anniversary occurred. Although this (Blogger) iteration of the blog is relatively recent, my first ASL related post was back in September 2004, a capsule review of a pretty decent book and ASL Third Party Publisher .

 So I am now in the 10th year of posting, even if it's only an average of 1 post per month. The other anniversary is that this particular site started in October 2009 and 103 new posts have been added in that time.

The other achievement is that we've now reached our 10000th page view, the last 4000 of which came in the last year.

Just as an aside and because I have often promised pretty pictures, here's a graphic of where my small but valued group of blog readers are located (it';s the most recent 100 visitors):

Thanks, people.

Some celebration is in order and what better way to celebrate than to post about actually playing ASL?

So in the last week, I have started and played to completion two scenarios, started one live VASL game (in progress), set up two ongoing series of live VASL matches against players I've never played before, restarted one live VASL game, restarted two PBeM games and set up a face to face game for the Paddo Bearz meeting next Saturday.

Once all these games get underway, I expect to be playing around 2 sessions per day for the three days I am not working each week.  That doesn't even include the ritual loss to the Cleavinator that occurs every three months.

It's good to be back, but even better to be able to write about actual ASL play.


Friday, October 25, 2013

It's good to be back: AP17 Valley of Death

It's already looking like I have a taker for the XV series playthrough, just waiting for schedule confirmation. But not only have  I started two more games, I'm able to restart a game with Joern Helms: AP 17 The Valley of Death.

We managed to get through the first Italian turn initially before real-life difficulties caused us both to drop out of sight for a while, but here's the situation as it stands:

Some chances taken in light of increased opportunities. I had forgotten how this scenario opened up on the first turn.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My latest project on Gamesquad

Themed VASL + Skype scenario series with a difference .

The theme is not so much Eastern Front, or indeed by publisher but is based on playing through
the designs of a single individual, in this case, Xavier Vitry of Le Franc Tireur.

The idea:
  • Commit to one VASL + Skype session per weekend with an option of adding one PBeM log through the week but only if you are into PBeM. 
  • Each player plays the same side throughout the series of 10 scenarios, in this case my opponent will be playing Germans. 
  • All games count towards the ASL Ladder games and will be entered into ROAR.
  • Using VASL 5.9.3 with VASSAL 3.1.20
The scenarios (with Balance if both players are evenly matched) :
  1. J093 (LFT 29) The Porechye Bridgehead with Soviet Balance 
  2. J102 (LFT 31) The Yelnya Bridge with Soviet Balance
  3. J103 (LFT 32) Lenin's Sons
  4. J104 (LFT 33) Flanking Flamethrowers with Soviet Balance
  5. J105 (LFT 34) Borodino Train Station with Soviet Balance    
  6. J115 (LFT 35) Last Push to Mozhaisk with German Balance
  7. FTC5 153 Nailed to the Ground
  8. FTC5 155 Once Upon A Time...In The East 
  9. FTC6 165 Shopino Struggle with Soviet Balance
  10. LFT 196 Spittelmarkt

Of these 10 scenarios, I have played all those published in the Journal except J093. I am currently about to start a game of FTC 196 as the Germans vs Blind Sniper.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

With A Vengeance


  1. VASSAL 3.1.20 Installed. Check.
  2. VASSAL 3.2.8 Installed. Check.
  3. VASL 5.9.3 Installed. Check
  4. VASL 6.0.0beta2 Installed. FAIL.


  • Arrange ASL ladder challenge with Blind Sniper (Ale) for FT196 Spittelmarkt from LFT 13.
  • Hang around on VASL looking for a pickup game. No luck until...
  • After finish of All Blacks vs Australia:
    • FrF62 Dryga Larpengar - Finns vs Soviets - vs MrP/Ian Percy.
Friendly Fire Pack 8 has only been out a few weeks and already the scuttlebutt is that this pack could be one of the best they have produced. Seriously high praise indeed after the showing of Friendly Fire packs 6 and 7.

