The ASL Light Bulb is Getting Brighter

Evan Sherry

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I liken the current state of the hobby to that of a light bulb getting ready to burn out. Yes, there has been a sort of golden age for the last few years. MMP and others have made quite a few new products. But on the other hand, some are now out of the hobby and not likely to return. HOB is mostly out of action. East Side Gamers is still selling but no longer producing new products.

We are in the bright bulb part of the hobby. I hope it stays bright for quite a while, but I know we are closer to the end of the hobby than we are to its beginning. The stagnation of this very forum is also an indicator that interest in ASL is waning. On the brighter side (pun intended) Schwerpunkt Volume 23 is going to the printer soon so at least we are not dead yet.
 

hongkongwargamer

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I would think that the state of the hobby has less to do with the producers than the number of games that goes on. Producers not being able to sell can be due to a wide range of reasons: pricing, delivery & quality of product notwithstanding.

Thankfully we are seeing more and more games played on this side of the world. We see a stream of new players (high school students) looking to learn ASL. We getting higher and higher amount of chatter in our chats.

We go from one regional tournament from the tremendous effort of George Bates to three interested parties competing to set up next year's.

But if you insist on talking producers, MMP, BFP, Lone Canuck and LFT are going STRONG, knowing their pipelines.

The Bright Bulb of the Hobby is dependent on the players, and the best is yet to come!

Rgds Jack

PS Folks, take a look at Dispatches from the Bunker, their stuff is getting better and better. Plus the Kansas City ASL folks - love their stuff, played more than a few
 

Carln0130

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It's going great guns on Facebook, with multiple new players every week, of whom the median age seems lower, not higher. This is allowing for at least 5 different groups ASL related on FB. Could be more choice of venue than anything else.

Also, VASL, even on weeknights such as Tuesday or Wednesday, has 30 or so guys on there some nights, duking it out. Never used to see those kind of numbers on nights like that.

Of course the real indicator would be sales. I don't have access to those numbers of course, but just giving it the eyeball test, I don't think things are as bad as you may assume.
 

hongkongwargamer

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Perhaps in back in the day, put "ASL" on a potato and it will sell (and sell again at 3 times the price on eBay). Now we have a more discerning generation of newbies who definitely do NOT automatically buy everything up. Again, I think whether a producer is making out okay has more to do with the product than with the state of the hobby.

We now have folks who are certainly a lot smarter than me with their money.
 
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Vinnie

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Unfortunately the heyday of the forums is over. I think that GS is gong to struggle to get the new players in here...too old system and too many backbiters who insist in fighting battles that are years old.
Looking at FB it is clear that there are a substantial number of new players. How long they will last, I do not know. I'm also seeing a large number of people trying to design...some good, some not so great.
The future is not so dark as all that.
 

djohannsen

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Unfortunately the heyday of the forums is over. I think that GS is gong to struggle to get the new players in here...too old system and too many backbiters who insist in fighting battles that are years old.
I agree that the Facebook ASL page is much more dynamic and active. I was just speaking with someone last night who says that he just doesn't care for the tone on Gamesquad, so avoids it (preferring to do any ASL chat on FB). For whatever reason, I believe that lots of forums struggle anymore (just look at Missing-Lynx, for example, in the armor modeling world); I don't think that the exodus from forums is limited either to ASL or Gamesquad.
 

MatrimSaric

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Yup, social interaction is now networks (fb, twitter etc) as opposed to boards which replaced the old email groups. Just like blogs are started to be supplanted more by youtube casters.

I should really reactivate my fb just for the ask boards..
 

hongkongwargamer

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Yeah, I fled FB not long ago. Not missing it as long as I am comfortable with NOT needing to know everything.

Rgds Jack
PS. I left my iPhone at the local Apple Store to be fixed last week. I was "phoneless" for 4 hours. Such a strange sensation!

Yup, social interaction is now networks (fb, twitter etc) as opposed to boards which replaced the old email groups. Just like blogs are started to be supplanted more by youtube casters.

I should really reactivate my fb just for the ask boards..
 

kcole4001

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I think as long as there is interest the game will live, even if the big producers shut down.
Wargamers by nature are very dedicated, and don't give up good games easily, and it's easier to find opponents now than any time in the past.

It's really quite amazing that as many games got published and played back in the '70s and '80s, where it really took a lot more effort in many areas just to find a place to buy them.
It took hours of driving or weeks for mail order, now it literally takes minutes or less to order from a vastly broader palette of game materials.

The golden age of publishing games may be over (debatable), but I think we're in the golden age of availability right now with many more third parties producing along side MMP.
Certainly when these guys decide it's time to retire from ASL production many will likely disappear, but maybe there will be enough younger talented people interested enough to take up the banner and plow onward.
Let's hope so.
Either way, I don't think that interest will die off given the volume of material available.
Much of it may become public domain and be freely downloadable, and as long as people's game collections are not thrown out someone will want to buy them and play the game.
 

hayman

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I'm related to the dinosaurs (I like to push cardboard around a board, and sit and sort through my scenario collection to find the next game)

but, if most components of the game are able to be replicated online (VASL, etc), then I think that MMP & 3rd Party Publishers will eventually produce most ASL products electronically.

