Friday, January 30, 2009

What's going on?!

I AM COOL!!!Jeez, you don't make a post in a week and even the Prawn jumps on you. Besides whipping him in Twilight Struggle (again) I've been dabbling in other wargames this past week.

There is some ASL news though.

First, View from the Trenches, the British ASL Journal has released their latest issue here.

Secondly, I've had the 2-Half-Squads link me and chat me up -- much to my wife's amusement. If anyone is brand new to ASL(SK) and wants to start at the beginning of my journey start here and just keep running forward in time 'til you get back to the present day. Like a time machine!

Thirdly, my VASLeague game with my fine Italian opponent has been stalled a bit on the start of turn 3 -- I think we've both been hit with the Real-Life Stick. It's an intense game and I'm learning a ton. I'll try to post a progress report soon.

Finally, I'm about 60% through my eASLSK3. I hit it when I have a few moments of time and feel like vegging out in front of a computer.

p.s. I love my dice tower. Even the Prawn can hit the target half the time!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dice Tower - Glamour Shots Edition

Ok, due to popular demand, here are some other shots of my handiwork.

This is the dice tray portion of the tower. I just put down felt because I thought it was cool. Nothing more special than measuring it out and using a thin layer of white glue.

Ya chuck the dice in from the top. I've taken to throwing the dice at the inch or so of back wall and gravity takes over from there. Note the uneveness of the ramps. I say it adds that nice random touch.

No front panel required so it became the bottom. Note the overlap of the front of the tower; this lets the tower perch on the tray felt.

This is a view from the bottom. For those of you who like those things...

This is the transformed version. Essentially the tower is two pieces for easy travel! I should have taken a pic with a ruler so you can see the size. The other pics with dice are good reference. The dice are the standard BIG ones that came with Axis and Allies, not the small ones from the SKs. Also, check out the keyboard in the background. It's not small, but it's not big.

Nothing says geek cred better than a self-made dice tower. Next? Pimpin' it out. (I'll take suggestions.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I AM COOL!!!I've been going on about a dice tower (dice cups - BOOOOORING!!!) and I've been sorely tempted by some of the stuff on eBay and VixenTor. Mrs. scrub even gave me the OK but I said, heck... $60 is a bit much.

I've been hacking up a DIY birdhouse of all things from the local hardware store since September. Last night, in a fit of creativity and craftiness, I put it all together to make my own.

Total cost? $12. (Felt donated from MIL.)

So, out with ye olde dice tray (ASLSK1 box cover):

And in with the new homemade dice tower:

I'd wax on eloquently about satisfaction with creating something with my own hands but really, I'm just cheap. Seriously though, it is fun to make this stuff and the sound of the dice off the wood is cool!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Doing my part...

I AM COOL!!!So I'm still doing my part to jumpstart the economy thanks to my ASL/wargame-habit. Went out and bought a 2x3' clear acrylic board for gaming with. It was only $24.

Who knew that wargaming would lead to me becoming a knowledgeable purveyor of plexiglass? Who knew that I would swoon at the very desirable 2x2.5' and 2x4' Lexan sheets also available at the local hardware store? ($25 and $70 respectively).

Next up? Making or acquiring a dice tower...

Monday, January 19, 2009

S21 Clash at Borisovka Redux - An AAR

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The treacherous Prawn/Megatron laid waste to the noble Optimus Prime in S21 Clash at Borisovka, the all AFV scenario from ASLSK3. The Prawn had been dying to learn the vehicle rules and now his appetite is whetted. I think we only screwed up a few rules that I'll explain in this mini-AAR.

The scenario, as mentioned is all tanks. (Here's a replay of Talloaf and my go at S21 last month.) Basically, on a two-map setup, the Germans have a couple of Tigers and four panzers trying to prevent my force of 10 Russian T-34s from exiting off the far side of the board.

I gave the Prawn a longish intro to vehicle counters with some photocopies of richfam's fifth ASLSK tutorial and we diced for sides. I won the Russians and showed the Prawn a quick run of moving tanks around in the first turn. The Prawn's a quick study and we were soon chucking chunks of steel around the map.

For at least a little while in the first couple of turns my T-34s were scattering about. One of my long range shots (just to demonstrate shooting) clanged off one of his turrets and Shocked the crew (alas they shrugged it off -- as did a Tiger later on). On the other hand, the Prawn's hot dice had a couple of my tanks flipping to wreck side. One notable shot required only that he not roll boxcars but he did (evidence above).

