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Subject: Everything that I wanted to know about ASL and not afraid to ask. rss

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Judd Vance
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Advanced Squad Leader fascinates me because of the universal hype it receives on this forum. That makes me want to investigate it, but I have loads of questions and apprehensions. I checked around a little, but found no "Everything you ever wanted to know about ASL but was afraid to ask" Geeklist or something along those lines (by the way, that would be a great idea). I did find this geeklist, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

How ignorant am I about this game? Heck, until recently, I thought it was out of print. I mean, Avalon Hill put it out, and they've been gone for years, right? Why pay a zillion dollars for an out-of-print game? Yeah, I know better, now, but that should give you an inkling about my level of ASL-ignorance.

Here are some of the reasons I have held back. Please enlighten me of my foolish and irrational ways (or confirm that I'm not too far off, and that I probably should stay away):

1) I have Squad Leader. Isn't ASL just SL and all of its expansions reformatted, like Star Fleet Battles Volume 1 combined and simplified SFB and its expansions and created a modular system for adding on?

2) I loved Squad Leader's rules system that let you read a couple of pages and then play a scenario. That absolutely rocked. I have learned that ASL is not the same. At the same time, when I posted the most complex poll, ASL came in 2nd place to the practically-unplayable The Campaign for North Africa in terms of complexity. That makes me envision a 200 page rulebook chalked full of details and exceptions and if you screw up on any of them, you are toast.

3) ASL is not a game, but a way of life, so I have been told. My only experience with such a game was my high school days of Star Fleet Battles. SFB was a great base game, but quickly got bogged down in excessive detail. This isn't just my opinion, but a common complaint about the system. Even the company understood it, and they created the streamlined Federation Commander system for such simpletons as myself. I had fun with SFB, but if I had it to do over again, I would have stayed away from it, because the fun I got out of it wasn't worth the investment (time & dollars) that I put in it. SFB games often became exercises in Rules Lawyering, where you would find some obscure rule to pull on your opponent in the heat of combat. That ain't fun.

4) Complexity: The most complex game that I think I can stomach is Empire of the Sun and that is because I'll cut Mark Herman a certain amount of slack because he rules and because I have an excellent teacher correcting my mistakes in VASSAL. I tried Vietnam 1965-1975 last year (intro scenario), and I liked it, but it was just too much game for me in terms of complexity. My maximum complexity comfort level for a non-Mark Herman game is Paths of Glory. I know if you buy all things ASL, the complexity will completely eat up Vietnam (according to that complexity poll), but can you get a starter kit and not exceed the PoG-level? And if I kept it at that level, is the game fun? In other words, can you only achieve ASL-bliss by jumping into the deep end?

5) I already have these small unit games:

a) Squad Leader: I barely got into it back in the day, but was considering going through the rule book and learning the system (and I have heard to stay away from the expansions when I do). If I were to play ASL to a complexity level that meets my tolerance, will it offer significantly more than this? (Assuming that ASL is actually MORE than SL and its expansions from question #1).

b) Panzer Grenadier: I have 6 games in the series. I like it a lot. (OK -- I know it's platoon level, instead of squad, but it does fulfill a need for small unit tactics). I stopped buying because of AVP's anti-VASSAL stance, but they are loosening up on it, and when they do, I'll be getting into this a lot, because I really like what I have seen, and the only thing holding this back is an opponent (ergo, the VASSAL problem).

c) Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles: I just got it. I'm reading the rules and am impressed. I have been reading folks saying that they probably won't be getting other similar type of games, because this hits the sweet spot for it.

d) I plan on getting Lock 'n Load: Band of Heroes based on the stellar comments I read on here.

Based on my level of complexity tolerance and these 3-4 games, does ASL provide significantly more payoff for the investment than what I already have?


6) Where do you start? Assuming I'm completely off my rocker on questions #1-5 (and I am guessing this is likely the case), where do you start? You know the old adage about getting one chance to make a first impression: what is the best intro for maximum fun with minimum complexity, or should I say, "tolerable" (as defined above) level of complexity?

