Homefront Wargame Center

…supporting our hobby!

Posts Tagged ‘ASL’

Christian Koppmeyer – R.I.P.

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on April 11, 2014

It is with deep regret and sadness that today we learn of the all too early passing of Christian Koppmeyer who passed away two days ago in a hospital at the age of only 52. Christian was one of the most active ASL players in Germany and hosted the well known ASL Grenadier tournament every year. We only knew him from email exchange many years ago but all those who have known him will remember his friendly personality and his dedication to our hobby, he was always willing to answer questions and help the newbies to become part of the wonderful world of Advanced Squad Leader. He is survived by his wife and three sons.

Christian you will be missed but kept in good memory!

Rest in peace Christian…



Posted in ASL, News and Releases | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

MMP in preparation for the…eASLRB!!!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on August 23, 2012


One should check the actual date twice these days since it really seems like it’s April 1st for two days in a row now… 😉

Yesterday we heard about the reprint of Up Front – The Squad Leader Card Game, unbelievable as it is, it seems to be true.

And today Chas Argent part of the MMP team is asking for help on the wargame forums saying they need proofreaders for an electronic version of the ASL rulebook. Yep that’s right – the community for years tried to convince MMP that to publish the Big Tome in an electronic format where you can quickly search for a rule, would help a lot to make the game more accessible. They always rejected this because of possible copyright issues. So some folks out there went an extra mile by producing such an eASLRB for themselves… 😛

It seems that MMP has a different opinion about this now and this is really good news, so we can expect a professionally produced eASLRB in the hopefully near future.

You can find the announcement on the CSW and GamesSquad forums.

That’s like all ASL players rolled just …Snake Eyes!!! 🙂



Posted in ASL, News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Up Front 2000… announced for 2013?

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on August 22, 2012

Just in case you didn’t notice the earthquake that shook the (wargame) world today, here are a few words on that.

Valley Games, a small game company that also has a few wargames in their portfolio today announced on Board Game Geek that they will publish a reprint of one of the all time classics of our hobby: Up Front – The Squad Leader Card Game

The game was published 1983 and till this day is one of the favorite games of probably the majority of wargamers. Its brilliant design, innovative aspects, simulation value and smooth gameplay was the reason that it won so many friends. The licence was given to MMP by Hasbro (holding the rights to Avalon Hill games) years ago and the well known ASL publisher tried for years to get a reprint done  – without success. It was said that although they got the licence to republish it, Hasbro still had the rights and obviously had different ideas what to do with the game – fact is despite a project Up Front 2000, which was the supposed date for publishing the reprint, this name became sort of a placeholder even after the year 2000 and now the time for a possible reprint by MMP is over. So it seems that the licence is given to Valley Games now and this company says they want to do a kick starter project to finance the reprint.

Valley Games is very excited to announce that we have been offered the opportunity to produce Up Front. In association with the original designer, Courtney Allen, we will reproduce this classic title with improved and enhanced rules, new artwork and new graphic design. We will use Kickstarter to fund the project with a planned launch date of December 2012. More information to come as we get closer to the launch date. (Rik Falch)

After all these years when we thought the reprint is actually never gonna happen and after a big name in the wargaming world failed to get it done for whatever licence or contract reasons and problems with Hasbro, now a small company, not even really deep into wargames let alone consims, just announces ‘we will do it’. But it’s not news that is to be found on their official website, which is kinda strange,  just a thread on the BGG  forum – that you can find here

It sounds unbelievable but of course we also hope that this is true and that a new Up Front will be for sale in the near future. But it will depend of course what they do with this game, so we wouldn’t advice anybody to sell their copy of the classic game now as some do on the internet (‘sell the game before it will lose its value, you won’t get anything for it when the new version is out’) because even if a new version is coming, we don’t know whether it will be the same game we so love or something completely different with the same name.

‘Improved and enhanced rules’ can mean anything and of course the rules of UF are not perfect (but they are not that ‘bad’ either as some seem to think they are) so improvement is always possible and certainly desirable. What they mean with ‘enhanced’ rules we will have to see…new artwork is great because when we consider how cool for example the LCGs by FFG look then Up Front could really shine on the table if done right. Design…shouldn’t mean to redesign the game as a whole however, because it just works.

