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Here is some information that may be helpful in getting started with ASL Starter Kit #1.


The Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) game system is a detailed wargame/simulation of WWII combat, published by Multi-Man Publishing. Many people consider ASL to be the finest WWII tactical wargame ever published.

The ASL Starter Kits contain a subset of the full ASL rules. The starter kits may be played as self-contained, standalone games independently of the full ASL rules. There are three starter kits: #1 for infantry rules, #2 for artillery and mortars, and #3 for armored vehicle rules, including tanks. It is recommended that you learn the starter kits in numerical order, since their rules tend to build on each other. However, later starter kits include all the rules of the previous kits.

You may play only the starter kits and never “graduate” to the full ASL game.

For information about the full ASL game:


Unlike some publishers, Multi-Man Publishing has not made the full rules available online. However, there are many rules summaries available, including here on BoardGameGeek.

The publisher has made available an introductory “demo” game, which includes a map and counters. This is for the full ASL game, not the Starter Kits, but the simplified demo rules are similar. Download it here: http://www.vftt.co.uk/whatsasl.pdf


The ASL Starter Kits are fairly complex, especially if you are brand new to wargames. This is very subjective but here's an attempt at a complexity scale, on a scale of 1 to 10:

10 - ASL full rules
6 - ASL Starter Kit #1
3 - Euro games like Puerto Rico, Caylus
2 - Battlelore
1 - Memoir ’44

ASLSK#1 will require an investment of time, but fans of the game say it is well worth it. Wargames must balance playability (simplicity) with realism (complexity). Fans of ASL also enjoy the richness in gameplay and strategy that the complexity permits. The full ASL game has a 200 page rulebook, and thus is even more complex than the Starter Kits.

Is ASL Starter Kit #1 impossible to learn? Of course not. If you are willing to dedicate some time and persevere you can definitely learn and enjoy the game. Having someone teach you in person can ease the learning curve.

If you want to try simpler wargames first before committing to the ASL Starter Kits, you may consider the following:

Combat Commander series
Tide of Iron
Target Arnhem (until recently was free from MMP)
Lock N Load series
Sergeants! series
Squad Leader (out of print but cheap on ebay)
Panzer General (out of print)
Panzer Blitz (out of print)
Tactics II (out of print)

However, if your goal is just to learn ASL, then many fans suggest just jumping in and not “wasting time” learning other games along the way.

Some people suggest trying Squad Leader (the old game that ASL came out of). Squad Leader can be bought for around $20 on ebay. However some people point to SL’s own significant learning curve and the many differences between ASL and Squad Leader. I haven’t tried Squad Leader but I would say just skip it and go to the ASL Starter Kits.


The best way to learn is to have someone teach you. The publisher's site has a page where people who want to play ASL post their contact info. You can contact the people in your area, and also ask them if there is a local ASL group near you.

If you can't find anyone to teach you, I recommend going through the rules and writing up your own summary of what to do in each turn. This will help you absorb the rules, and will also serve as a player's aid to help you when you play.

Then set up Scenario 1 and play a solitaire game where you take both sides.

Here are some links I've found very helpful in learning the game:
Getting Started: http://www.savarese.org/simulation/aslsk.html
Turn summary sheet: http://grognard.com/info1/aslsksheet.pdf
Online demo: www.multimanpublishing.com/demo/MMP-31.html

Just while you're learning, you could choose to ignore some rules for now, so you can focus on the essentials. For example, here are some things you might possibly decide to skip over while you are learning:

- Support Weapons
- ELR (rules section 5)
- Inexperience modifiers to movement, etc.
- CX
- Smoke
- Assault Movement and FFNAM (this one might be hard to leave out)
- Assault Fire
- Cowering
- Low Crawl
- Leader Creation
- maybe even Residual Fire


During a player’s turn, the player goes through the following phases in order:

1. Rally
Players can change broken-morale units back to normal morale.

2. Prep Fire
Attacking units can fire.

3. Movement
Attacking units can move.
Defending units can fire.

4. Defensive Fire
Defending units can fire, if they haven’t already.

5. Advancing Fire
Attacking units can fire at reduced strength.

6. Rout
Vulnerable broken-morale units may have to retreat.

7. Advance
Attacking units can move one hex, including into the same hex as enemy units.

8. Close Combat
Combat between enemy units in the same hex.


The following is an overview of the most important actions taken in a turn. (Many details, including Support Weapon actions, are omitted for simplicity. Consult the ASLSK#1 rules for details.)

During a player’s turn, the player goes through the following phases in order:

1. Rally
Both players may attempt to change the morale of units from Broken to Good Order (normal).

2. Prep Fire
Attacking units may fire. This is often the main attacker firing phase.
If an attacking unit fires in this phase, it cannot move during the Movement phase.

