23 February 2012

One for the Road

Advanced Squad Leader legend Bill “Fish” Conner passed away at home on Friday, 17 February 2012. He was 59. 
Darryl “Action Burk” Burk learned of Bill’s passing on Sunday. He had spoken to his long-time friend earlier in the week. Bill had admitted to not feeling well. Darryl posted the following on the GameSquad ASL Forums:
I don’t know what else to say as I’m still in shock. The world has lost a great gamer and I’ve lost a great friend and gaming buddy. Play a scenario in his memory and use Sgt. Conner, I know he’d appreciate it, Hope to see you at ASLOK but it won’t be the same for me. Sorry, the tears are flowing freely now,
Darryl Burk
My condolences to Bill’s family and friends, especially Darryl.
Bill and Darryl go back a long way. They cut their teeth on Squad Leader (SL) during the 70s and 80s. As part of Bob McNamara’s group in Youngstown, Ohio, the pair also did a fair bit of play-testing during the development of the SL gamettes. 
Bill attended the Origins ‘85 tournament where ASL made its historic debut. Upon his return, Bill and Darryl immersed themselves in the new system. When Red Barricades—the first historical ASL module—appeared, the pair practically lived in the streets of Stalingrad, playing one Campaign Game after another. Top players in their day, the pair also gained some notoriety for their “Series Replay” articles—essentially play-by-play narratives of scenarios—published in The General magazine. 
Bill and Darryl continued to support the hobby by play-testing scenarios. But as they later confessed, it was too much, and the pace eventually wore them out. Their last hurrah was with the “desert module” West of Alamein, published in 1988.1 Bob McNamara was the lead developer for ASL at the time. Perhaps Bill and Darryl felt compelled to lend a hand. Whatever the case, other commitments were demanding more and more of their attention. 
This scenario from In Contact has a novel board layout 

In 1989, Bill and Darryl rolled out In Contact. Although this short-lived publication (1989-1990) contained articles and scenarios,2 its original intent was simply to put ASL players in contact with each other. Disillusioned with the direction that the magazine had taken, Bill and Darryl returned to what they loved most: playing ASL. 
It was the launch of a modest tournament in 1986 that cemented the pair’s reputation in the ASL world. The first ASL Oktoberfest (ASLOK) was held in October 1986, only a year after the release of the ASL Rule Book. It ran over the Columbus Day holiday weekend—the second Monday in October.3 Bill worked for the United States Postal Service and always had Columbus Day off.4 It was a good fit. The inaugural event attracted 17 players. Attendance almost tripled the following year, and since 1990 has never fallen below 100. 
For the better part of a decade, Bill and Darryl ran the tournament in Youngstown (actually, in nearby Austintown), a small city of 67,000 situated on the Mahoning River, in the county of the same name.5 Youngstown lies in eastern Ohio, ten miles the Pennsylvania State line, and midway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. It is also midway between New York City and Chicago. So in certain respects, Youngstown and ASLOK were “in the heart of it all.”

Mark Nixon took over the reigns in the mid 90s, and moved ASLOK to its current home in Cleveland. The current Tournament Director, Bret Hildebran, has been running the Oktoberfest for almost 10 years. Today, ASL Oktoberfest is the most prestigious, largest, and longest running ASL gaming event anywhere. It is an event where players of all calibres can meet, play, collaborate on future ASL projects, and most importantly, have fun. 

