An ASLSK Tutorial (Part 5) Tanks
This is the fifth, and final, entry in a series of tutorial articles that are designed to help new players learn the ASLSK rules. Links to other entries in this series may be found at the end of this article. This article assumes that the reader has read, and understood, all of the previous articles. Rules and concepts discussed in the earlier articles will be used here with little or no explanation.
This article will cover ASLSK #3, which adds tanks to the ASLSK system and completes the basic ASLSK ruleset. Tanks add a whole additional layer of complexity to the basic ASL game system, and the vehicle rules differ from the Infantry rules in many fundamental ways. ASLSK #3 includes two types of vehicles: tanks and Armored Cars. These two types of vehicles can be collectively referred to as AFVs (Armored Fighting Vehicles).
Vehicle counters are absolutely packed with information. These counters may seem cluttered at first glance, but this packed design actually benefits playability: ASLSK players have almost all of the information they need during a game right on the counter itself, which is handier than having to look up tank data on a separate card or chart.
Each vehicle counter includes a detailed overhead view line drawing of the vehicle, with the vehicle's name/model printed alongside the image. Some vehicle names may have a lowercase letter in parenthesis added at the end which denotes the country of origin for that vehicle. For example, the "(a)" on the Russian Sherman III counter shows that, even though this is a Russian tank, it was actually manufactured in America.
The caliber of the AFV's Main Armament (MA) appears in the lower left corner of the counter, and the ROF number (if any) appears above it. This MA information is read exactly the same way as it is on Gun counters. The only exception to this is those rare cases when the AFV's MA is not a Gun. The British Light Tank Mk VIB counter, for example, shows "*CMG" as its MA; this means that the tank's coaxial machine gun (CMG) is treated as its MA, and the asterisk tells you that there is additional usage information about this weapon on the back of the counter. If the note on the back of the counter is not clear, you then check the "Vehicle and Ordnance Historical Notes" booklet where it will be explained in greater detail. It is, in fact, always a good idea to review the historical notes for all of the vehicles involved in a scenario prior to playing it, to make sure that both players are aware of any special usage rules that might apply to those vehicles.
Sharp-eyed ASLSK players may notice that Sherman tanks equipped with 75mm Guns have their ROF number printed on a white background. This has no special meaning when using the ASLSK rules, but, for those who might be curious, in full ASL the white ROF background signifies that these tanks have a very fast and accurate turret traverse coupled with a relatively quick-firing Gun, which gives them certain advantages with respect to ASL's Multiple Hits rule and Gun Duels rule.
Breakdown numbers for AFV MA are handled exactly the same as for regular Guns: a B12 is assumed unless a B# appears on the AFV counter itself. But the two Russian IS-2 tank models have a special kind of B#... a B11 with a circle around the 11. The circled B# indicates that these tanks carried an unusually low number of rounds for their MA. These tanks could potentially run out of ammunition during a battle.
AFVs with a circled B# suffer MA malfunction normally, on an original TH DR of 12, but if the original TH DR is equal to or greater than the circled B# (and is not a 12) the AFV is then marked with a Low Ammo counter. The Low Ammo counter makes the original B# into a X# that will permanently disable the MA, and creates a new B# of one less than the original circled B#.
To summarize how this works, if a Russian IS-2 rolls:
- Original TH DR 12 – MA malfunctions (can be repaired)
- Original TH DR 11 – place Low Ammo counter on the tank
If an IS-2 with a Low Ammo counter rolls:
- Original TH DR 11 or 12 – MA permanently disabled (out of ammo)
- Original TH DR 10 – MA malfunctions (can be repaired)
A vehicle's machine gun armament is displayed in the lower right corner of its counter. This is a series of two or three Firepower (FP) numbers separated by slashes. When all three numbers are present, they are read from left to right as:
- Bow machine gun (BMG) – mounted in the front of the hull.
- Coaxial machine gun (CMG) – mounted in the turret alongside the MA.
- Anti-aircraft machine gun (AAMG) – mounted on top of the turret.
Or, in other words: BMG/CMG/AAMG
If the AFV does not have an AAMG, then only two numbers are used: BMG/CMG
If a dash is present instead of a number, then there is no BMG or CMG in that position. The Italian L3/35, for example, shows "4/-" which signifies that it has a 4 FP BMG and no CMG.
A few AFVs have rather unusual MG armament. The Russian IS-2m, for example, shows "1/4 R2/4" with a white dot behind the "1". This tank thus has a fixed-mount 1 FP BMG (+1 DRM when firing the BMG at a moving target), a 4 FP CMG, a 2 FP Rear machine gun (RMG) mounted in the back of the turret, and a 4 FP AAMG. The ASLSK #3 rules incorrectly identify the RMG as a "Rear coaxial MG" and neglect to point out that it has a Covered Arc (CA) exactly opposite that of the MA/CMG.
AAMGs are considered "optional" equipment on certain AFVs, so their counters come in two versions, some with an AAMG and some without. See the six Russian Sherman III counters: two of these counters include an AAMG, but the other four counters do not. When playing a scenario using such an AFV, you use the version depicted on the scenario card first, and only use the other version if additional counters are needed. Thus, if a scenario calls for three Sherman IIIs without AAMGs, you could not use the counters with an AAMG... but if the scenario calls for three Sherman IIIs with AAMGs, you would then use the two counters with AAMGs and one without an AAMG.
Vehicular MGs have a breakdown number of B12, they never cower, and they do not have a ROF rating unless they are also the vehicle's MA. BMGs and CMGs each have a CA that works the same way as a Gun's CA, but the AAMG has no CA and thus can always fire in any direction without any CA change DRM penalty.
A vehicle's Movement Point (MP) allowance is printed in the upper right corner of the counter. If this number is printed over a white oval, the vehicle is fully-tracked (a tank), and if it is printed over a white circle, the vehicle is wheeled (an Armored Car). If an asterisk appears next to the MP number, check the back of the counter and/or the historical notes for a special usage note. If the MP number is printed in red, the vehicle suffers from Mechanical Reliability problems.
AFVs can either be turreted or non-turreted. A turret allows the MA (and the CMG) to be aimed in any direction without having to change the direction that the vehicle itself is facing. A non-turreted AFV must turn the entire vehicle in order to aim the MA (which will always point to the AFV's front).
There are four possible turret classifications in ASLSK:
- Fast Turret Traverse (T) – a thin white circle surrounds the vehicle depiction.
- Slow Turret Traverse (ST) – a thin white square surrounds the vehicle depiction.
- Restricted Slow Traverse (RST) – a thick white square surrounds the vehicle depiction.
- Non-Turreted (NT) – there is no circle or square surrounding the vehicle depiction.
The one exception to the above list is the Russian KV-2. This tank is depicted as a NT tank, but it does indeed have a turret... which turns so slowly that the tank suffers NT AFV To Hit DRM penalties even when it turns the turret instead of the whole vehicle.
Each AFV is rated for the amount of armor protection it has in two areas: the turret, and the hull (the body of the AFV that the turret is mounted on). NT AFV's also have hull and turret armor ratings, but in this case "hull" simply refers to the lower part of the NT AFV's body, and "turret" refers to the upper part of the NT AFV's body. Both hull and turret areas are further subdivided into three facings: front, side, and rear.
The two numbers found directly below the MP rating, on the right side of the counter, are the AFV's Armor Factors. Armor Factors (AF) give the effective thickness of the armor in centimeters of vertical armor plate. Thus an AFV with a front hull AF of 11 has the equivalent of 110mm of armor protection on the front hull. In many cases the actual real-world thickness of an AFV's armor will be less than the value indicated by the AF, because the AF rating takes into account such things as sloping the armor to increase its effective thickness.
The ASL/ASLSK armor system uses a limited set of AF values:
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 14, 18, and 26
No other AF values are allowed. An AF of 0 actually represents armor up to 1cm in thickness, and an AF of 1 represents armor that is 1cm to 1.5cm thick.
The two AF numbers printed on the AFV's counter are for the vehicle's hull. The top AF is the value for the front of the hull, and the bottom AF is the value for the side and rear of the hull. The AFs for the turret are derived directly from the hull AFs:
- If the hull AF has a square around it, the turret AF is one step stronger.
- If the hull AF is unmarked, the turret AF is identical to the hull AF.
- If the hull AF has a circle around it, the turret AF is one step weaker.
For example: a German Pz VIB's hull has a front AF of 26 and a side/rear AF of 8. The turret's AFs are 18 front (because the 26 is circled) and 11 side/rear (because the 8 has a square around it).
This armor rating system is incredibly elegant and simple in requiring only two numbers to describe the armor protection of an AFV. And it is surprisingly accurate: there are only a handful of WWII AFVs that don't quite fit this system (their hull and turret armor differ by more than one step on the ASL armor scale).
The convention that a circle = bad/worse and a square = good/better is used consistently throughout ASL/ASLSK. The only exception to this is when a circle or square appears around a squad's class designation. For example, there are two American Elite class squads: a 7-4-7 (marked with an "E") and a 6-6-7 (marked with an "E" with a square around it). The presence of a square surrounding the "E" on a 6-6-7 squad does not indicate that it is a better squad than a 7-4-7... it merely indicates that it is a different type of Elite.
AFVs can have varying levels of ground pressure, which affects their chances of becoming bogged. This is indicated on the counter with the unit ID letter in the upper left corner:
- Unit ID in a square = low ground pressure (good)
- Unit ID unmarked = normal ground pressure
- Unit ID in a circle = high ground pressure (bad)
And finally, the two AF numbers also indicate the target size of the AFV. Target size affects how easy it is to hit the AFV, with small targets being harder to hit and large targets being easier to hit:
- Very small target = white background behind both AFs
- Small target = white background behind top AF
- Normal target = no color
- Large target = top AF printed in red
- Very large target = both AFs printed in red
On the back of the vehicle counter, the vehicle depiction appears again on a plain white background. This is the vehicle's "wrecked" side; if the vehicle is eliminated in combat, it turns into a wreck by flipping over to its white side.
A wide variety of additional information can appear on the back of a vehicle counter. This information is provided so that the players may have ready access to it during the game, but it is applicable only to an unwrecked vehicle. When a vehicle is eliminated and turns into a wreck, all information for that vehicle – on both sides of the counter – is thereafter ignored.
Many vehicles have ammunition depletion numbers for the MA, which are read in exactly the same way as ammunition depletion numbers for Guns. Some American and American-built AFVs have a depletion number for "C" ammunition which is not used in ASLSK (in full ASL these AFVs can fire Canister rounds which have a deadly shotgun-like effect against Infantry, but with only a very short effective range).
In addition to ammunition depletion numbers and special usage notes, the other information that can appear on the back of a vehicle counter includes:
- sD# – Smoke Discharger usage number
- sM# – Smoke Mortar usage number
- sN# – Nahverteidigungswaffe usage number
- No IF – vehicle cannot use Intensive Fire
- ML:9 – Tiger crew Morale 9
The remaining four items that can appear are used only when playing full ASL and do not apply to the ASLSK rules:
- G – vehicle may be equipped with a Gyrostabilizer
- Sz – vehicle may be equipped with Schuerzen
- circled R – vehicle is not equipped with a radio
- CS # – crew survival number (red = increased chance of a burning wreck)
Vehicle Status Counters
There are numerous aspects of a vehicle's status that are variable in nature, so a variety of additional counters are used to keep track of them.
The most important of these are the generic white turret counters that can be used with any turreted vehicle. These are used to indicate direction of the vehicle's Turret Covered Arc (TCA) and the crew's exposure status. One side of the turret counter depicts an open hatch occupied by the AFV's commander; this is the Crew Exposed (CE) side. The other side shows a closed hatch and is the Buttoned Up (BU) side.
