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Thread: Advanced Squad Leader

  1. #1
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    Advanced Squad Leader

    Please educate me about this game. I recently picked up the new Starter Kit #1 and it looks very neat.

    I went and had a look at what other things there are and I came across the standard rulebook. It costs $80. This seems a bit high, but perhaps the quality is really good or something.

    Now, if I want to play more scenarios I really should get the Beyond Valor expansion it seems. It has a bunch of maps and counters for the east front. I go and look that up, and when it is in stock it costs $105. For some cardstock maps and punch out counters. Why on earth is this so expensive? The maps aren't much bigger than a standard page size. The counters are just regular punch out ones that you would find in any game. Is it because this is a super niche product and they know they are the only market in town? Does it really cost a ton of money to print some cardstock and paper? If so, why don't they release PDF copies of the maps and rules. I have a nice printer that I could print out maps on for far less than $5 per map.

    I know I'm way late to the party on this game but my grognard tabletop game interest has grown as of late and ASL seems to be the best bet. It would be nice however to be able to play it without dropping $200 to get started. (Yes, I can play the starter kits which are much less expensive, but I want the full deal without the training wheels).

  2. #2
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    That $105 is the MSRP for it, which you won't really pay if you buy from an online place. When they reprint it, you'll be able to pick it up from places like wargamedepot.com for $60-$80, comparable to the other in-print modules.

    Which still means that to get started with real ASL you're looking at $140, so it's probably worth playing the starter kits a bit to make sure you're $140 worth of interested.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezdaar View Post
    I know I'm way late to the party on this game but my grognard tabletop game interest has grown as of late and ASL seems to be the best bet. It would be nice however to be able to play it without dropping $200 to get started. (Yes, I can play the starter kits which are much less expensive, but I want the full deal without the training wheels).
    Make sure you have some reliable opponents lined up before getting too deep into ASL. Nothing worse than sinking hundreds of dollars into something you never get to play, and ASL players are increasingly difficult to find these days.

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    Not to start a flamewar, but if that price is prohibitive, you could also try the Advanced Tobruk system. every game is self contained and much cheaper. That way you could get the full experience for 50 or 60 bucks. If that price interests you, definitely go to boardgame geek and read up on the differences between ASL and Tobruk to see how that impacts you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mkozlows View Post
    That $105 is the MSRP for it, which you won't really pay if you buy from an online place. When they reprint it, you'll be able to pick it up from places like wargamedepot.com for $60-$80, comparable to the other in-print modules.

    Which still means that to get started with real ASL you're looking at $140, so it's probably worth playing the starter kits a bit to make sure you're $140 worth of interested.
    Yeah I was looking only at the MSRP. Still, it seems a bit excessive for the contents. $140 will get me a lot of miniatures or a few computer wargames.

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    Not to harsh your ASL buzz, but you may want to check out these more recent offerings, which sacrifice the density of ASL in favor of ease-of-use and shorter play times:

    Combat Commander: Europe (esp. see comparison with ASL and Tide of Iron)
    Conflict of Heroes
    Tide of Iron

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    ASL is a lifestyle, not just a game. I say that not to denigrate or promote it, just to educate. The rules are dense and the learning curve measured in months and months. It's an incredibly in depth game, but it's not something you break out now and then to play because you'll never remember enough of the rules to do that.

    If you're looking for a nice WWII type game, but one that you can learn in a reasonable length of time and play with someone that's never played before, then ASL is nowhere near what you want.

    If you want a game that you never really stop learning new strategies and techniques, then it's great. Just be forewarned you'll need to seek out other ASL players.

    I don't really ever suggest ASL to someone and I stopped playing myself when I realized I didn't have the time to ever get decent at it, but it does fill a gaming niche in a way little else does.

  8. #8
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    Wargames are usually relatively expensive because they are boutique products in the gaming world, and the fans are generally older and capable of paying high prices.

    This fanbase is also much more attuned to the rules and setting than component quality. Paper board? That's fine because they all own a large sheet of plexi.

    I'd suggest wargaming online and networking with the grognards before deciding on a system to invest in. ASL still has a good fanbase, but there are some upstarts who have active communities.

    Personally, I think the ASL approach is overkill. It was based on a system that predated the PC and goes for an excessive level of detail. There are some recent systems that are more exciting for your inner Patton. Some of the new wave has card-based maneuvers, interrupt abilities, and other innovations that put the focus on tactics instead of looking up arcane rules in a phonebook sized rulebook. YMMV.

    The various cons are also a good place to network the grogs.
    Last edited by runesword forger; 04-14-2009 at 09:37 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by runesword forger View Post
    Personally, I think the ASL approach is overkill.
    Agreed. Back when I used to play my friends and I discovered that original, basic Squad Leader--without any of the expansions--was a lot more fun because it was simpler and faster. But now I'm not even sure if I would play that...

