Author Archives: ctewks

About ctewks

proud father of 3 boys; happiest husband ever; gadget geek!

An ASL SK Player’s Perspective

Local gamer and all-around-good-egg, Emery Gallant, posted the below on his war gaming forum “Wargaming Drop Zone”. Thanks to Emery and all the SK players who set a new standard for the SK Mini at Tussle this year! If you’d like to see more of Emery’s forum, you can here.

Attending Tussle in the Tundra was transformative for me this year! Allow me to explain…

The SK Factor

Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) is said to be one of, if not the most immersive Wargames ever created. The detail played is simply unbelievable and amazing. I’ve also heard it said that it is a “Lifelong System”, said mainly because it it is said by some, to take a lifetime to learn, and I’m not sure anyone ever masters it. These descriptions are seen many times around forums and social media, as well as in-person gaming. I can personally attest that to a new player, it’s wonderfully grand and just as intimidating.

Somewhere along the line, Multi Man Publishing (MMP) figured these things out and came out with the Starter Kits (SK), each individually boxed game covering a different aspect; infantry (in SK1), artillery (in SK2), armor (in SK3), and recently the Pacific Theater (in SK4). MMP has also produced supplemental scenario and bonus packs to further expand the SK system. And a small subset of folks even produce added scenarios to the series. For those unfamiliar with the SK system, they are just as advertised: an entryway into the system, either to just stay in that easier play arena, or to perhaps one day move onto full system ASL.

What Tussle in the Tundra has done the past couple years is, offer a competitive playing venue for an SK Mini Tournament, but more importantly, a place to learn and play for several days in a row against both new and seasoned SK players. What I like about Tussle is, without doubt in my mind, it is the most relaxed and casual competitive environment that few events can match (I only know of one other, and it doesn’t quite match up fully to Tussle, in my honest opinion).

For those wondering, whether you’ve never seen and played the SK (or full ASL) system, or are perhaps just starting out; and even for those veteran full system ASLers, please allow me to share my personal story with both systems…

I bought the full system little by little, mostly a few decades ago, collecting the original rules binder and most of the modules. I would start to read Chapter A, Infantry, and get about four or five pages in and shake my head in frustration. It was just too much system for me! …and I’m a veteran wargamer in both board and miniatures with a long history. I don’t say this to scare anyone off, but I can’t be the only one. Undeterred, I added to the ASL collection, collecting a few of the newer edition modules of what I did not own, and would crack open that rulebook, and walk the other way. It had always been that system I’d get to one day… maybe.

Then came the Starter Kits and I had my first real hope of actually playing ASL, in some form. It was an exciting prospect, and still is. I can’t remember when I started collecting the whole SK system, but it was probably sometime around 2014, since my version of SK1 is the 10th Anniversary Edition. That also coincides to the start of one of the toughest professions I’d ever begun so, the dice weren’t on my side for time to learn a new system. However, I managed a couple solo games here and there, and played three in-person games in the last two years, up until this years’ Tussle. Though I’d read the rules for SK1 several times over, the acronyms and complexity drove me nuts. So much to remember! …even at the Starter Kit level.

Many veteran ASL players have been at full system so long, I’ve found them to be very supportive; but over the last year, I’ve also come to realize that SK is different enough that you need to be careful when asking advice, as so many have not really looked at the SK system rules. That’s where an event like Tussle in the Tundra comes in: the chance to figure things out with fellow newbies, as well as the more experienced players is invaluable. The side days non-tournament are key for attendance, as this is the time you can really learn the system. There are SK folks in-tournament that are willing to teach as you go, as well.

I wasn’t able to stay the whole event last year due to a family emergency, but this year I was there the whole event and it was the best money I could have spent… in attendance, I learned so much, and played four full games! I’d read half of SK2’s artillery rules before attendance, and with help from two generous opponents, figured out how to use German 88’s! And perhaps the greatest part being, I am fully kick started with a fire lit under my butt to keep playing. For me, that’s transformative… and maybe it can be for you, too. I can’t possibly recommend Tussle on the Tundra attendance highly enough.

Tussle XIV Recap

Another Tussle in the Tundra has come and gone! This, the 14th year of the Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) event, proved to be another fun weekend for all who participated. The final standings for each of our events can be found here.

Ron Duenskie, one of the many great players from the “New Jersey Wrecking Crew” defeated Rob Loper in Round 3 of the Main tourney to be crowned Tussle Champion this year.

Paul Chamberland took home the trophy for winning the Saturday “Fog of War” Mini Tourney, defeating local player Derek Dunn after 3 rounds.

