Added July 2004
Although SolitaireASL is based on the ASL game system, a thorough reading of the rules will show that there are a few differences, usually in the interest of play balance. Of these the most important is the Command Rule (S16), which means that the player cannot be sure that Friendly units under his command will respond as he wants. I offer the following few tips for playing the Campaign Game, based on my own experiences. These should apply equally to all nationalities, especially as SASL special rules (S17) make some of the weaker nationalities more equal.
- Leadership is vital. Remember, if a leader passes his own Command Check then all infantry units and any CE or non-BU OT AFV within 2 hexes does not have to take the Command Check. This makes positioning of leaders fairly vital. Also, with just 9-12 squads under your command, you will need to Rally any broken units optimally.
- On the offensive, beware of over-activating Suspect counters. Although unactivated Suspect counters usually count against you at the end of the scenario, it is better if possible to activate a few at a time: enough for your squads and any attached units to deal with before going on to the next batch. This is also a good reason for using terrain sensibly, in this case as cover to prevent activation by several Suspect counters having a LOS to a Friendly unit.
- Winning the Mission is less important than winning the Campaign. If you are doing badly or start out understrength, it may be better to withdraw or at least hold a defensive line and live to fight another day, hopefully with more reinforcements. Plunging on into battle when you are already in a parlous position can well end in the total loss of your company, especially if the Enemy has high RE numbers.
- As in ASL, use Concealment wherever possible. Remember that you can often grow Concealment back, even if you lost it in a previous move.
- AFVs need to be used carefully, depending on which nationality you are playing. Even King Tigers and Stalin tanks can be knocked out by a Suspect counter which turns out to be either a very powerful late-war AT Gun or an Elite squad with a LATW facing a vulnerable part of the vehicle, and remember that in this case the Enemy gets a large amount of CVP for such a vehicle if it is knocked out. Unlike in ASL, there is often no CVP bonus to the Friendly player for eliminating large numbers of broken infantry for failure to rout, so there is usually less incentive to send your AFVs cavalry-style behind enemy positions. Lightly-armoured vehicles such as some SP guns should be kept back and used at 12 hex range or so. On the other hand, thin-skinned AFV that have short-range weapons may not last long on the cardboard battlefield anyway, so it may be worth keeping them in Motion and using them to activate Suspect counters and then paralyse them by driving into their hex (with Overrun if possible), which prevents the just-activated unit from firing at anything outside the hex and hopefully allowing your squads to close with it.
Using the SASL system to master ASL rules
Although there are limits to this - the Command rule, for example, is not used in ASL, and some nationalities are stronger in SASL than in ASL - the SASL system can be used to master certain sections of the game rules, as follows:
- Mission 4, "Bunker Busting", deals with different types of fortifications and often allows practise in the use of Assault Engineers and their specialist weapons.
- Mission 6, "The Fortress", and Mission 7, "Block Party", both deal with urban fighting and again involve Assault Engineers, FTs and DCs.
- Mission 11, "Tank Attack", is also ideal for playing against a nationality to get a feel of its AFVs and the Friendly anti-tank capabilities that could be employed against them. How you are likely to fare will depend very much on nationality, period and opponent.
- Mission 14, "Human Wave", is of course ideal for learning these rules, although section A25 is modified in this respect by the SASL Human Wave rules.
- Mission 16, "Airlanding" is good for learning the rules sections E8-E9 (Gliders and Paradrops).
- Missions 17 and 18, "River Assault" and "Bridgehead" can be used to learn the sections B21 (Water Obstacles) and E5 (Boats).
- Missions 20 and 21, "Amphibious Assault" and "Beach Defense" are ideal learning mechanisms for the hefty wedge of rules in G12-G14 (Landing Craft, Beaches and Seaborne Assaults). In particular the AI aspect of the game makes it impossible for you to tell whether you are going to run onto an A-B mine and/or tetrahedon, or conversely, for an Enemy landing craft to know whether it is going to run on to one of yours.
- Finally, I offer the following suggestion as a learning tool for the Caves rules (G11.). Take Mission 12, "Besieged", but amend as follows. The centre mapboard of the setup is rolled from the "Hill" instead of the "Village" column (A9). The Friendly units are all 1945 Japanese, the Enemy units all 7-6-8 USMC. PTO terrain is in effect, including Heavy Jungle. The Japanese must spend at least 40 of his Fortification BPV on Caves (these will cost 10 each), at least one of which must be a Primary Cave (ie to include a Cave Complex). It seems to be that this is a more satisfactory way of learning this tricky set of rules than playing "Sea of Tranquility" solitaire, since Cave and especially Cave Complex rules depend so much on HIP and hidden movement.
Some easy SASL campaigns
The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 12/39-3/40 will also make an interesting short campaign when we eventually see "Haakke paalle" released.
- Germany-Poland 1939. Straightforward early-war scenarios, standard European terrain, no awkward weather. This can be played as either the German or Pole. Remember that Poles use Assault Fire and Spraying Fire but don't get LMG. The campaign lasts 3 weeks and hence gives you 3 scenarios per side.