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    Mr. Schilling no longer has that baseball income to fall back on, you know. :)

    If gehrig38 is reading this, just kidding!

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    Thanks for the help. The games Jason mentioned don't look quite grognardy enough for me, but I did come across Panzer Grenadier, which looks to be well supported by the publishers and gets good marks. You can try it for free, or they have an intro set for $10 which I ordered.

    I think perhaps I am not frustrated as much by the price of ASL but rather by the fact that the two big items required to play the main game are out of print with no ETA for when they might come back.

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    I think the original squad leader is also a good option to go with my advanced tobruk recommendation. I've also played Conflict of Heroes and really liked it, but just know that you are sacrificing a lot of detail for playtime. I used to have the starter kits, enjoyed them, but realized I wanted a little more scope than what the three offered. Took the ASL plunge, liked what I saw in theory, but the more I looked into it, the more I realized that if I did nothing else, I might learn most of ASL. The idea that there would never be an escape from constant rule searches or forgetting details because there are so many to track, that ended my brief affair with ASL. Squad Leader and Tobruck were both simpler, still had a good deal of deatil (especially Squad Leader with the first expansion, Cross of Iron), and it didn't have to become a lifestyle game like ASL has been described.

    edit: Panzer Grenadier is a good system, simple, with tons of scenarios for it. It's a different scale than ASL, but still fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ckessel View Post
    ASL is a lifestyle, not just a game.
    I never played ASL, but if it's anything like original Squad Leader, that's certainly true. I assume that ASL is if anything more complex than SL, which at the time must have been the most complex hexmap game ever. I once played two whole turns of Drang Nach Osten (took a weekend to get the entire NKVD border police force eliminated from play), so that's my cred, there....

    Back in the day, I could play either side of any of the first couple of dozen original Squad Leader scenarios against a friend who was really into it, and he could easily win either way. It's really not easy to do that in a wargame, and even at the time (high school) I was pretty good at wargames. The point is that shows the complexity and depth of the system, and the effort needed to master it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miramon View Post
    I never played ASL, but if it's anything like original Squad Leader, that's certainly true. I assume that ASL is if anything more complex than SL, which at the time must have been the most complex hexmap game ever.
    ASL is like a bajillion times more complex than SL. My understanding is that even lifelong players never get all the rules down. That never felt like the case with Squad Leader.

  15. #15
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    Simple fact of the matter is that wargames are expensive because they are expensive to produce, especially for (relatively) small print runs. The reduction of the number of gamers, explosion of MTG, dramatically increased paper and printing costs (and other component costs), and warehousing costs in the late 80s and early 90s conspired to nearly kill the industry altogether.

    --- Alan

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    Quote Originally Posted by awdougherty View Post
    ASL is like a bajillion times more complex than SL. My understanding is that even lifelong players never get all the rules down. That never felt like the case with Squad Leader.
    Holy moly. Then I have to say, I can't suggest that anyone buy it who doesn't have a group of equally insane and either well-moneyed or unemployed friends. There just wouldn't be any point to it.

  17. #17
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    Ahh, I missed the Tobruk post above as well. I came across that while looking around, I'll check BGG. It looks interesting as well.

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    Myself and another Qt3er took the ASL plunge about this time last year. We played the first two starter kits a fair amount online via VASL, and I managed to get a few face to face games with a local guy. I never got to a point where I played anything with vehicles, but the basic infantry stuff was fun, especially the tight, house to house scenarios. When we could get a few VASL games in a week, the later ones went really well, but if we took more than a week off, the first session or two would be really, really slow and difficult.

    My recommendation would be to focus on the starter kits and play every scenario in all three of them at least a couple of times. If by that point you still have a willing and able opponent, only then take the plunge into the full rules and Beyond Valor. I made the mistake of buying the ASLRB and BV before making sure I could play the game with regularity and both are virtually untouched.

    Man, the more I think about it, the more I want to play some ASL again. If only.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiohn View Post
    Myself and another Qt3er took the ASL plunge about this time last year. We played the first two starter kits a fair amount online via VASL, and I managed to get a few face to face games with a local guy. I never got to a point where I played anything with vehicles, but the basic infantry stuff was fun, especially the tight, house to house scenarios. When we could get a few VASL games in a week, the later ones went really well, but if we took more than a week off, the first session or two would be really, really slow and difficult.

    My recommendation would be to focus on the starter kits and play every scenario in all three of them at least a couple of times. If by that point you still have a willing and able opponent, only then take the plunge into the full rules and Beyond Valor. I made the mistake of buying the ASLRB and BV before making sure I could play the game with regularity and both are virtually untouched.

