Sunday, July 31, 2016

Some Sources of ASL Inspiration

It's a lazy, hot Sunday afternoon here in Tulsa, OK. Having finished lunch...I am now preparing to clean the garage (an annual event thankfully)...but's cool in my office and perhaps I have enough time to blog a bit. Yeah...I've got time...let's talk and share some wargame memories.

Spend any time with me and you quickly discover that I'm hugely nostalgic. I love to look back at the past and particularly my early years of wargaming...when the hobby was filled with magic and huge potential. In today's post, I'd like to look back on one of the earliest and most formative of my wargame source materials. In the '70's wargaming was in one of its Golden Ages (some might argue it's truest golden age). One of the great magazines at that time was Wargamer's Digest. Gene McCoy, former WWII veteran tanker was the editor and publisher. He was in many ways the Gary Gygax of miniature gaming in those days. I have often found it interesting that both were in Wisconsin at that time. What was in the water up there that generated so much gaming goodness!?! bad...I meant cheese.

 My first exposure to Wargamer's Digest was the result of my mother. She happened to be an artist and was often in and out of hobby shops. She picked up a copy of the magazine and a Wargamer was born. Up until that time, I was just a kid with a few boxes of Airfix miniatures, a small grass mat, a folding table and four trees (yep 4 Bachman trees) oh and some lichen.

My first copy of Wargamer's Digest introduced me to the world of wargaming that I had not known even existed. I was a thirteen year old thrilling at the knowledge that there existed this huge community of people playing with toy soldiers with the same passion that I had. I couldn't wait to grow up and play some "real" wargames. wanted to experience Gen was all about priorities. (for the record I have yet to experience Gen Con or Origins...yeah girls...priorities...I know).

Now, I'm sure you're wondering how all this wargame magazine goodness figures into ASL. In many ways, it doesn't necessarily. But I suspect that most ASL players started out as miniature players...and I further suspect that many of you are still interested in miniatures at some level. 

 Wargamer's Digest rarely delved into board wargaming. It would of course advertise the games and discuss wargame rules, philosophies, etc., but as a whole the magazine was primarily focused on miniatures.

Gene McCoy also had many great historical articles in his magazines as well. In fact, there was generally one or more good WW2 articles in each issue.

As my wargaming developed over the years, I was drawn more and more to board gaming. Squad Leader entered my life and its flexibility, depth and tactical scale made it a far better choice than miniatures. The rules were cleaner, the setup times were less. And you could have more than one of a given tank or half-track. As a teenager with no single German Half-track wasn't cutting it on my gaming table. But in Squad Leader, COI, COD, AoV...I could have a bunch of them to crush my foes.

 Therefore the transition to full SL and then to ASL was an easy one. Did I still dabble in miniatures. Yes I did and really haven't quit miniatures in total. My Airfix and ESCI collection is north of 12,000 figures. My Dragon Armor is the pride of my collection, particularly the 1/72nd Scale Tiger I's. 

And yes, for a brief moment, I was seduced by Flames of War and acquired a few tanks, etc. Some of that collection is pictured below. I sold it all off in 2010. I just couldn't understand the difference between Flames of War and ASL. If I mount my miniatures on stands...wasn't that just a 3 Dimensional Counter?? And while I loved to look at it...not being able to move the miniatures as individuals just seemed pointless to me. If I'm going to use counters...let's just play ASL.

So, today, my gaming is exclusively ASL. But that doesn't mean I don't still look at my old issues of Wargamer's Digest. I peruse them often in search of scenario ideas.

You would be surprised at how much inspiration one can get from these magazines.

One of my favorite covers. This still gets my wargame blood flowing.

Not sure how many US Civil War fans are out there in the ASL community...but if you like John Hill's Squad owe it to yourself to try Johnny Reb some day. 

Wargamer's Digest helped fuel many a good game of Johnny Reb back in the day.

 I purchased my final Wargamer's Digest in 1982. The next year I would be in college and the only wargame kit I took with SL, COI, COD and AoV. Many a great game was played in the dorms of Valparaiso University.

The magazine went out of print not too many years later. Issues can still be found on Ebay for prices that aren't too ridiculous.

One of the best inspirations for ASL scenario creation are the many battle problems that were in nearly every issue of Wargamer's Digest.

These were meant for miniatures, but are easily adapted to ASL.

At one time or another, I tried all of these on the table top. They are all a blast to play.

This article was always one that really intrigued me. I tried out with 1/72 scale miniatures, but it was actually made for 1/35 scale MRC Tamiya stuff.

Not sure how many of the Tamiya modelers actually wargamed with their stuff...but hey there were some rules made for those folks.

Even Wargamer's Digest went with 1/72nd scale figures in their playtest.

 A Johnny Reb game in progress back in the 1990's.

Gunboats are a must...

 The Battle of Belmont, Missouri played out in miniature.

 The high bluffs at the back board edge are in Kentucky on the opposite side of the Mississippi River from Belmont, MO. On top is the Columbiad Gun...the "Lady Polk", which kept the gunboats at a respectable distance. You can visit those bluffs today...but much of the Belmont battlefield is today under the Mississippi River as it changed its course over the decades.

 1945 Germany in miniature as Soviet forces hammer the Germans.

 Stukas often need precise handling to hit the target.

 My son never really took to wargaming. It was a lark for him when he was young. He did become a something must have stuck here and there.

My one and only game with my Flames of War guys. I played with my own house rules and kept the men off of the bases. I hate bases....

Now wasn't that more fun than cleaning the garage? Sure it was. (and now I'm off to do that very chore, but you can sit and enjoy the eye candy of miniature gaming. It's pretty to look at...but doesn't quite hold a candle to ASL.

It's been a great 2016 for the Grumble Jones Blog and I'd like to thank all my readers for continuing to check out my humble pages. Thanks very much!

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