This report covers 2 battles: one on 1st December and the other on 12th. We usually play a scenario twice in a single session, changing sides between games, which saves on setup time and nicely handles unbalanced battles. We use WBC rules to determine the overall victor. However the setup time and battle duration for an Overlord scenario is greater, plus we were still learning the rules.
The goal of playing the Overlord variant was not to involve more layers but to experience a longer a deeper game. The games played were certainly longer, mostly due to the increased number of medals required, but not particularly deeper than the regular game. The reason for choosing the Ardennes scenario, rather than Omaha for example, was to see what a large tank battle would be like. Also we’d had a disappointing experience with the single-board scenario (possibly due to a rules misunderstanding wrt bunkers on hills that has now been clarified by reading the FAQ) which resulted in 2 miserable defeats for the Allies.
We have found that strategy choice largely comes down to the hand you are dealt. The Axis started with 2 Armour Assault cards (a 3rd arrived later), an Air Power (which counts as Artillery Bombardment in this scenario) and other strong cards for the left-hand section. An attack on Sibert with the resulting 3 medals seemed obvious.
There was a brief battle around Moircy as the Allies attempted to secure the medal for that town. Successful Axis infantry attacks supported by armour left only a single unit there. The Allies turned there attention to Remagne.
An Axis counter attack in the centre, with armoured shelling from the hills, was a failure. Once the town was occupied they stayed that way. However this was a side show to what was happening elsewhere.
The Axis used section cards to advance to within striking distance of Sibert. However despite the inherent resilience of the Panzers and the use of 3 Armour Assault cards they cannot secure the whole town. The Allied player brings in reinforcements from the centre and armour units, reduced in strength but not eliminated, cause problems for the advancing Axis. Eventually after inflicting heavy casualties the town is taken (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/118865) by infantry that have advanced in support of the armour.
This proves to be a more balanced affair than the last session both in terms of score and distribution of action.
The Allies attack Moircy. The Axis counter attack is repulsed mostly due to good artillery support. The medal is secure.
The Allied attempt to take Remagne is less successful. The race to the town is won by the Axis and removing them proves impossible. An Allied amour advance through the forest in the centre, an attempt to encircle the Axis infantry and intercept supporting amour, also fails. The Axis counter attack is devastating.
Meanwhile on the Allied right there is no obvious attack, simply the difficulty of establishing a defensive position around Sibert and avoid getting pinned at the back (where retreats become eliminations). When the Axis advance finally arrives it fails to take the objective. But mounting casualties, especially as a result of the disastrous action in the centre, take their toll on the Allies.
Playing overlord single-handed is perhaps a little insane. The shear speed at which the battle can change, especially if an opponent uses 3 cards, is exhausting. A lengthy debriefing, and some beer, was required after the first battle.
I can’t fail to be a little disappointed with the Overlord variant, at least with this particular scenario. It seemed we were just hitting each other with bigger sticks. However I suspect a scenario where action must take place across the whole battlefield, in a beach landing for instance, could be more interesting.