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Subject: Comparing ASL To ATS - A Very Detailed & Technical Analysis rss

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[the original thread somehow mysteriously vanished, so here it is again...nothing escapes the internet!!!]



Hello Folks,

As a die hard Advanced Tobruk System (ATS) player, lot's of folks ask me how ATS compares to Advanced Squad Leader (ASL), and what are the main differences. I think they are both excellent games, among the gest wargames ever designed. I have tried both, and prefer ATS for several key differences. The major one being the way the 2 games handle turn sequences. ATS uses an "Alternate Impulse System", which constantly keeps both players engaged thru the entire game. ASL uses an "I Go, U Go" methodology, which limits engagement from the non-active player.

There are other reasons that drive me to chose ATS over ASL, but I don't think I could write a comparison as well as Brien Marten has. Brien Marten is an old ASL Grognard, that one could consider a true "ASL Expert". He has judged many ASL tournaments, and has helped proof read ASL products directly for MMP.

I hope you find Brian's analysis useful. The analysis is un-biased, and simply lays down the facts.


Analysis of ATS and ASL - By Brien Martin

Notice the title is not ATS vs ASL ... it's not meant to be a contest, just a simple comparison between two tactical-level systems. As far as I know, such a detailed comparison hasn't been done on the Internet. This may take more than one post over more than a few days ... but I'll try and list the differences (as I see them ... I have yet to move a counter or roll the dice in anger).

There may not be a "cohesion" to this in that I'll hit topics in no particular order. I'll also warn folks ahead of time that there will be a healthy dose of commentary from me included ... as it relates to things we read about ATS, and what the game actually is and feels like. In other words, while I am not shilling for CH, I will let people know when the words of the nay-sayers are proven to have zero basis in fact.

OK, let's get started ...

TERMINOLOGY
As I am reading through the rules, I have noticed that the terminology in ATS is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. What I mean by that is ... if CH used the exact same terminology and acronyms as ASL, everyone would claim (as they already do) that ATS is an ASL "rip-off". Of course, if they use terminology that's different, but reminiscent of ASL, then the claim is that the only reason they're using a different term is because they're trying to "prove" that ATS is not an ASL "rip-off".

Case-in-point. When a tank is behind a wall in ASL, it's called "hull down (HD)". I don't know if "hull down" is a military term but, if it is, it is not an "ASL-specific" term. Thus, if "hull down" is a military term, any game could use it. However, ATS calls a tank behind a wall "hull-defilade (H-D)". Again, perhaps the ATS term is the military term ... I don't know.

Should ATS have gone out of its way to use any other term, using any other two letters of the alphabet, just to avoid the claim of "rip-off"? Some ASLers would shout out (quite often and quite loudly) "yes". Personally, the fact that the terms are similar ... has helped me understand the concept because I have something familiar that I can use as a point-of-reference. Your mileage may vary.

GAME PHASES
ASL has eight: rally, prep fire, movement, defensive fire, advancing fire, rout, advance, and close combat. ATS has four: indirect fire, fire and movement, infiltration, and end of turn. I think you can see how ATS is vastly different from ASL from that standpoint.

GAME TURNS
ASL plays in a "we go, then you go" mode. My side gets to do everything it wants to do. Your side tries to stop it within the boundaries of the rules. When we're done, your side gets to do what it wants.

ATS plays in a "we go together" mode. We roll to see who goes first. Then, you get to do something with one unit/stack/platoon. As soon as you're done, I get to do something with one unit/stack/platoon. Then you go. Then I go. When the fire and movement phase is done, we will both have moved and fired. Then, when we get to the inflitration phase, we'll see who goes first. You'll go, then I will. When the phase is done, we'll *both* have moved into close combat (if that's part of the plan).

Again, ASL and ATS are so much not alike that to say that one is a rip-off of the other is patently absurd on the face of the argument. ASL will feel a certain way ... and ATS is going to feel so much more like a whirlwind in terms of something important happening at all times.

I've played ASL for 14 years. And there are times when all you can do is sit and wait for a half an hour while your opponent moves. Not all the time, but enough times that it is one complaint I have about certain ASL scenarios. With ATS, even if the opponent isn't attacking you, you can still do something while it's "their" turn ... because it's actually both your turns.

INFANTRY UNITS
Yes, they look similar (that's as much a function of CH's involvement with ASL than anything else). ASL counters read 6-5-8 ... ATS counters read 6|5|8 ... ok, there's a huge similarity there. However, I've played Clash of Arms' La Battaille series ... and their counters read x-x-x, as well ... so the three-factor presentation isn't unique to ASL. Therefore, I'm not so willing to paint anyone with a broad "plagiarism" brush. Heck, if I remember, PanzerBlitz counters also were x-x-x in presentation.

The differences come in things like movement. In ASL, a unit has 4MF to use. If they double-time at move start, they get 6MF. Stacked with a leader, they get 6MF (8MF if the double-time from move start). If the unit "changes its mind" and double-times during their move, they can get 5MF (7MF if with a leader). Other than declaring double-time at move start, you don't have to designate the unit as doing anything. A unit can also declare an Assault Move and move one location. If an ASL unit moves, it must wait until the Advancing Fire Phase to fire at half FP. And, if a unit fires first, it can't move.

In ATS, a unit must state its intention before it moves. It can run (7MF), assault move (4MF), or crawl (one location). A leader can add 1MF if it moves with a unit/stack/platoon. If a unit doesn't run, it can fire at half FP while it moves ... either just before it spends its first MF, while it changes locations, or just after it stops.

So, ATS has a different feel ... I can shoot at the guys across the street, hoping to hurt them, then try to move where I want to go. I don't have to wait until the next time it's my turn to move that unit/stack. Or, I can move out ... maybe draw some fire, then shoot at the guys who are shooting at me, and then grab some cover. A different feel ... and a totally different mechanic.

Again, we prove the nay-sayers wrong by showing you that the move-and-fire mechanics are totally dissimilar. Of course, the nay-sayers will refuse to see and admit this, but then we can feel very sorry for their lack of understanding and vision. (Yes, sarcasm mode is on right now. Rarely have I seen grown men ... some of whom are "professionals" ... carry on petty grudges and hatreds like some of the nay-sayers can. I'd love to see them reconcile their bitter hatred with whatever their spiritual beliefs are.)

Whew ... that's quite a bit ... and we haven't really scratched the surface yet.

I promise to continue this series as I learn and understand more about ATS. Before I go, gotta get this "disclaimer" out in the open.

I love ASL. For a few years, I even served as the Proofreading Coordinator for MMP. I run an ASL tournament every year. The game has given me a lot of fun and I have met some terrific people because of it. So, I have absolutely nothing against ASL.

My reasons for buying and trying ATS are quite simply that I wanted to see and try a different tactical system. I also wanted to see if the things that people had said ... things that had tinted my opinion of other tactical games (especially those by Critical Hit) ... were even remotely true. Five years ago, I would have been "afraid" of the reaction of my fellow ASLers ... including my friends (who play an awful lot of ASL, and no other tactical game, as far as I know).

So, as we go through this process, I fully expect to hear the hue and cry from fellow ASLers who think I'm daft. That's ok ... I think anyone who hates just because they can is daft, too.

DRM/TEM
Oh, you know all about DRMs if you play ASL. Only game I ever played that had more was Siege of Jerusalem. So, you know that ATS couldn't possibly get away from DRM. But they have, in a way.

