Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
It was the end of 1944, and the Third Reich was failing, but perhaps it could be preserved. Hitler ordered his men to attack the advancing allies on the western front, driving them back and hopefully forcing the English and Americans out of the war - allowing the German army to concentrate entirely on the Russian threat.
The Bulge is the first in a series of "Fast Action Battles" using a new block-based wargaming system from GMT Games. As these things go, it's a relatively simple system. The blocks have stickers affixed to one side and then stood on end so that only their controller can see their actual composition and strength, providing a simple way of simulating the "Fog of War". Players move the blocks about, and then have battles in which they can deploy "assets" - cardboard counters that represent extra forces, artillery or special events that might take place on the battlefield. Combat is then resolved by rolling a number of d10s equal to the unit's strength and attempting to roll under a target number - each success equals a hit and an opposing unit taking damage.
There are three scenarios in this package, each a subset of the next. Randy and I hadn't played the game before, so we began on the introductory scenario, which took us less than an hour to play. I was the Germans, whilst Randy was the Allies. My goal was to ford the rivers keeping me from my goal of Bastogne and to capture it (or at least surround it so it would fall to me). My problem? Randy and the fact I only had three turns in which to do so!
The introductory scenario is quite cleverly written: it's already partway into the first turn, and you begin by resolving three battles. Each battle is slightly different, which is nice: it introduces you to different aspects of the game.
The trouble I was having during this game was entirely due to Randy blowing up a lot of bridges! Tanks can ford rivers, sure, but they'd prefer a nice bridge to roll across. With only two turns of actual manuevering, I was truly having trouble getting to Bastogne in time. I made it, but not with enough force to capture it.
Combat - and the placement of assets - was quick and very enjoyable. Randy didn't have that many assets compared to me, but I never quite had enough. Rocket artillery and regular artillery were available to me, but the regular artillery disappeared after its first use, making me wish I'd held it back until Bastogne.
Indeed, I made several strategic and tactical errors. I was forcing Randy back due to sheer numbers, but, although I could reach Bastogne, I didn't do so with the numbers I needed in the time I had. At the end of the second turn I attacked, but we were deadlocked at four steps of combat units all in Bastogne by the end of the game.
Randy then gained 4 points for the two of the six areas around Bastogne I'd failed to capture, and the victory was his.
I rather enjoyed the game, and I'll be looking forward to another (bigger) game in a week or so.
Chris Heap Senhouse
> The introductory scenario is quite cleverly written: it's already
> partway into the first turn, and you begin by resolving three battles.
FYI, all the scenarios start with the first German combat phase.