Confusion Under Fire
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The Other Road To Arnhem is an entry into the Wargame PnP Contest 2016-17

The "Other" road is the route that the 1st British Air Bourne (AB) division took from their landing zones, some, over 7 miles away, to their main objective, the bridge over the Lower Rhine in Arnhem. At the outskirts of Oosterbeek the division met with German resistance.
This first part of the game represents a forward company of Paratroopers who were sent to find an alternative route through Hartenstein woods, it is your job to lead these Paras and find a safe route through the woods.
The game itself has been modelled on the Ambush system of solo games but I have simplified everything. For those of you who have never played Ambush you are in for an experience unlike any other in a board wargame. Just because you cannot see the enemy doesn't mean they are not there! For those of you who have played Ambush, I know several of you have yearned for a simplified version and hopefully this is it. I have included 5 scenarios listed A through to E, the victory conditions remain the same throughout but there's a surprise or two with each scenario.

The image below is from a playtest map, this is to keep information from the actual game a secret.


During the design of TORTA I have kept one eye on the number of components and although there is a bit to print out there is very little 'making' to do. Just one single sided sheet which contains all the units and markers used in the game. Half of this sheet is generic so you could scrounge components from other games. EG A German LMG counter has just an image of a German MG34 and no stats. You could use any German LMG from any game to replace the German LMG units on the sheet. The map is on 6 sheets which need printing and joining together.
Players will be required to add 2D6 and a deck of playing cards.

Playing time: Around 3 to 4 hours

Number of Players: 1, it is a solo game but there are 3 distinct allied platoons, so it is possible that 1,2,3 or 4 players can participate, each with their own role. Best with 1 player.

Categories: Best Solitaire and Best Tactical and Most original concept with the CRT/order of targets attacked.

At the outset I made a tree to organise the paragraphs, this was a system of using a grouping for all related paragraphs. So the first paragraph of a group might start with A1, the paragraph might open up some more options so you would get A1a and A1b and so on. Some groups intermingled with each other and it took lots of concentration to make sure nothing was misplaced. Mistakes were back trackable but with lots of cross referencing and to further confuse the situation to make sure players could not link unchecked paragraphs together all the paragraphs had to be renumbered. As per usual an easier method was discovered after all the paragraphs had been created and I can see why the Ambush system has gaps in their paragraphs!! It was the first playtesting session that uncovered all the paragraph errors. I have fixed and tested the paragraphs away from the map so the next stage is to playtest each scenario with the maps.

The next large change in rules was with the flow of the game. It was just too slow. I needed a better system that was more fluid, this also meant a change with the combat procedure. This lead to the target order system which I quite like. You will find that suppressing units is more important than eliminating them and you will also find that eliminating units is quite hard to do especially if they are stacked with 'Good Order units'. I have found during gameplay that using true tactics will help you win the game.

The stance markers used within the game attempt to make players think of the overall actions before making a move. For example a unit with a Hold stance will be better in combat than a unit with an Advance stance. A unit with a Hold stance will not move. The stance of a unit also determines how well they spot hidden enemy units. If you rush about the battlefield with an assault stance you are going to end up in an enemy hex, in a minefield or wire, or worse still all three! An Assault stance can allow a unit to move and enter into combat within the same turn. Use the stances sensibly and you should be ok.

The Fog of War is created by the paragraphs, hopefully some of the events will have you cursing, wowing, laughing and blowing out your cheeks as well as being rueful.

I am pleased to announce that "The Other Road to Arnhem" (TORTA) has reached the blind playtesting stage.
Please find the files https://www.dropbox.com/sh/apm5kagoydv09gr/AACuMnl1I2MRcadM6...

This is the first time using drop box and I think you can access the files without the need for creating an account, if you do have problems accessing the files then please let me know.

If you do wish to blind playtest the game I would recommend playing Scenario A to begin. Apart from the usual feedback I would also be interested in your VP total for this scenario as well as your win ratio although the replayability of a paragraph game is quite low.

