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Subject: Will ASL put me off wargames? rss

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Jason Doyle
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OK so I'm fascinated by wargames and I'm still really looking around for my entry point to the hobby. I did purchase ASLSK#1 a while back as it was a cheap deal, and it seemed to offer a lot for the money, but I haven't yet had time to delve into it (small children=sleep deprivation).

It looks like I may actually catch up on some sleep over the next week so I'd really like to get my teeth into something but I'm not sure I should be starting there. I like complexity and learning new things but I'm concerned that from what I've heard this might just put me off the whole idea given my concentration is a little off at the moment.

Do you agree? Does anyone have any alternative ideas for games for a beginner?

With the following in mind:

1. I'm cheap, or at least I am at the moment so I want something a little lower priced if possible. Particularly lower cost in the UK, so importing something cheap and then being stung on shipping and duty isn't really ideal.

2. I'm interested in playing something and reading some history at the same time, hopefully with interest in each feeding off the other. So something historical rather than fantasy, I'm open to any suggestions on period though I'm drawn to something ancient.

3. Small storage space. I'm running out and I'm much more likely to remain civil with my wife if I don't bring another huge box into the house.

4. Will be played solitaire. I don't currently know of anyone I could play against, though I may try Vassal once I've played a few games. I enjoy solitaire gaming though.

5. I don't have anywhere I can leave a huge game setup for days. So I'm thinking either a shorter game or one that requires a smaller area to play.

I've been looking at the Folio series from Decision Games (I think) as these are both cheap to obtain and easy to store, but reviews are a little thin on the ground and not all that positive. I have some credit at Amazon but I can't really find anything there, I'm guessing it's not worth most seller's time listing wargames there. I might put that towards Memoir '44 though which I can get there. I've also looked at Victory Point Games stuff which looks interesting but cost here in UK or shipping starts to make them look quite expensive. My wife has a business trip planned though so I might be able to organise for her to bring them back with her.

Sorry if these sort of things have been covered before but I thought given my requirements I might get some better recommendations or ideas. I'll stop rambling now, thanks for reading.

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Phil McDonald
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ASL put's me off living

It's like Marmite, you will either love it or detest it, but no-one else can tell you which
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BrentS
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I'm sure there will be plenty of good suggestions but I'll put forward my favourite because it fits most of your criteria.

If you're thinking of getting Memoir anyway but have an interest in Ancients, I'd really recommend Commands & Colors: Ancients instead.

Same basic system but a far deeper and more satisfying game, still easy to learn, quick to play (usually less than an hour), plenty of value for money with the included scenarios but also hundreds available online, many find it plays well solo, excellent Vassal module (and community of online players), and a springboard for hours/days/weeks of historical research.

Only issues for you might be size (the box isn't enormous but with the blocks we're not talking about a VPG game) and although it's very affordable here, I'm not sure about its cost and availability in the UK.

Brent.
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ian morris
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I don't like those shipping/duty costs either. There are a few retailers in the UK : if you haven't already done so, check out the websites for Leisure Games, Second Chance Games, and Gameslore. I've used all three, and they're reliable.



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My strong vote is for Ancient Battles Deluxe, and the expansions as you wish.

Quick to play, easy to learn, tons of scenarios, playable solitaire, playable online.

I have both Ancient Battles Deluxe (and the games it was developed from) and Commands & Colors: Ancients with all the expansions. I'm getting rid of the whole C&C:A collection.

Of course... if you are really interested in ancient era wargaming... you might also consider starting with De Bellis Antiquitatis and seeing if you like that sort of thing, then moving on to Field of Glory. Your wife will not mind DBA too much, but it will have to prepare her for FoG.

EDIT... the old classic AH game Alexander the Great is a good game system with a map that is completely ahistorical and affects the game greatly... but still a pretty good period study (just not really applicable for the battle it simulates). It can be had for cheap used if you look around a little. I also like the whole SPI tactical series, although in the PRESTAGS versions they can be a little bland still they are quick easy and fun.
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Gordon Watson
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For me the ASL starter kit is a great product -there is a huge amount of play in a small box and MMP look like they are going to actively support the starter kits as a product line independently of the full blown ASL (which is not cheap and which takes up lots of space). So if you do like it you can expand to starter kits 2 & 3 and the new expansion kit for #1.

