I played my first game from the ASL Starter Kit #3 this weekend with Jonathan. We played the simple S:20 Joseph 351 scenario. German infantry supported with LMGs and an MMG basically have to defend a hill in the Brittany countryside from US Rangers, Free French and escaped Russian POW’s trying to mop them up. The scenario is a touch biased towards the Allied forces, with the Germans playing a stalling game to try and deny the Allied player their victory conditions. Although to be fair the Germans do start with three LMGs and an MMG, while the Allied forces only have a single MMG.
We rolled for which side we got and Jonathan ended up with the Germans. Then it was on with the dice rolling and confused consultation of the rulebook. Fortunately I discovered a very handy online resource for MMP’s ASL Starter Kit #1 at Savarese.org. In particular their reference to Grognard.com’s ASL Starter Kit #1 Tip Sheet (pdf link) was invaluable. If you’re wondering why ASL Starter Kit #1 resources are handy for ASL SK #3 it’s because if you remove the tanks and ordnance rules from a scenario you’re left playing the ASL Starter Kit #1 rules.
Highlights in terms of rules were screwing up Casualty Reduction (getting it confused with ELR Reduction for some reason) and some basic points regarding Morale Checks and Leaders (like why Leaders are important)! However I think we got most of the basic movement, firing and close combat phases correct. Applying those little “Prep Fire, First Fire, Final Fire” counters initially seemed like a chore, but it pretty quickly became obvious that was a neat way of keeping all the required book-keeping on the game board.
Highlights in terms of gameplay (for myself at least) were my Elite US Rangers getting pinned down and broken almost instantly by German LMG fire from a single enemy occupied building, while the escaped Russian Conscript POWs weathered fire from another German occupied building and two German groups elevated on the hill behind. Half of one Russian POW group actually got pinned and broken by fire in the middle of a road running through the forest (scrabbling into ditches I assume), only to rally later on and charge the second farmhouse to assault the Germans inside and drive them off! The US Rangers did acquit themselves honorably later on though by assaulting their own troublesome farmhouse and plucking a Jerry LMG out of hands of a German leader and squad they’d gunned down.
All in all quite an enjoyable evening really, despite not quite playing the scenario to conclusion! Having played figure based war games for so long it was a pleasant change of pace having an entire game stored in one flat letter sized box that I could simply chuck into the passenger seat of my car.
One minor annoyance was discovering mid-game that we needed some counters I simply didn’t have (after a German squad got casualty reduced). The addition of more basic counters, more scenarios and map boards may make picking up ASL SK #2 a tempting proposition in the future, but at that point of course becomes the inevitable question: Should I just buy ASL 2nd Edition and a Module pack instead? Mind you that’s quite a bit more cash layout than an additional $28US.