- Norway 1940. Very much an infantry game, as AFVs were rare in this theatre, hence "Tank Attack" should not be played. This gives you a choice of nationalities and companies, particularly from the German point of view: standard infantry, mountain troops (4-6-8s) or paratroopers (5-4-8s). The French can field 4-5-8 Foreign Legionnaires. The British used at least some Territorial units. Should the majority of a Norwegian company become Elite, upgrade any MMG to an HMG. If a DR is called for on one of the A8 columns, use "Hills" wherever possible.
Make two DR for Weather: any "Snow" result is automatically chosen over any other type of Weather. All scenarios in June are assumed to take place in the Narvik area, and Deep Snow is automatically in effect in addition to whatever Weather is brought into play by DR. The Campaign may be played either as monthly turns (April, May, June) or as weekly turns (three in April, four in May, two in June). If the Norwegian player wins the Campaign his company is assumed to be Evacuated to Britain and becomes a Free Norwegian company (use British 4-5-8 counters and rules if you want to continue playing as the Free Norwegian).
- Netherlands, May 1940. Two scenarios. If you wish to be the Dutch player, use 12 4-5-7s, 3 Leaders, 2 LMG, an MMG , HMG and a 20L ATR. The German player may use either a standard 4-6-7 company or a 5-4-8 Fallschirmjaeger company. To get the feel of the campaign, the German should optimally play "Airlanding" for the first scenario if using 5-4-8s, or "Bunker Busting" if using 4-6-7s.
- Italy-Greece, 1940-41. Again this is an infantry-orientated game, but there is no reason why the Italians should not face a Greek "Tank Attack" to reflect the difficulties that they had in adequate supplies and armaments. Play as either Greek or Italian and use one of the companies listed in S17. The Campaign is played monthly from 10/40 through 4/41, with German allies possible to the Italian in 4/41 and British to the Greeks in the same month. The rules on terrain and weather from the Norwegian section apply to this game from 11/40-3/41 inclusive.
- Crete, May 1941 - two turns (fudging the "weekly" timeframe a little). Play as either German 5-4-8 or 4-6-8 company, Greek 4-5-7 or Commonwealth 4-5-7 or 4-5-8. "Tank Attack" cannot be used as a Mission for either side.
- Syria, 1941. Playable as either Free French or Vichy French, 7-8/41, in either monthly or weekly turns. Arid terrain rules (F13) are in effect.
- Malaya 1941-42. Play as either Japanese or British/Australian/Indian company. Best played in three monthly turns to simulate the rapid infantry blitzkrieg carried out by the Japanese. A good introduction to the PTO.
- Philippines 1942. Playable monthly by either Japanese company or USMC or early US Army company. This latter would be quite challenging. First scenario should probably be "Amphibious Assault" (if Japanese) or "Beach Defense" (if US/Filipino). If the US player wins the Campaign his company is assumed evacuated.
- Dutch East Indies 1942. Similar to the above, but playable either as Japanese or Dutch (use the same company structure from Netherlands 1940).
- Tunisia, 1942-43. Playable as Free French, Vichy French, British, US, German or Italian! Monthly turns, beginning 11/42 and ending 5/43. If playing as Vichy French, first scenario is against the US. All subsequent scenarios are against Axis enemies (Random dr for German or Italian). Whichever side is played, the Axis are on the offensive 11/42-2/43 and on the defensive thereafter. Arid terrain rules are in effect. Axis units suffer from Scarce Ammunition from 4/43 onwards. Any Axis company which wins the Campaign is assumed to be evacuated. Any Vichy French unit which wins the Campaign becomes Free French thereafter and uses 4-5-8 counters and the Free French rules.
- Sicily 7-8/43. Playable as either US, British, German or Italian. May be best played as a four-turn game, counting each turn as a week. Arid terrain rules are in effect.
- Normandy 6-7/44. Playable as either German, British or US. Weekly turns, hence three scenarios in June and four in July. This can be a good introductory Campaign for late-war SASL as it involves fairly straightforward terrain (although Bocage rules should probably be in effect). Probably only the British should be allowed to play Missions 6 or 7 to reflect the fighting in Caen.
- Germany 1945. Playable as either German, Russian, British or US. Monthly turns from 1-5/45. The German will be at something of a disadvantage with a low ELR of 2, unless he wishes to use a Fallschirmjäger or SS company. Any of these choices, incidentally, would reflect the desperate nature of the end of the war. If using a British or US company, one of the "river scenarios" (17 or 18) should be played in February or March, with possibly "Recon" in April. The Soviet player could opt for Missions 6 or 7 in April and May to reflect the bitter Battle for Berlin.
- Manchuria, 8/45. The Soviet offensive against the Japanese lasted from 9-20 August, but in fact Hirohito had declared a ceasefire on 15 August and the five days after was essential Soviet seizure and consolidation. So devastating was the Soviet attack that realistically only one scenario should be played: again, "Tank Attack" is eminently suitable and allows the player to feel some of the desperation late war Japanese must have felt against Allied and Soviet armour. Since the Soviets used both air and seaborne landings, "Airlanding" or "Amphibious Assault" are quite appropriate for a Russian player, or "Recon".