In its second year, we had 8 players for the Starter Kit Mini with Scott Hamilton beating Mark Dennehy to repeat as Tussle SK Champion.

One of the things the Tussle strives for is a fun yet competitive environment where players of all experience and skill levels can play our beloved game and learn from one another. On that criteria, Tussle is a rousing success!

One thing we’re going to try differently next year is a scoring system in the main tournament that will encourage players to participate in all five rounds. The idea being that more games = more fun! Plus, a champion after five rounds wouldn’t necessarily have to be undefeated to win the tournament. The initial planning and vetting of this system is underway and should be finalized by the beginning of 2023.

A very large debt of gratitude goes to our sponsors that provide prizes for both the winners of each event, as well as the raffle. Please consider them when making your next ASL or gaming purchase! They are all listed here.

I have much gratitude to the players who make it out to Manchester each year and make our event what it is. This year was a challenge for me and the kind words of thanks and encouragement were appreciated more than I could ever describe.

Tussle XV will be happening in 2023. Exact dates to be determined. We hope to not conflict with the Spreading Blaze event in Atlanta, nor the WBC. Stay tuned for an announcement some time in September once we finalize that.

Until then ROLL LOW! (but not lower than me!)



Tussle XIV Results

Another Tussle in the Tundra is done and behind us. We had a great weekend of ASL action including the main tournament, a Saturday mini tournament and the return of the Starter Kit mini tournament as well.

Final Standings for each event are listed below.

Main Tournament Results

(edited to include ONLY Main Tourney games)

Ron Duenskie (5-0)
Rob Loper (2-1)
Richard Vieira (2-1)

Michael Stultz (3-1)
Paul Chamberland (1-1)
Keith Hill (1-1)
John Droescher (1-1)
Jeff Luce (2-3)
Mark Evans (1-4)
Ted Wilcox (1-3)
Keith Talbot (0-2)
Ralph McDonald (2-1)
Kedge Johnson (1-2)
Paul Anderson (1-2)
Randy Knight (1-0)
Chuck Tewksbury (0-1)

ASL Starter Kit Mini

Scott Hamilton (3-0)
Mark Dennehy (2-1)
Emery Gallant (1-1)
Andrew Armstrong (1-1)
Steve Oliver (1-1)
Mark Kolenski (1-1)
Cole Mills (0-2)
Tiffani Drennon (0-2)

Saturday “Fog of War” Mini Tournament Results

Paul Chamberland (3-0)
Derek Dunn (2-1)
Keith Hill (2-1)
John Droescher (2-1)
Jeff Luce (1-2)
Bruce Carson (1-2)
Ted Wilcox (1-2)
Keith Talbot (0-3)

Tussle 2022 is ready to roll!

Breakfast at Red Arrow, DONE!

Prize tables for raffle and tournaments DONE!

Players starting to setup and drop dice for open play… DONE

Tussle in the Tundra is ready for it’s 14th playing. Four days of ASL action will be had. Looking forward to seeing everyone coming and enjoying the camaraderie of our favorite game.

Tussle from an sk player’s view

It has been a difficult year and half of gaming if you don’t VASL. My wife threatened to sell my games because I wasn’t using them anymore. And, I missed the regulars at the Greenfield Bunker. So, when the Tussle was going live, I knew I had to be there despite not being an ASL player.

With encouragement from Chuck and Joe Gochinski, I signed up to play the Saturday Starter Kit mini-tourney. Joe said the rule book is only 12 pages. Chuck said he needed the entrance fee to pay for the room rental. So, in addition to reading, I listened to some great Youtube tutorial videos on gameplay while commuting to work and my hour drive to the venue..

Arriving at about 8:30 AM, I was impressed with the number of tables with players pushing chits all over the place. As my opponent was not there, it gave me a chance to say hello to many familiar faces. The room was full. Ralph McDonald said it was the biggest TITT he had seen. Seeing all the T-shirts from past events told me that there are a lot of experienced TITT players.

Emery Gallant was my first challenger and we did a learning game with the aptly named Welcome Back scenario. If we never rolled a die or moved a counter we could have spent hours “catching up” (which is odd because we just met) and talking about our favorite games. Because Emery had to return home sooner than expected, I won the game by default. But, the reality is that it would have been, at best, a draw as I think he had a slight advantage as to position.

Welcome Back is a simple game of German exit. Basically, the Americans have 5 1/2 turns to prevent the Huns from getting 10 or more victory points across the map. I played the U.S. and Emery took Fatherland. Good and bad dice were evenly shared. We never rolled snow. We spent time going through the rule books and trying to confirm that we were doing things correctly. Both Mitch and Chuck were a shout away when we had a question.

