Originally the TOCS system had been called MASL (Macro-ASL) but we decided to split the system into TOCS (Tactical Operations Command System) and a separate extension to resolve combat as ASL scenarios (called MASL). Part of this was to appeal to a wider audience, and to extend the TOCS concepts to other time periods. This resulted in splitting the original MASL rules into the TOCS core rules, the WWII time period rules and the WWII MASL rules. The rewrite of the MASL rules was an off-and-on effort for a long time that never quite finished. The long awaited moment is here, the first draft of the MASL rules as a TOCS WWII extension has been completed. TA-DA!!!
The MASL WWII rules extension will allow battles that occur at the TOCS level, to be resolved either using the TOCS CRT (Combat Resolution Table), or can be played as limited-intelligence fog-of-war ASL scenarios. Ownership or knowledge of ASL is not needed to play the TOCS system, so the product is targeted to different sets of players. For ASL players that are looking for a different experience resolving unique dynamically generated scenarios, with high degree of fog-of-war and conducting them with limited knowledge of the enemy’s disposition and intentions, then this is the game system for you!
“I have a dream…” The product roadmap envisions displaying all information about the battle, but obfuscating the information about the enemy into unit types, overall strength and types of column shifts. It will display two buttons to choose how to resolve the battle, the CRT button and the SCENARIO button. If the CRT button is selected the battle is determined by a 2d6 (DR) on the CRT table, which offers a quick and easy way to resolve battles. If the battle doesn’t look like it would make a good scenario, chose the CRT button. If it looks like it would be an awesome scenario, chose the SCENARIO button.
When the SCENARIO button is chosen, two scenario cards are dynamically generated, one for each player. Each card will contain information privy to their forces and their Commanding Officer’s objectives. These scenario cards will be posted on the TOCS server and Field Commanders that are registered for this campaign game will be notified that a new scenario is available. Once a Field Commander from both sides ‘reserves‘ the scenario, they can play it. Once the scenario game has finished, both players will fill in their server-based AAR (After Action Report), and then their respective Commanding Officers will be notified that the results are available. The TOCS system then dynamically updates the TOCS campaign game with the results and will log the AAR for record keeping. The fog-of-war is maintained by splitting the scenario card into two halves, with limited intelligence of the other side’s disposition, hex sides that they are attacking across, intentions and objectives secret. Every scenario generated is almost guaranteed to be unique.
Right now is a dream, but you can see where this is heading. The TOCS-MASL system will extend the ASL experience to the next level of game play in a couple fundamental ways. First it extends it to a much larger area than that of a set of HASL maps, by covering hundreds of square miles of battle space. It also puts the battle into the context of a much larger conflict. The result is that the scenario is a key tool to win the campaign, but there are a lot of factors that play into winning or losing campaigns besides battles. It also changes the fundamental way that scenarios are played, because they now have consequences; as scenario casualties taken they are reflected by TOCS units being destroyed of taking SLs (Step Losses). This means that the suicidal attempts to achieve the VC (Victory Conditions) in the last few turns of a scenario could leave the TOCS unit so damaged that it can’t withstand the counterattack. Achieving the Commanding Officer’s scenario objectives while minimizing casualties forces player to think and act like their real Field Commander counterparts. Another fundamental change is that MASL scenarios have no Victory Conditions; instead they have been replaced with the objectives set forth by the Commanding Officer. What?!? With no Victory Conditions how do you determine who won the scenario??? Well, just like in real combat, you pretty much know if you won based on what your Commanding Officer expected you to accomplish. And… if you didn’t, perhaps he will give you a second go at it.
Like I mentioned earlier, the concepts are all there and fully defined in the new MASL rules. Not all of the computerized automation has been implemented yet, but we are steadily working towards it. Each thing we accomplish brings us one step closer to its eventual implementation. For now, all of the manual instructions needed are within the MASL rules, including instructions to map TOCS battles into ASL scenarios, and to map scenario results back into the TOCS system. Once you get use to the techniques it is pretty easy to master. These rules can be used ‘as is‘ with the current VASSAL prototypes as well as the TOCS server-based versions under development. Eventually, based on the product roadmap, this set of MASL rules will be reduced to a few pages once everything is computerized.
Just think of it… dynamically generated unique limited-intelligence fog-of-war scenarios that map back into the context of a larger historically accurate multiplayer campaign game. It could just make you tingle… We are getting closer to this goal every day. This will be an exciting time to be a ‘gamer’, and we at Brick Mill Games hope provides an enjoyable action packed and fun gaming experience.