The key is whether you like it or not, that depends on your ability to absorb complexity and the scale of game you like. ASL is at a very tactical level so if you are looking for a game to complement some historical reading about a military campaign, operation or even individual battle , ASL only fits at an the indivdual unit action level.

If you can handle complexity then the ASL starter kit is a good place to start as they do play relatively well solo and don't take up much room to play or store.

Personally, I would stay clear of Memoir 44, for me it's too simplistic as a military sim, although it can be a fun game - it doesn't teach a lot of history. Command & Colors: Ancients is a better/deeper implementation of the system.

There are some very good solitaire wargame designs on the market now -
- D-Day at Omaha Beach is about to be reprinted (very good)
- Field Commander: Rommel
- The Barbarossa Campaign
- Zulus on the Ramparts!
- Twilight Struggle
meant -
- Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?

A couple of the above will be edging into the 'not cheap' bracket but all offer a lot of play for the pound and a lot of history.

Boardgameguru does sell the Victorypoint games in the UK - and they are slightly cheaper than buying from the US, although still a little expensive for what they are in terms of components - but they are generally good games.


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Sam H
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From personal experience, ASL will not necessarily put you off of wargaming. ASL SK2 was the second game I purchased and learned how to play. It's the game that got me hooked and moving onto other systems and scales. To lessen the headache, I would suggest reading Richfam's tutorials here on the Geek. They make learning the game a lot easier.

From the perspective of a new dad, with sleep deprivation issues, PBEM (play by Email) is your friend. If you don't have it already, download VASSAL. ASL starter kits are a charm by email and you can do a little at a time. You can find opponents here or on other ASL forums.

For pros and cons of various tactical systems, lists of beginner games, solo games and the rest, check out BGG wargames subdomain FAQ, references and general mayhem.

Edit: added urls
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Joao Lima
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It almost did it to me. Getting away from it allowed me to enjoy wargaming again.
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Charles Vasey
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philmcd wrote:
ASL put's me off living

It's like Marmite, you will either love it or detest it, but no-one else can tell you which


Oddly enough I do neither it is a competent game, but I do find I enjoy it in short bursts. It is very much a game about playing well; and lots of thought will help.
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Andy Beaton
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You'll enjoy the SK's just fine, especially if you get VASL up and running. You'll meet lots of other players, you can play in small increments of time and you don't need any setup space.
As for other wargames, I don't play them much because I don't enjoy them as much as ASL now. Is that a bad thing?
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Eric Walters
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Given your post, I don't think ASLSK#1 will put you off wargames. And there's enough chaos in the game to make it pretty decent as a solitaire experience, Certainly if you like it, the following games in the series are excellent.

But I would cast your net widely to see what else it out there. I can advocate for the other games that are designed as solitaire experiences--I'd also throw in RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940 and Where There Is Discord: War in the South Atlantic (if the latter ever gets reprinted); your problem is that the boxes are big and you want to keep your wargaming "footprint" small.

Also, look for games that have some sort of random activation sequencing--either by die roll or chit pull that designates which formation gets to move. These types of games are excellent solitaire vehicles, even if they were designed to be two player games. Good examples are games like World at War: Eisenbach Gap through World at War: The Untold Stories, Panzerblitz: Hill of Death, Panzer Grenadier: Elsenborn Ridge, and Nations at War: White Star Rising at the tactical level, and A Victory Denied and A Victory Lost at the operational level. There's also Summer Lightning: The Invasion of Poland 1939 which is a great solitaire-friendly game. This is the tip of the iceberg; I'm sure future posters will give you more ideas.
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Enrico Viglino
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Charles Vasey wrote:
philmcd wrote:
ASL put's me off living :)

It's like Marmite, you will either love it or detest it, but no-one else can tell you which :)


Oddly enough I do neither it is a competent game, but I do find I enjoy it in short bursts. It is very much a game about playing well; and lots of thought will help.


I too have very little emotional feelings about ASL.

I respect it, as detailed coverage of a subject matter
which never quite caught me. It, like any game of significant
complexity, contains many flaws. I even understand those who
are committed to it - as I slipped into phases where I felt
similarly about SFB - the range of scenarios just provides
such a huge amount of playing opportunity, that the cost
(in expansions as well as learning time) seems well worth
it. But no, I can't love it - it's just not that much
fun for me.
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Lard Head
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I'm not an ASL player, so I can't really fairly answer your original question, but I'll throw in my thoughts about other solitaire wargame options.

