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Subject: Here's what I think MMP should do... rss

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Adam Cirone
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I have very little experience with ASL, but I ask that you take a moment to listen and comment on my thoughts. I have played a few scenarios (solo) from the ASL Starter Kit #1. I have browsed the MMP website and the Desperation Moral blog and ASL product compendium. I have read about the frustration some ASL players have with the direction of the Starter Kit series, and I find myself being a player that would like to invest in full ASL if not for the high cost and dependency/availability issues of the modules (yes, I would like to get Yanks! and play as the Americans... is that too much to ask?).

So, here is what I think MMP should do to appease current ASL players and bring new players into the fold...

I am looking forward to the release of the HASL SK module. I could buy that and have a complete game with a nice map, all the counters I need, and several scenarios. So I started to think... what if MMP released more of these modules and specifically tailored them so that they could be played with both Starter Kit rules and full ASL rules?

Every HASL SK box could include:

A 22x34" map of the battlefield
All the unit counters you need
All the system markers you need (DM and such)
An ASLSK rulebook
A playbook

The playbook would include special rules needed to play the scenarios specific to this particular game (while the ASLSK rulebook would be the basic rules). It would also include all the scenarios. Lastly, it would include directions and rules for playing the scenarios using full ASL rules.

So a player interested in trying out ASL could buy a such a game and learn the basic rules. Maybe he buys another HASL SK game too. After that, he decides to check out what full ASL is all about and purchases the ASL Rulebook. He doesn't need to buy Beyond Valor or any other modules because he can use the full ASL rules to play the scenarios that he already owns. Later, he can get into Beyond Valor and the other ASL modules if he wants, but even if he doesn't make those purchases, he is still using full ASL rules and could participate in ASL tournaments and convention games were other players provided the mapboards and counters (he effectively becomes another competent ASL opponent).

MMP can print extras of the maps and playbooks (or just offer the playbook online as a PDF for free) and sell those as a separate package for full ASL players. That way all the development for making HASL SK games results in something that full ASL players can enjoy, since all the scenarios can be played using full ASL rules. And MMP gets to develop and sell a product that has broad appeal and will be purchased (in some form) by all its players. Everybody wins.

So... thoughts? One day I will probably buy the full ASL rules and Beyond Valor, because I really love the ASL sequence of play and some of the other elements of the rules. But at this point in my life, a product series like this would be better for me than trying to get into full ASL right now (since I lack money and am still a newbie player).
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Dan Owsen
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I will just say that the current edition of Beyond Valor is a pretty killer deal, and contains way more stuff than the earlier versions. It sounds like it's pretty self-contained.

Anyway, I'm pretty excited about the SK CG, and would love to see more of those.
 
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Jayne Starlancer wrote:
Lastly, it would include directions and rules for playing the scenarios using full ASL rules.


I think this is the crux of the matter, and I'm not so sure that it needs to be a HASL for this to work.

I am personally not interested in HASLs, and I know there is a small but significant minority of players who agree with me (though the majority seem to really like them). I'm also aware that no scenario as written can possibly work in both ASL and SK. The best part of your suggestion I think is the idea that a given situation (not scenario) could be represented for SK players using the same maps and very similar counters in both rulesets so they could see the differences.

I'm imagining a "conversion kit" where the SK scenarios are re-balanced for full ASL - slight changes to victory conditions (to account for bypass), force composition (to account for concealment), and "full" rule modules that usually get reinterpreted as SSRs (like OBA in S41 Sink's Encouragement).

Some SK scenarios already have "full" ASL equivalents. S14 88s at Zon holds some remarkable similarities with A32 Zon with the Wind, for example. The Rally Point guys have also already tried twopacksthat can be played in both ASL and SK, but I wonder about the balance. Still, I think some sort of "conversion kit" would be a great idea, allowing players to get to grips with the critical differences between the rulesets.
 
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Michael Lucey
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In theory your ideas sound good but in reality are difficult at best to make work.

The first problem is full ASL players would want any and all MMP time devoted to full ASL designs, and SK can just go away. If you are designing a HASL, make it ASL not SK. If SK'ers want a HASL ... learn ASL.

The second problem is SK players that don't want to go full ASL insist on the SK series developing INTO full ASL and don't realize if they really get their wish, they would spend $300+ for ASl-lite that is no longer lite and 2x the cost of just getting into ASL in the first place.

The third problem is scenario's are just not balanced when using other rules. That's why not all SL scenario's have been made into ASL scenario's. One of the greatest achievements of ASL is the fact that every official scenario is based on a historical situation yet balanced for gaming within the ruleset. There is not crossover from SK to ASL because the scenario's are designed and balanced based on one set of rules. Bypass rules for instance can completely change a scenario's length and VC's.

