ASL FAQ

Advanced Squad Leader
Frequently Asked Questions

PART 4


INTRODUCTION PART 1 PART 2 PART 3 PART 4 PART 5

[8.0]WHAT WAS THE ASL RECORD, AND WHAT IS ROAR?
[8.1]I know the scenario name, but not where to find it?
[9.0]WHAT IS AREA?
[10.0]ARE ALL THE Q&A COLLECTED IN ONE PLACE?
[10.1]Can I send Q's to MMP via e-mail?
[11.0]WHAT ARE THE COMMON ASL QUESTIONS?
[11.1]Rules philosophy
[11.11]Why do the US Marines have ML 8?
[11.12]IFT vs. IIFT
[11.13]Where did the squad FP values come from?
[11.14]How can I tell if a scenario is balanced?
[11.15]Why isn't there an electronic ASLRB?
[11.16]What is the Australian Balance System?
[11.17]Why can't I declare H-t-H Melee in non-Deluxe scenarios?
[11.2]Practical matters
[11.21]The Rulebook
[11.22]Counter storage
[11.23]Overlays
[11.24]Scenarios
[11.25]Good mail-order stores
[11.26]Where are the errata pages?
[11.27]I'm missing pages from Chapter N

[8.0] WHAT WAS THE ASL RECORD, AND WHAT IS ROAR?

The Record was a win-loss database of nearly every ASL scenario ever published. It was a statistical tool to give ASL players the means to determine which scenarios are more likely to be balanced matches, and which are more likely to be unbalanced dogs.

It is important to note that as with any other statistical tool, if the numbers are not large enough than the statistics have no meaning. If only five or six win-loss results are recorded for a particular scenario, that number is too small to be useful. So a record of 5-0 for a particular side in a particular scenario really doesn't tell you anything. Treat any information on scenarios with less than, say, thirty recorded results as being *highly questionable*.

In addition to this problem, note that the Record does not record who was the more experienced player; it does not track rotten dice results or one player simply having an off-day; it does not track whether any scenario balancing was in effect. In short, each scenario has a great number of variables attached to it.

In 1997 the Record seemed to die due to the disappearance of the maintainer, so a new service was created to replace it: ROAR. ROAR is an online database meant to provide the same functions as the Record provided, and more besides. Since it is online, new records are added "on the fly" and thus up-to-date results can be checked at any time. Various reports (most balanced, most recently played, etc.) are available for inspection. All players are encouraged to submit their game results to ROAR; the larger the database, the more useful it is.

ROAR is maintained by JR VanMechelen (jrv@netreach.net) and can be found on the WWW at http://www.netreach.net/~jrv.

[8.1] I know the scenario name, but not where to find it?

ROAR can be used to find the answer to the question "what module/annual/magazine was scenario such-and-such published in?" This information is available for most if not all of the scenarios indexed in ROAR.

Scenarios from the "General" can be particularly difficult to track down. Here is a complete list:

(* denotes scenario reprinted in "ASL Classic" which is available as a free download from MMP)

Conversions of original SL scenarios (see also "Tournament scenarios")

* A The Guards Counterattack 22:6
* B The Tractor Works 22:6
* C The Streets of Stalingrad 22:6
* D The Hedgehog of Piepsk 23:2
* E Hill 621 23:2
* F The Paw of the Tiger 23:5
* G Hube's Pocket 23:5
* H Escape from Velikiye Luki 24:1
* I Buckholz Station 24:4
* J The Bitche Salient 24:4
K The Cannes Strongpoint 25:2
L Hitdorf on the Rhine 25:2
M First Crisis at AG North 25:3
N Soliders of Destruction 25:6
O The St. Goar Assault 26:1
P The Road to Wiltz 26:1
Q Land Leviathans 26:2
R Burzevo 28:3
S The Whirlwind 28:4
T Pavlov's House 29:6
U Chance d'Une Affaire 30:5
V Auld Lang Syne 31:3
W The Defense of Luga 32.3

"New" Scenarios (some are actually "official" versions of scenarios originally published in an "amateur" format)

