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Subject: Discussion: Tobruk vs. ASL vs. Lock n Load rss

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Jamie Mack
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Hello,

I know this has probably been done before, but perhaps not recently and I may be purchasing one of these systems in the near future so I could use some insight.

Compare the games listed in the Subject and let me know what your preferences are and why. Also, I'd like to throw in Panzer Grenadier from Avalanche Press.

I'm highly tempted by the ASL Starter Kits as they are inexpensive(when purchased seperately), but Tobruk seems to be cheaper in the long run, and I've also seen some discussions that state that Tobruk is somewhat simpler. Lock n Load is very popular and from what I know of the game, seems to have a lot of promise. And I've had my eye on Panzer Grenadier for some time, ever since I downloaded the demo and mounted up the counters. The rules are organized poorly in my opinion, but I've found that with other games of some complexity, I don't mind taking the time to sort out the wheat from the chaff so to speak.

So, I appeal to my fellow Geeks, who are no doubt more experienced than I, to help me out here. Set my feet on the straight and narrow path.

Thank you

Jamie
 
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M. Kirschenbaum
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Jamie,

What you're really asking for is an article and I guess someone needs to write it comparing and contrasting all of the options. The question does get asked a lot. In a few words, my take: ASL/SK is a proven system and gives you by far the most variety and potential for expansion; with LnL you're locked into either the Vietnam stuff or Normandy, plus whatever expansions might come down the road; I don't know a lot about ATS, but people seem to run hot or cold on it without much middle ground; Panzer Grenadier is at a slightly different scale, more like the old Panzerblitz than the squad level game you seem to be interested in.
 
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Ken Feldman
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Jamie,

You can read this thread where we had a pretty spirited discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of ASL and Advanced Tobruk:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/81328

If you can afford it, it's probably worth purchasing one of the Starter Kits and one of the basic ATS games or Against All Odds so you can compare them. You can always sell or trade the game you decide you don't want to keep.

I tried Panzer Grenadier, and I fould it a little too generic for my tastes. As Matt said, it's at platoon scale while the other games you mentioned are squad level. Each turn represents 15 minutes in Panzer Grenadier. In ASL a turn is 2 minutes and in ATS a turn is 90 seconds.

I haven't played the Lock 'n Load games yet.

Ken
 
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Ken Feldman
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To update some of the info in the discussion that I linked to in my last post. The ASL rulebook and Beyond Valour, the key module needed to get playing, were both reprinted last year and are back in stock.

ASL does provide you the most flexibilty to play out any scenario in World War II. The core modules will be complete in 2006 with the printing of Armies of Oblivion. Multiman Publishing will be reprinting either Code of Bushido/Gung Ho (the Japanese, Marines, Chinese and PTO rules) or West of Alamein (Desert rules) later this year. Of course, to get that flexibility it will cost alot of money. The rulebook and Beyond Valor alone are $175. Then you have to buy the modules with the counters for the armies you want, such as Yanks for the U.S. and For King and Country for the British.

The Advanced Tobruk rules have stabilized at version 3.0. The latest releases come with version 2.95. There are no rule changes between 2.95 and 3.0, just some revisions to make them read easier. The verion 3.0 rules will be available on-line after the first two games using them, Berlin and Mannerheim Cross, ship later this month.

With the Advanced Tobruk System, you only need to buy the game you want, it comes complete with everything. The game published to date include:

- Advanced Tobruk which covers the war in North Afica. With it's six expansions there are almost 100 scenarios covering the action from 1940 to the conclusion of the North African campaign in 1943.
- Arnhem: Defiant Stand. Covers the British paratroopers near the bridge in Arnhem during 1944 and includes a scenario set in 1945 when the allies finally captured the City.
- Scottish Corridor: The British Epsom campaign in Normandy in 1944.
-Santa Maria Infante: U.S. troops in action in hilly terrain in Italy, 1944.
- Against All Odds: U.S. paratroopers on D-Day and the following days.
- D-Day Rangers: U.S. Rangers on D-Day and the following days.
- Combat Kursk ATS Upgrade: Soviets versus Germans during 1943.
- Combat Stalingrad ATS Upgrade: Soviets versus Germans during 1942.
- Panther Line: Soviets versus Germans during 1944.
- Blood and Iron ATS Upgrade: U.S. versus Japanese on Okinawa.
- Semper Fi ATS Upgrade: U.S. versus Japanese on Iwo Jima.
- Darkest December: U.S. versus Germans during the Battle of the Bulge.
- ATS Basic Game 1A: U.S. paratroopers versus Germans on D-Day.
- ATS Basic Game 2, Streets of Stalingrad: Soviets versus Germans in 1942.
- ATS Briefing 1: Six scenarios featuring Belgians against Germans in 1940 and an additional scenario for Scottish Corridor.

