Saturday, February 14, 2009

VASLeague - S4 game in progress...

Happy Valentine's Day all!

In the spirit of the day I will play wargames and kill kill kill. I just wanted to post up the first few turns of my VASLeague game in progress before my opponent and I start turn 3 tomorrow afternoon (or 9pm in Italy!).

In case you missed it earlier, I'm playing in the Starter Kit level ASL VASLeague. The opponents are from all over the world and our common touchpoint is the game of ASL, over the VASL interface. Games in the league last two months -- a seemingly long time but not when the Hammer of Real Life(tm) intrudes and your opponent is six hours ahead of you. Synchronizing your life to play ASL is more than trivial.

My opponent is gwaedin. Some of you who play VASL may know him. He's a pretty good opponent and probably due in part to his more extensive experience in VASL, a much tighter player. [Aside: those of you who have played Magic: The Gathering, a CCG, may also have dabbled in the online version which enforces the rules -- my point being that playing the virtual version really helped me tighten my play of that game. So too in VASL; I find that leaving the heaving about of counters to the computer and thinking really focuses you.]

Anyways, we decided to play an SK1 game as gwaedin was reluctant to include AFVs and I wasn't going to push considering my experience in them was limited. Our choice of scenario was narrowed by gwaedin's request that the ROAR standings be relatively even. In the end we settled on S4 - Welcome Back.

Above is the set-up of my American troops in Welcome Back (North is right). The scenario has the Germans who arrive onboard (from the bottom of the map) in turn one try to exit 10VPs off the top middle of the map (essentially between the two roads on the west side). The have just 5.5 turns, going first, and I have to stop them. Exit VPs are basically 2 per squad, 1 per half-squad and 1 per SMC (+1 per neg rating).

The problem of course, other than my inexperience, is that I have only 8 squads with some SWs and three above average leaders who have to prevent 15 and a half German squads with 5 leaders and 5 support weapons from rampaging past me. Set-up is pretty critical here. I basically thought about the most annoying area to transit through (I think it's the southern woods mass) and set-up trying to encourage that path. [Another aside: if you use the default publically available VASL set-up file be aware that it has an error in it -- moral of the story? Always double-check your set-ups with the scenario card.]

Now, as I said, I'm not super experienced in this scenario -- it's my first play -- so I was a bit overwhelmed when gwaedin took the hint and went WAAAAAY left. Notice in the screenshot above that I'm CX-ing my squads on the right big time to plug the exits up. I think I also should have given more thought to who held the FTs. Regardless, I made another error in this first turn by forgetting that CXing a squad with a CXing leader adds even more MFs. I could have squeezed out a few more hexes. Next time, I should think about this and deliberately put my squads in hexes they can CX to defend from their initial hexes.

Here's the situation after turn 1 I think. Notice the MG squad and leader I put in front of the woods is enveloped in a nasty CC already (they wouldn't make it - they took one for the team so we could all get into position, haha!). German stacks are already penetrating the woods but have to be very very wary of the FT-toting squad I have lurking in the forest.

Again, here's the situation late in the second turn. The Germans are slowed by the CC and one diversionary squad in the middle (DMed here), but mostly they have a very healthy respect for the FT squad. The movement phase and sequence of play order here is super crucial. We are both dancing around each other trying to get free, and/or full FP shots so moving, whether it be assault movement, and which hex, during what phase is very considered. I only have to kill a handful of squads to win really so the scenario is actually well balanced.

This last shot is the mapboard at the start of turn 3 where we'll pick up the play tomorrow hopefully. The door is seemingly slammed shut with two leader-led squads with MGs and a FT squad. The far right side has a few Americans DMed and hiding in buildings -- but the mass of the Germans are in the woods and getting to the north exit hexes under the overwatch of the MGs will take some doing. It's a very interesting tactical situation. Should be fun -- I have NO IDEA who's going to win but damn it I'm having fun.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: ASL is INTENSE. The game session lasted about 3+ hours and we only played TWO turns; I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I rarely think that hard in anything. And it was enjoyable thinking, not stressful in any negative way. I think that's why I love ASL so much; the mental gymnastics of playing and concentrating and trying to win (chalk that up to the VASLeague -- I don't think I go this crazy in f2f with the Prawn) is incredible.


dude163 said...

Great AAR

Amazing how the time flies when you are playing eh?

scrub said...

Totally dude, just finished the VASL game with gwaedin and 4 hours went in a flash. AAR soon.