Having won the game and, now, in a three way tie for first, with Steve Oliver and Scott Hamilton, I was going into my second game. I was hoping to play Workers Unite, but my opponent, Mark Dennehy, said that was the only game he did not want to play. As I had no armor or artillery experience, we selected Joe Gochinski’s Battle in the Ardennes. It was another stop the exit scenario and I had a 100% win ratio with them, so I was feeling confident. BitA is an interesting game as it allows the American player to select from one of three victory conditions after the Krauts set-up. The Americans can exit 13 or more victory points, destroy 14 points of Germans, or a 17 point destroy and leave split. Based on the selected victory conditions, the Germans get additional supporting troops. Figuring the Germans only needed to deny the Americans, I took the blue counters.

Mark was out of the running for the championship trophy as he lost his first game.

Playing with Mark was different from the mellow casual style of Emery. Mark is five Red Bulls before breakfast intense. He is direct and precise. I found out later that he is a Mathematics major software engineer. I set up my units, Mark did the same and selected the exit victory condition. Midway through my first turn, I lost the game. My additional troops broke upon board entry from the burst of a distant machine gun that cut my team in half based on its position. These men never fully recovered.

Mark used the American smoke to flank his pieces right and through the woods. I was getting high rolls on 2 and 4 IFT charts. If I was “lucky” or I could get a higher table, I was able to roll a pin check or plus one morale check. Two turns in, I lost my medium machine gun. Mark used it to effectively keep DM status on my easily broken men. My only opportunity (short lived) in the game was that his board splitting machine gun malfunctioned and I was able to quickly goosestep them across its death path using the additional CX movement factors. Mark was unstoppable. My cowering leaders and half squads just watched the Americans Yankee Doodle right past.

Mark crushed me with kindness as he had me slow down to explain the calculations and correct some of my die roll modifiers (usually in my favor). He also provided some play advice as he got closer to the map edge. All helpful for “next time.”

Mark dropped a lot of smoke, including one where he was adjacent to me. As the action consumes two movement points, it raised the question whether I could get a defensive fire against him for merely dropping smoke. He expended movement points, but was already adjacent to me and did not move. We stumped Chuck and Mitch on that one. But, the instructions appear to require actual movement. (Editor’s note that Cole is referring to Final Protective Fire here and didn’t ask me about it!)

Scott Hamilton went on to win the ASLSK mini.

On the way home, I called Joe to talk about what I thought were weaknesses in the scenario. Having played two games and come in second (as did everyone else) in the tourney, now makes me an expert. To which, Joe quibbed it’s the player not the scenario. We are going to play it next time we see each other sometime in 2026.

It was a great time. The Manchester Best Western Plus (because no simple BW will do for this group) was perfect. The people were great. Both Mitch Abrams and Chuck T. made you feel like you were returning TITT veterans. A lot of great swag, raffle prizes for everyone, nice prizes. Unfortunately, I missed the custom playing cards.

With six ASLSK players ultimately in the tourney, I hope it will be a permanent addition.

I can say that I love TITTs! I am looking forward to the 2022 Tussle in the Tundra!

Respectfully submitted,

Cole Mills

Tussle XIII recap

Another Tussle in the Tundra has come and gone! This year we had over 30 attending between our different events, a record since I took over running this tournament since 2013.

The main tournament had 24 entries, our top finisher was Paul Chamberland with an undefeated 5-0 record, beating Ron Duneskie (4-1) in the final round match.

The Saturday Mini tournament had 8 entrants with Paul Sidhu defeating Rob Loper to claim the wood in that event.

This year was also our very first ASL Starter Kit event. Scott Hamilton won two games to claim the trophy for the SK Mini. edging our Steven Oliver.

My heartfelt thanks go out to a number of folks. Mitch Abrams for running the SK Mini, Alex Key for some amazing sponsorship of our raffle prizes and cool unit patches for handouts to all our attendees. And especially to all our player attendees!

Our sponsors also made excellent contributions to the winner’s prizes. Be sure and check out these fine purveyors of ASL products and accessories. Their information can be found on our Sponsors and Prizes page.

