Monday, January 31, 2011

Advanced Squad Leader (MMP) ~ "Block at Ville-sur-Illon" [OB12]

Game: ASL
Scenario: Block at Ville-sur-Illom [OB12]
Participants: Joe C and Myself
Time: Friday, Jan 28th ~ 5.00PM - 12.30PM

I wanted to get a game in from the new "Out of the Bunker" pack before it was put on the bottom of the pile with a new Action Pack and Journal soon to be released. Looking through the scenarios, I came across this one which looked like we could get done in one night...and it was close as it turned out at this one went the distance lasting until 12.30.

The scenario takes place in France in September of 44. Cobra has ruptured the German line and Patton's Third Army is streaming behind German lines. Here we have a German counter attack against the Free French 2nd Armored Division. The Germans have to amass 9VP to win. VP's are scored by taking buildings (all wooden and single hex) on board 42. One of the buildings is the French HQ building, which is worth 2VP. The Germans will be entering on board 19, the French set up on half of board 19 and all of board 42. Board 42 is very dense with very few open ground hexes. The scenario calls for a 4-hex brush overlay on 42 as well.

The Attacking Germans start with a nice force of 13 squads, seven of these are 5-4-8s while the remainder are 4-4-7s. There are 4 German leaders, a MMG, 3x LMGs and 2x PSKs. Additionally, the Germans get two SPW 251/1 (AAMG, 15PP) and two SPW 251/9s (75*, 2ROF) half tracks. The Free French force has 8x 4-5-8s, 9-2, 8-1, 7-0 2x MMG (a), 2x BAZ 44(a) and a 50-MTR(a). The French also start with 6 "?" markers and 6 foxholes.The French also have reinforcements arriving on turn 3 on the North and/or East side of the map. These include two 6-4-8 Engineers, a 8-0 leader, another BAZ and a DC.

As usual we rolled for sides and YJ got the attacking Germans. YJ is a better player on the Attack in most cases so I knew that I'd have my hands full. I always read the Historical summary and aftermath prior to playing a scenario and in this case I can say that having done so had a big impact on the outcome. As I set the boards up (two half boards) I started as I normally do, examining the VC's, then looking at what that means in movement terms to the attacker. In looking at the board, you see that most of the buildings are on my side of board 42, so that meant that YJ was going to have to move a long way AND still take the majority of the buildings on the map. Given this my first reaction was to set up the bulk of my forces in and around the buildings, with perhaps a third of them set up forward. As I looked at the terrain I started to get frustrated, I was having a hard time getting a good set up in the dense terrain on board 42.

Initial Set up
This is when having read the Historical summary clicked. In the summary it mentions the Germans attacking hurriedly without having done a good recon. Then I looked at board 19 and what YJ would face coming on the board. Board 19 is very open with a grain field and hedge covering half of it, an open field covers the other. So it dawned on me that there was a reason for the Foxholes and the concealment counters in my OB. I became convinced that if I set up a deep conservative defense I would be doomed. There were too many things in the scenarios design that cried out for an up front tree line defense. So I started over. Here is then what my final set up looked like.

Right before the WCDR on the initial Turn
As you can see from the set up I have all of my squads in the tree line except for the SSR dictated 2 MMCs and SMC set up in my HQ building on my side of 42. In hindsight I should have set up a little stronger on my right as had I again put myself in YJs shoes I would have discounted coming across the open field completely. I have a HIP squad in 19G2 as well. There is an interesting SSR which states that the first French MMC that passes a morale check without HOB will become fanatic and a Hero will arise. I knew that there was a good chance that I would have my HS on the far right get this result, but I didn't want to put a whole squad there because I knew that there was little chance of that unit getting out alive (which in turn proved correct), but I wanted to have something there to strip his concealment as he came on the board.
Start of German Turn 3

The first few turns went very well for me. At one point YJ had broken both of his 75s and had suffered several broken squads as well. Yet he was able to eventually break through and get into the tree line on my right. YJ elected to take his two half track mounted squads and send them around my right flank. This caught me a bit off guard, but he wasn't able to exploit this as I was able to counter this with my two squads that had to set up in the HQ as well as my turn three reinforcements.

