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Roger Summers
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Shrewsbury
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I’m writing this review for several reasons. It’s mainly intended to introduce lurkers into the mechanics and how to begin if you’re interested in playing this system. I have also written a review in the Squad Leader entry for those who are interested more. Since there were no reviews for this game, I felt it needed one, so that those who have never been introduced into the world of ASL could garner some insights and those just browsing might understand what this game really is.

This game can be a life long endeavor. It is not for any casual gamer. It is a hobby you embark upon for life, if you want to experience all the game has to offer. It will encompass the entire scope of WWII unlike any other game. Many of us are completely satisfied with experiencing only a few of the areas ASL has to offer. You don’t have to be a tread head to begin playing. After you play, you will become a tread head. You do not come out of this hobby as you went in. You come out with an understanding of WWII on par with those who hold master degrees in history. Actually, when it comes to WWII specifically, you will most likely develop an honorary PhD. It is going to teach you this much. An incredible amount of research went into the development of this game and that invariably wears off on those who play. You will be able to exchange notes on a high level with any WWI history professor!

That said, one must have some interest in WWII. Personally I do not have this huge fascination with WWII, as many of the diehard ASLers do. I find history interesting enough, to be drawn to a game like ASL. After playing the ASL system, I got hooked on war games in general. Squad Leader was my first hex and counter war game. It opened up all kinds of history lessons for me.

Hex and counter war games are unparalleled in their ability to accurately depict historical details. ASL is so detailed on its scale, that no other war game will ever come close to its ability to recreate squad level warfare. Of course with enough squads you create platoons and that can be taken to extremes to create companies. Beyond this level the game becomes cumbersome but for those willing to attempt it, the larger scales are doable. Fortunately, only a few notable battles in WWI approached that scale.

ASL creates single counters of 1 to 10 men. Add to this individual support weapons and vehicles. The game becomes very intricate. There is an enormous amount of rules, to accommodate all of the various aspects of units, locations and weaponry involved in this game. Every piece of ordinance, unit type, support weapon, terrain ect has been incorporated into this system. It is grand beyond compare. It you are interested in the details of how a unit of men could function, with their weapons and how those interactions could be coordinated with other groups of men and ordinance, this is the game for you.

If you have never played ASL before do not attempt to play it on your own for the first time. I don’t care how intelligent you are. ASL must be taught to you. If there is no one to teach you then purchase Squad Leader first. Squad Leader has programmed instructions, that teaches you the mechanics step by step. Remember, this is Advanced Squad Leader. If you do have someone to teach you ASL then you might circumvent Squad Leader. Even those who play this game consistently, have to refer to the rules regularly. Quite honestly, as hard as we try, there are just so many rules for ASL, that many of them go unplayed (unnoticed is a better description) by even the best players. It’s the really ardent players who keep us all on track when we sit down. A firm understanding of the rules helps you to make the right decisions. Misunderstand something and the other player can take advantage of you. Regular, routine play is essential to develop a firm grasp of the rules and to implement them accordingly. The term is lifestyle.

You can pick it up and play every now and then with friends who know ASL and could play. You will fumble with rules and you most likely will put it away after that. This game requires you to devote considerable time to develop smooth playing time. I would say that unless you have a whole lot of time on your hands, you can only commit to this game and your other gaming interests will suffer. Its one of the reasons I don’t play anymore. To be competitive you have to play consistently. Some of us play in spurts, just to keep the rust off. While enough to be able to play, you might be a little behind if you went to play with a gaming group. People who play ASL don’t play much else unless they do have the time. ASL is enough to keep you happy though, when you do commit to it. There are so many aspects to the game it is impossible not to keep the interest up. When you start playing and you have good people to play with, you want to keep going and learning. Put your other gaming interest to the side for a time. Learn this system and you will have all the understandings you need to be able to jump into any war gaming system you heart desires and be able to play it on the first get go. It will open up all kinds of other arenas for you to experience.

The combat system is detailed to the point of nausea. It is absolutely amazing. All done with standard 6 sided dice. I am still amazed how excellent the rules system works. This why it is such a popular game. True historical players will testify to the statical agenda this game has perfected. I cannot begin to describe to you how it was developed because it is way beyond anything I will understand. What I do know is that it works. What seems to be is, for this game. If it happened on the battlefield it is depicted in the game. No stone was left unturned. It has been detailed to completeness and precession. Luck has truly been reduced down to that of ‘battlefield’ luck. I cannot say anymore than that. There are so many statical charts for this game that any variability has been boiled down to just that, variables. Stack them, assess them then execute them with the relevant chance for success or failure. Risky moves are a risk and those units always end up dead. Get the picture?

This review could go on forever. I want to end by saying if you read this far then you do have an interest. Find a group or someone you know and try it out. ASLers are some of the most encouragable types you will find. We love our hobby and love to share it with others. Then decide. Do you want to learn more and have some tense fun while doing so? Welcome brother to the wide world of ASL. Histories greatest war game (next to chess) of all time.

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Isaac Citrom
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A truly excellent review in that I was not looking for a play-by-play précis of the system. Your review showed excellent insight and just plain accomplished its job in helping me to determine whether I want to jump onto the ASL bandwagon. Thank you.
 
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