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May / June 2012 Volume 6, Issue 2

Inside this Issue

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PREP FIRES The Editors column. BOUNDING FIRE: News in the Bay Area for ASL players MASTERING WAR: BH Liddell Harts Maxims of War BLOOD REEF TARAWA: A return to the major strategic questions both sides face AAR: Tactiques 35 A new look at these old friends, the Tactiques scenarios BACK TO THE BASICS: The Acquisition Debate DEFENSIVE FIRE Letters to the Editor, Opponents Wanted FPF Upcoming West Coast ASL events calendar and information CLOSE COMBAT

An Independent Journal of ASL Thoughts and Ideas

Published free of charge by the Silicon Valley and Nor Cal ASL Clubs. If you paid for this, you need to get your money back! ASL is a registered Trademark of Hasbro Inc. and MultiMan Publishing Inc. Artwork includes counter art and map art from Rodney Kinneys brilliant creation of VASL. This artwork is used with permission from Mr. Kinney. Thanks to both Mr. Kinney and Carl Fago for the quality work on one truly innovative product for our hobby

keeping her secrets well on how to play the Russians for a good chance in CG 1 and 2. My dilapidated ASL savings account is slowly grinding up a bit of equity for the much anticipated fall release of Rising Sun, as Chas has promised us about 2 months out from pre - order day, and we are all certainly looking forward to the re- release of the PTO and the 2nd edition izing of the Chapter G rules set. For my part, I will appreciate the replacement Chinese counter set as well as the USMC and Early War Army sets. The IJA I have plenty of counters for so far, so these extras will probably find their way into the hands of yet another noobie who gets my ASL duplicates passed on to them. Also looking forward to J10 for ASLOK, it seems, and a right-smashing write up of a HASL Series Replay is promised, so I am certainly looking forward to THAT!

Without further ado, lets close to Point Blank Range!

Ordering information

Bounding Fire Prep Fires

Your Editor, Jon Halfin Rolling into the Summer with ASL and some fine articles this time around. Memorial Day Tourneys are ended and the Texas Team Tourney Dos Equis (XX) is soon underway. Many are the initial analyses of the Festung Budapest Module. It seems this gem will be FBs module extensions and maps for VASL are out, and the new VASL 5.9.3 should be arriving any day to the streets. With it come many incorporated suggestions to make our games easier and less time consuming for all, so this is yet another well done to Tom Repetti and his crew of VASL gnomes. We start this issue with an article that managed to survive the fire, it was a submission from a while back that was waiting for a good plug in, and now is

Silicon Valley ASL Club and the NorCal ASL Club publish Point Blank! as a non-profit magazine. The editor is Jon Halfin Please submit any articles or comments to the Editor at All submissions become subject to the rules of this publication upon inclusion. Articles are accepted in any electronic format. Please include artwork maps or variant counters in a separate .gif,.jpg or .bmp file.

as good of a time as any for this battle tested survivor to see print. Following on the heels of Grand Strategy is a close look as some varied grand tactical concepts of the BR: T module that should get and deserve more discussion. This is not a rehash of all the materials from the two Gamers Guides, but rather a look at some items of pre game decisions that both sides can make that will definitely affect the play outcome, and consequently, the balance of this fine HASL CG set. A Desert AAR once again falls into the pages here as we return to Bir Hacheim and the Free French Demi Brigade defenses at Gazala in Tac 35. Finally a new twist. There is actually a time where you may want to NOT place acquisition? Read on about some new ideas presented first by Gary Mei, on GameSquad, and some counterpoint arguments from the uneducated masses. (namely, me).

achieve a decisive defeat by application of overwhelming force. This concept was brought forward into the 20th Century by the Wehrmacht, and their concepts of Blitzkrieg and schwerepunkt. We apply these lessons most often in ASL when as the attacker we strive to apply as much of our given scenario Order of Battle to a single point in the enemy s defensive line that offers ease of access to achieving the victory conditions of that scenario. B.H. Liddell Hart had a rather more incongruous viewpoint of how to conduct offensives in a more casualty friendly format. Using the Indirect approach. Certainly, he was not the first to consider such ideas. Napoleon achieved as many great victories on the fields of Europe as he did simply by weight of his ability to see that by occupying a threatening position that could allow achievement of his victory conditions he could revert to a mobile defensive tactic and force the enemy to attack him, on ground of his own choosing, and with only that portion of their forces not tied down to defending against any possible counter strokes by Napoleons Forces. It was Liddell Hart who discovered how to correctly surmise such strategy, and how to correctly apply it in battle. He did so after careful review of yet another master of the indirect approach offensive, Erwin Rommel. Rommel would bring Liddell- Harts thoughts to final fruition in the Desert War, and we can learn much from these past masters of the indirect approach. 1. A good plan like a tree must have branches if it is to bear fruit. The plan with a single aim is apt to prove a barren pole. You cannot simply choose to throw every possible unit at the exact same point in your enemys defensive line and ignore the rest of his forces. Doing so will allow him to shift and adjust to your new approach line and you will fail

