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Modern Land Battles: Target Acquired» Forums » General

Subject: Modern Land Battles - initial impressions rss

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Steve Malczak
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So after a few years of waiting, Modern Land Battles finally arrived at my door on Friday evening - perfect timing for the weekly gaming and grilling we do at my house. I had read the rules a few weeks back when the game had listed as 'shipping' so I was pretty much good to go when we got it open and on the table.

Here are some initial impressions from 6 games (all two-player but with players rotating):

1) Overall feel was really good. This is a pretty tight game and the rules were very clear and understandable (an improvement over some previous DVG rulebooks).

2) The game feels very much like an 'action management' system. You can do just about anything you want at any time (attack, maneuver, reinforce, arty attack, refresh/draw cards) but each comes with the opportunity cost of not doing the other actions. It forces very efficient decision-making (which is a good thing IMO).

3) The different unit types have pretty good flavor and balance. Tanks are your heavy hitters, Mech and Motorized are your initial maneuver units to secure terrain, artillery is card efficient offence (they don't require a card to played to attack). But more on artillery later...

4) The different armies feel different enough to give some flavor. US/Russia/UK are 'top of the line' and have some expensive but powerful units whereas the Arab Coalition and particularly in the Insurgents are masses of weaker units. The Insurgents came as a surprise in one game to the Israelis since they have SO MANY maneuver units they were able to secure terrain card after terrain card for a fairly quick win. It felt VERY different than the earlier US vs Russia we had played.

There are a few things we noted which seemed off:

1) I believe the rules transposed the 'Arab Coalition' and the 'Insurgent' symbols. The Crescent Moon should be the Arabs and the crossed swords for the Insurgents. The unit mixes seem correct for that interpretation as well (Arabs have a lot of cast off Sov equipment while the Insurgents are loaded with 'dudes in jeeps' and WW2-vintage equipment (ZiS-2 field gun anyone?...)).

2) After our first game or two, Artillery fell out of favor and wasn't purchased. If both players purchase it to start, whomever goes first seems to have an advantage because they can just move their artillery up a row or two and smash the opposing arty (almost an auto-kill barring a defensive card). Sure the opposing player can usually turn around then kill the enemy artillery which is now in a vulnerable front line position, but at that point both sides have lost of the artillery, but the 2nd player had to commit an extra unit to get to that trade. We felt like artillery would feel a LOT better if it couldn't move and fire using the 'fire artillery' action. This would keep it more feeling like well...artillery...sit in the back and shell targets. If the opposing artillery wants to close into range, they better have some sort of defense (or good timing with actions) or risk being destroyed before they can fire.

3) One player felt that the bonuses for securing terrain might be a bit too powerful. A few lucky maneuver rolls can really stack things against you. Of course that is the same player who was overrun with the Insurgents and their masses of maneuver units so perhaps that was just the matchup at hand.

But overall, everyone enjoyed playing it and was looking forward to playing again. I think we will house-rule the artillery or else it will likely be extinct from our battlefields but ther than that, everything felt pretty solid from a gameplay perspective.

I would definitely recommend this game if you are looking for a light/quick Modern Combat-themed card game where efficiency and action-management are rewarded.
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Scott Key
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Yeah, my first play was really satisfying.

"U.S." vs Pan-Arab. Pan-Arab win. I actually feel like my cheap Pan-Arab atillery (2 force cards worth) helped win the day by making attacks that did not require Action cards whichwhittled away at the US mobile units (Bradleys and Strykers)while the T-62s took on the small number of US Tanks. The Arabs focused on eliminating units while the US focused on Terrain. Gaining vp by eliminating expensive US units won the day.... this time.

I do wonder if lots of small units have a real advantage over few expensive units. I have run up against something kind of similar in Modern Naval Battles:GW.....

Insurgents & Pan-Arab were definitely flip-flopped.

So far totally worth the money.

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Dan Verssen
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I'm glad that you guys are enjoying it! We generally wanted to give each nationality their own feel. The 1st world countries are more expensive, but their units are multi-purpose. The third world countries units are less expensive and you can get 15 of them to battle the three U.S. units.

-Kevin
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David in Sydney (now in Coffs)
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I'm still waiting for mine to arrive.

In the interim - anyone writing a review/session report?
 
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Scott Key
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I've played 4 or 5 games solo so far. May review after a few more. BUT I received a bunch of pre-orders all at the same time so that may take a while. I will say I'm very favorably impressed. Sorry i can't say more now.
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David in Sydney (now in Coffs)
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I like the Raid action card! It can be powerful in that it allows a Small Arms force to attack Deep, but they still need to get hits to be effective in their raid.
It is a simple, effective, way of modelling all sorts of "deep" attacks.
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David in Sydney (now in Coffs)
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Please post when you have played some asymmetric forces - as that is quite a factor in many of the conflicts in the last 60 yrs
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Scott Key
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Last game of MLB:TA I played was Pan-Arab vs Insurgent. Bit of a walk over for the Pan-Arabs. Before that British vs PanArab & US vs PanArab which seemed more balanced once I got the hang of how best to use the First World armies.
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David in Sydney (now in Coffs)
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Great!
Spill the beans!
How is best to use 1st world armies?
arrrh
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monsieur houbigant
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Got mine today !!