G1 Timoshenko's Attack 23:3
G2 Last Act in Lorraine 23:6
G3 The Forgotten Front 23:6
G4 First Action 24:3
G5 Six Came Back 24:3
G6 Rocket's Red Glare 24:6
G7 Bring Up the Guns 25:3
G8 Recon in Force 25:5
G9 Sunday of the Dead 25:6
G10 Grab at Gribovo 26:2
G11 Pegasus Bridge 26:5
G12 Avalanche! 27:1
G13 A View From the Top 27:5
G14 Tiger, Tiger 28:3
G15 Bone of Contention 28:4
G16 Alligator Creek 28:5
G17 Hakkaa Paalle 29:2
G18 Goya 29:2
G19 A Tough Nut to Crack 29:3
G20 Camp Nibeiwa 29:3
G21 Cat's Kill 29:4
G22 A Day by the Shore 29:4
G23 Habbaniya Heights 29:5
G24 Mountain Comes to Mohammed 29:5
G25 The T-Patchers 30:1
G26 Parker's Crossroads 30:1
G27 Vaagso Venture 30:2
G28 Ramsey's Charge 30:3
G29 Shoot-N-Scoot 30:4
G30 Morgan's Stand 30:4
G31 Point of the Sword 30:6
G32 A Helping Hand 30:6
G33 The Awakening of Spring 31:1
G34 The Liberators 31:1
G35 Going to Church 31:2
G36 Hill of Death 31:2
G37 Forth Bridge 31:3
G38 Castello Fatato 31:4
G39 A Desperate Affair 31:4
G40 Will to Fight...Eradicated 31:5
G41 Jabo! 31:5
G42 The Youth's First Blood 31:6
G43 Kangaroo Hop 31:6
G44 Abandon Ship! 32:2
G45 Halha River Bridge 32:2
G46 Triumph Atop Taraldsvikfjell 32.3

DASL A To the Last Man 24:1
DASL B The Kiwis Attack 29:6
DASL C Smoke the Kents 30:5
HASL A Ghosts in the Rubble 27:1
3000 Assault on Roundtop 22:5

Tournament Scenarios (includes some SL reprints)

* T1 Gavin Take 24:2
* T2 The Puma Prowls 24:2
* T3 Ranger Stronghold 24:2
* T4 Shklov's Labors Lost 24:2
* T5 The Pouppeville Exit 27:2
* T6 The Dead of Winter 27:2
T7 Hill 253.5 27:3
T8 Aachen's Pall 27:3
T9 The Niscemi-Biscari Highway 28:1
T10 Devil's Hill 28:1
T11 The Attempt to Relieve Peiper 28:2
T12 Hunters from the Sky 28:2
T13 Commando Raid at Dieppe 28:6
T14 Gambit 28:6
T15 The Akrotiri Peninsula 29:1
T16 Strayer's Strays 29:1

[9.0] WHAT IS AREA?

AREA is an International "Ratings System" for players, originally established by TAHGC, now maintained independently. It rates players for many different game titles, not just ASL.

The current website for AREA is at http://wolff.to/area/

[10.0] ARE ALL THE Q&A COLLECTED IN ONE PLACE?

Yes, they are in several formats.

The most common and easily accessible collection is the comprehensive one printed in the '96 ASL Annual. This list is separated into "Clarifications" and "Errata". It includes all the relevant Q&A's that have been printed in the General and previous editions of the Annual. It is very convenient to keep a photocopy of the Q&A list in your ASLRB for use during play. Some people keep their own copy in electronic format and split them into different pages when they print it out for each Chapter of the ASLRB.

The other most common collection is the "unofficial" list. This combines all of the information from the Annual list, plus includes many Q&A that have not (yet) been published in an official TAHGC publication. These are the Q's that have been answered by TAHGC in private correspondence, and have been posted to the ASLML for the information of all players. These include the "MacSez", wherein someone asked Bob Macnamara (one of ASL's prime developers) a question and received his off-the-cuff opinion. "MacSez's" are respected by most and usually settle a question, but they're definitely unofficial answers.

A note on "official" vs. "unofficial" Q&A. It is generally regarded that "official" Q&A are to be considered extensions of the ASLRB itself, that is, what they say goes. A lot of people don't always agree with the answers that are given, and disregard them in their home games, but in tournaments, you should expect that all official Q&A are "in play".

"Unofficial" Q&A are a different beast. TAHGC has been known to answer some Q's in private and then provide a different answer in the "official" version. Hence, all "unofficial" Q&A (even a "MacSez") must be treated with caution. It would not be unreasonable to expect that your opponent may disregard an "unofficial" Q&A in tournament play. Nevertheless, many of the "unofficial" Q&A are quite important and make a lot of sense (and end up becoming "official" eventually anyway). Simple rule when dealing with "unofficial" Q&A: Caveat Emptor.

