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Subject: To ASL or not to ASL rss

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Kevin Lloyd
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For the past few years I have been collecting various modules of ASL with a view to studying, learning and playing when I retire. That time is fast approaching (22 days to go - not that I'm counting ).

I've been following a few recent discussions about getting in to ASL either via the traditional route (start with BV, and so on), via the Starter Kits or not tackling ASL at all, but reverting back to the original SL and expansions. I'm now in a bit of a quandry.

Should I carry on with my original intention, or sell up and go back to my old favourite SL. A further piece of information is that I would most certainly be playing solo - I'm not even interested in online play of these games at present. I do have a table in my home office which can (and does) have a game set up for months if necessary.

The modules I have are modules 1-10 inclusive plus the Solitaire module. All are unpunched, two are still shrinkwrapped.

So, to play or to sell? Any advice folks?

List of modules here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/43897
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Nick Bah Doo
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I'd love to try if only they were available!!!.

Sell your ASL loot to me?
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Jens Hoppe
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kevwill wrote:
Should I carry on with my original intention, or sell up and go back to my old favourite SL.


Since you already have more than enough ASL material to keep you going, I see no reason at all to revert to SL + expansions. ASL was the result of the overhaul given to SL, fixing the mess that the expansions had introduced. If you are really interested in playing this "seriously", ASL is the way to go. The rulebook is fantastic and the variety introduced by the modules is almost limitless.

One could argue that staying with just Squad Leader (the base game, minus expansions) might be an option, if you wanted a more casual approach to the system. However, I still think the Starter Kits do a much better job in that regard these days.

If you are unsure, I'd start with the Starter Kits. After you have tackled all three, consider whether you'd like even more in terms of complexity and variety, and go to full ASL if you do. If not, stick with the SKs and sell your ASL stuff then.

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Team Ski
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Here comes the debate, I can see it coming..... I would personally stick with SL. The rules, while a mess, are simpler in the end. ASL added a ton of complication that bogged the game down. I, too collected ASL for a while, but in reality, I would play SL instead with any new player as it is simply easier to learn and play. Just my humble opinion.

-Ski
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Akiva
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Regardless of which way you go, if you're sticking with ASL, you should definitely look into richfam's excellent ASLSK tutorials (which are good also for learning ASL): http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/40482
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Dan Owsen
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I can't advise you on solitaire since I don't play that way, but I think the suggestion to start with the Starter Kits to see if you even like it before going whole hog is probably the way to go. That way if you don't like it you can recoup your investment by selling your ASL stuff to people who want it.

I've tried the Solitaire ASL module and didn't care for it, but like I said I am just not a solitaire gamer. The module makes ASL into a true solitaire game with some AI for enemy units, random events, etc. You can also play ASL the "traditional" solitaire way by just playing both sides within the usual sequence of play. You might try the game both ways.

With the Starter Kits, there is no reason to even look at the original Squad Leader. The SKs have a similar kind of programmed learning that lets you bite off bits of rules at a time. By time you learn everything in the third SK, you'll know if ASL is for you.
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I can't imagine playing ASL solitaire. So much of the fun involves outwitting your opponent, HIP, drawing fire and so on. There's no point in playing ASL solitaire.

SASL might be fun though.
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Robert Wilson
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Rindu wrote:
I can't imagine playing ASL solitaire. So much of the fun involves outwitting your opponent, HIP, drawing fire and so on. There's no point in playing ASL solitaire.

SASL might be fun though.


SASL is quite fun ,in a different way, but unfortunately its adds another layer of rules to comprehend in addition to the base ASL ones. Also it adds a lot of randomness to what you need to know

For example, you could be playing a game tomorrow with an opponent and decide to play a smallish infantry only fight in a small village with only LMGs , so you read up on all the rules required.

