A fast review, without explaining the rules.
I like war games. But I can barely play them. What people think is a simple beer and pretzel game is what I consider just fine for me. After that it's too complex. (That's ironic that I like Arkham Horror. But then I play it solo over the course of a WEEK.)
I also like solitaire games because ....well...I'm not really social. Yes. I am a closet geek gamer. My number one attribute for buying a house was that it have an unfinished basement so I can lay out 4 to 6 gaming tables. (ok. I lied. Really it's location, price and quality. But I always assume those).
With both of these things in mind, I must say I pretty much ...like... the game. I played the introduction and LOVED it. It's complex like a standard wargame. But it is easy enough for me to still work with it. This game is easy to play solo. You just play both sides. With the rules, you can actually get some surprises.
What I like about it:
The map. It has tons of reminders of the rules. Instead of digging back into the book, I can reference the charts. It is also beautiful. It almost looks like an actual roadmap of the area. It's nice enough to hang on the wall.
The units. I don't really have to know the specific name of the unit to hook to specific rules. I just have to know one of the 3 types of units: armor, foot infantry, mech infantry. Now there is a special SS unit. But it is easily identifiable. There is also an artillery unit. But it doesn't go on the map. So that doesn't count.
What I HATE about it: The map. Yes! It's a love-hate relationship.
The map areas are not defined well.
There are not hexes in this game. Instead you have areas where your units reside. This is great except, you CAN'T see the borders of each area. If you look at the map in the images, you can see tiny numbers. These are your only clue to discern one area from the other. From there, you need to judge what the area is. It takes a few seconds to do this. Now imagine performing this little task 30 times per 6 impulses for one turn. OW! I'll give a better explanation, try playing chess on a board with no squares. It's about the same. I do have a solution though.
The map is not flat.
The map is folds out. It is simple poster paper. It is not mounted on a game board. The folds of the board interfere with the placement of the units. One bump can easily move all of the pieces of the board. This problem is easily solved with a piece of plexiglass or a poster protector. Don't let this deter you.
The map areas (that I can't really see) are too small to hold the units. On an area I need to place: 3 German units, 3 allied units, a blown bridge marker, 3 dig in markers, and 1 bridge build attempt markers. That is 11 units. The tiny space can hold 3 little square pieces of cardboard. Hey. If I put all of that in an area how can I see the edges of the area?
I have a solution to the map areas being too small and hard to see.
1. Download the map here.
2. Drop it into a jpg or bmp editor. (MS Paint for me).
3. Use black spray paint to "paint" the borders of the areas.
4. Double the size of the bitmap. In MS Paint, you just use the image attributes option. This makes it about 20 pages.
5. Print it out on a COLOR printer. Print it on sticky paper, or thick paper.
6. Lay out the 20 pages on a big old table.
Now the areas are defined and twice as big.
Please realize that my problems with the game are just my opinion. Others may not have a problem at all with it. I also had a way around it. Now why would I spend time writing a review and spend time working out my issues with the game? I like this game. It's a wargame that I can play. It's not too complex for me. It's fun.
You can stack the counters in the spaces.
Use plexiglass to cover the map.
Those are the old tried and true methods.
I like your your idea too.
I agree this is a fun playable war game.
Many people dismiss it as a good bulge game because it does not have rules explicitly limiting the Germans due to fuel shortages. I believe the designer defended this with the way the stacking rules work and how the roads get jammed with units and slow the German attack. He calls it an abstraction. Shrug.
I think it's loads of fun. If you think it's fun solotaire, I highly recommend you play face to face ( or even via Cyberboard or VASL ). Talk about surprises. It's desparate on both sides for the whole game.
Another additional comment on the map. When playing the 5th army scenario I realized I needed the Germans to take over about 10 different citys, victory areas. The cities were not easily found. I referred to the original game map (not my double size one), because its resolution was better. Once I found the location, I put a dice on the spot, on the big map.
1. Because my version of the map is bigger, I would place a marker on the victory area and still have room for combat units.
2. I have a lot of dice. It is nice to see them in use.
3. In the scenario you get 2 points for Germans holding an uncontested area, and one point for a contented area. Fine. The dice are numbered one to six.
Another note about my big map. It doesn't fit on a 6 by 3 foot table. It is too square. So I only used part of the map, the bottom part. If I needed to access the top half, I would just use the original map. Oh yes. That original map is still used for all the nice charts on it.
I took the map to Office Depot and we folded it so that only the map itself was showing. The map is very nearly square, and blowing it up to 157% gave me a 3x3' map that is very easy to read and has plenty of room for the counters. Slipping the original map underneath this, so just the charts are showing (which don't need to be blown up), then putting plexi over the whole thing gives me a great playing space.