In a 2010 interview with Dave Kleinschmidt and Jeff Hallett (The 2 Half-Squads), Bill and Darryl explained the rational for their tournament. Their goal was simple. They wanted to ensure that players actually got to play ASL. The pair adopted a round-robin format so that participants would not be eliminated after the first, or even the second round of play. The popularity of their event grew rapidly. Some players began to arrive a day early, then a couple days early. Worried at the increasing numbers of “early birds,” Bill and Darryl added single-elimination, three-round, mini-tournaments. But still they came, earlier and earlier. 
Perry Cocke of MMP
Today, ASLOK is a week-long festival commencing ten days before Columbus Day. The first four days are dedicated to “open gaming.” There are no formal tournaments until the “minis” start on Wednesday.  Players are free to choose opponents and scenarios. Some come prepared to play huge scenarios, and/or campaign games. Most participate in the World Cup by playing someone from the opposite team. The World Cup pits US players against non-US players. Such is the success of ASLOK that Perry Cocke of Multi-Man Publishing (MMP), publicly complimented Bill and Darryl on their legacy. Perry went on to say that ASLOK had been an inspiration for MMP's tournament Winter Offensive. Perry counted Bill among his friends. Like many who knew Bill, he has difficulty expressing how much Bill meant to him and the hobby.
The Gröfaz
As a result of his association with ASLOK, Bill became known affectionately as the Gröfaz, the title awarded annually to the top player at ASLOK. Truth be told, Bill appropriated the title. His friend Darryl had been reading John Ellis’s book Brute Force. Darryl pointed the term out to Bill, and the rest was, as they say, history.  
Gröfaz is a German acronym coined to mock Adolf Hitler: Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten, or Greatest Field Commander of all Time.In the context of ASL, the term is both an acknowledgement of the skill required to win the ASLOK championship, and the recognition that ASL is just game where even the most accomplished remain arm-chair generals. Bill never won the title, but he helped people like eight-time champ Mike McGrath get there. 
Gröfaz has come to symbolize some of the best people within our hobby. In Bill’s case, Gröfaz came to represent something greater. Bill “Fish” Connor was and remains an enduring reminder of all that is good within our hobby. The volunteer spirit, the enthusiasm, the generosity, the sportsmanship, the desire to share the simple joys of gaming and the socializing that goes along with it, not to mention the life-long friendships that come of all this. Bill wanted to put ASL players in contact with each other. He and Darryl have done so much more than that.
A personal recollection
I did not meet Bill until 2007. Until then he was a familiar name from The General magazine. How could anyone forget a nickname like “Fish?”7 Like so many other ASLOK neophytes, I was struck by how easy going and approachable Bill was. He put me immediately at ease.
Apart from SL/ASL, we had a couple of other things in common. Like our fathers before us, we both served in the army. And coincidentally, his father William took a German wife (Wilhemina Baumgartener) while serving in Europe, just as mine did a couple of decades later. But there the similarities ended. 
Bill was born William F. Conner in Denver, Colorado on 10 September 1952. But Ohio would become his home. He completed high school in Youngstown, and spent most of his working life as a postman with the Post Office in nearby Austintown. Bill was a veteran. He served in Europe during the Cold War, and he kept in touch with old friends through the Akron, OH Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association. 

Bill had other interests and talents. For instance, he was a big Strat-O-Matic Basefall fan. I am certain that some of his friends have fond memories of playing this game with Bill. 

I know for a fact that many ASL players shared his love of music. For years Bill would show up at ASLOK, not play to ASL, but to socialize and jam late into the night. He played guitar, but had a soft spot for the harmonica.

One for the road
recall shaking Bill’s hand again at ASLOK in 2010. We chatted a bit, and I watched Darryl and him play Guards Counterattack. It was a special moment, their first game in 15 years.

