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Hex & Violence: A new blog (sort of)

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2011, October 14

With the demise of the Central Coast Corsairs as an active club, my miniatures gaming has dwindled to absolutely nothing. Certainly the heightened attention to playing and all things Advanced Squad Leader has contributed to this. but I don’t see it as a necessarily negative thing. Like all thing, gaming interest is cyclic and I’m confident that I’ll be painting nad daming with minis soon enough. After all there’s a lot of unpainted and unbased lead and plastic sitting around in boxes here to occupy me for at least 3-5 years.

ASL has taken a fairly significant chunk of any free time I have over the last 2 years and so I’ve decided to actively split the ASL side of things into another blog Hex & Violence . I’ve already ported over all the ASL content from here, so from now on this blog will be returning to it’s primary subject, miniatures. I doubt there’ll be a huge onslaught of updates as I haven’t really looked at what I’ll be looking to complete of the outstanding projects, but i’m sure there’ll be something along the lines of fixing up stuff that I’ve already started and need to complete.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, Boardgames, Gaming | 2 Comments »

I love the smell of new counters in the morning. It smells like…victory!

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, March 7

I’ve been a bit forgetful in terms of ASL lately. All my focus has been spent on plotting and planning my attendance at ASLOk. This would be okay if I was actually playing ASL at the Bearz or via VASL, but I’ve been too tired after work to play, even when I don’t fall asleep on the train and miss my stop. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about ASL, just actually playing the game has been an issue. In the interim,  a fair bit of ASL stuff has arrived on my doorstep in the last 4 weeks, notably so with Doomed Battalions which contained even more ASL goodness than I had thought possible. LIke Valor of the Guards, it’s an impressive amount for the money.

Midway through last week, I had another MMP box delivered. This was my much-anticipated February order of the limited printing Winter Offensive 2010 ASL for ALS bonus pack. Really it wasn’t so much the bonus pack, but the additional items I ordered to defray the postage charges that was the source of my joy. Two Starter Kits (1 and 2), Starter Kit Bonus Pack (Bocage), the one Action Pack I didn’t have (Few Returned) and a scenario pack (Turning the Tide). In itself that’s a fairly sizable gap that has been filled in my ASL collection.

BoardGameGeek ASL Starter Kit #1 Photo

I’d been fairly non-committal about the new SK manufacturing style of the boards, and a little less than enthused about the actual SK boards themselves. However I’m a huge convert now (having just compared the portability of my SK style boards directly with a similar number of the old mounted boards. Being able to fit so many boards within a single SK style box is certainly a bonus. I just have a lot of counter trimming and organising to do and definitely it’s time for RAACO!

BoardGameGeek ASL Starter Kit #2 photo

The Raaco order will have to wait until after ASLOk, due to budget considerations. Sadly it’s the ideal time to be purchasing from UK & Europe with the strength of the Australian dollar vis a vis the Euro and Sterling.Otherwise I’d be grabbing a double sized Raaco setup for my ASL now. I shall make do with a couple of planos for my Starter Kit setup as that’s about all I want to take with me to ASLOk. A small folder of scenarios and pre-printed VASL maps will round out the deal.

Still to come this year in terms of ASL pre-order goodness are Journal 8 (my card’s already been charged), ASL Action Pack 6, Starter Kit Expansion pack 1 and hopefully the reprints of For King and Country, Journal 2 and Starter Kit 3. Add in a few more catch up purchases and 2010 is definitely my ASL year.

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I come from a land downunder (Shebangabang)

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 14

Ever since I saw this ad, it has never failed to crack me  or my partner up. I guess now I’m an expat kiwi in Oz, I’m far less thin-skinned about certain topics. Of the expats over here I know, almost all of them now refer to enzed as shebangabang. I think I’ll have to get a T shirt screen printed with Team Shebangabang for ASLOK.

In gaming news, not much progress of Project Tau or the Fallschirmjäger. With the pre-reg pack now ready for ASLOK, getting things in synch for that is taking all my attention for the next 4 weeks. I’m hoping for my annual work bonus to help out a little here as I’ll be booking my ASLOK room asap. There are a few things in the pipeline to be delivered from MMP as soon as they recover from the “Snocalypse” that seems to have shut down the Eastern US which will allow me to sort out a decent international ASL travel pack:

Plus there are a couple of still outstanding pre-orders for Journal 8 and Action Pack 6 due to arrive later this quarter which I’m really looking forward to. Having priced some Raaco lately, I think I’m going to have to wait until after ASLOK and get them for Xmas.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, ASLOK XXV, Diary of An Army II (1944 Fallschirmjäger), Flames of War, Project Tau, WH40K | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

ASLOK XXV Pre-planning

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 7

The budget is done, annual leave approved, the timeframe for booking flights and accommodation is pretty much set. All I really need to do is figure out what I’m going to take with me in terms of actual ASL gear (mapboards, counters and scenarios) and what scenarios I’m going to try and play. The ASL gear is a bit of a conundrum: do I select my scenarios based on what I can reasonably expect to bring with me in terms of materiel or should I just go with the flow and rely on the locals to provide the OBs? My thought is that I’ll bring two planos of system counters (the standard Inf, AFV and Arty plus regular system) and what OBs and mapsheets I take will be limited to plastic baggies from the Starter Kits and a selection of the SK style boards I already have. With a limit of 20 kilos for checked luggage, I really can’t afford to take too much.

Aaron C suggested I take a netbook with VASL and eASLRB and a pendrive with the scenarios I want to play ready to print. I think that will help, but I’m nowhere near having the ASLRB familiarity that Aaron has, so I may have to bring all the QRDCs with me. Based on a couple of my scenario draft choices, I’ll definitely be bringing my non-desert overlays and a couple of the TPP mapboards from Into The Rubble, Beachead and LFT. If I can I’d like to play a solid mix of newer TPP scenarios and official classics (you will not see me playing Gavin Take though) and I may end up printing out a few winterized versions from VASL for some personal favourites anyway.

Provisional Scenario Playlist:

My themes: I want to play a few linked scenarios that I’ve not played before. Thus most of my new stuff was released in the last few years – AP3-5, some of J7, Into The Rubble, some of the LFT stuff and Action at Carentan because it looks fun. There are a couple of modern favourites and a modest selection of scenarios that I’ve been dying to play Face to Face rather than PBeM. Of course this is all subject to change based on what is released in J8, AP6, LFT12 and any of the other TPP scenario packs I’ll be picking up between now and October. Then there are also the ASLOK Mini-tourneys I may get shanghaied into, which I’ll probably have to take into account. You will not see me playing Gavin Take or Totsugeki ever.

Doomed Battalions and Action Packs (six):

Definitely want to play some of these. I’ve played a couple of DB scenarios on VASL but never in the flesh so to speak.

  • 083 Round One
  • 140 Round Two
  • AP31 First Cristot
  • AP33 Second Cristot
  • AP42 Frontiers and Pioneers
  • AP52 Into Vienna Woods

Journal Seven (eight):

I really liked this journal alot. I played the scenarios from LFT and really enjoyed them enough to play any of them again, especially as they’re pretty quick and fun. The others are the meatier scenarios I never really managed to play, I guess because they were not schedule friendly for me and John at the time, when it was all about maxing out our number of scenarios played while we could.

