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Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1» Forums » General

Subject: ASLSK qua RPG rss

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Chris Greaves
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Like many of you back in the 70's, I was introduced by a grade school friend to D&D. Wow, that was really something different. It wasn't like the Napoleonic battles my brother and his friends fought on our ping-pong table with their many minis (though that was awesome too). D&D actually made me feel like I was *in* a fantasy adventure (which of course was the point).

I continued to dabble in RPG through the years. When I started getting into historical war games, I felt they missed so much of the detail and imaginative capture of RPGs. Of course RPGs have the benefit of a "DM" who can facilitate this detail by fiat, whereas war games need to use rules to do so. I'm not saying the war games rules are bad; it's my problem, not the rules.

So I get around to getting ASLSK 1. Wow it's all here: the detail; the drama; and about as many rules as D&D 1.0 (OK I'm exaggerating). By that I mean, the rules really aren't so daunting as some suggest. They do require that the player exert mental effort, for sure. But the emphasis on realism makes it easier to grasp, I think. Because it's easier for me to get my head around these rules because it's easy to imagine what's happening. House-to-house fighting and room-to-room dungeon crawling occupy the same creative space for me. I can equate a soldier with a SMG to a wizard with a "wand-of-whatever". I feel like I'm really *in* it, in a way I wouldn't get playing a war game at the battalion or corp level. This factor is what makes understanding the rules for excellent games like Napoleon's Triumph or DBA a real struggle for me. Again, it's my own handicap.

So what I'm taking a long time to say is this: if you are an RPGer and you want to try historical war gaming, seriously consider ASLSK. It's cheap, it builds you slowly (just like the old Basic, Intermediate, and Expert D&D player kits), and it will give you a level of mental cinema you are used to from RPGs. There are a lot of awesome war games, but I think playing them may seem like a flat soda compared to some RPG sessions you've had. Besides you can always add a little fantasy RPG to the mix e.g. Hilter's "werewolves".

You may fire when ready...
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Paul Franklin-Bihary
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I definitely agree...but not exactly. I would say that FULL ASL is the wargame equivalent of D&D. The Starter Kits are just a taste. Wait until you inevitably go all the way...
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Kris Miller
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I recall James Dunnigan noted a similar pattern in RPGers entering wargaming, and makes the same analogy in the similarity of the games in his The Complete Wargames Handbook.

 
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I completely agree with this idea. In fact, I once read someone's comment that ASL was the roleplayer's wargame.

I didn't really come from role-playing; my gaming history is more complex than that--I actually come from wargames, over to RPGs, and back again, but I love narratives and writing and all that. One of the things I love most about ASL is the narrative structures that emerge in play. At first you think you're just playing a board game, but often, by the end of the game, you've witnessed a pretty dramatic story of some lone squad winning the day against all odds in the very last close-combat roll.

In full ASL, the RPG elements are even more pronounced, with the Heat of Battle mechanics--Squads and leaders can "level up" through battle hardening--second-line squads become first line, elite squads become fanatic; squads can go berzerk and charge the enemy, or a Hero can step up and man an MMG all by himself; you can take prisoners, but perhaps the enemy sniper will break the guards and the prisoners decide to try an escape, throttling their guards and scrounging for weaponry, running around behind enemy lines. Russian commissars may attempt to rally units, and if they don't rally, the commissar shoots some of the troops. Finnish commandos descend from the mountains at night on skis, sneaking up to a camp of sleeping Russians, and they hurl molotov cocktails at the buildings, torching everything before leaving the board again. Squads can be locked in Melee while the building goes up in a blaze and crumbles around them, killing everyone.

What other board wargame can give you all this?
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