ASL FAQ

Advanced Squad Leader
Frequently Asked Questions

PART 2


INTRODUCTION PART 1 PART 2 PART 3 PART 4 PART 5

[3.0]WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY ASL?
[3.1]Learning Scenarios
[4.0]WHAT ELECTRONIC RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE FOR ASL?
[4.1]ASL Internet Mailing List (ASLML)
[4.2]The ASL Digest
[4.3]The Expanded ASL Index
[4.4]WWW & FTP
[4.5]CompuServe
[4.6]VASL
[4.7]GAPs
[4.8]Other software

[3.0] WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY ASL?

The *absolutely best way* to learn how to play ASL is to find someone who already knows how to play, and get them to teach you. You will probably lose in the beginning, maybe quite often, but eventually you will start using the tricks you've learned on your opponents and you'll find yourself winning more often. Start with simpler, infantry-only, scenarios and work your way up to guns and armor, concentrating on learning the game instead of worrying about winning.

Unfortunately nearby opponents are not always available. Fortunately there are other options; the most common alternatives are Play by (E-)Mail and Solitaire.

The rapid turnaround time of PBEM means that you can quickly ask rules questions of your opponent; the next best thing to "being there". Solitaire play can be useful but is not much help if you hit a rule that you just don't understand. One of the important functions of the ASLML is being able to quickly answer rules questions of people new to the game. As a further note to solitaire play, while the Solitaire module is a good way to brush up on unfamiliar rules, it's probably not as good in learning the rules for the first time, since (a) it assumes you already know them (including the more advanced rules) and (b) it uses some sub-systems (e.g., Command Control) not found in the regular ASL rules. For *learning* purposes, you're probably better off playing a normal scenario solitaire.

It's helpful if you can get hold of the "Programmed Instructions" for learning ASL as originally printed in the 90 Annual. See [2.11] for more details.

Finally, if you have an opportunity to go to an ASL game convention, take it! Meeting other people that you don't play regularly will expose you to many different styles of play (and rules interpretations) that will *always* be a learning experience (as well as being a darn good time). Don't be worried that you're not "good enough" to play in a tournament -- just go for the ride and do your best. You'll be guaranteed to have a blast! More info on tournaments can be found in Section [7.0].

[3.1] Learning Scenarios

Some scenarios are better than others for learning particular rules sections. Below is a list compiled from the opinions of many people on the ASLML:

No guarantee that these scenarios are balanced or fun, just that some people think they serve as good introductions to certain parts of the rules.

Scenarios are identified by their ID, their name and the module in which they can be found. Note that some of the modules are not official TAHGC publications. Some scenarios have had both "amateur" and "official" publication; some have been seen in several amateur publications. If an "official" version exists, that will be the source cited; otherwise the most recent publication will be cited.

Note that virtually all of the scenarios included in "Classic ASL" are considered good for learning purposes. Also, all scenarios from "Classic ASL" and AP#1 are available for free download from MMP's website.

ASL 101: BASIC INFANTRY
1Fighting WithdrawalBV
11 Defiance On Hill 30 Para
A The Guards Counterattack Classic ASL
T1 Gavin Take Classic ASL
G35 Going To Church General 31.2
RB6 Turned Away RB
A80 Commando Schenke Annual '95w
AP8 A Bloody Harvest AP #1
D1 Guryev's Headquarters SoF
ASL 103: VEHICLES
T2 The Puma Prowls Classic ASL
35 Blazin' Chariots WoA
A44 Blocking Action At Lipki Annual '92
23 Under The Noel Trees Yanks
F The Paw Of The Tiger Classic ASL
A51 Clash Along The Psel Annual '93a
ASL 104: CAVALRY
90Pride And JoyDB
SP? Over Open Sights Schwerpunkt #3
ASL 112: OBA
D The Hedgehog Of Piepsk Classic ASL
E Hill 621 Classic ASL
A59 Death At Carentan Annual '93a
T7 Hill 253.5 General 27.3
ASLUG20 The Butcher's Bill ASLUG ?
L Hitdorf On The Rhine General 25.2
ASL 123: NIGHT
61 Shoestring Ridge CoB
H Escape From Velikye Luki Classic ASL
20 Taking The Left Tit Yanks
TOT8 Nightmare Time On Target 1
A19 Cat And Mouse Annual '90
BB2 Throwing Down The Gauntlet Backblast 1
DA11 Sicilian Midnight Annual '93a
TOT18 The Aller Waltz Time On Target 2
40 Fort McGregor WoA
ASL 125: DESERT
35 Blazin' Chariots WoA
37 Khamsin WoA
38 Escape From Derna WoA
41 A Bridgehead Too Wet WoA
CH49 High Danger Critical Hit 4 or the VFTT website
ASL 126: PTO
A60 Totsugeki! Annual '93a
67 Cibik's Ridge GH
A53 Smith & Weston Annual '93a
A58 Munda Mash Annual '93a
63 The Eastern Gate CoB
60 On The Kokoda Trail CoB
A42 Commando Hunt Annual '92
CH28 Children Of The Kunai Critical Hit! 3
A83 Last Of Their Strength Annual '95w
ASL 191: BEACH LANDINGS
A55 The Cat has Jumped Annual '93a
73 Hell or High Water GH
A79 Mike Red Annual '95w
[Issue 21 of View From The Trenches features an article on beach landings which may be useful for beginniers]
ASL 291: CAVES
BB1 Taming Tulagi Backblast 1
72 Sea of Tranquility GH