    Man, the more I think about it, the more I want to play some ASL again. If only.
    How much do the rules change going from the starter kits to the main ASLRB? Do you think SK2 is worth it, if so why did you not get the third one?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezdaar View Post
    Ahh, I missed the Tobruk post above as well. I came across that while looking around, I'll check BGG. It looks interesting as well.
    I am a little biased because this is the system I have chosen to learn (still learning it), so take what I say with a grain of salt and definitely check out BGG for more info. There are a ton of heated comparisons with ASL there.

    What I wanted from a system:

    1) playability
    2) not hideously expensive
    3) squad level tactics

    At the time I was making my decision, my choices felt like ASL, Squad Leader, Lock and Load, Panzer Grenadier, and Advanced Tobruk System (ATS). After reading up on Lock and Load, I ruled it out. Panzer Grenadier isn't quite the right scale (but it's rather easy to pick up for the grognard). Squad Leader was great with its programmed instruction and I messed with that and Cross of Iron. Really enjoyed it. Thought, what the hell, lets try some ASL and made the jump blindly. Bad decision on my part. I think the same can be said of wanting to make the jump from ASL from the starter kits. The starter kits feel like a great placement for the original Squad Leader, but jumping to ASL is still a monstrously huge jump. The starter kits may introduce you to the very basics of ASL, but that's it. There's no intermediary step there. While I was listening to an ASL podcast from two fairly longterm players, I realized they spent a hell of a lot of time with their noses in the rulebooks or realizing after the fact that they forgot something. For a true ASLer, I understand that's part of the appeal. It wasn't for me.

    I looked into ATS, saw that every box was its own complete game. I saw they had a basic intro kit as well as an intermediate kit. I saw that the full game had a 60 page rulebook while still maintaining enough tactical detail. The more I read, the more I realized ATS was the compromise I wanted between playability and depth.

    I haven't played a ton, I can in no way answer questions in detail about this or that, but I will say that what I've played, I enjoyed and I didn't get overwhelmed. I am a fan of ATS, and I feel like it fills some of the space between ATS starter kits and the full crushing weight of ASL. Anyway, hope you find a good fit with a system. These kinds of games are a blast to play.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by awdougherty View Post
    I am a little biased because this is the system I have chosen to learn (still learning it), so take what I say with a grain of salt and definitely check out BGG for more info. There are a ton of heated comparisons with ASL there.

    What I wanted from a system:

    1) playability
    2) not hideously expensive
    3) squad level tactics

    At the time I was making my decision, my choices felt like ASL, Squad Leader, Lock and Load, Panzer Grenadier, and Advanced Tobruk System (ATS). After reading up on Lock and Load, I ruled it out. Panzer Grenadier isn't quite the right scale (but it's rather easy to pick up for the grognard). Squad Leader was great with its programmed instruction and I messed with that and Cross of Iron. Really enjoyed it. Thought, what the hell, lets try some ASL and made the jump blindly. Bad decision on my part. I think the same can be said of wanting to make the jump from ASL from the starter kits. The starter kits feel like a great placement for the original Squad Leader, but jumping to ASL is still a monstrously huge jump. The starter kits may introduce you to the very basics of ASL, but that's it. There's no intermediary step there. While I was listening to an ASL podcast from two fairly longterm players, I realized they spent a hell of a lot of time with their noses in the rulebooks or realizing after the fact that they forgot something. For a true ASLer, I understand that's part of the appeal. It wasn't for me.

    I looked into ATS, saw that every box was its own complete game. I saw they had a basic intro kit as well as an intermediate kit. I saw that the full game had a 60 page rulebook while still maintaining enough tactical detail. The more I read, the more I realized ATS was the compromise I wanted between playability and depth.

    I haven't played a ton, I can in no way answer questions in detail about this or that, but I will say that what I've played, I enjoyed and I didn't get overwhelmed. I am a fan of ATS, and I feel like it fills some of the space between ATS starter kits and the full crushing weight of ASL. Anyway, hope you find a good fit with a system. These kinds of games are a blast to play.
    Which ATS set(s) did you start with? I see there is an ATS 3rd Edition which lists for $100 or so but sells for $50 at retailers. Of course, none of them have it in stock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezdaar View Post
    How much do the rules change going from the starter kits to the main ASLRB? Do you think SK2 is worth it, if so why did you not get the third one?
    I did not get the third one because I never made it that far before not having anyone to play with. My online partner lost interest, and the local guy had a kid shortly before I did, so our schedules are pretty much shot. I think the second one is definitely worth it and I advocate playing through in order because the scenarios are pretty good at gradually introducing new elements. If I recall correctly, the first scenario doesn't even have support weapons.

