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Subject: Teaching Squad Leader to Non-Wargamers rss

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Jack Wingard

La Mirada
California
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Having remembered my love for Squad Leader after many years, I wondered if I could get it played among the Biola Boardgamers. We are a lunch hour group that typically plays light- to medium-weight Euro games. I floated the idea of teaching them Squad Leader, and got a couple nibbles.

My next challenge was in how to teach the system to non-wargamers, folks that weren't sure if they'd even like a war game. These guys would often rather play Bausack over Notre Dame to provide a break from the mental strain of working as university employees. (Okay, okay; it's me who usually prefers the lighter fare.)

Since we only have an hour at a time, once or twice a week, I figured my best chance was to break Squad Leader's programmatic instruction into even smaller chunks than the introductory Guards Counterattack scenario. My initial goal was to teach only enough rules to play the Alpha-0 scenario designed by my Squad Leader mentor, Alan Yngve.

So I took the rulebook and organized the rules by subject, and put them in the order they are needed for play. I created an alternate table of contents, beginning with the game concept, movement, and line of sight, then fire combat, morale, and finally sequence of play (I saved support weapons for later). Armed with the rulebook, maps, and tokens, we covered these topics over three lunches.

The fourth lunch was a review session, and I walked the guys through my example game turn from a made-up scenario. This showed the rules we had learned in action. Plenty of Q&A rounded out the lunch.

Since then, I've put together a beginner's player aid which only contains what is necessary for Alpha-0. It also fleshes out common procedures like fire combat and routing broken units. I will present this at our next session, and referee our first real game. Once we're ready for more complexity I'll make a PlayerAid2.pdf that includes machine guns, and we'll move on to Alpha-1. After that we'll probably abandon my beginner player aids for the official Quick Reference Data Card.

So far this process seems to be working well. Have you folks had similar experiences? Any tips for teaching war games to non-wargamers, during short blocks of time? Any great successes, or horror stories to avoid?

I'd also love your feedback on the PDFs I've made. Hopefully they can be a help to you and others, as we join in the quest to get the great game of Squad Leader played!
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Bob Wilson
United States
Northampton
Massachusetts
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I just learned the basics of ASL from a friend in pretty much the fashion you describe above, leaving heavy weapons till later. I had already read about 1/4 the rules of Squad Leader (I own a copy I haven't played yet), and I know the differences are numerous, but reading SL definitely helped me to "grok" ASL, first scenario of the Starter Kit. I'm going to check out your files, thank you for contributing them!
 
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