What we definitely don’t want to see is a watered down version of the game, we don’t want to play an Up Front where there is no Relative Range used anymore – a fantastic concept, but some players seem to have problems to understand how it works. Enhancing could mean to get rid of this core concept to make it ‘easier’, to attract more players. Chits could be larger and more colorful, redesigning the game so it doesn’t ‘need’ any chits anymore would be a mistake. Some cards –  representing the soldiers – in Up Front get flipped when their morale breaks and then they have different combat values, so both sides are printed. In CCGs and LCGs these days cards are ‘tapped’ when something happens and we wouldn’t consider this a necessary step in a redesign, flipping is just fine, it works. Perhaps all this is not gonna happen and what they do is just polishing the game, not changing it in essential aspects, but such thoughts come up when you are a fan of this classic.

That Cortney Allen, the designer of Up Front, is part of the team doing the reprint design is of course wonderful news and hopefully this will be enough to prevent changes the fans don’t want – and the game doesn’t need. There’s probably no wargame out there that is that perfect than Up Front, it just needs a little polish here and there in the rules, streamlining of some concepts, a state of the art presentation and the base game and the expansions all done in one style to transform it into the Holy Grail of Wargaming. No game came ever that close to this, that’s what we actually think.

So lets hope that after so many years we all can indeed sell our old version of this gem of a game  in the near future because the reprint is true to the innovative and brilliant design we know and love to play. But Valley Games will have to convince us with their product and so we’ll stick to the old version with all the worn out cards and play classic Up Front until we can actually see what’s up with this new Up Front – if it ever gets published.

Posted in News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CONTRA: “Don’t be afraid of monsters!”

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

by Andreas Ludwig

a discussion on Alan Emrich’s article “The Fall and Rise of Wargaming”

PRO Alan’s article CONTRA

Well, after reading Alan’s article on the issue “what are the positive and negative factors regarding trends and developments in the wargaming/historical conflict simulation business”, I have to admit that – although I agree on the whole with his opinion -, I see some points in a different way.

First of all, the reason why we decided to reprint his article on our homepage was the simple fact that everything which is discussing this hobby and the ways how it can be brought back again into the consciousness of a wider audience is something worth supporting.

Furthermore the fact that this article was published many years ago without losing its importance today is certainly an indicator that the situation the author addressed at his time hasn’t actually changed much – as we can see nowadays, because wargaming as a hobby is still shrinking and is still what Alan used to call an “esoteric hobby“.

So the question actually is: what went wrong over the decades from those glorious days when wargaming was an intellectual challenge with millions of sold games? Or better: are the reasons mentioned by Alan actually those which caused what he calls the “decline of wargaming”?

The consumer – digging his own grave?

Alan observes two main aspects which – in his opinion – are responsible for the current situation: that wargaming is a hobby for a minority and is getting more and more expensive:

Okay, to the outsider, ASL may look somewhat esoteric...

First he states that the customers demanded a different way to purchase their games. In the early days all wargaming companies made their money through direct postal sales until the players wished to buy their games in their local stores instead. This quickly changed the cost factor because the companies were forced to react to the now longer distribution chains which eventually made the games much more expensive for the customer who was buying this stuff and who was the one financing the entire market.

The second reason is the change in the very nature of wargames, because according to Alan everything started with games with a relatively low complexity level, until these gamers wanted more realism and more detail. Since companies are usually acting in accordance to the customers’ wishes (to get their money), they started to produce more detailed and more complicated wargames and this was driven over the edge – in Alans opinion – so that a newbie, someone who never played such a game, is completely lost when reading an extensive rulebook for the first time.

Based on these two main points he now explains why it is necessary to step back in this process to give wargaming a new chance again.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Wargaming in general | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PRO: “Introductory Wargames to revive the community!!!”

Posted by Denny Koch on May 10, 2010

by Denny Koch

a discussion on Alan Emrich’s article “The Fall and Rise of Wargaming”

PRO Alan’s article

Despite the fact that Alan Emrich wrote his article some years ago, I think it is as relevant today as it was then – perhaps even more, because his predictions have come true by now. Especially video games and PC games, which had an explosive growth since the end of the 90’s, finished the job which was started by colorful and easy-to-play role-playing games in the 80’s: lack of new recruits is more than evident these days.

Generation videogame

If you take a close look at today’s consim scene you can easily recognize that the average age is even higher today than it was when Alan wrote his article (and even then the 28-45 year olds were the largest part of the community), while it doesn’t attract players younger than 22 years. The same people who were active in the consim scene in the early days are growing old together with their hobby, while the attraction for younger gamers is constantly diminishing. In my opinion the strongest rival in this race are attractive, spectacular videogames (for example the Call of Duty and Battlefield series), which offer more action and more of the feeling of being “within the game” than perhaps an ASL scenario – or at least this is what the unexperienced newbie may think when comparing these two. Besides this, videogames are always “introductory” and can be learned within a few minutes to a maximum of one hour by every player, no matter how unexperienced he is.