Costs will go down for these producers, as demand for 'hardware' drops with the old-timers leaving the hobby (or turning up their toes).

And if the producers don't go e-compatible, I'm sure the online hobbyists will just produce their own material (VASSAL maps, emailed scenario packs), just like fanzines in the 1980's (google it kids).

The ASL hobby won't look like the 1980's & 1990's version, but we do play a very niche game, and it will survive well into the 21st Century due to dedicated, fun-loving adherents.
 

hongkongwargamer

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You know .. the more the world goes online, the more "normal people" interact via chats & FB ..the cooler it is to go retro and actually play each other FtF - man to man, actual handshakes and old school social manners. Bring in the full-on tattoos, sharp haircuts, pomades, beards and retro glasses..

COOLNESS BEYOND ALL BELIEF.
 
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Honza

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This forum is dying mainly because it is too hostile. I hardly dare start any new topics out of the fear of rude answers and being disliked by members here. The main ASL FB page is quite well moderated with the rude members being removed. No such luck here. This place is a bit too unregulated and people can basically get away with saying anything they want to other members. I used to live with it but then it happened to me too many times and now I keep my head down.
I know I've started some stupid threads in my time; but the difference is that they were just stupid and NOT offensive. I'm hardly offensive to anyone unlike some members here.
 

volgaG68

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In the old AH days, it was vitally important to the longevity of ASL that new scenarios, modules, and HASLs be developed. Barring DYO and playing certain scenarios for the umpteenth time, you could "run out of stuff to play" in 10-15 years; hence the hobby would 'die' to you after a set amount of time. ALL ASL publishers could stop designing stone-cold today, even the 'free-lancers', and the hobby has such a stupendous library of work that it is now its own leviathan. A new entrant could join the hobby tomorrow, post-design stoppage, and he likely would not pine for the 'continued development' or 'enlargement of scope' that we pined for in the early days. He would be confronted with a vast library of work that could hardly be dented in his lifetime. If he chooses to enlist, he is set with a lifetime hobby.
 

Gunner Scott

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There are alot of good publications out there and they do try to provide a nice spectrum of esoteric scenarios. I personally do not buy everything out there, still way too much good stuff I have to on plate to play currently, Operation Turnscrew, VotG, Red Barricades and a few other things. But here is my take on the stuff I do have and buy occasionally:
Schwerpunkt: quick playing scenarios, very very generic in nature most of the time.
Dispatches: Some interesting stuff in this publication, but sometimes the publisher lets the designers off the rails and the scenarios can be a real bear to grok, sadly the Red Barricades scenarios are small, the playing areas small but are loaded to the gills with SSR's. On the other hand Op turnscrew, even though some of the scenarios are SSR heavy, look interesting enough to want to play them. All in all DftB is money well spent with a variety of different situations for everyone.
Lone canuck: Like DftB there is usually something there for everyone, the scenarios or CG's are not SSR heavy and most scenarios can easily be groked with a glance. The only drawback to LC is that playtesting can be iffy at times, so your never really sure what your going to get out of each scenario selected. Still not a bad publication but maybe a little bit more TLC might help the scenarios in the long run.
Bounding Fire: Probably the best ASL producers around, probably even surpassing MMP in both quality and products. With great products like B&J and CoS along with PiF, this company has great scenarios, great presentation and great quality. You just cant go wrong with these guys.
LFT: Good stuff usually, the magazines have always been really good, but the HASL's are forgettable, with over the top super complications, the HASL's tend to be aimed at a very small portion of the ASL community who tend to enjoy tax code level designs.
Critical Hit: buyer beware!
So yes, lots of stuff out there but not all of it is every bodies cup o joe, some of the ASL is great, some of it not so great. But all in all, a healthy third party still seems to thrive in this day and age of the Orange Turd (trump) lol.
 

hongkongwargamer

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Friendly Fire's got great stuff as well, although some folks prefer non tourney scenarios.


