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

Advertisements

Things I’m noticing the ‘experienced’ players doing more than me…

On March 14 2015, Ken Knott aka “esprcorn” started a genius of a thread on Gamesquad : “Things I’m noticing the ‘experience’ players doing more than me …”.  The response was overwhelming.

I went through 11 pages of posts, extracted what was said (newbies and grognards allke), applied some basic categorisation and present them to you for your reading enjoyment.  These snippets are simply TOO good be left in Forum Purgatory.

Attacking

  • During APh, advance ADJACENT to the enemy in different Locations, including Open Ground, to force tough choices. (Swiftandsure)
  • Prep should ALWAYS be used to launch Smoke before the MPh (witchbottles)
  • Use the “amoeba assault” with low quality troops / low ML troops. (witchbottles)

Firing

  • The rule of thumb is if you have positive DRM, combine the FP; if you have zero or negative DRM, divide it. (von Marwitz)
  • I think a lot depends on WHY you are shooting, rather than the DRM itself. (witchbottles)
  • It is wise to go through all the shots you plan on making and decide on an order. (Tater)
  • Firing the units with the most important targets first .. lessen the risk of an untimely enemy Sniper negating that attack. (klasmalmstrom)
  • ALWAYS FPF if the unit is a : fanatic; b : Japanese squad; c : a squad in a beach location during Seaborne assault (witchbottles)
  • Not enough Op Fire counters placed (aneil1234)
  • Use Firelanes a LOT (aneil1234)
  • Spraying Fire is another underrated form of fire .. the real art is the use of Spraying Fire during DFF. (BattleSchool)
  • A more frequent use of Snapshots (Bill Cirillo)
  • Fire discipline (RevJJ)
  • Always look for ways to use Firelanes and Residual FP on defence.  Never First Fire on the adjacent Half Squad, First Fire on the bigger stack moving later and then Final Fire on the adjacent HS. (Hubbs5)
  •  You can opportunity fire units with SCW or potentially with SCW in a building. You then wait to fire, presumably on an AFV taeget, but maybe not, until the advancing fire phase. You take no back blast penalty AND you avoid the normal +2 for firing SCW from the ground floor of a building to avoid the bb penalty. (Carl Nogueira)

Movement

  • If you are wondering if you should pull back, pull back (it even may be too late) (Swiftandsure)
  • Thinking about order of movement is very important. By moving units in the “right” order you can force your opponent to have to make really difficult choices with Defensive First Fire. (jrv)
  • First moves should be those designed to draw fire where you wish to draw fire. The immediate moves should be those which are designed to restrict enemy fire opportunity, and the last moves those designed to displace enemy positions. (witchbottles)
  • Move to cover your units in “bounding overwatch” .. accept that losses to front line units will occur. You win or lose by influencing those categories a combined arms commander has full control over : the terrain to attack (or defend), the force development at the point of attack, the provision and location or reserve units brought into support the attack (or defense). “Action”, not inaction. Reinforce success (as the attacker) or weak points (as the defender). (witchbottles)
  • Try to avoid encirclement and leave rout paths. Wherever you are planning to go in, make sure you can come back in a hurry. (Carln0130)
  • Use a Banzai / Human Wave to cut off forward enemy units and force them to die or to surrender rather than rout. (witchbottles)
  • New players have to learn to move quicker .. they don’t get anywhere NEAR where they have to be to win. (aneil1234)
    Just because you are defending, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be moving. Skulk ‘em guys if nothing else (aneil1234)
  • Use of Encirclement and moving units in a way that result in elimination for Failure To Rout. (Paul _RS)
  • If you are not moving, you are dying. (Mr. Incredible)
  • They are not afraid of Open Ground. New players have ‘hug the building’ syndrome, so in urban fights they never get across the street because they are so worried about staying in +TEM. When you have a superior position and can back it up and with superior FP, advance your MMC into the street adjacent to defending units. Many times if forces the defender to abandon that position and retreat to the next set of buildings behind the next road because the position is now too hot to stay and/or skulk back into. (RobZagnut)
  • Move more than shoot (Jazz)
  • Moving more often and more aggressive than me (ecz)

Smoke

  • Smoke smoke WP and smoke some more (aneil1234)
  • Not smoking may be a health hazard (Mr. Incredible)
  • SMOKE, SMOKE, smoke, WP and more smoke (Jazz)
  • Using a lot of Smoke, trying smoke also with squads having “1” exponent (ecz)
  • I ALWAYS say at the beginning of the PREP fire phase…onboard smoke, off board artillery…even if I don’t have it JUST to remind myself… (Mark De Vries)

AFVs

  • One should take care not to move vehicles into hexes where a defender can make a To Hit DR with his MGs and more easily lay down a Fire Lane that could impede infantry movement later. (klasmalmstrom)
  • Use a fully tracked AFVs to generate “instant” fortified building location breaches. (witchbottles)
  • Always rush armour from outside CA, then go CE when point blank from behind to win Gun Duels (Westy)
  • Setup AFVs behind walls with TCA towards the enemy and VCA pointing towards a quick getaway without reversing. (Mr. P)
  • Motion attempt (Jazz)
  • Moving AFVs while BU most of the time, going CE only if absolutely necessary (ecz)
  • Using MGs (usually) to position AFV armoured facing for free after the use of the MA in another direction. (esprcorn)
  • Here’s a creative use to a captured AFV : line up your Russian squads to “auto-deploy” as crew.  You can create enough HSs for a more “economical” Human Wave!  (Simon Lai)

Concealment

  • Don’t attack in CC to retain concealment, then move away or TPBF in Prep Fire. (Westy)
  • Using lots of dummies is not dumb. (Mr. Incredible)
  • Using OB designated dummy counters as 5/8” dummies (esprcorn)

HIP

  • HIP Guns .. Russ Bunten .. stated (HIP Guns) should be placed first and then your defence created around it. (RobZagnut)
  • HIPs .. you should only be surprised by its appearance once. Then it gets death by fire and/or manoeuvre. Then you learn to cover the likely spots with overwatch units while moving along.. a great way to do this is with light AFVs that are not critical to achieving the VCs. Park them in motion bypass of likely spots – which the HIP GUNs appear as you announce the end of that AFV’s MPh. Then knockout said Gun with follow on units. (RobZagnut)
  • HIP Ignorance – Not knowing potential HIP sites before and during play is not good. (RobZagnut)
  • Face the HIP – take the inevitable loss it will bring, and use those overwatch forces you positioned for that eventuality to then eliminate the HIP position or at least neutralize it with fire. (witchbottles)

Guns

  • HIP Guns .. Russ Bunten .. stated (HIP Guns) should be placed first and then your defence created around it. (RobZagnut)

Fortifications

  • Have minefields and wire covered by fire (Swiftandsure)
  • Have units in trenches and/or pillboxes in mutually supporting positions (Swiftandsure)
  • Place minefields in one hex buildings (Swiftandsure)

OBA

  • Use your OBA SR to indefinitely hover over enemy positions to make him shift around (Swiftandsure)
  • Odds against that are so high that allowing OBA to determine your play is what is the most damaging. (Tater)

Prisoners

  • Stack as many prisoners as you can….. they are excellent bulletproof devices when your enemy score KIA results on the guard….. (Simon Lai)
  • Speaking of prisoners. The Russian prisoner hot potato trick is a great way to deploy squads from a nationality that normally does not deploy. You just transferred the prisoners around to different units until you are satisfied (Carl Nogueira)
  • Yuh, a single prisoner in the same location with your Death Star can feed and pull back all your berserkers in this location, just in case your 10-3 of the Death Star goes berserk…… (Simon Lai)
  • Always take prisoners when you must capture buildings, for if you invoke No Quarter you cannot Mop Up. (Justiciar)

Wisdom

  • Shoot BEFORE the AFV moves in to cause VBM freeze (leave residual in the entry hex to deter followup infantry). (witchbottles)
  • Deploy lots (Westy)
  • Use Foxholes to create rout paths in Open Ground between buildings (Swiftandsure)
  • SAN – don’t let it stop you doing things (MrP)
  • Give DCs & FTs to -0 or +1 leaders (Swiftandsure)
  • Use and abuse skulking, VBM freeze and all legal recourses without scruples. (Swiftandsure)
  • Expect to lose troops (MrP)
  • Don’t check ROAR or read an AAR on a scenario before you play it. (RobZagnut)
  • Know when to move in deliberate, well-planned, and coordinated sequence and when to “bum rush ‘em”. (G.L.O.A.T.)
  • Use spotted mortar lots (Westy)
  • Use dummies with elevation to deny concealment at setup (Westy)
  • Deploy on attack to scout and to draw fire. Deploy on defense to cover more ground. (aneil1234)
  • Deploy on the first RPh (dspurlock)
  • Reading the Victory Conditions (Jazz)
  • Reading the Vehicle Notes (jrv)
  • Full utilisation and mastery of their OB. Every unit has a job. They know exactly what needs to be used when and what needs to support what. (RevJJ)
  • Timed aggression. They mitigate their risk until it’s time to go for it (RevJJ)
  • LOS mastery – this is huge. (RevJJ)
  • They play their game, not yours. (RevJJ)
  • Setup stacks out of all LOS then gaining concealment with the leader possessing the SW on the bottom of the stack, then followed up with an out-of-LOS Support Weapon transfer in the first RPh – leaving the otherside clueless as to the leader and Support Weapon placements. (witchbottles)
  • Deploy HS on the first RPh in addition to the allowed set up limits, and send them scouting and swamping the defence. (Swiftandsure)
  • If you stack it, you might stack (lose?) it (Mr. Incredible)

.. and this is from Jim “Sparafucil3” Bishop, Master Yourself

I play Fort a lot. I have had the pleasure of playing Pleva, JR Tracy, Paul Sidhu, Toby Piling, Lars Thuring, Bob Bendis, and many other “top-notch” ASL players. What I notice they do better than anyone is not letting the bad luck get to them. They accept it and move on. It’s like the game starts over again right at that point, as if it never happened. When they are ahead, they are willing to take a few more chances to go for the kill. When they are behind, they tighten up and look for better opportunities. Anyone can read the rules, learn the tactics, study the odds tables, etc to find a way to play more effectively. The true champions are masters of themselves first and foremost. My best ever run at ASLOk (last year, three mini wins and 3rd overall in the GROFAZ), this is what I worked on more than anything else. Master your own emotions and you’ll often find that things eventually break your way and its your opponent who will be tested by his. If he can’t pass that, you have him where you want him. — jim (still a struggle to master myself consistently)

See also ::

Grognards Speaks : Advanced Squad Leader Articles That Change Their Lives

Detail: Espinoza Tawed Skin/Parchment model

If you are a Advanced Squad Leader player and you are not on online forums such as GameSquad yet, I suggest you do. You will find a terrific community of ASL’ers discussing rules, giving their reviews on scenarios and products. You will find a lot of support and from time to time, a better alternative to eBay in acquiring Advanced Squad Leader modules and Third Party Products.

Lately the grognards discussed ASL training articles that changed their (ASL) lives. This is obviously too good of a thread to pass up, so here it is:

This is the original thread on GameSquad forums.  I hope this helps you as much as it helps me!

Do let me know however of articles that helped you!