The Truth About VASL

 

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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?

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Kinetic Energy & the excellent Time on Target packs

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I found a bit of history today, related to the third party publisher Kinetic Energy that produced the famous Time on Target packs.

Fellow “ASLers,”

In light of the tumultuous events in our mutual hobby over the past year or two, Mark Neukom & I have made a rather tough decision. As of June 1st, 1999, Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc. will cease design, development, publication, and sale of all products that support and deal with the Advanced Squad Leader(tm) game (including all of its Modules).

There are myriad reasons for this decision, and I will not burden you with the details here. In a nutshell, it can be summed up as a case of the amount of personal gratification that we draw from our work not being enough to overcome the amount of “grief” we receive (an unfortunate byproduct of being a Third-Party Manufacturer in today’s hobby). That, along with the stark financial reality of operating in the “red” for a couple of years running, is all the justification we need. Rather than have this overflow to the point where we would cease enjoying the game itself altogether, we’ve decided to “case the colors” of Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc., as outlined in this announcement.

Mark & I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported Kinetic Energy Productions over the past six years. Extra special mention goes to KE Co-Founder John Knowles; KE Staffers Brian Abela and Chris Castellana; our volunteer Web-Master Bahadir Erimli; and Playtester suma cum Laude Fritz Tichy. We personally thank ALL of our other playtesters as well. The fruits of their labor show through in every one of our products, and are a key element of the success we have enjoyed in the past. These fine folk are too numerous to mention here, but you can find them listed in the credits of all our magazines & scenario packs. Finally, to those of you who purchased Time on Target magazine, and our March Madness scenario packs in the past, and/or attended the March Madness Tournament in Kansas City, our thanks as well. You helped keep our labor of love afloat for quite some time. We are quite proud of our track record, in quality and presentation, for every product we have published. In some ways, we feel gratified that our efforts have “raised the bar” and spurred others to better themselves as well, a good side-effect of the Third-party market that we sincerely hope will be allowed to continue in our absence. Further, we hope to see/hear AARs of “The Dogs of War” and other fine KE/TOT scenarios for quite a long time. However, please don’t take this as a license to freely copy & distribute KE/TOT “stuff.” Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc. (and in the case of its absence, Mark Neukom) reserves all rights to copyrights on the three issues of “Time on Target” magazine, all of the “March Madness” scenario packs, the “British Rare Vehicles” pack, and all unpublished Kinetic Energy projects (e.g., playtest packages & materials). Please respect our wishes in this matter.

Finally, please understand that Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc. will honor all orders that have been placed as of this date, and those that are postmarked on/before June 1st, 1999. Any distributors or individuals desiring to place any bulk order please contact me at mreed@sky.net ASAP. Orders postmarked after June 1st, 1999 will not be processed and will be returned to sender.

Regards,
Mike Reed
Kinetic Energy Productions, Inc.

Here are the responses from the ASL community.

This is the Christmas sales pamphlet, for 1999 – check out the prices!  

Enjoy!

Game Designer Carl Nogueira was asked “What do you like about ASL?”

FullSizeRender-1Likes, damn near all of it, but I’ll try to focus:

The way in which the game is layered: The rules are complex, master that, the tactics are complex, master that, the psychology of the game can be challenging too. Even then, there is no one way to win at this game. I know many top players with very different styles, who all have had enjoyed a good deal of success with the game. There are many ways to skin a cat. Everyone can succeed by refining their own approach to the game.

Obviously, because it is fun: If it wasn’t for this, there isn’t a thing I could list that would make it worthwhile. Of course what is fun for one person may not be for others, but there is room for many at the table. I am a competitive cuss, so I love the challenge of competing against my fellow gamers. Others approach it from a beer and pretzels perspective, but everyone who comes to embrace the hobby, ends up having fun with it.

The people: The camaraderie in ASL is unparalleled in wargaming. It is a niche hobby within a niche hobby and you can strike up a conversation with any player from here to Hong Kong, and immediately be speaking the same language. Because the bond between players forms quickly, many of my closest friends over the years are fellow gamers. I do not hesitate if I can extend a helping hand and have not encountered many who won’t the other way around either. There really is a bond. Certainly not on a level of military compatriots or police officers or others who have dangerous occupations, but certainly more than most with merely a common interest linking them. Such has been my experience.

The game itself is varied and handles moving from theatre to theatre VERY well: If you play many operational games, the difference between playing in the desert or the hills of Italy is pretty superficial. Here, moving from the Winter War, to the desert to the jungle to the steppes is absolutely worlds apart and FEELS like it is worlds apart. Put simply, ASL is the ultimate triumph of design for effect and there are literally thousands of scenarios and well north of one hundred CG’s. If you can’t find something to play, then you would quite rightly be likened to a little kid sitting in his room surrounded by toys screaming “I’m Bored!!!”

Finally, to succeed at this game you have to be very detail oriented and know how to plan on the fly when the best laid plans go up in smoke. Very challenging indeed!

The accessibility of the hobby in terms of helping new guys: With everything from questions, advice on everything from purchases to game tactics.

What I don’t like:

Some of the rules can be gamey, but then, it IS a game. Also, there is always the magic of the SSR to fix that which truly galls you.

– Carl Nogueira, May 6 2015

Link to the Original Text on GameSquad