Wargamers have once again flocked to Bowie, Maryland, for the East Coast’s finest Advanced Squad Leader tournament, Winter Offensive 2023, where hosts Multi-Man Publishing released yet another of their annual bagged scenario-and-map Bonus Packs. This edition, the fourteenth, comes with three scenarios and two maps in the now-standard cardstock “Starter Kit” style, with proceeds from the sale of the pack—and the tournament generally—going to MMP’s long-time charitable partner, the WWII Foundation.
The Winter Offensive Bonus Pack #14 retails for US$20 and features a glossy cover sheet with art showing smock-clad riders atop a tankette in a snowy scene by an uncredited artist, three scenarios (one backprinted on the cover sheet, the other on standard scenario cardstock) from Pete Shelling and Don Petros, and two maps, 89 and 90.
The maps share a similar road-grain-village theme and look quite sharp put together. Map 89 in particular stands out as a much needed addition to the cartographic canon, with a narrow two-to-three hex wide village of single story buildings running much of the length of the board, connected by dirt roads and surrounded by shellholes, grain, orchards, and a handy gully that will make for intriguing defensive possibilities. The other map, 90, provides a bit more open space but shares a similar rhythm of grain and roads as 89, making them a pleasant pairing.
All three scenarios, WO43-45, use the new boards, and given that they are all German vs. Russian affairs, this Bonus Pack marks the rare ASL product that can be played using only the ASL Rule Book and a copy of Beyond Valor. My relative indifference to German/Russian scenarios is well known, but I’m capable of appreciating fine scenario design, and there are some well considered situations and special scenario rules here.
The pick of the crop looks to be Don Petros’ WO44 Little Village, pitting Russian defenders (using a trademark Pete Shelling fortification purchase chart) with a stout gun line and dug-in tanks against elite Germans with plenty of heavy metal of their own. At seven and a half turns and 16-20 squads per side, a reasonable diversion for a long game day, which is all any of us can ask.
On the whole, the 2023 Winter Offensive Bonus Pack more than earns its price, and the fact that the sales benefit a worthwhile charity makes it an easy purchase indeed.