27 September 2011

ASL Oktoberfest 1986-2011

I am off to Cleveland again this year. I know, it is hardly a tourist Mecca. But then, I am no ordinary tourist. I know this because I get grilled each time that I cross the border. “You’re going where?” “To do what?” “For the whole week?” “And you need to bring all that stuff?” “Hmmm, I’ll need to have a look inside...” 
Bill and Darryl "on the air"
Along with perhaps as many as 200 other ASL players from around the globe, I will spend a week immersed in the sub-culture of ASL. The ASL Oktoberfest TournamentASLOK, for short—is the biggest and longest-lived ASL tourney on this rock. Co-founders Bill “Fish” Connor, and Darryl “Action Burk” Burk will be there to mark 25 years of ASL history. Mark Nixon, who ran ASLOK for almost a decade, is attending also—must be the free beer on Friday. What are you waiting for, an invitation? Oh, all right, you are invited. 
Another official Perry Sez? Jim Bishop, Dave Kleinschmidt, Perry Cocke, and Bret Hildebran with free Saturday 'za.
Bret Hildebran, the current tournament director, has secured a superb venue for the fourth year running. Devotees of The Game have the entire 6th floor penthouse of the hotel to enjoy for eight (or is it nine) days! The gaming room—or “Skyline Ballroom,” as the hotel staff refer to it—is fronted on three sides by windows. We have our own bar and lounge, complete with a massive flat-screen TV. Bret usually arranges for the bar to serve free pizza on the second Saturday night, following the ASLOK freebie “Happy Hour” the previous evening. Best get in line ealry, as the tap quickly runs dry. 
The ASLOK agenda at the end of this post outlines many of the activities that take place during this weeklong ASL festival. Apart from the gaming—not all of it strictly ASL, by the way—ASLOK is foremost a social event. If you arrive early, I highly recommend that you attend Dave Ginnard’s barbeque on the first Sunday (2 October). Dave and his wife put on a marvellous spread. There is no fee, but many attendees traditionally bring along something special to add to the bounty. The Swedes, for instance, have a reputation for bringing exotic liquor from Scandinavia. For some odd reason, they tend to bring Norwegian akevitt. :p
Akvavit is best served cold
Akvavit, or aquavit, is a traditional flavoured spirit distilled mainly in Scandinavia. Produced there since the 15th century, Akvavit gets its distinctive flavor from spices and herbs. Caraway, dill, anise (liquorice-flavour), fennel, coriander, cumin, and juniper berry are used in various recipes. I rather like it.1 
Cheaper than a holiday in Cuba
There is a lot happening at ASLOK, and it is easy to overlook something. However, with the exception of the time limit on the first round of the Mini tourneys, there is little to get fussed over. Go for the experience. Go! Pencil in next year if you must. Do not pass up the opportunity to mingle with some of the world’s finest, friendliest, and zaniest ASL characters. I defy you to find an ASL event anywhere that delivers this much ASL goodness for $25.00. At current US exchange rates, an ASL holiday in Cleveland is a bargain anyway you look at it. 
ASLOK Agenda 
Friday 30 September: The first players roll into the hotel. (That would be me.) A game or two of WORLD CUP play tends to happen. (That will not be me. After a ten-hour drive, I am content to settle in and start fresh the next day.) “Wild” Bill Hayward, Bret’s right-hand man at ASLOK, is on hand to play anyone itching to get started. (You can contact Bret in advance to arrange a game versus a local Cleveland player such as Bill.)
Saturday 1 October: The very early arrivals roll in. The Skyline Ballroom—the main gaming room on the 6th floor of the hotel—is available as a rally point for early WORLD CUP/OPEN gaming. (Again, contact Bret Hildebran for early gunning.)
Opening Sunday-Tuesday: Early arrivals roll in. All play, starting with Sunday, is in the Skyline Ballroom on the 6th floor. OPEN play and USA vs WORLD CUP play commences as early as Friday and runs through Tuesday. (If arriving at the hotel before Sunday, contact Bret Hildebran [damavs@windstream.net] for early gunning.) This will allow the early local scouts to know when/where to find you for early play. Also do not miss the Annual ASLOK picnic hosted by Dave Ginnard on Sunday evening. The picnic promises good grilling, good company and typically some exotic Swedish alcohol. Newer players should be sure to sign up for Maneuvres slated for sometime Tuesday (and Friday), based on need.
Wednesday: At 08:00, “Mark Nixon” MINI tournament action begins. Wednesday “Mark Nixon” MINIs begin at 08:00 sharp, and do NOT apply towards GROFAZ [EXC: Godzilla King of the Monsters finalists will start Grofaz 2-0 as that mini will finish on Thursday]. Plenty of OPEN action is also available. Pre-register for the Minis that you prefer and do make sure to be there promptly at 08:00. Also note the 14:00 time limit for Round 1 Minis returns [EXC: Godzilla King of the Monsters], which will be strictly enforced. All players exceeding the time limit will be eliminated. So do not delay in finishing Round 1. You DO NOT want to be the first ASL player to be disqualified due to slow play in an ASLOK Mini.
Thursday: At 08:00, gunning begins in GROFAZ and Thursday THEME events where MINI-Tournaments all began. OPEN play continues. Wed. “Mark Nixon” MINI-Tournament winners awarded around 18:00. GROFAZ 2-0 contenders can sign-up for GROFAZ FRIDAY MINI!!!!!
Friday: GROFAZ and OPEN gaming continue. Friday “Mark Nixon” MINIs and GROFAZ MINIs kick-off promptly at 08:00. Awards presented to Thursday THEME Tournament winners around 18:00. Newer players can sign up for MANEUVERS for a grognard tutorial on any rules that may be ailing them. Miss the Minis or get bumped early, look to sign-up for the “Bonus Mini” from the brand new CX Map Pack starting as we can pair from ~10:00 to 12:00.
Saturday: More GROFAZ and OPEN gaming. At 08:00, more “Mark Nixon” MINI-Tournaments kick-off.  Awards made to Friday “Mark Nixon” MINI-Tournament winners around 18:00. ASL Starter Kit Mini kicks off.
Final Sunday: GROFAZ and OPEN gaming surge onward. Add-on MINI-Tournaments start at 08:00, interest allowing. Awards presented to Saturday “Mark Nixon” MINI-Tournament winners at about 14:00. Awards presented to GROFAZ winner, runner-up and other top finishers sometime, probably very late Sunday or early Monday morning.  Congrat-’yawn’-lations guys! 
Monday: GROFAZ and OPEN gaming wrap-up. All out of the arena before noon. Catch the ASLOK going away breakfast for the late departures Monday morning. Many thanks, happy trails, see you next year for the next ASLOK! Already scheduled for Columbus Day Weekend back at the Holiday Inn Airport once again...

