What was your "moment?"

Pitman

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For me, I'll also say that it was not a moment, but a process. I had been self-teaching and solitaire playing SK#1. I was enjoying it, but wasn't yet committed to SK to the exclusion of all other hobbies. I reached out to the local ASL club and our own Justiciar (who is a member of the Fredericksburg Fire-Eaters) encouraged me to attend WO and said that he would give me a game and teach me (full) ASL. My first playing of ASL left me completely dazed - the three or four hours of playing just flew by and by the end I could no longer even remember my own name. After I got home and had some time to regain my wits I was convinced that ASL is a great game, but wasn't yet ready to pursue ASL to the virtual exclusion of other hobbies. It was Andy's generosity in continuing to mentor and encourage me (not to mention generously giving me an ASL Journal after our first game), helping me to see the depth of the game, that started the process. It was also the generosity of Chris Brackney who sent me his old sets of British and French counters and not allowing me to pay for them. It was Derek Ritter letting me attend his Iron Crosses tourney and being such a terrific host (Derek would throw himself on a greande for others - an incredible guy). It was Tim Brieaddy giving me a game at Iron Crosses (where I was more than a bit intimidated) and just being the most fun and gracious opponent (I've never laughed so much in an ASL game as that one). There was also the kindness of David Garvin, who was always happy to do a favor. It really took all these events to solidify ASL as the only game that I ever want to play and to make me want to try to become a decent player. I can't put my finger on any one event, but the generosity and warmth of the people who have helped me along has been so spectacular (and ASL's brilliance as a game) that I can't imagine that I'll ever not want to play ASL.
Nice story. And kudos to Andy Hershey and the others who helped you along the way.
 

Justiciar

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When John Hill dragooned me into playing what was probably an early version of The Guards Counterattack in his hobby store, The Scale, in a strip mall in Lafayette, IN. We used counters scrounged from his previous games. Probably helped a lot that he provided a running commentary and sound effects, and I've always enjoyed how the game provides so many opportunities to construct a narrative, if you're into that kind of thing.

That being said, I stopped playing SL after GI and only recently started playing ASL. Now I'm pretty much playing it to the exclusion of all else. And again, I really enjoy how every game tells a little story.
Nice tidbit about "scrounged counters." That has a link to the known history of SL-ASL, and of course "scrounged" is ASL-speak.
 

Justiciar

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Interesting how many people are responding with an SL moment rather than an ASL moment. For me, ASL was more gripping than SL ever was.
I rolled my answer into one. I agree ASL is far better. In fact to make the point, when Avalon Hill introduced ASL I was f*** pissed off. I had bought and played my way through SL - GI Anvil of Victory. Now they release the new system and I have to invest more $$$ and time. I said f/u. Then in 1988 I am in UK doing my Ph.D and need a stress release, my then wife is headed back to USA for a Forest Service conference, she being a leading expert in remote sensing and carved the field, I said go to a hobby store and buy "ASLRB and BV." My other "ahhh ha moment" came when I opened the ASLRB and fell randomly upon MG and Rate of Fire. In that instant I forgave Avalon Hill for their egress sin. Though I had a wobbly moment when I turned to the early pages and "Collateral Attacks" was right there...errr ah...mmm, ok I will figure this out in due course. Now much better placed where it is.

ASL proved an excellent stress reducer, and I got to teach a work colleague of my wife's to play and we did so 2x a month.

Advance 30 years and I come to meet Randy Rossi at the famed Brackin Basement Bash...and Rossi lived in London then (doing his Ph.D) and haunted the same Virgin Game Store (like Virgin Airlines / Records) and bought ASL there. But we never met then just likely walked past each other...

But the point is you can have a "2nd moment"...
 

Philippe D.

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Well, it must have been in late 1989 or early 1990.

I was just back from my year that I spent as an exchange student in the US and getting involved full tilt into roleplaying games (Rolemaster on Middle Earth) and Tolkien's world. Back then, I got close to being able to speak Sindarin...

In that game store where I sunk all my money, beside the roleplaying games, they also had a corner for wargames - a rarity for Germany. On one of those days, I pulled out the ASLRB v1, looked at the binder and saw this:
My story is pretty similar - even to the rough dates, and speaking Sindarin (Quenya was a bit tough for me).