7) Does it play solitaire? It's not a requirement, because I'm pretty sure it has a VASSAL mod (I heard VASSAL stands for "Virtual ASL"), but it is a big plus. In other words, does it use cards or hidden movement as part of its core?

8) Playing time: What does a typical starter kit scenario run? I was interested in Bastogne: Screaming Eagles under Siege until I saw the 6 hr time for it. That is longer than I want for a solitaire game (especially when I am trying to learn it). I'm ok with a grand-strategic game (Empire of the Sun, Paths of Glory) going longer, but not sure that I want a tactical game going that long.

I hope I gave enough data to accurately portray my preferences. If ASL is not for me, don't be afraid to say so. I'm cool with that. If you have comments, answers, and corrections, that is cool, also, because maybe there are other people as ignorant and curious as I am.

Thanks in advance.
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Jeffrey D Myers
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Try starting with Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1, which has a manageable rulebook, then keep going if you like it.

Took me about seven years (after ASLSK#1) to decide to get into full ASL, but I'm happy that I did!
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Iain K
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airjudden wrote:

SFB was a great base game, but quickly got bogged down in excessive detail.


Cast your mind back to the SAT Juddy.

SFB Base game is to SFB as SL is to ...
(a) ASL
(b) ASL
(c) ASL
(d) all of the above

As for specifics, there is an *excellent* series of tutorials here on BGG for the ASL Starter Kits. Reading through them will give you a good sense of the Starter Kit ASL, full blown ASL heaps more on the chassis.

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Michael Dorosh
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airjudden wrote:
1) I have Squad Leader. Isn't ASL just SL and all of its expansions reformatted, like Star Fleet Battles Volume 1 combined and simplified SFB and its expansions and created a modular system for adding on?


The first ASL Rule Book came out in 1985. It was an extensive rewrite of the rules for Squad Leader, COD, COI and GI: Anvil of Victory. Not just a reorganization, but a complete rewrite, with several new concepts thrown in. The entire system was rationalized. There was a very good article in The General that explained it, where they basically said, and I quote, there was "less crapping around in the rules".

The first edition rule book was followed by a 2nd edition which was a further refinement of the rules, with extensive application of errata compiled over the years, and some rules modifications.

In short, ASL bears little resemblance to Squad Leader except in theory.

Quote:
2) I loved Squad Leader's rules system that let you read a couple of pages and then play a scenario. That absolutely rocked. I have learned that ASL is not the same. At the same time, when I posted the most complex poll, ASL came in 2nd place to the practically-unplayable The Campaign for North Africa in terms of complexity. That makes me envision a 200 page rulebook chalked full of details and exceptions and if you screw up on any of them, you are toast.


Programmed Instruction is possible for ASL, and there was a system for this introduced in one of the ASL publications. I don't know how successful it was. There have been a number of learning systems introduced over the years; as noted, the ASLSKs are the latest, but the threshold of what is easy to learn is up to individuals to decide for themselves.

Quote:
3) ASL is not a game, but a way of life, so I have been told.


No. That's up to individuals also. Many ASL players incorporate other games into their diet.

Quote:
4) Complexity: The most complex game that I think I can stomach is Empire of the Sun and that is because I'll cut Mark Herman a certain amount of slack because he rules and because I have an excellent teacher correcting my mistakes in VASSAL. I tried Vietnam 1965-1975 last year (intro scenario), and I liked it, but it was just too much game for me in terms of complexity. My maximum complexity comfort level for a non-Mark Herman game is Paths of Glory. I know if you buy all things ASL, the complexity will completely eat up Vietnam (according to that complexity poll), but can you get a starter kit and not exceed the PoG-level? And if I kept it at that level, is the game fun? In other words, can you only achieve ASL-bliss by jumping into the deep end?


The ASLSKs can be enjoyed as their own game system.

Quote:
5) I already have these small unit games:

a) Squad Leader: I barely got into it back in the day, but was considering going through the rule book and learning the system (and I have heard to stay away from the expansions when I do). If I were to play ASL to a complexity level that meets my tolerance, will it offer significantly more than this? (Assuming that ASL is actually MORE than SL and its expansions from question #1).