  • 122 Extracurricular Activity – never played
  • J102 Yelnya Bridge
  • J103 Lenin’s Sons
  • J104 Flanking Flamethrowers
  • J105 Borodino Train Station
  • J106 Marders not Martyrs
  • J110 Prelude to Spring – never played
  • J111 Prussia In Flames – never played

Red Barricades Mini Scenario Theme (eight):

These little lot of RB scenarios are ones I’ll be bringing mini-maps over to play particular to each scenario. I’m hoping to get through each of these scenarios as my ASLOK project. If anyone attending ASLOK this year is interested , then don’t hesitate to contact me and we can confirm details closer to the event.

  • RB3 Bread Factory #2
  • RB4 To The Rescue
  • RB6 Turned Away
  • RB7 The Red House
  • HASL A Ghosts in the Rubble
  • CH15 No Further
  • J22 Oh Joy!
  • MP11 Vulcan’s Forge

Finally a quartet of favourites  – the two scenarios that I loved in the COI era of SL and two PTO scenarios:

All Time Favourites (four):

  • T7 The Dead of Winter
  • T9 The Niscemi-Biscari Highway
  • CH Children of the Kunai
  • J12 Jungle Fighters

Schedule:

I should be arriving in Cleveland on Thursday evening but I will be taking most of Friday to recover from the flights. I intend to start gaming proper on the Saturday along with some of the other early arrivals – whether The World Team really wants me on their side is whole different matter – I doubt I’ll even make it past 1 and out in terms of the Grofaz in any case but I reckon given the scenarios I’ve selected so far as my free-form selection I should be able to get 2-3 scenarios done per day with minimal fatigue. So up until the Grofaz starts properly on the Thursday I’m looking at 5 days of free-form gaming equalling around 10-15 off my list. Once Grofaz starts I’ll probably slow down to 2 games per day but by the end of ASLOK proper on the Sunday evening, I should have managed to get around 18-23 games played – I’ve built my playlist around getting games I want to play accepted as scenario choices by opponents but I could very easily skip playing any of the J7 scenarios I’ve previously played and still get through most of my list.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, ASLOK XXV, Boardgames | 1 Comment »

ASL in 2010

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2010, February 7

With my miniatures projects all organised and scheduled, plus the costs already taken care of for the most part, it looks like that after 2 years of pretty much no ASL activity I will be doing a year of catchup. It’s already off to a good start, with Planning well advanced for the main event of 2010 – my trip to Cleveland, OH for ASLOK XXV. It’ll be my one and only chance to attend this gathering of ASL gamers and I think the 25th anniversary is the perfect way to do it. 2010 also seems to be the year in which many of my ASL pre-orders finally arrive – major gaps in my collection are now filled and I’m at the stage where I’m almost complete;y caught up on official ASL products. I still have a few Third Party Publisher products I need to acquire but thankfully, the ones I’m after in the main are still available.

I had thought I’d bought a fair bit of ASL in 2009, but I was surprised at how much I’d bought and how much I’d forgotten I’d bought, so I ended up with some duplicates – AP4 being the most egregious example. MMP puit up their limited Winter Offensive Pack for sdasle a couple of days ago, so i took the opportunity to pick up some more ASL and ASLSK items. With regard to the ASL Starter Kits, I’m not planning to use them as anything other than the basis for a portable ASL player pack. In that vein I am going to need to spend obscene amounts on a decent Raaco set up, especially as I’m now looking at replacing my very worn Beyond Valor and West of Alamein counter sets with the new versions.

My next lot of ASL gear to order are BFP’s Operation Cobra, Beyond the Beachhead II and probably some Le Franc Tireur stuff – depending on availability. The Friendly Fire packs I’m going to grab along with the Raaco. This is all with a view to creating a decent ASLOK playlist. But more on ASLOK later.

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The Wargames Press – in print and online

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 7

Now that I’m finally settled in Australia, I’m in a much better position to take in new rules, magazines, blogs and forums/bulletin boards. I’ve picked up a couple of issues of Wargames Illustrated (pre-and post-Battlefront purchase) as well as a couple of issues of Battlegames.

Battlegames works very hard at differentiating itself from the other two UK based magazines. Sometimes I think itfalls into unwitting satire of itself, with almost audible hear-hears and self-laudatory commentary. Graphically it errs on the side of de trop with the tell-tale pointers of DTP overkill and form over function. The one criticism I have of Battlegames that resonates with me is that it can look like a Web 2.0 ‘zine on steroids and suffers from a surfeit of Photoshop cleverness. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, Battlegames offers a great deal in terms of the written word. the prose is well-written and edited, with minimal overt editorialising or agenda-pushing and a distinct lack of the petty jealousies and bitchiness derived from envy that pervades online media at sites such as Page Miniatures The. Mike Siggins’ column is equally thought-provoking and incredibly insular in parts. Battlegames is expensive though, at AUD$17 a pop,  but for that you do get the aforementioned good writing, excellent photography and the “Old School Wargaming” tenor.

Wargames Illustrated, well according to some lackwits and luddites, it’s purchase by Battlefront (a successful non-UK wargames company, the cheek of it!) was the pre-cursor of the apocalypse. If one ignores that sort of thing and looks at the mag of late, It’s back to something of the good old WI of old. Sure there’s Flames of War content, but if FoW isn’t your thing, what’s to stop an adaptation of the FoW content from being usable with your current rules du jour. Certainly IABSM and PBI aren’t too dissimilar interms of scale and scope. There are some distinctly off-putting parts – but they may have gone by now – the excruciating faux bonhomie of the pseudo-Siggins is cringeworthy at best and lacking in any content of note. I wasn’t so impressed with the painting guide for the freebie ECW figure, being pure Dallimore in technique and really poorly presented. Sadly it seems that fewer people seem to be aware that there is more than 3 stark colour clashes to painting 28mm.

Online the usual suspects feature. PMT is becoming more and more irrelevant as it descends into self-parody with each month. By searching through some of the more focused forums around, one finds better advice, more trenchant opinion and often much more up to date news bereft of agenda-pushing and stalking horse commentary. The interface is as archaic as ever and the censor’s knife is wielded with the finesse and reasoning of a dull mattock. I tend to spend most of my online time these days at WargamerAU, despite its Fantasy/Sci-fi leanings, as there’s much to be picked up in terms of c0nversions, modelling and painting in an easily accessible format. When I’m not there I look for inspiration to the Guild, and other such forums. I avoid the heavy traffic forums like FoW, Daka Dakka or Frothers while the SOTCW forums are following the same path and featuring some of the same names that dissuaded me from paying much attention to TMP – sad really as SOTCW would do well if they would actually broaden their horizons beyond the few rules sets they do actually bother with. Again insularity rears its head in the case of the SOTCW. Will I rejoin? Possibly, but only because I don’t have all the back issues yet.

This may seem a tad negative in outlook as a blog post, but I’d like to stress that I see much to be positive generally.  I’ll spend more time paying attention to the various podcasts that are out there especially with 3 hours of commuting each day. There are also a few eZines and club forums that are worth searching out. I’ve given up on Yahoo groups for the main part, only Perfidious Albion continues to be a constatnt, mainly because of the varying content and a take no prisoners attitude to the Prima Donnas of the boardgames hobby.