Call of Duty MW2 is one of the most intense and driving front experiences you can get in a videogame

All we can do is promise that learning a complex consim and working yourself through a monster rulebook is worth all the time and effort – because once you get a grasp on the game system, you’ll get a very deep feeling for tactical and strategical situations – deeper than any videogame can offer.

Learning the circumstances of a historical battle, about the importance of a seemingly unimportant island or hill, the importance of securing supply lines, of morale, of leadership, answering “why didn’t they do this and that” and other “what if”-questions gives very fascinating historical insights into war. This doesn’t mean that games like Call of Duty don’t deliver an “authentic” front feeling, but it’s more of a spectacular, roller-coaster, fast-food type which is intense for a few hours, but forgotten when the next game launches. It doesn’t answer any questions or give deep insights into strategical and tactical decisions and problems.

But what is this promise worth? We will get nothing but a pityful look and a patronizing comment that we could enjoy our dusted counters and pages of tables and ballistic calculations if we want to. But why should today’s youth bother with calculating the combat odds for themselves – software and videogames do this superfluous background work and all these little calculations and all what’s left for the player is the mere gaming experience and fun!

Even if you have the rare lucky moment in finding a young person interested in history who is also after simulation and authenticity and a very accurate presentation of a specific event or combat, you will have problems in fighting your “evil rival”: there is no fight, no era, no battle you won’t find in a PC based simulation. By the way, PC games offer a huge advantage over boardgame based simulations – they almost always include a multiplayer modus over the internet which replaces the face-to-face gaming which was typical for gaming groups in the 90’s.

Even fans of roleplaying games tend to switch over to the Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games which allow them to dive deep into a virtual world without wearing out their fantasy too much and without the need to read heavy rulebooks or to calculate combat effects on tables (the only exception are Live Roleplayers, but this type of RPG cannot be compared to a “boardgame” but more to Gotcha or Reenactment as contrasted to a Wargame).

What was only starting to become evident in the future – as described in Alan’s article -, has grown into a serious threat for the hobby today.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to condemn videogames, especially not realistic tactical shooters: I love to play them myself and we enjoy the cooperative Spec-Ops mode in “Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2” or the Conquest mode of “Battlefield Bad Company 2” together with our friends… the point is: today’s youth – tomorrow’s wargamers – simply don’t know of the existence of different kinds of strategical and tactical gameplay, because the wargaming scene, the games, the magazines, the forums, the mailing lists etc. are not present in the eyes of the potential wargamer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Wargaming in general | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

ROAR – the automated record of played ASL games

Posted by Denny Koch on May 5, 2010

A quite common situation: you are sitting in front of an Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) scenario, thinking something like “whoever created this scenario… what the heck… you can never ever win with the American side!” or “I’ve got the impression that this scenario is badly balanced and the Russians have a high advantage!”

With ROAR (link to the ROAR website) it is possible to prove your suspicion: is this scenario really unbalanced (not too unusual in ASL where scenarios can present a real historical situation which had been hopeless from the beginning!) or is it due to my own incompetence why I’m generally loosing with this or that side?

But ROAR can do even more for you – besides providing information about play balance and the popularity of an ASL scenario! As a nice bonus, ROAR can record your played games for you, doing all the book-keeping: opponent, date, side played, result.

ROAR – what is it and why do I need it?

“ROAR” is the abbreviation for “remote on-line automated record“. This is a database which is filled consecutively by ASL players from all over the world – with the results of their played games. From this vast amount data you can gather a lot of interesting information: in which scenario which site has won how often or how many times a scenario was played at all etc..

Beside that, all gamers have the option to rate a scenario (on a graduated scale from “extremely recommendable”  to “highly unfavorable”). Of course it’s obvious that, the more gamers take part in ROAR by posting their game results, the more information you can get out of this database. A higher number of reports is more reliable and of greater statistic value: a scenario played only 3 times with 3 Russian victories is not as representative as a scenario in which the Germans have won 243 and the Americans 256 times.

But ROAR offers more than an insight into the balance and statistics of a scenario – it offers a very useful personal archive for the dedicated ASL player: Each registered player can log in with his own password to his personal ASL statistic: ROAR records every game with date, opponent, played site and result. So, there is no need to archive your ASL games in some paper lists  or Excel spreadsheets – just take a look into your ROAR statistic and you can keep track of all of your played games since the beginning of time. You can even add games played years ago.

Screenshot: Record by Scenario name

The admins of ROAR try to keep the database updated, so it will always be adjusted with every new scenario published. Not only the original MMP and classic-scenarios are registered – you can find all third-party-scenarios from different sources (like journals and magazines) as well.

