Ken Rude and I spent a morning last Saturday with a local gaming group that regularly plays Advanced Squad Leader and is open to newbies interested in learning the game.
I played Squad Leader, along with the two expansions Cross of Iron and Crescendo of Doom, back in the late 70s / early 80s when I was very into the Avalon Hill war games. I loved the scale of the game – squad level tactics, with counters representing single leaders, tanks, or small squads of infantry. It was (is) a complex game, but it was clearly my favorite of the AH games.
The morning was a disappointment though. The hosts were very kind, and one of the group members walked Ken and me through a simple scenario (infrantry only, a few machine guns, basic rules). There is a price you pay for the realism of this game – rules complexity that almost demands you focus on this game in absence of any others. Ken crushed me (he was the Americans, I was German) but we both walked away wishing we had spent the morning playing lighter games.
I think in the future if I want that level of realism in squad level tactics, I’ll let the computer manage the rules and just play Laser Squad Nemesis.