ATS uses column shifts. Left shifts bad, right shifts good (for the attacker). Which is really what the DRM accomplish in other games ... pushing a specific-strength attack into another "column" without the need to change columns. So, whereas a stone building embues a +3DRM in ASL ... it embues a 3L shift in ATS. We can argue whether the "3" is ripped off ... again, SL/ASL and ATS share a common ancestor ... Tobruk ... so you'd have to suspect that the genetic material is gonna match at some points and some levels.

Now, ATS retains DRM in ordnance combat, just as ASL does. There are fewer DRM in ATS, but they are there, just the same. So, in some respects, the two ordnance systems are the same from a "to hit" perspective. Given that SL was derived from Tobruk, and ATS came from the same paternal line, I don't think it's one ripping off the other ... they share a common ancestor.

Again, we prove the nay-sayers wrong, at least from the infantry side of things, by showing that the two DRM systems are not the same (and you'll really understand why later on in this post).

LEADERSHIP
ASL has a dazzling and sometimes dizzying array of leaders. Morale levels from 6 thru 10, and leadership modifiers from +1 thru -3. Leaders all have names, most of them the names of people who have proofread, playtested, or had something to do with a module. [Yours truly is represented by the Sgt. Brien counter in OVHS ... maybe it's not Sgt ... but it's there ... and it's me!!]

ATS has but two flavors of leader ... officer and NCO. They both carry a 1|1|x rating, the officer's ML is one higher than the NCO. An NCO offers a 1R shift for fire he directs, and an officer adds a 2R shift. By the way, shifts are cumulative ... so, a fire attack led by an officer against units in a stone building would be a 1L shift (3L for the building, 2R for the leader).

ASL leaders need to be casualty-reduced to possibly be wounded, or they need to fail an MC while already broken to possibly be wounded. So it takes a lot, sometimes, to hurt a leader in combat.

ATS leaders are wounded upon taking their first casualty, killed upon taking a second. The flip side is the wounded side. Pretty simple ... and probably pretty frustrating, trying to keep a leader in good health. Let's just say that you probably don't want a leader running around the board by himself (you'll understand more in a minute).

So, another "rip-off" myth is destroyed ... the leadership systems in ASL and ATS aren't even close.

INFANTRY COMBAT
Because you really play out twice as many turns as there are game turns in ASL, combat isn't nearly as bloody as it probably should be under the circumstances. Part of the reason that it isn't as bloody, sometimes, is the fact that ASL focuses on the morale of units.

Units do die from straight KIAs, that's true. But what messes up more good plans than anything else is the failure of MC by units. And quite a few units die because they break, break, break ... bye-bye, unit.

In ASL, there are five things that can happen on a given shot:

-- KIA ... one or more units is dead, right now ... survivors are all broken

-- K/x ... one or more units is reduced to a HS (or eliminated if already a HS) ... survivors all have to pass a "x" morale check

-- xMC ... units take a "x" morale check ... pass and stay safe ... fail and break

-- PTC ... units take a pin check ... pass and stay safe ... fail and become pinned

-- nothing ... the other guys "missed"

Units in ASL have two "steps" ... full squad and half-squad. Each step has a good order side and a broken side. Only when a full squad is reduced to a half-squad does the unit suffer any reduction in ratings (there are special exceptions, but this is true for the most part).

A unit in ASL can run across open ground, right into an opposing machine gun nest ... and, with bad dice by the defender, and good dice by the attacker, end up safe and sound, right up adjacent to the MG nest. So, he could take an xMC result every time ... pass them all ... and be "ok". Of course, he could also end up dead or broken.

In ATS, there are two things that can happen on a shot:

-- Cx ... unit takes "x" casualties, then must take an "x" morale check to see if the unit breaks because of the casualties

-- nothing ... the other guys "missed"

Units in ATS have four steps. Whenever a "Cx" result occurs, "x" casualties are distributed among the target unit(s). Two casualties flips a unit to its reduced side ... four casualties kills it. So, a C4 result is the same as ASL's KIA ... but only if there is a single unit being shot at. Two casualties kill a leader (first one flips, second kills). In addition, the "odd" casualties (the first and third) reduce a unit's FP and morale level by 1. So, a 7|5|9 becomes a 6|5|8 with one casualty. When it flips, it has a reduced factor, which is further reduced on the third casualty.

So, that same unit I mentioned earlier ... if he gets hit four times as he makes his way across open ground ... in ASL, he may survive unscathed. In ATS, he dies.

Thus, ATS infantry combat is bloodier. This makes sense because a five-turn game is really only five turns, not ten. You have to have more action because you have "less" time. However, the reality is that ATS captures a little more of the sense of danger in sending units on missions. One quick C4 result on the squad you're sending out to take that building over there ... and he's dead. He's not coming back.

These two systems are so vastly different ... it's really hard to see where the word "rip-off" even remotely comes into play. Well, I *do* know ... it's ignorance of what ATS is versus what ASL is. It's blind hatred of ATS and blind devotion to ASL. It's the kind of "radical fundamentalism" that is no different than that which we see in various groups of people around the world.

MOVEMENT AND TACTICS
Movement in ASL is pretty straight-forward. Units pay a cost, expressed in Movement Factors, to enter or "climb over" various terrain features. For example, jumping over a wall costs 1MF, plus the cost to enter the next terrain feature.

In ATS, movement is identical, with some minor exceptions for the cost of terrain. One example is grain (called crops in ATS). In ASL, it costs 1.5MF to enter grain ... in ATS, it costs 2MF to enter crops.

The sweeping view of movement is radically different in the two systems.

In ASL ... the "attacker" (the person whose turn it is to play their actions) moves while the defender sits still, waiting to move in the next player turn. In ATS ... the attacker moves, knowing that in the very next impulse of this game turn, the defender may also move.

This basic, yet radical, change renders a key "defensive" tactic rather moot.

In ASL, the player who is the Scenario Defender (in other words, the side that is defending against the opposing victory objectives) will, in quite a few cases, move his units out of the line of sight of his opponent's units (a tactic called "skulking"), knowing that the opponent cannot move to take advantage of this. In the Advance Phase, the defender simply advances his guys right back where they were, because all the shooting is over.

Here's an example ... without a map, bear with me. Picture two buildings, separated by a road. On one side of the road are the Scenario Defender Germans. On the other side of the road are the Americans. It is the German turn.

The Germans forego all Prep Fire, and now move all of the units in the building back one hex, placing the building between them and the Americans across the street. The Americans now have no one to fire at and so pass their Defensive Fire Phase. The Germans pass their Advancing Fire Phase and Rout Phase and, in their Advance Phase, move the units one hex back into the buildings (where the Germans can fire on the Americans during the next American turn).

In ATS, if you try skulking, you will find a totally different situation. Let's use the same example, only picture one German unit and one American unit.

The German wins the initiative and moves back one hex to avoid American firepower. The American then can move 1MF into the street ... free from German fire ... then 2MF into the building. Because the German unit moved and did not fire as part of the same movement impulse, the German now cannot fire. The American can then fire at the German as the American moves, a German who is now outside the protection of the building!!

This turn ends with the Germans outside, and the Americans inside, a complete reversal of fortune.

RATE OF FIRE
In ASL, ROF is determined by two things ... the ROF rating on the counter, and the colored die roll of the attack/to hit DR. If the player rolls the ROF number or lower on the colored die roll, the weapon retains ROF. So, with a weapon having an ROF of 3, there's a 50-50 chance that said weapon will be able to fire again.

