03 December 2021

BattleDice - A Decade On

BattleDice - A Decade On

It’s been four years since we last released new BattleDice. A lot has happened in the interim. Rather than dwell on the past, I thought I’d look ahead to 2022. Over the years, we’ve received requests to produce a host of new designs, not all of them for ASL. But this post is about ASL. Specifically, it’s about the prospect of new 16mm designs.

As we’ve explained in our KitShop catalogue, and on the 12.5mm page, we have no plans to produce additional designs in 12.5mm, largely due to the higher production costs for this size (and 14mm). This is not to say that we would never design any new BattleDice in these smaller formats, only that a design would have to warrant the higher outlay. Those lobbying for a set of 12.5mm die for the Korean War are therefore out of luck. Cost, however, is not the only factor. A recurring theme throughout this post is that some designs are simply impractical in light of the tiny amount of real estate to work with on the face of a die and the complexity of some designs. I can, and do, take liberties when creating artwork for a die. But there are limits.

Past as prologue 

From our standpoint, a new design succeeds if a 100 units are sold. This is a break-even equation based on initial start up and production costs. Time spent in the design, packaging, and marketing of new BattleDice is rarely recouped. And although 100 is not a big number, some designs released more than five years ago have yet to reach this target. 

For example, in 2016, we released D-Day sets for the US landing beaches code-named Omaha and Utah. These BattleDice were in anticipation of Multi-Man Publishing (MMP) releasing a historical module (HASL) centred on actions immediately beyond the beachhead. The set containing the “Big Red One” and the 29th US Infantry Divisions have sold quite well. Not so the rest. It’s a shame, as even without the Normandy HASL, there are heaps of scenarios where these BattleDice will be at home. A scenario published in ASL Starter Kit Bonus Pack 2 earlier this year illustrates the point. “Going Commando” features elements of Infanterie-Division 709 and the US 9th Infantry Division. Then again, one could simply use our US Army pair together with a German pair of your choosing.

16mm Operation Overlord (D-Day) Series

Additions to our Europa Series of 16mm BattleDice are the most recent examples of this trend. The Belgian pair is a personal fave. But it, like the Romanian pair, has not reached that important benchmark. In fairness, the Romanian pair has done a little better of late. And in time, we expect to sell out of all of these newer designs. In the meantime, however, this “excess” inventory ties up capital for future projects.

16mm Europa Series - Belgian Pair

Could less be more?

So where does that leave us? Well, with the release of a new and expanded Hollow Legions, especially the updated rules for North Africa, there is a purported demand for something with a desert theme. And what could be more Sahara-like than a palm tree and a jerboa, or desert rat?

I’m not convinced of the demand for such BattleDice, as attractive as they might be. But I’ve had at least six people urging me to take on the project. Not one for half measures, I came up with eight prospective designs. With the exception of the Italian and Afrika Korps set, these beauties could be used in Europe, primarily on the Italian mainland. The designs below aren’t final, but should provide you with an idea for what’s possible. Of course, we could simply release one die, the black Afrika Korps die with the gold palm on display at the beginning of this post, and call it done. What do you think?

16mm Africa Series (tentative)

Some have been clamouring for a Fallschirmjäger (FJ) die too. It’s a tricky subject given the amount of detail and overlapping elements. A die for the Großdeutschland Division would be an easier ask, but I’ve received less interest in it. An FJ die, moreover, has an added advantage in that it could be used to represent any number of Luftwaffe parachute divisions. If we only produced a single DAK die, why not a single FJ die too? Both could be paired with one of the dice from our ASL 30th Anniversary German pair, or with the German white die from our Operation Market-Garden Series. Yes? No? 

16mm Afrika Korps Die (optional)

Dave Johannsen has suggested we take things one step farther. In May 2018 he made his case for a “generic” set of 16mm ASL dice. Despite owning a fistful of BattleDice, he noted that there always will be situations where he won’t have dice that match the side he’s playing. Think Ethiopian, Estonian, or for fans of something a little different, the Russian Civil War, or the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Dave made a couple of specific suggestions including an iconic silhouette of a Landser tossing a potato masher for the colored die and an “ASL” logo for the white die. This would be his go-to pair for playing Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War, or the Indian National Army in Burma. He argued that the set would be an ideal “gateway pair of dice,” an introduction to our BattleDice.

It’s an interesting idea, although I think the ASL Anniversary sets do a good job of filling this role already. Indeed sales of the German pair suggest that it is the default pair for many players. Or is Dave on to something?

Specialized BattleDice

In June 2014, I solicited ideas for future BattleDice. I received much thoughtful feedback, and acted on a great deal of it. For instance, Dave Marteinson asked if we could produce 16mm versions of our Sniper-Effects and Heretical Rate-of-Fire specialty dice. Given that I preferred the ROF die to be either bigger or smaller than the other dice it’s rolled with, I didn’t dwell on this suggestion. I did, however, like the idea of a bigger Sniper die. And when Mike Peebles inquired about a wound die, I decided to incorporate both ideas into one, dual-purpose specialty die.