Around turn 4 things turned in YJs favor. My 9-2 was killed in hex 19H1 by his repaired 75 via a critical hit no less. It started raining (+1LV > 6 hexes) and he was able to trap and eliminate my right hand MMG squad by getting around behind him and then refusing prisoners; evoking No Quarter in the process. Additionally he had some good shooting in his advance fire phase after I had some poor shooting during defensive fire. Several of my squads broke as a result of this and my personal morale plummeted. But I was able to get the squads out of harms way despite YJs attempts at surrounding them (and here the No Quarter helped).

Close up of the center of the map at the end of German Turn 3

Here are a couple of picture of the pivotal turn 5.

Start of German Turn 4
End of French Turn 5

At some point around this time it started raining heavily, thus we had a +1 LV at ranges up to 6, where most of the action was taking place. I had to rush my half tracks up to the line to help hold out as my squads were loosing heart and breaking with regularity.

YJ was running out of time though. The scenario is 7.5 turns long with the Germans getting the last half turn. I started to regain my ELR as his big gains of turn 3 and 4 started to run out of gas. Also as I mentioned I was able to get several of my broken squads out of harms way and eventually get them rallied and in buildings that YJ had to come out of the woods and take. I knew that the rain would turn in my favor as he couldn't use his superior fire power to blow me out of the buildings, I was shielded by all the hindrances that had helped him break my initial line.

End of German Turn 7
The German Attack is Broken
Turn seven and eight were close, YJ had to have 4-5 things happen in order to win. During his last movement phase it was clear that he was not going to be able to get enough VPs to get a win, so we called it.

What a great scenario. I am sure that had I gone with my misguided initial thoughts on set up I would have been overrun on board 42 on turn 4 or 5. He would have been able to mass his force against small parts of mine and taken the buildings. By setting up front I was able to take advantage of the scenario given OB, specifically the foxholes, MMGs and the MTR as well as the open ground he had to cross. The time I bought with this forward defense is what allowed me to survive the late game rush that YJ threw at me. Had he had another turn I am pretty sure he wouldn't have had any problem taking the 9VPs that he needed.

I thought YJ played a very good game. There were a couple of instances where he didn't go after my broken and vulnerable units like I thought he could have. But he certainly understood the objective and was able to take advantage of the terrain and weather to make this a much closer game that I guessed it would be around turn 3. I would highly recommend this scenario and happily play it again as either side. I think it is very balanced as well. Currently ROAR has it at 5/4 German (that is the old version of the scenario plus our playing).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Advanced Squad Leader (MMP) ~ "The Meat Grinder" [AP41]

Game: ASL
Scenario: The Meat Grinder [AP41]
Participants: Jim "HeavyD" D, Myself
Time: Saturday, Jan 22nd ~ 2.00PM - 5.00PM

Having orchestrated a complete disaster in my return to Fed Commander the previous night, I was at least allowed to play another game of ASL. The MMP map bundle arrived this week, so I was very eager to play something on the new maps, with my ASL set version 2.0. I quickly looked for something that could use my new, 2nd set of Counters (Ger, Rus, UK, Allied Minors) and the new maps. I settled on "The Meat Grinder" from AP5. I looked at my ROAR and saw that I hadn't played this one, but once I got the map and counters out I recalled at least one, but perhaps two playings. For some reason I recalled playing YJ...but when HeavyD got here he recalled having played me in it. That didn't deter us though as I had defended last time, so he took the Russians and I took the Germans. ROAR has this one at over 60% Russian so we gave the Germans the balance. The balance is inexperienced crews (like a 6+1 AL) in all of the Russian vehicles. This is a nice historical balance as the scenario takes place in June of '41, just days after the start of Barbarossa.

Initial Set Up
I like the victory conditions for this scenario. The side with the most VP at the end of the game wins. CVP are awarded normally and control of multihex building awards +2 VP for each one. There are something like 13 multihex buildings on the two maps. The Russians start out with 2 KV-2's, an GAZ AA truck (AAMG = 16!) and a 76LL AA gun, covering this impressive arsenal are 6 4-4-7s and 2 5-2-7s, an HMG, LMG, and an ATR. The Russians have a 9-1 and 8-0 to start with, which allows them to trade in for a commissar. When I played I believe I traded in my 8-0 for a commissar, but HeavyD elected to stick with the given OB. 