to achieve your objectives or victory conditions. A good ASL player knows to keep a small flanking force that is a credible threat at arms length out on one flank is a force that can place your opponent in the horns of a dilemma. If he ignores it, this flanking force can turn the tide of the game. If he defends against it, it ties down his much-needed troops away from the line of the main thrust. A good plan must have branches to bloom to fruition. 2. Adjust your end to your means. Do not bite off more than you can chew. If yours is an inferior army, then allow your opponent to break his sword on your elastic defense, before delivering a decisive stroke. Many times in ASL, we are not given that beautiful 2:1 or 3:1 advantage usually needed to succeed in a frontal assault. At times, you may even be asked to commit to an attack with an inferior force. This is true most often for the German tanks from 1940 to 1942. If you are on the attack and your AFVs are inferior, play defensively and cautiously to avoid AFV losses until your opponent has taken losses and committed all of his AFV reserves to the battle before beginning your Schwerepunkt stroke at his defensive line. 3. Keep your objective always in mind. Too many times, ASL players lose sight of the objective. You must always seek to play to the fulfillment of your victory conditions. The battle is not always occurring to bleed the enemy forces dry. More often, it is to seek a positional advantage or a breakthrough (terrain based or EVP based victory conditions.) Do not shoot and kill enemy units if it does not achieve your VC goals. 4. Choose the line (or course) of least expectation. A large failing for noobie and beginning to intermediate experience ASLrs is to

Mastering War:
A look at how we can apply the maxims of B.H. Liddell Hart to ASL. The Indirect Approach. Students and admirers of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu will note that both of these military thinkers were focused on one item. The direct approach to war. That is, the idea of attacking directly into the enemy line in order to draw him into a battle, preferably in terrain over which he cannot retreat easily from, in order to

attack along the line that is obviously most advantageous. There is much to gain to observe the terrain and find a route that almost as good and yet far enough away from the obvious routes that it will not be so heavily defended. I won once in an ASL game by purposely slamming into the heaviest set up flank of the enemy force. By doing so, not only did I discover that the majority of this defense was in fact dummy units, but both my opponents Guns were left out in the cold as they had set up to punish flanking moves, rather than a frontal assault. Bottom line, keep your opponent guessing where you will attack at all times until the hammer blow falls. 5. Exploit the line of least resistance so long, an s it can lead to an objective, which contributes to your underlying object. AFVs should not be fighting to punch holes in the main enemy strength. They are much more useful in flanking an enemy position and causing encirclement and FTR options. Always seek to find a way round your opponent, but do not go so far out that they are no longer in a position to threaten encirclement and FTR. 6. Take a line of operation which offers alternate objectives. The #1 most played and most designed set of VCs for ASL scenarios nowadays is the variable, or multiple VCs. They offer more than one way for a player to win (or lose). The good ASL player on the offensive sees this as an advantage. Keep your enemies guessing as to your intentions of which set of VCs you are working to achieve as long as possible. 7. Insure that both plan and dispositions are flexible and adaptable to circumstance. No plan, in war or in ASL survives first contact with the enemy intact. A good ASL player will keep a portion of the

OoB forces as reserves to apply to areas in which there is a perceived weakness or a perceived gain possible fro man enemy weakness. One must play well by positioning your ASL forces to take advantage of good luck and minimize the impacts of bad luck, as luck is most definitely a factor on the battlefield, be it real or ASL. 8. Do not throw your weight into a stroke whilst your opponent is on guard. A good maxim to follow here. Do not telegraph your moves. Send that recon HS in via flanking maneuver rather than head on along the path you want your HMG kill stack to take. That way, rfp does not find its way into blocking your approach to the enemy. This rule is all about thinking to avoid or misplace enemy rfp. 9. Do not renew an attack along the same line (or in the same form) after it has once failed. Do not throw bad apples after good ones. If you find an enemy ATG the hard way, (usually a flaming wreck), why maneuver another AFV deliberately into that ROF retained ATGs kill zone? Making artificial SMOKE this way is costly and not well advised under all but the most extreme circumstances. A good ASL player knows that if an assault begins to falter, rather than reinforce weakness, one should look to using the reserves and flanking forces to force the decision where the enemy is not so strong in the defense. Keeping the indirect approach to offensive strategy in mind can be hard, especially in light of all those nifty kill trap ambushes most ASL defenders can create. Nevertheless, one must stay focused on achieving the VCs , and what better than to take that victory building location on Turn 4, and force the defender to counterattack you out of it for the remainder of the game? If you play with these ideas in mind on the attack, you will be in a better position to

gain from any mistakes your opponent makes, and any spans of dice created luck made for you.