I didn't get to play any of these previously at ASLOK unlike many, so Dryga Larpengar is the first chance I've had to see the scenarios for myself. So far so good. Small, vicious and with a tasty wee hook to the scenario that requires reading the aftermath to understand the impact of the VCs in the game.

If this is the weakest of all the scenarios in the pack, then Friendly Fire pack 8 may well go down as one of the strongest ever produced, rivalling the Windy City Wargamers' offering. If one of the best ASL players was heard to say something along the lines of Friendly Fire are good enough that he would be happy to dice for sides sight unseen, then you just know there's not much on offer that approaches that, let alone coming close.


  • Play John Knowles (German) as Soviet in J146 Ragnarok from Journal Nine. I lose but it's another from the talented Martin Svard.
 So all in all a very good first weekend back on ASL active duty. All I need to do now is restart those few PBeM games that were so cruelly interrupted in February. Emails are being drafted now.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Be Verry, Verry Afwaid...

I'm back! Sans a working storage drive for now (just using the SSD as a temp) as I ended up losing the 1TB storage drive as I had feared.

VASL is installed, only 1 monitor up and running so far, but the prognosis is good. Hopefully will be able to start playing from tomorrow morning onwards.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Six Days in Spring...

This coming Friday morning will see the arrival of the newly refurbished computer. Eight months of exile in tablet hell will come to an end with a vengeance. All caused, not by a power surge as I had thought and dreaded due to the cost of replacing the Solid State Drive, the graphics card and power supply, but by a single failure in a $5 SATA cable connected to the OS drive. So much of my exile was avoidable if I had any kind of computer clue. But then the cable failure was probably caused by me opening the case the last time anyway.

The good news is indeed good, no data loss.

So what is my ASL schedule going to look like? Well, as I only work Mon-Thurs, I intend to get back on the horse that is VASL as soon as possible. I intend not to focus only on pre-arranged games as I was wont to do, but from now on I will have a short list of on call scenarios with associated defensive setups for those times when an ad-hoc game is called for.

I'm hoping to at least start one live VASL game most Thursday evenings Australian time,  as that will mesh well with the North American and Asia Pacific community. The three day weekend also means I will be able to play some of the GB/Euro ASL active players as waking up at 6am to play equates to a 2 hour sleeping for me.

All in all, I am looking at hopefully playing three completed games on average per weekend, and that will still give me the two days per month I need for attending the war games clubs for miniatures. I do know that I am seriously looking forward to being able to post screen grabs and photos on this blog rather than the walls of text I have been restricted to.

Steve Linton from Canberra very kindly sent me two scenario packs from the Break Contact series. Now PTO is very much an acquired taste of mine, if only recently, so the opportunity to look at some new scenarios was always welcome. There are some big scenarios in the two packs I have, but thankfully the new multi-monitor set up makes these doable now. A notable design in the latest pack features the LFT I beach landing board so it will almost certainly make the playlist. I just have to find some one also keen on doing seaborne assaults and evacuations.

All in all, lots to look forward to and lots still to do. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Time is Rapidly Approaching...

...When I will be able to rejoin the active ASL online community:

  • The rebuild of the PC is almost complete, and should be home by this time next week.
  • The  final pair of monitors will be here by October 17th and set up by the 18th.
  • I should be able to retrieve all my VASL games by the end of the month which means I will be able to get started on the visual AARs finally. (Trebled 24" 1920 by 1200 screen real estate will allow much multi-tasking.)
Still have to buy a decent headset/mic combo and sort out the archived data, but all that costs is time rather than $$$ which has been the bottleneck until now.

Time to look at an updated playlist and then post a few challenges, particularly for my UK and Euro ASL brethren as the time zone difference is much less of a hindrance with a three day weekend.

