Saturday, December 5, 2015

Companion guide to episode 43

A few book/game titles mentioned in the show:

A couple more not mentioned in the show:


Conflict of Heroes: First Men In, not yet released (expected release date 2050 :)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ostfront Retro Game (Album) Cover

Fun little side project i completed with a nod to graphic design.  Here we have an example of what the upcoming game Ostfront would look like if it were released in the 50's/60's through Blue Note records.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ostfront Full Spread

The upcoming game Ostfront from H&S GAMES with included paraphernalia laid out.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Heroes of the Pacific: Great game or just more of the same?

Admittedly i am unqualified to comment on this game as i have yet to play it.  Nonetheless, having received (my first official "comp" btw) a copy and read through the rules i was compelled to comment on a few things.

 First, it is a testament to just  how much tactical level WW2 games are loved by us wargamers when you consider how many of them have been released.  This is a species that may never face extinction but does in fact require an annual thinning of the heard as it were.  As i read through the rules i instantly recognize so much that has become standard fare.  It seems we have reached a comfortable plateau within wargaming in general and ww2 tactical level wargaming in particular such that innovation is taking a bit of a back seat.  This is not to say that there is no innovation within wargaming or within Heroes of the Pacific.  This is to say that a number of certain mechanics are becoming universal and taken for granted.  

 I can imagine how ground breaking the idea of Morale was when it was introduced in Squad Leader. These days its as common as the common cold.  But this brings me to another point: I understand there are a lot of ASL haters out there.  Each one has his own reason why but you can't disregard the fact that ASL has even if inadvertently established so much of what has now become nearly routine within ww2 tactical games.  Is this good or bad?  It's neither.  Its an observation, its a pointing out that ASL is a damn good game and the fact that games continue to echo aspects of that system is just further proof.  But how long will games continue to stand on shoulders? When and what will be the next innovative breakthrough?  It's hard to conceive but we may have just reached the apex of efficiency.  Perhaps things are done the way they are within these games because its the best way to do them.  If it isnt broken, why fix it?  Right?  But how long can we ride the "morale" wave until it crests?  How can a game continue to use what works without rendering itself a facsimile of 15 other games?  Its tough.  There's really no point in being different for the sake of being different but things may get a bit stale if we continue in the same vein.  

So take Heroes of the Pacific.  Here is yet another game that mirrors another game/s but is somehow successful.  How?  Perhaps it has something to do with Lock N Loads quality components and graphics, or perhaps it has something to do with a relatively easy to understand rules set that is able to fit everything within 59 pages.  Yea maybe.  Or is it the flavor crystals?  For example, within Heroes of the Pacific are Event Markers.  These clever due dads inject a scenario with a kind of plot reminiscent of a novel or movie and this can mean the world of difference between estranged, mechanical experience and an exciting, cinematic engagement.  But wait you say, ASL doesn't have this and yet you hold it up so high, what gives?  ASL engages through engrossing you in detail. Some abhor the detail, but for others, its a complete world in which nothing is left out.  The point is Heroes of the Pacific can pull you in with minimal detail by other means.  

I should also add that more and more people are trying on wargamer shoes for the first time and that is precisely who is predominantly fueling the sales of games like Combat Commander and Heroes of the Pacific.  They aren't going to pull a game system like ASL from the shelf because its intimidating (and old) but little do they realize that so many of the same game mechanics they are enjoying came long before the very game they are in fact enjoying.  Not that it matters really.  And perhaps that is another draw of Heroes of the Pacific, the blend of old and new.  Additionally, combat within this game is sufficiently non-similar to similar games to stand out without embarrassing itself as is the mechanic of "spotting." 

