These following pictures refers to Chris’s (BattleSchool) comments down below :
I visited the “remaining” of the 4 Toronto game stores today (Hairy Tarantula @ Gerrard & Yonge’s closed).
Hairy Tarantula North
This is the right place. Take the door to the right.
.. and this is what you will see on your right ..
… further down the stairs ..
The shop itself is a cavernous (big & dark) basement, focused primarily in comics and games like Dungeons & Dragons, Magic etc. However, if you turn left and go all the way to the back of the store, there are a line of racks with some wargames. Years ago I found a couple of Operation Watchtower here. Today there are less than 5 copies of GMT games (There’s a dusty copy of Nightfighter stacked up top.). The folks there thought they have a couple of ASL magazines but I think he’s confusing other games with ASL.
I know of four game stores in Toronto
- Hairy Tarantula at Gerrard & Yonge that doesn’t seem to be there anymore
- Hairy Tarantula North at Steeles & Yonge
- 401 Games at Wellesley & Yonge
- Meeplemart at Spadina & Dundas
I visited two of them today.
This is a big store. They have a second level that offers gaming space and game rentals. Unfortunately they don’t have too many wargames – a medium size bookshelf of GMT games and that’s it. No ASL.
Then I took a walk from 401 Games to Meeplemart.
Meeplemart is hard to spot from the street, you got to watch the street numbers (247 Spadina) or you will walk right by.
You want to stop at the set of office building doors right beside the first “TD” sign. It is an office building but if it’s “247 Spadina Avenue”, this is the place. Immediately after you walk through the glass doors, you will see a set of staircases on your left leading down.
Go down those stairs, it’s okay.
Folks there will greet you and asked that you check your bags at the counter. They will clip half of a poker card to your bag and give you the other half.
(I should check what companies are in this building and whether they are looking to hire…)
If you walk down the left around the counter and up ahead, you will see a couple of tall shelves with a sign saying “Wargames”.
They carry mostly GMT & Compass games but they also carry MMP, Avalanche and other lines as well. There are definitely more here (about two/three big shelves) than 401 Games. I also found some boxes sitting the floor and filed under “ASL” I found 3 x ASL Journal 2 and 1 x Turning the Tide. The guy behind the counter said “That’s because ASL sells out the quickest.”.
So here we are, I hope this allows you to find these shops quicker the next time you are in town.
By the way, on my way back home my bus passed by Hairy Tarantula North.
Looking for Wargames in Toronto? (Part 2) – I went to Hairy Tarantula North the next day.
If you play VASL with Skype and has been looking for a voice platform to replace Skype. You might want to check this out.
My opponent Will Fleming set up a server on Discord for voice comms during VASL games and text chat when hanging out.
You can install the app if you want to but you and/or opponent can run this via your browsers with no installs.
Heres the link if you want to try it out https://discord.gg/XxpxAvx
Before you ask, I don’t know what the advantages are beyond what I see on their webpage and beyond feedback from my friends. If you are young and want to try new things with us, here it is.
One of my friends look at it as “VASL lobby on steroids”.
There is a scenario design competition not too long ago: “Chimps on Computers” (a modern day version of the “Monkeys on Typewriters” competition). My ASL mentor, Witchbottles, came up with a pretty wild design where a handful of Germans tried to delay an Allied column marauding down 5 boards. Pete Shelling was the judge and Witchbottles came in 3rd.
If you want a game of manoeuvre, this is it.
A designer in Canada, Alan Findlay of Broken Ground Design, endeavoured to rethink the whole (minus Japanese & Chinese) ASL counter set. In the process, he also expanded into new counter designs as well – Snipers with SAN, Fanatics, Heroic Leaders, Wounded Leaders, Partisans, Berserkers, Free French and more. Those who know me, know I am as far from a “counter-slut” as you can get – almost all of my games are on VASL. Not only do I not have the space, I don’t have the patience to deal with physical counters. I believe if I can do counters, I can be playing.
So I don’t like dealing with counters to start with and having seen the designs that Alan posted, I also thought they are too cartoonish to be part of ASL games.
But you know what? These counters are NICE. (Okay … and I was wrong.)
I am going to post a lot of pictures in this review. I am also going to give you my thoughts and my experience with the Broken Ground Nationality counters, so you can make your own decision as to whether you should make the purchase.
Now before I continue, Alan stated two known issues :
- Due to the short run, this batch was digitally printed. This means a higher possibility of mis-alignment with the die-cutting. The full project will use professional offset printing.
- This batch is too thick. Four of my counters stack as high as 5 official counters. The next sample batch will be corrected for thickness.
Oh, you should also know that I don’t clip counters, not ever. So chances are if you think these images are nice, your purchased counters will look even nicer than these.
I mentioned that when I saw Alan’s counter designs earlier in the year, I thought they were too cartoonish. Now that I’d seen the actual counters – they are not. They sure look like they belong to ASL games.
I had only made cuts down each side of the rows, took entire strips out and broke each counter off by hand (stop screaming like a little girl). The high quality of the die cut makes it possible. However in a few instances, the back of the counters came off and shifted.
The good new is, I was able to “coax” the shifted graphic back in place with properly applied pressure (and meditation).
The graphics look terrific and the numbers are very visible, including the MMC identification letter on the top left. The issue I have is with the smoke number. Not only is the smoke number important by itself, the smoke number in a swapped colour set differentiates the Assault Engineers. Not that it’s any worse that the existing counters we have, but I can’t comfortably see the smoke numbers on Broken Ground’s counters without proper lighting and magnification.
Broken Ground counters laid out a lot of SMCs. There are:
- “normal” leaders
- wounded leaders
- fanatic leaders
- wounded fanatic leaders
- heroic leaders
- fanatic-heroic leaders.
I have only been playing for 4 years but I can hardly remember a leader going heroic, much less fanatic (by SSR mostly?) or fanatic-heroic.
Having said all that, having “specialised” SMC counters is nice, instead of piling on information counters on existing leaders. If nothing else, the Wounded Leader counter will be used quite a bit. Having Assault Engineer full squad and half squad clearly differentiated is nice as well.
Here are the Broken Ground counters against the new MMP Yanks 2 counters …
A couple of action shots …
Here I have my AH French counters alongside the Broken Ground counters ..
I find the Broken Ground Nationality Sets to be attractive and highly visible. The “extra” counters that Alan added are useful and contribute towards lessening the stacks.
Alan asked :
If your FtF opponent wanted to play a scenario using Broken Ground counters, would you say “no”?
No I won’t. However the Broken Ground counters are so visible and looks so much better that it’s going to put a positive modifier on my Personal Morale Checks. Postgame that Flame in my wallet is going to turn into a Blaze and burn a hole right through!
Any questions or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
(All Photos are Copyrighted to the Hong Kong Wargamer. Do not use without permission.)