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Memoir '44: Hedgerow Hell» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First test! rss

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Darren Dew
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Okay, so we wanted to test Hedgerow Hell and I was itching for an excuse to buy the Operation: Overlord expansion. So, I attempted to show up early and get the game set up.

First, let me say that the Overlord Expansion is simply gorgeous. The decks are almost worth the money by themselves! Great graphic design, simple and clear explanations and great artwork and color. I punched the cardboard tokens last night, even though I wouldn't be using them. They look good, too, for use in lieu of two sets, or to test a couple of Overlord scenarios at the same time (I know, that happens all the time, right?)

When I first bought the Hedgerow Hell pack, I was, like many, a little disconcerted about the price and contents. Would it be worth the price for a pre-printed map, and six trucks? When I opened it, my worst fears were realised. A fairly lightweight paper map, unpainted/uncolored trucks that don't match the rest of the American units, and no cards for the introduced tactics/units. I simply shook my head.

Now, I had decided to give it a best shot and see what was there in the play of this expansion/addition. The first thing that became completely clear was the set-up was a COMPLETE breeze. In a few moments, we had dished out the units to their respective hexes, covered the new rules and a couple terrain issues. We were ready to start rolling dice!

The clarity of the Overlord rules had us scratching our heads, just a little, but the shortfall was specifically with the rulebook. The cards are phenomenal, in and of themselves. So after a quick review, some reading and a decision about how to play with four players, we got to it.

The scenario has some great established "lanes" and its a big challenge for the Germans to maintain some key points. Meanwhile, the Allies have some difficult terrain to cover and need to continue pushing to either nab a couple of the temporary objectives, or open a lane for the exit zones. With armor backing up infantry across a variety of terrain that benefits the infantry phenomenally well. The artillery is positioned in such a way that it cannot immediately nor continuously make an impact without moving.

The briskness of the game, in such a large scenario really surprised us. The moving back and forth between units and areas of action was really invigorating. Very active! There was a lot of give and take, with the Americans gainging some great ground into the left and center flanks, making the Axis powers really reconsider their strengths and reevaluating how the armor was goign to reinforce some struggling areas. Then, the German glue came in to bolster their forces and annihilate a series of tank units, bringing the game back to near even. The loss of one of the temporary objectives still didn't trouble the Germans too much, although it opened the lane for the Americans to drive a brigade off of one side of the board and edge closer to the victory standard.

However, the sacrifice of so many units might've led to an opening for the Germans, in a big way. So, the Americans wisely held ground and harrassed from the right flank, while the BIG action turned to the German right and the center. With some terrific back-and-forth, the end of a round of cards led to a 12-12 standoff, with the Allies going next. With two "Recon-1" cards, the Allied left commander had to decide to preserve a weakened 2-tank unit, or move one hex and fire on a weakened 2-tank German armor unit. The Marshall encouraged a "go for it" attitude, and thus rolled two grenades and secured victory!

I was greatly impressed with the quality of the components, as is usual with Days of Wonder products. However, I fell into the negativity expressed by many about the direction taken by the M44 team recently. That nis, until I actually played it. If you have it, or know someone who does, PLAY IT. It will modify, at least, your opinion and reinforce what we've known all along; DoW brings fun to the table, and I truly believe you will be completely satisfied by both the Hedgerow Hell and Operation Overlord expansions. I look forward to the large maps, and may just begin playing with those, as it seemed to go just as fast, and all of the setup was right on the paper.

A terrific and rewarding product, and I withdraw any prior reservations I may have had and completely endorse these sets.
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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Interesting. Richard and I played Hedgerow Hell three times this week. The Germans won, 13-7, 13-6 and 13-6. Richard played the US twice. Richard and I are very experienced with the system.

In all three games, the US was down 7-2, 5-0 and 5-0 very quickly. The German player starts up 3-0 because he holds the villages. 28 US units initially deploy without retreat hexes including all three Supply Units. Two of the trucks start within range of German Artillery, they will hit the trucks on Infantry, Grenades and Retreats for a 67% chance and the third truck is within Behinds Enemy Lines Range.

I'd like to see a detailed Session Report and read the other AARs on the Memoir '44 website to see how the US can win this scenario. In our experience, the US hasn't been able to come back from being down that much that early with an 8 card hand, two fewer cards than the German.
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Darren Dew
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scribidinus wrote:
Interesting. Richard and I played Hedgerow Hell three times this week. The Germans won, 13-7, 13-6 and 13-6. Richard played the US twice. Richard and I are very experienced with the system.

In all three games, the US was down 7-2, 5-0 and 5-0 very quickly. The German player starts up 3-0 because he holds the villages. 28 US units initially deploy without retreat hexes including all three Supply Units. Two of the trucks start within range of German Artillery, they will hit the trucks on Infantry, Grenades and Retreats for a 67% chance and the third truck is within Behinds Enemy Lines Range.


The US infantry led the way, harassing from within terrain and badgering units. Then, blasting their way up the road came the quite intimidating US armor force. The US didn't get "crazy dice" at any point, really, and the Germans (myself and another player) had some terrific cards. It looked in the early game that the US was going to take two of the objective points and win handily until the Germans struck back and pushed the US armor back to secure the center of the board. The Germans did lose their left village objective, and the US wisely hid away a few units that were weakened.