AAR: Tactiques 35:

A final return to the Desert Theatre for the Editor before he sojourns into Hungary and HASLs for a while. Having been very happy to experience my own return to North Africa vis a vis ASL play in the last year, I am pleased that this ending ( even though I lost) brings to a close a five game run of DTO scenarios for me. With the arrival of this wonderful Hungarian HASL on my doorstep, I am well advised now to return to that from which I was born unto verily in thy ASL arena: urban street fighting. Tactiques scenarios have been a pleasure for me in almost every playing I have ever had, from Tac 2 to Tac 19, to Tac 23, and now Tac 35 added to the mix. I cannot overstress how one should never overlook Tactiques scens as a choice for play. Especially as they are free of charge on the web for downloading, why not? This scenario returns us to the bloody sands of the Bir Hacheim box in the Gazala Line, and is another representation of the same battle depicted in a Desert Rats ( DR) scenario. However, having tried two of

the DR scens, and finding them enjoyable but somewhat brittle in tactical choices, we decided the Tactiques version was probably a better choice overall. My opponent, ( the regular PBEM guy down under, Andrew Kerekes) and I squared off in a set piece defense of open sands with a single Hillock to protect the German entry area from immediate LOS. The action began hot and heavy, and several flaming vehicles and casualties, with some more immobilized German AFVs from the hammada and the ESB DRs to close up on the Free French positions, and my opponent was almost ready to throw in the towel before the M13/40s of the Ariete even arrived. But SMOKE OBA shots, enough intensive fire shots for breakdowns, and a few lucky hits that even beserked a French trooper manning an ATR made a nice hole for the Italian infantry to scoot out towards the top of the exit area. Of course, infantry alone was not going to win this one for Andrew. My FB arrived and made a merry mess of the remaining Italians before pouncing promptly upon his Stuka and engaging in an aerial melee that never ended. The British carriers with their ATRs and that little squeeze bore can opener bored right in over the mess on the exit areas, OVRing everyone in sight. The return fire from long range scored some good lucky hits from the two Pz IVDs and the 50L ATG of the Germans, nailing 3 of the 5 carriers right off after the OVRs occurred. The last 2 would continue to try to stop the Pz IVDs and the remaining 2 SPW 251/1s from exiting, but with DVP in play, the moment these 4 AFVs got offboard, the game was won for Andrew as he had the required 16 exit VP in functioning AFVs. All in all , this was a merry row of a fight. If I had not talked him into gutting

it out as the M13/40s represented more than enough on their own to satisfy the VCs , Andrew probably would have surrendered in the mine belts of Bir Hacheim! If you are planning a return of your own to DTO, try some of the Tactiques scenarios, they are fun for everyone from start to finish!

Tail End Thoughts on BR:T

Applying grand tactical decisions that affect the CG balance in the pre game period.

If you are considering whether or not to try one of the CGs from BR:T, please consider some of the following before you write them off to being unbalanced, as popular opinions, ( formed from less than 20 recorded playings on ROAR) seem to voice out in the Forums about this beautiful ASL creation. First, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, read BOTH of the Gamers Guides to this HASL. The Official one from MMP, and the unofficial one available at the Texas ASL Club website for free download. Armed with some foreknowledge after that in depth reading sojourn into the pacific, please allow me to enlighten you with some untouched possibilities for both sides in this HALS that can affect play balance. You must accept when you play this game ,which the vast majority of the Marine choices that will affect tactics and strategy must be made in the pre game assignments for landing the landing force. AS the IJA player, 100% of your tactical and strategic choices are made pre- game. Once play commences, it is a straightforward slugfest to the bitter end for both sides. Now the guys in both of the gamers guides did a great job presenting some options, and I have in previous issues covered items that generally must be

