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Subject: This Bulge Game is Ab FAB! rss

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Tim Parker
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This Bulge game is Ab FAB!

Wheels on fire
Panzers down the road
There’s no way they’ll capture Bastonge
This attack shall explode!


Fast Action Battles (FAB): The Bulge is an operational level game of the largest land battle the American Army has ever participated in: The Battle of the Bulge. Players command infantry and armor units (represented by blocks and support those units with assets (represented by counters). The opposing forces attempt to win the game by capturing victory point (VP) areas important to them or by capturing mutual VP areas on the map.


Playing Time: This game moves pretty fast as the number of units is fewer than in most games, but it can drag if either player is prone to analysis paralysis. Working out the best routes of advance or agonizing over how to spend assets are an AP playground but in reality I have found that things move at a brisk pace.

Map: The map is an area based movement type that contains two types of boundaries: open and river. The map covers an area from just north of the Meuse (Liege and Namur) to the southern edge of the area of operations ( Arion and Luxembourg City) and from the initial German offensive areas westward to Dinant and La Chappelle. Each area is rated for terrain ranging from 0-3 and there is a road network that winds its way throughout the region. The map also informational items such as turn chart and boxes related to the using of assets. Overall the map works well although it is a little bland in color. The biggest challenge is learning the road network and figuring all the boundary lines since there is no uniform line denoting where one space ends and another begins.

Playing Pieces: The game comes with two types of playing pieces: blocks and counters. The blocks represent the combat units and have the usual step dots associated with block wargames. The dots also note the combat ability of the units as well which can be either elite, veteran, or green. The counters represent the assets that each side has at their disposal to help their combat units in the heat of battle. The blocks are sturdy and putting on the stickers is relatively easy. The counters are easy to read with colors to denote which army they belong to. And all of this is easy on old eyes

Rules
The FAB system is a little different than your usual block wargame and while it takes a bit of getting used to at first, once you get through the first few turns the game flows nicely. As usual, I will briefly breakdown the major categories of rules.

Movement: This is an area movement game with each unit having a fixed amount (Infantry 3, armor 6) except for the Germans who need fuel to get the maximum movement from their panzers. The road network is critical to movement and the rivers can have bridges blown galore!

Combat: This is where the system varies greatly from other wargames. First, there is a base “to hit” range for each unit of 1-5 when combat begins. That range can increase or decrease depending on factors such as terrain or unit quality. So unlike other block games, the dots on the unit only tell you how many dice to roll not what kind of “to hit” numbers you need for success.

Another interesting aspect of combat is the ability of attacking units to handle a serious set back by aborting the attack and becoming disrupted. So if that great counter attack you have been planning suddenly results in 5 brutal hits, you can take your first shot (which your point unit must do) and then void all the others by having all attacking units become disrupted.

Supply: The supply rules are typical of most wargames with one critical difference: when tracing supply if you trace through a friendly empty area that is next to an event combat unit, that space is negated for supply!! So you have to be very careful when you start lunging those armored units forward to make sure you don’t suddenly find yourself cut off.
Note: This rule changed with later additions and the supply rules are now more typical of other wargames.

Stacking: Stacking is fairly small with only two units per side allowed on one space. But honestly in a block game, more than that can make for crowding which can lead to issues when you need to read the space for terrain effects, etc…


Things I like about the game

1 It plays really quick. Unless you have AP or play with someone with AP, the pace is brisk
2 I love the chit draw. This keeps the replayability high and makes it great for solitaire play
3 Uncluttered Bulge game. Many of the games I have tried over the years seem to have a lot of pieces that are jammed into a fairly small area but this block game is just my cup of tea in terms of unit density.
4 The game is very interactive. Since you can place units in reserve or use your special actions to activate them and do things like reinforce a battle the players have to be alert to options their opponent has available thus keeping the interactivity high.
5 The playbook has excellent examples. As I said earlier, the combat system takes a bit to get used to but the detailed examples given make that task easier.
6 Tough choices. Each turn you are confronted with tough decisions to make especially about how to use your assets. Once you use them, they go back into the pool cup to be drawn randomly so there is a chance you will not see them for awhile. The first time you play the Germans and desperately need those engineers to rebuild bridges, you’ll know what I mean!
6 1 Clear rules. After reading the rules and going over the examples of play I had very few big questions or issues. I mainly referenced the rules to get the concepts straight and had no moments of extreme aggravation. angry
6 2 The combat system takes a bit of getting used to at first but once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun, IMO.

