Recommend
278 
 Thumb up
 Hide
63 Posts
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 

Advanced Squad Leader» Forums » Reviews

Subject: An attempt to describe why ASL is so compelling. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: ASL [+] asljr_rsp [+] [View All]
Andrew C
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This will be a different kind of review for me. I usually write a structured review with sections on components, key rule mechanics, and a game play summary.

ASL, though, is a different creature, and as such requires a different approach. You won’t learn anything about ‘how’ to play ASL here. Hopefully, though, you will catch a glimpse of why so many folks are fanatical supporters of this game – and why I now count myself in that group.

This review will be somewhat conversational, sort of “touchy-feely,” since like no game I have ever played, video and role playing games included, ASL makes me feel something. What that something is, I can’t quite put my finger on, though I’ve tried for some months now. I’m hoping that as I write this, I can sort it all out. So this post starts out with a brief story about my path into an ASL addiction.

It all started, as most addictions do, with a pusher. In this case, it was BGG’s own Paul O’Connor. Sure, before I met Paul I had already experimented with the lighter stuff, and even got into some pretty regular use. When Paul and I first started gaming together, he was quite content to play the lighter stuff too, but he kept referring to back to this other mysterious game. When we played CC:E, he said it wasn’t good enough to unseat the reigning champ. When we played Conflict of Heroes, he said the same thing. His attitude was, if a game is not better than what came before, what’s the point?

Well, for me the point was that, unlike ASL, I could actually comprehend the friggin’ rulebooks of these other games. Still, ASL was there, with an obviously devoted fan base…and I was a bit envious. Those other guys could grok ASL, and I’m a pretty smart guy, shouldn’t I be able to? Paul’s a smart guy too, and he knew it would be better to begin with something simple, something like the games we already played. Something like the starter kits. ASL SK#1 has only twelve pages of rules, after all, and he offered to teach me, so why not try it? And here is where it all began: I bought a copy. SK#1 costs only $20, and by purchasing a copy for myself, I could be a better gaming partner and read the rules ahead of time. Well, anyway, that was all the rationalization I needed to add another game to my collection.

Learning ASL.

So we played... and I was really impressed. I could see the classic, almost old fashioned, heritage of the game. On the surface it employs a basic “I-go-you-go” turn sequence, using hexes and counters and a CRT. Play just one game, though, and you will see it is much more than that. It’s like a classic car. Somehow, it is so unique, and it got it so right, that it’s still beautiful and timeless. The turn structure is fairly complicated with lots of phases, and tons of opportunities for the ‘non active’ played to do stuff. You never feel like your just sitting there waiting for your turn. There is no downtime in ASL.

The game develops an amazing narrative too. The small squads of men charging ahead, machine pistols firing; the heavy weapons section carrying their machine guns – I’m glad that the MG’s are separate counters so I could see my men lugging them around. Its great how the guys break and run for cover, completely against orders, when it gets too hot. Then the stalwart leader rouses them, curses them, exhorts them to get back on their feet and back into the fight.

And the game plays great solo. As I played it more and got comfortable, I wanted more - I wanted tanks.

A Panther counter (top) and sniper marker (bottom)


So I picked up ASL SK#3, skipping right over SK#2. This alone should have tipped me off that I was in new territory, for I am an obsessive completist. Skipping a game in series? That was a first.

Paul and I played a tanks scenario. It was cool, but something of a pain honestly. The SK’s don’t have an index, you see, and finding a rule in the dense verbiage was tough. Plus there was the element of confusion whether a vaguely remembered rule was in the SK or not. (Paul is an accomplished ASL grognard and therefore would come out at times with a statement like, “if this was full ASL your tank, which moved into the line of sight my antitank gun, would have a chance to fight a gun duel.”) So off into the rulebook we look, to see if its there…but without an index, ugh.

The gun duel rules sounded cool, though, as did other things Paul referred to, like bypass movement, snap shots, snipers, and concealment. I wanted to see what other stuff was out there. And I’m a completist, remember? So I asked for, and received, a copy of the full ASL rulebook and Beyond Valor for my birthday in August.