[4.0] WHAT ELECTRONIC RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE FOR ASL?

[4.1] ASL Internet Mailing List (ASLML)

The advanced-sl mailing list allows discussion of TAHGC's Advanced Squad Leader game series. As at October 1998 there were over 900 subscribers to advanced-sl from all the "corners" of the world.

To subscribe to advanced-sl, send mail to Majordomo@multimanpublishing.com. In the body of the message type the following:

subscribe advanced-sl

To unsubscribe, send:

unsubscribe advanced-sl

A digest version of the list exists. To subscribe to it, use the above directions, but instead you must subscribe to advanced-sl-digest.

A WWW interface to the ASLML now exists. You can browse recent messages, even post new messages, without actually subscribing. See http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~mhb/aslml/ for the full details.

Etiquette:

Aside from the basic rules of "netiquette" (don't flame people in public, etc.) there are some ASLML specific things you should know that will make your stay a happy one.

1) NRBH.

This stands for "No Rulebook Handy". It is very tempting to jump in and answer a rules question with an answer that you "know" to be correct. Unfortunately, it's easy to be wrong. It's generally preferred that a rules question be answered with a reference to the relevant rule (you don't normally need to actually quote the rule). If you must answer when you are NRBH, please have the courtesy to flag your message appropriately.

2) Reality arguments.

In discussing rules and other things on the ASLML as well as in private, one thing almost always come up: reality arguments are arguments like "How come a tank isn't harder to hit from the side when it's moving than from the front? After all, if you're seeing the front, it ought to be moving straight towards you!"

There is a widespread feeling that this is not a good argument, and people may be upset or dismiss you out of hand. There are reasons for this -- perhaps not good enough to excuse bad behaviour, but good reasons nonetheless.

So, what are these reasons. One is that "reality" is different to different people. There are always (and I mean *always*) counter- arguments that are equally valid. In the above case, what if the tank is actually zig-zagging? Another reason is that we don't *know* what the rules are trying to simulate in many cases. OBA have a harder time hitting targets that are concealed than targets that are hidden. This is, of course, totally unrealistic. However, the reason for this is that the player has total information while the cardboard person actually calling in OBA doesn't. To limit the effects of the player's omniscience, this is made harder.

That takes us to the next good reason: it has to work in the game. While some reality "fixes" might seem perfectly reasonable on their own, they may not be in tune with the rest of the rules. A recent suggestion was to add a more severe modifier to buttoned-up AFVs. While this might seem perfectly OK on it's own, the net effect was that it made blind charges over 500m of open ground against stationary enemy AFVs a good tactic. Not quite the intended result. That's sometimes how the game mechanics work out; they're more closely integrated than you might think, and while they might seem unreal in isolation it is the final result that matters.

Of course, the final reason is the most convincing one: it's a game. While *based on* reality, it *isn't* reality. When playing competitively or when there is disagreement, whatever the rules say is what goes. While discussing the rules on the list you are talking to strangers, many of whom do not give any weight whatsoever to reality arguments. Don't expect to convince them because of your brilliant reality arguments -- they have most probably heard it before, and weren't convinced then.

Reality arguments are fine when playing for fun or when playing against your friends. They are outside the bounds of the ASLML as reality is *not* a generally agreed-to basis for arguments. That means they are most likely to provoke some irritated or dismissive responses and no consensus whatsoever.

3) FAQs and Grognards.

The ASLML has been in existence since 1991 and a good number of people have been on the list for years. It's likely that they've seen FAQ's come up many times over the years, and it's sometimes easy for them to forget their manners when replying to an honest question posted by a newbie. Everyone is encouraged to relax and cut each other a little slack. Before posting your question to the ASLML, please make sure to check that (a) you've tried finding the answer in the ASLRB and (b) you've checked to see that it isn't answered in this FAQ.

