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Subject: A Classic actually Improved rss

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Tony Doran
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A week ago I made some preliminary comments. Now I want to say a little more. First some basics for folks who have never seen either the original or the new version.

The game scale is:

10 miles/hex.

1 month per turn, and

The unit counters are primarily regiments/brigades, with some divisions and battalions.

The original game began in March, 1941, the new game starts in June 1940 and goes through then end in Tunisia with a possible ending as late as July 1943.

The original DF and TotF had a total of 400 counters between them, but fewer than 300 when you account for duplication of units in the two games.

What the new game has done, is included almost all the additions and modifications which came out in Moves magazine. Things like, the Fox Killed prequel (which was in S&T), desert raiders, use of ports and so forth. It has also added Torch and the preliminaries to the Tunisian campaign which did not appear in the original Trail of the Fox. One result is that DFD includes 560 counters, and the bulk of the increase in numbers lies in a very improved and more comprehensive Order of Battle.

Decision and Mr. Perello have included (online for download) a very extensive set of designer/developer notes which themselves include a complete pictorial order of battle, and a very complete pictorial comparison between the counters in the old games and the new ones.

The new game has a sequence of play which has more phases to allow more interaction between players during a turn. But it retains the reaction phases and (imo) improves on them by adding the ability for units to be put into reserve.

The new game has retained the original combat results table, with some very minor tweaks to increase attacker losses, also imo an improvement.

One problem with all North Africa games is the reinforcement and withdrawal of units on fixed schedules known to both players. The original designer, Richsrd Berg offered (in Moves) a variable table for the Commonwealth, but Axis reinforcements remained fixed.

Mr. Perello has created a comprehensive chart for arrivals and departures for both sides, and based on the events going on in adjacent theaters. It allows the players some ability to influence those off map events, and thereby change unit scheduling and the length of the game(which also effects victory conditions).

The supply rules have been normalized between the two earlier games, and somewhat simplified. They still retain the best of what they always did, which was to force long term planning, and careful movement to combat to keep units in supply during the fight.

With all this, the game plays quite similarly to the original, and that is a good thing to this old grognard.

In fact, I think this is an improvement on an original which was always excellent.
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Billie Kingfisher Jr
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Have the original games and wasn't going to bother with this update (as I have not always liked the newer versions of SPI games DG revised), but will reconsider buying this game now. Thanks.
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Tony Doran
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Well, I do recommend it, if you are a lover of North Africa games. The off map events charts are unique in the genre, so far as I know. It produces more variability in orders of battle than I have seen in any game on this subject. There jus seems to be more "depth" to the game than in its predecessors.
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Gustavo Sappo
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Hi Tony!

How is the solo play? Any chance to be good?

Thanks!
 
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Tony Doran
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I'm not finding any problems for solo other thAn what is always an issue. I play mostly solo anyhow. I have 13 North Africa games and this is fast becoming my favorite. The scope and depth created by the extension to Torch and the events matrix are just great improvements.
 
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Gustavo Sappo
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Great... It is in my shopping kart!
 
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Tony Doran
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Okay, so as I learn more about this game I am adding a little more here. This time it has to do with the interrelatedness of supply, the events matrix, and reinforcements.

As the player, you really have to do some planning long term for success in this game. If you trigger reinforcements by acting on the events matrix and the Middle East Command Tracks, you may find yourself with a really cool army which you cannot keep supplied in the field.

The Axis player especially is going to find another layer, which is that, even when he gets enough supply gathered he does not have adequate transportation to get the supply where he needs it. It's going to take a delicate balancing to get it right, and there is so much variation possible that there may well be more than one good enough solution (read: the game has good replayability potential).

One player has already put his own take on a player aid for looking at all the events possibilities. It's in the Files section.

A game which generates enough interest that folks are already creating structures to make its decision making processes easier, is definitely a game to give some time to.

I keep finding more nuances in gameplay, even just moving counters around and conducting ad hoc battles.

I note that the developer, Chris Perello has been very active dealing with questions over on Consimworld. I have seen only a couple which might turn into errata in the rules. Almost all are going to become informational additions to the Supplemental Material which is already online. Imagine that; we not only get living rules, we are also getting living designer/developer notes!

To repeat, this game has some real depth.
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Tony Doran
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Another interesting tidbit. The original Desert Fox simply did not deal with matters like the Long Range Desert Group, the SAS, and such. There were articles in Moves magazine which added such interesting things as desert patrols and detachments. In the Moves article the function of detachments was to slow an advancing enemy down while the main body retreated. That is now done with increased functionality and numbers of recce units.

