Fumbling in the Night

Photo by Raul Tskrialashvili on UnsplashI have been playing a lot of Night scenarios (especially) lately.  Yet, I was thoroughly thrashed again in my last game, you wouldn’t bear to see the AAR.  Instead, I decided to write down my thoughts so as to do better next time!

  • You can generally expect Attackers to follow Gullies, Streams, Roads, the edges of Illuminated locations etc.  Until you let them see an unconcealed or a broken unit, either within NVR (Night Vision Range) or Illuminated.  The moving unit will otherwise likely need to roll for Straying.  
  • Whether to try for Star Shells is a tricky business.  The upsides are:
    • you can shoot Illuminated units and you might lose some of your “No Move” counters,
    • you can prevent them from moving Cloaked/ Concealed inside illuminated areas
    • you can “blind” KEU so they can’t see you (except your Gun Flashes)
    • and you can prevent KEU from gaining Concealment.  
  • The downside is that:
    • you might blind your own units,
    • allow enemy units to shoot you without losing Concealment,
    • you provide a nice edge around which they can move without straying,
    • you illuminate your own units for them to put more accurate Method 2 Star Shells on you (as opposed to Method 3).  
  • If you think since KEU’s are within NVR and you can do without Star Shells, think again.  Having no Illumination allows Cloaked/ Concealed units to come right up to you without losing cover.  They can Ambush you on a difference of 2 in the dark (along with the -2 Concealed modifier).    Method 1 Star Shell is generally a great thing.
  • You can target Gun Flashes for a Method 2 Star Shell.  That generally means you should keep some Leaders (hexes) from doing Star Shells at the start of your opponent’s Movement Phase.  Don’t forget you can target your own Gun Flash – ie your unit some distance away First Fired, your Leader can Method 2 on that Gun Flash so everyone else can fire at the same target as well.
  • PRC should be aware that because of NVR differences, an enemy unit can shoot a vehicle at 1.5 the NVR (or 2x vs tracked vehicles) without the PRC/vehicle being able to “see” it back.
  • Jungles & Bamboo are great: they can’t be Illuminated (until someone fish out a Trip Flare).  So they can do a Method 1 on themselves and shoot OUT of a Jungle/Bamboo hex without losing Concealment.   All good unless the KEU is within NVR and also in Jungle/Bamboo.  
  • As an attacker, stay with Cloaking for as long as possible.  You can break off Concealed units from Cloaked units but those with Cloaking gets 6 MPs and no penalties moving into Concealment Terrain (and in Korea, Steep Hills are Concealment Terrain).  

What are your thoughts? Practises? Tactics?

Bishop: Stop and Go Traffic: A Synopsis

Royalty free HD Battle of the Bulge photos | Pikrepo

Author: Jim Bishop

Recently, players have posted questions surrounding Moving, Motion, Starting, Stopping and how these interact with C6 Target-Based To Hit DRM. These questions appear cyclically and I can recall answering them for as long as I have played ASL. Much of the information in this article appeared in Ole Boe’s Stop and Go Traffic article which originally appeared in the ‘96 ASL Annual. These old Annuals are available as PDF files or can be picked up used, through all the usual outlets. I highly recommend you read the original as it is still informative but for those who can’t, I offer this summary of that article here.

Moving and Vehicular Target:

To properly apply all the DRM it is important to first understand the difference between Moving and Moving Vehicular Target. Moving Vehicular Target, sometimes referred to as Moving Target, is defined in C.8. Any vehicle currently in Motion is a Moving Vehicular Target. In addition, any vehicle which starts ITS MPh in Motion, has entered a new hex, or bypassed a new hexside in its current hex during ITS MPh is a Moving Vehicular Target during Defensive First Fire or Final Fire. The key here is the vehicle either started in Motion or has moved to some new position on the board.

Moving is slightly harder. Not only is it not defined in the Index, it is never well defined in the ASLRB. In ASL, Moving means the unit is currently conducting ITS MPh. There can only ever be ONE moving thing. That thing can be a single unit, multiple units moving as a stack, a Human Wave or some other Impulse-based movement, etc. The unit or units actively spending MFs/MPs are Moving regardless of how many units are doing it or if they successfully use the MF/MP(e.g., failed Smoke Attempt DR/dr). Even though Moving, a unit which doesn’t spend MP/MF’s cannot be fired upon unless they actually spend the MP/MF. The closest the ASLRB comes to stating this is in A8.1: “… The portion occurring during the enemy MPh is called Defensive First Fire and can be used only vs a moving unit(s)…” It would eliminate a lot of player confusion if such a key concept was in the Index.

Stopped and Non-Stopped:

The Index defines a Non-Stopped vehicle as one which has not expended a Stop Movement Point (MP) since its last Start MP expenditure during ITS MPh. This should sound a lot like the earlier definition of Moving. That’s because it is. A vehicle can only ever be Stopped or Non-Stopped while it is conducting ITS MPh, i.e., Moving as defined earlier. Knowing what Non-Stopped is, we can surmise a Stopped vehicle is one which has spent a Stop MP or somehow become Immobilized/Bogged while Moving. This is covered in C.8.

