Little principles to better your setup

klasmalmstrom

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"Foxholes also hide units at start before Initial LOS reveal units .. " What allows this, in non-PTO scenarios?
A2.9:
"...No enemy stack (i.e., all units/SW/Guns/entrenchment-counters in a given Location) may be inspected prior to the start of play (see also 12.12 & 12.3)..."

They do not actually "hide" in a HIP sense, be you can't look beneath e.g., a foxhole counter before play begins.
 

jrv

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Using a foxhole to hide the top counter of a stack only works if you decline to HIP the entrenchment pre-game [A12.33]. In some situations this is a worthwhile tradeoff.

JR
 

von Marwitz

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I used to have an opponent that would hold his set up for a week and then give it to me an hour before our game. This is, I'm sure, the kind of planning that went into his setup, something I could never dream of accomplishing in a few minutes.
I am not a good enough player to come up with a good setup in 15 or 20 minutes but prefer to take my time. For my VASL games my opponents and I usually agree on the scenario and sides. The play date is set normally only after the Defender has completed his setup or allows ample time for both sides to ponder what to do.

I believe the more experienced players become, the more things just come 'naturally' without even thinking much about them. When I was very new to ASL I could look at a scenario card and not be able to picture what kind of action I had before me. By now, I can usually tell at a glance if it is some sort of "last stand" action, a "fast mover" or whatever. A good plan with good timing when to realistically arrive where I still find troublesome in many cases - especially in longer scenarios. I am convinced, though, that this comes rather naturally for prolific veteran players, too.

von Marwitz
 

Michael R

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In your OP, the image did not show any HIP concealment to prevent accidental "mouse-over" exposure of your unconcealed stacks. Do your normally not do that?
 

Philippe D.

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Just to mention that the methodology you correctly present is particularly suitable to a VASL game due to the large amount of time players usually enjoy to plan for their attack/defence.
That's right, but with the way VASL works (or works by default? not sure if there is an option to change the behavior), the "right of inspection" rule is not really enforced by VASL - if a stack is unconcealed, and you mouse over it, you'll see the contents whether the rules give you the right to inspect it or not.
 

Robin Reeve

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You can deactivate the mouse hovering revealing a stack in the Preferences - IIRC requiring that Shift must be pressed to be allowed such an inspection.
 

von Marwitz

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In your OP, the image did not show any HIP concealment to prevent accidental "mouse-over" exposure of your unconcealed stacks. Do your normally not do that?
Yes. Normally, I place a HIP Concealment counter beneath the unconcealed top-unit of a stack. That way, the height of the stack looks as it should be to the oppenent, yet he can't accidentally inspect the stack by mouse-over.

The image in the OP shows the situation after we have checked for LOS to determine pre-game Concealment gain. This means that at this point, no HIP concealment was necessary any more. Units that turned out to be in LOS may be inspected, the others get concealed.

von Marwitz
 

Philippe D.

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You can deactivate the mouse hovering revealing a stack in the Preferences - IIRC requiring that Shift must be pressed to be allowed such an inspection.
Thanks, I didn't know that. The shortcut is a bit more complex than that (Ctrl-Space), but I'll try to stick to it from now on.
 

Philippe D.

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Does that deactivate it on your opponent's screen or just yours?
I don't have access to my opponent's screen, so can't try it out :) But I'd assume it's only for your own client - the one option that seems to apply to the opponent ("let opponent unconceal my units") is clearly labelled as such.
 

Tuomo

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Great idea for a thread. People obviously appreciate the deep look into vM's brain, and that's good. Setups are hard to figure out, especially for new players.

I think vM was clear enough - this is the kind of analysis you can do if you want to, if you have time, and is especially good for VASL games where you have plenty of time to mull things over. It's very fun to chew on this kind of thing.

That said, one can overthink things. I'll offer a different perspective on looking at the Russian setup, pre-concealment. I don't have and haven't played the scenario, so forgive me any ignorance my comments may show. I'm just going off of what vM says in the top part of his post 11 above. I didn't read the rest of that post, just so I wouldn't be tainted by his thoughts ;-) I will read that once I post my own thoughts; interesting to compare, especially given that my thoughts are off the top of my head and thus more attuned to a FtF situation.

