01 April 2012

Nordic Hour

Guess what the winner of our March raffle has won? 
Spring has arrived in the northern latitudes. The natives, restless for their place in the sun, are on the march. Who came blame them? It has been a long, grey winter. We have some colourful giveaways to welcome in the new season, in all its multihued splendour.
More than 170 Squad Leaders vied for prizes in our March raffle. Each Squad Leader received one roll of the dice for each month he or she had been following Sitrep. We went with just four dice this time. The person with the lowest sum of four dice would win. With so many Squad Leaders and so many rolls, we anticipated a few tie-breakers. Indeed, this proved the case. However, not for first place, but for second.
Not exactly counterproductive
Four contestants tied for second. Warrick resides in Hong Kong. You may know him as the fellow behind Countersmith Workshop, producer of player aids for ASL. Warrick placed fourth in the tiebreaker, with a roll of 17. However, like Joseph Ladd, one of Warrick's rolls totalled 24. For their “train wrecks,” Warrick and Joseph each receive a Sniper! Effects die and a $10.00 gift certificate for KitShop. 
Third-place in the tie-breaker went to Martin Hicks, a past raffle winner. Martin bested Warrick with a 15, but was in turn edged out of a third-place finish by Stephen Brasseur. A long-time ASL player, Stephen games in Kirkwood, Missouri. Stephen plays a variety of boardgames. However, ASL remains a big part of his life. I think his custom dice tower below speaks volumes. 
You can find out more about Stephen by visiting his Yockbo's Boardgame Blog. If you happen to find out the story behind his nickname, be sure to let us know. 
It looks like Yockbo's ASL-themed dice tower could use some company. Indeed, it will not be long before some smart-looking precision dice make their way down that ASL dice tower. Stephen wins a Tommy Pack and a $10.00 gift certificate for KitShop.    
Concealed, but not hidden
Sadly, the runner-up of our March raffle remains concealed. Our mysterious SMC managed a sum of five, followed by thirteen in the tie-breaker, for second place over all. Should our runner-up step forward, he (or she) will receive a Sniper! Pack and a $10.00 gift certificate for KitShop. Had “tiohn” placed first, I am certain that we would witness a rapid and voluntarily drop of concealment in order to claim our (specious) grand prize for March. Speaking of which, it is time to announce the winner. 
ASL refugee
How many scenarios have you played where the game was won (or lost) on the last, or next to last dice roll? Not that this is a bad outcome. It is usually the sign of a good game. It certainly makes for an exciting finish. And so it was with our draw this month. 
For a change of pace, we began with the most recent Squad Leaders and worked back towards those who had joined in July 2011. It was not until September that the first “five” appeared. And only in July did the remaining “fives” appear. But still no pair of “snake eyes.” I was beginning to doubt that we would ever see four aces. 
With only one player left to roll for, I had to laugh. What a great story it would make, if this fellow rolled four ones on his last roll? It would have been a great story. Instead, it is just a very good story. On his fourth-to-last roll, he pulled it off! What makes this a good story is the fact that he was the first person to join Sitrep as a Squad Leader. What makes this a very good story is the fact that he is also the only player from outside the United States to ever win the Gröfaz title (in 2003) at the ASL Oktoberfest (ASLOK) Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio. I have to wonder, if luck was not a factor.
Aaron Cleavin is a top player. For some reason, he has been “ducking” me. But I can live with that. No need to get thoroughly diced by a Gröfaz. Last year, for instance, he played more than 160 scenarios. In 2010, he managed a whopping 185! The man is a machine. However, he is slightly off the pace so far this year, with a projected 155-170 for 2012. Good grief! Small wonder, Aaron is known as the “Cleavinator.”
The winning roll

