Tiring to back at home, I always wanted to pull out something about wargames from the closet and read. It is hard for me to keep concentrated on the reading of indulgence as my wife keeps calling me for something.

I am now into the system of ASLSK, WW2 tactical level wargame beginning in the '80s. I was not rich enough to pay for the hundreds of dollars on Squad Leader and its numerous modules at that time. Thus I paid those some crappy 3W wargames in S&Ts. When the "bible" of Advanced Squad Leader came, I was even more horrified with the amount of details to learn to just play a game.

I played 5 SK games already, including one using ASL map and counters. Now I enjoyed reading the ASLSK2 scenarios. There are Allied and Axis minors coming in. Many actions are featured in the island of Sicily and in the early war of Greece. I am suprised that there is not a single scenario on the eastern front as I believe guns were extensively deployed there. Italian Alpini army, American Parachute and German Fallschirmjager units are the main cast here. A scenario caught my eye especially as it features French Foreign Legion 1st Bataillon in Italy in a chasing breakthrough to the north of Rome, while they vowed "Legion is our homeland!"

Last night before I went to bed, I flipped through my old but yet unread Paper War issue #57 (back in 2005). It has many good articles in it, featuring Age of Napoleon (my top Napoleonic grand strategy game) and a discussion on the ATS series. The excitment about wargaming instantly surges in my brain again.

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Comment by Lawrence Hung on February 22, 2016 at 7:55pm

These days the club's activity turned to a low level as it was more difficult to find a venue for the meeting.  People retired from the police force and thus the priority to book the venue at the HQ was lower as well.

I find it all too good to learn the games on the go with PBeM, taking time and pace of learning at leisure, while picking up small bits of time here and there more effectively. I also learn deeper about these games as a result. I am playing PBeM Vassal games on Waterloo 1815: Fallen Eagles, The Invasion of Russia (1812), S&T#294 World War I, Circle of Fire: The Siege of Cholm. A bit full at the moment but I am planning to start more games: La Bataille de France 1940 and World at War: Eisnebach.  That way when I am back home from work, I can play the games whenever I have time.  Life is wonderful.  

I can say the modelling of Napoleonic warfare in "Fallen Eagle" is a perfect one so far I have seen. The alternate activation of the formations on the battlefield is something akin to what I have seen in the movie. They command, they maneuver into a better position, while exchanging artillery fire before charging by infantry or artillery. In "The Invasion of Russia", the supply problem to the French and numerical inferiority of the Russian are two mega problems that require to be resolved in a chess format. Corp-sized units OOS are to be disrupted and when they are already disrupted, they are gone. 

In World War I, the SPI sysetm is still shadowing the revised DG edition, making it checking the rules a headache. The system is brutal to isolated units. Many of the Central Power's units are slaughtered by my opponent every day as they are permanently eliminated in concentric attack. The CRT is something you have to get used to - disastrous result to the attacker always happens at the most un-opportune time. In Circle of Fire, the German artillery and air bombardments are the only hope for the men entrapped inside the city but they are proved to be better than nothing. More often, the men have to struggle hand-to-hand, face-to-face. Strangely, the rubble rules don't produce as much rubble as it would have been. The struggle is hard as movement is limited. The only good news is that it is now turn 8 (out of 10) and the German HQ is still intact at the center of Cholm.

Comment by Lawrence Hung on January 26, 2016 at 12:56am

January 2016 is a month of Napoleon to me! The Napoleonic Wars (Second Edition) is a fascinating game but the rulebook is not one of the best. I have to re-read every time I play the game but then many special rules are on the cards already. Occasional rules checking is required when the special rules mix in the basic ones. I played a 5-multiplayer game as Russian and I quite like to step in the shoes of Tsar Alexander I as Russia is a land power that must be reckoned with on Turn 1 for Austria to survive. A Turkish War (by event card) happened in our game at Russia's backdoor moving away some of my troops. But then Kutuzov still enabled the Austrian defense in Vienna, forcing Napoleon choosing a southern strategy. I am playing Waterloo 1815: Fallen Eagles and The Invasion of Russia (1812) over Vassal PBeM and thus I am checking in the rules on and off. All of them are great games. In particular, Fallen Eagles is sure to become a classic for Napoleonic operational-tactical level wargame. I am thrilled by what operational options it can offer to the players in a tactical situation. I forgot to choose the Tactical Cards in the first place but that is something that can make-do. I wonder if it is due to the order of the rules which make us missing the part. But then I have activated Chasse on the Coalition's right flank, moving into the distance of the French II Corps. Invasion of Russia is like a chess or GO in that players alternate to deploy and activate the stacks by removing the Supply Train counters, adding some elements of suspense. A supply line is crucial in this game and you better to protect it at all cost. One thing I am not sure is whether Napoleon can really establish a well-function supply line or not, or it is too stretched to the limit that an occupation of Moscow is really not possible. The Vassal module has some problem with the Supply Trian counters but that is not something you can't live with. My opponent is serious enough to insist the designer to contact the Vassal engineer to correct that though.