Pete

Posted in Boardgames, Gaming, Rants and Raves, wargaming | Leave a Comment »

ASL: After Action Report – MP17 “Bagging Burcorps” Part 1

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, August 11

I’ve played one scenario from the SoCal ASL guys before and really enjoyed that (MP12 “Vulcan’s Forge” -Stalingrad) so when Pierce Mason suggested MP17 as a Pacific Theatre scenario, I was fine. It’s not a complex scenario on the face of it, with only Light Jungle and standrd PTO rules in effect, but it is a fighting withdrawal over 7 turns over effectively 1.75 board-depths.

The British are not your everyday plucky tommies, but second line troops, reasonably well equipped but not as cool under fire as their regular brethren. With that in mind I set up as follows:

It aint half hot mum

It ain't half hot mum

The Japanese enters from the bottom of the picture and so they’re going to be in my face pretty quickly. I should have time to redeploy from my reserve as necessary to react to the main thrust. I’ve looked to cover the Left flank with a picket line of one and a half sections – if the main thrust comes that way, I’ll be very surprised as it’s the long way around to the Japanese objective (a small ville far to the North). The right flank is protected by a reduced strength platoon with a senior subaltern and a Bren. This should prevent an attempt to use the easy approach down the right.

The centre is guarded by again a trip wire defence of a section and a bit, while the centre is very much where I expect to develop my reserve and a blocking position around the chokepoint in BB6 where a small watering hole constricts the path to the North. One part of my reserves are going to be sent to the north early on to develop a prepared position for the end game, and watch out for infiltrating Japanese recce troops.

Unfortunately in my initial setup I’ve effectively tried to defend everywhere and left some inviting gaps for infiltration. I didn’t fully take note that British 2nd Line still cower and that the paucity of spray fire weapons makes for major defensive fire weaknesses. However if I can fall back in good order without losing too many casualties to Japanese close quarters attacks and fire I’ll be happy.

P-J

The initial Japanese advance will be posted tomorrow.

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ASL: Playing again with a vengeance

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, August 7

I think I’ve rediscovered the fun element in ASL. For years it was almost a chore to play ASL, the effort required in keeping up with clarifications, Q&As, errata, even accessing the latest and greatest new scenarios seemed beyond me. In a way this mirrored my experience actually playing Flames of War. Too much effort required in the process compared to the enjoyment attained from the outcome.

But in the last few weeks I’ve got back on VASL, played in an online ASL tourney (lost in the 1st round even), and found that I don’t need to be totally au fait with all the minutiae to play a competent game. Results are immaterial at this point (I’m on a fairly long losing streak) but with each game my interest is growing as I find it interesting to analyse the past games and look to improve.

I’ve found my comfort level in terms of ongoing games – 4 PBeM VASL and a live VASL game seem to work nicely in terms of scheduling and pacing. It will certainly fill the gap between face to face gaming as well. The main thing is that I’ve broadened my pool of opponents and look to be involved in regular games from now on.

I’m currently playing scenarios from a wide variety of publishers, designers and theaters of war: Melee Pack III: MP17 Bagging Burcorps (Japanese vs British); Windy City Wargamers’ ASL Open’96 pack: WCW07 Eye of The Tiger (Germans vs Soviets); ASL Journal 3: J41 By Ourselves (Norwegian vs Germans); AH General: T09 Niscemi-Biscari Highway (American Paras vs Germans); and Friendly Fire Pack: FrF09 The Abbeville Bridgehead (Germans vs French).

Action Pack 4 is due any day now (I had hoped it would arrive this morning but no luck there) so that will probably dominate my ASL thoughts apart from the PbeM stuff until John arrives from Taiwan in the next couple of weeks. Valor of the Guards is still sitting on my desk, waiting for an opportunity to get on the table, but for now I’m happy to take my time bfore diving in.

P-J

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ASL: Bocage: back to the hellish hedgerows

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, July 31

It’s very seldom I get to obtain two recent ASL products in a timely fashion. Admittedly Valor of the Guards was a tad late in arriving (heh) but Action Pack 4: Normandy 1944 is very much going to see my tabletop within a few days of it’s official retail release by MMP. Milsims again to the fore – less than AU$40 landed as opposed to something like US$45.

As I mentioned on VASL last night in a discussion with Commissar Piotr, I’ve not been overly impressed by MMP’s more recent offerings (AoO and VotG excepted because they’re modules and I’ve nothing but praise for the physical components) as I do think that their production holdups and necessary and justified focus on ASLSK have influenced the usual hands-on aspect of ASL production.

It seemed to me that the recent Journals and the last AP (Few Returned) have lacked that imprimateur, and in some cases have been more codifications of TPP designs (Le Franc Tireur and On Top in J7 for instance). Because my personal take on ASL play and indeed  focus of ASL design philosophy differs diametrically from some of the principals of MMP, I’ve always felt that MMP have done some designers a disservice in the way they run roughshod over the original design in their subsequent revisions.

It’s now at the point where I tend to look at the original provenance of a scenario and prefer to play it as originally designed: again Le Franc Tireur comes to mind. Sometimes I feel that there is a definite shift in play style paradigms outside of the North American continent which doesn’t always translate well when undergoing MMP transformations.

But back to Action Pack 4. Normandy is one of my major interest areas in both miniatures and boardgames. It’s an area of history that I’m reasonably well read in at the small unit level, and so I’m very appreciative of the focus of the new action pack.

Now when I initially heard of AP4, I admit that I was dubious, not wishing to see an action pack that consisted only of an American perspective. This proved to be unfounded thankfully as Chas Argent has taken the role of AP development to a new level of efficiency and I’m going to be seeing a selection of actions and terrain configurations that should keep me going for some time.

The new boards just look very nice indeed:

Board 53

Board 53

Board 54

Board 54

Board 55

Board 55

There’s nothing really to criticise on these boards in terms of the ASL depiction of Bocage, although I’d have preferred perhaps a couple more boards along the lines of board 54 without the village or hills of the other boards. I also would have liked to see perhaps a more naturalistic depiction of the Normandy farm holdings which should  really be multihex stone buildings with possibly rowhouse bars separating the individual buildings rather than actual separate constructions. All minor quibbles really though and something to ponder creating an overlay sheet for or SSRing anyway.

The scenarios are the gravy on this pack though with the boards a sine qua non and the revised Bocage rules a serious step forward in clarity. The preliminary reports I’ve read from ASLers whose views on play balance and excitement level have all been very upbeat and positive which is a good sign.

As for the breakdown in subject matter, well here’s a brief look at the featured actions:

  • A Lesson for Lehr: US vs Germans
  • Raff’s Dilemma: US vs Germans
  • The Head of the Mace: Poles vs Germans
  • Old Hickory: US versus Germans
  • Infiltrators: British vs Germans
  • Bocage Blockage: US vs Germans
  • First Cristot: British vs Germans
  • Second Cristot: British vs Germans
  • Second Crack at Caumont: US vs Germans

I’ve missed one scenario I think. However it’s still a little mystifying to see no Canadian actions featured, but at least we’re spared an over-representation of US paras this time around.

The new bocage rules may well get me to look at getting out the old hedgerow hell scenarios again (but using the McGrath/Chaney modifications as a starting point) and it’ll certainly mean revisiting some of the classic tourney/VASL scenarios that originally kept me going with the Bocage rules as they once were (Hornet of Cloville comes to mind for some reason).

