Inor Review

THE GOOD
Builds on in Print Modules, Relatively Simple, New Concepts in ASL
THE BAD
Problems with some counters
ORIGINALITY
5.00 star(s)
PRESENTATION
5.00 star(s)
FUN
5.00 star(s)
PLAYER'S VERDICT

9 'Superb'

ibncalb

Senior Member
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Jun 12, 2004
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Location
La Turballe
Country
llFrance
Full Disclosure
I live in a forest in France. My wife shares a last name with the designer.

I have met the designer once. I beat him and he has the worst counter storage system ever.

The Problem with ASL Reviews

The only good ASL review would be a review of a product that has been out for years and that the reviewer has played against countless opponents, innumerable times. Otherwise, it’s just one dude’s opinion, based on feel and experience. So, by that frank admission this is a bad review. However, if you wait ten years until every know errata and tactic for playing Inor is uncovered and put into this review then Inor will be out of print, so get ready for my bad review.

Touching The Package
It has no box! It was well packaged in a postal box but inside it is plastic wrapped. (I hate to have to review wargame boxes but there appears to be a whole subset of gamers who love boxes.) Accept that there is no box. Or make your own!

There are two booklets, one rules (34 pages) and one historical background (70 pages). A bunch of scenario and CG cards and some player aids for each player German and French. Two counter sheets, two maps. It’s a good weighty package.

Stroking The Map
The maps are standard size, standard hexes. Same size as Smith’s Ridge, Seoul and Kholm. Excellent, thick, matte paper.

The map uses light woods in a few places. I’m glad this is being used more by designers. There are 3 hexes of river barges. Everything else is standard ASL.

The only problem with the map is the paths. They are very difficult to make out. However, most paths are worth VP and so are marked. To find the paths, look for the red VP markers. It could have been better.

Ruddy Counters
Two Counter sheets. I hate new counters. More accurately I hate storing new counters. Are these necessary? I’ll get to that shortly. There are problems with the cutting of counters on one of the sheets. It’s a problem I’ve never seen before. The artwork is perfect, centered, not overlapping the cuts but the jig itself seems to be off with the result that rows of counters are different sizes, all with perfect artwork but all different sized rectangles.

I can see why this was missed. The sheets look perfect to the eye, it’s only when the counters are removed from the sprue and clipped (as all counters should be) that the fault becomes apparent. It’s difficult to see. In fact, when I was sent a replacement set, I was sent another faulty set. It’s that hard to spot.

LFT have acknowledged this and are sorting out replacements. As of 6/11/21, LFTs website states that replacement counter sheets will be packaged with their next FTC pack at no additional cost.

(Mercenary note. As 70% of the counters are absolutely perfect, by buying this now and then picking up the replacement counters in the future FTC, you massively increase your French counter mix – just saying)

The counters are very slightly thicker than normal counters, like if you stack 5 you can see a difference.

The counters are white core. I know that this, like boxes, does disturb some grogs. I’d say two things, your game will never be won or lost by your opponent watching the colour of your counters. None of these counters represent anything unique, so there’s no point looking for a white core expecting it to signify a FT or something unusual. Secondly, if like me, you’ve been collecting for a long time, you’ve probably got a mix of AH, MMP, BG and LFT French counters. A few white cores just add to the mix.

What counters do you get? You get a significant number of counters. This is going to make you reassess your storage system. There are 3 main types, Foreign Legion, Algerians, and Colonial Infantry. Each type gives 458s, 457s and 437s. The main difference to existing mmc is the non reduced broken morale level. There are also some legion crews, assault engineers (please no more assault engineers!) and assault squads with assault fire, some spraying fire and underlined morale. Unfortunately, some of the units are missing the morale underline. There seems to be a misprint for the broken morale of some squad types also. This, along with the crazy way that some of the counters have been cut has, I believe, prompted the above discussion of a reprint.

Whilst the squad types (Legion/Algerian/Colonial) are differentiated by an icon, they do not have a squad class Icon. This is an oversight and makes dealing with the counters take just a fraction of a second longer than normal.

Included also are more ? counters, SMCs, SWs, and armour counters (they are much prettier than the MMP ones).

There is also the normal assortment of seemingly random counters, this issue there are more Smoke and WP FFE counters, which are great space savers, game specific counters to do with the artillery interplay during the refit phase, sunken barges, Shermans with bow mounted FTs and more plane counters.

I’ve seen a complaint that we “don’t need more aircraft counters”. The response from the publisher was that they are there simply to fill remaining space on the counter sheet and if you have better ideas then please let LFT know, and they’ll print your ideas instead of more planes. I guess that’s where the bow mounted FT Shermans and the SMOKE FFE counters come from. I ask for PFZ markers please and Colonel Pine d’Huitre in OUNC colours so he can lead a Bayonet Charge in Korea.

