Rules Modifications

I am convinced ASL was not designed for games as large as the 18 board monster Ambeleve. The system works well up to games even half this size but the logistics become overwhelming past that. And while our monster scenario breaks down into six to twelve sub scenarios, again the sheer bookkeeping slows everything down. But we would be a bunch of girlie-men if we let this stop us. As a result, there are modifications we have made or evolved to help the game along. Later as time permits a more detailed explanation will be added, so check back often to see updates.

Most of these modifications are house rules and have been discussed clearly ahead of time. We allow rule changes during the game but again, some form of clear understanding must be made prior to implementing it. For example, we started the game under the original ASL rules since only one person of the five had any of the updates. We agreed to move to the new rules on turn 11 allowing them for players to familiarize themselves with any changes.


Just Plain Practical

* IIFT. A wonderful addition to ASL. You get the benefit of each additional point and reduces the traditional factor fusing time. You people need to pull your heads out of your algorithms and use this gift.

* All die rolls have to be made in our glass containers. We use Pyrex measuring cups. We like the way the dice bounce around. Doyle occasionally uses a glass jar with a lid. That way he can just shake the jar and the dice don't go flying around.

* If one die has to be rerolled (e.g., bounces out of the jar), the other has to be rerolled too.

* Dice have to agreed on ahead of time and all dice are available to all players for any particular roll.

* We have replaced all the Acquired Markers with square card stock equivalents so we can write which fired. When several stacks have five acquired markers on it, it becomes a difficult to determine just which units own them. Also, we never remember to remove the Acquisition when the firing unit moves.

* Instead of Prep fire markers, we use orange Europa counters, just because there are more of them and they are easier to see. Tanks generally get two markers: a face-up orange one indicates the MA has fired and a face-down means the MGs are used. Use the second counter when both have been expended. There are some situations that one MG is used and another is not. We just remember this on a per case basis.

* Similarly, blue Europa counters means the unit has moved. With over 600 combat units and turns spanning several sessions, this kind of explicit marking is needed. Over time, this practice is the most endearing and I am starting to use it in other scenarios. It helps you remember which units have already moved. Even in small games, both players tend to forget occasionally. While the markers can come off of the infantry after movement, we leave them on vehicles to remind us which ones moved for the advance fire phase.

* We stack in a different order, with the unit on top and possessed items under them. The Americans do it the other way. It presents no problems since this is clearly understood by both sides. For us it has always made more sense for the infantry to be on top because you're going to see the men moving around in the distance; whether it is a large group (squad), small group (half-squad) or a single man. To say that we know it is a LMG but can't tell if its being carried by a single man or ten men is absurd.

* For clarity, leaders always stack on top.

* LOS thread. No big deal. We have both dental floss and sewing thread. Any player can choose either as they want. We find LOS is rarely a problem. While it is often close, the decision is usually obvious after looking around for a moment. For instance, if the LOS might nick a forest, you can always move the thread around to see where both players agree it is blocked. At that point, the thread would have moved to the left or right of the center hex of the target. Many people are retentive on this issue, but like most things in life, other solutions are simple. Since the obstacle has to be on both sides of the line, in close situations we use a sheet of paper, using one edge first and then flipping it over and the other edge. if the obstacle can be seen at both times, it's blocked.

* Players are not committed to an attack until they either roll the dice or the opponent supplies significant information. Everyone likes discussing attacks.

* Any rule can be challenged at any time; an option people use frequently. We are still finding rules we've doing wrong. Our approach of "roll and see it matters," never works; we always roll that one disputed number.

* Counters under concealment get replaced with an equal number of '?.' Because the game turns are long and there is a lot of commotion that only increases the chance of knocking over a stack, all the contents of concealed stacks get replaced. This way, even if a stack gets accidentally exposed, nothing can be seen. The actual units are placed off board or recorded separately. Similar to Cloaking, except the number of counters is still known.


Sense and Sensibility

* Although we try to announce it every time, players forget. When firing, tanks/antitank weapons will fire AP at other tanks; HE at infantry/guns. Direct fire is assumed. Area has to be explicitly announced (unless using an existing Acquisition), as does special ammo.

* While we recognize the game has a social aspect, people often diverge from the subject: the playing of the game. Understandably so, but often, an astute observer will prompt everybody by asking "is this killing Germans?" We understand.

* The object of the game is not to drink beer. While I always encourage my opponents to drink excessively, it is always my team members (Phil and Dirk) that do so. When Dirk stops making sense, he has had too much; when Phil starts making sense, he has had too much.

* Previous mistakes can always be discussed. Simple things like forgetting to move a piece, buttoning up, repairing SWs are generally allowed. Bigger concerns like finding out a tank wasn't really destroyed because we forgot a missing modifier also generally allowed but the players involved have to agree. Our group is reasonable and often it presents few problems. However, the correction of the problems have caused, and no doubt will continue to cause, heated arguments. We fight among ourselves like madmen, threatening to quit almost every week, but the bottom line is we are all friends, we come back week after week and nothing said or done while playing the game is ever used outside of the bounds of that garage-world.

It can be argued that mistakes happen and it's part of the game, which is very true, you're also going to make mistakes as well. And while it's not a tit-for-tat type of thing (nobody is counting), if you're unreasonable the other side will be less willing to allow for your mistakes. The compromise is to discuss what would have been reasonable at the time:

* Discovering an unrepaired SW at the bottom of a stack during movement and wanting to repair it: reasonable.

* Wanting to button up after the opponent has announced a First Fire attack, even if you meant to: unreasonable.This subject is by far the most actively discussed issue and I will write more on this later.

Remember, this isn't a tournament and we are looking for the best game possible. I want to win, but I want to win because I outplayed and was more clever than my opponent, not because I can remember more. Play Cindy Crawford Concentration for that.

* Rules lawyering. Everyone's favorite subject and I will discuss this more in details later. But in brief, the players are responsible for all the rules. Our group's one overriding rule is that any rule can be contested and discussed at any time; we want to play by the rules correctly. The sheer volume makes this difficult but the only way to truly learn them is with this adversarial contention. The term 'rules lawyer' creates a stigma that restricts players' willingness to look rules up. This is opposite of the very behavior we should encourage. If you want to go along with everything I say without question or without later correction, lets do it. But by the same token, understand that I may not want to do that either. The correct solution: look up rules. The more people know the rules, the better off we all are. I would like to hear from someone that disagrees: Write me.


Controversial House Rules

* 12-point facing. This allows the unit to face down a hex row rather than just the spine. Movement is still in 6-point mode and it costs the same to move up to 60 degrees in all cases. This creates a more realistic facing situation with little overhead. As a playing aid and since we have a plastic overlay for the maps, we always mark any 12-point facing with a line on the map and erase it later.


Changes I Would Like to See

* The non-phasing player routs first. The Rout Phase is often more dangerous to the phasing player because of failure to rout. In all other instances, the active side has the advantage because its his turn. They fire first, move first, determine the pace of the turn; it would be nice to see the phasing player have this benefit also during rout.

* Snake-eyes not to be cowering. It seems like such a waste.