Thursday, May 21, 2015

ASL 147 - First-Person play - Going in blind

The scenario

The main challenge in ASL147 is to find and then clear the defenders from the road. In regular ASL, finding is trivial although it should have been the main command challenge. Finding can also be made easy by spreading thin, but then again this would leave the advancing forces vulnerable and too weak to actually do the clearing part.

In short, Japan has to sweep and clear the vicinity of the road without being infiltrated to its rear. The Gurkhas have to, one way or another, remain in position such that an ambush on the approaching main columns is possible. I modified the victory conditions to emphasize that this is a game of information as much as a game of elimination.

I hope that the scenario proved an exciting new experience for the players.

Here are some special rules on detection and command and control.

Special Thanks to Stefan Fiedler for playing the MMG crew on turn 7.

Summary of the battle

A detailed story for each player (with lots of screenshots) can be found below:

Japan opted for a larger SAN of 4 instead of a free recon roll. Unfortunately, the IJA a sniper didn't activate during the scenario. The Gurkhas opted for an extra spool of wire.

Lt. Samikawa was surprised by Lt. Corhay's choice to defend deeper in the jungle rather than at its edge. Contact was made late in the scenario as the IJA was cautiously advancing into the deep blue foliage. The IJA conducted a textbook combined operation and got to converge nearly its whole force where it expected the main defensive positions. It found little but a thin screen which melted in the jungle on contact.
Lt. Corhay is rallying his troops (U10) while all hell is
breaking loose  somewhere else! Flash are used for noise,
IR for tank MA fire.

By then, Lt. Corhay lost contact with half of its force for the rest of the scenario. He maneuvered his units that broke under MMG a but rallied fast enough to avert disaster. Some remnants to the south drew most of the IJA a squads, which allowed the, to sneak to the rear and in position to ambush the column of strategically moving IJA armor ( the objective ). This going was high in tense moments such as finding himself HIP ADJACENT to a MMG after all of the broken squads ran past his positions.

Across the road, a squad of Gurkhas sneaked through swamp and thicket and slipped into the rear while the rest of the Gurkhas entertained mutual annihilation with Lt. Samikawa's local forces. Samikawa, wounded before the hand to hand, shamefully didn't participated. The IJA, still cohesive under Samikawa, neutralized the remaining Gurkhas such that they cannot impede the progress of the main body. A last minute spread of the IJA ensured that the southern end of the Area of Operation was cleared.

In the very last turn, Lt. Corhay decided to remain HIP as the MMG crew stumbled over their positions. Stripped from HIP, they held fire in hope to go HtH while concealed. The japanese crew shot in the foliage and pinned Corhay himself and one of the squad, the Gurkhas charged but in the confusion the crew slipped out and got away from certain death (The gurkhas needed 11, rolled 12). 


The victory conditions were adapted to make it more interesting in this context. 

The aide of the Colonel arrive with an escort details. The CO is pissed off by the delay. He demands a decision on your part: “Is it safe to proceed with a strategic march through this patch of jungle, or not?”

Lt. Samikawa declare the area clear and the Batallion moves forward. Reinforcements comes and help clearing the remaining known Gurkhas. Soon enough, the 3 Tank Bn is passed through and overrun the British defense a few miles down the road.

Lesson learned as referee

  • The force commander for scenario larger than platoon-sized should be represented as a SMC in addition to the OOB SMCs.
  • Minimize low-level orders to each units. Keep it high level.
  • Expand in details where the players is personally in danger because it is exciting.
    • Consider adjudicating some situation using GURPS WWII where ASL isn't handling as well at this scale (tracking, stealth, perception (noise)). 
  • The jungle is a harsh place to learn to fight blind. This is kind of buying a $20 bottle of wine when you are 17.
  • Triple check the VASL file before sending it out...

Playing in the 1st person

  • Stay connected: 
    • Minimize distance in MP to other Task forces
    • Keep line of communication clear of interdictable hexes.
  • Find, fix, flank and fight. It starts with a thin screen (find), followed by MG/fire base (fix), maneuver to better approaches [flank], then move on to CC [fight].
  • Minimize issuing commands:
    • Set objectives, phase lines, fire base so that out of contact units can still act predictably.