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Posts Tagged ‘Consim’

Counter Clipping: In Search of a Better Solution

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

by Dave King

For some reason the issue of clipping die-cut counters periodically generates energetic debate between those who do and those who don’t clip. But when seen as akin to trimming the flashing off a plastic model before beginning assembly or off lead miniatures prior to painting, one wonders why wargame publishers don’t include instructions on clipping with their games. Clipping should more properly be viewed as a necessary step in preparing a game for play.

When die-cut counters are punched from their frames, the corners inevitably fray to some degree. Clipping largely eliminates the problem of these corners snagging each other in counter-dense games, which can jostle whole battle lines or cause stacks to tumble.

Proponents of counter clipping will tell you their counters are also easier to handle, neater looking, and allow more counters per compartment in sorting trays. Many non-clippers will still use a hobby knife to cut counters free from the frames that hold them, thus minimizing ragged corners. Others simply use the counters as they break free from the frame, no trimming of any sort, considering themselves purists of the hobby.

According to several informal, unscientific surveys, slightly more than half of all wargame players trim their counters as part of prepping a game for play. Of course, that means about half the players do not clip. So where did this counter-clipping thing begin and where is it going?

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The Art of Counter Clipping

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

Carefully clipped counters can look great, if you don't overdo it...

Read the related article “How to free my counters from their frames”  here

What if something happens while you are separating the counters from their frames, or what if you buy a used and punched game? What if you always have to watch these ugly paper remains on your otherwise beautiful counters? Then your only chance is to do some counter cosmetics – and we proudly present a classic flame war theme:

Counter Clipping – yes or no?

Wargamers are divided into three factions here:

  • Group A rejects any counter treatment. Counters are used as they come out of the frame – period. Wargamers of this faction tend to use a very careful counter separating and punching method. In general, no cosmetic treatment is necessary; little paper lappets are accepted. On the other hand, some gamers from this faction couldn’t care less about their counters (in fact, this is only a minority – the average consim player has an almost religious relationship to his games – as it should be 😉 )
  • Group B accepts the necessity of cosmetic treatment if counters are punched out without much care, because untidy counters spoil the aesthetic impression of a game (and, by the way, one could encounter problems when grabbing a counter with tweezers). This is why this type of player cuts the paper lappets with a sharp nail-clipper after punching and gets a satisfying result.
  • Group C thinks counter punching is only the initial act. This act is followed by a religious ceremony: clipping the counter’s edges. The following pictures give a good impression of counter clipping in perfection:

Clipped counters in perfection

On the left, you see clipped counters in perfection: clean and regular. Very few material was removed from the counters, thus conserving its die cut form (if you don’t have much talent or time, counters tend to become hexagonal, in extreme cases even circular). The reason for this radical treatment by the “Total Clipping Faction” is that counters fit more easily into the map board hexes, which enhances the optical impression and allows easier gameplay.

Alas, some problems are related to this counter treatment:

It’s very difficult to provide a regular treatment to all counters – you need time, a quiet hand and sharp eyes. Some games have 2000, 4000 or even 6000 counters – and you can imagine how long it takes to clip them all! This is no problem for the followers of this cult of the nail clipper, though. They are looking forward to clipping the game for months and spend evenings and evenings clipping their counters, it’s really a form of meditation for them.

If you fail in clipping some counters correctly, the final picture will be quite irregular – which spoils the intended aesthetic effect.

Finally, in some games you could encounter rules problems: some games define a LOS being blocked by a counter. If you change the counter’s appearance – the original form intended by the designer -, you could spoil a game. You may also face trouble with your opponents who prefer playing with un-clipped counters.

As a result, we cannot recommend this radical method of counter treatment to an unexperienced player who’s not that good with their hands.

This is how the ideal counter should look like

By the way, don’t be confused: both methods of counter treatment (groups B and C) are called “Counter Clipping”, but – as mentioned above – there is a great difference between only clipping the paper dips with a nail clipper and trimming all the counter edges. Sometimes eBay sellers offer a game with “clipped counters”, simply meaning the minimal treatment which actually increases the game value. On the other hand it can be a bad surprise if you buy such a game, hoping for only minimal treated counters, but getting a game with radical clipped counters. In extreme cases, these counters can have a circular form when someone without any talent tried to clip the counter’s corners…and the eBay seller only shrugs and says: “But I told you that the counters were clipped….”

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Counters, frames, and loud cursing…

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

A situation familiar to everyone who ever bought a new wargame: with pleasure you look at your counter sheets and the appealingly designed counters and markers of your new acquirement, but before playing the wargaming gods have set the punching of the counters.