The rulebook

Damn. I immediately regretted it. That rulebook is absurd. I mean seriously, how did anyone, ever, learn this game? If you haven’t seen it, I don’t think you can really comprehend how ridiculous and intimidating it is. It sat on my shelf, and BV sat unpunched, and I just thought about how many other game I should have gotten instead.

But ASL kept calling. There is more here, Andrew, and you know you want to discover what it is. What is the buzz about? C’mon, you can do it.

Later, Paul suggested we try a full ASL, infantry only scenario. I had to try. It turns out that while understanding the rules for infantry is more difficult in the full rulebook (due to the acronyms and numerous exceptions) the additional infantry rules over the SK’s are really pretty manageable. The index is a GODSEND. Can’t quite remember something? You can look it up in the 200+ page rulebook twice as fast as looking for something in the 12 page SK rulebook, guaranteed.

After that first ASL game, I realized I was getting there. There was a ton I still didn’t know, but something was becoming clear. Most of the 200 pages just don’t apply to most scenarios. The basic rules get you 80%-90% of the way there, and if you simply agree to a scenario ahead of time, and read the relevant ‘extra’ rules required, it’s not that bad.

So we played some historical scenarios from Pegasus Bridge. Oh man, the map is COOL. Not generic, but a specific historical setting, a night time glider drop of elite British troops in a desperate attempt to seize a bridge. (And Paul, being a good pusher, loaned me his copy of Stephen Ambrose’s Pegasus Bridge to get me interested. Clever, very clever.) Before the game I read over the night rules and the glider rules, just a couple of pages each. I can handle that.

Well, we played twice, both times two of my three gliders crashed, all aboard KIA, and I got my ass handed to me. Which, by the way, is a recurring theme in ASL (not the fragility of Pegasus Bridges’ first scenario, but rather Paul kicking my ass.) I think I only won once or twice in all our ASL games, and yet I still enjoy it. Here is where I try to specify why.


Why ASL Rocks

d10-1 ASL is small.

Yes, the rulebook is huge. I mean really huge – it you haven’t seen it you wouldn’t believe it. Picture the Dungeon Master’s Guide and you’re in the ballpark – but its MUCH harder to understand because of the damn acronyms. ASL definitely has a language of its own; it reads like a technical manual. They don’t spell out ANY game terms, so everything becomes FFNAM/FFMO (first fire non-assault movement and first fire, moving in the open), or PTC, NMC, PRC, BU, CX, CE, etc, and ad nauseam. And yes, there is a TON – thousands I think - of counters in the base module Beyond Valor.

Just some of the counters in the first module, Beyond Valor

But look deeper…set up a typical scenario. It might have 20 or 30 units per side played on maybe a 1’x2’ board (or maybe 2’ by 3’). You can play it on a weeknight – easily. All this stuff for a 3 hour game played on a map smaller than the GMT standard size? Interesting.


A typical small scenario

(If, on the other hand, you want to play a long term campaign over the course of weeks or months, you can do that too.)

d10-2 Reading the rulebook is fun.

Yes, I am truly sick, but I find ASL to be great toilet reading. If you, like me, enjoy paging through coffee table books on tanks, or planes, or ships, and reading about their design specifications, and weapons systems, you’ll enjoy it. If, when reading a history book and coming across an end note, you flip to the back to read it, you’ll enjoy it too. If you like to see how a designer attempts to model reality, and assess how closely he came in your opinion, you’ll enjoy it. If you appreciate admiring what is clearly a labor of love and a prodigious intellectual achievement, you’ll enjoy it. And though I sort of bashed the practicality of the rulebook earlier, if you can get past the acronyms (which you will internalize over time) there is an enormous number of full color examples for every major concept in the game.

d10-3 There are rules for everything.