We are kindred spirits, in a sense. He purportedly left his homeland of New Zealand as an “economic refugee.” (He may also have been an ASL refugee—opponents are hard to come by in New Zealand.) Aaron found work abroad, first in Japan, and later in Ireland, and finally in Australia. The irony is that I emigrated to New Zealand (from Canada) as an “economic refugee.” I too found work. Aaron also completed part of his MBA in Canada. Funny how things work out.
Being at the far end of the ASL supply chain, Aaron may have to wait a few weeks for his prize, but then he is used to waiting a little longer for his ASL fix. He lives in Sydney, Australia. However, distance is no barrier to Aaron. He has been to ASLOK at least nine times since 1996, and plans to attend this year. Congratulations Aaron on another “international win!” Aarons wins... Well you know what he wins. But first, a word from our sponsors.
Youse Call
A brief word about Hakkaa Päälle. Depending upon your temperament, the release of this module may not be a top, personal priority. I am biased. Late in the play-test process, I lent a hand and liked what I saw. 
If I had anything negative to say about the new module, it may have been related to the fact that it comes with only one board (52). But that is not an issue because the scenarios in the module make the most of other boards in the system. No, what seems to have irked some detractors is the prospect of the Finns being released in the same grey palette found in the third edition of Beyond Valor
Fear not, all is well is the hallowed halls of Multi-Man Publishing (MMP). I have it on good authority that there will be a new Finnish colour scheme. I must say that I am impressed. “MMP brought some real innovations to the table with our Pegasus Bridge module back in '97,” Brian Youse told me. “The Ox and Bucks were cool, but the Pegasus counters stole the show,” he added. The breakthrough came during a brainstorming session held at the Winter Offensive Tournament this past January. The MMP team decided to go one better than a simple colour change for the reworked Finns. I love the new look. Sorry, no sneak peek. Brian asked that I keep it under my hat until the module goes up for pre-order on Monday.1
Make your own luck
Trent Dobbs joined Sitrep on 28 March. Although granted a single roll for the raffle, he nonetheless posted a respectable nine where the mean roll was roughly fourteen. It is never too late join Sitrep as a Squad Leader. However, the sooner you join, the greater your odds of winning.
Next month we will be raffling off a copy of Swedish Volunteers, second edition. The Molotov counters in this new edition are an absolut must have. The “module” includes two new scenarios: Hansson Hijinks, and Cocktail Hour. The first marks the debut of a political agitator of the same name. The second, my favourite, features the Swedish version of the Flaming Dutchman.2 If you do not already own them, you need to add these Axis Miners [sic] to your ASL order of battle.
I am happy to announce that BattleSchool will be the exclusive North American distributor of Swedish Volunteers. Many of you will be happy to hear that the North American version will be available in Letter rather than A4 format.3
Finally, a reminder that we will be raffling off a copy of Festung Budapest on Canada Day. In addition, Sitrep Squad Leaders (followers) will have an opportunity to win a set of custom, precision Festung Budapest BattleDice. To qualify for this special raffle, Squad Leaders must be following Sitrep under their full names (first and last). Each qualifying Squad Leader will receive one ballot for the raffle. Followers with a custom avatar will receive a second ballot. Finally, followers displaying a portrait of themselves will receive a third ballot. Good luck to everyone in the next raffle. Thanks for reading.
Part of the Festung Budapest BattleDice set
1. This entire paragraph is a load of codswallup, whatever that means. But we can still dream.
From Wikipedia: In 1872, British soft drink maker Hiram Codd of Camberwell, London, designed and patented a bottle designed specifically for carbonated drinks. The Codd-neck bottle was designed and manufactured to enclose a marble and a rubber washer/gasket in the neck. The bottles were filled upside down, and pressure of the gas in the bottle forced the marble against the washer, sealing in the carbonation. The bottle was pinched into a special shape, as can be seen in the photo to the left, to provide a chamber into which the marble was pushed to open the bottle. This prevented the marble from blocking the neck as the drink was poured.
Soon after its introduction, the bottle became extremely popular with the soft drink and brewing industries mainly in Europe, Asia and Australasia, though some alcohol drinkers disdained the use of the bottle. One etymology of the term codswallop originates from beer sold in Codd bottles, though this is generally dismissed as a folk etymology.
The bottles were regularly produced for many decades, but gradually declined in usage. Since children smashed the bottles to retrieve the marbles, they are relatively rare and have become collector items; particularly in the UK. A cobalt coloured Codd bottle today may fetch thousands of British pounds at auction. The Codd-neck design is still used for the Japanese soft drink Ramune and the Indian drink Banta.
2. A Flaming Dutchman is a potent elixir of cognac, sherry, gin, lemon juice, and bitters. It culminates in a douse of lemon juice sprayed over an open flame. Sharp and tangy, the cocktail is prone to flame creation in your Location at the slightest misstep. Best consumed outdoors, and away from flammable terrain.
3. Except for the Flaming Dutchman cocktail, this paragraph, and the one that precedes it, are a work of April fiction. Your first clue was the misspelling of "absolute." I used the vodka brand name, albeit without an uppercase "A." Hansson was the second clue, although I expected this would be picked up by only a handful of historically-minded Swedes. Per Albin Hansson was the Swedish Prime Minister during the Second World War.
163. Inf-Div
During the so-called Midsummer Crisis of 1941, Hansson's government granted permission for the German 163rd Infantry Division—locks, stocks, and barrels—to transit Swedish territory. The German division was stationed in Norway at the time. The Wehrmacht shifted the formation east to Finland, along Swedish rail lines. General Erwin Engelbrecht's division was initially subordinated to the Finnish military in order to support operations against the Soviet Union. In early 1942, the division came under German command. The formation remained in Finland until autumn 1944, when it returned to Norway. The division was destroyed in March 1945, while combatting Soviet forces in Pomerania.
Before becoming Prime Minister, Hansson served as the Swedish Defence Minister. This was a curious career move for someone with a reputation as an anti-militarist agitator. However, the Swedish communists were on to him decades earlier, as the cartoon above illustrates. In 1911, he argued that spending 65 million on the military was too much. When Defence Minister in 1925, he argued that 107 million was required in order to ensure that Sweden had the ability to respond rapidly to threats. By the time he was Prime Minister in 1927, Hansson was telling the electorate that 139 million was not too much to spend on defence. 
UPDATE: MMP has announced that they will publish an updated, and possibly expanded, edition of Swedish Volunteers. No word yet on how it will be published (i.e. as a scenario pack, as part of a magazine, etc.). However, the "module" will be formatted on letter (8.5" x 11"). Coincidence? Must be. ;)
4. This remains true. We will raffle off a copy of Festung Budapest on Canada Day, 2012.