The ideal case is that the slicer was properly adjusted during the manufacturing process, so that in fact the counters are already separated, but only so far that they can be easily punched out by the customers. However, when this adjustment is not carried out correctly (which is very often the case…), it could happen that the counters are already punched out of the frames and mixed up in the game box or that they can be punched out of their frames only by violence.

The customer doesn’t like either version because on the one hand the counter chaos is a nightmare for a wargamer (counters could be absent, may be damaged, must be assorted with great difficulty, etc.) and on the other hand the counters could be damaged if someone tries to punch them out of their frame “against their will”.

Counters which are fixed tight to their frames tend to rip off their surface or cover paper when being punched. Another problem is that after the counters are separated, some relict pieces of paper may remain. This is not only unattractive – it is even disturbing during play.

So, what to do in this case?

Preparing the wooden board and tools

There are different ways to punch new counters out of their frame and every wargamer has his own method.

For example, you can cut them out with a sharp carpet knife along their punched line – but always keep in mind that this method is dangerous because you might slip off and cut a counter in two – which could ruin the entire game. You should never forget that in a consim often each counter is in use, and, if only one is lost, you have to use a replacement – painted by yourself on a piece of paper, a blank counter or whatever. That is anything but pretty, especially if you spent $150 for such a game.

Roller knifes are very popular too, because they are more easily to handle and don’t tend to leave the punching line, but even here it largely depends on whether you press too much (and slip off from the punched line, too) or to soft (which makes repeatedly rolling necessary – bad-looking counter edges are the result then).

Very careful...!

We have developed a very easy, but effective method and are willing to share our deep secret with you 🙂

You need a wooden kitchen board, not too hard (and of course one you don’t need any longer in your kitchen, better ask your wife before using it 😉 ) and a sharp knife – best if it is triangular formed (a bit wider on the back) and a small hammer.

You put the counter-sheet on the board, put the knife with its blade in one of the punching lines and bash the hammer with a hefty stroke on the backside of the knife’s blade. This separates the cardboard in a very precise way, the counters are still in their frames, while the knife can’t slip off because it finally hits (and sticks in) the wooden board.

The results are nice looking, almost perfectly cut counters

Afterwards, you lift the knife out of the board and continue all along the first punching line. Once all counters are detached out of their frame, you can now separate the single counters bit by bit in this cute fashion.

With this method, you’ll get very nice counters, which will have none to little (depending by the quality of the cardboard and the sharpness of the knife) small pointed corners of paper relics. In most cases the counters don’t even need treatment with a nail clipper or something – so this system is much faster than every other system once you get the hang of using the knife with the hammer in quick routinely strokes.

If you are in need of a treatment for your counters (maybe you have bought a used game with poorly loosened counters or didn’t read our clever advise 😉 than you have to become familiar with the “High Art of Counter Clipping“.

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Review: Totaler Krieg (DG)

Posted by Denny Koch on May 6, 2010

Game: Totaler Krieg

Publisher: Decision Games
Published in: 1999
Designers: Alan Emrich, Steve “Kos” Kosakowski
Contents: 560 mounted, full color die cut counters; 153 Strategic Option cards; 10 assorted Player Aid sheets; 2 Books (Rules, Examples, Dice of Decision, Scenarios & Notes); 2 two-sided 34″ x 22″ maps; 2 dice d6 & Storage bags
Era: World War II (ETO)

HFC Game-O-Meter: B


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8
Rules: 9
Playability: 9
Replay Value:10

Overall Rating: 9

PRO Great rules, very interesting card mechanics, smart politics system, entire PTO, what if-scenarios
CONTRA Boring box design

A massive Russian front

Introduction

“Totaler Krieg!” is a strategic-level consim designed by Alan Emrich. The game is based on the older game Krieg!” (1996) and is an interesting combination of a hex and counter consim with a card-driven mechanic, similar to Empire of the Sun. Politics, air- and naval combat are abstracted in a very elegant fashion. The game is meant to be a ‘panzer pusher’ that means it concentrates on land warfare in the entire European Theatre of War (including North Africa) and therefore it doesn’t have a detailed air and naval sub-game.

Despite the fact that the complexity level is quite high, the game itself is very accessible with a good (‘living’) rulebook. It’s possible to play the Standard Campaign (=the entire World War II), a historical campaign where the Option Cards are played in historical order, and alternative scenarios with communist Germany or czarist Russia. In addition, the game offers scenarios which are ranged from short tournament scenarios to very long and complex scenarios, for example Operation Barbarossa which depicts the war in Russia from 1941-1945.

