Which direction for publishers

G

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Hi ASLers,
Some of us in the Tampa Group were sittting around the "big table" recently and we discussed the hobby in general. One question we debated was: where is the ASL hobby headed and which way should independent publishers go with future ideas.

We also discussed the topic of number and types of products. Do you think there is too much ASL product out there in general or not enough? Are ASL product releases now just "ho hum" events or are they as exciting as in the past?

I remember waiting so long for Cross of Iron and Cresendo of Doom to be released and could not wait to play them. I was excited about the Journal and Operation Veritable (except for the decision to cover the board with grain that is out of season...rather have just the furrow depictions) and am very excited about eventually playing many of the scenarios from them. On the other hand, Watchtower just did not jazz me much. I'm just not a big PTO fan.

As for future releases, I'd like to see AOO released even though the boards hold more appeal for me than the subject matter. The new OB stuff will help me as a designer by giving me more scenario topic choices. That is always good.

The continued Stalingrad obsession is something I do not get though. I'm not poo pooing the idea, I just think there are a lot of other topics out there that have not been covered. It simply seems that more Stalingrad is just not going to be so significantly different than RB to interest me greatly. Perhaps the Leaping Horseman will provide some interesting possibilities.

I would have to say the HOB Operation Orsha project was interesting. I personnally would like to see additional products along those lines.

Any thoughts?
 

Cthulhu

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I'd like to see ASL stretch beyond the boundaries of WW2. We've seen some really interesting stuff from CH (Guerra Civil, Genesis 48 ), but it would be cool to see some "official" stuff on non-WW2 topics.
I think the ASL engine can comfortably simulate almost any 20th Century combat, though I think ATGM's and helicopters might be tough to make work...

I'm certainly not advocating the abandonment of WW2, just a little stretching to see what, if any, limits there are on the system.

I think that an interesting twist on the HASL CG's might be to have an added layer for the players to deal with. Where the player not only has to purchase their forces but also allocate them to one of perhaps several concurrent actions being fought out.
Similar to the old scenario Timoshenko's Attack (I think) where there were three geo boards side by side but they did not touch and there was no interaction between the boards...you allocated your at start troops and fought each of the three engagements separately, with a reserve that could be allocated to any of the three boards after play started.
Obviously this would not work for all actions, but there must be several managable sized engagements that had multiple attack axes

Just thinking out loud...
 

FourDeuceMF

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Cthulhu said:
I'd like to see ASL stretch beyond the boundaries of WW2. We've seen some really interesting stuff from CH (Guerra Civil, Genesis 48 ), but it would be cool to see some "official" stuff on non-WW2 topics.
Well, a group of us are working on Korea for ASL, to be published through MMP (my guess would be at the earliest 2004), is that a good start? 8)
 

Jeff Leslie

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Evan, God love ya for asking the question about where ASL is going, but to be honest you're the wrong person to be asking that question. In fact, none of us (consumers of ASL such as myself and third party manufacturers such as yourself) are the ones that should be asking that question, because we can only speculate.

MMP and Hasbro are the ones that need to be asking that question. They are the ones that will put the legal smackdown on you if you try too hard (just ask HoB and CH). Hasbro and MMP are the ones that are at the helm of this ship, and all we can do is look over the rail and puke every now and then. It appears to me that Hasbro is more concerned about Spongebob Squarepants candy dispensers than they ever will be about ASL, and it's all about money.

I liked OVHS and OWHS, those are the type of modules that I look forward to. But why is it that AoO, which has been on the plate for YEARS, still sits on the back burner while those two modules roll right past it?

I spend a lot of time on VASL, and anyone else who uses it knows that there are a ton of new players itching to get into this game, but they can't because the rulebook is out of print. If they do manage to pick one up on Ebay for 3 times the original price, then they can't get BV to get the German core (again, unless you pick it up on BV for a way overinflated price), and they can't get WoA (or FKaC, whenever that comes out) to get the British.

I could go on, but my Flammenwerfer is running out of fuel....



