Pevans's Perspective

This was the title of my board games column in Flagship magazine, so I thought I'd resurrect it, 8 years after Flagship's demise. The idea is to get down my musings in a more contemporaneous way - expect things to appear later in To Win Just Once (www.pevans.co.uk/TWJO) in a more considered form. Now, can I manage a less formal style?
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Dead Man at Verdun

Paul Evans
United Kingdom
UXBRIDGE
London
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Nephew Tom and I are both fans of the Commands & Colors games and thought we'd try out the Vassal module for The Great War as our latest outing (a few weeks ago now). And a splendid implementation it is, too.

I'm still impressed by the way Richard Borg tweaked the Commands & Colors system to reflect trench warfare - particularly as all the units (until you add the Tank Expansion) are infantry. Essentially, the dice are much more deadly, but trenches provide good protection. However, you can't just hide in your trenches if you want to win... The downside is that many scenarios are much the same: one side with lots of units in their trenches to attack with, the other with a few units to defend its trenches. The two major expansions provide more variety, though.

Tom was amused by the idea of fighting over a dead man, so we played scenario 246 Verdun (Le Mort Homme) from the French Army Expansion. This uses some of the extra unit types introduced with this expansion, adding to the variety. And the scenario is interesting with two hills (one of which provides the title) for the Germans to occupy as well as the French trenches. The Germans are also "racing against time" - the French player can use a 'Recon' card to gain a victory medal.

Tom drew the French, giving me the job of attacking. And I had several useful cards to do just this. First, though, I thought I'd soften him up with my (off-board) artillery. As usual, this had no effect - you have to be lucky for the artillery to do some damage, but it can be devastating when it succeeds.

So I threw my right wing forward to sieze Hill 304, as shown below (my right is left in the picture - the colours aren't clear in the picture, but the black German units have icons facing right while the dark blue French face left). I got the French out of their 'Fortified Positions' initially, killing two units. Tom gained a medal for a Recon card, hence the 2:1 score shown (righthand edge of the picture). Fighting went back and forth for a while before the Germans could claim their medal for there being no French units on the hill.
From gallery of Pevans

Time to try and do the same on my left wing by attacking Le Mort Homme in the same fashion. The French defenders here held on while their remaining troops gathered below Hill 304. I finally cleared Le Mort Homme but, before I could get the medal at the start of my next turn, the French attacked Hill 304. Eliminating a German unit and taking away my medal for Hill 304 saw the French win 6:3, as is about to happen in the picture below.
From gallery of Pevans

It was actually much closer than that scoreline suggests, with Tom getting two medals for "racing against time" and that two-medal swing at the end. Well, that's my excuse.

Switching sides left me trying to repeat Tom's defensive success. Again the German attack came in on Hill 304. My French threw them back, albeit taking casualties into the bargain. Here's that position with six French units left to defend against 11 Germans.
From gallery of Pevans

German troops had also been advancing on the French right to threaten Le Mort Homme. They were joined by soldiers from the centre trench to make six German units facing two French. When the attack came, the Germans eliminated the one French unit on the hill and got into the French trench. However, they were deprived of their two positional medals by sneaky card play (sending the German troops on Le Mort Homme back to base) and a carefully positioned machine gun.

The battle for Le Mort Homme continued for a few rounds, but the hill was eventually taken by Tom's Germans to win 6:5. Here is that final assault - the Germans just need to wait for their next turn to get their medal.
From gallery of Pevans

It was a much closer score this time - and only one "racing against time" medal for the French, I might add. But the French need to do better than exchanging a unit for a unit. And a convincing win for Tom overall.

There's a more detailed account (but without pictures) on commandsandcolors.net.
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