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Subject: My first game of RE--a solo playthough of Scenario 2 rss

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M King
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It was spring break this week at the university where I teach, so I decided to take advantage of this extra time to do solo plays of two games I’d been wanting to try. I gave Sergeants D-Day a spin on Monday, and settled down to try The Razor’s Edge on Tuesday. I like to solo a game before playing it with others. You can’t tell if you understand a game until you really sit down and move the pieces around.

Set up was pretty fast. Especially when compared to Sergeants. The few counters on the board are easily found, the activation counters are chucked into a cup, and the damage counters are placed in another cup. Maybe 10 minutes to get set up, presuming you have things organized with baggies or plano.

I’ll post a picture if it passes review. My PnP version turned out okay. I especially like the boards. I printed them on full page labels ($13.00 for 100 on ebay) that I attached to Dollar Store foam core. My counters are less wonderful. I wanted to save money so I attached the counter labels to some thin corrugated cardboard I had lying around. This was a mistake—do not use corrugated cardboard no matter how cheap it is. It’s hard to cut and the counters end up too lightweight. I plan to redo these, though I’ll wait a little bit to see if anyone does a graphically upgraded version of them.

The scenario has some rudimentary solitaire rules to run the Germans, so I took the Americans and prepared to storm the chapel. I got one soldier into the chapel and he took cover behind a pew. Entering the space allowed the Germans to make reaction checks to try to take a shot at him. I forgot that after the first reaction check, subsequent reaction checks only roll one die (as opposed to rolling dice equal to your soldier’s initiative rating). The second soldier took a wound trying to get in the doorway, so I started looking for alternate strategies. I noticed another door into the space located almost next to the defending Germans. I sent two soldiers around that way while my other troops kept the defenders busy.

I’ll spare you the die-roll by die-roll account. We traded shots, but few got through the cover of the heavy wooden pews. I could see the scene in my head , with gun shots blasting down the long church aisle, ricocheting off the stone walls of the chapel. This game really conjures up great narratives and very cinematic visuals in your imagination.

Finally, (having become comfortable with the activation, movement, and ranged combat rules) I decided to chuck a grenade at the defenders. My soldier threw the grenade, the attempt at reaction fire by the Germans failed, and it landed in between the German defenders. It was just one hex too far from all of them for them to try and throw it away. One German tried to jump out of the way of the blast, but reaction fire from the Americans cut him down as he made his move. The blast lightly wounded one of the other defenders, and caused him to turn away from the blast. By then my flanking group had reached the other door. One of those soldier’s activation chits came up next, and I rolled to see if he could take two actions. For the first time in the game, this worked, and my soldier rushed in and attacked the German who’d just turned away from the blast. Since I was coming from outside his LOS, he couldn’t defend himself. I pulled a combat results chit and it said KIA. On the next activation, the other flanking soldier got two actions, which yielded a move and a point blank shot on the last of the Germans in the chapel. Again, I could really see this play out in my mind. The grenade toss, the leap to avoid the blast. The gunfire catching him in mid-leap. The grenade blast. The soldiers rushing in through the smoke and debris, catching the stunned defenders.

At that point I called it a game. I had plenty of troops to take care of the last German hiding behind a door, and I needed to get on with my day.
My impressions of this game were HUGELY positive. The rulebook, despite the occasional typo, is actually very clear about the game’s mechanics. The player aids really have almost all the information you need when playing. After playing with some 8 ½ x 11 copies of the aids, I took them to Office Depot and had them printed on 11x17 Cardstock and Laminated. They are a LOT easier to read when printed the way they are supposed to be.

The game played very smoothly and quickly. The whole scenario took maybe 30-40 minutes. I can’t say for sure because I was too wrapped up in the game. I loved the cinematic feel to the action. With a rule set that is very clean and un-fiddly, the game generated actions that made sense and told a story. With some tactical WW2 games, I have a hard time connecting to the game’s narrative due to the squad/platoon level scale. But the man-to-man scale of this game makes it easy to connect with what’s happening on the board.