When a turreted vehicle counter does not have a turret counter on it, the vehicle is BU and its turret is facing in the same direction as the vehicle itself. A turret counter must be placed whenever the crew opens a hatch to become CE, or the turret turns to face in a different direction than the vehicle. Whenever the vehicle becomes BU with the turret facing to the front, the turret counter is removed.
NT AFVs do not have a TCA to track, but they can become CE, so CE counters without a turret are also provided.
Malfunction counters are available for each type of weapon that an AFV can carry: BMG, CMG, AAMG, and MA. When an AFV weapon malfunctions, place the appropriate Malfunction counter on the vehicle. If the weapon is permanently disabled, flip the Malfunction counter over to its Disabled side.
Other vehicle status counters provided include Motion/Immobilized, Bog/Mired, Shock/UK, stun/+1, and STUN/Recall. These counters will be discussed later in this article.
Vehicle Counter Management
The design of the ASL vehicle counters packs a tremendous amount of information onto each counter, but this information is not always easily accessible to the players: many vehicles can cart around large stacks of status and acquisition counters, making it impossible to read the vehicle counter from a distance, and difficult to pick up the vehicle counter to look at it more closely.
But one key difference between a stack of vehicular status counters and a stack of Infantry counters is that the relative positioning of the vehicular counters within the stack has no particular significance. The only positioning requirement is that the vehicle counter itself, and the turret counter (if present), must be kept pointing in their proper facing direction.
This means that, in many situations, you can simply place these vehicular status counters in a hex next to the vehicle they apply to so that the vehicle counter itself remains in full view of the players. Even a turret counter can be removed from on top of the vehicle: you can place the turret on the adjacent hexspine (the hexspine that it would point to if it was still on top of the vehicle counter), so that it continues to show the direction the turret is facing without covering up the vehicle counter.
Spreading out your vehicular status markers like this can really make the game easier to play, especially in scenarios with a lot of vehicles, because you can take in the entire tactical situation at a glance. Note, however, that if you do this you must position the status counters so that there is absolutely no question as to which vehicle they belong to. In situations where the nearby hexes are cluttered with Infantry and/or other vehicles – or if your opponent objects – then you will have to place all of a vehicle's status counters on top of that vehicle.
To see how this can work, place the following counters on board v in hex vX6:
- American M4A2(L) tank facing towards vW7-vX7
- BU turret counter facing towards vW6-vW7
- CMG malfunction counter
- Motion counter
- –2 Acquired Target counter (from an enemy Gun)
You can see that it might be a challenge to remember exactly what is in that stack... and then imagine a big armor scenario with numerous stacks just like it scattered across the map!
Now try placing those counters like this:
- vX6: American M4A2(L) tank facing towards vW7-vX7
- hexspine between vW6-vW7: BU turret counter facing towards vV6
- vX5: CMG malfunction counter
- vY6: Motion counter
- vY7: –2 Acquired Target counter (from an enemy Gun)
As long as there are no Infantry in those hexes, and no other vehicles adjacent to those hexes, it will be perfectly clear that those status counters are for that particular tank. With this kind of counter layout, it is instantly clear what tank is present and what its complete status is.
A final tip for managing counter clutter is to only use the minimum number of Motion counters that are necessary. Motion counters are used to mark vehicles that remain in Motion at the end of their MPh. If you have vehicles that are adjacent to each other and moving as a group, either in a column along a road or in a line out in the field, just place a single Motion counter next to the lead vehicle and let it apply to the entire group. This technique is again dependent upon your opponent's agreement; if he objects, you will then have to do this "by the book" and place a Motion counter on each individual vehicle in the group.
Basic AFV Movement
AFV movement is quite a bit different than Infantry movement, so vehicles are assigned Movement Points (MP) rather than Movement Factors (MF). For example, when crossing a Crest Line into higher terrain, a unit that uses MF must pay double the normal MF cost of entering that hex, while a unit that uses MP must pay an additional 4 MP over the normal MP cost of entering that hex (or 2 MP additional if moving along a road). The use of the MF/MP terminology always makes it clear whether a specific movement rule applies to Infantry or to vehicles.
AFVs have a Covered Arc (CA) in the direction that they are facing, just like Guns do. This is called the Vehicle Covered Arc (VCA). The VCA defines the hexes into which an AFV can move, and into which a BMG can fire; if the AFV is NT, the VCA also then defines the hexes into which the MA can fire. Whenever a turreted AFV does not have a turret counter on it, its TCA and VCA are identical.
Movement Example 1
Place the following unit on board v:
vF5: American M4A2(L) facing vE5-vE6, BU
This tank's VCA includes the hex rows vE5-vA3, vE6-vA8, and all hexes in between these two rows. If the tank wishes to move, the only hexes it can enter would be vE5 and vE6; it would first have to turn to change its VCA, at a cost of 1 MP per hexspine, before it could enter any other adjacent hex.
Assume that it is the American MPh, and that the tank wishes to move. There is no Motion counter on the tank, so it is currently stopped. A stopped vehicle must spend 1 MP to start before it can spend any MP to actually move. Similarly, a moving vehicle must spend 1 MP to come to a halt (stop), although some combat results and some movement events can force a vehicle to stop without the expenditure of a Stop MP.
The expenditure of MP to start or stop does not actually represent the vehicle's engine being turned on or off, but it instead accounts for a motionless vehicle's inability to instantly accelerate to top speed, and a rapidly moving vehicle's inability to instantly come to a dead stop. In a real battle situation an AFV would likely keep its engine running at all times, so as to be able to start moving at a moment's notice.
The M4A2(L) begins its move by spending 1 MP to start. It has a total of 14 MP, so there are 13 MP remaining. It then spends 1 MP to turn its VCA to face vE5-vF4 (12 MP remaining) and spends 1 MP to enter vF4 (11 MP remaining).
The tank now spends 1 MP to enter the Orchard in vF3 (10 MP remaining), and 1 MP to turn its VCA to vF2-vG3 (9 MP remaining). In conjunction with that last MP expenditure, the player announces that the tank will turn its turret to face vG3-vG4 and it will also become CE, so a turret counter is placed on top of the M4A2(L), facing towards vG3-vG4, with the CE side up.
A vehicle's crew exposure status may be voluntarily changed only once during the MPh, in conjunction with any other MP expenditure. So a vehicle that begins its MPh BU may become CE at some point during its move, and a vehicle that begins its MPh CE may become BU at some point. In addition, a vehicle may also change its crew exposure status during the APh, regardless of whether or not it changed CE/BU status during the MPh.
A turreted vehicle's TCA may be changed at will in conjunction with any MP expenditure. There is no limit on how many times the TCA may be changed during a vehicle's MPh, nor is there any restriction on how many hexspines it can turn each time it does change.
The M4A2(L) now spends 1 MP to turn its VCA to vG3-vG4 (8 MP remaining). This VCA change also changes the TCA to vF4-vG4: if the player does not announce a specific TCA change in addition to the VCA change, the turret will remain stationary with respect to the vehicle's hull and the TCA will thus change by the same number of hexspines as the VCA.
The CE tank can now move along the road at the road movement rate of 1/2 MP per hex (if it was BU, it would have to pay 1 MP per road hex). The tank now expends 1.5 MP to move vG3-vH2-vI2 (6.5 MP remaining). As it enters vI2, it also changes its TCA to vH2-vI3.
The tank now expends 1 MP to enter vJ1 (5.5 MP remaining). This move costs 1 MP because, even though vJ1 is a road hex, there is no road crossing the hexside between vI2 and vJ1, so the tank must pay the Open Ground MP cost. If the tank had actually followed the road through vI1, the cost to move to vJ1 would have been 3 MP: 1 MP to turn left, 1/2 MP to enter vI1, 1 MP to turn right, 1/2 MP to enter vJ1. Taking the cross-country shortcut was much faster.
The tank now spends 4.5 MP to move vK2-vL2-vM3-vN3-vO4 (1 MP remaining) and it changes its TCA to vP3-vP4 as it enters vO4. The turret counter is not removed, even though the TCA is now the same as the VCA, because the tank is still CE.
At this point, with 1 MP remaining, the M4A2(L) has a decision to make: should it spend this last MP to move one more hex, or should it pay 1 MP to come to a full stop where it is? If it chooses to stop, it remains where it is and its MPh is completed. If it continues moving, then it could spend its last MP to enter either vP3 or vP4, at which point it would be marked with a Motion counter to remind the players that this tank has not stopped, and then its MPh would be over.
Whenever an AFV expends any MP during a MPh, it must spend all of its MPs. A tank with 14 MP, for example, cannot just spend 1 MP to start, 1 MP to move one hex, 1 MP to stop and then declare that its MPh is over... it still has 11 unused MP unaccounted for, and they must be spent on something.
This is one of the biggest differences between AFV movement and Infantry movement. AFV movement works this way in order to account for the different vulnerabilities of AFVs and Infantry.
A squad becomes less vulnerable to enemy fire when it stops moving: the troops "go to ground" to take advantage of any available cover. Thus when a squad stops moving before using its full MF allowance, it becomes much harder to hit and is no longer vulnerable to any additional enemy Defensive First Fire.
But when an AFV stops moving, it becomes more vulnerable to enemy fire: it can't go to ground or otherwise take cover, and a vehicular target is much easier to hit when it is stationary than it is when it is moving. It would be unrealistic to allow a moving AFV to limit its vulnerability to Defensive First Fire by "moving slowly" (not spending all of its MP).
There are two ways in which an AFV can use up excess MP:
- Whenever a moving AFV is stopped, it can spend any number of MP as Delay points.
- When a moving AFV enters a new hex, it may pay more MP than is required.
Movement Example 2
Place the following units on board v:
vP7: German 2-2-8 crew
vP7: German 50L AT Gun facing vP6-vQ7
vT6: American M4A2(L) facing vS6-vS7, BU
The American tank wants to move into vS6 so that it will be in position to attack the Germans in vP7. There are three basic methods that it may use to execute this move.
(A) The M4A2(L) expends 1 MP to start, 1 MP to enter vS6, 1 MP to stop, and finally 11 Delay points in vS6.
(B) The M4A2(L) expends 1 MP to start, 12 MP to enter vS6, and 1 MP to stop.
(C) The M4A2(L) expends 11 Delay points in vT6, 1 MP to start, 1 MP to enter vS6, and 1 MP to stop.
Method (C) is somewhat safer than the first two methods, because the tank only expends 2 MP in the LOS of the AT Gun, limiting it to no more than two Defensive First Fire shots. Methods (A) and (B) both expend 13 MP in the LOS of the AT Gun, which would allow the Gun up to 13 Defensive First Fire shots (assuming that the Gun could actually retain its ROF that many times).
Just prior to the previous Movement Example, I wrote: "Whenever a moving AFV is stopped..." Did this wording sound a little strange to you? After all, if a vehicle stops, it is no longer a moving vehicle... right?
Well, this brings us to what is probably the most difficult-to-understand part of vehicular movement in ASL: the three movement "states" that a vehicle can have, and the confusing terminology that is used to describe them.
A vehicle in ASL can have various combinations of the following three states:
- Motion vehicle
- Stopped or non-stopped vehicle
- Moving Target
It's perfectly natural to think that these are just three different ways of describing the same thing, but these are actually describing three different things. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to learn and understand these three movement states and how they interact with one another. If you don't understand them properly, you will become hopelessly confused when trying to figure out how vehicles move and fight in ASL.
The following vehicular movement status summary, written by Ole Boe, a noted ASL rules expert, is the best and most concise summary of these movement states that I have found:
Vehicular Movement Status
- moving: A vehicle that is currently executing its MPh.
- Motion: A vehicle that is not moving and not stopped.
- non-stopped: A vehicle that is moving and not stopped.
