Join 3,562 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Advanced Squad Leader
March 22, 2010 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Advanced Squad Leader is a tactical-level board wargame, originally marketed by Avalon Hill Games, that simulates actions of approximately company or battalion size in World War II. ... Despite the price tag and the expensive lists of prerequisites for each new module, the game system caught on and new modules continued to be produced twenty years after the original release - a feat unheard of in the board wargaming industry, especially with the decline in sales due to rising popularity of console and PC games.

In the opinion of MeFi's Own® stbalbach, is "the greatest boardgame of all time".
posted by Joe Beese (75 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
With the increased emphasis on torture as an instrument of US national policy, and the stigma that's coming to be associated with waterboarding, I expect to see rapid growth in the market for Advanced Squad Leader as an alternative means of breaking terrorist suspects.

I keed, I keed! But man, it is a lot of effort to put into something that's meant to be recreation.
posted by Naberius at 8:31 AM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Never mucked about with ASL but I have both the original Squad Leader and the sequel Iron Cross. Don't know if ASL streamlined it much, but the problem I had with S.L. was getting a dedicated-enough group together to learn all the rules. The first box set had something like 13 scenarios to play through, each incorporating more of the rules than the last -- wooden vs. concrete structures, elevation, barbed wire, smoke grenades, and finally vehicles. I'd get the same people to stick around for a half dozen of these if I was lucky before they'd give up for something easier. And these are people with a tolerance for some fairly complex (non-military) German Board Games.

I'm intrigued that this scratches an itch that a computerized version doesn't. Did I make that shot around the corner of this building? Let's get out the piece of string and see...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:33 AM on March 22, 2010


I love(d) ASL. I'm still arguing over some Lines Of Sight with my old opponent.

That's cool that there's still loads of interest. I might have to dust off my copy and modules. I always hoped that ASL would mesh with computers to number-crunch things like spotting, LOS, artillery, terrain height, etc and spit out a result so we could PLAY FASTER. Cool post!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 8:35 AM on March 22, 2010


A major reason that ASL is still kicking is Curt Schilling.
posted by zamboni at 8:44 AM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I only played original Squad Leader once, but it was a great time! I had this one Russian dude, Sgt. Ketso, that lost most of his comrades halfway through the game, but he used terrain and Russian luck to kill four Germans before finally succumbing.

ASL looked great, but it was too much for a high school kid. I, too, hope for a computer version!
posted by ignignokt at 8:47 AM on March 22, 2010


I knew I was addicted to games like these when I purchased an X-Acto blade for the sole purpose of cutting out cardboard game pieces perfectly.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:48 AM on March 22, 2010


Jeebus, they made an Advanced Squad Leader? For when you were ready to take off the training wheels that was Squad Leader, I presume?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:49 AM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


ASL seems to have hit on an idea that is pretty critical to the profitability of both table-top RPGs and many board games -- the money is not in selling the original game, but in selling the various expansions, modules, adventures, rereleases, etc.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:52 AM on March 22, 2010


Ron Thanagar: I always hoped that ASL would mesh with computers to number-crunch things like spotting, LOS, artillery, terrain height, etc and spit out a result so we could PLAY FASTER.

Then you want Combat Mission II: Barbarossa to Berlin (which was born from an aborted attempt to adapt ASL as a computer game).
posted by Prospero at 8:54 AM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I knew I was addicted to games like these when I purchased an X-Acto blade for the sole purpose of cutting out cardboard game pieces perfectly.

Pfft, amateur. You need fingernail clippers to properly trim the little hanging chad from each corner of every piece to get a really proper professional finish.

