Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tactical Board Games

Someone asked a question about the LNL system. I responded with the following. There are a couple references to others...just ignore those for now.:

LNL - Lock and Load Tactical
HotP - LNLs Heroes of the Pacific
CoH - Conflict of Heroes
CC - Combat Comander
ASL - Advanced Squad Leader and SK Starter Kit
ATS - Advanced. Tobruck System

I have played LNL, CoH, CC, ASLsK, ASL, ATS, and very recently Retro. Out of all these and LNL I would play ATS as my #1. However, there are a few obstacles I have with the way the game is managed by its owners.

Mitch really enjoys it and I would say is able to look beyond these issues. It has a nice level of detail, tons and tons of scenarios with more coming out. It's a step below AsLSK in complexity and just is easier for me to Grock. And before last week I would've said it's players are all underground. However in the last week a FB group has started and already has 85+ players. And at least two youtubers are starting to post things up.

There are times I'm tempted to get back in. I think Mitch should take it over.

CoH was an enjoyable enough system, but always felt bored at the end of the games. I never cared if I went back to it.

(SIDE NOTE: as I sit here typing this I want to make it clear that all these game systems strugglenat ine time or another with management issues. I would say GMT aka CC is possibly the exception with their issues being less noticeable to me.)

Retro: it was fast playing but I'm not interested in houseruling firbeverybgake ti figure best ways to make scenarios work. You could also argue, if you watch my videos, that I never did play completely by the rules and am also a terrible strategist, so my opinion is skewed. I would not disagree.

CC my first tactical and still my favorite ruleset. Clear. Concise. Proofed. Complete. I played all but one of my games solo and it's a terrible solo game and yet I still enjoyed them. Great narrative. No tanks and I really wanted that. And I play so much solo, that I need another option. So I gave it all away for a Guild White Duck Gift.

ASLSK and ASL - local guru and tournament organizer has played and taught me a few times. Enjoyable group of guys who play it here. And I finally decided to jump in to this one...with doubts. I like it for the depth and the community. Tons of people all over the world and online and FB and videos and a podcast and and and Dave and Pete and others here play it.

Tons of scenarios. 1,000s! And more coming out. Amazing. But the games can take awhile and the rules overhead may be too much for me. While the thought of playing something so deep is appealling. The reality of playing something so deep may be a little less compelling.

LNL I've had a few of them, sold them and then just bought HotP at full retail. I enjoyed, though played terribly, again solo. Again, I got it for all the reasons Ty mentioned. They're scenarios are typically well designed.

(Sidenote 2: and why couldn't they have made it so all are high or all are low? I have never understood that.)

And they're company has issues, though they do appear to be trying hard.

I don't know if you can tell but I'm a tad schizo/bi-polar about this. I struggle to decide. Some would say to buy a little of each. But I'm trying to barrow my collection.

And also, the thought of committing to one system is compelling. But the reality is often like, "oh one system to rule them all! Oh wait, what there's now OST and BoB? Shiny, gimme one of each!"

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Blitkrieg Commander II Bulge AAR FTF

Chris D is a friend, fellow Geekway board member, published game designer (Dungeon Roll), RPGer, dad, husband, graphic novel enthusiast, and all around groovy dude. He very much enjoys learning as many games as he can. I believe he's able to mine all of this for his own ideas. He's been asking me to share with him some of my miniatures and war games with him (especially ASL).

I finally made it happen (We can get into why it took me so long, but that will be for another post. And one to write after my therapist visit.) and we played a scenario UIKeyInputDownArrowfor the Battle of the Bulge (fictional) for my favorite set of rules, Blitzkrieg Commander II or BKCII.

I gave Chris the Germans as to give him more to do, as well as an FAO. I took the AMIs defending a town. The goal was, in 9 turns, to be the last one and only one with units in the town...or break the other side.

Chris, of course, picked up the rules quickly and started by moving a group through the center woods.  In the picture above, the Germans are coming from off table at the bottom of the picture. He sent one of his squads around the woods, in the open, to draw my fire, which he did. Which makes me visible from the concealed state. His CO and their group coming from off board failed their first CV roll and missed turn 1. Welcome to BKCII.

Chris struggled mightily to get my guys out of the city, first of all they're all concealed unless they fire, move or he gets within 10CM. But he was able to whittle down the guys in the town by putting more and more hits on them. I thought his arty would help, and I always use the auto-suppression roll, but after reading that again, it only suppresses after successful hits. I always said it suppressed if it hit at all, regardless of saves and hits. His arty only had 2 dice each.

