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Subject: Squads (ToI vs ASL) rss

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Jim Cote
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This is a discussion of the design/simulation issues related to the choice of using plastic figures (Tide of Iron) versus using a standard wargame counter (Advanced Squad Leader). Although my preference is overwhelmingly for cardboard (even in ToI; I have no interest in playing with "little army men"), this is an attempt at an objective comparison of the benefits and limitations of the two physical design choices. This may also help others to understand the two systems. Note that I own ASL and will be buying ToI as well.

Physical Implementation

ToI: Plastic base with 4 holes for leaders, regular infantry, elite infantry, machine gun crews (2 holes), and mortar crews (2 holes). The base has a clip for a specialization token. Base and figures are color-coded by nation.

ASL: Square 1/2" cardboard counters printed with pertinent information (numbers and letters). Counters are color-coded by nation. Additional functions (machine guns, flame throwers, demo charges, anti-tank weapons, etc.) have their own counters.

Unit Size

ToI: Squads can contain units taking up to 4 holes in any combination. Leaders are part of squads.

ASL: A full squad is represented by a counter picturing 3 soldier figures. A half squad is represented by a counter picturing 2 soldier figures. A leader is represented by a counter picturing 1 soldier figure.

Firepower (FP)

ToI: Total FP for a squad is the sum of the individual FPs of units comprising it. Each unit has a fixed base FP according to the type of target.

ASL: Total FP for a squad is printed on the counter. Squads may have very different FP values based on their composition, weapons, training, and experience.

Range

ToI: The range of each unit is based on its type.

ASL: The range of a squad is printed on the counter. Squads may have very different ranges based on their composition, weapons, training, and experience.

Morale

ToI: There is no inherent morale concept. The ability to withstand attacks is modified by terrain, and, in suppressive fire cases, by the presence of elite units and leaders. Pin tokens are always removed. Disruption tokens become Pin tokens. The presence a leader allows Pinned squads to take some action, and for Disruption tokens to be directly removed.

ASL: The morale of a squad is printed on the counter. Squads may have very different morales based on their composition, training, and experience. Leaders are needed to rally Pinned/Broken squads. The active player may also attempt to rally a single squad each turn without a leader.

Squad States

ToI: Pinned and Disprupted squads are indicated by a counter.

ASL: Pinned squads get a counter. Broken squads are flipped over (and receive a Desperation Morale counter giving them a penalty of 4 for their next rally attempt).

Effects of Attacks

ToI: Normal attacks may result in the removal of one or more figures from the squad base. When all figures are removed, the base is removed from play. Suppressive attacks may result in a Pinned or Disrupted counter being placed with the squad.

ASL: Units may be Pinned (counter) or Broken (flipped + DM counter). Units may be Casualty Reduced (full squad counter replaced with half squad counter, half squad counter eliminated), or outright eliminated.

Effectiveness

ToI: Represented by the number and type of units in the base.

ASL: Squad counters have a letter or number indicating their training level (E=elite, 1=1st line, 2=2nd line, C/G=conscript/green). Squad counters may be replaced by less effective squad counters (E -> 1 -> 2 -> C/G) when morale is adversely affected.

Smoke

ToI: If allowed by the Operations Cards in the scenario, squads with an engineering specialization token may lay smoke.

ASL: Squad counters may include a smoke value which is the chance to successfully lay smoke.

Assault Fire

ToI: None.

ASL: Squad counters may indicate Assault Fire capability, which increases the FP of a moving squad (usually it's half).

General Advantages

ToI: Wow factor. Easier to see and move squads. No physical stacking. Ability to have more steps (eg hit points) before elimination with a gradual reduction of effectiveness.

ASL: Much more configurability by selecting desired counters. More information at a glance.

General Disadvantages

ToI: You can only have as many unit properties as you have different figures (notwithstanding the specialization token).

ASL: The amount of information on a full board can be overwhelming. Stacking of units and other counters hides a lot of information. It can be difficult to move counters around when they are dense.


My ToI information is from skimming the rules, not from playing it. Please let me know if I have any missing or incorrect information.
 
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Jeff Thompson
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Mr. Ekted,

I think this should be labeled ToI vs ASLSK.



(I'm just giving you the business because of our previous discussion and fully enjoyed reading this comparison.)

And in that domain, how do ToI vehicles stack up to ASLSK vechicles, Guns, etc?

Does ToI have artillery?

