Congratulations to ASLOK XXI Grofaz Champion Bob Bendis!
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  1996 ASLOK Archives


1996 Tournament Winners
The Grofaz Top Fifteen

Place

Name W/L Opponent's Record Home
1st Rich Summers 8-0 25-0 WI
2nd Mike McGrath 7-1 24-2 (Lost to Summers) VA
3rd Steve Pleva 7-1 24-3 (Lost to McGrath) CT
4th Rob Banozic 7-1 19-4 (Lost to Jeff Thompson) IL
5th Aaron Cleavin 7-1 28-3 (Lost to Banozic) NZ
6th J.R. Tracy 6-2 27-2 NY
7th Bob Bendis 6-2 16-3 IL
8th Mark DeVries 6-2 25-10 MI
9th Scott Drane 6-2 11-10 IL
10th Dan Stanhagen 5-2 22-5 VA
11th Neil Stanhagen 5-2 16-2 VA
12th Rodney Callen 5-2 19-8 KY
13th Jackson Keddell 5-2 15-8 NZ
14th David Lamb 5-2 15-11 MI
15th Bob Callen 5-2 12-8 KY

     

Thursday Theme Tournaments

Tournament First Place Second Place
Special Forces Scott Romanowski Jim Cmelak
Night Randy Rossi Rodney Callen
Deluxe Mike Libens Bruno Nitrosso
Blitzkrieg Aaron Cleavin Jeff Boles
T-Tourney Steve Pleva Rich Summers
1943 Mike McGrath Dan Stanhagen
Paratroops Eric Givler Chuck Payne
Winter Wars Robbie Weissbard Neil Stanhagen



Saturday Theater Tournaments

Tournament First Place Second Place
Far East (China) Dave Goldman Wayne Boudreaux
Far East (Burma) Steve Tinsley Dave Ginnard
East Front (Leningrad) Robbie Weissbard Jason Eickmann
East Front (Stalingrad) Stan Jackson Bob Walden
Mediterranean Alan Bills Mark Porterfield
N.W. Europe Scott Romanowski William Cirillo


Wednesday Pete Shelling (from Origins)

Group A
1st Aaron Cleavon

Group B
1st Jackson Keddell

Sunday
1st Larry Wheeler
2nd Malcolm Rutledge

Honorable Mention For Most Games Played
Mike Libens (17 games!)


1996 AAR by Mark Nixon
Many Thanks
This account of some of the action which occurred at ASLOK XI is a reflection of just one man's experience. I wish there were room in my memory to recount a story about every one of the 169 ASL fans I met at ASLOK XI. Instead, the following probably contains too much of my own shenanigans and also begins nearly a week before what many might consider the actual beginning of ASLOK, and for that I ask your pardon. No matter, what follows is dedicated to the real Heros of ASLOK, those many players who make the trek, invest their time and spend their money to be there and make ASLOK what it truly is: THE PLAYERS TOURNAMENT.

Bigger than Ever
Yes, it is true we made it to an official 170 in attendance at ASLOK XI, surpassing the largest previous known gathering of ASL Faithful (which was about 150 at ASLOK VII or VIII, I believe) by about 20 souls. The number of individual tournaments also enjoyed a dramatic increase this year as we crowned 18 event winners. Look for both these numbers to increase again in 1997.

Grofaz Finals
The 1996 GROFAZ Championship game was a match of Dorset Wood In The Rain between long-time serious challenger Rich Summers and four-time (or is it five-time?) ASLOK champ Mike McGrath. Though no rookie himself and certainly no stranger to excellent ASL tournament finishes, Rich Summers entered this final round as the underdog vs. a genuine ASL Legend in Mike McGrath. Like, who wouldn't be considered the underdog vs a player who has pretty well owned the ASLOK crown for half it's existence? However, each had won his way through a tough field to 7-0 records and everyone expected a well fought final round. None were disappointed either, as the final game was a thrill to watch, which a small gathering of onlookers did. The end was close and the winner and 1996 ASLOK GROFAZ CHAMPION was Rich Summers, whose British denied the exit of McGrath's Germans.

Now, Mike McGrath is an outstanding ASL player and a good guy, but I have to guess the majority of players on hand were ready to cheer a new ASLOK champion. Nothing at all against Mike; it is okay that he doesn't walk off with first place every year. Certainly, if there was any doubt previously, Rich Summers has taken his place among the ranks of current best ASL players in the land with this win over a field of 170 ASL wildmen, and I am equally sure all will agree he is a good guy as well. Congratulations to both Rich and Mike for putting on a fabulous final match, and for walking away not only with bragging rights, but also ASLOK plaques and $200 and $100 respectively.

Couple Rich's ASLOK XI victory with Louie Tokarz' win last year at ASLOK X and here is yet more proof the Windy City gang is probably the current hottest group of ASL players anywhere. (Why shucks, members of the Blowhard Burg Brigade literally litter the list [Hey-Hey - legitimate alliteration!] of top 15 GROFAZ finishers.) Admittedly though, including Rich (from Wisconsin) in the Chicago Group is the equivalent of including Pete Mudge (from Michigan) in the Cleveland Gang, and good god we don't want any of that!