Really though, AP4 is going to satisfy my requirement for geo-map scenarios for the foreseeable future, with VotG and more RB taking care of the HASL map side of things. With a return to regular face to face play via the Paddington Bears, a resurgent PbeM schedule and now a willingness to play live on VASL (as soon as I can get Skype up and running in a manner condusive to resources on the PC), I shouldn’t have many problems getting a lot more games under my belt in the next couple of months.

P-J

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ASL: Valor of the Guards is finally here!

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, July 17

Happy VotG day to me!

Happy VotG day to me!

Exquisite timing from Milsims sees Valor of the Guards arrive at my door on my birthday. Even though I was Pre-order #22 or so back in 2005 and knew then what VotG would contain, seeing the contents in reality still managed to impress me. There’s a lot included in the box: 17 scenarios, 4 campaign games, 780 1/2″ and 352 5/8″ counters, two mapsheets and 36 pages of rules. When I showed Kirsty what the box included, even she was impressed! It helped that I trotted out the old saw, “ASL. It’s not just a game, it’s a lifestyle!” which brought a laugh. At $77 plus P&H, VotG is very much a bargain.

What strikes me after just a brief look at the package is how much more play value I’ll be getting compared to Red Barricades. Don’t get me wrong, I loved RB, but I’ve pretty much run the gamut of playing all four Campaign Games and all 11 or 12 scenarios that I know of that use the RB map and to be honest, RB can become a chore at times to get through.

Of the 17 scenarios in VotG, I’d hazard that I’ll be able to get through 14 of them before the end of the year in Face to Face play without overdoing it, and the three remaining are the larger scenarios that will reward taking the extra time to get familiar with all the new rules and the various aspects of the terrain. Once I’ve finished playing through all the scenarios as both sides then I’ll definitely be looking to play the various CGs and the extra scenarios that have been published already in Dispatches From the Bunker. This should take me right up until the end of 2009 and yet still leave me time for more casual ASL play.

Thankfully with regular attendance and availability of other ASL players at the Paddington Bears in Sydney, my days of solely playing ASL via VASL/ PBeM are history.

Not only is this a stellar day for me ASL wise, but it’s kickstarted my interest in other things Stalingrad. I’ve picked up a few more books on Stalingrad from Jason Marks et al, and some generalist Eastern Front histories that piqued my interest. I’ve also received some more Flames of War blisters that will now allow me to assemble the two Stalingrad themed forces I’ve always wanted to field – a Shturmoviye Gruppiye based force and the requisite German opposition –  T34 and KV variants, StuIG 33b SPGs and landser.

Last but not really least, Ithe quick perusal of the VotG chapter has allowed me to revisit the much-maligned Critical Hit Dzerhezinsky Tractor Works/Grain Elevator HASL modules. Just from this, I’m pretty sure I can come up with a much more workable version of the DTW and GE campaign games as well as sorting out the various scenarios. Just as with my Flames of War projects, this is not something designed for the rigours of competitive play but is more along the lines of a historical study game – purely for the interest in seeing how the history plays out on the tabletop or the mapsheet.

It’s been a very good day.

Posted in Advanced Squad Leader, Boardgames, Books, Flames of War, Gaming, History, Reviews, wargaming | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ASL: Stalingrad once again

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, July 8

Background:

I originally pre-ordered Valor of the Guards back in 2005 as about #21 on the order list. The game wasn’t finally published until 2008 and so I expected that my order would be processed, sent and delivered well before I left New Zealand for good in May.

Unfortunately it seems there was a problem with my credit card (probably not enough credit left – an issue that occurs when there’s little or no notice given of charging starting) and so my order was put to the back of the queue. Unfortuinately the first i knew about my new position was when I saw the charge for VotG on a recent statement after I’d  left NZ. So now there’s a parcel from MMP that is at my previous residence and hasn’t been collected. Arrgh! No Valor of the Guards!

The Situation Now

Thanks to my birthday gifts, I now am able to order a replacement copy via Milsims . With the asssistance of Kirsty, my copy of VOTG should reach me on my birthday rather nicely. This will also give me a chance to really look at getting back into ASL PBeM/Live VASL & Skype. The best thing about all of this is that VOTG really does look to be a superb module with so many scenarios to choose from outside of the campaign games. I’ve been squirrelling away as many AARs and assorted VOTG clarifications and answers in the meantime as well as getting some valuable input on exactly how to approach a playing/learning schedule.

This becomes very important as John Knowles is due to arrive for our annual ASL-fest in August which means we’ll be very much in VOTG mode. Hopefully the ASL-fest will also see our first look at the new Normandy Bocage Action pack complete with the new pages.

The other big news is all my stuff from NZ is due to be delivered tomorrow after some 10 weeks in transit. This however means some real downtime again while I get things sorted once and for all.

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Paper and Iron

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, May 8

I see from the stats that the upsurge in visitors corresponds with an increase in regular posts and funnily enough inclusion of images. It’s not hard to actually post something reasonably substantive each day, although I’m not sure how many relevant pictures I can insert without being too flashy.

A bit of an opinion post today, mainly to do with boardgames, and the current state of the hobby as I perceive it.

I’ve almost given up buying new games. Many of the newer games are on subjects I find uninteresting or more often I have severe doubts about the ability, research methods and general credibility of the designer, developer etc etc. I’m also loathe to spend close to NZD$100 on a game that will end up needing a complete new rulebook, reprinted components and more than likely has some fundamental flaws that should have been picked up in playtesting.

In this I’m more talking about some of the major game companies: Decision, GMT, MMP/Gamers, Clash of Arms and ATO. I haven’t included Avalanche or Columbia as I don’t own a single game from either and am unlikely to. Of those 5 publishers, only MMP seems to have been offering a range of games that both interest me and have decent development and playtesting as well as fairly significant track record on quality control.

Decision can say goodbye to any of my money these days, for one Ty Bomba(stic) is heavily involved in game design there and I find nothing to like about either his research, persona online or indeed his ability to design an interesting game. Secondly Decision have almost the worst record at stuffing things up in terms of errata and lack of adequate playtesting that I’ve seen of late (Wacht am Errata II anyone?)

GMT, well they have Dick (Head) Berg as an unfortunate PR face for them and his games on the subjects I’m interested in are pretty poor in terms of understanding and definitely research of the topic. GMT also have had real issues with releasing multitudinous subsequent editions of the same game along with a notable amount of printing errors. I also have some issues with the ethics of the company on three or four levels, which when added together pretty much mean they’re a non-starter. Plus outside of a couple of recent one off games, they’re very much a stable of designers with the same old series, same old solutions churned out.

ATO : nice physical production values, some really interesting topics but would someone please get them a) to develop and playtest their games b) realise that graphics and gameplay are part of the whole not separate things you design in isolation and c) quit using Nazi apologists and panzerporn fanbois as their development team. Oh and notably, pushing the envelope graphically is fine as a means to an end but it is not the be all and end all – I’d rather have a game that works and is intuitive to immerse oneself into the system properly.