For some reason (and I'm not quite sure why yet) this game turned out a lot differently than the one I had with Talloaf. I think because I was more concerned with learning and teaching the vehicle rules than with just cheesing the victory conditions we had a lot more face-to-face tank battles. Now, I am NOT making light of the Prawn's first victory over me (what the hell, I am), he played very well and made some great tactical decisions. And the force field he projected over this particular Panzer in the above photo helped too. Note the combined acquisition counters from FIVE of my tanks (two of which were -2s). Bastard.

Here's a shot from the Prawn's perspective late in the game (probably turn 3). Note the two Tigers prowling in the foreground with their 88Ls. Nasty pieces of business there. Note the Panzer in the background that had climbed a small hill to get a dirty rear shot of my helpless Ukrainian farmhands. As turn 3 wound down I had two T-34s poised to exit, one which already had, and another that was recalled for a broken MA. Everything else was a flaming wreck (wait, ASLSK doesn't have flaming wrecks...) and so the Prawn celebrated his first ASL victory with a 6-4 score in the Clash at Borisovka!

What did we screw up?! & Miscellaneous Comments...

1. I'm pretty sure were messed up Intensive Fire. For some inexplicable reason I didn't look up the full rule on it in 3.2.4 and I'm sure we were IFing in the AFPh (logically they spent too much time moving to have time to line up a second shot) and definitely we were IFing at targets further than "adjacent" hexes (again, logically speaking the franticness of dealing with a very close threat would hurry the tank crew). So, next time, no more crazy IF in every conceivable phase. The rule is IF is only available to MAs that have lost ROF, during the same phase (not AFPh).

2. Acronyms abound in the vehicle rules. Whether or not there are more than just in infantry rules, it just feels like there's more. The chart look ups got a little bit tiresome -- though sometimes similar shots were quick to take in succession. On at least one occasion I just simply chose not to shoot because the look up on the TH DRM chart was just ridiculous. (Probably meant I would have missed anyways...)

3. Tigers are cool.

4. I pulled another Curt Schilling with Prawn after the game. In the debrief I told him to pull out some counters, I showed him the Chapter H notes from ASLSK3 and we just talked about the sheer multitude of STUFF crammed into the vehicle counters, ruleset and mechanics. It's both daunting and at the same time super impressive.

5. Things I will have to review for next time: vehicle movement on hills, motion status attempts, and 7.10 AFV Effects (I'm sure I missed some stuff about shocks, stuns and such).

6. I'm positive we got the acquisition stuff down. Now I know why I see them so prominently placed in people's Plano solutions for their ASL stuff.

... and lastly, I'm going to add another Learning Tip to the list. This one I kind of was inspired by my play of Combat Commander: Europe (and Pacific). In that game there can be multiple interruptions of the combat sequence after the Firepower attack totals are determined so the game gives you a Attack Total counter to help record-keeping. Relevance to ASL? Whereas keeping track of MF in infantry engagements during Defensive Fire is relatively easy, AFVs have Movement Points that run past a dozen in most cases and can be expended in increments of a half a point! You better have a notepad handy not only to keep track of these things but to write down questions to be researched and answered later.


Keep a notebook handy for record keeping and questions!

That's all for now people, get out there and roll low!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lotsa news...

What's up in the world of TPBF?

1. I decided that giving a 9 to ASLSK1 on BGG was kind of being picky. I look at things this way: if I will drop anything else to play your game then your game is a 10 out of 10. So I revised my ASLSK1 score from 9 up to a "perfect" 10. For that matter, I put another very fun game up to 10 too: GMT's Twilight Struggle. Some may argue about its wargame-ness but you can't argue that it's frickin' awesome... Unless you're the Prawn and still getting smoked by me.

2. I'm still plugging away on my eASLSK3. I'm actually learning a LOT this way. I find that just retyping the rules and revising and checking for typos that I am really getting to be proficient with this system. Just putting together the examples and diagrams with VASL screenshots has been very educational. I think I'm about 60% done the whole of the eASLSK3 -- that includes every single word and diagram in that total. When I'm done I'll post a few screenies and start incorporating the errata and possibly scanning and adding the player aids so I'll have a super portable e-version to cart around with the actual counters and maps.