I'd stay away from the Commands & Colors family of games for your purposes. I like the games quite a bit, but I am not terribly fond of them as solitaire games, and they may be a bit light on the history side of it for you. Nominally the scenarios are all based on actual events, but the game system has relatively abstract mechanics (including the sometimes historical, sometimes not so historical terrain) and sort of nebulous scale (they play like tactical games, but in some scenarios the units that are being abstractly represented are much larger than normal in a tactical level game) that make it not ideal if you really want history while you play instead of just in the intro to the scenario.

I really enjoy the Conflict of Heroes series and find that they play well solitaire, but the scenarios are more in the vein of "something like this happened, or might have happened," rather than true historical simulation. Good games though, depending on how important or not actual history in gameplay is to you.

You might also look at some of the Print and Play options out there. There are a TON, some of which are quite good. There are a whole mess of GeekLists on good PnP wargames that you might want to peruse.

Some of the other options that have been mentioned I only know by reputation, but I have heard quite a bit about and are ones that I am looking at myself (part of why I looked at your post to begin with ). Good luck!
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IrishBouzouki wrote:
My strong vote is for Ancient Battles Deluxe, and the expansions as you wish.

Quick to play, easy to learn, tons of scenarios, playable solitaire, playable online.

+1

If historical period doesn't matter to you, and you like the look of ASL, there's nothing wrong with delving into the starter kit and just taking it at your own pace.

But you said you want to read as a complement to the game, and that you're drawn to ancients. So, ABD might be just the thing. Most of the scenarios are famous battles you can read about online or in the library.

Aside from the combat system (which is just a little tricky to wrap one's mind around), this game has a lot going for it.

Which reminds me--I should place an order for the fifth expansion. I have all the rest. Then I need to get back to playing it.

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Jason Doyle
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Sincere thanks to you all, plenty of ideas to look into here. Ancient Battles Deluxe looks like it ticks lots of boxes for me so that's high on my list right now, thanks to everyone who recommended it. Looks like the rules are available, and once I get the little one into bed I might read through them...with a well deserved dram of the good stuff I think.

I do like the look of Command & Colors Ancients too, but it's still going to be £40+ with shipping. Shame it's not available at Amazon.

Going to look into the print and play stuff a little more too. I did recently grab Solitaire Caesar which I've enjoyed so I'm not averse to a little gluing and cutting.

Hadn't really considered miniatures stuff much, I might look into that. Perhaps there is something I can do with paper miniatures to keep the cost down.

Again, thanks for taking the time to answer. Much appreciated.

EDIT: Oh and I think I'll take a look at those ASL tutorials that were recommended. Maybe I should just get the thing on the table and see how it goes.
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Gordon Watson
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SJBenoist wrote:
domus_ludorum wrote:
...
There are some very good solitaire wargame designs on the market now -
- D-Day at Omaha Beach is about to be reprinted (very good)
- Field Commander: Rommel
- The Barbarossa Campaign
- Zulus on the Ramparts!
- Twilight Struggle

A couple of the above will be edging into the 'not cheap' bracket but all offer a lot of play for the pound and a lot of history.

...


Twilight Struggle is not a solitaire game.

Are you thinking of Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?, perhaps?


blush Oops - yes I was. CDG system and a title which conjours up the same feeling. Edited - thank you.
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Vincent FOUCHER
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You've got ASLSK#1. All you have to do is get Jay Richardson's tutorials, genuine gems for all ASL beginners who want to learn fast.

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/157922/an-aslsk-tutorial-par...
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/166941/an-aslsk-tutorial-par...
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/169542/an-aslsk-tutorial-par...
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/88350/explanation-of-rof-and...
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/122340/explanation-of-the-ro...

Then ASL won't put you off wargames anymore. What may happen to you though is sheer addiction. Extra lack of sleep. Etc.
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Marc Guenette
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Started playing the ASL Starter kit, and they are all growing on me. I even taught one of my teens, and we're fighting to get a hang of the rulebook on free time. If you can find a willing teacher. Even better !
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ASL SK is still requires a fair amount of work to get through. I strongly recommend playing through the two examples of play by edelrio. Not only do they show the rules in action, they demonstrate the kinds of decisions and considerations an ASL player faces during play.

