Alternative Titles/Edition History:
1st Edition, 2008; 2nd Edition (Into the Rubble II), 2017
Bounding Fire Productions (1st edition, 2008; 2nd edition, 2017)
Country of Origin:
1st edition contents: 2 8" x 22" unmounted geoboards (BFP-A, BFP-B), 1 8" x 12" Rubbled City overlay (RC-1), 1 Factory overlay, 1 sheet of Debris overlays, 8 scenarios on glossy cardstock, 2 pages of terrain rules
2nd edition (Into the Rubble II) contents: 4 8" x 22" unmounted geoboards (BFP-A, BFP-B, BFP DW-7a, BFP DW-7b), 1 8" x 12" Rubbled City overlay (RC-1), 1 Factory overlay (F1), 1 sheet of Debris overlays, 1 sheet of rubbled building overlays (R1-R7), 20 scenarios on glossy cardstock, 3 pages rules, 228 die-cut counters.Commentary:
Into the Rubble, the inaugural publication of the “new” Bounding Fire Productions, is a collection of a variety of city-fighting scenario and map resources. It features a number of components, all of which have a much higher production value than the “old” publication of BFP, the Hell on Wheels Battle Pack.
The title of this publication is a little misleading, insofar as Into the Rubble’s main attraction is not rubble, but rather its two geomorphic mapboards, neither one of which contains rubble (an overlay does, however). Both mapboards depict urban train stations. Some sort of train station map or overlay was sorely needed in ASL, as many World War II tactical actions involved fighting to control such objectives. However, two urban train station maps in the same pack seems slightly odd; perhaps it would have been better had one map been a smaller train station, fit for a town rather than a major city, or some other subject entirely. The maps can be fit together lengthwise to depict a really large, long station as well.
The quality of the (computer-generated) map artwork is pretty high, as is the quality of the boards themselves. The terrain on the boards is reminiscent of the terrain and style of Board 45. Large stone buildings, factories, etc., dot the map.
Into the Rubble debuted at about the same time as Le Franc Tireur #11, which also featured an ASLSK-style geomorphic mapboard. The growing acceptance of such boards in the ASL community, combined with their cost (far more reasonable than that for a mounted mapboard), suggests that these two products may be the harbinger of a renaissance in third party publisher geomorphic map design. One can only hope.
The only rubble in Into the Rubble appears in its large “rubbled city” overlay, RC1, which features typical urban center stone building terrain, some of which has been smashed into oblivion. The overlay, about the size of a half map, includes 22 rubbled hexes, 18 debris hexes, and 9 shellhole hexes. The second overlay, F1, features a large (4 hexes x 6 hexes) factory and is otherwise unremarkable. Into the Rubble also includes a sheet of Debris overlays, all of which are single hex overlays, which actually makes them more suitable for a countersheet (given their inherent nature) than for an overlay sheet. Of course, countersheets are expensive. Multi-hex rubble and debris overlays would have been welcome, but are missing here. Also missing are overlays through which holes could be cut which could transform specific mapboards, like board 22 or board 23, into rubbled terrain. Still, this may be a somewhat petty complaint; the overlays are attractive and useful enough and are useful additions to the ASL system.
The two pages of rules, formatted as Chapter B rules, introduce storage tanks and towers, and explain how the railroads on the geomorphic maps interact with each other and with other terrain, such as walls. They also explain the overlays. There is nothing complicated or problematic about them.
The 8 scenarios in Into the Rubble feature a blend of times and locations, though they share two features: all are very large and all are city fights. Actions include Shanghai 1937, Spain 1938, Stalingrad 1942, Kursk 1943, Aachen 1944, Budapest 1945 (2 scenarios, one of which features Hungarians vs. Romanians), and West Prussia 1945. The smallest scenario is ITR-1 (Debacle at Sung Kiang), a loosely-based Chinese-Japanese scenario set at the end of the Battle of Shanghai. It features 18 Japanese squads and 3 armored cars attacking 16 Chinese squads, 2 guns, and 2 armored cars.