Somewhere in my parents' garage is a huge box full of every single module's chits, maps. et. al., carefully piled into storage trays... I never found anyone to play with, always thought that maybe in retirement I could get back into it.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:55 AM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Advanced Squad Leader is one of a whole category of wargames that make my brain hurt. It is by no means unique. Knowing that there are people out there that not only grok all the rules, but actually enjoy the game, makes me feel woefully inadequate.
posted by JHarris at 8:59 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


That stuff about Curt Schilling is fascinating. I didn't know he started MMP. I love it when wealthy athletes and/or actors turn out to be geeks and do interesting, geekish things with their money. posted by mecran01 at 9:10 AM on March 22, 2010


I never found anyone to play with, always thought that maybe in retirement I could get back into it.

I feel your pain. I mostly had to content myself with reading the rules. Fortunately, I found that entertaining enough in itself.

I remember one of the gaming mags, probably Dragon, that had a (occasional?) cartoon about various rule oddities. Things like 'The Terran infantry in Starship Trooper can't ID enemies a mile away' and 'in Car Wars you can go from 30MPH to a dead stop with only a 50% chance of skidding.' (I'm probably misremembering the exact rule complaints.) I'm thinking it was a Phil Foglio work. Anyone remember that?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:13 AM on March 22, 2010


Wow, my kids (15 14) spent the entire weekend setting up an elaborate scenario. I never made the ASL jump because I was 18 and have invested a lot in the original series. I am happy to report that all of the counters are still sorted in their baggies in the ammo case after 20+ years, and the boys know they price they will pay for messing that up.
posted by cgk at 9:31 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I used to do testing and web work for Atomic Games -- their Close Combat series was originally meant to be ASL (working name "Beyond Squad Leader") and was to be published by AH. I don't remember the details of the problem, but they had to split their ways and it got released with no official association.
posted by cgk at 9:33 AM on March 22, 2010


These games, and especially the ones by SPI, were incredibly important for the course of my life. When I was a kid I hated school but I loved these games. I spent hundreds of hours learning to play them and playing them (often by myself; I played both sides). In so doing I learned close reading (the rules are hard), statistics (you need to understand probability to play these games well), and pretty much everything a 14-year-old can know about modern warfare (that's a lot). To make a longish story short, I went to college, grad school and am now a history professor. I teach a class on modern war. Thanks to games like "Squad Leader," I know the material by heart.

I thought all the hexgrid war games were gone until, just the other day, I took my son to the local mom-and-pop hobby store and saw "Advanced Squad Leader." Lord have mercy. I almost cried. You can bet we'll play when he's old enough.

Thanks so much for the post.
posted by MarshallPoe at 9:34 AM on March 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


Bah. By "group" I mean pool of possible opponents. I always seemed to be training every willing person I know at various levels. "Ok, Jeff and I are up to scenario 5, but Bill is still at scenario 2 and signs of interest are waning. Mike is excited and at scenario 1; let's see where that leads..."
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:34 AM on March 22, 2010


There are some very good wargames so it's hard to say "greatest". Europa and other monster games are up there too. But ASL really does seem to be in a class of its own. The best computer approximation I've seen is Microsoft's Close Combat series (in multi-player mode), but it's more sensory and less cerebral. ASL requires lawyer-like knowledge and application of the rules. I actually attribute ASL (and other wargames) it taught me some tough lessons early on in a safe environment. About learning the rules, using them to win, playing to win (not playing to play, or playing to loose which many people do), holding others accountable to the rules, being ruthless but within the confines of the rules, how to learn from mistakes, being a good sport. I guess many of the same things one learns playing baseball or football, but without the girls, sunshine or exercise.
posted by stbalbach at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I knew this guy in grad school who always wanted to pull out Blitzkrieg. "Have you ever tried this game? It's so awesome."

We never played, but he kept on asking.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:40 AM on March 22, 2010


So, has anybody here ever played through a game of "The Longest Day"? ("Setup takes 8 hours or more, while the full game can take over 100 hours to complete.')
posted by jbickers at 9:41 AM on March 22, 2010


Blitzkrieg was a great one, but my favorite AH box will always be Starship Troopers.