Another source for an "unofficial" compilation is Scott Romanowski (smr@world.std.com). It includes all the official Q&A, plus all the MMP compilations posted to the ASLML, plus many other third-party publishers. It's available on the BAASL server (walden.ne.mediaone.net/baasl) and other places, including e-mail from Scott. It's in MS Word format.

[10.1] Can I send Q's to MMP via e-mail?

Yes you can! MMP have set up a mailing address to send Q's to. These Q's are not answered individually, rather, they are answered in a collection of Q&A's that are posted to the ASLML on a regular basis. While still "unofficial" (see above) until published, they're the next best thing.

As a general rule, however, to prevent the Q&A address from being flooded with pointless questions, it is a strong recommendation that all Q's be sent to the ASLML first for general discussion. You may find that your Q has a very simple and unambiguous answer. Only send those Q on the e-mail address when there is no "obvious" answer available.

The e-mail address is asl_qa@multimanpublishing.com. Questions should be formatted to elicit a YES/NO response. The official MMP web-page (www.advancedsquadleader.com) has a browser-based form to make submitting Q&A easier.

[11.0] WHAT ARE THE COMMON ASL QUESTIONS?

[11.1] RULES PHILOSOPHY

"Why are the rules the way they are?" This section attempts to demystify some of the more-commonly-queried rules decisions.

[11.11] Why do the US Marines have ML 8?

The short "official" answer is, apparently, they have to be that tough to survive fighting the Japanese, especially when making Beach Assaults. During playtest, ML7 Marines often broke and died for failure to rout from the beach, which did not seem correct to the designers.

Many people feel that this is unfair to the regular US infantry (whose "Elite" troops only have a ML of 7). Too bad; deal with it. It's a game thing (and a source of a great (and greatly humorous) rivalry between the Marines and the Paratroopers/Rangers on the ASLML).

[11.12] IFT vs. IIFT

The IIFT (Incremental Infantry Fire Table) is a variant introduced in the '89 Annual (reprinted in ASL Classic, see [2.34], and now an optional rule in the 2nd edition Rulebook), that allows for every extra FP factor (or in some cases, 1/2 FP factor) to get you a new column; i.e., so that a 5 FP attack is slightly better than a 4 FP attack.

Some people feel that this makes the game more "realistic" since you don't have to be fussy about how you organise your FGs, and throwing in that extra MG in the attack will always be useful. Other people feel that the extra FP factors make it more likely that troops will have concealment stripped (since the most common "extra" result when using the IIFT is a PTC).

It's possible to argue mathematically that the effect on concealment loss is minimal, affecting less than 5% of games. Try it for yourself; play a game and make a note of how many times the use of the IIFT altered a game result; most people find that such altered results are rare. In reality, this is all irrelevant; IFT vs. IIFT is a stylistic thing, you either like it or you don't.

Regardless, the IIFT is an *official* variant from TAHGC. It's available for anyone who wants to use it. If you don't want to use it in your game, then all you have to do is say "no thanks", just like when using any other official game variant (e.g., Battlefield Integrity). It's not worth abusing anyone over.

Incidentally, Ole Boe has made a variation of the IIFT that uses "CTC" results (Conditional Task Checks). A CTC is a PTC *only if* the target is not concealed; hence, the argument that the IIFT "strips concealment" is nullified. This version is *not* "official", but again, it's available if you want to use it.

[11.13] Where did the squad FP values come from?

Guesswork, mostly. High FP factors combined with short range tends to indicate a dependance on fully automatic weapons (SMGs, etc.). The US squads are assumed to have at least one inherent BAR, hence their extra FP at long range. What it all boils down to though is that the original factors were designed for the basic SL game, and John Hill just fudged the numbers until they "felt right". Everything else in ASL is designed around those numbers. Don't lose any sleep over it.

[11.14] How can I tell if a scenario is balanced?

Experience, mostly. The more you know about the game the better idea you will have about the capabilities of the forces involved.

What makes a "balanced" game, anyway? Ideally if two players of equal skill level play a scenario, then they should have an equal chance with winning from either side. In practice this won't happen all that often. Even two equal players can have "off" days, and the vagaries of the dice will guarantee that no scenario will play exactly the same way twice.

Nevertheless, there are some scenarios (e.g., "The Agony Of Doom") that one side simply cannot lose, no matter what happens. You will get to know these scenarios as you become a more prolific (and proficient) ASL player. There are plenty of other scenarios that always provide a good match; the "unbalanced dogs" sink to the bottom fairly quickly. Don't sweat it; just concentrate on using your skills to the utmost (and having a good time while doing so). Ultimately, would you rather play a fun unbalanced scenario or an un-fun balanced one?

