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.