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Subject: Enter the Valley of Death rss

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Marcus A
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My daughter and I played, analyzed, and experimented with the scenario “Valley of Death” and would like to share our review of it.

We believe this scenario, as published, has an interesting objective and map along with an engaging mix of various units, structures and obstacles. We like it.

At the outset, 8 German squads and a Panzer III find themselves surrounded and desperately trying to survive in a desert valley full of buildings and 2 pillboxes. They have 6 elites, 1 mortar crew, 2 MGs, and an 88 mm anti-tank gun, as well as being able to call in Air Support.

Arrayed against the Germans are 6 British squads with a Matilda and Bren Gun Carrier approaching from hills East of the valley while, to the West, 6 American squads with a Sherman and half-track are moving up—with some units moving through a canyon. Between the British and American forces, they have no less than 14 elites, 4 flamethrowers, 2 recons, and 2 double mortar crews at the ready to make their job easier.

The Allies have 6 rounds to capture (control) 3 different victory objective hexes within the German held valley. The 3 objective hexes don't have to all be controlled at the same time.


Tactical notes on balance

In our experience playing this scenario, we’ve found that, due to the Allies' overwhelming firepower combined with their swift mobility and initial close proximity to the Germans, this scenario is very much unbalanced in favor of the Allies.

Due to the deployment zones, the Germans must initially split their forces in a restrictive manner that makes it difficult for them to aid each other.

Further, the Germans must set up first, which gives the Allies an advantage, allowing them to fine-tune their initial attack posture. To make matters worse, the Allies begin with the initiative, so once the scenario starts, the Germans can hardly take a breath before the numerous nearby Allied units are all over them from multiple directions.

The German 88, we’ve discovered, is more of a liability to the Germans than an asset, since the gun can often be captured by the Allies during the first round and then, in later rounds, turned (and perhaps moved 1 hex) to be used against the remaining German positions.

The Germans absolutely must keep their 2 machine guns, their most valuable resource, operating constantly in Rapid Op-fire. But the only substantial cover for them is the 2 pillboxes and many buildings—all of which are vulnerable to concussive firepower from the Sherman, Matilda, and (probably) stolen anti-tank gun. Added to that, the 2 Allied double-mortar teams will also be raining ruin, without mercy, on anything sheltering the hapless MGs.

In an effort to find the simplest change that would somewhat balance this scenario, we’ve decided it best to cut the number of rounds in half, from 6 to 3 rounds, giving the Allies only half the allotted time to capture the 3 objective hexes.
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Marcus A
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Below is a pic of our scenario play-through near the beginning of the action.

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Barry Kendall
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Very nice presentation on the board.
What's the source for the 3D walls? They really enhance the appearance and atmosphere of your game.
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Marcus A
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Thank you, Barry. I agree the buildings really dress up the board and bring it to life. And the 3D aspect is what TOI is all about.

If I remember correctly, I found the 3D plastic building walls on eBay. I glued the walls together to form a corner so they would stand. You can cut them to create a variety of sizes and appearances. For gameplay purposes, it's easy to move squads in and out and easy to see what's in the buildings.

Just search for "Ruined Building" or something similar. You'll probably find these and an assortment of other interesting 3D items in various scales.
 
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Marcus A
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Postmortem--The end of the road in the Valley of Death.

Below is a pic of the end of Round 4, when the Allies secured victory in our scenario play-through.

Notice there are only two German units left on the board. There is an infantry squad in a building near the center of the map—adjacent to one of the 3 objective hexes, now occupied by a British squad. And there is the Panzer III in the North compound. The 88 anti-tank gun in the sand dune is now in British hands.

An American squad has captured the South pillbox after the dual double-mortar teams hammered it, clearing out the first German MG. From the canyon East of the valley, the Sherman continuously shelled the North pillbox, wiping out the other German MG.

The Allies suffered high casualties to secure this valley compound, but got the job done with 2 rounds remaining.

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Willem Boersma
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The revised 1A edition should inclde a revised version of this scenario.

According to Bill jaffe he's already received his copies.
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robert tunstall
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his copies?

what are you referring to Willem.

