I'm not sure ASL is a good comparison, since it models a different scale (and with shorter playing times). But World in Flame, Europa, or even VG Pacific War, work on similar levels as WITP/AE
I see three reasons why I play WITP. First, I don't need a special room, cat and kid free, to set the game for several months, and I can play anywhere, anytime, so long I have my laptop with me. Second, I don't think I could handle that level of detail in a wargame. In terms of number of units and map size, WITP is on par with the largest wargames ever done, which would usually only be played by teams (I mean those huge 4 maps 2000 counter things). Third, the machine actually handles a lot of details which get boring in complex wargames, ie all the table lookup, die rolls, bookkeeping.
I agree. I was a big SPI War In Europe and ADG World in Flames player, but these games required a room in the house/flat to be taken out of commission for months if not years on end, and although my regular opponent was as nutty as me about them, circumstance's/ jobs/ moving around the country etc eventually ( after about 15 years ) conspired to stop us playing, although we are still in touch.
On the other hand, when playing WITP there are several things which make me regret paper wargames. First, the game has lots of hidden parts. One of the charms of wargames is that all the system is here for everyone to ponder. In WITP, you can try to guess what the machine does, what the actual rules are, but it is only guessworks. Second, the best wargames design have a form of elegance which is lacking in AE. No offense meant, it is just that computer games tend to be calculation intensive, whereas paper wargames will resort to abstraction to keep playable, and this sometimes lead to very elegant ideas. Third, to me at least, it is much more fun to spend 3 hours playing a turn looking at a map, rolling dice, and pushing counters, than clicking and mousing over a screen...
This said, I mostly play AE these days, and my wargames are collecting dust until I have time to play them again.
One of the admirable things that computers offer us is a very real sense of the Fog of War, so I'm not so bothered about the 'hidden parts' thing, and to some degree it stops ( almost) some particular types of players analysing the hell out of the rules to bend the game to their advantage.
With regard to the last section of your quote I could'nt agree more. Paper and table wargames do lead to some fantastic and elegant ideas and strategies. And the social aspect of the paper wargames cannot be ignored either, I mean, what is better, than after 10 hours of battering each other round the head with baseball bats,
( metaphorically speaking of course ), you go down the pub and drown your sorrows, or bath in the glow of victory together .
But all said and done, I just cannot put WitP AE down. Its myriad of strategies, deployment, FOW and absolutely nail biting tension almost every combat phase cannot be beaten.
Huzzah for AE, that what I say.
Our lives may be more boring than those who lived in apocalyptic times,
but being bored is greatly preferable to being prematurely dead because of some ideological fantasy. - Michael Burleigh