Newbie Do - Rules Deep Dive - Critical Hits

The Rules are (sometimes) a terrifying prospect for beginners in ASL and early games can often be spent desperately trying to find what, where and how they should be applied to very diverse situations. As a positive the most common scenarios are quickly picked up (and are easily learnt in the starter kits) but every player is forever learning various situations that are not, perhaps, immediately apparent.

These Rules Deep Dives are therefore intended to cover very specific rules which can sometimes be misunderstood. 

The ITT Critical Hit

This particular post covers how to check if you have a Critical Hit if using the Infantry target type.

The first thing to remember about ITT critical hits is that they are much much easier to get than vehicular critical hits. The reason (to me) seems quite simple. When shooting ITT then you are shooting at flesh and bone and not armour therefore any hit 'close' can do damage but the chances of the blast, shrapnel, other such destruction is much higher due to the basic weakness of human flesh. Vehicle critical hits are harder as you are hitting a stronger target that has been specifically designed to protect against the very weapon attacking it.

The base fact to remember is that a critical hit occurs when you roll less than half the MODIFIED TO HIT number. Therefore the chances are better in that in most cases the modified to hit will be around 8 so a 2 or 3 would generate a critical hit. BUT if you roll a double one (and the to hit modifiers take you above the half way point )then (as with improbable hit) you roll again BUT this time on a single dice you need to roll less than or equal to the modified to hit. Which is usually four. Therefore the chances of a critical hit are very high. So the paths are as follows (assuming a modified to hit of '8')

1 - the end dice roll (including dice roll modifiers) is less than half of the MODIFIED TO HIT BUT not 2 (so in this example '3') then a critical hit occurs

2- the end dice roll is less than half than the MODIFIED TO HIT (and not an ORIGINAL DR of two)  but the Dice roll modifiers take the roll to over the half way point so this is a hit - but not a critical hit

3 - the end dice roll is double one and the dice roll  modifiers mean the final dice roll is still less than half the modified to hit number  - this is a critical hit.

4 - the end dice roll is double one and the dice roll  modifiers mean the FINAL DR is equal or greater than half the MODIFIED TO HIT and the FINAL DR is less than or equal to the actual modified to hit number. This 'might' be a critical and the player rolls a single dice and has to roll 'less than or equal to half the modified dice number (in this example 1,2,3 or 4)

5 - the end dice roll is double one but the total dice roll modifiers mean the final dice roll is greater than the MODIFIED TO HIT number - the player rolls a single dice roll and if they roll a 1 then a critical hit has occurred (2-3 is a normal hit and 4-6 is a miss) - This is the C3.6 Unlikely Hit section

Confusion Point

The relevant section of C3.7 (currently) reads  'A CH also occurs while using the Infantry Target Type, whenever the Final TH DR is < half the Modified TH# (3.3),  or on an Original TH DR of 2 followed by a subsequent  dr of 1 or <= half of the Modified TH#

Details and Example

To be completely honest I completely get that half the readers so far are barking furiously on, "why am I attempting to teach them to suck eggs?" and the other half are probably wondering how anyone can find this easy and please can we switch to something more understandable so for that second group we will apply several exciting examples.

First up we have definitions -

FINAL TH is the number you roll PLUS the to hit modifiers
ORIGINAL TH is the exact number you roll on the dice
MODIFIED TH is the number you get by getting the initial to hit number and adjusting (for range/barrel size usually)
DR is a roll of two dice
dr is a roll of a single dice.

Now the order of operations (like many things in ASL) is important and not always done correctly. So let's set up a few examples.

Example One

Our first example occurs in the deep (and slightly pink) heart of Stalingrad. A Stug III B is positioned close to the Commissar's House and in the Russian turn the active player has advanced a concealed stack consisting of a 6-2-8 a Heavy machine gun and a 9-2 officer into the edge of the Commissar's House at BB18.

The German defender decides to shoot now so his/her first step is to work out the base numbers

The base to hit number is 8

There are no modifications from table C4 for ammo at this close range so the modified to hit is also 8.

The player can now look at the C5 modifiers and we have

Case I (Buttoned up ) +1

C6 modifiers

Case K (concealed target) +2

Case L (point blank range 1 hex) -1

Case Q (TEM - stone building) +3

For total dice modifiers of +5.

The dice are now rolled and glory of glories a double one is rolled. We now pause while the Russian player curses and moans they  only get snake eyes for wind rolls while the German player tries to contain his unbounded cheer…

Once done the players start to work out the results


Add the dice modifiers of +5 makes 7 which is under the MODIFIED TO HIT number of 8 but obviously not less than half the modified. So a critical hit is not guaranteed. The German player now has to roll a single dice and will obtain a critical hit with a roll of 1,2,3 or 4 (less than or equal to half the MODIFIED TO HIT of 4) and a normal hit with 5,6.

In our example he rolls a 4 and obtains a critical. The 75mm gun is a base 12 on the IFT it doubles to 24 with minus 3 for the tem now counting as a negative. On an average roll of 7 the Russians lose concealment and face a 1KIA, a 12 would  cause a 2MC (random dice roll needed to work out if the squad or officer (or both) takes the critical)

At this point a large portion of the readership is mumbling 'yes but the hit would only occur with a roll of 2 or 3 so it was a lucky shot anyway'

'Absolutely' so lets setup a different example.

