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Updated: 8 hours 8 min ago

MINIs UPDATE: 2014 Texas Team Tournament, Austin, TX June 19-22

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 11:27
If you were present at last years' tournament you saw the setup of CH's Omaha East/West and I announced then that I would have it set up for not only Thursday this year, but for play over the entire weekend. This is truly monumental ASL and is your chance to play the full blown invasion scenario for up to 4 days straight. Even if you are interested in participating for only a day, let me know and I can get you scheduled in and get all information to you ahead of time. We need folks to take advantage of this opportunity! We have a couple of folks who have already signed up to play it for all 4 days. So if you want to play it for 1, 2, 3 days or the whole enchilada, let me know so I can get the materials to you.

This year we'll also be featuring ASL miniatures play on 3 3D boards that Matt Zajac has constructed. One will feature a scenario from the Kansas City March Madness 2012 Double Blind pack - which will be revealed at the tourney to avoid potential players from gaining an advantage by seeing their opponent's mission and forces. Americans and Germans in Normandy in 1944 played out on two boards with each side receiving their mission and forces - and some intel on the opposing force. Both sides have armor, and the Americans have at least one culin hedgerow device. This is a chance for players to both experience the fog of war that the Double Blind pack integrates so well and see the difficulty of battling thru hedgerow country in 3D.

Another will be a two board scenario from the as-yet unreleased Deluxe Pack being developed by Dave Ramsey, and likely available by the time of the tourney. This pack has been discussed at length on the GameSquad forum, and this is a chance for players to get a peek at what it offers. The scenario is an early war German vs Polish fight with Polish tankettes and supporting infantry conducting a spoiling attack against a German supply convoy escorted by Pz IIs and recon PSWs. Small unit density should allow for rapid play of this one - and the boards are neither city nor bocage terrain.

If there is interest, Matt will also have KE14 Another Day, Another Field available which is played out on a single Deluxe bocage board, and pits 16 first line US squads and supporting armor against 10 German first line squads and a 75L AT gun. Very compressed area for this size of force. This can not be played simultaneously with the Double Blind scenario due to terrain / unit shortages.

Matt is willing to run both scenarios simultaneously if there is interest, and at any time over the weekend - not just Thursday. Matt has all of the boards and miniatures material that will allow you to play these, and it should make for fun experience
Categories: Blogs

WALB: Talon versus Claw

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 22:54

Russia. Crimea. Ukraine. What more needs to be said? :whist:

This battle began when some Soviet recon and ATGM units were detected coming south towards Echo 1, an objective my US Army boys recently captured. I called in an F-4 Phantom to chew them up a bit:

It did the trick. We killed one or two units, with the rest pulling off the road in a hurray. Unfortunately, the Soviets called in their own aircraft and ganged up on another USAF fighter-bomber as it was circling the area looking for targets:

Sadly, we lost the jet. MY AD units did rough up the Soviet aviators a bit, though:

After this initial aerial skirmish, my eastern flank of the war got very quiet. With nothing to do, I decided to strike deep into the Soviet-controlled northern edge of the map by grabbing the small town in Delta 5. I sent in two teams of Special Forces to snatch it:

Only some light units were found in the area, which the special operator boys ran out of town with little effort.

Having taken Delta 5, we decided to pivot west from Echo 1. The Soviets had started using a road to attack the western most reaches of the town that occupied that objective. I brought in some light infantry and fortified the area:

Just in time: a small Soviet force did penetrate the town. Fortunately, an allied unit stopped them. That is a BTR exploding in the near distance! My troops seem shocked. :D

The Soviets continued to push, so I brought in some MBTs:

They helped clear out the remaining Soviet units, and then cleverly used the houses as cover while they brought the road under fire to stop further attacks.

But those Soviets were a determined lot. They sent more and more units, particularly a bunch of T-72's that posed a real threat. I called in some quick response Hummers that mounted TOWs to help fight them off:

They had some good hunting. :ar15:

But then things started to go wrong. My ally on my left flank had collapsed under a strong assault - hence, why my flank seemed to see only weak to moderate attacks - and suddenly my troops in Echo 1 and Delta 5 were suddenly cut off when the enemy captured Hotel 5 behind me! This was a dangerous situation to say the least.

I immediately scraped together every M1 I could find and sent them on a mission to retake Hotel 5. I sent one section of M1s south from Delta 5 (they were guarding the special operators) to attack Hotel 5 from the north. They met stiff resistance. Here, one M1 takes shelter behind the wreck of his platoon mate. That fireball is the death of the Soviet T-72B that killed his comrade:

Meanwhile, I sent some M1s north from my home base - completing the pincer movement. Here, two more M1's fire on the enemy from the opposite direction:

And another M1 section moves in while an airstrike does its work:

And an Apache for good measure:

That Apache caught a surprising amount of anti-air during the course of its kill streak, so I called in a F-4 Wild Weasel to take out the Soviet AD units:

This pilot was a hot shot, taking out three AD units before a fourth sadly blotted him from the sky.