In SASL on the other hand, you can start off in a grain field with a bunch of unknown enemy units in the woods ahead, and depending on what you roll on the activation chart, it could be anything from a conscript squad, to a Flamethrower tank with an elite tank leader , and after you clear them out , the next board could be an urban sprawl or a river crossing , and then if you roll a random event , you could get something like an enemy paradrop or a convoy of friendly trucks supported by Armoured cars. So as you can see, I had to keep hitting the rulebook almost every other turn ( Rocket artillery barrage!! WTH!!)

re: the OPs initial question, I agree with Luke's assessment, playing regular ASL solo would be a waste of time IMO , it would be like playing yourself at GO or Chess, no surprises whatsoever and no outmanouvering your opponent. Also you dont make sub optimal moves like a human does sometimes to lure you into doing something , like make you move into the LOS of a Hidden AT gun [ yes, it happened to me with my brother ]
" You sure you want to do that? I can waltz straight in with my Tigers ?"
him " hmm , nah, Ill keep that move "
me : " muahahahah here we go BOOM BOOM HIMMEL!!"
him " "

I know you stated your preference for not going online, but playing VASL with an experienced player will get you up to speed in a few nights as opposed to a few months of self teaching. Thats what happened to me, I was fed up with learning this, and I swallowed my pride and asked for some help to learn the game, and a guy emailed me out of the blue with the info on an opponent and another guy geekmailed me eager to help out.

Since those days I think I have played perhaps 25+ games of SK3 and about 15+ SK1 and have had a blast in every one of them, even the ones I lost .

Good luck in your odyssey ,

dude163
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Robert Wilson
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PS: where do you likve in the UK?

I am sure there must be an ASL player/group nearby , and most ASL'ers love to teach ppl to play
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D A
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A few comments/tips:

First of all, I'm no ASL expert even though I run a club and have been playing (among other games) fairly regularly over the past 10 years. Many people purport to be an expert and aren't. I'm wise enough to know that I (like most) have far more to learn about this game than I've already managed to grasp.

Having said that:

1) be glad you already bought everything
(you got for less than most of us)

2) find a local club
In order to find players I actually STARTED a club and it paid off in spades. (My club site address is my username btw.) We have members outside our geographic region, and we'd love to encourage you through rules questions discussions, etc. Having said that, you still need to find a local club. (And come visit us in Albuquerque if you are ever in town.)

3) Starter Kit (SK) is an option, but I've taught people basic ASL (ch A+B) and SK 1 and I can tell you that the primary difference between SK 1 and basic ASL is mainly:

a) sniper
b) concealment
c) prisoners
d) heat of battle (aside from leader creation)

TIP: If you have ASL but haven't ever played/played in awhile and purchase SK, I *strongly suggest* adding the sniper counter to even your first SK game. It is an easy rule to add as a one-off. Will it unbalance the SK scenarios? Maybe, but it is a ton of fun and keeps players from having to unlearn the concept of "sniper bait" shots, etc.

4) Most people I know with little or no hard-core gaming experience can pick up "basic A+B" ASL after one or two starter kit games. I've taught everyone from a 30-something dental hygienist to a 13-year old junior high school kid--and they are still playing. So if they can do it, you can you!

This game may or may not be for you, but I find that the arguments that:

* ASL is too hard
* ASL is unrealistic
* ASL is too gamey
* ASL is ...

mean nothing if *you* like it.

Finally, is also true that for some people:

* ASL is too hard
* ASL is unrealistic
* ASL is too gamey

but the point of course is that it depends on the person.

So, bottom line--try the game and if you like it you will find it is like no other. If you don't like, you have a accumulated a great treasure which can be sold on ebay for quite a bit....
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Robert Wilson
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Nice post DA
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Jay Richardson
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It appears that you own the Paratrooper module, so that would be a good place to start. It's all you need to try out ASL to see if you like the system, and punching it is unlikely to reduce the overall value of your collection if you do eventually decide to sell.

It is quite possible to play full ASL solitaire, although, as some of the previous posts indicate, many players will think it's just a waste of time. Good reasons for playing solitaire include simply learning how the game works, playing scenarios that no one else wants to play, experimenting with different offensive & defensive schemes to see how they play out against each other, etc.

To handle the fog of war aspects of ASL (hidden/concealed units, etc.) in a solitaire game, you have to think of yourself as a neutral observer. Imagine that the game is being played by two beginners, and you are advising both of them. So, for example, even though you know where the defender has hidden his AT guns, you could still give the attacker useful advice on how to move his tanks, so you play the game accordingly. Play each side to the best of your ability, making decisions based on what each side knows (and not on what you, the observer, knows). When necessary, roll a die to decide on a course of action: if a tank would get plonked by a hidden gun with one movement path, but would be prefectly safe with another, let the dice decide.

