Dip in the Suicide Creek

There was an local ASL event which allowed to get to know some new people, and also to try out some fun bits and pieces. We did take an dip to the Suicide Creek, a short scenario where Japanese defenders had five pillboxes and about equal number of defenders set against rather potent marine force of 8 squads and good leadership and support weapon array. Idea was a simple one, marines needed to eradicate the Japanese presence to a less than two squad equivalents with a line of sight to the creek (FFE is a stand-in for sniper).ASL-day - 1

I took the attacking Americans, not because of preference but because my Japanese play would probably not give very good account since I have played very little with them. Once setup was done, the Japanese side of the map was, well… empty. An all HIP scenario is rather unnerving. With limited time in my hands, I deployed and started to probe forwards to the Japanese side of the river. Every time there were troops or pillbox revealed, I bypassed them, and attacked from the rear first with point blank range followed by CC.ASL-day - 2

Ordinarily Japanese are rather good at fighting in close quarters, but in this one, they didn’t win a one HtH or CC. At worst they were ambushed and brushed aside, at best they just prolonged from turn to turn or were killed in return. In this kind of rate of exchange, marine would win due to sheer numbers alone. As a marine player, I set out to clear one pillbox after an other, mostly by infiltrating first behind, and then amassing a softening wall of fire and then close combating the location. This was made somewhat easier because of a gap my opponent left on the right flank.ASL-day - 3

In an afterthought I have no idea how (except by avoiding fight) Japanese can win in that 2:1 manpower firefight where close quarter FP can easily get up to 20. Japanese would have to keep shuffling from one Jungle pillbox to other and stay away from the American wall of fire. It seems that every obstacle (jungle debris, swamp) that causes minimum move/CX has to be taken into full use.ASL-day - 4

Second game of the day was an rather fast and successful Liberation of Bessarabia where my opponent literally stormed my positions with Romanian Panzer Blitz. If something, I learned that this scenario is a lost cause the moment Romanian tanks get through.

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I did try to build in depth but about 50% of my armored reserves were in a wrong place, and besides of having their guns out immediately, they were destroyed handily. I have to grant that it was interesting to see how efficiently my opponent just wrapped up my defenses and chewed them to bits literally without much harm to his own forces. Brilliant.

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Next time, either hold the bloody road and make sure that the armors count and stop Russians dead, or make sure that Russians can knock out the Romanian tanks and then counterattack.

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War in Budapest – Extracurricular Activity

Since getting ASL module Armies of Oblivion, I’ve had an interest on quite few scenarios, one of them being Extracurricular Activity which pits Hungarian fanatics against Russian defenders. A small area, quick paced city fight including four Hungarian Zrinyi II assault guns and two T34/85’s and civilian interrogation.  There is only six and a half turns to accomplish the feat – to have more squad equivalents than my opponent in the hospital building. I had the honors to be the Hungarian fanatics while my opposition had studied his defensive system ahead of time and made setup ready.asl-extracurricular - 1

Initial analysis showed that the Zrinyi II is not the best for dispatching enemy tanks, unlike the T34/85’s that incidentally excels in the task. In fact, a side shot with AT-rifle can kill Zrinyi. However, I reasoned that in the terrain we had to fight, a street fighting would be most likely cause of death for the Russian tanks – assuming I would not feel like committing a suicide by firing PF from a building.asl-extracurricular - 2

Only role of Zrinyi II would then be to dislodge the Russian strong points, while being closely supported by infantry. I did not seriously thought that my opponent would linger under -1 acquisition for a too long, but nevertheless, there was liberal application of intensive fire – which incidentally did not contribute to any of the malfunctions, nor any actual hits. In an afterthought I could have used the tanks for bypass sleaze but thought that  while effective, it would not be the best way to go about it. Enemy armors were far too potent to catch tanks attempting it.asl-extracurricular - 3

After simple calculation, my plan was to concentrate and push very aggressively towards the hospital. Because of ample defensive options, and strong buildings (almost all buildings are stone row houses and narrow streets) I had to balance between caution and expenditure of men and material while overwhelming of enemy positions. I could not take risk that my assault guns were caught in street fighting, or nasty shots from a rear and therefore had to keep good infantry cover around all times, including armored assault.asl-extracurricular - 4