Gröfaz for a Gröfaz
I first met Aaron, along with fellow Kiwi expatriate Pete Palmer, at ASLOK in 2010. Both took a punt on our newfangled BattleDice. Pete used his dice to spectacular effect against Gary Fortenberry, among others. This may have prompted Gary to have a closer look at these dastardly dice. Thanks Pete! But it was Aaron who first discovered that even more spectacular results were possible. He later demonstrated how one of his dice had become cocked in the oddest of ways. I took the picture of the blue Gröfaz Ritterkreuz die above this weekend. It is neither affixed to the tray, nor propped up in any way. While it is certainly possible for one of these large dice to come to rest in this manner, I have yet to witness it during play.
We only had 20 Gröfaz sets of our ASL Anniversary BattleDice made. My thinking was that past Gröfaz champions would be interested in owing an exclusive set of dice. However, to date, there are fewer than 20 people who hold this esteemed title. Aaron told me at the time that if I had any business integrity, I would only offer these for sale to bona fide Gröfaz. But what were we to do with the remainder? I countered that we had reserved a set of Gröfaz dice for each past champion. We had also donated a set for the would-be champion in 2010. (We did the same in 2011.)
Last year was a bit of a patch bad for Aaron. Like others elsewhere, he lost his job, and missed ASLOK. He also missed an opportunity to compete for a set of Gröfaz American and Commonwealth BattleDice. The dice were specially designed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the ASLOK tournament. Fortunately, we still have "Aaron's set" in stock.
It is our pleasure to award Aaron a Gröfaz set of our ASLOK Anniversary BattleDice. Granted he did not win this set on the field of battle. However, he did win our March raffle fair and square. There is a catch, however. Aaron routinely records upwards of 150 games a year. Even steel dice would begin to show wear under that much use. Therefore, we reserve the right to void the “warranty” on these dice if play exceeds 100 games per year. We hope Aaron understands.
Does Aaron get a copy of Hakkaa Päälle when it is released, you ask? Are you kidding me? 

It's April Fools' Day!

To claim a prize, simply leave a comment at the end of this post, and send us an email: battleschool @ rogers dot com