The first EoP deals with the ASL SK scenario 1 http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/44413/aslsk1-tutorial-...; the second EoP is for scenario 2 http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/44413/aslsk1-tutorial-....




EDIT: sorry for screwing up the links here shake
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Andy Daglish
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lumpignon wrote:
Then ASL won't put you off wargames anymore.


It will put you off the Starter Kits permanently, and some of the others too. With extreme prejudice.
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Wulf Corbett
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ASL didn't put me off wargaming, but it taught me a valuable lesson - just because a game is impressive and comprehensive doesn't mean I'll enjoy it. I think ASL is an very competent game that leaves the player with way too much to do for my liking. Give me a streamlined wargame with an 8 to 16 page rulebook these days. I have looked at up to 32 pages, but that's it now... I much prefer the designer to do some of the work, and abstract much of the calculation into the game, rather than leaving it all for me as ASL does. My little cardboard troops know their job, they can follow orders without my micro-management.

To my mind, you should have a look at a couple of wargames from the simple side of the spectrum. You mentioned Victory Point games - good choice, in my opinion. And fear not postage and the jackboot of HM Revenue & Customs - buy them from www.boardgameguru.co.uk ! Small, loads of solitaire games, small table footprint, fast play, diverse subjects, diverse mechanics.
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jmlima wrote:
It almost did it to me. Getting away from it allowed me to enjoy wargaming again.
Well, thanks for buying/trading mine off me - now we've both learned a valuable lesson
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Michael Lucey
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To be honest, ASL is a rather poor choice for you... at least right now. ASL is more a game than a simulation so it is a poor choice for solitaire play. There are other tactical games that would be better choices, especially when you factor in cost and rule comprehension.

I would seriously consider vassal for your play because the community has become quite large and it will open you up to gaming choices and styles that you may never have the time to explore on your own. It will also introduce you to many different opponents and strategies to improve your game play and it could lead you to a local group for eventual FtF play down the road.
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Jason Doyle
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UPDATE:

So I gained a lot of useful information from the answers here so my thanks once again.

I really like the look of Command & Colors: Ancients but it's out of my price range right now so it's going to the top of my wishlist.

I also like the idea of Ancient Battles Deluxe so I'm probably going to buy that but I also discovered that the earlier version of this (I think) Ancients is available for free so I've been playing with that on VASSAL and have been having a great time trying it out. It seems quite simple but I'm guessing if I enjoy this, I'll really enjoy the VPG game, though I'm tempted to build myself a print and play set of this one.

I stuck the ASLSK#1 on the table and have been fiddling with it ever since, using the tutorials that were recommended. I have to say that despite my fears I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. A really great learning experience which is encouraging me to read a little more of the history of that war.

And finally, I'm very close to just ordering Men of Iron which I think could be a real winner for me. I've read through the rules and scenarios and it looks like something I could really get my teeth into from both a gaming and research angle.

I'm hoping to learn at least one system and play a couple of games against a willing victim on VASSAL if I can find someone with the patience too.

So I've finally taken my first steps into wargaming. I know little about the topic and I don't know a great deal about warfare and the history around it either but I'm looking forward to immersing myself in both.

I'll be back with questions!
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Enrico Viglino
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weateallthepies wrote:


And finally, I'm very close to just ordering Men of Iron which I think could be a real winner for me. I've read through the rules and scenarios and it looks like something I could really get my teeth into from both a gaming and research angle.



You may want to consider Infidel instead - I think the scenarios
play better.

As a more general bit of advice, you might want to find your
sweet spot before settling on getting a bunch of lighter games.
For example, if you really end up liking MOI's system, GBoH (especially
simple) isn't too big a jump - same with Musket & Pike - although both
of these end up as related systems with huge numbers of scenarios
(likewise with the ASL route). This kind of thinking helped keep
me from the C&C games - they're a big investment, and I don't tend
to like lighter ones as much (plus there's the hidden aspect).

Also, don't be afraid of looking for used bargains. There are a decent
number in the UK, so shipping shouldn't be a killer.
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