So, a lot of counters. Are they necessary, is it worth redoing my storage system? My initial thought was no. As the Algerian counters were so poorly cut, I used the Legion counters instead in my CG. No harm no foul, I began to wonder why we needed the cost of so many new counters. Then I read that these new counters would be used in future LFT projects. Then I realised that if LFT, a group of (mainly) French historians and gamers say we need all these counters for upcoming projects, then I believe we need these counters.

The French have got a lot of battles to go, they fought throughout WW2 and then in Indochina and N Africa. The more French the better.

A Fair Complexion

Is this a complex module? What do I consider advanced?

I have experience with KGS and a lot of experience with FFS. They are both advanced modules.

“Advanced” is a combination of two factors. One is how many of the lesser used ASL rules a product uses. For instance, FFS is not inherently a complex product, however it used a lot of air support and FW rules which are considered complex or, more accurately, arcane. KGS uses snow and skis. Edson’s Ridge uses night rules. The three modules mentioned have a greater than normal inherent ASL complexity.

The second layer of complexity comes from the new rules added by the product. FFS and KGS have a lot of new rules added by the product itself. This complexity is, I believe, exponential and whilst it may not put people off purchasing, it puts people off playing.

Coming after FFS, KGS and Saint Nazaire, Inor is a much simpler product. It has significantly less rules than its predecessors and takes place in an inherently less complex environment.
By that I mean that we’re dealing with meat and potatoes ASL; West Front 1940 rather than snowbound Russia and ski troops or Forgotten War terrain and troops. The only lesser-known basic rules are for wagons and cavalry.

In terms of new rules Inor introduces
  • River barges (10 sentences)
  • Woods Debris (7 sentences)
  • French Troop types (8 bullet points and one short paragraph)
  • German Troop/SW, a few short sentences.
That’s it. Of course, the rules also include the CG sequence of play and CG special rules. Hidden amongst the CG rules are a neat SAN rule and some new ideas around converting unused transport vehicles to CPP, troop rotation, Artillery interdiction and Counterbattery fire.

Inor has a low inherent difficulty and really no product added complexity. It’s simple. It’s vanilla. And vanilla isn’t bad.

Game, play
I won’t deal with the scenarios; I’ve only played one of the sixteen. I’m not as keen on scenario play as on CG play. Suffice to say they are as glossy and as beautiful as all the other LFT scenarios I own.

I’m playing CG3. The first scenario is pretty scripted. Most of the French set up in reserve which, unless the German player has a fabulous plan or simply wants to kick the hornets’ nest, puts them out of play.

I’ve played this through twice now and each time the French have lost all their forces in Bois de La Hache and Inor village. Because of the scripted nature it’s more like a regular scenario than a CG opening. I’d be interested to see how other French players gain advantage from this scenario.

In my play through the main advances in the CG have been through the forested area which make up most of the map.

The fighting in the woods is superficially the same as fighting through Jungle. If one doesn’t stop and look around once in a while, one could easily be playing on the SC map. Most engagements are ADJACENT. This throws up some interesting tropes.

The majority squad type for each side is 467/457. The range is immaterial in the forest, but the Germans still have several advantages.

First, a lot of the French forces are hamstrung by a lower broken morale (although not all of them).

Secondly the German squads all have spraying fire. This helps the Germans capitalise on leadership and engage multiple units.

The third German advantage is the LMG. Whilst some of their lmgs will be an older 2-6 model, a lot will be the regular 3-8 model. Whilst the range is immaterial, the 3-8 produces 6FP when PB rather than the 4 FP of the French LMG. Again, this allows the Germans to attack more effectively multiple ADJACENT targets

The fourth is the FT. The French don’t use them. In this terrain, with ? so easy to gain and cover so thick, it’s easy to move FTs adjacent.

N.b. an SSR severely restricts spreading fire. Thank Dieu for that.

The French do have their advantages. There are several wooded hills that are perfect to defend. The wooded crestlines to the North and South of Soiry Farm are very difficult for the Germans to take. They have access to fortifications and are normally defending. They can construct paths during the refit phase to improve their interior lines, a combination of mines HIP and PFZs can go some way to balancing the Germans advantages.

One real advantage for the French is the weather. A refit phase DR of 2-4 gives overcast, rain and mud. This really slows down the German. Considering that CG scenarios will last on average 6 turns, the MF increase from mud and rain can really hamper German attacks. If you take into account the artillery interdiction which can cause RGs to be delayed for up to three turns it really make sense to pay one CPP extra to set up on map. However, do you really want to setup on map in woods when your opponent may have a bombardment and artillery?

An interesting facet to this CG is the ability to “switch off” half of the map. For example, in my CG 5 the Germans are attacking Inor Heights to try to take the metalled road. At the same time the French are counterattacking onto the map to try to retake Inor. This means that the frontline throughout the NE of the map, separated by a hex or two of woods, stays relatively stable. So, although the front is long, only one third of it is moving.

Most CGs lack the intervention of the rear echelons. Artillery, reconnaissance, engineering, and logistics support are acknowledged to be very valuable and battle winning, force multipliers. In Inor we see the role of artillery during the refit phase, we see limited reconnaissance through recon rolls and German Air recon. We also start to see a bit of engineering support, not just in the FPP but also in the ability to cut paths. We can purchase wagons and trucks, not just to move forces but if you want to reposition a gun further than 3 hexes away during the refit phase you need wheels.