And lastly, Yanks is possibly the longest running in print game not made by MB in the history of gaming, so if you did not get it during its 25 year print run ... you can wait a few years before its remade or buy it on ebay.
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Beyond Valor + ASLRB will give you more gaming than most game series provide. There are an insane number of scenarios that only require those two things. Furthermore, the new version of the ASLRB provides you with chapters that the original ASLRB did not like Chapter E from Yanks.

You can get into HASLs with a great one very quickly by putting Valor of the Guards into the mix.

For folks wanting a meatier ASLSK experience, I believe an ASLSK HASL is coming.

IIRC you only need BV + Festung Budapest as well.

Truly the amount of content is staggering for this game when you own only the in print stuff.
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Stephen Stewart
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You could buy just about ANY HASL product...

You'll just have to play with a few less rules.

Keeping it simple might actually entice more players to buy and play them.

They are large, time consuming, and a commitment of Rules Lawyering.

Try one with "house" rules to reflect what the game suggests.

Keep in mind that there are quite a few ASL scenarios that are completely out of Balance...and simplifying things might do some good.

 
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One thing you could do if you don't want to spend a lot of money at once is:
1. Buy the rulebook.
2. Download all the free scenarios from MMP's website, and also others like Tactiques, etc.
3. Get on VASL and start playing German-Russian scenarios. (you won't have chapter H notes for other nationalities).
4. Save up.
5. Get the Rally Point packs--you only need SK gear for them
6. Get BV
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Adam Cirone
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The point has been raised that scenarios cannot be made that work for both rule sets, Starter Kit and full ASL. I agree that some amount of "conversion" would be necessary, slight adjustments to set-up or victory conditions due to differences in the full ASL rules. Those could be included in a playbook included with the game.

As to the notion that you could not ever make scenarios that could be used for both systems, I find this unlikely. Many other wargames are released each year that have both basic and advanced rules. The idea that quality scenarios could not be made for ASL that accomplish something similar sounds like hubris to me.

ASL 2nd Edition Rulebook plus Beyond Valor costs $148 at least. That is a big investment to ask a new player to make. One of these types of games should cost around $60-$80 maximum I imagine, a much more reasonable price for introducing the system. Of course, the SK already introduce the system for far less, but they reproduce components (and maybe scenarios?) that are already part of full ASL. By creating modules that can work with both rule sets, full ASL players have less to complain about... they will still complain of course.
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Mark Tomlinson
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Jayne Starlancer wrote:
The point has been raised that scenarios cannot be made that work for both rule sets, Starter Kit and full ASL. I agree that some amount of "conversion" would be necessary, slight adjustments to set-up or victory conditions due to differences in the full ASL rules.


As has been mentioned Rally Point Volume 2: Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit Special Study and Rally Point Volume 6: Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit Special Study II try to do this. I just received them this morning and have not tried them yet (I play both SK and full ASL).

There are compromises made in the scenarios to maintain balance (for example, buildings are all 1 level to prevent routing into upper levels in the full ASL version). The designers also encourage experimentation with some full ASL rules in the SK scenarios assuming one buys the full rulebook (again ostensibly to maintain balance). For example, they encourage use of the tank immobilization rule in some of the scenarios which they argue should be part of the SK rules in any case because big tanks like Tigers unbalance scenarios in SK when put up against weaker opposition like Shermans etc.

I'm not saying these scenarios work as I haven't had a chance to play them yet. And it looks as if Rally Point is not going to publish any more of these packs any time soon.
 
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Eoin Corrigan
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I think that one ought to remember that the purpose of the ASLSK kits is to act as a try-out / feeder mechanism. Interested players can buy the available SK at a very low price, play a few scenarios and figure out whether ASL is something they may like. A certain proportion will graduate to full ASL, some will abandon the game, and some will happily stick to the SKs, playing and replaying a few SK scenarios.

However, in my view, the SKs should not be developed to form a parallel system, cannibalising potential ASLers and diverting MMP's resources away from full ASL. Fracturing the playing population is, I think, a bad idea.

As regards the cost of entry to full ASL, I don't think Beyond Valor and the Rules are particularly expensive, given general wargame prices and given the content. Yes, ASL is an expensive game if you wish to build a set with all of the core modules. It's even more expensive if you want the out of print historical modules and the better third party material. But, here's where ASL is different: there is a large, diverse and accessible playing community. Even for those who don't have face to face opponents avaialble, there are numerous international online leagues and ladders. There are many tournaments across North American and Europe which one can travel to.