End of Turn 1
The Germans get 3 PZ-IVE's, 10 4-6-7s, three leaders (9-2, 8-1, 8-0), MMG, 2 LMGs and an ATR. This is a very tasty force were it not for the two KVs which are nearly impossible to handle with the three tanks. Both sides get reinforcements very early on. The Russians get three BT7 tanks (two of which are radioless) on turn 1, while the Germans get three Pz-IIIHs and a 9-1AL. The interesting part here is that the German tanks enter on either side, thus if the Russian player is not paying attention he can really get in trouble with this as he'll have three good tanks in his rear on turn two.

HeavyD set up, then I did. I noticed that HeavyD set up pretty far forward, which I elected against when I played as the defender. I felt that while the KVs and other tanks were nice, the real heart of my defense was my 8 MMCs as this scenario is about controlling buildings. My first movement phase went well, I moved my entire force into the town, placing my three tanks very close in with my Infantry. In a small scenario like this I wanted to have these two forces working together closely to quickly knock out his opposing infantry. Additionally, I don't want to go gallivanting about with my three initial tanks as there is one hidden gun as well as his concealed KVs. 
End of German MPh Turn 2, in the center

On his first turn, HeavyD moved several squads up, towards me, while skulking with the four that were in the town initially. Thus I knew I had nearly all of his infantry very close to me, which was good as I knew that my 2nd turn tanks were going to be behind him, causing him some problems when routing.

My second turn went very well in the center. I was able to advance right up next to him at almost no cost. Again I kept my IVE's very close to my infantry and out of the LOS of the two (at this point suspected KVs). On my left I had a couple of squads caught in the open where if they broke they would be in trouble. In the center I was able to break two squads and get very close to him, not leaving him much room to escape on his next turn. Also, the HIP AA gun made an appearance taking a low odds shots at one of my IVEs as it crossed the street. He missed and the crew of that IVE breathed a sigh of releif, although then did have to drive up next to the ATR to escape the AA gun. I brought my IIIH's on the map and I could tell that HeavyD's personal morale took quite a blow when he saw this happen, I believe he assumed that my reinforcements would arrive on my side of the map. Another excellent example of why you HAVE TO READ THE SCENARIO CARD as to not have any nasty surprises like this.
End of German turn 2

HeavyD looses his armor during his movement phase, turn 2
His second turn was our last. His infantry in the middle was getting overrun and lacked a rout path out, he lost the three BTs and was down a only a few good order squads at the end of the turn. With the VPs that I had taken from killing his three BTs at no cost plus the 1.5 squads of his that I had eliminated, he threw in the towel. To be fair to HeavyD I have been playing ASL fairly regulerly the past few months while he has not played much at all this past year. I know that once he gets his head back into the game he'll stop making some of these errors. This was almost the opposite of the night before where I felt VERY rusty while playing FC, I am pretty sure he was pretty flustered and felt a bit rusty at ASL.

PS...this is the first time I used my new HTC EVO 4G phone to take pictures of the game and I couldn't be happier. The 8Meg camera on the phone blows my old 4Med Canon G2 out of the water, allowing me to take pictures that are much closer to the map and in better clarity.

So all in all a good time, for me at least. I know both HeavyD and I are excited to get some more ASL on the table now with the flood of new stuff coming out as well as having all the maps redone.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Federation Commander (ADB) - FCOL Tournament Scenario

Game: Federation Commander (ADB)
Scenario: FCOL Online Tournament Scenario
Participants: Jim "HeavyD" D and Myself
Time: Friday, Jan 21st ~ 5.45PM - 10.00PM

HeavyD is hosting the 2nd FCOL tournament, so I offered to play him a game of the tournament scenario. Each player has 450 points to buy ships with. He let me know that he'd be trying the Gorns, with one DN and two HDD's. I decided to try Tholian as I've not played them much at all. Also I thought that the combination of Web Casters and Web boxes used defensively would help deal with the Plasma that his ships were going to be dishing out. I selected an NDN, CC and a DD. Only the NDN had web casters while the other two had normal side mounted web boxes.

Turn one found us each in one corner of the map. I selected speed 8 while he went 16. Near the end of the first turn he shot a type R at my NDN. HeavyD had spread his ships out with about 4-5 hexes between them and the DN in the middle. At the end of Impulse 8 we exchanged alpha strikes. These were at around 25 hexes, and one of his HDD was not in range. I put all my fire into the near HDD nearly dropping the shield and doing a little Internal. His shots didn't do anything to me, as he shot at the NDN and I used batteries to deal with the damage.

