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"ASL - Advise Request" Topic

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Grumpygamer Inactive Member19 Mar 2017 8:26 a.m. PST

I was an original player of Squad Leader when it was first published and followed it through ASL for years. Eventually however the game got just a bit overwhelming with rules issues, errata, version problems, conflicts, TONS of add on material. I finally through up my hands and sold it off.

Recently I have begun to pull away from miniatures after years of enjoyment. (Unsteady painting hands, bad eyes, no room etc.) I find myself wondering if ASL might not be worth a reawakening. Surely they have settled down and have a concise product I can collect. Looking at the MMP website though, it seems as confusing as ever. 2nd edition rules, 3rd edition Beyond Valor, Starter Kits…???

Any of you ASL Grognards care to help me out? How would I get reacquainted with Squad Leader? Whats a smart approach? The stuff is pretty pricy, I don't want to waste money and time buying something outdated and there is a ton of that out there.


Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2017 8:33 a.m. PST

Starter kit 1. It's wonderful, self-contained and extremely approachable.

From there you can determine if you want to take the full dive.

To play "proper", you need the rules binder and "Beyond Valor", but I highly recommend starting with the starter kits instead.

You can always do what we did and start phasing in full game rules to those scenarios down the road.

BuckeyeBob19 Mar 2017 8:38 a.m. PST

I still play the COI thru GI modules and have never bothered with ASL. The consolidated rules are on line (so you do not have to figure out what sections were replaced by revisions) and you can find the modules on ebay etc. IMO, by going back to ASL you are going to find yourself in the same situation you were in when you sold it all off. BYMMV….

Tgunner19 Mar 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

I tried ASL back in the early 90's and it drove me crazy. Not a long drive really, but it was too much of a good thing. But good luck to you!

I second Weasel, if I were to go back to ASL Starter Kit #1 is the way to go. I researched this for a bit myself, got the starter kits and changed my mind… too much work to me. But here you go!


They are on Amazon too.




That's $30 USD including shipping on Ebay. The others probably vary, but $25 USD from MMP looks pretty good.

Then you move to #2 and #3 which cover guns and AFVs respectively. By that time you basically have the full rules with plenty of counters and maps. Then its off to the binder and the box sets of your choice. The editions for the sets just mean that they are updates to the old sets to make them in-line with the current rules. You want the latest edition of Beyond Valor, West of Alamein, etc.

Grumpygamer Inactive Member19 Mar 2017 9:52 a.m. PST

Thanks guys. I actually considered just going with standard Squad Leader, COI etc. Those kept me happy for years but ASL did add a number of new toys that it would be hard to resist. As you say Bob- I am worried about exactly that, jumping back into the frying pan. I read somewhere that this section or that is left out of the rules and you have to have this module or that module to get them complete. That is exactly the kind of thing I want to avoid. I'll lay down a couple hundred and more with no problem if I know I have a complete and playable game. The idea of wondering nilly willy through the MMP minefield with my wallet is a little scary though.

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2017 10:46 a.m. PST

Do you know BoardgameGeek? You can probably get some good thoughts there. Or look to see some alternatives.


Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2017 11:09 a.m. PST

I have both Squad Leader and ASL and like both.
The simplicity of SL is very appealing but since I mainly play infantry scenarios, the "step up" isn't too bad and I like some of the additional options.

Vehicles is where ASL really begins to get painful, in my experience.

Personal logo taskforce58 Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2017 11:33 a.m. PST

The three starter kits (SK) are a good way to get most of the flavor of ASL without a ton of money. The rules used are a stripped down version of the ASL rules, without the more complicated stuff like concealment, snipers, by-pass movement etc.

SK #1 covers infantry combat only. No vehicles or guns, the only ordnance/weapons counter are the MGs and the small mortars on the 1/2" counter.

SK #2 is SK #1 plus the rules on larger ordnance – the guns and large mortars on the 5/8" counter.

SK #3 is SK #2 plus vehicles.

The nice thing with the SKs is that they are independent stand-alone games. You don't need SK1 to play SK2 or 3. Essentially they are like the programmed approach in the old SL rulebook. If you know the SK1 rules already, then when you pick up SK2 you only need to learn the ordnance rules. Of course getting all 3 will give you more mapboards and scenarios.

On the main ASL core products:
The rule book (2nd edition) now contains Chapter A-E. Chapter E (night fighting, parachutes and gliders, etc.) was previously provided in the Yanks module.

Beyond Valor covers the Germans and Russians (no change here). However mapboard 1-5 and 8 are now also included (these used to be old SL boards).