With the help of my ally, we eventually, and largely easily, recaptured Hotel 5. But it was now clear that I would need to expand my efforts to the left flank to help my AI teammate stabilize his flank. First objective: retake Foxtrot 5, and the small town to its north. As with my special forces attack on Delta 5, I brought in air mobile troops, this time by Blackhawk:

A klick or so up the road from their landing zone, my air mobile infantry encountered some enemy IFVs and dismounted infantry guarding a wooded field. The enemy put up quite the fight considering their generally weak equipment, so I called in some air strikes and armor to flush them out:

Cluster munitions from the above F-16 doing their work:

Despite the overwhelming force arrayed against them, the Soviets made it clear that they weren't going easy. My infantry moved in to engage, along with support from their Blackhawks. This shot was taken at the height of the battle and, as you can see by all the crisscrossing smoke trails, was quite an intense moment!

Eventually the Reds broke and we owned the field, as well as Foxtrot 5. Time to continue our march towards the small town up the road that the Sovs were using as a staging area.

Forward into the attack!

In the distance the town burns from a napalm strike I called in to soften up the enemy. I really do feel bad every time I do that to a civie area in the game.

Once we got closer to the town, I called in some regular infantry and their Bradleys. Here, you can see them disembarking and heading into the fight:

Halfway to the town's entrance, there is what appears to be an old barn or some similar structure. Turns out that just on the other side of this rectangular structure the Reds were waiting for us. Here, you can see Bradleys engaging the enemy on the distant right, while in the foreground American infantry inches forward (and the black cloud of destruction looms higher from the burning town):

I find there to be a very apocalyptic element to this picture - sort of Stalker-like

The fight quickly over - I could feel the Red's game beginning to break - my infantry marched up to the gates of the town itself (guarded by two burning Soviet IFVs). It was quiet...too quiet. :D

Sure enough, heck would break out as soon as my grunts penetrated the town itself. Infantry in every house, and light armor around every corner:

Grunts in action:

With a lot of air support and armor, we eventually dislodged the enemy. The town was worse for the experience - destruction everywhere:

But it was ours. Especially once our tanks pushed through to the far side and kept the enemy at bay....

Epilogue after the break....
Categories: Blogs

Thought about buying a Playstation 4 the other day

Tue, 02/18/2014 - 12:05
What the hell is the world coming to? I hate console systems and bash on them all the time, mainly because the games suck the the systems are a joke compared to a crappy, five-year-old PC. But I also dislike them because they put faceless corporations in charge of which games get made and which ones don't, which is tantamount to giving them final say over what we all get to play and what we don't. No thanks, I like to make my own decisions thank you very much.

So why would I even consider buying one? Honestly, I have no idea. Perhaps is was a moment of weakness.
Categories: Blogs

And now for something Completely Different - THAvajiz!

Sat, 01/25/2014 - 22:21
This post will be about a role-playing system I just digested, so any ASLers may want to just glaze over this one.

A local GM has recently been trying to get me to join his Savage Worlds campaign. I successfully resisted, but in the process, I got a good long look at the system.
Which had been an issue before now. I maintain an interest in state of the art of game design, which means I try to keep track of the mechanics of new systems. But every time I made inquiry about Savage Worlds to one of its boosters, I would get a lot of buzz words, but no actual answers.

Well, I have my answers now. And none of them are good. It's one of those situations where I say. 'Gosh, where to start?'
So I will start with a conclusion: The system is absolute Crap.
It's not even concealed crap. Lots of deadly warning signs. 'Exploding' dice (though admittedly a less odious version than most such), and playing cards as a randomizer (though the impact is mercifully mostly limited to initiative). ALways terrible signs.
And as you look closer, it just gets worse. Over compression of the system ends up making character generation a mess. Players are railroaded into "one big Disad and two little ones". Customization is touted as being accomplished through "Edges" . . . but most of the non-combat Edges presented in the "Test Drive" pdf have such high prerequisites that, by the time you are eligible to buy them, they are no longer particularly relevant. (I was reminded of D&D 3.0's "Prestige Class" structure here)
But worst of all, characters are pretty much required to be specialists, as it it is pretty hard to build a functional generalist character. A character I could buy for 50 points in Hero, or maybe 70 pts in GURPS (in both cases, a low enough number to qualify as a sidekick in either system), just can't be built in Savage World as a Novice character.

I reached out to a renowned game designer of my acquaintance to compare notes, and he shared this:
"I was talking to a game designer last year who'd been doing Savage Worlds and trying to make its superhero game work. He was having trouble making the system's superhero rules (there's
a supplement for that) do what he wanted, and ended up looking for something else. Another friend complained the gun rules were overly simplistic."
So, not just me.

One of the saddest things about this is I was able to identify a few easy fixes to the system, which would make it less awful for me, but the prospective GM was so enthused about the Received Gospel of SW that he would brook no changes, even character specific ones.

I see this game as yet another in a long line of works pandering to the enumeracy of American youth. "Math is Haard !"

Perhaps Pinnacle Entertainment, the keepers of this game, should change their motto to "Get on the Savage Worlds bus - it's even shorter than you think!"
Categories: Blogs

The Black SS Counter Question

Tue, 01/21/2014 - 02:14
A few days ago, I noted that one of the regulars I follow on this forum was waxing eloquent on the impropriety of having special rules, and counters, for SS troops.

