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Pete
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Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles is a new tactical World War Two game in what is already a crowded market, so crowded in fact that a game has to be quite different to really stand out. Designed by Jim Krohn, Band of Brothers sets out to provide and interesting and challenging playing experience without becoming bogged down in rules and minutia.

The system itself is quite elegant. Within a turn play alternates between the two players, who activate units to move or fire. Each player has a minimum and maximum number of units they can activate before it is their opponents turn. (This is called a sides Operations range.) Once all units have been activated the turn goes into the rout phase, then the close combat phase and finally the recovery phase before a new turn begins. Each player also has a limited number of Command Points they can use each turn. Command Points allow a player to re-roll a morale check, re-roll a melee combat roll, move a unit from the side going second before the first player moves, and conduct Final Op Fire on a unit more than 1 hex away.

Vehicles and artillery add a touch more complexity to the system but nothing too serious. Tanks are quite powerful and need the player to think seriously about how they are going to deal with them.

The game comes with some interesting design notes which do a good job of explaining why certain decisions were made. I’m a sucker for these things, but I find it’s always good when a designer takes the time to try and explain what they want to achieve. Some issues broached include, why there are no leader counters; each squad has an inbuilt leader. Why foxholes are better protection than wooden houses; well dug foxholes are much harder for bullets to penetrate than wooden walls, and so on.

The physical quality of the game is good. The counters are large and easy to read, with good artwork. I found the map boards to be a bit cartoony in their art style to begin with, but this faded the more I played, they are also very sturdy. The cover artwork is also striking and sets the mood for the game.

Overall I really enjoyed how the system plays. I found the game play smooth and the rules very easy to follow. This isn’t a complaint, more a comment on my preferences but I’m over the battles of paratroopers in World War Two. Looking at my collection I can play ASL and ASLSK, Band of Heroes, Combat Commander and various Arnhem games if I want to re-fight these battles. Instead I want something from left field, the Long Range Desert Patrol, SAS raids, Dieppe raid, Marines ... anyway just the grumbles of a lone wargamer. Putting this aside, Band of Brothers is the start of a great system, I’m looking forward to further titles in the series.
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Sam
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Thanks for the review. Nice job! O, how does it compare to Band of Heroes?
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p55carroll
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ah3Dog wrote:
Thanks for the review. Nice job! O, how does it compare to Band of Heroes?

I'm curious too. So far, I've put off BoB mainly because I already have BoH (and several other games in that series)--and because BoB uses concealment markers. Now I hear there are no leader units--and that could be a plus or a minus; I don't know.

As to the OP's remarks about being fed up with paratroopers, I'd have to say I'm not--but that's because my dad was a paratrooper. These games let me vicariously experience a little taste of what he lived and fought through.
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Pete
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
ah3Dog wrote:
Thanks for the review. Nice job! O, how does it compare to Band of Heroes?

I'm curious too. So far, I've put off BoB mainly because I already have BoH (and several other games in that series)--and because BoB uses concealment markers. Now I hear there are no leader units--and that could be a plus or a minus; I don't know.

As to the OP's remarks about being fed up with paratroopers, I'd have to say I'm not--but that's because my dad was a paratrooper. These games let me vicariously experience a little taste of what he lived and fought through.


Hi Patrick and Sam, BoB is a lot easier to play than BoH. Though both have strength and weaknesses. BoB plays a lot quicker because you don't have to reaquire targets, less chrome.
I understand the designers point about each squad having in built leadership rather than superhumans running around the field more a dig at ASL I think than BoH, but I also like the leader counters as well. So I find both fine.

And Patrick I mean to disrespect to your father or any paratrooper and what they achieved during the War, I supose I like variety. I totally understand where your coming from though, my Grandfather fought in Egypt and was stationed in Palastine with the Australian 6th Division. The captured Bardia nad Tobruk, so any games involving these battles gives me the same vicarious experience.
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Jim Krohn
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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I am not an expert on all other systems, but what I have read of BoH is that it plays like a simpler ASL. It has many of the things ASL has and then also has more detailed and varied leadership counters, spotting, and some other things. Others can chime in and let me know if that is a fair assessment. I am very familiar with ASL and can compare those two.

The BoB approach is very different. While both ASL and BoH have merits as games - and I often pay homage to SL for its impact and the fun I had playing it - I reject their model. While you will sometimes use the same tactics in other games as you do in BoB, there are huge differences:

- A platoon in not crammed in one hex at a WW1 density.
- Units are spread out taking advantage of terrain in a rough line, with some depth positions depending on how many units you have compared to the frontage.
- Fire effects wear off automatically, as they should. Stop shooting at a unit and it will quickly begin to fire back.
- Squads never cause significant casualties against dug in troops.
- Units are rated at things like Proficiency and Casualty ratings that brings out troop quality.
- Tanks have Proficiency ratings that prevent a whole host of unrealistic behavior.
- It is very simple - perhaps the simplest of all serious squad games - only 6.5 pages of rules for infantry combat.
- It plays quickly.

I could go on. If you are interested, I recommend the Why BoB? series as well as the designer notes.
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p55carroll
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petegs wrote:
And Patrick I mean to disrespect to your father or any paratrooper and what they achieved during the War ...

Never crossed my mind. I was just saying wargames featuring US paratroopers are always cool to me due to the family tie.

FWIW, my dad probably wouldn't have liked any of these games. I played The Battle of the Bulge with him once, and he didn't think it was a very good game at all. Mainly he objected to the die rolls. And all the games we're talking about have a lot more die rolls.
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p55carroll
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Jim Krohn wrote:
I am not an expert on all other systems, but what I have read of BoH is that it plays like a simpler ASL. It has many of the things ASL has and then also has more detailed and varied leadership counters, spotting, and some other things. Others can chime in and let me know if that is a fair assessment. I am very familiar with ASL and can compare those two.

I'd say BoH has a similar "feel" to ASL, but it's so different and so much simpler that I'd hesitate to compare the two at all. BoH reminds me more of the original Squad Leader and is roughly on that complexity level--or maybe a little lighter. But the impulse movement system is a big change from SL/ASL's eight-phase sequence of play.

Spotting in BoH is just a way to get around concealment markers and hidden units: the player sees everything, but the squads are presumed to not always see each other--thus the spotting rules. Getting adjacent to an enemy is often the best way to spot, though, so the game tends to reward moving up close more than any similar game I know of. A further motivation is that shaken units are susceptible to quick elimination by any good-order unit that can reach their hex.

To me, that's the biggest difference between BoH and ASL. In ASL, you usually have to hang back and fire a lot. In BoH, you're better off dashing or low-crawling forward and engaging the enemy directly. There's a lot more melee in BoH than in ASL, I believe.

That's the biggest criticism of BoH (some people think it's ridiculous that a squad can get away with charging into a machine-gun position). But it's also one of the things I like best about it. It has a great "feel," whether it's realistic or not. And somehow it manages to seem realistic enough too.
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Nathan James
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Sounds like the spotting rules really result in some unrealistic tactics in BoH. I can certainly appreciate why it would be fun though.

I love the fact that in BoB charging into an unsuppressed squad is suicide, yet you have to get into melee at some point to close the deal. Solving that problem is what BoB infantry combat is all about.
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