So is Heroes of the Pacific a great game or more of the same?  The question is perhaps unfair.  Heroes of the Pacific is just as effective doing what it does as other games are doing what they do.  Certainly the burden of innovation falls on all, not just one title, but at the same time one can't be blamed for refusing to improve on something that seemingly need not be improved upon.    Heroes of the Pacific seems to succeed where others fail and as such, thins the heard.  Finally, I suppose NEW is a matter of perspective, and games like Heroes of the Pacific that are best able to shift our perspective of that which we can't help but already know, are all the cleverer for it.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Companion Guide to Hexes and Soldiers Episode #42: Waterloo

Even the uninitiated historian is somewhat familiar with the most famous battle of the Napoleonic era.  Countless books have been written on the subject, and countless debates have taken place.  Did Wellington win?  Or did Napoleon lose?  The bulk of information for this show was pulled from a book by Owen Connelly who has a small chapter on the subject.  The author's overall premise is that battle after battle, Napoleon was an improviser, devoid of any real strategy and merely scrambled to victory by profiting from his enemies mistakes.  

What to play: From the new:
This game is getting a lot of love and rising fast.

To the old:
A great game i have played countless times.  The on map maneuvering and off map battles somehow work brilliantly.

Also check out: 

If you could only own one book on the subject, this should be it.

Friday, September 11, 2015

"Now that's what i'm talking about!" or "Why can't more games do this?!"

Now that's what i'm talking about!  The Conflict of Heroes system has officially made its bid for 2nd best tactical game ever.  Two more or less core COH games now have the horsepower to go the distance and fast.  

Now i know that many of you feel that wargaming is a social thing and to go it alone is going about it all wrong.  Not that i disagree with you, but i do feel differently.  Yes there is the age old excuse of, "i can't find an oppenent" which gets weaker and weaker with things like Vassal etc.  Yet the real reason/s for me are more selfish.  I prefer to play what i want to play when i want to play it for however long or short i care to play.  Sound like a big baby?  Well WAH!  I've nearly always wargamed solo and over the years have had the rare opportunity of playing a game that actually caters to my kind.  These days aren't much different. Solo wargaming is still a rather peculiarly perceived  past time for us hermetic odd balls who scramble to pick up the table scraps of designers who via a kind of "i can relate to that" kind of vibe, throw us a bone.  The latest thrown bone (since the last thrown bone The Hunters) is the COH solo expansion.  For years we have waited and for some, the wait continues still, but i am no longer a waiter.  You see my copy finally arrived and yes it lives up to the hype.  Add to this the Firefight Generator and it all adds up to one hell of an example of what can be done with a single game system.  ASL did it, Combat Commander tried to do it, and now COH has done it.  The game has been programmed to not only be the opponent, but has ultimately been allowed to open up and reveal a kind of toolbox from which we can "create" our own games.  So why don't other games do this?  Why the one and done?  I'll let you come to the myriad conclusions but it seems the future of wargaming is in allowing the player to not only game "with or without you" but to be able to come up with a game of one's own.  Why, after spending our hard earned cash should we be relegated to a game that may be a paragon of design and development but falls flat in re-playability?  With the COH Solo and Firefight expansions, the COH system has taken the lead in the right direction.  I can only hope that other wargames go and do likewise.  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

$treets of $talingrad

A grail game is a game that has somehow managed to escape one's grasp.  It could be hard to find, reflect its monster size or simply too expensive.  A bad case of the latter plagues Streets of Stalingrad.  Averaging anywhere from 300-500 dollars has ensured that i will never own this game.  

Long hailed as the definitive Stalingrad game, its attention to detail as attested to by 6 sheets of counters and maps the quality of which you could do much worse, proves this game will be hard to surpass.  The game is now in its third incarnation but actually began in 1979 in the studio of Pheonix Games (and i should add is a much more affordable version) a la Dana Lombardy and David Parham.  

It saw its second incarnation through 2 separate releases as a product of Nova games in 1982 with Fire on the Volga and Battle for the Factories.  

The scenarios within this version are smaller and much more playable then the final version and it goes without saying, much more affordable.  The two versions can also be connected.

Back to the third edition: how many people actually own this and more, how many have actually played it? Are the contents of this version that much prettier to look at such that the price should get jacked up a couple hundred more bucks?   Or is there a kind of Zeitgeist at work here? A spirit of the times that has been whispering its fork tongued solicitation in our impressionable, gullible ears?  I've seen what's in the box, and yes its eye catching enough but i can't for the life of me justify the price of the contents. 

In some respects, this game is no different then any other.  Be prepared to swim through some deep water rules (water wings are recommended) and spend a better part of a season punching, clipping and then setting up the massive quantity of counters.  Yet this is not exclusive to Streets of Stalingrad. 

