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Subject: Finally a Game That Captures the Essence of the Campaign! rss

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Tim Parker
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Finally a game that captures the essence of the battle!

Crete 1941 is an operational level game that depicts the German airborne assault on the island of Crete in May 1941. The game is a solitaire one where the player controls the armed forces of Germany while a game system controls the British and allied forces attempting to hold the island. Each turn the player decides how to use his airpower, where and when to drop in paratroops, execute air landing to bring forces into contested/captured airfields, and land amphibious troops. As the turn progresses the Germans can maneuver forces for battle and the game system allows the allies to release reserves, launch offensives, and execute counterattacks. To win the game, the German player must force the allies to evacuate: no evacuation and the Germans lose automatically! If evacuation is initiated then VP is scored from capturing ports and airfields as well as destroying allied units. But beware! German losses cause negative VP and can drag down your hard fought victory!

Playing Time: This will vary some depending on actions by the Allied forces but once you learn the system I have averaged 1-2 hours per game.

Map: The point to point map depicts the island of Crete and is divided into four large sectors which is then further divided into zones. Each zone has a distinct terrain feature which is denoted by shape (for example circle spaces are towns). The map also contains many information charts including the turn record, allied Far East Command, boxes for deploying German forces both land and air as well as a Terrain Effects chart and combat fire chart.
The spaces on this point to point map are nice and large and rarely are crowded. The charts are well organized and clear although they very sometimes with the written rules.

Counters: The counters are nice and large. They contain unit identification and only one number which is the fire combat number. The allied counters are hidden counters and have their backs printed with the British and Greek flags. Most German units have a reduced side to them for combat losses. The counters are nice size, easy to move around, and it’s easy to tell which side is which.

Rules: The rules do a good job of trying to portray the unique problems involved in the Crete Campaign. The German player gains staff points each turn he can use to assist his forces, must plan how to deploy and deliver his forces to the island as well as maneuvering his forces once they are there. The rules allow the player to run the full gamut from planning stages to actual operational maneuvering once he bring his men on to the map thus allowing the player to truly experience the campaign. The game system that controls the allies keeps the player on his toes as he must deal with hidden units, the ever present Royal Navy, and the Middle East Command. The game system can issues orders to unleash offensives in a given area or release reserves to various zones on the map. As the campaign unfolds, the German player will strive to force allied evacuation by hammering the allied command with strategic airpower while attacking and capturing the vital airfields and ports of the island. For the most part the rules are well organized with only a few ambiguities but there are a few very critical errata that owners must be aware of to make the game work.


Things I like about the game:
1 I love how the game truly gives the feel of the Crete Campaign. I have probably read a half a dozen books on this unique WWII campaign and this is the first one that I felt really captured the essence of what was happening.
2 The hidden units.
3 The point to point map. Given the way this campaign played out, I think this is an excellent choice.
4 High replayabilitiy. The hidden units are a huge plus here but the Middle East Command chart is also big factor. If you don’t spend some time trying to disrupt the allies you will find yourself facing more and more challenges.
5 The allied counterattack. Now I know some people do not like this rule but for the most part I do, especially early in the game. Let’s face it: all the “rules of war” tell us that if an enemy tries to gain a foothold in a given place, you need strike him immediately to try to throw him “back into the sea.” Granted, later on it might make more sense for the allies to hang in there but at least for the first three turns, it makes complete sense to me.
6 The tension and frustration. You really feel the burden of operational command in this game!


Things That Can be Annoying angry

1 The lack of key errata. I worked my way through all the posts on Consimworld to find the critical changes to the rules one of which (the allied AA fire) is vital to play the game correctly.
2 The VP level. The number of VP needed for victory has been a huge point of contention on this game. For the most part I don’t care since the whole campaign was rather brutal and, for the Germans, it really became a Pyrrhic Victory both in terms of airborne losses and the realization that Crete was not the key to hampering British efforts in the Mediterranean.
3 As with any solitaire game, follow the sequence of play carefully.