ASL just seemed like masochism, even to a hex-freak teen like myself.
posted by Aquaman at 9:43 AM on March 22, 2010


This is interesting. It is nice to see a war strategy game where the equipment does not become obsolete within a year.
posted by jpcooper at 9:45 AM on March 22, 2010


Starship Troopers is excellent!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:47 AM on March 22, 2010


Opps I meant "Atomic Games" (not Microsoft who was just a publisher). Sorry cgk!

MarshallPoe, that's a great story I think your son would really benefit from it. I just wonder though if WWII holds the same attraction in 2010 as it did in 1970s/80s when we were much closer to the event. I've found my interest in that war has waned over the years as it recedes in time. Sort of like how the Victorians were fascinated by the Napoleonic Wars throughout the 19th century - but eventually later generations sort of moved on and now it's kind of a niche interest.

Jbickers yes I played Longest Day a number of times, it's another great game and takes months to complete, but not an unreasonable amount of time like Europa. Play balance is too heavy on the side of the Allies so they will almost always win, but the Germans are a lot of fun to play. In any case you really get an understanding of the event in a way reading alone won't convey.
posted by stbalbach at 9:49 AM on March 22, 2010


As my brother is 10 years older than I am, he was extremely excited about ASL when he was 20, and back home from college for winter break. Needless to say, he made my brain hurt.

However-- when you're 12 and you can't find anyone of your peers to play ASL against you, Ambush! is always there for a single-player ASL experience. I played through it, then the three sequels. Terrific stuff.
posted by mark242 at 9:53 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed wargaming in the military.
...yes I'm aware of the irony.
But it was fun for rainy days. And there's nothing like arguing 'real world' vs. rules. Nice thing it it never really gets settled.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:57 AM on March 22, 2010


Avalon Hill used to have an outlet store of sorts in Baltimore, with a giant vat of extra cardboard game pieces. You could basically just fill up a bag and pay a buck or two with all sorts of counters for ASL.

I still have two binders for ASL - getting a binder for someone else was the only way I was ever able to get anyone else to play. I played ASL nearly every day the month I was stationed at the East German/Czech border. Good times!
posted by me & my monkey at 9:59 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember one of the gaming mags, probably Dragon, that had a (occasional?) cartoon about various rule oddities. Things like 'The Terran infantry in Starship Trooper can't ID enemies a mile away' and 'in Car Wars you can go from 30MPH to a dead stop with only a 50% chance of skidding.' (I'm probably misremembering the exact rule complaints.) I'm thinking it was a Phil Foglio work. Anyone remember that?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:13 AM on March 22 [+] [!]
You're thinking of Murphy's Rules, which has been collected.
posted by jtron at 10:08 AM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


A list of wargames published in the last 15 years that can be played in three hours or less, ranked in descending order of awesomeness.
posted by mecran01 at 10:10 AM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, I had a chance to buy a pretty mint original box of this along with a handful of expansions, or maybe they were different games by the same publisher, (shows what I know,) for like 20 bucks at a garage sale in my neighborhood the other day...
posted by stenseng at 10:36 AM on March 22, 2010


A couple of old buddies of mine playtested The Last Hurrah module for ASL. Both of them got squad leaders named after them. One them got a 10-3 (the strongest possible leader in the game) and one got a 6+1 (the weakest possible). We all thought that was kind of funny.

I never got into it. ASL was the kind of game that made Star Fleet Battles look simple and unambitious in comparison, and it was too goddamn slow.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:49 AM on March 22, 2010


Obligatory link: ConsimWorld

I consider myself a pretty serious boardgamer. Some of my compatriots, however, have a level of dedication and admiration for heavy wargames that I simply don't have the focus and/or time for at this point in my life.

At the top of that group of gamers are the ASL players. "[L]awyer-like knowledge and application of the rules" is a good way to put it. Too much for me, but if you see a match between two people who really understand how to play, the detail with which it can model any situation is pretty amazing. My buddy J.R. was a dominant fixture at the World Boardgaming Champtionships before they stopped doing ASL tournaments.

