dan parker
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Well after a long, long, wait I finally got Battles of Khalkin Gol for my B'day a couple of weeks back, and this weekend saw me able to finally rip that sucker open! I have a fair old amount of M44 kit already, but frustratingly I always appear to be missing one tiny piece of the puzzle for the 'perfect' set up. The well-known Days of Wonder purchase creep dilemma saw me testing out this expansion without any lovely horsey Cavalry figures, and with a mismatched band of allied troops as I've only got one base game and one Eastern front exp' – so I ran out of Russians. Nevertheless I've got to say I was feeling pretty excited s I cracked out the Breakthrough deck which till now I've never used in anger aside from in D'Day landing scenarios.


We flipped a coin and discovered I was going to get the joy of the Commissar chip for this game with my motley band of brown and green troops, and the wife was going to get the entirely matching Japanese forces. Grrr, stupid chip! Quick refresher of the imperial army and chip rules, cuppas made, and we were ready.


Initial impressions however made me feel a bit better about this situation once I realised I was going to have some nice chunky groups of infantry just waiting to hammer the isolated Axis figures on my side, and a lovely line of tanks ready to roll over the enemy sitting duck units on the far side. To make things better I'd managed to draw ALL the nice cards straight away! Armoured Assault, Order Everything here/there/everywhere etc… Chomping at the bit I was ready to go – until I was informed a mistake had been made and we had to re shuffle and deal again. Sad face. soblue


It's an 8 medal map, and Japan starts with 2 temp' medals already, so despite their forces being somewhat here, there, and everywhere, they do start with a bit of advantage. I had to ensure I flushed them out of a section and take those away from her, and thus glean one back for myself as a reward. The Axis needs to maintain at least some presence in all 3 sections to maintain their temp 2 medals.


The first part of the game was predictably slow manoeuvring as I marched towards her dug in positions on her comparatively weak right flank. She was never going to leave those nice warm nests, and so I endured pot shot damage until I managed to get up close and personal. I spent a few turns convinced that a big assault here would flush out her little enclaves and break her 2 medal lead. Card after card after card I found my confidence knocked as I did nothing but roll flags and tanks against the sandbagged Japanese. I had numbers, but not rolling enough dice, or at least not the right ones! I kept placing orders for this flank under the chip assuming it had to go my way any moment and grant me a clean sweep on that flank. All her units were understrength now, and surrounded. It was just a matter of time now. I started hoarding cards for this side for a big push.


Of course whilst I'd been doing this, she'd been gradually using On The Move manoeuvres to progress her previously 'sitting duck' units into closer quarters on her left flank. I'd just committed to another hefty attack on her right when Bang! She jumps out of nowhere and starts rolling grenades all the way with her Japanese infantry using the 2 hex and close assault Imperial special rules. My visually dominating column of lovely tanks were now directly under threat and crumbling, including my flame tank I'd been keeping 'for a special occasion' which had now turned tail and run away.. As I'd already committed to the wrong flank under the chip, I then had to put up with another withering attack after that as well. Whole units were deleted from history under a hail of grenades and tank symbols and within no time at all the score was 6 medals to 1! I couldn't believe it, and was starting to sweat. Her troops on the right flank had just not behaved and conveniently died like I wanted them too, and had not pinched her 2 medal temp' advantage either. My weakened armour units on her left were looking very vulnerable, and could easily cough up the last 2 medals she needed if she had the right cards. I fortunately had Direct from HQ coming up…


I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either continue to wear away the last few men on her right and possibly rid her of her 2 temp' medals, or move my tanks away from imminent death on her left flank and deny her a relatively easy further 2 medals. Hmm.


I gambled a last push on the feeble last few hillside sandbagged soldiers on her right and took the temp medals from her, gaining one as a reward for my efforts. Maybe the tides were turning? But it was still going to be an uphill battle. She could easily pop back over the dotted lines from the centre section and retake those medals, and going by her previous M44 form – it's pretty much safe to assume she will always own Behind Enemy Lines whenever she needs it (which she did actually have it turns out…).


However, her previous mad push across the open ground towards my tanks had led me to incorporate/retreat my remaining armour into my so far largely untouched and fully resourced centre section. I now had a really nice collection of infantry and armour at both ends of the map, and plenty of fresh units. To make things more tasty, I also had a few centre cards for a prolonged assault. Bingo. devil


Roll, Roll, Roll! Despite not being in close assault most of the time, the sheer numbers of opportunities in the centre at both ends paid dividends. Ok, some were lucky rolls, but largely moving my stuff into the centre had paid off somehow. Sure I'd suffered some collateral damage, but we were even-stevens now, and before I knew it Boom! Creeping over the finish line I swung an 8-5 victory. My brown/green rag tag bunch had swung from 6-1 to 5-8 in just a few turns! She then revealed her traditionally held Behind Enemy Lines from her hand ninja , but of course it was all tooo late now. cool


A very tense and exciting game, and whilst the rules and layout weren't anything massively new to write home about, I really enjoyed the overall look and feel of this relatively balanced feeling scenario. I also enjoyed the little armoured car figures, one of which I basically fed her on a plate as a free medal somewhere half way through the game like an idiot! Gah. I just couldn't resist using it as I'd never had one before. I don't think I really utilised the enhanced movement of the cavalry units to their best effect, and my flame tanks didn’t really have many opportunities to shine, but it was nice to have these extra options in the game.

We ran out of toddler nap time about this point and it was time for packing away. I was so glad it's a battle map as it’s a quick swipe and fold, and Whoosh - it's all away. The boy is nearly three years old and can grab a surprisingly large amount of tiny items in a surprisingly short period of time, scattering them to the four winds, so an expedient packing experience is much appreciated. Looking forward to the rematch now.