There are alot of good publications out there and they do try to provide a nice spectrum of esoteric scenarios. I personally do not buy everything out there, still way too much good stuff I have to on plate to play currently, Operation Turnscrew, VotG, Red Barricades and a few other things. But here is my take on the stuff I do have and buy occasionally:
Schwerpunkt: quick playing scenarios, very very generic in nature most of the time.
Dispatches: Some interesting stuff in this publication, but sometimes the publisher lets the designers off the rails and the scenarios can be a real bear to grok, sadly the Red Barricades scenarios are small, the playing areas small but are loaded to the gills with SSR's. On the other hand Op turnscrew, even though some of the scenarios are SSR heavy, look interesting enough to want to play them. All in all DftB is money well spent with a variety of different situations for everyone.
Lone canuck: Like DftB there is usually something there for everyone, the scenarios or CG's are not SSR heavy and most scenarios can easily be groked with a glance. The only drawback to LC is that playtesting can be iffy at times, so your never really sure what your going to get out of each scenario selected. Still not a bad publication but maybe a little bit more TLC might help the scenarios in the long run.
Bounding Fire: Probably the best ASL producers around, probably even surpassing MMP in both quality and products. With great products like B&J and CoS along with PiF, this company has great scenarios, great presentation and great quality. You just cant go wrong with these guys.
LFT: Good stuff usually, the magazines have always been really good, but the HASL's are forgettable, with over the top super complications, the HASL's tend to be aimed at a very small portion of the ASL community who tend to enjoy tax code level designs.
Critical Hit: buyer beware!
So yes, lots of stuff out there but not all of it is every bodies cup o joe, some of the ASL is great, some of it not so great. But all in all, a healthy third party still seems to thrive in this day and age of the Orange Turd (trump) lol.
 

Robin Reeve

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I left FB forever two weeks ago - after ten years, the overall balance of positive waves vs. hate and craziness was largely deficient.
FB is not more "dynamic" than GS, because the formats are very different and hardly comparable.
A FB page is a continuous chat thread, where topics pile on one another, and sink out of view very fast.
Some posts there are duplicates of posts on GS (typically rules questions and some AAR).
If you stringed all posts GS into one, FB-like unique thread, I don't think that GS would suffer from the comparison.
GS certainly is less trendy than FB.
But as a long lasting resource, compared with the ephemeral immediacy which makes the "dynamism" of FB, GS wins the contest hands down.
When I have a rules question, I start by searching GS - and I find many good answers, even beyond the Perry Sez ones (which usually adress the most difficult rules interactions).
I like the FB groups - I even created the ASL players one, which works quite well (I shared the administration privileges with a handful of other FB members, so the group will survive my departure) - but GS has my preference.
Many active people on FB are also active here.

As to the OP, I have evolved in my opinion about the future of ASL, from pessimistic fatalism to peaceful openness.
The enthusiasm of honkongwargamer and other new players from the Far East did weigh on that evolution.

About Evan Sherry's analysis, I disagree on the following points:
- HOB has reincarnated into BFP, which is far from showing signs of decline.
- ESG crashed down, following Glenn Houseman's "burn out" (I don't know how to call his leaving the hobby, sorry if the expression comes out as clumsy or inappropriate): that's life...
- LC, LFT, St-Louis, Texas ASL club, etc. are offering excellent inputs, resources and products to the hobby.
- MMP are about to publish Forgotten War and Red Factories (and the P# were reached speedily)
- There already have been TPP which disappeared in the past: ASL News, Tactiques and Paddington Bears come to mind. They didn't ring the end of match bell for ASL at all.

I would also suggest to Evan Sherry that refusing to accept credit card online payment (not even Paypal) certainly reduces the impact of his own publications - I have seen some expressions of real unsatisfaction on the French forum. And the layout without any graphics for the units nor colours doesn't help either.

Of course, things could be better and the grognards of GS - among which I am - could be more congenial and less reactive about rehashed controversies.
But, you know, they love ASL with passion. Sometimes in an excessive, quasi cultic way, indeed.
And they certainly sometimes should refrain from reacting too hard when a newcomer lectures them about how much ASL is a bad game, how its rules are stupid and how he knows how to "fix" it.
Well, I could tend to be quite harsh with someone who would tell me how he finds my wife ugly and how he knows how to "fix" her.
ASL implies a much lesser level of commitment for me, of course (hmm... however...) but the comparison has its merits, I think.

So the future of ASL...
I think that I will concentrate on the present.
With peaceful openness.
 
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Roy

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I have stopped buying anything but Journals and Action Packs. I refuse to try to chase down every map or counter or overlay that is released in all the different products.
Just based on what I own now, I could easily play 3 scenarios per week plus keep a campaign of some sort going and not stop playing before I die of old age.
The hobby is not dying as far as I am concerned. As long as there is an opponent available either ftf or online, i will play asl and any lack of new products won't put an end to that.
If anything, the game is way over-saturated with stuff as it is.

IMO
 

chris_olden

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I have stopped buying anything but Journals and Action Packs. I refuse to try to chase down every map or counter or overlay that is released in all the different products.
Just based on what I own now, I could easily play 3 scenarios per week plus keep a campaign of some sort going and not stop playing before I die of old age.
The hobby is not dying as far as I am concerned. As long as there is an opponent available either ftf or online, i will play asl and any lack of new products won't put an end to that.
If anything, the game is way over-saturated with stuff as it is.

IMO
I agree.
I buy stuff based on recommendations from people I know.
Sure, I probably miss some good/cool stuff, but I probably won't get a chance to play all the stuff I do pick up.
It is great to see so much creativity going into ASL.
 
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