However, this past October I was rushing about so much that Bill and I only exchanged smiles and brief hellos. I had intended to check in with him later, but missed my chance. It is hard not to feel regret. I can nevertheless count myself among the fortunate few who have met Bill. I was not his friend. Nor was I one of his gaming buddies, or a fellow musician. I was just another ASL player. But like everyone he met at ASLOK, he treated me like I was a friend.
An ASL, elder statesman has passed. But his vision lives on.
Below is an extract of a Series Replay published in The General 25 years ago. I was only 24 when I first read it. Time passes so terribly fast. Be sure to spend some of it with your friends.
Streets of Fire, Scenario 1 “Guryev’s Headquarters”
German Player—Darryl Burk
Russian Player—Bill Conner
Neutral Commentator—Mark C. Nixon
Bill Conner has long been a familiar figure in the final rounds of tournament play, winning a healthy share of Squad Leader and Advanced Squad Leader events not only at Origins, but at a number of other conventions. He first became involved with SL through playtesting with Bob McNamara’s group in Ohio, and most recently Bill has organized his own SL/ASL tournament-the Oktoberfest, which makes its second annual showing this fall. 
Darryl Burk was also involved in the McNamara playtest group. He has always been a tenacious opponent and can lay claim to having beaten Bill more times than everyone else in the world combined. 
Mark Nixon is readily recognizable to our long-term readership, having crafted a number of articles on G.I. [Ed. G.I. Anvil of Victory, the last SL gamette] some issues back. Though he has won many ASL events, he is quick to point out that none have required him to face either Bill or Darryl, making him content to look over their shoulders on this meeting.
Opening Comments
Russian: Since meeting through The General’s “Opponents Wanted” column early in 1982, Darryl and I have been each other’s principal and toughest opponent, teaching one another the game system along with many valuable lessons. Having played hundreds of scenarios—published and in playtest—we are well accustomed to each other’s style of play. Darryl is not afraid to try the unorthodox, and will seldom use the same plan even if previously successful. His greatest weakness is in feeling sorry for me while destroying my forces. He takes his lumps better than I and deserves much of the credit for my tournament successes.
We chose to play “Guryev’s Headquarters” because it is our favorite Streets of Fire scenario, maybe even our favorite of all those for ASL. It is the quick-play piece of Deluxe ASL, much as the SL classic “The Guards Counterattack” was for the original game. It is a simple, small-area action utilizing only basic infantry; only this time it is the German line infantry attacking the Russian elite forces instead of vice-versa. This replay should be easily followed by experienced ASL-ers, SL-ers, and maybe even the uninitiated. We highly recommend playing it several times because it is extremely enjoyable as a training scenario for those new to the gaming pleasures of the ASL system. insert pic of dice
Each ASL scenario has a balance provision, which is influenced by our choice of sides. It tends to make for some very interesting variations while also keeping players from being overly greedy. Usually, this is some kind of relaxed Victory Condition, terrain or troop alteration, or even some special restriction on the enemy player. It all boils down to one thing: if each player wants the same side, a die is rolled with the winner getting to play that side and the loser getting the balance provision in his favor.
Although I would rather play as the German in this scenario, in order to be on the attack, I chose the Russians. My reasoning is that if “Action Burk” also chooses to play the Germans, one of us will get the Russians and the HQ fortified. This doesn’t sit too well with me, unless I were to get that fortified building, because I feel that it makes the Russians a little too tough, whereas the reinforcement restriction by both of us choosing the Russians is much less dramatic. Besides, the Russians have been winning a lot lately.
German: I consider “Fish” [Bill Conner] to be the ideal opponent, not just for ASL but for any game. The traits that have made him a master of the SL/ASL system apply to any game he plays. First and foremost, he is an outstanding gamesman and good sport. Over the course of hundreds of games I’ve never known him to lose his temper because of an unfavorable result, lost game, or for any other reason. His gaming ethics are matched in quality by his skill in actual play.

My choice to play the Germans in “Guryev’s Headquarters” was based mainly on the results of our previous experiences with it. While it appears an easy scenario for the Germans to win, the Russians have won whenever building bEl was strongly defended (which is most of the time). Though I have lost several times as the German player, I have a plan for the Germans to take that building and I am eager to try it out. 
Also, I don’t want the balance provisions to come into effect if Fish and I both chose the same side. Here I’ve tried to outguess Conner. If he should choose the Germans to play, thus giving the Russians fortification of building dL1 on the ground level, I feel my plan for the Germans would still work if I win the die roll for sides and get the Germans. The fortified building would not hamper my plans that much. However, if I lost the dice roll, the fortified building would be a nice refuge to weather the fury of Fish’s attack.
Neutral Commentator: I first met “Fish” Conner and “Action Burk” when they entered the G. I. tournament at Origins ‘83. In a field of 28, I had them ranked #I and #6 respectively, based on a short questionnaire I used to seed the tourney. Today I would change only one thing: I would now rank Darryl higher than I did then. 
They have played each other hundreds (yes, literally hundreds) of times. This is their eighth confrontation at “Guryev’s Headquarters”, so I expect this replay to reflect their familiarity with one another’s style of play as well as the general situation. They have previously tried several tactics, including an end sweep across the south side of the battlefield, the “north board edge creep,” and the “up front defense” in building bE1 with remote firebases (such as dH3, second level).
As luck would have it, this game is something of a special occasion for our antagonists. This playing marks their 100th ASL confrontation. Their caliber of play is very high, so expect a clean, crisp game.
[Ed. If you have not played this classic scenario, I urge you to do so. I have played it perhaps a dozen times. It is always a treat to play.]