The moves article on Desert Raiders had the player take them from the existing recce units (there were already too few recce units because of the limitations on countermix size in magazine games at that time). Plus, there were really no rules on what their usefullness might be.

DFD provides a number of units specifically designated as desert raiders. They have two functions in the game. One is control of the oases, most of which are off the map hexgrid. In addition, they can enter the hexgrid to raid bases (which was their main function during the war). This gives the player almost an entire subgame to play, off the map hexgrid. The oases are basically a point to point system of connected boxes, control of which allows these units to operated "behind enemy lines". And there is the real possibility that all this can actually have an effect in the larger game.

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Ken Kmak
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Tony,

Is The Legend Begins one of the 13 NA games you have?
 
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Tony Doran
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Panzer2C wrote:
Tony,

Is The Legend Begins one of the 13 NA games you have?


Yes, it is, and is my second favorite game on the subject. I have the third edition, and have even used the rules and counters on my Campaign for North Africa maps. Great fun.
 
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Darrell Pavitt
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I was sceptical about this reprint, having been disappointed by the original.

Reading through the (extensive) online design notes convinced me that all the things I disliked (primarily the supply system) had been addressed.

Fundamental problems in combining the original games had also been eliminated (Desert Fox infantry were half the strength of Trail of the Fox infantry).

The new event system is a major change which will no doubt deal with the arrivals and withdrawals problem.

There is surprisingly little errata for a DG product.

Biggest problem is the physical quality of the rules- the paper is very thin, and that includes the combat tables! Download the online rules and print out some spare copies. It would have been better if released as a boxed game, with card handouts, and the designers notes included.

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Tony Doran
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Yup. The paper quality is pretty much inevitable given publication in a magazine. I'd love to see it done as a boxed game. I agree also that it is quite an improvement on the original, which had long been a favorite of mine.

I note in another folder here on bgg that there is considerable Q&A activity going on in the Consimworld folder, but very little of it is turning out to be errata. Being very well supported by Mr. Perello.

I like to have a hardcopy, but I am not as concerned about the paper quality as you (we all have different priorities). I am finding that the pdf of the rules is far more useful in any case. As someone on CSW has mentioned, this game has a lot of moving parts (which I think, so far, seem to work together very well), which gives the player a lot to think about.

I also think the changes from the old game make this one "deeper" and will create much better replayability.
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Martin Gallo
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For those worried about rules paper quality can just print out the e-rules on the paper of your choice. Yes, it is more work, but the e-rules will probably be updated with any errata or clarifications, so win-win.
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Bob James
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Re: A Classic actually Improvedn
What and how many scenarios in this, big campaign or smaller section scenarios?
 
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Darrell Pavitt
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Fox Killed: 6 turns, 2 maps

O'Connor's war: 8 turns, 4 maps

Sonnenblume: 5 turns,(V), 2 maps

Desert Fox: 20 turns (V), 2 maps

Desert War: 33 turns (V), 4 maps

Run for Tunis: 2 turns, 2 maps

Trail of the Fox: 3 turns, 2 maps

Tunisian Campaign: 7 turns, 4 maps

Rommel's war: 29 turns (V), 6 maps

North African campaign: 38 turns (V), 6 maps

(V= game length changes due to Middle East track events)
(Actual number of turns dependant on my dubious arithmetic).
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David Brown
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Quote:
North African campaign: 38 turns (V), 6 maps


Do you need all six maps at the same time, or can you get away with only using the maps where the current action is
 
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Gabriel Conroy
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thirtybrowns wrote:
Quote:
North African campaign: 38 turns (V), 6 maps


Do you need all six maps at the same time, or can you get away with only using the maps where the current action is


I suspect the latter. Even Rommel and Monty didn't need to look at maps of Egypt when fighting over Tripolitania.
 
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Tony Doran
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thirtybrowns wrote:
Quote:
North African campaign: 38 turns (V), 6 maps


Do you need all six maps at the same time, or can you get away with only using the maps where the current action is


Not really a problem. First, as noted above there are a number of scenarios which use two or four maps.

Second, the developer has noted that you can add and subtract maps as play moves (more or less permanently) West after Torch.

Having said that, it is concievable (tho, imo unlikely) for action to be going on simultaneously in Egypt and Tunisia.
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Tony Doran
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And now, one of our esteemed members had created and downloaded a series of "event cards," setting forth all the information needed when an event on the events matrix occurs. Really great piece of work. You know a game has struck a real chord when a gamer decides to just create a player aid like this.

This is actually the second person to do this. The events matrix is one of the most creative things I have seen done in any North Africa game. Nice to see other folks agree, and are working to make it more user friendly.

Note: both versions are in the files section.
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