This kind of startled me, as the fellow in question is absolutely beyond doubt a bright guy, and not at all the sort of fellow whose thoughts I was comfortable writing off out of hand.

Now, I will cheerfully admit that early in the war, the SS was considered unprofessional by their Wehrmacht 'siblings', but later in the war, many formations demonstrated advantages in performance, especially in matter of unit morale that ASL puts so much effort into modeling. So surely rules for such are justified.

Back in my Old SL days, playing Crescendo, this was pretty much taken for granted, but the troops were so expensive, hardly anybody ever chose them, so it was mostly a theoretical issue.

But the poor opinion of someone I respect set me to checking my premises on the matter.
Guido Knopp, a German journalist and historian of considerable standing and esteem, put it this way:
“Had that marvellous courage and unflinching endurance, the blood so freely shed been devoted to a cause in any way honourable, the Waffen SS would have assured themselves of eternal glory".

"The number of those killed in action, both in the Waffen-SS and the German Army, correspond exactly to the ratio of their total strengths. The casualties among noncommissioned officers and enlisted men in the German Army and in the Waffen-SS were equivalent, but the casualty rate for officers was different. The deaths among SS officers were almost double that of officers in all combat units."
(sounds like something a tactical system might be forgiven for being tempted to model)

As far as I can tell, the later in the war, the more central SS units were to "fire brigading" defenses, and leading assaults. While their equipment was general much more similar to Wehrmacht than most seem to think, the morale (specifically, tenacity, which seems a pretty precise definition of what "morale" means in ASL) of many of the units seems to have been notably higher.

I am frequently told on these forums that I am a "novice" (and that's one of the kinder epithets), so perhaps my opinion must carry no weight, but it seems t o me there is Ample reason to grant at least Some SS units special moral rules.

And if we do that, why Not a special color to denote such units, since there were actions where they, and less august formations, fought side by side?

I have heard it said here, by people I respect, and people I don't, that having special counters for the SS is inherently a bad thing, because it glorifies the bad ideas that motivated them.
It seems to me that this is special pleading.
Let me present a concrete analogy:
The peculiar nature of Japanese military culture of the time moved them to, in the words of another Forumite, "do things that would make the SS throw up".
Said peculiar military culture also produced behavior that moved the designers of ASL to have special rules for how they would respond to fire (reduce instead of break).
So, we have bunch of guys, many of whom did terrible things and we have special rules for them. And special counters. I have heard no shrieks of indignation over this.
So WHY is it okay for them, and not the SS?
My respected commenter used the word "political" as a justification for not having special counters for the SS. But we have special counters for Commissars, who were responsible for plenty of atrocious killings . . . just mostly of their own team.

In sum, I find these stated positions re the SS, and counters for same, inconsistent and indefensible. They (or, at least, some of them) Should have special rules. And they would benefit from special counters. In an already crowded counter front, color would be the simplest way.

Besides . . . they look real cool ! :D
Categories: Blogs


Wed, 01/15/2014 - 04:50
As I have mentioned elsewhere, I am an equipment guy. SWs, and especially Ordnance – blasting away at things with a heavy gun, over open sights . . . ah, that's the life for me! And so ASL's Appendix H is a godsend to me - a well researched and detailed compilation of Equipment. That Appendix's existence, to me, justifies by itself all the blood sweat and tears shed over the development of the system to date.

Now, ATRs can't hump themselves about the board, any more than DCs can throw themselves, so that means I have to have some sort of system for dealing with the targ . . . er, Infantry. And ASL certainly has that.

But I will not pretend I think that ASL in general, and especially its infantry system, is especially good.

First, credit where credit is due:
The penetration system in old SL was solid , having every sign of being based on real-world math, and ASL's version seems pretty close to what I remember. To hit #s seem reasonable, so that combines to make a good direct fire system.
Infantry movement rates are likewise acceptable.

Neutral items:
The turn structure is acceptable. I could quibble in the corners, but it'll do.
I much doubt the IFT is based on anything in particular. Since both the Firepower values of squads, and the entries on the IFT table, are likely abstractions, mutually fudged in the early stages of design to match the designers' expectations, I don't imagine they bear any objective relationship to historical firepower output. It seems to usually give results that most players are okay with, and that'll do.
Likewise, the Morale system is a compromise imposed by the chosen scale, a mechanism for units to be disabled by fire, but giving them a chance to recover, without attempting to "count the fall of every sparrow". It'll do.