Example Two

Scuttling back to the Early War we have an early British Cruiser tank minding its own business  when a dastardly concealed German stack advances behind it into the stone building in hex K9. Though the British player doesn't know it the stack contains a 4-6-7 with an ATR looking to cause trouble with the tank's weak rear armour. The jokes on the Germans though as that tank has weak armour everywhere.... The valiant British defender briefly considers spinning and firing his (not too shabby) machine guns but the VCA spin and concealed half  firepower would drop them to a 2 up 2. Instead he decides to fire his main armament.

He spins the entire VCA 3 hexes and then takes an initial shot

BASE TH is 8

MODIFIED TH is also 8

C5 modifiers are

A (vca change so NT (No Turret) +3 and +1 and +1) +5

I Buttoned up +1

C6 modifiers are

K (concealed) +2

Q (TEM - wooden building) +2

Total DRM modifiers are therefore an unpleasant +10

The to hit roll is now made and the British player rolls an ORIGINAL DR of 2

Add the modifiers and the FINAL DR is an unsurprising 12 and 'might' be a miss by a mile.

C3.6 now applies as any hit that with the lowest possible original DR cannot be made could still be a hit. The British player rolls a single dice roll. If they roll a '1' then it is a critical hit and if they roll a 2 or 3 then it is a normal hit (4,5,6 are a miss). In this case the British player rolls a 5 and misses.

The player did though rate the Main Armament and as it took 2 MF to get into the building he resolves to shoot again on the second movement point. The BASE TH and the MODIFIED TH remain the same but of the dice roll modifiers Case A goes (the tank cannot gain an acquire on the first shot as you cannot acquire concealed units  - unless shooting ATT) for a more 'feasible' total of +5.

The player rolls again and this time makes an original dice roll of three (coloured 1 white 2). Again we stop while the German player glares and considers leaving the room temporarily

Three plus the Dice roll modifiers pushes the FINAL TH Number to eight. So this is a hit but as the FINAL TH is not less than half the modified (three, and though the ORIGINAL DR is 3 the FINAL DR is used so '8') he gets a normal hit.

This will be an unimpressive  4 flat on the IFT.

The German player passes but the British player is relatively happy because his main armament rated again so there is now a -1 acquire in target and he can now wait until the Defensive Fire phase to take an 8+2 with his Bow mounted machine gun then a 2+2 with the CMG (IIFT users would probably combine both for a 10+2) and then (if still needed) a Main armament shot with 8 as the MODIFIED TH, dice roll modifiers of only +2 ( tem +2,buttoned up +1,  -1 acquire) so has a nearly average chance of another normal hit (would need a 6) with a possible intensive of 5 to hit (other options naturally exist. i.e it could rate again when it has a nice rate of 2 or perhaps kick into motion if another unit appears and possibly throw smoke...if this tank has smoke.....)

All hail weapons with rate! Admittedly that example was hardly less 'lucky' so let's try again...

Example Three

It is near the end of the war now and some German infantry (a 10-2 and a 4-6-7) are trying to escape of board along Q10,R10 and S10. Nasty residual exists on two of the hexes so they are using the last free hexside and have entered S10 in a desperate attempt to get off board this turn. The British defender though has a Comet sitting on a hill (as you do) and takes a shot as they move in.

The British player starts as before with section C3. At 13 hex range the BASE TH number is 6.

They look at table C4 to calculate the MODIFIED TH number and as the Comet carries a 'L' gun this makes the MODIFIED TH number '7'

The players again look at C5 and there are no adjustments so shift to C6

Here we have

Case J (FFNAM/FFMO (each) so -2

The British player now rolls an ORIGINAL DR of '5' (coloured 3 white 2)

5 minus the DR MODIFIERS drops the result to a 3 and as 3 is less than half the MODIFIED TH number of 3.5 it is a critical hit with no further single dice rolls needed. (So the British player would have gained a critical hit on a roll of 2,3,4 or 5 - a 28% chance of rolling a critical hit ( and a roll of 6-9 would get a normal hit)

The result roll would therefore be a 24 flat causing a potential 3MC with an average roll of 7 and a NMC minimum (without a 'dud') - as there are two units moving a random roll is needed to work out which takes the critical and which the normal hit (or both). Since the roll did not generate rate the British player also decides to leave residual - a 6 factor residual counter is added  to make all other following infantry face some unpleasant rolling (residual is half the normal hit value and not the critical hit value).

Example Four

For our final example we have a Japanese light tank in its movement phase that has stopped in hex U6 and is taking a shot at a Vichy French squad in a wood with a light machine gun. The tank in front is non-stopped.

BASE TH is 8


DRM MODIFIERS are (+1 buttoned up, +1 tem, +2 case C (slow turret) and +2 case B) for a total of +6

The ORIGINAL DR made is double one so the FINAL DR is 2 + 6 so is '8; which is exactly the same as the MODIFIED TH number.

The Japanese player now rolls a single dice and any roll of 1,2,3,4 causes a critical hit (8 down 1 on the IFT) with 5,6 causing a normal hit (4 flat). This example looks fairly close to example one but the key point here is that the italiced sentence prior to the ITT section of C3.7 DOES NOT APPLY to ITT attacks


So hopefully that has made something clear to somebody. If not only to me. Several people helped explain all this in the first place and from memory Martin Vicca, Martin Mayers, Steve McBee, Carl Nogeira (on fb) and von Marwiztz (on GS) all provided lots of assistance. If anything is still wrong then please message me or leave a comment and I will adjust accordingly. Thanks for reading!


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