It has been a very long and frustrating seven-and-a-half months, in which time I have truly come to loathe tablets and the iPad as the only conduits to the Internet available for me. This is why the current plan is to have a second PC dedicated to gaming ready and available by the end of the year,
just in case.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's the last Sunday in September, it must be ASLOK time...


Sadly my attendance at this year's ASLOK has had to be cancelled due to a combination of three events:

1. The failure of my PC in February and the accompanying expenses involved in rebuilding.
2. At the same time, I lost access to my primary Gmail account until last week, owing to password issues.
3. The main one, and the primary financial reason I could not make it: Multiple root canals, wisdom teeth extraction (surgery required) and some dental reconstruction. Cost so far? In the thousands, even with private health insurance.

I have pretty much given away 2013 in terms of ASL for now. There are big things planned from November onwards, but 2014 is looking like a bumper year for a return to ASL with the prospect of attending CanCon, JunoBear, ASLOK (finally) and what could be a new regular event for me to attend even after I attend my final ASLOK in 2016: The inaugural Asia-Pacific ASL tourney to be held in Singapore around the end of February.

More on that anon, for now I'm just glad to have recovered access to my email and blogger account, even if it is still via Tablet/iPad hell.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Goodbye Pre-orders

So that's it for pre-orders from MMP: the USPS rates and MMP shipping charges were always treading a fine line between what was justifiable and what could no longer be justified.

With pre-orders it was a necessity to pool orders in order to keep the shipping cost per item reasonable...but that option has been stymied for the future as the postage for more than say 3 or 4 scenario packs from MMP was seriously obscene.

Withe the 50% increase, it's no longer worth my while (especially once you factor in the overseas transaction charges, etc for making an order). So I've cancelled all my Pre-orders from MMP: particularly for the non-ASL boxed games where the postal charges were already ruinous at $50+ for the 2 Storm over.... games, the new postage will be more than the combined price of the games.

Rivers to the Reich and Best of  Friends will have to wait for another day...probably ASLOK. Festung Budapest will be ordered from Milsims. I am very glad I went on the pre Xmas splurge that I did.

Milsims will be seeing a lot more of my money, and I will probably increase the proportion I buy at ASLOK over the next three years.

The real spinner in this is that the new postal rates are almost certainly the death knell for the purchase of miniatures and other games from my usual suppliers like Fine Games, Noble Knight and Gamer's Armory, let alone picking anything up via eBay from the IUS. It will be interesting to see how Amazon's charges go up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Games over the weekend

Played two games over the weekend, plus got another three turns done in my VASL league game.. The first game was FB12 The Black Ravens are flying (awesome scenario title) with me as the German/Hungarian vs Aaron C's Soviets. This is just a freaking cool situation and design. Definitely a keeper. Reminds me a little of MP11 Vulcan's Forge in the potential for melee shenanigans on turn 1. We ended up with a tank each trying to share the same orchard hex in setup, hilarious. Lost but who cares, this was my first game from FB and a bit of prep for Cancon.

The second game was J129 Mountain Hunters from Journal 9 versus John Knowles. Peter Struif one of the designers watched our game over a couple of sessions, and I hope we didn't stun him with the mediocrity of our play, particularly in the second session where we were at an impasse in terms of poor DRs. In the end, it came down to the Stug clearing the way while John's commissars did more damage to his troops than I did. The soviet guns up on the rearmost ridge were very frightening, especially after my 60mm Mtr permanently xed itself during repairs on turn 2. All in all, a very good scenario, belying its ROAR record. Sure I achieved all the VC options, but it was really tight between getting all three and only getting one.

Confusion Reigns
is still going strong, I put a good turn's delay on the US 9-2 stack of doom, but that was only temporary as they are back now and making me keep my head down. In my PBeM games, J148 Last Minute War has been notable by the Slovakian ACs bogging every single turn. It's now getting into the real mid game and is pretty fraught as both sides are still very much intact. SP184 Cornered Beasts has been notable for the Panzer III marksmanship in the first two turns, but everything else has been a little lacklustre although Soviet inf fire has been effective. Finally J147 Into the Grinding Mill has been exactly that with the Japanese Banzaiing into the midst of the defenses but at some risk and I am expecting a significant riposte from Chinese fire now....