That's my opinion, and you're all entitled to it.
 

klsmith

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asl expanded

Besides being a great game, the main attraction to ASL (for me, anyway) is that you learn (as best you can) one set of rules and then have a practically infinite array of scenarios to apply it to.

I was wondering recently how ASL might apply to some of the brush war stuff that's in the old Firepower game -- Rhodesia, South Africa and such like (I like all infantry stuff and old equipment). I'm reading a WWI book at the moment, which makes me wonder how a Stosstruppen attack would look in ASL. And of course Viet Nam. I've got Genesis 48, which has some really interesting stuff -- though I'd dearly love to have an "official" version without CH's convoluted counter layout and with a full Arab/Israeli counter set.

I think this would all be great stuff. Practically speaking though, it's slow and expensive to get things done, and once you get past mainstream (ie WWII), I imagine the market drops to a fraction, making it hard to justify costs. On the other hand, there are wargames being published every day, it seems -- they must be making money somehow (or maybe not?). And not to start a flame war, but it seems that if Hasbro would allow MMP to license other producers, the pace could pick up a bit in the "official" products category (eg: use the Microsoft marketing model, not the Apple).

On the bright side, it's nice to be able to talk about system expansions rather than bemoaning its demise -- which is where this was a few years ago.

just my $.02

Ken
 

Pitman

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I have ABSOLUTELY no interest in non-World War II ASL and wish that my lack of interest was a lot more universal.

However, there are a lot of things I wish ASL TPP would do more of:

1. More geomorphic maps. To date, only HOB (once) and CH (sort of) have done geomorphic maps. There is a great need for more maps in ASL, because so much terrain is unrepresented or underrepresented.

What I would ideally like to see is a consortium of TPP get together with a universal map numbering system for TPP geomorphic maps, to make it easier for scenario designers, who can simply use maps X13 and X21 rather than different systems from different companies.

I would also like to see more expansive and more experimental geomorphic and quasi-geomorphic maps. This is an area where TPP can really shine, as opposed to the more conservative approach an "official" look would take.

2. More counters. TPP should be putting out alternate countersets with better artwork and more exciting graphics than the 1970s era obsolete ASL counters. HOB has taken the first step in showing how we can improve upon "official" ASL counters. If a TPP put out a *really cool* looking alternative German counterset, people would snap it up.

3. Less emphasis on elite units and more emphasis on grunts. I don't care if I never see another scenario dealing with the Leibstandarte, the 82nd or 101st Airborne, British paras, Grossdeutschland, etc. I mean, give it a rest, already.

4. More themed scenario packs.

5. More overlays (see universal numbering system idea above), especially interesting and experimental overlays (including transparent overlays). Again, this is an area where TPP can "show the way."

6. Better articles in newsletters and magazines. The quality of articles in many ASL publications is quite poor. I love reading about ASL, and love some of the really great articles that have been written over the years. I wish there were more of them.

7. A better generic campaign game system than Platoon Leader. Platoon Leader's rules are still poorly organized and sometimes ambiguous.

Well, that would be a start.
 

Oliver

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bend the system

New topics are so-so for me. I can probably be talked into playing anything, and we all probably have our preferences. (I like Cassino, but where's the buzz been about the two [or more] products on this major battle?)

The things that jazz me are new ways of twisting the system. What am I talking about? Things like the mini-CG concept. Random OBs. Random OB placements (I just came across an appropriate situation the other day in a book). Scenarios that use purchase points, so players can tailor the OB to their liking. Interesting chrome. Three-player scenarios. A four-player scenario that mandates no talking between same-side players -- to reflect poor battlefield communication. Weird stuff that people will remember for years.

And what's wrong with taking the OVHS map and making it... Kursk? Or Caen? Or a hill in China? Then, in the right hands, all that wheatfield art suddenly seems inspired, doesn't it? (There. That's my creative idea of the week that someone can have. :roll: )

Out-of-the-box thinking is what's needed in the hobby today -- and so far, even many TPP have yet to live up to the challenge. I can think of just two designers who do the kind of work I'm describing.

Fortunately, I live in an area where I can change opponents, and so keep the good ol' two-player 8-turner fresh for yet another week.