Motion Status:

A Moving vehicle, i.e., one conducting ITS MPh, cannot be in Motion status. It is either Stopped or Non-Stopped. A vehicle which ends ITS MPh without spending a Stop MP is covered with a Motion counter to reflect its Motion status and is treated as a Moving Vehicular Target. A vehicle which begins ITS MPh covered with a Motion counter has the counter removed and the begins ITS MPh as a Non-Stopped, Moving Vehicular Target. A vehicle not covered with a Motion counter begins ITS MPh as a Stopped, non-Moving Vehicular Target.

From all of this, it should be clear a vehicle can be Stopped but still qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target. Conversely, it is possible a vehicle can be Non-Stopped and not qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target. A vehicle under a Motion counter is ALWAYS a Moving Vehicular Target. In all cases, Moving, Moving Vehicular Target, Motion, and Stopped/Non-Stopped represent different states. Understanding those states along with a careful perusal of the various charts will make it easier to correctly apply DRM when the time comes.

With this as background, we are ready to explore how all these rules interact and how they are properly applied. Knowing the correct application of these DRM is among the first steps to better combined arms and AFV play. Onward.

EX 1: An AFV begins ITS MPh NOT in Motion and spends 1 MP to Start. This AFV is now conducting ITS MPh (i.e., it is Moving). Since it spent a Start MP it is now Non-Stopped but not yet a Moving Vehicular Target. Looking at the C6 Target-Based TH DRM Table, we see Case L would be NA (the AFV is a Non-Stopped target). Additionally, Case J would be NA (the AFV does not qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target). For the purposes of CC Reaction Fire or CC, the AFV is Non-Stopped so a +2 DRM would apply (A11.51). If the AFV survives all in-coming fire on the Start MP, it may enter a new hex or bypass a new hexside. Once it has done this, it qualifies as a Moving Vehicular Target, but not before. This has some serious implications. If you start for 1 MP and change the VCA 2 hexspines before entering a new hex or hexside, that would be three potential shots before Case J DRM applied.

EX 2: An AFV begins ITS MPh in Motion. As it is conducting ITS MPh, the Motion counter would come off and the AFV is considered Non-Stopped and Moving (i.e., conducting \ITS MPh). All fire against it during Defensive First Fire and Final Fire suffer Case J DRM. If it spends 1 MP to Stop, it becomes a Stopped vehicle but would still be considered a Moving Vehicular Target. As such, Case J DRMs would still apply but Case L could now also apply making it possible for an AFV to be both Point Blank and a Moving Vehicular Target. Also, once the AFV becomes Stopped, there is no +2 DRM in CC/CC Reaction Fire against that AFV even though it is still considered a Moving Vehicular Target.

EX 3: An AFV is covered by a Motion Counter outside ITS MPh. Case J would apply to all shots as the AFV is a Moving Vehicular Target. Case L would be NA as the AFV is In Motion. All CC would suffer a +2 DRM for attacking an AFV in Motion. The AFV is Non-Stopped.

EX 4: This is an extension of EX 2. The AFV survives all fire on the Start MP and moves 3 MP to a hex adjacent to an enemy AFV. Surviving all incoming fire, the AFV Stops for 1 MP. The enemy AFV could shoot at the Moving AFV. If it does so, it would pay +2 Case J but also qualify for a -2 Case L since the Moving AFV is now Stopped having spent a Stop MP.

EX 5: An AFV starts adjacent to an enemy AFV. The Moving AFV spends 1 MP to Start. The enemy AFV elects to shoot. It would not qualify for Case L (the target is Non-Stopped) but it would also not be hampered by Case J as the target does not qualify as a Moving Vehicular Target yet.

I have not covered Motion attempts in this briefing but from the last few examples you should be able to extrapolate how powerful it can be to save your AFV. If an AFV is being attacked by an enemy, making a successful Motion attempt instantly qualifies your AFV for Case J and negates any potential for Case L, a +4 DRM in favor of survival. Combine this with a free CA change as part of the Motion Attempt and you can point your thickest armor to the threat. In your friendly fire phase, freely change your VCA to point in a direction where cover is hopefully available, saving the AFV from destruction.

I hope this brief article is useful and if you find any errors, please let me know and I will correct them. Thanks and go read Stop and Go Traffic. It’s worth your time. — jim

(Carried with Jim Bishop’s permission)

Original posted here : https://jekl.com/2021/09/09/stop-and-go-traffic-a-synopsis/

Please Respond If This Is You

Gents, I am looking through some of the 2020 visitor statistics on my site. What I posted below are some of the countries I see.

#1 Can you please leave me a comment if you are from any of the countries listed below?
#2 Are you actively playing Advanced Squad Leader?
#3 Is there an Advanced Squad Leader/ wargame community where you are at?

If you prefer more privacy, please send me an email to the address I have here : About Me

I’d absolutely love to hear from you! Thank you! (Click below for a clearer image)

I started a New Twitter Feed!


I started a new twitter feed today because there doesn’t seem to be a dedicated ASL twitter feed.  Yes – all things ASL.  I hope you will find it interesting!  @HWargamer .. or https://twitter.com/HWargamer

Please let me know what you think!