Yanks covers the US. The old Paratroop intro module has been discontinued.

For King and Country is now the British and Commonwealth module. It used to be West of Alamein, which includes the desert boards and Chapter F which covers desert fighting. This is no longer the case. Supposedly all desert related material will be included in the yet-to-be-announced Italian module (the old Hollow Legions module).

Hakkaa Päälle is a new module providing more in-depth coverage of the Finns.

Rising Sun is the new module covering all of the fighting in Pacific and Asia. This is rules chapter G, plus the Japanese, USMC and Chinese units, previously covered in two older modules Code of Bushido and Gung Ho.

A new up coming module called Forgotten War will cover the Korean War.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2017 11:59 a.m. PST

It's also worth noting that if you are at all considering getting this stuff, grab it while you can.

Things go out of print and they have very slow turn around times for reprints.

basileus66 Inactive Member19 Mar 2017 12:14 p.m. PST

Truth be told, I never found ASL particularly daunting. The basics are easy to learn and most of the time you don't need to know other rules than how to move, how to shot, how to melee and how to check morale/rout. If you don't play a nocturne scenario you can't ignore night rules, and only check them if you want to play a nocturne scenario. Also the ruleset is easy to use. Do you have a half squad in a building, with a bazooka and an enemy tank is passing in front of your position? Do you want to know if and how you can make an attack? Just go to the index and under bazooka rules you will find the answer.

ASL only looks difficult. It is not.

JSchutt19 Mar 2017 12:30 p.m. PST

Investigate "Tigers on the Hunt" by Matrix games. An extremely close clone of ASL that does most of the heavy lifting for you. It has a very good AI or you can play it against someone else either sitting next to you or on another continent. Heavily supported by skads of scenarios, a Mod that makes it look like ASL and player crafted boards duplicating all the old ASL gameboards. Online how-to-play scenario replays reduces the learning curve with a very active Forum. A scenario builder lets you build scenarios from just about any old ASL scenario card you might come across.

Way cheaper than buying just a few available ASL components even if they are still currently available. If memories of prior enjoyment prove illusionary you will have not invested much. In other words it may be a more practical way of scratching the "Squad Leader/ASL" itch.

Constant updates and improvements by the author has insured continual player inspired improvements and additions. A no brainer really.


Tgunner19 Mar 2017 12:46 p.m. PST

The basics of the game are great. I had a hoot playing The Guard's Counterattack back in the day. It's all the extra chrome that you have to add to play with everything else that just did my head in.

I played a few games and never felt like I was "doing it right". Then along came Steel Panthers and I lost ALL interest in ASL. Then along came miniatures…

A few years back I grabbed a copy of ASL Starter #1, looked it over, and felt pretty meh. I sold it and bought Flames of War's Open Fire. I've been happy with that choice.

Your mileage may very of course.

Dynaman878919 Mar 2017 2:26 p.m. PST

Rules wise all the main rules for fighting in the ETO are now included in the core rulebook. PTO and Desert are the only missing bits. For a game released in 1985 it has had very few modifications of any kind. It is a very dense set of rules however and a focus on play the rules not the period has made some tactics required in order to win. Chief among them is Bypass Freeze Sleaze.

That said I play the game as much as everything else combined – and have no intention of touching FOW where they make significant rules changes every few years. It also has a large online player base using VASSAL/VASL, my two main opponents live across the country from me.

sillypoint19 Mar 2017 2:30 p.m. PST

I picked up
If you want the old board game experience.
I do like the Matrix games on the computer.
Our club went to Crossfire for our tabletop games.
I had a look at ASL, but the club is too old and impatient so, unless someone invests the time to run a game, it is not worth it.
I was a life member of Avalon Hill….different meaning I suppose.

Andy ONeill20 Mar 2017 4:01 a.m. PST

Have you considered computer gaming?
I still play a version of steel panthers – winSPww2. You can try the free version if unsure.
Although the original was a dos game, this is updated and my pc is win 10.
You can play by people via email, as well as against the computer.
It has a zoom level you can set.

Personally, I would go with SL rather than ASL. I don't care for all the detail in ASL.

sebastien Inactive Member20 Mar 2017 6:14 a.m. PST

Tigers on the hunt, the computer game caused me to dust off ASL which I have had for years….played a couple of scenarios and was surprised how much i enjoyed it! Thoroughly recommend MMPs starter kits…. I bought no3 and it is a great way to learn or relearn the rules.ASL wont replace miniatures for me but it will get played from time to time!

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP20 Mar 2017 7:02 a.m. PST

I have also just gone back to original SL and Cross of Iron.