( The VC Exit area mess after an OVR and allied FB attack) My final advice on Tac 35, play it via VASL. The counter density is horrendous in the exit areas by late game

remembered by either side in play. These are some new concepts I have come to a conclusion should be tried, and seem to have done me well so far in their efforts, or poorly , in the case of one of them. First we will talk about the redoubt strategy for the IJA. For this, please refer to the following figure:

reserve force pool, so that entering units can filter into this area over the course of the CG in order to fortify it without an unnecessarily large placement of initial OoB troops that are better served killing marines in the water and establishing a delaying action to keep the Marines out of this locale for as long as possible. Now we will add in the Black Two GPPs and the placed IJA tanks that would otherwise die relatively quickly in this HASL:

pillbox or fortified building location at CG end. That is it, just 1 unit, i.e. the Marines must kill everyone, period, or at least tie them all up in CC. If you can stymie and advance to this point late in the CG with high CVP totals, the Marine player will be hard pressed to crack this nut without CVPing out of a win. The big AA gun in the rear of the position does triple duty, direct fire, AA against FB attack, and providing a respectable TK # against Marine AFVs, with a ROF capable weapon. Ok next we move onto the Island Command Bunker. What a nice place to sit back and leisurely whack Marines heading for the beach from whilst drinking our sake. However, even if this is a great place to fortify, this is read beach 3, and lacking a ton of points all the way around, fortifying this place too much can seriously compromise defense efforts elsewhere. Here is my preferred defense of this area:

This is a possible placement for the IJA final redoubt. In this strategy, the Japanese player will use some of the Black Beach Two CAPP to purchase 2 pillboxes as shown, as well as FPPs for the 3 extra trench counters and the 2 wire counters. The remaining 2 pillboxes are paid for from the Island Command Forces FPP total available for anywhere on map setup. This strategy is using the basic understanding of how to make pillbox complexes very hard to penetrate. By aligning the CA to cover the other pillboxes in a polyhedron shape, and adding wire to protect the outer ones from CC by Marine units, as well as being totally linked by bunker making trench counters, this is indeed a formidable defensive knot, located well away from any invasion entry area, landing forces, or onboard artillery in later CG dates. The extra trenches link this position to the entry areas for the

Note the 50 cal and HMG sited to fire on all the other bunkers, and the 6 Ha GO tanks are now dug in effectively, becoming hull down from all directions as well as seriously increasing any possibility of failed sighting TCs from roving FBs. Add in the entering units, and this is truly a final holdout that will give any Marine player pause if it is late in the CG and his CVP totals are over 700. Remember as the IJA you win in 2 ways, 804 CVPs OR >=1 Japanese MMC in good order on map in any

The 447 and 8-0 in the south trench can banzaii in if the Marines get into the bunker hex, and all those MGs will get some nice kills, along with the 2 knee mortars, on approaching marines in the water or in LVTs. The 70* IG is positioned to keep LVTs from coming head into the area and trying to clear the beach wire. An inexpensive and effective defense of this area designed to D.I.P ( that is Dying in Place).

Now we move onto an idea that looks better than it is the wall of wire defense. Simply put, it would look a lot like this:

Which will compromise an entire line of wire in one area along the beach forcing 2 consecutive ML checks at >=9 clearing the wire in that hex. The second reason is the sheer cost in FPP is massive, and will deplete the necessary defenses elsewhere. You will need bomb proofs and trenches, and fortified buildings, not just wire. This is also the reason I do not favor the IJA night banzaii defense. In order to have a good shot at making the DR, the Japanese player must stack the DRMs in his favor by removing onboard units and placing them in his reserve pool. This simply removes fighting strength from the playing field from the get go in order to attempt a far from sure thing. Now we can look at 2 strategies I have considered for the Marines, the first I call firebase Betio and looks like this: A string of wire along almost every beach hex opposite a landing area. I am against this idea of defense for 2 reasons. The Marines can stack their bombardments like so:

Those Shermans serve double duty, direct fire and either vehicle or wreck TEM for the 81 * Mtr teams underneath also in direct fire. This is also functional with the 75* pack artillery units as well. Who cares if the Shermans immobilize up there? Good luck to the IJA trying to kill them once the Marines have hit the Beak. In addition, the second, I call the long bomb offensive:

We place the 3 hex radius bombardment as shown to mitigate fire into the flank, and the 2 black lined corridors are used to approach the short pier and red 3, which is typically the least well defended of any of the beaches. Drop the 2 hex radius bombardment

anywhere within the invasion corridor area desired to block up LOSs so the LVTs can get close enough to the beach before the IJA guns can begin firing without SMOKE hindrances at them. The little pier can still be used to offload units quickly and get them moving inland in later CG dates as well.

battlefield. Then we have the British version, at least it is packing SMOKE ammo, and will likely be used as such in most CGs as well as the scenarios they appear in.