It’s really interesting to see how many different possible actions are covered in very specific rules. You can capture enemy units, interrogate them, and discover the location of enemy units, for cryin’ out loud. Buildings can collapse and burn, fires can spread, pushed by an ever changing wind. At night, guys can get lost just trying to move around, or they can get nervous and ‘jitter fire’ for no reason at all. Clouds can drift in front of the moon dropping visibility to zero. (Or, as happened in one of our games, the clouds can part when your squads are trying to sneak across open ground in the dark, and suddenly the enemy spots you and their machine guns start to chatter.) Squads can climb down into sewers and outflank their enemies, popping up just behind them from a sewer grate at a road intersection, or they can just get lost in the underground maze. Weapons can set up fire-lanes, creating a ribbon of steel down a critical road, or boresight (set up fixed aiming points) before the game. Units can be concealed from view, or completely hidden. Heroes can rise, or squads break or go berserk, or simply surrender. Units can enter the map in gliders, or parachutes, or on skis, or in assault boats. Cavalry can charge hapless infantry or halftracks can overrun their mounts and grind horsemeat in their tracks. A wall of Russian’s can charge together in a human wave. Infantry can dart out of a building and attack a tank in deadly street fighting close combat. Tanks can take a hull-down position, or a lone Joe can take out one of the armored beasts with an under-belly shot the instant the tank crests over a wall. The list just goes on and on. Do I know how exactly to do all these things? No, but I know they are in there, and when the scenario or a situation calls for it, the index means I’m about 15 seconds away from learning about it.

d10-4 It tells a story.

With all the possible outcomes modeled, you never know what is going to happen. There are a lot of die rolls in ASL. Whenever you roll snake eyes or box cars, get ready, something cool is about to happen. Of course, it may be cool for your opponent as your flame thrower runs out of fuel or a popular member of a squad is killed and their morale permanently suffers. Or you might get an unlikely kill on a tank with your close-combating infantry.

I'd love to hear the story behind this shot.

A lone hero, or small band of conscripts, may turn the tide of a battle. There has not been a single ASL game that I haven’t thought about for days after, replaying the story in my head, and wondering how it may have gone differently it only I had…

d10-5 Its fun to learn.

I’m not learning anything useful here. I won’t pretend that were I drafted and sent to Iraq I’d be an amazing company commander, or that I know a damn thing about real combat. I am, though, learning a very cool system. It feels good as I gain mastery over the rules. And I’m a sucker for learning (hell, I went back to grad school in my 30’s for an utterly useless degree in history, even though I work in banking).

d10-6 You feel a sense of accomplishment.

I’m proud of myself - that I am playing what has to be one of the most intimidating and ridiculous games out there. But it IS fun, there is no denying it. I feel like I’m falling into a well. This game is so deep, I can see why folks get lost in it. I’ve already played more games of ASL than any other single game in the last three years, with the possible exception of CC:A - - but ASL will surpass that soon too. I just don’t look forward to playing anything else as much as ASL.

d10-7 It collectible…

…and not in the awful blind booster way. There was a lot of ASL stuff produced in the past. Most of it is out of print. You can find it, though, and if you are willing to pay for it, you can enjoy getting a hold of some grail games (Code of Bushido, anyone?) I am an absolute sucker for collections, and I’m pretty obsessed with filling out my ASL collection now.

Enough to make me drool


Summary

Is this game for everyone? Hell no. Would I ever have learned it if I didn’t have someone who already knew how to play, and is a great teacher? Very unlikely. But, if any of the above sounds like you, and you are interested in ASL, here is my strong recommendation:

Buy ASL SK#1. Give it a whirl. If it grabs you, find someone who plays full ASL; that shouldn’t be too hard using BGG or consimworld. I bet money someone will be happy to teach you, and there are ample online opportunities to play as well. Also, if you like ASL SK#1 and move into full ASL, start out by working through the ASL rulebook’s Chapter K – which is training section written in a conversational way, without all the acronyms and dense exceptions. Now that I’m working through Chapter K myself, to further hone my understanding of the game, I could see learning the game that way. I strongly recommend it if you don’t have an experienced player to teach you. Be sure to take the authors’ advice and get out a map and counters, and follow the examples along.

In closing, if you are considering getting into ASL, think about this. There is a reason (lots of them, really) why a stupidly complex game is still around after all these years, and with such a dedicated and fanatic following. It should have suffocated under its own weight, and yet it lives on. Now I understand why.