Finally, note that ROAR (see [8.0]) is a tool that can be of some use (when used carefully!) in determining Scenario balance.

[11.15] Why isn't there an electronic ASLRB?

A lot of people think it would be great to have the ASLRB available on CD-ROM. MMP agree; they are working on such a product, publishing date unknown.

[11.16] What is the Australian Balance System?

The ABS is an alternate method of providing balance (and a side- bidding system) for a scenario. The standard ASLRB method of scenario balance involves a single option for each side in a scenario. (This method is described in A26.5.) The ABS (so named because it was invented by an Australian ASL player, Dave Longworth, and tested at Australian tournaments) uses a three-tiered system of balance for each side. The higher the level of balance for a side, the more that side gives up. Official scenarios published by TAHGC do not use the ABS, but you will often see "amateur" scenarios make use of it. It is especially popular at tournaments, and sometimes you will see official scenarios have ABS "retrofitted" to them for more variety.

[11.17] Why can't I declare H-T-H Melee in non-Deluxe scenarios?

H-T-H CC (J2.31) is a Deluxe ASL rule that permits a deadlier form of CC. It may at first seem peculiar that this rule is only allowed when playing on the extra-large Deluxe hexes, but the reason is surprisingly prosaic: no counters to designate H-T-H Melee (as opposed to "normal" Melee) were available until RB was released. It was a permitted option for DASL because the hexes are large enough to separate the units involved in Melee (thus presumably making it easier to designate which units are in H-T-H Melee).

As noted above, RB added H-T-H Melee counters to the system, and it is a standard option in that module; subsequently, it was an option also granted to Japanese units (G1.64) (and appropriate markers were made available in CoB). These are specific exemptions, however, and the normal case remain that H-T-H Melee is an option available only for DASL scenarios.

(Note: The updated Chapter A rules pages supplied in DB give Gurkha troops the same H-T-H options as Japanese.)

[11.2] PRACTICAL MATTERS

[11.21] The Rulebook

By the time you have acquired all the modules, you will need additional binders. This is especially true if you use ring protectors or other methods to protect the pages -- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! The FAQ author recommends the use of plastic page protectors (his ASLRB is currently split across several folders).

[11.22] Counter storage There are probably as many ways of storing your thousands of ASL counters as there are players of ASL. There is certainly no absolute "best" way; it really is a matter of personal taste (combined with some other practical considerations -- how much space you have, do you want your ASL gear to be portable, etc.)

Common solutions include:

Counter trays. These are made in various sizes by TAHGC and other wargaming companies. They are not generally preferred for ASL since they usually are not big enough to hold a good number of counters, meaning that you need so many of them that they can become impractical to use. However, if space and portability is not much of an issue for you, they will certainly do the job. They also work fine in combination with other solutions.

Ziplok envelopes. The advantage of these is that they're pretty easy to pack and label, and come in all shapes and sizes, so they can be quite convenient. Sorting can however be a bit of a bear since you need so many of them.

Spare parts drawers. Available from hardware stores, these are usually small cabinets with a number of pull-out trays in them for storing odds and ends. These are best used when you have no need or desire to make your ASL set portable, as such cabinets usually have no way of securing the drawers, meaning they'll fall out and scatter the counters every where if they're knocked about. Still, they can be very convenient and functional, although sometimes a little pricy. You'll probably need several of them.

Fishing Tackle boxes. In the US, they're called "Plano", after a popular manufacturer of them. In other parts of the world, Plano can be hard to come by, but other brands of fishing tackle boxes are not (unless you live in the middle of a desert, I suppose). The preferred boxes are clear plastic (flexible, not brittle) and have many small compartments. They seal tight but can carry many hundred of counters, so you don't need that many of them. Their only real disadvantage is that they tend to be pricier than other alternatives.

[11.23] Overlays

(i) How do I keep them in place on the board?

A common solution is to use plastic page protectors (like the ones you protect your ASLRB pages with) and store them alphabetically in a ring folder. Small overlays can be kept in the plastic pages used to store card collections. When actually using overlays, there are many solutions. Many people recommend rubber cement, which will stick to the boards but peel off harmlessly when no longer needed. Don't confuse this with normal glue!

Other solutions include clear plexiglass overlays to hold the overlays in place (also helps to protect the boards). "Blue Tak" (that's the Australian product name; there are equivalents in most countries), the blue sticky stuff used to hang posters on the wall, will work fine in small amounts, but note that it has a tendency to leave a stain where it has been applied. Some people like to use draftsman's tape -- a type of clear adhesive tape that's designed to peel off easily without damaging the material underneath.