The Truth About VASL



VASL stands for “Virtual Advanced Squad Leader”, a platform created by Mr Rodney Kinney for the enjoyment of ASL’rs worldwide.

On one platform you have most if not all the mapboards, overlays and counters you need.  You can play online versus anyone anywhere in the world (with Skype or Discord).  You can also choose to play via email (PBeM).  I have regular live games sessions scheduled with few of my buddies weekly.  We pick up on a saved game and make a some progress every week.  We also chat about our jobs, our families and our lives – just like face-to-face gamers do.

VASL accelerated the development of ASL communities in Asia Pacific for example, where ASL’rs are spread far and wide.  No matter where you are, for as long as you have an internet connection, you will never run out of opponents.  In fact, you can play some of the most experienced ASL’rs in the world, folks who are delighted to show you how it’s done.  Before some Asia Pacific gamers even met each other in the Singapore, Manila or Siem Reap tournaments, we have already been talking to each other on a regular basis via VASL games.  When we met, we are already old friends.

It’s interesting to note that VASL is (largely) NOT created nor maintained by the companies that publish our ASL modules.  They are NOT part of our purchases.  We don’t have ANY rights to it.  We can’t expect any level of value but yet, it’s one of the best products I have ever used  .. and it’s free, freely updated and lovingly maintained.

VASL program, maps, overlays and counters are made & maintained by a group of ASL gamers like you and me, not game company executives who also play ASL, ASL gaming consumers like you and me.

You know, ordinary people: Dudes.  Bros.  Blokes.  Chaps.

Folks who have lives, families, jobs and aspirations.  Folks who love, laugh and worry.  Folks who sometimes struggle, like all of us do, to find time to play ASL.

Folks who feel compelled to give back to the ASL community, amidst all the conflicting priorities we all have.

Each VASL counter (substitute : overlays, maps) has to be created from scratch.  Two graphics to each counter, four for a nationality that step reduces.  Each piece of info : graphics and numbers are sized for visibility.  After the graphics are done (and info properly put in), intelligence is coded in to make VASL extensions.

We want squads to ELR or Battle Harden properly.  We want Chinese counters to go “Dare Death”.  We want SMCs to go “Heroic” but not MMCs.  We want IJA squads to stripe to the correct numbers.  We want LOS strings to work from any point to any point.  We want terrain to transform properly, or have entire sets of transformation built for specific scenarios.  Should that gun unlimber when you flip it over?  Can that support weapon dismantle?

We want NIGHT to look glorious and it does.  We want SNOWscapes to look chilly.  We want PTO to look unforgiving.

Someone somewhere decided to not do something else but to do VASL, for you and I.

Someone somewhere decided to do this day after day, and to do all this for free.

Versions after versions, bug fixes after bug fixes, modules after modules – one of the best things in life IS free.  There IS such a thing as a free lunch.

Next time you deal with / report issues to the VASL crew, perhaps you can also offer to help?

Advanced Squad Leader as a Window into Military History

An ASL newbie (but a veteran wargamer) from Taiwan shares his newfound love for ASL

Author: TouMu / Translator: Hong Kong Wargamer (The original in Chinese starts at the bottom of the translation.)

I’d like to share how I see Advanced Squad Leader (‘ASL’) as a vehicle to gain better insights to military history

First, let’s take a look at ASL’s shortcomings as such a vehicle:  

1. Each scenario generally portrays 12 to 20 mins of fighting, offering only a glimpse into the whole battle. 

2. Unless it’s a HASL (Historical ASL) module.  Geomorphic maps used in most scenarios offer only an impressionistic approximation of the actual terrain.  

3. Scenarios generally involve elements from actual fighting forces and not the whole.  

With these in mind, let’s talk about how ASL offers a great window (translator: a “Hollywood version” notwithstanding) into historical events.  

Allow me to build on the aforementioned “shortcomings”:

1. Precisely because generally each scenario involves less than 20 minutes of the most intensive fighting, ASL puts you right in the midst of the fighting.  You get better insights into the actual conditions facing frontline units.

For example: We all read about the intensity at Stalingrad, but how miserable was it?

Operational / strategic games give you stacks of counters that represents thousands/hundreds of people, which gets quickly decimated.  

ASL makes you learn what it means to have to battle for the first room and then having to regroup to clean up the next.

2. Yes, ASL scenario terrains are largely a combination of (translator: a huge number of) geomorphic boards and overlays (cost considerations?).  However, like miniatures, terrain features are meaningful. Hexes are not all generically designated “Movement +1” or “Defense +3” etc. It’s important therefore to consider your routes in both assault and retreat (translator: routs).  

You will also understand why it’s difficult to rally broken troops in the open and why it’s easier to gather your wits in woods and buildings.  

3. Although only elements of certain units participate in our cardboard battles, determination of unit combat power reference their real world counterparts. Ordnance and vehicles are also based on real world parameters.  

Perhaps ASL is a key to deeper insights into World War II battles.

Look  and you might gain better appreciation for the nameless heroes therein – a window into their bloodshed and sacrifices.

Yes, I don’t like being Eisenhower but I really appreciate heros like Major Dick Winters (translator: of “Band of Brothers” fame).   

