Squad Leader (and similar games) as a tool for creating tactical decision games (TDGs) and free wargames

In the early 1980s, when I was serving on active duty and a great enthusiast for the Squad Leader franchise, I used the scenarios, boards, and playing pieces from that game system to simple create tactical decision games (TDGs) for the Marines of my section and free war games to play with my brother officers.  I found this worked very well and, in particular, allowed the players to overcome one of the great obstacles to playing board war games, that of formal rules.

I am wondering if anyone has had a similar experience.

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LCOL Ivor Gardiner, CO 1 Royal Irish, had an article in an issue of British Army Review where he discussed his use of Advanced Squad Leader as a tool for training the junior officers in his battalion in making combat estimates, planning operations and comparing Courses of Action.

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Brian

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Brian, you'll be gratified to know that the ASL Starter Kit #1 featured in the article was the game I demonstrated to four Marines at the "Rejuvenating Maneuver Warfare" workshop.  For such an inexpensive package it provides a great deal of worthwhile tactical play.

For both you and Bruce: in the first issue of Recon By Fire (published by Heat of Battle game company), Steve Dethlefsen recounted how he used ASL pieces (this was years before the ASL Starter Kit series) and his home grown maps to train his Marine platoon in attacking Iraqi positions prior to the kick-off of the ground war in OPERATION DESERT STORM.  If I can dig that issue up, I'll scan and post the article.

This is splendid.  Thank you so much for the post, as well as for the article.

I am about to begin experimenting with the use of games using with present-day (post 2001) scenarios as "free war games."

I will report on this on this site, and on "The Military Instructor" as well.

Bruce, think we'd all want to hear about how this works out!  Looking forward to it!

In the winter and spring of 2018, I employed the "Days of Villainy" module from the "Lock and Load Tactical System" to introduce active-duty Marines to the use of the maps, playing pieces, and scenarios from commercial board war games to play "free Kriegsspiel" games. 

I am happy to report that the experiment was a happy one.  One group began to play after five minutes or so of explanation.  Another required no explanation at all.  (I simply handed them the package and asked "How would you use this to train your Marines?")

While the experiment encourages me to continue to promote this technique, I suspect that there was some "selection bias" in the assembly of the groups.  All of the Marines had worked through several decision-forcing cases, most were familiar with well-taught tactical decision games (TDGs), and about half had worked through an exercise in which they learned, by stages, the rules to the Pub Battles series of table-top games.

Bruce, this is terrific!  I hope your Marines spring-board this approach into their units!  I am hopeful that this generation that has wider exposure and acceptance of games as a way to learn will propagate this technique throughout.  As Sebastian Bae said, "Let them Play!"

Here is an old article about Steve Deflethsen's use of Advanced Squad Leader Code of Bushido to train his Marines prior to the ground war in OPERATION DESERT STORM.  This was originally printed in Heat of Battle's Recon...by Fire! magazine, in the premier issue.

ASL%20IN%20DESERT%20STORM.pdf

A belated "thank you" for posting this, Eric.

In the spirit of "better late than never," I will, in a few moments, post my report about the use of this method at the Innovative Instructor workshop in Quantico.

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