Long live ASL. thumbsup
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gregory Smith
United States
Newark
California
flag msg tools
badge
IGNITION - bringing enlightenment where once all was dark
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
That was the best ASL review I have ever read. I particularly liked paragraph 3 (there is a rule for everything). It is those rules that breathe life into the story that each game develops. Just fantastic! A lot of people have asked me about ASL and what I like about it, but I've never been able to verbalize what is good about ASL as well as you have. Now when I get that question, I'll just give them a link to this.

15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Brady
United States
Arlington
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You've hit the nail on the head for me as well with this article. My journey has taken about 20 years though . Over the last couple of months, I've made a concerted effort to start making the transition from the SKs to the full rules, even though I've had the full rules since the first edition came out.

For all the reasons you've mentioned, I never really learned to play the game. With the starter kits, VASL, and the other tools out there now, it's easier than ever before (a relative statement) to actually learn ASL. At some point, if you push the counters around for a while, the rulebook will begin to make sense, and you'll have one of those "eureka" moments, like the first time you fire a gun, or use bypass movement.

I agree with the narrative part...something about an ASL game that does that for me better than any of the others I've played. Not knocking the other games, but for whatever reason, ASL just does it better for me in that regard.

Hopefully some folks who are sitting on the fence will take the plunge into ASL as a result of this article...you'll have done them a favor if they do.



5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Di Ponio
United States
Lake Orion
MI
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great synopsis of what makes the system draw you in!!! I played Squad Leader back in the day and when this beast came out...I jumped at it thinking it was an extension to the SL line. Boy...was I wrong!! it opened up a whole new world that I thought I knew! ASL is not for everyone...but easier than people think...like you have mentioned!!!
I love the game and it will stay in my collection!!!!!!!!!!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Todd Pytel
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Definitely the best ASL review I've ever read, Andrew. If someone doesn't want to play it after reading this, then they never will and should go find something else. Just a few random comments...

Cleitus the Black wrote:
The turn structure is fairly complicated with lots of phases, and tons of opportunities for the ‘non active’ played to do stuff. You never feel like your just sitting there waiting for your turn. There is no downtime in ASL.

Yup. I always find it strange when people, who clearly have never played ASL, comment on how old-fashioned its turn structure is compared to more modern offerings and how it must not be very interactive. But ASL was light-years ahead of its time - it may be igo-ugo in a superficial sense, but it's just as interactive as anything else out there.

Quote:
Can’t quite remember something? You can look it up in the 200+ page rulebook twice as fast as looking for something in the 12 page SK rulebook, guaranteed.

Exactly. SK players often shy away from trying the full game because they're so intimidated by the size of the ASLRB. But it is honest-to-God easier to use than the SK rules, especially by the time you're playing SK3. As far as I'm concerned, the ASLRB is the absolute pinnacle of wargame rules. It's so unbelievably clear, consistent, and complete that I am honestly amazed that human beings could write such a thing.

Quote:
Most of the 200 pages just don’t apply to most scenarios. The basic rules get you 80%-90% of the way there, and if you simply agree to a scenario ahead of time, and read the relevant ‘extra’ rules required, it’s not that bad.

Yup. I usually read rules for about 10 minutes before playing most scenarios to catch up on any special rules and/or equipment. Once I'm actually playing, I'm unlikely to spend more than 10-15 minutes total on rules across an entire 4 hour scenario. Really straightforward scenarios I could play with nothing but the main reference card.

Quote:
Before the game I read over the night rules and the glider rules, just a couple of pages each. I can handle that.

A new player tackling a Night scenario in a HASL? Kudos. I've only played a handful on Night scenarios, but I think they're really cool.

Quote:
But look deeper…set up a typical scenario. It might have 20 or 30 units per side played on maybe a 1’x2’ board (or maybe 2’ by 3’). You can play it on a weeknight – easily. All this stuff for a 3 hour game played on a map smaller than the GMT standard size? Interesting.