4) The Signal To Noise Problem

A good metaphor for the list is 600 people talking at once in a big auditorium. It's likely that you don't care about 80% of the conversations going on, and you wish those noisy 80% would just be quiet. Unfortunately, the guy next to you has his OWN 80% to worry about, and chances are that he couldn't care less about the stuff you really want to talk about. This is just the way it is on a mailing list; everybody has his own favorite subjects and they usually don't overlap. Again, being reasonable and cutting each other some slack is the best answer. If you really can't stand someone or some subject, consider using a mail utility with a killfile feature; you'll be able to filter out the offending noise and your life will get less stressful.

5) Virus Alerts

The vast majority of virus alerts are hoaxes. Do everyone a favour and don't pass them on to the ASLML; you're just wasting your time and making yourself look foolish in the process. Furthermore, even the *genuine* virus alerts are a waste of time, since anyone at all concerned will already know how to deal with them. While you think you may be just being "neighbourly" by passing on these alerts, all you are really achieving is to annoy a great many people. Just don't do it, OK?

6) Back-issues

It is possible to get back-issues of the ASLML in digest form from the archive:

You would send Majordomo@multimanpublishing.com the commands "index" and "get", i.e.:

index advanced-sl-digest

get -listname- -filename-

The "index" command tells you what the archive filenames are and the "get" command gets that particular archive. For additional information send a mail to Majordomo@multimanpublishing.com with the message "help". You will be mailed back the listserv help document. An example of the exact method to use is as follows (thanks to Tom Huntington for the original example):

Send mail to: Majordomo@multimanpublishing.com
Subject:
index advanced-sl-digest
Message:
index advanced-sl-digest

Majordomo will mail you a response *really quickly* that looks something like:

>>>> index advanced-sl-digest
total 60380
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  42708 May 24  2001 v01.n1000
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  40917 May 24  2001 v01.n1001
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  41595 May 25  2001 v01.n1002
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  41210 May 26 15:02 v01.n1003
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  43317 May 27 13:56 v01.n1004
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  42061 May 28 01:16 v01.n1005
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  41179 May 28 19:17 v01.n1006
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  41944 May 29 13:56 v01.n1007
...
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  40775 Nov 20 08:34 v01.n1355
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  44887 Nov 20 17:19 v01.n1356
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  40678 Nov 21 08:54 v01.n1357
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  41408 Nov 21 18:13 v01.n1358
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  42855 Nov 22 10:30 v01.n1359
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  44896 Nov 22 12:48 v01.n1360
-rw-rw----  1 multiman  vuser  42534 Nov 23 12:31 v01.n1361
 
Pick out the digest you are interested in (say you missed #1359).

Send another mail to:
Majordomo@multimanpublishing.com
Subject:
get advanced-sl-digest v01.n1359
Message:
get advanced-sl-digest v01.n1359

You will be mailed back the missing digest.

[4.2] The ASL Digest

Before the introduction of the ASLML the only available electronic ASL forum was the ASL Digest. The Digest has a long history and the original issues can still be found today in the various ASL archives. Recently the ASL Digest was resurrected by Tim Hundsdorfer, who maintained it for a ten-issue stint during 1996. The ASL Digest's current editor is Terry Ford.

The ASL Digest should not be confused with the ASLML-Digest Mode. The ASL Digest is an amateur electronic ASL newsletter which is sent out approximately once a month. The content of the Digest includes original scenarios, articles, discussions, product reviews, and editorials. Historical discussions and game tactics/strategies are also included. Current and recent issues can be found on Jeff Shields' ASL homepage (http://www.vims.edu/~jeff/asl.htm). Submissions are strongly encouraged from players of all abilities and experience. To make a submission or to subscribe to the Digest send e- mail to Terry Ford at TFord48157@aol.com.

[4.3] The Expanded ASL Index

One section of the ASLRB that just cried for an update is the old index. As more and more chapters were added to the rulebook, the index fell further behind the times. The Expanded Index was a project started back in 1994, attempting to update the index to cover chapters E through S. Calling on the on-line community, Tom Huntington collected missing bits from the index, and produced his own version.

This Expanded Index is available at several places on the web, but I don't think it has been updated for some time now. One reason for this was the release of the 2nd Edition Rulebook, which finally updated the index (and, if my memory serves, was based on Tom's work). Nevertheless, if you only have the 1st Edition Rulebook, this could prove to be a useful download.