I had to make sure that Russians keep some forces on their flank, and I pushed a minor detachment there. Naturally I was also hoping to cut some of the retreating options but that was secondary. In the main assault, I did methodically work out one position at the time and it was mostly by close quarter fighting and close combat.  While going was slow, I managed to overwhelm and wear the enemy position one city block at the time. After initial success, advance became easier as the resistance crumbled and withdrew. I did lose one Zrinyi II early on mostly due to untimely move. Luckily my opponent did not seize the opportunity and use the T34/85’s superior mobility and armor to full advantage.asl-extracurricular - 5

Fighting in stone city is hard business in ASL, especially when time is short of supply. Task is very tough when board filled with row-houses and attacking units are Hungarian 3-4-7’s with limited number of leaders and only light support weapons. Even if the broken morale is two higher than normal. Of course having 16 squads against ten helps a lot, but there is still a lot of ground to cover, especially when opponent can, and will use concealment and steady within withdrawal to full extend.asl-extracurricular - 6

Defender could not just try to hold the hospital, but he needed to wear down the attack, and retreat smallest convenient amount every time forces become too much to take head on. Task which my opponent did admirably. In fact I was quite convinced by a start of turn 5 that I could not get enough troops through. While scenario is only half a board, it is quite lot about maneuvering on both sides.asl-extracurricular - 7

A destruction of one T34/85 in street fighting created an opening that I could use, and move one of my threat inducing Zrinyi’s to the flank accompanied by few squads. As a result, remaining Russian T34/85 started to fear for survival and retreated further back. Something I might consider unnecessary force preservation so late of the game. By doing so it was no longer able to contribute much to the final battle. After malfunctioning it’s main armament on last turn, it was boiling down to a dice game. All mistakes on both sides were done before that moment, culminating soon in the hospital.asl-extracurricular - 8

Loss of T34/85 gun was, balanced out by two of my three remaining Zrinyi’s being recalled due to gun malfunction. Luckily it happened when time was past their prime usefulness. Overall, Zrinyi’s acted better as a threat than actual assault vehicles, since none of the HE shots actually hit anything (BU+TEM+(Case C||Concealment) did not make it easy…). This was mostly because my opponent did not wish to take his chances. I did manage to get in a few shots of smoke, and I think it did help in few points.asl-extracurricular - 9

At the end, the final assault to the hospital building was a broiling close combat. Hungarians won the game by a half squad difference which made the game extremely close call, and very, very good scenario. I had lost ten squads, one Zrinyi and two leaders as total losses, and two Zrinyis as recalled against around five Russian squads and a single tank. That is a lot of casualties!asl-extracurricular - 10

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Tally. Won, but only just.

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War in the Wild

We had a learning game of a Wilderness War, and my first-time opponent bid for French. I was then given the heavy burden of British colonial command.  For learning purposes, the first half is a very good scenario, because it allows some time for game concepts to sink in. We were not in a hurry and our time to walk through the game and it’s various nuances. Wilderness War can sometimes require a good nerves, and tolerance for ever present defeat and destruction. It is too easy to fail the personal morale test at the dire looking moment but one just have to carry on for a reward. Usually there are tons of options to play with a devilry cunning.

Hudson river attack - 1

Reinforcing Oswego on shores of Ontario. French counter by building fort in Catraqui. British made ill decision not to fortify frontiers early. This resulted raids that eventually brought VP’s for French in the course of the game.

Knowing the momentous task ahead of British, we opted for two optional rules, a surrender could be played by either side, and that 1VP is granted for Regulars entering in game on first two turns. Latter is definite advantage to the French.

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By a clever maneuver, French cut the supply line of Oswego after driving away all the Indians. British trying to plug the southern department against Raids.

Meanwhile, we started the warmongering, and I opted not only to take, but to keep Oswego fort, while pushing aggressively through Champlain / Hudson River Corridor towards Montreal and eventually, to victory. That corridor would become real pain later on. We did start off well by assembling proper Royal colonial forces dressing in our beloved red.