Multiple ROF usage is restricted to the current fire phase, and is MF-dependent against moving units, meaning you can only use ROF shots equal to the number of MF spent in a target Location against moving units. ROF versus stationary units is unlimited, and there is no restriction on how many moving units can be hit with ROF (aside from covered arc restrictions).

In ATS, ROF is determined by one thing ... the ROF rating on the counter. If a L|MG has a ROF of 2, that's all the weapon gets ... two shots. Both shots can be taken in the same impulse, and ROF is reduced to 1 for any unit that is moving and firing. Ordnance weapons can gain additional ROF when placing a Burst On Target (acquisition) marker, but I'm still a bit unclear as to how that rule actually works (needs a second reading).

As in ASL, ROF versus moving units is MF-dependent.

VEHICLE TARGET DETERMINATION
In ATS, there are nine vehicle aspects that can be hit, based on six criteria ... three "location" (turret, upper hull, lower hull), and three "facing" (front, flank, rear). A single table determines where the vehicle was hit (location, as facing is determined by where the shot came from in relation to the target), based on whether the vehicle has a turret or not. Modifiers to the roll on the table are made based on the size of the vehicle. Vehicles can also be hit in the tracks on any shot with a roll of "0".

In ASL, the to-hit dice roll determines the location. If the colored die is lower than the white die, the hit is in the turret. Anything else hits the hull. There is no further designation for hull hits, such as upper or lower. Vehicles in ASL also have three facings (front, side, rear ... also dependent on where the shot comes from, relative to the target). To hit the tracks in ASL, however, requires the attacking player to declare such an intentional shot, and that shot can hit nothing else but the tracks, immobilizing the vehicle.

MELEE
Depending on where you're from ... melee has a plethora of pronounciations (mee-lee, meh-lay, mee-lay, meh-leh ... the correct one is ... may-lay) ... depending on what you play, melee is definitely different.

In ASL, one can only have melee if, after conducting close combat, neither side has eliminated the other. In ATS, melee is the actual close combat itself.

ASL close combat involves all units together in a Location. Units are "paired" up ... the attacker may take all of his units to fight all of the defender units, but the defender may decide to take all of his units to attack a single attacking unit. Combat odds are determined by the FP each "pairing" brings to the table. CC is simultaneous, with a couple of exceptions. Losses are taken after both sides have rolled (again, with those exceptions).

So, in our example above, the attacker may have a 4-1 ... the defender may also have a 4-1. The difference?? If the attacker wins, all defending units die. If the defender wins, only the unit he attacked dies. If neither side rolls low enough to kill each other, the units stay in the Location and are locked in Melee.

There are also certain dice rolls (2 and 12) that allow attackers to kill everyone, then sneak away with no return dice roll, or allow defenders to sneak away without harm, at the cost of forfeiting their attack.

In ATS, melee is a winner-take-all contest that Dan Dolan describes as "both go in, only one comes out". The combat is simultaneous, as well, with no exceptions that I have noted thus far. The CC table applies casualty results, mainly to the defender ... but the attacker can also take casualties, especially at the lower odds.

At the end of a round ... recompute the odds based on the strength of the units (casualties will affect the FP values) ... and do it all over again ... rinsing, lathering, and repeating until, finally ... one side is dead. It is possible, given certain dice combinations, that both sides end up dead, but I think that would be the exception, rather than the norm.
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[The first set of replies]:


Peter Martin
(Peso Pete)

Outstanding article! As someone who has played and enjoyed both games, it is great to see an objective analysis of both systems since they are both outstanding games.

Just an aside: "hull-down" is a military term, so ASL doesn't have any claim to its use.

Posted Fri Oct 6,2006 10:30 pm





Jim C
(ekted)

Informatve article. I can't comment on the ATS side of the comparison since I haven't played it.

Quote:
"ASL plays in a "we go, then you go" mode. My side gets to do everything it wants to do. Your side tries to stop it within the boundaries of the rules. When we're done, your side gets to do what it wants."

This is misleading. It's not really one huge turn where one player sits and watches. During "my" turn, you get to do something at almost every step. During the rally phase, you also rally your broken units. During the movement/defensive fire phases, you can shot at me as I move each unit/stack each hex (or conduct actions which use movement points). During the rout phase, we both rout. During the close combat phase, we both participate. Now, I've only played ASL SK#1, but so far I've had virtually ZERO downtime.

Quote:
"A unit in ASL can run across open ground, right into an opposing machine gun nest ... and, with bad dice by the defender, and good dice by the attacker, end up safe and sound, right up adjacent to the MG nest. So, he could take an xMC result every time ... pass them all ... and be "ok". Of course, he could also end up dead or broken."

Not sure what you are trying to say here. You can have incredibly good/bad luck in any game where die rolls determine an outcome. This sounds like a criticism specifically of ASL. The fact is that ASL's defensive fire mechanics specifically deal with the situation you describe. Sure, you can have a result where a unit gets super lucky and makes it through the bullet storm. You can also take a long range shot with a unit through 2 orchard hexes into a stone building and kill something.

Posted Fri Oct 6,2006 10:52 pm





M. Kirschenbaum
(mkirschenbaum)

KnightTemplar wrote:
"ATS uses an "Alternate Impulse System", which constantly keeps both players engaged thru the entire game. ASL uses an "I Go, U Go" methodology, which limits engagement from the non-active player."


Sigh. I stopped reading here.

Posted Fri Oct 6,2006 10:59 pm





Kevin Moody
(Kevin Moody)

Quote:
"And there are times when all you can do is sit and wait for a half an hour while your opponent moves."

Would you name those scenarios for us, please? So that I can consider avoiding them. Although, I can't remember a minute of downtime in any scenario I've played, so it might make for a nice change of pace.

Quote:
"Again, we prove the nay-sayers wrong by showing you that the move-and-fire mechanics are totally dissimilar. Of course, the nay-sayers will refuse to see and admit this, but then we can feel very sorry for their lack of understanding and vision. (Yes, sarcasm mode is on right now. Rarely have I seen grown men ... some of whom are "professionals" ... carry on petty grudges and hatreds like some of the nay-sayers can. I'd love to see them reconcile their bitter hatred with whatever their spiritual beliefs are.)"

Wow, sounds like some people have hurt you. Care to name names? So that I can consider avoiding them.

Quote:
"Five years ago, I would have been "afraid" of the reaction of my fellow ASLers ... including my friends (who play an awful lot of ASL, and no other tactical game, as far as I know)."

So, as we go through this process, I fully expect to hear the hue and cry from fellow ASLers who think I'm daft. That's ok ... I think anyone who hates just because they can is daft, too.
For now on, I will think of you as Brave Brien. Be sure to check in regularly now, or else we might think the ululating brownshirts have silenced you.

Thanks for the neutral comparison!

Posted Fri Oct 6,2006 11:39 pm





Phillip Heaton
(Philgamer)

PLEASE SPELL OUT ACRONYMS THE FIRST TIME YOU USE THEM!

I'm guessing that ASL is Advanced Squad Leader, but I have no idea what ATS means. This is something of a pet peeve of mine, especially since it is so easy to fix. the first time you use and acronym should be like this, Advanced Squad Leader (ASL). After that you can use ASL to your heart's content, assured that you have done your bit to ensure understanding.

Posted Fri Oct 6,2006 11:41 pm





bill jaffe
(skinsfan)

thankyou this was useful information about the differences of the two games

skinsfan

Posted Fri Oct 6,2006 11:41 pm





Monte Groesbeck
(KnightTemplar)

For people that are new to both games, check out these 2 mini demos available on the Internet.

Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) Demo
http://www.multimanpublishing.com/demo/MMP-31.html

Advanced Tobruk System (ATS) Demo
http://www.gilestimms.com/sighted/assets/oct05/atsDemo01_1_2...

They are actually pretty cool. I would recommend paying attention to the differences in the turn phases, as well as comparing the look of the counters and maps between the 2 systems. While the demo's are fairly basic, I think they will give you a good starting point.

Posted Fri Oct 6,2006 11:57 pm





Monte Groesbeck
(KnightTemplar)

mkirschenbaum wrote:
KnightTemplar wrote:
"ATS uses an "Alternate Impulse System", which constantly keeps both players engaged thru the entire game. ASL uses an "I Go, U Go" methodology, which limits engagement from the non-active player.

Sigh. I stopped reading here."

The proof is in the pudding. A 200+ page manual full of subtleties does not hide the fact that at it's core, ASL is an "I Go, U Go" system. While the non active player can "react" to certain things his opponent does, each player moves his entire force during his turn.

This is one of the things I dislike about the ASL system. I do think it is a great game system, just that this type of tactical level game benefits more from alternate impulses.

Check out these 2 demos to give you more context of how this works:

ASL:
http://www.multimanpublishing.com/demo/MMP-31.html

Notice how the Russian player moves all of his units. He is interrupted by the German player during various phases with First Fire, Prep Fire, Final Fire, and Final Protective Fire. However, the Russian player still advances with his entire army while the German player can do nothing but shoot in reaction.

Now, check out the ATS demo.

ATS:
http://www.gilestimms.com/sighted/assets/oct05/atsDemo01_1_2...

Gameplay starts with the Russians. After the units in that 1 hex are activated, play switches back to the Germans. After the Germans perform their turn, play switches back to the Russians. IN ADDITION, each player can react to each other in-between turns just like in ASL.

This ingenious and balanced way to structure turns in a WWII tactical level game at this scale, is one of the main factors that helped with my decision.

Posted Today 12:14 am





Monte Groesbeck
(KnightTemplar)

Philgamer wrote:
"PLEASE SPELL OUT ACRONYMS THE FIRST TIME YOU USE THEM!

I'm guessing that ASL is Advanced Squad Leader, but I have no idea what ATS means. This is something of a pet peeve of mine, especially since it is so easy to fix. the first time you use and acronym should be like this, Advanced Squad Leader (ASL). After that you can use ASL to your heart's content, assured that you have done your bit to ensure understanding."

Phillip,

Great feedback. I have made this change.

Posted Today 12:25 am





M. Kirschenbaum
(mkirschenbaum)

KnightTemplar wrote:
"A 200+ page manual full of subtleties does not hide the fact that at it's core, ASL is an "I Go, U Go" system."

Let's assume for a moment that you have honorable intentions and are not simply trolling. The problem with the above is that "IGO-UGO" is generally used as a pejorative phrase, because it refers to dinosaur designs in which turns unfold in strict symmetrical sequence with no opportunity for player interaction whatsoever. Think Napoleon at Waterloo. ASL (and indeed, Squad Leader before it) was years ahead of its time in the level of player interaction it promoted. No, it doesn't use "impulses," but so what? What is IGO-UGO anyway? In ATS, first one side activates some sub-set of their units, then the other side activates some sub-set of their units. Is that IGO-UGO? Why not? First one side is going, then the other. Sorry, but your comments are both reductive and misleading.

Btw, ASL's crtics routinely snipe at all the First Fire/Subsequent First Fire/Final Fire stuff--the heart of the player interaction in the defensive fire phase--as hopelessly clunky and baroque. So which is it? How can the system be IGO-UGO (as you insist) but also have player interactions so complex that they're a talking point for the game's detractors?

Posted Today 12:32 am





Monte Groesbeck
(KnightTemplar)

Kevin Moody wrote:
Quote:
"And there are times when all you can do is sit and wait for a half an hour while your opponent moves.
Would you name those scenarios for us, please? So that I can consider avoiding them. Although, I can't remember a minute of downtime in any scenario I've played, so it might make for a nice change of pace."

Quote:
"Again, we prove the nay-sayers wrong by showing you that the move-and-fire mechanics are totally dissimilar. Of course, the nay-sayers will refuse to see and admit this, but then we can feel very sorry for their lack of understanding and vision. (Yes, sarcasm mode is on right now. Rarely have I seen grown men ... some of whom are "professionals" ... carry on petty grudges and hatreds like some of the nay-sayers can. I'd love to see them reconcile their bitter hatred with whatever their spiritual beliefs are.)
Wow, sounds like some people have hurt you. Care to name names? So that I can consider avoiding them."

Quote:
"Five years ago, I would have been "afraid" of the reaction of my fellow ASLers ... including my friends (who play an awful lot of ASL, and no other tactical game, as far as I know).

So, as we go through this process, I fully expect to hear the hue and cry from fellow ASLers who think I'm daft. That's ok ... I think anyone who hates just because they can is daft, too.
For now on, I will think of you as Brave Brien. Be sure to check in regularly now, or else we might think the ululating brownshirts have silenced you.

Thanks for the neutral comparison!"

Hello Kevin,

Thanks for the feedback. I didn't write this article, but I will forward your comments to Brien Martin. There is a lot of political stuff going on in the ASL community. My sense is, Brien is responding to some of there comments, but I do know he is trying to be neutral.

"And there are times when all you can do is sit and wait for a half an hour while your opponent moves."

I would think Brien is referring to some of the largest ASL scenarios. From reading your input, Kevin, I largely think you have been playing the Starter Kits. The Starter Kits will obviously not have as much downtime.

Posted Today 12:33 am





Monte Groesbeck
(KnightTemplar)

mkirschenbaum wrote:
KnightTemplar wrote:
"A 200+ page manual full of subtleties does not hide the fact that at it's core, ASL is an "I Go, U Go" system.

Let's assume for a moment that you have honorable intentions and are not simply trolling. The problem with the above is that "IGO-UGO" is generally used as a pejorative phrase, because it refers to dinosaur designs in which turns unfold in strict symmetrical sequence with no opportunity for player interaction whatsoever. Think Napoleon at Waterloo. ASL (and indeed, Squad Leader before it) weas years ahead of its time in the level of player interaction it promoted. No, it doesn't use "impulses," but so what? What is IGO-UGO anyway? In ATS, first one side activates some sub-set of their units, then the other side activates some sub-set of their units. Is that IGO-UGO? Why not? First one side is going, the the other. Sorry, but your comments are both reductive and misleading.

Btw, ASL's crtics routinely snipe at all the First Fire/Subsequent First Fire/Final Fire stuff--the heart of the player interaction in the defensive fire phase--as hopelessly clunky and baroque. So which is it? How can the system be IGO-UGO (as you insist) but also have player interactions so complex that they're a talking point for the game's detractors?"

No. You either do not understand what I am saying, or don't want to accept it. Please look at my response comparing the "I Go, U Go" mechanics of ASL, to the "Alternate Impulse" system of ATS. It is really not that difficult to understand what I am trying to say.

In ASL you move your entire army at once. Period. All the complexity, and subtleties you want to throw at this point will not change it. True, your opponent can interrupt some of your actions. I have outlined an example of this (with a demo) in my other post.