16mm Sniper-Effects and Wound-Severity Die

Other suggestions included a proposal by Brian Martuzas for a set of Offboard Artillery (OBA) dice: an accuracy die, a second “scatter direction” die, and a third extent-of-error die. He foresaw the accuracy die featuring appropriate national logos for those whose OBA is also accurate on a two. (That would be American, Commonwealth, Free French, and German, in case you were wondering.) I didn’t see the need for a separate direction-of-error die per se, reasoning that the accuracy die could fulfil this function too. The deal breaker was the extent-of-error die. An ordinary, unadorned backgammon die would suffice for this task when initially placing an Artillery Request (AR). But how could a die account for the fact that, when Correcting a SR, the Extent of Error is limited to a maximum of one hex for each multiple of three hexes, with any fractions rounded up (FRU)? If you know, let me know. 

Jackson Kwan was the most prolific in offering up ideas for specialized BattleDice. His pair of dice for determining whether a unit Strayed at night (E1.53), or in an Interior dense-jungle or bamboo hex during the day (G2.22; 3.21), was a relatively straightforward concept that was unfortunately expensive to produce as suggested. The six-spot of the color die would sport a “straying” figure. Not sure what that looks like. Regardless, if this face was rolled when making a Movement Dice Roll (DR), a Lax unit would automatically Stray.1 Jack’s plan for the white die involved different coloured pips that would indicate when a Normal or Stealthy unit Strayed. There would be black pips on the one- and two-spots, silver pips on the three- and four-spots, and gold pips on the five- and six-spots. A Normal unit would Stray when a “strayer” was rolled on the color die and the pips of the white die were metallic. Similarly, a Stealthy unit would Stray when a “strayer” was rolled with the color die and the pips of the white die were gold. The concept is not without merit. And it is possible by substituting colour pips for metallic-foil ones. But give many players fear of the dark, I don’t think the demand is there. 

Perhaps the most original of Jack’s ideas was for a set of two concealment-gain dice, one for a squad and another for a Half-Squad (HS). Playing ASL in a bubble in the late 80s and early 90s, my sole opponent and I never thought to roll for concealment gain. So in one respect, concealment-gain dice could be a boon to new players, if only to prompt them to undertake this important step at the end of the Close Combat Phase (CCPh). What made Jack’s proposal intriguing though was the use of different pip colours to factor in the ability of Stealthy Infantry, and Japanese Infantry in particular, to gain concealment more readily. For example, a regular British squad gains concealment on a die roll (dr) of 2 or less, while a Gurkha squad would do so on a dr of 3 or less, because Gurkhas receive a -1 die roll modifier (drm) for being Stealthy. However, all Japanese Infantry are entitled to a -2 drm to their Concealment dr (G1.63). Moreover, this drm is in addition to any drm for being Stealthy (or Lax).

Although it sounds cool on paper, the trouble with a concealment-gain die as proposed is that ignores other drm that may be applicable. A place could be found on a die for a reminder that a Lax unit suffers a +1 drm. More difficult would be reminder regarding Leadership. However, the Y-variable on the A12.122 Concealment drm Table is arguably the biggest challenge to incorporate on the die. I don’t see an easy solution other than to ignore this drm and trust players to factor it in on those rare occasions that it matters.

A12.122 Concealment Gain Table

I haven’t shut the door on the idea. But I’d need convincing before I’d devote more time to developing the concept.

That said, Jack’s use of red pips for Japanese Infantry did prompt me to reflect on just how apropos a red “meatball” is on a die dedicated to the Emperor’s finest. Although it took time to germinate, the seed that Jack planted grew not into a bean stalk but into a very specialized die. 

From the moment they first appeared in Code of Bushido in 1991, the Japanese have occupied a unique place in ASL. Among their numerous special capabilities is their ability to generate “suicide” heroes (G1.42). The raison d’être of one type is in the name: Tank-Hunter (T-H) Hero. Admittedly, this hero has a little more latitude and may attack any Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV), not just tanks. On his way to meet his maker, a T-H Hero may Check for Anti-Tank Magnetic Mines (ATMM), or occasionally grab a Demolition Charge (DC) before making his suicidal charge. A DC Hero has even more freedom when it comes to what he may attack. Both may be rolled for using the ATMM and T-H/DC Hero die that I came up with below.

16mm ATMM and T-H/DC Hero Die

When we released the Japanese ATMM and T-H/DC Hero die in 2017, MMP had yet to publish Forgotten War, a module dedicated to the Korean War. Once I had a chance to peruse Chapter W, I was pleased to find that rules for creating South Korean Human Bullet (H-B) Heroes (W3.23) and North Korean Suicide Heroes (W6.4) are effectively the same as those used to generate a Japanese suicide hero. The "Japanese" die above is therefore no longer limited to use by Japanese units.