The Bad:
ASL is mostly set in the era before the general deployment of radios to the squad level, and thus the ability of squad to telepathically just Know when the should move, and to where, is kinda silly. Excusing this by some imagined network of sniper-proof runners is only slightly less dopey. ASL, like most tactical games of its era of origination, allows entirely Too much command control. In WW2, such control should be exercised on the platoon, or even the company level.
Mechanics to deal with this would not be hard - they are literally lying around, all over the gaming world, in more evolved systems. Command points to activate untis, based on range. That sort of thing. But I doubt there will be any demand for them. People would rather learn cave rules than add a good command control suite.
But that pales . . . just pales before the silliness that is the Leadership system. A single leader (in fact, only one leader) can descend on a group of squads distributed over a 40 meter hex, and exhort/direct their fire so well as to turn them all into marksmen. This 'emanation of competence' is like a mantle he enfolds his charges with. It is like some magical ability from a role playing game.
And I think it pretty clear that that is no accident. The Squad Leader leadership concept is a thinly veiled insertion of role playing into a tactical board game. Hell, in Old SL, the CG system was enTirely based on getting your leader promoted! The evolution of the concept is obvious - and it's sources have Nothing to do with simulating infantry combat. But they are legacy now, and like a professor with tenure, they won't be touched

And ya know, I can actually live with that. But it does rather thoroughly immunize me from any notion that ASL's mechanics are, in general, notably superior. They're not. They just happen to be the system all that good research, and several good rules, are attached to. So there is reason to put up with them, but not to worship.
And by the way, remember that Appendix H is only unique to the system until someone goes to the trouble of coming up with translation of the crunchy hardware stats therein into some other system. And in this, the information age, such 'ports' are getting easier and easier. THAT is what I mean when I say that MMP should "look to their laurels" - their very best bits, greatly neglected on their watch, could be copied, and the result employed to better buttress a competing system, with Better mechanics.
Categories: Blogs

DYO terrain

Wed, 01/15/2014 - 03:50
I have already addressed corrections to ASL's pricing system for DYO. But that still leaves terrain set-up, and VC/objectives.

The Kibbler system had a pretty solid terrain generation system, but more boards have come out since then, which may make that system unsatisfactory for some player's purposes. I can't begin to update that system on my own, but I may be able to offer the outline of a minimalist alternative.

The simplest functional terrain setup system I've ever seen is from a highly compressed variant of the DBMM miniatures system, called "DBMM 100". The defender sets up the enTire (square) board, and then the attacker chooses which of the 4 sides he wants to enter on (the defender sets up opposite). This model might be a useful jumping off point.

I also recall (though from where, I cannot say) seeing a terrain generation mechanism that allows a terrain feature placed by one player to be rotated or incrementally wiggled by the other player. Since ASL terrain boards are geomorphic, this sort of mechanism could be translated into ASL by, for example, allowing the attacker to rotate a board the defender had placed, or perhaps even transposing two boards. He might have to sacrifice a percentage of points from his force pool for this privilege, or increase the difficulty of his VC by a similar percentage.

This is the point where a group of similarly minded souls would be helpful to play through various permutations of this. But it's just me, so this is about as far as I can take you with this.
Categories: Blogs

Duke Lucidio The Ripper

Tue, 01/14/2014 - 03:20
Somebody alert Rock Paper Gloria Steinem: we have a bona fide misogynist on our hands. :D And he started out as such a nice guy. Duke Lucidio was the heir of the Portucale duchy, having inherited it from his father Vimara, a rather mediocre, if just, duke. And, yes, he is an actual historical personality:

Lucídio Vimaranes was the second Count of Portugal within the Kingdom of Asturies. He was the son of Vímara Peres. Following his death, the county passed out of the family, but he is thought to have been ancestor of Count Alvito Nunes, who in the 11th century initiated a second period in which the family controlled the County of Portugal. The Kingdom of Asturies was divided internally into several provinces called "counties". Portus Cale was one of these asturian counties after it become part of the asturian kingdom as a new land conquered from the moors. Be that as it may, Duke Lucidio got off to a rough start. After being invited to a kingdom-wide knightly tournament, Lucidio embarrassed himself with a spectacularly bad performance due to his lack of military skill. Being laughed off the field, Lucidio made it his personal ambition to rise above his limitations and become a great warrior. With that in mind, he ultimately tracked down a famed martial instructor from the Orient and, after having paid off this gentleman's hefty pub tab, hired the fella to train him over a period of months. When his period of instruction was over, Lucidio had greatly improved his martial skills to the point where his liege made him his preferred general, if not his marshal. Lucidio still wasn't the best general on the field and suffered more than his fair share of setbacks, nonetheless he did establish his bravery in battle, as well as successfully laying siege to many a Moorish holding at the behest of his king.

But it was on the domestic front where things started to go wrong. Particularly with women. This was somewhat unexpected seeing how Lucidio was quite successful in his two marriages which produced eight children. Then again, his first wife did suddenly die from "pneumonia"....

But his first overt act of misogyny occurred due to a mishap over the bishopric of Braga. It turns out the bishop of Braga had embraced a heresy. Upon learning of this, Duke Lucidio immediately had the errant bishop arrested and thrown in the dungeon. After a brief stay, the bishop agreed to renounce the heresy and re-embrace his Roman Catholic faith. This he did, and was so released back into the world...and back into the bishopric of Braga. The idea of a former heretic retaining his post as bishop did not sit well with Lucidio, so he immediately stripped the bishop of his title and sent him packing. But now there was a vacancy to fill. So, the duke decided to appoint his trusted marshal to the role, figuring the man could be both the baron mayor of Viana do Castelo as well as bishop of Braga [this was an error on my part. I assumed one man could wear two hats, but the game told me that it was an improper arrangement in red, which usually denotes a penalty of some sort]. So now the duke had a problem. But seeing the advanced age of his marshal, the duke figured he could suffer through any adverse effects for what would be an undoubtedly brief period of time.