If you hope to play ASL as “Eisenhower”, perhaps this game is not for you.  If you look to play ASL as “Winters” or thousands of other unnamed heroes, then ASL is your game.  

Here’s another thought: all war games are “simulations”, ie not real (translator: not even close simulations in most cases).

Real wars can’t be played.  Only games can be played.

Play ASL as a game, with all that it brings.  

War is not a game.  (Translator: and ASL is not war.)

Find a game that suits you and have fun playing it.  If nothing else, it’s a great platform to make friends all around the world.  

ASL is not for everyone but I hope this will give new players proper expectations for what ASL will bring.  

Note : Author TouMu is a leading member in the Taiwan ASLer Club, you can find their group on Facebook.  































“Big Data Analysis” on ASL Scenarios

This is nothing that is as sophisticated as the title might suggest.  It’s just that I got a free trial to a data visualisation software called “Tableau”, so what better data to play on it with than ASL data?

First, I took Tom Kearney’s excellent “Master ASL Scenario Listing III” from the Texas ASL website.

Years vs TO

1944 wins out.  We got a couple of ETO scenarios at around 1919!

Years vs TO 2

We clearly have a lot more Western post-Normandy scenarios.  “MTO” is the Mediterranean, in case you are wondering, this theater comes in 3rd in front of PTO.

Years vs Publishers

The tall blue line is of course Avalon Hill / MMP.  What caught my also is the very long (light blue) lead that Le Franc Tireur (LFT) has early in time.  We are probably talking about their Russian Revolution scenarios here.  The red line running along LFT is Dispatches from the Bunker (DB) and the orange Bounding Fire Productions (BFP).


No surprises here for the most part, but I didn’t know we have that many scenarios on events that took place in the Philippines!

The following are the Nationalities featured by different Publishers, ie get BFP if you want to play more Chinese OB, BFP & SP for more IJA (assuming that we all get core modules by default).



Finally I took the 100.000+ records we accumulated on ROAR and worked out the Percentage of Wins minus Losses per Nationality.  (Get the IJA, don’t take the Canadians .. )



Again, I am a novice when it comes to the science of Data Analysis, so please take everything with a grain of salt.  It certainly interests me though!  I hope this is entertaining for you as well.

Dare Death 3 Preface (Original) “What ASL is to me”

Dare Death 3One day in February 2013, I chanced upon a copy of Squad Leader on eBay. I was a Squad Leader player back when I was in high school. Unfortunately when I went to university, I found a few other things more interesting and I forgot about wargames all together. So, decades later, while I stared at the screen, memories of great times came back and I bought myself that copy. The internet connected me with some very active Squad Leader groups. I planned to learn the game again and get back into it.

I then came across the tiniest military bookstore one day. It’s the size of a small walk-in closet, except that it’s wall to wall military books. There it was, up on a shelf near the ceiling, a shrink wrapped copy of the Advanced Squad Leader Rulebook v2. I asked to have a look at it, and I never put it back down.

The ASLRB is not an easy book to read, so I asked to see a live game one Sunday afternoon. The local ASL’rs would have none of it. Erwin Lau & Lorricount Hall shoved a Pz IV my direction and said “Here, you are in charge of this one.” They then proceed to tell me what to do with my Pz IV every step of the way. I couldn’t fathom why people who I have just met would let me break into their Sunday game and spend that much time teaching me the mechanics, but they did.

It was a fun afternoon but it’s not an event I can attend on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the rulebook became a lot easier to understand now that I have context.

One day I got an email from Don Lazov. He said if I want to learn ASL, he could teach. I know then it’s choice between continuing to read the rulebook and solo’ing scenarios or having a mentor and actively playing. It was a choice between being a tinkerer and an active player.

I said “Yes but give me a few weeks to finish up Chapter A and Chapter B.” I wasn’t sure why I wanted to push it off. He asked again “Do you want to do this or not?”

I jumped in with both feet. Our first scenario was “RPT1 Ferenc Jozef Barracks”.

After that I ran into Witchbottles, who helped me get permission from Rodney Kinney (who created VASL) for permission to use VASL graphics in my blog. To me, Witchbottles is the embodiment of the modern day Renaissance man. We play ASL and we spent countless hours chatting about history and about life.

I don’t remember how I heard about “Malaya Madness” the 2014 ASL tournament in Singapore. I didn’t give it any thought at first but both Don Lazov and Witchbottles thought I absolutely must go. I struggled with it for a while. I mean, paying for flight and hotel to play a boardgame is crazy! I brought up the topic to my wife, expecting her to kill it (for good reasons). She thought about it for a minute and said “Yes”.

I rented a bunk bed in a hostel to save money but I went to Singapore for the tournament. There’s something truly magical about ASL that ties people together. Playing 1 on 1 on a weekend is one thing. Being in a room with other ASL’rs and playing games after games is definitely something else!

I got a bigger group of opponents after the Malaya Madness. I went on to help organise and to promote the 2014 Hong Kong ASL tournament, “The Gin Drinkers’ Revenge”. I was in New York City on Dec 2014 and I jumped on the train and stopped by Albany. It is THE Albany, the New York State ASL Championship. Joe Loece and Gary Trezza are simply some of the best hosts I have ever met. I met so many people at Albany. I met a lot of the best known names in ASL. I decided to shoot a video for these guys and leveraged on that to chat with as many people as I could.