Jack’s other suggestion was for a set of two Starshell dice, one of which would serve as a Starshell Placement die. As it happened, I had begun work on a 19mm design a year earlier. I was under the mistaken impression that it was possible to produce a ball-cornered version of a “craps” die. The bigger die didn’t pan out. In 2015, we released a 16mm Starshell Usage die. It’s ideal when playing night scenarios of certain Campaign Games (CG).

16mm Starshell Usage Die

Mark Watson expressed a familiar lament. Every time he rolls double-ones on a Wind-Change DR (B25.65) he has to make a “rules dive” in order to figure out what to do next, if in fact anything. “It’d be nice,” he added, “if the dice also reminded me to make it start raining when it was overcast.” Well, there’s no easy way to indicate when rain (or snow) would begin, let alone increase or stop, using dice. (Don’t get me started on Civilian Interrogation [E2.4], which occurs on a Wind Change DR of 3 or 4). I thought about these things. A lot. But I couldn’t see how it could be done. 

The direction and the strength of the wind is another matter. The former is complicated by the fact that a change in direction is ignored if there’s no wind. Wind Force isn’t straightforward either. A force decrease, for example, will actually result in a force increase if there’s currently no wind, while a force increase could result in a decrease in wind force if Heavy Wind is in effect, becoming Mild Breeze as a consequence. In other words, those of you still capable of reading the tiny text on the back for the wind-direction counter may still find yourself scratching your head after making a change dr. It’s certainly possible to design a die that takes most of this into account. However, the cost is prohibitive for a die that’s unlikely to see use during the course of most scenarios.

Finally, Steve Slunt asked that I consider an Infantry Smoke Placement die. Reflecting on it now, it’s a pretty neat idea. Considering that many newer or infrequent players don’t use SMOKE nearly enough, such a die might prompt some to smoke ‘em if you got ’em more often. A white die with green pips on the one-, two- and three-spots would work for regular squads that have a Smoke Exponent. Satchel charges on the four- and five-spots could signify availability for Assault Engineers packing extra SMOKE. Finally, the six-spot could feature reminders that there is +1 drm for White Phosphorus (WP) grenades, and more important, that rolling a six ends the squad’s Movement Phase (MPh).

What, if any, specialized BattleDice do you think would make a good player aid?

Report Card

The 2014 wish list was a long one. Of close to 50 suggestions, almost 30 had made the cut by 2017. If we discount seven of the nine requests related to the Spanish Civil War, roughly 70 percent of the asks resulted in new BattleDice. This figure includes a few dice that are related to a specific request but may be considered substitutes. For example, the British “Red Devils” die with a Pegasus on the ace works well for the British 6th Airborne Division. The same die works equally well for the glider-borne “Oxs and Bucks” who were part of the same division. The table below summarizes the requests for new BattleDice and what became of them.

BattleDice Report Card 2017

What now?

I’d really like to produce a 16mm Dutch pair for our Europa Series. To date I’ve failed to come up with a compelling design. What about that orange triangle thingy, you ask? It’s simple enough. No orange foil though. And no orange dice. Granted I did use a simplified version of this symbol on a 12.5mm die. Only that seems like a cop out for a larger format.   Think you have what it takes? Submit a design for a pair of 16mm Dutch BattleDice. If we use your design, we’ll gift you a pair, along with every other pair in the Europa Series.

Dutch Dilemma - For want of a compelling design.

There is no shortage of outstanding requests for new designs. Some, such as a Slovak pair for the Europa Series, offer the promise of interesting and colourful dice. Others like Canadian divisional dice are downright dull. The only pair in the Empire Series dazzles in comparison. There are those who would snap up any new Waffen-SS designs and those who would turn their noses up at another die of a military formation be it divisional, corps, or army. And yet much territory remains unexplored. 

Strange bedfellows - Slovaks and Canucks

The Korean War is a case in point. A South Korean die would be stunning, a die for the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (CPVA) not so much. Below are a few examples that I threw together over the course of a couple days. I’m not satisfied with any of them, except perhaps the last die. The “sturm und stoss”  die could see a lot of use when playing Campaign Games I, III, and IV of Red Barricades.

Anything jump out at you? ;-)

So what do you think? Are we done yet? Or are there certain subjects still in need of some love? Let me know in the comments below. 

Free stuff

If you comment as a Squad Leader—a Follower of Sitrep—you’ll be entered automatically in our New Year’s raffle. Up for grabs is a copy of Bounding Fire Productions’ Onslaught to Orsha 2 and a set of our ASL at 30 BattleDice. Feel free to submit your two cents after 31 December. However, only those who comment before 1 January 2022 will be eligible to win on New Year’s Day.

New Year's Prize: Onslaught to Orsha 2 - Enter today!

In other news, I’ve got two posts in the Bishop Pointers series raring to go. The second article is complete. However, it’s on hold pending completion of the first article, which is waiting on feedback from MMP regarding some interpretations of the rules.