I would recommend trying them for yourself; ultimately you will be the best judge of what you like.

Quote:
Based on my level of complexity tolerance and these 3-4 games, does ASL provide significantly more payoff for the investment than what I already have?


See above.


Quote:
6) Where do you start? Assuming I'm completely off my rocker on questions #1-5 (and I am guessing this is likely the case), where do you start? You know the old adage about getting one chance to make a first impression: what is the best intro for maximum fun with minimum complexity, or should I say, "tolerable" (as defined above) level of complexity?


Beyond Valor, ASL Rulebook, and you're ready to go, if you want to jump in. Plenty of opponents on VASSAL, or post on an ASL forum and find someone local to help you into it.

Or work your way through the ASLSKs.

Quote:
7) Does it play solitaire? It's not a requirement, because I'm pretty sure it has a VASSAL mod (I heard VASSAL stands for "Virtual ASL"), but it is a big plus. In other words, does it use cards or hidden movement as part of its core?


VASL is Virtual ASL. VASSAL is the engine that powers it, and all other virtual games using Rodney Kinney's software.

Quote:
8) Playing time: What does a typical starter kit scenario run? I was interested in Bastogne: Screaming Eagles under Siege until I saw the 6 hr time for it.


Depends on the player, size of scenario, etc., but ASL scens tend to be longer affairs than the old SL days - 3 to 4 hours minimum is my experience for average size scenarios and 6 hours for a larger one is not unheard of.
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Mike Windsor
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Based on my level of complexity tolerance and these 3-4 games, does ASL provide significantly more payoff for the investment than what I already have?


No. I have or I've tried every game one your WWII tactical list, plus ASL and the ASL Starter Kits. IMHO, all of those games can teach you something about WWII tactical combat, ASL included. For all my effort at ASL, however, I felt like it was the game where I was most focused on learning to game the system. I will admit that this is utterly subjective on my part, but with ASL I kept having these, "If I do this, then that unit will get one round of 'free' fire at the end of the turn." For all the extra layers of rules, I just didn't feel like I was getting that much extra. I would compare that to a post that I saw in the Band of Brothers CSW forum -- the developer just proposed a rule modification that would eliminate about a third of the dice rolls -- he felt like the payoff for the extra rolls was not worth the trouble. That's more like what I want to hear, but the whole ASL thing is a matter of taste.
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airjudden wrote:
I already have these small unit games:

a) Squad Leader: I barely got into it back in the day, but was considering going through the rule book and learning the system (and I have heard to stay away from the expansions when I do). If I were to play ASL to a complexity level that meets my tolerance, will it offer significantly more than this? (Assuming that ASL is actually MORE than SL and its expansions from question #1).

b) Panzer Grenadier: I have 6 games in the series. I like it a lot. (OK -- I know it's platoon level, instead of squad, but it does fulfill a need for small unit tactics). I stopped buying because of AVP's anti-VASSAL stance, but they are loosening up on it, and when they do, I'll be getting into this a lot, because I really like what I have seen, and the only thing holding this back is an opponent (ergo, the VASSAL problem).

c) Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles: I just got it. I'm reading the rules and am impressed. I have been reading folks saying that they probably won't be getting other similar type of games, because this hits the sweet spot for it.

d) I plan on getting Lock 'n Load: Band of Heroes based on the stellar comments I read on here.

Based on my level of complexity tolerance and these 3-4 games, does ASL provide significantly more payoff for the investment than what I already have?

My question is, what do you hope to get from the above-mentioned games plus ASL? And are you really going to find time to learn and play them all?

Are the games you already have leaving some itch unscratched? Or do you just have an insatiable curiosity?

If you get into ASL in addition to all those other games, my guess is that you'll find yourself overwhelmed at some point, and then you'll have to decide which games to give up. When I was into ASL (I bought it when it first came out and stuck with it for about ten years), it filled my plate. I did play other games as well, but if I was away from ASL for a month or more, I had some rereading and brushing up to do.

ASL is very popular and very complex and very expansive (and expensive too, I guess). But it's not the last word in tactical WW2 combat games.

