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Subject: The juice and the squeeze rss

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Dane P
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I've played two missions, just standard non-campaign missions. Both the "pockets" scenario, German vs. Soviet, set in July 1941 in terms of equipment.

In the first one, I was kind of stunned at how hard my 130 points had to fight, destroying 260-points worth of randomly generated, all-infantry Soviets (mostly conscripts). I ended up quitting because I was down to 6 squads with 20 S? still on map.

Then I noticed the rule I got wrong: the roll for the number of chits to draw is not just a d6, and likewise the roll for the radius in hexes from the placement hex is not a d6. That explained why my 130 points of Germans had to fight about 400 points of Soviets in a game whose minimum turn length was calculated (correctly) at 18 turns.

Back to the drawing board, new maps, same sceanrio and side. Much more manageable game (minimum turn length 12 which is much more practical and appropriate). I got an interesting, fun victory.

(And I guess I'm answering my own question here...)

But is the juice worth the squeeze? Is the investment in work required to play the system rewarded sufficiently by fun?

My solitaire game took less than 3 hours (not counting rules-lookups, which added another 2 hours, but that I consider necessary for future play and also somewhat enjoyable).

The problem is that I just had this boring infantry force of basically 13x 4-6-7 squads, 2x LMG, 1xMMG, and a couple 50mm mortars.

I realize random events can generate vehicles and such, but if the game is to get more fun, I need to add some variety to my forces. I'm curious if the second edition (I own the first) improves on that design (DYO of 130 points for infantry only). I realize there is a CG in the SASL system, but it's not particularly different. At best you add a couple 81mm mortars to your German OB.

If I sacrifice the BPV (xNPV, possibly too) cost from that 130 DYO points, would that still be the same game?

The game offers a lot of opportunity to practice a lot of things, and if nothing else I will use it for that. (Maybe my mental fatigue is the result of just immersing myself in ASL for the last 7 days in various reading and playing and organizing of components.)

I know that SASL is a niche, and I'm a big solitaire gamer, so I should be the market for it. I'm curious what others think of my current perspective.
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Peter Kossits
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I used to play SASL a lot and had some of my best gaming memories using it, but...

...in the long run, I don't think it's a very efficient design in terms of maximizing the chances of the player having a good time.

o Missions can definitely overstay their welcome and be a lot longer than you would like while often not being very interesting. A 3 hour playtime is actually on the extremely low end of what you can expect.

o You can be moving at a good pace having a great time and then BOOM, some sort of activation or random event sends you running to the rulebook to check up some esoteric situation or unit that you otherwise never encounter. And if the new thing is complex enough, the momentum of play just dies.

o Missions can end up being extremely unfair and unbalanced.

o Some missions require endless streams of unending die rolls to accomplish various tasks.

I ended up stopping playing after about 3-4 years because I felt the bang for the free time buck wasn't good enough. It was a great way for me to practice and learn and I enjoyed it. But I doubt I would ever play it it again.

================

And at the risk of a bit of shameless self-promotion if you'd like to try an alternative way to play ASL solo and happen to have Starter Kit 1, pop over to the forums for that game. I've been having fun with a little card-driven solo system this year that has proved surprisingly good. It lets you play normal scenarios using 99.9% standard rules for the "bot" opponent - so you'd be practicing and playing real ASL with actual scenarios.
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Dane P
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South Denver
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I have Starter Kit 2 and the Decision at Elst starter kit.

SASL has to compete with other solitaire-designed games that I have and those are much more efficient. Plus, I know ASL and am able to play any scenario solitaire (more or less efficiently).

I was thinking that cards in the fashion of the D-Day at Omaha Beach (where one card has succinctly organized information for different gameplay phases in sections). One card can substitute for multiple die rolls, and could for this system. I'm surprised MMP hasn't had someone approach them with a design.

I will PM you about your stuff.

Where esoteric random stuff is concerned, I just re-rolled random events for things I didn't want to read up on. Got a convoy random event. Screw that: reroll.

