Alternative Titles/Edition History:
aka ASL Pocket Edition
Multiman Publishing (2015)
Country of Origin:
ASL 2nd Edition rules in bound paperback form (approximately 8.5" x 9.5"), including Index, Chapters A-G, (unincorporated) errata listing. Later copies also have Chapter J.
In real life, it may be all about that bass, but in ASL, it’s all about the rules. You know, the umpty-jillion pages of hole-punched rules that come in a big-ass binder? A binder that soon cannot even hold all the ASL rules you will accumulate? Those rules cause some poor slobs eventually to migrate to a system of unbelievably huge three-ring binders full of thick stacks of page-protected rules pages. When one has to hire a hobo to carry one’s rules around an ASL tournament for them, you know that shit has got serious.
From the beginning, though, some ASLers have sought more user-friendly alternatives to those ungainly three-ring binders from Hell. The most common such solution has been throw out the three-ring binders and create some form of book or booklet for the rules, using spiral binding, library book binding, or even fancy leather binding. Some people will have their original rules pages bound, while others will scan or photocopy the rules and bind the copies. A few have even taken the opportunity to create reduced-size rulebooks (i.e., smaller pages, not less rules) in order to make the ASL rules even handier still.
These bound rulebook solutions have basically been the work of individuals modifying their kit or adding to it. In 2015, however, MMP finally decided to join the crowd and offer ASLers a more practical alternative to the cumbersome rulebooks of yore. MMP released a paperback-bound full-color “Pocket Edition” of the ASL rules–or, at least, some of the ASL rules. Don’t take the term “pocket edition” very literally unless you have the pockets of Andre the Giant; the rulebook measures about 9.5″ by 8.5″. But, with a thickness of less than an inch, it is clearly a far smaller alternative than previous rulebook editions.
What made this possible was the increasing popularity of print-on-demand services for printing books. Hobbyists in many other areas have already been using this technology to create printed materials related to their hobbies, and even a few third party ASLers have used print-on-demand technology. The nice thing about print-on-demand is that you don’t really have to worry about inventory. When MMP prints the traditional rulebook, they decide to print a set amount of copies, pay for those copies, then slowly sell those copies to the public. In traditional publishing, if the public doesn’t buy all your books, you are stuck with the rest–and had to pay for them. Now, the ASL Rulebook is unlikely to ever remain unsold, but it sells at a slow but steady rate, unlike the quick-paced sales of a new product. In the meantime, that’s money MMP doesn’t have.
With print-on-demand, though, economy of scale is far less important, and MMP can simply print whatever number of rulebooks it wants to. If they run out, they print more–they don’t have to save up money so that they can print a huge number, as traditional printing requires. This also means that the Pocket Edition will never go out of print. MMP can have one printed, 100 printed, 1,000 printed, or more.
The Pocket Edition is currently priced at about $40, or around half of the cost of a regular ASL rulebook (with binder). That’s a lot cheaper but some might still consider $40 expensive for a paperback book. However, for a full-color print-on-demand paperback book, the price is reasonable. Unlike the traditional ASL rulebook, the Pocket Edition does not come with a full set of charts (it only includes a very small number of frequently used infantry-related charts, like the IFT), so it does not fully substitute for the traditional rulebook; at the very least, a charts set would have to be purchased as well. It also does not contain the counter diagrams on the inside cover of the ASL three-ring binder.
What it does include are the index and Chapters A-G (i.e., including the desert and PTO rules), as up to date as Hakkaa Päälle. These are the 2nd Edition rules pages as is, which means that none of the 15 years of errata to the 2nd Edition has been incorporated into these rules pages. However, it does include three pages of un-incorporated errata, in list form, which one supposes is better than absolutely nothing. Replacement pages are included. The index is in the front, not the back, which may be irritating to those players who prefer their indices where indices are traditionally found, in the back of books, but which may please those who like it backwards. The obvious and mildly irritating omission is the absence of Chapter J, the DASL rules, which certainly should have been thrown in here. NOTE: MMP has apparently taken advantage of the ability to easily update print-on-demand products, because as of March 2016 (and perhaps earlier), the Pocket ASL Rulebook does actually include Chapter J (see photo).
The print is, of course, smaller, but still readable even for the un-bifocaled eyes of this writer. The paper is definitely thinner and less durable than traditional ASL rules pages and the cover doesn’t provide much additional protection. However, ASLers should think of the Pocket Edition as more like a convenient, disposable rulebook–when it gets beat up, one can always get another, thanks to the magic of print-on-demand, which insures it will never go out of print, unlike every other ASL product.
Print-on-demand also allows MMP the option of incremental improvements, because all they have to do is upload a new file to the printing company. So MMP could theoretically include Chapter J whenever they might want to (which, as noted above, they eventually did), could include more charts, could include the counter layout diagrams, and so forth. It would be no big deal; this happens all the time with print-on-demand manuals.
Supposedly, MMP will also create a similarly bound version of the combined Chapter H at some point in the future, which many would find welcome.
The Pocket Edition is not for everybody, but many ASLers will find it extremely convenient and useful, and far handier to use in a lot of circumstances than the gargantuan three-ring-binders they have been using for years.