(ii) Where can I find a particular overlay?

The following is a complete list of official product overlays (at time of publication). NOTE: many third-party products also come with overlays.

* West Of Alamein
"D1-D6", "E1", "H1-H6", "S1-S8", "SD1-SD8", "W1-W4", "X1-X5".

* Code Of Bushido
"1-5", "B1-B5", "G1-G5", "M1-M5", "O1-O5", "RP1-RP5", "Wd1-Wd5", "X6".

* Gung Ho
"Be1-Be7", "Ef1-Ef3", "OC1-OC4", "P1-P5".

* Croix de Guerre
"OG1-OG5", "St1-St3", "X7-X18"

* SL Overlays (came with GI: Anvil of Victory)
"A-O". Hardly ever used anymore. (In fact, I know of no TAHGC- published ASL scenario that uses them, even the updated versions of old GI-level scenarios.)

* '95 Annual
Deluxe Mapboard overlays "dx1-dx9"- they were undersized, and replaced by an insert from the General magazine (Vol. 30 #3) later that year.

* Doomed Battalions
"RR1-RR14", "X19-X24", "OW1".

* Action Pack #2
"6", "Hi1-Hi7", "X25-X29".

[11.24] Scenarios

Obtaining photocopy services is cheap and easy for most people nowadays, so the usual recommendation is that you copy your scenario cards and store them in plastic page protectors in a ring folder. (Yes, you can end up carrying a lot of folders around!) Note that this saves you from cutting up or pulling apart those magazines. If you photocopy the original scenario cards, you can then store the scenarios in numerical order, currently impossible with the bizarre TAHGC scheme used in most of the modules.

[11.25] Good mail-order stores

Many people in the US (and in other countries) swear by Boulder Games, who always sell at a substantial discount. You can contact them via e-mail at BoulderG@aol.com, or view their web page at http://www.bouldergames.com/.

MMP are making all currently available "official" ASL products available for sale via their web page - see www.advancedsquadleader.com.

[11.26] Where are the replacement pages?

1st Edition Rulebook: TAHGC have published several replacement pages for the ASLRB over the years. The errata pages can be identified by a superscript (indicating the year of publication) next to the page number. Text that has been changed by the errata is marked with a black dot in the margin. Unfortunately, most of the new pages are only available by buying the various modules. Here is the current list:

87 Errata pages: These were sent free to people who sent in their coupon from the original printing of the ASLRB. The free offer is no longer available (current printings of the ASLRB should have the 87 pages already included). Now out-of-print as a separate product, MMP have made these pages available for download from their website.

Page Nos.: A7/8, A13/14, A15/16, A27/28, A29/30, B7/8, B19/20, B25/26.

89 Errata pages: See 87 pages, above, for details of how to get these pages if you don't already have them.

Page Nos.: C1/2, C3/4, C5/6. C7/8, C11/12, D9/10, D13/14, D17/18.

90 Errata page: Supplied in the CoB module.

Page No.: E25/26.

91 Errata pages: Supplied in the GH module.

Page Nos.: B29/30, D1/2.

92 Errata pages: Supplied in the CdG module.

Page Nos.: A17/18, A29/30, B31/32, F1/2.

96 Errata Pages: Supplied in the KGP II HASL module. These pages replace all but a couple of the Chapter P pages originally provided in the KGP I module.

98 Errata Pages: Supplied in the DB module.

Page Nos.: A39/40, A41/42, A43/44, A45/46, B31/32, B33/34.

99 Errata Pages: Supplied in AP2. Note that these differ from the pages provided in DB in only trivial ways.

Page Nos.: B31/32, B33/34.

2nd Edition Rulebook: MMP have issued replacement pages for the 2nd Ed ASLRB, all of which are only available as downloads from their website:

Page Nos: A15/16, A53/54, B7/8, D5/6, D7/8

[11.27] I'm missing pages from Chapter N

Chapter N is "armory", i.e., reproductions of the countersheets from the official modules. Not all modules have Chapter N pages included in the module the countersheets come with. Many of the earlier modules did not get Chapter N pages until later releases (for example, the Chapter N page for "Paratrooper" were not provided until "Yanks" was released). Moreover, there have never been official Chapter N pages provided for any HASL module, and there are no Chapter N pages for DB either.

It is generally recommended that you make photocopies of the back and front of your HASL and DB countersheets before punching out the counters if this is of concern to you. Comments from MMP make it seem unlikely that any future products will update Chapter N.


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