Grumpygamer Inactive Member20 Mar 2017 7:56 a.m. PST

You guys have given me lot to think about. I enjoy the occasional computer game of course but really prefer old school counters and dice. The vast majority of my gaming is solitaire so rules difficulty/complexity isn't really a problem. I can stop for an hour, look something up, check out the forums online and eventually figure it out with and never worry about interrupting play!

I was very tempted early on to go SL, COI etc. as it seemed the easiest and most concise way to get back into the game but after some reading I am remembering how much I enjoyed the depth of ASL. Halfsquads, snipers, MG lanes etc. As said, complexity is a plus when you are just relaxing as you play, no worries about pace.

I purchased ASL Starter #1 and will give the scenarios a try, see if the old magic is rekindled. If so Im wondering if getting the other Starter kits is even worth it as the full blown rules and Beyond Valor would be a foregone conclusion, plus whatever floats my boat later.

My main concern is not wasting money and time on defunct but still official looking products. I had no idea, for example, that West of Alamein, Code of Bushido, Hollow Legions etc have or are being updated. I would have picked them up on Ebay and been oblivious until something bit me during play.

Dynaman878920 Mar 2017 3:48 p.m. PST

> If so Im wondering if getting the other Starter kits is even worth it as the full blown rules and Beyond Valor would be a foregone

Just skip the second two starter kits if going to full ASL is in the cards.

> I had no idea, for example, that West of Alamein, Code of Bushido, Hollow Legions etc have or are being updated. I would have picked them up on Ebay and been oblivious until something bit me during play.

The best places for ASL information are the ASL forums on Gamesquad and the facebook Advanced Squad Leader page. And the MMP website for what is available currently.

Chris Wimbrow21 Mar 2017 3:40 a.m. PST

Playing ASL solo you can just step back in time. The first editions of everything were played with no problem (except "human wave", which was simply deleted for one version of the rulebook.) And part of the fun can be recreating the steps that grognards have gone through.

Some people play with older versions of Dungeons & Dragons, even back to the original box set of rules.

This was a good first step in checking the internet. There once was a time that it wasn't in existence or nearly as accessible.

Chris Wimbrow21 Mar 2017 3:55 a.m. PST

And keep in mind that from SL to ASL and now the Starter Kits, there are thousands of scenarios.

Dang! I remember getting a deck of cards specifically for using the SL random scenario generator.

Grumpygamer Inactive Member21 Mar 2017 11:07 a.m. PST

Would there be any issues I picked up one of the original ASL modules for use with new 2nd edition rules? What's the diff in the newer updated modukes?

Grumpygamer Inactive Member21 Mar 2017 12:01 p.m. PST

Are the old maps compatible with the new? I read somewhere they changed styles?

TacticalPainter0121 Mar 2017 3:56 p.m. PST

ASL is really showing its age. It has its roots in the 1970s and early 80s, when charts, complexity and copious rules defined a serious wargame. I played it for 20+ years until I realized the core game engine is flawed.

It's an IGO-UGO game and very predictable- I move and you know exactly how far I can move, before you have your turn to move etc. There is very little command and control and none that bears any semblance to WWII tactics. The squad is the largest tactical unit, there are no platoons, no companies and worst of all, no commanders. Sure, there are 'leaders', but they don't actually 'lead', they are just roving modifiers who can attach themselves to any squad in any random fashion and improve their performance. Look at the size of the rule book and yet there's no chapter on command and control. ASL has long been superseded.

That said, it remains a marvelous two player tactical game, but don't ever kid yourself it's a game that reflects the squad leadership challenges of combat in WWII.

Chris Wimbrow21 Mar 2017 11:28 p.m. PST

The mapboards have only changed in their thickness. Originally they were hardboard mounted, some simple paper versions appeared, and the starter kits introduced a thin card version. As far as I know only one board from Few Returned Action Pack #3 had an obscure error. A fence line of a couple of hexes traveled one hex over. Fixes are available.

Thick or thin, you can always layer what you're playing on with other boards to stack them equally.

Chris Wimbrow21 Mar 2017 11:53 p.m. PST

Rules? You can play any version you want, unless you venture into one of the major convention tournaments.

Newer modules added new units and terrain, and rules had to be added for them.

It is a bit daunting that eBay auctions may have high starting bids for older stuff being considered collectible.

There's just not a perfect solution. Get Squad Leader again if it's not too expensive, or jump into the starter kits. Or get a current rulebook and Beyond Valor.

You'll quickly find out if you want more.

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