Turn 2 had us closing again, I was going 16 and he was going 8, already being near the middle of the fixed map. Near the top of the turn I had the NDN shoot off one of its WC and lay a three hex 16 strength web in front of his R plasma, The plasma hit it the next impulse and I turned right. This effectively dealt with the plasma. I turned in on him and near the end of the turn we exchanged alpha's again. My three ships were equidistant from his DN and his undamaged HDD. I came out much better in the 2-hex range exchange as I was able to out maneuver him and two of his DN's plasma's were out of arc. Most of my fire went into the HDD, split over two shield as we were down a hex spine. I also had a good shot go into his #6 shield on his DN. He shot the HDD at my CC, carronading one of the plasma's and bolting the other, both hitting. He did about the same with the DN, opting to direct fire the two facing plasma's, these were targeted at my DN, my shield held but was greatly depleted. I got around 50-60 total internals on the HDD, aiming at power.

Turn 3 started with me making my first mistake in electing to go 16 again. He had one HDD with all three torps loaded, one torp on the damaged HDD and two yet unfired on the DN. I foolhardily turned into him wanting to take out the heavily damaged HDD and go for the slightly damaged one. He went 24 with the far HDD and this proved decisive. At the end of the first impulse when we fired I took out the remaining damaged HDD, but he was able to get off all of his weapons at my NDN, taking out most of the rear shield. The problem that I flew myself into was that I was facing his HDD which was two hexes away and during the launch phase he fired two of his torps (G & F) as did the DN which he HET'd towards me.

Turn 2 Alpha Position

My turn 2 Alpha results (note how close they are to predicted)

End of Turn 3, Impulse 1, when I resigned
I threw in the towel at this point. I could have HET'd away from the HDD's plasma's but they would still impact on the next impulse. I was also being chased by the two torps from the DN. I could have kept playing, taking the two torps from the DD on a fresh shield on my DN and that would have been ok, but his DN was in my six and my NDN now would have been nearly out of shields in the rear as well as two of the three front shields. So I opted to resign as I didn't want the spend the next three turns being mad at myself for playing so poorly. Also, HeavyD had one of his beat games against me to date. Lastly, if I threw in the towel tonight, we could play ASL the next day! ;)

A note about plasma ships and Gorns...I feel like this game really validated our current state of the art on plasma tactics. We used the soon to be released new rules allowing heavy plasma tubes to start with two turns of arming at the expense of available turn 1 batteries. This played a role in the outcome, as had I kept playing, I would have been facing a recharged type R tube on the Gorn DN. But my point was that HeavyD played his Gorns very well, to their strengths and I played very poorly, allowing myself to get hit by seeking plasma, a big no-no. These is a lot of rust one has to deal with when you don't play FC for an extended period.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ardennes ’44 (GMT) – 8 Turn Scenario, Part 4 Conclusion

Game: Ardennes ‘44
Scenario: 8 – Turn Scenario
Participants: Bob H and Myself
Time: Sunday, Jan 16th ~ 2.00PM - 4.30PM

On Sunday afternoon, amidst some exciting NFL playoffs, Bob and I met and wrapped up our excellent game of A44. At the start of the sitting I knew that I needed to get 3 VP's in order to win. In our previous game, a 6 turn scenario warm up I made a early penetration of his line in the 6PA sector and really never looked back after that. Near the end of the game we called it as it was looking hopeless for Bob. This time around I had no such big break out and thus we were both unsure of where we stood in relation to the victory conditions. 

18PM Turn

19PM German Combat Phase
The first picture is one taken prior to the German Combat phase. The yellow dice are the pre-artillery odds, the gray are the artillery units are reloaded. I had 3-1 attacks on both Malmedy and the 2nd hex of Bastogne, in both cases Bob was able to stage a determined defense and keep me out. Not shown was a 2-1 attack on Junglinster, later 3-1 w/ artillery in the South were I did push him out, making the magic VP number now two. Also of note was that I had an attach go well near Elsenborn (look for the 5 Yellow dice in the lower right hand side of the picture). I was able to cross the Warche river here and suddenly put pressure on Elsenborn.

