Severus Snape
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Case Yellow 1940 is Raicer's take on the battle of France in the spring of 1940. But this you know, so let us get down to some details on the game.

Components:

The overall quality is typical GMT material, meaning that the map, counters, play aids are good. The rulebook is a story of so-so editing of its volumes of details. Perhaps for Raicer, it is a step towards the right direction if you recall Paths of Glory. I still found the rulebook for Case Yellow to involve too much time spent in cross checking the mountains of chrome designed into the game. I think the examples are helpful. I wish the index was better, but these things must literally be slapped on at the last minute in the rush of getting the game in the box and out the warehouse door.

The player aid charts get a thumb's up for their helpfulness. Two of them are directly linked to the Fortress Holland tutorial scenario, more of which will be said later.

The map is particularly good, and, if you had the components, could be used for other periods, like WWI. The terrain features, for once, do not leave me going "is this this? or is this that?" The charts do not overwhelm the map, and if you want an example of a Raicer design where they do, look at his Stalin's War. Don't look for too long or you will get ill. Back to Case Yellow, what's up with the English River, instead of the English Channel? As for England itself, I am not sure that even Dr. Who could rescue the flat, dark, blob that it is on this map.

Aspects of the Design:

If you do not like your games heavy with chrome, you will likely not like Case Yellow. The chrome does not bother me--except when I spend too much time in the rules crosschecking--but it takes time to see how these chromatic pieces fit together to make this yellow pie. If you actually want a more historical game, then consider the chrome necessary.

Raicer's design touches include almost having all of the Netherlands and its Dutch Army. You will see your tanks and your panzers randomly break down because they do; you pull a chit from an opaque cup and loss steps for each time you draw one of your units. How many games have you played, at this scale, where your panzer units never need a refit? Here they do.

You also get your Operation Dynamo, and you even get victory points for pulling your units out of France. You can try to make Fortress Holland fall in four days (the length of a turn) instead of five, by taking cities and towns, but you lose Facebook fans if you terror bomb cities. Belgium surrender is tied into to losing key areas, and they are not allowed to whisk themselves away.

You have four scenarios. The first is the historical, full-game, option which gives some geeks fits. Well? What else did you expect, since it is the historical option? The Allied player is forced to put his head in the Dyle Plan noose, while much of his army plays freeze tag with each other. The Ardennes is a blind zone of nefarious activity until your reservists discover that more lives in those woods than trees.

Scenario two allows for the Allies to change their set-up, while freeing themselves from the Dyle Plan. The third scenario flips the map for a "what if" game. The Fortress Holland comes with its own map and play aid (as a part of the play aids), and gives you a tutorial, though Raicer chose the one where the Dutch die quick and they die ugly.

The reason for this comes down to one of the keys to Raicer's design: the action chits that are found in that proverbial opaque cup. In most of the scenarios, the Germans have the distinct advantage of always having the choice between combat or movement, whereas for the Allies it is usually one or the other. This is why the Dutch die quick and die ugly in Raicer's tutorial: they pull combat when they need to run, or to position themselves to try and retake ground lost to German airborne units.

I like the action chit element. It adds a touch of random chaos to the game, and is a breath of fresh gaming air from the "I go/you go" of legend and lore.

Speaking of German airborne units, these guys are neat, and, given the rules, really designed for Holland. Eben Emael falls on auto pilot in the historical scenario, something sure to get some gripes. In this case, I go with the snarks, because, as I understand it, it was a close call, more from the weather and the winds, then from the surprised Belgians in the fort.

Conclusion:

If you do not like Raicer, avoid this game. If you do like Raicer, you need to like, or accept, the reality of heavy doses of chrome in this design. If you have no interest in the historical subject, avoid this game. Nor would I call it "fun" for those who have interest. The historical scenario is not fun for me; it is the counting down of the doomsday clock. As for the other scenarios, they are not for me because my mentality is a rigid as the Maginot line in that the game should be played along historical lines.