His right flank with CO got going but was struggling as well. He was able to lay smoke and make some movement happen.
He made some attempts at close assault on the town before my guys were suppressed and whittled down. He suffered a lot for that, but it still did the job of knocking points off these units.

Turn 5 we both got reinforcements. My last game, one of the sides didn't receive their reinforcements which really affected the outcome. Chris had to roll to see where these units would come on and they came on his right which would turn out to be great.

My units also came on and made a good push the first turn, but then they stalled out a couple turns which would ultimately be my demise.

His tanks took some quick hits from my two tanks, but then fortunes turned and he took mine out quickly. To sum it up, that defending position, a dug-in squad and mortar kept him tied up for a while, but he eventually had the breakthrough and then stood on the hill and took my guys out as they ran out into the open ground as they charged for the city. He took out 4 units in turn 8 which put me 3 over my breakpoint, I failed my roll.

Chris was gettting somewhat down on his prospects as he simply couldn't make much progress against those dug-ins. I was feeling the same way for him as well. I wanted him to enjoy the game, and I was getting a tad nervous for his chances. But he stuck with it and it's a good thing, cause he cleaned up.

In retrospect, I should've run my guys into the woods behind the town and perhaps cover the open ground if he tried to go in. At least then he would've hit me on 5s and not 4s. I also should've kept my tanks as he ran into open ground, instead of going at him head on as soon as I got them.

I saw someone suggest keeping smoke going so as to have the troops get up to close assault without suffering all the support shots and open ground shots because they will accidentally run into each other.

One of the rules I struggled with was LOS and the 10cm max distance you can move toward an enemy unit. It gets a little

I'm going to say something completely obvious here: I've played at least 15 games of BKCII solo. I've enjoyed most of the experiences. I've only played with others 3 times. Once to test my con scenario. The con scenario. And now with Chris. I found myself really enjoying the game with Chris. His company is a huge reason. But it was fun to see how someone else chose to attack and to have reactions that I wouldn't think of. I want to do more of that.

And, here's the video AAR:

The Puma Prowls Tonight

Or, where Toddy (aka Itinerant Hobbyist) learns armor and the power of a crew armed with a PFaust.

This is the second game I played while at Jim's on a mid week/holiday ASL day.

I wanted to learn armor so I can continue my deep dive into ASL. The Puma Prowls scenario is a famous one in ASL circles as one to teach one armor. I was Germans and Jim the Russians. I didn't get too many pics of this one.

To get to the point - I won as the Germans. But as usual, it was close. And, I don't know how easy Jim was being with me.

And now I've waited too long to finish writing this one, so some of the memories and lessons learned have faded a bit.

However, the biggest thing I remember, one of my crews survived their Crew Survival roll and ran into the town where the Soviet T-70s were hiding and taking out my tanks. The crew found they had a PanzerFaust on them and decided to risk firing in the building (back blast). They survived that but missed the target. The next and last turn, they ran out into the open street to get a back side adjacent shot. As they ran, an immobilized T-70 fired it's mg and though getting close, they crew moved on. The T-70 then fired it's main gun and missed! They then fired the faust and destroyed the tank and crew! I didn't get a picture of this situation. I will say that it essentially won the game because I needed to knock one of his guys out and they did it. Very cool scene.

And now some pics:

Here's what Doug and Ken were playing. Sorry, not a whole lot to say about it, because I was too taken by my games to understand what was going on. I will just say that they played a lot faster than I was.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

This Ain't No Grumble Jones AAR Expect Brevity

That Grumble Jones knows how to put an AAR together and I am not following suit. Seriously subscribe to his blog if you are interested at all in ASL.

Jim Burris hosted 3 of us at his house this week to play some mid-week-mid-day ASL. Ken came in from Illinois and Doug drove in from Columbia to enjoy a couple games of this crazy game. Since I'm still a massive noob, Jim took a couple for the team to keep teaching me. The first game we played was Gavin Take. (ASL T1 and now a new number because of the Yanks! Reissue.) American paratroopers trying to get off board. The Germans are trying to stop them and can also make it challenging for the Amis by moving off the board. For every unit they take off, the US has to match that number above and beyond their normal VC requirements.
When I came in, Jim had set up the defense and had my guys all piled up ready to go. Yes, to all you pros i moved the piles off board into their appropriate starting imaginary hexes.