[4.4] WWW & FTP

The most comprehensive list of WWW, FTP and other sites of interest to internet-capable ASL players can be found at the ASL Crossroads site: http://tigertank.com/aslcrossroads/. The guys at Coastal Fortress (http://www.coastalfortess.com) have a large set of links as well. Otherwise, search for "Advanced Squad Leader" in any search engine. Searching for "ASL" isn't recommended, as you will get a lot of results for things that share the same acronym if you do!

[4.5] CompuServe and AOL

There are two CompuServe forums of interest. The first is Avalon Hill's "home" forum for their boardgames line (they have a different forum for their computer games). This is Section 2 of the BCRPUB forum. Any and all discussion of TAHGC games are encouraged here.

The second is the PBMGAMES forum, Section 10 (Other Board Wargames). This is where the Ladder matches are played out in public postings. It's also where the general gossip, rules discussions etc. take place. (This is mostly a matter of history, since the PBMGAMES forum has been around a lot longer than the BCRPUB forum.) If you want to join the CIS Ladder, post a message to Gary Milks [73770,3177].

The AOL ASL club is still very active and running a ladder plus info areas. The current contact is Brian Sielski at Sielski@aol.com.

[4.6] VASL

VASL is a standalone computer application for playing ASL. It is a virtual representation of the ASL system components, including geomorphic boards, HASL maps, overlays, and the complete counterset, with Guns and vehicles for all nationalities. The interface is mouse-based, with players clicking and dragging stacks on the screen. It is designed for head-to-head play by two humans who already own the boardgame. There is no computer player and the rules are not implemented in any way. It can be used as an aid for email play or for live simultaneous play over an internet server.

VASL runs on Windows 95 or 3.1, OS/2, Macintosh PowerPC, UNIX, and any other system that supports the Java Runtime Environment. The software is free, available at http://www.vasl.org/. An online user's guide is also available at this site.

The VASL server address is 216.122.108.113:5050.

[4.7] GAPs

A GAP is a Game Assistance Program. The function of a GAP is not to *replace* the boardgame, but rather to help the player in keeping track of the many rules, dice rolls, etc. required during the play of a typical scenario. A GAP does *not* provide a computerised opponent, nor does it make ownership of the boardgame unnecessary. There are several different GAPs available for ASL play:

1) The TAHGC "official" GAP.

Originally released for the Apple ][, now only available in MS-DOS format. This software is fairly simplistic, and does not offer very much in the way of "fancy features". It's designed purely to assist in normal FtF play. Within these limitations, the software is functional and reasonably straight-forward to use. The only problem I am aware of with it is that in some circumstances it gives you a result without telling you what the intervening dice rolls leading to that result were.

2) The Zundel GAP.

MS-DOS. Shareware. Optimised for PBEM play. E-mail to contact Steve Zundel: zundel@us.ibm.com. Latest update includes all nationalities and is optimized for MS Windows. (Ver 4) Has all OOB's for the nations now represented.

3) ASLAP.

Windows-based. Freeware.

What it does: ASLAP looks after your dicing, works out the results of your dicing, keeps track of snipers, OBA, interrogation, weather, PF, THH, Battlefield Integrity etc. It also helps with SASL. Has a PBeM interface to assist in PBeM, has a Unit Track to keep track of your units. Has complete access to TH, TK, IFT, IIFT, IIFT CTC interactive tables etc.

What else? Has Quickmenus to all conceivable tables where you can automate things like Spreading Fire, Bog, Spotting, Barrage, HoB, Leader Creation, Glider Landing etc etc.

You can download it from: http://www.pitt.edu/~pferraro/aslap.html

4) SALSA

SALSA! is a SASL Assistant written by Robert Delwood (delwood@isomedia.com) intended to simplify play by reducing excessive chart referencing and speeding up die rolling routines. It is not intended to be a computer replacement system for ASL nor automate the logic. It is meant to encourage SASL and to make play easier, quicker and, hence, more enjoyable. It does not compete with any other ASL product currently available and is the only product dedicated solely to SASL. It is available for both Macintosh and Windows.

SALSA! http://www.delwood.org/SALSA.html

[4.8] Other Software

DYO: A program that will lead a user through the Chapter H DYO rules, plus generate random scenarios and solitaire missions. This program was written by Tim Kitchen and is now in Version 3.0. The program includes all data from the Chapter H DYO charts (yes, every vehicle and gun!), and makes designing DYO scenarios a joy instead of rocket science. The program performs all calculations like equivalent infantry, support weapons, leader generation, etc., and supports all nationalities released to date. This software is for Windows 3.1 or Windows 95. It was shareware, but Tim has now made it available for free from http://people.va.mediaone.net/kitchent/owner30.zip. If you like it, e-mail him at kitchent@mediaone.net and say thanks.


INTRODUCTION PART 1 PART 2 PART 3 PART 4 PART 5