- Moving Target: A vehicle that is/has been in Motion and/or entered a new hex this Player Turn.
Ole's summary is not just for beginners... I keep a printed copy with my player aids for full ASL as well (the full ASL version has one small addition to the "Moving Target" line that doesn't apply to ASLSK).
The phrase "Moving Target" is used interchangeably with the phrase "Moving Vehicle", but even though they have the same meaning, "Moving Target" is preferable as it is less likely to be confused with the term "moving" that simply refers to a vehicle that is executing its MPh.
For example, to ask: "Is the moving vehicle a Moving Vehicle?" just seems silly, but if we rephrase that question as: "Is the moving vehicle a Moving Target?" it makes a little more sense. And the question is a valid one, because a vehicle that is moving (executing its MPh) is not always a Moving Target.
Let's examine how these three movement states work in more detail.
A moving vehicle is a vehicle that is currently executing its MPh: a vehicle that is expending MPs to enter new hexes, change its VCA, start and/or stop, etc. Only one vehicle at a time can be a moving vehicle.
A moving vehicle that ends its MPh without stopping becomes a Motion vehicle, and it is marked with a Motion counter. A vehicle that is in Motion remains in Motion until a combat result forces it to stop, or until it begins to execute its next MPh (when it once again becomes a moving vehicle instead of a Motion vehicle). Thus moving and Motion are mutually exclusive: a vehicle can be one or the other, but never both at once.
A vehicle that is moving can be either stopped or non-stopped, and could possibly change back and forth between those two several times in a single MPh. That is, a moving vehicle could expend some MPs, then stop and expend some Delay points, then start again and expend more MPs, then stop again and expend more Delay points, etc., up to the limit of its available MPs.
Stopped/non-stopped status really only applies to moving vehicles, because vehicles that are in Motion are always non-stopped. Vehicles that are not moving and not in Motion are always stopped.
A vehicle is a Moving Target if it is in Motion; it is also a Moving Target if it had been in Motion, or if it entered a new hex, earlier in the current Player Turn. Once a vehicle becomes a Moving Target, it remains a Moving Target until the end of the current Player Turn. Thus it is entirely possible to have a vehicle that is not moving, and is not in Motion, that is nevertheless still a Moving Target.
Players must keep track of these confusing vehicle movement states because of their effect on combat. If you look through the TH DR Modifiers list, you will see several references to Motion, Moving Vehicle (meaning Moving Target), stopped, and non-stopped.
But before we get to actual combat using vehicles, let's look at some more movement examples to demonstrate exactly how these movement states work.
Movement Example 3
Place the following units on board v:
- vK6: German 2-2-8 crew
- vK6: German 50L AT Gun facing vL5-vL6
- vO7: American M4A2(L) facing vN6-vO6, BU
It is the beginning of the American MPh. The American tank is not moving, it is not in Motion, it is stopped, and it is not a Moving Target.
Note that if the American player declines to do any activities with this tank during this MPh it will not expend any MPs at all and will remain stationary throughout the MPh.
The American player now announces that the tank will start moving, and it expends 1 MP to start (13 MP remaining). It is now a moving vehicle, or, if you prefer, "the" moving vehicle (because you can never have more than one moving vehicle at any given time). In addition, it is not in Motion, it is non-stopped, and it is not a Moving Target.
Why is it still not a Moving Target, even though it has begun to expend MPs? Because, so far in this Player Turn, it has not yet been in Motion or entered a new hex, which are the only two things that can give it Moving Target status. And, since the tank cannot be in Motion until after its MPh is complete (remember that moving and Motion are mutually exclusive), the only way for this tank to gain Moving Target status in this MPh is for it to enter a new hex. The M4A2(L) is in a curious state where it is no longer stopped, but not yet a Moving Target.
The tank now spends 1 MP to change its VCA to vN6-vN7 (12 MP remaining), but it still is not a Moving Target. It has now spent 2 MP in the German AT Gun's LOS, which means that the Gun could have fired at it twice, and the tank would not have received the defensive benefit of being a Moving Target for either shot.
The tank now spends 1 MP to enter vN7 (11 MP remaining), which moves it out of the Gun's LOS (the Gun on the hill cannot see over building vM7 to any lower level hex). The tank also finally gains Moving Target status, so it is now: moving, not in Motion, non-stopped, and a Moving Target.
Another MP is spent to enter hex vM8, and then the tank spends 1 MP to stop. The remaining 9 MP are spent as Delay points, which concludes the tank's MPh. The tank is now: not moving, not in Motion, stopped, but still a Moving Target. It will remain a Moving Target until the end of the American Player Turn.
A vehicle that moves as a Moving Target and then stops retains Moving Target status only until the end of the current Player Turn. The tank would therefore have Moving Target status during the German DFPh, but in the following German Player Turn it would not be a Moving Target during the German PFPh.
To understand why the tank remains a Moving Target even after it ends its MPh stopped, remember that almost all of the actions that occur during a turn would actually be happening simultaneously in real life. Thus, a tank that comes to a stop during its MPh, and then much later in the turn is fired on in the DFPh, is a Moving Target because, in a real battle, this firing would be occurring as the tank was moving and coming to a stop. Or, to put it another way: choosing to wait until your DFPh to fire at a moving tank that stops does not allow you to treat it as if it spent the entire turn motionless, which would certainly not be realistic.
Movement Example 4
Place the following units on board v:
- vK6: German 2-2-8 crew
- vK6: German 50L AT Gun facing vL5-vL6
- vO7: American M4A2(L) facing vN6-vO6, BU, in Motion
It is the beginning of the American MPh. The American tank is not moving, it is in Motion, it is non-stopped, and it is a Moving Target. This tank has been a Moving Target right from the start of the Player Turn, because it began the Player Turn with a Motion counter on it.
The tank begins its MPh by spending 1 MP to change its VCA to vN6-vN7 (13 MP remaining). The Motion counter is removed, and the tank is now moving, not in Motion, non-stopped, and a Moving Target.
The Tank now spends 4 MP to enter vN7 (paying 3 MP more than necessary, 9 MP remaining), moves to vL8 (7 MP remaining), changes its VCA to vK8-vL7 (6 MP remaining), spends 5 MP to enter vK8 (1 MP remaining), and then stops (all MP expended). After completing its MPh, the tank is not moving, not in Motion, stopped, but still a Moving Target.
And one final movement example:
Movement Example 5
Place the following units on board v:
- vK6: German 2-2-8 crew
- vK6: German 50L AT Gun facing vL5-vL6
- vO7: American M4A2(L) facing vN6-vO6, BU
It is the beginning of the American MPh. The American tank is not moving, it is not in Motion, it is stopped, and it is not a Moving Target.
The tank spends 12 Delay points, and then spends 1 MP to start and 1 MP to change its VCA to vN6-vN7 (all MP expended). Place a Motion counter on the tank. The tank is not moving, it is in Motion, it is non-stopped, and it is a Moving Target.
But it was never a Moving Target during its MPh! The German AT Gun could have taken up to 14 Defensive First Fire shots at the tank, but none of them would have been against a Moving Target. The tank became a Moving Target only when the Motion counter was placed on it, after the tank's MPh was completed.
At this point, if you are getting frustrated with the whole confusing business of: "moving vehicles are not in Motion" and "vehicles in Motion are not moving", etc.... well, welcome to the club. It's unfortunate, but the ASL vehicle movement rules use a lot of unnecessarily confusing terminology. The game plays fine once you get used to this terminology, but keep Ole's movement status summary handy... just in case!
AFV Combat: Stationary
When ordnance is fired at an Infantry target and scores a hit, the shot is resolved with a DR on the IFT. But firing ordnance at an AFV introduces a new method of resolving a hit: the To Kill process.
Firing ordnance at an AFV is a two-step procedure. First you select the type of ammunition that you wish to fire, figure a TH#, and make a TH DR to see if your shot hits the target. If a hit occurs, you then figure a To Kill number (TK#) from your ammunition type and the target's applicable AF value, and make a TK DR to see if your shot has any effect on the target.
The IFT is usually not used at all when firing ordnance at an AFV, except to resolve any collateral attack on an AFV's exposed crew (Rule 7.12). If the AFV is BU, then no collateral attack can occur.
There's a tremendous amount of material to cover just to demonstrate the most basic elements of combat with AFVs, so this first Combat Example is going to be quite lengthy.
Combat Example 1
Place the following units on board v:
- vK6: German 2-2-8 crew
- vK6: German 50L AT Gun "B" facing vL5-vL6
- vP7: German 4-6-7 squad
- vR5: American M4A2(L) facing vQ5-vQ6, CE, TCA of vQ5-vQ6
- vR5: German –1 Acquired Target counter "B" (from a previous shot)
It is the beginning of the German PFPh. The German player decides to fire his AT Gun at the American tank. The Gun has three types of ammunition available: HE, AP, and APCR. The type of ammunition to be used must be selected before the TH DR is made.
When you fire ordnance at a vehicle, you will normally use the Vehicle Target Type (VTT) section of the To Hit Chart. The VTT works in much the same way as the ATT and the ITT, with one important difference: when you fire using the ATT or the ITT, your shot will affect all of the units in the target hex (except that a shot using the ITT cannot affect a BU AFV); but when you fire using the VTT, your shot will only affect the one specific vehicle that you are firing at.
The range here is 7 hexes, which gives a basic TH# of 9 for a German 50L on the VTT.
You'll notice that, along with the addition of the VTT section to the To Hit Chart, the number of possible To Hit modifiers has increased from 18 (in ASLSK #2) to 25. There really are no shortcuts to learning this long list of TH DRMs; just go through the entire list each time you shoot to see which ones apply to that shot. This will become much easier and faster with repetition, and people who play on a regular basis can often actually memorize the list and do all of the TH DRMs for common situations in their heads. This list looks daunting, and it does take a while to understand everything that affects a TH DR... but once you get the hang of it the system is actually pretty simple to use.
For this first look at a shot against a tank, I'll run through all 25 cases ("NA" means "not applicable").
Firer Based TH DRMs: 1. NA 2. NA 3. NA 4. NA 5. NA 6. NA 7. NA 8. NA 9. NA 10. NA 11. NA 12. NA 13. NA 14. NA 15. NA 16. NA
Target Based TH DRMs: 17. NA 18. NA (Grain Hindrance does not apply because the Gun is on a higher level than the Grain) 19. NA 20. –1 21. NA 22. –1 (large target) 23. NA 24. NA 25. NA
Thus only two cases on the list apply to this shot, and both of them are obvious just from looking at the map (there's a –1 Acquired Target counter, and the tank's counter shows that it is a large target).
This shot is then a TH9/–2, so the Gun will either score a hit or malfunction... it cannot possibly fire and miss! (An original TH DR of 11 or less is a hit; an original TH DR of 12 is a malfunction). When the VTT is used, a Critical Hit (CH) occurs only on an original TH DR of 2.
The shot will hit the front of the tank, so the AF value used will be 11 for a hull hit, and 8 for a turret hit (a circled "11" means that the turret front armor is one step less than the hull front armor). Assuming that the shot actually hits the target AFV, a turret hit occurs if the colored dr of the TH DR is less than the white dr; if the colored dr is equal to or greater than the white dr, then a hull hit occurs. Note that this means that a CH will always hit the target's hull armor.
- AP (Armor Piercing):
The German 50L has a basic TK# of 13 at range 7. This basic TK# would be doubled to 26 if a CH occurs. The final TK# is found by subtracting the target's AF from the basic TK#. Here, a hull hit would have a final TK# of 2 (TK# 13 – 11 AF), and a turret hit would have a final TK# of 5 (TK# 13 – 8 AF).