1) Look at what you see and make a rough count of what's left unaccounted for. We have 11 Russian squads in the OB and can see 5. We have 8 Russian ? counters in the OB and can see 6. So we have 6 as-yet-unconfirmed squads and enough unconfirmed ? counters to have a little Dummy Madness going on - maybe a single ?x3 stack is a Dummy top-to-bottom, maybe two of those Concealed stacks have two ?'s on top so they could split out a ?x2 later on.... whatever. Lemme emphasize that: WHATEVER. There's just a few Dummies out there and they're going to be revealed through the course of play. I'm sure not going to waste good attacks on them; I'm going to move and see who fires at me, I'm going to get into positions where he can't fall back from his front line without moving into Open Ground (and thus losing concealment; Board 1 is deceptively open that way), and I'm going to bump-scout (move into locations with enemy concealed units, revealing them if they're Dummies). If my opponent wants to feel like his Dummies are causing havoc in my brain, let him. They won't.

2) The Russian OB has two leaders and two SW. Yes, it's really easy/obvious to assume one leader and SW per flank, and I'm not above the easy/obvious thing. Given how Russian MG's are heavy and need a leader to help them move (and keep them from Cowering when they fire), and given how Firelanes are probably important to the Russian defense, I'm thinking the Russians probably have leaders stacked with MGs here. (Edit - well, duh, yeah, LMGs are only 1PP so don't really need a leader to help MOVE them, but LMGs are still pretty useful in laying firelanes in urban battles like this, and they need leaders to direct their fire and keep them from cowering).

F3 probably has a leader/squad/MG. The Russian right doesn't have any ?x4 stacks, so that second leader/squad/MG stack is probably HIP, waiting to pop up and lay down a firelane. I don't know the scenario VC's, but I'd anticipate that second stack being somewhere like I7, M4, B6, or A4 (see the red FL lines in the image below).

Untitled.gif

Heck, notice how M6 has a nice firelane opportunity; you can start the game HIP and not be revealed until the opponent has LOS to you. Yes, he'd be revealed as soon as Turn 1 started (placed under a ? counter if the Romanians have LOS to his location), but he's far enough away from the Romanian setup to probably survive any Turn 1 prep fire against him, and his FL opportunity(while hindered by the orchard in K4) is still pretty sweet, especially given the Surprise Factor. Sure, he'd need to reposition in the Russian turn 1, but he'd probably be doing that anyway. Also, he'd be able to take advantage of the Road Bonus when moving, and he could swing to his right or the center if he wanted.

3) That HIP unit. A lot depends on my opponent's personality here, so we can't speculate too much, but the Russian left looks so open that I'd suspect something in A4 or B3. Even B6 or C6 if my opponent were patient enough. Again, though, I'd plan on finding the HIP unit through aggressively moving. Not "stupidly moving"; I wouldn't give him any juicy stacks to blast. But you betcha I'm gonna move MMC through every bit of HIP-able terrain I find, and more importantly, I'm gonna expect that HIPster to pop up and hurt me at some point. Hopefully the scenario has given me enough units to withstand that pain (and hopefully I don't make things worse by risking too many of them by moving in stacks). Beyond that? SHRUG. There's a HIP MMC out there. It will hurt when I find it. But I'm gonna move aggressively and hope to either find it early, find it without giving up a -2 FFNAM/FFMO shot, find it without giving up a shot at a moving leader-led stack, etc. My FINDING IT will be just as important to me as my opponent's temporary happiness at USING it. Cuz once it's revealed, I don't have to worry anymore.

4) I expect the Russian Guns to be in the rear, probably in/near the VC area(s). Beyond that, shrug. The sooner I find them, the better - one of their biggest advantages is their HIP. I suspect that's part of the armor game here, and I just don't have enough information to say more.

At any rate. HtH.
 
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Tuomo

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Having read vM's comments about what the Russian defense really was:
  • Yeah, 71J10 is a suboptimal place for a HIP unit, especially a 447/LMG, both of which are too valuable for the Russians to waste on an up-front unit that's probably not going to survive turn 1. Without a leader to direct the squad or LMG's fire, the possibility of Cowering is just too high. Plus, I suspect the Russians need that 447/LMG to lay a firelane in this city fight. 426's are just too brittle in a protracted fight. That 447/LMG probably got off a good First Fire shot, maybe even a good Subsequent First Fire shot (with PBF), but as the Romanian attacker, I wouldn't let him live past Russian turn 1. Even if all I did was just pull up a enough units to blast him in my turn 1 DFPh, that'd do the trick. He can't rout back through K1 or J1 without taking Interdiction, and even if he got to K2/J2, he wouldn't have anywhere to go from there.
  • Yep, a fortified F3 with the ART gun would be tough to overcome. But it's a little exposed up there, and I'd hope to cut it off by getting to J2 and C6/C7. Once you get some Encirclement going, that'll help. And broken 426's couldn't rout back to F3 if it means moving toward a Known Enemy Unit, so the idea of the 10-0 Commissar auto-rallying those guys probably won't pan out like the Russians hope. Just start blasting away at things in the building BESIDES F3 and hope to whittle the 426s down enough to get a toehold in the F3 building or H2/H3, then expand it. Make sure you cut it off from reinforcements, though.
  • Yep, I7 is a nice spot for some kind of Gun.
 