If you're interested in WWII squad-level wargames but don't have anything remotely resembling the patience to wade through something so complicated, I heartily recommend Memoir '44.
posted by mkultra at 10:58 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


ASL seems to have hit on an idea that is pretty critical to the profitability of both table-top RPGs and many board games -- the money is not in selling the original game, but in selling the various expansions, modules, adventures, rereleases, etc.

See also: Traveller, Warhammer 40k
posted by dammitjim at 11:02 AM on March 22, 2010


This looks like a job for the Emissary.
posted by ishmael at 11:16 AM on March 22, 2010


A/S/L?
posted by LSK at 11:35 AM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding the Combat Mission series for the PC. Quite a lot of fun and very detailed.
posted by cloax at 12:01 PM on March 22, 2010


What made the original game so great was the fact you didn't have to learn all the rules to get started. Scenario one could be played with only a few pages of rules and each new scenario only added a few extra pages after that. Not only were the scenarios and rules compartmentalized but so were the maps, so scenario two was simply an extension of scenario one, only with more options, more troops, and a larger playing area. This incremental approach was awesome, because it reduced the intimidation factor by a significant margin, which made recruiting new players a bit easier, plus it allowed players to choose shorter scenarios if time constraints were a factor.
posted by Beholder at 12:44 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Any recommendations for somebody looking to get into ASL? The above-linked Starter Kit #1?
posted by sudasana at 12:54 PM on March 22, 2010


I've got ASL stowed away in the basement and harbour no illusions about ever getting to play it again. It serves the purpose of the ideal that can never be. I'll never grasp the rues in a way that lets me play the game with a full understanding of the capabilities of my units.

Let me just add my recommendation of the 'conflict of heroes' game - it's really simple yet feels fair and seems realistic enough to be interesting.
posted by FidelDonson at 1:58 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I believe you can play ASL and an assload of other old war games online at VASSAL.
posted by Max Power at 2:02 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've played ASL a few times, but with a rather coarse understanding of the rules.

Part of my RPG group picked up World in Flames, a grand level WWII strategy game. The basic box had 1400 counters, and a game took about 50 hours to complete. We had all the expansions... We usually used the first night of every game just to set things up. But completing a game brought all the satisfaction of having done something hard, even if I lost.
posted by Harald74 at 3:17 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Avalon Hill games taught me one lesson which i still carry with me to this day and use frequently. 3:1 = victory.
posted by jadayne at 3:32 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


So lots of us Geeks are mefites as well!

I've got the ASL Starter Kit #1, and it's tough rules reading. I think I'd just rather play Combat Commander and satisfy my SL and Up Front itch at the same time...
posted by Windopaene at 3:35 PM on March 22, 2010


Any recommendations for somebody looking to get into ASL? The above-linked Starter Kit #1?

I'd find a forum at Boardgamegeek or Consimworld, start with ASL SK#1 and the tutorial I linked to above, then I'd give up after about a week and play Storms of Steel.
posted by mecran01 at 3:51 PM on March 22, 2010


Harald, I ended up playing about a dozen complete games of World in Flames, 5th edition mostly, together with Days of decision. great times - I even pulled off Operation Sealion. Unfortunately this was at the time when they were coming out with all sorts of not very compatible expansion sets that eventually ruined playability. From your link I notice they've got 'classic' WiF, presumably recognising their mistakes.

Of course I could only do this because I sacrificed most of my university studies, becoming a fairly mediocre student, and I was in share housing with a like-minded group. Can't imagine I will have the time, space or opponents ever again.
posted by wilful at 3:51 PM on March 22, 2010


Meatbomb: "I never found anyone to play with, always thought that maybe in retirement I could get back into it."

