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Counter-Attack! Arras» Forums » General

Subject: CA:A Design Notes rss

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Tom Volpe
United States
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The following is taken from a ConSimWorld post by Michael Rinella, the designer of Counter-Atack! Arras, on 9/27/09 (with permission from MR).

"I would suggest CA:A or CAA as shorthand.

What Olivier and I agreed upon, when developing the design, was to make the game as fun as possible.

Playing the historical Arras attack over and over would soon become stale, or so we felt at any rate. It cast the players in the roles of perhaps battalion commanders, rather than the senior commanders.

The Allies had enough time to set up their forces that a number of options could have been pursued. And the Germans by no means were limited to the historical deployment. Rommel's historical deployment was in part based on the progress of the 5th Panzer Division on his right; had that advance been different his deployment of his own division at the end of May 20th would have been different.

To help depict that, and in contrast to the other games I've designed, the game has a variable setup. Of the Area-Impulse games I've played, the closest comparison would be the setup options that were in Turning Point: Stalingrad.

Players set up one area at time, alternating back and forth. This allows them to partially "know" what the enemy is up to, but not perfectly.

The game only has 140 counters and a number of those are control markers and some optional units. So the setup should not take players too long, though naturally a first play is always that nervously exciting "leap into the dark".

Counter density will be low. The rules are fairly simple. The most important thing I'd point out is that impulses do not alternate. One player begins the turn with the initiative (the Allies have this on Turn 1). A player with the initiative may activate areas until:

They lose a combat

They run out of fresh units

They declare a "pass"

This mechanic exists in more than one game, I believe, but the one I distinctly recall it being used in was Royal Tank Corps. In contrast to that game, however, there are a lot fewer counters in CA:A so the "down time" for each player should not be long at all. Nor will turns be overly long, despite the lack of a "sunset die roll". I doubt that players will wind up activating every area each turn, so in contrast to my other area movement games I could easily see turns ending with fresh units still on the map and each player declaring a "pass" after a few moves/attacks.

All of which is leading up to my saying that an experienced area-impulse player could play the game in two hours or so the first time out, and a inexperienced player perhaps in three hours. After the first spin I would think playing times would shorten by a half hour for each type of player."
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