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von Marwitz

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I'll offer a different perspective on looking at the Russian setup, pre-concealment. I don't have and haven't played the scenario, so forgive me any ignorance my comments may show. I'm just going off of what vM says in the top part of his post 11 above. I didn't read the rest of that post, just so I wouldn't be tainted by his thoughts ;-) I will read that once I post my own thoughts; interesting to compare, especially given that my thoughts are off the top of my head and thus more attuned to a FtF situation.
Superb idea!

von Marwitz
 

von Marwitz

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Having read vM's comments about what the Russian defense really was:
  • Yeah, 71J10 is a suboptimal place for a HIP unit, especially a 447/LMG, both of which are too valuable for the Russians to waste on an up-front unit that's probably not going to survive turn 1. Without a leader to direct the squad or LMG's fire, the possibility of Cowering is just too high. Plus, I suspect the Russians need that 447/LMG to lay a firelane in this city fight. 426's are just too brittle in a protracted fight. That 447/LMG probably got off a good First Fire shot, maybe even a good Subsequent First Fire shot (with PBF), but as the Romanian attacker, I wouldn't let him live past Russian turn 1. Even if all I did was just pull up a enough units to blast him in my turn 1 DFPh, that'd do the trick. He can't rout back through K1 or J1 without taking Interdiction, and even if he got to K2/J2, he wouldn't have anywhere to go from there.
  • Yep, a fortified F3 with the ART gun would be tough to overcome. But it's a little exposed up there, and I'd hope to cut it off by getting to J2 and C6/C7. Once you get some Encirclement going, that'll help. And broken 426's couldn't rout back to F3 if it means moving toward a Known Enemy Unit, so the idea of the 10-0 Commissar auto-rallying those guys probably won't pan out like the Russians hope. Just start blasting away at things in the building BESIDES F3 and hope to whittle the 426s down enough to get a toehold in the F3 building or H2/H3, then expand it. Make sure you cut it off from reinforcements, though.
  • Yep, I7 is a nice spot for some kind of Gun.
71J10 for the 447+LMG, though very exposed, could yet have been extremely harmful to the Romanians:

With the basic premise that the Romanians need to secure their necessary VC locations before the Russian reinforcements arrive to contest them, this means the following time-table for an attack via the western flank:

Turn 1: Get the 1G1 building.
Turn 2: Get the 1G4 building.
Turn 3: Get the 1G6 building.
Turn 4: Get the 1H7 building.
Turn 5: Fend off the Russian reinforcements.
Turn 6: Hang on, for gawd's sake...

If the Russian reinforcements reach 1H7 first, chances that the lower FP Romanians can take it and clear out the Russians again are slim. Thus, if the Russian manages to delay the Romanians on their tight schedule by just one turn, that might be enough.

My opponent was planning to put down a FL to 1C4 with his HIP 447+LMG in 71J10 during Romanian T2. In combination with his strongpoint in 1F3 and whatever remained of his 3x 426s in the area, I would have had a very hard time crossing the street and thus mess up the Romanian time table. Luckily, he did not use the almost equally good chance to hit me putting down a FL from 71J10 to 71E8 during Romanian T1.

His HIP 76* ART was "forced" to fire, when I moved a 537Eng+FT into 1F1 which would have fired in the AFPh vs. the MMG in 1F3. The Gun promptly killed the 537. In the mid-east, I had moved through and/or had units in 71H10, 71L9, 71L10, and 71M10 being quite surprised not to have found anything there. A 347 in 71J9 was obviously preparing to advance into 71H10. Two of the Romanian tanks moved very late, so maybe this was why the 447+LMG held its fire. The tanks moved past (dodging a shot and an IF-shot by the ATG in 1I7) to stop in 1F2 and 1G2, which meant that whether they would survive or not, there would be some sort of cover for the attempt to cross into the 1G4 building in Romanian T2. In the CCPh of Romanian T1 at the latest, I found the HIP Russian, there was no ambush, but I rolled boxcars, so the Russian elected to withdraw to J1 rather to be likely be stuck in Melee.

von Marwitz
 

Koestler

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I was Oberst Von Marwitz' opponent in this one. As noted by him, the idea behind the setup was to throw the Rumanian attacker one turn off his time table. The right hand flank is made to look uninviting by a forward setup and a rubble counter requiring his tanks to make an exposed detour. The hip goodies are on the left, including the 'suboptimal' 447 and lmg, aiming to throw down a firelane to D3 during his turn 2 assault on Factory F3. Of course, the factory will fall in due course and the 447 will be eliminated, but if the Rumanian is still clearing factory F3 during his turn 3 instead of attacking F5, he will not be in H7 by his turn 4 and the Russian reinforcements can aid the defence, rather than having to counter attack. The approach would have been aided by the rubble in H8. One 447 is a price I am willing to pay to have 3.5 squads defend rather than attack.

