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Subject: Scenarios 59 to 62 - Battle of Malmaison (solo) rss

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B Caro
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It’s been more than a week since I received The Great War: French Army Expansion. I wanted to do something personally to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice. I decided therefore to open the box and play a solo session of the new expansion.

I picked up the Scenario 59, the Battle of Malmaison, mainly because it had a couple of French tanks and the setup did not seem very complicated. Well, finding the French specialists took a little bit, but finally I got the units deployed, ready to battle.

I had not played The Great War for a while in its board version, but some games on Steam, which I still find at most a mediocre version. The AI makes so obvious errors that at some point I have become uninterested. I had then to learn again some key concepts and mechanics, therefore the gameplay was slower than normally.

For solo variant, I used a mix of ideas found on BGG:

- Every turn the AI (the Germans in this case) took two command cards and discarded one.
- If the cards picked up by the AI were both in the same flank, it could keep the non-played one until the next turn. The idea is to give the AI the opportunity to continue pushing or defending in a flank, as human players often do.
- The AI also took a combat card and played it if it had enough HQ tokens to pay for it.
- If a Recon card was draft, the AI could take three commands cards and keep one, or gain the medal and take just two cards as normal the next turn.
- If I played a close combat, I took one combat card to see if the AI could counterattack or react in any other manner.
- AI used artillery only against units out of cover. In this case, with only three dice and a little bit of bad luck rolling, the German artillery was highly ineffective. The abuse of artillery by the AI is one of the most annoying issues I have with the Steam version.

Before starting the game, it seemed to me that French would have a hard time crossing the open field until the first German line of trenches. However, I had a very good hand of command and combat cards, and then I was able to attack quickly in the center-left flank. I could not expect better.

French infantry, supported by the Schneider, neutralized rapidly the German MG in the bunker, and then moved to reach the last trenches and break through. The left flank is actually the must fruitful for French is everything goes well. They can win at least 6 victory medals by killing three units, occupying the first line of trenches, the bunker and the farm. There is nothing Germans can do it the French have the cards necessary to mount this kind of offensive.

There was also some fighting at the right flank, but there the French Chamond tank bogged down and before it could be destroyed, the battle was over. The center flank remained mostly quiet.



I think that, in this particular scenario, German forces are too scattered and lack the firepower to challenge the French overwhelming force, which I would qualify of elite due of the important presence of specialists. I will try the game again solo, commanding this time the Germans, to confirm my conclusion here.

I find this scenario to be quite unbalanced. First of all, French forces are not only superior in numbers, but in firepower –two tanks against none—and in special personnel. With 10 HQ tokens to start, they can add even more power to their attacks and responses to counterattacks. Is it a mission impossible for Germans?

I feel I cannot provide a very objective opinion on this expansion because I’m a huge fan of the Command and Colors system. I rated 10 The Great War. Nevertheless, the addition of more special personnel adds certainly more complexity and replayability to the game in general.

What I did not like? The miniatures feel cheap; the French blue color is horrible; I found some rifles bending and soldiers keeping bizarre Michael Jackson’s poses; the tanks stats provided in the box are small… what else?

All in all, I enjoyed this first play of The Great War: French Army Expansion. I’m looking forward to play more of the French scenarios and hoping to hear soon of the next expansion.
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Mayor Jim
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Re: Scenario 59 - Battle of Malmaison
Thanks for the AAR and brief review. Still waiting on my delivery
 
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B Caro
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Re: Scenario 59 and 60 - Battle of Malmaison (solo)
I played scenario 60 using the same solo variant.

This time the battle was tight: I won 7-6 commanding the Germans. French attacked mostly at the left flank and two units succeeded in breaking through. A third unit almost made it but it had to retreat and gave finally the last medal to Germans.

I found this scenario more balanced than 59. I will probably play both scenarios again commanding the other side, but introducing a little tweak: AI will be able to pick two combat cards and keep one.

I’m thinking about allowing AI to keep combat cards as Butts and Bayonets. Then drafting a card to decide if it will use it or not. I should check first how many HQ odd and even cards there are in the combat cards pile.

I also made an exception this time for the AI: it used the artillery to bombard an entrenched position after getting the Box Barrage combat card.
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Re: Scenario 59 and 60 - Battle of Malmaison (solo)
I played again scenario 59, commanding the German side. This time was more balanced with Solo mode improved (I tested and tweaked the mode in previous scenarios of the same battle) Germans destroyed the Chamond tank. However, at the end they just had units on the right flank. French won breaking through the center flank.

These are the final results:

Scenario 59 French 8 - Germans 1 (AI)

Scenario 60 French 7 - Germans 5 (AI)
Scenario 61 French 7 (AI)- Germans 1
Scenario 62 French 4 - Germans 7 (AI)
Scenario 59 French 8 (AI) - Germans 5

 
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