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After Action Report: Assault on Hoth


“Fleet of Star Destroyers coming our of hyperspace, sector four,”

“Their primary target will be the power generators. Re-route all available power to the energy shield. We’ve got to hold them until the transports are away. Prepare for ground Assault! …We’d better start the evacuation.”

“Imperial walkers sighted on the north ridge! Two klicks from Echo Base! Colonel Rieekanm, initiate a rearguard action... you have all five companies at your immediate disposal… you must hold them off until the transports are away... do you copy? Over.”



So begins a game of the beer-and-pretzels classic Assault on Hoth. This time I’ll be playing the hard-pressed galactic Rebellion, trying to stall an entire Imperial Assault Group long enough for the fifth transport to escape the blockade of the Hoth System. My opponent is my gaming pal [and now even my neighbor] John, and it’s my pleasure to teach him this 1988 classic from West End Games

John commands a pair of AT-ST scout walkers and four titanic AT-AT carriers. Those AT-AT’s also carry twelve platoons of stormtroopers, and four of those are heavy-weapon equipped. He sets up on the North edge of the map. I have a rag-tag assortment of rebels to defend with: six immobile laser towers, 14 rebel troopers, and five snowspeeders.

Having played once before, I know that I have some real strategic decisions right at game set-up. Do I try to throw a lot of units right on the front edge of my defensive line, hoping to bloody his nose before reinforcements arrive? Or perhaps stop him dead in his tracks in the middle of the board, before he can blow up the power grid? Another idea is to make a last-ditch stand at the shield generator itself, forgoing the power grid. I’ve also seen a rebel tactic of delaying with targets everywhere, but that seemed to just provide enough targets so that the Empire always killed a lot every turn and never had to slow down!

I quickly settled on a heavy defensive line in the middle of the board, I put most of my immobile laser guns on the eastern side, and heavy infantry on the western side, I had a lot of light infantry forward, but close enough to base tunnels to be evacuated as the Empire closed in [or so I thought].

And without much ado, the game began!

The game ticks along quite quickly [it uses the chit-pull activation system from VG’s Panzer Command]. There’s no hand management, so you just pull a card and move or fire the units listed. In our first run through the deck, my snowspeeders split up: a group of three along the east edge to slow down his main assault, and a group of two more to engage the ones going after my power grid. He plodded forward and took potshots at my infantry in the rough to no avail. The two events this deck were the first transport away [huzzah!] and the reinforcement AT-AT [oh dear…]. This represented a 25% increase in Imperial might on turn one, and the rebels put on a brave face and steeled their nerves.

Turns 2 and 3 saw my initial infantry line get chewed up in short order. Mostly they were ineffective anyhow, because the Stormtroopers mostly stayed huddled in their AT-AT’s. On the west edge, a pair of AT-AT’s advanced towards the Power Grid, and radio traffic revealed Luke and Dack were in different speeders and making ferocious direct hits on the AT-AT’s to little effect. Along the east side, a trio of AT-AT’s were detouring to the very edge of the valley, and a miracle shot with a tow cable sent one down in a crash!

As snowspeeders were harassing the lumbering AT-AT’s unmolested, the Imperials finally disembarked their infantry to provide cover [AT-AT’s are the only units in the game with facing and fire arcs]. Luke made several desperate shots with his blasters and tow cables, but to no effect. The Force was not with Luke today! The AT-AT’s here were being mercilessly attacked by the two best rebel units in the game, and were limping and charred but essentially unaffected. A timely droid repair helped keep one of these monsters going, The lead AT-AT made repeated shots against the Power Grid, but it held again and again. Finally, John had enough. He used his ‘Admiral Veers directs fire’ event card for a fistful of dice… which did the trick wonderfully. The power grid was down, and now the shield generator was easy prey.

With his mission on the west edge complete, all eyes turned to the other edge of the map. The two remaining AT-AT’s were hardly scathed and victory looked in his grasp. By this point we had worked though about half of the event deck, and still no sign of the other four ‘transport away’ cards or my second wave of snowspeeders.

I try to stall the Empire to the best of my ability. I marshal all remaining infantry via the tunnel system at Echo Base and send them out in two waves as a last-ditch effort. The second wave of speeders arrives, but can’t seem to close in fast enough. Word comes in over the radio that transport number two has escaped the blockade! A few persistent shots from a laser tower knock the blasters right off of an AT-AT, leaving only useful at squashing troops or towers [which in fact it proceeded to do!].

But in the final reckoning all these measures were a day late and a dollar short: the one unscathed AT-AT marched near enough to the shield generator to finish off the Rebellion once and for all.

It was a dark day for the Rebellion: while a few lives were saved, the military assets of the Rebels were cornered and destroyed en masse in the underground caverns of Echo Base. Admiral Veers was promoted the Commander of the Fleet, and Lord Vader had much good news for the Emperor that day.

 
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Robert Wesley
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Aberdeen
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Don't feel too bad, as I have ONLY been able to "Win" with the damm 'Rebels' ONCE in all of the times that I'd had those. Now, I'm talking about 'playing' this so MUCH, that we'd worn off the "faces" of the DICE so yeah, it got plenty of 'action' from it all.
robot~bleeep URRRRPP sqawwwkkk whir-r-r-r-"yeah, NO 'chit' R2D2!"
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Stephen Sekela
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Camp Lejeune
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Great Review!

Glad to see that other people enjoy this old title as much as I do.

I'd love to see a company come out with a re-make of this one (leaving most of the rules the same, but with cool/updated board and bits)

My dice, too, have a lot of the symbols rubbing off...

I think putting most of your defense in the middle of the board was a good call - too far to the front line, and your speeders won't be able to help your laser towers pound the Empire, leaving your towers open and alone to the punishing blasters. Set up too far back, and there may not be enough time to take out the Walkers before they destroy the power grid thingy...

Can't wait to play this one again!
 
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Ronster Zero
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Man, I want this game so bad.

I always loose this on Ebay to sniping!
 
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