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Kenneth Lury
United States
Blowing rock
NC
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Preamble:
After receiving Operation Dauntless I spent many hours reading through the voluminous material that supported the game long before I even began punching counters. By the end of all of this prelim prep work I felt I had already got my money's worth (time enjoyed per dollar spent)

Usual stuff:
Box-came dented but sturdy and good art work. Extra room for counter trays

Components: paper map with good artwork. Love the fact that four counters can fit in a hex without stacking. Counters sturdy with fine artwork and lots of info

Charts very sturdy with lots of rule redundancy to minimize rule book reference. Rule book exceptionally well written with lots of cross referencing. I actually felt I understood the game after reading which for me is a rarity.

EXTRAS: scenario book, play book ,reference book all filled with interesting supplemental material with lots of play examples and rules cross referencing.-all very high quality
This is a very very good package of stuff !!
It is obvious the designer has gone to extraordinary lengths to make this game as accessible and COMPLETE as possible.
and the designer is always on hand at BGG to quickly answer any questions that arise.

Game play: Well, this is really the most important part. I played the first training scenario with very little rule book help and used friction fire as well. Was fun and fast and the Brits pulled off a last second victory. I will bypass many of the training scenarios as the rule book is so clear as to make most of them unnecessary. I look forward to sinking my teeth into scenarios that utilize all of the game systems. I think the game will have huge replay value and will offer many hours of entertainment.

My preliminary rating is 9.5. Caveat:My initial ratings are usually high based on the admiration for design cleverness. This one might be one of the few that stay high.
Difficulty for a casual war gamer : 3.5



After playing several times I think I finally have a good grasp of the rules if not the strategy. I have yet to get involved with the ARC, but with everything else The game really flows. I love using the infantry in assaults against tanks. Really feels like I am running in and blasting away with my PIATS. OFF map artillery can be frustrating, but very helpful when you get a hit. All of the various subsystems integrate very well into a logical flowing battle. Definitely not igo-yugo. You have to be constantly attentive to changing circumstances and use them to your advantage.
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JOE LIBRANDI
United States
Peoria
Arizona
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What's the difficulty rating of 3.5 based on? A 10 scale or a 5 scale?

I've played Red Winter many times. I've read and re-read the rules for Operation Dauntless, I've studied examples of play in the playbook, and I've watched video tutorials, but this game feels like Red Winter on steroids. I can't wrap my head around all the different concepts, exceptions, and special conditions. LOS from different elevations, the AT sequence, and concealment is confusing as is the ARC sequence of play. There are many additional symbols on the counters as well, and the Sequence of Play is way more complex than Red Winter.

I'm reluctant to punch the counters and start playing this game because of the complexity- and I've been playing wargames (and some very complex wargames like Pacific War and Vietnam from VG) for over 40 years.

If complexity is measured by having to learn new and unfamiliar concepts, for me this game has a difficulty rating of 8.5 out of 10.
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Kenneth Lury
United States
Blowing rock
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First, sorry for the ambiguity. Difficulty rating is out of 5 so would be 7 out of 10, not so far off from your rating.
Perhaps it is not as difficult for me as I do not have that much experience and so do not have to unlearn previous conceptions. The same thing happened with Fields of Fire which was one of my first war games. I found the concepts very easy to grasp (although the rule ambiguities drove me nuts)while many veteran gamers had much difficulty.

I have never played Red Winter so cannot compare. Most BGG folks, including the designer seem to thing the difficulty level is up 1 or 2 notches from RW.
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Mark Mokszycki
United States
Snohomish
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Thanks for the review, Kenneth! Feel free to contact me if you run into any questions or issues.

Joe, I'm happy to help you out if you're stuck or just overwhelmed. OpD indeed has more moving parts than Red Winter, but the individual parts are each fairly simple. And you won't use all of them all of the time.

For example, the new Tactical Advantage procedure for AT Fire attacks during Assaults is only used when there are vehicles and AT-capable units facing off in the same Assault. The new LOS rules are only relevant when one of the combatants is on higher ground than the other. Etc.

The main exceptions in this game revolve around British Carrier Platoons / Scout Platoons. There is a handy bullet list on the Player Aid Card that summarizes all the rules for these oddball units. Basically, they either function as infantry or armor in various game situations. For example, they ignore eZOC (as if armor) but they cannot overrun and are vulnerable to losses from Combats, Assaults, and Ranged Attacks (as if infantry). fwiw, the special rules for these units was the lesser evil compared to having another 80+ counters to represent their Universal Carrier component. I tried it both ways.
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JOE LIBRANDI
United States
Peoria
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I've heard others say that easing into the game using the tutorials lessens the learning curve, but there is still a lot to remember here.

I love Red Winter and I was hoping this game used similar mechanics and any added complexity was minimal. The cleanness and clarity of RW is what I like about it. OD takes the RW game mechanics to a whole new level - 17 pages of examples of play, two full pages of glossary, the better part of two pages for the Sequence of Play, and 32 pages of rules attests to this.

The LOS/concealment rules are almost always going to come into play because the high ground is where you want your units to be for sighting purposes.