Overall Evaluation: d10-9 = War gamer heaven d10-1 = I’d rather staple my tongue to the wall for a month. yuk

Map= d10-8 The map looks nice, functions well with the system, and has all the information charts well organized.

Counters= d10-9 Nice sized counters with clear color distinction between sides.

Rules= d10-5 This is a hard rating to give as I love the way the rules depict the conflict but the key errata and downright mistakes are very annoying angry angry The illustration showing the Luftwaffe counters where the tactical and strategic air value are flipped is ridiculous although, curiously, I played it right from the start since I couldn’t see how an Me-109 could have a strategic combat factor but no tactical that was just totally illogical. This game has been out now for more than 10 months and yet the e-rules on the DG website have not changed?!?! Absurd. So kudos to Joe Miranda for designing a great set of rules to depict Crete but shame on the execution (and whoever is responsible for that!)

Deployment of Forces= d10-8 This is usually smooth and easy. You only have to differentiate between initial support forces of the allies and then set up the reserve pool and the Germans are a piece of cake.

Final Evaluation: d10-8 I give this game an eight for several reasons. First, the rules give a great feel for the Crete Campaign. Second, the game is easy to play. Once I got all the rules straight by the second game, the play was easy and flowed well. Third, every game is a little different. While it is true that the German plan basically remains the same, you still have to figure out how to best execute operations as well as trying to capture those two pesky ports that sit all by themselves. The hidden units and orders chart also ensure high replayability. Finally, the game is tense and fun
Bottom Line: If you love the Crete Campaign, you simply must get this game. The tension and frustration are palpable, the choices you have to make put you right in the shoes of Kurt Student, and the game has enough uncertainty to make it a unique experience each time. This game is now my Go To Game (GTG) for the Crete Campaign!
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Pete Belli
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Nice work.

In an article written back in the 1970s (when SPI released Descent on Crete and Avalon Hill released Air Assault On Crete/Invasion of Malta: 1942 within a few months of each other) it was jokingly suggested that the Allied unit counters simply be printed on the map and checked off with a pencil when they were eliminated. This would reflect the actual level of activity on Crete during many of the Allied player's turns.

A solitaire format seems like an excellent fit for this campaign.




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Robert Lesco
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One sign of a good review is that it makes me want to play the game and you have done that here. Could you possibly provide a link to the errata you mentioned? Thank you
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Tim Parker
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Honestly there is no organized errata. I just went through the consimworld folder for the game and read the posts to find the changes.
I'll try in the next week to see if I can collect all the changes and post them here to BGG.
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Lance McMillan
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DG isn't very good at supporting their games with errata. If you ask specific questions on CSW one of the designers or developers will eventually come along and respond, but putting out (much less actively maintaining) comprehensive errata doesn't happen that often.

The biggest issue with this otherwise very nice game are the flawed victory conditions. According to one of the play testers, as originally designed the game's victory threshold was in the 75-85 point range, but that was found to be way too easy a goal to acheive. It was later bumped up to 99 points but testers were still consistently scoring higher than that. So then, just before DG sent the game to be printed, the decision was made to re-set the winning score at 126 (apparently without any tests being run to verify whether that number was realistic or not).

I think an achieveable upper limit winning score would probably be somewhere in the 110-115 range. Were it up to me, I'd suggest the following levels of victory:

* 99 or less = Defeat. The Allies successfully defend Crete, inflicting severe losses on the German invaders. The Axis either withdraws its surviving forces from Crete or is forced commit so many additional assets to take the island that it adversely impacts the execution of Operation Barbarossa. Furious, Hitler orders the German airborne corps disbanded as a waste of resources.

* 100-109 = Phyrric Victory. Although the Axis manages to secure Crete, the Allies are able to safely evacuate the majority of their surviving forces, but are forced to abandon much of their heavy equipment. German losses are heavy, especially amongst the paratroops. Hitler becomes leery of authorizing any future airborne operations because of the high costs involved. (This would be the historical outcome).

