Critical Hit (2015)
Country of Origin:
5 11" x 16" thick paper/thin cardstock unmounted geoboards (Q, R, S, T, U), 6 pages of rules, 8 scenarios, 368 die-cut counters, play aid
GWASL III: Over There! (hereinafter GWASL III) is the third in Critical Hit’s series of scenario/map packs trying to bring ASL rules to World War I. Before reading this write-up, the write-up for GWASL I, the first in the series should be read, as many of the comments made there apply to this product as well and will not be repeated. At the very least, the main take-away should be that ASL is ill-suited for representing World War I tactical combat and GWASL does a poor job of trying.
Previous packs have introduced the Germans, British and French; GWASL III introduces the Americans. The Americans of GWASL come in these flavors: Elite 5-5-8, 1st Line 4-5-8, 2nd Line 4-4-7, Green 4-3-6. Their broken morale levels are not higher, they have no smoke grenades, they cannot deploy. They have no Spraying Fire (except MG) or Assault Fire. Per the mandatory platoon movement rules of GWASL, the Americans are given the highest level of tactical flexibility, better even than the British, which is something that is certainly not reflected in the historical record (the performance of American troops, mostly inexperienced, in World War I was mixed at best).
The other rules generally repeat rules already introduced in GWASL I and GWASL II (though ownership of GWASL I is required for all the scenarios in GWASL III). There are also seven paragraphs of rules for pigeons. Yes, pigeons.
There are 2 pages of Chapter H-style rules in addition to the 4 pages of general rules. This reflects in part the fact the U.S. in World War I used almost all borrowed equipment rather than its own heavy weaponry. In addition to the rules there is a cardstock “Quick Reference Data Card” play aid much of which was based on Ole Bøe’s popular QRDC–though this was apparently done without permission and without credit (the card says “developed from public domain pdf”).
One and a half countersheets of 1/2″ and 5/8″ counters provide the American OOB, including six pigeon counters, as well as a handful of British and German counters. The full countersheet, containing the 1/2″ counters, was mistakenly not included in many copies of GWASL III. Instead, an American countersheet from a World War II product was accidentally included instead. Critical Hit mailed the correct countersheet to people who had ordered GWASL III directly from Critical Hit, but it is not clear whether or not this problem found its way into copies sold by physical or on-line retailers (including on E-bay). ASLers considering purchasing GWASL III should make sure that their copy has the correct countersheet.
GWASL III comes with 5 11″ x 16″ unmounted geoboards (printed on lighter stock–perhaps heavy paper–than the cardstock of “official” unmounted geoboards) in the style developed originally by Gary Fortenberry for MMP. These boards–Q, R, S, T, U–are mostly countryside/wilderness scenes, with one board featuring a couple of motley collections of houses. Critical Hit has developed a habit of, ahem, repurposing their own previously printed geoboards, often with mild terrain modifications, so it is possible that one or more of these boards may have appeared in similar form in some other product. However, they may also be completely original. Graphically, they look okay. They have the building pixelation problem that has appeared in all Critical Hit geoboards of recent years, but the fact that there are few buildings and they are generally one-hex buildings makes the problem less visible.
More noticeable, however, is the board cutting issue. Though ostensibly 11″ x 16″, the boards are actually a little wider and longer than that, which means that they do not mate flush with other boards, including boards in the same product. Players will either have to carefully overlay the edges of boards over those of others, or put up with mismatched board edges. Or they can physically cut the boards properly themselves, which is what Critical Hit should have done in the first place.
The 8 scenarios are generally large in size. All of them are set in 1918; none in 1917. AFVs appear in a few scenarios but most are infantry-only. OBA is used in 5 scenarios; Air Support in 1 scenario. The fucking pigeons appear in 2 scenarios.
This is what it is. What it isn’t is World War I tactical combat.
2020 Update: In 2019, Critical Hit released, for separate purchase, a set of “HotHex” maps for this product. It is not exactly clear what a “HotHex” map is (Critical Hit released them for several products), but it seems they may be larger-hex versions. Critical Hit claims that “each map found in the module is provided as a 22″ × 34″ set of 4 linking boards.”