VERY beneficial, and getting as many as possible even more so. This tactic seems best suited for such areas as the Russians in CG1 or CG2 of Festung Budapest; The Germans in CGs from ABtF; The Germans in any CG from VotG, or the Germans in PB. In all these instances, the nationalities really have no other useful purpose for these light mortars than to attempt to generate as many critical hit 1,1 DRs as possible. There is some carry over of course to regular scenario play, but only in those scenario OoBs where there exists a multitude of these pumpkin launchers in the firs place, and the SAN and booby trap ability ( or inability) would meet the necessary requirements, along with high + value TEMs. So next time you are shooting your Mtrs, think carefully about the acquisition, it MAY be placed, but is certainly not REQUIRED to be placed.

This is an interesting HASL with tons of possibilities. In all, it is 95% what the players decide in the pre- game that will determine the overall balance of these CGs. So do not hesitate, Hit the Beach! ( all respect to the So Cal ASL Club that is your tag line!)

But what about the rest? Russians, Germans, Chinese, Italians, allied and axis minors. They all pack this nice little sniper generator. And this is what Garys idea was all about.

Back to the Basics: The Acquisition Debate

Gary Meis ideas on acquisition non placement and some of the counterpoints that come to mind..

In an urbanized area, when you are the attacker, and most of your opposition can be found in +3 or greater TEM, it might be a better thing to avoid placing an ATT aq counter after a TH DR at the enemy target you are shooting at. The idea basically revolves around attempting to maximize the possibilities of 1,1 DR Critical Hits, while minimizing the non critical Hit effective HE hits that generate out to 2+3 and 2+4 attacks, which are far more likely to trip a 4 SAN than do any serious damage or have any real effect on the enemy within the target hex.

A recent debate that has brought to light a new tactic in ASL ATT fire. As Gary Mei has so well pointed out and illustrated, in most HASL CGs, both sides end up accumulating really a quantifiable number of the small man portable mortars from all of their infantry purchases, almost regardless of nationality.

There are instances where this also pays good dividends. Look at ATT Critical Hit results vs. a Gun in a +3 stone building. The 1,1 DR Critical Hit eliminates the gun and its crew, period. The only possible effect from a 2+3 effect IFT DR is a pin, and that is only if the manning gun crew fails its PTC. There are drawbacks to this strategy also. Most notably, it is not one you would prefer to use if you are the defender, with a high SAN of 4 or 5 yourself, and your opponent is only a SAN of 2 or 3. This will not help you much and the possible PTC DRs will help you generate more SANS from his PTC DRs than your effect DRs. Second is in any CG where you have Booby Trap capability of any kind. You will want the enemy rolling as many checks as possible to cause these casualties , so those 2+3 PTCs will be

Club News:
Having passed our Contact DR with 8s all around; heres the news from our local ASL scenes.

Now the American versions are thing of wonder, able to transition to a 60 mm OBA with WP / HE and IR. + the fact that their FP and WP capability earns them a useful place on the battlefield. Close behind is the Japanese version with no minimum range, WP and SMOKE ammo, it is also exceedingly useful on the

SVASL Club regular meetings are scheduled for the 4th Saturday of every month, at the game room of the Game Kastle, located at 1350 Coleman Ave., Santa Clara, CA 95050 ph: 408-727-2452

Everyone is welcome to post to the Club board at the Yahoo Group Website if you would like to pre-arrange a scenario or opponent.

Nor Cal ASL Club:

Nor Cal ASL Club has three separate meeting locations for the ASL players in the group. The primary one is 2nd Saturdays at: Location: Olde World Games, 123 Peabody Road, Vacaville Street: 123 Peabody Road City State Zip: Vacaville Phone: 707-455-8445 Opening bell is at 11 am and closing bell is at 11 pm. See you there. We have subsidiary groups meeting throughout the valley also most notably: The Miniature Wargaming Society of Sacramento meetings is only on Sundays, at the Carmichael library here in Sacramento. We have 2-3 ASL players involved so if you come up for a day trip, let us know in advance and we can get you into a game. And also: There's also a small group playing ASL on the 1st and 3rd Sundays at Endgame in downtown Oakland.

> > Thank you!! I appreciate the effort into the newsletter and sending it to > me. I agree about the difficulties of GS. I have "tried" to upload an excel > file few times and it has been a problem?? I wish things were easier to use > on GS as this seems to be the main ASL forum/site on the web. > > Many thanks again!! > Joe

Opponents wanted:
Seeking VASL PBEM opponents for just about anything. . I prefer IFT. Please e-mail me at if you are interested.

Defensive Fires

Letters to the Editor

On 4/26/12, Joseph Gochinski <> wrote: > Jon

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