In my view, unlike 95% of published hex and counter wargames, ASL actually has a sustainable, committed player base. So, yes, it's expensive, but if you choose to commit, you'll have committed to a game that you'll be playing for decades to come against hundreds of opponents all over the world.


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Brian Hoare
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As an interested outsider, all I think MMP need do is reprint ASLSK#1.

While I'm not deterred by the complexity of ASL, I don't want to spend big money on RB+BV only to find that I don't enjoy the actual game. I'd like to dip my toe in the water before I dive... but I don't see any merit in paddling.

The other barrier for me is that I'm not overly interested in the Eastern Front. Could it be possible for a re-issued Yanks to come in two forms, one for those with BV and one for those who want to start further West (by adding the appropiate counter sheets / maps into the box) ?
 
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Jayne Starlancer wrote:
The point has been raised that scenarios cannot be made that work for both rule sets, Starter Kit and full ASL. I agree that some amount of "conversion" would be necessary, slight adjustments to set-up or victory conditions due to differences in the full ASL rules. Those could be included in a playbook included with the game.


Actually, it can be done. I've played two of the Rally Point scenarios--only using full ASL though, and they are fine. The real problem is that going back to them, and those SK boards, after making the jump to full ASL, is boring. The SK boards are not very interesting. For me, the biggest jump in complexity when I moved up to ASL was playing on the grown-up boards, with all their new terrain types and multi-level buildings. But the full ASL boards are tons of fun. Also, the RP scenarios are small and just not as interesting.

You'll see what I mean once you finally man up and get ASL. It blows SK away in terms of fun.

Quote:
ASL 2nd Edition Rulebook plus Beyond Valor costs $148 at least. That is a big investment to ask a new player to make. One of these types of games should cost around $60-$80 maximum I imagine, a much more reasonable price for introducing the system.


One, the system was already "introduced" by SK. Two, what rubric are you using to determine what the RB plus BV "should" cost? Do you know exactly what you're getting? The value of BV is incredible. There are 24 scenarios--versus SK1's 6, or SK1-3's 22. While the raw dollar per scenario amount may be higher, BV comes with ten boards and a ton of counters. And it would take you nearly 200 hours to play every scenario in there once, and that doesn't include the time spent working on setups, reviewing rules pre-game, devising strategies and so on. That comes to, what, fifty cents an hour? Better than a video game.

I also think it's hilarious that you say BV and the RB should cost $60, since that's "a much more reasonable price for introducing the system." Seriously, WHAT? You've already spent $60-80 on SK materials, probably, and THAT is the introduction to the system. When you buy the RB and BV, you aren't being "introduced" to the system. You just bought the actual system, dude.

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Adam Cirone
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Miser wrote:
The other barrier for me is that I'm not overly interested in the Eastern Front. Could it be possible for a re-issued Yanks to come in two forms, one for those with BV and one for those who want to start further West (by adding the appropiate counter sheets / maps into the box) ?


This is something that interests me too. It's not that I don't want to have anything to do with the Eastern Front. But I think that Yanks! reprinted as a viable module without Beyond Valor might draw in new players.
 
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Certainly Yanks needs a reprint but do you really want it to include not only all the system counters but all the German ones as well? If you are looking for that, then your looking at a massive price increase too. Expect a LOT of opposition from those who alrerady ave the Germans through the purchase of BV.

Add to that the fact that the Yanks box will be predicated on the assumption that a player has access to the BV maps.
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I think that we should accept that ASL is a modular system and just repackage the whole concept in modules and sell them in modules. Chits and counters could be sold in packages:

1. German, Russian, USA
2. British, Italian, French
3. Japanese, USMC, Chinese
4. Axis and allies minors

Or maybe even a small package for each nationality.

And there would be other packages with the maps and the scenarios, like the current action packs and so. This way you the buyers could pick the items they're interested in. Of course, it is easier to just do one-size-fits-all packages but this is not a usual wargame where you can have it all in one box.
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ASLNoob wrote:
Very few of those actually move on to full ASL. And a minuscule number stick with ASL for the long term.

Board wargamers are a small population, and ASL players a smaller one.
So I agree in theory that SK players are not that much.

Where I raise a question, is about the fact that very few go up to full ASL - I never have seen any numbered reference about that phenomenon.Do you have a reliable source for that information?
 
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ASLNoob wrote:


The Starter Kit concept was flawed from the start. A better idea would have been an upgraded Paratrooper module with a series of programmed instruction scenarios that led gradually to full ASL.