Thanks,
Tompy
 
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Jim Cote
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Tompy wrote:
I think this should be labeled ToI vs ASLSK.

Is there some ToI/ASL comparison that pertains to the differences between using figures and counters that I missed? You are right that my experience is mostly SK1, but I couldn't really come up with anything else--perhaps concealment.

Tompy wrote:
And in that domain, how do ToI vehicles stack up to ASLSK vechicles, Guns, etc?
Does ToI have artillery?


I'll leave that for someone else to compare. As far as info on the counters, I'm sure much of what I said applies.

ToI handles artillery by action cards.
 
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Jim C
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Nice side by side overview.

How 'bout an LOS (Line of Sight) comparison?
 
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Alexander B.
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Ping Pong to Tennis?

Miniature Golf to an 18 hole range?

Comic book to full length novel?


These aren't really comparable.

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Jim Cote
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zonk67 wrote:
How 'bout an LOS (Line of Sight) comparison?


As far as I know they are fairly similar, except that in ToI woods and buildings block the entire hex. In ASL, only the drawn woods/building feature blocks LOS.
 
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Wes Nott
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I think a look at movement of squads and vehicles in ToI vs ASL would be interesting. ASL allows you to do things such as bypass, double time, low crawl, assault movement, hazardous movement, minimum move etc. I've read the ToI rules but I don't recall if there are any special movement options in that game (perhaps there are some cards that let you gain special movement options?).

ekted wrote:
zonk67 wrote:
How 'bout an LOS (Line of Sight) comparison?


As far as I know they are fairly similar, except that in ToI woods and buildings block the entire hex. In ASL, only the drawn woods/building feature blocks LOS.


ToI doesn't feature multistory buildings or multilevel hills does it? I need to read the rulebook again it seems.

ASL also features LOS hindrances which lessen your ability to hit a target by adding a postive DRM when you trace an LOS through said hindrance. For example: grain, when in season, adds a +1 DRM (for each grain hex your los is traced through to the target) on your IFT DR. Grain is featured in ASL SK#2 - one of the infantry only scenarios (no guns) features an interesting scenario which has the Greeks ( i think) chasing the Italians through some grainfields right at the scenario start.
 
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Jim Cote
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Note that this post was intended as a comparison of plastic figures and cardboard counters, not specifically the entire ToI and ASL game systems. I'm also not out to undermine either one. I think they are both very cool, and have their place.
 
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Claus Jensen
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ekted wrote:
Note that this post was intended as a comparison of plastic figures and cardboard counters, not specifically the entire ToI and ASL game systems. I'm also not out to undermine either one. I think they are both very cool, and have their place.


You do break that rule yourself, insofar as stating how firepower works in each game.

I find the comparison (or attempt) interesting, since I am a miniatures freak myself.

However, as far as I can tell, there's only one difference which is NOT rules related:
A carboard counter can contain information pertaining to the unit, whereas a miniature cannot.
(interestingly, you could make cardboard counters which you could stick on the bases in ToI, in lieu of the special armaments.)

*shrug*
 
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Jim Cote
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NetSapiens wrote:
You do break that rule yourself, insofar as stating how firepower works in each game.


FP is integral to the comparison of plastic vs cardboard. In one former case, FP is the sum of the FP's of the individual figures showing. It's hard-coded, but units can lose strength by removing figures. In the later, it's simply a printed number. It's configurable by changing counters, but has only 2 "steps".
 
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Jim Cote
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NetSapiens wrote:
A carboard counter can contain information pertaining to the unit, whereas a miniature cannot.
(interestingly, you could make cardboard counters which you could stick on the bases in ToI, in lieu of the special armaments.)

I've given a lot of thought to how you could re-implement ToI using counters and wood. I happen to dislike plastic in almost all cases. A set of 4 different kinds oif wooden discs (a little smaller than those in T&E) could be printed as "bases" showing 1-4 figures. On top of this disc (and a little to one side) would be stacked any number of counters necessary to add abilities to the squad (medic, etc) and to indicate that one or more of the regulars are actually special types (officers, elites, mechine gun, etc). These counters could be colored so you could even tell what they are without peeking. So, for example, if I had a full squad consistsing of regulars and 2 elites, I would use a disc showing 4 figures, and put 2 elite counters on it. Vehicles would be square wooden planks.

Of course, this change would absolutely kill sales. My tastes are almost always in a small minority.
 
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