Thanks for reading. Merry Christmas!


1. As per E1.53, a Lax unit/stack automatically Strays if the colored dr of the Movement DR is a 6, a Normal unit/stack Strays only if the white dr of the Movement DR is ≥ 3, and a Stealthy unit/stack Strays only if the white dr of the Movement DR is ≥ 5.

31 October 2021

BP-3 Infantry Target Type and CH

The Infantry Target Type and Critical Hits

By James Bishop and Chris Doary

When firing ordnance, newer players tend to count all of the Dice Roll Modifiers (DRM) and include them in the To Hit Number (TH#). For instance, a Gun fires at an Infantry unit in an adjacent stone building Location. Some players see a Basic TH# of 8 with a +3 DRM for the stone building Terrain Effects Modifier (TEM) and -2 DRM for Point Blank Range, and conclude that they need a 7 to hit. While this may get the Dice Roll (DR) you need to hit the target, this line of reasoning can rob you of a Critical Hit (CH). With this in mind, this article will examine how to calculate a CH when using the Infantry Target Type (ITT). Let’s get stuck in.1

Basic To Hit Number 

The first thing we need to do is distinguish between the Basic TH# and the Modified TH#. Granted it’s possible for these numbers to be the same value when, for example, no Gun or Ammo Modifiers apply, or the only modifier is 0. However, it’s the Modified TH# that is used to calculate a CH—more on this shortly.

Determining the Basic TH# is relatively straightforward. Once we select the Target Type, we move right along this row until we arrive at the range bracket that corresponds with the range from Gun to target. Each range bracket on the ITT has a black and a red number. Each is the Basic TH# for that range bracket. The number that applies depends on a number of things. For instance, if the date is 1942, American ordnance uses red TH#, as shown in the C3 To Hit Table example below.

C3 and C4 To Hit Tables

Modified To Hit Number

The Modified TH# is the sum of the Basic TH# and any applicable Gun or Ammo modifiers found in the C4 Table. As with the C3 Table, determining which modifiers apply is a matter of cross-referencing a Gun’s barrel length and calibre with the relevant range column. (Because we cannot use the ITT to fire SMOKE, we can ignore this row. Similarly, APDS and APCR can only be fired at vehicles on the Vehicle Target Type, which allows us to ignore this row too.) Let’s do the math using the example on the previous slide. Before we do, keep in mind that Gun and Ammo modifiers are not DRM. They modify the Basic TH#, not the DR.

You will recall that, in our example, it is 1942 and the M3A1 37mm Anti-Tank (AT) Gun therefore uses red TH#. The range to the target is 14 hexes. On the C3 Table we determine that the Gun’s Basic TH# is 5 on the ITT. At this range, the extra-long (LL) barrel increases the accuracy of the Gun, bumping its TH# up to 6. However, the Gun pays a heavy price at this range due to its small calibre. It suffers a -1 loss in accuracy for being under the 57mm threshold, and an additional -1 loss for being smaller than 40mm. You read that right. The Gun-calibre modifiers are cumulative. The net result of all applicable modifiers is a Modified TH# of 4.

Final To Hit Number

Before we can assess whether a Gun has achieved a CH, we need to determine the value of a second variable called the Final TH DR. We arrive at this value by adding all applicable DRM to the sum of the dice rolled—the Original TH DR in ASL-speak. 

Building on our 37mm AT Gun example, we find in the slide below that the target is a Vichy squad that has entered hex 86J6 using normal movement. Orchard TEM is +0. Nothing to write home about. But at least it’s not Open Ground. So the -1 DRM for First Fire Movement in Open Ground (FFMO) does not apply, although the -1 DRM for First Fire Non-Assault Movement (FFNAM) does. However our hapless Frenchmen have stumbled into the Gun’s Bore Sighted Location, which subjects them to an additional -2 DRM. The net DRM now stands at -3! 

A Modified TH# of 4 is beginning to look respectable at this point given that the Gun will hit on an Original DR of 7 or less. Even better when the American player rolls 4 (3,1)! Adding the negative TH DRM to the Original TH DR we arrive at a Final TH DR of 1. It’s definitely a hit. But given that Final TH DR less than 2, the holy grail of ASL DR, surely it must be a CH. Only it doesn’t work that way. 

North Africa 1942

Critical Hit

According to C3.7, a CH is a hit so well placed that it significantly increases the prospect of harming the target. Not surprisingly new and veteran players alike get excited whenever they roll double ones on a TH DR. Barring an Improbable Hit—we’ll get to that in due course—rolling “snake-eyes” on the Area or Vehicle Target Type automatically results in a CH. 

However, on the ITT an Original TH DR of 2 doesn’t guarantee a CH, although it frequently results in one. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Truth is, there’s more scope for landing a CH on the ITT than on the other Target Types. And this has to do with the unique way in which a CH is calculated when using the ITT. 

