Is 'Morale' ASL's decisive winner?

Honza

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The inherent fragility of the units in ASL which is represented by 'Morale' is what I believe makes the game a winner.
ASL has little in the way of command & control rules, but that lack is made for in the morale rules - which are in effect the same thing.
For a wargame a morale rule is a very realistic and efficient way of introducing a 'lifelike' quality to the combat.
What do you think? Do you agree?

Which was the first wargame to have rules for morale? Was it ASL?

It changes the face of ones soldiers from programmed robots into living breathing men. Its quite a stroke of genius in the games design.

Also; do you agree with the average level of the morale factor? Which is usually 7 for infantry and about 8 for leaders.

What do you make of the morale rules in ASL?

Thanks, Jan.
 

Whizbang1963

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The inherent fragility of the units in ASL which is represented by 'Morale' is what I believe makes the game a winner.
ASL has little in the way of command & control rules, but that lack is made for in the morale rules - which are in effect the same thing.
For a wargame a morale rule is a very realistic and efficient way of introducing a 'lifelike' quality to the combat.
Thanks, Jan.


What do you think?

C&C rules would add a lot to the game IMNSHO

Do you agree?

Yes..Morale does make for good FOW. Troops might or might not perform as I need them to

Which was the first wargame to have rules for morale? Was it ASL?

No it was not ASL, got hammered on this in a discussion of Panzer Grenadier being just another ASL ripoff. Unfortunately I can't remember the names of the three games that were cited as using morale and squad level combat before SL/ASL did.

It changes the face of ones soldiers from programmed robots into living breathing men. Its quite a stroke of genius in the games design.

Also; do you agree with the average level of the morale factor? Which is usually 7 for infantry and about 8 for leaders.

It is what it is. Based on the comments John Hill made in the interview with Doc Pitcavage in SP 10, it's all about the bell curve, and 7 is about average.


What do you make of the morale rules in ASL?

They are effective, relatively simple to learn and follow, and they add some uncertainty to every scenario.



Thanks, Jan.[/QUOTE]
 

Robin Reeve

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Which was the first wargame to have rules for morale? Was it ASL?
Perhaps, perhaps not, but the concept was quite new when SL was produced - most wargames at that time only had firepower, range and movement factors (cf. the "predecessors" PB and PL)...
In any case, SL did insist on the importance of morale (and the effect of leaders upon it).
 

Blackcloud6

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I think morale is very important to the way ASL works and it is done well. I do not think "C&C" rules are needed at all. The player is the C&C.
 

Glennbo

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No, morale isn't the decisive winner for me, though I like it a lot. What I like best about ASL might be considered kind of dumb by a lot of you, but I'm being honest.

SL was the first wargame I played that allowed individual vehicles to be represented. That's what hooked me. I liked driving a tank around and blowing things up with it. So perhaps I should say Scale is the best thing about ASL.

Second on my list may also seem simple-minded, but after experiencing Panzer Blitz I fell in love with wargames that allowed plyers to shoot weapons over many hexes. Up until that point all the wargames I played involved some form of "zones of control" which meant that opposing units had to be adjacent to each other in order to fight. The "reach out and touch someone" aspect of SL, and then ASL, greatly appealed to me.

Morale depiction comes in third with me.

:)
 
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kcole4001

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What drew me to love this game was the personal quaity lent by the unit size: you could almost see yourself as part of the squad out there, manning the MG in the wheatfields of board 4.

Morale is one of the defining parts of the game design, adding more uncertainty to the randomness of the dierolls.
A very elegant way to effect some C&C difficulties and differences in training & combat experience without seeming artificial.
 

A/CSM Bird

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Morale, is probably the single most important aspect along with Leadership. I'll echo the previous posters in saying that the scale of SL/ASL is my favorite part. I was a PB/PL/AIW fan and having read many books WWII the effect on battles by certain stalwart individuals always seemed to be left out of those games at the larger scale.