More typical is ITR-3 (Tough as Nails), a Stalingrad scenario featuring 32 German squads and 8 AFVs (plus OBA and air support) attacking 28 Soviet squads and 3 guns, or ITR-5 (Fire Teams), depicting 22 American squads and 5 AFVs (plus OBA) attacking 18 German squads, 2 AFVs, and 2 guns. There are no tournament sized scenarios here, which will disappoint many ASLers. On the other hand, those ASLers who descry the paucity of “meaty” all-day scenarios that they can really sink their teeth into will no doubt be highly pleased at the offerings here. It is a matter of individual preferences.
Of the 8 scenarios, 6 use one or more of the new boards provided in Into the Rubble. The other 2 use Into the Rubble overlays. This may be a conscious decision designed to hinder photocopying of scenarios, as BFP would employ similar strategies in later products as well.
One of the scenarios, ITR-3 (Tough as Nails), uses captured Soviet tank counters that were published in Heat of Battle’s Recon by Fire #4. The layout and artwork styles of the ITR scenario cards themselves are very similar to Heat of Battle’s.
Since their release, most of the scenarios have proved to be reasonably to well-balanced, with the notable exception of the Spanish Civil War scenario, ITR-2 (Factory in Flix).
Although the scenario size mix could perhaps have been more balanced, overall Into the Rubble is a quite a good “first product” for a revivified company; hopefully, it won’t be the last.
2nd Edition (Into the Rubble II comments): In its nearly 10-year history, Bounding Fire Productions has become known for large ASL products featuring equally large scenarios. This tendency towards gigantism must have caused BFPers to look upon their first product, Into the Rubble, with a little shame, so puny in size it was compared to later products. “Where are our steroids? We must pump this up!” they must have exclaimed, for in early 2017 BFP released a 2nd Edition of Into the Rubble, dubbed Into the Rubble II (hereinafter ITR2) with more than twice the components of the original. If ever the motto “Bigger is Better” applied to an ASL publisher, it would be Bounding Fire Productions.
Of course, this fixation towards largeness is not necessarily the best thing for ASL consumers–in this case, purchasers of the original Into the Rubble, many of whom no doubt would have preferred that Into the Rubble II be a sequel to Into the Rubble rather than a replacement for it. Owners of Into the Rubble now find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to re-buy everything they had previously bought in order to get the new components–and Bounding Fire Productions provides no option to purchase an upgrade kit. Moreover, since ITR2 is expensive for a scenario/map pack (at $85), we are not talking about peanuts here. All in all, it might have been better had Into the Rubble II consisted only of the new components.
To make it easier for readers, this write-up will examine the entire IT2, new components and old, though it will at times refer readers upwards to the original Into the Rubble comments for more information.
IT2 is a scenario/map pack with mixed scenarios–i.e., the 20 scenarios included herein represent a range of actions from across the breadth, width, and length of the World War II era. Actions include: China 1937  & 1938 , Spain 1938, Poland 1939, Soviet Union 1942  & 1943 , France 1944, Germany 1944 , Italy 1944 , Hungary 1945 , Germany 1945, and the Philippines 1945. Nationality appearances include the Nationalist Chinese , Japanese , Spanish Nationalists, Spanish Republicans, Soviets , Germans , Americans , Hungarians, Romanians, Polish, and British.
Official boards required include 1, 20, 21, 45, 49, 51, and 1a. This is a very small number, due in large part to the number of scenarios that use boards provided in ITR2 as well as BFP boards DW-4a and DW-4b from Crucible of Steel (2 scenarios) and BFP G from Blood and Jungle (one scenario); be warned that the scenario cards do not tell players what products these boards are found. The Polish-German scenario, ITR12 (Sosabowski Slapdown) also requires the revisionist Polish counters from Poland in Flames. This means a substantial outlay in money for the third party products required to play all these scenarios, but keep in mind that the great majority of the scenarios in this product can be played with only a complete official ASL kit and ITR2. Also, owners of those other products might like it that they are supported by some of the scenarios here.
