Patch and I actually ended up getting together for our first face-to-face game of ASL in years in April 2010. I didn’t really have a camera, so he ended up reporting all the visuals…:

Well… it’s been a rough month for gaming. Mark is always busy during April, but this month has been worse than normal, with work putting a lot of extra stress on his schedule. Jason was busy, and Zjonni had some free time, but is already being buried under classes again.

So, our big game day yesterday turned into just me and Patch. In deciding what to do, ASL was initially decided against because of prep and setup time. But, I pointed out we were due to start a scenario Monday night, and we had our setups worked out already. So, we ended up playing DA8, Gruppo Mobile, FtF for the first time in… 5 years (yikes).

Sicily, 1943, six elite American squads versus nine Italian MR/35(f)s. Since they’re worth 6 VP each, the Italians have to exit four of them off the south edge after moving through one and a half deluxe boards lengthwise (22 hexes). They’re not very fast, but the American anti-tank abilities are a little limited: two DCs, two BAZ, and a 37mm ATG that enters on the first turn. Bad news for the Italians is they only have five turns. Bad news for the Americans is that the ATG comes with a HS instead of a crew.

By ROAR, the scenario is tilted towards the Americans, so Patch took the Italians with the balance (8 morale for the Inherent crews). He missed the SSR about the tanks only having half movement on the first turn, so he had to re-do his opening setup and was forced to use both roads onto the board to get everyone into play.

My setup was not bad, but it was a little too forward, and when I had him right in front of me on the first turn, I tried to engage instead of falling back to keep in front of him as I should have. My die luck was not what I could have hoped for. One BAZ went away on its second shot, and while the first shot hit, it failed to penetrate.

However, while things really got away from me on the east side on the second turn, I stunned three of his tanks as they tried to get going on the west side. I did knock one out in the east, but the other three got away from me. I had set up the ATG on the west road, and Patch barely managed an OVR, which didn’t do anything to either side, leaving a MR/35, ATG, 10-2, and Jeep all in the same hex.

On my second turn, I rushed after his fleeing tanks with most of my forces, while leaving a couple squads to deal with the stunned (now flipped to +1) tanks. One squad successfully ran up and placed a DC, blowing his rear tank in the east. (Cool! I’ve only had DCs a couple times, and it’s the first time I’ve used one….)

The third turn really broke things open for him. Patch exited two tanks, and had two more ready to exit. I was only able to reach one of them in my turn, so I would have to kill it and try to stop everything else he had. Not that it had been that easy for him. He had broken the second DC squad on my turn two as it raced up to kill another tank, and I had moved the 10-2 to rally him. Since they were positioned adjacent to the road the three stunned tanks had to use, and he was using CE to get distance, he ate a lot of attacks. With a 667 and 10-2, there was a six resid, and a pair of 2 resids to go through, and they made five FPF attacks against them as they went roaring by. And they threw the DC, but couldn’t connect.

In my turn three, I missed with another BAZ shot, failed PAATCs on two CCs, and failed CC on the tank I had to kill. Game over at the start of turn 4.

It’s actually a nice scenario, I recommend playing it—once. There’s not a lot of great decision making for the Italians, which hurts, but the Americans need thought since the AT capabilities are a bit limited. I also think it’s a bit more balanced than ROAR indicates, because I get the feeling that much of the time the Italians don’t pay enough attention to a tight schedule (don’t let the turn 4 win fool you, there’s not a lot of movement to spare), rather like the typical beginner problem with “Fighting Withdrawal”.

Blind Sniper cheered:

“As always great report! Thanks James :)”

“Ok, as Rindis said, our planned multi-player game fell through, so after some discussion we decided to give our planned VASL game a go instead. We’d been talking about playing a DASL scenario, and I was intrigued by playing with Italians again. We don’t see much of them, and I like getting the little grey counters out now and then.”

“I have the Italians in this one, and I take the balance (8ML AFV crews) as it’s a fairly unbalanced scenario. Once we got my turn 1 movement restrictions sorted out, I took a new look at the board. There’s no way I can enter everyone on the same road, so I have to break this apart. This sucks, as I do not like how things look to the east. I decided to enter 4 tanks and the 9-1AL on the eastern road, and the remaining 5 tanks and the 9-2AL to the west. Both armor leaders are a few tanks back so they don’t die up front, but their modifiers will counter any wrecks they fire past.”

“My thoughts on Rindis’ set-up are below. The 8-1 and MMG is obvious, as it’s the highest stack. The bazookas are trickier. I figure they’re in bI1 and dF2 as I like the LOS from those positions. I place the 8-0 in bF3, and that leaves the DC in bF1 and dF4.”

“The turns are blending in my memory, so the sequence of events may be a little off.”

