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-   -   ASL Starter Kits (http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discuss/showthread.php?t=15911)

Rhialto the Marvelous May 22nd, 2008 12:22 AM

ASL Starter Kits
 
Yes, I'm talking about the wide wonderful world of Advanced Squad Leader. There have got to be some ASL fans among the resident gearheads of this board...

So, the Starter Kits. I'm looking for opinions on these. I have this cunning plan of graduating a casual wargamer friend to the real thing via Memoir '44 and Tide of Iron. To my utter bafflement it's actually worked out so far. He's thankfully bored by M'44 by now, and he loves those elements of ToI that (I guess) were stolen from (A)SL: Op Fire, suppressive fire, close assault rules, measuring LOS from the hex centers etc. etc.

So would the Starter Kits be a useful next step, complexity-wise? Also, once you've played all three of them, will you then essentially have mastered the actual ASL basic rules? Or do those require yet another major effort? (Besides the fact you also need Beyond Valor or one of the other gamettes.)

We could stick with ToI, but then a) there are few scenarios as yet and they're rather sucky, b) I'll be moving soon, and then we'd have to play via VASSAL, which doesn't yet have a ToI module and perhaps never will.

ravells May 23rd, 2008 11:42 AM

I used to play Squad Leader many years ago (before it became ASL), two ringbinders of rules in fine print spell more of a lifestyle choice than a game. Still one of my best friends here runs the UK ASL annual convention and is a total addict (he plays nothing else). He says the starter kit is pretty good and has urged me to get it.

Might be worth geting a copy of 'Up Front' (the AH cardgame), before you throw him to the starter kit though....

G K Zhukov May 23rd, 2008 03:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ravells (Post 263787)
two ringbinders of rules in fine print spell more of a lifestyle choice than a game

Agreed. ASL IS a lifestyle. Too much time investment for my possibilities nowadays (kids, wife, job, etc.).

Anyway, the Starter Kits are a good idea as an introduction to the game. Kinda remind me of good ol' SL (without the "A"): shorter rules, programmed learning (infantry, heavy weapons and finally vehicles), basic scenarios.

Anything beyond the basics (like sewer movement, parachute drops, beach landings, air support, snowy weather, jungle or desert terrain, etc.) is beyond the scope of the Starter Kits and requires quite a bit of time. Not only study time, but also practice time. Learning ASL requires hundreds of hours of regular gaming.

ASL definitely is NOT a game for everyone.

Rhialto the Marvelous May 23rd, 2008 05:02 PM

I believe the following example from ASL describes how a Tiger moves from A to B all while doing something or other with its hatch and bow.

Quote:

2.33 EX: A CE moving PzKpfw VIE in 1L1 with VCA K1-K2 spends 1/2 MP (shown in red) to enter K1 along the road, and therein spends one MP to change its VCA from J0-J1 to J1-K2. It then moves into K2 using VBM along hexside K2-J1 at a cost of two more MP. Its CAFP is K2-J1-J2. It may now spend one MP to change its VCA, plus two MP to continue VBM in K2 along the K2-J2 hexside, to reach its new CAFP K2- K3-J2 at a total cost of 61/2 MP; or it may leave the K2-J2-J1 CAFP become BU and enter the building in J2 at a cost of half its MP allotment (shown in yellow) and a Bog Check (8.21) with a +5 DRM, at a total cost of 91/2 MP; or it may spend one MP to change its VCA to J2-J1, which will allow it to Bypass into J2 for another two MP to reach CAFP J2-J1-I2 (shown in blue) at a total cost of 61/2 MP; or it may Stop, Start in Reverse, and use Reverse Movement into K1 for a total of 91/2 MP.
http://www.unknowns.de/wiki/images/8/85/Ex_D.JPG

You know... maybe we should just play basic Squad Leader.

G K Zhukov May 23rd, 2008 05:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rhialto the Marvelous (Post 263835)
I believe the following example from ASL describes how a Tiger moves from A to B all while doing something or other with its hatch and bow.

...