In ATS you move an entire UNIT, than your opponent moves his entire UNIT. Alternating, unit by unit until the turn is over. IN ADDITION, your opponent has the ability to interrupt you at any time, as in ASL.

By the way; I am not an ASL critic. A common problem with old ASL Grognards is they are closed minded, and instantly get defensive when anyone dares challenge the mechanics of their game.

Posted Today 12:40 am





M. Kirschenbaum
(mkirschenbaum)

KnightTemplar wrote:
"In ATS you move an entire UNIT, than your opponent moves his entire UNIT. Alternating, unit by unit until the turn is over. IN ADDITION, your opponent has the ability to interrupt you at any time, as in ASL."

See? IGO-UGO.

KnightTemplar wrote:
"By the way; I am not an ASL critic. A common problem with old ASL Grognards is they are closed minded, and instantly get defensive when anyone dares challenge the mechanics of their game."

A common problem with people who profess not to be critics of ASL is they substitute canards like "close minded" and "defensive" for compelling counter-analysis when challenged on facts.

Posted Today 12:45 am





Guy Riessen
(Sprydle)

mkirschenbaum wrote:
"The problem with the above is that "IGO-UGO" is generally used as a pejorative phrase"

[sigh] I stopped reading here. I suppose "CRT" is pejorative too? Oh and "dice." Don't forget that outdated "mechanic," sneered at by some mythological majority looking to sling insults. Just a bit sensitive are we?

Posted Today 12:54 am





M. Kirschenbaum
(mkirschenbaum)

Is the problem that I'm being overly sensitive for thinking IGO-UGO is a intended as a pejorative in KnightTemplar's analysis, or is the problem that you think I'm slagging it?

Posted Today 12:59 am





Peter Martin
(Peso Pete)

mkirschenbaum wrote:
"Is the problem that I'm being overly sensitive for thinking IGO-UGO is a intended as a pejorative in KnightTemplar's analysis, or is the problem that you think I'm slagging it?"

I think we all need to take a breath and not assume some "evil intent" here. I think you are right when you say the writer of the piece is a fan of ATS. However, he does say that ASL is a great game system and I'm not seeing any hidden agenda here to trash ASL.

Posted Today 01:04 am





Michael Von Ahnen
(mvonahnen)

Great write up, I like "reviews" like this that give you a feel for the mechanics of the game.

It also convinced me to stick with my original Squad Leader, which is much less complicated than either of these.
Posted Today 01:15 am





Guy Riessen
(Sprydle)

I actually like both systems quite a bit, and would have a hard time choosing one over the other.

I will say though, if I was looking at the systems strictly from a "ASL Starter Kit" vs. the "ATS Basic Edition," I found more value (game play for the money) in the ASL Starter Kit.

In the full systems, I've found the ATS games to be quick, tense, and a lot of fun...and playable in their entirety straight out of the box.

The ASL games to be, not quite as quick, actually even a little more tense (since hard decisions have to be made a little farther in advance, since they are, HORROR OF HORRORS...IGO-UGO ***note this is sarcastic, the system works great, like it's supposed to*** ), and a lot of fun...with the disadvantage of many scenarios which require owning far more than the box you just picked up.

That is from a purely subjective point of view, of course, and from someone who played Squad Leader (a LOT) when it originally came out, missed ASL's birth completely, got back into squad-level wargaming with ATS, only about 3 years ago, then picked up ASL a couple years ago. I've now played both ASL starter kits and some of Beyond Valor since its reprinting. Since then I've found there to be players for both, close-minded proselytizers for both, and value to both.

Posted Today 01:21 am





Jeff Thompson
(Tompy)

How many players at the big ATS tournament this weekend? What's the largest turnout for an ATS tournament at any venue?

They may be great systems, both of them. But ASL has a fanatical following that could make the Pope blush.

Brien Martin is the Tournament Director for an ASL tournament every year. He does a bang up job.

Does anyone else no an IGO/UGO game that sucks? How about chess? I mean, there's no intereaction... What? You mean you look at the board and look for strategies while it's the other player's turn? Really? Wow, that's what I do when for every freakin' game I play!

Posted Today 02:47 am





Geoff Bohrer
(gbohrer)

Just a couple notes:

First off,I can't speak to CH's intentions; but "hull down" and "hull defilade" are indeed technical terms used by tankers. In the most correct use, "hull down" means that the vehicle's hull is "concealed" (can't be seen); "hull defilade" means the hull is "covered" (can't be shot). In practice, the two terms are used largely interchangeably, with "hull down" being the more vernacular of the two.

Also, I seem to recall an article by Don Greenwood saying that SL was departure from the highly technical tactical game design style established by Tobruk. Rather than a lineal descendant, SL was actually an attempt to create a tactical game in which moral effects took precedence over physical ones. Though, of course, there were plenty of similarities.

-Geoff

Posted Today 02:56 am





Monte Groesbeck
(KnightTemplar)

Tompy wrote:
"How many players at the big ATS tournament this weekend? What's the largest turnout for an ATS tournament at any venue?

They may be great systems, both of them. But ASL has a fanatical following that could make the Pope blush.

Brien Martin is the Tournament Director for an ASL tournament every year. He does a bang up job.

Does anyone else no an IGO/UGO game that sucks? How about chess? I mean, there's no intereaction... What? You mean you look at the board and look for strategies while it's the other player's turn? Really? Wow, that's what I do when for every freakin' game I play!"

Hi Jeff,

Actually, Chess uses alternating turns. You don't move all of your chess pieces at once, you alternate turns with your opponent moving a single piece at a time.

Who said "IGO/UGO" games suck? I hope you are not implying I did? I said I PREFER "Alternating Impulses" in a game of this scale. I think it is much more interactive, and provides a more immersive experience. No where did I say ASL "sucks". ASL is a very good game.

Posted Today 03:30 am





Idaho Gamer
(crusader4x)

Philgamer wrote:
"PLEASE SPELL OUT ACRONYMS THE FIRST TIME YOU USE THEM!"

This comment gives me joy. Considering that the people responding on this post are either ASL or ATS fans (or a few that are both), speaking in acronyms is second nature. Just read one of the instruction manuals for either ASL or ATS (or even LnL for that matter). All one needs to do is count the MMPs, SMPs, SWs, etc. and you'll understand why we speak in acronyms.

Posted Today 03:57 am





Ken Feldman
(Kenfeldman)

Quote:
"ASL uses an "I Go, U Go" methodology"

I don't think this is meant to be disparaging in any way, it's meant to point out the key difference between the two games. While Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) does allow the use of opportunity fire (as do the alternating impulse games, Advanced Tobruk System (ATS), Lock 'n' Load and the platoon level Panzergrenadier), it does require you to make decisions with all of your units at the same time. With some players, this will result in a bit of Analysis Paralysis (AP).

One example of this in ASL is the Prep Fire Phase. A player needs to decide which of their units will prep fire. Those that don't may move or fire in the advance fire phase. This will lead to some slower play. A player must take the time to decide which of his units will fire during the prep fire phase and which will move. If he waits until the advance fire phase, he pays a penalty, in the form of half firepower for infantry units or a +2 modifier for guns, even if the unit didn't move. It feels a little more artificial than the newer game systems which use the alternating impulse mechanic. (I think the original version of Tobruk, which predated Squad Leader by a year, used IGO-UGO as well. ATS uses the alternating impulses that most of the games designed in the current millenium use).