 
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Willem Boersma
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robert t wrote:
his copies?

what are you referring to Willem.



In the facebook group of TOI fans he posted that he received some copies he ordered of the updated and revised days of the fox. Apparently FFG went ahead and released it after all.
 
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robert tunstall
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interesting and thanks for the information

now to find FB TOI group.
 
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Mike
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boersma8 wrote:
robert t wrote:
his copies?

what are you referring to Willem.



In the facebook group of TOI fans he posted that he received some copies he ordered of the updated and revised days of the fox. Apparently FFG went ahead and released it after all.


wow

WAT

That's some news right there! Although I wonder whether it's a general release or just a limited run as kindness towards Bill. The FFG is silent on this matter.
 
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robert tunstall
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No idea.
Some one has spoken to FF and had their FLAGS order a copy.

Nothing on the FF web site though.
And they wonder why the base game isn't selling...whistle

Great business model though...

I feel for Bill and 1A games as they did so much work only to have FF shoot itself in the foot.
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Marcus A
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boersma8 wrote:
In the facebook group of TOI fans he posted that he received some copies he ordered of the updated and revised days of the fox. Apparently FFG went ahead and released it after all.

If nothing else, I'd love to see the Days of the Fox: Next Wave rulebook.
 
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Marcus A
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boersma8 wrote:
The revised 1A edition should inclde a revised version of this scenario.

According to Bill jaffe he's already received his copies.

Valley of Death is a great scenario, in concept, that really just needed balancing. And I’m pleased to report there are a number of positive scenario changes for Valley of Death in the new Days of the Fox: Next Wave.

The German forces would need a lot of help to hang on for 6 rounds, as described above in our review. In our opinion, these new updates certainly take this scenario in the right direction. I will summarize below the changes as best I can.

1) Germans still setup first, but begin with the starting initiative.
2) Allies initially deploy 1 to 2 hexes farther from the German areas at all four corners.
3) Germans get Op card 013: Desperate Defenders (half firepower if pinned or disrupted).
4) Germans get 3 new entrenchments to go with their 2 pillboxes and 3 razor wire.
5) Germans can place their obstacles/fortifications in any non-bldg hexes in their initial areas.
6) If the German 88 AT gun sets up with an entrenchment, it gets +2 cover rather than +1.
7) The German compound has fewer bldgs but more dunes. That probably favors the Germans.
8) The Allies are reduced from 4 mortar crews to 2 mortar crews.

So, would all these changes create a balanced scenario? Well, they will certainly move the balance point toward the middle by more than a little. Not having played this scenario with these latest changes, I would probably still give the edge to the Allies’ impressive array of firepower, equipment and numbers. But, who knows? This looks like it would be much more interesting and fun than the original.

There is only one way to find out. Set it up and play.
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Marcus A
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Since Allied forces deploy farther from the German compound (change 2 above), I noticed it’s now easy for German units to initially stay out of sight from all possible spotters. Thus, they can avoid incoming mortar fire entirely during the initial round.

For the five remaining rounds, Allied mortar firepower is cut in half (change 8 above) and their incentive to suppress is also essentially cut in half (change 3 above).

In the game I played above, the pillbox MGs were hammered by mortars early, severely and often.

Now these Wehrmacht MGs should stay hot longer. And they're super critical against attackers comprised mostly of infantry and light vehicles.
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Marcus A
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Okay, the reason change 7 above is now the case (more dunes/fewer bldgs), is due to an inconsistency.

The center board in the original "Valley of Death" is map board 15B. In the new "Valley of Death" (Next Wave), the center board pictured is map 13B -- but is labeled 15B. So either the map board pictured is incorrect or it is mislabeled.

Upon further examination, I can see little tactical sense to have deliberately changed the center board as shown in the new version. Thus, unless we hear official word to the contrary, I believe the correct center board is, as in the original version, map tile 15B (as correctly labeled in both versions).

In any case, this scenario really is quite fascinating now after the changes implemented. I'm still analyzing it.
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Willem Boersma
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RomanLegions wrote:
Okay, the reason change 7 above is now the case (more dunes/fewer bldgs), is due to an inconsistency.