I find it far easier to get an ASL scenario played than almost any other "serious" wargame I own. Not only is the table space requirement very low, but there's very little setup and very little dead time checking rules during the game. From the time my opponent enters the room until the time he leaves for the night, most scenarios would clock in at 4 hours without feeling rushed. Very few other wargames can say that, and fewer still provide anywhere close to ASL's depth of gameplay in that amount of time.

Quote:
It’s really interesting to see how many different possible actions are covered in very specific rules... At night, guys can get lost just trying to move around, or they can get nervous and ‘jitter fire’ for no reason at all.

I think the one I like the best out of Night is how firing a captured enemy SW triggers a Friendly Sniper Check... because the snipers recognize the sound of the enemy's guns no matter who is actually manning them.

Quote:
It tells a story.

One of ASL's strongest points. I know of no other game that provides such a dramatic narrative in every session.

Quote:
I am an absolute sucker for collections, and I’m pretty obsessed with filling out my ASL collection now.

Hrm... new ASL player and a completist? With the housing market as depressed as it, it's really not a good time to take out a second mortgage. ASL collecting is almost a side hobby unto itself, and can be a blast if you're into that kind of thing. There's certainly enough to keep you busy there. For the first two years I played, I scanned the various online sources incessantly in search of ASL gear. I've slowed down considerably now, but it was a lot of fun finding all of those things and I'm quite happy with how my collection ended up.

Thanks for the excellent review.
24 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew C
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
JaggedTech wrote:
I particularly liked paragraph 3 (there is a rule for everything). It is those rules that breathe life into the story that each game develops.


Absolutely. ASL generates a stronger narrative than any other game I have played.

madDdog67 wrote:
At some point, if you push the counters around for a while, the rulebook will begin to make sense, and you'll have one of those "eureka" moments, like the first time you fire a gun, or use bypass movement.


Yes, I think that's what makes Chapter K a viable way to learn the game.

madDdog67 wrote:
I agree with the narrative part...something about an ASL game that does that for me better than any of the others I've played. Not knocking the other games, but for whatever reason, ASL just does it better for me in that regard.


That certainly seems to be the common thread for ASL players.

Todd, thanks for the detailed responses - your post is a great review in its own right! I agree emphatically with everything you said, but your comment about the rulebook really stood out:

tppytel wrote:
It's so unbelievably clear, consistent, and complete that I am honestly amazed that human beings could write such a thing.


I feel the same way. Its a trully impressive document.



4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Beaton
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
I have a cunning plan
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll agree as well that the narrative is what makes the game magic. When you move that counter from hex P3 to p4, you didn't move a counter, you sent a tank crashing through a stone wall with guns blazing and victims fleeing in terror. It all adds up to a game you can dissect for hours later. But I've played a lot of Power Grid over the years, and never heard someone say "That was so awesome when you bought all that coal" after the game.
32 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Will DeMorris
United States
El Paso
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review! Welcome to the fold brother.

-Will
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Wilson
Canada
Riverview
New Brunswick
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent article, I posted a link to it in a forum thread where a guy was asking about if the ASLSKs were * more of the same* hope you dont mind.

The narrative ASL generates is awesome, last game I played my brother got rof with a hellcat and missed 3 times in a row by 1 then rolled snakeyes for a CH!

fwoosh, fwoosh , fwoosh , BOOOOOOMM , then his next shot with his other tank was a dud ! PTWAANNGGGggg , we hollered so much we woke up the sleeping baby ( oops, well it was 10 am!)
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Daglish
United Kingdom
Cheadle
Cheshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
It tells a story


and the rest don't
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
ian morris
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Mids
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


Welcome to the club, Brother Cleitus. May your dice be hot and your ROF long !


cool


5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
the scrub
Canada
Mississauga
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll join every voice in here. A fantastic "review". laugh
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Kozlowski
United States
Unspecified
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
I, uh, guess I had a lot of geekgold?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've only paged through the ASL rulebook, but this reinforces my impressions, that:

1. This is trying to replicate the narrative and gameplay flexibility of an RPG in a game without a DM, so in a way the rulebook has to be the DM.