Which units have ZOCs and where units have or don't have ZOCs is another thing to remember as is which actions/units trigger FF/ARC/TA chit pulls, etc. All combat/assault/AT/Ranged attacks have been made much more detailed and complex and add many more modifiers and conditions.

Your support for your game designs is commendable, but I'm still on the fence as to whether or not I'm ready to make the effort to play this game. I'm afraid that even if I work through the scenarios, I'm just going to forget most of the concepts the next time I want to play it.
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Mark Mokszycki
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I understand, Joe. It's fair to say that it might not be the right system for you. It is indeed fairly complex if viewed as a standalone game. When viewed as a system that will be applied to all future combined arms games in the series, I think it's of similar complexity or even a tad simpler than other such systems (TCS, ATS, Panzergrenadier, etc.).

The length of the rules and the number of illustrated examples has at least as much to do with their thoroughness (i.e., our attempt to address every conceivable situation that might pop up during play) as it does with complexity. The same could be said for Red Winter; the 24-page rule book probably could have been condensed to ~10-12 pages if we'd left out a lot of the redundancies, explanations, notes, and illustrations.

The rules for Op Dauntless include pretty much everything conceivably required for any WW2-era combined arms game (minefields, airstrikes, flame-throwers, strongpoints, infantry AT weapons, "funnies," creeping barrages, heavy smoke/fog, etc.) and, as such, will be the basis for all future games in the series. However, not all future games will require all of those elements. For example, I'm currently working on the rule book for Blitzkrieg at Mokra (Poland 1939), and that game will sit somewhere between Red Winter and OpD in terms of complexity--for example, retaining the ARC but stripping away the rules for LOS and elevation, Transport Pools, Strongpoints, Supply, time of day, weather, smoke/fog, and more. I'm guessing that most future games in the series will strip away some portion of the rules presented in OpD because they simply won't be needed for the battle being gamed.
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Mark Mokszycki
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As with many games with unusual mechanics, many of the rules look more complicated in print than they actually are. I'll try to briefly address the main culprits. Maybe this will help you sort them out (and this is not an attempt to convince you to play the game--again, it may not be the right system for you). Maybe this will help someone else who is learning the game.

Quote:
The LOS/concealment rules are almost always going to come into play because the high ground is where you want your units to be for sighting purposes.

In the Campaign Game, they won't come into play as often as you might think. But, regardless, the underlying concepts are pretty simple:

1. All terrain other than field blocks LOS.

2. You can't see the enemy in blocking terrain unless you are (a) adjacent to their hex, or (b) they fire, or (c) you are on higher ground.

3. Higher ground allows you to see over one adjacent hex of blocking terrain and into the first non-adjacent hex of blocking terrain within 4 hexes of your location.

That's it. All the other language and illustrations are really just to help make sense of these concepts.

Quote:
Which units have ZOCs and where units have or don't have ZOCs is another thing to remember

All units exert a ZOC but (1) ZOC does not extend into close terrain (woods, village, heavy bocage), and (2) AFVs ignore all eZOC.

Quote:
as is which actions/units trigger FF/ARC/TA chit pulls, etc.

Friction Fire is only ever a Ranged Attack against unarmored enemies moving in a field.

The ARC is always a reaction: either fire in response to an enemy unit that fired or moved, or a 1-hex reaction move in response to an enemy that fired at you. Or you can Pass and end the cycle.

The chit pull is only ever used in an Assault where vehicles and units with an AT rating are facing off against one another.

Quote:
All combat/assault/AT/Ranged attacks have been made much more detailed and complex and add many more modifiers and conditions.

Really it's only the Assaults + AT Fire that are noticeably more complex than their Red Winter counterparts (and they needed to be, given that this is a very tank-centric battle). The Combats and Ranged Attacks really haven't changed except that there are indeed a few more modifiers that might (but won't always) apply, such as bonuses for armored units of certain types (combined arms was abysmally bad during the Winter War).
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JOE LIBRANDI
United States
Peoria
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I avoid systems like TCS, ATS, and ASL precisely because of the excessive level of detail and complexity.

I appreciate Examples of Play because they help flesh out some of the concepts.

You mention the items needed in combined arms games like "flame-throwers, strongpoints, heavy smoke/fog" etc., but these account for very little of the complexity in OD that I'm struggling with, as they are generally just represented by a separate counter, simple modifier, or a symbol on a counter.

I'm interested in the designs you mention that are less complex than OD. They may fit the complexity level that I was expecting in OD.
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Mark Mokszycki
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Quote:
I'm interested in the designs you mention that are less complex than OD. They may fit the complexity level that I was expecting in OD.

I expect the ARC will make the leap to all future games in the series that feature armored combat. It will remain pretty much in-tact and as-written in the Op Dauntless rules. But the need for many of the other sub-systems will be examined on a case-by-case basis. Many of them will be stripped away.
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Tom H
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Great game - just working through the tutorial scenarios and really enjoying them.

Terrific support nice map and BIG counters! The mechanics are also interesting if a little involved. The effect the chrome produces feels very good and true to the period - although I wonder if the rules overhead could be reduced and still provide the same effect? I am sure Mark has been there and done that though so...

Resource material is also very interesting and a good read.

Very playable solo - must try and get a ftf game in.
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