Graphic Presentation

The game box

Unfortunately, the box design is somewhat boring – in contrast to the well designed map and attractive counter artworks and Option Cards. The card board box is large and functional, printed with some black-and-white-pictures from World War II. I would have preferred a more modern box design, this one looks somewhat retro and distracts from a very modern and very attractive game inside.

The counter artworks are clear and informative

Components

The two large maps are looking great and offer much detail, for example terrain depictions with lots of information (names of rivers, reference locations or small towns). The counters are printed with informative clear symbols and are very well done and the whole concept seems to be well-thought-out by the designers.

The same is true for the other components of the game box, such as the Force Pools and Player Aid Sheets. All important boxes, the turn track and charts are printed on the map, making it possible to play the game without ever making notes on paper or without being forced to remember any past events of the game. This allows a very comfortable and smooth gameplay and the concentration on strategies and the game itself.

Despite the boring box cover design, I really love the graphic presentation of the game.

Rules

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Consimworld

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 6, 2010

You need some information about a certain wargame?

You have some free time and want to talk with fellow wargamers?

You are interested in making new wargaming friendships?

You have to say something about anything?

Then the place to go is……

Wargamers feel the need for some social sharing because they belong to a rather small community beyond which nobody seems to understand their emotional and intellectual bond to this hobby.

Meet other friendly players...

So it’s quite unlikely that wargamers find an enjoyable table talk about their addiction among non-wargamers – quite the contrary: annoying those folks with talks about war, simulation, rules, counters and AARs is a good way to end the day alone…

...from all over the world!

Luckily the internet offers lots of opportunities to share any interests you may have with others doing the same things – and wargaming is no exception. Besides this, it seems that these special places on The Net have a good deal to do with letting this elite hobby survive, as there are a lot of usenet groups, fora, chats, mailing lists etc. out there covering the hobby of wargaming in one form or another.

ConsimWorld is certainly one of the best (or even the best!) of these internet places where you can find communication with other fellows and talks about  The Hobby – but also about everything else.

Consimworld was given to us by its Sysop John Kranz who started supporting the wargaming community many years ago. He began with an e-mail newsletter called the Consim Connections, even before everybody could easily have his/her own web site, then there was the Virtual Wargamer Headquarter’s Discussion Board, where folks could share their thoughts and after that the webzine SPI Revival. After these first steps John created CSW…

So, what is Consimworld (also known as CSW) all about?

Well, it’s certainly one of the most lively discussion fora out there and it’s also a regularly updated news center, where you can learn everything worth knowing in the wargame universe in a very user-friendly style. Almost every existing game has its own discussion folder where you can talk with other gamers about this game, their personal strategies, their experiences, how to interpret a certain rule correctly and so on. You can partake if you have signed in (CSW was once free of charge, but nowadays asks for an annual fee of 18 Dollars since August 1st, 2004, because John wasn’t able to provide a free service anymore because of the sheer extent of this large community), and this allows you not only to read the posts and write your own, but gives you enough space to tell folks who you are and to give some personal information or even set up a blog. So you are more than just a name on the screen. There are about 20.000 gamers from all over the world registered and it’s still a growing community, so it seems that everybody who plays wargames lurks around at CSW, too.

The CSW main page

One interesting thing is that the discussions have a chat-like realtime style because the people who are posting there, log in more than once a day – and because you can manage your own subscriptions of folders you are interested in within your personal message center, you always have new postings popping up right there on your screen – no manual search etc.. is necessary, no missing answers on your questions and you can “control” several discussions simultaneously.

CSW has an archive to browse through older discussions and besides these debates you can also find reviews, game replays, announcements from the publishers (who give much support to CSW as they know it’s a good place to see what people want in their games; many publishers even offer support folders), a wargame calendar with all the minor and major wargaming events over the year, clubs that present themselves and/or have their own forum, etc. pp.. CSW also organizes the most popular annual wargaming Convention – the famous MonsterCon/CSW Expo, where gamers come together for 6 days to engage in tournaments and play even the biggest monster games. Take a look at the photo section of the last Cons and you’ll see what you are missing if you ain’t part of this great festival of a hobby incomparable to any other.

But CSW is not limited to wargames, or even games and there are folders about history, religion, science, movies, internet, computer, consoles …whatever. If you have something to say, CSW offers you a place to speak. It’s the Wargamer’s Speaker’s Corner….