Overall I'm really happy to have got the opportunity to have a bash at this map expansion, especially as though it appears to be incredibly hard to get hold of it in the UK right now. The maps look great, the figures look super cool, and I finally got to use my Breakthrough deck! Woohoo!



(Thanks for reading, I've never written anything like this before on BGG so hopefully you guys will go easy on me if this is a) in the wrong place b) rubbish c) irrelevant, however I was really excited so had to write something about it )

edit: If you liked this and would like to see part II, pls see here -

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1751035/tightening-noose-m4...

Thanks for reading
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David Groves
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Great battle report. Thanks for posting.

When I first looked at this scenario I all but wrote it off expecting the Japanese to be wiped out every time by the line up of Russian tanks. However, its far more balanced than it looks and can be a nail bitting experience. Well worth playing.
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dan parker
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Thanks for reading!

We chose this scenario pretty much randomly from the 2 Breakthroughs, and flipped a coin to see who was who. I was initially irritated to have to play with the Commissar Chip, but then was much happier when I too saw the line of Russian tanks. I thought it was going to be a walk in the park, but as you say - it does actually feel pretty balanced.

We are yet to play the other way round, and I'm keen to see if I have learnt anything from the first play that might change the course of play on the second play. We might get to do that tomorrow perhaps. I think the most important lesson for me will probably be to remember the specific attack advantages of the Japanese – that's what gave her a bunch of medals in the first round along with careful use of cover. I'm a sucker for running in all guns blazing sometimes, and forgetting to take advantage of the little rules tweaks for some special units. I always forget battling back for British for instance in the Med'.

I've also got experience in being let down by seemingly indomitable big lines of tanks from UK Games Expo M44 Tourney last year – where I played Axis on the Ponyri scenario.

https://www.daysofwonder.com/memoir44/en/editor/view/?id=136...

I had several cards allowing to me to move everything armourwise turn after turn after turn as well as armour assault, I had four armour units as well as 2 elite armour to play with all tightly grouped together. I threw buckets of dice at the enemy lines and still lost the scenario having earned only ONE medal by the end of the game… No one could believe I managed to lose quite that badly with that many tanks. In fact one of the podium finishing guys was kind enough to give me his prize to help make me feel less rubbish after such a painfully decisive crushing.  I finished 14th out of 18 people thanks to that ridiculous performance 

So, I've learnt not to take initial setups necessarily at face value, and that sometimes caution might be a better option. I'll have to exercise that when we play the other half of Tightening the Noose, as she's no doubt going to be gunning for me extra hard after the first half! Then I'll find out quite how balanced it really is…

Glad you liked the report 
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Jon Snow
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laugh well done...entertaining and fun. Your wife sounds like she knows what she is doing.
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Carly Parker
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It was indeed a good game. It was, however 7-1, and not 6-1. I'm awaiting an edit
And yes, I know my way around a memoir battle field. I forget none of those fiddly little rules and I'm ruthless. Have to congratulate the hubby on the win though, it did look hopeless at one point for him.
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David Groves
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I love the Ponyri scenario but despite all of those tanks it can be a difficult win for the Axis if the Russian player knows how to manage a defensive strategy. Don't be too hard on yourself since it did sound as though the dice were on the Russian side.
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dan parker
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Hey peoples, we managed to play the other half yesterday - so I've written up that as well I had MEANT to make some notes as we went, but it was too tense so i forgot oops. However it's a reasonable artistic impression hopefully, once it clears pending status I'll add a link here

cheers!
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dan parker
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ta daah!

Part II is ready and waiting here -

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1751035/tightening-noose-m4...

thanks for potentially reading!

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Donald G
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very well done. I actually saw the part 2 and read that first. Great job. Had no idea this was your first outing for battle description!!! Do you know how lucky you are? Your partner plays Memoir 44. And quite well too! Please let us know when you manage to play the other scenarios.

Don

While on vacation this is as close as I can usually get to playing!
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dan parker
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Thanks Don, I've read loads of reviews for different games, and seen various approaches for describing gameplay, so thought i'd chuck my 2 cents in as well and give it a bash

I do feel very lucky to live with someone who loves M44 as much as I do. However whilst we discovered M44 together, I'm yet to convince her to have a bash at CnC Ancients, and we also have a barely played copy of Battle Cry in the cupboard as well!

We have an ongoing tournament between the 2 of us, and over the last couple of years have played, in booklet scenario order, all the Western front, Med' Pacific, and have one last Eastern to do before moving onto Winter Wars. Of course we've played various one-offs from other expansions as well like DDay and VE scenarios, but it's the mammoth "every scenario in order" we are hacking through slowly. She has an XL spreadsheet where all the medals and unit losses are recorded. It's got some big numbers on now... If my memory serves correct, I think she is currently slightly beating me overall, despite us both winning some whole fronts each. She smashed me at Med' for instance. I may as well have not been in the room when those games went on.

Whilst I won this BoKG scenario I've been told in no uncertain terms it won't count towards our "tournament rankings" because it's to be considered a "friendly" as we played it out of sequence dammit

We are both currently rather gutted that the M44 tournament at this years UK Games Expo 2017 doesn't appear to be happening, as she really wanted to join in this year, I did it last year - but she did Ticket to Ride instead. She placed very well, but it wasn't M44! I did appallingly in my tourney.

Hopefully when we play more I'll write some up as well. thanks for reading, I appreciate it!
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