19AM Turn

19AM German Attacks
The first thing that caught my eye as I sat down to do my 19AM turn was that I got the 3PG division in the North as reinforcements. I had not really looked at this closely as I guessed that reinforcements this late in the game were not going to have much of an impact at the front. This proved to be the case with the two SS Panzer Divisions (2nd and 9th) that arrive on the last turn (also aided by an incredibly well placed US traffic marker). I don't think Bob was looking at this either as I saw some room to make an attack on Monschau due to him adjusting his line to strengthen now threatened Elsenborn. 

I was able to get two units from the 3PG as well as two others from the 326VG to make an attack near Monschau at 5-1. This lead to a breakthrough combat attack on Monschau itself at something like 3-1; I think as I saved my artillery in anticipation of this. This attack failed but it did allow me to get enough units there for another attack a turn later that was successful. Additionally I was able to get a couple of units between Stavelot and Vielsalm that would prove useful the next turn. Lastly I'll mention that Malmedy finally feel on this turn after each of us had paid 4-5 steps in fighting over it. Given that we were near the end of the scenario, I was not going to make use of this in further penetrations, but it did get me one more VP hex.

19PM Turn

As the last turn started I had 13 of the needed 14 VP hexes. I was set up with a 3-1 attack (my third) on Bastogne, but this time I had a couple of artillery units in the area and supplied that would assist, Bob had one artillery units in range to support. Elsewhere he was starting to make some attacks but none of them were threatening VP locations except down South at Mersch. Here are several picture taken prior to the 19PM German combat phase.

116PD attacks Vielsalm

Lehr makes its attack on Bastogne

326VG and 3PG attack Monschau
Both Monschau and Bastogne fell with Vielsalm holding out, despite 12SS attacking the covering artillery unit and engaging it. So I was at 15VP as the German turn came to an end. 

Final US attacks

Bob was forced to make a couple of low odds (1-1 and 2-1 I think) attacks at Mersch and Monschau, neither one succeeding. Here is what the map looked like at the end of the US 19PM turn. 


Well I had a great time. I think Bob did too despite being on the defensive. It was close down to the end and there were some late turn surprises that neither one of us had anticipated (3PG arrival in the North). As I mentioned above neither one of us felt like one side was blowing the other out as had happened in our last game. I know that if we turned around and restarted this one I am gonna have a much harder time in the 7A area as I think Bob would do much better there the 2nd time around. He committed a couple of units from the 10th US Armored Division to retaking Mersch that were largely wasted being forced to attack out of poor terrain. These units could have played a bigger role up near Bastogne, which as I recall happened Historically. Also he got one Vehicle unit trapped on the seem of 7A and 5PA that could have helped out elsewhere. 

I thought we both played a good game. I know we did a good job of using the rules and not missing any big ones. Near the end Bob tried to make a couple attacks with more that two Divisions, something that I had been long accustom too obviously early on. I loved the traffic markers. The mechanic where you role to see which ones are removed and the others stay where you left them is a brilliant one. I had one Grief marker play a huge role near Monschau late in the game that I had placed there perhaps 5 turns earlier and had forgotten about. On the turn that he needed to get reinforcements in the there he couldn't make it because of that marker! He had a long forgotten one slow down the 2SS from making an attack on Elsenborn on the last turn as well. Great stuff. 

Ardennes '44 is now easily my favorite Bulge game, displacing DBW. The combination of innovative new mechanics (ZOC-Bonds, traffic markers, determined defense...) and top notch graphics coupled with peerless historical OBs are but a few of the reasons. Also its important to note that this subject is easily more engaging for both players then the two Normandy games we've recently played (BFN & N44), in both of those games the defender is really struggling for SOMETHING interesting to do, other then getting pounded on turn after turn. In A44 the defending Allied player has his hands full making critical decisions on nearly every turn. My hat is off to Mark Simonitch for designing such an elegant title on a subject that has seem a lot of coverage.