As someone who learned ASL through the Starter Kits, I disagree. Starter Kit was the perfect low-cost way to try the game out before plunging into the full system.
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The SKs got me into the game as well. Actually, before I even bought SK#1, I read Jay's excellent tutorial and that was what convinced me to make the jump. It took maybe a month of playing SK#1 scenarios before I bought the RB and wanted to make the leap to full ASL. When BV3 was reprinted a short while later, I began slowly introducing RB rules into our SK games, choosing ones that were easy to integrate. It was very successful transition. Unfortunately, my gaming group broke apart (one guy got a girlfriend—finally—and another moved to California) before we could really get into the later chapters so I've never had the chance to play with vehicles or OBA for example.
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Eoin Corrigan wrote:
I think that one ought to remember that the purpose of the ASLSK kits is to act as a try-out / feeder mechanism. Interested players can buy the available SK at a very low price, play a few scenarios and figure out whether ASL is something they may like. A certain proportion will graduate to full ASL, some will abandon the game, and some will happily stick to the SKs, playing and replaying a few SK scenarios.

However, in my view, the SKs should not be developed to form a parallel system, cannibalising potential ASLers and diverting MMP's resources away from full ASL. Fracturing the playing population is, I think, a bad idea.

As regards the cost of entry to full ASL, I don't think Beyond Valor and the Rules are particularly expensive, given general wargame prices and given the content. Yes, ASL is an expensive game if you wish to build a set with all of the core modules. It's even more expensive if you want the out of print historical modules and the better third party material. But, here's where ASL is different: there is a large, diverse and accessible playing community. Even for those who don't have face to face opponents avaialble, there are numerous international online leagues and ladders. There are many tournaments across North American and Europe which one can travel to.

In my view, unlike 95% of published hex and counter wargames, ASL actually has a sustainable, committed player base. So, yes, it's expensive, but if you choose to commit, you'll have committed to a game that you'll be playing for decades to come against hundreds of opponents all over the world.




Hear him! Starter Kit is fine as Starter Kit. But as ASLite as it has become...it's just bad for ASL.

I advocate a SK1 to Chapter A/B ASL approach to learning ASL, but know some have made the jump from SK3.

The Expansion Pack and, worse, the SK HASL, don't represent a path to ASL, they represent a pulled-back version of the system.

S
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Actually, I partially agree with Spencer about it being possibly bad for full ASL (but not necessarily bad for MMP). There are plenty of people who have gotten into the SKs but then looked at the RB and thought, 'Why bother? I'm already having fun with the SKs and MMP keeps producing new SK stuff so I'll stick with this.'

MMP is still making money, so that's good. But there are now potentially fewer players trying out full ASL because of the SKs. And you could argue that getting ASL modules published and/or reprinted is taking a hit due to MMP's precious few resources having to maintain essentially two different product lines.

Someone somewhere recently championed the idea that it would have been better to bring back the programmed tutorials rather than having published the SKs and I think I agree with that as well.

Something else I wish they would have done was not stick with the traditional modules and, instead, produce new ones. For example, with the popularity of Band of Brothers, one could argue that more people are interested in the Western Front and want to play Americans vs. Germans but the core module is the Eastern Front. Backward compatibility is one thing but it does little to help people freshly getting into the game.
 
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Eoin Corrigan
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Eoin Corrigan wrote:
I think that one ought to remember that the purpose of the ASLSK kits is to act as a try-out / feeder mechanism.


And in reality, they are fodder for the completionists and hoarders that make up the ASL world.

Which is dying off, not to be repopulated in anything like the numbers it currently enjoys.



Oh, Cassandra!

I started playing ASL in 2009 and, like many ASLers I know, the SKs were a valuable learning tool. I still buy SK products, regardless.

Sure, long term the ASL population may be in decline, but I would bet real money that in 10 years time there will still be thousands of active players, and a strong international tournament circuit.
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I like the fact that the Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit Expansion Pack #1 is completely self-contained; you don't need to have anything else in the system to play it. Sure, you don't the benefit of the "programmed instruction" that Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1 through Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #3 provide. But that's just fine. For those that want to jump into the full Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit system or those who already know the game, having complete and comprehensive modules means we can just tote that and not boxes of other sets that we need to play. I'm all for this approach and I'd hope that part of what the OP desires happens for the DECISION AT ELST HASLSK module.