[Whenever units fire during this phase or later phases:
a) Roll both dice.
b) Apply any relevant Dice Roll Modifiers to the result (for terrain, leader bonuses, Line of Sight hindrance, etc.)
c) Take the total attacking Firepower and consult that column in the Infantry Fire Table on the card included with the game. Look at the appropriate row for the (modified) dice roll result, to see the effect of the attack.
--For details about firing, see the rules section "3.2.1 Effects".]

3. Movement
Attacking units may now move (if they did not fire during the Prep Fire phase and do not have Broken morale).

-- 3.1 Defensive First Fire
The defender may pause attacking units that move during the Movement phase and fire at them. After firing, Defenders are marked with a First Fire counter.

-- 3.2 Subsequent First Fire
Defenders with First Fire markers may fire again during the Movement phase. They fire with half Firepower. Targets must be within normal range.
After firing, flip the First Fire counter on the unit over to its Final Fire side. The target must be no further than the closest enemy unit. That means if there is an enemy unit 2 hexes away you can't Subsequent First Fire at a unit moving 3 hexes away.

-- 3.3 Final Protective Fire
Defending units marked with a Final Fire counter may fire at units that move adjacent to them at any time during the Movement phase.
Final Protective Fire is risky because the Dice Roll also acts as a Normal Moral Check against the firing unit after resolving the fire attack. With a bad roll you could fail to inflict damage to the enemy and cause your own morale to break.

4. Defensive Fire
Any defending units not already marked with First Fire or Final Fire counters this turn may now fire.
A unit marked with a First Fire counter can fire in the Defensive Fire Phase, but only at a unit in an adjacent hex. Firepower is halved for being Final Fire but then doubled for being Point Blank Fire.

5. Advancing Fire
Attacking units that did not fire during the Prep Fire phase may now fire at half Firepower.

6. Rout
Vulnerable Broken-morale units may be required to retreat (see rules for details).
Broken units already locked in Close Combat from a previous turn do not retreat.

7. Advance
Attacking units may move to an adjacent hex (if they are not Broken and not Pinned). This is the time when Attacking units may move into the same hex as enemy units, which starts Close Combat (see next phase). When the attacker advances into a woods or building hex occupied by the enemy, but before Close Combat begins, both players roll one die to see if there is an ambush.

8. Close Combat
Combat occurs between enemy units in the same hex.
If infantry from both sides remain in the same hex at the end of the Close Combat phase, they remain locked in Melee during the next turn - they may not take any actions outside the Close Combat phase.


The following are some of the most common abbreviations in ASL SK#1:

CX - Counter Exhausted
DM - Desperation Morale (broken morale, plus +4 penalty on rally attempt)
DR, dr - Dice Roll (2d6), die roll (1d6)
DRM - Dice Roll Modifier
FG - Fire Group (adjacent units combining firepower)
FP - Firepower
IFT - Infantry Fire Table (for combat results)
LOS - Line of Sight
MC - Moral Check Dice Roll
MF - Movement Factor
MMC - Multi-Man Counter (squad or half-squad)
Ph - Phase
SMC - Single-Man Counter (a leader)
SW - Support Weapon
TEM - Terrain Effects Modifier (terrain bonus for defending units)

Full list of abbreviations: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo.php?fileid=16247


You can download the free online ASL software, VASL, and ask if people online will help you learn the game:

You can also post on sites such as the following one, asking for people willing to teach you using VASL:

If you want to play VASL by email (PBEM) read the following article (starting on page 4):
(Same article here: http://asl.xtreme-gamer.com/?p=118)

Java ASL:
This site allows you to play Advanced Squad Leader against a computer:
(I haven’t tried this yet, so I can’t vouch for it.)


ekted's ASL SK Primers

Strategy and Tactics:

What the full ASL rules add beyond the Starter Kits:

Other links:


I myself am very new to ASL and the ASK Starter Kit #1. My main background is in “Euro” games, plus some wargaming. The information here is what I’ve gained so far in my quest to learn and master this game.

Comments and any corrections to this info are very welcome. I will incorporate any feedback into this information, so hopefully it will grow and improve.

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Geoff Petrie
United States
New Mexico
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Re: Intro to ASL SK#1 - Turn summary, getting started info,
This is a wonderfully informtative post, cull. Thank you for taking the time to write it. You've answered a lot of questions that I had as a person who was interested but uncertain whether I should jump into the ASL world.
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Kevin Horner
United Kingdom
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Re: Intro to ASL SK#1 - Turn summary, getting started info,
Have had ASLSK1 a while now, have tried to play a couple of times and got quite frustrated. Have just discovered this post and it has given me the impetus to try again. it is a game myself and my friend really want to be able to play.

Cheers for an excellent and motivating post!
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