Recommend
28 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

Screaming Eagles in Holland» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A lengthy review. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Peter Vrabel
United Kingdom
Cambridge
UK
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I can tell what you're thinking, you're thinking that this review was written by someone with extensive experience in the TCS system, someone who's played through the whole game several times.

But shame (The terrible, terrible shame) compels me to admit that (Sob!) I wasn't able to finish the campaign game. It wasn't that I ran out of time, or that 'real life'(tm) intervened, it was just that the game was too long, too massive. I just wasn't manly enough.

You back away, trying not to meet my eye. Why should you listen to such a pathetic person as me? What gives me the right to tell you what you should think of a game?

But don't judge me! This game is more than any mortal human can cope with. I may have only played a quater of this game (20 turns out of 77) but I still have over 15 hours of experience playing it.

Yes, that's right eurogamers, an estimated playing time of 60 hours. This is a monster game. A monster that crushes your puny wooden cubes and flimsy cards beneath it's massive steel treads*. This game, with it's numberlesss counters (Well, okay, 840), it's two 22x34 inch maps, it's 30 page rule book is quite simply the largest game I've ever played, and I regretfully admit, too much for me.

Screaming Eagles (Henceforth, SE) covers the fighting around Veghel in Holland by the 101st airborn division during operation Market Garden. The full campaign is two days, the 22nd and 23rd of September.

The allies have a large amount of excellent infantry. They're mainly 6-6-1s with a fire power of 6 (Excellent) a range of 6 (Standard) and a morale of 1 (Excellent, lower is better). And a decent amount of anti tank guns (Alas, only 57mm ones, which aren't really good enough against the german armour.) and a fair amount of okay tanks (Mainly Shermans and a few Fireflies, which is only equal in quality at best to the german tanks, and a good bit inferior when compared with the Panthers and Jagdpanthers)

The Germans are a motly bunch with quite a few 4-6-4 grenadiers. Which, with their morale of 4, are very brittle, and rather weak all round. There's also a bunch of Panzer Grendiers (8-6-3s) with many, many, halftracks. And a few excellent SS companies (6-6-1s). All in all, the Germans have the edge in numbers, but are at a disadvantage in quality when we compare the infantry. But the armour is both more plentiful and better than the allies', what with the swarms of Panthers.

Both sides have decent artillery, but the Allies have a great deal more amunition. Enough for over 300 missions, all told. This could lead to an awful lot of dice rolling, so you end up using a lot of 'Fast Fire' missions, where you increase the firepower, at the expense of extra ammunition consumtion.

The map, printed on paper as is usual for wargames, is rather attractive, and done in the typical, very clean looking, Gamers style. This being Holland, the terrain is very flat. Very, very flat. No, really, I'm not kiddding. There's only one hill, and that's only a single hex. The dykes add a bit of a man made elavation, as do the levees bordering the canal that runs across the entire map. But mainly, it's flat. But that's good, because it means the TCS rules that cover LOS for elevations, don't apply here. And that's good, because those rules are rubbish to the power of rubbish. Let us speak no more of them.

The terrain is dotted with villages, woods, marshes and the Aa river that runs parallel to the canal, so despite it's flatness, the map isn't boring. And the four bridges that cross the canal and river make excellent objectives (The Germans are attempting to destroy them, to delay the XXX Corps from reaching Arnhem in time.) Much of the map is covered by 'Wet Ground' which is very slow going for tanks (Confining the to the very plentiful road/track net) but it's also 'Partially Protective' terrain, which makes attacking Dug In troops a bit easier that it would be otherwise.

The counters. Meh. Okay, but nothing special.

The Allies' troops dribble in as reinforcements through out the first day, and the Germans enter from two different directions, leading to a rather fluid situation of manoever, attack, and counter attack. A very interesting situtation.

The rules. I used version 4.09 rules, which are still in draft form. And, without even playing v3.1, I can tell that they are superior. The new battalion morale rules are excellent, showing how resistance will slowly crumble as losses mount. No longer will the last few platoons hold out for a few turns against overwhelming firepower. And simce morale is no longer doubles in Assault Combat (When you move into an enemy occupied hex) it's a lot more worthwhile as a solution to dug in troops.