And yes, it's pretty impossible to make scenarios/HASL CGs that work for both systems. If MMP were to pursue common scenarios and HASL modules, they'd have to do it the way Critical Hit, Inc. does it for their Advanced Tobruk System/Advanced Tactical System (ATS) and their ASLComp modules. About the only common thing between modules is the map in those and an MMP version might have many of the same counters that could be shared (of course, the "full" ASL module would have more counters unique to that system). Everything else (special rules, scenarios, etc.) would be "tweaked" to that particular system to make it as balanced and error-free as possible.

I play in both systems and don't worry too much about MMP taking time away from ASL to devote to ASLSK. From what I can see, there's more for both systems (yes, even ASLSK if you play the RALLY POINT stuff) than we can ever really play enough of to be tired of what's out there and hankering for more....
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Spencer Armstrong
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Spencer Armstrong wrote:


Hear him! Starter Kit is fine as Starter Kit. But as ASLite as it has become...it's just bad for ASL.

I advocate a SK1 to Chapter A/B ASL approach to learning ASL, but know some have made the jump from SK3.

The Expansion Pack and, worse, the SK HASL, don't represent a path to ASL, they represent a pulled-back version of the system.

S


The only way it is "bad for ASL" is if you didn't spend money on it.

How much of the ASLSK stuff did you buy?


Like Eoin, I bought all of it. I wanted the boards, knowing they'd end up used in ASL. And, as noted frequently, I think SK1 is brilliant, but the idea has gone too far and become a parasitic product line.

It's bad for ASL, not bad for MMP. Those are decidedly different things. ASLite is clearly a successful part of their business model.

But the blunt truth is that it distracts designers, playtesters and, worst of all, Chas Argent from working on full ASL. If there were no SKEP and no Elst, Rising Sun would likely be out, Festung Budapest would likely have been out sooner and we'd be on to the next thing.

S
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Robin REEVE wrote:
Where I raise a question, is about the fact that very few go up to full ASL - I never have seen any numbered reference about that phenomenon.Do you have a reliable source for that information?

There is some data available. In a 2011 poll with over 400 respondents (which is by far the largest response total of any ASL poll that I've seen), less than 3% of the responders played ASLSK exclusively, as opposed to 18% who played only ASLSK but were interested in moving up to full ASL.

And to address some of the other claims made in this thread:

Only 22% of the respondents began playing ASL in the 18 years from 1986 to 2003, which is when Paratrooper and the original Squad Leader were the only "easy" entry points for the system. In contrast, over 37% of the respondents began playing in the ASLSK era that started in 2004.

Double the number of new players in only half the number of years suggests that the Starter Kits have been spectacularly successful in introducing ASL to new players. And the large number of new players added in recent years suggests that the ASL community is not going to die off anytime soon.

Only 11% of the respondents were 30 years of age or younger, which is to be expected today when computer/video games are so dominant in the teen mass market. But the ASL demographic otherwise doesn't look too top-heavy in terms of age: 30% are in their 30's, while only 15% are over 50.

The ASL Survey 2011
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/609729/the-asl-survey-20...
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Spencer Armstrong
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Spencer Armstrong wrote:
Michael Dorosh wrote:
Spencer Armstrong wrote:


Hear him! Starter Kit is fine as Starter Kit. But as ASLite as it has become...it's just bad for ASL.

I advocate a SK1 to Chapter A/B ASL approach to learning ASL, but know some have made the jump from SK3.

The Expansion Pack and, worse, the SK HASL, don't represent a path to ASL, they represent a pulled-back version of the system.

S


The only way it is "bad for ASL" is if you didn't spend money on it.

How much of the ASLSK stuff did you buy?


Like Eoin, I bought all of it. I wanted the boards, knowing they'd end up used in ASL. And, as noted frequently, I think SK1 is brilliant, but the idea has gone too far and become a parasitic product line.

It's bad for ASL, not bad for MMP. Those are decidedly different things. ASLite is clearly a successful part of their business model.

But the blunt truth is that it distracts designers, playtesters and, worst of all, Chas Argent from working on full ASL. If there were no SKEP and no Elst, Rising Sun would likely be out, Festung Budapest would likely have been out sooner and we'd be on to the next thing.

S


I appreciate the distinction, I don't believe it exists. MMP is ASL as far as economics go. As far as creativity goes, LFT, BFP et al prove there are plenty of other talented scenario, map and historical module designers out there (not to mention magazine publishers) if you don't think you are getting enough offerings per year.


Then SK is really needless, if ASL keeps them afloat.

And TPPs are no substitute. No one else can publish core modules.

Here's the fine point: Starter Kit has kept PTO from being available to new players for some time. That is hurting ASL. Period.

S
 
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