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Oswego is lost, and French gain the alliance of the Iroquois.

Loading all the furniture, tea, dogs and tweed shooting jackets, muskets and newly gotten piles of plankets into a boats, it was time to go hunt for some French. Expedition went well on the Oswego and Royal Americans took charge there. Not only did we keep the front but also the nearby Indians flocked to our forts and provided much needed wilderness expertise. Thanks to our great frontiersman Johnson for forging the jolly good alliances. Fellow officers thought that we might win the war even without a tea and biscuits.

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Montcalm stands in Oswego, looking at the prospects. British advance through Hudson river towards Montreal.

As we prepared for the coming winter we distributed gifts along our new friends, and were struck to discover that they took very ill. In few weeks our great Iroquis Alliance were gone, most were hastily buried, some dying and those still alive, fleeing. Cursed suppliers, playing on French hands!

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Montcalm relieved Montreal – for a time. Shirley survived, for now.

Meanwhile, our progress in Hudson Carry was good, and new solid forts were built by ever active Shirley, and we started to threaten Crown Point. That would be the last French obstacle between us and the fur laden town of Montreal.

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Montcalm busy elsewhere, British put again pressure on Oswego that had become an Indian base of operations.

We also initiated push towards the ever increasing menace of the southern and southwestern Indian tribes. Clearly an action was needed against that bloody Ohio Forks fort that attracted all the savages. Indeed it was a savagery, since our southern department was struck so many times by raiding parties that the locals started to think of our military success a source of troubles, and the assembly withdrew their support. Braddock had no choice but to call in Loudoun back home and ask for additional troops to be sent in – which deteriorated the colonial tensions even further.

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Meanwhile, Luisbourgh falls to Wolfe and his army.

While of all that was going on, we lost control of Oswego in one clever side sweep, and as a result the Iroquois nations were flocking into French fold and foiled our attempts to ever get it back. Additionally, Montcalm arrived from Europe.

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Second attempt of Montcalm to relieve Montreal under siege. This time he has found his match but not before both sides became depleted and unable to continue open fight.

That said, we still had some cannon fod… Erhm. Colonials to help us out with the prospect of Montreal. Just in time for the the great party, Wolfe arrived from Scotland with his lads, and they made a short work of Luisbourg before French could carry out planned evacuation. Unfortunately there were no prospect to move forward to Quebec from Louisbourg and hence Wolfe was called in to Champlain Corridor.

Hudson river attack - 9

British advance towards Ohio Forks have stalled! Braddock had his road, but lacked the resources to make the final push. French had a force of 3 marines and 9 Indians protecting the fort while I had not one irregular or light infantry in my disposal.

Before Wolfe managed to get into position, Montcalm did made attempt to relieve Montreal, only to be defeated in the field by a provincial help. Not before long, Wolfe did force Montreal to it’s knees, but timely surrender saved them from the destruction of forces that promptly retreated to Quebec. Indeed, French had revenge ready and the pestilence in Montreal was unleashed to our weary troops wiping out five of 11 battalions there.  Luckily our supplies and reinforcements were on their way, and Montcalm could not deliver the final death blow.

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Situation in a start of last turn… Much pressure on French, but will it be enough?

A stalemate developed, French still had enough victory points to win, should the fighting be inconclusive, and British had no option but to try to get Quebec, which French managed to reinforce with additional two battalions, on top of the garrison from Montreal and hence giving margin just enough to make assault very bloody prospect. It all boiled down to a skirmish over the control of Hudson valley and it was decided literally on last card draw.

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Depleted troops juggling for positions. A standoff resumed. French managed to reinforce Quebec just in time to match Bradstreet. A strength of 10/10 which would be devastating in assault. I needed more troops.

It was not Montcalm who finally decided the fate of France, but most unlikely figure of French frontier forces – Vadreuil. He accompanied a force of single marine detachment  and several Indians to threaten my stockades.  A Hudson River cat and mouse developed. Finally my opponent saw a light and learned to wage a war where I am not – a lesson so crucial in Wilderness War.

