ASL FAQ

Advanced Squad Leader
Frequently Asked Questions

PART 1


INTRODUCTION PART 1 PART 2 PART 3 PART 4 PART 5

[1.0]WHAT IS ASL?
[2.0]WHAT DO I NEED TO PLAY ASL?
[2.1]Should I buy Squad Leader first?
[2.11]Well, I already have SL. how do I start playing ASL?
[2.2]What is available for ASL?
[2.3]TAHGC products
[2.31]Modules
[2.32]Annuals/Journals
[2.33]Other Official Products
[2.34]The General
[2.35]ASL GAP
[2.36]Web-based Products
[2.37]Announced future Products
[2.38]Product Updates
[2.39]Parts
[2.4]Third-Party Products

[1.0] WHAT IS ASL?

To quote the TAHGC 1996 catalogue:

"Our crowning achievement, and the ultimate wargame. No other can match its combination of beauty, detail and excitement. ASL is a system based on the original Squad Leader game, but revised and expanded so that ultimately a player can simulate any company or battalion-level ground action in any theater of WWII. Playing pieces (counters) represent squads, half-squads and crews, plus individual leaders, heroes, vehicles and guns. Each ASL module contains eight or more carefully balanced, historically based scenarios -- but players can also design their own using the 40+ geomorphic SL/ASL mapboards, numerous terrain overlays, copious historical notes, and thousands of counters depicting virtually every vehicle, gun and troop type in action during the war by every major and minor combatant nation."

In addition to the above, there have been many "amateur" products released over the years since ASL was first released in 1985, so that now there are hundreds of scenarios and campaigns that can be played in addition to the "official" ones produced by TAHGC. It is quite possible to play nothing but ASL for the rest of your life, and you still might not get to explore every facet of the game.

[2.0] WHAT DO I NEED TO PLAY ASL?

Prior to the publication of 2nd Edition ASL, the bare minimum required was the ASL Rulebook (ASLRB), and either Beyond Valor (Module 1), or Paratrooper (Module 2).

(Neither 1st nor 2nd edition of BV contains Boards 1 or 8, so not *all* of the BV scenarios can be played without sourcing those boards separately. 2nd edition Paratrooper now includes Boards 2 and 4; if you only have 1st edition Para those boards would also need to be sourced separately.)

You'll also need at least two (preferably four) six-sided dice of different colours (dice are provided in BV and 2nd edition Para), some cotton thread or string (for tracing LOS), and somewhere to set it all up!

MMP are working on bringing out a new product, code-named "Intro ASL", that will provide the bare necessities for learning and playing the game all in one package. The intent is for a low-cost, easy introduction to what is otherwise a very complex and expensive game. Current expectations are that this product will be released in 2002.

See the product listing below at [2.2] for more information on what's available for purchase.

[2.1] SHOULD I BUY SQUAD LEADER FIRST?

Before ASL, there was SL. The original SL game was released in 1977 and was an instant hit. It became so popular that additions and expansions were deemed necessary, and these followed as Cross of Iron (COI), Crescendo of Doom (COD) and GI: Anvil of Victory (GI). Each new module required that you owned all the previous ones, and provided additional rules, revisions of old rules, and new boards and counters. While an excellent game, it became something of an administrative nightmare: important rules were scattered through several rules books, early parts of the system didn't sit well with later ones, and it became obvious that things couldn't go on this way. So, ASL was born. A complete revision from the ground up, with all new rules and components that were based on the SL system but clearly separate to them -- and, in the opinion of most players, a considerable improvement overall.

SL (without the add-ons) remains an excellent game, though it is much simpler and more abstract than the ASL system. However, there are so many differences in detail between the SL rules and the ASL rules that learning SL can actually hinder your ASL development. So although SL can teach you some basic ASL concepts, it is the opinion of the author that you are usually better off going direct to ASL.

There is a caveat: many ASL scenarios require the use of the boards supplied with SL and its expansions. If you do not have SL/COI/COD/GI, there are 12 boards (1-8, 12-15) that you will need to purchase separately before you can play these scenarios. [NOTE: MANY OF THESE "MISSING" BOARDS ARE/WILL BE PROVIDED IN 2ND EDITION VERSIONS OF THE ASL MODULES.] Usually it is cheaper to buy them separately from your local game store or direct from MMP than to buy the four SL games, but if you can pick them up second-hand or whatever you may end up saving money. (GI also includes several terrain overlays to modify the mapboards, but to date no official ASL scenario has used any of these overlays.)