So I have come to the conclusion that there is a shared perception which births itself upon rumors ill conceived that migrate like some contagious virus infecting our opinions with a sickness that makes us justify the shelling out of a small fortune for that which we believe to be worth it only because "Everyone else thinks so too."  And sadly, 3rd ed. Streets of Stalingrad is not the only guilty party here. 

 Another interesting aspect has to do with the simple fact that this game is in its third iteration.  Wargames seem to defy physics by denying the definition of derivative.  How many games out there keep getting re-hashed and rather than reflect a watered down market with a watered down price, the opposite somehow occurs.  Yup, "There's gold in them there games..."

Alas, don't get me wrong, if someone were to gift me this bane of games, i'd snatch it up in a heart beat.  But every time i find myself alone, face to face with the sales tag, a nausea overwhelms me and i quickly move on.  Its a shame too, because i think this game (and a number of others rotting in similar stasis) deserves a much better fate. 

Question: Does a grail game command a particular price?  Or does a particular price command the title "grail game"?

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Advanced Squad Leader spacial perspective

So many of us have seen hex grids for so long we no longer really see them but if we really look at a hex and the area inside, just what does this represent?

A basic hex in Advanced Squad Leader is 40 meters or roughly 131 feet.  To put this in perspective, let us use something all of us (nearly all of us) are familiar with:

The above picture instantly defines the space within the hex.  At first glance this may seem like more space then previously associated with an ASL hex.  As you can see there is plenty of room within the enclosed hex to move which is interesting because movement only really occurs when one hex is left and another is entered.  As such, perhaps this can explain a lot of the unexplained in relation to puzzling die rolls as deep within the unsimulated depths of ASL (and plenty of other tactical level games), troops aren't necessarily standing stone still until we "move" them to a new hex. 

Spacial representation of a Soviet 6-2-8 squad's effective fire range.

Friday, June 5, 2015

A confession, a thankyou and an apology...

Once upon a time in a galaxy far far, oops wrong intro.  Let me start over...Many years ago i saw a listing for an ASL poster and slept on it.  When i woke i couldn't remember if i had dreamed it or not.  When i saw that it was no longer for sale i didn't need to pinch myself, i was wide awake.  Fast forward to a couple days ago and low and behold not one but two listings for this phantom ad.  So the confession comes by way of two roads: the first is yes I cast a coin in the ring and two is i won, well not the first one.  I should do some explaining.  I mentioned there were two listings of this and im pretty sure i know why the lister did this.  Simply put, he was merciful.  (Here comes the thankyou part) He knew that a slew of drooling fingers would most likely weed out the cautious and so for the meek, he provided another opportunity and i thank him.  I initially thought i had it in the bag but no it slipped away, again.  How many years would it be until this resurfaced?  Five minutes.  I popped my knuckles did some deep knee bends and readied my trigger finger.  Bam, my finger presses the button of destiny...will it hold?  Here comes someone, trying, but time runs out and yours truly will have to wait no more.  I lock the safety switch on my finger and ponder the consequences.  What about those that missed out?  I know how they feel.  It sucks.  And so i am sorry.  But time is on their side and the law of averages suggests this thing will emerge from cold dead hands at some point.  In the meantime, do a little target practicing with those fingers and wait... your patience will pay off, trust me.  

Just for those of you who are wondering, it is my understanding that the wrenches and glass thingy are not included.

And to my better half who actually reads some of these posts from time to time, oh yes, this will be getting framed and hung on the wall with care, sorry (actually i'm not that sorry.)


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ASL's Toddler Years

I began with Squad Leader then leap frogged all of the "gamette" confusion landing right on an ASL lilly pad. Why bother with all that intercession stuff when i can cut to the chase thought I.  