Turn 1
“I enter CE to get those few extra hexes of movement, and button up as soon as I get close to the Americans. Rindis tries a Street Fighting Reaction Fire attack from 8B3 right off the bat, and I’m pleased to see I was right about the 8-0. The tanks pile up behind him, and I stop short of the bridge to the east to prevent a PB bazooka shot. I stop two tanks so I have some firing options, but leave the others in motion. I discover that I was wrong about the bazookas, and one is sitting happily in bF1. Rindis gets a shot off and hits, but the thick French armor saves me. The second time he fires in his turn he rolls a 10 and the bazooka goes away (he was in dF1 with the goal of moving to dG1 to avoid backblast penalties, but t’was not to be). Lots of Street Fighting once again, to no effect. I malfunction the MA of my 9-1 AL’s tank on its first shot of the game. >.< I elect not to repair it, as with the AL on board it’s still worth 7 VP, and I do not want to Recall it. Rindis enters his ATG and unloads it in bO3.”

Turn 1 entry

Turn 2
“I push to the east, and find that the bazooka is in dF4 when it fires and misses. On the other hand, Rindis nails a MR/35 with Street Fighting in dG3. With lots of FF counters about, I go CE and make a run for it and get to the orchard road area. To the west, I’m really concerned by that ATG. I decide to swarm it, with the alternative option of stopping before it and getting sandwiched between the ATG and three squads. I get one tank into bypass in dM2 to fire on the ATG later, but use ESB (it’s a final +4 modifier – yes, I was that desperate) to enter dO3 for the overrun. I had to do this while CE, and only then realize that these are 1MT tanks! The 2FP overrun has no effect, and Rindis stuns my 9-2AL when I go CE and try to rush past the northern blockade, along with 2 other tanks! Gaaah! I have swarmed an ATG and a 10-2 with… 2 tanks. I start wondering what our gaming plans will be when this ends in about 30 minutes. I have 5 tanks in a very precarious position. That turns around for me, however. Although Rindis does rush a MR/35 to the east and kills it with a DC, I break a DC squad to the west and he cannot kill the overrunning tank in dO3, and he fails to kill any of the three tanks in dF2/dG2 in CC.”

Disaster! 3 tanks go down

Turn 3
“I break the ATG crew, which opens the door to the west. I exit one tank on the eastern road, and one on the western. Two more tanks are poised to exit. I make another CE blitz and get two more tanks to mid-board, but Rindis is using FPF like mad with a 10-2 and 667 in dK2 and finally gets a double stun result, forcing a Mk/35 into Recall. The Stunned tank is a blessing in disguise, however, as Rindis makes a run at my remaining tanks, but the vehicle in dK2 is enough to keep Rindis from reaching the ones he needs with the units he requires, and in Advance two squads, including one with the 10-2, fail their PAATC. He fails to kill any vehicles, and there’s nothing preventing me from exiting two more tanks in Turn 4, even with the threat of a bazooka he shuffled over to aK1.”

Italian Turn 3 Movement

“Looking at the map now, I think the eastern road offers the better entry option. The bh1-dH4 road is much easier to navigate moving east to west, than west to east. Also, you can switch over from dL4-dL5:dM5-bM1-dM2:dN1-dO2. It will take a turn, but it’s doable. No such straight shot exists for the other direction.”

“The 347 for the ATG crew is a nightmare, making a base +5 TH for any shot against the MR/35s. Knowing that, an overrun of the Gun is certainly the order of the day. I don’t see any really nice other hexes to place it that aren’t OG, and I was on Rindis too fast for him to move it into, say, dN3. Getting it into cB2 on turn 1 is an alternative, with an attempt to push it into cB2 and close off the eastern road, but still… a +5 TH makes the ATG anything but the magic tank killer it appears to be.”

“I think the Americans have to set up in two defensive lines. The first is set to engage the expected end point for the Italian Turn 1 movement (and don’t forget the MMG can boresight to keep those hatched buttoned), and the second is set to intercept the expected turn 2 end point. That way the US can’t get bypassed like I did with Rindis.”

“The Italian needs to movemovemove. A single 667 needs a 5(+1) to kill a moving tank in CC with Street Fighting, which are not bad odds given there are 6 squads on the board. The 8-1 and a squad needs a 6(+0) for a kill. I realized too late how effective the DC can be, and you can expect those nasty blocks of HE on the back of at least one of your tanks. The balance option of the 8ML was a big factor in my decision to remain CE during movement, although it really only affected one result. Neither of the ALs made a difference in the game. When they took MCs, they passed easily or failed miserably. Still, nice to have for those overruns when they pop up.”

“An interesting scenario, but as Rindis points out, there’s not much for the Italians to actually do. It’s much more of a puzzle for the US to figure out”

Victory and a late counterattack

JMichael commented:

“Agree about the lack of fun for the Italians – their biggest point of decision is the CE/buttoned choice. When I played this as the Americans I had a lot more success in killing/immobilizing tanks with Street-Fighting and CC Reaction Fire than anything else.”