The rules of World War I (the new Decision Games edition) is generally well-organized but you have to take an eye on the special rules of the scenario as German as the cost to declare war on the neutrals is written there instead of inside the general rule on neutrals. The situation in Circle of Fire: The Siege of Cholm, 1942 comes a bit bogged down as both sides are beginning to fight inside the urban areas. The rules are clear and smooth to play. Nonetheless, somehow I thought the system is not put to good use with a siege situation. Everything seems to be compressed into a few areas on the map as the Russian tightened the rope around the city of Cholm. In Combat Commander: Resistance!, I still haven't mastered the rules of Partizan and sometimes their performance is too amazing to believe as the leaders can activate their comrades as long as they are within LOS. The rules also allow the Partizan units to move over all kind of terrain at a cost of 1MP only. The Partizan deck is also good at close melee, with more Ambush cards and unique knife cards. The Germans are really required to set up in good positions and wait to fire when the Partisans come within range. So in scenario where German is poised to be in an Attack posture, they are in trouble if the number of partizans is large.

During the month, I also played one game of Twilight Struggle and lost it as the Soviet in a marathon tournament. Every game of Twilight Struggle is an agony of decisions making. I very much hope the digital version be completed so that I can practice the game with it anytime and many times. After Twilight Struggle, we played three games in a row of W1815. A quick fix to whet anyone's appetite of getting into Napoleonic warfare at "that" crucial historical moment - Battle of Waterloo. Some dices are involved but the command cards play more role in the game. No movement of the pieces are involved and they are fixed on the positions of the map. I don't think I like the game system as is but I do appreciate its short playing time - 15 to 20 minutes for the whole battle. Well, but is it what a wargamer looking for? Or a more causal gamer the target audience? Definitely the latter. Challenges? Some. Fun? Yes. Authenticity? Light to an extent that it could be any situation. It's not even a chess....

Comment by Lawrence Hung on January 10, 2016 at 12:14pm
Comment by Lawrence Hung on January 14, 2015 at 8:30pm

Last night I unshrinked ASLSK Bonus Pack #1, as a preparation for the upcoming game with Jerome.  The pack contains three new SK infantry-only scenarios and a new mapboard "d".  The mapboard comes with a new type of terrain, namely, the hedge.  The rules on explanation of the hedge are printed at the back of a scenario, Clearing Carentan (S43), seeing actions of the 506th Parachute Infantry Element under the command of Brig. General Anthony McAuliffe on 12 June, 1944.  They know they are facing some German rearguard defensive operations inside the town of Carentan, populated by about 4,000 French.  Carentan is the final juncture for the paratroopers' onward push to the Cotentin Peinsular.  The German Fallschirmjager Regiment 6 are hiding inside the stone houses, waiting for the approaching of the enemy.  The High Command has already prepared some artillery support to the Fallschirmjager, and the Germans are determined to hold the town for another day while the reinforcement is forming up.  I have been at Carentan once, I mean, in the game of ATS Basic Game 1a Screaming Eagle. :)  So I am familiar with the background history of this ASLSK scenario.  I decided to give this scenario a go. 