So, here’s a brief overview of what the CSW Forum provides you:

  • Access to nearly 5 Gigabytes of information accumulated over seven years from gamers around the world covering virtually all conflict simulation games published. An invaluable resource to gain insightful tips on all games ranging from the old Classics to the newest game releases
  • Special topic and folder subscribe-to feature and Message Center permits you to automatically view new/unread messages that interest you with a click of the mouse
  • Two-way, immediate access to game designers, developers, and publishers
  • Learn about the latest projects in development
  • Discuss new products with others and obtain quick answers to your questions
  • Gain the ability to influence future game designs/game events
  • Create your own game-related folder for a game that doesn’t already have one
  • Ability to have Q&A addressed by authoritative sources on historical OoBs, games, and other areas of historical interest
  • Ability to run your own BLOG and participate in BLOGs belonging to others
  • Exchange strategies/issues/points with other members
  • Enjoy live chat with members online
  • Communicate on items of personal interest/benefit (Marketplace, Opponents wanted, Convention roommate needed, etc.)
  • Ability to post or view images inline with messages, including links to other helpful resources

You get full access to literally hundreds of gaming-related topics to choose from, while also enjoying a direct connection to many of today’s leading publishers and game designers. No where else will you find a centralized resource of information pertaining to historical conflict simulation gaming.

There are forums for existing games, for upcoming games, playtesting, tournaments, publishers, player blogs, general topics ("wargaming and religion", "on the table")...

Besides the forum CSW also offers a kind of  Facebook community for wargamers, CSW SocialThe official social networking platform of ConsimWorld, based on Ning .

There you can have your own blog as well, upload pictures, videos, music etc., create and join specific game groups or groups that discuss certain eras or topics, create your own buddy list and simply get much more personal about yourself, your interests and your hobby. It’s a great opportunity to get to know those even better who you already know from their postings on the CSW forum (most members do have a personal pic as their avatar so it’s nice to put a face to a name this way) and it strengthens the bond of the wargame community. Not every CSW member is registered on the social site so it’s a smaller community of about 2000 people, but it’s highly recommended to join there as well since it provides such a great service with no additional fee.

CSW Social is a friendly Web 2.0 community where you can join groups, share your pictures, videos, favorite music, and talk to your friends

So, simply click HERE to be part of the international wargaming community and introduce yourself!

See ya there…. 🙂

Great tutorial videos: How to use Consimworld:

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Game Netiquette

Posted by Denny Koch on May 5, 2010

Wargame conventions and game meetings are a combination of some appealing factors – an exciting scenario, many hours which are exclusively dedicated to  The Hobby without everyday stress disturbing your concentration, an easy-going atmosphere determined by victory and defeat and the inspiring exchange with others who share your hobby.

These maneuvers, battle days, cons, game fests (or whatever name you may choose) are events promising a good time – and most likely will keep this promise! But sometimes, in the heat of battle, things may happen which disturb the good atmosphere. Maybe different, incompatible behaviors collide with each other.

In order to avoid such things and to guarantee good time for everyone, some advice for having a good time together – the “HFC Netiquette“.

Before the game starts….

If you select a game you already played before, tell your opponent. Tell him about your experiences with this game and your opinion about the balance. Despite the fact that both players face the same situation, being familiar with a game can be a huge advantage, for example in an ASL scenario where you know important LOS questions etc.. This isn’t a problem if your opponent knows about it and is able to judge the situation. Not to tell him isn’t fair.

If a game was selected which is slightly unbalanced for one side, inform your opponent! So-called dogs are very interesting for some players who love this challenge (“playing the underdog”) or who are interested in the historical accuracy often portrayed in these games, while others dislike them as unfair. If you know that a game is a dog, give your opponent the chance to know what to expect.

In games requiring a set up which is done one after the other, allow your opponent to do his setup alone. Even if you don’t watch him, your presence could be quite disturbing. Some games even require to do the setup out of sight (for example games where counters are hidden or concealed).

A game with almost no setup time: Up Front

Try not to extend your set up time. You should find an acceptable compromise between the necessity to create the optimal set up and the fact that a long setup is quite unnerving for your opponent. It is not polite to let him wait for 2 hours, until he can do his setup. If you know in advance which game will be played, work on your “perfect setup” at home (maybe with the help of a VASSAL module or on a sheet of paper), so that you can avoid long considerations. But tell your opponent if you use an already worked out set up!