Well, not many years later, the good marshal died...but his wife inherited his title to the bishopric of Braga. Now there was a problem for the duke as he could not afford to suffer through another lifetime of being a proper vassal short. So, with this in mind, he kindly [in my mind!] explained to the good widow that while he had no interest in removing her claim to being the baroness of Viana do Castelo, he would be requiring the title to the bishopric back due to a clerical error that rendered the whole thing void (ahem :whist:). The duke figured this wouldn't be a problem seeing how she still had her primary title anyway. It would be a win-win for everyone involved (what is a woman going to do with a bishopric anyway?!?).


The widow tore up the letter and promptly barricaded herself inside her two holdings, with a declaration that was probably similar to a "molon labe". :D This was now not an inconsiderable problem as Duke Lucidio had invested quite the amount of money in improving the fortress levels of all his holdings! [I actually give the AI a LOT of credit here. It didn't do the stupid thing and meet me on the battlefield where it was sure to lose, rather it stayed behind its formidable walls! Nicely played! :clap:] The widow's holdings were so strong that the duke didn't have enough troops to conduct a proper siege! So he was forced to hire expensive mercenaries to bulk up his forces. After doing so, he laid siege to the city of Viana do Castelo first, something that took a long, long time to break. So long, in fact, that the duke's coffers were beginning to run dry from having to pay the mercenaries! In desperation, he was forced to call on his brother-in-law for reinforcements, a most embarrassing turn of events (the duke hated to think about the dinner table conversation that coming harvest festival! :o). His brother-in-law took his time arriving, but when he did, Duke Lucidio cut the mercenaries free with just pennies left in the treasury, and used his brother-in-law's forces to continue the siege. Shortly after, Viana do Castelo, and then Braga, fell. All in all, it was a largely bloodless siege...which was fortunate for all seeing how this was basically a civil war with no real "bad guys". The widow was captured and put in the duke's dungeon, and the bishopric was assigned to a nice, if wet-behind-the-ears kid who just arrived at court [I could imagine his flummoxed look when he was greeted with a "Welcome to the duchy! Oh, and congratulations! The duke made you a bishop! And, no, we don't hand this stuff out like candy." :laugh: Interestingly, he has become quite the successful bishop, with a good chance of becoming a cardinal!].

But the duke was a compassionate man. Seeing how this whole mess was partly his fault, he agreed to let the rebellious widow go free if she would pay for the damages done during the siege. She agreed and was let go. But she never forgave the duke and seethed with hatred for him from that point on. Which was a problem for the duke. How could he allow one of his vassals to be so disrespectful to him? After all, she was the one that made a mountain out of a molehill! No, something needed to be done.This is when the duke took a decidedly immoral course of action, one that would set him on a very dark path. He set about plotting the death of the baroness of Viana do Castelo.

To his surprise, he had no problem finding co-conspirators! A chance to grab a rich title was too tempting for many, and they literally lined up for a crack at her. Poor gal. :bite: The first attempt involved the duke's marshal putting a viper in her chamber...but she escaped, leading to an amusing attempt to locate the viper afterwards! :laugh: But the second attempt was far more successful...and direct. A bomb placed at the inn where she stayed when travelling.


Got her...and I suspect a lot of other people, too. Seeing how the baroness had no heir, the title to Viana do Castelo fell back into the duke's clutches, which was fine with him. It was win-win after all! :D

The duke did feel guilty afterwards, so guilty that he immediately begged the pope for a papal indulgence to wipe away his sins. And he got one. And...the pope DIED THE NEXT DAY after granting the indulgence! Seriously! What an omen!:eek:

Indeed, the following years would become quite...disturbing. One woman was dead, but she was not the last. As mentioned earlier, the duke's first wife would suddenly die from "pneumonia". That was the official COD, but in retrospect I am suspicious. Next, the duke's daughter-in-law would find herself in his clutches. Duke Lucidio's spymaster detected a plot where his son's wife, Anna Makedon, an Iconoclast Greek, was planning on killing the duke's nephew! So the duke sent out his guards and arrested his daughter-in-law, placing her in the dungeon. This was, understandably, a sticky situation, seeing how the duke had to tread carefully since this was the wife of his heir. The duke let it be known that he was considering forcing Anna to convert to Catholicism and renouncing her sins in exchange for a pardon. That was the official plan. But it never came to be because a mere three days after her capture, Anna Makedon was found dead in the dungeon. THREE DAYS! DEAD!

Again, the official COD was that she suddenly died from an "illness", but people began to whisper, especially after it was learnt that she died while pregnant. So, that was what? Three dead women now? Three women who had been associates of the duke? Surely it was just bad fortune! Still, the whispers continued.

If there was any doubt as to the duke', predilections, those came to an end four years later with what has become known as the "Karling Incident". Echive Karling was the duke's son's second marriage (interestingly, both marriages were arranged by the Duke Lucidio). Not long after their marriage, the duke's spymaster also supposedly detected this woman in a plot, this time against the duke himself. So, once again, the duke sent out his guards to arrest her and deposit her in the dungeon. And, once again, she would not last long. She did last about a month or two in all, but around the third month of captivity, the duke gave in to his darker impulses and had Karling put on the wrack just to relish the feeling of power [I am not kidding - this was an actual pop-up event!]. Karling did not last long, she was horribly maimed and died within a day or so of her torturing at the hands of the duke.

