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Subject: Solo replay rss

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Chris Milne
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Played out my first full solo game of Totensonntag today. Probably took about two hours all in, including set up. This account is summarised from the posts in my blog (wherein also pictures).

The first day saw 7th Armoured concentrate two armoured brigades and the support group against Ariete. The Axis were hampered by some extreme activation rolls (from memory: 1, 5, 1 and 2) and opted to move 21st Panzer west to concentrate around Sidi (although one recon battalion shot southwards to try to hamper the westward movement of the remaining tank brigade of 7th Armoured).
The Ariete is in trouble, with two battalions (one infantry, one tank) destroyed, and the northern defences penetrated. Still, they're not easily ground down while they're in the trenches.

On the second day, the Ariete is crushed beneath the weight of the 7th Armoured's attack. A few weak units remain, and may well cause the South Africans a problem since (and here's one criticism of the victory mechanics) there's nothing to be lost in victory point terms by attacking relentlessly with a shattered formation.
15th Panzer has arrived and has concentrated around Sidi Rezegh. 21st Panzer struck southwards with an armoured kampfgruppe and inflicted significant damage on 4th Armoured Brigade.
Day 2 was characterised by consistently low activation rolls for both sides, allowing plenty of combat but relatively little mobility. Right now, the 8th Army is winning courtesy of the single VP for shattering the Ariete. Although the 7th Armoured is vulnerable in its turn, the Axis have abandoned Gambut for the time being and so the Allies are likely to acquire at least one more VP when the Kiwis arrive there. So the onus is on the Axis to deal out some damage and keep hold of Gambut.

The last four turns of the game saw an attritional battle develop around Sidi Rezegh. The Axis couldn't quite wreck the South Africans and needed three more unit kills to wreck 7th Armoured (doing both would have given them victory). There was a nasty battle for Point 190 as the 7th Support Group initially dislodged the Afrika Division, then withdrew in the face of superior German strength as some panzers came to help out.
The New Zealanders didn't do any heavy fighting, but they did pose a sufficient threat that the Germans had to commit substantial forces to fend them off and thus could not finish 7th Armoured.

The game ends with a British victory, quite properly! Comfortably, too, with 3 VPs (Ariete and 21st Panzer wrecked, Gambut captured).

I can see a few elements of the game that smack more of mechanism and tension than history (at least to my eyes), but overall I think it's very capable of telling an historical story for the right reasons. I think it'll get plaudits from the lightweight/entry wargaming crowd; it has similar appeal to A Victory Lost (graphics, price, simplicity, variable activations) and probably takes half the time to play.
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