I did similar with the fact that the system produced a lot of bunkers. I just omitted them because a) it didn't make sense in context and b) it slowed gameplay down to a crawl and/or make gameplay overly difficult (all I get is infantry to take out bunkers?)
 
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Peter Kossits
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I used SASL in an unorthodox way to learn the rules bit by bit. When I started, I didn't know Guns or AFV so I just ignored any time those units were generated - I got very quick at playing with just infantry. Eventually I started playing with Guns and just ignored vehicles. And finally, I started playing with everything. It worked well and let me practice a little bit every day. If you do SASL and do a bit of PBEM, I think that's a fine way of getting good at the game fast.

The 200+ page rulebook and 3000+ scenario list is a huge deterrent to anyone devising new solitaire rules for this game. Plus MMP already has a solitaire system in their catalog. It would be a very tough sell for a designer.



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Adam Lunney
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To learn ASL, VASL is your friend.

You can play against all types of people from all over the globe at whatever level of complexity you like.

You will have time to look up rules, especially in PBEM, and you can learn a lot fairly quickly.

I highly recommend it - I'm playing five different VASL PBEM games at the moment - great fun.
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James Quinn
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I recently got into ASL and even more recently started playing SASL. I think SASL is a good way to learn ASL at your own pace. I also enjoy it because I have an overactive imagination and I like the role-playing aspect to it. It is a completely different experience, though. Complimentary but different.

Conventional wisdom says that playing against a human is more challenging and rewarding.

That said, if you want to field a FRIENDLY force with more oomph, I highly recommend two resources.
-The first is the Otto Carius campaign (originally published by the Silicon Valley ASL club) in which you field a couple of Tigers along with your inf force. Search 'Otto Carius SASL' on the web, or go to: https://www.scribd.com/document/63275282/Otto-Carius-SASL
-The second is a full blown "Tank ASL" in which your main command is a company of about a dozen AFVs! Search 'Hans Meilants SASL' or go to: https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=!ADKL_3hGpHKF6U4&id=39AC6...

Tootles.


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Paul Johnston
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I have had ASL and SASL for years now,but until recently have just not had the sit down free time to properly learn the system.A recent change in personal circumstances has changed all that,so I have dusted it all off,and am currently enjoying a full war campaign game based around a German infantry company who will ultimately fight on both the Eastern and Western fronts.Currently,they are up to their neck in blood and bullets in France 1940.
The beauty of solo gaming is that you can add your own 'house rules' and nobody complains.My changes are small,for example if I capture weaponry such as an mg,then I retain it as part of the company OB,until it breaks,at which point it is permanently gone,no repair roll.I have a nominated 'personality counter' which represents me,as company commander,if he is killed,then it's game and campaign over !
I agree with some of the points made above, but not all.The system IS beginning to show its age alongside newer,more evolved solo systems such as COH,and the ATS system,but it suits me principally because you watch your company evolve or diminish as time goes by.
yes,it throws up uneven matchups on occasion,but real warfare is seldom an even chess game,so I have no problem there.Besides,it makes for a great narrative when you come to look back( " things were going swimmingly until we faced that Russian wave attack outside Smolensk.in fact we were lucky to get out with 70% casualtys)
Perhaps what is needed is a complete overhaul along the lines of the card driven AI described earlier,instead of yet another Historical Module.Perhaps Multi Man Publishing could give this some thought ?
being able to play any SCENARIO solo would boost this system like a Saturn 5 rocket.....
 
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Peter Kossits
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MIGBAT wrote:

being able to play any SCENARIO solo would boost this system like a Saturn 5 rocket.....


Hmmm. I doubt it. The hardcore old-timers are very gregarious and the focus is very much on playing with others and playing in tournaments. If you try to find an email opponent or a VASL opponent, it's not unusual for you to be gently prodded into finding a local opponent. The ASL community is not all that solo-play friendly. That's not a bad thing - it's just what it is.

 
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