To any WW2 tactical combat fans out there, I highly recommend giving it a try. I’m no great shakes at DIY stuff, but I managed to create a decent PnP copy of the game. Maybe print one map and a few counters and give it a try before going all in.

The main reaction I had after playing the game, was how sad I was that this game never got published in the high-production-value version it deserves. It is really a shame that this game will not reach the many, many gamers who would have a great time playing it.
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Sean McCormick
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Thanks for the detailed AAR. Have you played any other games set at this particular level? How would it compare with something like Soldiers: Man-to-Man Combat in World War II, for instance?
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M King
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I haven't played Soldiers. I owned it for a short while, but never played it. The rules were pretty intimidating, as I recall. I remember it had a system that modeled the troops's morale, and there was some sort of bidding mechanic for activation. My impression is that RE models a lot of this with very simple mechanics (chit draws, reaction tests). Also, if I recall correctly, the boards were in a scale that covered a lot of ground on each map. RE has maps that seem scaled to fit an engagement between two squads or half squads engaged in an up close battle. I played Sniper back in the day, but can't imagine playing it now with its written orders for each man each turn. I played Sergeants D-day, but haven't played it enough to make a decision about it. It has a nifty activation mechanic and combat is resolved smoothly and quickly. But I can't tell whether or not it abstracts things so much that you lose a sense of the narrative. It's such a beautiful and innovative game, I'm going to give it several more plays before making a choice. Ultimately I think both RE and SDD will stay in my collection. There are just so few man to man level WW2 games out there. That's one of the reasons I've been following Both these games throughout their development.
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Kurt R
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Thanks for the detailed report; very well done. I must admit to my interest being piqued by this one for the man-to-man focus, though I'm wondering if I really want to open a new channel of WWII tactical games with the CoH solo module on the horizon.

I must say, the nature of it does seem to render a movie-like narrative. That was a great story. I don't think solitaire is really a viable way to play though, is it, unless you do the "each side to their best" (which I don't like)?
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Brett Schaller
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I wish there were a place similar to Artscow, where you could just tell them, "Hey, print this game for me." and have it arrive in the mail.

I'd love to try this game, and I probably will eventually. But I printed out all of the designer's last game (Outlaws - both editions!) and I dread trying to do it again.
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M King
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The chit draw activation gives the game a variability that makes solitaire interesting. I generally don't play solitaire more than a few learning turns, but I enjoyed this so much I can see myself doing it again. I do want to play this against a real opponent, though, since that's where this game will shine.
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M King
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Brett Schaller wrote:
I wish there were a place similar to Artscow, where you could just tell them, "Hey, print this game for me." and have it arrive in the mail.

I'd love to try this game, and I probably will eventually. But I printed out all of the designer's last game (Outlaws - both editions!) and I dread trying to do it again.


There is a place where you can get a printed copy. It's mentioned in one of the forums for this game.
 
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Brett Schaller
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Thanks! I will look into that.
 
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Kurt R
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Brett Schaller wrote:
Thanks! I will look into that.

Yeah, the PnP "get a quote" geeklist has an entry for it (sorry, don't have the link handy). As I recall, $12/board, $60 counters, $6 rules. Unless I decided to print the boards myself, that's a bit too much.
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M King
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Yeah, that's steep. Mine was maybe $25-30 altogether.
 
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Brian Knoll
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oneoldgamer wrote:

I forgot that after the first reaction check, subsequent reaction checks only roll one die (as opposed to rolling dice equal to your soldier’s initiative rating).


My understanding of this: only if the reacting unit is successful on their initiative check and takes an action do subsequent checks for that soldier drop to one die.

I felt skepticism when reading about the ability for multiple soldiers to roll multiple times for reaction checks. When I played I found it went quickly. Also the penalties for trying to react a second time (rolling only 1 die and the soldier having to reload on their next turn) definitely presented an interesting and meaningful decision for gameplay.
 
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