Sam H
Canada
Québec
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Before we get to the actual review, a bit of background, as this is my first BGG review. ASL would be my second « gateway game » or so I’ve learned from the Geek. Before getting into ASL, I had very little experience with boardgames, and wargames in particular. A couple of years ago a friend of mine told me about this « wargame » that he had bought for a few dollars :

-A Wargame? You mean like that movie? With hackers launching a nuclear war?!?

-No, it’s a boardgame…

-You mean, like Risk?

-Well, not really, it’s called Panzer leader. It was a huge hit in the seventies.


After a couple of solo and FtF plays, I was looking for a better fix. I liked the concept and the strategy, but something seemed to be missing. Searching BGG, I kept reading about this game, Advanced Squad Leader, that split opinion pretty radically :

-It’s insane! You need a truck to carry the rulebook around and there’s like 2 millions counters!!
-It’s the only game you’ll ever need!! We worship at the ASL altar!


The negative reviews actually got me even more interested in trying this monster out. I liked the idea of the challenge. I liked the idea of the endless possibilities this system seemed to offer. Other wargames seemed interesting, but I couldn’t imagine suckering 5 other people to sit down for multiple hours of cardboard-pushing. I was pretty confident I could probably find one! My local gameshop was out of the ASLSK1, so I went and got #2.

It is a pretty inexpensive way of trying out the basic mechanics of ASL. I figured if I didn’t like it, I would have only wasted around 30 dollar. Seeing how all things ASL have a bad habit of going out of print and seem to gain in value on the market, this little box is a better investment than my RRSPs.

The components




The box is pretty standard fare. Nothing fancy. The cover is actually quite bland, unlike most of the ASL modules. It contains the rulebook, the charts, two geomorphic mapboards, two 6-sided dice and the counters needed to play. Everything is there to begin playing the included scenarios. Worth noting, the starter kits introduced the new style boards made of cardboard, instead of the mounted versions. The graphics are also different, not being had painted anymore.

The rules

At first glance these rules are pretty tough to wrap your head around. But no need to panic. There are a number of excellent tutorials, the best being those published by Jay Richardson (richfam) on BGG. I would recommend reading the rules once, reading the tutorials and then reading the rules again and realizing how simple it really is. Basically, some guys shoot. Those that didn’t shoot can move. Those that move can get shot at. Those that moved, can then shoot but not as well. Advance. Close combat. Repeat. For players who have begun with the first starter kit, MMP has highlighted the passages in the rulebook that add new concepts and information.


The ASL community is quite helpfull, as they are always happy to sucker in a new potential opponent. On various forums, new players can easily find seasoned veterans to show them the ropes or answer their questions. The most important thing is to play and not worry. After all it’s a warGAME, and should therefore be fun.

The scenarios

There are eight scenarios included in ASLSK2. The first two are infantry-only for players who haven’t had a chance to begin with SK1.

In S9, Ambitious Assault, an Italian force in a town in Sicily, must defend against US and british infantry coming in from the north and the south.

S10, Paper army, which I played a few times solo. Is unfortunately not as interesting as S9. It is a good learning scenario, especially for infantry movement as a force of Italians fleeing the Greek army must leg it across the board and exit enough Victory Points.

S14, 88s at Zon is a lot of fun. It this scenario, the US player must exit victory points, while contending with two heavy AA pieces, the German 88s.

S16, Legio Patria Nostra has a german force defending an Italian town against the Free French. I had the pleasure of playing this scenario by PBEM against an ASL veteran from France. His free french literally destroyed my defensive positions. It’s a good idea for newbies to play against experienced players. It’s a very formative, if humbling, experience. Seeing an opponent setting up to cause elimination by « failure to rout » time and time again is a beautiful sight. Painful, but beautiful.

General impressions

One thing I appreciate with ASL is the very little down time. There is a lot to do during your opponent’s turn. You can actually get more firing opportunities during your opponent’s turn than you own. Another draw is the variety of scenarios. The victory conditions can be quite different from one game to the next : exiting soldiers off the board, taking a building, defending a certain location. There are quite a few scenarios out there and MMP and third party publishers are putting new ones out regularly. The soon to be released Expansion pack, will also add new counters and maps. The replay value is excellent.

For players not interested in learning the ASL system, the starter kits provide for a fun and well designed game in and of themselves. Most SK scenarios can be played in under two hours and the relatively low counter density makes for a quick setup.


Going from there

It’s a good idea to have a good grasp of ASLSK2 before moving on to SK3. I have since crossed the line and started playing ASL with the complete ruleset. What impresses me the most with the starter kits is that nothing needs to be unlearned to play ASL. The full system only adds on bits and pieces. The monster of a rulebook was actually pretty easy to handle once the basics of the SKs are understood.
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Cracky McCracken
United States
Ohio
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i wish all reviews were this well done. excellent addition to the ASL forums. keep em coming Sam!

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Sam H
Canada
Québec
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I wasn't sure how to include links in the text. So here's the link to the first of Jay Richardson's excellent tutorials:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/157922
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dave Prasse
United States
Fort Mill
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Great review .... just think of the SK's as the basic game , and the 3 ring binder ASLRB is chapters of Optionals
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