Wednesday, July 1, 2009

D1 AAR Part One - Things always start rosy in Stalingrad...

MY WHAT A LONG BARREL YOU HAVE... Well, I finally took the plunge into full ASL this past weekend at TABSCon since I had access to Andy B, an ASLer in the Toronto area who has been dying to kill me.

And he has.

We played on some super juicy Deluxe ASL boards and D1 - Guryev's Headquarters from Streets of Fire. (Click here to get it!) I've heard rumours that MMP wants to reprint these puppies on SK-style cardboard and the only thing I can say is DO IT!!!!!! The luxury of the double (triple?)-sized hexes is ridiculous. Given that you have less geographic area to work with on the maps themselves, the scenarios are shorter, tenser affairs with little manoeuvre and mucho blood. Blood everywhere. Awesome.

Here's a look at the two boards on which D1 takes place...

The boards are DASL boards b and d. The left edge in the picture is North and the building by the roundabout in the upper left is Guryev's Headquarters itself. The goal of the scenario is for my Germans (we determined this by random die roll) to have more full squad equivalents in the building than the Russians by the end of game (turn 7).

Above is our set-up. Those neat little piles of counters are so small and well organized... that would soon change as all hell would break loose on the opening turn.

Seeing as it was my first game ever I'm going to note certain rules and such that are different from the SK-level -- I should say in addition to actually, there aren't many different rules at all. Andy was ever the gentlemen in explaining new things but to be perfectly honest, an experienced ASLSK player shouldn't have much new stuff to learn. The scenario choice was also very appropriate given that there were no AFVs or Guns.

The first rule we encountered was Environment Conditions. We just chucked it. Andy felt that neither of us were going to be setting fire to things so it wasn't likely wind direction was going to be a factor. One rule down!

The second immediate new rule was basically the ? question mark counters on the Russian defenders. I had no easy way to figure out who was what and more importantly, where the hell the MGs were (more on that later). Also confounding things were two squads which were HIP -- something I think isn't in SK-level (just HIP Guns).

My initial plan was to press up against the Russian defense and probe for weakness while trying to slide 5-6 squads down the right flank and dash, hopefully, towards the Headquarters while the others were engaged. It wasn't really a bad plan but it just lacked aggression. Seven turns is NOT a long time.

Here's what the first movement phase looked like. Seems pretty good right?

Other than a half-squad (very very useful that deployment rule -- you can start the game with full MMCs deployed to half-squads) scouting the left that was HIPPed and the right flank running into a bit of delay, the advance seemed good.

I've become a lot more use to doing CXing and things of that nature to really plan out my moves optimally. I think this comes with more experience in the game. At first you're just happy to figure out that MMCs move 4 MPs worth... later you're squeezing them with leaders (with no neg bonus) and CXing for double that.

I must also say that I had the hot hand in the first couple of turns. The dice were rolling pretty much in my favour no matter who rolled them:


Subsequent Defensive Fire at point blank range... whatever! The prawn and I have chatted about this recently too. We almost HATE hot dice in the beginning of a contest or game... the law of averages means some tough slogging later in the game... this holy truth was evident in Stalingrad this day.....

So at the close of the first half turn I felt that I had made excellent progress. Most of my squads were across after advancing and though both Close Combats were inconclusive, the sheer weight of seventeen full elite German squads seemed likely to push forward next turn...

New rules so far? Ambushing in CC is already in SK but not the special edge cases like boxcars and snakes on the CC roll -- these allow the affected units to slink away or invoke the chromey "Heat of Battle" rules. This turn I had a half-squad go BERSERK! What does that mean? I asked Andy. His answer was that that squad was going to charge the closest KEU...


Essentially, my little berserk half-squad spent the next movement phase charging forward through the wide-open streets towards an SMG-toting Russian full squad. Thanks to a ridiculous morale of 10, the little dudes actually charged into the enemy hex and had it out in CC. I think you know where this is going...

[See teaser photo in last post.] The neatest part of tearing the Russians a new one was the triple-point-blank-fire that occurred. The namesake of this blog is that special case when units are in the same hex and firing on each other (in SK-level this is basically only when an AFV drives into a hex with enemy units in it since there is no berserk/HOB in SK). Needless to say, the little fellas went bonkers on the Russians in AMBUSH no less...


Ouch!

