Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From the Mailbag


What's the story behind ASL (Advanced Squad Leader)?



ASL was actually invented by Joe, the supervisor down at the DMV. Joe is a long time civil servant. Not many people know this, but Joe retired as a clerk from the Supreme Court. He actually wrote most of the 1500 page decision in the original asbestos lawsuit. In his spare time Joe freelances writing environmental regulations for the EPA, and converting well thought out and sensible tax laws into meaningless gibberish for the IRS.

Joe once told me that he was originally commissioned by Steve Jackson to design a game that might best be described as a less complex version of Memoir '44. However Joe is incapable of designing anything less complex than workplace codes for OSHA. The project was cancelled after five years. Joe had just finished determining combat modifiers for Estonian mounted cavalry units with depleted hay reserves when the rug got pulled out from the project. Steve Jackson sold Joe's basic design to Avalon Hill which was later refined by Don Greenwood and sold as Advanced Squad Leader.

I hope I don't offend Joe, but if I an going to invest days studying rules just to play the most basic scenario, I'd rather study the tax code. Finding tax loop holes in order to save money, in order to buy games that are more fun than ASL, would be much more rewarding than studying ASL.


I'm thinking about starting a boardgame blog. I've already thought of a cool name (Linger Longer) and am ready to start raking in the big bucks as a full time boardgame blogger. What advice can you give me?

Omar in Dearborn


Linger Longer? Ahhhhhhhhhhhh... OK.

Big Bucks? Well, the money isn't bad, but once you are in the spotlight don't let the fame go to your head. Most of the boardgame groupies are fickle friends who will dessert you as soon as the cocaine and smack run short.

The #1 rule of boardgame blogging is to never make anything up. Boardgamers are an intuitive lot and can smell a white lie a mile away.

Luckily this should never have to be an issue for bloggers. The groovy thing about blogs is that there are no deadlines to meet. You should have plenty of time to check your facts before posting. In fact the only boardgame blog I can think of with a daily deadline is over at Boardgame News.

Rick "Cronkite" Thornquist (the chief bottle washer at Boardgame News) is a solid reporter, but the word around the campfire is that he is a slave driver. Not only does he pay his bloggers next to nothing, but he penalizes them if they miss a deadline, and imposes a fine if their post is less than 2000 words long. That is why I usually take anything I read in the Boardgame News blog section with a grain of salt.

Sorry Omar, I'm getting far a field from the original question, just let me reiterate: 1> Take advantage of the groupies before your stash runs low. 2> Don't feel you need to make stuff up just to fill space. 3> Always apologize to Thornquist. Sorry Rick.

Dear Coldfoot,

What would you suggest as an appropriate means of distraction during games with lengthy "analysis paralysis," such as Civilization or (gack) Axis & Allies? The time between turns is interminable. I mean, it's a real snoozer. Brushing up on the game rules and errata are almost as boring. So is staring out the window, lining up the game pieces and picking at the wads of chewing gum under the table. I've thought about bringing my laptop or some needlework, but I didn't think this would go over well with the other players. How about a book?

Bored enough to read Tolstoy

This question was actually handwritten and placed upon my kitchen table. The writer is obviously not a serious gamer. A serious boardgamer knows the difference between analysis paralysis and downtime.

My short answer is: If you can't run with the big dogs, stay in the kitchen and fix snacks for the big dogs.

Until next time: Keep those questions coming.


Coldfoot said...

Consider your question noted. I will address it in the next installment.

ekted said...


Dame Koldfoot said...

So the next time you have "serious boardgamers" over, you will be chowing down on Milk Bones and Gravy Train. And the toilet will be off limits. "Big Dogs" go in the back yard.

Don't make me get out the shock collar.