MMP: If they could just get Adam Starkweather to drop the proto-Ty Bomba mode he seems to be developping online, it’d be great. There are a lot of really good, well developed and playtested designs coming out of MMP, it’d be a shame if Starkweather’s inability to compromise or even admit mistakes dissuaded people from buying the games. At least with MMP though, they seem to get things done right the first time. It’s not like their living rules are used as a cop out for lazy development and minimal quality playtesting a la GMT. Now if they could just keep Rinella and Starkweather in check it’d be great.

Clash of Arms: I’ve only got games from their early days and I doubt I’ll buy more. Not really to do with the quality more that CoA no longer publish games on topics that hold any interest for me.

Posted in Boardgames, Rants and Raves | 3 Comments »

Further Reading and Research (read Amazon shopping)

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, May 8

In a weak moment I mentioned publicly that I was thinking about storyboarding the historical flow of events using the Killing Ground. Mike Traynor and Charles Vasey, who have an interest in both the game and the campaign expressed in no uncertain terms that I need to publish my experiences in doing so. I think I see some serious outlay at Amazon again:

copp_fields.jpg hill112b.jpg goodwood.jpg bluecoat.jpg

While this is only scratching the surface of my needs for further reference materials, it’s a good start. I’ve already got Major How’s account of Hill 112, along with the usual works by McKee, D’Este, Zetterling and Balkoski, but I will need to grab some more US accounts to flesh that side of things out. Thankfully the US side of the Normandy campaign is well docuimented and less open to interpretation.  I will however have to grab Buckley’s tome on the employment of British armour in Normandy as there’s some fairly significant analysis that will help. The Canadian side of things is best taken from Copp’s books and Hubert Meyer’s opus on 12 SS PzGrd Div “HJ” . I’ll use Hasting’s Overlord and the Isby edited German side of the hill monographs for operational flow but as I’m not interested in analysis so much as movements and courses of events, I can safely avoid much of the polemic or agenda laden parts.

This looks like being a very sizable project, much more than I originally intended  – I’m not so sure I’m up to it, it’s starting to look all too like actual work and I left  academic rigour a long time ago.

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Into the Killing Ground

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, May 7

So The Killing Ground arrived this morning, somewhat earlier than I expected. Because my previous experience was with a punched copy I’d forgotten how much the look and feel of the countersheets would transport me back to the days of SPI.  The icons aae a nice touch, not overdone and the general colour scheme is intuitive and straightforward (ATO – Craig Grando please note). What scares me now is that half inch counters seem so small! Even after years of ASL, at least there are many 5/8″ counters to offset this but jeez, I must be getting old.

So my plan for this game currently involves a fair bit of prioritising. I’ve got to clear my current table (I knew I should have bought a second one) of painting stuff. I’ll be smart and use  the unused areas of the uberdesk here as my painting area which should help me get some stuff fiished sooner rather than later.  Once I’ve got that all organised I’ll take the time to print out version 1.5 of the TKG living rules (although I note there’s supposedly a 1.6 version around somewhere) and as much of the analysis and AARs from the TKG folder at Consimworld.  While that’s sinking in I’ll read through a few books on this period, particularly the lead up to Goodwood.

Ideally I’ll be able to get up to speed reasonably soon,  as I’d like to think about getting into a Cyberboard/VASSAL game obefore the end of winter.

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Speaking of which: Victory in the West

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, May 1

So here are the other games that use the VITW system as their base, although really it’s the Operation Typhoon system properly. I haven’t included Iron Tide here as I’m not really a big fan of Bulge games, the situation being less interesting at the operational level to me than at the tactical. Anyway the last game is the most recent addition to the system, originally published as Struggle of Army Group Manstein by Hobby Japan, it was republished, redevelopped and generally improved by Adam Starkweather via MMP. Thankfully MMP listened to reason and avoided the garish deployment zone colours they originally intended which wopuld have undone the very nice aesthetics of the map, although Starkweather is not known for being that malleable to changes – he does have striong sense of personal ownership which can get in the way of actual improvements.

Of the three Strategy and Tactics games, probably the best in terms of gameplay is Sicily, but in terms of portraying a situation Operation Grenade sticks the closest to the historical timeframe. Unfortunately with both Sicily and P3A, there are Ambrosian elements in play regarding US capabilities and one is left with little understanding of the limitations of Patton and why he was never considered beyond an Army Commander. They are however well done games, with very few issues needing clarification – something that is rare these days with all the extra development and playtesting that is claimed to be done.

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The Killing Ground

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, May 1

I’ve always been a fan of the Victory in the West system that came out of S&T magazine, so I was always enthuised about the prospect of playing The Killing Ground, Battle for Normandy July – August 1944. I’ve only managed a couple of playthroughs as I didn’t own a copy. Unfortunately it looked like I would miss out on my own personal copy as it’s now out of print, but thankfully I tracked down a copy last night and grabbed it. I don’t buy many boardgames these days,  and my future purchases are almost all ASL related anyway so when I do buy a new boardgame it’s an event.

Box Art

 

 I must admit I probably won’t get to play this again before I leave for Australia but I’m sure I’ll be able to grab some games of it once I’m over there for good. The D-day expansion is a must buy as far as I’m concerned, hopefully it’ll be available by the end of this year. I know that I’ve committed to buy a few more books on Normandy to help flesh out my understanding of the July-August battles (heretofore my knoweldge base was concerned with the June period and skipped ahead to September) particularly as it concerns the British and Canadian efforts.

 The Map

 Thinking about it, I may well just do some solo gaming between now and April to really get familiar with the rules as well as do a storyboard of the historical situation. Pretty well stoked I have my own copy of this now .

 

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OMG! LOLZ! Pete's playing something to do with Kursk! Hell has officially frozen over.

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, March 17

Hell’s Bridgehead: Clash along the Psel River. July 1943It had to happen, after years of avoiding Kursk as a subject to bother with (overrun as it is with the SS fanboys), I’ve finally bitten the bullet and grabbed Critical Hit’s Hell’s Bridgehead module and volume 6/4 that focuses on it. I think I may well have just put the game on the shelf as a conversation piece and not even thought about playing it until I actually read the designer’s notes and most importantly Kurt Martin’s irreverent and amusing piece on the playtest. Sure it was written back in 2002 but it’s the type of off the wall commentary style that works for me, and I love the reference to the “Kursk Blues Cafe”. I can see why HB has garnered so much praise and positive feedback and I’m glad I made the decision to buy it and the relevant issue. The best thing is that what map and rules errata has been corrected in the 2nd Edition and the new map style is ver’ pretty indeed:

Hell's Bridgehead Kursk Map 1

The scenarios are a good mix, not too small, not too big with at least three proper CGs. Plus there are the scenarios in the magazine that use the K2 map which is almost as pretty (no pic of K2 sorry). There’s so much material here for great ASL games (especially once I look at playing some of the Schelling mini-CGs from the ASL journal on different aspects of Kursk. Thankfully I doubt I’ll be spending gratuitous amounts on supplementary reading (mostly the KOSAVE , Glantz and Zetterling books) but I think I’ve found the necessary inspiration to actually do that Mid war Soviet army for Flames that I’ve been holding off on. Not sure I really want to build an army that has anything to do with Totenkopf or Das Reich however.