On 5 March 2012 Mark Nixon wrote:
I am deeply saddened with the passing of Bill Conner. All my sympathy goes out to his family and friends and of course most of all to Action Darryl. What a serious loss to the ASL community. This is a guy we cannot replace; we can only accept the loss and remember him, honor him and carry onward as he would want us to do. Gamer #1 is down. ASL would not be the same today without Bill Conner; he made things happen which would not otherwise have taken place, and I think it is most appropriate that some are planning to find the right way to venerate him at ASLOk. Bill was always a tremendous friend and a talented player, mentor, thinker, competitor and set a high standard everywhere he engaged his tremendous energies. The guy was simply brilliant and I will miss him as long as I live. GROFAZ!

1. Bill is also credited with helping play-test the scenarios in The Last Hurrah. Published in 1988, this module contained a partial order of battle for the Allied Minors. It was superseded by the module Doomed Battalions, released in 1998. Darryl advised me on 25 February that Fish was playing Squad Leader during the 1970s, but that he did not pick up the game until 1980. Bill was part of Bob McNamara's play test group for Crescendo of Doom. Darryl joined the group for the play testing of GI Anvil of Victory. The pair later play tested ASL for "Mac" and Rex Martin. The last module that Darryl recalls play testing with Bill was West of Alamein
2. Of the dozen scenarios published by In Contact, eleven were reprinted by Multi-Man Publishing in their “retro” ‘zine Out of the Attic 1. The scenarios featured the work of at least nine designers. Although they may have had a hand in testing some of the scenarios, to my knowledge neither Bill nor Darryl designed any of them.
3. Coincidently, Colorado—where Bill was born—was the first US state to declare Columbus Day an official holiday in 1906.
4. Before becoming a letter carrier, Bill had served with the 82nd Airborne Division. There was a time in the 1980s when he was hooked on the card-based variant of Squad Leader called Up Front! So keen was he to get home to play that he would occasionally do the “airborne shuffle,” a kind of slow jog, for his entire route.
5. In point of fact, the tournament was run in Austintown, some 10 kilometres west of downtown Youngstown, for eight years. As Darryl clarified on 25 February, he and Bill also ran ASLOK in Brookpark, a city adjacent to Cleveland and the Cleveland International Airport. I attended my first ASLOK (2007) in Brookpark. The new venue in Cleveland is not far from the old one, but the new one is miles ahead of its predecessor in so many respects.
6. The term is attributed to Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel. Although no fan of Hitler, Keitel had given up trying to argue with the Führer. Incredibly, Hitler took the comment at face value, oblivious to the fact that Keitel was far from sincere. The term persisted. Indeed, General Heinz Guderian once showed his scorn for Hitler’s amateur prosecution of the war by referring to him as the Gröfaz.
7. For those interested in such things, Bill’s nickname predated his involvement in ASL. The monicker is actually a contraction of a longer nickname: Fish L. Pou, pronounced like the Pepe le Pew of Looney Toons fame. Bill acquired his nickname while working in a grocery store. One of his jobs involved putting up signs for fish, veal and poultry. The signs tended to overlap. When they did, they spelled “FISH L POU.” Overtime, this was shortened to Fish. But I much prefer the fanciful tale below, posted by “Psycho” on the GameSquad ASL Forums.
Back when I had my falling out with Mark Nixon I decided to look up another ASL stud, Bill Conner. I went to the Cleveland area but couldn’t find him. I got word that he was in Spooner, Wisconsin so I went there. When I got there I hear that he just left for Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I followed him there only to find he was ducking me by running all over the country.  I finally tracked him down in a little shack outside Lincoln, Montana. He was living there with a guy named Ted who kept to himself. 
I sat him down and forced him to play ASL with me while Ted sat at his typewriter and mumbled to himself. I thrashed him soundly and taught him a thing or two about real ASL and not that bastardized version he played. He didn’t even own the rulebook!  
We stayed there and played for a few months. I tried to teach him properly but he kept walking into every trap I laid for him. His roomie, in one of his few moments of clarity, said it was like shooting monkeys in a barrel and started calling him “chimp.” I told him it was fish and that’s where he got the name. He didn’t like his new nickname and Ted mocked him endlessly with it. 
I finally got tired of the beatings I was dishing out and felt it was time to move on. On my way out Ted asked me to mail a package for him. Sure, what could it hurt?
7. The General, Vol. 24, No. 1, p.10-18 (Avalon Hill Game Company: 1987).