(Final note: it is likely that the "Intro ASL" package discussed in [2.0], above, will actually be called "Squad Leader" in homage to the original game. While making a certain amount of marketing sense, it may lead to some confusion: you will need to distinguish between "Original SL" and "ASL SL".)

[2.11] WELL, I ALREADY HAVE SL. HOW DO I START PLAYING ASL?

Probably the most important thing to remember is to not make any assumptions. Many rules in ASL are similar to SL rules, but have important differences. Almost no rule is identical between the two systems. If you're busily flipping through the ASLRB trying to find that rule you're *sure* you read somewhere, chances are you may be thinking of a SL rule instead.

In the '90 Annual [see 2.32] an article is provided for those players who are changing from SL to ASL. In eight steps you're taken through the rules chapters, starting with infantry rules to OBA and finally AFV's. The article uses a "programmed instruction" technique very similar to the way the original SL rules were presented, and makes use of (modified versions of) the scenarios provided in the original SL set. Unfortunately the '90 Annual is very hard to find these days, but fortunately the article was reprinted in Vol.30 #1 of the General [see 2.34]. Even more fortunately, this article is now available in its entirety on the MMP website at www.advancedsquadleader.com.

See also Section [3.0], and the "Intro ASL" project mentioned in [2.0].

[2.2] WHAT IS AVAILABLE FOR ASL?

ASL products fall loosely into two categories: "official" products, which are released by TAHGC, and "third-party" products, which are released by others. While it is generally true that the TAHGC products are better-looking and better researched, this is by no means always the case, and many of the third-party products are the best things that an ASL gamer could spend his money on. There is a tacit understanding however that if it comes down to rules conflicts or similar problems, the "official" products will win out, mostly because the TAHGC products usually have a much wider distribution, and it is unfair to expect new players to know about the alternatives.

Within the above broad categories, ASL products may be defined as "modules", "magazines", or "other". Modules are self-contained settings for a particular nationality or campaign, usually with rules and counters. Magazines should be self-explanatory. "Other" includes things like scenario packs.

Following the acquisition of TAHGC by HASBRO, all of the original ASL products became "out of print". It became essential to bring these products back to the marketplace in some form, and it was decided that rather than a simple reprint all efforts would be made to incorporate known errata and updates. Hence, there is now a "2nd Edition" line of ASL products. In general, both 1st Edition and 2nd Edition ASL products are completely compatible; any specific exceptions to this rule will be noted below. At the time of writing, not all products are yet available in 2nd Edition format.

[2.3] TAHGC/MMP PRODUCTS

[2.31] MODULES

The meat and potatoes of ASL. Every player will need at least some of the following:

ASLRB: Binder and rules organised in chapters. Chapters A-D, H, J and N included. Subsequent Modules provide new chapters (and expansions of existing ones). Necessary for all ASL play.

2nd EDITION: Over the years since its original publication there were many errata and additions to the original set of rules. Some of these changes were through replacement pages, others by simple notation through Q&A. The ASLRB2 endeavours to incorporate ALL of these changes and updates in a single package, thus greatly increasing convenience to the players. In addition, the size of the typeface is increased and the overall layout improved. Chapters E and K are now additionally included in ASLRB2. Chapter N is removed (and Chapter N additions are removed from all 2nd Edition modules in which they were formerly included). The OBA and OVR flowcharts (previously included in the first two Action Packs) are now included.

In an ideal world, 1st edition ASLRB *plus* all known updates and errata would be equivalent to ASLRB2. Unfortunately, this is not the case; there are some updates to the ASL rules that are, to date, ONLY available to purchasers of 2nd edition. A list of what these changes are is included in ASL Journal #3. This is unfortunate, as it essentially makes purchase of the ASLRB2 essential for anyone who wants to be completely up-to-date. However, it should be emphasised that these changes are individually very minor and will have little to no effect on the vast majority of ASL games played, so in *that* respect owners of 1st Edition can consider ownership of 2nd Edition optional.

1: BEYOND VALOR (BV): German, Finnish, Russian and Partisan counters. Important informational counters, 4 mapboards (20-23), 10 scenarios. Required for all other modules (except Paratrooper). Boards 1 and 8 are recommended.