The game looks great - components top notch - the counters are particularly good , cards usual DVG quality.

Set up a quick Egypt v Israel 1973 battle where I had to create forces from what was available during the period -
Egypt 1973
INFANTRY : BMP 1 (MECH)
ARMOR : PT76 , T55 , T62
ARTILLERY : D30
Israel 1973
INFANTRY : M113 (MECH) M3 (MOTOR)
ARMOR : AML 90 , M51 , CENTURION
ARTILLERY : L33

The game has great potential for creating historical / hypothetical scenarios.

Looking forward to the expansions ...



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Scott Key
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It seems like First World armies can get a bit more of an advantage by making a Flanking attack. The Superiority tokens plus the inherent bonus of some of the better weapons allow the Missile and Cannon units to take out the best the Third World has to offer. I dont load up the NATO forces with a lot of heavy units initially but a Tank Battalion or two brought on as reinforcements can really unbalance the opposition.

Of course killing an Abrams gets the opposition lots of vp.

Maybe?

whistle
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David in Sydney (now in Coffs)
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At least a week before Australia post gets it to me! cry

I liked the idea of being able to do historical, even if you sometimes have to mix nations cards.

I'll give the string flanking force a go.
 
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Scott Key
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David

Would it in anyway unbalance the game to mix cards from different forces? For example a NATO force of mixed UK & US cards?

Also
Was leg infantry ever considered for the game
 
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David in Sydney (now in Coffs)
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I believe that it wouldn't unbalance the game, but it could make for less "flavour" in that both sides might look the same with the best of forces and no hard decisions.

An early version had "pure" leg infantry and rules for limited manoeuvre ability and transport (incl helicopter) and...
Along with air defence etc...

I think that Dan and co made the right decision to keep the focus where they did.
It also leaves room for expansions... whistle


 
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David in Sydney (now in Coffs)
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Talenn wrote:


2) After our first game or two, Artillery fell out of favor and wasn't purchased. If both players purchase it to start, whomever goes first seems to have an advantage because they can just move their artillery up a row or two and smash the opposing arty (almost an auto-kill barring a defensive card). Sure the opposing player can usually turn around then kill the enemy artillery which is now in a vulnerable front line position, but at that point both sides have lost of the artillery, but the 2nd player had to commit an extra unit to get to that trade. We felt like artillery would feel a LOT better if it couldn't move and fire using the 'fire artillery' action. This would keep it more feeling like well...artillery...sit in the back and shell targets. If the opposing artillery wants to close into range, they better have some sort of defense (or good timing with actions) or risk being destroyed before they can fire.



A way of addressing this that I recommend is to use the optional rule "Range Defence" on page 13-14
If your artillery is in row 3 then his artillery will have to roll 2 higher which is a substantial increase in likelihood of avoiding hits. And those that do get through do not neglect possible Defense Cards (page 11).
Lastly if he is hammering your artillery then he isn't hammering your other units...

Let us know how the optional rule plays out with your group.
 
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David in Sydney (now in Coffs)
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The insurgents just had five successes in a row...
The US player Flank Manouvred for 5 successes and ran into an insurgents mine field. The insurgents terrain Manouvred enough successes to claim the heights and set superiority to 0, the US missiles put four hits on an insurgent M113 that pulled back and survived damaged, then an Insurgent AML-90 managed to destroy another Striker in the terrain flank, which opened the way for insurgent recon (drone) M113 to sucessfully raid the US M109.... arrrh
 
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Scott Key
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Today it was Israel vs Insurgents.

Israel won. I thought it was going to be an insurgent walk over: Insurgents had 9 cards, Israelis 5. It was hard fought and everything came right down to the wire with extremely different strategist by both sides.

A lot of maneuvering and countering over the Heights terrain card. The insurgents had a large number of superiority counters and did not want anyone to claim this (since it sets Superiority to 0). Excellent excellent battle.
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Ralph B
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Steve, thanks for the write-up.

I'd like to ask what the unit size is.

thanks,
Ralph
 
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David in Sydney (now in Coffs)
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I'll leave it to Steve to reply about the forces in his battle.

One thing I really like about MLB is that it doesn't try to define how many soldiers/vehicles/guns a force is, nor how well trained or motivated.
It leaves that part of the story to our imagination. :-)

Currently my imagination has a force of about company size - 10 to 30 vehicles, 100 odd soldier, 4-8 artillery piece. Which means I would be either a Battalion (task orientated) or slightly higher commander if playing the US but a Regimental/Brigade commander if commanding Russians. arrrh
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