That was then and since then i've decided to take a look back and learn first hand how the whole ASL thing came to pass figuring the best way to do this was with Cross of Iron, the first of the "gamettes".  Now I'm not sure why four editions of this were printed but i was able to acquire the second edition for peanuts.  Regarding the first edition, the story goes that back in the day, Origins was the big wargame convention and Avalon Hill was in a mad scramble to get COI finished in time.  This happened well enough but at the expense of errors etc.  There are some other well deserved quibbles regarding the counter colors and the fact that the single board that was issued with COI did not match up to any of the original Squad Leader boards and never would (imagine the anger!)  Avalon Hill did include color/paper copies of the original SL map boards in COI (my copy still had these inside) but it seemed a moot point.  

So lets take a look inside the box.  The most interesting thing you will find in COI is the rule book.  Here are SL 2nd edition changes, new arty and armor rules, some new terrain types, a section on SS units and some other less than exciting but still needed additions.  One of the more interesting things was the coverage of snipers.  Those of you familiar with ASL know well enough that snipers have more in common with ghosts than snipers but this wasn't always the case.  In COI a sniper counter had 1-8-8 printed on it which represented a fire strength of one, range of 8 and morale of 8.  There was also a drm in the upper right of the counter that could range from -1 to -4.  Apparently these guys could fire at whatever they wanted which is probably why the original sniper rules were faded out.  These guys were simply too accurate and thus too deadly.  It seems a lot was left out when considering these guys and all that stuff was more than made up for in ASL not least of which was precluding a player from having so much control over a sniper.  In COI snipers cold be moved and fired at will and I can I can see how the game became a turkey shoot of  leaders.  Yes, historically speaking snipers were often effective but there was a balance struck between time spent waiting for opportune targets among other things and actually eliminating an opportune target.  Nonetheless, this at least for me is the interesting evolutionary path of what we now know as ASL.
Its also interesting to see wind direction counters in COI.  Another almost laughable development was the gun and armor stats which consisted of a page to a page and a half each for the Germans and Russians. Compare this to the pages and pages of gun and armor stats for nearly every nationality that is included in ASL and it's like seeing a baby being spoon fed then seeing that same child all grown up and standing before the buffet at Golden Corral.  My how things have changed, but its fascinating to see the development take place first hand in actual physical "gamettes" which as it turned out was ASL's kindergarten years.  I'm actually kind of sorry i missed those days, but at least i'm able to return to them.  Some of you might be well served to do the same if only because it effectively demonstrates one of the most (if not thee most) impressive developments in wargame history without which there might not have been what we now know as the inevitable end result, the Advanced Squad Leader system.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Companion guide to Hexes and Soldiers Episode 40

They say not to judge a book by its cover but lets face it, first impressions can mean a heck of a lot.  Whether we like it or not, wargame box art can make or break a game and yet so often we take these images for granted.  Yes the goodies inside the box are the end to the means but if the means look like lil johnny's coloring book then i worry greatly about the end.

Thus, episode 40.  I never meant for this show to be so long and yet it could have easily been even longer.  So many covers, so little time.  I had wanted to do a tribute to wargame box art for some time and well i finally did it.  

We've come a long way from the early days of Single Palate Image aka SPI's color of the week but the fact of the matter is the art that graces the boxes of these things is, to use a word that has nearly become devoid of all meaning, art.    

That's not to say all is good in the world of conflict rendering.  There are some real clunkers out there and it makes me wonder, who was it that had the final say on Monty's Gamble?  I know, i wouldn't step forward either.

So if i can't judge a book by its cover, i'll just judge a cover by its book, err, you get the point.

Here are just a couple designs from the timeless to the innovative:

Friday, May 22, 2015

To Avalanche Press or Not To Avalanche Press?