2nd EDITION: BV2 provides additional counters for rules added in Chapter E (now included in ASLRB2), has the Finnish in a new colour-scheme, but most significantly now includes the HASL module RED BARRICADES (and all necessary maps, counters, scenarios and rules, in the form of Chapter O). RB is no longer available as a separate product.

2: PARATROOPER (Para): German and US intro module. Training manual (Chapter K), 1 mapboard (24), 8 scenarios. Used as intro to ASL. An excellent way to start learning the game, and much cheaper than BV (but you will need BV eventually). Boards 1-4 are required.

2nd EDITION: Para2 no longer includes Chapter K (it is now included as part of ASLRB2) but does now include dice and Boards 2 and 4 (but not boards 1 and 3).

3: YANKS: US counters, weather, paradrops, gliders, fighter-bombers, night rules (Chapter E). 4 mapboards (16-19), 8 scenarios. The Chapter E rules make this module a prerequisite for most subsequent modules. In addition to BV requirements, boards 2, 7 and 12 are recommended.

2nd EDITION: Not yet available. Further, it is unlikely to be produced for some time, as considerable numbers of this module remain in stock, so a reprint is not required (the same goes for a number of other modules). However, since Chapter E is now included within ASLRB2, this module is no longer as much of a pre-requisite as it was formerly.

4: PARTISAN! (Part): Axis Minors infantry (Hungary, Rumania, etc.), partisan forces. No new rules, 2 boards (10, 32), 8 scenarios. BV is a prerequisite. Boards 1-4 are recommended.

2nd EDITION: Not yet available.

5: WEST OF ALAMEIN (WoA): British & Commonwealth counters, desert warfare (Chapter F), 5 boards (25-29), 8 scenarios and overlays. Yanks is a prerequisite.

2nd EDITION: There will be TWO British modules (neither are yet available). The new one, to be called "For King and Country" (KFaC), will include all the British and Commonwealth counters and Chapter H rules, Boards 1, 7, 8, & 12, and a (not yet determined) number of reprinted British scenarios from now out-of-print sources. BV and probably Yanks will be prerequisites.

WoA2 will contain Chapter F and associated counters, the 5 desert boards (25-29), desert overlays and the reprinted WoA scenarios. FKaC will obviously be a prerequisite. WoA2 will also include the first installment of Chapter M, ASL Analysis, a reprint of Mark Nixon's article "Gunned-Up In The Desert".

The major reason for this change is apparently that many people resisted buying the old WoA because they weren't interested in the desert rules, even if they were interested in the British counters. The new arrangement will permit those interested in the British but not interested in the desert to buy just those, while those who also want the desert will be able to get that in a separate package. (Note however that some scenarios in future modules use the "desert boards" even when depicting a non-desert action.)

6: THE LAST HURRAH (LH): Allied Minors infantry (Poland, Belgium, etc). No new rules. 2 boards (11, 33), 8 scenarios. Yanks (Chapter E) is a prerequisite. Boards 2-4 are recommended.

2nd EDITION: Board 3 has now been added.

7: HOLLOW LEGIONS (HL): Italian counters, 2 boards (30, 31), 8 scenarios. WoA is a prerequisite if you want to play the desert scenarios included. Boards 4, 7 and 12 are recommended.

2nd EDITION: No new material.

8: CODE OF BUSHIDO (CoB): Japanese counters and rules, half of the Pacific theatre rules (Chapter G). 4 boards (34-37), 8 scenarios, overlays. WoA is a prerequisite. Board 2 is recommended.

2nd EDITION: Not yet available. CoB and GH! are most likely to be updated next.

9: GUNG HO! (GH): Chinese and US Marine counters and the rest of Chapter G, including amphibious landings. 2 boards (38-39), 8 scenarios, overlays. CoB is a prerequisite. Board 2 is recommended.

2nd EDITION: Not yet available. CoB and GH! are most likely to be updated next.

10: CROIX DE GUERRE (CdG): French (Pre-surrender, Vichy and Free) counters, 2 boards (40-41), 8 scenarios, overlays. WoA is a prerequisite. Boards 2 and 4 are recommended.

2nd EDITION: Not yet available.