Oliver
 
G

Guest

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Jeff Leslie said:
...In fact, none of us (consumers of ASL such as myself and third party manufacturers such as yourself) are the ones that should be asking that question, because we can only speculate.


I disagree with that. ASL players have a lot of influence over what products should and will be produced. The MMP P# policy is the best evidence of that. If not enough of us pre-order a product then it never sees print. So the question of what direction the hobby should go is very much a topic for all ASL players. MMP is listening you can be sure, whether or not they take the advice of the players is is a complex issue that has to be based in economics and their goals.

I do agree with Pitman, in that I have absolutely no interest in ASL outside of Worlf War II. That is not to say that other than WWII topics have no merit or should not be pursued, it just means I will not be a customer for such a product. The exception to this COULD be Mr. Reed's Korea project. It has possibilities.
 

Jazz

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pitman said:
I have ABSOLUTELY no interest in non-World War II ASL and wish that my lack of interest was a lot more universal.
Don't we all wish that more people held the same opinions we do?

I disagree big time. I did some playtest on the Korea module that the KE lads were working on, and it worked. At least what we played worked. There was a lot to do still to complete the module, but what we played worked well and good gaming.

I think you run into problems around 1973 when ATGM (whose flight time is a non-trivial portion of the time a turn is supposed to span) became a factor.
 

Doug Kirk

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I, for one, am looking forward to the Korea module. The Spanish Civil war is also a possibility, CH's Guerra Civil is very good if you can get past the counter layout (it sucks!!!), I was pleasantly surprised with GC.

However, I think the future lies in action packs and historical studies. We need more geo mapboards and action packs are the perfect method of delivery. There is nothing I like better than playing the first couple scenarios on a new board and trying to get the "lay of the land".

OVHS and OWHS (and HOBs OtO) are perfect examples for what the future should look like for historical studies, variety. We need variety. How about some early war French stuff, or desert, or Philippines, etc.

I thought I was the only one who wasn't excited about more Stalingrad stuff, but I see Evan is not hyped either. I like more open spaces, more maneuver.
 
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[quote="Doug Kirk"I thought I was the only one who wasn't excited about more Stalingrad stuff, but I see Evan is not hyped either. I like more open spaces, more maneuver.[/quote]


My aversion to Stalingrad is more of a dislike of city fighting in general. It goes along with my U.S. Army training as an armor officer. In the armor branch we try hard to avoid fighting in cities :)

Also I mostly prefer combined arms scenarios in a rural setting. I have designed a lot of city scenarios and do play them, but to commit 100+ hours of valuable ASL time to a city campaign is just not my idea of fun. Also I find campaign games to be very much like a brigade level Army staff exercise, again been there done that for real....not fun.

Play in the city if you like. I'll be at Kursk and Veritable if you want a game with me :)
 

AdrianE

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I think there is too much ASL related product released each year. Noone can possible play all the scenarios that exist today let alone those that are yet to be released.

Now there is a very small and VERY VOCAL minority of ASL players who want more and more. I don't think they are representative of the majority.

Most ASL players are of the infrequent kind. A game a month plus 1 tourney a year if they are lucky. Real life cuts down on gaming time.

Here is a list of products that I own that I have yet to play a scenario from:
ABTF, OWHS, OVHS, OTO, TRBH, SP5, SP6, SP7, J3, TOT2, TOT3. That's got to be 100+ scenarios. Add in the scenarios from Dispatches from the Bunker, the George Kelln scenario packs, Tactiques scenarios that I have that I've never played ...

I also have J4 and SP8 on order.

I have such a huge backlog of unplayed material that truthfully I don't need any more.

However, I believe that most ASL players will purchase all official material whether they need it or not! I will.

In my opinion the industry (MMP plus all TPP) should only publish 1 magazine and 1 HASL/HS and 1 scenario pack annually. We don't need any more than that. The ONLY exception to that is AoO which should come out in addition to the above schedule.

I'd like to see a concentration on quality not quantity. Currently we get hundreds of scenarios published annually of which only a handful scream "play me". We would be all better off with fewer overall scenarios but more "gotta play" scenarios.