If there's one hallmark that makes a good wargame it's the narrative generated from the game. This is something you're just not going to get out of a Euro like Agricola or Puerto Rico or whatever. For example, take the case of the Cursed MMG.

Early in the game, around turn 2, the Russians who would have been manning a MMG in hex bD2 ran off after taking fire. They left a perfectly good support weapon lying around and in the next rally phase I rolled a SIX -- what the HELL?! Pick the damn thing up you scrubs!

I should have known then that the MMG was cursed. Slick with the blood of the Russian who last held it, the MMG was to be an albatross on the neck of every German squad who managed to pick it up... By game's end, its bad mojo extended into the full hex and even squads who didn't pick it up were gunned down...

It was a pretty eventful first couple of turns. Above is the board disposition after two complete. I don't know, it looks pretty good from here...

The only hiccup was a squad of Germans who were taken prisoner in a CC in the outlying building on the right. They had their own adventures in this scenario... but more on that later.

Now, a chat about snipers. So far in the early two turns I hadn't been rolling a lot of Sniper Activation Numbers -- mostly 2's hahahahaha.... For the SK-newbs, the "SAN" is the number that your opponent rolls that triggers YOUR sniper. The sniper counter is that one you see on the left edge of the above photo. When your SAN gets rolled you have a possibility of activating the sniper on a dr and then the sniper moves about the board (after making a direction and distance dr). The closest eligible target is either wounded, pinned, broken or outright killed depending on whether it's an MMC or SMC.

It's a rule that a lot of ASLers wondered why it wasn't included in SK. Granted it's a bit chromey and leads, occasionally to some break in the action (as you scream SAN!!!! at your opponent), but man does it level the playing field at times. If you look at the SAN numbers on the scenario sheet you'll notice that the German SAN is 3 and the Russian SAN is 6. That means, if you check the handy probability chart I made up here in this post, that about 13% of the time I shoot my squads, the Russian sniper will activate. On the flipside, I guess because it's Stalingrad, the German sniper only activates 5% of the time. (Without going in depth into it, it's a little more complicated than that too...)

Why is this important for an SKer moving up to full ASL?

Remember all those times you took silly 2fp +3 shots just for shits and giggles hoping for a snake eyes? With SANs you are now more likely to trigger a sniper who will take heads off. Your heads. So, snipers are cool and all but now, popping your squad up to take low percentage shots is now not a great idea -- there are consequences to blasting away with no thought!

The sniper activations I was triggering in the early part of the game were generally harmless. Andy would roll too high on the check and nothing would happen, or a squad would pin only to get up again. So Vasily Zaitsev, as we joked, wasn't about in this part of Stalingrad this day... alas, he was coming though...

I'll leave the first part of this AAR with these shots:
The innocuous looking MMG has been recovered by this hapless half-squad (they weren't going to make it). Everything was coming up roses for the Germans (famous last words!). Stalingrad didn't seem so bad really (what the hell was I thinking?!). What was this grumbling from the veterans? So far, the vaunted Guardsmen were running away and being ambushed by screaming teenagers... Better yet, Andy was rolling crap, including on bringing in his reinforcements. Guryev was going to lose his headquarters...

The German high tide of Guryev's Headquarters. Things would not be this good again...






Howzzat for a one hundredth blog post?! Wakka wakka!

4 comments:

Luke Sineath said...

I haven't finished reading this, but...

an original 2DR in CC = Field Promotion, a.k.a. leader creation, just like in SK. but NOT heat of battle.

HOB is a 2 DR on any MC or Rally attempt. so you get great stuff like the time my opponent had CX'ed some guys so they could move up and interdict my guys. So I risk interdiction rather than low crawl. I roll a 2. Guys flip out and berzerk charge the CX enemy and kill them in CC.

YEAH!

Luke Sineath said...

Also, snipers are activated even on MC and any TC roll! So I shoot at you, you roll a 2 and are all excited about HOB, but 2 is my sniper # and my sniper comes over and breaks you anyway. Great stuff!

Your images in this post is fantastic! love the Berzerk charge.

scrub said...

You're probably right Luke, I didn't take notes because I was dumb.

Berserk is a fun chromey rule but just hilarious in execution. I guess, literal, execution!

Thanks for the comments on the pics. That berserk pic took half an hour to get right by itself being a mosaic -- and STUPID blogger doesn't link a bigger image... well it'll be in the BGG version.

Back to work on part 2!

Anonymous said...

Luke, CX units can't interdict :o