11: DOOMED BATTALIONS (DB): Allied Minors (Poles, Dutch, Belgian, Greek, etc.) Vehicle and Ordnance counters, 3 boards (9, 44-45), 8 scenarios, overlays, new Chapter B terrain types, and Chapter A errata. HL and LH are prerequisites (some boards from other modules needed for some scenarios). Boards 2-3 are recommended.

2nd EDITION: A little bit confusing. What is called "DB2" is not *actually* a 2nd Edition module. What happened is that DB was the last ASL product produced by TAHGC before they closed their doors, and was only printed in small numbers, and thus became hard to find very quickly. MMP determined to make it available again ASAP, and thus published it anew under Hasbro's label. However, the rules pages included within *either* edition of DB are intended for *1st Edition* ASLRB (as ASLRB2 had not yet been published when DB2 was published).

D1: STREETS OF FIRE (SoF): German and Russian "deluxe" module. Deluxe ASL uses very large hexes so miniatures can be used if desired, but this is in no way a prerequisite. DASL is especially for scenarios with a high density of forces. The large hexes allow painless coordination without much fumbling and tossing stacks over that would otherwise be unavoidable in scenarios with 20-25 MMC per side on an area equivalent to 1/2-1 standard board. Scenarios are especially designed for that fact. 4 boards (a-d), 10 scenarios. BV is a prerequisite. Now out of print and out of stock, and MMP have no plans to bring it back. However, the scenarios are available for free as downloads from the MMP website, and the deluxe boards are available as separate purchases.
D2: HEDGEROW HELL (HH): US deluxe module. 4 boards (e-h), 8 scenarios, some useful info counters. Board b required.
H1: RED BARRICADES (RB): Stalingrad historical module, contains several stand-alone scenarios (including the largest in the system, "The Last Bid") as well as providing rules for playing scenarios that link together into a campaign game, i.e., you need to preserve your forces each scenario for use in the next one. Many additional German and Russian counters, Chapter O, 2 unmounted mapsheets representing the Barrikady area of Stalingrad in October 1942, created from actual aerial recon photos of the area. Yanks is a prerequisite. A monster, but widely seen as the most exciting ASL experience around!

2nd EDITION: No longer available as a separate product, it is now included with BV2.

H2: KAMPFGRUPPE PEIPER I (KGPI): The Battle of the Bulge, given the RB treatment. 2 mapsheets representing the historical area of Stoumont, Belgium; many additional US and German counters, Chapter P. Yanks is a prerequisite.
H3: KAMPGRUPPE PEIPER II (KGPII): They couldn't fit it all in one box! More of the same. 3 mapsheets representing the villages of La Gleize and Chenaux, errata for Chapter P. KGPI is a prerequisite. Also includes a virtual reprint of Chapter P. These are actually replacement pages fixing minor errors, but all except the first page is updated!
H4: PEGASUS BRIDGE (PB): A HASL campaign centred on the British glider landings on D-Day. Aside from the campaign rules (Chapter Q), there are several new German vehicle counters and corresponding Chapter H notes. There is one unmounted historical map sheet depicting the terrain around the Canal de Caen bridge (renamed "Pegasus Bridge" after the war), one countersheet and a continuation of Chapter K covering SW mortars and basic ordnance principles. PB is a smaller, simpler CG than has been previously published and would be an ideal introduction to the CG "concept". WoA is a prerequisite.
H5: BLOOD REEF: TARAWA (BRT): A HASL campaign dealing with the USMC invasion of the island of Betio in the Pacific. Chapter T provides the necessary special rules. Two unmounted mapsheets depicting almost the entire island, four countersheets with additional Marine and Japanese units and weapons, and various markers necessary for play. GH is a prerequisite.
H6: A BRIDGE TOO FAR (ABTF): A HASL campaign dealing with the failed Allied attempt to capture the Bridge at Arnhem in September 1944. Chapter R provides the necessary special rules. One unmounted mapsheet depicting the town of Arnhem on the north side of the bridge, eight countersheets depicting the additional units and markers required, a complete replacement set of counters for German SS done in white-on-black for those that prefer them to the traditional blue (the use of these black counters is completely optional), and some replacement counters for those that were misprinted in the first edition of DB. WoA is a prerequisite.
S1: SOLITAIRE ASL (SASL): A system for playing ASL scenarios solitaire. Rather than adapting existing scenarios, this system uses generic scenarios and random activation of enemy units to create new scenarios. "Campaigns" are encouraged. Rules (Chapter S) provide for US, German, Russian and Partisan forces only. Appropriate informational counters and 14 separate missions are included. Yanks is a prerequisite.