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Indian infiltration to rid my supply chain…

Supply chain threatened, British had no option than to rid the Indian harassing force from the Champlain Corridor. Finally, all it took was a single die that caused single point of damage and hence prevented an overrun and blocked the Wolfe from advancing to Quebec. Without him, the siege failed, and French won by 3 VP at the end.

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Wolfe attempting to clean up the line, but failed. With his delayed arrival, the Quebec siege failed!

It was so close, so close indeed!

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Walking into Mordor

This post is going to irritate die hard fans of War of the Ring. Apparently in some circles there just are some things you cannot do. Like seeing opportunistic FP player killing Gandalf, and then you, as a Shadow refuse to bring in any minions to play and win… So, if you feel strongly about the way to play WotR, stop now. 🙂

We have recently tested a theory that revolves around not taking the ring into Mordor, but rather walking in with an army instead. We heard from many people that it cannot be done because nobody does it, and therefore it is impossible. Hence, a challenge was thrown.

We’ve now tried several games (most against same opponents who knew exactly what to expect) for the name of science. If you, as FP read the victory conditions in ASL way, 4VP wins for FP, regardless of how many VP Shadow has, as long as it is less than 9. So, don’t get too emotional about your cannon fodder. You can hand out a lot of locations. We can disregard ring  victory condition as it is completely irrelevant.

If you skip ring moves, and use the will of the wests, and swords for more productive cases, you will have saved 15-17 dice for moves alone. You would probably get revealed due to various reasons around 6 times, or more so we can say that you have 21-23 extra dice that allow you to operate armies, leaders, and in case of will of the west, some more productive things. Naturally you will not have, because game will end much before that.

We can easily see that all the southern regions can be lost and should not be bothered with, except for rising (elite) armies. Same goes for Rohan.

So, first thing to do, get some more dice. Get fellowship going, but without Frodo. move as quickly as you can to get Aragorn in play, and while doing that, Activate Rohan on the way. If you can have Gandalf White, good. If you can soften up Orthanac, excellent (leave one hobbit in the forest for that).  Also leave someone to activate North and Dwarves, especially if right cards come to hand. You will not need either if you play fast and aggressive enough. Shadow cannot bottle your Aragorn/strider in any fort when you start early.

Then, build some Army around Aragorn/Gandalf (reroll deterrent)/Hobbit (a witch king deterrent) -combo, and have some secondary army to supply losses, and then go to hunt some Orc. You have to leave some token resistance to various places to force Shadow to siege, so don’t run pool entirely dry. You also may wish to expect the Elven ships, and Dunharrow to get you Umbar when Shadow thinks it’s all clear. This has been done number of times, so it is not impossible.

While doing that, don’t forget to bottle up Gunbald and Moria as soon as possible to wait for picking them up. Two defenders will not risk losing open battle against one regular and one elite and one leader. Any counter measures against the bottled up situations will eat Shadow’s resources elsewhwere so it’s all good. If Saruman is not in play, and Shadow is not inclined to take him, take Orthanc instead, it’s easy as heck.

Because of the evolution of this tactic, Saruman and Orthanac very seldom do anything but stay put. It has been lost too many times.

In fact, Gandalf White+Aragorn+Hobbit+some leaders and 5 Elites & 5 regulars can beat any practical fort shadow can put against. Shadow cannot stuff all elites in forts, so there is seldom more than 5HP worth, most likely 1HP to 3HP which means in average ~30DR, which is highly unlikely because usually there are cards in play. One to three rounds of siege usually suffices in most cases and the key is to use cards that preserve your forces, not to cause hits.

1HP was a recommendation of hardcore WotR player who said that the idea is not to stop, but force you to spend die to siege. Trouble is that if you have two forts with 1 or two each, you’ve lost before you even start playing. Forts defended like this sort have fallen for a single elite unit so it is a pretty boring gamble.