Lots of reading in 6/4 to take note of and some interesting additional scenarios outside the focus on Kursk – including a look at the Japanese airborne assault on Palembang airfield. Now to sort through all the existing errata and check 7/3 for additional material using the Kursk maps or even Tigers to the Front. The K2 mapsheet could well be used as the basis for some more non-HASL designs.

I’m glad in a way I took such a long time to look at CH stuff again – I’d lost the most severe of the negative pre-conceptions and so I’ve been very pleased with the advances in presentation and general feel. I may have to invest in a few destroyed tiggers and panthers for the tabletop anyway.

P-J

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I Blame Balkoski

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, March 11

The bocage rules in ASL never held as much fear for me as they have for others. It’s notable how my interest in the American actions behind the beaches on D-Day and afterwards has gradually increased. I can point to the series replay of an old SL-COI tourney scenario in the General magazine that first made me look at the airborne ops behind Utah and gradually I’ve developped more of an interest in the US sector of D-Day, although I still struggle to throw off the negativity of the Longest Day and SPR in terms of association with the worst kind of jingoistic pap.Thankfully Balkoski and adnittedly BoB have helped a lot, but rather than focus on the beaches (particularly Omaha) it’s the actions on D+1 to about D+8 that really hold my eye. Hence the easy decision to acquire the latest issue of Critical Hit magazine as it includes Busting the Bocage, a look at the fighting inland from Pointe du Hoc post the cliff assault. Now while the smaller ASL scenarios don’t really appeal, there’s a lot to be said for BtB as an accessible series of games particularly as the mapsheet is so much better in terms of rendering the Normandy countryside than any geomorphic collection of generic boards.

If anything doing this terrain for Flames of War would be very easy and useful for many games. I’m not fussed on the actual Bocage scenarios or tabletop area for FoW, but then I’m not one for typical FoW games. lots of potential for applying some decent scartchbuiling techniques here particularly if I can get hold of certain materials I’ve seen used and recommended for building proper looking bocage.

Here’s a pic of the map (sorry it’s not the best picture):

Busting the Bocage - Normandy

I’m sure I’ll end up having to build some Rangers and US paras at some point.

P-J

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Sometimes they get it right! (includes Pics for once)

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, March 10

Between the return to work and real life issues, I’ve just not had the chance to do anything other than play a little Pbem ASL and look at the pretty modules that have all arrived. Oh my, there’s some really nice stuff out there from Critical Hit and I’m still only catching up with stuff from 2002-2006!The first lot to arrive was Tigers To the Front – a look at Soviet attacks on the “Panther” Line in Army Group North just as Bagration destroyed Army Group Centre (June 44) to the south. Talk about serious eye candy and potential for some excellent Face to Face play once I get to the Paddington Bears meetings. The cool thing is that there are enough scenarios that I can play via PBeM on small suibset maps while I get my head around the new map which is very very nice. I’m not usually a real fan of Late War Eastern Front Heavy Metal but this has sold me on the idea – and it’s rural terrain – so much more a fan of that than urban terrain (after a diet of urban/ruined city terrain I definitely needed a change).

So here’s the Tigers to the Front map:

Panther Line Map for ASL

I’d so love to do some generic terrain for Flames of War using this as a basis – but it’s at least 3-4 six by four tables worth to get the right look – say a 16 by 6 area of 2feet by 4 feet modular terrain. Way too grandiose but it needs to be done and should be done. Speaking of terrain, I really need to think about spending way too much money again and picking up the Touching History books on terrain making ideas. Okay they’re pretty eye candy and made for 28mm aficionados primarily but there are some very good formative ideas explained in layman’s terms particularly well.

P-J

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Time's Up.

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, February 24

John’s last day before he headed off back to Taiwan and we managed to get two scenarios done in the day, a nice way to round out John’s visit. Helps that I won a game or two towards the end which brought my win loss record for the week to 4 and 5. I can live with that, John’s still a very good player, so anything better than a 33% win ratio is good as far as I’m concerned.

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Some More ASL

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, February 23

The end of the working week and things are just percolating along nicely…I’ll probably start planning a much more focused attempt at getting some painting done in the evenings for the next few weeks as I get ready to end my current contract. I bought an el cheapo table for gaming with John which is pretty well perfect to use as a painting table in the evenings and is basically low maintenance. Played another scenario tonight with John: Monty’s Mess from the Out of The Attic set. It must be just my familiarity with the subject matter and terrain that makes me view everyday type ASL scenarios set in Arnhem – Oosterbeek on geomorphic boards with a degree of scepticism and even a bit of a yawn.

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Mmm ASL stuff

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, February 22

Came home from work today to find my copy of the Critical Hit 1997 Special Edition had arrived from Canada. I bought this purely for the Dzerhezinsky Tractor Works content and I’m happy enough with the price I paid, given the issue is long out of print. It was interesting to see that there was some extra material for Platoon Leader 2.1 which I can easily retrofit into PL2.5a if needed.My next order of business is to get hold of the actual module for the Tractor Works so I can go ahead and look at correcting the issues of play balance and clarifications that personified this particular era of Critical Hit. Now all I’m looking forward to is the arrival of Issue 7.3 and Stalin’s Fury over the next few days – My copy of CH’s Hell’s Bridgehead is waiting on confirmation of the availability of Issue 6/4.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be purchasing a few more products over trhe next few months, probably just to catch up with things again, but I may go nuts and get hold of the Berlin Module because I’m such a nut these days about Historical map sheets.

You’d think that a small module with only four scenarios would not be amongst my must buys, but Action at Carentan is definitely on my must buy to play list. That and Journal number 7 which has a lot of very enjoyable, smaller yet intriguing scenarios are probably going to feature a lot in any face to face games I get to play over the next few years, with the latter being probably the dominant series of scenario choices for VASL.

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Return to the gaming table

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, February 22

I’ve not had any time to spend on figure gaming of late, all my energy has been devoted to boardgaming and work. The resurgent interest in boardgaming arises out of the visit by my longtime ASL buddy/opponent and good friend John Knowles. These yearly visits are my sole source of ASL face to face play these days and they tend to regenerate my enthusiasm for the game.Whereas in past years, John and I have looked to play scenarios we’ve not played before just for the sake of playing something new, this year (as pretty much we did last year) we decided to pick and choose the scenarios with an eye to not overextending ourselves. One of the reasons we were a bit more circumspect is that this year I was working during the day while John was visiting and i switched from afternoon to morning shift which meant late night gaming and full immersive ASL was out of the question.

This year we selected the majority of our scenarios with an eye to timing, size and situational perspective. The days of scenario choice determined by nationality are gone , these days we’re far more interested in how the scenario is crafted and how the intereaction of VCs and Board choice works. Journal 7 is new to both of us, so I didn’t take much persuading to look at playing a few scenarios from it, especially with Board Y available.

John and I are of the same mind with regard to Scenario parameters, not having much interest in the ultra-mini scenarios nor in all armour scenarios. As far as we’ve worked out, anything less than 5.5 turns, with less than 10 squads per side (counting vehicles as 2 squads) is just heading outside our comfort level of interfacing skill and chaos/friction.

We’ve found the tiny scenarios so beloved of Schwerpunkt and other TPP to be not that enjoyable, particularly as they’re usually far too dependent on the vagaries of the dice, usually one dice roll having an out-sized influence on the outcome. This is particularly so when dealing with scenarios that feature single vehicles with special capabilities or ordnance.