2nd EDITION: A greatly expanded product from the original. Now includes rules to cover all nationalities except Axis Minors and Finns (the necessary rules for which will be included in future products). Chapter S has been expanded accordingly, and there are now 21 individual missions included. Obviously the modules featuring the nationalities you want to play are prerequisites, e.g., if you want to use the French you will need CdG.

Module dependency graph:
                                               ASLRB
                                               /   \
                                              BV   Para
                                             / \
                                 ------------   \
                                 Part,  Yanks   SoF
                                        /    \  |
       ---------------------------------      \ |
       LH,  WoA,  RB, SASL,        KGPI        HH
        |    |                       |
        |  ----------------------    |
        |  HL, CoB, CdG, PB, ABTF  KGPII
        | /     |
        DB      GH
                |
               BRT

Note this dependency list is not always as "absolute" as presented here, e.g., it is possible to play some WoA scenarios without owning Yanks.

This graph is altered somewhat for 2nd Edition modules; the most important change being that the inclusion of Chapter E in ASLRB2 means that Yanks is not as important a prerequisite as it used to be. Consult the 2nd edition module descriptions above for more details.

[2.32] ANNUALS/JOURNALS

The ASL Annuals are TAHGC's magazine dedicated to ASL. As their name implies, they are theoretically released once a year. In practice this has varied somewhat. Each annual includes many scenarios and several articles on various aspects of ASL. The current list of available annuals is:

89, 90, 91, 92, 93a, 93b, 95w, 96, 97

Most Annuals are now out of print and very hard to come by. There were two annuals released in 93 but none in 94. (The 95 annual was supposed to be released in a "Winter" and "Summer" edition but as it turned out only the first was released.)

The Annual has now been replaced by the "ASL Journal", the first of which was published in 1999. These are all still in print, and to date have been published approximately annually, although they (deliberately) have no fixed schedule. Like the Annuals before them, each Journal includes new scenarios and articles. J2 included a new HASL mapsheet, counters and campaign rules for a Kakazu Ridge CG.

J1, J2, J3

[2.33] OTHER OFFICIAL PRODUCTS

1. Action Packs

An "Action Pack" is a collection of new ASL boards plus a bunch of miscellaneous scenarios using those boards.

Action Pack #1 (AP1) includes Boards 42 & 43 and 8 scenarios. It also includes a new official OBA flowchart which greatly simplifies the OBA procedure (see [12.15]). AP1 is available without the boards if you already own them (they were available separately for some time prior to the AP release). Note: AP1 is now officially out of print, and MMP have no plans to bring it back into publication. The OBA flowchart is now included in ASLRB2, and the 8 scenarios can be downloaded for free from the MMP website.

Action Pack #2 (AP2) includes Boards 46 & 47, 8 scenarios, some new terrain overlays, new Chapter B pages (the same as were included in DB) and an "OVR flowchart" (see [12.24]). This flowchart is now included in ASLRB2.

The scenarios in an AP have no particular theme (other than use of the new boards) so the prerequisites for being able to play these scenarios are diverse.

2. Scenario Bundles

Thirteen scenarios from pre-ASL days have been updated and re-released in a "scenario bundle". Their common theme is the involvement of American forces, so the pack was called "G.I.'s Dozen". It contains no other components, and to play all of the scenarios requires BV, YANKS (obviously!), and WoA, as well as most of the boards from the SL era.

3. Historical Studies

A cross between a HASL and an Action Pack. Contains scenarios plus a small campaign set on a historical map, as well as a number of scenarios set on normal geomorphic mapboards. Each will have a theme based on a particular historical campaign or action. The first, "Operation Watchtower" (OWT) covering the fighting on Guadalcanal, was released late in 2001. Forthcoming releases being planned cover Operation "Veritable" covering fighting in Germany, February 1945, and another covering the battle for Sicily in September 1943.