That of course open me up to more venues and to more people. I picked up a chat from Carl Nogueira when I was walking down the street at lunch one day and he wanted to know if I want to play and to learn. I was getting so used to jumping in at that point I said “yes” immediately.

So you see, ASL is about people. ASL is about the guy on the other side of the table. ASL is one of the few good reasons in life that pulls guys together periodically, to share identical experiences and to chat about other thing as well. If you do solo play most of the time, you are truly missing the best thing ASL has to offer.

ASL is about playing. That rulebook is not for reading. It’s for referencing and as such, the INDEX is the command central for the ASL rulebook The value of an ASL kit is much higher when used and played than it will ever get on eBay.

ASL is about self discovery. As we compete with others, we learn more about our fears and shortcomings. We learn about our risk management and our decision making processes. The man to overcome game after game is yourself. This not something you will realize from ASL not played or ASL played solo.

Dare Death is an effort to arouse and to maintain that interest. Dare Death is the embodiment of a group of ASL’rs who play on a regular basis and discuss rules and tactics on live chats when not playing. If enthusiasm sells then Dare Death is a powerful force in ASL.

And enthusiasm sells.

How to Watch Live ASL Games on VASL & the Code of Conduct

Image from page 5 of "The Life of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America" (1840)I watch live ASL games on VASL like people watch TV.  There’s almost always something going on and it’s a good way for new folks to get some context for understanding the ASL Rulebook or simply to see how they can expand their opponent horizon from local to global.

Von Marwitz” on GameSquad recent wrote a great “Step by Step” to do just that.  So the following is posted with his permission.

#1. Don’t be afraid to try. Only the question that is not asked is dumb.

#2. To find an opponent, you can post in the “Opponents Wanted” section of this forum:
Describe your situation and chances are that you will find someone to play with in short order.  (Hong KongWargamer : plus the ASL Groups on VASL – https://www.facebook.com/groups/advancedsquadleader/https://www.facebook.com/groups/vaslmeetup/, https://www.facebook.com/groups/27083456599

#3. If you log on to the VASL server, you will find yourself in the “Main Room”. The actual playing goes on in the other rooms, often titled by the name or ID of the scenario. You can join a room by syncronizing with one of the players in it. Personally, I send a short Personal Message to ask if it is ok to sync before I do so. Usually I get a “Yes, sure.” in short order. Once synced, you will see the playing area, the log and counters moving about. Common etiquette is not to move their counters (you can do a mouse-over to expand stacks depending on your settings which they will not see on their screen). You do not hit any dice-roll buttons etc. Normally, you would not type anything into their log unless you previously by Private Message inquired if it is ok to do so. This is the basic etiquette.

Most VASL-players use a combination of VASL and Skype because communication is quicker. As an observer, this makes it a bit more difficult to follow the game, especially as a newbie, because you might not be able to glean what the reason for some dice rolls in the log were. If players don’t use skype, they will (necessarily) type that into the log. Sometimes, people are willing to add observers to their Skype call so that you can listen in (which you could find out by inquiring via private message). If they do, usually you would listen and not take part in the conversation. This might be different if you have become familiar with the players.

While being an observer, regardless whether via log or Skype, you do not give tactical tips to the players in an ongoing game. Usually, I would not point out rules mistakes to the players either unless I know they do not mind. And even then I would point out an illegal move via PM only to the player that just got a rule wrong.

In case you do not “see” the maps, then you might not have them in your “boards” folder and need to download them first (and resync). Same is true for overlays. Then there are some “extensions”, that might expand VASL with some extra counters or gadgets. Most of this stuff can be found in the downloads section of the vasl.info website.

What are ASL Campaign Games and What should I expect?

When I first started with Advanced Squad Leader, I was quite baffled by this whole business about “Campaign Games”.  I was keeping an eye out for any available ASL modules and invariably I ran into titles like “Red Barricades“, “Festung Budapest“, “Valor of the Guards“, “Kampfgruppe Peiper I” etc.  They have the usual stack of scenarios and they also have “Campaign Games” or “CGs”, but ..

What are CGs?  More importantly, what do CGs offer that scenarios don’t?

There are tons of ASL articles out there but very few talks about CGs.  I tried reading Chapter O but I couldn’t exactly wrap my head around it.  I wanted to know why I should get into CGs to start with.

I looked for the answer by jumping into it.  I started with the linked scenario-CG A19 Cat & Mouse and moved onto a few others, the latest one being “China-Burma-India : The Lost Theater“.

I then asked the question on GameSquad.  What follows is a very well written piece about ASL campaign games by Jon Halfin aka “Witchbottles”.  I followed that with a piece from John Knowles aka “SunofTzu” that laid out his impressions of the more popular CG games.  I round this all up at the end with select impressions from different players.

I waited a bit before responding myself.. I am a CG fanatic. There is nothing about them I dislike, from a design perspective. If I dislike a CG , it is based only on the merits and weaknesses of the design itself.