During the eighties, I would regularly read this French roleplaying/wargaming magazine Casus Belli. I often had a Squad Leader scenario - probably at some point it moved to ASL. I didn't have an opponent or the money, but it did look cool.

In '89 or '90 I got to play one, maybe two, games of SL with another student at my school (same guy who was the expert on Quenya). I liked the game, but he warned me that the expansions added a lot of complexity and confusion; maybe I'd be better off going for ASL. So when I got a little cash, I went and got myself the rulebook and BV - possibly Paratroopers as well.

Then I got to reading the rules, and right there on page A1 was A.14 COLLATERAL ATTACKS. I got a little scared, and wondered if I had just lost a lot of money on a game I would never be able to play.

It was about a year before another friend came along and we decide we'd really give it a try. First scenario was Fighting Withdrawal and we didn't get much out of it, but over the course of a few months we moved on to Paratroopers scenarios and some from French dedicated ASL magazine Tactiques. I'd say the important moment was when we played TAC 12 Commando Schenke, and I realized (even before we really got into games with vehicles) how much this game could do.

I've had long periods when I didn't play ASL, but so far I've always come back to it.
 

Cult.44

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A simple rule to us ASLers now. But imagine how this sounded to me when being exposed to it for the very first time! With all those abbreviations, crossreferences, and ASL-lingo seeping from every pore, it appeared like something of a mythical scroll to me. Like if you look at old Egyptian hieroglyphs, and KNOW they mean something that must be fascinatingly interesting could you but read and understand them. I mean, give it to your wife, have her read it and then explain to you what it means. I felt like your wife would feel - except that I was fascinated and wanted to know!
I think the clinical response of normal people to the ASLRB is for their eyes to roll up into the back of their heads and then try to get away as fast as possible.
 

Justiciar

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Consequently it meant every other game system purchase had to meet an impossibly high standard.
As Chris noted, true.

This is why I sold "Siege of Jerusalem"...this could* have been the ASL of ancients. But the rules were awful, though they tried to be ASL-like b/c of the scale they were working at. I do look forward to Scott Blanton's area movement "Storm over Jerusalem" (not sure of that title) game for MMP, and will buy it...from Scott.
 

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Reading through the brochure that came in Luftwaffe, the first Avalon Hill game I ever bought, I saw Squad Leader and it was instant excitement.
Funny that. A friend introduced me to Luftwaffe, my first AH game, around '76. It was meh. We tried Third Reich next, I think, along with other AH titles like Panzerblitz and Panzer Leader. Something just clicked when the purple SL box arrived at my firend's place. I quickly convinced another friend to try it with us. Friend Number 2 was immediately hooked.

The level of detail and the amount of control one had over one's forces made it personal. SL was more engaging than anything we had experienced before. Unlike other games, there was no sitting around while your opponent fired or moved. The immediacy of the game was gripping, and our adolescent emotions ran high.

When Friend Number 1 told me of ASL's release while I was overseas in '85, I was eager to have a look at it. Friend Number 2 and I have been playing it off and on now since '86. No other game has been able to supplant it, and I doubt that one ever will.
 

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I think the clinical response of normal people to the ASLRB is for their eyes to roll up into the back of their heads and then try to get away as fast as possible.
I discovered that the're a boardgames group in my town that meets 10 minutes walk from my house. I've still to get along to a session because of my working hours lately. Not sure if my mentioning ASL would result in expressions of interest or result in them holding out crucifixes to ward me off... :)
 

Justiciar

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...ASL would result in expressions of interest or result in them holding out crucifixes to ward me off... :)
You hold up the ROF die! Works every time. Or you can say your "power" only works in a graveyard hex. You will have all of Ireland converted to ASL shortly if you go along to that club...now get cracking. St Patrick purged Erie of snakes...Holdit brought ASL to the Emerald Isle...immortality and a public holiday of epic proportions awaits you. Never mind some one saying I named my kid "Holdit"...okay well maybe not that. But you get the broad picture.
 

Michael Dorosh

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The back* of the SL box...the write up (seemingly right from Craig's "Enemy at the Gates") and the thumbs of the board and counters... That was 38 years ago...
Yeah, around 1983 for me. Still remember the PanzerBlitz box. Never played the game, just thought the graphic design was astonishingly good. Played SL with friends in junior high school, don't even remember my first games, but I'm sure the graphic design was what sold me.
 