The center board in the original "Valley of Death" is map board 15B. In the new "Valley of Death" (Next Wave), the center board pictured is map 13B -- but is labeled 15B. So either the map board pictured is incorrect or it is mislabeled.

Upon further examination, I can see little tactical sense to have deliberately changed the center board as shown in the new version. Thus, unless we hear official word to the contrary, I believe the correct center board is, as in the original version, map tile 15B (as correctly labeled in both versions).

In any case, this scenario really is quite fascinating now after the changes implemented. I'm still analyzing it.


I playtested the changed version back in the day and in fact suggested many of the changes. i do not recall ever playing it with a different board, so in all likelihood, it's indeed the map designation that's incorrect.
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Mike
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We intend to play the amended scenario over the weekend. I'll certainly post the results.

The only point I'm a bit fuzzy on is the changed deployment zones. Could you perhaps provide a diagram or photo demonstrating the new zones for the Allies?
 
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Marcus A
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Pisistratus wrote:
We intend to play the amended scenario over the weekend. I'll certainly post the results.

The only point I'm a bit fuzzy on is the changed deployment zones. Could you perhaps provide a diagram or photo demonstrating the new zones for the Allies?

Mike, anyone with an interest in TOI and the North African campaign, in my view, should consider grabbing this new updated and expanded Next Wave version. The rulebook alone increased from 20 to 32 pages. In any case, we look forward to your scenario report.

See new Allied deployment zones below. When you compare these to the original version, the Allies are a bit farther away from the German compound all around. And that contributes to making it a better and more balanced scenario.

New American Deployment Zones


New British Deployment Zones
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Mike
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This is excellent, thanks a lot!

Unfortunately, for some bizzare reason, the wifi at the place we were staying over the weekend would not allow us to access BGG. All other sites worked fine, but BGG would persistently refuse to load so I could not see your post. As a result, we played the scenatio with the changes you mentioned earlier, but keeping the original deployment zones.

With that in mind, the scenario was great fun and, quite appropriately, tense as hell.

The Germans won, but the game was amazingly close. Just one more success on an assault roll by the Allies on the final action round of the final turn would have seen them capture the last objective hex and win the game!

I haven't played the scenatio with the original rules but the amended ones certainly make for a balanced game. The ability to place entrenchments in particular seems like a great boon to the Germans, greatly increasing the survivability of the 88mm flak gun and MG teams which, as Marcus correctly diagnosed, are crucial to the German success. In our game, one MG team was summarily dispatched by a British flamethrower squad but the other one (consisting of one elite and one regular soldier) proved to be a veritable executioner, murdering any squad which dared to come into LoS and almost single-handedly eliminating an entire British flank!

It is still far from plain sailing for the Germans though. The fact that the Allies have transports and surround their opponents makes them frighteningly mobile, able to reach almost any hex at will. Their numerical and armoured superiority also means that the Germans cannot hope to match them shot for shot and must play a rearguard game, delaying them and abandoning undefendable objectives at the right time to save the crucial final one.

All in all the NW version of Hellfire Pass was great, nail-biting fun. IMHO, the changes made in this edition cement Days of the Fox's status as the best ToI expansion. I will certainly consider purchasing the NW version once some retailer this side of the pond actually decides to stock one!
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Willem Boersma
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Pisistratus wrote:
This is excellent, thanks a lot!

Unfortunately, for some bizzare reason, the wifi at the place we were staying over the weekend would not allow us to access BGG. All other sites worked fine, but BGG would persistently refuse to load so I could not see your post. :( As a result, we played the scenatio with the changes you mentioned earlier, but keeping the original deployment zones.

With that in mind, the scenario was great fun and, quite appropriately, tense as hell.

The Germans won, but the game was amazingly close. Just one more success on an assault roll by the Allies on the final action round of the final turn would have seen them capture the last objective hex and win the game!

