After Action Report : S4 Welcome Back - Part 1



The scenario - pre game


I bought the ASL Starter Kit (#1) almost at once after MMP published it. It offers a lot of game for a great price, but more importantly; it allows me to show and teach the beautiful ASL game system to my friends who feel that while ASL is probably a pretty cool game , it is more than a little too complex. The Starter Kit is an ideal stand alone solution to bridge this gap, it leaves out the complexity of the full ASL game, while retaining its elegant manner of handling small unit combat.


The last couple of months I more or less had a go at all the scenarios in the Starter Kit , including the two (S7 and S8) published in MMP's new in-house magazine 'Operations'. All except one that is. Scenario S4 "Welcome Back" always got skipped, probably because it looks so unbalanced: 8 US squads against 14 German squads plus 2 halfsquads with lots of support weapons (SW) in either side. We decided to go ahead anyway and I took the American side having played the game by far the most often.


Well, I looked it up after the game, and big surprise... The ROAR (internet database with win/loss ratings for ASL) tell us that the win/loss rate for this scenario is: American 13 - German 8. So even while there are so many Germans squads and so few Ami's the game still favours the American side in a 13:8 win/loss ratio.

This probably has something to do with the unique victory conditions in this scenario. All other scenarios in ASLSK are pretty straightforward in the sense that to win you only have to "occupy X number of buildings" or "control Y amount of feature Z". Not here. This time it is all about force conservation. While the German player has the whopping equivalent of 15 full squads, he has to EXIT with about 5 of them in one piece at the other end of the board. This has interesting implications to how and where the German player should enter the board, and move through the US defences within the limited amount of six German turns playing time. It makes for a whole different game then any of the other scenarios.



"28th division at Hossingen" by James Dietz depicting Company K, 110th Infantry Regiment, and Company B, 103rd Engineer Battalion. 



The scenario itself depicts the heroic last stand of 110th infantry regiment in the path of 26th Volksgrenadier Division on its way to Clerveux. Slowing down the German advance for days while being both attacked and bypassed on all sides the 110th caused one of the many delays that would ultimately become the Ardennes offensive's downfall.

I don't think the map 'Y' from the Starter Kit depicts any terrain resembling the Ardennen area, but the designers have to go with what there is available I guess.

There is an attempt to simulate the dreary snow by SSR though; every turn there is a "weather check" and a DR =>10 results in snow which hinders line-of-sight. I'm not sure if it's a good idea to "loan" a rule like this from the full ASL game system as questions like "does snow negate the moving-in-the-open-without-assault-move bonus?" tend to pop up and the ASLSK rulebook is not well suited to answer them.

Also make a note somewhere to actually check for the weather each turn, or you are bound to forget this rule in the heat of battle. We did, so I'll just pretend that we always rolled below '10' in the rally phase for now, and never had any weather change. And with it being winter and all , it is also good to know that the grain fields are not in season, so the yellow stuff on the map is "open ground" in this scenario.


A second SSR raises the smoke exponent of the two 7-4-7 squads by two to a massive 5. This means those squads will always make smoke if they so desire , except when they roll a 6 with one die, in which case their movement ends (note they are not pinned though). This is a bit of an odd rule , it seems to be there to encourage the handing out of the flamethrowers to the 7-4-7' squads, though being on the defensive side as American I don't really see how this helps very often. Maybe it will help in a local counter attack by those Para squad's, who knows, we'll just give it a try.




German infantry moving west in a hurry in the Battle of the Bulge



My opponent in this game is Jeroen Verheij, he has by now played the larger part of the ASLSK scenarios against me, and has learned a great deal in previous scenarios played. He knows by now that when playing the Germans in a scenario like this everything is low priority except getting off your butt and making all possible speed to the exit zone to satisfy the victory conditions. Also as a veteran of many other wargames we played since our childhood , he should give me a surprise or two here and there, as he always seems to come up with some unconventional tactics that for some reason or another (and to everybody's amazement) are actually legal and according to the rules. He'll have to keep these tricks in the bag for the moment as I'm the American player and will have to do the setup first before any of those Volksgrenadiers enter the board in the Movement Phase in Turn 1. Let go and take a look at it in Part II !


-> Go to Part II of this AAR