You know... maybe we should just play basic Squad Leader.

There is besides something grossly wrong in a game like ASL, and it is very well reflected in the above overcomplex play example of "vehicle bypass movement": too much micromanagement of every single little cardboard piece, and little attention to the command structure. You are supposed to be the commander in charge of the infantry company or whatever force you have on the board. You should be giving orders and assume your subordinate leaders know their jobs and act according to orders (or not).

For all the microdetail it shows, believe it or not, ASL has no rules to portray order transmission and the chain of command: ASL "leaders" are in fact heroic individuals who inspire their troops are provide bonus to their attacks (but have little to do with orders and the CoC), while every single cardboard "leader", "squad" or vehicle can move pretty much wherever the player wants unless it becomes demoralised or routs, without being tied to any tactical plan (see PS below).

This is something I find quite annoying, in fact.

I recommend you to take a look at some other game systems, especially at a higher scale. I am thinking about Avalanche Press' "Panzer Grenadier" series: less micromanagement, more command & control. and real battles fought between battalions/brigades over kilometres of terrain instead of little skirmishes over some hundreds of yards of grainfields and woods.

(PS: Solitaire ASL does have some basic command rules - and that, aside from the real "fog of war" offered by playing against a randomly generated force means that is the only version of ASL I play nowadays.)

Rhialto the Marvelous May 23rd, 2008 06:58 PM

I understand what you mean, but I have to say I do like the squad-level scale of the game and even the unrealistic player-as-omniscient-commander approach that gives the individual units limited "free will." Those two factors combined make the units almost like PCs in an RPG.

But it seems it breaks down when more than a handful of vehicles are added to the mix. Once counter facing matters you better get rid of your cat, if any.

Maladominus May 24th, 2008 07:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rhialto the Marvelous (Post 263571)
Yes, I'm talking about the wide wonderful world of Advanced Squad Leader. There have got to be some ASL fans among the resident gearheads of this board...

Nope. I'm a veteran Avalon Hill wargamer myself, but always preferred games of "grand strategy" and dictatorial world conquest/genocide over tactical battles.

Never cared much for ASL. Adored Rise & Decline of The Third Reich as well as Empire in Arms.

I did try Up Front (card game version of ASL) as a way to convince myself to like ASL. I even remember buying the expansion called "Banzai" or something (it's the Jap army expansion). In the end, never ended playing Up Front even once. :/

ravells May 29th, 2008 11:12 AM

The old 'hex' computer games, Steel Panthers and Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord are worth a look precisely for the reasons that Zhukov gives. Let the computer do the number crunching and you play the game with the tactical decisions, along with the added interest that with these games, your troops don't always do what you order them to. I can particularly recommend Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord. You can have a two player game by taking alternate goes on the same PC and the computer then resolves the turn using simultaneous movement. The graphics are really basic (unless they've improved them by now), but the game play is 5 star.

Maladominus May 29th, 2008 03:20 PM

Whoops, I just now caught the Tides of Iron mention.

Yes, I do think ToI is a superb tactical game (tho as I said, I tend not to be a tactical gamer, with the exception of wasting a few years of my life with SFB) .... I'm ready to plunk down like $55 for it any day now. Most anything coming from FFG is great anyways.

Rhialto the Marvelous May 29th, 2008 06:15 PM

Confession time: I tried Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin.

With, uh, mixed results.

First scenario: handily won, but then it's a dead giveaway.

Second scenario (Soviet conscripts and tanks advancing across wheatfields on German MG/Pak positions in forests): My butt was handed to me. Twice. In a most humiliating fashion.

-> Uninstall.

Re. Tide of Iron, having played a couple of scenarios now, it's a good game, but I'm sensing it is that because of what it stole from (A)SL. The real problem is that there are just about 30 ToI scenarios out there, many of which badly unbalanced or untested, compared to the hundreds for ASL. And unlike ASL you can't play ToI online.

Empires in Arms is the dream game I never got to play. Diplomacy, yes. EiA, no. Sigh.


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