I haven't played the scenatio with the original rules but the amended ones certainly make for a balanced game. The ability to place entrenchments in particular seems like a great boon to the Germans, greatly increasing the survivability of the 88mm flak gun and MG teams which, as Marcus correctly diagnosed, are crucial to the German success. In our game, one MG team was summarily dispatched by a British flamethrower squad but the other one (consisting of one elite and one regular soldier) proved to be a veritable executioner, murdering any squad which dared to come into LoS and almost single-handedly eliminating an entire British flank!

It is still far from plain sailing for the Germans though. The fact that the Allies have transports and surround their opponents makes them frighteningly mobile, able to reach almost any hex at will. Their numerical and armoured superiority also means that the Germans cannot hope to match them shot for shot and must play a rearguard game, delaying them and abandoning undefendable objectives at the right time to save the crucial final one.

All in all the NW version of Hellfire Pass was great, nail-biting fun. IMHO, the changes made in this edition cement Days of the Fox's status as the best ToI expansion. I will certainly consider purchasing the NW version once some retailer this side of the pond actually decides to stock one!


Happy to hear the changes worked out for you!
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Marcus A
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Pisistratus wrote:
I haven't played the scenatio with the original rules but the amended ones certainly make for a balanced game. The ability to place entrenchments in particular seems like a great boon to the Germans, greatly increasing the survivability of the 88mm flak gun and MG teams which, as Marcus correctly diagnosed, are crucial to the German success.

Thanks for the report, Mike. Yes, those three new entrenchments for the Germans are a huge balancing factor. In the original version, the Germans in the southern end of the valley have very sparse cover. And in that sector, they need to protect 3 high-value resources for as long as possible.

First and foremost, they need to protect the MG, for which the pillbox is suitable, especially now that Allied mortar fire is halved. But also the 88 (and its support squad) and the mortar team. In this new version, due to a special rule, 1 entrenchment will provide +2 cover for both the 88 and its support squad.

Since the pillbox and the building in that sector won’t work, we really think the mortar team needs its own entrenchment, as there is simply no place to stay out of LOS for long—as the Germans are surrounded by numerous, fast moving Allied infantry and vehicles.

Pisistratus wrote:
In our game, one MG team was summarily dispatched by a British flamethrower squad but the other one (consisting of one elite and one regular soldier) proved to be a veritable executioner, murdering any squad which dared to come into LoS and almost single-handedly eliminating an entire British flank!

We experienced that same thing in our session. I lost one MG (in the pillbox on the hill) early on due to hellish mortar fire, but the other MG stayed hot a couple more rounds and slaughtered about 4 squads of American and British infantry. Of course it wasn’t enough, but for awhile it did raise a few eyebrows all around.

Pisistratus wrote:
It is still far from plain sailing for the Germans though. The fact that the Allies have transports and surround their opponents makes them frighteningly mobile, able to reach almost any hex at will. Their numerical and armoured superiority also means that the Germans cannot hope to match them shot for shot and must play a rearguard game, delaying them and abandoning undefendable objectives at the right time to save the crucial final one.

Exactly. We couldn’t agree more. Even with these changes helping the Germans, it’s still, I’m guessing, only a matter of time before the massive Allied attack prevails. But now the Germans might hold out for 6 rounds and that’s what would make the scenario work. So, it’s game on.

Pisistratus wrote:
All in all the NW version of Hellfire Pass was great, nail-biting fun. IMHO, the changes made in this edition cement Days of the Fox's status as the best ToI expansion. I will certainly consider purchasing the NW version once some retailer this side of the pond actually decides to stock one!

Here in the states, it’s just a matter of ordering it from our FLGS for $60. While supplies last, I’m advised.

boersma8 wrote:
I playtested the changed version back in the day and in fact suggested many of the changes.

Willem, thanks for contributing to the dynamic balancing of this scenario. The changes seem appropriate, advisable and measured.
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bill jaffe
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gakk sorry folks i've been dealing with work injury issue and haven't been on the geek enough
but yea this scenario was one of the first we made changes to.

it's supposed to be map 15B yet we somehow placed a 13b picture

bill jaffe
 
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Marcus A
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Thanks for the confirmation, Bill.
 
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