I enjoyed making TORTA, by the way Torta is Italian for Cake, does that allow a qualification into the Italian theme? I will probably make more paragraph games in the future but try a couple of different ideas.

Looking forward to your feedback

Thanks
Mike
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Pelle Nilsson
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Linköping
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
Very interesting! You probably remember some of my old posts about wanting a simplified Ambush!? I believe we have discussed that topic a few times.

Regarding ordering paragraphs I also noticed how difficult and error-prone that was, which was one of the reasons I made my DIY Ambush! scenario generator script, that you probably saw many years ago (DIY Ambush! Missions). If you start working on many scenarios for a game like this I can really recommend you take a little time to set up something like that to save time (and reduce errors) in the long run! You might actually have found my latest, sort of, incarnation of that Ambush! tool useful, even if everything Ambush!-related is removed, but it still does the job of ordering paragraphs and more (and is much more sane than the old tool, and with more output format options): https://github.com/lifelike/gamebookformat

Anyway looking forward to print and play this!
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Confusion Under Fire
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Warrington
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
Thanks Pelle, and I do remember the discussions we had. I find it quite amusing at times that the solution to a problem is often similar to the Ambush way of doing things. You get to understand why they did certain things. I do have ideas about how to arrange the paragraphs but I will look at your programme, it can only help.

I have learnt a lot while making TORTA and unfortunately much of it was too late to add into this game. If this is well received I would be tempted to make more of this type of game and make it more refined. I wanted to use an Action Round Track the way Ambush uses it but there were too many units to make it feasible. In the end I had to use stance markers and make each unit check a paragraph after each action type had been executed, this helped to give recently found German units two actions before the allies could react. Anyway I am waffling on now.
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Mike Mollineaux
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Huntsville
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
I've never played Ambush, but I'm intrigued as to how this will work. Looking forward to playing this one!
 
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Jonathan "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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Sellersburg
Indiana
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
Mlinx6 wrote:
I've never played Ambush, but I'm intrigued as to how this will work. Looking forward to playing this one!


Same, very interested! Subscribed!
 
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Confusion Under Fire
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
whatambush wrote:


I wanted to use an Action Round Track the way Ambush uses it but there were too many units to make it feasible. In the end I had to use stance markers and make each unit check a paragraph after each action type had been executed, this helped to give recently found German units two actions before the allies could react. Anyway I am waffling on now.


Quoting myself above I am experimenting with an Action Round Track which has some extra ideas incorporated. The newly named "Activation sheet" has a row for each platoon and several rows for the German units. This amalgamation, on the sheet, of units in the same platoon has made the sheet a manageable size 2xA4 or an A3. I have also incorporated into the activation sheet the actions available to each unit which is dependant on their stance and status and also added the CRT table which is more detailed than the previous CRT. This eliminates the need for markers on the units such as stance markers or pinned markers etc. This still has to be playtested but initial test snippets have proven positive.

This has been in slow progress for about a year now and has undergone some radical changes. I am a little concerned it might miss yet another last entry date but it is only a slight concern I am positive it will get completed some time.
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Confusion Under Fire
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
Luftwaffe Flak wrote:
Mlinx6 wrote:
I've never played Ambush, but I'm intrigued as to how this will work. Looking forward to playing this one!


Same, very interested! Subscribed!


The basic premise is that you move 1 hex and make a paragraph check. The outcome of this check will be influenced by the "Stance" and "Status" of the unit. For example a unit that has an Assault stance may not notice an enemy vehicle as well as a unit with a Hold stance. There will be red markers which are placed in a hex when told to do so by a paragraph check. A hex with a red marker does not need to be checked again. This means you will not be spending most of your time making unwarranted paragraph checks. What this will mean is that you will be checking hexes that have yet not been moved into by a friendly unit. Hopefully this creates a tension, it does in Ambush, especially when moving out of cover and into the open. Playtesting has shown that paragraph checks are not intrusive and can swiftly change your thought process. There are slight elements of RPG but these generally add a fun element to the game.
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Confusion Under Fire
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
It has been way too long since I posted here but there has been several major changes.
1. The tempo of the game during playtesting was too slow and a much more streamlined combat system had to be found.
2. The game is a race for the British player and so being pinned became an important part of the game but playtesting shown that it became too much of a slog with take a hit, get pinned, recover, take a hit.... this point confirmed the combat system needed updating.
3. There was too much clutter on the map.
4. The number of tables and player aid sheets was growing with each new idea