In order to achieve a CH on the ITT, the Final TH DR must be less than half of the Modified TH#. Returning to our example in North Africa, the American Gun has scored a CH because its Final TH DR of 1 is less than half of the Gun’s Modified TH# of 4, as shown below. Had the Vichy soldats been more careful and declared Assault Movement, the Final TH DR would have been 2. While still a hit, it would not be a CH, because 2 is not less than half of 4.

The Vichy squad is doomed!

The immediate takeaway is that, unlike Area and Vehicle Target Types, the Original TH DR is not the main determinant in assessing whether a CH has been achieved on the ITT. Rather it is the Final TH DR in relation to the Modified TH# that most often matters. This is borne out by the way that an Original TH DR of 2 is treated on the ITT. Only if the Final TH DR is less than the Modified TH# will an Original TH DR of 2 result in an immediate CH.

In the slide below, the American Gun has targeted a Japanese crew in 62P8. The 2-2-8 is in a palm tree Location that has been acquired by the Gun. With only a +1 hindrance for the palm trees in Q8, the net TH DRM is -1. The Original TH DR is 2, but it doesn’t guarantee a CH. However, because the Final TH DR of 1 is less than 2.5, or half of the Modified TH# of 5, the outcome is a CH. Note that C3.7 does not round fractions up or down. Half of the Modified TH# is just that, half.

Daily Double - Doubling down on Double Ones

Even in situations where the Final TH DR is not less than half of the Modified TH#, “double ones” may result in a CH. Provided the Final TH DR is sufficient to hit a target on the ITT, a subsequent die roll (dr) is made to determine if the hit is Critical. A subsequent dr of 1 results in a CH. But so will a subsequent dr that is less than or equal to half of the Modified TH#. Have a look at the 3-4-7 in P8 in the “Daily Double” slide. Due to the palm hindrances and jungle TEM, an Original TH DR of 2 results in a Final TH DR of 5. This is equivalent to the Modified TH#, and is therefore a hit. However, it’s possible for the hit to be critical on a subsequent dr. Given that the Modified TH# is 5, a subsequent dr of 2 or less will do the trick, as these dr would be less than or equal to 2.5. 

There’s one last way that an Original TH DR of 2 can result in a CH on the ITT. However, in this case, the Modified TH# doesn’t play a role. Due to the TH DRM and the Modified TH#, it is impossible for the Gun crew to roll low enough to hit the 4-4-8 in the “Daily Double” slide. Even “snake-eyes” will result in a Final TH DR greater than the Modified TH# shown. However, regardless of which Target Type is used, an Original TH DR of 2 nevertheless entitles the firer to an Improbable Hit (C3.6). In such cases, a firer obtains a hit with a subsequent dr of 1, 2 or 3, with 1 being a CH. Anything greater is deemed a miss.

In summary, there are three ways to achieve a CH on the ITT. The first way to score a CH involves having a Final TH DR that is less than half the Modified TH#. The second is an Original 2 TH DR that hits the target followed by a dr of 1, or a dr less than or equal to half the Modified TH#. The third is an Improbable Hit, an Original 2 TH DR that results in a Final TH DR that is greater than the Modified TH#, and therefore requires a subsequent dr of 1 for the hit to be critical. 

Let’s look at a few more examples that will help drive home the importance of the Modified TH# in determing a CH on the ITT.

Modifying your behaviour

Parting shots

This article has focussed on how to achieve a CH on the ITT, in part because of the unique way a CH is determined on the ITT, but primarily because so many players miscalculate and therefore miss out on a CH. As for how to resolve a CH, we recommend that you reacquaint yourself with C3.71. That said, we will leave you with a couple of pointers. First, if a target Location contains multiple eligible targets, Random Selection is used to determine which target suffers the CH (C3.74). And second, if a Gun and its manning crew are hit by a CH, they are eliminated regardless of the effects DR (C11.4).

Calling out the Modified To Hit Number in conjunction with the net To Hit Dice Roll Modifiers helps with calculating a Critical Hit correctly. Remember that the Final TH DR must be less than half of the Modified TH# to land a CH, and that any fractions that may result from this halving are retained as is; they are not rounded up or down. Finally it’s worth repeating that an Original 2 TH DR, in and of itself, isn’t enough to result in a CH on the Infantry Target Type. Furthermore, the lack of an automatic “snake-eyes” CH on the ITT is offset by the ability to land a “crit” without the need to roll an Original 2 TH DR. 

We hope that you found our explanations useful. If you have corrections to offer, please don’t hesitate to let us know. An earlier version of this article (by Jim Bishop) was published in the September 2021 issue of Banzai (Vol. 26, No. 1).


1. Ed. To “get stuck in (or into)” is an informal British expression similar to the imperative “let’s go!” It means to start something at once with vigour or determination. As with earlier Bishop Pointers, I’ve edited and expanded upon the original. Any errors that may have crept in are mine.

