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Joseph Cardarelli
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Storm Over Arnhem was designed by Courtney F. Allen and published by Avalon Hill in 1981. It is the first game to implement the "Area Impulse" system of gaming. It has, like We the People and the "Card Driven" mechanic, started a long series of games that try to improve upon the system while at the same time keeping the core mechanic the same. It is a wargame, so for those of you uninterested in that sort of thing, please move on. It is also nothing new, so many of you may know everything about the game already, and therefore are uninterested in this review. But, I imagine that if you like wargames, then even if you've played the game hundreds of times there's always time to read more about it! Also, with the ever-growing wargame community and the intense need for "beginners" wargames, I feel that this review will help to serve the purpose of pointing newcomers in the right direction, as this truly is an easy to grasp, superb game.


Image by Torsten Meckel (metor2)
This is an image of the box front. Also, the same image is used for the front of the rulebook.

The Contents!

The game comes with all the normal bells and whistles that wargames come with: board, counters, rulebook. It might come with dice as well, but considering that the game is OOP, it would depend on whether or not your eBay seller felt like including them. I will go over each of the items in the box, in detail, so if you're more interested in gameplay and whatnot, then you can skip the next section.

The Board


Image by Jens Hoppe (jens_hoppe)
This image shows the map at setup. Notice the German Bohlt Training units start in the outer zones, while the British start in the center with German SS Panzers spaced out in the surrounding areas.

Full of color, attitude and style, the Storm Over Arnhem board comes fully mounted and in one fold-up piece. The map is broken up into two sections:

-areas (30)
-zones (05)

Areas
The areas are separated by thick black lines and are where most of the action takes place. The areas are numbered for your convenience (1-30, duh.) The numbers in the areas are color-coded for setup reasons, making it fairly simple to get the game going. This is especially cool because I know sometimes I will forgo playing a wargame because of the long setup time. The 6 middle "areas" on the map have 1-2 victory points associated with them, and is one of only two ways of for the Germans to score points in the game. There are 6 areas just adjacent to the scoring areas that are worth points to the German player as well, but only in the 2nd and 3rd turns, therefore counters are used to mark these "areas" as valuable (so they can come of after the 3rd turn.)

Zones
Zones are labeled A-E, are rectangular in shape and surround the areas of the map. The zones represent a larger space than the areas do and therefore can contain units of both sides without combat ensuing. They are mostly used for a quick, safe, and roundabout way around to move units to the other side of the map. Reinforcements start out in zones, as well as all of the Bohlt Training Unit during the game setup.


Image by David Mitchell (dlminsac)
This is an image of the map sans any units. You can clearly see the 5 zones surrounding the 30 areas. This is an image taken of the back off the rulebook and includes some information on historical battle landmarks that isn't on the board map. Very nice.

Other Board Items
There are a number of tables and holding boxes on the map as well, which is always helpful. Although one item I think is missing is the combat modifiers, which are referred to often when first playing. It's really not that big of a deal though, there is a fine printout that works as the player aid that should have been included in the game here:

http://boardgamegeek.com/file/download/5879/SOA_info_sheet_w...
Uploaded By: N/A

Anyways, there are two "Artillery Boxes" that hold each sides artillery counters. This seems a little extravagant for just a few counters, but its a nice thing to have nonetheless. The artillery counters are stored there before and after use, for easy reference for either player to see how many uses are left for both players. There is also the "British Reinforcements Box" that hold all the eliminated British units, as they can come back (there is another counter to use if they come back, a special "reinforcement" counter) if enough of them die in one turn. This, historically, is because of the sheer persistance of the British to quickly tend to wounds, then get back up and fight again. I thought it was a nice touch for the designer to include this. The Germans do not have this ability. The other box on the map is just a "Random Events Table" which is rolled on at the start of each to see if one side or the other gets any reinforcements. Which is not often, in my experience, and when it does happen, the max units that can come in is 3, so....yeah....

The Counters

 

Image by Jim Kiraly (kiraly)
This image shows 2 British units to the left, 2 German SS Panzer units to the right, and 1 German Bohlt Training unit up top. One of the British units is a HQ unit (capable of calling in artillery.)