Where once my wargaming years were long, they are now longer.  In all that time, i purposely avoided any off ramp with the sign Avalanche Press.  Don't get me wrong, their title "Eastern Front" has caused a raised eyebrow more than once but at the end of the day it was "out of sight out of mind".  Something didn't seem right about those Panzer Grenadier games.  Maybe their were too many of them to be a good thing, maybe i was too easily persuaded by other's opinions which were more often than not, less than good.  Of late, i find my eyebrow raising again.  More on that in a second.  Of all the titles i own, only one deals directly with the battle of Monte Cassino and is perhaps the only one worth owning.  Thunder at Cassino is an area movement game which is one of a series that Avalon Hill put out and its a dandy.  I thought i could (or might have to) live without anything else.  Then i began noticing Cassino '44, what appears to be the only other game worth looking into on the subject.  I've "noticed" this thing off an on for a while now but never fully committed.  Yes its from Avalanche Press and yes you may have heard negative things about it but there are also some good things.  The map is truly a work of art and more than faithfully replicates the terrain.   Then there is the Panzer Grenadier system itself.  The platoon level game system has its share of fans but it also has its share of "haters."  Personally, i've been on the fence.
So i thought, maybe this should be my first official AP/PG game.  Or worse, maybe this will be my AP/PG gateway game?  Doubtful, but what helped turn that maybe into an OK can be attributed to a couple of things besides a map that would make any cartographophile salivate.  These games can go for a "pretty penny" as they say and its disheartening when you consider not all of us have an adequate amount of disposable income to throw around on cardboard.  That said, i was fortunate to find or should i say, "steal" a copy at a heck of a price.  Finally, perhaps the other factor which helped me decide was from a certain individual who wrote a thorough review of the game (thanks simguy).  So, after much hemming and hawing, the game is on its way to what feels like its rightful home and I eagerly await my foray into a whole new system that addresses what is for me, one of the most interesting battles of WWII.
Wish me luck, and thanks for reading.

Official site:
BGG site:
The review that pushed me over the edge:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Platoon Leader Now Available as Print and Play PDF

H&S GAMES is proud to announce Platoon Leader and its two expansions are now available in print and play PDF format!  If you missed the boat the first time around, then here's your second chance to dive into the game that made a small underground splash upon its initial release.

Official site for ordering:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hitler Moves East 1941-43

The prequel to Scorched Earth.

I picked this thing up for a buck at the University of New Orleans book sale.  This would make my second copy but the one i already own is tucked away in a plywood coffin of books back in St. Louis.  

Besides being a rudimentary history, or a nice paper weight, perhaps the more interesting stuff arises when you get past the cover and take a look at the author.  

Paul Karl Schmidt aka Paul Carrell, was born in November 1911 and died on June 20, 1997.  He was an obersturmbannfuhrer or Lieutenant Colonel in the civilian Allgemeine SS.  He worked as the chief press spokesman for Germany's foreign minister Von Ribbentrop.  After WW2 ended he became a successful author.
Paul became a member of the Nazi party in 1931and a member of the SS in 1938.  He graduated from university in 1934 and became an assistant at the institute of psychology of the university of Kiel in Germany.  He held several positions in the Nazi student association.  In the SS,  Schmidt was promoted to the rank of obersturmbannfuhrer in 1940.  During the same year, he became the chief press spokesman for foreing minister Von Ribbentrop.  In this position, he was responsible for the German Foreign minisry's news an press division.  
The main task of Schmidt was the chairing of the daily press conferences of the ministry.  He must therefore be seen as one of the most important and influential propagandists for National Socialsim during WW2.  Recent studies confirm that his influence was at least on the same level as that of Otto Dietrich (Reichspressechef of Adolf Hitler) and of Hans Fritzshe (Pressechef the Reichspropagandaministerium).  Schmidt was also responsible for German propaganda magazine 'Signal'.
That Schmidt justified the Holocaust through his propaganda is now seen as certain.  In May 1944, he even gave advice on how to justify the deportation and extermination of Hungarian Jews, to counter the potential accusation of mass murder. 
The planned undertaking (against the Jews of Budapest) will create significant attention, and lead to a strong reaction because of its scope. Those who are against us will scream and talk of a hunt on humans, and will try to use terror propaganda to increase feelings against us in neutral states. I would therefore like to suggest whether it would not be possible to prevent these things by creating reasons and events justifying the undertaking, e.g. finding explosives in Jewish association buildings and Synagogues, plans for sabotage attacks, for a coup d’etat, attacks on policemen, smuggling of currency in significant amounts to destroy the fabric of the Hungarian currency. The final piece of this should be a particularly heinous case, which can then be used to justify the dragnet.
  Schmidt was arrested on May 6, 1945 and interned for 30 months.  It was left open for a long time whether he would appear as one of those indicted, or as a witness for the prosecution during the war crimes trials.  During the trial of the German foreign ministry, he finally appeared as a witness for the prosecution and disingenuously portrayed himself as a fighter for democratic freedom of the press.  After the war, he became an author.  Starting in the '50's, he wrote for the magazine Kristall.  He first used the pseudonym Paul Karell, and later Paul Carell. From 1965 to 1971 the office of the state prosecutor of Verden in Germany investigated him for murder.  But the investigation, which attempted to clarify his role in specific events involving Hungarian Jews ended without indictment and Schmidt would never have to face a t rial for his activities during the war.  As the investigation was carried out, Carell's second successful career as a writer commenced where a number of magazines published his work among them Spiegel.  The success of his books, "Hitler Moves East" and "Scorched Earth" propelled him into international renown.  Carrell claimed that were it not for the meddling of Hitler in the affairs of competent general such as Von Manstein, Germany could have won the war in the east.  He also claimed that the invasion of the Soviet Union was a preemptive measure intended to forestall an invasion of Germany by the Soviets, a view that is held by contemporaries Viktor Suvorov and Mark Solonin.  