3. I fixed the masthead of the blog. No more ugly orange on light green map. Should be a little more readable now. I'm going to fiddle with it some more later but for now at least the masthead isn't an abomination against man.

4. Going to probably get to my first turns in the VASLeague with my Italian opponent this weekend. We've been bandying about the scenario choice (it's S4 Welcome Back -- I've never played but looks fun -- I'm the Americans) and I've been feeling under the weather. The six hour time difference makes getting hooked up a little difficult but I think we'll get things going very soon. I've gone over my porous defensive set-up and will be sending it off tonight.

5. I'll be teaching the vehicle rules to the Prawn on Monday too. I'm bringing Optimus Prime. He's going to hurl some AFVs around.

6. Winter Offensive (MMP's annual con) is on. Man, I'd love to be there.

7. And the boys at 2 Half-Squads have posted a new podcast. GO GET IT!

Monday, January 12, 2009

C4 Unleashed!

This is a pretty empty Plano tackle box. In the past few days I've been putting the C4 Corner Cutter through its paces to fill up a Plano or two. Now I should have gone to my Beyond Valor's 14 counter sheets but I decided on the slighty easier to approach counters in The Devil's Cauldron (TDC being the first in the Grand Tactical Series from MMP -- it's a huge monster game with a bajillion counters but some very approachable rules). TDC has all 5/8" counters (or larger) and I felt a little more comfortable with this size just to start.

Here's a sample of a counter sheet to C4 to clipped counter stack. First start with a few rows of related counters like the EVENT ones from TDC.

Grab yer trusty Xacto hobby knife and separate your counters by rows. (You don't actually "punch" them out do you?!)

Here's a few rows getting stacked and prepped for their trip into the C4.

Note the switch from sharp pointy Xacto blade to flat, chisel-tip!

Above is a stack of counters in the C4 with the "snugger" on the opposite side of the cutting end. The snugger helps you keep the whole stack even when your blade zips through them.

Voila! The stack is transformed into a clipped stack of counters and a small pile of very neat triangular bits suitable for kindling!

Here's what the contraption with blade looks like in action. Thanks to wifey for taking the action pics. Note the awesome cutting skillz. That's right, skills with a Z. The blade makes a super cool and very very satisfying "zzzzzzzippppppp" sound as you chunk the counters.

Here's a side view of the action. Again, note the mad skillz. Mad, yo!

And here's a close-up of my cuticles and semi-awesome manicure. Wow! You thought the Prawn had nice hands...

Not content to just clip a couple of stacks, here's the 82nd Airborne lining up for a C4 crew cut. How long would this take a regular non-C4 clip? Probably longer than the actual Operation Market Garden. However, with the C4 I was done in about 15 minutes and I was pretty sure 95% of the clips were exactly the same and even.

Here's the 82nd Airborne hanging out with the 1st Airborne. Note the COOOL clippings.

Here's another Plano full of information marker counters (and the large activation chits this game is famous for).

All that's left is the clean up. I use a slighty tacky sticky paper thingy to quickly sweep up the bits and then chuck it into the trash.

Counter clipping, surely the hobby of the damned! Next up? Beyond Valor's 50 hojillion 1/2" counters!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Well, well, well, look at what appeared in the mail today... the vaunted C4 Counter Culture Corner Cutter. The Rolls-Royce of counter clipper paraphenalia... Let the clipping of Beyond Valor 3 begin in earnest!

I know that there's an interesting divide amongst wargamers of counter clippers and non-counter clippers. Well I fall squarely (pun intended) into the former camp -- I love me some neat trimmed corners as you can see from the AAR photos of my ASL components. However, the C4 makes it so every clipping of your stack of counters is exactly the same. Surely this is the epitome of anal retentiveness and obsessive-compulsiveness, but these are the mad mutterings of jealous individuals without the C4. I'm going to put the thing through its paces tonight and see if I can't race through all the counters in my wargame stash from Christmas.

Check out Dave King's C4 webpage here.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year? New Readings!

I'm constantly amazed at the quality of fan-made stuff that is out there. Anyone who has played PC games in the past few years has definitely been exposed to the "mod" scene out there. Mods are works by hobbyists that run from small tweaks to their favourite games to wholesale, from-the-ground-up revamps.

For ASL in particular I've mentioned richfam's contributions to helping people learn and enjoy the wargame. In the past couple of weeks I've not only found more stuff by richfam but others and I wanted to share them. Think of this as Web Resources post #3 (post #1 and post #2).