With 5 games at Cancon to look forward to I think it might be my fastest ASL playing start to a year in two decades.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More ASL crack: Omaha

The latest ASL fix arrived on Wednesday from Fine Games (www.finegames.com) just 7 days after the order was processed. I had ordered (despite my misgivings at Critical Hit's record) three major HASL products: Kharkov, Kursk (Ponryi) and Tyrants Lair 2 (Berlin) as well as two older CH products: Red Christmas and Spanish Fury. Added to this that CH's Omaha West had arrived a couple of days prior and I was inundated with major HASL nirvana.

Sadly, Kharkov arrived without the mapsheet and Red Christmas was missing the Scenario card for 3b. My frustration was pretty intense at this pointg because mapsheets and overlays are almost impossible to do without. Edoardo (ASRomafan from Gamesquad) put me in touch with Ray Tapio from CH directly and this morning I have received a very gracious and prompt response sorting out the issue to my satisfaction. Can't ask more than that for resolution of a customer service issue.

I intend to write up a few initial impressions on the products that have arrived complete and will follow up on the others once I have all the replacement parts.

Omaha West (Final Countdown Edition)

Seriously this is one pretty major work. 3 standard HASL maps, 16 scenarios, a large amount of set up charts and a duplicated set of 2.5 fullsize countersheets plus a 12 page booklet of rules. Landed cost for me: approx AUD$91.

US Playaids, Naval Data ccard and the Omaha West rules

German Widernest Play Aid cards
Normally I find the inclusion of duplicate counter sheets a gimmick rather than a selling point but in the case of Omaha west, the inclusion is a definite plus as tehre will be a need for the additional landing craft and the HASL specific SW like banagalore torpedos and the like. The quality of the countersheets, while not up to the level of BFP or modern MMP in terms of diecutting, is certainly a vast improvement from that previously available. I don't particularly like the reduced size turrret speed notation as it does not easily meet the eye but that's a quibble.

The scenarios don't all focus on the beach assault itself, with five of the sixteen included focused on actions in the hinterland proper, while several use the whole map depth. Apart from the 39 turn monster Black Day for the 116 which effectively is the CG for this module, the scenarios cover a great range in overall size, with the first three scenarios serving nicely as introductions to the mapsheets.

The scenarios
The Big Scenario: 39 turns of Bloody Omaha

The map is the real star of this. CH got it absolutely right in printing the beach defensive works on the mapsheet as the amount of fortification counters required would have been obscene. It's a very impressive sight when laid out. It has meant that my Gaming table plans have been revised.

All in all very impressed. It's a module that were it not for Joe Balkoski's books and Saving Private Ryan, I would not have been interested in. I doubt I will be buying the companion Omaha East unless the price point reverts to sensible levels as $USD199.00 + P&H is obscene.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Did I Really Buy All This Stuff?

Since I re-entered the realm of the semi regular ASL player in August 2012, I also rejoined the ranks of the ASL purchaser. I don't consider myself an ASL completist by any stretch, as the offerings of Wild Bill and Black SS counters leave me cold, but products with decent overlays and maps do tend to get my attention and there are some manufacturers of ASL gear I do buy as a matter of course

Since November 11 (Armistice Day interestingly enough)the followimng items have landed on my porch, sometimes with a dull thud, sometimes with an awe inspiring thunderclap.