In short, the ATS rules have been stable for more than a year now and there are plenty of different modules to choose from for the system. I found it easier to learn and quicker to play than ASL. It's worth looking into if you're interested in tactical World War II games.

Ken


 
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Jamie Mack
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Doh, I posted my response to the discussion you pointed me to Ken!!

Anyway, what I wanted to say was, thanks for chiming in here. I may pick up the ASLSK 1, it's only $25 or something like that, and doesn't ATS have their system broken up into kits as well?

Jamie
 
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Ken Feldman
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All of the ATS games are self-contained with everything you need to play included. (Note that the ziplock games, which includes Basic Games 1A and Basic Game II, do not include a die. You will need a 10-sided die to play.)

The boxed ATS games, and the ziplock game, D-Day Rangers, include the 4 page basic rules set found in ATS Basic Game 1A. I started with D-Day Rangers, which has six scenarios for about $30. Other ATS players recommend Against All Odds, which has 10 scenarios for $40 and is boxed.

Ken
 
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Jamie Mack
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Kenfeldman wrote:
All of the ATS games are self-contained with everything you need to play included. (Note that the ziplock games, which includes Basic Games 1A and Basic Game II, do not include a die. You will need a 10-sided die to play.)

The boxed ATS games, and the ziplock game, D-Day Rangers, include the 4 page basic rules set found in ATS Basic Game 1A. I started with D-Day Rangers, which has six scenarios for about $30. Other ATS players recommend Against All Odds, which has 10 scenarios for $40 and is boxed.

Ken


Ken,

Would one be better off buying the Advanced Tobruk box, as opposed to one of the other complete games? I'm relatively indifferent towards desert combat is the reason I ask.

Jamie
 
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Ken Feldman
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Advanced Tobruk would be a great place to start. They just reprinted it, so you'd be getting the version 2.95 rules. It has 24 scenarios with three armies, the Italians, Germans and British. The terrain is mostly open, so you don't have a lot of difficult line of sight questions. There are six expansions out for it, including 5a with the Americans and 5b with the French.

On the other hand, it retails for $80. So if you're just trying out the system, you may want to go with something less expensive first.

Ken
 
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Dale Holmstrom
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ASL
Strengths:
Age has proven it's worth as a worthy and unique design for a tactical wargame.
Ability to play any tactical conflict during WWII(and other conflicts by third party providers)
Most comprehensive rules system for a tactical game,giving the game a high sense of simulation.
Devoted fan base allowing frequent access to tourneys and VASSAL play.
Historical modules allowing intensive and long campaigning.
Weaknesses:
Age---obtaining a complete collection hard due to out-of-print modules
Graphics are good, but outdated
Expensive---ASLK's are cheap, but will compell gamer to buy all. Have fun on Ebayangry
Full rulebook is a monster to learn.
Lot's of rules create lot's of rule questions, bogging down play for newbies.
ATS
Strengths:
Cheap---can buy almost any game without buying a series of others to play.
Graphics are pretty up-to-date.
Rule book issues such as size are less than ASL
Weaknesses:
Rules are not stable and constantly being updated(LOS for one example).
Campaign rules for historical modules poor.
Has many simularities to ASL in design
Vehicles require seperate cards/charts for game characteristics.
Lock 'n Load
Stengths:
Rules are quick and easy to learn
Game graphics are probably best for a tactical wargame
Game play is quick
Good customer support by designer---can accesss free rules, counters,map, and demo play at www.locknload.com
VASSAL support is good allowing for easy on-line play
Game design different than ASL in many respects/ no extensive charts to research.
Weaknesses:
Expensive---Band of Heroes is $75..
Current games cover WWII US Airborne Normandy and Vietnam(there are planned expansions for BOH) only.
No campaign game rules as yet.



There you have it. My .02

 
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Guy Riessen
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I started with the ATS boxed game Santa Maria Infante, and had a blast with it. It's one of the cheaper boxed games, comes with everything needed to play, and a good selection of scenarios. The maps in ATS as very nice and all historical, as opposed to the geomorphic maps of ASL.

One other thing you may want to consider is online play--both are set up with extremely nice modules for VASSAL (ASL's being the VASSAL genesis VASL) BUT! ASL has every map and counter produced up on VASL, ready to play just about any scenario ever made for the system. ATS, on the other hand, disappointingly, only has Basic Game Ia and D-Day Rangers modules for VASSAL. People are working on the ATS modules, but they are coming along very slowly. Even if you currently only play games face to face, I would recommend looking into the VASSAL system, as it's a great way to add breadth to your opponent pool, not to mention allows you to have several games going on concurrently if you like without requiring vast space to leave maps set up!