09 September 2021

BP-2 Converting a Spotting Round

Converting a Spotting Round to Fire For Effect

By James Bishop

In August 2021, I attended the ASL Scandinavian Open tournament in Copenhagen. The French have Offboard Artillery (OBA) in WO33. Walking around the room, I twice observed players Convert a Spotting Round (SR) to Fire For Effect (FFE) incorrectly. “One-Eyed Jacques” is an ideal case study for this all too common error.1

How to do it right

I have excerpted a section of the C1 Offboard Artillery Player Aid—commonly called the OBA Flowchart—that I will be referring to throughout this article. In order to Convert a SR effectively, you need to understand what’s really going on at this stage of the OBA process. Once you grasp these subtleties, you’ll increase your prospects of placing a Fire Mission significantly. And you’ll be better equipped to frustrate your opponent’s attempts to use OBA against you. For ease I have labeled the two decision-making rectangles in our section of the chart “A” and “B.” I also included the errata from ASL Journal 11, which instructs us to change “AR” (Artillery Request) to “SR” in rectangle B.2

For our purposes we will assume that you have successfully navigated the flowchart to the point where you have maintained Radio Contact, announced your intention to Convert, rolled for accuracy, and corrected the SR (if necessary). You are now ready to Convert the SR to FFE. 

It’s not enough to simply announce your intention to Convert a SR, as some players presume. There are a couple of crucial conditions that must be met before a SR can be Converted to FFE. 

Rectangle A: Determining LOS

The process begins with rectangle A. One of two conditions must be met at this stage before we can continue the Conversion process:

  1. The first condition is the most straightforward. Provided the Observer has Line of Sight (LOS) to the Base Level of the SR hex, we proceed to rectangle B. The Base Level, according to the Index, is “normally the lowest level Location” excluding subterranean Locations.3 Normal LOS rules apply with respect to Blind hexes, LOS Obstacles, LOS Hindrances, and so forth.4 
  2. Failing that, the Observer must satisfy a two-part condition. Because the Blast Height (C1.32) of a SR is visible two levels above the Base Level of a hex, it’s possible for an Observer to see a SR in an otherwise Blind Hex. Should this be case, the Observer also must have LOS to a Known enemy unit,5 either in or adjacent to the SR hex. 

For this and other OBA actions, concealed units in non-Concealment Terrain are considered Known to the Observer. (Footnote “d” after the word “Known” in rectangle A reminds us of this fact.)6 

If the Observer fails all or part of either test, we follow the “No” path to the green stadium, (hereafter oval) to the right of rectangle A, which leaves the SR in place but “unconverted.” 

In sum, both conditions rely on an Observer having LOS to where the SR has landed. The second condition is complicated by the need to have LOS to a Known enemy unit too.

Rectangle B: Converting

Let’s assume that we’ve met the tougher, Blast-Height condition in rectangle A. Following the “Yes” path to rectangle B, we are asked if are there any enemy units in or adjacent to the SR hex, in what is otherwise known as the Blast Area of a HE Concentration. And if so, are all of them unknown to the Observer? Because our Observer had to have LOS to a Known enemy unit in the Blast Area in order to get to rectangle B in the first place, we can respond with an unequivocal no. The “No” path leads directly to the green oval below, allowing us to Convert the SR to FFE:1. 

We would take the same “No” path if our Observer had LOS to the Base Level of the SR hex (rectangle A) and there were no enemy units in the Blast Area (rectangle B).7 

But what happens if all of the enemy units in the seven-hex Blast Area are unknown to the Observer? We sidestep. The “Yes” path from rectangle B leads to a square that instructs us to make an extra chit draw. 

If we draw a black chit, we proceed along the “Black” path to the green oval and Convert. Should we draw red, we sidestep again. The “Red” path leads to a rather unfriendly red oval with three, dire consequences. Not only does the SR not Convert, but it’s lost altogether. Adding insult to misery, Battery Access is also lost. 


Harassing Fire

Harassing Fire is a special case. While all rules pertaining to enemy units in or adjacent to the SR remain in play, any units located in the outermost hexes of a Harassing Fire Blast Area are ignored, regardless of whether they are Known to the Observer or not. Provided the Observer has LOS to the Base Level of the SR hex or to the Blast Height, and there are no unknown enemy units in or adjacent to the SR hex, the SR will Convert without the need to make an extra chit draw.


For this section please refer to the illustration below. The Observer is in 13aI5 on level 2. Five SR are on the board labeled SR:A through SR:E. I will discuss each in turn.

Clearly, there is more to attacking with, and defending against, OBA than offered in this brief article. If you would like to see more about this or some other topic, let me know what interests you and I may take it on. I hope you found this useful. Should you spot any errors, please let me know so that I can correct them. -- jim


1. As editor and de-facto “ghost writer,” I’ve again mutilated another of Jim’s gems. I assume full responsibility for any errors that remain or may have crept in due to my meddling. For the most part, I’ve expanded on Jim’s content, although some sections have been extensively rewritten. Hopefully, I’ve conveyed his central points in a coherent manner. Compare with his original post here.