When I first started designing TORTA I tried to use a tabular system similar to the one used in Ambush. In all the time I have been designing games I usually see why such an idea was in such and such a game, it solves a lot of unseen problems and therefore trying to use a tabular system in the game became more and more of a necessity rather than a preference. The problem was there were many more units than in Ambush and a tabular system could become unwieldy.

I designed a table with a built in CRT for each unit and while I was at it I included the action that units could make with any relevant modifiers. The table meant I could remove all markers from units, the stance and status markers as well as CRT results. All of these could now be shown on the table. The table could also be modified easily during playtesting so tweaking the system became a simple task.

I originally had three pinned columns but this was reduced to just two pinned columns, but one column was used for good order units and the other for those with a 'step loss'. A unit recovering from a pinned column would move to a Hold column so this acts as an extra step if a unit wanted to advance. The CRT was created so units that had a Hold stance would take less damage than say a unit with an Assault stance. the CRT also allows poor morale units that are stacked with good morale units to take less damage. This may not be apparent until you inspect the combat system. I am quite pleased with this new 'Activation table'.

The combat system had to be streamlined and I chose a system that on first viewing might seem like a dice fest. Each unit will have X number of range dice and X number of combat dice. EG an airborne unit will have 2 combat dice and one range die. For this particular unit it may swap one combat die for one range die. The range dice must total more than the range plus any hindrances. A fail and the combat is over. The combat dice also have 3 'modifier' dice added to them. The AB unit would therefore throw 5 combat dice but three dice are removed and these depend on three modifiers, stance, status and cover of the target. The dice removed may be the highest number, the middle or the lowest number. Playtesting of this system shows that it is a simple and quick method for resolving combat and the results are pleasing.

I want to do more playtesting but this should be for tweaking rather than any major changes, if I get the chance I want to thoroughly test each of the 5 scenarios. They have been tested through reading paragraphs without units on the map and a couple of smaller issues did arise but nothing too dramatic. It is very possible that altering a paragraph for one scenario can have greater consequences in a different scenario so I am leaving these small issues in place. To give you an example you might find a paragraph reads "That was one hell of a firefight" when in reality your unit arrived after the firefight was over. You may of course play the same scenario several times and not find any issues. While we are talking paragraphs, I have stated in the rules not to read through the paragraphs unless directed to them but I read through the paragraphs the other day and without any context they dont give anything away.

A few weeks back I had doubts if the game would be ready but now I am confident that it will. It should shortly be due for general playtesting. I also want to include a full turn walkthru which may end up being longer than the actual rules! I also have to add stats to units when they are finally decided upon.

Thanks to all who are following this

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Edward Kowynia
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
Hi. I have been reading your posts here. I love this battle and have studied it extensively. One of my favorites. Further I have played Ambush! Since it came out so am very familiar with that system. If you need playtesters, I would be happy to help out. Just let me know. Ed
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Confusion Under Fire
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
siredofk wrote:
Hi. I have been reading your posts here. I love this battle and have studied it extensively. One of my favorites. Further I have played Ambush! Since it came out so am very familiar with that system. If you need playtesters, I would be happy to help out. Just let me know. Ed


Thanks Ed,

I am just cleaning up a few things, the unit counters have had a revamp and I have finally added the stats. The German AI, although a simple system, has had a few changes, mainly to clean up any ambiguities. I am currently checking the paragraphs to ensure they fit in with any new rules and terminology. I am also adding a small table to some paragraphs to aid with enemy set up. There are also a couple of smaller issues where I am undecided on which option to go with. These should be resolved with further playtesting then we should be up and running.

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Edward Kowynia
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Re: The Other Road To Arnhem TORTA - Private Playtesting Stage
Sounds really great. I am really looking forward to this.
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