Once the final TK# is known, a TK DR is made and the result found on the Direct Fire column of the AFV Destruction Table. Assuming that the final TK# was 5 for a turret hit, the possible results of the TK DR are as follows:
TK DR 4 or less – Elim (flip AFV over to wrecked side) TK DR 5 – Shock TK DR 6 – Possible Shock (crew NMC) TK DR 7 or more – no effect
The tank's exposed crew would also be attacked with a 2/+2 (2 FP from the 50mm AP, Rule 6.2; +2 DRM from the partial protection of the tank, Rule 7.7) collateral attack (Rule 7.12) on the IFT using the TK DR, but this will have no effect: a TK DR of 4 or less would be needed for the collateral attack to affect the crew, but such a DR would simply kill the tank outright in this situation. Collateral attacks are not resolved if the AFV is killed or shocked by the primary attack.
A Shock result forces the AFV to immediately BU (if CE) and stop (if moving or in Motion). It is marked with a Shock counter, and must attempt to recover in the RPh as described in Rule 7.10. It can do nothing at all until it recovers, and any acquisition it might have gained against another target is lost. A Possible Shock result requires the AFV crew to take a NMC using the Morale value of that nation's best unbroken Elite Infantry; the AFV is shocked if this NMC is failed (which is the only adverse result that this NMC can have).
Shock is one of the most interesting results of AFV combat, and when it occurs it adds a lot of uncertainty to the battle. A shocked tank is either dead or completely unharmed... but neither player knows for sure! Do you keep shooting at a shocked enemy tank to try to ensure a kill? Or do you give up your acquisition and switch to another target, and hope that the shocked tank doesn't later recover and rejoin the battle?
If the shot had hit the hull, resulting in a final TK# of 2, the possible results of the TK DR would be as follows:
TK DR 2 – Immobilized, collateral attack 1MC TK DR 3 – Possible Shock (crew NMC), collateral attack NMC if not shocked TK DR 4 – collateral attack PTC TK DR 5 or more – no effect
The M4A2(L)'s front hull armor is thick enough that the 50L cannot get an Elim result against it at this range with a normal hit (the TK DR cannot be less than 2). But with no chance to kill the tank, and only a slight chance to shock it, there are several chances for the collateral attack (2/+2 on the IFT) to possibly affect the exposed crew.
Note also that there is nothing special about an original TK DR of 2... a TK DR is one of the few instances in ASL/ASLSK that rolling an original DR 2 doesn't trigger some special result.
- APCR (Armor Piercing Composite Rigid):
Regular AP rounds would sometimes shatter on impact, doing little or no damage to the target AFV. This led to the development of the APCR round, which had a shatter-proof core made of tungsten. APCR rounds were much more effective than regular AP rounds, but they were never available in large quantities.
Shots with APCR are resolved in exactly the same way as shots with AP... they will just have a higher basic TK#, but a lower collateral attack value (1 FP).
If the German 50L had successfully fired using APCR, the basic TK# of 17 would have given a final TK# of 9 for a turret hit and 6 for a hull hit.
Possible results for an APCR turret hit:
TK DR 8 or less – Elim (flip AFV over to wrecked side) TK DR 9 – Shock TK DR 10 – Possible Shock (crew NMC) TK DR 11 or more – no effect
Possible results for an APCR hull hit:
TK DR 5 or less – Elim (flip AFV over to wrecked side) TK DR 6 – Immobilized TK DR 7 – Possible Shock (crew NMC) TK DR 8 or more – no effect
- HE (High Explosive):
Normally it is quite difficult to kill an AFV using HE, but the American tank here is vulnerable to HE because of its exposed crew. (Leaving a tank CE this close to enemy forces is often a bad idea, but I've done so in this example because it allows me to demonstrate a number of different rules.)
The 50L's HE round has a basic TK# of 6, as found on the HE and Flame To Kill Table. This TK# is too low to defeat the American tank's frontal armor, even if a CH occurs (TK# 12 vs hull's 11 AF). But the collateral attack from the HE round will be a 6/+2 against the exposed crew.
Possible results for a non-CH HE hit:
original TK DR 2 – collateral attack 2MC original TK DR 3 or 4 – collateral attack 1MC original TK DR 5 – collateral attack NMC original TK DR 6 – collateral attack PTC original TK DR 7 or more – no effect
In reviewing the types of ammunition that the German 50L AT Gun could use in this situation, APCR definitely gives it the best chance of killing the American tank. But APCR is a depletable ammunition, so there's no guarantee the Gun will actually be able to use it. HE has no chance of killing the American tank, but its collateral attack could force the AFV to BU or even stun it.
If an AFV crew suffers a Pin result, it must BU immediately (but no Pin counter is placed).
If an AFV crew fails a MC that was not caused by a Possible Shock result, the AFV is marked with a stun counter. A stunned AFV must immediately BU and stop, and may not move or attack for the remainder of that Player Turn. At the end of the Player Turn, the stun counter is flipped over to its +1 side, which adds a +1 DRM to all of that AFV's future TH, IFT, CC, and MC DRs.
Note that there are "stun" counters, and "STUN" counters, which are two different conditions. You can think of a stun counter as representing a wounded AFV commander, while a STUN counter could represent a dead AFV commander. A STUN counter is placed on an AFV if its exposed crew suffers a K or KIA result, or if the crew rolls an original DR 12 on a MC that was not caused by a Possible Shock result, or if a crew that has already been stunned once is stunned a second time.
A STUN counter has the same effect as a stun counter, except that the AFV is recalled and it must exit the map via a friendly board edge as soon as possible once it regains the ability to move (Rule 7.10). Thus a stun result allows an AFV to continue fighting, but a STUN result forces an AFV to withdraw from the battle.
The German Gun, of course, could continue to fire at the American tank until it loses ROF, and then it could choose to use Intensive Fire to take one more shot.
The German 4-6-7 squad in building vP7 can also fire at the American tank, because the crew is CE. This attack would be a 4/+2 on the IFT, with the +2 DRM again being due to the partial protection that the tank offers its exposed crew. The squad would need to roll a DR 5 or less for its attack to have any effect.
The squad could also try to fire a Panzerfaust (PF) at the tank, but this would have little chance of success. First, the range is 3 hexes, so this action would have to be taking place in 1945 for a PF to even be able to hit a target that far away. Next, the squad would have to see if they have a PF ready to fire, which would require a PF availability dr of 4 or less (–1 drm for 1945). The basic TH# for a PF at range 3 is 4, so the shot would be either TH4/+1 (+2 avoid backblast, –1 large target) or a TH4/–1 if they choose to not avoid the backblast.
They are unlikely to score a hit if they avoid the backblast, and if they accept the backblast they have a good chance of harming themselves (Rule 4.4.3). However, should they fire a PF and hit the tank, well... there's no point wasting time calculating a TK# for a PF hit; just make a DR to check for a dud (original DR 12). If it's not a dud, the tank is killed. PFs are so incredibly powerful that only one Allied tank in ASLSK #3 even has a chance of surviving a PF hit: the Russian IS-2m, and it only has a chance to survive if the PF hits its front hull (26 AF)!
Note that in the ASLSK rules, a PF is the only weapon that suffers a dud on an original TK DR of 12, but in full ASL, an original TK DR of 12 is a dud for all weapons.
Let's assume that the German units fired at the American tank with no effect, and that no German units moved in the MPh, which will allow us to explore the American attack options in the DFPh.
The American M4A2(L) can fire its MA and all three of its MGs, and the MA can possibly fire multiple times if it retains ROF. This AFV is equipped with an AAMG, which can fire in any direction without penalty (it does not have a CA). However, an AAMG can only be fired (and repaired) if the AFV is CE.
If the tank wants to fire MGs at the 4-6-7 squad in vP7, the AAMG is currently the only MG that can fire at it. An attack by the AAMG alone would be a 4/+2 on the IFT, and the MA, BMG, and CMG could then be used against the German AT Gun in vK6.
The CA change DRMs that apply when a Gun fires outside its CA, listed in #8 on the TH DR Modifiers list, also apply to the IFT DR if a BMG fires at a target outside the VCA, or a CMG fires at a target outside the TCA.
If the tank wanted to fire both the AAMG and the CMG at the 4-6-7, the TCA would have to change to vQ6-vR6. The resulting shot would be a 8/+3 (+2 TEM, +1 T TCA change), and the BMG could still be used against the AT Gun. If the tank then fired the MA at the 4-6-7, the +1 T TCA change DRM would apply to that shot as well (the CMG and the MA would actually be firing simultaneously at the 4-6-7, so the TCA change would affect both attacks), or the MA could fire at the AT Gun, which again would have a +1 T TCA change DRM for turning the turret back to its original facing.
You might think that, if you turn the turret to fire the CMG at the squad, and then turn the turret back to fire the MA at the Gun, that the MA's shot would have a +2 TCA change DRM because of the two turret turns (+1 each)... but it doesn't work that way. CA change DRMs are never cumulative when firing at different targets. In other words, when you fire at a target and then change CA to fire at a different target, only the CA change DRM involved in turning from the first target to the second target applies; any CA change DRM that applied to the attack on the first target is ignored for the attack on the second target.
If the tank wanted to fire the BMG and the CMG at the 4-6-7, it would have to change its VCA to vQ6-vR6. This shot would be a 6/+5 (+2 TEM, +3 NT VCA change). The AAMG could then be used against the AT Gun, but could not make a separate attack on the 4-6-7, because Mandatory FG applies to an AFV's MGs.
The tank could also fire all three MGs at the 4-6-7, but this 10 FP attack would actually only be an 8/+5 because the IFT does not have a "10" column. Thus nothing is gained by firing the BMG in conjunction with the other two MGs, so the tank would be better off just turning the turret to fire the CMG & AAMG at the 4-6-7 (8/+3) and using the 2 FP BMG to fire at the AT Gun.
Let's assume that the tank decided to fire the AAMG at the 4-6-7 (4/+2) and the BMG & CMG at the AT Gun (6/+2) and that these two attacks had no effect. No TCA or VCA changes were necessary for these attacks. The tank can now select a target for its MA. (Note that the tank could have fired its four weapons in any order that it wished; there is no requirement that the MGs fire before the MA.)
The M4A2(L) can fire HE, AP, Smoke, and WP, but in this demonstration it will only fire HE against the German Infantry targets.
If the tank fires at the AT Gun at a range of 7 hexes, the basic TH# using the ITT is 7. The TH DRMs would be +2 TEM (emplaced Gun) and +1 small target, making the shot a TH7/+3. The Gun does not get the +1 Height Advantage TEM because it already has a positive TEM from being emplaced, and it also cannot use the +2 gunshield TEM for the same reason (although if the tank scores a hit that is not a Direct Hit, the gunshield +2 DRM would then apply to the IFT roll).
A hit on the Gun is resolved as a 12/+0 IFT attack. If this attack does not result in a K or KIA (which represent a Direct Hit on the Gun itself) you then add +2 to the IFT DR (the gunshield +2 TEM) to find the result that is applied to the crew. In other words, if the 12/+0 does not result in a Direct Hit, you then treat it as a 12/+2 because of the gunshield.
If there was another squad in the AT Gun's hex, the tank's HE shot using the ITT could hit it as well. Against this additional squad the shot would be a TH7/+1 (+1 Height Advantage TEM). If the tank then rolled a TH DR of 5, the shot would miss the Gun and its crew (5 + 3 = 8) but it would hit the additional squad (5 + 1 = 6) which would then suffer a 12/+0 attack on the IFT. A TH DR of 4 or less would hit both the Gun/crew and the additional squad.
If the tank wishes to fire its MA at the 4-6-7, it must change its TCA to vQ6-vR6. The shot at range 3 using the ITT is a TH8/+3 (+1 T TCA change, +2 TEM). Had the tank chosen to change its VCA instead of its TCA, then the shot would be a TH8/+5 (+3 NT VCA change, +2 TEM).
