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Subject: Getting Crafty: WWII in 4D Color, a Valor & Victory Session rss

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Sherwood 925
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Scenario: Hedgerow Hell (with pre-assembly)

Intro: I played two initial sessions of HH on no-frills black-and-white office paper. These were test sessions. I was a complete newbie to hex-and-counter wargaming and didn't want to invest a lot into the unknown. Plus, I reasoned, it'd be like watching those pre-Technicolor war films. The Longest Day, yeah!

Turned out I liked the game. But I still wasn't sold on giving it the full-on crafting treatment. What changed was realizing how assembly can be such a blast and add richness to a game. For example, the Pirates and Star Wars Pocket Model games are light fare, but assembling the game pieces (and their detailing) are the games' true genius. Okay, the practical reason: My flimsy paper chits would fly off the board whenever taking deep breaths during game deliberation.

The War Effort: Disclosure; I probably wouldn't have done this if my wife and I weren't pre-disposed to crafting and already had the resources to work with. I followed madDog67's suggestion for using chipboard. I already had the other main ingredients: sticker paper, a rotary cutting board, and a quality printer.


Chipboard is ubiquitous in packaging and paper products, but I wanted to minimize its gray-brown surface. I found sheets of white illustrator board at the office store and thought it was an appropriate color for pinned units. (I later found black illustrator board at the art/crafts store. I might use that for non-infantry.) The illustrator board is 1/16-inch heavy-duty goodness.


All-in-all, it took about 2 hours of crafting to assemble the U.S. and German infantry, the game marker sheet, and map no. 2 (for the HH scenario). The white illustrator board was $12 for a pack of three poster-sized sheets. Since the map is scaled for legal paper, I printed it on poster board and used spray adhesive to mount it onto the chipboard. Looks awesome. I might laminate future map prints, instead of mounting them, for fold-ability. I tried printing the map scaled to letter paper, which would allow better paper options, but the chits would take up too much hex space.

I also tried rounding a chit's corners with a nail clipper and spraying it with varnish for protection and sheen. But I found that didn't add much.

Battle Colors:
As mentioned earlier, this would be my third session of HH. In the previous two, the American troops succeeded by blitzing full stacks at the Germans' left flank while stationing a few half-units at top-right to keep the Germans honest. They would repeat the tactic in third session.

In the first session, the Germans held until the final turn, but were fortunate that American artillery barrages completely missed. Four American units were just barely able to get across. In the second session, the Germans stacked up their left flank to counter the American blitz, but two of the stacks took direct artillery hits. All remaining U.S. units crossed at the fourth turn.

For the third session, the Germans' tactic was to split into half units to hopefully 1) slow down the American blitz and 2) minimize any losses to artillery fire.

This one got bloody real quick. Two of the three American half units assigned to the Germans' right flank were killed while moving into position. Two of the German half-units intended to slow the American blitz were killed while jumping out of their foxholes. The Germans were able to pin and split a blitzing troop stack. As the Americans continued charging, U.S. artillery destroyed a German unit, it's leader, and their machine gun.


The two-sides were in close combat now. The German's tactic of slowing down the blitz with half units worked, but weakened their line overall. The American troop stacks countered by focusing on the right flank, moving away from the German leaders and machine guns. The American stand-by unit at top-right now joined the fight.

German close-range fire was able to pin some, but not kill any, of the Americans moving across the road. The charging troop stacks were too much for the German half-units. Their line was quickly breached.

As in the previous battles, the Germans' last hope was to move troops over to attempt close-combat suicide. But the extra units were stacked to the left, and the Americans pinned them down. The only Germans able to attack was one leader and a half-unit, each with machine guns attacking from different zones. They charged knowing they would not survive. Death awaited regardless. Their attacks surprised and killed the two American troop stacks closest to crossing, four units -- three full -- all dead.

The Germans, however, could not rally more troops to close their line. All remaining American units passed in the fourth round.



All Clear:
Although the third session wasn't as tight as the first, having the crafted components definitely helped realize the game better. It definitely helped the administrative aspect, and thus made a more-accurate game. I looked forward to placing pieces on the board. In contrast, during the earlier sessions, I got lazy about keeping track of my tiny, thin pieces of paper, which probably lead to mistakes and an attenuated game experience.

One tweak I'll make for future HH sessions is to only allow artillery strikes during the third or fourth rounds, or reducing/excluding them. I liked how the first session came down to the wire due to artillery misses. Alternately, considering that the German sniper never came out during the three sessions, I might activate him/her automatically once the Americans target their artillery.

For now, it is onto armored vehicles, and guns, and tanks, and bigger explosions!
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Todd Reed
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Scanning all the AARs here suggests this scenario I heavily favored toward the Americans. Having not played, I would be interested in players' feedback on this.
 
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Sherwood 925
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mojayhawk wrote:
Scanning all the AARs here suggests this scenario I heavily favored toward the Americans. Having not played, I would be interested in players' feedback on this.


I wouldn't say heavily favored, as my sessions still stretched to the last 2 rounds and my first session had exactly the minimum units able to cross at the very end. I take it that the OOB (I'm learning!) represents the later stages of the battle:

http://normandiememoire.info/NM60Allemand/2_histo4/histo4_p0...

It's a nice intro to the game. In a way, I think the American advantage allows whomever is playing that side to focus on game mechanics without worrying too much about strategy.
 
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