ASL..but first a doughnut hole:

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Gordos Doughnuts.. a local trailer that churns out massive hot donuts with eclectic toppings including bacon. This is the Dirty Harry.

What does a cast iron skillet of donuts holes soaking in melting chocolate fudge and topped with coconut have to do with ASL SK#1?

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Blue BLocks: Victory locations

There is a premise about ASL that it is close to the perfect wargame. If not perfect then the perfect tactical system. If not that then the most realistic combat system devised by man.

And unlike a fresh fried donut that has sat in the fridge for 3 days this game never gets old,tough or stale. Its adherents are legion. The true acolytes and temples of worship (blogs, conventions and fraternities) are spread worldwide. It is a brave man indeed that will say, no thank you to ASL. Who says no to a hot steamy crunchy on the out side fluffy and light in the middle donut? NO ONE.

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Some things in life are said to best left unexplored. I am a simple man. My donuts of preference is the cinnamon sugar type. Simple light, tasty. You experience the dough not the dressing.

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ASL in all it ring binders of truth is another idea. The full meal a hamburger donut (yes you can order this at Gordos new restaurant location! ASL is full of the ephemera of war, the grist of war and the minutiae of war. Those of you who know the game understand the superb narrative that is bled from these tiny boards and 2 minute slices of time.

A cottage industry of tournament play is the ultimate experience of the ASL’er pitting your knowledge of the rules against your enemy, to move up in the global rankings of players. I have seen first hand the worn faces, the harried seeking in the bible seeking solace and exception to the rule. The monastic study prior to competition, the deep contemplative silence during play. Where else can 20-50 men in their 50’s have such peace and still kill things in a controlled safe environment?

Doughnut? What Doughnut? Oh yes. Well reveling in this magnificent experience is also akin to the gourmet donut experience. The anticipation, the smells, the eating, and the ultimate end game of over indulgence as the cardboard warrior packs his boards back in foam, sorts his men by Nationality, class and morale factor. In the end it is perhaps all a bit too much. The stomach is over full and bloated from the experience.

There is however another type of play to be had from ASL, which has breathed new life into a steady but slow declining community. At some point the fantastic historical accuracy that began to feed its way into scenarios resulted in Historical modules. These modules brought massive scale, more units, special rules [ yes more rules] and rich experiences from the sands of Pacific atolls to the rubble of Stalingrad ASL explored in fantastic detail what happened and what might be.

Marco Negrelli Red Barricades

This grabs me, the actual history, units, situation, conditions and time scale. Too often tactical games resort to the laziness of “action around” or ‘ a portion of a battle’ and represent scenarios that give you a taste of the actual story tuned and balanced to allow better play-ability with your opponent. This provides entertainment, which is fantastic. Sometimes however we crave more. the meat of the action. The harsh reality. Do these ASL Historical Modules really provide this?

Well lets see. Come with me on a brief, casual journey through ASL. The intention is to explore ASL SK#1, see if we like it, compare and contrast to Squad Leader and other tactical games that have been played. Then if the mood is right, grab a Historical module and see what happens.

Next up Turn 1!



3 thoughts on “ASL..but first a doughnut hole:

  1. “There is a premise about ASL that it is close to the perfect wargame. If not perfect then the perfect tactical system. If not that then the most realistic combat system devised by man.”

    It is none of those. It is the most DETAILED system, but by no means the most realistic. One play of Guards Counter Attack will expose its shortcomings.

    Band of Brothers completely owns it in the realm of realistic tactics. No game does the 4F/WWII tactical doctrine better.

    I compare it to Star Fleet Battles: SFB is the most bloated, detailed space combat system out there, but realistic? No, it violates countless laws of physics.

    But ASL is a blast to play.

    • @Air Judden:
      The big question to me is actually… is it worth all those rules? Is it still fun.
      I’m a big fan of mecha wargaming. When it comes to Battletech, the epic granddaddy of mecha tableto simulation I have more rulebooks, options, supplements than that I have other rules combined… and I have A LOT of rulesystems and supplements overall.
      But at a certain moment it dawned on me… is it worth it?
      There is a point of no return. A moment the extra rules become silly. From what I heard, ASL seems the Battletech of the historical wargaming world.
      Brilliant, epic, unique, bloated with chrome… but that to me is also the reason I never jumped into it.
      Takes ages to master. For less return than you put into it.

      But then this blog’s test run might prove me wrong. I’m curious.

      …also I got more Battletech sourebooks ordered. Which may never see use.
      Why? Because it’s the granddaddy of the genre. Pedigree deserves respect. Let us see if ASL lives up to its own.

  2. I played nothing but ASL for more years than I care to remember. It was like an act of faith, so it wasn’t easy to break from a system where I had invested so much time and money. But I found the game’s “tactics” didn’t match the narrative I read in actual WWII combat accounts.

    Then I came across Band of Brothers, and for the very reasons Air Judden states, I switched from ASL to BoB. For me, Band of Brothers captures the real world tactics of fire and manouvre better than any other tactical boardgame.

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