And finally, note that an AFV does not have to be in Motion in order to change its VCA when firing, nor does such a VCA change cause an AFV to gain Motion status.
A battle between a tank and a Gun, as depicted in the previous example, will tend to favor the Gun unless the tank's armor is too thick for the Gun to penetrate. The Gun will usually get the first shot as the tank moves into position to attack. It is easier to score a hit on a tank than to score a hit on a Gun, and the Gun will often have a higher ROF than the tank. In addition, even if the Gun's crew does break, there's always a chance that they might rally and get the Gun back into action... but a knocked-out tank is permanently lost.
Take a look at case #13 on the TH DR Modifiers list: if an AFV is BU it has a +1 DRM added to its TH DR. This did not come into play in the above Combat Example, but it is one of the most commonly used DRMs. Players will often face a difficult choice in deciding whether to be CE to avoid this +1 DRM, or to be BU to keep the AFV crew safe from IFT attacks and HE. And for those who might be considering moving to full ASL at some point, note that this choice becomes even more critical in ASL... as CE AFV are prime targets for ASL snipers, who can attack without warning and knock a tank out of the battle with a single rifle shot!
Whenever a hit on a AFV will result in a TK DR, you must determine which target facing the shot actually hit: front, side, or rear. An AFV's strongest armor is always in the front, so avoiding a side or rear shot is often a top priority for a player with AFVs. Unlike a weapon's CA, which is rather limited, an AFV's front target facing is quite generous; a firing unit must be way off to the side to qualify for a side shot.
To see how this works, set up an American tank as in the previous Combat Example (in vR5, VCA of vQ5-vQ6) and refer to the target facing diagram on page 11 of the ASLSK #3 rules.
- a shot from vP2 would hit the tank's front
- a shot from vQ3 would hit the tank's side
- a shot from vO10 would hit the tank's front
- a shot from vP9 would hit the tank's side
- a shot from vS4 would hit the tank's side
- a shot from vT3 would hit the tank's rear
AFV Combat: Movement
The first Combat Example, despite its length, was pretty straightforward: nobody moved. But in battles where AFVs are present, movement is likely to play a key role. When the attacker has tanks, the defender must find ways to limit their mobility advantage.
Combat Example 2
"The Art of Tank Hunting"
Place the following units on board v:
- vP7: broken American 6-6-6 squad (no DM)
- vY3: German Pz VG facing vX2-vX3, BU
It is the start of the German MPh. The German player wants to move the Pz VG (Panther), but, upon seeing the asterisk next to the tank's MP value, checks the back of the counter and then the "Vehicle and Ordnance Historical Notes" booklet, and learns that the Panther must make a stall DR each time it expends a Start MP. A stall result can represent one of two things: the engine stopped unexpectedly and has to be restarted, or a transmission problem has prevented the tank from shifting into gear.
The tank spends 1 MP to start (14 MP remaining) then rolls a DR 12... it stalls! The German player makes another DR, a 5, so the tank has to spend 1 MP to stop (13 MP remaining) and then 4 Delay points (9 MP remaining). The tank's driver – no doubt cussing loudly in German – tries again. The tank spends 1 MP to start (8 MP remaining) and the stall DR is a 10... success!
The tank now drives down the road, planning on moving adjacent to the broken American squad to put a DM counter on it and force it to rout away.
1 MP is spent to enter vX3 (7 MP remaining)... 1 MP is spent to enter vW4 (6 MP remaining)... 1 MP is spent to enter vV4 (5 MP remaining)... 1 MP is spent to enter vU5 (4 MP remaining)... 1 MP is spent to enter vT5 (3 MP remaining)...
At which point the American player triumphantly yells: "I have a shot!" The tank's movement is paused here so that the American player can take a Defensive First Fire shot.
An American crew is now placed on the map in vT7, along with an American 57L AT facing vT6-vU7. After placing these units, the American player gives the German player the piece of paper on which he had recorded the location and facing of his HIP AT Gun & crew, so that the German player can verify that they have been placed correctly.
The American player decides to fire AP. The 57L has a basic TH# of 10 at range 2 when using the VTT. The TH DRMs are: –1 large target, and +2 Moving Target (Moving Vehicle) with more than 3 MP spent in the Gun's LOS (case 24). Case #25, –1 for 2-hex range, does not apply because the target is not stopped. The shot is thus a TH10/+1, so a TH DR of 9 or less will score a hit.
If a hit occurs, the basic TK# for the 57L is 16, and the Panther's side AF is 6, which gives a final TK# of 10. The possible results of a hit are:
TK DR 9 or less – Elim (flip AFV over to wrecked side) TK DR 10 – Shock if turret hit; Immobilized if hull hit TK DR 11 – Possible Shock (crew NMC) TK DR 12 – no effect
The Panther has very little chance of surviving this attack. What little survival chance it does have comes from it being a Moving Target. But if it does somehow survive, then it is the AT Gun that is doomed: before the Gun can fire a second shot, the tank would spend 1 MP to change its VCA to vS6-vT6. With this VCA change, the 57L could now only hit the Panther's front, and most of its shots would bounce harmlessly off of that thick armor unless a CH occurs. The Gun's crew, on the other hand, would not last long against the MG and HE fire of the tank.
After the VCA change, the Panther would end its MPh by spending 1 MP to stop, and its last MP as a Delay point.
In this situation, there were only two road hexes in which the 57L could get a good side shot against the tank: vT5 and vU5. A shot fired at vV4 would have hit the tank's front armor, and a shot fired at vS6 would have hit the tank's side armor but with an additional +6 CA change TH DRM (+3 doubled because of Woods).
It's interesting to note that, if the Panther had changed its VCA to vX3-vY4 before moving down the road, the Gun would never have had a side shot at it. This, of course, is completely unrealistic: in real life there's no way a tank could drive down that road without giving up a side shot to the hidden Gun at some point. This is not a flaw in the game system... stuff like this is bound to occur whenever you constrain movement & firing to an artificial hexagonal grid. But it is a good example of how ASL's depiction of reality will always fall short of the real thing, even though the game usually does a good job of convincing you that it really is realistic.
This Combat Example demonstrates just how vitally important the ability of Guns to set up using HIP is. The American 57L AT Gun is totally out-classed when facing a Panther; it has almost no chance of knocking one out... unless it can use a HIP set up to get a side shot, which turns it into a deadly threat to a Panther.
Few things will slow down your opponent's armored assault more than having a HIP Gun hidden somewhere on the map. In a real game, knowing that a 57L was hiding somewhere, a prudent German player would not have dared to move the Panther at all! He would have first sent Infantry to sweep through the Woods on both sides of the road, looking for that hidden Gun. And the American player, of course, would have set up his own Infantry to try to prevent this. While this Infantry battle raged, the German armor would be stuck in place, unwilling to do more than offer some long range fire support to the German Infantry as long as the location of the Gun remains unknown.
But if you then add in victory conditions that require the German armor to move, and a time limit that makes it impossible to win if the armor is too cautious, things could get a little... tense.
The meta-game that can develop when one player has AFVs that need to move, and the other player has Guns that can set up HIP, can become incredibly interesting as they try to outguess and outwit one another. But a closer look at the tactics involved is unfortunately outside the scope of this article.
Combat Example 3
"Tank vs Tank"
Place the following units on board v:
- vK4: German Pz IVH facing vJ4-vK5, CE, TCA of vK5-vL4
- vDD7: American M4A2(L) facing vCC7-vDD6, CE
It is the start of the American MPh. Both tanks have only AP and HE ammunition remaining. There is no LOS between these two tanks, as it is blocked by the Woods in vCC7. Note that because both tanks are on a hill, only LOS obstacles that are also on a hill can block LOS between them.
The American M4A2(L) first expends 10 Delay points (4 MP remaining). It then spends 1 MP to start (3 MP remaining), and 1 MP to enter vDD6, changing its TCA to vCC6-vCC7 as it moves (2 MP remaining).
A LOS now exists between the two tanks; the range is 19 hexes. A shot from the German Pz IVH would hit the American tank's front armor, but a shot from the American tank would be a side shot if it hits the German tank's hull. Thus the German tank is in a vulnerable position, and it needs to change its VCA so that the hull's front armor is facing the American tank.
AFVs have the unique ability to fire during their MPh (assuming, of course, that they did not fire in their PFPh). Firing during movement is called Bounding First Fire, and any vehicle that takes such a shot is marked with a Bounding Fire counter (unless it retains ROF). Obviously, whenever both attacking and defending units can fire during movement, the potential for confusion will be high, so here is a summary of how the Defensive First Fire/Bounding First Fire combination works:
- After each MP expenditure, both Defensive First Fire and Bounding First Fire may occur.
- Defensive First Fire occurs before Bounding First Fire.
- Defensive First Fire may result in multiple shots if multiple MPs were used in the MP expenditure (assuming ROF and/or Intensive Fire allows multiple shots).
- Bounding First Fire is limited to a single shot per MP expenditure, even if multiple MPs were used.
- After using Defensive First Fire, a weapon that retains the ability to shoot (due to ROF or Intensive Fire) may use Defensive First Fire again after any future MP expenditure, regardless of how many MPs are actually used.
- After using Bounding First Fire, a vehicle that retains the ability to shoot (due to ROF or Intensive Fire) may use Bounding First Fire again, but only after expending at least 1 additional MP.
The defender clearly has the advantage here. He gets to shoot first and may possibly get to take more shots, and take them more often. But the attacker faces an even more serious problem: WWII-era tanks could indeed fire while moving, but their chances of actually hitting a target with such a shot are usually pretty slim. Thus a stationary defender is far more likely to score a hit than is a moving attacker.
After the American tank spends the 1 MP to move into LOS in vDD6 there are two shot possibilities. First, the German tank has the option to take one Defensive First Fire shot. Then, regardless of whether or not a Defensive First Fire shot occurred, the American tank (if it survived any Defensive First Fire shots) has the option to take one Bounding First Fire shot.
Let's see what chance of success these shots might have.
Defensive First Fire: The German 75L has a basic TH# of 8 when using the VTT at a range of 19 hexes. The German tank needs to get his front armor facing the Americans, and he needs to get his TCA turned to face the target. Changing the VCA to vK5-vL4 will accomplish both goals (the turret turns along with the tank, so the TCA will change to vL3-vL4 when the VCA changes).
The TH DRMs for this shot are thus: +3 NT VCA change, –1 large target, +4 Moving Target with 1 MP in firer's LOS (case 24), making the shot a TH8/+6. The shot is unlikely to score a hit, but it would get the hull's front armor facing in the correct direction and put an Acquired Target counter on the American tank. And since a TH DR of 2 is needed, a hit will also be a CH.
The German player could also choose to just change his TCA, which would result in a +1 T TCA change DRM instead of the +3 NT VCA change DRM, making the shot a TH8/+4. This would give the tank a better chance of scoring a hit, but leave it vulnerable to a side hull hit.
Bounding First Fire (BFF): The American 75 has a basic TH# of 7 when using the VTT at a range of 19 hexes. The only applicable TH DRM for this shot is +6 BFF with less than 2 MP in LOS (#14), making the shot a TH7/+6. This shot cannot score a hit (even a CH will miss), and it would not allow the American tank to place an Acquired Target counter, so it would be pointless to actually fire.
Note: The ASLSK #3 rules do not actually prohibit a vehicle that is in Motion or using BFF from gaining acquisition when it fires, but designer Ken Dunn has stated that acquisition should not be allowed under these conditions. This will certainly be corrected in some future errata, so you may want to go ahead and disallow acquisition by a vehicle in Motion or using BFF, which is exactly how it works in full ASL as well.