The quasi IGO-UGO sequence of play (some phases have both players participate, so it's not true IGO-UGO) of ASL also leads to some very gamey (also called sleaze) tactics in the tournaments that someone mentioned above. The worst of these in my opinion (IMO) is when units use their offensive phase to retreat one hexagon (hex) so that the opposing player can't fire at them with defensive fire and then use their advance phase to advance back into the hex that they just vacated. It amuses me to see many people say that ASL is the "most realistic" tactical World War II (WWII) game when this tactic is allowed. It's not possible to do this a game with alternating impulses because the opponent will occupy that space that was just vacated.

ASL does have alot more rules than ATS and the other tactical games that provide a deeper narrative. While other games rely on the combat results tables (CRT)s to determine whether shots hit and if so how much damage they do, ASL adds a lot of random events that give the game it's unique flavor. On any given shot or morale dice roll, units can cower, generate a sniper attack, break into a lower morale unit, generate a hero or jam a weapon, to name just a few things. While this does add some flavor, it also tends to slow the game down and adds to volumes of rules. The popularity of the ASL Starter Kits seems to indicate that players prefer to do without many of these rules, as the Starter Kits rate higher than ASL.

There are alot of differences in the tactical WWII games, and the only way to decide which one you like the best is to try them. Fortunately, ASL and ATS have Starter Kits and Basic Games to try. Lock 'n' Load has a downloadable demo. Hopefully, the new ones in production (Combat Commander by GMT and Conflict of Heroes, Awakening the Bear by L2 Design Group, will also come with inexpensive trial versions).

Ken

Posted Today 05:05 am





Thomas Granvold
(tomg)

Kenfeldman wrote:
Quote:
"ASL uses an "I Go, U Go" methodology


I don't think this is meant to be disparaging in any way, it's meant to point out the key difference between the two games. While Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) does allow the use of opportunity fire (as do the alternating impulse games, Advanced Tobruk System (ATS), Lock 'n' Load and the platoon level Panzergrenadier), it does require you to make decisions with all of your units at the same time. With some players, this will result in a bit of Analysis Paralysis (AP)."

You put it very well Ken.

Quote:
"ASL does have alot more rules than ATS and the other tactical games that provide a deeper narrative. While other games rely on the combat results tables (CRT)s to determine whether shots hit and if so how much damage they do, ASL adds a lot of random events that give the game it's unique flavor. On any given shot or morale dice roll, units can cower, generate a sniper attack, break into a lower morale unit, generate a hero or jam a weapon, to name just a few things. While this does add some flavor, it also tends to slow the game down and adds to volumes of rules. The popularity of the ASL Starter Kits seems to indicate that players prefer to do without many of these rules, as the Starter Kits rate higher than ASL."

An interesting of handling additional flavor while keeping the mechanics simple and quick is Combat Commander. Instead of rolling dice, a card is drawn. The card has the resulting 2D6 roll in the lower right corner and also indicates if an event occurs. These events include snipers, fires starting, etc.

Quote:
"There are alot of differences in the tactical WWII games, and the only way to decide which one you like the best is to try them. Fortunately, ASL and ATS have Starter Kits and Basic Games to try. Lock 'n' Load has a downloadable demo. Hopefully, the new ones in production (Combat Commander by GMT and Conflict of Heroes, Awakening the Bear by L2 Design Group, will also come with inexpensive trial versions)."

I do hope that these new games make available demo's or inexpensive versions to let people try them out. Another way to try games is game conventions. That is where I was able to try out Combat Commander among other games.

Enjoy,
Tom

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I'd like to see more discussion here, there were some good points brought up (and it seems like the other new thread is mostly about whether or not the original poster should have deleted his thread).
 
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How about a comment from the OP as to why he took the thread down?
 
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I think we should leave that discussion for this thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/129563

I'm more interested in hearing more comparisons really.
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Yes. I don't know much about either system, so it was one of the more interesting threads I've read. Glad to see the discussion is back.
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Re: Comparing ASL To ATS - A Very Detailed & Technical Analy
I've played ASL, but never ATS. ASL is fun, but very imposing. Its tough to motivate myself to play a game because I need to remind myself of so many rules again.

Looking over the initial post, I like what I see in the 'impulse' system that ATS has. That seems to me to be a strength over ASL's defensive fire system. I have three questions for people who have some experience with both:

1. Does ATS have an imposing a rules set as ASL, or is it significantly simpler?

2. Does ATS have the scope of ASL, where you can play almost any engagement in the war if you have the correct modules?

3. What strengths does ASL have over ATS?
 
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Re: Comparing ASL To ATS - A Very Detailed & Technical Analy
Here's my comparison of ASL to ATS. Each consists of three capital letters. Each begins with an A. Also, each has an S, but one sensibly puts the S in the middle while the other defiantly saves the S for the last position. The biggest difference, though, that I have been able to perceive between these two sets of three letters is that one features an L while the other boasts a T. Hopefully that wasn't too detailed or technical.
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I'd also like to hear opinions on specific strengths either system has over the others.

And yeah, the impulse system sounds like a good thing.

 
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Bill,

Let me work up a complete answer for you and post it later today.

Brien
 
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Quote:
1. Does ATS have an imposing a rules set as ASL, or is it significantly simpler?


The ASL rulebook has about 126 pages for the "base" rules (Chapters A-D, not all of which are needed to play all the scenarios). ASL makes copious use of acronyms, all of which are defined in the rulebook's index. They can be daunting to read at first, but after awhile, you know what FFNAM/FFMO means

The ATS rulebook is about 53 pages of actual rules (15 sections, not all of which are needed to play all the scenarios). ATS uses acronyms, as well, just not as many. That's not a good or a bad thing, just a statement of fact.

Quote:
2. Does ATS have the scope of ASL, where you can play almost any engagement in the war if you have the correct modules?


ATS is "unique" in that each module is self-contained. If you buy Arnhem: Defiant Stand ... you have everything you need to play that module, and need never buy another module again. Sometimes, there are counters in the module that you can't use because they are for another module. That's because they have extra space for counters, so they give you ones you can use elsewhere in the system.

Now, that doesn't mean you need to own "A" to get all the components for "B" ... because "B" is already complete when you buy it. The extra counters are just that ... extra.

ASL, on the other hand, has some "dependent" scenarios, requiring you to own "A" because the maps in "A" are used in a particular scenario. Or, you need to own "C" because the units in the scenario come from "A" and "C". Not all scenarios are like this ... and you could certainly play all the non-dependent scenarios and never "miss" not being able to play the others.

Quote:
3. What strengths does ASL have over ATS?


I don't like to think in one game being stronger than the other. Both have their good points and their bad points. Both have a high enjoyment level ... although the enjoyment comes from different angles. Both will challenge you. Both have loyal followings.

But to say that ASL is better than ATS ... well, you can do that, but it's all a matter of personal taste, anyway. Certainly, uber-loyal ASL fans will tell you that there *is* no other game. And die-hard ATS fans will question the sanity of a 126-page rulebook.

All I can tell you is that both games offer a little bit of everything to the tactical gamer. Each game approaches the topic in a different angle, so what one person finds a strength of ASL may be seen as a weakness by another. I don't think you'd be disappointed in either case, but that would be a matter between you and your own likes and dislikes.

Brien
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Re: Comparing ASL To ATS - A Very Detailed & Technical Analy
Brien Martin wrote:

Quote:
2. Does ATS have the scope of ASL, where you can play almost any engagement in the war if you have the correct modules?