14 February 2012

Commissar whole-lot-of Love

Our hearts go out to those who spread a little ASL love this month. A number of people embraced the spirit of the moment. We would like to thank a few in particular: Richard Kirby in Edinburgh, Scotland, Brian Ogstad out in Crofton, Nebraska, Jeffrey Myers farther south in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and closer to home base, Mark Pitcavage near Columbus, Ohio. All were generous. 
Mark frequently hosts an ASL event called Pitfest. I think his record for attendance is a baker’s dozen. Mark gives BattleDice away as door prizes. Be sure to check out Mark’s latest updates of ASL products on his Desperation Morale website. And if you are close to Columbus, perhaps you should think about attending his next event.
We would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the three ASL comrades above. We would also like to thank each comrade by providing him with $10.00 off his next KitShop purchase.
The winner of our special Buddy Love contest is Ken Monson of Eagan, Minnesota—just south of the twin cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul). Ken and his ASL buddy Paul have each won a Winter Offensive Bonus Pack of their choosing. We have all three packs in stock. Congratulations Ken!

A big thank you to everyone who participated in our spread-the-buddy-love promotion. Good luck to all of our Squad Leaders in the February raffle on 1 March.
To claim a prize, simply email us at: battleschool at rogers dot com.

06 February 2012

Buddy Love

We have dubbed February “Buddy Love” month. Many of us have those special ASL buddies who have always been there for us. You know who I mean. Friends who are a pleasure to play. Friends who share your love for the game. Friends who are happy just to talk about ASL over a cup of coffee or a beer. I have one of these friends. We have been playing for decades. This month we pay tribute to these friends. Our raffle hopefully will spur you to thank a longtime friend.
Over 160 Squad Leaders participated in our January raffle. Squad Leaders received one roll of the dice for every month they have been following Sitrep. Helen used five Tommies for the rolls. The amber and light-blue Tommies were fresh out of the box, and it showed. Not one roll produced a five. Then again, no one suffered the indignity of a “dirty thirty.” The lowest roll was six. There was a quartet of sevens, but only a duet of eights, and a triplet of nines. 
Ten was a surprisingly common sum, so common that we decided to do something about it. About 20 percent of participants had a low roll of ten or less. Incredibly, Rudi Großholdermann had a pair of tens, in addition to a nine! Below is a list of everyone who had a low roll of eight, nine, or ten: 