2. You can find this errata near the top of the right-hand column of page 57 in ASL Journal 11 (2016), under the heading Charts & Tables.

3. According to the Index definition of Base Level, if the lowest level Location in building hex does not allow VBM along at least one hexside of that hex, the Base Level is that of the highest building level in that hex [EX: The Base Level of 20C7 is 2½; that of 20D7 is 0]).

4. Low Visibility conditions such as Fog (E3.31), Night Visibility Range, and artificial Illumination present special challenges for OBA Conversion that are well beyond the scope of this article.

5. Be careful not to confuse “Known” enemy unit in the context of OBA actions and “Known Enemy Unit.” The latter is defined by the Index as “any unconcealed, non-prisoner enemy unit—even one which is broken or in Melee—which the unit in question currently has a LOS to.” In contrast, an Observer will consider a concealed unit not in Concealment Terrain (e.g., in Open Ground) to be a “Known” enemy unit, as explained in the next endnote.

6. Footnote “d” on the last page of the C1 Offboard Artillery Player Aid states the following: A Known enemy unit is an unconcealed enemy that you have LOS to. However, Concealed units in non-Concealment Terrain [EXC: night, Winter Camouflage] and in LOS of the Observer are always considered Known to him for his OBA actions.

7. Hidden, subterranean, and aerial units are excluded.

Get your OBA tokens today!

03 September 2021

BP-1 Stop and Go Traffic: A Synopsis

By James Bishop

Recently players have posted questions online about Moving, Motion, Starting, and Stopping, and how these interact with C6 Target-Based To Hit DRM (Dice Roll Modifiers). These questions appear cyclically, and I can recall answering them for as long as I have played ASL. Much of the information in this article appeared in Ole Bøe’s “Stop and Go Traffic” article, which originally appeared in ASL Annual ‘96. These old Annuals are available as PDF files from MMP, or can be picked up used from all of the usual outlets. I highly recommend you read the original as it's still informative. But for those who can’t, I offer a summary of that article here.1

Moving and Vehicular Target

To apply DRM properly, it's important first to understand the difference between uppercase-Moving and “Moving Vehicular Target.” A Moving Vehicular Target, often referred to simply as a moving target, is defined in C.8. It includes any vehicle during ITS2 Movement Phase (MPh) that has a) entered a new hex, or b) Bypassed a new hexside within its current hex. In addition, any vehicle that a) starts ITS MPh in Motion, or b) is currently in Motion, qualifies as a Moving Vehicular Target. I’ll explain the concept of “Motion” shortly. The key here is that a Moving Vehicular Target is one that has either moved to a new position on the board, or qualifies for Motion status.

Moving is more nuanced. The ASL Rule Book (ASLRB) doesn’t draw a clear distinction between the two primary uses of the term in the game. In its narrowest sense, Moving refers to a unit that is currently conducting ITS MPh. I should stress that only one entity can be said to be Moving (or “phasing”) at a time. However, a Moving entity can consist of more than a single unit. Multiple units can Move as a stack, including Armored Assault (D9.31), which allows an Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) and Infantry to Move together. Less common is a “multi-hex stack,” which uses a form of Impulse-based movement.3 In all cases the constituent parts of any Moving group of units are considered Moving regardless of which unit (or units) are actually expending a Movement Factor (MF)/Movement Point (MP) at a given moment. For example, a stack declares Armored Assault. The AFV expends a MP to start, and another to change Vehicular Covered Arc (VCA). Although the Infantry accompanying the AFV has yet to expend any MF, both it and the AFV are Moving, that is, they are conducting THEIR MPh (as a stack). Interestingly, the vehicle does not yet qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target, although it does qualify as a target for Defensive First Fire, which brings me to the broader definition of moving, namely the expenditure of MF/MP.

Rule section A8.1 states that the “portion [of Defensive Fire] occurring during the enemy MPh is called Defensive First Fire and can be used only vs a moving unit(s).” In my previous example, the AFV expended 2 MP. The AFV is therefore moving for the purposes of Defensive First Fire and can be fired upon based on either or both MP expended. The Infantry, however, cannot be targeted directly because they have yet to expend a MF.4 A similar situation occurs when a Stopped vehicle attempts but fails to dispense Smoke at the beginning of ITS MPh. While the vehicle is Moving—in the narrowest sense of the term, it's not moving for the purposes of Defensive First Fire, because it hasn’t expended a MP (D13.2). However, were the vehicle to end ITS MPh at this point, it would qualify for Defensive First Fire, because it's considered to expend all of its remaining MP in that hex (D2.1). This is a case where a vehicle has Moved (conducted ITS MPh) without actually moving anywhere. Confusing, I know. If only such a key concept as “moving” was spelled out in the rules, or defined in the Index.