There is another penalty that would also apply to this shot. Because the American tank did not come to a stop before firing, once the TH DR is made the lower of the two drs must be doubled. Doubling the lower dr further reduces your chance of scoring a hit, assuming you had any chance of scoring a hit to begin with. This is case 16, Motion Fire, on the TH DR Modifiers list. (Again we encounter potentially confusing terminology... this case should really be titled "Motion/Non-Stopped Firer" as it is in full ASL.)
A lot of players get confused about how to use cases 14 and 16 on the TH DR Modifiers list, so I'll try to clarify the usage: If you take a BFF shot while stopped, you use case 14; if you take a BFF shot while non-stopped, you use case 16, which tells you to also use case 14. In other words, the "add case 14" text found in case 16 is simply reminding you that case 14 also applies... it's not telling you to add in case 14 twice!
It works the same way if a vehicle fires in the AFPh: If the vehicle is not in Motion, use case 14; if the vehicle is in Motion, use case 16 and case 14.
There are two cases on the TH DR Modifiers list that are MP-dependent: case 14 and case 24. The only time that you have to actually count MPs is when a shot takes place during the MPh, and the firing unit and the target have been out of LOS at some point during that MPh. In all other instances, case 14 will always be +4 or +5, and case 24 will always be +2.
In this current Combat Example, the two tanks began the American MPh out of LOS, and the American tank has so far only spent 1 MP in LOS, which made case 14 a +6 (T turret) and case 24 a +4 in the TH calculations above.
Now, having looked their respective chances of scoring a hit, what should our players do here?
The German player gets to fire first, but he will decline to shoot. The American tank is currently no threat to him, and he would prefer to let the American tank spend more MP in LOS to increase his own chances of hitting. The American player of course will not fire, because his shot would have no chance of success.
Please note that I am going through these TH calculations in exhaustive detail simply to help you learn how these game mechanisms work. In a real game between experienced players, none of these TH calculations would have been made... both players would be well aware that the American tank can't hit the broadside of a barn until it stops, and the German tank doesn't need to be concerned about it until it does stop. In other words, this tutorial is probably making the game sound much more difficult to play than it actually is.
The American player now announces that he will attempt to fire his Smoke Mortar (sM8, see rule 7.5). His usage DR is 5, which is successful so he places a +2 Dispersed Smoke counter in vBB6 and expends 1 MP (1 MP remaining). If the Smoke Mortar usage had failed, there would not have been any MP cost. The American player, understanding that the German has the initial advantage in this fight, placed the Smoke to reduce the chance of the German tank scoring the first hit. The Smoke will disappear at the start of the next American PFPh.
The American tank has now expended 2 MP in LOS, and once again the German player has the option to take a Defensive First Fire shot, after which the American player could take a BFF shot. Both players decline to fire, however, since the addition of the +2 Hindrance from the Smoke will make the shots even less likely to hit than they were previously.
The American tank then spends its last MP to stop, for a total of 3 MP spent in LOS.
Now the German player has a concern. With the American tank stopped, case 16 will not apply if it takes a BFF shot... but the German player decides that the +2 Smoke Hindrance will probably prevent a BFF shot from being a serious threat. Let's see if his judgment is correct.
Defensive First Fire: If the German tank fires, its shot will be a TH8/+7 (+3 NT VCA change, +2 Smoke, –1 large target, +3 Moving Target with 3 MP in LOS). There's no chance of scoring a hit.
Bounding First Fire: If the American tank fires, its shot will be a TH7/+7 (+5 BFF with 3 MP in LOS, +2 Smoke). No chance of scoring a hit.
The American MPh is now over.
In the DFPh, the German tank fires AP with a TH8/+6 shot (+3 NT VCA change, +2 Smoke, –1 large target, +2 Moving Target case 24). The VCA changes to vK5-vL4 and the TCA changes to vL3-vL4. The TH DR is 4 (colored dr is 1), so the shot misses but ROF is retained. A –1 Acquired Target counter is placed on the American tank.
The German tank now fires again, and this time the shot is a TH8/+2 (+2 Smoke, –1 acquired target, –1 large target, +2 Moving Target case 24). The TH DR is 7 (colored dr is 3) which is a miss. ROF is lost, and the Acquired Target counter is flipped over to its –2 side. This ends the DFPh.
This second shot had much more chance of scoring a hit, primarily because it did not have the +3 NT VCA change DRM that applied to the first shot. This illustrates an important point: if you must move into the LOS of an enemy AFV/Gun, try to do so outside of that unit's CA. If the defending unit doesn't have to change its CA to fire at you, it's going to have a good chance of scoring a hit.
In the AFPh, the American tank may take one Bounding Fire shot at the Pz IVH because it is not already marked with a Bounding Fire counter. ROF will not apply. The shot is a TH7/+6 (+4 Bounding Fire case 14, +2 Smoke). The shot cannot score a hit, but the American player takes it anyway (making a TH DR only to check for a weapon malfunction) in order to put a –1 Acquired Target counter on the German tank.
Note that case 1 applies only to an AFPh shot taken by a vehicle that didn't move. A vehicle that moves and then fires in the AFPh must use case 14 instead of case 1.
The RtPh is skipped (no broken units). The APh is skipped: vehicles cannot move in the APh, and the American player declines to use the APh to BU. And the CCPh is skipped.
With the end of the American Player Turn, the M4A2(L) ceases to be a Moving Target.
The German tank will fire again in the PFPh. The shot is a TH8/-1 (+2 Smoke, –2 acquired target, –1 large target), so a TH DR of 9 or less will be a hit. The 75L has a basic TK# of 16 at a range of 19 hexes, so the possible results of a hit are:
Turret hit with a final TK# of 8:
TK DR 7 or less – Elim (flip AFV over to wrecked side) TK DR 8 – Shock TK DR 9 – Possible Shock (crew NMC) TK DR 10 or more – no effect
Hull hit with a final TK# of 5:
TK DR 4 or less – Elim (flip AFV over to wrecked side) TK DR 5 – Immobilized TK DR 6 – Possible Shock (crew NMC) TK DR 7 or more – no effect
The American tank, if it survives, will return fire in the DFPh. The shot is a TH7/+1 (+2 Smoke, –1 acquired target), so a TH DR of 6 or less will be a hit. Any subsequent shots will have a –2 acquired target DRM, so they will be a TH7/+0. The 75 has a basic TK# of 13 at a range of 19 hexes, so the possible results of a hit are:
Turret hit with a final TK# of 7 (13 – 6):
TK DR 6 or less – Elim (flip AFV over to wrecked side) TK DR 7 – Shock TK DR 8 – Possible Shock (crew NMC) TK DR 9 or more – no effect
Hull hit with a final TK# of 5 (13 – 8):
TK DR 4 or less – Elim (flip AFV over to wrecked side) TK DR 5 – Immobilized TK DR 6 – Possible Shock (crew NMC) TK DR 7 or more – no effect
This is now a very even matchup. The German tank is slightly more likely to score a hit, and slightly more likely to score a kill with a turret hit. The key difference between these two tanks is that the German high-velocity 75L is a better antitank weapon than the American 75: it is more accurate at long range, and it has better armor penetration (even though the American tank has better armor protection than the German tank).
The previous Combat Example developed in a way that was typical of real WWII tank battles: stationary tanks exchanging shots at long range. But battles of maneuver did occur during the war, and you will see them occur quite often in ASL/ASLSK scenarios.
A word of warning: the next Combat Example is extremely complex. It's probably going to feel more like an advanced master class than a beginner's tutorial... and I did agonize about whether I should even include it. But if you are going to use armor effectively in ASL/ASLSK, you really need to see how the rules all come together in a wild mobile battle situation.
However, if you are not yet completely comfortable with the concepts discussed to this point, you may wish to skip over Combat Example #4 for now and continue on with "AFV Combat: Miscellaneous." You don't need to go through this combat example in order to start playing the scenarios included in the game.
Combat Example 4
"How to Kill a Tiger"
Place the following units on board u:
- uL7: Russian T-34 M41 "E" facing uM7-uM8, BU, in Motion
- uM8: Russian T-34 M41 "D" facing uN7-uN8, BU, in Motion
- uN8: Russian T-34 M41 "C" facing uO8-uO9, BU, in Motion
- uO3: Russian T-34 M41 "B" facing uO4-uP3, BU
- uQ2: Russian T-34 M41 "A" facing uQ3-uR2, BU
- uT6: German Pz VIE facing uS6-uS7, BU
- uV2: German Pz IVH facing uU2-uV1, BU, Immobilized
For the sake of simplicity, all of these vehicles will fire only standard AP rounds in this battle. It is the start of the Russian MPh, and the Russians have a problem... the Pz VIE Tiger tank.
The T-34 M41 is totally out-matched when facing a Tiger. With an AP TK# of about 13, the T-34s can't get an outright kill against the Tiger's front armor without a CH. But the Tiger, with an AP TK# of about 20, will kill a T-34 with almost every hit it scores! In addition, the T-34s have RST turrets: they must be BU to fire their MA, so all of their shots must use the +1 DRM from case 13. (In the T-34 M41, the tank commander also served as the gunner for the MA/CMG, so when he's propped up in the open hatch those weapons can't be fired.)
If the Russians choose to simply move into LOS and trade shots with the Tiger, they will almost certainly lose: the five T-34s will likely be turned into wrecks long before a Russian CH occurs. But they can increase their chances of killing the Tiger by the use of aggressive maneuvering.
Two lessons from the previous Combat Example will play an important role in this battle:
- The Russians will want to move into the Tiger's LOS while outside of the Tiger's TCA, to decrease the chance of the Tiger scoring a hit on them.
- The Tiger can probably ignore any T-34 until it expends a Stop MP, because case 16 makes it difficult for a non-stopped T-34 to score a hit.
The Russian objective here will be to try to get a side or rear shot at the Tiger from point blank range, which will give them their best chance of knocking it out with a single shot. The T-34s will be charging hard. The German objective is to avoid giving up a side or rear shot, and to kill as many of the T-34s as possible. If the Tiger can survive this MPh and eliminate some T-34s, it might have a chance to win this battle. The Germans have to make each of their shots count.
The MPh begins with T-34 M41 "A" spending 1 MP to start (16 MP remaining). This tank model suffers from Mechanical Reliability problems (indicated by its red MP value), so the Russian player must make a DR whenever this tank starts. If the Mechanical Reliability DR is a 12, the tank is immobilized... which would probably be disastrous for the Russians. But the DR is a 2, so the tank starts safely.
Had the Mechanical Reliability DR been an 11, the T-34 M41 would have stalled, as explained in Russian Vehicle Note M in the "Vehicle and Ordnance Historical Notes" booklet. This stall possibility on a Mechanical Reliability DR applies only to certain Russian vehicles, and is (surprisingly) not indicated anywhere on the tank counter itself, so you have to check the historical notes to know about it.
Tank "A" then spends 2 MP to move to uQ4 (14 MP remaining), which is in the Tiger's LOS but outside of its TCA. As the T-34 moves into its LOS, the Tiger has a couple of defensive options available to it:
- It could fire its Smoke Discharger (sD7), Rule 7.5
- It could make a Motion Status attempt, Rule 126.96.36.199
These defensive options, if successful, would make it harder for the Russians to hit the Tiger... but they would also make it nearly impossible for the Tiger to score a hit itself. If the game situation is such that the defending tank needs to kill some of the attacking tanks, then these special defensive options should be avoided. If the defending tank simply wants to try to escape, then smoke dispensers and Motion Status attempts might be useful. Here, the German player elects to stand and fight.
The German player doesn't want to allow the T-34 to simply drive up and get a side shot, but he won't fire until the T-34 has spent at least 4 MP in LOS, so that the TH penalty from case 24 is only +2.