  • Brian Blad—one of the runners up in our New Year’s raffle
  • Dave and Jeff—of The 2 Half-Squads fame
  • Ian Willey—rolled two tens; check out Ian’s blog Wall Advantage 
  • Ken Young—rolled two tens
  • Kevin Horner—our first raffle winner—is back!
  • Michael Rodgers—has a unique blog entitled “Teaching My Wife ASL”
  • Stephen Brasseur—rolled two tens
  • Baronzemo—writes a blog called Forever Free Games
  • Clay
  • clasc
  • Neil Andrews
  • Rob Pesce
  • Poet
  • Peter Palmer
  • Steve Webber
  • Joseph Ladd
  • Randall
  • David Wolfe
  • Fred Ingram
  • Doug Sheppard
  • mgtaylor
  • Jose Tomas Balaguer Monferrer
  • dave
  • Curtis Brooks—joined Sitrep on 22 January, a week after starting his own ASL blog Whine and Cheese
  • Rob Oler—also rolled a ten
  • Rudi Grossholdermann—also rolled two tens
  • Nadir Elfarra—also rolled a ten ASL; check out his ASL player’s map
  • Rob Wilson—also rolled a ten
  • Peter Brockway
In order to help promote the theme for February, we are offering everyone on the list above a voucher for $10.00, or the cost of shipping, whichever is less. The voucher is valid for purchases of all precision dice, including packs of standard ½” dice. The catch? Well, you must purchase a set of dice for a friend. You do not have to purchase anything for yourself. We have a few “buddy packs” on our KitShop page in the event that you are so inclined.1 
Our offer is valid for the month of February. However, anyone who takes advantage of this offer before 14 February will be entered into a draw to win a Winter Offensive Bonus Pack (WO). The winner of the draw, and his or her ASL “buddy,” will each receive a WO pack of his or her choosing. We have all three packs in stock.2
Plucky Sevens
There was nothing average about the sevens rolled in this month’s draw. Four gents vied for second place. One, Keith Hill of Maine, also managed a ten. But like Joshua Speelman in snowy Michigan, and Dan Sueyoshi in sunny California, Keith came up short in the tiebreaker. Each nevertheless receives a $10.00 gift certificate redeemable for merchandise in our KitShop. (For a copy of the February issue of our 16-page catalogue email us.)  
The runner up this month is Nigel Ashcroft of Chepstow, in the United Kingdom. He served in the Royal Horse Artillery during the 1970s.3 Nigel has been an active promoter of ASL in the UK for well over a decade. He has attended most annual ASL events in his homeland. Indeed, he was present at some of the earliest Intensive Fire tournaments during the late 90s. Nigel conducted a survey in the July 1998 issue of View from the Trenches. At the time, he and others were concerned about declining attendance at tournaments such as Berserk! and Intensive Fire.4   
Today the tournament scene has witnessed a resurgence of interest, mirroring a burgeoning interest in the hobby as a whole. For instance, in January, the Annual Winter Offensive Tournament sponsored by Multi-Man Publishing had over 130 attendees! Only a few months earlier, Intensive Fire had a strong turn out, with 40 competitors. Unfortunately, Nigel missed the tournament due to a bout of the flu. Nigel plans to partly make up for this lapse by taking an ASL holiday this week. His foursome intend to sample a bit of Valor of the Guards (Stalingrad), “Suicide Creek” (New Britain) from ASL Journal 9, and perhaps some Kursk action, courtesy of Bounding Fire's Crucible of Steel.
In their own way, a legion of Nigels have helped not only to keep our game alive, but also to nurture the growth of our hobby. There are more people, in more countries, playing ASL today than ever before. Thanks for your dedication Nigel. And congratulations! You have won a copy of Winter Offensive Bonus Pack 3, and a $10.00 gift certificate.
Red scare 
I have known the winner of our January raffle for a couple of years now. He was in one of those ASL “sleeper cells” that can be found in most metropolitan areas. I recall paging someone on the ASL Mailing List in October 2009, when I received an unexpected message from a fellow named Martin Hicks: 
So you’re in Ottawa, Ontario? I wouldn’t mind picking up another f-t-f game or two. I’m definitely not super experienced at ASL, but would like more chances to get better.
Well, he may not have been “super experienced,” but Martin did know how to roll well. But then, that was partly my fault. Martin is a practical fellow who generally eschews elaborate when functional will do just fine. 
It took almost a year before our schedules aligned. We finally hooked up for a game on the eve of the Canadian ASL Open (CASLO) in 2010. Martin was rusty, but clearly was no “newbie.” He had the attack, and simply ran out of time—not uncommon in a small Schwerpunkt scenario like “The Hornet of Cloville.” He had other plans for the weekend, and had to pass on the tournament. He made up for it in 2011, by attending CASLO XV. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Martin and I played our second game after I had returned from the ASL Oktoberfest (ASLOK) tournament in October of 2010. Fresh from ASLOK, I was more practiced and prepared to play than Martin was. I was keen to play some Friendly Fire scenarios from the latest pack, especially those which utilized the nifty FrFA board that came with the pack. Martin was a sport. Apart from the aforementioned Schwerpunkt scenario, he had never played any third-party scenarios. We played several games from the new pack over the course of the next month or so. Martin’s level of play steadily improved. It was then that I made my mistake. 
Eager to show off my new Soviet BattleDice, I encouraged him to give them a try in FrF49 “One Last Mighty Hew.” His Reds did most of the hewing. The man had a thing for rolling threes all game. His 107 “arty” piece began by obliterating my 9-2 stack at long range, and so it went. Martin left with a smile on his face, and with a set of new dice in his pocket. We had a blast, and have been playing on and off ever since.