1. Well, let's start with a slightly different but altogether very familiar way to learn things. We've all taken courses of study in school and maybe even done some "distance" learning. Mr. Russ Gifford contacted me on the 'Geek about a month ago and offered to share his efforts at creating a Learning ASL course of study in multimedia format. Of course I said yes and he mailed me a slick little CD over the holidays that I only recently started to enjoy. Yes, I said enjoy! Mr. Gifford has a natural teacher's voice (he is a pro at this actually) and his initial lessons -- done in Powerpoint format -- take some of the esotericness out of the intimidating process of learning ASL. If you want to see what Mr. Gifford is up to check out this thread on the 'Geek or go straight to his personal site here.

2. You all should have read over richfam's 5th ASLSK Tutorial which was made available on the 'Geek recently. But have you checked out some of the other stuff on ASLSK that he's written about? Here's a discussion on when to close combat and when not to. Have you started reading all the View From the Trenches newsletters by the British ASLers out there? Well, here's richfam's neat index of useful articles from said newsletter. Here's his unofficial ASLSK3 errata list. Here's his take on the AFVs in ASLSK3. (And this would have been useful when I played Talloaf the other day...) Richfam's overview of S21 Clash at Boriskova. Ah hell, just go here! This man has been busy!

3. I've also mentioned and linked Daniel Savarese's ASLSK work. Apparently he also did a review of S2 War of the Rats -- perhaps the Prawn should take a read...

4. This is one I knew about before but some people still haven't seen. MMP hosts a small Flash demo of the Movement Phase and Defensive First Fire here.

5. And finally I'll pimp out the 'Geek again. Always check the ASLSK1-3 boards and read over session reports and rules questions. Nothing helps learning more than making it a collaborative effort -- something the Internet makes easy. You never know where it might take you. For example, I decided that I'd post a session report and noticed that Talloaf was posting similar ones. He and I hooked up over email and then subsequently to VASL where we now know a lot more about AFVs than if we had just lurked and done nothing.

Last thing, I know from just running this silly little blog that it takes more than a trivial amount of effort to "give back" to the hobby and I want to commend everyone who I listed above and anyone else who has posted a session report or AAR, or put together a learning package or playaid for their gaming buddies, or somehow took the plunge and did something to expand ASL outside their immediate comfort zone. Kudos to you people; your work is much appreciated!!!

p.s. And just as I wrapped up this post I found a new resource (from Count Zero's Blog!): Alain Borel, a French ASLer, has posted small scenarios that were used in Vae Victis magazine to teach specific ASL rules. Check it out here. Anything else I missed this time through? Let me know in the comments or via email.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

OPTIMUS LIVES!!! Nothing like ringing in the New Year gripping your pillow as the stomach flu ravages your insides. But enough about me. Talloaf and I concluded our S21 scenario and after a brutal half turn where tanks were blasted apart all over and one of his two Tigers was immobilized, it was pretty well over.

Talloaf graciously conceded in face of Optimus Prime's appearance and we pulled a "Curt Schilling" -- that is, we spent the next bit just pulling out VASL vehicle counters and playing our "what-if" scenarios like what happens when Tiger and T-34 face each other at range 18? What happens if one is firing in motion? What effect does it have on TH and TK numbers? You know, all those fun and scary vehicle acronyms. Reputedly, this is how Curt Schilling learned how to play the Vehicle rules in ASL. It was quite educational and I think we're both going to be a LOT better prepared for the VASLeague.

Speaking of the VASLeague, the first round pairings are in and I have drawn a Mr. Andena from Italy. I'll get to contacting him soon about what scenario to play. Should be a blast.

Anyways, what's a New Year without resolutions? OK, let's see...

(1) I resolve to finish this eASLSK3 rulebook. I've actually done ALL the diagrams and illustrations in the entire book including the Nationality Chart and typed up about half the rules. I saved the Vehicle and Gun stuff for a review as I enter the VASLeague.

(2) I resolve to be a little more timely with AARs and debriefings... To be honest, I don't think I was that bad, it's just been a little hectic over the holidays. It's a lot more useful to go over the rules mistakes in the immediate wake of the scenario -- my memory is not what it use to be...

(3) I resolve to let Prawn win a game... NOT!

(4) I resolve to get to a full ASL game by year's end!

That's all, I'm crawling back to bed... or maybe just another quick round of Left4Dead...