Each unit in the game has an attack strength/defense strength/movement allowence on it. Each counter also contains the unit's higher and lower organization, unit type, unit size. Each unit has a front and back, the front being it's "uncommited" side and the back it's "commited" side. Once a unit is used it is flipped to it's commited side to show that it can not be used again until the next turn. There are 4 different kinds of counters in the game:

- Red (British)
- Black (German)
- Gray/Blue (German)
- Fire counters (for German use)

The British
These counters represent the 1st Airborne Division that parachuted down into the mess that the game plays out. The good thing about these British units is that they are tough, tough, tough. They usually have a high defense value, making it a pain for the German player to actually eliminate them, or even cause retreat. The last game I played in I was the Germans, and I got a nice barrage of bullets from a particularly annoying group of Royal Engineers all game long. Because of their high defense values, and a series of unlucky die rolls on my part, I just seemed unable to do anything about them. Especially this one unit....I vowed to kill this one unit in particular that got cocky and decided to move into an area of mine and annoy me with his high defense value. Arrrgh! I never did kill that unit, although I did win the game. The British player only has one artillery counter.

The Germans
There are two German units in Storm Over Arnhem:

- SS Units (black)
- Bohlt Training Unit (gray/blue)

The SS units are the stronger of the two German divisions, and are the main brunt of the force, usually. They are equipped with a nice array of tanks (which I always misuse!) and a few HQ units to call in their 4 artillery counters. These units are about average in strenth/defense, in between the tough Brits and the lame Trainees. The Bohlt Training units consist of the weakest, lamest units in the game. They are good for sheer numbers and fodder, pretty much. Something my latest opponent pointed out was the irony of me believing the training units to be expendable (and treating them that way) when I myself recently joined the army and will be training soon. I agreed with him, but nonetheless threw my trainees right in into his oncoming bullets, laughing. The Germans have 4 artillery counters.

Fire Counters
These are used for when the German player starts fires in an area(s). He does this to force British units to become "commited" (flipped over) so that they can not be used this turn. I don't find myself using this too often, as it also commits the Germans units in the area who attempted to start the fire, which is just rolling against a variable number.

The Rulebook


Image by Benjamin Kindt (bkindt)
An image of the rulebook lying atop the other game components.

The rules to Storm Over Arnhem are well written and presice, with a few examples of play for the more complex concepts. There are 9 pages (4 front and back + the back of the cover), designer's notes, German and British "Order of Battle" (explanation of each counter, 2 pages), and 2 pages of historical notes. Coming in at a total of 16 pages including the cover and back. It has a print of the map on the back for setup reasons (one player sets up on the board itself, the other player on the map on the rulebook for secrecy reasons and a simultaneous setup.) All in all, not a very long rulebook for a wargame. Or even some Euros for that matter. This is one set of rules that will not confuse or bore anybody, like some other rulebooks tend to do. As an aside, the historical and designer notes are very interesting to read in and of themselves, a nice addition.

General Gameplay
The game plays in a variable number "impulses" over the series of 8 turns. During a turn, the players switch off impulses in a IGO UGO fasion. The impulses help to break up a player's turn into a number a smaller turns, which helps with downtime (there really isn't any, excepting AP) and makes the game more tactical than strategic. On a player's turn, he chooses an area to activate and either:

- moves his units in that area to another area(s)
- shoots with his units in that area into the same or an adjacnt area(s)
- drops artillery into that area

Moving
When a player activates an area to move units, he need not move all the units, nor must he move any he chooses into the same area. Each unit has a movement allowence printed on the counter, this is the amount of movement he can spend that turn. When moving, areas and zones have a movement cost that units must spend to enter that area. The movement costs vary depending on where enemy units are at that time, and whether or not it is a "day" or "night" turn. One thing to keep in mind is that it is relatively expensive to move into areas containing enemy units. Also, when you move (or shoot with) a unit, it is flipped over to its committed side. This means it is unable to move or shoot again that turn (but it can still retreat if attacked.) This leaves the German player open to attacks as he has to move units towards and into areas containing British units, and since you cannot move and shoot, the Germans just kind of walk right into a barrage of British fire. This is where the useless Trainees come in. Fodder!