Choosing from among the few dozen such games available is largely a matter of taste. But taking them all on at once is a much bigger task than I'd be up for. I don't see the need to have two or three different games that do basically the same thing.

My suggestion would be to explore, find the tactical WW2 system you like best, and then stick with it. If you need to explore ASL, you might as well start with a starter kit, because it's bite-sized and you can stop after one bite if you don't care for it.

Re: Lock 'n Load, I'd strongly suggest you start with a free print-and-play demo. You get everything you need to play, and it's easy to assemble, and it's free. If you decide you don't like it, you're not out anything. (LnL is my game of choice, btw. But some people can't stand it.)


Oh, and also check out this Geeklist on pros and cons of squad-based games.
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Andy Beaton
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If you start with simple infantry vs. infantry scenarios, ASL is not that complicated. The complexity will only grow with the features you choose. But just as a warning, you will want more. The fun increases along with the complexity, as tanks, artillery, air strikes, night, snow and more come into your skill set.

But I will also recommend starting with the Starter Kits. Keep it simple to start and you'll have no problems.
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I didn't think ASLSK #1 was overly complex. It just suffers from a very poorly written rulebook. Working through the examples of play was like working through Trigonometry examples that I didn't understand. Time consuming and frustrating.

MMP should've completely revamped the rulebook for the Starter Kits. Leave out all the chrome, have some color pictures, get rid of the large paragraphs with microfont and no paragraph breaks, and reduce the immense number of shorthand names for things like MMP, SMP, and on and on, ... and on... Some sentences were downright unreadable. I wish I could quote one.

Instead it felt like someone copied/pasted the Starter Kit rules right out of the main manual.

Gameplay on the other hand was fun. I loved the look and feel of the game but sheesh, the rules and I did not get along.
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I would start with SK 1 because its so inexpensive and covers the easiest portion of the ASL RB to learn (being infantry only).

You can always start via PBEM. I have a SK league (guild) set up especially for new players. Maybe we could even get Jon to make use of his ASL stuff .
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
In short, ASL bears little resemblance to Squad Leader except in theory.

I wouldn't go that far. Among the things SL and ASL have in common:

Unit size and map scale.
Eight-phase sequence of play.
Basic info on counters (firepower, range, morale).
Basic mechanics for moving, shooting, fighting, breaking, rallying, etc.
Leaders and how they function.
. . . and much more.

You could play SL using ASL maps and counters (you'd just need to ignore some of the little numbers on the counters). That fact alone shows that the two games are strongly linked in heritage.

I won't say whether it'd be easier or harder to learn ASL after learning SL. SL came first for me, then the expansions, then ASL. If I were starting fresh today, I'd pick one and forget the other.

But if you look at the two games side by side, it's obvious that ASL is a complicated and drastically modified version of SL. They're not worlds apart; they're related.
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Let me reiterate what others have said:

Get ASLSK #1

Let me also reiterate that the rulebook in ASLSK #1 is not good (but they do get better in volumes #2 and #3).


But after you get ASLSK #1, go through the great tutorials here, but DEFINITELY play through Eddy Del Rio's to EoP's. So far I have found these to be ridiculously under-appreciated.

http://files.boardgamegeek.com/file/download/7ve2b85xrs/ASLS...?

and

http://files.boardgamegeek.com/file/download/6gvq90dd7y/ASLS...?

Eddy made some errata too, so check the files.

Lastly, let's all demand that he do EoP's for other scenarios.
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Judd Vance
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

My question is, what do you hope to get from the above-mentioned games plus ASL? And are you really going to find time to learn and play them all?

Are the games you already have leaving some itch unscratched? Or do you just have an insatiable curiosity?


I can answer that one. Back in '83, I held Hell's Highway in one hand and Diplomacy in the other, and chose ... poorly. (And thanks to Peso Pete, that poor decision was corrected as of yesterday).

Realizing that Diplomacy was pure evil, I had a fire sale and got Squad Leader for it. No one would play SL with me (where was VASSAL back then? Would it be VSL? Hmmm). I tried a few scenarios of SL and never played it again. Good game. No opponents.