Here is my take on CGs, ASL, and the players of the best game ever invented….

Why try a CG?

Campaign Games in ASL are a niche within a niche. For the player, they offer some unique challenges not seen in regular scenario play. They also offer some difficulties for players. This review of HASL, HSASL, and CGs is designed to acquaint the unfamiliar with many of the precepts, both good and bad, about Campaign Game play and HASL map play in ASL.

Let’s look at the terminology. A Campaign Game is any series of linked scenarios. These may be played on one or more Geo – boards, they may be played on multiple geo – board configurations. They may also occur on a portion or an entire HASL map, depicting in ASL terms at least part of an actual battle area as it existed at the time the campaign was occurring. A HASL Module is a Historical ASL Module. That is , it will include at a minimum both a set of scenarios concerning fighting around a specific geographical location at some given time, and a map that is fairly accurate in representing that location at the time of the fighting. Many also include specific rules that will apply to all scenarios played on that historical terrain map. A HSASL Module is all of the above in an HASL module, with some nice additions. It will typically include an analysis article of the battles / campaign as it occurred, another set of geo- board scenarios that represent fighting near and around that depicted on the historic location map, and some background as to how that battle series in the area fit into the larger picture of the war. All Three of these may , or may not, have included system and / or unit counters for specific units to that module or CG.

Campaign Games. These come in two basic flavors, and can be subdivided in both cases into specific sub – groups. The first is the simplified linked scenario CG. It is played on geo boards, or a combination of geo board setups, or even on differing portions of a HASL map. The actions of each scenario award some type of VCs to the prevailing player in each of the scenarios. Those higher level VCs then determine, after all the scenarios are played in a prescribed order, who has won the entire CG. The second is the traditional, multiple date CG. These are more commonly found on HASL maps than on geo boards, but the author is aware that at least three exist in geo board format as well. In these, each scenario is played from the ending position of the previous scenario, with determinations being made for how / where each side sets up. Those determinations occur in a cycle of rules that are followed in between each CG date.

In both cases, players may be provided a method of “purchasing” new units as reinforcements in between each scenario. This represents the first stage of player involvement over and above a regular ASL game. (One of the nicest developments in stand – alone ASL scenarios over the last 3-5 years has been the “ buy your units” presentation being added via SSRs to many scenarios..) Having an ability to construct or add to a specialized fighting force you have committed from various available units of the time period and location places each player in a position more akin to Regimental command vice a much more common Battalion or Company level action typically portrayed in ASL. Now players add another level of difficulty as well. All of a sudden, a player might gack the setup, and loses big in the game or he may gack the purchase choices, and find himself without the tools needed to achieve victory because of it. This “ meta – game” is one of the main allures that CGs have to many players. It function on much the same level as how Australian Balance System would function in creating a “ meta – game” above the board game.

Finally, Campaign Games can in every case be subdivided into one of two basic characteristics. The first is the “ stay put and play it again” versions of the special rules that occur in between scenarios. This concept limits the ability of units to move, shift, or relocate, during the period in between each scenario, and is often used when the CG is representing several actions in the same area over a finite span of time such as a single day or a pair of days. The other major subdivision is the “ Pick em up, and re- arrange at will, then build a new line” versions of CG special rules. These are more commonly found in CGs depicting battles over a longer period of time, typically a week to a month. In both cases, there are usually some restrictions, and some risk, built into the rules for re-positioning units.

The overriding factor, and the major draw of CGs of any type, for ASL players is the elimination of the : last turn suicide rush” to try to win irrespective of losses. Now, in a CG setting, what you lost today is not available tomorrow, making each unit have a relative worth over and above its own intrinsic value in any given scenario. This may appeal to some players, but there are some major disadvantages to CGs as well.

A player may not have the space to leave a large game set up, and many of the available CGs utilize larger map areas. Given the need to play several scenarios in turn, it will likely take players more than two separate sessions to complete a CG. The second major item dissuading players new and old alike, is that CGs require large amounts of side note bookkeeping. Not every ASL player is fond of scenarios that require the level of note – keeping that CGs require. Last, many ASL players do not have the available time to commit to multiple long spans of gaming to complete a CG. This can cause many ASL players to back away from the majority of CGs available.

A parting concern in Campaign Games, and their associated HASL and HSASL modules, is quality of product / playability of product. When a publisher creates an unplayable monster of a CG, or creates a very nice visual product that is unplayable due to rules gaffes or unintelligible instructions, it creates a mistrust for CGs that can cause some players to simply walk away. After all , we each have well over 5,000 published stand alone scenarios of at least a decent quality to choose from. In the end, the choice to play CGs is not a case of “ you don’t fit in cause you do, or don’t play CGs.” It is instead a case of whether or not you enjoy the meta – game aspects, the larger designs, the more varied terrain and maps and special rules, and the bookkeeping to create the “ extra layer” that CGs give an ASL player.

KRL, Jon H

From John Knowles :

I’ve done a number of CGs over the years. Here are some of my thoughts:

Red Barricades CG III: I played this CG about 3 times. 2 of the games petered out after 7 dates or so. My impression of Red Barricades CG III (remembering that I’ve never done the smaller CGs I, II, and IV) is that it comes down to whether or not the Germans can attrition the Russian at a better rate of 3:2. Its a great historic map to be using, and an okay CG. I never really considered it the last word in the ASL experience, although there seems to be plenty of others that do…..