Attack!
When a player activates an area to have his units there open fire, he need not use all the units there, nor must he fire them all into the same area. Pretty much the same deal as moving. When a unit, or group of units, fire at enemies (regardless if its the same area or an adjacent one) the active player chooses to fire upon the enemies committed or uncommited units. I find I tend to fire more at uncommitted units in an attempt to prevent them from firing upon me later in the turn. Either way though, the bullets will fly. Basically, you take the attacker's highest individual units strength (that is participatin inthe attack) + 1 for each additional unit firing and compare that to the defenders lowest defense rating (in the area being attacked) + 1 if the attacker is in an adjacent area (+2 if its a night turn), then each player rolls two dice. If the attacker's totaled number is higher than the defender's, the the defender must take the difference in "casualty points". Casualty points are taken in either retreat (1 per unit retreated) or elimination (3 points for infantry, 4 for tanks.) If the defender has the higher totaled number then nothing happens. That's because of the skirmish type combat, I guess. Its a good idea to cut off retreat options so the enemy has to start killing off units instead of retreating them. After a unit has fired or retreated, it is flipped to it's committed side so it can not move or shoot again this turn.

Artillery
This works much in the same way as combat, only an HQ unit must be in an area adjacent to the activated area to "spot" and call in the artillery. Also, the area activated must be devoid of friendlies and the area containing the spotting HQ must be devoid of enemies. Compare the attack strength of the artillery counter against the weakest enemy defense in the area. Each player rolls two dice, etc, etc. This is a really fun aspect of the game. Sometimes the German player will just drop artillery after artillery into an area, preparing it for eventual invasion. It can also work as a stalling technique. Its not very effective against some of the tougher Brits though, unless the German players a'rollin' pretty lucky! Once a particular artillery counter has been used it is flipped to it's "Fired" side to show it can not be used again this turn.

Victory Points
Only the German player gains victory points throughout the game. The Victory points start at zero, and it is not until they reach 22 that the German player has won (and thats only a "Marginal" victory. Decisive victory isn't until 29 points!) 21 points is a draw, anything less is a British win. At the beginning of each turn that the German play is in control of one of the VP areas he recieves the amount of VPs printed in that area, which is between 1 and 2. These are cumunalitive. This is an interesting way to set up the victory conditions. It lets the Brits have a chance of winning by just holding on long enough to certain areas, just waiting it out until the end of turn 8. It also force the German player to make it to these areas (and clear it of Brits to take control) as fast as he can, or else he won't make it past the 21 mark on the VP track.


Image by Smee Mew (SatanicEssence)
[i]Image shows a pile of British counters with an HQ unit on top.

Overall Thoughts
I think that in the end Storm Over Arnhem is a fantastic game, especially for a beginner. Once you've got it down you can move onto some of the more complex Area Impulse games such as Turning Point: Stalingrad, Breakout: Normandy and Monty's Gamble: Market Garden(all OOP.) Of course, every so often you feel the need for an easier game, something that is qucik to set up and put away, something that doesn't beg at you to remember a lot of rules. Something thats just plain fun! I highly recommend Storm Over Arnhem to the general wargamer, I guess is what I am trying to say.



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mike hibbert
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Nice Review! My eBay copy of this turned up on the weekend, so I will be keen to get it out and have another play!
 
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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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This is a good, medium-weight wargame. Each turn will be fraught with tough decisions. As the Germans, you have to be aggressive. As the British, you have to be patient and crafty.


 
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Aaron Silverman
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Nice review!

Note that there's a folio edition of the game as well. It comes in a paper folder rather than a box. There are no dice included, but the rulebook features a much longer (quite a few pages) historical article.
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René Christensen
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This game was my first war game ever!!
And I still own it!! Will never sell it, I LOVE it!!!
But I must say you need the Crossing variant to really enjoy the game!!
I often think about if the game could be done in 1/72 scale but the buildings are too many, I think!
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Slotracer wrote:
But I must say you need the Crossing variant to really enjoy the game!!


Matter of taste. I usually choose the standard game, which is two turns shorter and avoids the additional rules overhead.
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Slotracer wrote:
I often think about if the game could be done in 1/72 scale but the buildings are too many, I think!


Why not try it in N-scale (1:160)? You can get lots of buildings from model railroad stores, and MiniFigs have an excellent range of WW2 figures in this scale:

http://www.miniaturefigurines.co.uk/Catalogue.aspx?ScaleID=1...

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Mike Hoyt

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Thunder at Cassino is the other AH area game, essentially same rules as SOA but more units and areas, so longer. Also a more balanced situation, both sides get to attack more often.

MMP is (soon) releasing Storm over Stalingrad, an even simplier version of SOA by a designer who has also done Storm over Port Arthur. It may fairly be said that once you learn this system you'll have multiple games on multiple topics at varying degrees of complexity available.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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blockhead wrote:
Thunder at Cassino is the other AH area game...


