I had to register my old nickname once again (third time now), but it's good to be back anyway!
The last few weeks I've been busy playtesting and reviewing this massive scenario from the Designer Series and I thought I might share some of my findings here. Who knows, perhaps it helps make that scenario even more enjoyable than it already is to some of you. This review is certainly not meant to be complete ... that would be way too much work, so I'll probably add a few more things now and then (if and when I remember them).
First of all, I can truely say that I had a very good time these weeks while playing this scenario ... 5 times! Yes, that's five times ... you read it correctly the first time. My compliments to the designers! The massive scale of it all really adds a lot to the game. It's not just a case of having more units to move around, the whole dynamic of the game changes. You have to work with large formations instead of micro-managing each unit, Each sector is a complete battle in it's own right ... you might me on the offensive near the town while in full retreat on the other flank, forcing you to break off the attack and send reinforcements. With a very generous 20 game turns, there's a lot going on.
A short summary of my final test-battle (including all house-rules and changes):
- The Germans start creating a defensive line while the US forces move in slowly, careful to avoid long-rage sniping by the panzers.
- The US start to put pressure on the small town, forcing the Germans to evacuate their forward positions with heavy losses.
- Meanwhile the German panzer formations are at full strength and they launch an attack on the right flank, inflicting moderate casualties and securing several forward positions before nightfall ends most of the fighting.
- Another wave of US troops arrives and starts pushing foward, the Germans quickly pull back for a defence-in-depth.
- The US launches an all out offensive on all fronts leaving a trail of burning Shermans ... but finally breaching the German lines.
The first few test-battles ended a lot sooner though , due to the balance being seriously out of whack. The reason for this was mainly that in about everything that matters, the US has the advantage:
They have more units. This gives of course the obvious advantage of having more firepower and more threats on the battlefield, but it also gives you the often underestimated but very effective option of " drawing out" your opponent. He'll be out of moves while you have reserved your strength for that very important final move ... combine that with a constant command point lead (= initiative win) which enable you to also start fighting before your opponent can react to that final push and you have a very potent winning combination. Besides numbers the US also has quality on their side. Not a huge advantage, but being able to concentrate the mortar squads (no risk of enemy air attacks) does make a difference and they certainly were a decisive factor in the final battle. Even the tanks, normally a German advantage, seem to be favouring the US this time. Not only in numbers, but they receive 2 special Shermans with Panzer IV stats to start with and both sides have Elite tank crews and a tank ace. Less armour protection for everyone sounds equal, but actually favours the side with the lowest firepower quite a lot.
The Germans have to defend a town they can't risk actually occupying with all those Shermans riding around, so they have to hide behind it basicly giving the enemy a free advance. The US meanwhile has excellent cover from the forests and a nice extra save as well. Great position to wait while the rest of their force arrives. To top things off they have a very handy lvl 2 hill in their rear area to provide those deadly mortar squads with nearly unlimited sight across the battlefield ... even behind the town there are now only a few hexes the German defenders can hide.
The US can hit anything anywhere on the battlefield with their airpower, the Germans can do nothing with their limited artillery support. To make effective use of an artillery deck, you have to be able to save them up and concentrate a lot of them in a decisive situation. Too bad the US has that card to make the Germans discard all but one card ... bye bye strategy. So basicly they can only use the ground support deck to annoy the US and spend a lot of command on initiative to force the US to do the same (still winning initiative, but limiting their air support the first day).
More coming, need food now