11 July 2013

Rats in the Kitchen!

A player aid just released by Le Franc Tireur (LFT) has sparked controversy among the ASL faithful. The 28-page flip chart contains a handsome collection of ASL tables and flowcharts. The controversy stems from the inclusion of original Avalon Hill artwork, and portions of MMP flowcharts. 
The fellow who ignited the controversy contends that there are two issues. One centres on intellectual property, and copyright. The other is a question of ethics. I will let readers decide where they stand on Mark Pitcavage’s criticism’s.1 My purpose here is to describe what can be found between the laminated covers of the LFT Rat Pocket Charts.
May I present the LFT Rat Pocket Charts
Pet project
Bertrand Guillou-Keredan is a game nut. His home in Nantes, France is positively brimming with games of all kinds. Like many hard-core gamers, he enjoys reading rule books at bedtime.2 Years of study notwithstanding, he cannot possibly keep everything in his head, especially when it comes to ASL. Perhaps it came to Bertrand when he donned his aviator “thinking cap.” Perhaps not. But Bertrand was definitely on to something. The editor of LFT agreed. Fast forward to 2013, and the Pocket Charts are born. 
Où sont les hexagones?
One size fits all
The Rat Pocket Charts (RPC) are formatted to fit effortlessly between player and playing area. When closed, the RPC measure roughly 5” x 12” (13cm x 31cm). The pages are spiral bound. This keeps the table footprint small, while still allowing one to view two pages concurrently, as required. Players will find this latter feature useful when consulting the Off-Board Artillery (OBA) Flowchart shown below. 
Check out the Nationality Chits Table below the playing card
All of the charts are printed on coated cardstock. They are about the same thickness as the chapter dividers found in the ASL Rule Book (ASLRB2). As with their larger brethren in the orange tome, the pages inside the RPC are unlaminated. Each RPC weighs in at almost 5.5 ounces, or 155 grams. The RPC is definitely slim and light-weight. Pocket-sized it is not. 
Is that a desert rat?
Le menu
You will not find every ASL table in the RPC. That is not its purpose. But you will find almost every commonly-consulted table from chapters A through G. You will also find the odd new table—the range table for Light Anti-Tank Weapons (LATW), for instance. A selective summary of several key rules pertaining to the desert is another welcome addition. In most cases, the tables are laid out on one page. There are two general exceptions. The first is the chapter B terrain table, which is spread across two pages, and the To Hit Table, which straddles the left side of two pages. The second exception is the flow charts. The OBA Flowchart runs to four pages, while the Overrun Flowchart occupies two pages.  
Helen's ASL tweezers are NOT for sale!
Below is a rough guide to the contents:
  • (Incremental) Infantry Fire Tables
  • Ambush, Close Combat Table
  • Leader Creation, Heat of Battle
  • Concealment Loss/Gain Table
  • Sniper Attack, Concealment drm, Searching
  • National Capabilities Chart
  • OBA Firepower Chart, Control (A26.1)
  • Chapter B Terrain Chart
  • OBA Flowchart
  • To Hit and TK Tables, AFV Destruction Table
  • LATW Range Table, and most chapter C Tables
  • Overrun Flowchart
  • selection of the chapter D tables
  • Beach Terrain
  • select chapter E charts, including page devoted to night
  • Desert Terrain, and a few chapter F tables
  • PTO (Pacific Theater of Operations) Terrain
  • Tank Hunter Hero tables, and PTO Date-Dependent Rules
No fear at Alligator Creek
There is a lot crammed into 27 pages. (There are no tables on the back cover.) If you are like me, and are having difficulty reading the fine print on a menu, you will want to keep your reading glasses at the ready. Reading the notes of the redesigned National Capabilities Chart, or the reduced Concealment Table can be a challenge in low light.4 Another downside of the RPC format is that it can take time to find a particular table. Although the pages of the booklet are colour-coded, there are no tabs. The oft-consulted To Hit Table, for example, is seven “flips” below the IFT. Therefore, I plan to add some colour-coded tabs to my copy.
These shortcomings aside, the layout and design of the RPC shows some forethought. The flip chart is small enough to fit between the player and the playing area, without ever intruding upon the map layout of most scenarios. Unlike its bigger cousins—the chapter dividers of the ASLRB2—the RPC can be kept directly (and comfortably) in front of you during the course of a game. Moreover, most ASL tables are now at your fingertips, no longer spread across a dozen or more chapter dividers. 
The liberal use of cartoons is also a nice touch. More practical are the laminated covers. Granted the flip chart is not beer-proof. It is nevertheless modestly beer-resistant. I also draw some comfort from the fact that the charts and tables have been proofed by ASL players whose first language is English. Any errors, including absentee vowels, must invariably be the fault of these intrepid Americans. Seriously, three fine gentlemen5 have helped to insure that typos and grammatical missteps have not crept into these new player aids. For all these various reasons, I think that LFT’s Rat Pocket Charts will make a fine addition to your ASL kit.6   
1. Refer post 76.
2. I maybe exaggerating, but Bertrand has admitted to being a “rules addict” on BoardGameGeek. Whether or not he actually reads rules before he puts head to pillow, I cannot say.
3. The circumference of the spiral binding makes the flip chart a bit awkward to ship as letter mail, which generally has a maximum shipping thickness of ¾” (20mm). If you are concerned about damage during shipment, I would recommend that you have the RPC shipped as a parcel rather than a letter.
4. Another problem is that some tables have printed lighter than usual. For instance, the type on the Canister FP and the Anti-Tank Magnetic Mine Tables is lighter than that of the other tables on the same (chapter D) page.
5. Spencer Armstrong, Jim Bishop, and Jim Brackin were instrumental in proofing the RPC. Norwegian Ole Bøe is also credited. He gave LFT permission to use the Infantry charts that he created some years ago.
6. Available from LFT, Gamer's Armory, and in our KitShop. Email battleschool at rogers dot com to order.

