Monday, May 23, 2011

AAR: DASL3 Storming The Factory

Advanced Squad Leader VASL
Deluxe ASL 3: Storming The Factory
Germany: Michael R.
Russia: John H.

For this weeks round we picked the deluxe board scenario Storming The Factory.  This one pits a force of 20 German SS squads against a factory of 22 Russians during the advance on Rostov in July 1942.  Notably missing are the ususal toys we associate with factory assaults: flamethrowers, fanatics and fortified locations.  Instead the Germans get a randomly arriving set of PzIVF2's and the Russians get Molotov capability to counter this armored threat.  The Germans get ten turns to take the factory, but must use this generous amount of time wisely to reduce the Russians to a variable, but ultimately low, number of squads. 
Initial Setup
Setup requires each side to start rather densely packed in their respective starting areas.  My plan was to use the extra time afforded by the scenario to attempt a double envelopment of the factory to prevent a Russian fighting withdrawal.  My armor force came on randomly at the very first opportunity which required me to take the Russians down to 3 squads (not squad equivalents).   
German Envelopment On Both Flanks
The tanks were able to take advantage of their quick arrival and helped the right flank forces quickly threaten the east sector of the map.  The left flank advanced methodically up to the west and south approaches to the factory.  The critical phase occurred at two points around turn 4.  On the left flank I pushed one PzIV into the factory followed by its supporting infantry force.  They survived all attempts to dislodge them and would dominate the factory interior for the rest of the game.  The other decisive factor was a series of berzerker Russian squads on the right flank that charged the maneuvering armor, abandoning their heavy machine gun and unhinging their defensive line.  They did manange to flame one of the Panzers with a Molotov but at the expense of an exposed right flank. 
Factory Encircled
From that point the fate of the factory was sealed.  The balance of the game was spent reducing the encircled Russian defenders until they finally surrendered.  This scenario, like many of the early deluxe board designs, features size without sophistication.  It does provide a good primer on basic urban block fighting with large maneuver elements, but is not a scenaro that will be revisited often. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Library Book Sale

This weekend is the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Book Sale.  It is the premier library book sale in the NW suburbs of Chicago.  The wife and I loved the sale so much we joined the Friends of the Library so as to volunteer to help at this seasonal event.  It has an incredible selection of genre, but for my tastes, a particularly large area devoted exclusively to history.  I've had many excellent finds of rare and obscure historical arcanum.  On second thought, don't's a lousy sale, nothing here for you to see.....move along...hey, that one's mine....I saw it first!
(We will be working the sale Friday evening which allows you to come in and shop the books early if you become a member of the Friends of the Library.) 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

AAR: Here I Stand

Here I Stand
Full 9 Turn Secenario 1517-1555
France: Michael R
England, Hapsburg, Ottoman, Pope, Protestant: Rich, Tim, Dean, Bob, John

This weekend I was finally able to try out Here I Stand in all its 6 player diplomatic glory.  This game duplicates the tumultuous period of early 16th Century Europe where players take on the roll of the various heads of state and religious leaders in order to guide their faction through a myriad of challenges.  As a CDG (card driven game) design, the game does a wonderful job of showcasing all the colorful events of the period.  Players must contend with: pirates, burning heretics, theological debates, exploring the New World, and Henry VIII's wives, just to name a few.  This period of history is woefully underrepresented in historical game design, and this simulation goes a long way toward correcting that imbalance. 

Europe: 1524
The was the first large multi-player diplomacy game I have played in a number of years.  When I first learned that Ed Beach had designed this game I was extremely interested.  Ed had continued the development of  the Great Campaigns of the Civil War series, one of my favorite systems, and I was certain an original game of his own design would also be a winner.  As a former Empires In Arms player, it was a joy to see how far these new designs have come in terms of efficiency and steamlining.  Rules for diplomacy, alliances, declarations of war, and peace treaties are all handled in such a way as to facilitate speed of play.  Our game on Saturday went about 8 hours and some of the players remarked that it should have gone quicker.  I was amused by these comments, thinking back to the days of Empires in Arms where 8 hours would have been one turn at best!
Diplomacy Phase: Secret Meetings in Dark Places
A quick overview of the game (from the French perspective):

The French and English started the game in a proxy war over Scotland.  This would eventually turn into a larger conflict the consumed most of our four turn game. The French launched a failed invasion of Portsmouth but managed to control the English Channel with the loan of the Spanish Fleet.  This allowed for the eventual seige and assault of Calais which finally fell in 1535. 
The English and French Prepare For War
This played out against the backdrop of Hasburg and Papal efforts to stem the growth of the Protestants in Germany.  The Ottomans pressed their war on Hungary and expanded in the Eastern Mediterranean, but were checked by the Hapsburgs and the Pope.  Near the end of turn 4, the Hapsburg and Papal successes where putting them close to the automatic victory point conditions, though it was unlikely either of them would win during the final phase of the turn.  Turn 5 would have seen a major redrawing of the diplomatic map of Europe in an effort to suppress their leads.  However, there was one chance that the Hapsburgs could pull off a victory by sending Narvaez, the worst navigator of the lot, on a cruise to circumnavigate the world.  In an incredible show of luck and daring, the Hapsburg managed to roll the needed eleven and twelve in rapid succession which gave him the neccessary victory points and an early end to the game!  

The final standings were: Hapsburg, Pope, France, Ottoman, England and Protestant.