[2.34] THE GENERAL

The General was TAHGC's "house organ" and included articles on virtually all of their gaming products. A lot of coverage has been given to ASL over the years since its release, usually in the form of a new scenario or two each issue (see [8.1]). There were a number of articles on ASL game play etc. as well. Subscribers occasionally received benefits not available to newsstand purchasers, for example sometimes special countersheets were issued to provide new or replacement counters; a small number of faulty ASL counters were replaced this way a couple of years back.

With the purchase of TAHGC by HASBRO, the General ceased publication (Vol.32#3 was the final issue).

A new product to make it easier for those who didn't subscribe to the General for the last ten years is "Classic ASL". This is a 48-page composition of out-of-print articles, scenarios, and variants, presented in a magazine format. There are 16 scenarios (in the center, easy to remove and add to your collection!) Included in this package is a re-release of the IIFT! It's a lot cheaper than paying $1 per photocopied page. Note that there is no "new" content; all the enclosed material has been published before. Classic ASL is now out of print, and MMP have no plans to bring it back into publication; the scenarios are available for download for free from the MMP website.

[2.35] ASL GAP

The GAP (Game Assistance Program) is a computer program designed to make it easier to keep track of many of ASL's book-keeping requirements. It is more fully discussed in the section on electronic resources (see Section [4.9]).

[2.36] WEB-BASED PRODUCTS

MMP have added a new category of ASL Product: the free web-based scenario pack. The first example of this is the "Provence Pack", a collection of scenarios dealing with the invasion of Southern France in 1944. The web- pages provide historical background and scenario analysis; the actual scenarios themselves are provided in full-colour and in PDF format for easy cross-platform printing (see [6.3]). The Provence Pack can be found at www.advancedsquadleader.com/pp.

[2.37] ANNOUNCED FUTURE PRODUCTS

"Armies Of Oblivion": This module will provide units and weapon counters for the Axis Minor forces (Hungary, Rumania, etc.). Boards 48-51 will be included (these boards are already available for separate purchase).

"Haaka Palle": An expansion of the Finns for ASL. Rather than just "extra-tough Germans", as they seem to be depicted in BV, the Finns had their own unique attributes and equipment. In consideration of this, BV2 published the Finns in their own colour (rather than the German Blue they were printed in the original edition) and this new module will add to their list of equipment and appropriate scenarios. Board 52 will be included (this board is already available for separate purchase). The Finns new colour has caused some controversy, as they are now grey like the Italians (but darker). According to MMP, they could not be left in German blue, because some scenarios in this module will be Finns v Germans. Grey was the new colour requested by the Finnish players who are acting as consultants on the module. It must be pointed out that there were no Italian-v-Finn actions, so this colour will not cause any confusion on the gaming table.

"Journal #4": Work has begun, but no publishing date has been suggested.

[2.38] PRODUCT UPDATES

MMP have a service by which you can receive an e-mail detailing the current status of all MMP projects (which includes other titles apart from ASL). Just send an e-mail to majordomo@multimanpublishing.com with the message body of "info status". You will be sent an e-mail (very quickly!) from the server with the latest version of MMP's Product schedule.

[2.39] PARTS

TAHGC sold all parts and components for their games separately, in case you needed replacement boards or additional countersheets. Of special note are the boards not provided with ASL: Boards 1-9 and 12-15. Boards 1-8 and 12-15 are from SL/COI/COD/GI, as explained above (see [2.1]). Boards 9-11 were originally "rogue" boards for original SL; they were not "official" and were very crudely painted. They were subsequently redone for ASL and are now very attractive (Board 9 was released in Doomed Battalions, Board 10 was released in Partisan! and Board 11 in The Last Hurrah).

MMP now sell all parts for all of their ASL products separately. See the MMP website www.advancedsquadleader.com under "Products" for more information.

Also, for newer products with part errors (e.g., missing or damaged components) it is possible to arrange for replacements directly from the printer. See the MMP FAQ at www.advancedsquadleader.com for details.

[2.4] THIRD-PARTY PRODUCTS

These cover a variety of formats and subjects. Magazines ("fanzines") are the most common, but historical modules and special scenario packs are not unknown. They are usually of low price and frequently the physical quality matches the price, but certain third-party publishers are known for their very high-quality components. Availability comes and goes, so an up-to-date list is difficult to maintain. One source of information on third-party products is at http://www.vftt.co.uk/3rdparty.htm


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