Adrian
 

Pitman

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Adrien E writes:

I think there is too much ASL related product released each year. Noone can possible play all the scenarios that exist today let alone those that are yet to be released.
I think this is a false argument. I can't possibly watch all the movies that are released each year. Does this mean that no more movies should be released?

The plain fact is that a lot of ASL products that are released are ones I don't care for particularly. I don't like every scenario--why should I be forced to play a scenario I already have but is not to my taste instead of a new scenario?

The notion that there are "too many" ASL products released is just strange. Demand drives supply. If there are too many, then people won't buy them, and this will cause producers to stop making them. However, the evidence seems to suggest that people do indeed want more ASL products.

Hey, sometimes I want a city fight. Sometimes I don't. If only a few ASL products come out, then I have much less to choose from. Far far better to have "too much" than too little.
 

Roy Connelly

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Products

Guys,

I'm afraid I agree mostly with Adrian, and some with Pitman. But I believe I am in the minority. I think most ASL'ers want more stuff, and I have no problem with that. It's just that I don't unless the subject matter really catches me.

The problem I see with more boards is: My god, we have over 50 now. Trying to get a new player in on the game is getting harder and harder. When the question comes up "Where do I get all the boards" what do you tell them? And I believe that every time we add another board, it makes getting that new guy into the game even harder to do. I think we could all live for a year or two without new stuff, (except for a trickle of scenario packs for the die hard purchasers) so the powers that be could concentrate on getting all the stuff a new player needs (rulebook, Russians, Germans, basic boards etc...) back out into rotation.

As far as Stalingrad goes, a friend of mine and I played for over a year, once a week and only got 9 CG dates done. We gave up. I can't imagine butting two RB boards together and making one big game of the two. But I realize there are RB diehards out there. I am not one of them, and won't be buying the next RB module.

I also passed on Tarawa, Watchtower, ABTF, Veritable, and a couple of others. Why?, because they will just sit there and rot, and I do play a lot of ASL.

Counters? Please. When I got into the game 6 years ago, there were already thousands. I have a whole plano full of British vehicles I have never even busted out of their bins. But, hey, they made sure we had a Nimbus counter, for exactly one bad scenario.

I'm not bagging on those people who want more stuff and buy everything, everyone's got their thing. But Evan was looking for opinions, so this is mine. BTW Evan, If anyone is going to continue to make scenarios, it should be you guys, havn't played a bad one yet. Playing Taurus Pursuant right now and even though only through the 3rd turn, it is obvious to me already it's going to go down as one of my all time faves.

Roy
 
G

Guest

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Re: Products

Roy Connelly said:
Guys,
But Evan was looking for opinions, so this is mine. BTW Evan, If anyone is going to continue to make scenarios, it should be you guys, havn't played a bad one yet. Playing Taurus Pusuant right now and even though only through the 3rd turn, it is obvious to me already it's going to go down as one of my all time faves.

Roy

Roy,
I must say I like your opinion :) We plan on continuing to produce Schwerpunkt. Right now Schwerpunkt #9 is near completion of the playtest phase. We are already working on the analyses and articles. Volume #9 will be released well before ASLOK 2003.

The tentative plan is to release Schwerpunkt #10 at ASLOK 2003 but that depends on how many outside playtesters come on board in the next few weeks. In house playtesting of Schwerpunkt #10 has been under way for some time and many of the scenarios are near the phase for outside testing.

I agree there are a lot of ASL products out there. I have purchased only a few of them. The latest Canadian products interest me but I have not yet seen them.

My ASL time is confined mostly to playtesting Schwerpunkt but occaissionally I have to break away from that and play scenarios from MMP, HOB, CH and others just to keep me up to date as a scenario designer. I'll be happy when SP#9 goes to print so I can play some Journal #4 stuff.
 

Toedwy

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I love this topic already....

Well, My personal opinion is Rule Book , Rule Book , Rule Book, needs to be totally available 97% of the time for anyone who wants to get involved in ASL. There are many who I feel would love to play, but are turned off when then find out the Rule Book and first core module are not even in print.. In their heads they think, why invest the time learning a very advanced system from a company which seems to be in trouble.