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More ASL on the way

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, February 14

Okay so my ordering hasn’t quite finished yet…the consequences of having to spend a day at home sick or rather unable to leave the house for extended periods of time.So here’s what I’m looking to buy this month including stuff that is on its way already:

Critical Hit:

1997 Special Edition Critical Hit “Dzerhezinsky Tractor Works” issue (Includes “Grain Elevator” Map and Campaign game [Currently shipping]
Volume 6 Number 4 Critical Hit “Kursk” issue (Includes serious extras for Hell’s Bridgehead Kursk module including extra map)
Volume 7 Number 3 Critical Hit “Normandy” issue (Includes complete 3rd edition of Busting the Bocage) [Currently shipping]
Action at Carentan Scenario pack (4 scenarios plus a custom mapsheet)
Hell’s Bridgehead 1st Edition (Kursk map + 8 scenarios)
Hell’s Bridgehead Upgrade (Extra two scenarios plus larger map)

Possible additional stuff coming:

Tigers to the Front (Operation Bagration in ASL terms)
Beyond the Beachhead (more ASL Normandy)
The Killing Ground (Operational treatment of the post D-Day Normandy battles) – really like the core system used in this

I’ve pretty much decided on the three webshops I’ll be using: Sentry Box in Calgary, Canada; Gamer’s Armory in the US and Warchest in Australia as they’ve all been really responsive to orders and requests and they’re gamers as well as being smart businessmen (read Professional). Nothing like someone who understands that you are shopping around for the fastest delivery rather than best price – I hate stuff being on back order, preferrring to order something that I know is in stock. Unfortunately as I’m currently looking at OOP items in the main, this means I’m subject to a much more limited selection. The key here is minimising the shipping as much as possible by ordering multiple items from each. However I’ve also got to take into account that each retailer has different products in stock. 😦

Oh well. At least I’m going to get a lot of VASL time out of this, and some nice ideas for Flames of War demo games (Action at Carentan/Busting the Bocage/Beyond the Beachhead)

P-J

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The Bells of Hell Go Ting a Ling Ling Part 2

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, February 13

So work’s been busy as all getout lately. That hasn’t stopped the deliveries of goodies from parts elsewhere thankfully, I’m now at the point where I’ve got 95% of my boardgame collection stable with very few more purchases needed. I finally got hold of the Stalingrad maps I referenced a while ago, and sure enough there’s a significant difference in area covered betweren the large hex and the smaller hex versions, the latter actually reaching to the Volga.How did I pick these up? Through the auspices of Stephen @ Warchest in Melbourne, Australia. Must say i’m every impressed with the service from him. Fair prices to boot. I bought the second edition of Critical Hit’s Valor of the 37th Guards, which included not only the large hex map of the Dzerhezinsky Tractor works but the original map from the 1997 DTW module and the original Grain Elevator minimap from the 1997 Critical Hit Magazine Special Edition. So I’ve almost completed the necessary accumulation of product.

I’m going to end up with some duplication of mapsheets but that’s no hardship as I’m sure I can find a use for them. So basically all I’m after now is the original DTW module with its 2 Campaign games and four scenarios and the 97SE with the Grain Elevator scenarios/CG. The latter is on order already from The Sentry Box in Canada, and I may have scoped out a copy of DTW although I’m paying the OOP premium 😦

I also picked up one of the lesser items on my want list – a copy of the old Area-Impulse ACW game, They Met at Gettysburg which has a poor reputation but surely can be salvaged. Other than that, I’ve been catching up on my reading and now that I have the Starmer books and a Vallejo paint chart (the one with actual paint swatches) I’ve pretty much got some writig to do.

I even started playing some ASL again, Stalingrad natürlich, with my old adversay Jay White. We’re now on Turn 3 of our game that was interrupted by me getting sidetracked by real life, and so far it’s been one crazy Rollercoaster ride once again, with the highlight for me being the critical hit I scored with a Molotov-Projector on one of the two StuIG33Bs Jay is fielding. One flank is almost completely secure through the blazes that have started up.

Anyway I really need to take some pics again (I’ve been slack – no change there) and posting again

P-J

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Once more into the rubble

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, January 17

In Australia, Jason Marks has a small limited edition publishing house that specialises in books on Stalingrad. The range of titles is very small, but the books are some of the few available that deal with the small unit operations within the city, given the destruction of many of the records and the very few survivors from the Kessel.

I’d been after his Death of the Leaping Horseman book ever since I heard about it, but for a while there it was only available on the second hand market for around $200 USD which was just too much for my blood. However the other day, while looking to spend money on research materials, I found he’d reprinted it and I could pick it up for AUSD$80. Oh yeah that was very much in my range again. I also picked up An Infantryman in Stalingrad, a detailed and very interesting reminiscence of the combat experiences of a leutnant in the 94. Infanterie division who took part in the battles for the Barrikady factory as well.

Given I’ve been on a Stalingrad kick for a while (with varying levels of active work) it was an easy decision to make. I’m still to pick up the latest book, which is another $80 AUSD on the barrikady fighting, but it will come. Anyway this interest in oparticularly the factory fighting arose out of the ASL historical module Red Barricades, which focuses naturally on the Barrikady complex and the period in October November 42 when the factories were progressively assaulted. I’d steered clear of the Stalingrad stuff for a while in ASL, purely because I doubted I’d ever get to do another Campaign game through lack of time and opponents. However while working on the Flames of War Stalingrad book, I found myself looking again at gaming small parts of the fighting using FoW and ASL.

To cut a long story short, the books arrived on Friday, and I’ve been picking my way through them occasionally as it suited. There’s so much detail there at the tactical level, one sees the composition of a particular German assault group down to individual weapon loads for the soldiers. The best thing about the books is that they’re based on the actual extant primary source war diaries and corroborating evidence wherever possible, and in the case of the memoir, egregious errors have been corrected but the original errors are footnoted and explained. The only quibble I have is that the maps are just a tad too small and could have been redrawn to give more clarity, but some of the private collection photographs are outstanding, particularly the ones shot while on the approaches to to the actual factories.

I’m now impatiently awaiting the release of Valor of The Guards and the Red October modules from MMP, just to see what the scenario listing is like and how they match up with the descriptions in these books. I don’t think you’lll see me trying to build terrain for them anytime soon, at least not until I’m in Aussie myself and have a decent amount of room to store and build the modules, but there’s some real incentive to get it right.

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In the mail

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, October 31

Back from a revitalising holiday to find that Mark Pitcavage’s Scenario Designer’s Guide was part of the accumulated mail waiting for me. First glance – nicely done. Lots of reading to do and a few notes to make before a fuller report is on the cards. Not sure that it’ll be as useful as might have been suggested for non-ASL scenario designers but more later on that. So much to do today and I haven’t even typed up the updates.

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Advanced Squad leader Schedule

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, October 9

Now that I’ve settled in here and have a modicum of connectivity, it’s time to get back into some game playing. ASL still manages to feature on my playlists because I find it easy to arrange games via the VASL online utility and PBeM suits me. When I last was involved in PBeM/Live games via VASL, I was playing the following:

  • CH15: No Farther: versus Jay White
  • Set on the Red Barricades map, this is the fourth mini scenario of its type Jay and I have played. The others have all been exceptional games with wacky events and some outrageous swings of fortune. It helps that we get along so well. It will be a lot easier for us both once I have ADSL and Skype operating again.

