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WWII squad-level gaming

I have been doing a bit of investigation lately into a WWII squad-level boardgame to play. There are a few options

  • Advanced Squad Leader
  • Lock N Load
  • Panzer
  • Advanced Tobruk System

Most of the games have some pros and cons which makes it really difficult to pick one over the others.

Advanced Squad Leader
ASL has a level of detail that none of the other games do but the level of difficulty is quite high. Mutli-man Publishing, who took over the franchise when Avalon Hill was bought out by Hasbro, have released three ASL Starter Kits but they are, like most MMP products perennially out of print and difficult to get.

I have a fondness for ASL not only because I have played it previously but also because it has an equal focus on infantry and armour actions and has a wealth of expansions and scenarios. If and when you can get them of course.

Lock N Load
The Lock N Load series, in the form of their Band of Heroes game, is much simpler and easier to learn than ASL but that comes at the expense of the detail and options in the game. It has a good number of expansions and they seem to stay in print more than ASL products. The components in the Band of Heroes game I have are good, oddly some of the counter sheets have slight colour variations meaning that the US and German troop counters have divergent colours from counter to counter.

The game also includes spotting rules which makes it a better game for solitaire play and since I don’t intend to play any of these games FTF that is a bonus.

Panzer
Panzer by GMT is an interesting system from GMT which, as the name suggests, focuses on Eastern Front tank combat. The game has infantry, support weapons etc but the focus is clearly on tanks. Panzer also has sighting rules and helpfully breaks the rules up into Beginner, Advanced and Optional sets to make it easier to learn the game and also bring in the rules that you want. The game also has an extensive list of Russian and German vehicles split among the main game and the two expansions.

It also has a form of spotting rules that aren’t as fiddly as Lock N Load which make it a useful solitaire game. In addition the game uses order counters which you can randomize to add some unpredictability to your “opponent” in solo games.

Advanced Tobruk System
This is the one system I have the least amount of experience with but it does look interesting. It appears to have the breadth of ASL in terms of units and equipment but not with the level of detail in the rules. So more complex than Lock N Load but not as complex as ASL.

I am currently trying to track down the ASL Starter Kits to see how well those work in reacquainting myself with the rules. I also recently picked up Panzer but I am still trying to figure out which of those games to try first and which one will give me the best gaming experience.

2 Comments

  1. I haven’t played any of these types of boardgames in a while, but when I used to, it was ASL with a friend of mine. I’m also considering getting back into these hex and counter games, and I’ve been recommended LNL as well as games from GMT Games (Normandy ’44, Case Yellow, or Caucasus Campaign).

    Also, I’ve recently picked up this little “C4” corner cutter for the chits and I can tell you that it’s made my life so much better since my cuts are more consistent.

    Good luck!

  2. GMT has some excellent games and very, very high production values. They produced Panzer and it is a very slick product. The Combat Commander series is good but I suspect that it isn’t very good solo. I am going to try to get a few games of LnL in over the holiday to try that out and I am also trying to get the rest of the ASL Starter Kits

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