--guy
 
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Jamie Mack
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Well, this morning I ordered the ASLSK #1 and I'm looking at one of ATS complete games or perhaps their Basic Game 1a. Now I'm excited. Also I may have to release the hounds to scare up some local ASL players!!!


Jamie
 
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Don Schoemaker
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If you want to try LnL they have a downloadable scenario via PDF. If you want to buy it shop around.... I've found it for $40.00 when looking around. Own both vietnam and band of heroes... its a great alternative to my Ambush games.
 
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John Brady
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You can't go wrong with the SK...I think you'll find the system very well done, and even with the "simplified" rules of the SK, it will still tax you initially. There are lots of folks playing the SK online, so be sure to check out the VASL when you're ready...even if you're not, there's usually a few vets around to help a noob.

I bought some of the ATS stuff...I've never been able to wrap my head around some of the rules concepts, to be honest. Even with my limited knowledge of ASL, I think that there are quite a few things ASL does better.

I might be interested in selling some of my ATS stuff, so if you'd like to check it out sometime, just pm me, or email me at whatever addy I've linked here at BGG.

If you're interested in checking out a VASL game, grab skype so you can talk while you're playing...and just look for me online. I have a long time ASL player as one of my online buds/tutors, so we could even try a full blown scenario after you've got a couple of SK ones under your belt.
 
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Jamie Mack
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madDdog67 wrote:
If you're interested in checking out a VASL game, grab skype so you can talk while you're playing...and just look for me online. I have a long time ASL player as one of my online buds/tutors, so we could even try a full blown scenario after you've got a couple of SK ones under your belt.


Sweet!

See, this is what I like about BGG, it's filled with helpful people; you're the second person that's offered to tutor me in ASL maddog!!

Gah, now I just have to wait for my kit to arrive, I hate waiting.

Jamie
 
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Dave Story
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I have just begun buying ATS (since I have all the core ASL stuff, a huge quest that has paid off), and I do notice one thing about their philosophy: you get everything you need to play in each core set.

The drawback to this is already apparent after purchasing four core sets. More German infantry and support weapons than I will ever need. Three extra rulebooks, three extra sets of play aids, etc. And it will only get worse with the more I buy.

A complete waste of materials. The more devoted buyers are those getting screwed the most by having to purchase box sets which will be made up of more useless/duplicate material than anything else.
 
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Ken Feldman
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I have all of the ATS stuff and I don't find it's a problem. I keep several of the ziplock games completely punched and I take them with me on trips or to introduce other gamers to the system.

I also have a set of Plano containers for storing counters by nationality that I use at home. That way I can quickly set up a scenario when I want to.

I now have several unpunched ATS games. I can play them with counters I have in the Plano containers. After I tire of the scenarios (I haven't yet) I'll be able to sell them. I'll get years of gaming for very little cost that way.

At Metro Seattle Gamers we are currently playing a game on Operation BattleAxe. Several players are divisional commanders moving the forces through a double-blind system by giving their orders to referee who then indicates which battles need to be fought. We then fight the battles using Advanced Tobruk. It's helpful to have lots of counters for these battles as they are larger than a typical scenario from the game.
 
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Nigel Wright
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LnL gets my vote. The components are attractive (particularly BoH) and the as new modules are being added the core rules are being kept small with additional detail handled by scenario special rules as required. More modules are in the pipeline, and the system is well supported.
 
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Dave Story
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Kenfeldman wrote:
I have all of the ATS stuff and I don't find it's a problem...I now have several unpunched ATS games.


I'm glad you're happy with lots of extra counters. Collectors are generally happy with 'more than enough'. Not me. And that wasn't the point I was making any.

I'm pointing out bad business practice. If so many players want extra/multiple-sets of counters or play-aids, they should have the option to buy them separetly and not be forced to pay for redundancy with each purchase.

I have already decided not to buy a fifth module because I would effectively be paying $60 for just a map and scenarios. My money is better spent on items I actually use, and I won't waste my gaming space on storing unnecessary bits.
 
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Ken Feldman
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Quote:
I have already decided not to buy a fifth module because I would effectively be paying $60 for just a map and scenarios.


While the system markers, rule books and some of the infantry countersheets are common to several games, the 3/4" sheets (vehicles and emplacements) are usually unique to each game. It would be difficult for any company to mix and match components into customized packages for each owner based on what they have.

The standardization of the markers and the infantry counters probably allows them to have larger print runs on those items, which helps to keep the cost down.

Ken
 
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