Notice the scar on her face from the torture
Now it was official: Duke Lucidio was a serial killer of women, a ripper. :skull: Tongues were really wagging now! Also noted by the pesantry and nobility was how, despite losing two wives in the dungeon of his father, the duke's son was not at all displeased with his father! In fact, their relationship was closer than ever!This was a seriously disturbed family. :D

Okay, with the exceptions of the deliberate, undeniable murders of both the Baroness of Viana do Castelo and Echive Karling, the above story of serial misogyny is admittedly woven together from lots of circumstantial evidence. But what criminal case isn't? If this was a true story, I don't think any serious person could reach any other conclusion other than that there was something sinister afoot within this duchy. In fact, add in the death of the pope - again, the DAY AFTER granting the duke an indulgence, and you could even say there was real evil here.

I confess to this disturbing me. I am not one to play "the bad guy" in a game, so this is pretty dark fodder for me to handle. :D Downright creepy! I think when I get a chance to get back to the not so good duke, I am going to send him on a pilgrimage, and not to nearby Santiago, but all the way to either Rome or Jerusalem. Something needs to be done to save this guy's soul!

Just another interesting tale of medieval terror, brought to you from the dark recesses of:

Categories: Blogs

My own DYO

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 19:59
Suggestions for improvements in the DYO system (or anything else, really) tend to get a poor reception around here. Some of the gentler responses were along the lines of 'you want it, do it yourself!'

Well, upon consideration, that's a fine idea.
I've done it before, coming up with new, historically justified stratagems for DBMM. I did it for Old SL, on this very topic, 30 years ago. I can do this.

First, I must offer an apologia for why I, and I suspect Sgt. Rock, gave the impression of feeling entitled to a better DYO system. Put simply, ASL is behind the times in this matter. Long and broad familiarity with the gaming industry tells me that relatively open points-buy systems have become more or less state of the art, even starting to make inroads into such stodgy legacy RPG systems as d20. So the notion that the sort of energetic player community that ASL sports would be complacent with a second rate mechanism was, well, kind of counterintuitive.
Well, I know better now. Perhaps a function of the relatively small community size.

Back to the project.
The first thing to do is identify what needs fixing. Nothing besides that need be disturbed any more than necessary.
The statistical analysis of Snudl gives us BPVs for, well, pretty much any MMC, so I'll call that solved. The remaining bits are:
1) The availability roll, which effectively takes away the player's ability to reliably pick his equipment. Life is too short to play games like that.
2) The doling out of leaders in a fixed proportion to MMCs, implying a level of isotropy in leadership throughout the forces involved which is, I think, hard to justify. Further, makes it hard to assign leaders for variant counter sets for which no such ratios have been published.
3) Ditto Support Weapons. Given the epic cases of forces fighting on while out of supply, or on the run, that WW2 presents, the underlying assumptions supporting such a system would seem manifestly unfounded. And again, need a way to deal with unpublished forces.

The simplest way to deal with #1 is to just remove the die roll. The availability number becomes just a cost multiplier. It seems almost too simple, but I can find no excuse to further complicate it.

Forumite "footsteps" offered a base structure to deal with purchase of Leaders and SWs. His central thesis seems to be that, since Leaders are mainly only useful through their effect on MMCs, to price them based on the BPV of the main sort of MMC present on that side.
Here's an abridged version:

"After the Initial Infantry Purchase, determine the Majority Squad Type. In the event of a tie, or ambiguity, the higher BPV unit is considered Majority.

Add 1 to the Majority BPV to obtain the Supplemental Point Value (SPV).

Add/subtract Leaders/SW as desired, knowing that adding will reduce the Points available for purchasing ordnance/vehicles/etc, while subtracting will increase the Points available for further purchases.

BPV for added/subtracted units is calculated thusly:

MMG = SPVx1.5 (FRU)
all others = SPV

Some countries have more than one version of a SW (i.e. British have MMG and MMG(a) available). In such cases, add 1 to the derived BPV (i.e. after applying modifiers) for the better SW version to determine its BPV.

10-3 = (SPVx2) +1
10-2 = (SPVx2) -1
9-2 = (SPVx1.5) +1 (FRU)
9-1 = (SPVx1.5) -1 (FRU)
8-1 = SPV +1
8-0 = SPV -1
7-0 = SPVx0.75 (FRU)
6+1 = SPVx0.6 (FRU) "

I imagine this part could use a bit of refinement, but if someone wanted to play DYO Right This Minute, this is what I would go with.
Categories: Blogs

Bestest Forumite, EVerrrrrrr!

