Lone Canuck Publishing (2017)
Country of Origin:
1 sheet of 140 die-cut counters, 1 page rules, 7 scenarios on cardstock
Anzio – 1944 (hereinafter A44) is a small scenario pack featuring a half-sheet of counters that depicts actions involving the Allied First Special Service Force at the Anzio beachhead in Italy in early 1944. The product claims that it was “designed for the 2017 West Coast Rumble,” which occurred in November 2017. Every attendee reportedly got a free copy of the pack. The West Coast Rumble is a Canadian ASL tournament organized by George Kelln, the man behind Lone Canuck Publishing (and thus this pack).
The First Special Service Force, for those who may not have heard of it, was a very unusual elite unit in World War II, consisting as it did of both American and Canadian soldiers. The idea behind the unit was the goal of creating a force specializing in cold-weather and mountainous special operations. The unit first saw “action” in the U.S.-Canadian Aleutians campaign in 1943, where it was part of the Kiska invasion force (though the Japanese had evacuated the island before any landing). Late in 1943 the FSSF traveled around the globe to Italy, where it fought in December 1943 and January 1944 before being tagged as a reinforcement in February 1944 for the beleaguered Anzio beachhead. In August 1944 the FSSF participated in the Allied invasion of southern France, eventually becoming part of the 1st Airborne Task Force and guarding the French-Italian border. In December, the unit was disbanded, allowing the Canadians to be transferred to other units (mostly the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion) and the Americans to be sent to various places, including airborne units, Ranger battalions and the independent 474th Infantry Regiment.
As you might suspect, the included countersheet (actually a half-sheet of 140 die-cut 1/2″ counters) contains special counters (in US green) for the FSSF. Of the 140 counters, 12 are 6-6-8 FSSF squads (and 16 are 3-4-8 half-squads) and 3 are 4-5-8 squads (with 2 2-4-8 half-squads). Some of the squads and half-squads are Assault Engineers. There are also three 2-2-8 crews. The 4-5-8/2-4-8 squads/half-squads represent “understrength squads/HS and re-armed prisoners.” The rules for this pack decree that the FSSF are Commandos, are always stealthy, can Scale, have -1 HOB DRM, don’t Cower, can use German/Italian weapons without penalty, can use captured MG at night without generating a Sniper Check (not sure what the rationalization for that is), will not surrender via RtPh nor become Disrupted, and may use H-to-H CC (with a -1 DRM, too). So, basically supermen.
Apparently, no scenario in this pack needs more than 12 FSSF squads, yet that seems like a very small number and certainly hampers DYO use of these counters. The small number particularly stands out because almost all of the rest of the counters on the countersheet are superfluous.
The other FSSF counters include 3 “Bangalore Torpdeo” counters and two 2-6 LMGs.
The countersheet also includes various 5-4-8 and 4-6-8 German squads (and their respective half-squads, 4 German Bangalore torpedo counters.
ASLers may not be happy to discover that SMC counters are the most numerous type of counter on the countersheet. A44’s countersheet includes 5 US-colored armor leaders and 7 German armor leaders, as well as 20 German leaders and heroes and 29 FSSF leaders and heroes. It’s unclear why there are so many. At first it seemed as if perhaps pre-registered West Coast Rumble attendees were being given vanity counters, but there aren’t very many different names listed, while some names appeared multiple times. Thus ASLer Brian Martuzas appears on fully 12 counters. It is not uncommon for ASL publishers to give playtesters a bit of recognition by naming a leader counter after them, but twelve? Martuzas even appears on two identical 8-1 German leader counters. What is more, another name that appears on multiple counters (6) is Jim McLeod, who has been deceased for some time and could not have bought vanity counters, pre-registered for this tournament, or playtested this pack. Whatever the reasoning for all these leaders counters, it is a little frustrating to purchase a product at least in part because it has a countersheet, only to discover that almost all the counters duplicate counters already in the system. However, if Brian Martuzas’s mother plays ASL, she may have a wealth of counters to use.
The counters themselves, it should be noted, seem to be good quality counters, which is not always the case with third party publisher counters. It has been nice to see Lone Canuck’s evolution from being a publisher that only produced scenario cards to one that also produces high quality maps and, now, counters as well.
A44 comes with 7 scenarios that use geoboards, not a historical map. To play all the scenarios, one needs boards 4, 16, 33, 43, 48, and ASLSK board t. Five scenarios use overlays.
It should be noted that nearly half (3 of 7) of the scenarios are in A44 are Night scenarios, which may be something to consider for those ASLers who dislike the Night rules. One scenario uses OBA (another uses a Bombardment); no scenarios have Air Support.
The scenarios include:
WCR1 (Gusville). This tiny (Night) scenario features 6 FSSF squads and any 5 of a pool of 9 SW (which is an interesting design element) attacking a German force of only two squads and two crews with HMG, protected by Wire, Mines, and a Fortified Building Location.
WCR2 (7th Luftwaffe’s Attack). This (Night) action is a German attack against an FSSF fortified position. The Germans have 11 squads and 2 crews with dm 81mm MTRs, as well as two MMG, 1 FT, 2 DC, and 2 Bangalore Torpedoes. They also, interestingly, have 4 footbridge counters that seem to be carried like SW when their infantry is Cloaked and Manhandled like Guns when their Infantry is not cloaked. A unit may use its entire MF allotment to place a Foot Bridge on a canal hex. The goal of the Germans is to get an unbroken squad equivalent across the canal.
WCR3 (Raid at Sussuno). The third Night scenario features another FSSF attack, this time with 9.5 squads and a choice of any 8 SW from a pool of 12 SW. This means that virtually every unit will have a SW. This is not atypical for Lone Canuck scenarios, which tend to give units far too many SW. The defending Germans have only 4 squads and two crews manning HMGs and two more crews with 81mm MTRs. They also get some Wire, some Mines and a Fortified Building Location, making this scenario fairly similar to WCR1.
WCR4 (Hold at All Cost!). This scenario depicts a German attack on an FSSF fortified position. The Germans must create two groups out of 9 different Infantry, HW, and AFV platoons. Each platoon is different in make up. This scenario also includes German footbridge counters–and once more, VC are dependent on getting across a canal. The defending FSSF has 7 squads and 2 crews, with 6 SW, lots of Mines, lots of Wire, and a handful of trenches and pillboxes. They also get 4 tank destroyers as reinforcement in the mid-game.
WCR5 (Raid at Cerreto Alto) is an 8.5 turn scenario with 14 SSRs (!) depicting an FSSF raid on German/Italian positions. The FSSF get 10 squads and 8 “pool” SW (see above), as well as 5 light tanks, two half-tracks with 81mm MTRs, 3 Shermans, two jeeps and two armor cars arriving as reinforcements. The defending Germans have various Pioneer Platoons, “Weapons Teams,’ and other forces that set up or enter in a complicated way.
WCR6 (Raid on Litoranea). One of three scenarios using board 4, this action features an assault by 9.5 FSSF squads (and many “pool” SW) and 3 Shermans against 4 German squads and two crews manning HMGs and 3 Italian squads, along with the usual Mines, Wire, and Fortified Building Location.
WCR7 (A Primed Situation). This scenario features yet more “Lone Canuck” trademarked machine gun nests, which give the German OBs a depressing sameness in many of the scenarios. The FSSF force, too, is very similar to the FSSF forces in the previous scenarios, rendering it hard to muster much interest.
The scenarios in the pack don’t have very much variety, which, combined with the disappointing counter mix, makes it difficult to drum up much enthusiasm for this product. It may appeal more to ASLers who like actions set in Italy or actions featuring Canadians (both of which Lone Canuck Publishing probably designs more of than any other ASL publisher), or actions involving Special Forces.