Final Standings for the Main Tournament are below:

Paul Chamberland (5-0)
Ron Duenskie (4-1)
Paul Sidhu (4-1)
Mark Evans (3-2)
Carl Nogueira (3-1)
Jim Dostie (3-1)
Keith Hill (3-1)
Sebastian Manikowski (3-1)
Tom Morin (3-1)
Chad Mekash (2-2)
Norman Benjamin (2-2)
Paul Anderson (2-2)
Ralph McDonald (2-2)
Rob Arrieta (2-2)
Rob Loper (2-2)
Derek Dunn (1-3)
Steve Anderson (1-3)
Will Willow (1-3)
Carl Herzog (0-5)
Ross Mulcare (0-4)
Ted Wilcox (0-5)
Kedge Johnson (1-1)
Chuck Tewksbury (1-2)
Richard Vieira (2-1)

Tussle 2021 – Day 3

Main Tournament Round 3 and more happening today

We are well into round 3 in our main tournament, six stalwart competitors remained undefeated going into today. The Saturday Mini has 8 players working their way through their first round, with two rounds to go and one player to be crowned Saturday Mini Champ!

Also happening today, is our first official ASL Starter Kit mini tournament. We have six SK players battling it out and hoping to win the plaque for their bracket as well.

All in all, we have 30 attendees, a record since I’ve been running this event and I hope that trend continues into the future. Here are some photos from the action thus far….

Scenario playlists for 2021 ready

Hi everyone – we’re now just about two months away from Tussle 2021! The play list for the Main and Saturday Mini tournaments have been assembled. You can find them by clicking here.

We will also have some representation of the ASL Starter Kits. Several SK players are attending for the weekend AND we will hold a mini SK tournament on Saturday as well! That playlist is forthcoming.

Don’t forget to Register for Tussle and I hope to see you there!

Tussle 2020 Wrap-up

Tussle 2020 is in the books! We were able to hold our humble event this year, despite the pandemic and 8 stalwart players made the trek again to Manchester, NH to fight it out.

With our short window of planning, a new format was used. 8 players were broken into two groups of 4. Within each group, every player played each of the other players once. The end result was one player emerging from each group with a 3-0 win-loss record to face off for the championship. Keith Hill of Maine and Ron Duenskie of New Jersey faced off in AP142 “The Closer” for the top spot. Ron’s German force was able to defeat Keith’s Canadians for the win and this year’s championship!

Final Standings over the three rounds are below. Thanks to all the participants for turning out and pitching in to keep Tussle going! We’re all looking forward to 2021. Dates for 2021 are August 5th-8th at the same location, Best Western Executive Court Inn, Manchester, NH

Ron Duenskie4-0
Keith Hill3-1
Chuck Tewksbury2-1
Kedge Johnson2-1
Mark Evans1-2
Gregg Lupaczyk1-2
Rob Loper0-3
Michael Stultz0-3

Some photos of the action over the weekend!

Tussle XI Recap

Tussle XI is in the books!  A great long weekend of ASL action was had by all who came out for our event.

Thursday saw quite a number of attendees roll in for some open gaming.  Meaty scenarios and other games hit the table as folks got settled in and warmed up for the tournament starting the next morning.

The Main tournament got started mid-Friday morning.  The playlist was loaded up with some HASL greatness.  The most popular choice was “Anchoring the Line” from the “new” Red Factories module.  Of the nine pairings, this scenario was played six times!  Eight players advanced to Round 2 with “Anatoly’s Ambush” getting a lot of love.  Four players emerged for the semi-finals that started Saturday morning.  Ted Wilcox faced Dave O’Dell and Keith Hill played Richard Vieira.  All battled it out until finally Keith Hill and Dave O’Dell were victorious and went to the final round.  They chose “Sporck’s Eleven” from Friendly Fire.  After a grueling match, Dave was able to sneak his Russian AFVs off the board for the win and claim the Tussle XI Trophy!  Congratulations Dave!

On Saturday, the three-round mini tournament saw eight players in head-to-head matches throughout the day.  Bill Burtt and Steve Pleva played for the wood in the third round in “The Brickworks” from a March Madness pack.  In the final close combat Steve was able to extract a hard fought victory!  Way to go Steve!

We had a great turnout this year.  19 full-weekend attendees plus three for Saturday kept the action going through the whole weekend.  Big thanks and gratitude go out to Rob Loper and Sean Deller for putting together a fantastic play list, the heart of any good ASL event.

Our sponsors contributed an excellent pool of prizes.  Humble thanks to Alex Key Hobbies, Battle School, Bounding Fire Productions, MMP, Lone Canuck, Dispatches from the Bunker, Hollandspiele Games and DVG Games.  Their generosity really put the icing on the cake!

Tussle XII is scheduled for August 6, 2020 at the same location, the Best Western Executive Court Inn in Manchester, NH USA.  Put it on your calendar now, and I hope to see you there!