Comment by Lawrence Hung on January 14, 2015 at 8:21pm
Mythic Battles base game and expansion I are hot on my plate now. The game is thematic and alluring. It's easy to find people to play it in the club. I came to realize more fully the potential of the system through experience - how to use the Art of War cards to generate power points (two for each discarded AoW card) or find the specific unit maneuver cards (one for one exchange) at a time of danger, to retreat or at an opportune time, to attack. The unit maneuver cards also do the discard similarly . They can be discarded for power points equal to the unit's leadership value (two if the unit has already been destroyed on the mapboard) or three of them can be discarded to draw two new cards from the deck. It sounds like Combat Commander - that you want to go through the deck to find the cards you want and need and determine at what pace of doing such "deck-sipping".

The scenario in the campaign is set in a historical pretext only, that you can play any individual scenario from the campaign anytime. A unit is activated when its card is played onto the table. A defender can "counterattack" when it is attacked by doing the same activation. A unit can move and then combat, though at a lesser efficiency. The system of attack rolls is a bit convoluted initially but it becomes intuitive after a while. Basically you are looking for a roll of 5. For those between 1 and 3, they can be added as one to the other dice result in order to achieve a 5. For each 5, you can re-roll it (or simply using another dice) and add it to the result of 5 for a total attack value.

To have a successful hit on a unit, you need to have the final attack value which exceeds or equal to the unit's current defense value, thus inflicting a "wound". Heavy units have higher level of "vitality", meaning that they can suffer more hits than that of the lower. A unit's stack of cards represent its current state and the stack turns to the next card in the deck for each wound inflicted. I was "fortunate" to take the Hades' last (fourth) unit, though hidden in a forest, on my right flank to win the game.

Mythic Battles is not as simple as a veteran would think, despite its relatively simple turn structure. It is a test of mettle and wits between the two Armies and players. The combination of variables both at your hand and battlefield drain the players brainpower slowly with units' multiple talents, the cards in your hand and on your table, and with player's own foresight as to what would happen in a constantly changing landscape, in which both players have to be highly aware of the situations and utilize the terrain to the units' best advantage. The Hades have some speedy units to change the situation in the next minute. It is not just a hack-and-slash game. On average, a scenario can be completed in three hours. Best for two players. While I can't see why it can't be played in solitaire mode, it would be too taxing to do so.
Comment by Lawrence Hung on January 13, 2015 at 2:30am

A Giant Thinker of modern wargaming falls. Mr. John Hill's influence has been insurmountable and indescribable, affecting a whole generation of wargamers. Although I am not a huge ASL fan, my praise to him for his deep and far-reaching insights in tactical combat warfare, defining forces comprehensively and conclusively in that level of combat.

Comment by Lawrence Hung on January 2, 2015 at 1:47am

My New Year wish: I have committed myself to reading this monster rulebook, word for word, 408 pages in all, complete rules about the Star Fleet Universe. This alone excited me for a long long time. I register the book in Goodread and start counting my progress now. I am on page 10 now and so far my head hasn't spun yet and my eyes haven't dazzled. It's especially atmospheric to read them, being shrouded in the darkness, with only desktop white headlight on. I hope by the end of 2015, I can complete reading it.

Comment by Lawrence Hung on January 2, 2015 at 1:45am

Happy New Year to all the members here!

A recent thought on a recent BGG browsing. The random element is represented by dice rolling in wargame design. No two games would be the same with that element. Hence, comparing wargaming to chess, is like apple to orange. One of the reason why I go to wargaming instead of chess. There is no reason to remember all the moves or tiniest details, situations, etc. in wargaming. Instead, one can be conditioned to the right reaction by training with wargaming. The thinking process is what matters. Nobody should think that wargames has 100% in common to the actual situation. But the attempt to "simulate" the reality should be there for the wargaming models to work. That is what nation army has been doing about simulation. I have heard not only on a single occasion but many that the commercial wargaming is a lot more "economic" than the Army's complicated mathematical and computerized models. You spend a lot less to obtain the same or similar results.

Comment by Lawrence Hung on December 27, 2014 at 8:08am

December is the month of winter in Hong Kong. It reminds me of the phrase "Winter is Coming" as was told by House Stark in the Game of Thrones.  In early December, Anthony and I played the scenario "Graveyard of the North" and "Pegasus Bridge" in the Combat Commander expansion pack Nr. 3 Normandy again. The first scenario is the first time we play while the second is a replay as we played it wrongly on several rules. In both scenarios I lost. As the commander of the Hitlerjugen in Carpiquet airfield, 4 July 1944, the "killing ground" wide open in front of their fortified position (in a woodhouse) was severely hindered by the smoke fired by the British. The heavy machine gun was put up for no good use. The British went to the German's right flank and overrun the lightly defended single house alongside the road. And as Tommies the second time in Pegasus Bridge, I was not able to push the men forward enough after several exchange rounds of starfire, illuminating their positions much to the Krauts. I conceded the game after suffering heavy casualties. Though I lost the games, I felt a great comeback with the system after six years since I played it last time. The pace of the game and the stories are much better than the base game. The system seems to mature on its own.

