There has been a mini-tempest brewing up in the MMP folder on Consimworld.
A gentleman by the name of Lonnie Anderson has posted a short and impassioned plea to MMP about the accessibility of ASL. Here is the start of the discussion:
As of this moment there are approximately 200 responses and counters to this posting. It's so long and involved I'm only halfway through it. (To be honest, it's been good discussion so far -- the occasional lapse of CSW into unremitting trashtalk has not yet occurred.)
Of course, I asked myself what I thought and here it is so far:
1. I think the idea of a ASLSK4 is awesome. I love ASLSK and the idea that it could extend in perpetuity is exciting but, in the end, is not realistic. ASLSK will continue in action packs and HASLs -- but honestly, if you want more you're not that far from full ASL and the great stuff available there. If MMP never does more for ASLSK I still think it's enough for us to go on.
2. HOWEVER, MMP must see the merit of perhaps doing something about reducing even more the Herculean learning cliff that getting in full ASL entails. MMP must have another mind-think and ask what could ease the transition from ASLSK3 to full ASL? I suppose they could wait for another Jay Richardson-type to show up and do it for them but really, why not a transition product. There's no question it would sell like hotcakes.
3. Newbies to the hobby, it's not that hard to learn ASLSK. Really it isn't. I've said this before and I'll say it again... In the event you can't find a mentor, the richfam tutorials are your tutor. There's no way anyone with any wargame experience or who can handle the intricacies of the more complex Euros can't handle ASLSK. Having now been more immersed into ASL I can see that just a leeeetle bit more effort from the new player to learn will work wonders. Stop expecting the beauty of ASL to magically manifest itself for you within seconds of pushing a counter across a hexside. Play a few games before giving up.
4. Hardcore/Grognard ASLers, do yourself a favour and don't make getting into ASL harder than it is. You certainly aren't expected to grow the hobby or be evangelizing or even friendly. But seriously think before you put down a newbie on CSW, BGG or wherever. I'm positive many have taken up the challenge of ASL(SK), then having found a literal wall of opposition to their presence on a forum or convention, decided that this stuffy old hobby didn't need them crowding out everyone else's style. Now that I think about it, yes, BE FRIENDLY. You don't have to mentor anyone but being nice costs you nothing.
5. As for the ASLRB2... in my humblest of opinions, that rulebook is a fantastic gaming achievement. It's a reference of epic proportions. But as I've said before, it's a dictionary for when you're learning a new language, not a bloody instructional course of study. Stop expecting this thing to teach you ASL. That's not going to happen.
Secondly, as good as it is, there's something wrong with having to learn ASL from a person rather than a manual. There must be something that can fill the gap between pushing cardboard around and approaching the ASLRB2 without having a personal tutor around. Alas, brighter minds than I need to solve this problem (or has it already been solved?).
Blah, back into the CSW stream...
[UPDATE: I've found that the posts I'm still reading are a fascinating cross-section of the kinds of people and learning experiences that would be interesting to anyone who enjoys ASL... as nutty as CSW sometimes is, this is a golden moment here.]