Thursday, June 11, 2009

Playing with the big boys

Last Saturday I went along to the London ASL club. I've been pushing counters around the ASL Starter Kits for a couple of years now, playing the occasional game with Phil or Nick, but now I decided to up the stakes a bit, take advantage of my current residence in the capital, and make contact with the serious ASL hobby.

I felt nervous as I approached Fleet Street Starbucks on Saturday morning: would I get the customary cold shoulder usually meted out to new arrivals at a games club? Would there be loud arguments about the relative merits of the SdKfz 6/2 versus the SdKfz 7/1? Would the play be very competitive? Would I be looked down on for my shaky knowledge of even the Starter Kit rules? I needn't have worried - I received a warm welcome, got introduced to lots of friendly and more or less normal people, the venue was pleasant, and I had a very enjoyable day playing scenario S12 "Over Open Sights" with Scott, who was coming back to ASL after a long break.

This deceptively simple scenario actually poses a tricky tactical puzzle to both players. My Germans had 7 turns to knockout or capture 3 American artillery pieces. Scott used his scant infantry resources to deploy a light screen in front of his precious guns, which were further back, with plenty of open space around them. It took me a long time to get through this screen, and I lost at least 50% of my fighting strength in the process. But I finally wore them down, and my luck started to change too, and Scott made the mistake of throwing in his reinforcements piecemeal, and I just about managed to capture all 3 guns by the deadline. Great fun, very exciting, and a real nail-biting finish. Big lesson learned: those artillery guns are terrifyingly devastating when they get a hit against infantry - so DON'T STACK in their LOS, even if you're in cover.

LASL meet once a month - I can't wait for the next one!

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