In mid-December, Angus, Leo and I got to the game of Mythic Battles. I bought Mythic Battles after viewing Marco's video review and played it in the club recently. I was not disappointed but thought that the units could have been differentiated more to a greater degree. Some of the units have close enough attributes statistics not to mention that they might look alike very much during the gameplay. The game does deliver good time for an intense, close-out what-not classic engagement between good and evil. The humans were defeated by the God of death after the left flank was slaughtered by the Cerebus. The game has different grains for different appetite, attempting to satisfy different needs and desires from board wargamers' conflict simulation, miniature wargamers with customisable army and units, and to the euroish-card game design with simplicity for a quick-fix in an afternoon. I have the other two expansion for more unit varieties and Angus and I look forward to play them in the new year. 

I felt suffocated after losing the battle to the evil. So the Nietzschean me inside called out for a game to overcome that feeling - Beyond Good and Evil. An excellent co-op and competitive game at the same time. I find the time to play a solitaire game of Anima: Beyond Good and Evil on Boxing Day at home. I set it up in a minute and off it goes. A new Arcane character class is added in this first expansion to the base game. Other than this, seems that everything is the same, except that of course you can combine the decks of both into a single one (missions not mixed together though). While it is easy to pick up, the same omission of the mission creature combat capability is found to have carried through to this expansion rules. A minor quibble which is otherwise can be house-ruled by a good guess. I have to revert to the original version 1.10 rulebook by Anima Studio, which is not hard to find though in the internet. And yes, the mission creature's combat value is the same as its level. Several turns down the road saw that both parties (I played two at the same time) built up their teams at Karh. The first team led by Seer consisted of team members Witch, Pirate and Samurai. While laying a trap in Albidion in which the other team was lodging, the Seer team went to the Waste, where they sought advice to the next place with a -2 exploration dieroll. The Seer was seeking for Maisen, Midnight Castle or Temple of Gaira to complete her basic mission but these places were not on the map yet. The second team led by Executor, had Watcher, Arcanist and Agent as well. They stopped at Albidion in an attempt to protect the Archbishop from Agents of Samael, a level 15 creature. Their current combat capability was 11 with a Blade of Storm (+3 to combat) and so they were optimistic about completing the first mission. I am immensely enjoying so far the narrative offered by the game.

Comment by Lawrence Hung on November 19, 2014 at 11:14am

In a recent wargame of Combat Commander Battle Pack Nr. 3 Normandy scenario 46, Pegasus Bridge, I felt immensely into the story of being Captain John Howard, of the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckingham Light Infantry, bravely leading the assault on the German 736th Grenadier's forward deployment in front of the bridge. Having three melee in high morale state, like "Wild Goose", the British wiped out all German units, thus captured the IG 18 gun for a reverse shooting against the reinforcing German counterattack. That's a cool story to read indeed.

Having stopped playing the base game for about six years, I have to reread the rulebook and the special rules to the battle pack for a game on the past weekend. Some rules are still felt interesting and much intrigue to play with, e.g. the major bridge movement rule which allows units to enter only via a road connecting to it, ordnance targeting "roll" by multiplying the dices on the card (well, it's a diceless system - you get the roll by flipping the command cards and look the lower right corner of the result.) exceeding the distance plus the hindrance of the intervening hexes, star-shell illumination for night operations, routing and recovery of broken units, "timely" events (the country deck seems to be magical - the type of event happens whenever you need it, or, you hate to have it), leadership modifier on firepower and morale checking, units with boxed statistics that can perform spray and assault fire and concealment action, etc. Suddenly they all seem making sense to me in the Pegasus Bridge scenario. The game pack was chosen because of the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy Campaign. Both the game and the campaign recall me to the war.

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