So what do we make of this author when compared or contrasted to his past? When we consider the intertwining of history with his distinctive point of view?  Should his work be regarded as "scholarly" or a rip roaring lunch break reader?  I am not presupposing that a person's personal involvement with a history he is attempting to describe should exclude him from being taken seriously.  But i am offering a flag of caution here, if nothing else, because we have come such a long way and dug so deep since the time of "Hitler Moves East".    Consider a more recent history by David Stahell, "Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East."  This is a masterful work on Hitlers eastward inclinations.  The author's non-biased view in no way qualifies him as the better author, rather, his familiarity of the subject and self evident mountain of research does.  That said, sure you can settle for Carrell's adequate history as a worthy companion for your restroom leisure but at some point your going to want to "get off the pot" and reach for the definitive story of those fateful years by someone who has qualified himself the better of the two through a dedication to an endless research of the historical record divorced from any personal POV.

Carrell's book was perhaps necessarily par for its time, but Stahel's book is a marked advance in historical research and imperative for our time.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Platoon Leader going out of print and switching to PDF format

Just a quick announcement: There are now only 4 copies each of Platoon Leader and Cold Combat and 3 copies of Red Devils left.  After these sell out, there will be no more hard copies for sale as all sales will switch to pdf format (in the near future).  All related EBAY sales will cease at 2:20 am this morning.  Thereafter, all sales will be relegated to the official website.



Monday, March 23, 2015


ASL ala Inglorious Basterds.


H&S News Update: 3-23-15:
The future of Platoon Leader-
We have good news and bad news. First, the bad. Platoon Leader will be going out of print, at least in its current form. There are five copies each remaining of the base game and both expansions. After those are sold, there will be no more. Our personal goal of reaching triple digits in units sold will be realized with a dozen more sales. This decision has been arrived at primarily do to printing costs. In an effort to keep these things affordable, we have refused to arbitrarily jack the prices up and as a result, have broken even which is good, but not good enough to continue indefinitely in this manner.
Now the good news, Platoon Leader isn't going anywhere. Our intention is to make this game system available via pdf format. What this does is eliminate printing costs, ensures continued availability, and will also guarantee even lower prices. Our dedication and support when it comes to this game system will not decline.
Now then, what's going on at H&S GAMES development wise? Well we have a number of designs on the drawing board. The Vietnam expansion is still intended but it is the D-Day expansion that is a bit more further along. This will also be the first product to debut as a pre-order. Ideas of a Che Guevera driven scenario pack have also been kicked around. This would include among other things the famous battle of Santa Clara in which an armored train was taken out and being outnumbered 10 to 1, column 18 emerged triumphant.
For now, you can still find Platoon Leader products on EBAY, but these will terminate on Tuesday, March 31 or sooner, pending selling out beforehand.
So there is your long winded update and to all you Platoon Leader's out there, keep gaming!

Monday, March 9, 2015

ATS Vs. ASL with Platoon Leader as Spectator...

Ok so i'm not going to actually cover the bout that would occur with these two in the ring, rather, i'm going to spout a "tail of the tape" in regards to ATS or Advanced Tobruk System as its formally known.