Tank "A" now spends 2 MP to move to uS5 (12 MP remaining). It has now spent 4 MP in the Tiger's LOS. If the German player were to declare a Defensive First Fire shot using the 88L at this point, the shot would be a TH10/+5 (+2 ST TCA change, +1 BU, +2 Moving Target). A TH DR of 5 or less would be needed for a hit, which is not a great shot, so the Tiger holds its fire.
Tank "A" spends 1 MP to enter uT5 (11 MP remaining). A shot from this hex would be a side shot, unless the Tiger elects to shoot first and changes its VCA/TCA to do so. If the Tiger decides not to shoot, a Bounding First Fire shot by the T-34 would be a TH10/+4 (+1 BU, +4 BFF, –1 large target), with the lower dr doubled due to case 16. A TH DR of 6 or less would normally result in a hit, but case 16 will dramatically reduce the actual chances of a hit:
TH DR results with lower dr x 2 1,1 = 3, hit (critical hit) 1,2 = 4, hit 1,3 = 5, hit 1,4 = 6, hit 1,5 = 7, miss 2,2 = 6, hit 2,3 = 7, miss 2,4 = 8, miss 3,3 = 9, miss
So four of the possible DRs that would normally result in a hit will now result in a miss due to the doubling of the lower dr. If you were to take the time to count this out, looking at all 36 possible results of rolling two colored dice, you would find that 8 of the 36 possible DRs will result in a hit, giving a 22% chance of a hit.
But if the T-34 stops before firing, case 16 will not apply, and a –2 DRM from case 25 (point blank range) will. A stopped T-34 would thus have a TH10/+2, with a 72% chance of scoring a hit! It's easy to see why the Tiger might be willing to ignore a T-34 until it stops.
I unfortunately don't know of any shortcuts for estimating how much harder it will be to score a hit when the lower dr is doubled. Personally, I just assume that any shot taken with the lower dr doubled is probably going to miss.
Tank "A" now spends 1 MP to enter uU6, 1 MP to change its VCA to uT6-uU7, and 1 MP to stop (8 MP remaining). Now the T-34 has stopped and has a rear shot (+1 to the TK# if a hit is scored); the Tiger must respond with Defensive First Fire.
If the Tiger fires its 88L MA, it has two options:
- Change VCA: TH10/+5 (+4 NT VCA change, +1 BU, +2 Moving Target, –2 case 25 point blank range)
- Change TCA only: TH10/+4 (+3 ST TCA change, +1 BU, +2 Moving Target, –2 case 25 point blank range)
Changing the VCA is safer, in that it prevents the T-34 from getting a side or rear shot... but turning just the turret gives the Tiger a better chance of scoring a hit and killing the T-34, and it at least gets the Tiger's impenetrable front turret armor facing the T-34.
This aggressive Russian maneuvering has presented the German player with a painful dilemma: he wants to take the best shot he can, because he desperately needs to kill some of the Russian tanks... but if he does take the best shot available, he'll leave himself at least partially vulnerable to a return shot from the T-34, if it survives.
The German player elects to change his TCA only, by two hexspines to uT5-uU6, and takes the TH10/+4 shot. The TH DR is 6 (colored dr is 1), so a front turret hit is scored on the T-34, and ROF is maintained. The TK# is 13 (21 – 8) which is a guaranteed kill. Tank "A" is flipped over to its wrecked side, and a –1 Acquired Target counter is placed in uU6. The Acquired Target counter might seem to be useless, since the Tiger obviously has no need to fire at a wrecked T-34, but should another T-34 attempt to move into or through uU6, the Tiger could use the –1 Acquired Target counter to fire at it (which would transfer the Acquired Target counter from the wreck to the new target).
The Tiger can no longer fire its Smoke Discharger (the sD7 must be fired before any other weapon is fired), but it could still make a subsequent Motion Status attempt because it retained ROF and thus is not yet marked with a First Fire counter.
Tank "C" will move next. Since this tank is already in Motion, no Mechanical Reliability DR is required.
Tank "C" spends 2 MP to move to uP9, 1 MP to change VCA to uP8-uQ9, 4 MP to move to uT7, and 1 MP to stop (9 MP remaining). By stopping in uT7 instead of uU7, the Russian player forces the Tiger to make a two hexspine TCA change in order to shoot at him.
The Tiger again takes a Defensive First Fire shot as soon as the T-34 stops, changing TCA to uT7-uU7. This shot is again a TH10/+4, and the TH DR is 8 (colored dr is 3), so the shot misses and ROF is lost. A First Fire counter is placed on the Tiger, and the –1 Acquired Target counter is placed on Tank "C".
Tank "C" now takes its Bounding First Fire shot, which is a TH 10/+2 (+1 BU, +4 BFF, –1 large target, –2 point blank range). The TH DR is 10, which is a miss. A Bounding Fire counter is placed on Tank "C".
Tank "C" now spends 1 Delay point (8 MP remaining). The Tiger could now take an Intensive Fire shot, but declines to do so because there are other T-34s yet to move. But Tank "C" does decide to take an Intensive Fire shot. This shot is a TH10/+4 (+2 Intensive Fire, +1 BU, +4 BFF, –1 large target, –2 point blank range), and the TH DR is 11, which is a miss and the 76L MA malfunctions. Tank "C" is marked with an Intensive Fire counter and a MA Malfunction counter.
Tank "C" now spends 1 MP to start (Mechanical Reliability DR is 6), 2 MP to move to uV6, 2 MP to change VCA to uU6-uU7, 1 MP to stop, and 2 Delay points. This move gets Tank "C" out of the way of the T-34s that have yet to move. The Tiger's –1 Acquired Target counter follows the T-34 as it moves, because the T-34 did not leave the Tiger's LOS.
Tank "D" now spends: 2 MP to move to uO9 1 MP to change VCA to uO8-uP8 2 MP to move to uQ8 1 MP to move to uQ7 1 MP to change VCA to uR6-uR7 3 MP to move to uT5 1 MP to change VCA to uT6-uU6 1 MP to stop (5 MP remaining)
The German player declares an Intensive Fire shot against it as soon as it stops. The Tiger's TCA changes to uT5-uU6, and the shot is a TH10/+6 (+3 ST TCA change, +2 Intensive Fire, +1 BU, +2 Moving Target, –2 point blank range). The TH DR is 8 which is a miss. The Tiger is marked with an Intensive Fire counter, and the –1 Acquired Target counter is removed from Tank "C" and placed on Tank "D". The First Fire counter that was on the tank is removed, and not flipped over to the Final Fire side like it would be for a Gun's crew, because there is no "manning unit" for a tank.
Fire counters are normally placed on an AFV only for that vehicle's MA. The non-MA MGs can each only fire once, so it's usually easy for the players to remember which ones have fired without the need to clutter up the map with additional multiple fire counters. Note, however, that a Defensive First Fire shot taken with a non-MA MG will still prevent that vehicle from making a subsequent Motion Status attempt, even though an actual First Fire counter might not be placed on the vehicle.
Tank "D" now takes a Bounding First Fire shot, a TH10/+2 (+1 BU, +4 BFF, –1 large target, –2 point blank range). The TH DR is 3 (colored dr is 2), so a side hull hit is scored on the Tiger. The TK# is 6 (14 – 8), and the TK DR is 11, which has no effect. Tank "D" is marked with a Bounding Fire counter.
Tank "D" spends 1 MP to start (Mechanical Reliability DR is 10), 2 MP to enter uU6 (1 MP plus 1 additional MP for the wreck), 1 MP to change its VCA to uT6-uU7, and its final MP to stop.
The T-34 now takes an Intensive Fire shot, which is a TH10/+4 (+2 Intensive Fire, +1 BU, +4 BFF, –1 large target, –2 point blank range). The TH DR is 5 (colored dr is 3) which scores a rear hull hit on the Tiger. The TK# is 7 (14 – 8, +1 for rear target facing), and the TK DR is 8, resulting in a possible Shock.
Tiger crews were composed of elite combat veterans, so they have a Morale Level of 9 (ML:9 on the back of the counter) instead of the Morale Level 8 used by other German AFVs. The MC DR is 9, so the crew is not Shocked. The hit thus has no effect, and Tank "D" is marked with an Intensive Fire counter.
Tank "E" now spends: 4 MP to move to uP9 5 MP to move to uU7 2 MP to change VCA to uT6-uU6 1 MP to stop (5 MP remaining)
Faced with the possibility of a T-34 getting two shots at the rear of the Tiger's hull, the German player fires the Tiger's CMG at Tank "E", changing both the VCA and the TCA to uT7-uU7. The Tiger's turret counter can now be removed because the VCA and TCA are identical and the tank is BU.
The CMG cannot possibly harm the BU T-34, so the IFT DR is meaningless except to see if the CMG malfunctions, which does not occur with a DR of 4. Note that, had this shot been able to damage the target, the combined effect of the two-hexspine VCA change and the two-hexspine TCA change would have added a +7 DRM to the IFT DR. Remove the –1 Acquired Target counter from Tank "D".
This is a perfectly legal shot: there is no rule that prevents you from making an attack that cannot possibly harm the target. And although you might think that firing a MG just to get your front armor facing the enemy is a sleaze tactic, it is an accepted part of the game, and even a necessary part. The combination of (A) vehicles with high MP values, and (B) the close range battles that are typical of ASL scenarios played on the geomorphic mapboards, would make it far too easy to just drive past your opponent to get a side or rear shot. Defending AFVs must be able to respond to such maneuvers, but there must also be a limit as to how many times they can react. Linking such reactions to the firing of a MG, while certainly gamey and unrealistic, is a very simple solution that, most of the time, works quite well.
Tank "E" thus finds itself facing the nearly impregnable front armor of the Tiger. But the Russian player has an answer to that.
Tank "E" spends 1 MP to start (Mechanical Reliability DR is 7), 2 MP to enter uT6 (1 MP plus 1 additional MP for the Tiger!), 1 MP to enter uS6, changing its TCA to uS7-uT6 as it does so, and its final MP to stop. It once again has a rear shot on the Tiger.
The Tiger now fires its last weapon, the BMG, at Tank "E", changing its VCA to uS6-uT5. The IFT DR is 6, so the BMG does not malfunction. Tank "E" is once again facing the Tiger's front armor... but the Tiger has now absolutely, positively used up all of its possible defensive options for this MPh.
Tank "E" has used up all of its MP, so it will only be able to fire once. The Russian player therefore decides to wait, and take this shot during the AFPh. Shooting in the AFPh won't give the shot any better chance of success, but it will allow Tank "E" to place a –1 Acquired Target counter on the Tiger.
Tank "B" can now simply drive over to uT7, stop, and take two point blank shots at the Tiger's rear armor (Bounding First Fire, followed by Intensive Fire). The German player has no options remaining and can do nothing to prevent this.
The Russians have successfully obtained the attack opportunity that they wanted, but if Tank "B" fails to kill the Tiger, the German player may have a good chance of winning this battle: the T-34s will be terribly vulnerable to the Tiger's shots in the following German PFPh.
The Immobilized Pz IVH was on the map simply to give the Russians a reason to not drive around the Woods to get behind the Tiger. I wanted to demonstrate how aggressive maneuvering can result in side and rear shots, even when you have to drive right at the target.
ASL players refer to this type of swarming attack, where numerous weak tanks try to overwhelm a single strong tank, as a "Dance of Death" attack. I believe that this term was first used by J. R. Tracy, as the title of his article describing the technique that was published in the British ASL newsletter "View from the Trenches" (issue 26/27), although the swarming attack technique itself has been a part of ASL right from the start.
AFV Combat: Miscellaneous
We've so far looked at a lot of obvious ways of attacking an AFV... now here's a way that is not so obvious: firing HE ammunition using the Area Target Type (ATT). This technique is not often used, but it can sometimes actually improve your chances of stopping an enemy AFV.