  • J88: Escape to Wiltz: versus Chris Wendel
  • A small yet vicious scenario set during the Battle of the Bulge, it started out okay for the US, but from what I remember I’ve run into real time/space issues in terms of clearing away the German blocking detachments. Losing one of my two light armoured vehicles really hurt.

  • DASL6: Draconian Measures: versus Vic Behar
  • We only managed to get as far as Turn 2 before real life interrupted the game, but thi scenario is one of those tooth and claw fights where the advanattges of the Tigers are offset by the urban terrain and the Soviet firepower that can effectively wipe away the escorting infantry.

  • U8: Weissenhof Crossroads: versus John Knowles
  • John and I have been playing ASL against each other for almost 20 years now, and we’re currently working our way through the GI’s Dozen scenario pack, a collection of SL system scenarios updated to ASL format. This is one of our mutual favourites from GI, and is a winter Bulge scenario that works better in VASL with all the terrain changes than it does in hardcopy. This one is starting to run John’s way as attrition begins to bite hard and the threat of the big 15cm Self-propelled Infantry cannons is lessening as I take the Ammunition restrictions into account.

I’m about to head off for an 18 day break in Aussie so I’ll be getting these games back up and running when I return, and maybe even with the benefit of Skype/ADSL.

P-J

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Plus ça change…I could post more if I'd actually achieved anything

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, May 25

The only gaming I’ve been doing in the last two months has been Advanced Squad Leader on VASL.

I’ve completed several games:

  • Vulcan’s Forge (Melee Pack II – Red Barricades)
  • Bread Factory #2 (RB3 – Red Barricades)
  • Rescue Attempt (Doomed Battalions)
  • Thrust and Parry (GI’s Dozen)
  • Moldavian Massacre (Hero Pak)
  • Riposte (GI’s Dozen)
  • Clearing Qualberg (Schwerpunkt)

I’m currently playing several others via PBeM and the occasional live VASL session, which seems to be working nicely although I’m starting to get a pasting in one which is the result of a poor series of initial moves.

The Stalingrad project is stalled for the meantime owing to lack of discretionary cash while the winter power bills mount up and I’m still loking for a new job. However I do at least have a solid grasp of what i need to do, although spending US$500 on three source references is making me wince a great deal.

As far as painting of minis, that’s still proceeding very slowly…the BEF will be put obn hold for June and I’ll finish off my FJs…only 12 months after they were meant to be completed – the Late War brits however are almost finished to a tabletop standard – I’ll tidy them up on a section/troop per week basis from now on, ready for the 2007 round of Tourneys.

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The Maps

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, March 31

Here are some pics of the various maps:

Dzerzhinsky Tractor Works Map

This is the reworked version of the Dzerhezinsky(sic) Tractor Works map, as you can see it has a yellow clay tinge to the map rather than the familiar Red Barricades brickdust look. Unfortunately for ASL players, Critical Hit’s superb quality assurance came to the fore and they shrunk the hex sizes to 3/4 inches across so they could fit the map on one sheet. Brilliant decision guys for a game that will end up with some of the most counter intensive scenarios around. This is one map where the expense of getting the mapsheet enlarged is worthwhile. I’d say that the best wa to do this is to enlarge it by 33% so you can match the RB sized hexes, as Don Petros most likely worked to the same hex size as Charlie Kibler. What you won’t notice is that veryy original map is wider by four hexrows (the rework begins on the D hexrow) and 9-15 alternate hexgrains. Outside of a few coordinate changes in the setups (and they got them wrong) CH didn’t alter anything in the scenarios – really tells you about the playtesting doesn’t it.

Valor of the 37th Guards

This is the reworked map from Valor of The 37th Guards (yeah CH, you’re real original in your titles). As you can see the colour is closer to RB in style but again there are some issues with the map. Personally I actually prefer the original scope of the DTW map but the new VOTG one works as well. The good thing is that I think you actually get both the original 3/4″ hex map and the revised, smaller area RB style map in VOTG II for all of $15 US. Don’t buy from CH, they’re gratuitous on shipping.

Grain Elevator/Stalin's Fury

This is the actually the map of the Stalin’s Fury module from CH, which is a modified version of the infamous Grain Elevator mini-CG from the 1997 Stalingrad Special Edition. From all accounts, the CG isa complete crock but the map as you can see is pretty. Such a shame therefore that CH dropped the ball (again) when it came to actual playtesting/design. Oh well at least it gives me something to tool around with regarding designing a CG.

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Stalingrad

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, March 31

The reason for looking at getting Stalingrad after years of hmming and hawing about it is that I’ve decided to undertake a long term project for Advanced Squad Leader. With Valor of the Guards due in July or August, and having played a couple of scenarios on the Red Barricades map, my interest in ASL Stalingrad has been piqued. I’ve always intrigued by Critical Hit’s Dzerzhinsky Tractor Works product, despite the noted flaws with it and the Grain Elevator mini-module. I’ve decided to look at turning my hand to fixing DTW and the GE,even if this means designing new CGs and scenarios from scratch.

The tank ambush from Stalingrad

This is very much a long term project (gee, I’m really good at planning these and lousy at completing them) but with no time pressures I can obtain the necessary reference materials at a sustainable rate.

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The Perilous Amazon

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2004, September 6

Years ago, a couple of guys created an Advanced Squad Leader product called Time On Target. The first issue was a collection of themed scenarios set during the Battle of the Bulge and were released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the battle. They attracted pretty universal acclaim for the obvious research and dedication that went into them. At the time they were amongst the best ASL scenarios released.

Then about a year or so later, Time on Target 2 was released. This dealt with actions in April 1945 that occurred in Northern Germany involving the British 21st Army Group and the opposing Germans. Unlike most late war situations which usually end up resembling a heavy metal car lot, this featured a huge range of actions drawing heavily from John Russell’s No Triumphant Procession: The Forgotten Battles of April 1945.

Because they fell outside the usual US-centric Western Front ASL view, this scenario pack appealed greatly and encouraged me to think about creating some scenarios for my renascent WW2 miniatures games. However obtaining the book upon which the scenarios were based became an issue unto itself. I did however find a copy of the 1945 Story of the 79th Armoured Division which helped in some regard.

To cut a long story short, I recently was able to obatin an excellent copy of Russell’s book and just from reading a couple of chapters today I’m left in no doubt that creating a set of scenarios for 15mm WW2 miniatures enthusiasts will be possible. I’d already done some planning over the years in terms of the ideal format and accumulating some of the necessary resources and tools, but now that I actually have the prime resource I can move on ahead with this project.

The project itself is no simplistic endeavour, as to fullly do it justice and make it useful to as many 15mm WW2 wargamers as possible, I’m going to have go outside the Flames of War parameters and include a couple more sets of rules. The key aspects of what i want to do involve presentation and feel. There will be no screes of bland text, but properly formatted and illustrated aspects, including specific articles on scratchbuilding and painting guides. I hopoe to make it available not only on the web as a stand alone series but also to provide PDF downloads so that people can print it out at their leisure and at a level of graphic quality that is unattainable through a webpage.

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