What is perhaps more irritating is that every single scenario requires some BFP board, overlay, and/or counters, meaning that players cannot simply bring some of the ITR2 scenarios with them to a tournament or other ASL event to play but must remember to bring along all their BFP stuff as well. This is not very convenient. Fully 18 of the 20 scenarios require one or more BFP boards and 15 require one or more BFP overlays. BFP counters are required in around 7 of the 20 scenarios, not counting debris counters (which are counted under overlays; see below), “Assault Engineer” counters in scenarios in which that squad type is not also used for regular troops, airplane counters represented in official rules, or the extra 3rd Level Building markers.
The three pages of rules lay out the specifics of boards BFP-A and BFP-B, explain the dedicated assault engineer counters (which should be familiar to ASLers now through recent official ASL products), and provide vehicle notes for a couple Soviet and German vehicles. Errata found after the publication of ITR has been incorporated, though ITR2 already has its own errata.
ITR2 comes with 2 half-sheets of counters, one for 1/2″ counters (140 total) and one for 5/8″ counters (88 total).
The half-sheet of 1/2″ counters includes 36 Axis Minor, Japanese and American squads and half-squads as Assault Engineers, as well as 4 regular Japanese squads, 10 Japanese MG, and 10 Chinese squads (perhaps because some scenarios require more than the official countermix?). In addition, there are 5 (Poland in Flames) Polish HMG counters marked as “PiF Errata,” which presumably are for use with that product.
The rest of the counters on this sheet are game markers. These include a variety of what seem to be “Location” and “Hex” control markers, as well as some markers that seem to intended to designate entry areas for reinforcements. There are also some markers that read “Factory Building,” the purpose of which is not entirely clear–perhaps to help players remember that certain buildings are designated as factories by SSR?
The most interesting markers are 23 CE/BU markers that also serve as armor leader markers, the use of which can save players a bit of stack space by replacing two markers with one. This is a nice little idea that many players might find useful. The only knock on it is that the markers are “universal,” i.e., printed on white for use with all nationalities, instead of being nationality-specific, which a lot of ASLers might prefer. Perhaps in the next release, who knows?
The half-sheet of 5/8″ counters include 18 Soviet and German AFVs, most of which are flamethrowing tanks, as well as 2 Chinese AFVs and 2 aircraft counters (one German, one Chinese). there are also 12 burning wreck markers, 24 Level 3 Building markers and 30 Debris counters. Note that the Debris counters are much easier to use than the Debris overlays included in ITR (and again in ITR2), so it is nice that they are included, especially as a number of the ITR2 scenarios require the placement of a shit-ton of Debris counters/overlays.
Two of the four boards included, BFP-A and BFP-B are described in the ITR write-up, above. They appear again in ITR for the most part unchanged. ITR2 marketing copy says that BFP-B contains “an errata update,” the nature of which is unspecified anywhere. However, it seems that the only change was to have a road in hex T2 connect to a building hex in U2, so there are no major changes. It would have been nice if the new version had been marked as such somewhere, so that players could easily distinguish between old board and new board. The artwork is, of course, nice, although the buildings and woods (in these and all BFP boards) are a tad dark.
ITR2 also provides 2 new boards (BFP DW-7a and DW-7b) that are geomorphic on three sides only, allowing them to combine on their fourth side to form a mega-board. The mega-board is essentially a city center board, complete with a wide-open city square surrounded by 3-level buildings. The mega-board consists mostly of multi-hex, multi-level stone buildings, as one might see in a European city, but the buildings are not very densely packed. There are now a lot of official urban boards, so these don’t add all that much in the way of innovative terrain depictions, but they are perfectly fine boards. Players may want to photocopy the city center area and create a play aid that either expands the area or reproduces it multiple times (once per level), because the counterstacks for four-story multi-hex buildings can get absolutely ginormous.