One of them. See also Turning Point: Stalingrad and Breakout: Normandy.
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Michael Lucey
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blockhead wrote:

MMP is (soon) releasing Storm over Stalingrad, an even simplier version of SOA by a designer who has also done Storm over Port Arthur. It may fairly be said that once you learn this system you'll have multiple games on multiple topics at varying degrees of complexity available.


MMP has 2 other games on pre order as well. WW1 and WW2 Pacific are the topics of these games. I don't know much about the WW1 game but the WW2 is a night fight (5 turns) on Guadal Canal. The scale is tactical similar to SOA and TAC.
 
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Eirik Sandaas
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Picked up the portfolio edition in shrink wrap at a clearance sale today for 10 norwegian kroners (about $1,50) After reading this review I can't wait to try it out!
 
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Michael Rinella
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Scoobysnacks wrote:
blockhead wrote:

MMP is (soon) releasing Storm over Stalingrad, an even simplier version of SOA by a designer who has also done Storm over Port Arthur. It may fairly be said that once you learn this system you'll have multiple games on multiple topics at varying degrees of complexity available.


MMP has 2 other games on pre order as well. WW1 and WW2 Pacific are the topics of these games. I don't know much about the WW1 game but the WW2 is a night fight (5 turns) on Guadal Canal. The scale is tactical similar to SOA and TAC.


MMP released my Breakthrough: Cambrai in August 2011. There is also talk of reprinting Monty's Gamble: Market-Garden - look for news on that by the end of the year.
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stuart cudahy
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never picked up Stalingrad. Got breakout Nornandy cheap. I had to go to the General to learn the Knack. Its a full powerful mindfuck. I like it. Its area movement taken to the tenth degree, Gamerwise. A gift of mind. Stu
 
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stuart cudahy
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Breakout Normandy is one thing but Arnhem was the first. The first time I played it I knew the hobby had made a monumental step up. Stu. It was just seriously fun.Happy days.
 
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Mark Williams
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I have all 4 of the Avalon Hill Area Impulse games (folio Arnhem). They kept changing the scale up with each title and adding supply rules. Thunder at Cassino is still a good entry point because it's still without supply rules and has 2 mini scenarios as well as the main game.

Revolution games (http://www.revolutiongames.us) have a couple of small Area Impulse titles: Operation Battleaxe and recently Patton's Vanguard.
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Tom Cundiff
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Revolution also produces Ie Shima: The Last Battle which is also an Area Impulse game.

Mike Rinella also produced a pair of Civil War era Area Impulse games: Birth of a Legend and Not War But Murder.

He also designed:

Breakthrough: Cambrai (2011) - boxed game published by MMP
Circle of Fire: The Siege of Cholm, 1942 (2014) published by ATO Magazine
Counter Attack! Arras 1940 (2009) - magazine game published by Battles Magazine
Stalingrad: Verdun on the Volga (2015) Last Stand Games http://www.laststandgames.com
{this last game may still be in the design stages)


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Mark Williams
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Alright! Can't keep a good system down.

Only know about the 2 titles I cited, but I note that the artist on both is Charles Kibler who did art on all but Arnhem of the Avalon Hill titles.
 
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René Christensen
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I first bought Storm over Arnhem, played it and still love/own it.
I bought Thunder at Casino too, but somehow I disliked the matt chits. Sold it a few years ago.
I bought TP:S but never really played it enough to like it. Sold it a couple of years ago.
I never got around to buy Breakout Normandy. Somehow I didn't like the box lid. It just didn't feel like it was one of the same kind of games to me.
 
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Geoff Burkman
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I think the system functions best at the small unit level; I, too, eventually sold or traded away all but SoA.
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Tom Cundiff
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Personally I will always be partial to SOA and Cassino, but I do have to say I like Market Garden too.

One thing I really don't like in the series is the advent of the Sunset (End of Day) rule. It ends up with players unable to complete the movement of their units due only to the whim of the dice. While swaths of the board can be left in limbo, as if such forces just took a holiday, and this can occur time after time. No, this is a gamey device having nothing to do with history or simulation.
 
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René Christensen
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Cundiff wrote:
Personally I will always be partial to SOA and Cassino, but I do have to say I like Market Garden too.


????
Du you have a link?
There's lots of games called Market Garden.
 
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Tom Cundiff
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Yes, once more it's a design by Mike Rinella, perhaps his best.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/6353/montys-gamble-marke...

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