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Subject: Some quick thoughts on this possible gem. rss

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Mike Smith
United Kingdom
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I have just played the short campaign, and I was struck by the impressive quality of this game. I played the other 2 GDW double-blinds from this series back in the 80s, and liked both of them, especially Market Garden. This one seems to mesh together admirably.
There were a number of things that impressed me here. It has a rich level of detail for such a small game, and even a little chrome. I liked the way in which moving/advancing halves you until your next turn. A simple way of simulating prepared positions and artillery support emplacement. If you don't decide on your line and order of deployment and try to stick to it you are going to suffer. I liked the reserve movement system, which allows you to exploit suspected temporary enemy withdrawls from key positions, as well as plug gaps and delay once the breakthrough stage of the game is reached.
The double-blind system works well. Its not overly cumbersome to operate since there is only a limited length of frontline. But at the same time it magnifies the game interest of playing on what would seem in most games a very limited range of hexes. The system shines in the opening stages when the Germans can't cover everything, and I think it will be superb for the breakthrough stage, though we have not played the full campaign to test that yet. It even serves a purpose in the grinding middle stage of the campaign since it adds interest to trying to intuit where the main thrusts/defenses will be.
There are some interesting and arguable simulation choices here. Beyond an excellent ability to move fast on roads (shared with motorised), armour has no special inherent advantages (though at full strength crack armoured units are the strongest units in the game), and plenty of demerits in the wrong terrain. This may be right for the Normandy Campaign, with a plentiful supply of antitank guns on both sides, and bazookas and panzerfausts to boot.
I need to try the long game to reach a proper conclusion. The long-term attrition rate has to be right in a Normandy game for it really be said to work, and it remains to be seen whether this game has that.
Potential problems: obviously the honesty factor, and beyond that you need to be sure your opponent actually knows how to operate the movement system prperly, since you can't watch him hawk-like and check up on what he is doing, as you probably would in a conventional game.
You really need some arrow counters from another game to mark the probes and attacks that you commit yourself to in the first movement phase. We used the double-sided ones from Hells Highway: one side for probes the other for attacks.
I have to say this felt much more like Normandy than Cobra, which I have played many times, and it was a thoroughly engrossing struggle. I hope shortly to see if the interest is maintained over the long haul of a full campaign.
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