The World of ASL Compendium is designed as a comprehensive repository of consumer, player, collector, and historical information about every official or unofficial product ever made for ASL. It debuted in 2006. In 2014, it received a massive make-over along with the rest of the Desperation Morale website, with considerable re-organization (and new information added).
The World of ASL Compendium includes information on published ASL products, official and unofficial (or produced ASL products, in the case of non-publication accessories). The items have to be specifically created with ASL in mind. Products that are clearly marketing efforts (t-shirts, dice with a company logo on them, etc.) are not included. Websites are not included (including videos, podcasts, discussion forums, and the like), nor are basic player-made web resources such as play aids and cheat sheets (such as those featured elsewhere on this site). Non-pedigreed scenarios downloadable from a website are not included. Tournament scenarios are not included unless they were subsequently made available to the wider ASL community (i.e., as a product). Non-playtested and non-developed scenarios and campaign games are not included. Non-inclusion does not mean that something is bad any more than inclusion means that something is good.
The World of ASL Compendium generally provides a separate page for each product.
Multiple editions of the same product are typically contained on the same page. Exceptions include when a new edition is combined with another product, when it is so substantially changed that it is essentially a new product, and when the new edition is published by a different publisher.
Magazine-length publications that are ASL-devoted typically get one page per issue. Magazine-length publications that are not ASL-devoted but only have some ASL content typically get only one page, with relevant ASL content (exception: articles/reviews) noted on that page for each issue. Newsletters also get one page each. They are divided into two classes: newsletters that contain scenarios and those that don’t (based on the logic that scenario-hunters and completists are typically only interested in items with scenarios).
Most (but not all) publishers (exception: newsletters) also get a publisher write-up separate from their products. The way to find this is to use the Publisher selection menu on the World of ASL landing page. When a publisher’s results are displayed, there is a link at the top of the results page that goes to the publisher description.
The photographs that appear on each page are thumbnails. They can be clicked on to view a larger (sometimes substantially larger) image.
How to Use
There are many ways to browse, peruse, or find information in this compendium. All of them are available on the World of ASL landing page and some are available from other places, too.
- Search Engine. The magnifying glass on the top right of your window, when clicked, will open up a search box, so you can directly search on virtually any word or phrase in the site from anywhere.
- Selection Menus. The World of ASL landing page contains four different selection menus that allow you to select various part of the compendium to view.
- Filter by Year. If you want to see all ASL products released during a specific year, select the year desired from this menu. This is also the best way to find the most recent items released–by looking at the most recent year or two. Generally speaking each edition of a product will show up in the year that edition was released. Newsletters will show up with only one entry per year, even if they came out with more than one issue that year. Within a particular year, results are displayed in reverse chronological order: most recent items first. This is to help you see the “new” stuff more easily.
- Filter by Publisher. This selection menu allows you to view all products released by a particular publisher. Typically, results will be displayed in reverse chronological order. Publishers can also be selected through the Categories menu.
- Filter by Type. This selection menu allows you to select a certain type of ASL product–scenario packs, historical modules, core modules, newsletters, etc.–and find every example of that product no matter what the publisher. Results are displayed in reverse chronological order.
- Filter by Special Interest. This menu contains a limited number of “special interests” within ASL (some might consider them arbitrarily selected) that have certain audiences who might be particularly interested in those subjects. In some cases, such as non-World War II or SASL, selecting that filter will bring up all products that have so much as a single scenario that fits that bill. In most cases, however, the filter will only return products that substantially concentrate on that filter item.
- Viewing Everything. There are two ways for gluttons to get massive lists of the whole compendium.
- The Whole Enchilada. Clicking on The Whole Enchilada returns the complete compendium in the same format as the other filters, 100 items per page.
- See ALL. The ALL page returns a “quickie” checklist of all items in the compendium on a single page (suitable for printing, cutting and pasting into a Word Document, making into a PDF file, etc.).
- Categories. The Categories widget provides a collapsible menu that allows you to view or subsets of items by publisher. Clicking on “Third Party Publishers” returns a list of all products by all third party publishers. However, clicking on the arrow next to Third Party Publishers expands that item to show each such publisher. One can then select a publisher to get a listing of all of its products, or click on the arrow next to the publisher to expand the listing to see the different subcategories of products the publisher offers (scenario packs, historical modules, etc.). Thus if you want to see only scenario packs published by Critical Hit, you can easily do so.
- Tags. The Tags widget provides a huge number of different subsets of information that span publishers and types of product. Want to get a list of every campaign game of every type ever offered? Click on campaign games. Want to see a list of products that use the “High Ground!” maps? Click on that tag. There are a large number of tags to allow you to access the compendium in a huge number of different ways. Tags are organized in order of the number of results from top to bottom, so the most common tags are at the top.
Each product entry in the World of ASL compendium contains, in addition to other information, one or more paragraphs of description and commentary. These commentaries are solely the opinion of the author; other people may have other opinions of these products. Whenever possible, opinions were based on personal play and evaluation. In cases where this was not possible, a good-faith effort was made to assess the general reputation a product has attained in the ASL community.
When the World of ASL compendium began, the commentaries were quite short and mostly descriptive. As new products were added in the later 2000s, the commentaries began to evolve into more full-fledged (sometimes very long) write-ups or even genuine reviews. Thus, items published before 2006 may have much briefer write-ups in the Compendium than items published after that date. Some commentaries are the equivalent of full-fledged “reviews,” depending on how much experience the author has had with the product in question, while others are more like “first impressions.” Most fall somewhere in-between, where the author has had some experience with the product but hasn’t necessarily played every scenario or campaign game.
The author has certain preferences, or “prejudices,” that may be reflected in some of these commentaries. Other people may have different preferences. The author’s preferences include the following:
- Products should be clearly written, edited, and proofread. This includes spell-checking. Errata should be kept to a minimum.
- Groups of scenarios, whether in a scenario pack or module, should usually not be too weighted towards either large or small scenarios; a distribution of small, medium, and large scenarios is typically preferable.
- Products should be reasonably historically accurate, at least relative to the resources of the designer and the relative availability of material on the particular subject matter.
- Scenario groups should not have too high a proportion of Night scenarios, nor too high a proportion of scenarios with other, more complex rules (OBA, Air Support, Caves, etc.). Some types of subject matter may necessitate this, however.
- Scenario cards that do not contain counter artwork should nevertheless include enough information to allow players easily to locate the required counters among their countersets. Third party counter artwork attempting to avoid copyright issues should nevertheless not be so complicated or re-engineered that it is difficult to understand.
- Scenario card layout should be simple, clear, and easy-to-read.
- Third party products should not attempt to re-write or re-engineer the basic ASL rules system out of dislike for one or more of its subsystems (i.e., so-called “grudge” rules).
- Products that feature historical maps should have at least one scenario, if possible, that uses the entire map. They should also include enough scenarios that use the included map (as opposed to geomorphic mapboards) to make it worth purchasing.
- Products should not attempt to extend the ASL system beyond the chronological boundaries of World War II era tactical combat for which it was designed (i.e., roughly the era 1925-1955).