Things that can be annoying angry

1 The map boundaries. Since boundaries can be open or river, it can take a little getting used to as you learn which spaces connect with each other. Sometimes they connect in more ways than one and that can be a nasty surprise. Plus the road network can be a bit misleading as the roads to do not have to directly link you need only have one going in and one going out of where you want to move and if they connect inside the space, okay. And if not, that is okay too.
2 The dots on the block have little to do with firing. This can be a bit vexing especially if you have played a lot of other block games.
3 The combat system is unusual and can take a bit of getting used to.

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

Map= d10-6 The map works but it is nothing to write home about. And those boundaries can be annoying at first angry

Playing Pieces= d10-8 Good size and easy to read


Rules= d10-8 Once you get the hang of the system, it is a lot of fun. The trick is nailing down the basic range concept. Once you have that the modifiers and assets come easy. The rules are clear and I did not have to reference BGG or Consimworld even once which is downright amazing!!!

Deployment of Forces= d10-7 This is fairly easy. My advice is divide the units into blocks and counters for turns 1-5 into two bags and those for turns 6-9 in two others. This will ease set up big time.

Solo Play= d10-7 The chit pull makes for different games each time and allows one to play each side to the best of their ability. Not having a billion blocks also makes things easier as well.

Final Evaluation= d10-8 This is a great game and the FAB system is very cool First, I like the mix of blocks and counters. Blocks keeps the unit density down and drawing the counters keep things uncertain. Second, the combat system is very cool once you get the hang of it. Plus I have always had an affinity for games that used a d10-8 although I could not articulate why. Third, the game moves quickly so if you have a bad start it’s easy to reboot and get rolling again.
Fourth, this game is heavy enough to have tough, meaty decisions yet light enough that you can play with casual wargamers as well. Finally, you have to love a rulebook that does not leave you with a lot of questions

Bottom Line: Over the years I have tried a lot of Bulge games but this is the first one that I am actually going to keep wow The system is fun and flows easily and playing it solo is a breeze. I know there may be some out there who may not like the fact that the game does not go to the bitter end of the battle, but let’s face it: if the Germans haven’t succeeded by the time this game ends, they are out of luck anyway so why drag it out? Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give this game is my enjoyment of it has prompted me to purchase the next game, FAB Sicily which I eagerly look forward to in the near future.
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Cracky McCracken
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Randy Mauldin
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I think the part about tracing Supply next to a Event chit has been dropped. Supply is now traced directly through friendly areas.
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Tim Parker
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Randy Mauldin wrote:
I think the part about tracing Supply next to a Event chit has been dropped. Supply is now traced directly through friendly areas.


I'll look into that, but what I was referring to was friendly areas next to enemy areas that contain uncontested enemy combat units which, as far as I can tell, has not changed.
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David Janik-Jones
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Rich Levinski
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Regarding supply, from "Log of Important Changes" in the series rule book from the Sicily game.

9.31c- Delete "A supply path cannot pass through a vacant area that is adjacent to an enemy-controlled area with one or more uncontested units."

This change was noted again in the Golan "Series Rule Book".

Also, I have played a fair amount of block games and I can't think of one where the pips on the block have to do with a to hit #...they have all been for how many d. to roll. I know some Columbia games add a letter that may affect who fires first (or maybe modifies the hit #?) or add a target # mod. matrix comparing unit types.

Overall a nice succinct review of a fantastic Bulge game!
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Randy Mauldin
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Are you referring to rule 9.31c? If so you won't find it in FAB: Sicily or FAB: Golan. I believe that was changed and retro fitted back to FAB: Bulge.
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Tim Parker
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ainataqe wrote:
Regarding supply, from "Log of Important Changes" in the series rule book from the Sicily game.

9.31c- Delete "A supply path cannot pass through a vacant area that is adjacent to an enemy-controlled area with one or more uncontested units."

This change was noted again in the Golan "Series Rule Book".

Also, I have played a fair amount of block games and I can't think of one where the pips on the block have to do with a to hit #...they have all been for how many d. to roll. I know some Columbia games add a letter that may affect who fires first (or maybe modifies the hit #?) or add a target # mod. matrix comparing unit types.

Overall a nice succinct review of a fantastic Bulge game!


Thanks for information on the updated series rules. I have only tried Bulge so far so didn't realize there was a change. I'll have to print a new copy of the series rules at some point

In both Leningrad '41 and Moscow '41 the color of the dots tells you the fire ability of the combat block (red=triple, white=double and black =single). Section 4.2.2 Firepower
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Randy Mauldin
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Anyway, great review. I agree it's a fantastic series. I think of the three I like Golan 73 the best though I am a fan of any Bulge game...
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Rich Levinski
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catosulla wrote:

In both Leningrad '41 and Moscow '41 the color of the dots tells you the fire ability of the combat block (red=triple, white=double and black =single). Section 4.2.2 Firepower


Ahh, very cool. Thanks!
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