Last game and result in 7 turns (she left Morannon empty because she wanted to build barrier on front and did not expect marching day and night or Scouts in preceding battle). No way this is unique situation:


Shadow thought being clever and attacked me, which was countered by scouts and allowed to slip in right location. Marching day and night to Morannon, then Sauron hired second (Elite)unit in Barad Dur, and I marched to the middle. Then Shadow moved his army next to Morannon, and I took Barad Dur. 

Now, this sort of destroys the whole idea of the game, and takes fun out of it. I hate competitive play, but now this has grown so darn obvious to ignore.

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War in the Wild

There was an opportunity to have a game of Wilderness War. This time we opted for the early war situation and dice gave me the British. Early war scenario starts actually before the war, and therefore it provides two extra turns to get in a good position. That said, it is imperative to use the VP for reinforcement card because if not used, French will have tough time. We did not use it – a bad move.IMG_1948.JPG

Historically we have had a bit serious spite of bad luck combined with inept command for British (which incidentally is the side I am on). Until now that is. Besides of cards being favorable, there was an strategy that actually bore fruit.IMG_1949

Considering that the victory conditions remain same as in the short Annus Mirabellis, I had solid plan to take Ohio Forks, and while doing so, eliminate the Indian alliances and presence there. Secondly, I wanted to reinforce – and keep if possible, the fort in Oswego to provide Indian allies, and foothold on the shores of Lake Ontario, but this I failed. IMG_1950

Niagara can be really tough nut to crack, and I did not honestly wish to continue on this road after so many failed attempts. Instead, third, and most importantly, I wanted to push straight into Lake Champlain Corridor North, take Quebec, effectively splitting French holdings in two, and then move on to take Montreal. This actually worked out.IMG_1952

I won but not because of dramatic tactical or strategic insight – I made a lot of blunders, but because my opponent had pretty bad card luck, and eventually he lost personal morale check – which I cannot blame (Things such as skimming the royal accounts and messenger intercepted in a single hand would affect anyone’s morale). Additionally, the Early Reinforcement VP balance tipped favor off to British very heavily and I should have insisted we have the rule in play.

That said, I like Wilderness War tactical dilemma. Yet we discovered another very interesting thing this time. Massive stacks (over 12SP) suffer proportionally greater losses, even if winning than their smaller counterparts. Which means that one really has to fight in small scale, tactically flexible formations to stay alive in the wild.

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Not directly involved to any wargaming as such, but I got a commission from my daughter to build interior for the FTX Ford Bronco RC car she got some time ago. According to specifications a Mailleg mouse should be the passenger and/or driver.

I got some Forex (foam-PVC) that is and then Proxxon hand tool and some decent gas operated Dremel VersaTip to work the material to a right shape (a bit tough to do outside and that’s why there is some burn marks…). Tehere was not much of measuring involved and it was a rather quick build (or maybe it was actually a sculpt more than build… ).

crawler interior - 3crawler interior - 1crawler interior - 2

In a afterthought I probably should have done some things a bit differently – the seats are little too big and a bit too much forward but that can be changed easily. Because everything needs to be red, the final interior will be black with red dashboard, and red/white seats.

The sailing ship at the back is waiting to be converted an RC model for coming summer…

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Have a good New Year

Holidays have been busy game time and quite few games of Hannibal, War of the Rings slotted in nicely. Wars were won and some were lost, good times were had.

2018 saw a nice second coming of ASL. After decade of separation, my former ASL collection has finally found its way back. Additionally, I finally got my hands on Armies of Oblivion, an ASL module for the Axis minors. What will future hold for ASL? After taking war to the Axis minors, and Deluxe again, I will get into a Desert war and take deeper plunge into a Pacific.

Miniatures front advanced slowly but steadily and sometime 2019 we will see another batches of reinforcements coming along but then it may grind to a halt for a while. Some terrain needs to be made and some new rulesets to be tried.

Some games will be put for sale, and the fate of X-wing is at the edge.

Besides of that, a general life has taken couple of favorable turns, which will have some effect on the game time availability but that is not a bad thing. Just a bit more planning is needed.

That said, let the 2019 be a great gaming year to you all!

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