While I think the rationale for sacrificing one of my best units is sound, it is true that J0 is too exposed (although the suboptimal nature of the position could have made it a surprise). It was accidentaly discovered by an advancing Rumanian squad in turn 1 and the other defences of the F3 building were overcome by moving tanks into the street in front, albeit at the cost of one tank. Von Marwitz was festunged in H7 by the end of his turn 4. However, the dice gods smiled on me and his forces had been substantially attritioned. In the start of Russian 4, he missed a crucial rally, allowing a counter attack by the forces from the right flank.

Below the situation at the start of Rumanian 5. In addition to the counter attack, a fire started by the FT in the H7 factory contributed to Von Marwitz' worries.
 

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Tuomo

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Wow, I had a nice long reply to Koestler's comment, but I lost it by accidentally closing out the wrong browser window :-(

To recap: no personal offense intended by my 'suboptimal' comment.

Also. A reasonably aggressive Romanian player should not let J0 live past Romanian turn 1, or at worst, Russian turn 2. With the reinforcing tanks able to use BFF and/or sleaze freeze, the Romanians have a good chance of breaking that unit in their Bounding Fire and/or Advancing Fire on their turn 1. Or even possibly CC'ing it. Even if that doesn't work, the Romanians should advance into H10, K10, and L10 on their turn 1, setting up J0's Encirclement and breaking in the DFPh of Russian turn 2. The upshot here is that J0 should not be around to lay a firelane across the front face of building F3 on turn 2. Eventually the probing Romanian infantry will find him on their turn 1 (either by moving into his hex, Searching from an adjacent hex, or by him dropping HIP to fire), and that's when the machinery to eliminate him before Romanian turn 2 will kick in.

Sure, it's fine to put out a "stand and die" unit out front, but J0 is not supported by any covering fire from board 1. That makes the Romanians pay too little a price to eliminate him.
 

Koestler

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No offense taken at all and thanks for your insights.

Note that J0 has some support from the ATG in I7, so BFF and/or sleaze freeze might not work. The unit will indeed not live past Russian 2, but then it might have performed its mission of stalling the Rumanian attack during his 2.
 

bendizoid

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I am not a good enough player to come up with a good setup in 15 or 20 minutes but prefer to take my time. For my VASL games my opponents and I usually agree on the scenario and sides. The play date is set normally only after the Defender has completed his setup or allows ample time for both sides to ponder what to do.

I believe the more experienced players become, the more things just come 'naturally' without even thinking much about them. When I was very new to ASL I could look at a scenario card and not be able to picture what kind of action I had before me. By now, I can usually tell at a glance if it is some sort of "last stand" action, a "fast mover" or whatever. A good plan with good timing when to realistically arrive where I still find troublesome in many cases - especially in longer scenarios. I am convinced, though, that this comes rather naturally for prolific veteran players, too.

von Marwitz
Yes, there are a few scenarios were I’ve done some ‘deep diving’, spent some hours going over different options, especially on defence. To name a few: ‘Rockets Red Glare’, 1st day in RB CG, ‘Agony of doom’ (trying to figure out what the Russians should do), many others to more or less a degree.
On a defensive scenario the first thing I look for is ‘can I stop him on the board edge?’ and ‘can I kindle ?’, lol.
Next thing is put your best leader with your best MG in the highest available building.
Especially on woodsy/jungley maps look for natural constriction points, swamps, marshes, ponds, ect... notice the areas between and create ambush hexes where you’ll have the advantage in hexes and firepower.
Walk around the table and briefly look at the map from the attackers point of view. What would you do ?
Those are the first things almost always done when setting up a defense.
 
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Actionjick

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Unless it was a very large scenario my setup was usually pretty quick.

I didn't often sit down with the scenario before playing because I didn't know what we would be playing.

Most of my thinking about ASL was done while performing mindless, repetitive fabrication at work. That conjugating was usually about tactics and ways to combine rules and capabilities. Much better at that than visualizating for me.
 
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