Op Sheets. Op Sheets are cool. Basically, you draw your battle plans for individual units onto a map, and wait a bit until they become implemented, and then you units can finally try to execute your plans. This really limits a units ability to respond to things it wouldn't be able to in real life, and it also gives a much better feel for how things would actually play out historially. Units move in definite 'attacks' rather that just swirling round at the players whim.

They also require planning ahead, if you draw up a plan for defence before you start attacking, there'll be less of delay when you finally take your objective, and you'll be better prepared for counter attacks.

Even better, since it takes a while for a battered batallion to recover Batallion Morale, it becomes a good idea to withdraw battered troops from the frontline and let the rest a bit. This is something no other game I've played has simulated. This, combined with the pause before orders execute, means that some of the time, there's a flurry of activity when a village is assaulted, then a period of limited action, whiile the two sides make plans and recover and move their troops. Which is good.

Another good thing is that it teaches force conservation. A step loss lost at 10am is still lost at 10pm, and can never be recovered. And because the campaign is pretty long, you really want to preserve your forces for later attacks.

So, good: This feels very historical. I haven't fought any WWII battles lately, so I can't be sure that it's more realistic, but it feels more realistic. That's the important thing. Also good, the ebb and flow, the attack and counter attack, is fascinating to play out. And that's soemthing you don't get in s smaller game like, say, ASL. It's an interesting battle in an interesting situation with interesting OOBs. The counter dentity is mostly reasonable.

The bad: The game is frickin' hugh. And slow, oh yes, slow. The battles are very attritional, you're not going top see any quick brilliant moves in a single turn. The whole thing can feel like a slow grind. And though this is really its only problem, it's a pretty major problem, the next time I attempt this game, I'll probably play one of the shorter scenarios, one of the ones with only 20 turns or so. I'll probably manage to complete that. Compare this with, say, ASL, where you can polish off a scenario in an evening. You get a lot more game for your time with ASL.

Some final pet peeves.
1) 'Wet Ground' is almost as protective as 'Light Buildings' which is what most buildings are made of, which feels wrong.
2) The series rules say that the half tracks can't transport troops. The historical notes justify this by saying that the troops in the actual battle dismounted and fought on foot. Fair enough, but a total ban on carriers carrying just seemed wrong (Yes, again), so I houseruled that the halftracks could transport troops only on a Move Op Sheet.
3) Almost anything can spot for artillery. In don't know how historical this is, but I appreciate that Forward Observers would add a fair amount of rules. I still don't like it.

My game was played solo, in a period stretching over several days. And I'm not concinved it'd be that great with another player. The defending player seemed to ahve very little to do at times, which could lead to a lot of downtime.

When I quit, the Germans had Dug In a substantial force in Veghel and were about to blow the North Aa river bridge. Maintaining their hold on Veghel, which seemed probable, would be enough to give them a minor victory.

In summary: I give this game [some number between 6 and 8]/10. Which roughly translates to: "I'd like to play this game again someday."

Thank you for your time. You've been a wonderful audience. Try the soup.
Please tip generously.

*Wait a minute, I like Eurogames a lot, why am I sneering at them? Oh well.
18 
 Thumb up
0.06
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
LordStrabo wrote:
Much of the map is covered by 'Wet Ground' which is very slow going for tanks (Confining the to the very plentiful road/track net) but it's also 'Partially Protective' terrain, which makes attacking Dug In troops a bit easier that it would be otherwise.


Two things:

First, "Confining the to the" is a typo (I hope).

Second, huh? Partly Protective terrain makes attacking Dug In troops easier?

LordStrabo wrote:
Even better, since it takes a while for a battered batallion to recover Batallion Morale, it becomes a good idea to withdraw battered troops from the frontline and let the rest a bit. This is something no other game I've played has simulated. This, combined with the pause before orders execute, means that some of the time, there's a flurry of activity when a village is assaulted, then a period of limited action, whiile the two sides make plans and recover and move their troops. Which is good.