What do I have to do?

The ROAR system is very easy to use.

First of all there is the option to report your own results. This happens on the main page under the link “Add a Playing”. Of course only one of the two players involved in a scenario announces the game result, therefore you should agree about this with your opponent in order to prevent the double posting of a game.

After clicking “Add a playing“, a window opens where you choose the names of the players (real names, no pseudonyms or whatever!) who took part in your game (they must be registered players, but don’t worry, registering is very easy and you can even register your opponent if he has no internet access) and the scenario which was played.

Select players and scenario from dropdown menus

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in ASL, Historical Games A-Z | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Short Introduction: ASL – what’s that?!?

Posted by Denny Koch on March 24, 2010

ASL (“Advanced Squad Leader”) is a tactical level, hex- and counter based consim which allows you to play almost all fronts of WWII battlefields. It is probably the most realistic and detailed game system out there and was originally developed by The Avalon Hill Game Company (TAHGC). Later on, the licenses were taken over by Hasbro and they decided that from now on the game system should be published by Multi Man Publishing (MMP).

ASL is the successor of Squad Leader (published 1977), a successful classic, and is – generally speaking – an improved and plainer version of the former SL system, incorporating all four original modules named “Gamettes” (which caused so much problems over the time because the new rules introduced by the gamettes didn’t fit well with the standard rules of the SL core game).

ASL is not a single game but a highly detailed and complex  game system, consisting of a three-ring-binder rulebook with the basic rules chapters A (Infantry), B (Terrain), C (Ordnance), D (Vehicles), E (Misc) and several modules which contain the scenarios, boards, counters, and OOB (“Order of Battle”) of all participating factions. Each module adds more specific rules or even new chapters (desert warfare, Pacific theater) to the rulebook.

Germans facing US forces

ASL portrays the battles of WWII on every scene and setting you can imagine and offers over 3000 scenarios which are very detailed and based on historical events and often with background information.

These scenarios describe the initial starting situation of every battle regarding manpower and leadership qualities, hours of the day, season, weapons, tanks and other vehicles, as well as the goal of the scenario, called “Victory Condition.”

A game is played through several game turns and these are divided into two player turns in which the players are taking actions one after another, although there are some phases where the non-phasing player can react to the actions of the moving player. This makes the game very interactive and downtime is reduced to a minimum for those participating in this game.

Men (single men, squads, half squads etc..) and machines (tanks, jeeps, trucks, weapons etc..) are portrayed on so called “counters” (if you take all MMP products together with the 3rd party stuff, the system contains about 20.000 counters) which contain different information and numbers printed upon them.

It is this information on which the interaction of the simulated battles is based on: Morale, Line of Sight, firepower, portage costs, terrain, malfunction, ammunition shortage, MG salves, etc.. and additional charts, diagrams and odds tables allow to simulate historical events on the gaming table pretty accurately.

Essential: A pair of tweezers

Movement is executed on geomorphic boards which are used to portray the terrain where the battles and maneuvers actually did take place. There are more than 50 boards available which can be combined in every way to fit any historical circumstances. The boards are printed upon with a hexagonal grid structure, each hex portraying 40 meters in reality. ASL tries to simulate battles and maneuvers with as much realism and detail as possible and it’s very successful in doing this. This is not Axis & Allies, but a true consim that is as close to reality as possible! But it is still very playable despite of this accuracy and its complexity, and it’s a rather fast going game, providing the players with great fun and enormous tension.

The rulebook of course is quite heavy because it contains rules for any situation you can think of, but all rules are well explained with many examples to help you jumping into the ASL game experience. Yet, it remains a book with some hundreds of pages of rules printed in small letters and a very technical English with tons of acronyms, which have to be mastered to get full satisfaction out of this game. A daunting task at first, but after overcoming this, one will realize that there’s no game experience comparable with ASL.

What do I need to start playing ASL?

In order to play ASL, players are required to buy the rulebook. The rulebook adds no counters and no boards and is sold separately at about 80$.

The gaming table with maps and charts

In addition, at least one of the core modules is required; later modules require ownership of the former modules. Module #1 “Beyond Valor” is required for all later modules because it adds the entire German army, vehicles, and ordnance weapons as well as the Russian OOB. If you want to test the game system first because you don’t know whether to delve into this very expensive game system with its rare and hard to find modules, you can alternatively start with module #2 “Paratroopers” which serves as a small introductory standalone module with all necessary counters included (US and German). Its scenarios are smaller and offer a step-by-step introduction to the more complex aspects of the game (starting with basic infantry fights before learning to use ordnance and vehicles). If you start with Paratrooper and decide that you like the game system, you have to buy and play Beyond Valor nevertheless, but the Paratrooper scenarios are nice for play on short game meetings because they are smaller and faster than the scenarios in the core modules.