The write up in 'Fire and Movement' magazine on Squad leader was the turning point in my wargaming career, I knew I had to have that game rickey fcukin' tick!!!... and I never looked back... been an ASL junkie:nuts: ever since.

Individual vehicles, guns, SW and Leaders, 40M hexes those beautiful boards ahh, battle heaven:D

I guess the best part of ASL is the 'package'.
 

Michael Dorosh

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To answer the question of whether SL was the first to have morale rules; Panzer '44 came out a year before Tobruk, and has rules for Panic. Each unit gets a "Panic Level" in the game.

Very different execution in the game, though, so not really a "morale level", more of a random chit draw to determine panicked troops each turn rather than determining the effect of combat on individual units.

In terms of the way Tobruk/SL treat morale, then, they may have been first in the way we think of it.

Red Star/White Star has no rules for panic or morale.

The first squad level games - Grunt, and Search & Destroy, also do not address panic or morale - they actually use the time-honoured CRT and use an odds based system, with Pinned, Destroyed or No Effect as the only results possible.

Firefight, another squad level game which came out just before Squad Leader, also did not have morale rules - their CRT included Suppression and Kill results.

The rout phase in ASL may actually be more unique in wargames than simple morale factors - suppression is covered in other games - i.e. City-Fight, which came out in 1979, or two years after Squad Leader, which covered squad level fighting in a "modern" urban setting. While it had rules for suppression, it had none for fleeing from battle. So ASL's morale rules really cover a wide variety of activities - breaking can be considered the same as suppression, which other games have, but routing is something else altogether. It may be argued that other games simply allow for "controlled" routing whereas the choices in ASL are severely limited. Some designers have added SSRs that limited the direction of routing in the same manner that the computer game Combat Mission designates "friendly" board edges towards which "broken" units not under the player's control will attempt to move.
 
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jwb3

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The first squad level games - Grunt, and Search & Destroy, also do not address panic or morale - they actually use the time-honoured CRT and use an odds based system, with Pinned, Destroyed or No Effect as the only results possible.
Which pretty much explains right there why SL was such a big hit by comparison. "Destroyed" is such an... impersonal way to describe a squad of men getting cut down, wounded, and otherwise put out of action.

Imagine yourself making machine gun noises as you roll the dice, and then exultantly telling your opponent, "Hah, I destroyed him!" Just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Just one of the many ways SL drew you into the action, gave you a "you are there" kind of feel to it.


John
 

Michael Dorosh

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Which pretty much explains right there why SL was such a big hit by comparison. "Destroyed" is such an... impersonal way to describe a squad of men getting cut down, wounded, and otherwise put out of action.

Imagine yourself making machine gun noises as you roll the dice, and then exultantly telling your opponent, "Hah, I destroyed him!" Just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Just one of the many ways SL drew you into the action, gave you a "you are there" kind of feel to it.


John
The SMC counters with actual names on them add a lot in that regards too. So even though the leadership modelling is bizarre and perhaps even 19th Century, it does add colour to the game, and personality.
 

jwb3

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While it had rules for suppression, it had none for fleeing from battle. So ASL's morale rules really cover a wide variety of activities - breaking can be considered the same as suppression, which other games have, but routing is something else altogether. It may be argued that other games simply allow for "controlled" routing whereas the choices in ASL are severely limited.
Oops! Forgot to add, it's not just the routing that was different, it was also the need to go chasing the broken guy down and rally him, with the inherent uncertainty of only having about a 50/50 chance of doing so. Makes the progress of the battle so much less predictable than a game where the Suppressed result automatically comes off after a specific period of time.

(Not that I know this to be the case in any of the games Michael listed.)


John
 

jwb3

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The SMC counters with actual names on them add a lot in that regards too. So even though the leadership modelling is bizarre and perhaps even 19th Century, it does add colour to the game, and personality.
Excellent point -- and it goes right back to that wonderful blurb on the back of the box about the German sergeant whose name I've forgotten. He wasn't just "the German sergeant" on "Abstract Street" in "Mission 1", he was Sergeant Krueger (or whatever the name was) in a very personal private war. Even though I don't recall his name being on one of the counters, you knew it very well could have been.