ATS is "unique" in that each module is self-contained. If you buy Arnhem: Defiant Stand ... you have everything you need to play that module, and need never buy another module again. Sometimes, there are counters in the module that you can't use because they are for another module. That's because they have extra space for counters, so they give you ones you can use elsewhere in the system.

Now, that doesn't mean you need to own "A" to get all the components for "B" ... because "B" is already complete when you buy it. The extra counters are just that ... extra.

ASL, on the other hand, has some "dependent" scenarios, requiring you to own "A" because the maps in "A" are used in a particular scenario. Or, you need to own "C" because the units in the scenario come from "A" and "C". Not all scenarios are like this ... and you could certainly play all the non-dependent scenarios and never "miss" not being able to play the others.


This doesn't really answer the question. Suppose I own all things ATS, would I be able to make and play a scenario for any possible engagement in the war? I believe ASL as a system has this sort of "completeness" as a goal...and AFAIK it is very close to achieving that goal. Is this something which ATS also aspires to?

I personally have no stake in this argument...both games offer much more than I want to deal with in any game. It just drives me a little nuts when a question is asked and a different one is answered.
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Quote:
The ASL rulebook has about 126 pages for the "base" rules (Chapters A-D, not all of which are needed to play all the scenarios). ASL makes copious use of acronyms, all of which are defined in the rulebook's index. They can be daunting to read at first, but after awhile, you know what FFNAM/FFMO means

The ATS rulebook is about 53 pages of actual rules (15 sections, not all of which are needed to play all the scenarios). ATS uses acronyms, as well, just not as many. That's not a good or a bad thing, just a statement of fact.


This is a slight simplification of the comparison in the rulebooks. The ATS 53 pages include topics like night actions, aircraft, desert terrain, Japanese troops and Pacific Theater terrain that are included in chapters E, F and G of the ASL rulebook. I no longer own ASL, so I cant tell you how many more pages are needed to cover those topics that are included in the 53 pages of ATS rules.

Ken
 
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Quote:
This doesn't really answer the question. Suppose I own all things ATS, would I be able to make and play a scenario for any possible engagement in the war? I believe ASL as a system has this sort of "completeness" as a goal...and AFAIK it is very close to achieving that goal. Is this something which ATS also aspires to?


It should be obvious from the answer that each module is self-contained. Since you have everything you need to play Module A, then what are the chances that Module B has scenarios in it that require units/maps from Module A? Zero.

Therefore, ATS is not attempting to be the be-all and end-all of tactical gaming where, once you own every module, you can then take those modules to mix-and-match anything in the system, a la ASL.

Also, if people did a little research on their own by visiting Critical Hit's website, they would see that ATS modules are historical in the sense that they recreate one battle (or series of battles fought over the same terrain). Think HASL modules in ASL. ATS is more HATS than it is ASL in terms of building endless scenario possibilities.

Quote:
I personally have no stake in this argument...both games offer much more than I want to deal with in any game. It just drives me a little nuts when a question is asked and a different one is answered.


And it drives me a little nuts when someone who admits that they don't have a dog in this hunt, but they feel the need to step up and criticize answers given by well-intentioned folks.

Brien
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Brien Martin wrote:
I don't like to think in one game being stronger than the other. Both have their good points and their bad points.


So, we've already heard about ATS' good points in the original post, what in your opinion are some of ASL's? I'm not asking you to say that ASL is catagorically better than ATS, but what things would you say it does very well?

For instance, I've heard ASL does a good job of solving the "human wave" problem.

[here is a description of the "human wave" problem from Chris Farrells blog]:
"The problem is this: units in defensive positions can fire on units that are rushing them, or trying to infiltrate their way through the front lines to victory locations. The general heuristic with these games is that units get to fire once, so the defender has to make choices about which encroaching units to shoot at. The problem with the everyone-shoots-once rule is that an attacker, who has a player's-eye-view of the board, can see which units have fired and which haven't, and once the defenders have exhausted their fire, he can run around the board with wild (and rather unrealistic) abandon."

Now, when Chris Farrell discusses Lock and Load he gives this as an example of one place where he thinks the system doesn't hold up to ASL as well. He doesn't say one game is better or worse, or that they even need to be compared. Just that this is one aspect of the game that he feels is modeled better in ASL. We've already heard what you think ATS does better, and I'm sure you like ASL too, so what do you think ASL does better?
 
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Re: Comparing ASL To ATS - A Very Detailed & Technical Analy
Brien Martin wrote:

... so what do you think ASL does better?


ASL is 'richer' there is a lot more different things that can happen. For example, normallay a unit either passes or fails a morale check, but when you roll a two, you roll on the Heat Of Battle table to see what else happens, a unit can 'Battle Harden' (Get better, basically), go Beserk, generate a Hero, or surrender. This helps makes each battle different and distinctive. In my last game, an abnormal amount of units battle hardened, so I had a fair few elite troops to play with which I wouldn't normally have.

Plus, it's always fun to see a lowly 4-4-7 turn into an nearly unstoppable Beserk 4-4-10 and watch it charge as quickly as possible at the nearest enemy. Watch your opponent panic!

More importantly, ASL modules a more complete. The British ASL module has almost every AFV that ever saw action in WWII, even the most obscure ones. For any scenario, if you have the british module, you'll have all the British counters you'll need. (Except for certain HASLs, which need a lot of a certain amount of vehicles. In that case the HASL has the extra vehicle counters.)

There are a LOT more scenarios for ASL. Over 3000 at last count. Name any situation, and it's probably been covered.
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Quote:
Suppose I own all things ATS, would I be able to make and play a scenario for any possible engagement in the war? I believe ASL as a system has this sort of "completeness" as a goal...and AFAIK it is very close to achieving that goal. Is this something which ATS also aspires to?


ATS games are fought on maps of the historical terrain, not geomorphic maps, which are representative of many "typical" battle sites. The closest thing that ATS has to the geomorphic maps are the Advanced Tobruk maps, which are plain desert with some scrub (small bushes) printed in a few hexes. Advanced Tobruk uses small overlays that players place to show where hills, roads, villages and other terrain features were in the battles being recreated by the scenarios. This is why there are more desert scenarios (96) for ATS than for any other battle area. I think Scottish Corridor, with 20 scenarios (16 in the base game and several available through the Gamers Guide and/or download from the CH site) has the next most.

The advantage of geomorphic maps is that you can pretend the map represents anything you want it to. ASL board 21, which depicts dense urban terrain, could be a few city blocks in Stalingrad one day, or a few blocks in Berlin or Arnhem on other days. Depends on which scenario you are fighting. In ATS, you need to own separate games to get the maps for Arnhem, Berlin or Stalingrad. As Brien said upthread, the ATS games are complete, so the counters needed for those actions are also included.

To play actions in Arnhem, Berlin and Stalingrad in ATS, you'd need to buy three games costing $210 at full retail prices. You'd have 32 scenarios to play. To do the same in ASL, you'd have to buy the rulebook, Beyond Valor and For King and Country. (With the current edition of BV having 24 scenarios and FKaC having 20, you have a few more scenarios with these 3 ASL products.) The full retail price is around $255. With the geomorphic maps and the full orders of battle for the Soviets, British and Germans, you could recreate many more battles that you design yourself or purchase from publications like the ASL Annuals and Journals. So there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.

Alot of the choice depends on how much time you want to spend playing the game. If you want to immerse yourself in learning a larger rulebook, going to tournaments and playing out 1,000s of scenarios, then ASL is going to be a better fit for your style. If you want to play out a few actions every once in a while, then ATS will work. There are now more than 20 ATS products covering all of the theaters of the war, so there is plenty of variety available.

