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Subject: Is Ambush that good? rss

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Thales Martins
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I love wargames, but it is a little hard to have time to play with my friends, because of time issue, so from time to time, I enjoy playing some solitaire wargames.

I have played Field Commander: Alexander, Leningrad and Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 by my self, and it wasn´t bad, so my question is, compared to those games, how better or worse is Ambush! in:

Components
Fun
Complexity
Depth
Replayability
Luck Factor


And is Ambush!, hard to learn, or a game where you have to be constantly checking the rules?

Thanks guys
 
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Terry Simo
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I only own COH:SOS which I haven't played out of the 3 games you list so can't give you a side to side comparison but I do own most of the Ambush series.


Components -- against today's standards I'd rate a 6-7 (10 being topnotch)
Fun -- 8-9 (10 being awesome fun)
Complexity -- 8-9 (1 being easy)
Depth -- 8-9
Replayability -- 6-7 per scenario as you can figure when some things will trigger playing through multiple times
Luck Factor -- 6-7 dice game plus pretty brutal/not super easy

Considering the age of the game, I've yet to see anyone publish a better solo tactical game. It does take a bit of reading and re-reading to get the rules down - I always make a mistake or two if I haven't played in awhile.


T-Mo

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Captain Spaulding
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I've never played Ambush myself, but I have skimmed the rules and I would say it's more complex than the other games you mentioned.
 
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DK Kemler
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The only thing that drags ambush down for me, is needing to check a paragraph every time you move into a new hex. It gets really tedious sometimes. As long as you have the time to spread the game out and just sit back and enjoy it though, it's great.
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D Summers
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Ambush was great in it's time, and I still find it to be a decent game (just pulled it our recently) but it feels somewhat dated compared to games like Dday at Omaha Beach or Fields of Fire.

The constant paragraph lookups (while novel in it's time) can be tiresome after a while.

It's a classic to be sure, but unless you can find it on the cheap there are probably some better options available.
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Captain Spaulding
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Frontline: D-Day is another you might want to check out.
 
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Jim Marshall
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Caveat: it's a while since I've played an Ambush! scenario, but I have played pretty much all of them, many multiple times.

Components: very good for the time, reasonable enough for today. The graphical style in Combat Commander reminds me a lot of Ambush!

Rules: essentially there are three parts to the system. Firstly, you've got the man-to-man tactical rules covering movement, combat (either hand-to-hand or ranged, the latter of which brings in line of sight), weapon/ammo usage, and individual soldier stats (initiative, weapon skills etc. that are essentially die roll modifiers). Nothing unique here, but servicable enough.

You've then got the layer on top which governs how the Germans activate, which is governed by the paragraph system. The care and effort in here goes way beyond the dice rolling/chit pulling/card drawing used to create the illusion of an intelligent opponent in most solo wargames. Ambush! actually does give you an intelligent opponent, just one who's had his reactions and decisions pre-programmed into each mission via the branching logic of the paragraph system.

Finally, you've got the turn sequence system, which governs the sequence in which US and German units activate during combat rounds.

Taken together, I think this gives a unique gaming experience. Here's why:

It's mission based. At the start of each mission your understanding of what you need to do is very sketchy, and will only be revealed (through the paragraph system) as the mission progresses. Each mission has it's own situation. Sometimes you'll be attacking, sometimes defending, often you won't know which until the mission is well underway.

This creates an open-ended story (depending upon which German units and actions you trigger), which is one of the things I like best about Ambush! There are usually several paths through each mission, especially if you try a different approach each time.

The RPG-like soldier stats elements work well. Play a campaign and you'll mourn the loss of your best soldiers and pray to roll up good stats for the replacements. You can build up a great squad over a series of missions (soldiers' stats improve over time) but a poorly thought out advance can leave your squad decimated. You need to decide whether your point man should be your best team member (who's likely to react first to danger, but who's loss will be felt severely) or the new Joe who's name you barely know.

The game shifts gear when Germans are encountered. (Germans are not placed on the map at the start of a scenario; your moves activate them). The first couple of combat rounds after a German activation are very tense, as your guys don't always join the party early (perception - I may have remembered the term incorrectly - die rolls determine when they wake up and react to the danger), and you can never predict which US/German soldiers will react first in each round.

Many wargames are chess like affairs in which the attacker has n turns to move so many units into a certain number of hexes. Ambush! avoids this completely. You never know how long it will last, you rarely know your victory conditions at the start of the scenario, and even the map itself may change during play.

Referring to a paragraph booklet has been cited as a game-time overhead by previous posters. It's a fair point, but to me a small overhead given the open ended play experience that results.

Playing a 2 player game solo has an appeal but requires an element of artificial double-think as you ignore the green side's plans while playing grey and vice versa.

I feel that most solo games can be reduced to a series of probablility based decisions as the opposition 'moves' are determined by some sort of dice/chit/card randomiser.

Ambush! is the only solo game I know in which you're playing against an opponent. It's just that his force's composition and location are unknown to you at game start, are as his reactions to what you do.

I don't think any other solo game comes close.
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Captain Spaulding
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Jim Marshall wrote:
Caveat: it's a while since I've played an Ambush! scenario, but I have played pretty much all of them, many multiple times.