I got exposed to Panzer Grenadier and loved the simplicity: 15 page rule book for the entire series and the 3rd edition is extremely good. Problem: no opponents, and this time, I do have VASSAL ... thanks for nothing AVP angry

I got Band of Bros because it does have a VASSAL mod. Without it, it's a no go. And I hear awesome stuff about it.

My LnL statement was a little premature. If Band of Bros. is as awesome as I hear, I may stick with it. I saw LnL has a lot of flexibility and started reading really good stuff about it, but right now, it's only on the radar. The only game on the ordering queue is No Retreat! The Russian Front.

So SL sits unloved on my shelf for the past 28 years. PG is a VASSAL mod away from becoming a favored child and LnL's status is tentative: if Bob is awesome and/or PG gets a VASSAL mod, I doubt I'll do anything more than seek it out in a math trade to get rid of some unloved game.

As for ASL, there's no unscratched itch out there yet, but it's hard to ignore all the love that it gets. It's like when you're marching out of order with everyone else: chances are, they aren't the ones who are wrong
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airjudden wrote:
As for ASL, there's no unscratched itch out there yet, but it's hard to ignore all the love that it gets. It's like when you're marching out of order with everyone else: chances are, they aren't the ones who are wrong


If you're scared that ASL is going to be some black hole into which you get drawn into, never to return, the honest truth is that it will be a factor more of your personality than some characteristic of the game itself. There really are such things as "casual" ASL players. You just don't hear from them very often online. The likelihood of becoming one is less, because of the investment it takes in becoming a player to begin with - having expended all that energy, you're probably more likely to commit to playing regularly having done so. But there is no "correct" course of action.

By the way, there is a yahoo group for those still playing the original Squad Leader, too.
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SJBenoist wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:

I wouldn't go that far. Among the things SL and ASL have in common:

Unit size and map scale.
Eight-phase sequence of play.
Basic info on counters (firepower, range, morale).
Basic mechanics for moving, shooting, fighting, breaking, rallying, etc.
Leaders and how they function.
. . . and much more.

You could play SL using ASL maps and counters (you'd just need to ignore some of the little numbers on the counters). That fact alone shows that the two games are strongly linked in heritage.

I won't say whether it'd be easier or harder to learn ASL after learning SL. SL came first for me, then the expansions, then ASL. If I were starting fresh today, I'd pick one and forget the other.

But if you look at the two games side by side, it's obvious that ASL is a complicated and drastically modified version of SL. They're not worlds apart; they're related.



I agree with everything you posted, Patrick, but aren't those things true of most WWII tactical games? They mostly all derive directly from Squad Leader, so similarities are strong, but I don't feel ASL has a greater similarity than any number of other titles.

Unit size & map scale, basic info on counters, basic mechanics for movement, rallying, portage, & stacking, LOS, and "Leaders", for example, are all the same for LNL. Many of them are the same for CC as well.


IOW, I agree they are very similar compared to all of gaming, but within their own sub-niche, they are as different as any two typical games.


Also, minor correction, vehicle counters are not compatible between the two and the sequence of Play phases work differently (especially Op Fire).


Yes, this is what I was getting at. Significantly, every single counter was replaced in the "new" game system. You could use the leaders, for example, from Squad Leader, but the "new" ones had the boxed morale on the back. The Prep Fire counters still worked, but the "new" ones were colour coded orange to remind you to remove them at the end of the Prep Fire phase, per the new ASOP. The "new" squad counters had underlined factors and exponents that had begun to be introduced in GI but were not universal. PF counters were eliminated. MGs had rate of fire factors now. etc.

You could also say that the original Squad Leader had counters made out of cardboard, and - so did ASL!

What ASL did was rationalize things like take morale checks away from routine tasks, and make "task checks" instead. Where in the original game, you had to pass a morale check to push a gun up a hill, you now had a different system, that all infantry was rated equally for (rather than having low-morale troops i.e. Americans) unfairly penalized while in the act of performing labour. Ditto entrenching IIRC, etc. The rules ostensibly made more sense, but were increased in density as a consequence.

And a lot more special cases. Wanted to run between two buildings across a street? A special rule for that, called "Dash."