Okay, it is not fun, and it has chrome, meaning it is too fidly for some folks around here. Yet it is a design of quality and nuance. It is realistic to the point that you will feel that noose around your Allied neck. If you are looking for a western front version of No Retreat! by GMT, you will not find it here. And for some, Case Yellow 1940 might be just what you want to find in a wargame.

goo


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Eric Walters
United States
Chesterfield
Virginia
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Methinks this is a great solitaire game and also one best suited for historian gamers, not the competitors so much. I'd call this a simulation study of the campaign just as much as I'd call it a wargame.

Good review!
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Steve Herron
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Johnson City
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I have only played the historical scenario and wasn't sure what number to rate it. I believe your review sums it up well.
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Łukasz
Poland
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I guess it's a good review of a game I've never played; I preordered it, I own it, I even made a Vassal module for it but never had the guts to punch the counters, read the manual and put it on the table. It is either the author himsel, or maybe the way he designs the games, that puts me off -- you call it chrome, I call it exceptions -- the plethora of rules that aren't really derived from the game mechanisms and introduction of which were caused only for the historical accuracy. Not my cup of tea.
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Jim F
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'Ok, it's not fun' - that's as much as I need to know.

I think I'll wait for The Blitzkrieg Legend: The Battle for France, 1940.
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Severus Snape
Canada
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grouchysmurf wrote:
I guess it's a good review of a game I've never played; I preordered it, I own it, I even made a Vassal module for it but never had the guts to punch the counters, read the manual and put it on the table. It is either the author himsel, or maybe the way he designs the games, that puts me off -- you call it chrome, I call it exceptions -- the plethora of rules that aren't really derived from the game mechanisms and introduction of which were caused only for the historical accuracy. Not my cup of tea.


Hey, Smurf, that is the coolest avatar! I would love to have Severus Snape on his own game counter. cool

Anyway, though I have never met Ted Raicer, and am not likely to do so on this side of reality, I have respect for his knowledge and his efforts, even if most of them turn out to be thumbsdown for my gaming tastes.

Chrome, or plethora of rules, as you call it, is the devil in the details, or, in this case, the devil is the details. On an individual level, I see the sense for Raicer's zoc's, attrition, and tactical ratings, just to name three. Putting them together makes the design, while also weighing down the gameplay. It is odd, but I have played monsters that do not seem as chrome laden--leaden--as Case Yellow.

Regardless of the scenario, there is no escaping the chrome in this game, but I have to wonder if games like GMT's "No Retreat!" are not turning us grognards of historical accuracy into lanyards of simple is best. Please do not misunderstand: I think "No Retreat!" is a fine game, and I look forward to commenting on it in more detail. But sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much is abstracted that when a Raicer comes along, it is as if we forgot to do some of the hard thinking about rules' matrix on our own when left to our own chromatic devices.

Imagine having to chose between Case Yellow and No Retreat, one or the other. I know which one I would choose.

goo



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Łukasz
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bentlarsen wrote:
Hey, Smurf, that is the coolest avatar! I would love to have Severus Snape on his own game counter. :cool:


Hey, you should have said it earlier -- that's a five minute challenge:



EDIT: I can adjust it to your liking, changing color or the picture is not of a big issue but I won't tinker with Image Magick scripting just to add a flag of Canada, sorry, sir.

bentlarsen wrote:
Imagine having to chose between Case Yellow and No Retreat, one or the other. I know which one I would choose. ;)


I see your point. As I said, I am yet to play Case Yellow; it hasn't hit the table as it looked to be as an odd, scripted duck which, if I read your review and the above statements correctly, it really is. The same is for No Retreat, which, I reckon, is not an odd duck but still hasn't yet hit a table -- it's gamey and much more abstracted, from what I heard, but maybe it's just, you know, different strokes for different folks. Both games have its merits (at least Case Yellow has its merits for you).
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Severus Snape
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grouchysmurf wrote:
bentlarsen wrote:
Hey, Smurf, that is the coolest avatar! I would love to have Severus Snape on his own game counter. cool


Hey, you should have said it earlier -- that's a five minute challenge:



EDIT: I can adjust it to your liking, changing color or the picture is not of a big issue but I won't tinker with Image Magick scripting just to add a flag of Canada, sorry, sir.

bentlarsen wrote:
Imagine having to chose between Case Yellow and No Retreat, one or the other. I know which one I would choose.