Combat Example 5
"How to Kill a Tiger, Revisited"
Place the following units on board t:
- tW8: American 2-2-7 crew
- tW8: 81* MTR facing tX7-tX8
- tCC5: German Pz VIE facing tBB5-tCC6, BU
Okay, if you ever actually find yourself firing a mortar at a tank, it's a good indication that you're having a really bad day. Mortars simply are not known for their tank-killing prowess. But... it would be a mistake to think that a tank cannot be hurt by a mortar!
Here, the American 81* MTR will fire HE ammunition using the ATT at a range of 6 hexes. The shot is a TH7/–1 (–1 large target). If a hit is scored, it will be resolved with a DR on the IFT instead of a TK DR. Shots using the ATT are always resolved on the IFT.
The IFT DR will be on the 8 FP column, with a +1 DRM because all of the Tiger's AF are equal to or better than 8. This +1 DRM is found in Note 3 on the AFV Destruction Table, and also in Rule 7.11. Note, however, the typo at the end of Rule 7.11: it should read "+1 if all AF are greater than or equal to 8."
The AFV Destruction Table is somewhat difficult to read, but on this table only the "K" results apply to the Area Target Type column. Thus, if the IFT DR is less than a K result, the Tiger is eliminated; and if the IFT DR is equal to a K result, or one greater than a K result, the Tiger would be either immobilized or shocked. With the ATT, you use the IFT DR to determine the location of the hit (hull or turret) instead of the TH DR. The AFV Destruction Table simply summarizes what's already in the rules, so, when in doubt about how to read it, just refer back to the appropriate rule (in this case, 7.11).
A hit by the 81* MTR on the Tiger would have these results:
Normal Hit (8 FP column) original IFT DR 2 or 3: immobilized or shocked original IFT DR 4 or more: no effect
Critical Hit (30 FP column) original IFT DR 2, 3, 4: eliminated original IFT DR 5 or 6: immobilized or shocked original IFT DR 7 or more: no effect
Mortars must use the ATT in order to attack an AFV, but this technique can also be used by Guns. Whenever you find yourself facing an AFV that can only be defeated by getting a CH with AP ammunition, check to see what your chances would be if you switched to HE and the ATT... you may find that the chances of getting some result on the target might actually be better. The tricky part is deciding if giving up the possibility of multiple shots via ROF is a worthwhile trade for a single ATT shot with a slightly better chance of affecting the target.
AFVs & Terrain
As you have seen in the earlier articles in this series, Open Ground is simply deadly to Infantry. But this is not true for an AFV, which will often prefer to remain in Open Ground.
An AFV does get a defensive benefit from being in high TEM terrain, just like Infantry does, but there are several negative effects involved when an AFV enters a Woods or building hex:
- The movement cost for an AFV to enter such a hex is quite high.
- A Bog Check is required, which could potentially leave the AFV immobilized.
- High TEM terrain severely penalizes shots taken outside of a weapon's Covered Arc (CA).
In short, mobility is arguably an AFV's greatest asset... and setting up in, or moving into, high TEM terrain sacrifices much of that mobility. Sacrificing mobility to gain a TEM benefit is a decision that you'll always want to consider carefully.
Another interesting aspect of Open Ground is that an Armored Car pays 3 MP to enter while a tank pays only 1 MP to enter. The reason for this is that the MP value for an Armored Car reflects its movement ability when on a road. On-road, an Armored Car is many times faster than a tank, but, off-road, that same Armored Car may be no faster – and may possibly even be slower – than a fully-tracked tank.
Terrain Example 1
Place the following units on board t:
- tJ9: Russian T-34 M41 facing tK9-tK10, BU, in Motion
- tO10: German Pz IVH facing tN9-tN10, BU
It is the start of the Russian MPh. The T-34 wants to use the cover of the trees to engage the German tank. There are three ways in which it can do this.
(A) The T-34 can expend half of its MP allowance (8.5 MP) to enter tK9, 1 MP to stop, and 7.5 MP in Delay. Entering a Woods hex requires a Bog Check (Rule 7.6). A Bog Check requires a DR on the Bog Check chart, which can be found inside the To Hit Chart folder. This Bog Check DR would have a +3 DRM for entering a Woods hex at half MP. A Bog DR of 9 or more would result in the T-34 bogging: it would immediately stop and be marked with a Bog counter, which ends its MPh. A bogged vehicle cannot move or change its VCA until it removes the Bog status by making a successful Bog Removal DR at the start of its MPh.
(B) The T-34 can expend all of its MP allowance to enter tK9 and stop. A Bog Check DR must still be made but no DRM would apply, so only a DR of 12 would cause a Bog. In this case, the T-34 is moving more slowly and carefully than it did in (A), which greatly reduces its chances of bogging.
Note that here the tank's MP expenditure is counted differently depending upon whether it wishes to stop or not. If it wishes to stop, it pays 16 MP to enter tK9 and 1 MP to stop; if it wishes to remain in Motion, it pays 17 MP to enter tK9. Even though it requires all of a vehicle's MP to enter a Woods hex without incurring the +3 Bog DRM, you may still use 1 MP to start or stop in conjunction with that move. Had the T-34 not been in Motion at the start of its MPh, it could have paid 1 MP to start, 15 MP to enter tK9, and 1 MP to stop.
Also note that if the T-34 did not begin its MPh adjacent to the Woods hex, it would not have the option to spend all of its MP to enter the Woods. If an Armored Car does not begin its MPh adjacent to a Woods hex, it cannot enter that Woods hex at all (except along a road).
(C) The T-34 can expend 1 MP to enter tK10 along the road, 1 MP to stop, and 15 MP in Delay. No Bog Check is made.
As you can see, a Woods-Road hex is ideal terrain for an AFV: there's no extra MP cost to enter, there's no chance of a Bog, and the AFV will receive a +1 TEM benefit against most shots.
If the German Pz IVH does fire at the T-34 as it enters tK10, the +1 TEM will apply because the LOS crosses (just barely) the Woods depiction in tK10. However, if the Pz IVH was in tO9 instead of tO10, then a First Fire shot against the moving T-34 in tK10 would not have a +1 TEM, because the LOS runs along the road without crossing any Woods depiction. A road can only negate the +1 TEM when the target is moving along the road during a MPh; if the target is not moving using the road movement rate, or if the shot does not occur during the target's MPh, then the +1 TEM will always apply regardless of whether the LOS follows the road or not.
And finally, (D) the T-34 could choose to ignore the road altogether and enter tK10 using the methods described in (A) and (B), in which case it would have to make a Bog Check DR, but it would also receive a +1 TEM to all shots against it.
Driving into a building with a tank works just like driving into the Woods, except that you must be BU, and you do not have the option to reduce your Bog chances by expending all of your MP to enter the building hex. Driving into a building will always involve a Bog Check DR with at least a +3 DRM (wooden building) or a +4 DRM (stone building).
Players who are planning on moving to full ASL at some point really should not get into the habit of driving into buildings: in full ASL, a tank driving into a building not only has to run the risk of bogging, but there's also a chance that it could fall through the floor into a cellar, or that the entire building could collapse into a heap of rubble on top of it!
AFVs in Close Combat
There will be times when Infantry will find themselves facing an enemy tank without having any useful anti-tank weapons available. When this occurs, they'll just have to fight it the old-fashioned way: advance into its hex and attack it with Close Combat.
A number of things change in Close Combat whenever a vehicle is present:
- All CC attacks are sequential instead of simultaneous, with each side alternating in making one attack at a time. Thus if a unit is eliminated by a CC attack before it gets a chance to make its own attack, it will not be able to attack at all.
- The non-vehicular side always attacks first, unless there's an ambush.
- No more than two units (one of which must be a SMC) may combine to attack a vehicle.
- Vehicles are attacked using a unit's Close Combat Value (CCV) instead of its FP.
- A vehicle attacking in CC may only use its CMG, RMG, AAMG (if CE), MA IFE (if turreted and less than 15mm in caliber), or Nahverteidigungswaffe close defense system.
Close Combat Example 1
Place the following units on board t:
- tN4: Russian T-34 M41 facing tN3-tO4, BU
- tO4: German 4-6-7, 8-1
It is the German APh. The German squad and leader want to advance into the T-34's hex to engage it in Close Combat. The leader can advance into the T-34's hex at will, but the squad must pass a Pre-AFV Advance/Attack Task Check (PAATC) before they can advance (Rule 3.7). If the squad fails this PAATC, they remain where they are and are pinned (they couldn't find enough courage to dare to approach the enemy tank).
To pass a PAATC, the DR must be equal to or less than the squad's Morale. The squad will get a –1 DRM to their PAATC thanks to the presence of the 8-1 leader. Their PAATC DR is an 8, which becomes a 7 with the –1 DRM, so the squad and the leader both advance into tN4. Place a CC counter on tN4.
In the CCPh, the Germans will attack first. The squad and leader choose to combine to make a single attack on the T-34. Their CCV is 6 (5 for the squad, +1 for the extra SMC) which is their CC Kill Number for this attack (the Close Combat Table's odds chart is not used when you are attacking an AFV using your CCV), and they will have a –1 CC DRM from the 8-1's leadership. If their original CC DR is 6 or less, the T-34 will be eliminated, and if it is 7, the T-34 will be immobilized.
The German CC DR is 9, which is reduced to 8, which has no effect.
The T-34 now gets to attack. It can only use its 4 FP CMG. The odds are figured by comparing the tank's FP to the defender's CCV: 4 FP to 6 CCV is 1-2 odds, so the Russian CC Kill Number is 4. The Russian CC DR is 7, which has no effect.
(If there was a third German unit in the hex, it would now be able to make its CC attack, after which a second Russian unit could attack, etc.)
All surviving units in the hex have now attacked once, so the CCPh is over. The CC counter is replaced with a Melee counter. The German units are held in Melee by the tank, but an AFV is never held in Melee by enemy Infantry. The T-34 can simply start up and drive away (exit the Melee hex) whenever it is eligible to move.
In the above example, if the T-34 had been in Motion, the German CC attack would have had a +1 DRM (–1 leadership, +2 vs Motion vehicle), and the Russian FP would have been halved to 2, giving 1-4 odds and a CC Kill Number of 3. If units from both sides remained in the hex after these CC attacks, the CC counter would again be replaced with a Melee counter, but the German units would not be held in Melee by the non-stopped tank and could exit the hex whenever they are eligible to move.
The T-34 cannot use its BMG in CC, but a functioning BMG would be sufficient to avoid the –1 DRM for a CC attack vs a vehicle with no manned/usable MG (had the CMG been malfunctioned).
As you can see, CC vs AFVs tends to favor the Infantry, particularly if any good leaders are present. Large caliber MAs and thick armor are of no benefit in CC, so AFVs will tend to stay clear of enemy Infantry.
AFVs are somewhat hindered in their ability to fight Infantry at close range because their best weapon against Infantry in the same hex – the overrun attack – did not make it into the ASLSK rules. AFVs can drive into or through a hex containing enemy Infantry, but in ASLSK the only way they can attack the Infantry while doing so is by taking Bounding First Fire shots.
Infantry, however, does get a chance to attack a vehicle moving into or through its hex. There is a special form of CC known as Reaction Fire (Rule 3.3.4) that Infantry can use as Defensive First Fire, Subsequent First Fire, or Final Protective Fire. The key features of Reaction Fire are:
- Reaction Fire may only be used against a vehicle moving into or through the unit's hex.
- MMC must pass a PAATC.
- Reaction Fire is resolved as a normal CC attack against a vehicle.
- The moving vehicle does not get a CC attack of its own, even if it survives the Infantry's Reaction Fire attack.