The initial lead (of the villages) evaporates with a loss of a single one of them; the US gets two flags (one for the unit and one for the town). And firing artillery at trucks wasn't high on our priority list, I'll admit. Aren't they at a range where only one dice would be rolled? That doesn't seem like a safe bet.

Behind Enemy Lines did come into play, but not on the German side. A weakened American unit zipped by a weakened artillery unit, eliminated it and ran off the backside of the board, again for two flags!

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Darren Dew
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scribidinus wrote:
28 US units initially deploy without retreat hexes including all three Supply Units. Two of the trucks start within range of German Artillery, they will hit the trucks on Infantry, Grenades and Retreats for a 67% chance and the third truck is within Behinds Enemy Lines Range.


I pulled out the map this morning; in fact, there are 29 Allied units with no avenue of retreat, but the entirety of units that are in range of real danger is very few. The German artillery can only bring 1 die to bear on those vulnerable units in most cases.

While the Germans are quite dug in, there are no "highly mobile" units that can take advantage of the quick-strike benefit of the roads. Also, any of the Germans units that leave their fortified positions lose that protection, the only edge they have on other units occupying the same hedgerows and forests that populate the map, all of which block line-of-sight. Likewise, they lose the flag so long as they do not occupy the temporary medal objectives, if I'm reading the Air Power rules correctly.

Back to those 29 units? The US' 34 units represents a significant numerical advantage to the German total of 22 units. 3 German elite units do have some mobility, but statistics like that make field commanders salivate.

The exit strategy off of the roads (there are five!) is another significant edge for the US, as the German must try and keep it within mind that it offers an avenue for even a couple of flags. While Martinville is pretty strongly fortified, I'd offer the other two can be accessed handily, if that is the US goal.

I look forward to playing it a few more times, as it set up rapidly and was a blast to play! The frustration of the hedgerows made this an aptly-named scenario!
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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Darren,

I need to get up to speed on Vassal. I'd like to play more people than just RD face to face. That said, I've looked at the map again and you are right there are 29 US Units trapped against the board edge. Regarding the Supply Trucks though; I keep asking myself if would I target them with Artillery if they were half strength Infantry units. Even with just 1 die and the answer is still yes. A single figure unit is always a problem for the owner, usually one protects it or uses it in a desperate attack hoping to take an enemy with it. You can do neither with a Supply Truck, especially on a board edge. One die against a full strength Supply Truck, is a better choice than 1 die against a full strength Infantry or Armor unit. Any attack against a single figure unit for a Medal is seldom a bad idea.

If I figure out vassal, we need to play.

Scrib


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Darren Dew
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Oh, I don't do Vassal, or any other online or computer games. I'm strictly a face-to-face gameboard type guy.
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Frank Hamrick
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As for the Supply Trucks, we play with a house rule - they are not in play for German aggression until 1) they move, or 2) one of the sets of 2 trucks is used. Then, all Supply Trucks in a sector are free game. It makes the Allies think twice about moving them, but it also eliminates the threat of easy pickins' for the Germans.

The rationale is that the trucks are "off map" until they move.
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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Frank Hamrick wrote:
As for the Supply Trucks, we play with a house rule - they are not in play for German aggression until 1) they move, or 2) one of the sets of 2 trucks is used. Then, all Supply Trucks in a sector are free game. It makes the Allies think twice about moving them, but it also eliminates the threat of easy pickins' for the Germans.

The rationale is that the trucks are "off map" until they move.


Good! In essence, since you needed a house rule, you think, as we do, the trucks in this scenario are serious liabilities to the US, if the scenario is played straight by the rules. That's really what I am trying to confirm.

Now, even with that house rule, how often does the US win?

Richard and I got in two more games today of Hedgerow Hell today because he is convinced the US can win somehow. Today the Germans won 13-6 and 13-4. Richard and I think the trucks should start off the map an be allowed to enter on any US baseline road hex with the play of a card for that section.
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Darren Dew
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When we get a couple more sessions in with that map, I'll have to take the trucks into account and target them more. We didn't really see the trucks as being a big hangup, as the US can present some far more serious trouble for the Germans than being able to burn extra artillery actions on some trucks.
The reduction in set-up time really helps out and makes me want to play with the paper maps all the time!
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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We talked last night after the games. The US numerical superiority is an advantage if the US player can order them and that takes plenty of Assault cards. In the second game last night, Richard used Dig In to sandbag his Center trucks on the back row and his Infantry across the front of the Center.

His plan was to transfer his Center Armor to his left and make his main assault thrust there. But in that game he only drew one Assault card and that was for his right. So on his right, he tried to make a dash for the exits but he couldn't sustain it. He lost 13-4. His card draws were the worst in this game. My card luck was average. I suppose my dice luck was above average but I never rolled three hits and I don't think I ever swished on two or more dice either. We were joking, it seemed that every time I rolled 2 or more dice the result was one Hit and one Flag.

We've played 5 times by the book and the US has never scored more than 7 Medals. In all but one of the games, Two Supply Trucks were killed in the first three turns for Medals leading to 5-0 or even 7-0 leads. Being down that many units means the American player has to find ways to roll a lot more dice per turn than the German player. That means playing lots of cards or exceptionally good cards or both. Richard, by cycling 3 cards out to draw 2, trying to get the Assault cards he needed, had to resort to Independent Action die rolls just to do "something" until he replenished his hand.

I like how the terrain limits and channels movement. I didn't mind winning the two games of this and one Conflict of Heroes yesterday either.


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