2. That systematic indexed rulebooks are not as complicated as they seem. It's like how it's easier to play D&D than Road to Legend, because D&D has a comprehensive indexed rule set, and Descent plus expansions doesn't.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Todd Pytel
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mkozlows wrote:
1. This is trying to replicate the narrative and gameplay flexibility of an RPG in a game without a DM, so in a way the rulebook has to be the DM.

There's some sense in which that's true, though I wouldn't quite say that's the "intention" of the system. ASL, after all, was based on the original Squad Leader, which was published at about the same time as the 1st D&D Basic Set. By the time D&D had established widespread recognition, Squad Leader had already sold tens of thousands of copies. At that time, wargaming was the big dog and RPG's just an offshoot.

Quote:
2. That systematic indexed rulebooks are not as complicated as they seem.

Well, they don't have to be, at least. A systematic rulebook can certainly aid in the teaching and learning of a detailed ruleset. But the ruleset itself still has to have internal logical and verbal consistency. I can think of a few games, which shall remain nameless, which have rather ASL-ish looking rulebooks, but which are a complete mess of contradictions and ambiguities. It's not just the sheer volume of detail and careful compilation that make the ASLRB unique, it's the near-perfect precision of language and logical consistency that make it what it is.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cleitus the Black wrote:
You can capture enemy units, interrogate them, and discover the location of enemy units, for cryin’ out loud. Buildings can collapse and burn, fires can spread, pushed by an ever changing wind. At night, guys can get lost just trying to move around, or they can get nervous and ‘jitter fire’ for no reason at all. Clouds can drift in front of the moon dropping visibility to zero. (Or, as happened in one of our games, the clouds can part when your squads are trying to sneak across open ground in the dark, and suddenly the enemy spots you and their machine guns start to chatter.) Squads can climb down into sewers and outflank their enemies, popping up just behind them from a sewer grate at a road intersection, or they can just get lost in the underground maze. Weapons can set up fire-lanes, creating a ribbon of steel down a critical road, or boresight (set up fixed aiming points) before the game. Units can be concealed from view, or completely hidden. Heroes can rise, or squads break or go berserk, or simply surrender. Units can enter the map in gliders, or parachutes, or on skis, or in assault boats. Cavalry can charge hapless infantry or halftracks can overrun their mounts and grind horsemeat in their tracks. A wall of Russian’s can charge together in a human wave. Infantry can dart out of a building and attack a tank in deadly street fighting close combat. Tanks can take a hull-down position, or a lone Joe can take out one of the armored beasts with an under-belly shot the instant the tank crests over a wall. The list just goes on and on.

I love how you got through a full paragraph of war stories without even mentioning the crazy stuff that happened in our Pacific Theater game, like when my Japanese DC hero threw himself on the breach of your Chinese artillery and blew everyone to kingdom come.

And even if we confine ourselves to the ETO, how could you forget the time your sole-surviving, scrappy British airborne half-squad shot my speeding Kubelwagon so full of holes that it veered and crashed through the railing of Pegasus Bridge? We watched the still-lit headlights as they sunk into the murk.

All right, those last details were strictly in my imagination -- but it was the game that unlocked them.

So, what scenario are we playing next?
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Stewart
United States
Visalia
California
flag msg tools
badge
It's sooo Hot out here...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The ABSOLUTE BEST review I've read to date.

Had I GeekModded it...5GG easy. Maybe 10GG.

ASL tells a story, and the same scenario will tell a different story each time it's played.

Fav scenario GUARDS COUNTERATTACK.

My latest play, I lost my 10-2 in the Ass.Eng. building on the 3rd roll of the game. That entire half of the building had to continue the entire game running into the open failing MC's, all the while KNOWING there was no Leader to rally them. I SR'ed 4 squads on that side through the course of the scenario.

My Russians were getting their ASSES handed to them and I managed SOMEHOW to enter building K5 (ASLer's know which one). Losing 2 squads to CC I had a halfsquad and a leader holding it down. The last turn of the game saw the German 9-2 try to leave his NEST and trounce my last 628 in a previously held German building. ALAS a 2fp-2 (due to BYPASSING) found a 9-2 rolling a 12 (took one in the head) and failing his Wounddr. Needless to say the entire stack of units CRUMPLED.