Personally, I prefer to fight on the historical maps. It's one of the reasons that Beyond Normandy is my favorite of the PanzerGrenadier games.

Ken

editted to correct the price and number of scenarios for ASL products.
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Isley
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Hehe, ASL being "richer" isn't necessarily a good thing...there is a reason I haven't played past the starter kits yet
 
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Ken Feldman
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Quote:
We've already heard what you think ATS does better... so what do you think ASL does better?


ASL rules for concealment are better than the ATS rules. ASL provides "?" counters in both infantry and vehicle sizes so you can do a better job of hiding where your units are. ATS provides a "Fog of War" side for it's vehicles and support weapons, so only those units can be hidden. And only vehicles have "dummy" counters.

ATS does have spotting rules and rules for some hidden placement, but since the player can see the enemy stacks, they can arrange their attack or defense accordingly.

Ken
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Re: Comparing ASL To ATS - A Very Detailed & Technical Analy
Also, if people did a little research on their own by visiting Critical Hit's website, they would see that ATS modules are historical in the sense that they recreate one battle (or series of battles fought over the same terrain). Think HASL modules in ASL. ATS is more HATS than it is ASL in terms of building endless scenario possibilities.

That is a very good point, and it applies to Lock 'n' Load as well; any given module is out to depict a particular event, rather than a complete theatre or orbat.

ASL is in the business of the latter, and if that is what you are after, it is strongly in its favour.

On the thousands and mousands of rules thing: it is all about choice, isn't it? Nobody has to apply everything all the time, but it is nice to be able to be able to add colour to a game by evoking a given rule.

For example, ELR. In ASL, squads can lose confidence on a morale check and be replaced with a lower value counter. Together with the cowering rule, it captures something about the experience of battle; the trauma of it all can lead to units losing the plot and not applying their training. Given enough pressure, a well trained, well motivated unit can be reduced to the status of a band of dazed conscripts. There it is - ASL has rules for 'The Thin Red Line' and all that.

Of course, you are free to play without that layer of psychological realism. However, having played with that particular layer regularly I miss it if it isn't there.

That's ASL - an enormous grab-bag of interesting, often insightful little mechanisms.



 
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Or better titled: A brief overview of ASL and ATS.

Since neither game is likely to be picked up by a casual gamer on a whim (the only thing that makes the ATS look less intimidating is its rules aren't in a binder, but 60+ pages are still a lot for a casual gamer to peruse in one sitting), I would rather have seen a simplified sequence of play (the true difference in the systems) and even more details on certain aspects of play (beyond those in the initial post as a few more significant differences exist which may or may not be important to people).

For the rules length, the statement about 'all rules not needed' could have been more detailed. In ATS, 12+ pages deal with terrain and in ASL all of chapter B does. If you are not dealing with that type of terrain, you don't need those rules.

The below is very crude (and not guaranteed accurate), just meant to show what else I think a detailed comparison would be
____________________________________________________
Sequence of play:

ASL
-Both sides rally troops.
-Active side fires unit is wants to.
-Active side moves or performs other 'tasks' (pick up weapons, lay smoke, dig). Other side can interrupt movement to fire at the active player units as they are moving/doing tasks.
-Active units that moved can fire.
-Units that suffered morale problems during that half of turn run away.
-Active units can advance one hex (and have close combat).
-Other player becomes the active player and the above sequence repeated.
-Turn ending activities occur.

ATS
-Determine who goes first in each segment.
-In alternate turns, fire stuff not on the map (artillery, aircraft, etc.)
-In alternate turns, fire or move a unit on the board (i.e. side A moves -a stack of units, side B fires a tank, side A fires infantry unit, side B fires and infantry unit, etc...) The other side can interrupt movement to fire at other player's moving units.
-In alternate turns, attempt to move unit/stack into adjacent hex occupied by enemy. Conduct melee.
-End of turn activities, including rally units suffering morale problems.



Then some more details of how things are treated (I think each game has merit and will come down to whether they like the 'realism' of a given treatment better or simply find the perceived simplicity of a given treatment of more interest).

Some other details that I would have liked to have seen:

Infantry can use smoke grenades. In ASL, certain units have a smoke ability on their counters. If they want to use smoke, they must roll that number or less. If they fail, it still cost them movement points. In ATS, each side gets a finite number of smoke grenades to use based on number of units in play and nationality. These can be used any time, but once used they are done.

If you fire at a hex (in ASL, during defensive fire; in ATS, for any fire), some 'residual' firepower is left in the hex so units moving through that hex later could still be shot at. This is to simulate that neither game is truly 'real time, simultaneous movement' and that during the course of the turn some 'bullets' could still be flying around in that area. For ASL, the amount of residual fire left is based on amount of fire into the hex and the residual fire can kill or cause morale checks. For ATS, if there was enough fire into the hex (>= 6), one marker is left there and it cause morale checks only.

Machine guns in ATS have a rate of fire. You just get that many fire shots in a turn. In ASL, machine guns have a rate of fire. If your colored die is that number or less, the machine gun can fire again. In ASL, machine guns can other firing options. Kind of like residual markers above, they can lay a 'fire lane' down a straight path (like the machine gun was fire blasted away in one direction the whole turn).

Both games, based on scenarios, allow units to set up hidden. In ATS, exact vehicles types remain unknown until seen. In ASL, infantry can become unknown (concealed) many times during the course of the game if out of line of sight of enemy units.

The infantry movement section wasn't bad, but even that could have been better (i.e. movement: both games have units become tired/exhausted if they run or double time. ASL infantry can also use 'dash' movement to cross open areas from cover terrain to cover terrain).

___________________________________________________________

One could add a few others (bypass terrain (ASL), continuous vehicle movement (both), surrender (different treatments)).

Sorry for being so wordy, espeically as I wouldn't considered myself an expert in either (maybe that is a good thing.) Just my two cents. Sold off my ATS stuff when they kept changing the rules, but they seem to be pretty stable and refined now. Still have most of my ASL stuff, but haven't played for quite a while.
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Quote:
For ATS, if there was enough fire into the hex (>= 6), one marker is left there and it cause morale checks only.


In ATS, if you fail the morale check, you take casualties equal to the amount you failed by. So those low morale units could be wiped out if they enter a hex with a continued fire marker on it.

Ken
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Re: Comparing ASL To ATS - A Very Detailed & Technical Analy
Brien Martin wrote:

Therefore, ATS is not attempting to be the be-all and end-all of tactical gaming where, once you own every module, you can then take those modules to mix-and-match anything in the system, a la ASL.


Thanks for the answer, that's what I wanted to know. It was not at all obvious to me that a system where each module was self contained precluded it from also being a mix-and-match "toolkit".
 
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Re: Comparing ASL To ATS - A Very Detailed & Technical Analy
KnightTemplar wrote:
Think of ASL and ATS in the following light of modern day martial arts.


From what I've seen of your posting style and methods, it seems this is the better analysis.

ATS proponents are like the flashy martial artists who talk a big game, won't stop yapping, but on getting that first pop to the face from the opposition, cry foul, curl up in a ball, and demand that the fight be stopped.

They then attempt to delete all videos of the fight, make their own heavily edited version that only contains their good points, and demand that no one question the authenticity of the fight.
 
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Ken Feldman
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It was almost as good as the "chocolate ice cream is brown" post.
 
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