ITR2 comes with more overlays than you can shake a half-squad at, seven more than the original, and they are used in 90% of the scenarios, so ASLers had better get in touch with their inner overlay. For commentary on the old overlays, see above. The new sheet of overlays contains 7 different building/rubble overlays, ranging in size from three hexes to 18 hexes in size.
ITR2 comes with 20 scenarios, more than twice as many as in the original edition, though they are very similar in nature to the original 8 scenarios. Specifically, the scenarios tend to be huge, SSR dense, overlay heavy, and lacking flavor SSRs (flavor SSRs, like the pop-up partisans in the classic scenario Urban Guerrillas, are SSRs that attempt to provide color and a bit of the unique feel of the historical action that inspired the scenario). What one tends to see here are massive and relatively unsubtle head-on clashes.
One of them, ITR-9 (Asia’s Stalingrad) is seems to be a generic scenario, ostensibly set during the fighting for Shanghai in 1937, rather than based on any actual specific action (as can be seen by the vague historical description and unit names). The other scenarios seem to be based on real actions. The most “unusual” of the scenarios is ITR-20 (Fill ‘Er Up, Mac?), which takes place in Manila in February 1945 and features the Americans making a crossing of the Pasig river using Assault Boats and a variety of LVTs. Two scenarios of the 20 might possibly be suitable for tournament play: ITR-13 (To the Last Bullet) and ITR-18 (Capital of the Ruins). Most, however, would take too long for a tournament situation.
Some of the scenario specifics can be seen in the table after this write-up.
ITR2, then, is much like the original ITR, only even more so, if that were possible. Fans of the original will likely like this second iteration, though they may not like having to buy the original stuff all over again.
|Scenario||ATT Squad-Equivs||DEF Squad-Equivs||ATT Guns/AFVs||DEF Guns/AFVs||Notes|
|ITR-1 Debacle at Sung Kiang||19||17||0/3||1/2|
|ITR-2 Factory in Flix||24||16||0/0||0/0|
|ITR-3 Tough as Nails||33||31||0/8||3/0||Air Support, Fortifications, OBA|
|ITR-4 Clash at Ponyri||23||24.5||0/11||4/7||OBA, Fortifications|
|ITR-5 Fire Teams||25||19.5||0/5||2/2||OBA|
|ITR-6 The Ceramic Factory||35.5||21||1/8||2/3||Fortifications|
|ITR-7 Rebounded Spirit||24.5||13.5||1/0||1/2|
|ITR-8 Beyond the Slaughterhouse||20.5||appr. 17||0/5||3-4/0|
|ITR-9 Asia's Stalingrad||34||30||0/0||0/0||OBA|
|ITR-10 Samurai Stalingrad||68||51||0/2||0/3|
|ITR-11 Cremation Station||24||18.5||0/3||0/3||Air Support, OBA|
|ITR-12 Sosabowski Slapdown||26||26.5||0/0||1/0|
|ITR-13 To The Last Bullet||16||11||0/4||0/0||Fortifications|
|ITR-14 Between Rockets and a Hard Place||21||16||0/4||2/2||OBA, Air Support, Fortifications|
|ITR-15 Tractor Factory 137||22||21.5||0/6||3/4|
|ITR-16 The Fighting Tank Busters||19||10.5||0/6||1/3||Air Support, Fortifications, OBA|
|ITR-17 The Devil's Factory||20||13||0/7||2/2||Fortifications, OBA|
|ITR-18 Capital of the Ruins||14||8.5||0/3||1/0|
|ITR-19 The Narrow Front||25||17||0/6||1/3||OBA|
|ITR-20 Fill 'Er Up, Mac?||23||23||2/6||2/0||Fortifications, OBA, River Crossing|