Want to move through a hex with just a single enemy leader in it? It's stupid that 40 square metres of terrain with just one guy would hold up a platoon, right? Sure. So a special rule for that, too, called "Infantry Overrun."

Shooting at a squad from two different directions? "Encirclement."

It all made sense, but you had to remember all this stuff, and it piles up.
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Judd, you know that I have all the Squad Leader stuff (and love it) plus the rulebook, starter kit #1, Beyond Valor, Paratrooper and (maybe) Yanks for ASL, right? Like I'm going to balk at playing a WWII tactical game.
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airjudden wrote:

... I had a fire sale and got Squad Leader for it. No one would play SL with me ... I tried a few scenarios of SL and never played it again. Good game. No opponents.

I got exposed to Panzer Grenadier and loved the simplicity: 15 page rule book for the entire series and the 3rd edition is extremely good. Problem: no opponents,...

So SL sits unloved on my shelf for the past 28 years...

As for ASL, there's no unscratched itch out there yet, but it's hard to ignore all the love that it gets. It's like when you're marching out of order with everyone else: chances are, they aren't the ones who are wrong


Judd, I think the above statements indicate that you shouldn't get into ASL. I think that step one for wargaming is getting live opponents in your area, Wichita, Kansas, USA. If there is nobody in your area that you like that already has ASL and wants to play it with you regularly, then just don't do it. By regularly, I mean somebody that you can play with at least once a month, every month. Buying and playing physical cardboard (or miniatures games for that matter) only makes sense to me if you have live face to face opponents, or if you are a really dedicated solotaire player.

If you are going to play WW2 tactical wargames over the internet, then why not just play any of several good computer wargames on that topic? Why take a massive cardboard wargame and use Vassal or Cyberboard to play it online? A computer game can take care of much of the rules complexity. If you are not already hooked on ASL, and are not desperate enough to play it using Vassal, then why go to the trouble?

You appreciate simplicity. ASL is not simple. If you have a local friend who plays ASL, ask to borrow the main rulebook and take it home and try to read it. From your comments above, I don't think it will be your thing.

I bought into the whole Squad Leader experience. Owned Squad Leader and the first three expansions, owned a large pile of extra maps, owned the ASL rulebook. In my experience, the first expansion, Cross of Iron, was the sweet spot. After that, the system fell over a cliff of ever increasing complexity. Just too much extra stuff to memorize. There were cool bits here and there, and some of the cool bits were introduced in the ASL rulebook. However, it was all just too much. I unloaded my entire SL/ASL collection in the early 1990's.

I think that the key word is collection. Part of the whole appeal of SL/ASL was the appeal of collecting hundreds and then thousands of little pieces of cardboard and dozens of geomorphic maps. That collector appeal hit me with the SPI/TSR Great Battles of the American Civil War series too. I've seen other people get hit with that series collector bug. If you are a collector, then you might enjoy collecting a great mass of ASL stuff over the years. But I think, from your comments above, that you are probably more of a player.

But, having said all that, I have to add that Cross of Iron is one of the best games I've ever played. I recently picked up a copy of Cross of Iron and the original Squad Leader. In my local area we use these for miniatures games. It's still a very fun system.

Note on complexity: I own a copy of Campaign for North Africa and I owned a copy of the ASL rules. I do not think that CNA is more complex than ASL. CNA was not unplayable due to complexity. CNA was nearly unplayable because it was impossible for most to gather a group of accountant/players to do all the logistical number crunching back in the years just after the introduction of pocket calculators and before everyone had a PC. Now modern PCs and spreadsheets make CNA more playable, for those few people who want to play it.
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airjudden wrote:
[I got Band of Bros because it does have a VASSAL mod. Without it, it's a no go. And I hear awesome stuff about it.

My LnL statement was a little premature. If Band of Bros. is as awesome as I hear, I may stick with it. ...

So SL sits unloved on my shelf for the past 28 years. PG is a VASSAL mod away from becoming a favored child ...

As for ASL, there's no unscratched itch out there yet, but it's hard to ignore all the love that it gets. It's like when you're marching out of order with everyone else: chances are, they aren't the ones who are wrong

Well, it doesn't look like you're in the boonies; you've got FTF opponents around, and you've got a chance of finding someone to play any of those games.

