Post by vladtolenkov on Feb 27, 2013 11:42:56 GMT -6
Hey all! I suffered an extreme bout of Avalon Hill wargaming nostalgia a few months back (I have since recovered and am have returned to thinking about OD&D/AD&D).
Specifically I was thinking about Squad Leader--a game which I always wanted to get a hold of but never did as I was too intimidated to actually buy it. During my summer wargame internet excursion I learned quite a bit about SL and its strapping offspring ASL.
So. . .you guys a are gamers. How many of you played Squad Leader back in the day? Do you still play? Any of you move on to the "lifestyle game" ASL?
Post by stevemitchell on Feb 27, 2013 12:09:47 GMT -6
I played half of the first scenario for Squad Leader when it first came out, then put the game away. I just wasn't into nuts and bolts tactical games back then (SPI published a lot of that stuff, too). I wanted to capture Moscow or Berlin, not Hill 411. I watched the subsequent development of SL, and then its transformation into ASL, with some bemusement.
But about a dozen years ago, Critical Hit's Combat (and successor ATS) and the Minden Retro rules for ASL got me interested in squad-level gaming--to the extent that I now have dozens of base sets and expansions for ASL and ATS, plus games in the Lock n'Load, Combat Commander, Conflict of Heroes, and Band of Brothers series.
I never did make it into ASL proper, though; I play some Squad Leader and the ASL Starter Kits, but when I break out my various ASL modules, I play them either using the Minden Retro rules or else using conversions to ATS.
Over the last week, I've played five firefights from Awakening the Bear (second edition), a stand-alone game in the Conflict of Heroes series. Four German wins and only one Russian win--but then, the firefights were all from 1941.
If you're not quite ready for the time and expense of launching into full ASL, you might try one of the ASL Starter Kits. There are three of these so far, all stand-alone, plus a stand-alone expansion set. Good stuff; and the publisher is planning to support the line with further releases, including a Pacific set and a historical campaign game.
Post by stevemitchell on Feb 27, 2013 15:05:58 GMT -6
Vlad, ATS is probably the weightiest of the squad-level games outside of ASL, but I found it easier to get into--just start with some infantry scenarios only, maybe with some MGs or mortars, and that way you don't have to read about half the rule book (skipping tanks, artillery, aircraft, Pacific-theater terrain, etc.). After just a couple of infantry games, I felt ready to tackle tanks, and now I can handle just about anything in ATS.
Conflict of Heroes is very nice visually, with 1-inch counters and equally big map hexes. The game uses a Programmed Instruction approach like the original SL, so it's easy to get going. The second edition of Awakening the Bear is probably the place to start if you want to give it a try.
So many squad-level systems, so little time. . . .
Post by stevemitchell on Feb 27, 2013 15:08:38 GMT -6
And I should have added, the ASL Starter Kits are a good intro to squad gaming also. The first set is infantry only, the second adds guns, and the third adds tanks. So you can ease yourself in gradually. Even with the guns and tanks added, ASLSK comes out as a streamlined alternative to the full-up ASL rules.
Post by jasonzavoda on Feb 27, 2013 19:20:41 GMT -6
Squad Leader (SL) is unfortunately a flawed system as I remember it. (The movement rules were very fiddly and you had to retrace steps at certain points if you came under enemy opportunity fire). Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) fixed this but the rules became incredibly complex. If you learned the ASL rules it was an amazing game. SL did have the step by step learning process so that each scenario offered only a few new rules and ASL for years just threw you into the deep end where you sank or swam. The ASL starter kits made ASL approachable but for some reason the first two and the early expansions have been allowed to go out of print. They are each stand alone so you can buy ASL starter kit #3 which introduces rules for vehicles without owning any of the earlier kits.
Advanced Tobruk System is another squad level tactical wargame (which means that individual officers and non-coms, heavy weapons, and vehicles are represented by individual counters while squad counters usually represent 5-10 men. The reason for this is that individual soldiers where normally ineffective in combat without leadership, though there are rules for heroes and weapon crews). ATS is a very detailed system but less rules-heavy than ASL. They also made stand-alone sets so that you didn't need to buy these massive boxed sets and a main rulebook that ASL required.
Conflict of Heroes is a much more rules light system with very attractive and easy to read counters.
Band of Brothers, I have read but not played, is said to be extremely fiddly but some people love this system.
Lock'N Load has a game system that is said to be very light and they deal with several eras including Vietnam, WWII and even a Blackhawk Down game.
Tide of Iron from FFG is a fun and simple system about the complexity level of AXis&Allies and has plastic pieces for individual tanks and squad counters. It is a great wargaming intro game.
Panzer fro GMT deals with tank warfare.
Panzergrenadier from Avalanche Press deals with Platoon Level combat. It is a fairly simple game, a step above Tide of Iron. I prefer squad level tactical though.
If you wanted to start with anything I'd recommend Tide of Iron for the very first step. It sells, with a small amount of patience, at about half its suggested retail on ebay as do its expansions, but it is a monster sized game with some heavy components and shipping is always expensive. At some point I suspect it to really rise in cost like FFGs game Descent.
Post by stevemitchell on Mar 11, 2013 16:22:52 GMT -6
GMT's Fighting Formations starts off at the platoon level, but it includes breakdown counters for squads. Other platoon-level games include White Star Rising from Lock n'Load and Panzerblitz from MMP. But the PanzerGrenadier line from Avalanche continues to dominate this particular gaming niche.
Another squad-level system is GMT's Combat Commander. This uses cards (drawn randomly from the deck for a specific nationality), which indicate what actions can be taken. The game is infantry-only, no tanks, although an upcoming supplement is supposed to introduce vehicles.
I've taken a break from squad gaming to invade Sicily, though (via GMT's Fast Action Battles: Sicily). The Allies are safely on the beaches, but they have a long way to go to reach Messina.