More congratulations go to Steve Pleva for his third place effort, keeping his recent ASL tourney hot streak alive while collecting a plaque and $50. Pleva also was the only player to defeat Summers, which occurred in the final round of one of the Thursday Theme tournaments (a round which does not count towards GROFAZ, as you all know). Based on my own most recent matches vs Steve in which my cats had gone down to solid defeats, I had made a mental note picking Steve as my personal ASLOK XI GROFAZ favorite (though I did this having "ducked" both Rich and Mike for many years!).

Pleva's only loss was to McGrath in round #5, so we have the top three finishers trading off their solitary losses with one another at some point of ASLOK week! As TD for the free-form tournament which is GROFAZ, I make special note of the fact that Steve and Mike, two top-notch players, were unhesitating in their eagerness to face one another in such an early round as #5, which worked out extremely well to maintain a smooth flow of play at ASLOK XI. And look what happened; they both ended in the money after all. This was a fine display of the positive sort of sportsmanship which casts a favorable light on ASL players in general.

Fourth place was wrapped up by Robert Banozic of the Chicago crowd, also good for a plaque and $50. Some speedy play got Rob to 6-1 by early afternoon Saturday (his only loss was to Jeff Thompson), which put him in the advantageous/frustrating position of waiting for the best record to show up and challenge him. Actually, this speaks well for advantages of playing fast, for it assured Rob the chance to face the player he must knock out to get into the money. That player was Aaron Cleavin, who made it to 7-0, but very late due to a couple extremely long playing scenarios. A Tournament Director's dilemma was looming here, for had Aaron defeated Rob to reach B-0, it would have left two 8-0 records at the end of all play (Summers and Cleavin) with no time for a 9th round.

In fact, the first two turns of Le Herrison, the scenario selected, looked like Cleavin's French were about to maul Banozic's Germans. However, Rob stuck with it and attained ASLOK XI Sniper Elite status by knocking off Cleavin to claim the plaque and $$. 1 felt Aaron ought to not be the sole 7-1 finisher to go away empty-handed and so offered him some cash, but he returned It and asked for a plaque instead. Thereupon, I took back the money and struck a deal to send him a 5th place plaque (to Japan!) whereupon Aaron agreed that upon receiving it he would commit to a 1997 trip to ASLOK XII (from Japan!). Bargain struck!

Look elsewhere on this Website for a listing of the top 15 GROFAZ finishers (as determined from those who did hand in their P.I.S.!) as well as winners and runners up for all the mini-tournaments at ASLOK XI. (top of page)

Photo Credit
A special thanks to J. R. Tracy for sending the ASLOK XI photos which adorn some of this Website. You may also notice J.R. was leader of the pack of 6-2 GROFAZ records to snag 6th place. Facing off against both Neil and Dan Stanhagen along his path prompted J.R. to note on his P.I.S., "Stanhagen x2!"

Your P.I.S. - Please!
Only 107 P.I.S. were handed in; the rest walked. Other than requiring the P.I.S. of those top five GROFAZ finishers to verify their prizes, I had not made a great deal of effort to demand everyone hand in their P.I.S. (other than put it in writing and verbally threaten, cajole, plead and beg). However, after the event it appears many players are quite interested in the vast wealth of info which might be derived from these. The requests are even legitimate and I get the message. Many want to enjoy rehashing what happened long after the event itself is done. Requests include the NET listing to general curiosity to bonafide marketing info which might be helpful for identifying trends for what is hot and what is not.

The point? Start thinking now about making sure you hand in that P.I.S. at ASLOK XII in 1997. Doing so will also increase the likelihood you might also find your name listed at this Website.

Early Bird Award
This year's first ASLOK arrival was Steve Petersen, who landed in Cleveland on Friday, Oct 1st. That was the Friday before ASLOK week!

Since the very first year of ASLOK, the trend was for players to show up earlier and earlier each year. At ASLOK III or IV, Kevin Meyer and Jim Turpin took control of this situation and began to hit the scene a day before everyone else. This they continued to do for about five consecutive years, through ASLOK VII, thus defining the rage. In 1993, Richard Hill arrived the Thursday before ASLOK VIII for eleven days of gunning, instantly carving out an even more rugged tradition. This stellar performance was matched at ASLOK IX and X by Brian Wilczewski and Tim Wilson, and now at ASLOK XI by Petersen. Who will be the ASLOK XII EARLY BIRD?


Weekend at Johnny's
So what does one do when in Cleveland with four days to play ASL before the official opening of ASLOK festivities? Why, non-stop play testing at Johnny Ginnard's place comes to mind, and Steve Petersen was the right guy for that happy job. After prying Steve away from the long cool blonde he was still glued to as he exited Flight YOU&MEBABY, we jumped into the armload of scenarios he had brought. Aided by a fair portion of the local Cleveland crew there were quite a few scenarios playtested over that weekend. By Sunday, the Kiwis (New Zealand HS by way of Japan) had landed in the form of Cleavin, Malcolm Rutledge and Jackson Keddell and JOHNNY's was rockin' & rollin'.