LOUD GUFFAW
posted by mwhybark at 5:36 PM on March 22, 2010


Hmm... all of this talk has made me interested. I think I might seek this thing out, thanks everyone.
posted by JHarris at 5:44 PM on March 22, 2010


If anyone in New York is looking to play Attack Vector: Tactical, I'd like to finally play a real game of it. Like Meatbomb, I've never found anyone sufficiently space geeky to be willing to learn to fly space craft with true 3D Newtonian inertial dynamics -- the dense rule book is also a primer on the physics of space travel, space craft and space weapons systems. You could even learn to design space marines with it.
posted by autopilot at 5:47 PM on March 22, 2010


Anny suggestions for OS X (Snow Leopard)?
posted by kirkaracha at 7:15 PM on March 22, 2010


Oh Yeah! I grew up on Squad Leader, never could find anyone into it as much as I was who would play against me at ASL though. Oh I have a good story (don't I always).

My usual opponent and I used to bicker over each turn for hours, IIRC those turns were like 15 seconds, so we were playing in like 1/500th realtime. It was absolute tedium. So we decided to create a variant. We'd get two teams on an open field about 20 yards apart. One team was all flamethrowers. The other side was all grenades. We would assume the weapons were ready to fire at game start, so none of that tedious stuff about turns wasted prepping the weapon, assuming a firing stance, etc. The game would usually last one turn, everyone would let it rip all at once, whoever had someone left alive (or left more alive than anyone else) or whoever died last was the winner. Usually everyone died instantly, but one game out of a dozen, someone would survive. It was insane. But we loved it. It felt like we were making progress, if we bickered for an hour over one turn, that was always the winning turn.

As the computer age advanced, it was harder to find opponents, people preferred playing computer games. Once in a rare while I could find an opponent. My most legendary Squad Leader match was against a retired Army Intel lieutenant, we played for 36 straight hours while he occasionally snorted crystal meth (a battle tactic from Nam, apparently). People would come into the room and say "are you guys STILL at it?" and then observe us for hours. I was outmatched but I still totally kicked his ass. And then when I stood up to shake his hand, my pants fell down. I had lost 15 pounds of weight over the stress of battle, my waist had reduced so much there was nothing to hold my pants up. And I used to scoff when Bobby Fischer said he lost weight during chess matches.

Well anyway, due to lack of opponents, my passion for board gaming was unrequited for years, until V for Victory came out on the Mac. Oh it was great, the first serious hex-based computer war game. Although it was a little higher level, not as small scale as Squad Leader, you could tell this was written by someone who was serious about board games. Oh it was everything I ever dreamt of, no lengthy arguments over subtle rules, no bickering over line of sight, no constant calculations of battle odds, and you could play Kriegspiel rules, where you and your opponents never saw each other's boards, only the computer referee could see both, to adjudicate the rules. Kriegspiel is basically the only way to play realistically, you are able to execute sneak attacks and hit targets of opportunity in realtime.

As the technology advanced, Atomic Games started the Close Combat series, and did finally get down to Squad Leader scale, and made it much more photorealistic (although it was still obviously a hex grid game underneath). I used to chat online with the lead developer at Atomic Games, and one day, I told him about my crazy Squad Leader games, and how much I loved the flamethrower, and how cool it would be to have that in Close Combat. And the next release, he added flamethrowers! Oh what a mistake. Whoever had a flamethrower always won. The play balance was totally screwed. If both sides had flamethrowers, whoever managed to flame the other guy would make him explode, taking out everyone around him in a massive fireball. Usually you played against the machine AI, which was awfully braindead, but it didn't matter, if it had a flamethrower, you could sneak up and infiltrate as stealthily as possible and then you'd just get mowed down in flames. I regretted ever mentioning it to the developer. To all those who have been incinerated in this game, it's my fault and I apologize.