    The rules don't really change from the starter kits to the full game, there are just suddenly a whole lot more of them. I somewhat agree with awdougherty in that there's still a really large gap between the starter kits and the full rules, but the starter kits ease the burden in learning the full game. However, it's not like every scenario uses all 400,000 pages of the ASLRB. You've got 150ish (wild guess) of core rules and then everything else will be very dependent on the scenario. And as already mentioned, you'll forget rules.

  23. #23
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    If you decide on ATS, here's a link from a site I've ordered from a lot.

    http://wargamedepot.com//catalog/cri...sngisrjoulpfd4

    Of course, I would say definitely read up on it before pulling the trigger.

    I started with the Basic Game 1A Screaming Eagles. I think that should have a 4 page rulebook. I then messed a little with the Stalingrad basic game 2, which has a 20 page rulebook or so. I currently own panther line north, clash along the psel, classic advanced tobruk (maybe the best deal of the bunch given the # of scenarios), and the full stalingrad.

    The full rulebook is 60 pages long. pgs 51 and on are examples of play, an index, some appendices and optional rules, and a little fluff.

    As for what game to start with, either start with the intro ones, or if you are undaunted by the full jump, find the battle that interests you (and is in stock). A lot of the ones I mentioned were between 20 and 50 dollars. They all include everything you need to play.

    quick edit: as just mentioned, the starter kits have programmed instruction and it is ingenious for learning the rules. start kit 3 introduces vehicles I think, and once through all three kits, you will have definitely encountered a nice cross section of what ASL can offer.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by awdougherty View Post
    If you decide on ATS, here's a link from a site I've ordered from a lot.

    http://wargamedepot.com//catalog/cri...sngisrjoulpfd4

    Of course, I would say definitely read up on it before pulling the trigger.

    I started with the Basic Game 1A Screaming Eagles. I think that should have a 4 page rulebook. I then messed a little with the Stalingrad basic game 2, which has a 20 page rulebook or so. I currently own panther line north, clash along the psel, classic advanced tobruk (maybe the best deal of the bunch given the # of scenarios), and the full stalingrad.

    The full rulebook is 60 pages long. pgs 51 and on are examples of play, an index, some appendices and optional rules, and a little fluff.

    As for what game to start with, either start with the intro ones, or if you are undaunted by the full jump, find the battle that interests you (and is in stock). A lot of the ones I mentioned were between 20 and 50 dollars. They all include everything you need to play.

    quick edit: as just mentioned, the starter kits have programmed instruction and it is ingenious for learning the rules. start kit 3 introduces vehicles I think, and once through all three kits, you will have definitely encountered a nice cross section of what ASL can offer.

    This thread is dangerous to my wallet. I ordered the ATS Basic Ia set. I suppose this is not so bad since if I want to really get into one of these I should try them all first.

    I also came across Retro, which seems to be a thing that sits on top of ASL and simplifies it a lot.

  25. #25
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    But can you play this in ATS????

    http://www.gamersarmory.com/catalog/...roducts_id=324

    Keep us updated with your thoughts on ATS. I looked into that system before I got into ASL and having local players is what nudged me towards ASL.

  26. #26
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    There is a zombie mod for ASL?

    Dammit!!!!

    Oh well, I agree that it might be easier to find ASL players. If you already have a group willing to experiment in the exact opposite way that hot sorority girls experiment in college, then what the hell. definitely post some thoughts when you get a chance.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezdaar View Post
    This thread is dangerous to my wallet. I ordered the ATS Basic Ia set. I suppose this is not so bad since if I want to really get into one of these I should try them all first.

    I also came across Retro, which seems to be a thing that sits on top of ASL and simplifies it a lot.
    I own Retro and dig it. In fact i like all Minden games products.

    As for ASL its a fun system that Starter Kit will keep you going for a long while and there are two others as well so I would not be in any rush to buy a bunch of other stuff just yet.

  28. #28
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    Do you play many wargame/board games? Take a favourite example, improve/tweak, and make your own on cardboard - fun(for you and friends) for a few dollars and a small(ish) amount of work :b

    [If we want to save money that is....]

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiohn View Post
    I did not get the third one because I never made it that far before not having anyone to play with. My online partner lost interest, and the local guy had a kid shortly before I did, so our schedules are pretty much shot.
    Online partner who lost interest reporting in! I've been experiencing a resurgent interest in ASL lately and if anyone wants to screw around with a scenario I'd be happy to play along.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezdaar View Post
    Thanks for the help. The games Jason mentioned don't look quite grognardy enough for me
    What specific bit of grognardicity are you looking for? Because Conflict of Heroes and Combat Commander may not be ultra-complicated rulefests, but they've got some real depth to them. (Tide of Iron, not so much.)

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