Somebody must have forgotten to clue in Johnny about his guests from overseas (like, you couldn't tell from their accents of course) for when Jackson asked to use the phone to call home Johnny simply replied, "Oh sure, no problem." Well, it turned out Jackson did have a good reason to call Japan since he had to call in sick for work. He called in sick with the flu on Sunday (which was Monday morning in Japan of course). He called in sick with the flu and an upset stomach on Monday. By Tuesday the flu was on the mend, but unlucky Jackson had developed a throbbing headache and that pesky stomach was still troubling him, while ASLOK had only just begun. So it went. Towards the end of the week Jackson decided he would also develop diarrhea, just to make sure his boss would not ask him to force himself in to work. Of course the sorry part was that Jackson was just so distraught by his scam (gross overstatement). This did earn Jackson a fitting moniker: "Missing In Action" Jackson, or just plain old "M.I.A.J." for short, but what would be a fitting way to adequately honor such relentless effort to attend ASLOK? Fortunately, Petersen devised the best solution, so we honor Jackson with the first ever:

Medal for Blowing off Work the Most Days to Travel the Farthest to Attend ASLOK
Unfortunately, the fellow hired to fashion a plaque for this honor was unable to complete the piece because he was fired for missing too much work, and I blew the cash prize at the track; sorry, "Gone Fishin... came in dead last. Anyway, uh, congratulations Jackson, I think. (top of page)

Monday Action
Monday (Oct 14th) brought more ASLOK'rs CXing their way into the Middleburg Heights Holiday Inn. Brian Martuzas came into town Sunday or Monday, ready to dice and with an amazing assortment of stories detailing his ASL efforts throughout the year past, including some fascinating photos from Crete. His shots of the Tavronitis Bridge, in particular, were noteworthy. This guy is working hard for ASL!

The Elite French HS of Bruno Nitrosso, Camille (pronounced Camee, accent over the long double "e") Goureaud and Arnaud Bert hit town with dice ablaze and eager for an international showdown with the Kiwis. By this time there was too much action for one man to track it all, so our little story loses touch with anything resembling chronology or completeness. Suffice it to say that later, after the three games of this international match were concluded, Malcolm Rutledge was kind enough to give the following highly detailed account: "Well, it was Kiwis three, France nil!"

The one playtest encounter during this pre-ASLOK weekend gamefest which sticks out in my mind featured the remake of Capture of Balta, the original AH version, in which my Russians defended against Petersen and 'Wild" Bill Hayward's Germans. This one took place early Monday in the subterranean bunker at Camp Nikon (my basement). After several game turns of Nazi evilness, attacking Nasties had infiltrated the board #3 village and three stacks of concealed 838 henchmen toting FT and DC, each supported by a (-1) leader, were positioned at the wall around building 3N2, poised to deliver a crushing blow into the Russian defense across the street in the center of town. Surely a familiar situation and Lt. Petersen, commanding these elite goons, felt confident enough to announce he was headed outdoors for a smoke; Wild Bill could watch the pathetic Russian Prep Fire "Hail Mary" shots.

As Steve headed up the steps I yelled after him the feeble rejoinder, "You'll be in shock when you return and all your cats are dead!" Of course this was a hopeless joke, but immediately the Russian HMG diced out 18 ROF and all the German 838 and impressive leaders were dead, wounded or at least broken and reduced. Now that's some playtesting for you! Steve returned to find only little puddles of gobbledy-goo where once had stood the proud elite of his army. Wild Bill could only roll his eyes and plead, "Honest Steve, I really did watch him ....... for a long, long time, and he rolled dice and your guys died and then I watched some more dice rolling and some more of your guys die and, well, it did get sort of tiring after awhile and I might have dozed off for a bit there." Steve's reply was, "Oh, so now I see how you Ohio guys do it. You get the out-of-town boy out of the room and then slap around his troops behind his back!" What could we say? The physical evidence appeared to support this contention.

By Monday evening, Curt Schilling was busy setting up camp in his hotel room, a RB campaign game which he announced was the realization of a long-planned showdown with Phil Pomerantz. Heavens, It was like two miracles in one. It was great to see Curt again and I looked forward with delight to Phil making his first ASLOK appearance; to anticipate watching them whup on each other over an extended period of time was a real treat.

Over the next several days there were occasional sightings of Batman and Robin outside their Red Barri-cave, though certainly none before noon on any given day, the official waking hour for "Sleeping Beauty" Schilling. During play of this RB monster, Herr Schilling unleashed one of his most formidable secret weapons, highlighted in a J.R. Tracy photo in which Curt is evidently maneuvering the Russian swarm on the RB mapsheet with a hand brandishing his World Series ring, an imposing artifact approximately the size of my fist, in front of Phil's sleep-denied glazed-gaze. Talk about intimidating!

Before leaving the Hotel for the evening to return to Camp Nikon, I showed the gaming rooms to Steve Petersen. After seeing Bloody Omaha, the big room, Steve said, "Looks good, where's the main room?" "Yikes, that is the main room. Do you think it is too small?" Well, obviously Steve's first impression was that it was too small, but it was a bit deceiving; the three rooms together were far bigger than ASLOK had ever been before, but we were headed for a far bigger ASLOK too. Even though I knew on paper we mathematically had the square footage, fear of potential space problems began to gnaw at me.