Well anyway, at first CC had simultaneous Mac-Win releases, but when the Mac was at its low point, one day, in a fit of pique, the owner of Atomic publicly declared he was ripping out all the cross-platform code from his development systems, from now on, screw the Mac, he was PC only. I could immediately foresee his future. And it played out just like I predicted. He got bought by Microsoft. The next release was solid, it was already mostly finished when he was bought out. The next release was not so solid, it was just cashing in on the franchise, nothing interesting at all. The next release was crap. And I still bought them all and played them on my Mac in Virtual PC, oh it was sluggish but I was still loyal to Atomic, even if they weren't loyal to the guys like me who supported them in the early days of Mac-only games

And as I predicted, Atomic slowly dried up and went out of business. Microsoft assimilated the brand name Close Combat and applied it to a totally different series of games from a different developer. MS got what they wanted, a hit franchise name to stamp on something else, and Atomic got what they deserved for betraying their original Mac audience. If I could go back in time to give Atomic a warning, I'd have to tell them, never play tactics when your opponents are playing strategy.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:50 PM on March 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


what are you doing down here? scroll up and read that^
posted by p3on at 9:08 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was one of the younger members of the gaming group I first joined. The older kids were into Squad Leader and taught me (when we weren't playing D&D or Traveller), but I never moved on to ASL.

But my favorite game I haven't played in decades has to be Swords & Sorcery. GO CRONKS!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:32 PM on March 22, 2010


charlie, you hit the nail on the head re: the devolution of the CC franchise. I never heard it officially, but when playing CC2 (I think? - the Bridge too Far one) I said to myself "these guys have designed ASL for the computer".

The morale system was EXCELLENT, and how I would love to see that come back into modern computer wargames. Fond memories of my last squad member, cowering in a ditch... "come on, man, pull yourself together! For fuck sakes the stormptroopers will be upon you in minutes!" Poor bastard bought the farm.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:57 PM on March 22, 2010


No, Combat Mission was ASL for the computer, (and the developers of same were actually hired by AH to make computer SL, but there was some falling out somewhere along the line, or perhaps the sale to Hasbro).
posted by Windopaene at 10:04 PM on March 22, 2010


What, nobody plays Steel Panthers? This is what scratches my 1980s wargame itch.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 10:30 PM on March 22, 2010


I never heard it officially, but when playing CC2 (I think? - the Bridge too Far one) I said to myself "these guys have designed ASL for the computer".

I vaguely recall that Atomic started talking about Squad Leader and got stomped on by Avalon Hill which was working with Hasbro on a totally lame SL game, so Atomic went out of their way to avoid mentioning it. But yeah, it was obvious what they were doing.

And speaking of A Bridge Too Far, quite a while ago, I wrote a little blog essay about resurrecting V for Victory one last time, just as the current Iraq War reached its peak, comparing the Marines trying to storm across the bridges over the Euphrates to the V4V ABTF scenario.

Holy crap, has it been 7 years since the invasion of Iraq? My blog article doesn't make much sense today unless you remember the initial days of "embedded" reporters and the sketchy info being delivered by satellite-phone cameras. For that matter, it doesn't make much sense unless you know board games. Perhaps you guys are its audience. It isn't against the rules to self-link here in a comment is it?
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:33 PM on March 22, 2010


When you're ready for a serious discussion of the Incremental Infantry Fire Table, come talk to me.
posted by SPrintF at 11:41 PM on March 22, 2010


Perhaps you guys are its audience. It isn't against the rules to self-link here in a comment is it?

I believe it is not if done sparingly and when it's relevant to the conversation at hand.
posted by JHarris at 1:04 AM on March 23, 2010


Mate had this when we were kids - but it didn't come close to a game we made up ourselves and played with polystyrene tanks (cut the foam lid of a fruit box into rectangles, cut half into squares, stick a square on a rectangle as a turret, add a matchstick cannon), plastic soldiers and cardboard / polystyrene terrain. We just made up more and more rules as we went along (hey, can my tank have a flamethrower?) and wrote them down in a ruled 32-page exercise book.