Martin is now a regular attendee of our local gaming meets. On his own initiative, he created an ASL mailing list for players in Eastern Ontario, and hosts the list on his server at no cost to us. He is also coaching a new player through ASL Starter Kit. This is all very encouraging, in part because Martin is younger than most of the players in our group. He and his protégé are the future of our hobby. Let’s hope that Martin is merely the vanguard of a new, and bigger cohort of ASL enthusiasts.
Martin wins a set of Countersmith German and Russian AFV turrets, a pair of our newest BattleSchool Tommy dice, and a $20.00 gift certificate.5 Congratulations Martin!

Holiday in Budapest
Just a quick reminder that, among other things, we intend to raffle off a copy of Festung Budapest in July. This special raffle will take place on Canada Day. If you have yet to join Sitrep, now might be a good time. Good luck to everyone in our next raffle.
1. There are two ways to go about treating your ASL mate. One, you purchase something for a friend and provide the shipping address of the recipient. Or two, you purchase a “buddy pack,” or two of the same item. In this case, we will ship to your address, unless instructed otherwise. We are happy to ship to separate addresses, but will have to bill you for the additional shipping fees.
2. At the option of the winners, the WO packs may be exchanged for equivalent credit in our KitShop.

3. Here is a bit of historical information that Nigel supplied to me regarding his unit. He was a member of The Rocket Troop, Oscar (O) Battery, 2nd Field Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery. The Rocket Troop gained fame at the Battle of Liepzig in 1813. The Troop had been seconded to Sweden. The Troop used Congreve rockets, along with their standard nine pounders, to support Swedish infantry. The Troop was the only British unit present at the "Battle of the Nations." So well did the Troop perform on the field against Napoleon, that the unit was accorded the right to incorporate the Swedish flag into their unit symbol. To this day, The Rocket Troop is the only British unit permitted to wear a foreign flag on its uniform, as shown in the image above right. Every October the unit receives a letter from the reigning Swedish monarch, thanking the Troop for its assistance in 1813!
4. Berserk! was effectively replaced by the Heroes tournament, which is held annually in Blackpool. See the tournament listing at left for details. Intensive Fire is still held in Bournemouth every October. Again see link at left. Since 2006, a third major tournament has been held on an annual basis. Double One takes place near Chelmsford—details on tournament list in sidebar. The Tournament Director of this last event is Derek Cox. I have met and played Derek a couple of times now. He is marvellous company. He undoubtedly runs Double One with the same charm and engaging manner as he displays on a personal level. If you plan to be in London this June, you will want to attend Double One. If you live in London, be sure to check out the link to the local club.
5. Yes, we carry Countersmith turret counters. We have had a few inquiries about them. They are in our catalogue, but we may add them to our KitShop page here on Sitrep a little later this month.