Tuesday
Folks were now infiltrating the ASLOK site at such a rate I could not keep track. Even as we entered the Eagle's Nest to clear it's decks for action at 2:00 PM and "officially" signal the start of ASLOK XI, there was already a game in progress in the rooml Two maids were well into a game of Sweep-Up .... oh, well, scratch that. Actually, Mike Libens and Mike Daniel were the FANatics playing the first scenario on legitimate ASLOK carpet. Libens is reigning heir apparent for the title "Fastest ASL Player In The World", though doubtless many players could seriously challenge for that honor. The rest of Tuesday was a blur of new and old friends arriving. I recall playing at least one scenario that day and looking in on many others, but they all just sort of blend together and specifics elude me.

Tuesday night was our first encounter with the Holiday Inn security guard. Our little group in the Eagie's Nest was not being overly rambunctious, so it was a bit of a surprise he showed up there at all. Someone had registered a mild objection to the late night din of dicing plus the usual hooting and hollering, "BOOM! That's Whitman with APCR, you're dead, HAR-HAR-HAR!! Imagine that, someone actually wanted to sleep (obviously some non-ASLOK hotel guest)! No big deal as it turned out, but the guard peeked over at one of the games in progress and asked that familiar question, "Hey, what are you guys doing?" The standard answer, "It's a wargame, WWII." The guy's next line was a shocker. "Oh, is this the Eastern Front?" Ho-ho, so the guy was a history buff. We realized instantaneously the huge advantage we had just scored; enlisting hotel security as an Ally would surely prove a very beneficial commodity come Wednesday night when the Critical Hit party cranked-up the volume! (top of page)

Wednesday (Salute Day)
At last ASLOK was upon us full bore and we charged ashore into the main gaming room, Bloody Omaha, at 8:00 AM. Pete Shelling rolled out a mini-tournament of a four scenario pack he had been playtesting. Professionally printed by Multi-Man Publishing and Avalon Hill, Pete had initially run these scenarios in July at Origins '96. (I simply must mention that Origins was a tournament in which I had finished next-to-last, which was good for 1st place. Figure it out.) After that disappointing 0rigins turnout, Pete also ran the scenarios in a 16-player event in August at Wild West Fest '96. They were well received at W.W.F., and Pete agreed to run them again at ASLOK, prior to turning them over for publication and distribution by AH.

There was plenty of interest in these scenarios at ASLOK on Wednesday morning, so Pete was able to muster two full 16-player mini's. This was an early indication of how popular ASLOK mini-events have become, a fact which will be seen to have substantial bearing on plans for ASLOK XII. Those clever Kiwis Aaron Cleavin and Jackson Keddell managed to win these events which, I believe, made them the first non-U.S. players to win any ASLOK event. Slap me silly if I am wrong about that and let me know the truth. "MIA" Jackson managed his win despite his lamentable physical condition which, as you will recall, was severe enough to keep him off work the entire week (Yuk-Yuk!). SALUTE, Pete!

Everybody and his brother hit town on this day and we even let in Ray Tapio. Actually, Mr Critical Hit and his Crew made a big splash as they burst through the doors passing out free mini dice rollers for quite a grand entrance. There were also copies of CH#5 distributed, as well as other goodies from New York's finest. Of course Wednesday night featured the annual Critical Hit ASLOK party, something like the third or fourth year for this celebration, which was held in the Eagle's Nest. Hosts Tapio, Pleva, Robbie Weissbard, Mark Porterfield, et. al. did not disappoint as the beer, talk, beer, camaraderie and beer flowed copiously. "Tip Tap"-io was considerate enough to demonstrate, repeatedly, his bewildering mastery of "technique de imbibe". Needless to say, many others eagerly joined him.

Seriously now, as has been the case for many years, the support the CH Crew lends to ASLOK continues to be a most meaningful and appreciated force. As players, these cats have been solid in their patronage of ASLOK since the begining and as "The CH group" they have not only helped to promote attendance at Oktoberfest, but also have consistently brought new ASL goodies each year, including a wealth of the scenarios which see play at ASLOK. SALUTE!

Wednesday also signalled the initial appearance of a peculiar substance identif ied as "elk jerky". The rather lengthy and seriously amusing story of how ASLOK inherited several wicked pounds of this open range devilry has been translated into ASL-ese by the founder of the feast himself, Tim "Wild West Fest (aka Wild Beast Feast)" Wilson. If his major ASL comedy has yet to appear in circulation on the NET or in print, somebody pinch us and we will rectify that matter, but basically it boils down to a Wilson elk hunting expedition into the outback sections of Utah/Wyoming (uh, like, outback Utah/Wyoming; that would be any location in those states, right?) and Timbo's Herculean efforts to discharge his inherent federal duty as a resident and law abiding citizen of a big western state with square corners and no crooked borders, not to mention owner of a very large deep freezer, to prevent these oversexed critters from populating themselves into an ecological disaster. I suspect this contribution to ASLOK was sent by 'ole Timbo as partial compensation for having to miss the event himself, although nothing he could ever do could relieve his remorse for bypassing his tour of duty at the ASLOK front desk, and thereby forcing the gentle ASLOK'rs to endure additional and arduous hours of Sisler/Hayward/Troha/Nikon quadra-piteous 6+1 tag team leadership.

But I digress. As far as actually eating these formidable rations, comments ranged from the popular, "Wow is that ever salty!" and "Wow is that ever potent!" to the more obscure, "You mean this is Bambi?" and "No way, you gotta be a real mountain-man to handle that sinful stuff!" Forget that it was several huge chunks of this stringy wildebeast which ultimately disclosed to me the virtues of flossing whereas all the erstwhile efforts of Nanette the dental hygenist these many years had slipped from my conscience as my fingers on the gentle curvature of her soft and alluring .... (ahem), never mind about that; the fare was a big hit and highly noticeable to those who managed to score some beast feast.

Also highly visable were the Wilson produced name badges, Timbo's second dog-tail draggin', dead fish sniffin' attempt to rectify his inexcusable absence from ASLOK XI (new baby, BAH! - priorities man!) with the cool and the deliberately not-so-cool AFV's preprinted, including pre-printed names for those who had pre-registered. Here is where "Wild Bill" Hayward found a new name, but highlight of all these badges had to be the "Thank you for shopping at K-MART" badge, forevermore associating this moniker, for all who noticed it, with Kurt Martin. Before Kurt had arrived to claim this birthright, several innocent players had requested that clever little badge for themselves, unaware of its actual validity and social significance. Just to stir things up a bit, when Kurt donned his new guise as K-MART man, he also slapped on the "Pete Mudge" badge and totally confused many in the crowd who maybe recognized the Mudge name but who had met neither Pete nor Kurt. Imagine, if you will, some unsuspecting gamer mistaking a tall, blond, meticulous and "dapper" Kurt as Pete due to this badge congestion, only to meet up at next year's ASLOK with the true tall, blond, nonchalant and "bulky" Pete! "Pete, what happened to ya, man!?" For all of Timbo's help with ASLOK XI, another hearty SALUTE!

ASLOK founders Bill "Grofaz (the 8-1 leader formerly known as Fish)" Conner and Darryl "Action" Burk, made a cameo appearance Wednesday afternoon. Though they brought no dice with them and announced they were retired from actually playing ASL, it was good to see them again. "Games-For-Life" Darryl dropped off some AH titles he wanted to unload and Fish muttered something about a toy show in Chicago while artfully dodging inquiring eyes from top finishers of ASLOK X, anxious to learn the whereabouts of their overdue plaques. While their brief appearance qualified Bill and Darryl as members of the small group of 5 ASL players who have made it to all eleven ASLOKS, who knows whether or not this was their last ASLOK appearance? SALUTE, from all of us who have enjoyed ASLOK; it never would have happened without Bill and Darryl.

On that same general "old-timers" topic, in addition to yours truly, Rick Troha and Ed Schroeder are the only others to actually play scenarios at all eleven ASLOKs.

The premier issue of a new ASL zine, Schwerpunktl, caught the eye of all fans as Evan "Schwerpunktl" Sherry and his Florida Crew made their way into the throng. This zine is devoted totally to the scenarios contained within; several were immediate attention-getters which attracted a good share of play. It is a real thrill when something like this comes along, clean out of the blue, with no warning and no pre-publication expectations. Time will tell about how these scenarios and the Florida cats fare with future plans; it was a delight to enjoy the spectacle of this ASLOK release; SALUTE!

It was probably Wednesday (though maybe Tuesday or Thursday) when copies of the Avalon Hill Action Pack became available. Here was undoubtedly the single biggest hit of ASLOK XI. It was great that AH made this AP available both with and without boards, displaying some much appreciated marketing savvy. It was great that the timing allowed for an ASLOK release date. It was great of the MMP guys, Brian Youse, Perry Cocke, Steve Petersen, Chuck Goetz and Curt Schilling to storm ASLOK in force. These are the guys who have revitalized ASL at AH in such dramatic fashion that we are now getting ASL product faster than ever. The high quality we want is there as well, and it doesn't hurt that these cats are all excellent ASL players who are remaining in contact with the general body of ASL players.

The MMP troop glided in and crash landed on a playtest site in Bloody Omaha with their new product-in-development, Pegasus Bridge (guess I named this room after the wrong beach!) Led by mainstay playtest grognards Brian Youse and Perry Cocke, they held this position until relieved, (most historical, don't you know) which was basically nonstop throughout ASLOK XI. I had seen Brian serve this same intense sort of duty at Summer Wars earlier in the year as well, and even though it seems at times merely a clever ploy on his part to avoid facing me in a one-on-one game of ASL, or maybe just an excuse to repeatedly toss around stylish British phrases like "Ox & Bucks" and the like, the amount of legitimate playtest effort going into the product was evident for all who noticed. What a tremendous bit of encouragement to see with our own eyes that the game is receiving this intense effort! It was a Fanatic DR for all at ASLOK to witness MMP engineer this demo-playtest-work venture during what would have otherwise been their own free ASLOK gaming time. SALUTE! (top of page)


Thursday
Here was the main event, the GROFAZ, at last set to begin as we knocked a Breach into the Scottish Corridor and the Blazin' Wreck rooms. For many, their first games would be in the opening round for one of the Thursday Theme tournaments. I had tried to circulate word that the Themes would begin promptly at 8:00 AM, for with three rounds to play I wanted to waste no time getting these all completed before Friday caught up to us. Besides, players arriving on time should not have to wait.

Rising early was a bit of a challenge for those who had fully enjoyed the CH party Wednesday night. Here is where the notion of "endurance" begins to enter play, and for none more so than yours truly. Fortunately, guardian angel Wild Bill was stationed on Opportunity Fire duty for me, and a good thing too, for at 7:50 AM when he rang my room I answered the phone, "Tournament? .... uh ... What tournament? Room full of anxious ASL players? Wha ... wha ... what .............. ping .......... OH CRAP! I'm there NOW man!" Ah, at least clever Nikon had managed the foresight to crash off to sleep fully clothed (foresight, yeah, that's what it was) and so landed at Bloody Omaha entire minutes before 8:00 AM. Top casualty of this mad dash was my intended reminiscence tribute of past ASLOK opening "Fishology" remarks; my early morning weak-minded feeble attempt crashed and burned at the podium and failed to deliver anything even resembling justice to those infamous bombastic verbal blasts of bygone ASLOK from Grofaz the master vituperator. Most at hand merely wondered, "What the hell is Nikon babbling about?" Oh well. Several among the tardy were, regrettably, bumped from their Theme spots, but most managed to filter back into spots in alternate Theme events. The iron-handed message to be on time had been delivered, so at least we have that behind us and will not have to feel guilty about it in the future.

Winners and runners-up for Themes each counted two wins for GROFAZ; their names can be found elsewhere at this Website. In addition, each winner made off with an ASLOK plaque and $10 to enhance the normal and customary bragging rights.

At some point K-MART was swooping around the arena and gaming on the ASL-clock. I was delighted to get in two playings of a scenario with Kurt on the clock, which we completed in about 45 minutes, that's total for two playings! It was a real hoot! I strongly urge you all to give it a try. Also highly recommended is the ASLOK AAR K-MART filed over the NET. Check it out if you can. If it has evaporated, let us know and we will make it available. (top of page)

Friday
There were no mini tournaments and no special events kicked off Friday morning. Just plenty of GROFAZ action as players continued to pile into the three gaming rooms. Growing concern over space convinced me to keep the Eagle's Nest open for play and we added tables in all available spots, even requisitioning the small foyer between the Scottish Corridor and the Blazin' Wreck rooms (the "Flamin' Corridor") to add a couple more tables. I believe we squeezed by and the space worked out okay; at least there were no complaints of overcrowding. Those inhabiting the Blazin' Wreck room had more space by far than any ASLOK before.

However, it was clear our plans to increase attendance for ASLOK XII would also require additional gaming space. Several informal discussions were held with various players and hotel staff which led us to shift our sights for 1997 to the hotel's Grand Ballroom, a single room of 6,858 square feet (more than twice the combined 3,000 square feet of the three ASLOK XI rooms). Thought of getting all ASLOK'rs into one room (plus a "Blazin... section for smokers) immediately jumped to the fore. Well, there is also the possibility of using 3/4 of the grand ballroom (total of 4,428 to 4,698 square feet depending on how it is split) but the key is to get us all playing ASL in one large location. Look for ASLOK XII details for what has actually come from all this elsewhere at this Website.

Sometime early Friday I was confronted with three players wielding 2-0 records and needing to be paired with opponents. No big deal, but I needed a fourth player and up walked a 3-0 record; it was McGrath. "Oh great," I said, 'Iwo of the 2-O's will play one another and the third will play Mike." I was appalled when the three 2-0 boys immediately turned tail and walked away, said "No way" or simply turned and looked another direction. Mike was left to ponder, "Gee, does everyone just hate me or what?" Well, I guess they were all just needlessly fearful of the over-publicized legend, but it came as a big shock to me to see such dog-tail draggin'. Fortunately, up walked Johnny Ginnard who stated, "Heh Mark, I don't have any losses, I'll play the bum." "Okay Johnny, I know you don't have any wins either, but it will be a good game; somebody has to bump off one of you two ying-yangs so you may as well do it to one another." Guess what? Their game of Invisible Foes came right down to the wire too, with Mike getting the win. Those three 2-0 record lads earned ASLOK XI Cowardice In The Face Of Dice awards. No names please, for they can redeem themselves at ASLOK XII. However, at least let the record show that despite "ducking" Mike, none of the three ended in the GROFAZ top 15 after all.

At one point there circulated an ugly rumor that someone was actually playing a non-ASL game on ASLOK carpet, right in the middle of Bloody Omaha. EGADS!! SACRILEGE! With all the pomp and bluster the situation required, I stormed onto the beach to locate the offending rascal, only to find it was one of Action Burk's "Games For Life" games which had been purchased and the new owner was trying it out. Well, okay, false alarm, since it was a game actually purchased at ASLOK, (indeed, I had sold it myself!) something like Flying Chimpanzees of The Ringling Reich or similar, I don't recall.

By this time there was a constant stream of the fastest players in the ASL world pouring through the extreme front righthand comer of Bloody Omaha, noted dwelling place of Mike "Lightnin... Libens, likely king of ASL speed players. Warboy, Mark DeVries and the rest of the fast-playing crowd worked their way into the Libens Lair and did their part to help ole "Lightnin... play more games (17) than any other player at ASLOK. Actually, I suspect this number may have been surpassed by Ray "Well-it's-Only-3:00-AM-1-Guess-l-Can-Play-Another-One" Mullholand who spent many sleepless nights cranking out games, but since Ray neglected to leave his P.I.S. behind, that is just my guess.

Another mainstay at the front of Bloody Omaha was Dave Daily, seated at the front left throughout the week and constantly playing some monstrous games; Bloody Red Beach with Camille comes to mind as well as a large desert battle of He Who Hesitates in which Dave and I traded blows for a highly enjoyable game.

Friday afternoon the awards for Thursday Theme winners were presented in Bloody Omaha. It seemed a small thing to recognize these winners in front of the ASLOK crowd, yet something which would also help to lend a small bit of ceremony and cohesion to the event as a whole.

Our first running of MANEUVERS attracted about a half dozen newer ASL players to sit down with "Wild" Bill Hayward and work through a game with some experienced direction close at hand. Wild Bill reported the event a success and also gave a big thanks to Scott Romanowski for sitting in to help out. Based on this initial success, expect MANEUVERS to become a regular feature of ASLOK.

Speaking of Mr. Romanowski, Scott put in a most impressive ASLOK for he not only volunteered on-the-spot assistance with MANEUVERS, but also played one of Pete Shelling's Wednesday Tournaments into the final round (where he took pity on an ailing "Missing In Action" Jackson and eased off-???) and won two mini-Tournaments. Way to go Scott!

Weather during ASLOK XI was extremely rainy, thereby fortifying the nagging conscience of any ASLOK'rs normally troubled by earthly worries of squandering valuable time indoors. Even the hotel swimming pool was visited by several gamers, though some plans were foiled by excessive rain seeping into the pool area ceiling and forcing a pool shut-down for fear of Stuka attack by water-logged ceiling tiles. Gotta do all you can to avoid taking a direct hit in the old aerial modifier! (top of page)

Saturday
Once again at 8:00 AM sharp, a round of mini-Tournaments kicked off. This time everyone was either on time or else knew that being late might jeapordize their spot in an event. These events filled quickly, to the point that we ran not just the 4 advertised, but a total of 6 events. This finally convinced us that mini-Tournaments are what the players want. Look for even more of them in 1997; plans are to offer a new set of them every day of ASLOK XII.

If you can get a game with Guy Chaney you will have the pleasure of playing an excellent ASL player and all around good cat. I have to say this (and it is true), for otherwise what follows might seem a bit embarrassing, although we all must admit it could happen to any of us. At some point (Friday, Saturday, I don't know) Guy was throwing his G.l.'s against a Johnny Ginnard Japanese defense in Bucking For Sergeant. This scenario features some tremendous U.S. firepower against only 5 Japanese squads and 5 crews, however the Sons of Nippon enjoy plenty of HIP, are heavily armed and the terrain constraints on the U.S. are stiff indeed plus Johnny enjoys (rightfully) a bit of a reputation as an outstanding Japanese player. The match was nice and close but Guy just could not get enough troops in for the win against those tough Japanese. Finally, he had to concede, whereupon Johnny's sheepish response was, "Oh gee Guy, you're not going to like what I have to tell you. I forgot to set-up three of my five squads!" Yes, that's right, the Chaney-Gang had poured withering fire in on those two Japanese squads but could not breakthrough. Imagine what the defense might have done had all five squads been on board to participate! Imagine also the nerve of Johnny to continue playing through his error, down by 60% of his squads right from the get-go, and emerge with a win! Well, big Yuks were in order of course, and you might imagine the degree of loud and long verbal embellishment Guy suffered on the spot over this fiasco. However, let us not go a Yuk too far, for next time maybe Johnny will sit across the table from one of us and pull some similar bonehead move which somehow works for him. (top of page)

Sunday
We did manage to run one mini-Tournament Sunday morning, though only two players entered. This was the last chance for Malcolm Rutledge to make it a clean sweep for the Kiwis, as his buddies Cleavin and Keddell had already won events. However, Larry Wheeler's game was up to the challenge and good for a win here to add to the booty taken home by the Indianapolis Crew.

The Grofaz himself made another surprise visit to the ASLOK arena late Sunday. Just a peek in to say "Howdy" and then off again.

Saturday Mini-Tournament winners were awarded at various times Sunday in order to accommodate departure times of the winners.

Throughout Sunday, faithful ASLOK'rs were making their departures from the arena, always a melancholy time, although we are all sure to meet up again before long, no doubt at ASLOK XII at the latest. Some comments from the P.I.S. handed in seem noteworthy:

Scott Drane after a couple rare losses: "Hmmm, time for a new hobby."and later,..."Checkers, anyone?"

Darren Anderson: "First scenario on the clock, loved it!"

Paul Case: "So far crap! I hate this game!" (note: This was after Paul's first game - he stuck around and played 10 more!)

J.R. Tracy: "Played a complete gentleman!"

Dave Daily: "Got Sharked!" (his opponent? Rob Banozic, of course)

Tom Cvetinovitch: "GAK!"

Ken Dunn: "AAAAHHHI GAK!" and later... "Unbalanced Dog!"

John Skillman: "ARGH!" (I guess Tom, Ken and John speak the same language!)

Dave Ginnard: "10 Snipers Sleeping, 4 Panthers Flaming..."

Eric Givler: "I can't see how I won."

Daniel Henry: "Neat game, he out 12'd me!"

Waiking Wong: "What fun!"

Robbie Weissbard: " "

Ross Sutton: "Skanky scenario!"

Randi Rossi: (in three back-to-back scenarios)...................... Thank god for Berserkers! "then... I love Berserkers" and finally.... "Flame Throwers are better than Berserkers!"

(By the way, at 5-0 Randy had to leave ASLOK early; oh what might have been!)

The championship game between Summers and McGrath actually ended at a decent hour on Sunday and it was a pleasure to be able to award their plaques and prize money with quite a large crowd still on hand, and then to relax. I was delighted to go out to dinner Sunday evening with John Appel, Petersen and the whole French Crew, whom I had not had much chance to hang out with to that point. We nearly had to drag Bruno away from the gaming tables, but as we walked over to the restaurant he confided to me the Quote Of The Day, "Mark, I am so tired it hurts to speak English; I just cannot do it anymore." HA! Well, of course Bruno spoke these words in excellent English; I know, for had he lapsed into French I would have understood none of what he said. My hat is off to players like these who comprehend something so complex as ASL in a foreign language! Meanwhile, on the return trip from dinner we ran into the Kiwis and based on something one of them said, Camille fell into a dead-tired-laughing-rage so intense he had us all laughing and stumbling around the parking lot in the dark. Ah yes, such happy times! (top of page)

Monday
Wild Bill and I wandered onto Bloody Omaha in the early morning and found a solitary ASLOKer, Paul Case, patiently waiting for more gunning or at least for some sign of life from the remainder of the weary ASLOK throng. But there was to be no action other than to clean-up a few odds and ends which looked like someone might some day want, such as forgotten rulebooks, zines, scenarios and other ASL paraphernalia.

So went the last morning, with lots of goodbyes to old and new friends and many promises of return trips in October of 1997. It is a big commitment and for some a major expense and a long flight as well to get to ASLOK, but I wholeheartedly believe everyone left feeling it had been worthwhile. Camille summed it up when he said, "Well, I don't know. I have to think about a girlfriend and the expense and the time and missing work...oohh...I don't know...which dates for '97?"

Looking Ahead to ASLOK XII - 1997: Come to the 'Fest
SALUTE to those who come to ASLOK. You guys are what it is all about. Because ASLOK is already the largest known ASL gathering in the world and the format has continued to work as we have expanded from 17 players in 1986 to 170 in 1996, feeling here is to press to attract as many players as we can get. What would the FEST be like if we drew 300 ASL players, all rolling dice in one big room? That is where I see ASLOK headed, and I am open to suggestions which might help get us there.

States which are always particularly well represented include those with large ASL populations close at hand: Virginia, Maryland, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, Connecticut and Ohio (of course). At ASLOK XI it was a thrill to see an influx of players from Maine, New Mexico and Florida in addition to the delightful appearance of the Kiwi and French crews. Optimistically, these and all other players will return for ASLOK XII if at all possible. At the other end of the spectrum, there are many more ASL players in those states mentioned who have never been to an ASLOK, or who are not even aware of it for that matter, and ASLOK is way under-represented by players from the West Coast, Canada, Texas, the Mountain States and the Midwest (the real Midwest that is, not the pseudo-Midwest of Illinois through Ohio). I am looking for ways to encourage more players to make the ASLOK pilgrimage; your support and helpful ideas will be appreciated.

I would like to use this space to remind us of the many ASLOK regulars who were not able to make it in '96; let's bring them back for '97! Forgive me for the inevitable names l will neglect to list here; but where are these regulars now: Ray Verbanic, Rob Wolkey, Russ Buntun, Dirk Heinz, Bob McNamara, Charlie Kibler, Rex Martin, Lindsey Murillo, Tim Wilson, Bryon Wilczewski, Tom Kearney, Jim Collier, Gary Fortenberry, Richard Andrews, Mitch Balicki, Ron Fedin, Eric Baker, Jim McCormick, Scott Holst, Steve Frum, Joe Waldron, Mike Izzo, Bruce Bakken, Joe Devine, Rob Barnette, Jeff Wasserman, Jim Turpin, Jeff Cebula, James Plesec, Tom Marquart, Ray Woloszyn, Dave Deresinski, Rich Spilky? Sure, no one could expect all 33 listed to show up every year, but once they started attending, these guys have made it for more years than not. Had anyone handed me a list prior to ASLOK with these 33 names on it and bet me none of them would make it to ASLOK XI, I would have had a huge good laugh and then lost big money and had a huge good cry.

Why, with these 33 "regulars" out for ASLOK XI it is sensational we made it to an all-time high 170! Think how many new players made their way to ASLOK XI in order to recover that loss and yet still exceed the previous ASLOK record by 20 players! Let's spread the word to continue attracting more new players and also get those grognards back here for '97 as well and we will top the 200 mark easy! I fail to see any reason why even 250 players should be considered an unattainable goal for ASLOK XII. Think of it; 250 ASL players dicing away! I am psyched for it! Hope you are too!

Copyright (c) 1997 by Mark C. Nixon. All rights reserved.






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