Ditto for ditching the endless Palladium tables for our made-up-in-ten-minutes post-apocalyptic RPG - "I'm a six-armed cockroach mutant!" "Do you think a rocket launcher could go through the side of a garbage truck?" Consensus-based precedent - the same 'rules' that drive cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers when you're a little kid - kicks arse all over endless rules any day.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:35 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


ASL always seemed crazy complex to me, and with no one I knew/know actually playing it, I never really wanted to invest the money to buy rules+scenarios and learn it myself, then teach it to others. I tend to prefer wargames with a broader resolution, like Panzer Leader, at the platoon/company level, so there was less worrying about whether a given unit hit a tank on the turret or glacis or something (not that there's anything wrong with that level of detail,) or something truly epic in scope like Federation and Empire, which I will play someday.
posted by Snyder at 9:55 AM on March 23, 2010


Oh, man... Avalon Hill had some great games...

Naval War is a fun (and really simple) game that my dad played with me when I was a little kid.

When I was a bit older, he, my sister, my stepmom and I played Civilization, and then later, Advanced Civilization. I remember the first time my dad used the "Monotheism" ability on us. He was all sneaky about it, having actually read the rules to know what it did, and he started converting a swath through my territory, as I scrambled to purchase Theology.

We pulled Advanced Civilization out this past week when he and my sister were visiting. We had a blast with it, and got my fiancé hooked as well. It's a shame that it's out of print, because it was such a great game. Easy enough for a 4th grader to learn, but entertaining enough for adults.
posted by Katrel at 1:19 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I tend to prefer wargames with a broader resolution, like Panzer Leader..

That is one of my favorites, it's a classic. But my all-time favorite was NATO 77, which I am pretty sure was released in 1977, it was supposed to be the most modern scenario possible with current NATO and Soviet forces battling it out over Europe. And it was damn hard to play because it was all line-of-sight rules, if your unit was visible, it was killed instantly. I particularly remember NATO 77's FAQ at the back of the rulebook. It said something like:

"We are often asked why this game does not include nuclear scenarios. Nuclear weapons would be difficult to simulate on this map scale and thus are beyond the scope of the game. However, if you would like to go nuclear, here are the suggested rules.
1. Pour gasoline on map.
2. NATO and USSR players simultaneously drop lit matches on map."
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:00 PM on March 23, 2010


Oh, thanks CDS. You reminded me of Warsaw Pact. One of the few wargames I could get my friends to play (largely because it was remaindered at Yankee Trader and you could get it for a few bucks.) They didn't shy from simulating tactical (IIRC) nukes.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:22 PM on March 23, 2010


Panzer Leader was my very first wargame, back in 1986 I think. I went and bought Panzer Blitz afterwards, then thgouth that this was easy, my mate and i could make our own Australia v new Zealand sea battle game. Couldn't do hexes though, too hard, so it was a simple grid. But it worked remarakbly well (Australia won every time).

Civilisation was a great game - I'm surprised it's out of print.
posted by wilful at 7:59 PM on March 23, 2010


This thread is aging, but for anyone contemplating ASL, two things to keep in mind:

1. With VASL, opponents are easy to find, and finding time to play is easier, since you can set aside 30-min here or there to complete and submit a turn.

2. ASL Starter Kit is only 12-pages of rules and $25. The basics of ASL are not that complex (though not easy) - it's when you add tanks and planes and other exotics that it becomes hard. But plain old infantry combat is the core of the game and easily accessible. Ramp up when your ready to the $200 full set of rules.
posted by stbalbach at 10:55 PM on March 23, 2010


Oh jeez, I forgot all about playing Warsaw Pact, thanks for reminding me. I think I recall little counters with mushroom clouds on them. NATO77 was a lot finer scale than that, I think each map was about 10 or 20 miles across. Even a small tactical nuke would have taken out most of the map.