But if you'd rather play via VASSAL, only PG is out of the running.

ASL is certainly one of the most popular wargames ever (maybe the most popular, if we discount pseudo-wargames like A&A), so if you want to maximize your chances of finding opponents anyplace, anytime, that'll do the trick. The price is a bigger learning curve and ending up with a game that, if you really get into it, will demand a good deal of time and attention. If you love it, that's not a problem (it became a problem for me, so I guess I didn't love it enough).

As to marching out of step with everyone else--I think that if you look closer, you'll find that ASLers aren't marching in step at all; they're a diverse bunch of individuals marching to different drummers. It just so happens there are a lot of them. The right game for you might or might not be the one that draws the biggest crowd.

But then again, if your aim is to join that crowd and have a lot of potential opponents, you need to be playing ASL to do that.
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Michael Dorosh
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
If you are going to play WW2 tactical wargames over the internet, then why not just play any of several good computer wargames on that topic?


Depending on what you're after, there really aren't any good computer wargames on the topic of tactical combat in the Second World War, if what you want is something

a) realistic
b) detailed
c) focused on infantry combat

Combat Mission, Panzer Command, Close Combat, Tigers Unleashed, Airborne Assault, Squad Assault all come to mind as the most serious attempts to look at the subject in recent years, but all seem to have been kind of heavy on the AFV side of things, and did relatively little with detailing infantry combat, which is usually an after-thought in these game systems. Or if not an after-thought, then not really well implemented. No knock on the creators - it's a hard thing to get right.

If tanks/miniatures experience is all one is going for - these games will satisfy that desire.
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Ryan Powers
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Michael Dorosh wrote:


a) realistic
b) detailed
c) focused on infantry combat
Close Combat,


Close combat I and II very much fit the bill. As do some parts of others, but from 3 on there is a distinct shift towards vehicles (and not one for the better, as the vehicle path-finding has never been stellar)
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mistermarino wrote:
Judd, you know that I have all the Squad Leader stuff (and love it) plus the rulebook, starter kit #1, Beyond Valor, Paratrooper and (maybe) Yanks for ASL, right? Like I'm going to balk at playing a WWII tactical game.


Really?

Seriously, I don't know why I doubt or never asked you (with your collection) -- especially when I wouldn't be surprised when you tell me that you found your ASL stuff in a Wichita thrift store for $2.

Hmmm... well, if you ever want to fire it up, you know I'll try anything (except Diplomacy). Heck, if you ever want to try SL, I'll read up on the rules of it.

(And for an outsider seeing this, I didn't grow up in Wichita. My hometown was about 40 times smaller, making opponents much fewer and far between).

*slap head* Sheesh, my numero uno local F2F gaming bud in Wichita had it all along. I guess Cokes are on me Saturday.

2010: The year of minigames
2011: The year of Ameritrash
2012: The year of block games
2013: The year of small unit WWII tactical infantry games?
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I've read the rules from the ASL SK only for an eadhache. I'm still waiting for my tactical WWII games (i don't like the existing ones, maybe for silly reasons but i hope for the future).
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Judd,

I played Combat Commander with a buddy of mine. He cursed very often at the cards. So I looked at him and told him that he would have more control over everything with the ASL Sk which came out at the time.

Today he has the full ASL stuff at his house.

Let me tell you what fascinates me most with ASL: Never with any other of my games did I have such nail-biting scenarios that truly were decided with the last move / die-roll. I have looked into other systems (f. ex. L&L or PG and found them missing important parts that I found with ASL).

If you start with the SK I and go forward (thru I, II, III, expansion) you have the full fledge standard rules in your head. Now going for ASL is not so difficult. You learn some other basic stuff (like fire-lanes etc.) but nothing completely new. Let's say it is more like adding a few interesting stuff.

Then you should note that you don't need all of the ASL rules at once. Drop the Pacific. Drop the desert rules. Look at the terrain in the scenario your playing - no mountains - no rules for mountains.

