Country of Origin:
60-page magazine on thick semi-glossy stock, 12 scenarios on cardstock inserts, 2 replacement scenarios (for Yanks)
In January 2017, MMP released its 12th issue of the ASL Journal, the “house” publication for its ASL line of products. A quite modest release, Journal 12 is only 40 page long, compared to the 60 pages of the previous issue, and it comes with only 12 scenarios, compared to the 28 of the previous issue. It comes with no counters, boards, play aids or other “goodies,” either. It does include a scenario card that is actually a replacement scenario card for a scenario card in another product, the new edition of Yanks.
Physically, Journal 12 is much the same as its predecessor, printed on semi-gloss paper with a thicker stock for the cover. This will apparently be its format for the foreseeable future and it is certainly better than the experiment-gone-wrong of Journal 10.
The magazine, at only 40 pages long, does not provide all that much space for article content. Unfortunately, about 25% of the pages are devoted to “marketing” articles for products that are not yet in print. This includes a 2-page article by Chas Argent describing an upcoming HASL, “Flames in Hatten.” One hopes that the photos of the map show a playtest version of the map, because the use of yellow and brown hues give the map less of a winterized look and more of a desert look. A good winterized map should give a vibe of fresh, crisp snow and even blue-ish hues.
Seven more pages are devoted to a historical article by Andrew Hershey on Korean Marines, a small military force that at its height numbered only around 4,000 men. If such a lengthy article for such a minor unit seems a bit like overkill, it seems that the same overkill will exist in the ASL Korean War module, because this article reveals that this tiny force will not only get its own squad type, it will get two different squad types. This itself suggests that the Korean module design will be dominated by the bean-counter school of ASL typified by the portrayal of the USMC rather than the design-for-effect school of ASL exemplified by John Hill that still governs most ASL squad types.
The best article in issue 12 is the article by Peter Struijf on defending against AFV bypass “sleaze” tactics. Novice and journeymen ASLers alike will find it useful. Article content also includes a couple of scenario analyses by John Slotwinski/Phil Palmer and by Matt Shostak, some “ASL rules I didn’t have right” by Paul Sidhu, and a little article by Ken Dunn and J. R. Tracy on getting the best most bang for the buck when making firing choices for a stack of MMC & SW.
The 12 scenarios included are, as is traditional for the ASL Journal, of a “mixed bag” type, featuring actions from all sorts of places and campaigns in the Second World War. These include Syria 1941, Poland 1941 (Barbarossa), France 1940, Belgium 1940, Germany 1945, Finland 1944, Soviet Union 1941 & 1943, Libya 1941, New Britain 1944, Slovakia 1944, and Italy 1944. The scenario designers are also a mixed bag, including American, Swiss, Dutch, German, French and Swedish ASLers. A veritable United Nations!
The scenarios collectively run towards the smallish. Seven of the scenarios are small in size, while two are medium-sized and three are large in size. All but the large scenarios are likely tournament suitable. None of the scenarios have OBA or Air Support; none use OBA. To play all the scenarios, the following boards/maps are required: 7, 17, 26, 27, 28, 29, 37, 43, 50, 65, 67, 68, 71, 72, 9b, q, s, u, and Kakazu Ridge.
Two of the scenarios are desert-oriented (both designed by Chas Argent, a big DTO fan). The first, J186 (Castles on the Horizon), takes place in Libya and presents a major German armored attack against a British shooting gallery. The second scenario, J184 (Dayan to Meet You), set in Syria, does not use desert boards but does use several desert terrain rules. This scenario is noteworthy because it utilizes the map from Kakazu Ridge to depict terrain half-way around the world, allowing ASLers not fond of caves to finally dig that map out and play on it.
East Front fans looking for something to sink their teeth into will probably find J187 (In Deadly Combat) an attractive choice; this scenario features 24 Soviet squads and 6 AFVs (including 2 KV-1s) attacking a defending German force of 17 squads, 3 guns, and 5 AFVs. One of the other large scenarios is also an East Front action, J188 (Grab and Go), which depicts another Russian horde pitted against Germans conducting a fighting withdrawal.
PTO fans will find a smallish PTO scenario with USMC that will provide some fast-playing action: J189 (Buckley’s Block). But there seems to be a little something for everyone. Early war aficionados can play two 1940 scenarios, both designed by Lionel Colin, one set in France and the other in Belgium. Colin should be commended for designing a Belgian scenario that features a unit other than the Chasseurs Ardennais, which seems to be the only Belgian unit that most ASlers have ever heard of. One of these, J183 (A Real Barn Burner), is one of the early favorites of Journal 12 in terms of both playings and balance. Your humble author also played and enjoyed it.
Finnish fans, meanwhile, can play J192 (Taking Some Flak), part of ASLdom’s continuing effort to wring every last little action from the nominal “Continuation War.” Fans of the exotic, like yours truly, can play Pete Shelling’s J191 (Rebels without a Pause), depicting an action from the 1944 Slovak Uprising, a fun medium-sized scenario.
Overall, the scenarios are a good mix and make Journal 12 worth getting despite the paucity of the magazine content and the lack of extras.