That said, playing ASL against a real opponent, either FTF, live VASL, or PBEM VASL, is where ASL is at its best, and I would certainly encourage you to try a game against an opponent before deciding on whether or not to sell your set.
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Robin Reeve
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richfam wrote:
It is quite possible to play full ASL solitaire, although, as some of the previous posts indicate, many players will think it's just a waste of time.
To handle the fog of war aspects of ASL (hidden/concealed units, etc.) in a solitaire game, you have to think of yourself as a neutral observer. Imagine that the game is being played by two beginners, and you are advising both of them. So, for example, even though you know where the defender has hidden his AT guns, you could still give the attacker useful advice on how to move his tanks, so you play the game accordingly. Play each side to the best of your ability, making decisions based on what each side knows (and not on what you, the observer, knows). When necessary, roll a die to decide on a course of action: if a tank would get plonked by a hidden gun with one movement path, but would be prefectly safe with another, let the dice decide.
I have been playing ASL solo a lot (by lack of oponents, especially before I had access to the Internet).
It is quite like playing other wargames solo.
It asks different mental ressources than FtF play.
I would say that someone who cannot imagine how he could play ASL solo lacks such ressources - or simply didn't need to develop them, because he allways has found FtF opponents.
Where there is a will, there is a way.
I consider solo gaming nearer to reading a good book (with the advantage of 'writing' the events myself).
The "neutral split personality" is not that difficult to develop.

There are many solo players out there and they earn for the least as much respect as privileged players who have plenty of FTF opponents AND time to block many evenings or days free to play ASL.
If someone cannot imagine how he could play that way, he should have even more respect for people who manage to do what he is not able to.
richfam wrote:
That said, playing ASL against a real opponent, either FTF, live VASL, or PBEM VASL, is where ASL is at its best, and I would certainly encourage you to try a game against an opponent before deciding on whether or not to sell your set.
Of course, the FtF experience is the best way to go.
If you don't find a 'physical' FtF opponent, install VASL.
Playing online with Skype is very easy and quite near to a FtF experience.
Or go for PBeM, using the logfile facility : if you don't mind dragging a scenario on many weeks, it is a nice way to go - and you can play multiple games in parallel (it takes only 10-15 minutes to play a logfile and send it back - and you have all your time to look at the rules).
 
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Craig Benn
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Kevin,

there's a bunch of us in Liverpool/Manchester/Preston who play quite regularly. Well far too much really. Thats not a million miles from NW Wales - wherever exactly you are...
One of us has just retired too!

If you're interested in meeting up for a game send me a PM...

Yeah...play ASL - there's a tournament scene here, a newsletter - a community in fact. I don't think anything similar exists for squad leader.
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Lee Massey
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Sounds like you want to play full-bore since you have the core modules! VASL is a good learning experience as has been stated previously! I'm relearning the GAME again after a hiatus! It's like trying on a old shoe that you used to wear alot. Find an experienced opponent to teach you the game! GM me if you have questions! Good luck! Happy gaming! Play full ASL, you won't regret it!
 
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Kevin Lloyd
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Well, thanks for some excellent feedback and suggestions. I'm still not entirely sure which route I will take, but you've given me a lot to think about. I actually enjoy solo play, so I don't see it as a disadvantage. I find it quite easy to see things from both sides - probably the schizophrenia kicking in. At the moment I'm slightly leaning towards reverting to SL which will mean getting rid of the ASL rules and modules I've carefully built up, but as I say, no firm decision yet. I know my wife would prefer that - helps with the pension fund

Once again, thanks to everyone who posted and GM'ed me.
 
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Robert Wilson
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Reverting to SL!

aaeeiiiii!!

ASL is more complex, but if you have some guys willing to teach you , that would make it a lot easier on you


Then again, if you do sell the ASL gear on Ebay lets us know ;p
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Kevin Lloyd
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To update - I've received a copy of Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1 via a trade and have just finished my first attempt at scenario one - breaking loadsa rules in the process of course. It was a very tense affair, with the Americans winning in a successful close combat attack at the end of the final turn.