01 July 2013

Sitrep Turns Two!

Happy Canada Day! It is the 146th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. Today also marks the second anniversary of Sitrep. Helen celebrated Canada Day by setting off fireworks last night. BattleSchool celebrated another year of Sitrep by holding a raffle this morning for a copy of Armies of Oblivion. The results are in. We have several winners to announce. But before we get ahead of ourselves, we have some catching up to do. 
I would like to begin with our 1 March raffle. With one exception, I will announce only the names of the winners at this time. Once I receive photographs and ASL biographies from each of our winners, I will begin posting them under the appropriate headings below. Once this process is complete, a winner may claim a prize by leaving a comment at the end of this thread.
March Madness
On the first of March we had a tie. The tiebreaker results were so close that we decided to award two prizes. I have already posted an ASL biography of our runner up, Davide Bendazzi. Davide lives in Lodi, Italy.
The winner of 1 March raffle is Fernando Javier Garcia Maniega, of Villalobon, Spain. I have been working on his ASL biography for some time. Once complete, I will add it to this post

April Fool
Martin Hubley is no fool. He joined Sitrep in May 2012. You should too. Martin currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He bested everyone in our April Fools' Day draw. Martin has been in touch with us already. A full report on this Hotspur F.C. fan is forthcoming. 
May Day
It is never too late to join Sitrep. Mark Watson became a Squad Leader in December 2012. Five months later, he won a Sitrep raffle. In late May, Mark travelled from Toronto to Montreal in order to attend the Canadian ASL Open. It was his first ASL tournament. 
June Bug
We had another tie on the first of June. Reg Plummer, an Ottawa, Ontario native, lost out to Timothy Burke of Oakland, California by a wide margin. Tim has been following Sitrep since November 2012. We are looking forward to posting a photograph (and biography) of Tim for our readers.
Fireworks over Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Canada Day
I would like to thank those who took the time to participate in our latest raffle. About 50 people entered the draw. One fellow won the contest outright with a roll of seven with five dice. The runner up rolled ten. But I will start with a consolation prize that we added in honour of Canada Day. 
Roman Reznichenko lives in St. Petersburg, Russia. He is still learning ASL. However, that has not prevented him from playing international opponents online. He also publishes a gaming blog with ASL content called Line of Sight

Roman will receive a copy of Elite Canadians. This scenario pack includes nine scenarios designed by the late Jim McLeod. Jim founded the Canadian ASL Association in Winnipeg, Winterpeg, or simply The Peg. I think that the friendly Manitoban would get a kick out of someone in Russia playing his scenarios. 

The runner-up of our Canada Day contest is Brian Sullivan. Brian lives in Beverly, Massachusetts, a short drive from Boston. I hope to see Brian at the Tussle in the Tundra tourney later this month. It will save me shipping his prize to him.

Onward to oblivion!
Drum roll please. The winner hails from Marietta, Georgia, the largest of Atlanta's suburbs. Richard Kindel is no stranger to ASL. We hope to publish a full feature detailing his involvement with the hobby. Richard has won a ziploc copy of Armies of Oblivion, and a set of our Axes to Grind BattleDice.
Congratulations to all of our winners! 
I will provide additional details about specific prizes when I post biographies and photographs of the winners. We encourage winners to contact us by email at: battleschool at rogers dot com. We will provide instructions on how to claim your prize.
Thank you for reading and following Sitrep.