We're definitely seeing the same thing in our campaign game of "A Frozen Hell," which is even longer (five days, four nights, half-hour turns for all turns, day or night, so around 200 turns). On of the Soviet battalions hit a Battalion Morale of 6, which meant that its units were in danger of surrender/disintegration whenever they took fire.

LordStrabo wrote:
Some final pet peeves.
1) 'Wet Ground' is almost as protective as 'Light Buildings' which is what most buildings are made of, which feels wrong.


Against some weapons, it would be significantly more effective. Artillery, rounds from high-velocity tank rounds, infantry guns, all those sorts of explosive rounds will dive into the muck before detonating. That really inhibits their shrapnel effect, which is what really does damage to troops in the "open." For high-velocity tank guns with flat trajectories, the vertical wall of a building makes an excellent target. When you're trying to fire at troops on flat ground, a minor error in elevation becomes a huge error in range. Sketch out the geometry and you'll see. In WWII, range estimation was far more difficult than azimuth estimation, so longs and shorts are the big concern.

Incidentally, during the battle show in A Frozen Hell, the two feet of snow on the ground rendered the Soviet 50mm mortar bombs almost completely ineffective.[/q]

LordStrabo wrote:
2) The series rules say that the half tracks can't transport troops.


Ummm... do you mean "the game-specific rules"? The series rules certainly let you transport infantry in half-tracks.

BTW, I suspect the rule is there because playtesting showed the German players taking advantage of the mobility to pursue unbalancing strategies that only made sense when you had perfect knowledge of the American positions.

LordStrabo wrote:
3) Almost anything can spot for artillery. In don't know how historical this is, but I appreciate that Forward Observers would add a fair amount of rules. I still don't like it.


Well, every company commander in the U.S. Army could call artillery, and the platoon commanders could often do so as well (depending on exactly where radios were allocated, whether wire had been laid for field phones, etc.). The platoon commanders would often be calling the company commanders, who would be repeating the information to the artillery over their longer-ranged company radios.

Playing AFH, I can tell you that you don't want to add FOs to the game (AFH has them for the Soviets). They're an immense pain in the rear, and if you have them in realistic quantities for the Germans and the Americans, the game will get even slower. You really have to think about where you're placing them, because they control such a large proportion of the firepower at your disposal. That slows the game even more, something it does not seem that you would appreciate.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Vrabel
United Kingdom
Cambridge
UK
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
elbmc1969 wrote:
LordStrabo wrote:
Much of the map is covered by 'Wet Ground' which is very slow going for tanks (Confining the to the very plentiful road/track net) but it's also 'Partially Protective' terrain, which makes attacking Dug In troops a bit easier that it would be otherwise.


Two things:

First, "Confining the to the" is a typo (I hope).

Second, huh? Partly Protective terrain makes attacking Dug In troops easier?


What I meant was that it made attacking troops Dug In the villages easier. Because you're advancing over Partially Protective terrain to attack targets in Partially Protective terrain rather than advancing over Open terrain to attack targets in Partially Protective Terrain.

Quote:


...

LordStrabo wrote:
3) Almost anything can spot for artillery. In don't know how historical this is, but I appreciate that Forward Observers would add a fair amount of rules. I still don't like it.


Well, every company commander in the U.S. Army could call artillery, and the platoon commanders could often do so as well (depending on exactly where radios were allocated, whether wire had been laid for field phones, etc.). The platoon commanders would often be calling the company commanders, who would be repeating the information to the artillery over their longer-ranged company radios.

Playing AFH, I can tell you that you don't want to add FOs to the game (AFH has them for the Soviets). They're an immense pain in the rear, and if you have them in realistic quantities for the Germans and the Americans, the game will get even slower. You really have to think about where you're placing them, because they control such a large proportion of the firepower at your disposal. That slows the game even more, something it does not seem that you would appreciate.


No, no, I would not appprectaite that. But after reading your explanations, SE's system makes a lot more sense.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alan Richbourg
United States
Arlington
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
This is Kyoshi, our adopted Shiba Inu.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
30 pages, pfft! The latest rule book I wrote is over 100 pages. Heh. Anyway, nice review! We need games with good rules for planned orders and recovering morale.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.