Some long Campaigns
- China, 1938-1945. Simply the longest campaign of the war - even with monthly turns, this will take a staggering 84 scenarios. Since there is little progression in weaponry on either side, this would be one for people who like to take a long, long view of things. Both Chinese and Japanese would potentially face Red Chinese Partisan Enemy as well as each other.
- Barbarossa, 1941-45. The Russian front from 6/41 to 5/45. Has the advantage of changing fortunes, evolving Guns and AFVs and inclement weather during the winter. 48 scenarios.
- The Pacific Island War, 1942-45. From Guadalcanal to Okinawa, although not every month saw fighting. At a conservative estimate probably 12-20 scenarios.
- Italy, 1943-45. US, German, British or Fascist- or Allied Italian company. 9/43-5/45, giving 21 scenarios. German and Fascist Italians would be eligible to face Partisan Enemy.
- Burma 1942-45. British on long retreat to India in 1942, after which about a few scenarios in 1943-44 (perhaps one per quarter) before the Japanese attack on Imphal-Kohima in 6/44 and the subsequent Allied counterattack that drove them out of Burma. Allows use of British, Japanese, US and GMD Chinese (including X/Y Force).
Some hypothetical campaigns
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- Western Front, 1939, German vs French. This assumes that the French pushed much harder into the Rhineland than they historically did. Playable as either monthly scenarios from 9/39 onwards or weekly. The latter assumes that the war takes a much more "blitzkrieg" turn, the former that neither side were equipped to fight too frantically, which might be more realistic. British are not eligible to be French allies until 1940. Since this is a historical unknown, make a dr at the end of each scenario after the first four scenarios: a dr of 1 ends the Campaign immediately.
- Operation Sealion, 9/40, German vs British/Commonwealth. This assumes that Hitler launches the invasion of Britain. Weekly turns. Make a dr after the conclusion of each scenario on or after 11/40: a dr of 1 ends the Campaign.
- Strike North, 9/41, Japanese vs Russians. This assumes that the Imperial Japanese Army wins the debate over Japan's grand strategical options and takes advantage of the Soviet Union's preoccupation with Barbarossa to strike at Siberia. Monthly turns. Make a dr after the conclusion of each scenario on or after 11/41: a dr of <=2 ends the Campaign. A draw is a Japanese victory, since it is assumed that by drawing off Soviet forces they help the Germans to come closer to ultimate victory.
- Malta 6/42, Germans/Italians vs British/Commonwealth. This assumes that Hitler launches Operation Herkules, the invasion of the island of Malta, in an attempt to nullify the island's threat to the Axis supply lines in North Africa. 2 weekly turns: a draw is an Allied victory, since it is assumed that Allied naval superiority will ultimately tip the balance despite local Axis air power.
- Australia, 6/42, Australians/US vs Japanese. This assumes that the Japanese did not stop at bombing Darwin but land an invasion force with a view to nullifying the continent as an Allied base. PTO terrain is in effect for the first month, after which Arid terrain (F13) is in effect. All rivers are shallow and fordable unless the Weather is Overcast. Use the Arid EC and Weather charts but with the months inverted (remember, this is the southern hemisphere), so that April becomes October, December becomes June, etc. Any result of Snow is Overcast instead. Make a dr after the conclusion of each scenario on or after 8/42: a dr of <=2 ends the Campaign. US may be Australian allies only on or after 7/42. Mission 11, "Tank Attack", may be played by either side only after 8/42.
- New Zealand, 12/44, New Zealand vs Japanese. This highly unlikely campaign assumes that the Japanese have an extremely successful campaign against the Allies in the Pacific, including the conquest of Australia. Monthly turns. Temperate Weather Chart and EC are in effect, but months are inverted as per the Australia campaign. For the first two scenarios neither side may play Mission 11, "Tank Attack". Since it is assumed that US remnants or reinforcements are present in the islands, US troops may be NZ allies. Make a dr after the conclusion of each scenario on or after 3/45: a dr of <=2 ends the Campaign.
- Operation Olympic, 9/45, US/British vs Japanese. This assumes that in the absence of the atomic bomb, the Allies decide to invade Japan. Monthly turns. Temperate Weather and EC are in effect, including Snow. The Japanese always suffer from Ammunition Shortage but the number of T-H Heroes for a FRIENDLY Japanese side is up to 75% of the total number of squads and all Japanese units are Fanatic. Make a dr after the conclusion of each scenario on or after 12/45: a dr of <=2 ends the Campaign.
- Cold War, 6/45, Russians vs US/British. This assumes that local relationships between the victorious Allies break down, or that a higher authority such as Patton or Stalin decides to fight. Weekly turns. Make a dr after the conclusion of each scenario on or after 7/45: a dr of <=2 ends the Campaign.