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 17:54
As I write this, we are electing a "Forumite MVP" for last year.
I was a member for something like three days last years, so I am perhaps not competent to offer an opinion on that. But perusing the list of nominees, I noticed none of the people that have been especially useful to me are on it.
While I cannot claim this is an injustice, I would like to offer credit where credit is due. So: My personal Honor Roll, in descending order -

Snudl: He says his statistical analysis of BPV is worthy of an MA thesis - and I believe him. Kudos! :hail:

footsteps: who offered a sample structure that had not occurred to me for a pricing system for Leaders and SWs. :clap:

Sand Bar Bill: For reminding me of the possibility of using a balanced scenario to extrapolate from. :thumup:

And an Honorable Mention to tommyl, for bringing up the scenario indexing function that includes ordnance. :salute:

That accomplished, I would now like to acknowledge all the Good Sports who have offered support and encouragement to me personally, or just demonstrated a notable capacity for independent thought. In no particular order:
Gunner Scott
Paul M. Weir
:toast: to all, and any like them (you know who you are), and apologies for omissions.
Categories: Blogs

Scenario Review Post

Thu, 01/02/2014 - 22:53
In this post, I will review specific variant modules. I will edit the post to add new scenarios as I get time to get to them.

One issue that applies to all of these. Pittcavage has claimed that some of Wilder's modules in the past have come with their counters uncut. I am not in position to contradict this, but all the ones I bought (6 and counting now) came razor cut, and the counters bagged.
Unfortunately, this opens the way to a different problem - missing counters. I counted a few Leaders absent from the mix. But since most ASL players have scads of extra counters lying around, a simple matter to draft one in from another set, as necessary. Thus, in my first playthrough of SB01 (Bull Run), General Jackson was ably assisted by White Elk, from Gary Owen. "Me have'm bad feeling 'bout blue coats. Me nip'm in Bud!"
Still I acknowledge the QC really could have been better there.

General Module Notes:
While the game is definitely playable, I do Not claim that ASL is the very best way to game the ACW. BUT, if you already have the boards (and be honest, you know you do), and the counters from BV, and you get the hankering, this module will let you give it a try.

SB01: Wilder usually (but not always) presents the scenarios in chronological order, and in this case, that's unfortunate. This is No scenario to start off with! The multi-level hills and buildings, and all the woods, make for a very complex LOS situation. And that matters, as each side has 4 cannon. Further, the smoke drifting in the light wind from these 8 guns is a bit of a pain to keep track of, and since some of the guns don't start emplaced, you have to keep track of which ones are, for counter-battery considerations. Oh, and it's 10 turns.
But the worst thing is the bad VCs. The Union has to attack, with inferior numbers, inferior morale, and inferior leadership. Expecting them to pull off an advance in the face of all that is a stretch, and that has been my experience with the scenario. I have only seen the Union win once, and that was the result of a freak artillery hit that took out Jackson himself.
I am usually tolerant of imperfect VCs, as they can usually be adjusted, incrementally, until balance is restored, but in this case, fixing them would require a drastic enhancing of the Union force, and/or serious re-casting of the objective. If it was me, I would change it to mostly having the Union hold the line of hexes that includes the crossroad, near the board junction, with extra point for having gotten any MMCs notably farther in at any time.
The VCs also have a typo, a confusion of compass points of the sort that is sadly pretty common in Wilder's work.
EDIT: I have just done a careful solitaire play-through of the scenario, and I have to retract some of the above. The key to maximizing Union chances of success is to Use every bit of those 10 Turns to undertake a deliberate, disciplined cannonade of the heights, waiting for gunnery Smoke to clear between shots, before undertaking any serious assault. This requires Very careful set-up, spacing as many guns as possible close enough to the Union "Observers" counter to get their bonus, but far enough apart that wind blown Smoke from one battery does not badly mask others.

SB02: This one is not as complicated as SB01, being on mostly flat ground, and of shorter duration, but it is also severely unbalanced. As presented, the Confederates need only advance a few hexes, and that into terrain (Board#6) that offers multiple, dispersed cover, just past the objective line, to hole up in. And again, the Union has inferior firepower & morale, and though not attacking, they have to stop the Confederates in just 4 hexes.
I've played this one twice, once on each side, and as presented, I have to call this one unwinnable for the Union.
This scenario might be fixable. In fact, it is possible the problem is just a typo in the VCs, and the Confederate objective line is supposed to be Much farther in. I hope to get a definitive answer from the designer soon.

SB03: FINally, a balanced scenario! Union, on Attack, has enough MMCs, and leaders, to do the job. I was so exciting after playing (and losing) this one that I started a new thread in the After Action Report Sub-Forum.

Gary Owen and Glory: Typos on the scenario cards. Seems to come with the territory.
Cav01: A fairly simple, fun scenario. Slightly imbalanced vs. the Cavalry. Mostly, it is a test of the Indian player's discipline. If he can grit his teeth, and be willing to sacrifice some squads during a somewhat extended shooting match, he can collect most of the VCs he needs, while whittling down the Cavalry to the point they cannot withstand an assault by the Indian's 10-3 led turn 3 reinforcements.
To maximize Cav staying power, they should set up across a hill top, to preclude a opportunities for encircling fire.

Cav02 "Battle of 100 Slain" : Simple scenario, kinda fun, but a bit one sided, unless the Indians fail to optimize their initial set-up.
Given the likelihood of surrounded last stands for the Cavalry in this one, it would be a Great application for Snudl's "Atrocity" rules - after the first few declined surrenders, the remaining troopers will likely fight to the death, perhaps keeping things interesting for longer.