The rule that I'm most confused about are those concerning all the defensive fire modes, but I'll get there.
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James Lowry
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kevwill wrote:
The rule that I'm most confused about are those concerning all the defensive fire modes, but I'll get there.

Understandable. That's one of the harder bits to get your mind around at first. I think it comes of the fact that the idea that you can only fire once is pretty easy to grasp (and is how it works in Prep, AF, and DFPh), so you want to resist the idea of multiple-fire opportunities in the MPh.

Well, I did, anyway.

Basically, it comes down to this:
Defensive First Fire: Normal fire at any moving unit(s).
Subsequent First Fire: Second shot at a moving unit(s), half firepower, and there can be no enemy units closer to you than your target.
Final Protective Fire: Third+ shot(s) at moving units. Half firepower, die roll also counts as a MC vs the firing unit(s). Only against units moving adjacent to firer, or required against units moving into your location (rare).
Final Fire: Fire during DFPh. Normal fire if unit hasn't already fired. Effectively SFF if it just fired once (qualifies for SFF), but can only be against adjacent units.

Notes: Cowering negates ROF, and moves you directly to a Final Fire marker, negating SFF/FF.
Keeping ROF of course allows further shots at regular FP. Note that ROF weapons cannot keep ROF and put down residual FP. But you get to see the dice first, so you can decide to put down residual from a MG after seeing it lost rate anyway.
MGs and other ROF weapons can use SFF, but have a breakdown penalty.

And then there's Fire Lanes and Residual....
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Kevin Lloyd
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Thanks James - you've made me realise I messed up with ROF, cowering, residual FP..... And I've not got to use support weapons yet.


But you have clarified the defensive phases for me (why can't the rules be written so clearly?). I'll have another go at the scenario at the weekend - after a thorough rules review.
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Lee Massey
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Don't beat yourself up over the rules! Pretty soon, they will come naturally! zombie
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Todd Reed
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dwacdotcom wrote:
A few comments/tips:

but I've taught people basic ASL (ch A+B) and SK 1 and I can tell you that the primary difference between SK 1 and basic ASL is mainly:...

...4) Most people I know with little or no hard-core gaming experience can pick up "basic A+B" ASL after one or two starter kit games. I've taught everyone from a 30-something dental hygienist to a 13-year old junior high school kid--and they are still playing. So if they can do it, you can you!


I'm curious where you start with teaching this game? Do you simple go through the SOP?
 
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Todd Pytel
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mojayhawk wrote:
I'm curious where you start with teaching this game? Do you simple go through the SOP?

I've only taught brand new players a couple of times, so I'm no expert on the subject. But my basic strategy is to explain almost nothing upfront and rely on the fact that ASL, being a squad level game, is fairly intuitive in terms of what your guys can do. I say something like "The turns go Fire-Move-Fire-Advance. You can only fire once in your turn and if you fire at the beginning, you can't move. If you move, then you'll fire at half-strength afterwards. (Interrupt here to point out firepower and range values on counters.) At the end of the turn, everyone gets to advance one hex and if you advance onto an enemy then you'll start a close combat with them." I don't explain anything about the IFT, routing, rallying, terrain, movement, etc. until they come up. Basically, I don't want the newbie to even try to think about the mechanics until they actually need to use them. The system is so complicated that it's madness to try to wrap your head around even a tiny piece of it without any context. This approach seems to work fairly well.
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Lee Massey
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Kevin, now that you're officially retired, what have you been playing in ASL?
 
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D A
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I have a SOP flip chart (the shorter one from the first edition ASL RB) that I use while playing SK. I have the player flip from page to page as we move from phase to phase.

Since I usually start with SK1/S1 the Repetti FF/SFF/FPF etc chart is a great hand out as well.

Since my goal is to get people from SK to ASL A+(limited)B in one or two games, I am really teaching them simplified ASL as opposed to pure SK.

The second scenario we play may be a simple ASL scenario or one final SK scenario depending on the progress made during the first game, and perhaps the length of time between those two first games. The main thing I ask myself is whether or not the player is ready for concealment at that point in time. (If not, a second or even third SK game may be in order.)

As I have mentioned before, adding the sniper counter to the very first SK game makes for more excitement and better long-term 'teaching' IMHO even though it may unbalance the scenario.

Hope this helps.

D A
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