My Advanced Squad Leader games have recently been put on pause as Michael and I have had slightly differing schedules during the last couple of weeks. In the meantime, I finally managed to play Glen, who had rather liked the look of the game when he saw Michael and me playing it. So, ever the sucker for introducing newcomers to the game, I set up scenario 1 from ASL Starter Kit 1, and we sat down to an entertaining game. Glen played the Americans (green), this game. My Germans came on from both sides of the map, flanking his forces, and using cover as they could to take up key positions. Along the way, they managed to eliminate (with a very good roll) one of his squads.
In fact, my initial deployment of my Germans was flawed – I hadn’t set anyone to guard the approach path of the new Americans approaching from the left-hand side of the board. So, while I was able to claim all of the victory hexes, I wasn’t able to stop Glen from bringing his reinforcements on.
I tried to aggressively fix the situation by having my own reinforcements come from the left-hand top of the board down to the buildings, but I wandered into Glen’s line of fire and he rebuked my units quite effectively, causing them to retreat back to a woods hex on the side of the board, where they weren’t going to be controlling anything.
My other reinforcements were also having trouble getting into the combat, but I wasn’t too unhappy with where my troops were. My major problem was that although my firepower wasn’t that effective against Americans in stone buildings, Glen’s firepower was quite effective against my units – not being able to delay their approach was really hurting me. Having units advancing into close combat made for even more advantages on Glen’s side.
My final set of reinforcements I was more conservative with, placing them on the edge of the board where they could exert firepower against anyone moving along the top edge of the buildings. I was able to rally the initial wave of reinforcements, only to have them actually lose their squad as they attempted to get to a better position. My leaders weren’t doing well at surviving unhurt – two of the four were wounded! Although not all of Glen’s forces were able to assault my position – I was sending some back, broken – it didn’t take much for my position to worsen dramatically. A few good rolls on Glen’s part, and my control on the central buildings had gone. Instead, I had broken units and Glen’s Americans were advancing into Close Combat to deal with the rest!
At this point, Glen’s forces were in the ascendancy. I’d thought I had a strong position, only to see the superior American firepower destroy it. I tried bringing up my troops aggressively to deal with the problem.
It didn’t work – Glen sent them scurrying back, broken, to shelter. Only the leader managed to reach the buildings. This wasn’t going well!
To rub it in, his forces were able to break one of my units in one of the buildings across the street I needed to hold for victory!
The only question here was whether my unit in L3 could hold out – if it could, I’d still win the scenario. However, Glen had two options for winning from here: breaking it with firepower would work, but so would overwhelming it with enough troops to lock it in melee. (My leader in N6? Glen was easily able to destroy it in close combat).
As it turned out, Glen was able to break it in the Advancing Fire Phase.
So, that was how Glen’s first game of Advanced Squad Leader. Once again, I’d played a game of Retaking Vierville that had run quite differently to the previous games – showing how small differences in tactics can give wildly differing outcomes.
It’s that sort of thing that keeps me coming back to ASL: it’s such an interesting game!