Kampfgruppe Peiper CG I: I’ve played this one 6 times (with half the games going beyond the halfway mark), for me the most of any CG, and perhaps this is my Nirvana. I think CG I is very balanced, if the Americans focus more on getting out the way rather than just trying to take as many Germans with them as they are overrun on 19am. Hook up the guns; you won’t miss them much during Very Heavy Mist (not to mention the SSR CA restrictions), but you might miss them more on later dates after the mist thins. It doesn’t matter if the Sanatorium catches fire (and is therefore reduced to rubble); I would expect that to happen anyway. The same fate will probably befall the Steeple location in j19. The Americans pretty much gain the strategic parity when they have a 3:2 ratio in squads, which increases to a strategic advantage as the numbers close on a 2:1 squad ratio.

Kampfgruppe Peiper CG II: I’ve played this one twice, and it too seems very balanced. Much more limited choices for both sides, compared with the other 2 CGs, which also makes this an easier CG to start with. The Germans are at their most vulnerable during the night date, and I think that a lot rests on how much the Americans can hurt the SS during this time. I would unswervingly point to this as an ideal CG to start with, but only on the condition that both players are well versed in the night rules of Chapter E.

Kampfgruppe Peiper CG III: I’ve played this one four times, but with 2 of the games ending early. The Americans really need a bit of help here; the Germans simply have too many squads, and the Americans have to wait right until the end until the big green wave shows up. It’s a very fun map to play on, but if I were to do it a 5th time, I would recommend reducing the CG RG Maximums of German groups I2 and I4 from 4 to 2. I would also give the American infantry who show up before 22AM a -1 DRM/drm on all Leader DRs and Platoon Quality drs.

A lot of ASL players seem to get the impression that the mist and the slope hex sides makes KGP overly complicated. Slope hex sides are easily grasped; after a while, you come to miss them when you return to the regular ‘billiard table topography’ of ASL. As for the mist, it actually simplifies most of the tactical situations by moderating the deadliness of long range fire.

Pegasus Bridge CG I: I’ve played this once (as Germans). This was a thoroughly enjoyable CG, and went as close as close goes with a Germans HS surviving a CC WD attempt to reach the VC area in GO on the final turn of the final Date. The British need to guard against attrition, or its all over. My opponent (Peter Palmer) experienced some anxious times, but hung on to the last Date, where an epic battle was concluded.

Pegasus Bridge CG II: I’ve played this once (as Germans). This could be a good CG to start with, it would pay to have the more experienced player take the British. Our playing ended in failure for the British when Lord Lovat’s Commandos failed to get across the bridge. In spite of the abrupt end, it was still a fun CG to do.

I’ve also done 3 of the Platoon Leader CGs, which whilst being plenty of fun to do, have more bugs in them than an unmarried man’s kitchen. It’s a shame that such a clumsy mess was made of the Platoon Leader series; it had the potential to be something really awesome.

Campaign games appeal to those who don’t find meticulous planning tedious. I enjoy being rewarded for my patient planning, so CGs really appeal to me. There is a bit of work involved, but if you’re able to enjoy the long-term planning of it all, then the work isn’t much of a burden.

Here’s my 2 hints for playing CGs:

Hint 1: Infantry and Fortifications are invariably the best bang for your buck in CGs. Get as many (if not all) of these as you can.

Hint 2: Read Hint 1 at least a couple more times.


Here are an assortment of quotes from other players that might help you decide :

From Blackcloud6 :

I like the concept of the CG, the macro-planning, the long view, fighting to achieve something a CG days down the road. But in practice, I find the play, like Jim B. does, to be tedious. I’ve only played two: Hart Attack and CG1 from FB. If a game is going to take a long time, like the CGs do, they have to be very exciting to hold my attention; and I have to be involved with it constantly to keep my motivation up (which is why I only like to play very large scenarios at a setting like ASLOK). So far, I have found CGs a difficult thing to do. I’d like to try one again, but don’t know if I want to invest the time.

I like the planning aspect “between days” but I don’t like the force purchase method. Commanders don’t do that, they work with what they have and what their next higher HQ decides to give them. Maybe purchasing units was the best way to do the force structure in a CG and it might represent you, the playing stepping into a higher level of command to select the forces to accomplish the task, but it does not seem right that you get to go to “Soldiers-R-Us” and purchase your toys for the next day of gaming.

I would like to see smaller CGs.

From BattleSchool :

The forthcoming Hell’s Highway from Lone Canuck might fit the bill.

It is is short, a maximum of six “dates.” The counter density is very manageable too.

But it is the nature of the CG that makes this one more engaging than most. The map is neither open like Riley’s Road, nor urban like Stalingrad. Both sides get to attack during the day.

The Germans (Panzer-Brigade 107) are on the offensive to begin with, but later must face counterattacks from opposing directions. The German force features heaps of AFVs, including many specialised halftracks that players won’t want to throw away on VBM gambits. Panthers vs Shermans, some of which are Firefly variants. “Screaming Eagles,” Guards Armoured (including OP tanks), and 44 RTR (under command of 101st Airborne) provides for some interesting force mixes.