John
 

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This time...Kruger was wrong...

False advertising though, because Kruger was setting up an observation post in the familiar "church steeple"...
 

Michael Dorosh

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I would be interested in hearing an elaboration on this point of view.

Bruce
The viewpoint has been prosecuted by others more competently by me - mostly by Tobruk fans, I think. :) Or fans of Civil War games. The unique framework of the leadership modelling which gives ASL so much character I think is the basis for the comparison. Rather than modelling modern command and control considerations - voice vs. radio command, for example, we simply see modifiers to firepower and morale factors. No headquarters "units" to speak of. No command restrictions - units can roam all over the map and do whatever they want without reference to their leaders. Any leader can lead any squad, even one of another nationality with only marginal penalties in the latter case. Kind of belies the whole real world concept of collective training and knowing your officers and NCOs and vice versa.

This isn't a criticism of ASL as a game - it clearly works and as the thread indicates, puts ASL in a league well apart from all those others that came before it - who would have an entire tournament based on "Grunt" or "Firefight" today? But it clearly points to ASL as just that - a game, rather than a serious simulation of military leadership. Which it never claimed to be.

And yet - as Design for Effect - there is a ring of truth in it all, as the Designer's Notes in the first rulebook described it. Those snippets from Craig's "Enemy at the Gates" go a long way to adding verisimilitude to the whole idea of "-2" and "-3" leaders. Not that I for a second think that any NCO or officer really makes people shoot straighter, but that isn't what is actually being represented. As with anything, you kind of squint your eyes and don't think too hard about what is really going on. A -1 modifier being applied at the moment of a crucial fire attack DR may really be representing the steadying effect of a veteran sergeant; could be one of a million things. Kind of why I disagree with the concept in PC games right now of 1:1 modelling and representation, but that's a whole subject unto itself.
 
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jwb3

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No headquarters "units" to speak of. No command restrictions - units can roam all over the map and do whatever they want without reference to their leaders. Any leader can lead any squad, even one of another nationality with only marginal penalties in the latter case. Kind of belies the whole real world concept of collective training and knowing your officers and NCOs and vice versa.
and
And yet - as Design for Effect - there is a ring of truth in it all, as the Designer's Notes in the first rulebook described it. Those snippets from Craig's "Enemy at the Gates" go a long way to adding verisimilitude to the whole idea of "-2" and "-3" leaders.
I find myself thinking of the 82nd and 101st Airborne on D-Day.

When they boarded the planes in England, they were the very picture of that which ASL does not represent: neatly organized into platoons, each with its HQ section; then into companies, each with its HQ unit; hours and hours of collective training, every man knowing every other man in his squad, not to mention his NCOs and officers.

Then they flew over the coast of Normandy, the ack-ack started up, and it all hit the fan. People landed on the wrong side of a hedgerow and never found the rest of their squad; sticks from the same platoon landed miles away from each other; even the two divisions got heavily intermingled. Command and control went completely out the window, leaving many groups of men as nothing more than a collection of individuals. "Squads", to the extent that they would be definable in ASL terms, roamed all over the map and did whatever they thought was appropriate in the absence of higher-up leaders. Any leader led any "squad" he came up with, even if some of the men were from a different division completely.

And the results were very mixed. Many of these ad hoc "squads", in the absence of proper HQ units, collective unit identity, and knowledge of their NCOs and officers, fell apart the first time they were stressed by combat... or the second... or the third. OTOH, a few of them came together and performed magnificently. And generally that was the doing of the guy in charge, whether he was a corporal or a captain.

In other words, some leaders displayed what ASL does represent -- the ability, as individuals, to have a powerful positive effect on the abilities of the men around them, without any real consideration of proper command and control functions.

Both elements -- the effect of C&C, and the effect of strong individuals -- can have a role to play in a simulation.


John
 

jpellam

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Morale is definitely one of the decisive winners but I would also add "First Fire" as a close second.
 
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