Stopped and Non-Stopped

The default setting for a vehicle that sets up onboard is Stopped (A2.52). According to the Index, a Non-Stopped vehicle is one that has not expended a Stop MP since its last Start MP expenditure during ITS MPh. A Non-Stopped vehicle is therefore a moving unit in both senses of the term “moving” discussed in the previous paragraph. On the one hand, a Non-Stopped vehicle is conducting ITS MPh. On the other hand, it's moving for the purposes of Defensive First Fire. However, a Non-Stopped vehicle is considered a Moving Vehicular Target only if it has entered a new hex, or used Vehicular Bypass Movement (VBM). So contrary to Stopped status, which can apply during any phase, Non-Stopped status can only apply to a vehicle during ITS MPh. For instance, it’s possible for a vehicle to become Stopped during an enemy Prep Fire Phase as a result of an Immobilization, Shock, or Stun result. But what happens if a vehicle chooses not to end ITS MPh Stopped? 

Motion Status

The term used to describe a vehicle that isn’t Stopped before or after ITS MPh is called Motion. A Moving vehicle—one conducting ITS MPh—is never in Motion. It's either Stopped or Non-Stopped. However, a vehicle which ends ITS MPh without expending a Stop MP assumes Motion status. This status in indicated by placing a Motion counter atop the vehicle. For To-Hit purposes, a Motion vehicle is always treated as a Moving Vehicular Target. Although the Motion counter is removed the moment a vehicle with Motion status begins ITS MPh, the vehicle remains a Moving Vehicular Target. This should be self evident given that the vehicle has yet to expend a Stop MP, and is therefore Non-Stopped, and thus a Moving Vehicular Target. In contrast, a vehicle not under a Motion counter will begin ITS MPh as a Stopped, non-Moving Vehicular Target. 


From the foregoing it should be clear that the game concepts of moving (A8.1), Moving (phasing), and Moving Vehicular Target are not synonymous. A vehicle can be Stopped, yet qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target. Conversely, a vehicle can be Non-Stopped but not qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target. Non-Stopped and Motion, while similar, are not synonymous either. The former represents a state during a unit’s MPh, that is, when a vehicle is Moving. Motion meanwhile is a kind of suspended state of movement that exists outside a unit’s MPh. When in Motion, a vehicle is paradoxically neither moving (A8.1)5 nor Moving (phasing), but is always deemed to be a Moving Vehicular Target, even to the extent of beginning ITS MPh as a Moving Vehicular Target.

A thorough grasp of the implications of each vehicle state and the distinction between moving and Moving, together with a careful perusal of the various charts, will greatly aid you in applying the correct DRM when the rubber meets the road.

Time to see how this all works in practice.

I hope you found this brief article useful. Knowing what DRM apply in a given situation is an important step toward mastery of combined-arms play. Please let me know if you spot any errors. Like you, I’m always learning. Now go read “Stop and Go Traffic!” It’s worth your time. -- jim


1. I (Chris) have taken great liberties editing this piece. Any errors that may have crept in are my own. Hopefully I have not deviated too far from Jim’s intent. You can find Jim's original text here.

2. The Advance Sequence of Play (ASOP) uses all-caps to underscore a) which unit (or group of units) is currently phasing, and b) at what stage a unit (or group of units) is in ITS MPh. A phasing unit conducts ITS MPh in three stages: START, DURING, and END. Although a unit is considered to be Moving, in the sense that it's the unit that is actively phasing, it may not actually be moving for the purposes of A8.1. With the exception of conducting a Search, any actions undertaken by a unit at the START or END of its MPh do not qualify as moving for the purposes of Defensive First Fire, despite the fact that the unit is Moving throughout ITS MPh.

3. In addition to Platoon Movement (D14.2), which allows two or three AFV to Move concurrently in Impulses, there are a number of other special cases where units may Move as a “multi-Location stack” or a “multi-hex stack,” such as Human Wave (A25.23), Cavalry Wave (A13.62), Banzai (G1.5), Convoy (D11.2), and Column (D11.52). Regardless of how many units participate in a Human Wave, for example, the Human Wave Moves as a single entity.

4. The Infantry, while Moving with the AFV, have yet to expend any MF, which means they do not satisfy the broader definition of moving. While the opposing side may declare a Defensive First Fire shot at the AFV, the Infantry may not be targeted (directly) because they are not moving for the purposes of A8.1. A question-and-answer confirms this:

A8.1 & D9.31

Q. An MMC [e.g., a squad] stacked with a stopped AFV declares an Armored Assault. The AFV starts. Does this spent MP allow enemy units to Defensive First Fire at the MMC?

A. No. 

5. Technically there is a fleeting moment at the END of ITS MPh (ASOP Step 3.41A) where a vehicle is moving for purposes of Defensive First Fire. Because a vehicle must either expend a Stop MP or place a Motion counter at the END of ITS MPh, the opposing player is entitled to Defensive First Fire before another unit begins ITS MPh.