Also, this title is up for reprint at GMT, if you don't have a copy, now is your chance.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Steam (Mayfair Games)

Game: Steam
Scenario: Northwestern Europe Map, 4 Players
Participants: Rick C, Joe 'YJ' C, Jim 'HeavyD' D and myself
Time: Friday, Jan 14th ~ 6.00PM - 9.00PM

Friday night game night brought out Steam as we had a visit from our friend Rick. Rick had never played Steam before, much less any other train game, but he was game. I walked Rick through the mechanics of the game while we were awaiting the arrival of YJ. I was only mildly excited at the thought of the game as I was expecting another blow out by YJ. But as I got the game out and started to teach it to Rick (PS, you can easily play fairly competitively within the first couple of turns of playing this for the first time) I started to get a bit more excited. I mentioned in my last blog about this game that I liked it, but was still a bit fuzzy when it came to knowing what things to focus on and when to play it competitively.

So, I started off chew-chew-choosing +1 Engine for the first two turns. I also made sure that my initial build made two connections. I believe I moved one cargo 2 on the first turn and upgraded my engine. Then on the 2nd turn I made another two link connection and was able to move a cargo 4 spaces. I had to spend a lot of money on the early engine upgrades as well as building across a couple rivers and into towns but I had seen this method work before so I thought I was doing fairly well.

On turns 3-5 I took the restock city action, and the create a city action a couple times. I had a nice line with 6-7 links and a lot of goods at either end of the line. I was usually going last in the turn but that wasn't too bad as there wasn't yet much competition around moving each others goods. The action that seemed to always go first in the first 3-4 turns was the lay an extra track line. YJ was doing this mostly.

I was out ahead in VP's starting on the third or fourth turn and no one ever got close after that. They were all fairly tight in the race for 2nd place. At the end of the game I was about 10-13VPs in front with HeavyD in 2nd with YJ a close third (2VPs behind) and Rick a distant 4th. It seemed to me that in the late game we started wasting a lot of time looking for ways to create more links as each link is worth +1 VP at the end of the game. Getting the 4-link line set up early and having a 1-2 space lead on my engine early in the game was decisive here I think.

All in all I think everyone had a good time. I will look around to pick up the expansion here soon as I am eager to see what that adds to the game as well as the new maps.

Ardennes ’44 (GMT) – 8 Turn Scenario, Part 3

Game: Ardennes ‘44
Scenario: 8 – Turn Scenario
Participants: Bob H and Myself
Time: Thursday, Jan 13th ~ 7.15 – 9.30

Northern Shoulder
Tonight we got together to bang out two more turns of our 8-turn scenario game. Bob sat down to do his 17PM turn, then we did night and I made my 18AM turn. This first picture is what the Northern Shoulder looks like. I cleared St. Vith and took a shot at Malmedy, loosing two irreplaceable steps of the 1SS. Bob did a DD and held me out. He is was down to a remnant unit there. However he was able to get more guys in there in his next movement phase.

Bastogne to Vielsalm
Things continued to go well in the center with Lehr getting into Bastogne despite Bob having artillery support. I routed the unit there. Bob was able to get a line up starting near Vielsalm. Here I have the battered 116PD catching up after assisting with clearing St Vith. This will be a hard line to break in the remaining turns given the terrain and the strength that Bob has there. 

The 7A continues to make good progress. 5FJ was able to clear out Mersch with little cost. He is running out units and frontage further South. 
The fighting around Mersch
These last three pictures bring us the the end of the US movement phase in 18AM. As you can see the two airborne divisions are near Bastogne (in trucks). 

Finally here is an overview of the whole map. Current VP counts are:

6PA - 1
5PA - 6
7A - 4

Thus 11 VP's of the needed 14 to date with 3 complete turns remaining (18PM, 19AM & 19PM).

Playing time is at 8.5 hours for five turns. Not bad.

Start of German turn 18PM

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (GMT) ~ Rolica (French First Position), 17 Aug 1808

Game: Commands & Colors Napoleonics (GMT)
Scenario: Rolica (French First Position), 17 Aug 1808 (Scenario #1)
Participants: Jim "HeavyD" D and Myself
Spectator/Official Blog Photographer: Joe "YJ" C
Time: Wednesday, Jan 12th ~ 7.15PM 9.30PM

Even though this game was released prior to the Holidays, I had to wait until HeavyD's self imposed "this is my Xmas gift" time limit was up. Thus I had sticker'd my blocks, protected my cards and browsed the rules but had to put this one on the shelf to await the post-Christmas phase when HeavyD would have it. A busy week at work prevented me from re-reading the rules, but HeavyD came prepared and we spent the first half an hour talking about how this one differs from CCA (Ancients).