  • For King and Country
  • ASL Starter Kit #3 - Tanks
  • ASL Action Pack 7
  • ASL Action Pack 8
  • Winter Offensive 2012 Bonus Pack
  • Out of the Bunker 1
  • Special Ops Volume 1
  • Special Ops Volume 2
  • Journal 10 
  • Journal 3 (Grail Item)
  • Journal 6 (Grail Item)

Heat of Battle:
  • King of the Hill (Grail item)

  • From The Cellar 3
  • From The Cellar 7
  • Le Franc Tireur 12
  • Le Franc Tireur 13
  • Dice Tower

Critical Hit:
  • Afrika Korps: El Alamein
  • Afrika Korps: Bir El Gubi
  • Afrika Korps: Ruweisat Ridge
  • Kharkov
  • Kursk: Devils Domain (Metalgods at Ponyri)
  • Red Christmas
  • Spanish Fury
  • Genesis '48 (Grail Item)
  • Tyrant's Lair 2
  • Omaha West

Other Publishers:
  • Texas ASL: Dos Equis Pack
  • Schwerpunkt 17
  • Friendly Fire Pack 7
  • ESG Dezign Pak 7

It's only when I actually look at this list in total that I realise just how much I spent in the last 6 months. But then again, I pretty much have negligible other interests that draw on my disposable income at all these days.

Of the above, MMP, LFT and the Other Publisher scenario packs were either catchups or form part of my 100% guaranteed purchase items. The Grail items were opportunities I couldn't resist and yes I paid collector market prices for them. That's the reality of missing out on them the first time around.

Items bolded will be loked at in a little more detail and in the case of a couple, I will be taking pictures.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Upcoming attractions and rants

I had hoped to post much earlier this month, but the current Australian Heatwave cioupled with real life work commitments have meant I haven't had the energy or indeed the time to do much other than play ASL in what free time I have had.

A lot of ASL goodness has arrived in the last two weeks, some of it outstanding, others being fatally flawed, but more on that over the weekend.

In two weeks time I will be at CanCon, playing ASL in canberra for the first time. I will remember to take photos. In preparation for one of the rounds, the Cleavinator will be playing me in a game of FB12 on the weekend. As I don't yet own Festung Budapest (trust me, I already regret placing other ASL purchases ahead of this) I am looking forward to breaking my FB duck.

And I now own Journals 3 and 6, so I have knocked off a sizable proportion of my Holy Grails already.

A lot to review from now on, even if only as an overview.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Starting as I mean to continue

Is It January 6 already?

J125 Everything is Lost, 1 January

The ASL new year started with not a bang but a whimper as I was out thought, out shot and out foxed in a game of J125 Everything is Lost with John Knowles. Suffice it to say, that the game was over after the opening salvo from the 88L AA gun that took out both ISU 152s, KIAed the 628/FT that had threatened it and rubbled the hex to boot.  Ugly, just ugly. Thoughts on this scenario later, but I have my suspicions that this one is too straitjacketed to be enjoyable for the attacker...

ASL087 Good Night, Sweet Prince, 5 January

Ivan Kent and I rocked up to the Paddo Bears meeting to play the revised version of GNSP from Doomed Battalions. Given that it was the first F2F game of the year for both of us, and it featured some weird and wacky Danish equipment, I was impressed to discover that we went all the way to the final player turn in just over 3.5 hours, once you took into account the lunch break and late start.
I thought I had overemphasised the weighting of my defensive set up in this, and i didn't really make the most of the two major AT assets I had, but the Steeple mounted HMG was the cornerstone of my defence throughoiut the game, along with the 8-0 that battlehardened to a wounded heroic 8-1.

Ivan ran out of VPs trying to cross the bridge, with the HMG chewing up anything that moved into the open. When it came to any shot with FFMO, FFNAM and -1 ldr directed, I usually rolled more KIAs in the attack than units on the receiving end. I'll look at this game in depth over the next week.

ASL 2013 season

This is now in full swing, 2 Ladder PBeM games underway, my second game of the year vs John Knowles due to start later today, and I'm in the scenario/side determination phase for both the VASLeague and the eASLeague.

To top it all off, I'm in the last stages of working through my CanCon attendance so January may be a very busy month both at work and play.