Since ASL was originally meant to attract SL players, ownership of the old SL geomorphic game boards is required to play many modules. Newer editions and reprints come with new cardboard maps and many modules add new SL style maps to the collection, but ownership of the basic SL maps is a prerequisite if you want to play all scenarios available. Fortunately, the old SL games are not too hard to come by, the gamettes are still sold on eBay and the maps can often be bought separately.

Beware, many ASL modules are out of print and prices on ebay or other marketplaces can be astronomous. Fortunately, MMP has started reprinting the core modules but if you are a dedicated ASL collector, you have to be on the watch constantly if you want to purchase one of the extremely rare modules (for example the Pacific modules) or scenario collections. Check out module availability at the MMP website; sometimes, you can find a special bargain here.

So if you decide to jump into ASL, you can choose between these options:

  • Buy the rulebook (80$) and module #2 Paratrooper. If you like the game system, you will have to buy the other core modules; Paratrooper is a standalone and no other modules are based on ownership of this game. You could even search for an older 1st edition rulebook on eBay; it is much cheaper than the 2nd edition which contains some clarifications and additional rules chapters from the start which originally came with later modules. The 1st edition rulebook is perfect for getting into the game without taking financial risks; if you decide you like ASL, you will buy the 2nd edition sooner or later.
  • Buy the rulebook and module #1 Beyond Valor (about 100$), avoiding Paratrooper for the moment. Beyond Valor will be the foundation of your collection and is an absolute prerequisite to play the other modules.

Consulting the rulebook

(To be fair, there’s a third option: MMP published a spin-off series called “ASL Starter Kit” with a light version of the rules and a lower complexity. The starter kits should offer an easier (and cheaper) introduction into the game system, but they are NOT full ASL and jumping over to the full ruleset afterwards can be quite challenging. Many people decide that they are satisfied with what the Starter Kits have to offer and don’t switch over to full ASL at all. In our opinion, the “Rulebook & Paratrooper” or “Rulebook & Beyond Valor” (for more experienced consim players or even SL veterans) are the better options because you learn handling and navigating the monstrous rulebook from day 1. We started with an older (cheaper) 1st edition rulebook and Paratrooper and switched over to Beyond Valor and the updated and clarified 2nd edition rulebook afterwards.)

Paratrooper won’t be reprinted by MMP because in their opinion it became obsolete by the ASL Starter Kits, so keep your eyes open if you are interested in the Normandy invasion / Band of Brothers style scenarios included in this module.

How many modules exist?

Core Modules:

#1 Beyond Valor: Russian and German OOB
#2 Paratrooper: Germans and US paratroopers, Normandy invasion standalone introductory module
#3 Yanks: US OOB
#4 Partisan: Partisans and Resistance Fighters
#5 West of Alamein: British OOB, desert rules, out of print
#5a For King and Country: British OOB, replacement for West of Alamein without the desert rules
#6 The Last Hurrah: Allied Minors OOB
#7 Hollow Legion: Italian OOB
#8 Code of Bushido: Japanese OOB, PTO rules, extremely rare, out of print
#9 Gung Ho: US Marines and Chinese OOB, PTO
#10 Croix de Guerre: French OOB, reprint planned for 2011
#11 Doomed Batallions: Allied Minors and Guns extensions
#12 Armies of Oblivion: Axis Minors OOB

Historical Modules (containing large accurate game maps based on aerial images and additional rules)

#1 Red Barricades: Stalingrad
#2 Kampfgruppe Peiper 1: Ardennes offensive
#3 Kampfgruppe Peiper 2: Ardennes
#4 Pegasus Bridge

Deluxe Modules (containing larger boards):

#1 Streets of Fire: Street fighting of the Eastern Front
#2 Hedgerow Hell: Normandy

Solitaire ASL: A complete solitaire system for playing ASL with a good ‘paper AI’

The Paratrooper module

Since the game can be played online or via PbEM (Play by Email) with VASL, you will surely find opponents even if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere. Nevertheless, VASL is only a virtual representation of the maps and counters without AI, ownership of the ASL rulebook and the scenarios contained in the modules are still required. The same is true for rules knowledge; without that, you can’t play neither Face to Face nor with VASL.

If you want more information, check out our ASL microsite with many useful links! And don’t worry, ASL is extremely complex and getting into the game is a challenging task, but the ASL community is very supportive and friendly :).

Posted in ASL | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »