No matter how many maps are produced for Advanced Squad Leader, some enterprising scenario designer is going to come up with an action that needs slightly different terrain—a building here, a grain field hindering a line of sight there, a whole river running down the board just because. As far back as original Squad Leader, terrain overlays have solved this problem, providing an easy means of altering the look and feel of a map to better suit the situation being portrayed. Long-time ASL players have accumulated scores of these cardstock contrivances, all lovingly (or less so) cut from sheets accompanying many ASL modules.
In order to replenish those stocks of cardstock cut-outs, Multi-Man Publishing has released the Advanced Squad Leader Overlay Bundle. The Overlay Bundle does not come in a ziplock bag or box; it’s literally a shrink-wrapped package of thirty-seven sheets of overlays, on the same glossy stock as prior overlay sheets. The overlays represent all official published ASL overlays except those that have been replaced by actual maps in subsequent products (the Board 25 Escarpment and Gavutu-Tanambogo islands) and the overlays from Red Factories and Deluxe ASL.
Some of the overlay sheets are straight reprints from recent module releases, like Hollow Legions 3rd Edition, but the majority have been laid out specifically for this product, collecting the various sheets from the past three decades. Curiously, one of the overlays, X20, a long rowhouse, has a fold running through it, on the single double-fold sheet in the bundle that contains the long river overlay. I can only imagine that’s an oversight, as there’s ample room on the rest of that sheet to lay out X20 without a crease straight through the length.
Players like myself, who have picked up ASL products faithfully over the years, probably don’t need the Overlay Bundle, but I’m betting they’ll want it. Overlays tend to live a rough life, at least in the gaming circles I run in. Smeared with plastic cement, tossed haphazardly in envelopes, left behind at conventions and game days, I imagine pretty much every ASL player has lost or otherwise mistreated an overlay or two, making this product a nice replenishment of the closest thing ASL has to consumables. If nothing else, it’s a chance to cut them out a little better than we might have all those years ago.
Owners of Croix de Guerre 2nd Edition who lack the original edition also will want to pick this up, as MMP made the decision not to include the original CdG overlays in the new edition of the French module. The decision was explained at the time by the fact that the Overlay Bundle was going to be coming out, but it took several years from CdG 2e being printed for the overlay bundle to arrive.
I’m glad to have the spare overlays, and this kind of product is well received for people who use their kit often. It will fill several holes in my overlay collection from dice well rolled over the years. Perhaps more could have been done—there was scuttlebutt on various forums in the past that the fabled Overlay Bundle would be printed on some sort of clear acetate, or pre-scored to enable ease of removal—but this sort of maintenance release is needed for the long term health of the hobby, and I appreciate the effort put into its production.