This and 3 hexes of 1 and 2 Resfp to "protect" building K5 from the last of the Germans trying to retake it. No Germans made it past the Resfp and due to the massive German breaks and losses, the Russians fulfilled the VC when there was no chance of a win the previous turn.

One of my most memorable Scenario 1(A) games. AND I've been playing it for 20 years. IT JUST NEVER GETS OLD!!

ASL allows you to pull a victory out of your WAZZOO!! when in ANY OTHER GAME, you'd have no chance. Few ASL games (depending on their VC) are over until the last turn. NEVER GIVE UP...NEVER SURRENDER...(hence my Italian squad Avatar)

13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Johns
United States
Unspecified
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gamer72 wrote:


Welcome to the club, Brother Cleitus. May your dice be hot and your ROF long !

cool


UNLESS you're playing me... ...Just kidding.

Excellent review. You expressed the reason to play the game. Your review was the first time I've given geek gold. Great! Thanks.

My only quibble from the discussions above is that the rulebook really is a bear. Sorry. History of the world has an 8 page rule book (with big font). It's easy. ASL has hundreds of pages and it can be very tough to work through, especially all of the "legalese". Also, I don't want to say that you NEED an experienced player to help you to learn the system, but it sure helps.

However, you did cover some reasons why the rulebook can be managed. The index is, well, breathtaking. It's basically a chapter itself. Something not covered, is the smart way the rulebook is designed. It's similar to the SKs where new info is built on information already learned.

Chapter A is infantry tactics and B is terrain. There are plenty of scenarios to play using just those two sections. If you don't have "weird terrain" such as gulleys, orchards or whatever, you actually only need a small section of B per scenarios. Once again adding the new terrain types as needed.

When you've mastered that, move on to Chapter C: Guns, OBA (off-board artillery), and the "to hit" process. Play a few scenarios. Mastered that? Add in Chapter D: vehicles. Continue to play more scenarios with the new stuff. Those are the core sections. You can play (I'd guess) 70% of the scenarios with these sections.

When you get the inkling, section E is "weird stuff": Night, paradrops, etc. You may use those periodically. Just read up before the specific scenario. F is ...hmmm I forget. Desert, maybe? G is Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO). Fun but weird. People either tend to love it or hate it. (I love it.)

The remainder are mostly campaign games and such. So, it's a learning process, but one that can be handled. And it's fun! With VASL (online playing) and a growing community, it's a great time to be an ASLer.

So, join on in. The water's a bit hot, but you'll get used to it.

P.S. add in your favorite ASL game experiences on this thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/376444
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Humphries
Philippines
Unspecified
Metro Manila
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent article, I will recommend it to my friends who are baffled by other's fascination with ASL.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Curtis
United States
Plainfield
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tremendous review! I'm in the middle of the same journey myself. A friend and I have been playing through SK scenarios and have recently tackled tanks. I envy those who have an experienced mentor to help. We've both played wargames for many years, myself since 1970, but learning ASL is a whole other experience.

I'd always heard ASL was a way of life and many never played anything but ASL. I always scoffed at the thought, but not that I'm immersed into it, it does tend to dominate your gaming thoughts. I'll still play Euros on Sunday with the gaming group and I'm sure I'll still play some other wargames, but it's hard to not finish one scenario without immediately planning for the next.

I also love the fact that I have hundreds of choices of scenarios. Any theater of the war is there. We've accumulated a huge collection of ASL modules, HASL, and third-party products before we've even played our first game of full ASL. Add us to the list of the addicted. I pulled off a mega-trade to get West of Alamein and Eric snagged Code of Bushido and Gung Ho. We're set for years of play.

Who knows, maybe I'll get to meet some of you at ASLOK this fall.