If printing is a cost that makes the printing cost prohibitive, then create an electronic CD available for purchase. MMP would make money hands over fist. It cost practically nothing to make CDs of an html eASLRB! The complaint is.. 'well people will be able to copy it',, my remark to that is.. I , owner of 2nd edition rule book would even purchase another electronic copy as well as hundreds of more people. They obviously are not making money on rule books now. why not release a CD version of it to produce some revenue and to allow new fish to get hooked in the game.

Create a relationship between the eASLRB and a VASL. Host online tournaments, newbie learning night, puzzle night, allow VASL subscribers to be able to play or play test scenarios and maps that are soon to be released . ie AoO. Store a true rating board based on games played on VASL. The current VASL is not setup for this type of functionality, but it can be done.

I also think there should be modules created that do not require the typical dependencies to play if you don’t have prior modules which are Out of print. Make stand alone modules possibly. This allows the new players a starting point. This I would like to see 3rd party companies doing. At least they can learn the system and play some old ASL farts who own every module when them when they play FtF.

I would love to see the emphasis on Mini-CGs.. ie Cemetery Hill by CH is a good example.. It gives the ASL players that have never embarked on a big CG ie. Red Barricades a chance to see what CG life is like. The one-day Historical game which is roughly 6 scenarios for that one day CG games are great fun. Much less of a commitment and the historical aspect is another benefit.

Just my opinion :)
 

FrankH.

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Re: Products

Roy Connelly said:
Guys,

And I believe that every time we add another board, it makes getting that new guy into the game even harder to do. I think we could all live for a year or two without new stuff, (except for a trickle of scenario packs for the die hard purchasers) so the powers that be could concentrate on getting all the stuff a new player needs (rulebook, Russians, Germans, basic boards etc...) back out into rotation.


Roy
Apart from my personal interests and preferences with the ASL system re new ideas and situations, and getting new useful geo boards out and so on, I very much agree with Roy on this one.

For this game system to live it is critical that the basic components, namely the basic rule book as published in v. 2, and two to four core modules (firstly Beyond Valor, the German and the Russian units, their boards and scenarios; secondly something like Paratrooper that is a starter module for those who for whatever reason would like to start ASL with simplier infantry only combat at a lower cost than Beyond Valor; thirdly and perhaps forthly something like one or two large action packs to include basic flowcharts, the remaining portion of board sets numbered 1-8 and 12-15 not provided in the new Paratrooper or BV, and simple scenarios that go with these boards).

I never understood adding Red Barricades to the Beyond Valor module which boosted the price and confused the issue. Not that there is anything wrong with Red Barricades. It should be available separately and it is usually played after a significant level of experience has been gained with the ASL system. A small photo of the RB map could be included in BV as a promo so that new players will know about the "mother of all campaign games".

I would like to see the ASL rule book available both online and in retail game stores for $50 to $70 retail, Beyond Valor without Red Barricades for $50 to $70 retail, and an updated version of Paratrooper with all the boards included to play the scenarios privided therein for $35 to $45 retail. That way a start into ASL would be as little as $85 to $115. I have heard that the above is planned (I have no information as to planned prices) but I think this bit should be first priority. The more new ASL players the bigger that market and therefore the easier to print other stuff as players interest and demand dictates.

I would also suggest a handbook, magazine, or trade piece containing examples of play, a few replays of interesting scenarios, a tie in with the history, common ASL rules Q & A, perhaps a bit of history of the game system itself, and other basic information continuously in print so that newcomers could pick this up as a promo piece with an eye towards their future purchase of (and attempt to play) the ASLRB and either BV or Paratrooper. Call it an Info Pack instead of an Action Pack if you want.

I would also like to see an updated listing of all the "official boards" including a summary of their terrain and which modules they were originally published with and the new module that it is incorporated in. This might appear in the handbook described above, which incidentally could be printed with three holes on the side and supplied with a small binder. That way it could be updated as needed.

Well I guess I have stuck my neck out far, far enough.

Frank H.
 
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