MS-06 Zaku II
This is a "preview" article by playtester I copied from the ConsimWorldForum:
WANT THIS GAME – NOW!!!
by Bill Watkins
Go to Decision Games website. Look for their preorders. Check the potential World War II titles. Find John Butterfield’s solitaire game on D-Day. It's number 31 on the Pledge List. Order it now and demand they get it out! It’s that good!
I’ve been playtesting this game for John. I am very, very impressed. I emailed John that I believe he’s about a step away from an award winner. I’ve also told him I’m not giving my playtest copy back. I will be playing my playtest copy till it falls apart or the actual game comes out!
John has put a tremendous amount of thought and new concepts into this game. He has worked out a solitaire system that is entertaining and works!
The map is a long stretch of Omaha Beach, divided into two zones: the 1st Division and the 29th Division zones. Beach landing hexes are identified. You place units in those hexes according to when their boats actually approached the beaches. You draw from a deck of cards. There are different potential outcomes for units of different types. These range from outright elimination before landing to a safe landing to being blown off course, to an unintended landing somewhere down the beach.
On my first turn, I had eight tank platoons leading the way. Six were delayed for two turns, one was blown away and one drifted four hexes away from where he was supposed to land! Not a good beginning, but accurate.
Once you get on the beach, the trouble really begins. Every hex on the map contains one or more colored dots or little circles. The colors tell you which German position has a field of fire covering that hex. Obviously, multiple German positions can have fields of fire covering a hex. The dots and circles tell you the intensity of fire that each German position can bring on that hex.
Note I keep saying “positions,”not “units.” German units are placed face down randomly on positions. You are attacked by positions, not by units! The combat results can be bloody. The basic game is 16 turns, representing the first four hours of the assault. By turn three, I had one-third the losses needed for a catastrophic loss!
Luckily, there are limitations on how much damage a unit can take on a single turn. Each unit has a symbol. Only those bearing a symbol matching one on a drawn card can become casualties.
The American is also limited in how many units he can move each turn. After all, command control was pretty poor at the start. A couple of Generals do come ashore and you can develop Heroes. Rangers are pretty independent also, except mine got shot to pieces before they even started climbing the cliffs.
Moving is maddening. All the worst terrain is here, including plain old hedges and those miserable bocage. There are different beach lines, reflecting the different tides that occurred. Sea walls and anti-tank ditches are shown.
Attacking the Germans is also bloody. Not only do you have those face down units with varying strengths to content with, each position also has a randomly selected depth marker. These can increase the value of the position and can control the types of weapons the Americans need in order to attack the position.
That gets to be a concern as American companies (the basic unit) take casualties. They step down to platoon size. Although companies start with a full table of weapons, the surviving platoons don’t. John has randomized the surviving weapons. Some platoons may have a radio, some may not. A German position may require a radio to be attacked, so you can call in artillery! If your attacking platoon doesn’t have one……. Other weapons include demolitions, bazookas, machine guns.
There’s a lot more to the game: engineers to clear beach obstacles, command posts, spotting, German reinforcements and offboard artillery, naval gunfire, and all sorts of other goodies. There is sufficient randomness so that no two games will play the same. And lots more stuff, including an extended game that covers the next eight hours after the basic game.
By the way, I don’t like card driven games. This isn’t. They control landing, combat and event randomization. I found the results to be believable.
I’ve got some arguments with John coming up. After all, this is a playtest. However, I took the map to our VFW meeting and showed it to some old vets who were on that beach. They were highly, and I mean highly, impressed. You will be too! This is a game that everyone is going to talk about and it’s going to be a must on your overloaded game shelf. So, do us all a favor, tell Decision you want it! And I’ll be first to nominate Mr Butterfield for a Charles Roberts award.
- Last edited Sat May 19, 2007 6:34 am (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Sat May 19, 2007 5:44 am