Hmm.. I'm checking out that site Board Game Geek (wow thanks for that link) and I think I'm confusing NATO 77 with another game. There's a NATO game that I'm sure I played, but that's not it. Surely the game I'm remembering is MechWar 77. That looks about the right scale, each turn is 6 minutes realtime, the map is about 7 kilometers across (I measured the pic, 1 hex = 200 meters). Wow, that's finer scale than I remembered. Squad Leader is 40 meters per hex.

Another favorite of mine Oil War. That was rather fun because it didn't have complex rules, but had interesting strategic play. Plus you could finish a game in a couple of hours. I vaguely recall the scenario was startlingly similar to the real Gulf War.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:17 PM on March 23, 2010


Ron Thanagar, I played the hell out of Steel Panthers while in college. I would love to see an updated version.
posted by Harald74 at 1:56 AM on March 24, 2010


wilful, all German players in WiF secretly aspired to pull of a Sea Lion. Realistically enough, it's next to impossible.

We had a few expansions, notably Ships in Flames, America in Flames and Planes in Flames, I think.
posted by Harald74 at 2:05 AM on March 24, 2010


Harald - I owned the two expansions (for the lead-up, and the aftermath) for WiF, so the game scope was opened to IIRC 1935 - 1950 or so. My German goal would be screw Sealion, just hold out until you can nuke London.

(again, one of those very sad "Got the game, but ain't got no gamers" situations)
posted by Meatbomb at 2:09 AM on March 24, 2010


Katrel: We pulled Advanced Civilization out this past week when he and my sister were visiting. We had a blast with it, and got my fiancé hooked as well. It's a shame that it's out of print, because it was such a great game. Easy enough for a 4th grader to learn, but entertaining enough for adults.

Above and beyond anything else, I think there are probably license/copyright issues as a result of Hasbro purchasing Avalon Hill, which was problematic for a lot of their older games. Besides that, it's a looooong game, probably too long for most modern gamers' tastes. Even if they're not quite as epic, several newer games (Through the Ages, Rise of Empires) have distilled the civ mechanic into tighter, more interesting, and shorter experiences.
posted by mkultra at 9:41 AM on March 24, 2010


My god I was so in love with the idea of playing Panzer Leader back in the day. If only I could have coerced one of my friends/siblings. I've carried that box all around the country for at least 20 years now because I know that some day I'll find someone who wants to sit down and play a game or two.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:33 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sign me up, Fezboy!, I will be free in 2028 or so. See you in the old folks home!
posted by Meatbomb at 3:44 PM on March 24, 2010


Oh ye hardcore gamers, I salute you! I wish there was a game that I loved enough to do 36 hours of play, but my punkass felt Battletech was as crunchy as I needed to go. These days, I play Memoir '44, the creampuff-iest of wargames.
posted by yeloson at 4:59 PM on March 24, 2010


Ahem, that was 36 straight hours of play. That was actually a short game for us, we used to play longer scenarios as 12 hour bouts every other day for about 2-3 weeks. We'd leave it set up in the office, people would come in on our off days (well, work days, off-game days) and stare at the board and then pester us with questions, they couldn't believe it. Ah, good times. But that kind of gaming is unsustainable, burnout playing. It was the end of my gaming days.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:14 PM on March 24, 2010


Harald, the secret to a successful sealion is to do remarkably well in Days of Decision, fighting and quickly winning the spanish civil war, such that you can take gibraltar and use the italian fleet. From distant memory though, I was going to be creamed by the soviets (with Turkey as an ally), when the 1SS is knee deep in London it's not going to save Berlin.

Going to a wargaming club next (easter) weekend for the first time in many years. Unfortunately I suspect they're nearly all miniatures players, but I live in small hope that i can pull out a game of something.
posted by wilful at 10:44 PM on March 24, 2010


« Older When a tree falls in the forest, but nobody comes ...  |  Playing basketball from the cl... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments