New England Volunteers (2019)
Country of Origin:
5 scenarios on cardstock
The New England Volunteers Play Pack 1 (hereinafter NEV1) is a small scenario pack with five scenarios designed by Joe Gochinski for ASL Starter Kit players. A bevy of experienced ASLers from New England and beyond helped in the playtesting and development of the scenarios.
NEV1 is unusual in that it is not only a rare ASLSK scenario pack (as of this writing, only Schwerpunkt has published such packs), but it is actually a pack whose scenarios require only ASLSK 1 to play. No counters or boards that appear in any other ASLSK-related products are required. It’s really designed to provide additional play value for someone just starting to get into ASLSK. Designer Joe Gochinski suggests that there will be a series of such packs, each dedicated to a specific ASLSK product: ASLSK 2, ASLSK 3, ASLSK 4, the ASLSK Expansion Pack #1, Decision at Elst, and so forth. Time will tell if these other packs become reality; the history of ASL tends to confirm the adage “Man proposes, God disposes.”
The physical appearance of NEV1 is a bit crude, starting with the cover, which features a distorted and somewhat low-res version of the photo of the pistol-waving soldier that inspired the cover of the Squad Leader module Cross of Iron. The scenarios are printed in color, but use VASL graphics, which looked cool enough in print in the 2000s but seem a little dated now with their pixelated look. The layout is clean, though. The historical situations and aftermath leave something to be desired, both in terms of detail and clarity of writing.
The five scenarios themselves are either American-German actions or Soviet-German actions, because that is all the components of ASLSK1 allow. Four scenarios use part or all of a single board; one scenario uses parts of two boards. Most of the scenarios are medium in size, but given their ASLSK nature and the lack of vehicles, all should play quickly.
- NEV1 (Taking San Stefano). In this Sicily action, the Americans are tasked with controlling a veritable city’s worth of building hexes. To do so, they get two forces. The first force enters on Turn 1 on one half of the board and consists of 6 x 6-6-6 squads, 3 x 5-4-6 squads, and 3 leaders (9-2, 8-1, and 8-0). The second force enters on Turn 2 on the other half of the board with 4 x 6-6-6 squads, 3 x 5-4-6 squads, 2 x 2-3-6 squads, and 3 leaders (9-1, 8-1, 7-0). The defending Germans start with 5 x 4-6-7 squads, 4 x 4-4-7 squads and three leaders (9-1, 8-0, 7-0) and are reinforced by a 2 x 4-6-7 squads, 1 x 4-4-7 squad and an 8-1 leader on Turn 1 and a 4-6-7 squad, 2 x 4-4-7 squads, and a 7-0 leader on Turn 2. The entry area for both reinforcing platoons is determined randomly. Note that there are no SW in this scenario. Like S1 (Retaking Vierville) from ASLSK1, it is designed to get people familiar with the basic mechanics of squads and leaders.
- NEV2 (Bridgehead over the Venta). This East Front actioner gives the Germans a chance to attack. They start with a very crappy force on-board (10 squad-equivalents) and a much higher-quality force (8 squad-equivalents) entering from off-board. The defending Soviets get a mixed bag of squads and half squads (10.5 squad-equivalents in all). Both sides also have small forces set up in “No Man’s Land,” a defined area of the map. The Soviets have to hand on to two building hexes to win.
- NEV3 (Battle in the Ardennes). Back to the West Front for a Bulge fracas–ironically an all-infantry fight between two armored units. The attacking Americans get 17.5 squad-equivalents of troops ranging from elite to 2nd line, very well led, with a couple of MG thrown in. The defending Germans start with 9.5 squad-equivalents, 3 leaders, and 2 MG of their own, but also get three German “Reaction Forces” which may set up or enter as reinforcements. In this scenario, the Americans get to choose one of three possible victory conditions, after which the German player makes his Reaction Force decisions.
- NEV4 (Hedgehog). Once more switching fronts, here we have a Soviet attack in 1943. Elements of the 1st Tank Army (sans tanks, of course) are attacking a German panzergrenadier division (sans panzers). The Soviets get 15 squads of various types and 2 x 7-0 leaders, plus 12 “purchase points” that they can use to purchase more and better leaders, acquire SW, or upgrade some of their squads. The defending Germans get 10 squad-equivalents, 2 x 7-0 leaders, as well as 8 purchase points to get goodies from their own military convenience store.
- NEV5 (The Factory ‘Aprilia’). Whoops, back to the west again. The last scenario in the pack, set in Italy, features an American attack. The Germans get 15.5 squad-equivalents of troops (mostly 2nd line or conscript), 5 leaders, and 3 MG. The Americans start with a force of 9 squad-equivalents, 3 leaders (including a 9-2), and 2 MG. They have a reinforcement group of 7 squads, 3 leaders (including a 10-2), and 2 flamethrowers, which can enter on Turn 2, 3 or 4. Depending on which turn is selected, they enter in a different area.
Generally speaking, through random elements, purchase options, reinforcement decisions or other methods, designer Joe Gochinski attempts to provide additional flavor to make up for the intrinsic genericness of scenarios using such a limited number of counters, boards, and rules. In this, he largely succeeds; the scenarios seem fairly imaginative in nature. They certainly do provide additional gameplay for ASLSK players–though how many ASLSK players will ever hear of this pack is another thing.