Components: very good for the time, reasonable enough for today. The graphical style in Combat Commander reminds me a lot of Ambush!

Rules: essentially there are three parts to the system. Firstly, you've got the man-to-man tactical rules covering movement, combat (either hand-to-hand or ranged, the latter of which brings in line of sight), weapon/ammo usage, and individual soldier stats (initiative, weapon skills etc. that are essentially die roll modifiers). Nothing unique here, but servicable enough.

You've then got the layer on top which governs how the Germans activate, which is governed by the paragraph system. The care and effort in here goes way beyond the dice rolling/chit pulling/card drawing used to create the illusion of an intelligent opponent in most solo wargames. Ambush! actually does give you an intelligent opponent, just one who's had his reactions and decisions pre-programmed into each mission via the branching logic of the paragraph system.

Finally, you've got the turn sequence system, which governs the sequence in which US and German units activate during combat rounds.

Taken together, I think this gives a unique gaming experience. Here's why:

It's mission based. At the start of each mission your understanding of what you need to do is very sketchy, and will only be revealed (through the paragraph system) as the mission progresses. Each mission has it's own situation. Sometimes you'll be attacking, sometimes defending, often you won't know which until the mission is well underway.

This creates an open-ended story (depending upon which German units and actions you trigger), which is one of the things I like best about Ambush! There are usually several paths through each mission, especially if you try a different approach each time.

The RPG-like soldier stats elements work well. Play a campaign and you'll mourn the loss of your best soldiers and pray to roll up good stats for the replacements. You can build up a great squad over a series of missions (soldiers' stats improve over time) but a poorly thought out advance can leave your squad decimated. You need to decide whether your point man should be your best team member (who's likely to react first to danger, but who's loss will be felt severely) or the new Joe who's name you barely know.

The game shifts gear when Germans are encountered. (Germans are not placed on the map at the start of a scenario; your moves activate them). The first couple of combat rounds after a German activation are very tense, as your guys don't always join the party early (perception - I may have remembered the term incorrectly - die rolls determine when they wake up and react to the danger), and you can never predict which US/German soldiers will react first in each round.

Many wargames are chess like affairs in which the attacker has n turns to move so many units into a certain number of hexes. Ambush! avoids this completely. You never know how long it will last, you rarely know your victory conditions at the start of the scenario, and even the map itself may change during play.

Referring to a paragraph booklet has been cited as a game-time overhead by previous posters. It's a fair point, but to me a small overhead given the open ended play experience that results.

Playing a 2 player game solo has an appeal but requires an element of artificial double-think as you ignore the green side's plans while playing grey and vice versa.

I feel that most solo games can be reduced to a series of probablility based decisions as the opposition 'moves' are determined by some sort of dice/chit/card randomiser.

Ambush! is the only solo game I know in which you're playing against an opponent. It's just that his force's composition and location are unknown to you at game start, are as his reactions to what you do.

I don't think any other solo game comes close.


Great, you talked me back into needing to try Ambush. I knew I shouldn't have clicked this thread.
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Matthew Jones
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Jim Marshall wrote:

Ambush! is the only solo game I know in which you're playing against an opponent. It's just that his force's composition and location are unknown to you at game start, are as his reactions to what you do.


First off I totally agree with everything in your post/mini-review, with the tiny exception of this paragraph.

I know that it's been much maligned in the forums for it's (admittedly difficult) rulebook, but Fields of Fire does pretty much the same thing. It's obviously a different take on wargaming as Ambush is very Hollywood Man to Man combat and Fields of Fire is simulating the overall command of an infantry company.

But, as each mission has an enemy, a setup, and rules governing the enemy's reactions to your movements, I feel safe in saying that it accomplishes playing against an opponent.

Jim Marshall wrote:
I don't think any other solo game comes close.


Whether or not Fields of Fire matches Ambush's stature as a "gaming classic" can be debated. What can't be denied is the tension in storytelling that come from both games.

Fields is worthy of standing alongside Ambush in my humble opinion. Your mileage may vary.
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Mik Svellov
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Ambush has the same complexity (or lack of it) as Conflict of Heroes. Ambush is a great solitaire game that can be played by played two players sharing the squad.
 
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William Gaskill
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Well it does have the French girl in the Barn scriptdevil

OD
 
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Pokey 64
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Don't forget to be on the lookout for the other games that use the same system. They play the same way. Excellent solitaire play!

Battle Hymn for Pacific scenarios
Battle Hymn: Leatherneck the expansion for Battle Hymn

Open Fire you're a tank platoon leader instead of infantry
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Jim Marshall
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Mr_Bickman wrote:
Jim Marshall wrote:
Caveat: it's a while since I've played an Ambush! scenario, but I have played pretty much all of them, many multiple times.

.....

I don't think any other solo game comes close.


Great, you talked me back into needing to try Ambush. I knew I shouldn't have clicked this thread.


Sorry!
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Bart Brunscheen
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Very well said Jim.
 
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Jim Marshall
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armed-medic wrote:
Very well said Jim.


Thanks
 
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