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dick Leban
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Excellent review. Nice to know that there's still people out there who see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm also amazed that new players even attempt to learn ASL without 10+ years of "programmed instruction" starting from something like PanzerBlitz and going through AH's catalogue ending with the Squad Leaders. Make that journey and ASL's rules give a lot more "oh, they fixed that" and "oh, that's what they're doing, cool" moments. I can't imagine trying to pick it up from scratch or even trying it learn it from a grognard.

Enjoy the sim and may you always find opponents.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew C
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you everyone for your comments! I hesitated a long time before writing this review because I wasn't sure I could capture why I enjoy ASL so much.



goldenboat wrote:
And even if we confine ourselves to the ETO, how could you forget the time your sole-surviving, scrappy British airborne half-squad shot my speeding Kubelwagon so full of holes that it veered and crashed through the railing of Pegasus Bridge? We watched the still-lit headlights as they sunk into the murk.


Oh I haven't forgotten! Paul's vivid description of that battle is included in the Operation Blackboat geeklist he is maintaining of our weekly battles.

Here is Paul's session report for the Pegasus Bridge rematch (John Howard was my 'avatar' for that game - he was the British Major in command of the Ox and Bucks, the elite airborne unit tasked with seizing the canal bridge):

goldenboat wrote:
A week later, John Howard got his rematch, although he should have stayed back at the base -- his glider overshot the landing hex and sank without a trace in the canal. Another glider crashed on landing, leaving Andrew down 2/3rds of his force before the game was more than a minute old. This was the second week in a row that Andrew had terrible luck landing his gliders (and I think he would have had some choice words if his son wasn't standing by, observing) ... and for the second week in a row I offered a mulligan, but Andrew liked the placement of his third glider right in front of the bridge, and decided to soldier on.

Night vision range dropped to one hex, Andrew exited his glider, and killed my gun grew in a noiseless ambush. I abruptly realized that Andrew had landed behind my defensive lines ... I had set up with relatively few guys adjacent to the bridge, and with vision range down to just one hex, my perimeter guys out in the trenches might as well be in another county so long as Andrew was content to slink around in the dark, taking my guys out in ambush. Fortunately, one of my guys made a racket while dying in close combat, alerting one of my leaders to get a move-on, and we dragged our medium machinegun back to where it could exert some firepower on the bridge.

Knowing that time was everything, Andrew rushed the bridge ... but as is so often the case in these low density scenarios, everything turned on one throw of the dice, as my MMG stitched up his guys moving adjacent and in the open. Suddenly his stack was down to a single half-squad of sappers, and Andrew was ready to concede.

But not before my fearsome Kubelwagon blitzkrieg overrun! My little vehicle careened onto the bridge, horn blaring, headlights stabbing through the gloom, determined to run down Andrew's last remaining good order unit. The sappers fired, spider-webbing my windshield, but still we came on ... the sappers dodged aside, and fired at the passing Kubelwagon. A bullet found the petrol tank, the vehicle blew up, smashed through the rail of the bridge, and plunged into the icy waters below to join John Howard and his drowned lad in the glider.



goldenboat wrote:
So, what scenario are we playing next?


I'm thinking back to the PTO - still haven't gotten in a scenario with Marines!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cleitus the Black wrote:
goldenboat wrote:
So, what scenario are we playing next?


I'm thinking back to the PTO - still haven't gotten in a scenario with Marines!


Ack! That means I have to get back to clipping counters. My Marines are still on the sprue!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Todd Pytel
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I had no better luck with Howard in my outing at CG2. He's what, a 10-2, 10-3 leader or something? He and his blokes had a very nice approach on an overly exposed German position, needing to withstand only something like a single 4-flat shot to make their assault. Howard boxcars his MC roll, dies, two of the three squads with him CR, and they all run for cover. Bleh... I believe I conceded the CG halfway through the scenario. It's a tough one on the Brits in any case, I think. CG1 gives you a lot better possibilities for denying the Germans control of the chateau until later in the game, but my opponent didn't want to play with the Night rules.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
We played PB1 twice, and each time only served to ratchet up my respect for Howard, the Ox & Bucks, and those glider pilots. Balls of steel.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Barton Campbell
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm no ASL fan but this is quite a good review.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.