Initial Set Up
First a word about CCA. CCA (Commands and Colors: Ancients) is one of my favorite games, it is by the same designer (Richard Borg) and published by GMT. CCA was (and is) an amazing success for GMT. The marriage of blocks and GMT artwork coupled with Borg's inspired design took the gaming world by storm. GMT has reprinted many, many copies of CCA (I own three), plus several expansions. I have played all of the scenario's in CCA twice at least and have worked through most of the 1st and 2nd expansions scenarios as well. It is a favorite among all of my gaming friends as well. We'll play it in between other longer, more involved titles.

As this is our first outing with this series, we started with the first scenario and as mentioned spent some time walking through the rules, focusing on the differences between CCA and this title. As we were reviewing the rules I knew we were in for something new as the basis for the game is still there i.e. cards driving your game, however I was quite pleasantly surprised when we actually started to play. The feeling of the game is new and befitting the subject...the first time I had a unit mowed down by ranged fire without the option to "battle back" I knew we were in a new era for Big-Boy-Blocks.
Close up of the British Line

We really liked the Form Square interaction, how it changes the Cavalry dynamic adding another layer of depth to the game. Terrain is now much more important in this game, giving some important advantages and disadvantages. But most importantly is the Ranged fire aspect. Ranged fire was always an afterthought in CCA, now in CCN it is front and center the most important part of the game. In all the game 'feels' deeper yet not more complex. What is deeper or more engaging about it is how the player needs to be more careful in how he plays out his hand. An example of this is not moving your line into musket range when you don't have a card that will carry them into the enemy's line on the next turn. If you get stuck in Range of the other guys line he can decimate your troops while you are waiting for the card you need to cycle into your hand. The game is akin to Combat Commander in this regard.

Oh, the drama!

The dice I do not like. I have the wooden third party dice for CCA and we learned this week that that company is again going to make wooden dice for CCN, I will get them as soon as they are available. Also while the color of the mounted map is fantastic, the seems are a bit thin, I ripped one of my panels while bending it in the opposite direction so that the map would lay flat on the table. Both of these are small concerns however in the big picture.

The scenario looks interesting. I'm sure we'll play it again the next time we play. In tonight's game we were really more interested in learning the mechanics of the system and both of us were doing some stuff I think we wouldn't try again now that we have played the game. I can't wait to play this one again, and I can't wait for the new wooden dice to be made!

One Satisfied Gamer (HeavyD)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Advanced Squad Leader (MMP) ~ “Silesian Interlude” [J63]

Game: Advanced Squad Leader
Scenario: Silesian Interlude (J63)
Participants: Joe C and Myself
Time: Friday, Jan 7th  ~  6.00PM – 10.30PM

Joe’s Birthday was today, so I asked him what he’d like to play and his answer was ASL. One of the many things about ASL that I like is the ROAR website. I use this site to track all of my games as well as screen what scenarios I end up playing. I wanted to go back to Journal 3 as it had a lot of good scenarios that I have not played. Additionally, most of the scenario’s allow me to use my ASL set Version 2.0, that is my new edition counters that I have clipped. You can see the difference in the ratty 25+ year old counters from my last ASL blog compared to these. Also we are using two maps that are enlarged and laminated. 

My prized Dice Tower
I’m surprised that I had not played this one before. According to ROAR it’s got nearly 200 recorded playings and is very balanced (Rus 106/ Ger 82). I can see why this is an easy choice for a tournament scenario. The scenario has the Germans attacking a smaller group of Russians needing to take 4 building and hold them while exiting 11CVP off the Russian side of the map. The Russians start with 8 squads, 6 4-5-8’s and 2 5-2-7s as well as two leaders and a few machine guns as well as an ATR. The Russians also start with an IS-2, T-34/85 and a 45LL ATG. The Russians also have six concealment counters. On turn 4 the Russians get two more 5-2-7s and two SU-100s.

It was when I was writing about the German OB that I noticed that we had taken 4-6-8s instead of 4-6-7s called for on the scenario card. What a hoot. So, while providing an evenings worth of entertainment for the both of us we had broken it from the start…YJ had pulled out the wrong squads for the Germans. After we rolled for sides, I didn’t catch the error. So I will hang some pictures to remind myself that one of the first and most important rules in ASL is READ THAT WORDS ON THE SCENARIO CARD! ;)

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