As you know, I am just coming back afresh to ASL after a long time. One thing I remember from back when I first learnt the rules was Chapter K – Squad Leader Training Manual. At the time it really helped me understand the mechanics of the game alot better than just reading through the rule book.
I remember a couple of things from those days:
- I had hair
- And it felt like it took ages and alot of effort to work through the training.
Maybe it would be different this time right? (Well not about the hair part).
What Is Chapter K?
Chapter K is a walk through tutorial, written in the style of a boot camp instruction run by a US Army Drill Instructor, Sergeant Stahler.
Its walks you through the basic mechanics of play and gets you to move around your game counters in activities that get you familiar with the basic rules.
Lots of people say it is hokey. But I like that part of it. After all who can forget these classics like:
“YOU! Stop checking your eyelids for holes. You will learn to operate– Drill Sergeant Stahler
with little sleep, especially at work the day after a tough battle.
Pay attention. What hex are we in?”
“May I ask a question, Drill Sergeant?”– Drill Sergeant Stahler
Certainly. The only dumb question is the one that isn’t asked.
“What kind of crops grow in a grain hex?”
What a dumb question! It can be anything; corn, wheat, barley, Cheerios. They’re all treated the same.
What Do You Learn?
It works you through the following major areas on a day by day basis:
- Day 1: Marching – This day gets your familiar with movement across a large range of basic terrain types. Everything from buildings to gullies.
- Day 2: LOS Course – Here you start drawing line of sight and managing different elevations to see what you can see.
- Day 3: Rifle Range – Now you start using your IFT table, see what the effects of your firing do, as well as assault and long range fire and other principles.
- Day 4: Close Combat Principles – How to engage in close combat including conducting ambushes and withdrawing from CC. Also includes advance phase movement.
- Day 5: Morale Indoctrination – How to rout to survive and how to rally.
- Day 6: Concealment – How to gain and lose concealment.
- Day 7: Light Mortars and Basic Ordnance – [Disclaimer: Have not tackled this day yet, as per my Grand Plan]
- Day 8: Guns and Advanced Ordnance – [Disclaimer: Have not tackled this day yet, as per my Grand Plan]
All using just a handful of boards (you can check them out here):
- Board 01 – City; stone buildings
- Board 02 – Hills; two level three hills, light wood
- Board 03 – Village; level two hill
- Board 04 – Farmlands; woods and grainfield
- Board 24 – Village; valley, gully and cliff
It Was Good … I Relearnt ..
Overall it was really valuable for me. As a returning player some parts were already super familiar to me, so I found myself saying “yeah, yeah, I know that!“. But then every couple of activities, I would stumble across something that would have me saying “I never knew that!“. Sometimes you gotta stick to it to get the gold.
I learnt more from going through the tutorial than I felt by revising the rules at this point.
Some of the great reminders for me:
- The effects of CX
- How heights and LOS work
- Wall advantage, how to claim it
- Cowering marks you with final fire and ends your ROF.
- And more … and more.
But It Did Also Suck …
It was tough and I struggled with it, just like I remembered because:
- It’s Long. 50 pages. 30 pages just to complete the infantry basics.
- Back and forth with the page and the board is a bit exhausting (or in my case VASL screen and ERulebook). It could really do with a better mechanism for triggering you to go from the page to the board, or making questions distinct from instructions of pieces on the board. You keep wondering if you need to do something or just answer a question.
- It’s not great for referring back too. Its a walkthrough, not a reference.
- In short, I really felt I had to grind through it.
Should You Do It?
Well it depends on your starting point.
It is a must if you are learning ASL from scratch with no Starter Kits.
If you are returning to ASL after a long break, it is a great refresher. If it is the first time you are using VASL, you can get familiar with some of the basics of the tool at the same time (so you can kill two birds with the one stone).
If you have been doing Starter Kits, I don’t know. I have never been in that situation. (If you have an opinion on this feel free to add your comments below).
Lets Make It A Bit Easier – Chapter K VASL Setups.
Now you could just watch some youtube videos to show you some of these concepts, but the real value in the tutorials are moving the pieces around. It forces you to think, to count, to calculate, to move counters.
With that in mind, I am sharing my setup VASL files for the starting points of each step in the tutorials.
How To Get Going
- Plan to put some time aside. Even thought it talks about Days 1 to 9, some of the days take a while to get through. Suggest you bust them up over a period of at least a fortnight.
- Get your Chapter K out and ready.
- Download the appropriate VASL files. Most days have multiple files as maps change regularly as part of the tutorials.
All the files are here: VASL Chapter K Log Files.
- Load up the file, then using your Chapter K, walk through the activities, step by step using your pieces on VASL.
Some day by day tips:
- Day 1: Marching – This one is simple. Move your counters around the map using level counters, CX counters and others.
- Day 2: LOS Course – Use your LOS tool extensively here to complete your training.
- Day 3: Rifle Range – Use enemy counters, the IFT table, as well as your LOS tool to investigate TEM effects.
- Day 4: Close Combat Principles – Again use enemy counters to engage in different close combat, ambushes and withdrawls.
- Day 5: Morale Indoctrination – Avoid enemy counters when routing.
- Day 6: Concealment – Test your ability to gain and lose concealment versus enemy counters.
- Take notes if necessary.
It takes a bit of effort but if you want to speed up a slow start, doing Chapter K is worth it.