'Ol Fezziwig

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Interesting how many people are responding with an SL moment rather than an ASL moment. For me, ASL was more gripping than SL ever was.
For many, SL was the path into ASL. I looked at ASL as the next logical step of SL, not necessarily different as much as a refinement.
 

Michael Dorosh

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For many, SL was the path into ASL. I looked at ASL as the next logical step of SL, not necessarily different as much as a refinement.
This.

Also I suspect many of us are of the age that we were in junior high school or high school when they started with SL. Speaking for myself, I have much fonder memories of playing games while still in high school, I think we were capable of much more wide-eyed appreciation of games in general then. Also you had more time to spend with friends - no families, or jobs, getting in the way. You could physically stay awake longer, and friendships were stronger as a result. As we age, I think many men are finding that the only time they hear from many of their 'friends' are when someone is getting married, needs help moving, or someone has died.
 

Spencer Armstrong

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Interesting how many people are responding with an SL moment rather than an ASL moment. For me, ASL was more gripping than SL ever was.
While I wholly agree with this, ASL was an evolution from SL for me, albeit a somewhat expected one.

My best friend and I met at college in 1993. There's a weird story about our mothers sortof introducing us, but that's not the point here. We had both gotten bored of Axis & Allies and such things and one day walked to the hobby shop and looked at Avalon Hill games together. We knew ASL existed (1993, right?) but SL seemed like an easier on-ramp and we weren't committed to the idea. We actually bought Squad Leader and Wooden Ships & Iron Men. I don't remember who bought which, the idea was they'd be shared. We looked at both and SL's Programmed Instruction and decided that looked like we could start right now. And we did. We played three days a week through all of SL, CoI and into CoD before the horrible patchwork "does this still work or has it been superseded?" made us move on to ASL. To this day, neither of us has ever played WS&IM. It is in my closet unpunched. (I hear it's great).

Embedded in that story, though, the moment for me was during our playing of the second scenario (Tractor Works?), which we'd paused and written down positions, I found myself walking across the quad planning how I was going to get across the street into that big central building on board 1 using the new smoke counters (d6 hindrance...part of me thinks that's a better rule still) we had and I was just totally engrossed in the idea. Even better, I pulled it off almost exactly as I'd planned it and won the scenario. That total immersion and focus thing...never experienced that before in a game. After a good, taxing game, I still get "ASL headache."
 

Brad M-V

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Funny that. A friend introduced me to Luftwaffe, my first AH game, around '76. It was meh. We tried Third Reich next, I think, along with other AH titles like Panzerblitz and Panzer Leader. Something just clicked when the purple SL box arrived at my firend's place. I quickly convinced another friend to try it with us. Friend Number 2 was immediately hooked.

The level of detail and the amount of control one had over one's forces made it personal. SL was more engaging than anything we had experienced before. Unlike other games, there was no sitting around while your opponent fired or moved. The immediacy of the game was gripping, and our adolescent emotions ran high.

When Friend Number 1 told me of ASL's release while I was overseas in '85, I was eager to have a look at it. Friend Number 2 and I have been playing it off and on now since '86. No other game has been able to supplant it, and I doubt that one ever will.
The detail impressed me the most too. Geomorphic boards with top down vehicle art all scaled down to squad level action with all the different individual support weapon types, etc. In my opinion, It's still the most impressive board game I've played.
 

BattleSchool

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I think the clinical response of normal people to the ASLRB is for their eyes to roll up into the back of their heads and then try to get away as fast as possible.
The tome is intimidating. But it's also a wonder in its own right.

The binder, the colour-coded chapters and their accompanying dividers, and the elaborate full-colour examples are unprecedented. The shear size and scale of a still growing ASLRB dwarves other wargame systems. Even if it's not your cup of tea, the ASLRB remains a spectacular achievement, one that has left an indelible mark on the wider gaming scene.

FWIW, my wife never rolled her eyes when she first saw the ASLRB. But your broader point is supported by the fact that she has never expressed any interest in playing ASL. As she has commented on several occasions, playing an ASL-lite scenario leaves her mentally CX.
 

Michael Dorosh

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, the ASLRB remains a spectacular achievement, one that has left an indelible mark on the wider gaming scene.
If no one else has attempted doing something similar, I'm not sure what that mark is, exactly. Can you elaborate?
 
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