My much better half at ASLOK XXV
ASLOK BattleDice
Last year BattleSchool commemorated the 25th anniversary of ASL (1985-2010) with the release of a special set of precision dice. This year, we have created a set to celebrate ASLOK. The ASLOK set features designs similar to those used in the ASL Anniversary set. There are four dice in the set. They are 5/8” (~16mm). There are two white dice with images on the one-spots. One die sports an American soldier, the other a “Tommy.” 
The coloured dice are amber and green. I will not divulge the details of the green die that comes with the American set here. I will say that it has a military decoration on the one-spot. The amber die is adorned with a stylized version of the Victoria Cross (VC). The VC was the highest award for bravery awarded to members of the Commonwealth during the Second World War. It was awarded regardless of rank. In this sense, it was a truly egalitarian decoration, unlike the Distinguished Service Order, or the Military Cross, which was awarded only to commissioned officers.2 
Two sets of these dice will be up for grabs in the 2011 World Cup. In 2010, the Most Valuable Players of the US (Jim Burris) and World (David Longworth) teams each received a set of our ASL Anniversary BattleDice. In addition, the overall winner at ASLOK, the Gröfaz, will receive a Gröfaz set of ASLOK BattleDice. Bob Bendis won the set last year. 
The set of four dice will retail for $35.00. However, if you are attending ASLOK, you may purchase a set at the ASLOK rate of $30.00. We will also have a limited number of Gröfaz sets on hand for sale to former  Gröfaz champions. These sets will retail for $40.00, $35.00 at ASLOK.
Finally, we plan to release our Sniper effects die at ASLOK. The 9/16” precision die will retail for $10.00. To sweeten the pot, we plan to bundle the Sniper die with another special 9/16” die, and sell both for $15.00. 
If you are interested in something else from our KitShop, and would like to save on shipping, we can deliver it to you in Cleveland. We have a couple copies of KGS Cholm left, for example. We also have a stock of map bundles, and some out-of-print material. You may email battleschool@rogers.com for a pdf of our KitShop catalogue.
Photographs were pinched from Dave and Jeff of The 2 Half-Squads fame. (EXC: I cannot recall where I found the snap of Dave's cousin in Munich.) I minced Bret's "ASLOK Agenda" before including it in the post. Any errors are undoubtedly that of the original author, and I accept no responsibility for any personal loss or suffering that may occur should you choose to follow this agenda. 
1. Some suggest that the spices and herbs in Aquavit help with the digestion of rich foods. It is a good excuse as any to have a shot when sitting ‘round the campfire at Dave’s. Rudi, an ASLOK "Cherry," is bringing some Schnapps with him from Germany this weekend. My wife picked up some Pilsner today for Dave. We figured that he would need some beer to wash down all that liquor. See you Sunday!
2. In recent years, Canada and other Commonwealth countries have created their own “national” versions of the award. At least two Australian soldiers have been awarded the VC for acts of bravery in Afghanistan.


Keith said...

ASLOK: an ASL Pilgrimage. Can't do it this year but Ted and I will be back in 2012! Be sure to save me some new Battledice and roll low :)

john said...

Hi Chris: John Haas of Columbus Ohio here. I would like to get one of the new ASLOK dice sets (30 Dollars on site) and the new SAN die and its added companion for 15 on site at ASLOK, correct?? i should be there Monday with good luck. The KGS and FtC#6 arrived safe and sound, just a few days after my order, thanks. See you up at ASLOK, safe trip...john haas

Pocky101 said...

I'm very excited to be attending ASLOK this year. This is my first time attending and I'm still fairly new to the game. Your write up on the events only make me more excited. Looking forward to it.

Chris Doary said...

Hi John,

Glad to hear that KGS and FTC6 arrived promptly and safe. Helen and I will put some dice aside for you.

The "Tommy" and the VC look great.

The American set has a paratrooper on the ace of the white die, and a Distinguished Service Cross on the green die.

Either way, your dice are reserved for you. See you in a few days!

If you can guess what ties these medals together design wise, we will give you a complimentary Sniper effects die.

Chris Doary said...


As Keith said, ASLOK is something that every ASL player should try to attend at least once in a life time. It's great to hear that you are making a pilgrimage early in your ASL "career." You will learn much, meet heaps of people, and have a memorable time.

If you are still playing some ASLSK, my wife would be happy to have a new opponent.

Looking forward to meeting you.

Pocky101 said...

My dance card is pretty much wide open right now. I'm still in my "teething" period of full ASL and still enjoy the SKs very much. I'd be glad to play a game with your wife. As soon as my wife is finished with her Master's degree she owes me "giving it a shot". April can't come soon enough.