* 110-115 = Marginal Victory. Axis forces take moderate losses during the brief but intense struggle for Crete. Significant numbers of Commonwealth troops, and most of their heavy equipment, are captured. Hitler acknowledges the value of airborne operations and allows a limited expansion of the Luftwaffe's parachute forces.

* 116-120 = Operational Victory. The Axis only suffers light losses in their conquest of Crete. The majority of the island's defenders and all their heavy equipment are captured. Hitler declares that airborne operations should be considered for a key role in any future German offensives and directs the Luftwaffe to double the size of its paratroop training program.

* 120+ = Strategic Victory. The Axis occupation of Crete is executed flawlessly. Nearly the entire Allied garrison is captured. Hitler boldly proclaims airborne operations to be the future of modern warfare, and orders several Wehrmacht formations to be immediately transferred to Luftwaffe control to undergo parachute training and conversion into Fallschrimjager divisions.
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Rory Colling
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I think DG is very good about their errata..they have TONS of it!yuk
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Lance McMillan
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zerstorer88 wrote:
I think DG is very good about their errata..they have TONS of it!


Thanks for the big belly laugh.
 
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Calgard Gamer
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catosulla wrote:
Honestly there is no organized errata. I just went through the consimworld folder for the game and read the posts to find the changes.
I'll try in the next week to see if I can collect all the changes and post them here to BGG.


I have also looked for errata everywhere I can think of and found none. Would be very glad to see what you came up with.

I have the game set up and ready to play (bought it inspired by Stuka Joe's excellent videos)
 
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Lance McMillan
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Calgard wrote:
I have also looked for errata everywhere I can think of and found none.


Aside from the unachieveable victory condition, which DG has yet to acknowledge/address, and a few unimportant unit ID typos (which have no impact on play), there's really only one thing you need to know: the air unit combat ratings are reversed.
 
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Tim Parker
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Lancer4321 wrote:
Calgard wrote:
I have also looked for errata everywhere I can think of and found none.


Aside from the unachieveable victory condition, which DG has yet to acknowledge/address, and a few unimportant unit ID typos (which have no impact on play), there's really only one thing you need to know: the air unit combat ratings are reversed.


The other big thing is the British AA fire. On the map the table says if you roll equal to the fire number it causes and abort but according to the designer, an equal result causes a hit on the German air unit.

There are a few more items but, as I said before, I need a bit of time to read all the posts to find all the key errata.
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R L Moses
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A really fine review that captures the essence of the game.

It seemed to me in my first play of the game that Royal Navy intervention was crucial, and might often be the pivot. The RN stepping in does thwart amphibious landings, but it also exposes it to air attacks which affects the victory conditions. It's an interesting dynamic and sent me looking for sources on the role of the Royal Navy in the Crete battle, a somewhat neglected subject (though Anthony Beevor at least notes that the part played by he RN re amphibious landings has been simplified and misunderstood by many historians). One book will that as the focus is David A. Thomas, Crete 1941: The Battle At Sea.

I thought the errata problem was not nearly as debilitating as some other DG games. But there were clarity issues (such as counters depicting Luftwaffe transports the use of which one has to infer).

The modified victory conditions noted above are a nice touch. It would have been good to have had the actual historical locations of the units noted by Miranda et al so a sample game could be played to get used to the system. Obviously that explodes the hidden units and undercuts the game aspect, as the player knows where the units are. But it might have allowed a first-time player to work their way through the game to discover the rules, while teaching some history at the same time. Alternative strategies could still be explored.

In all, I found the game to be a very good one indeed, one of Miranda's better efforts and reflecting what seems to be his philosophy of war fighting as command management.
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Brian Jarvis
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rlesco wrote:
One sign of a good review is that it makes me want to play the game and you have done that here. Could you possibly provide a link to the errata you mentioned? Thank you


https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/143372/crete-1941-errata-...
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