I have not played the CG. But I enjoyed playing the scenarios, especially those involving a lot of German AFV. Not much Assault Moving going on in those scenarios. I doubt that this would change much during a CG. Appears challenging for both sides.

At less than $30, HH is a low risk purchase. Did I mention how cool the map is?

From ecz :

May be I’m not experienced enough to judge CGs in general, but everytime I approach a CG I think that in the same amount of time needed to setup and play the first date I could probably play three ordinary scenarios. Any excitement of HASL vanishes in front of the cruel lack of time to commit myself in something absorbing all my ASL time for months.

ASL time is too short to waste it with CGs

From Sparafucil3 :

I have played PHD. I have Ozerekya Bay. Pegasus Bridge is not much different than RB/VotG/FB. It has some chrome, but seriously, CG’s are like a Buick. They will get you from point A to B, but they are boring as hell. Can’t stand them.

The biggest problem with CG is they are SLOW. They feel like they drag on forever. Here’s a hint: if you ever really want to be beat me, slow down. Make it take forever. I will resign and move on eventually. Life is too short to play bad ASL (and CG’s are the worst part of ASL IMO. YMMV). — jim

From Michael R :

Although I have done a few CG, I do not play them often because they remove a desirable feature from my ASL experience: variety. I enjoy going from early war to late war, ETO to PTO, Allied minors to Finns, with each play session. A CG removes that variety.

From Binko :

I tend to dislike the standard style of large CGs. Stretching a squad level game up to a large multi-day campaign is simply out of scale, in my opinion. You just have a long string of tactical actions without any of the command and supply constraints that larger formations had to suffer. It’s like moving a mountain of dirt using 100 guys with wheelbarrows and no supervision rather than using a few well managed excavators. 🙂

I also can’t wrap my head around the concept of sweeping the board clear between campaign dates. It feels like it negates any advantage you are building up, adds to the CG logistics, and makes it impossible to make long term plans.

What I DO like are some of the innovative things that 3rd Party Publishers are doing with small CGs. Lone Canuck’s small CGs on historical maps that feature a series of engagements over a single day is much more in keeping with the scale of ASL, in my opinion. The new Burma pack from the St. Louis guys also looks great with a series of linked scenarios on a smallish historical map. I’d like to see more stuff like this.

But many players I know simply love big CGs. And I think that’s great. ASL is a big expansive gaming tent and one of it’s strengths is that there are a multitude of different types of scenarios and CGs to play.

From Grumblejones :

I’ve played the Pegasus Bridge and Purple Heart Draw campaigns and enjoyed them both immensely. CG’s do take a huge time commitment, but if you and your opponent are focused and stay on track, it can flow nicely. Watching Pegasus Bridge unfold from the time the gliders landed until the British reinforcements arrived on the Dusk Turn was just awesome. It’s one of the few ASL experiences where I felt like I saw the historical event unfold before me.

I certainly hope to play a few more before my ASL days are over. Bloody Buron and Crossing the Moro are high on my list to do some day.

From Delirium :

Primarily, CG play allows for additional player agency:

  • Whether to attack;
  • When to attack (night or day);
  • Most CGs have fairly broad VC objectives for a given date (such as 20 stone locations) which allows for considerable player latitude in determining precise objectives; and if course,
  • Crafting one’s force by making reinforcement purchases. A few assault engineers or many conscripts? Air support or INF guns. Delicious dilemmas.

Another aspect which just occurred to me:

  • As the defender, with HIP, mines, and other fortifications available, it’s possible to lay quite complex traps for the enemy by inviting an attack in a certain area which is seemingly lightly defended. Fantastic when it works.

A further advantage is the extent to which CG play emphasises studying and learning the topography. A well placed pillbox can be a thorn for several dates, for instance.

And of course, the importance of force preservation. Losing that 9-2 to a sniper becomes all the more devastating

From Lobster :

With getting myself into VASL 2012 I got the chance to start playing CG again, as my regular FTF opponents in my area do not like them due to length etc. PHD came into my hand not long before, and with the relative small dimension of the CG it was attractive to start with it.

Since then I played PHD twice and FB CG1 once. None on the CG came to last date. PHD into Mission 3 and 2 respectively, FB Date 3.

At the moment I play KGP CG III (date 5 so far) and Cholm CG I (just starting date 2). I am quite sure that both will not come to the last date.

But this does NOT reduce the fun of playing them.

The decisions about choosing the right reinforcements, developing a strategy etc. makes them definitely worth playing, giving a unique experience, even when knowing they will be decided most of the time (at least in my experience) earlier that the designers hoped for. As Delirium mentioned before, the possibility to lay quite complex traps for the enemy by inviting an attack in a certain area which is seemingly lightly defended (or staging a faint attack to distract the defenders) is a dimension that is only possible in a CG where you have much more freedom to act and react.

For me Campaign Games are wonderful part of the ASL-Cosmos.

I hope this helps you in your quest into the world of campaign games.  What are your thoughts?  Please let me know.