How To Play Advanced Squad Leader With Anyone Anytime Anywhere

Young Tibetan Buddhist monks smiling and happy...

Young Tibetan Buddhist monks smiling and happy, double dorje room, Sakya Lamdre, Tharlam Monastery, Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

Unless you already know someone who plays Advanced Squad Leader and assuming that I perked your interest so far, one question must have crossed your mind or have even smothered that fledgling spark of interest already:

Who am I going to play with?

The good thing about Advanced Squad Leader is that the user base is very strong. It’s a niche market but the user base is enthusiastic, sociable and thanks to the Internet, connected. The Hong Kong Society of Wargamers for example, meets and plays regularly.

This might be where you realize that your issue is not one of people, but of time. We got careers. We got families. We got obligations. It’s not easy to get together regularly for games. For me who’s a novice (read: n00b) at Advance Squad Leader, I need LOTS of play time if I am ever going to be any good.

VASL is a platform developed by Rodney Kinney that provides virtual map boards, counters and mean of communication so that two players anywhere in the world can play each other in real-time or NOT in real-time.

Playing VASL “live” via VASL servers allows two players to be location independent. VASL by email allows two players to be TIME independent.

Using VASL to play ASL by email is known as “PBeM” or really “ASL PBeM”.  Let me explain.  An Advanced Squad Leader turn is broken down by phases, some phases are interactive, others are not.

  • Rally Phase (Non interactive)
  • Prep Fire Phase (Non interactive)
  • Movement Phase (Interactive)
  • Defensive Fire Phase (Non Interactive)
  • Advance Fire Phase (Non Interactive)
  • Rout phase (Non Interactive)
  • Advance Phase (Non Interactive)
  • Close Combat Phase (Interactive)

The interactive phases like the Movement Phase and the Close Combat Phase are phases where control needs to be passed back and forth a couple of times between the two players (and these are best parts of the game). This is where the game takes time. However, the non interactive phases can be sequential – one player can complete what he/she needs to do before passing “control” off to the other player – which makes these other phases quicker in execution.

As you move your counters around the VASL map, VASL records all your moves in detail to a log file. At appropriate points in a turn, you stop your actions and send that log file to your opponent. Your opponent opens your log file on his/her VASL program and playback YOUR MOVES step by step and he/she can stop the playback at any point to interject his/her actions when needed.  Your opponent will have his/her actions recorded on another log file and will send it back to you and you will then playback his/her moves.  The interactivity of the game is essentially time-shifted, along with any commentary (and taunts) that each player elect to insert between his/her actions.

So here we go : the question “Who am I going to play with?” should no longer stop you from diving into the Advanced Squad Leader world.  

You can:

  • Bribe your friends to play with you.
  • Join the good people at The Hong Kong Society of Wargamers who runs ASL games and tournaments regularly
  • Play anyone in the world “live” via VASL (and the VASL server)
  • Play anyone in the world at anytime via VASL PBeM

Questions?  Please let me know!

How about coming home everyday to 30 mins of PBeM game over VASL?

Whether you are a fellow newbie who would like to learn together or an experienced ASLer who don’t mind helping me up the curve. I play to enjoy and to learn. Please message me at hongkongwargamer-at-disroot-dot-org!!



Don’t Worry, You Can Always Find An Opponent For Advanced Squad Leader

pondering life

pondering life (Photo credit: Chimpr)

Let’s say you found this blog because you are looking for more information on Advanced Squad Leader.

Let’s also say instead of looking for rules forums or after action reports (“AARs”), you are trying to decide whether to take the plunge or not.

At some point you must wonder, with a game this sophisticated (and a rulebook this thick), who’s going to play with you?

If you are in Hong Kong, the first answer to that question is : the good people at the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers. They hold regular games and meetings on the weekends.

The second answer to that question is, and this one’s location independent, people around the world. You should know that there’s a (free) computer program that runs on Windows as well as Macs called VASSAL. VASSAL is a platform that allows people to play virtual adaptations of boardgames in real-time over the internet or “asynchronously” via email.  This is not a computer game per se.  It’s a computer hosted set of maps and counters (plus dice and charts) that facilitates the meeting of opponents around the world.

  • has a section dedicated to VASL or Virtual Advanced Squad Leader.  This is where you download VASSAL and VASL, the module (“mod file”) for Advanced Squad Leader.
  • This is where you download the maps.  The number of maps available might be overwhelming but you will come to appreciate the comprehensiveness of it all.  You can really play most scenarios with this setup!
  • This is where you download the “extensions“. Extensions are useful widgets that helps with gameplay.

The Homefront Wargame Center gives you terrific instructions to the setup and the usage of VASL.  When you get around to trying an “asych” game of Advanced Squad Leader with someone in a different timezone, you should know there are certain protocols to follow – “The Joys of VASL PBEM” by Matt Romey.

So there is absolutely no reason to worry about finding opponents.  VASSAL and VASL open the world to you!

I hope this helps you and I look forward to any comments/questions.