Whichever game you play, you will soon realize that there is one phase in each Sequence of play-system which isn’t explicitly named in the rulebook, but which belongs to the old wargaming traditions: the TaPPh – Taunt and Pose Phase, the pre-game phase in which mocking comments should inspire your opponent… this is okay, but you should take care of not overdoing this and always respect the thin line between friendly mocking and insulting. The wrong words could destroy games even before they began…

During the game…

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The AREA Rating System

Posted by Denny Koch on May 5, 2010

Introduction:

AREA – The HFC rating system of choice!

One of the most important aspects why we started to search for a ranking system in 2001 was that we wanted our played games being rated.

Up to that day we had met regularly and played competitively against each other, but we hadn’t recorded our results anywhere, besides on a sheet of paper. This wasn’t very satisfying, so we decided that we wanted to archive our game results somewhere or to establish an internal rating and ranking system. First we experimented with specific rating systems we developed separately for each game we played – this soon became very impractical with the growing number of games we played and our self-developed systems got somewhat out of hand.

We felt the need for a simplified and homogenous system and discovered the well-tried AREA Rating system which existed for many years and which could be used for almost any game (or, at least, in which almost any game could be included). We then decided that from this day on all games we played (Face-to-Face or online by VASL / Cyberboard or by e-mail) should be AREA rated. By using this system we not only had an internal ranking system, but we also had the chance to compare our level to other players from all over the world. The fact that AREA is standard in many wargaming clubs and also used by single players, offered the chance to play “rated” games against players from all over the world without the need to include these games into self-developed ranking systems. By using AREA we saved time and got a far more functional rating system than we could ever develop ourselves!

Any game can be added to AREA, here: Up Front (Avalon Hill)

Even after the Homefront Wargaming Club became the Homefront Wargame Center in 2006, we still believed it to be an important mission to promote the AREA system in Germany and to support it – because using it had been a very positive experience over the past few years. In addition, we became convinced of the AREA idea and philosophy over the course of time. We don’t play games within a fixed club structure anymore and all games played are now a strictly private matter between the HFC Staff members and their friends, but we encourage all players to send in their game results, anyway!

We think that AREA is an important part of the wargaming hobby and we want to support and promote this traditional system. It’s very easy to report games to AREA: When starting a new game, all players should agree on whether this game will be AREA rated or not. We automatically regard a game as AREA rated if no player has any objections against this. In this we agree with Glenn E. Petroski (more about him below) who once said in The General regarding this point:

“In the spirit of helping one another, I ask that all games are to be AREA-rated. I cannot actually impose this upon you, and I will not abandon you if you choose to run your competition otherwise, but it is the one thing I ask of those soliciting my assistance and support. AREA can be a common link across our hobby, an information pool, a tool, for all our use. It will never happen without your support. Every game played should be AREA-rated. Failing that give preference to rated players. Recently, I have been accused of being discriminatory about this. My reply is “You BETCHA!” In the end those ratings will benefit us all.”
(Petroski in The General, Vol. 30, No. 6, p. 55)

Of course we make an exception when playing tutorial games versus newbies or when learning or trying new games ourselves – no newbie has to be afraid of getting a rated defeat just because he is new to a game.

Overview: What is this all about?

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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

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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 :).

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Welcome to the HFC – Homefront Wargame Center!

Posted by Denny Koch on March 21, 2010

Welcome to the HFC website!

This website is principally dedicated to Wargaming – board and card wargaming, and historical conflict simulations (for example Advanced Squad Leader). But since we are dedicated gamers, we aren’t afraid of looking beyond the borders of the wargaming world, so from time to time, you will also find postings about other games we play, for example Living Cardgames (Call of Cthulhu, A Game of Thrones),  Fantasy boardgames (Arkham Horror, Marvel Heroes) or even videogames.

In the course of transferring the contents from our old static website to the new format, we decided to drop some of the old articles (especially some very old and outdated reviews which will be rewritten from a fresh perspective). In addition, we added more contents and wrote new stuff and hopefully, this website will grow and prosper!

In addition, you will find many travel reports and pictures – we love touring historical sites, not only of recent history (Ardennes, Huertgen Forest, A bridge too far at Arnhem, The Bridge at Remagen…), but also medieval and ancient sites, for example the 2000 year old Imperial City of Speyer!

We hope you like the interactive, modern format and layout. You are cordially invited to leave comments, suggestions, share our articles, send in articles, or to share your own opinion on all topics with us.

Enjoy your stay 🙂

Denny & Andreas

This site is a member of the Wargaming WebRing.
To browse visit Here.

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