Being partial to ASL, i've occasionally ventured off the beaten path and tried other things.  In fact, i've come up with my own "thing" but to be honest, i've never found anything quite comparable to ASL, though i still look.

 For years i've been aware of ATS and scoffed at it but i've found  that as one gets older, he learns to appreciate that which he would at one time never have given the time of day.  If i might throw in a bad analogy, it isnt until later that you realize, your not in fact too cool to listen to the Beatles or Elvis and that a ton of that stuff is in all actuality pretty damn good music.

The original Advanced Tobruk was a game in and of itself from back in the day that dealt with tactical desert battles and it has since matured quite a bit.

So a few weeks ago i finally pulled the trigger on the ATS rulebook/2014 edition.  The amount of rules and charts are minimal and perhaps one selling point of this particular addition is that its offered in color and hole punched so you can pop it in a 3 ring binder.  So the overall rules length compared to ASL is like comparing Sports illustrated to encyclopedia Britannica but this is neither good nor bad.  This is also interesting when you consider that about 1/3 of the ASL rules deal with infantry, another third with guns and another third with armor.  ATS condenses all of this within the scope of 80 pages or easily less than a third of ASL.

Perhaps the similarities between ASL and ATS are greater than its differences but differences nonetheless are the focal point here.

The first idiosyncrasy of ATS is its impulse system.  Here is a simplistic mechanic of you-go-i-go that though may often be derided by new school wargamers, easily makes a strong case for itself within this system.

Perhaps the most outstanding difference is the CRT.  A quick glance yields a ton of Cx results.  Within ATS you have a system that works as such: Personnel units have a number of steps.  Each time a unit absorbs a c1 combat result in casualties, it takes one step loss.  As squads have four steps, for the first step loss, place a casualties marker on the counter.  The second step loss simply flips the counter over (no marker added) and the third step loss has you place another casualties marker on the counter.  For the fourth and final step loss you simply remove the counter from play.  Now, i applaud this system if for no other reason than i know first had it works as i use a similar system in Platoon Leader.  It may be interesting to note, that i had no prior knowledge of ATS and its step loss system prior to developing Platoon Leader.  The step loss mechanic was something that simply grew out of developing the Platoon Leader system.   Within ATS, the placement of a casualty marker effects are as such: a counter's gunfire factors and morale level is reduced by one.

Collateral fire, which seems like ATS' version of ASL's residual fire power is in here and so i'll skip over this.
Similarly, grazing fire, which also seems like ASL's fire lane is in here as well but i'll keep moving right along.

ROF:  Rather than needing to roll under a certain number to maintain rof as in ASL, rof is automatic within ATS.  Ex. ROF 2 means the gun fires twice, end of story.  Now there is an optional rule that allows for random rate of fire and perhaps this was added to appease ASL habits (as was gun jamming)?

Spotting: another interesting concept that was born via the original game is spotting.  Simply put, spotting helps determine what a unit can actually see and thus fire at.  It is suggested within the rules that spotting is an option but seems a worthy one, though others may find it fiddly.  A spotting range table helps iron out the mechanic and thus yields the hex distance between which one unit may see another.  Chalk one point for Fog of War on the board here.

Speaking of optional rules, there is a small mine of gems here including camouflage smocks, a truncated command control system etc.

So this is just a few of the things that make ATS ATS.  I've left a ton of stuff out and haven't found a stick to touch the armor stuff with yet but this should give some form to those of you whose image of ATS was heretofore formless.

So is ATS for you?  That's for you to decide.  What about ASL?  Same answer.  That said,
i'll leave you with another bad analogy; would you rather peer into the proverbial rabbit hole, or go in and see just how deep the rabbit hole can get?  My guess is at some point, your gonna wanna do the latter.

I have looked and looked and couldn't find a thing regarding routing within the ATS rules.  Herein lies an additional, fundamental difference and one that could cause many a barroom brawl.  To route or not to route?  That is the question.  I've always been a pro-router but never really considered it in depth.  Would a unit really, always route? Why wouldn't a unit "freeze"?  The old, "i'm not going anywhere" routine seems valid at least once in a while.  Or is it just me?