I laud LFT for exploring this aspect and I hope that it continues. But I want to see more. We don’t need to see a Masada assault ramp in each CG but bypass roads, recovering AFV, bridging over streams, corduroy roads, clearance; all give more credence to engineers more than just a smoke exponent.

Depiction of Artillery
Artillery provides an interesting topic. It’s difficult to use here as the los is so restrictive. OBOs are not too useful as the CG map was the highest ground in the area. Still, as play develops I’m sure we’ll find some great spots for radios and phones. Fighting to gain and keep these spots may well dominate some CG scenarios.

Despite the difficulty of using traditional OBA, both sides can purchase Counter Battery modules and Interdiction modules during the refit phase.

The interdiction modules deplete, to various levels, the opponent’s RGs. This is a powerful effect. As an example, a full-strength German infantry coy is 10 467s 2 lmgs and a 50mm mtr. There are a range of depletion results dependant on a variety of player controlled factors and a DR but a full depletion could bring that infantry company down to 5 467s 2 447s and 1 lmg.

The counterbattery modules can be used in a variety of ways – to counter the interdiction modules or enemy counter battery, to ameliorate enemy bombardments or to add red chits to enemy OBA modules.

The interplay between these new artillery modules is fantastic. The designers notes mention that it reflects the devastation artillery caused behind the scenes and goes some way to reproducing its effect on map where it’s difficult to use because of the restrictive los.

In FFS LFT introduced SEAD, now they’ve introduced off map artillery effects and duels, I love the extra aspect that this gives to ASL. I feel that even during the refit phase I’m making decisions, more than just how to spend my CPP. I hope that these themes continue. They make the game stronger and more coherent.

The allocation of CPPs is similar to VOTG to encourage purchase of toys.

In short, the gameplay is interesting and fresh. There are numerous tactical problems to overcome and a good mix of close in woods fighting and more traditional open play.

Things I don’t like
For a company with this level of output quality and audacity I’m willing to forgive a lot. However, this is a review.

The historical booklet, at 70 pages full colour should have been a pdf. I don’t know how much it added to the cost of the module, but I know it didn’t make it any cheaper.

The level of English is excellent, I’m amazed in general, that people whose first language is not English can play ASL, let alone design ASL products. However, in something as dense and meaningful as ASL rules, that 1% inaccuracy can cause problems. There are a couple of instances where non-native English makes a difference. The rules and historical booklet should be proofed to a slightly higher level.

Do I enjoy It?
Of course, yes, its high quality ASL. Do I enjoy it as much as FFS or Toktong? Of course not, because its much simpler ASL rules wise and for me, less evocative. I enjoy the challenge of correctly interpreting new rules and making links tactically between them. I enjoy gaming the challenge of the books I’ve just read. Inor doesn’t have that connection for me.

Inor is a much simpler product. A player won’t be head down in a rulebook that much.

If I had the choice, 20 years ago, between Inor and Toktong, I would still have chosen Toktong. However, Fox Company would have stayed on my shelf for a decade, Inor at least would have been understood and played.

Should I buy It
Is it a perfect product? Am I the perfect reviewer?

On both counts the answer is no.

The product falls a little bit short for me. It feels less polished than FFS. I think it could have been better in terms of production. However, I am absolutely sure that the group of people who made this could not easily have done better. For a group of amateurs, all of whom have day jobs, to research and produce a module for the world’s most complicated wargame, on an action that the designer happened to read about in a foreign language book he found in a car boot sale is amazing.

So yes, you should buy it. As I’ve been writing this I’ve been playing through the CG. I keep wanting to add tactical advice and ideas into this article. It’s a really cool, interesting product, its easy to get into and has a lot of depth.

To summarise

The counters will be needed for future LFT projects

It explores and cements new concepts in ASL.

It’s a great CG for new players. Simple, but more importantly its available and the prerequisites to play are available. CdG is in stock and, even if Dinant is a bit complex for a new player, Inor is not.

Like any ASL product, there are issues with rules, errata, and interpretations. The designer and the production team have been very responsive.

By buying Inor you’re supporting a small ASL company. Along with Advancing fire they represent the entirety of European ASL production. We have a French company producing French HASLs, an Italian company producing HASLs set in Sicily. With the burgeoning ASL communities in Russia and Asia we need to support small producers if we ever want a Japanese company producing an Iwo HASL or a Russian Company covering Orsha. You Finns should pull your Finnger out too…

n.b. ‘Colonel Pine d’Huitre’ is best translated as ‘Colonel Mouse Dick’
 
Last edited:

brunger

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Feb 17, 2007
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ouston
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Thanks for this. Nice article. Good to hear your thoughts. I like the module. The scenarios I have played have been great fun and very close run things. My second sheet was also off but as I play VASL at the moment it’s not an issue
I agree with your thoughts.
 
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