One 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.
Dare-Death is the world’s first Chinese ASL magazine created by Richard “Ferguson” Wang and Grandiose Pz.Kpfw.V Ausf G Driver (or “G Driver”. The term “Driver” in Chinese is the equivalence of “Grognard”.)
You should fly to Manila this July to play Advanced Squad Leader.
It’s a crazy idea, I know! You are busy. You already have a few things planned for the summer. Your friends and family will think you are nuts to fly to Manila ‘just to play boardgames’.
You can play ASL where you are. You can play players around the world on VASL right now. Why do you have to go to Manila to play ASL?
This is crazy.
Crazier still – the more you say it, the less crazy this idea sounds.
There : I made the first step for you – You should fly to Manila this July to play Advanced Squad Leader.
I faced the same decision 2 years ago. I had only started playing ASL for about 6 months at that time. The Malaysia Madness 2014 tournament (the first Asia Pacific tournament) was coming up. I didn’t plan to go.
I thought :
As we drew closer to the Malaya Madness 2014 tournament, both of my ASL mentors, Don Lazov & Jon Halfin said I should go to a tourney at least once. So I took a leap of faith and it turned out to be one of those decisions that changed my life. We are not talking about inventing the cure for cancer or anything but my world is not the same after that trip.
My initial reservations? NONE OF THEM TRUE.
I thought they were just going to talk and to play with each other. NEVER HAPPENED.
I thought that’s because it’s a small tournament. I went to the NYS ASL Championship (aka “Albany”), one of the highest level ASL tourney in the world at the end of 2014. DIDN’T HAPPEN THERE either. ASL’rs are open and friendly everywhere I go.
Face to Face games brings a chemistry that doesn’t exist via other platforms. The chatter, the shrieks, the comments, the groans and yelps of delight make FtF experiences second to none. Besides, I got even more opponents to play with and the games got even more fun on VASL after the tourney after we know each other.
The Tourney Director matched players based on their skill levels. Besides, everyone I met are a total pleasure to play, with or without the context of competition.
Mayhem in Manila 2016 (Friday July 29 to Sunday July 31) is the second Asia wide tournament. A lot of people worked very hard to set it up this year.
Players will arrive in Manila on the afternoon of Thursday July 28. Some will want to play a round of ASL, others will want to do some shopping (perhaps some counter containers for me). The tournament will start early Friday July 29th.
There will be 2 games per day on Friday and Saturday, and one last round on Sunday morning. Players will be matched by the Tournament Director before their first games. There are 3 scenarios you and your opponent can pick from for each game. You do that by ranking the 3 scenarios by order of preference. The scenario ranked #3 by each player is automatically eliminated. If 2 scenarios remain, the 2 players rank them again, if the 2 players both ranked a scenario #1, they play that scenario. If they ranked different scenarios #1, then it’s decided by random selection.
Once the scenario is decided, the two players then bid for sides by the Australian Balancing System described in the Tourney Booklet. The idea is to accept certain handicaps to gain the right to play the side that you want.
Each game you win gives you 3 points. Each game you draw gives you 1 point. Awards will be given to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd player in points. There will be a “HtH” award for the player who inflicted the most CVP (Casualty Victory Point) doing Close Combat. There will also be a “Pacific Sniper” award for the player who got the highest total CVP from kills.
And do we have prizes! The Mayhem in Manila 2016 tournament is sponsored by 8 major ASL companies/associations, one of which Multi-Man Publishing.
For more information, please visit https://mayheminmanila.wordpress.com/tourney-booklet/
If you register before May 1st, the registration fee is USD45. After May 1st the registration fee will be USD65. Please register at http://www.meetup.com/Asia-Pacific-ASL/events/227777002/
I have been to a total of 3 tournaments in 3 different countries. The games were always fun and my opponents were always fair, friendly and helpful. I learned new tactics. I saw new approaches to tactical problems. I gained a group of new friends with which I continue to play more ASL with and even start ASL projects (tourney / design / play testing) with.
On my way back after the tourney, I messaged Don Lazov from the airport. Don said :
“I sincerely hope you not only had a lot of fun, learned a bunch of new things, ideas and concepts, but most important (beside/or next to having fun) made some new friends, and many memories. To me that is what ASL is really all about. Playing a great game but playing that game with great friends and making memories.”
Register for Mayhem in Manila today.
(Translated into Chinese in Dare-Death magazine Issue 02)
Dare-Death is the world’s first Chinese ASL magazine created by Richard “Ferguson” Wang and Grandiose Pz.Kpfw.V Ausf G Driver (or “G Driver”. The term “Driver” in Chinese is the equivalence of “Grognard”.) In support of their efforts and with their blessing, I will translate articles from Dare-Death whenever possible.
To all ASL & ASLSK players in China :
ASL developed bountifully in the 30 years since its start in 1985. To date it has more than 10 official modules, addon packs in the hundreds and scenarios in the thousands. Through the support of its fan base, ASL is second to none in the Second World War tactical combat simulation genre. ASL offers a large library of official products and an even bigger array of third party publications and fanzines from around the world. Unfortunately, there’s no third party product or fanzine from China until now.
Richard “Ferguson”/“爵爷” Wang approached me a month ago about publishing a China ASL e-magazine. I jumped on the idea immediately and hence the first China ASL fanzine was born! The primary goal of this magazine is to serve and to support ASL players in the Chinese speaking world. We will publish new product alerts, AARs, tactical analysis, newbie guides, articles focusing on rules and about historical backgrounds etc. We hope to develop more ASL players and to encourage more game play. We want more people to experience the uniqueness of the ASL system and we hope to promote ASL across China.
Since this is our Premier Issue, both Ferguson and I want to keep a lower profile. That’s why we did all the articles and translations ourselves. Going forward we will try to keep to a quarterly schedule. We welcome all ASL related article submissions. Since we want to keep this a free publication for now, we apologize for not being able to pay any remuneration. Please lend us your support! Finally, we’d like to invite anyone interested in finding out more about ASL to join QQ group 450676993 (a China online chat group). Our ASL chat group is covered around the clock by grognards (aka “old drivers”) who helps with ASL queries and discussions. We also encourage players to look for games online and we might even organise tournaments going forward. Our immediate target is to get more people to play. If conditions allow in future, we will publish scenarios.
By grandiose 开豹式的 g 司机 (grandiose Pz.Kpfw.V Ausf G driver)
(Translated from “Preface” in Dare-Death magazine Issue 01)