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Subject: A session report mutation (1st play) rss

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Tim McCormley
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I was going to post this as a response to the "So is this game worth it?" thread, but then realized that much of the response focused on the actual game we played rather than the point raised in the other thread.

So this post mutated into a session report, but it didn't start out that way so it probably lacks the thoroughness of a good session report. Oh well, I'm NOT starting over.

First quote from "RPardoe" from the "So is this game worth it?" thread.

RPardoe wrote:

Thinking in those terms, I realize my responses above had an underlying assumption - what is the rest of the Axis army doing? You are now committing half your initial hand to moving into Bastogne. What do you accomplish with just 4 cards on the rest of the front? In the "big picture" view of the game - I guess it becomes a strategy to try. Push more to the South in a southern flanking move rather than through St. Vith and Malmedy. And isn't that what this game is trying to present?

I was the German player in the game Olvenskol was talking about. You'll have to forgive me, since my memory is very poor when it comes to exact details, and therefore it's hard for other people to tell if we were missing or a rule or something that allowed us to have more flexibility than we really should have.

With THAT little disclaimer out of the way, here's the thing: I really wasn't trying to take Bastogne on the first turn. I was simply outflanking the forces in front of me. I was actually focusing on taking ST. Vith, since I assumed that taking Bastogne was going to be tough. I took Bastogne because I could. It was just sitting there and taking it didn't force me to change my strategic plans at all. IIRC, I also took St. Vith. Now, itlooks like we actually played a rule wrong that allowed me to just walk in to Bastogne. But it's such an important strategic objective, if I REALLY wanted to take it on the first turn, it's a piece of cake. Who needs St. Vith when you can have Bastogne?

I had chosen the "Luxemborg City" German objective (can't remember it's official name...sorry), so I really had no reason to Bulge to the North, so to speak. I also wanted to avoid cracking my head against the Elsenborn Ridge, since that cost the Germans a lot of resources in the historical battle. So my whole strategic plan was to bulge southwestish. If you're going to bulge in that general direction, taking Bastogne is a very good thing indeed.

What was also a little strange about this game is how much of our operations focused on activities in and around the Meuse. I actually crossed the Meuse with ease and could have attacked Antwerp, but decided against it since I didn't select "Watch Am Rhine" as my German objective. That was weird. Getting to the Meuse should be tough! Granted, Olvenskol didn't know the game very well but when it comes to wargaming he's no slouch...you'll have to trust me on that one.

It just felt funny to be playing a Bulge game where there is no likely "Defense of Bastogne" and the German drive to the Meuse is fairly easy. Perhaps the fact that conquering Antwerp is a real possibility in the game (there was NO possibility of that in the historical battle), somehow creates the side effect of making the Meuse an easier objective.

I remarked to Olvenskol that I thought that Operation Market Garden would have been a better battle to select for this kind of operational level game. More difficult to design perhaps (as Olvens pointed out) but more natural for the game mechanics themselves.

Tim

Edit: Get my directions right. I was heading SW, not SE!
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Drake Coker
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You definitely also took St. Vith on the first turn, with Piper

It was certainly easy to take both of the crossroads (St. Vith and Bastogne) on the opening turn. Whether or not that's stoppable isn't clear to me, but it seems likely that the Germans will be able to take both on the opening turn. I need to look at the Allied options there a little more closely to comment with more certainty.

Caveats: we played with the "historical" card hands (which is not required). Certainly that card hand for the Allies is very weak and a more spirited defense of St. Vith could be arranged with better card selection. At the same time, one of the "historical" German cards seemed to be Completely Worthless on the opening turn and could be replaced with something more useful. Also, it was our first game, so I'm sure we're overlooking some things.

As for the value of Bastogne... It's highly valuable for supply reasons if the Germans have objectives in the south. Otherwise, it can be ignored.

In terms of the game, yes, Bastogne does not necessarily have the significance that it did historically. As far as we could tell, neither does reaching the Meuse. Tim crossed it several times and I didn't care. That didn't make for a bad game, I think both Tim and I enjoyed it well enough. It just didn't feel (much) like a "Bulge" game



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