This would be my first scenario with hills. Wall. Hedges. Shell holes. And a rubbled hex...though I'm not quite sure of it's purpose. The LOS issues are interesting and I definitely was slow in looking them over and evaluating quickly LOS and fire opportunities. Definitely a skill that can help players. 

The goal for the left group, rush past and behind the hills and then to the exit point. This proved to be a viable one, however, I perhaps should have set up one unit on the high hill to cover the "Y" you can see at the top of the town hexes. Or rushed my 10-3 over to the trees, near the exit hex to cover that while bringing up the rest of the troops. 

The right group, i wasn't too sure of besides just getting them up there to get out. Jim thought that perhaps I could get them in the town to break and occupy a few of the Germans. Or, again, take up a place on the hilltop to cover spots. 

In the first turn I had a complete squad destroyed by a bore-sighted Mmg. Blech. 
My opponent with the common "ASL look of head in hands and thinking stance."
 I failed to take pics after every turn and I didn't take great notes, so here are pics after most of the turns.

Jim set up a big stack o death at the exit hex with a foxhole.

Lessons learned and experiences:

  • Had a unit go Fanatic - not much happened
  • Saw units go into labor...well sort of...and dig their trenches for 2 turns and then they were under TI chits.
  • Again, need to look at LOS and think about those tricky long shots.
  • Learn hills and multiple elevation LOS more betterer 
  • Remember to use the 8-0 to hang back to rally and the 10-3 to improve firepower. 
  • Learned about surrender/prisoners

Good time. Next entry will be about our The Puma Prowls armor experience. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

ASL Again Guards Counterattack

First full ASL since 2009. Last time was Jim Burris. Well, he was super nice and came back by the house, almost 7 years to the day to startup my lessons in ASL again.

I'm thinking that I'm going to go full on to ASL with the primary goal of playing on the historical maps and campaign games primarily. This will prove to be challenging because these usually take longer than your average game and will require games to be set up over time or that I play on Vassal.

We started with Guards Counterattack, the classis Squad Leader scenario that I remember trying to teach Nevin and myself back in the mid to late 90s. I would like to play this again with Nevin, now that I have a 2% grasp of the rules.

A big thing in any board game is personal player morale. As a player you have to keep your head in the game and not get flustered if the rolls are seemingly against you. Of course, your plan could be crap, but that's another story. Or something else, not at all related to the game at hand could come into play. Like a headache. I had a dull one come on about 1/3 of the way in. I think it was caffeine induced.

Another distraction, Rising Sun. As Jim and I spoke, the fact came up that Rising Sun was now OOP. I was shocked. I'd been watching the boards because usually rumblings and chatter occur when MMP begins to get low on stock. But not this time. It ran out and I immediately started searching all of my sites. Well, I let this just bug at me and break my spirits a bit and it affected how I played.

Follow up to that RS issue: Jim thought there may be one at my FLGS, Game Nite. I called the next day and sure enough, they had one. I asked them to hold it and then asked my santa wife if this could be my gift. She agreed. I ran down there and picked it up. As I was buying it, someone watched somewhat mournfully as I bought it. Sad, but all is fair in love and ASL.

Anyway, back to the game. I lost but barely. He ran a Russian squad down this line and I should've fired, but I waited...I think I was waiting for something to come closer...Problem is, now that I think about it, I believe he would've been able to get other squads past that point anyway. Anyway, that squad ended up taking a building that was key to me holding. And I had simply abandoned it.

Fun, but quite overwhelming.

Here are pics of the game. Sorry not a lot of cool narrative, just some ASL Eye Candy

Some of the features of the game that I'm remembering:

  • Encirclement - happened when I was upstairs and I had no way of getting down because he was on the stairwell below me and there was no where to rout. 
  • Combine LMG and MMG to get the firepower up to 8. By themselves they may not be as effective. 
  • You may typically deploy up to 10% of your units at the beginning of the game. 
  • It's not always a good idea to be in the top floors when holding the building is your objective. Perhaps start on the first and then go up when the heat is on. 
  • We had a guy go berserk, run into a hex and then get blown away with Triple Point Blank Fire!
  • Skulk back to gain concealment and then advance and you keep "?" Concealment. This helps when you're fired upon because it's area fire (1/2 firepower) and it might be something else. 
  • My sniper was activated 10-15 times, his 2. Crazy.