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John Richardson
United States
California
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Having played this game (solo), I find myself joining the ranks of those who believe it to be massively unbalanced in favor of the Allies--to the degree that a decisive Allied victory is a foregone conclusion before the dice are rolled.
With this in mind, I have some suggestions regarding introducing some House Rules into the game which I believe improve game balance and general enjoyment of the game.
Yes, as I've already stated I've only played the game solo. So, to those of you who believe that only a F2F play evaluation is valid, please feel free to discount my following gameplay suggestions. Although I could argue that F2F play with full fog-of-war would tend towards even less dynamic gameplay (lower counter kills per turn when not being able to distinguish between armor, infantry, and Italian units) and an even greater imbalance towards the Allies. But, never mind. Also, I should mention that I have only played the full campaign scenario and that only 3 times. (First play was strictly by the rulebook and ended in a decisive Allied victory. Shocker! The next two plays were with different rules modifications and were an Axis minor victory and Allied minor victory, respectively.) Hence, with only 3 plays to date my modifications can in no way be considered definitive--just preferable.
Two main game sequences were the focus for modification:

1.) The Malta dice roll
For both Axis & Allies:
Odd Roll = 1 RP
Even Roll = 2 RP
All dice rolls per side are cumulative. But, the first 1 (or 2 if a 1 was not rolled) only is discarded, meaning counted as zero. Lastly, the final Malta RP reduction total can never exceed 5 RP.

This makes the Malta RP reduction for the Axis a realistic (and historic) constant irritant, but not a decisive game changer.

2.) RP Allocation
I've kept to the same 3 time periods per the rulebook. But, the successive allocations are as follows:
Axis
12 / 12 / 9
Allies
8 / 9 / 14

The Axis now actually have the opportunity of taking (and possibly holding) Tobruk. And, the Allies (after re-building destroyed units and concentrating reinforcements) have the opportunity of driving the Axis out of Tobruk.

At first glance it may seem like these modifications swing strongly in favor of the Axis. To this I would like to reply: the Axis still have the Italians--unmodified in all their vulnerable glory. From beginning to end, a competent Allied player should exploit the possibility of inflicting Italian casualties at every opportunity. Even with the above changes the Axis player will still be lucky to ever set foot inside Egypt, let alone take Bardia.

Historical considerations, you ask? The British, in fact, had drawn down forces and materiel after Wavell's sweeping victory in late 1940. Greece, Crete and the Far East theaters took precedence. As for Worthington wanting to present the gamer with the real challenges that Rommel faced, I would say this: Fine. But, it's still a game right? At the end of the day we want a fairly even chance to win (or lose) as the Axis OR Allies player. As published, this game plays out like a video game where the default difficulty setting is "INSANE." Not my idea of fun.
Having said that, I bought the game after having read the other reviews knowing that I would probably have to tweak it. But, I wanted to see for myself. The first 3 game turns especially are still exciting with the Axis player angling to put scattered Allied units out of supply.
Finally, the game components are TOP NOTCH. And, Worthington is to be commended for the MOUNTED map. Although if you don't have a ready supply of 12MM dice on hand you'll probably want to pick up a couple of blocks in appropriate colors. The game is still worth it. I look forward to playing the short scenario...sometime in the future. For now the box looks good on the shelf.
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adam wilson

Oklahoma
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I never really got my head around the ZOC rules regarding enscarpments. I think that is a fairly crucial aspect of the game for the Axis player and a step up rules wise from Russia. I picked up HF Russia fairly quickly but NA has eluded me so far.
 
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Tom Shydler
United States
Las Vegas
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You are absolutely right, John. This is one of the most unbalanced "professional" games I have ever played. You can read my comments about it . For the price, it is a serious disappointment, and quite frankly, has put me off all the Holdfast games.

The game is unplayable out of the box, so I have pondered several modifications in an effort to make it worthwhile. Haven't had the time/interest yet to go back and test them. Glad to see you attempting to save something from this otherwise total turkey.
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John Richardson
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Thanks for your comments, Tom. I'll have to look up your other observations as well.
Adam, the ZOC/escarpment rule is a nicely nuanced one. I don't think it's particularly problematic. The real issue with such a rule is remembering and properly employing it in the heat and clutter of gameplay. But the rule itself is to be appreciated since it reflects the types of untraversable desert terrain that armor units actually faced.
Now, to go completely off topic. I missed out on HF Russia. At the time I thought, What? Another Barbarossa game?! But apparently that game is now the Gold Standard. Considering the overwhelming popularity of that game, if Worthington were smart they'd launch another Kickstater for HF Russia 2nd Edition. Perhaps issue it with new/improved stickers and a new game scenario. Have a MOUNTED gameboard an attainable stretch goal just like NA. And, for good measure, how about an exclusive stretch goal for the faithful like additional Leader stickers (both sides)? They'd get my pledge.
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Garrett Potvin
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Brooklyn Park
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Played and traded....too many good games to try to fix those that are not. Color me very disappointed in Worthington; Russia was a Masterpiece , Korea was good, North Africa is a steaming pile . Hopefully they will right the ship with their next 2 games.
 
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John Richardson
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Yes, I can't disagree with you. I was determined to make something out of nothing after I made the purchase investment. It was an interesting challenge and I believe I succeeded in making the game at least playable. But the point is inescapable. Should I have had to bother with a build-your-own wargame in the first place?
Hey, Wylie Bros.--Got play-testing?
Errata? Apology?
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Erik Stonemark
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Wisconsin
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bowie wrote:
Thanks for your comments, Tom. I'll have to look up your other observations as well.
Adam, the ZOC/escarpment rule is a nicely nuanced one. I don't think it's particularly problematic. The real issue with such a rule is remembering and properly employing it in the heat and clutter of gameplay. But the rule itself is to be appreciated since it reflects the types of untraversable desert terrain that armor units actually faced.
Now, to go completely off topic. I missed out on HF Russia. At the time I thought, What? Another Barbarossa game?! But apparently that game is now the Gold Standard. Considering the overwhelming popularity of that game, if Worthington were smart they'd launch another Kickstater for HF Russia 2nd Edition. Perhaps issue it with new/improved stickers and a new game scenario. Have a MOUNTED gameboard an attainable stretch goal just like NA. And, for good measure, how about an exclusive stretch goal for the faithful like additional Leader stickers (both sides)? They'd get my pledge.



According to comments on kickstarter by worthington on their upcoming holdfast naval games, a reprint(not so sure it is going to be 2nd edition per say, but I think it has been hinted at)of Holdfast:Russia with mounted board is in the works for 2017
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John Richardson
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Well, that is good news. Not so much for my wallet, though. Because now I'm going to have to buy 2 more Worthington games, Holdfast Russia and Holdfast Pacific! (Probably pass on HF Atlantic. Too much like HF Pacific--and, if nothing else, there's the financial consideration.) Plus, I'm going to want to buy 2 more blocks of 12mm dice for each game.
Oh, Worthington...
 
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Garrett Potvin
United States
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I am interested; however, after this debacle I am going to be very cautious and wait for several reviews to come in on all subsequent releases from them.
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