Cav 08 "The Hunt": This was the first scenario I ever played in VASL. Obviously VASL does not have counters for Wilder's works, but since it is a solitaire module, I felt free to use whatever virtual counters caught my eye - in this case, for example, I used Kubelwagons to represent the bison!
As I mentioned, this is designed as a solitaire scenario, and I was simply FLoored by how well balanced it was. I played it 4 times, won twice. Once had my entire hunting party wiped out. "Triple Point Blank Goring"?
Well balanced solitaire scenarios are rare as hens' teeth, and this is one of them. That makes it a very useful training tool. My congratulations to the author.
Categories: Blogs

How I Got Here

Wed, 01/01/2014 - 23:48
I have not been an active participant on game-related forums until very recently, and the reasons I am at the moment are exceptional enough to warrant mentioning.

After drifting away from SL in the late 80's (like so many others), a took up ASL recently, mostly as an act of charity towards my main gaming partner, who is known here as Sgt. Rock. We both mostly play miniatures, ancients having been our 'main squeeze' for awhile. But he also has a fascination with WW2, probably because his father served in France. He kept buying ASL stuff, and hinting that he wanted to play.

I have no particular interest in WW2, but I kinda felt sorry for him, so I started looking through the system, looking for some way to approach it that would minimize the impact of the parts I didn't like. Pretty quickly, I found a slew of pre-WW2 scenarios that seemed promising.
In pursuit of these, I started hearing about some of the works of Bill Wilder, and eventually bought some. Going through the counters, I found several that were not in any of the included scenarios . . . which for me was a pretty striking reminder of the possibility of DYO scenarios.
But there were no BPVs for these presented in the modules, which was something of a stumbling block. Fortunately, Sgt. Rock alerted me to the work of Snudl, who has used statistical regression to find the "secret formula" behind the pricing of MMC BPVs. This went a long way to solving that problem.
(Aside: Man , that guy Snudl does aMAzing work!)
But the variant counters also came without the ratios that calculate Leaders & SWs, which was another problem. I asked Rock to ask Snudl if he had a pricing system for that. He told me to register, and ask him myself.
Well, that was a reasonable enough request, so I did. Snudl, as it turns out, did not have the answer, but footsteps did, and my problems there are mostly dealt with.

But while I was in pursuit of the above, on my very first post, I glanced up a few posts, and saw one "Pitman" holding forth, claiming that Sgt. Rock doesn't play ASL.
Well, that's just not true. He's played in front of me. He's played it With me! So here I am seeing a guy spreading falsehoods, and about one of oldest friends, concerning something I have first hand knowledge of. Further, since Pitman made no pretense of actually knowing Sgt. Rock, at All , this was a falsehood he was clearly uttering with reckless disregard for the truth. Which is pretty much the same as a lie.
So I called him on it.
Well, Pitman is apparently something of a protected species here (which I suspect goes a long way to explaining his behavior) so that caused a bit of a stir. But in the process, I received confirmation that Pitman was, in fact, none other than Mark Pittcavage, who had made similarly reckless statements about Bill Wilder's modules on his blogs. So there was a pattern forming here.

Rather than just engage in an endless round of contradictions with Pittcavage's army of troll minions, I determined to simply set the record straight, as best I could, be posting a longish revue of Wilder's works that I had already written, on its own thread.
More stir. I gather Pittcavage is now trying to get the whole thread deleted. Because, I suppose, if a refutation of his position is removed from easy view, it means he must be right.

Perhaps you see why I have not made a habit of frequenting forums in the past.

That said, I also got a lot of support from the better elements here. Good for you (you know who you are!)
Categories: Blogs

My experience with The CHANGE OVER.

Wed, 01/01/2014 - 03:39
I started playing Old SL back in college. Before I left, I was playing Crescendo, and liking it.

When ASL first came out, fairly hot on the heels of GI, I remember the local gaming community just folding their arms, almost as one, and turning away. In the course of a year, SL games just dried up.

This was not because it was thought that ASL was fundamentally inferior. Sure, it was understood that it would be awhile before enough supplements would come out to bring the detail up to the level of GI, but that wasn't it; they'd waited plenty long for GI. Rather, it was the insult – the fact that they had just shelled out (what was in those days) some Serious coin, for something that its makers then announced they were going to make obsolete as fast as they could.
This gave their fairly new GI rules a certain air of . . . obsolescence. It was something whose relevance was passing away. And for many, that meant it just wasn't that interesting to them anymore. And interest is Critically important for an undertaking as complex as Squad Leader.
And ASL really wasn't ready to take up the slack. It wasn't complete enough yet, and the prospective players were in No mood to be charitable.

I say this with no moral judgement vs. AH, or the players. I can see that having the old set out, while the new one is developed, seems a valid business strategy. And I can see that, after all the work they did developing GI, they felt the need to monetize their investment by selling it.
It just didn't work out.

Recently, a player I know was complaining about things ASL, and he absentmindedly said, "They just need to reset it, and rebuild the rules from the ground up." I reminded him of the fate of the Last owners who had done that. "No Way they want any part of that karma", I chided him. "That's the 'Third Rail' of the gaming industry".
Categories: Blogs