One thing that I found really helpful is having an ASL - player ftf. If he is much more experienced you will learn fast. If you have the same level one will remember stuff the other forgot.

All in all for me ASL has the most tense scenarios I ever played. Even with the "official" stuff (AH / MMP) you have enough to play for decades. ASL rulebook + Beyond Valor is all you need.
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I think the problem with the starter kits for ASL is that #1 and #2 are out of print. I would therefore recommend getting the expansion pack. This has a better comprehensive rulebook. You can still start with infantry only scenarios and work up from there.

ASL is as complicated as you want it to be. You don't have to use all the rules all the time.

I wrote about my experiences with the SKs here:
http://aslexplorations.blogspot.com/2011/10/beginning-asl-wi...

I used to play the old SL system many years ago and now play full ASL with a restricted set of rules after going the SK route.
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airjudden wrote:
At the same time, when I posted the most complex poll, ASL came in 2nd place to the practically-unplayable The Campaign for North Africa in terms of complexity. That makes me envision a 200 page rulebook chalked full of details and exceptions and if you screw up on any of them, you are toast.


I was surprised to see it ranked so high in terms of complexity in your geeklist. I found that learning ToC, or EoTS, was a lot more difficult. The thing with ASL is that, while it is in no way simple, it becomes more difficult depending on the scenarios you choose to play. Infantry-only scenarios you could play reading only chapter A and a few paragraphs for the encountered terrain in chapter B. A lot of chapter A will be skipped over also (fire lanes, specific nationalities) in most scenarios. The basic mechanic is actually pretty simple, but unfortunately the rulebook isn't really intuitive. It's a great reference, but not that great for learning how to play.

airjudden wrote:

3) ASL is not a game, but a way of life, so I have been told.


I'm a very casual player. When I first got into wargaming, ASL was my first love. But this forum got me interested in many other scales and periods, so I'm no longer "monogamous" in my ASL gaming. I'll probably never get as good as a player that only plays ASL, but I'm not too interested in competitions. I play 'cause it's fun.

airjudden wrote:

4) I know if you buy all things ASL, the complexity will completely eat up Vietnam (according to that complexity poll), but can you get a starter kit and not exceed the PoG-level? And if I kept it at that level, is the game fun? In other words, can you only achieve ASL-bliss by jumping into the deep end?


One of my most memorable games was an infantry-only scenario from "rally point" using SK rules. I lost on the last DR (a bloody 11), anything else would have won me the game. So yes, it can be fun even without gliders at night with caves and river crossings.


airjudden wrote:
Based on my level of complexity tolerance and these 3-4 games, does ASL provide significantly more payoff for the investment than what I already have?


I don't know, and maybe not. Since I've invested in ASL and don't have time to play as much as I would like, I've decided to not get any other WWII tactical games.

airjudden wrote:
6) Where do you start?


This has been answered already. Starter kits. You get a feel for the system, learn pretty much all the basics, and it only costs about 30$

airjudden wrote:
7) Does it play solitaire?


It is doable but is not really the same experience. Unless playing with full rules (and therefore concealment) there is no hidden information. But a lot of the tactics involve bluffing and deciding when to use defensive fire. I played my first scenarios solo, to learn, but it doesn't work as well as other games.


airjudden wrote:
8) Playing time: What does a typical starter kit scenario run?


An infantry-only SK1 scenario should be doable in about 2-3 hours. While teaching the game, we played the scenario I mentionned above in about 2 and a half hours. Once you add more units, and vehicles time will increase. There is a range of scenarios in full ASL also, from 1 or 2 hours to monster all-day affairs.

If you want to take it out for a test drive before buying anything, let me know. We could try to arrange for a time to play a SK scenario live over VASSAL, if we use Skype, it's almost as good as playing FtF. And the upside is I won't be knocking over stacks of counters with my clumsiness!

Hope this helps.
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No one else seems to have mentioned it so I'll chime in - the ASL system also has one aspect missing from all the others - HASL. Combat Commander took a stab at it with the Stalingrad and Normandy packs, but without AFVs and the flat out spectacle of battalion-plus amounts of infantry, it doesn't come close.
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