I see your point. As I said, I am yet to play Case Yellow; it hasn't hit the table as it looked to be as an odd, scripted duck which, if I read your review and the above statements correctly, it really is. The same is for No Retreat, which, I reckon, is not an odd duck but still hasn't yet hit a table -- it's gamey and much more abstracted, from what I heard, but maybe it's just, you know, different strokes for different folks. Both games have its merits (at least Case Yellow has its merits for you).


Wow! Thanks more than a lot. Lukasz. I have e-mailed you with some ideas, but this is great.

Between No Retreat and Case Yellow, I would choose the later.

Why? Case Yellow strikes me as very "old school," hard core from the more complex designs of SPI. I would likely enjoy No Retreat more, but I feel a sentimental kinship to those designs that helped me fall in love with historical wargames. As you say, No Retreat has a gameyness to it, for all its true brilliance. Case Yellow's historical script perhaps gets as close to the history as possible in a wargame. In the end, this is what matters most to me.

Thanks grouchysmurf.

goo

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Adam Cirone
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Alliance
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Interesting review and discussion... "Ok, it is not fun" and yet there are certainly plenty of people that still want to play this game. This definitely highlights how wargaming can be such a different hobby from strategy gaming (especially the eurogames).

Should a wargame be a historical study or a competitive play experience? There is no correct answer to the question, but it is clear that Case Yellow falls toward historical study, and that is exactly what some people want, why they play wargames in the first place.

So you have renewed my interest in this game, especially as a good solo-game option.
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Severus Snape
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Jayne Starlancer wrote:
Interesting review and discussion... "Ok, it is not fun" and yet there are certainly plenty of people that still want to play this game. This definitely highlights how wargaming can be such a different hobby from strategy gaming (especially the eurogames).

Should a wargame be a historical study or a competitive play experience? There is no correct answer to the question, but it is clear that Case Yellow falls toward historical study, and that is exactly what some people want, why they play wargames in the first place.

So you have renewed my interest in this game, especially as a good solo-game option.


Adam, I agree. I mentioned "No Retreat!" but I could have listed a slew of other game titles that are more "fun" but less satisfying from my understanding of the history in question. It is not to knock the games that are fun, but just to show where my serious interest lies.

Of course, when games are both, when the stars align themselves, gaming life is indeed good and all is right with the world.

goo

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Rick Goudeau
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Moody
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Thanks for the review - you captured a lot of my sentiments. The Battle of France is difficult to simulate so I can understand where all the rules exception and details come from.

You included the 2 mechanics I really liked from the game:
The armored divisions wearing down due to attrition, forcing a refits - makes the German pause much more rational.
I also thought the chit draw for the actions with the Germans having more flexibility than the Allies, captured the command control issues. The French always seem to be a day late, and the Germans have take some real chances to push hard.

I do agree that the historical scenario is best done solo as a case study, it is heavily scripted. I haven't tried the other scenarios yet.

PS:
I really like the new avatar counter, however I think the magenta version is bolder which suits Severus better.
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Severus Snape
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Quote:
You included the 2 mechanics I really liked from the game:
The armored divisions wearing down due to attrition, forcing a refits - makes the German pause much more rational.

I also thought the chit draw for the actions with the Germans having more flexibility than the Allies, captured the command control issues. The French always seem to be a day late, and the Germans have take some real chances to push hard.


I much agree. The panzers cannot run for ever in a game of this scale (but there are games of this scale where they do), and Raicer's touch of chrome in this area makes fine historical sense.

The German do have to push, and if they do not attack at odds that give them victory on a platter, they are taking risks.

In playing the Fortress Holland scenario, if the Dutch get good chit draws the Germans have to unleash the terror bombing to win it. It is not that the Dutch can launch a major counterattack against the guys in grey--the cannot (did you ever see so many one strength point counters in your life?)--but they can plug up holes and slow them down.

goo


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Jason Fulton
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"I think I'll wait for The Blitzkrieg Legend: The Battle for France, 1940."

Yeah no thanks. Because that looks real fun....NOT
 
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