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FAB: The Bulge» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Door slammed shut - sudden death in the Ardennes rss

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David Hughes
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David Longworth and I finished a game of FAB Bulge last night. Though a balmy Sydney summer's evening was not exactly evocative of a frigid Ardennes winter, we managed to suspend our disbelief and have a good time nonetheless.

This was my third game of Bulge, but they have been so spread out it feels like three first games. The US has won them all quite handily, which old Bulge hands say is reflective of the steeper German learning curve. In fact, my impression is that this is quite a tough game to master for both sides, given its 3-for-low rating on the GMT complexity scale. And appropriately enough, I'd hazard three reasons for this:

- there is plenty of innovation here, especially around the neat game concepts of special actions and assets. Mastering the intricacies of these is vital, right from your first move, and indeed you pretty well have to commit them to memory (the asset capabilities matrix from C3i does help, but doesn't go nearly far enough.) Same goes for hit priorities; it is obvious advice, but make sure BOTH players have a copy of the relevant chart

- the rules, while pretty complete and well-expressed, maddeningly split many key concepts across the series rules and the Bulge-specific playbook

- the sudden-death victory conditions are very unforgiving, especially for the German. You have to be able to visualise the map connections, a skill I find needs practice.

All that notwithstanding, we had a fun, plausible and headache-free frolic in the forests. Though the shoulders held, a couple of breakthroughs in the early fights gave the fascist spearheads a glimpse of open road through the threadbare US lines. Teutonic hearts beat faster at the start of Turn 3, where the prospect of victory was opened up by the fall of Bastogne, and two massive holes in the allied front. But desperate defence by scratch task forces and combat engineers patched the holes, and just in time the airborne divisions arrived to add some much needed muscle.

By turn 4, the German needed to capture a single VP area to avoid a sudden death loss, so the panzer forces swarmed into Malmedy and Marche. The US player could only reinforce one, and the game hung on this decision. He chose Malmedy, with the result that he just held the area without losing a unit (and the VP that goes with it.) So it all came down to an epic armour battle at Marche, where again the Germans fell agonisingly short, one hit short of victory.

Just as we were shaking hands, we realised there was one last chance for the forces of darkness. If they could inflict 4 hits on the 7th Armored Division now contesting Bastogne, then its elimination was assured, and that single, elusive, essential VP could be grabbed. A tough ask, but as Han Solo said, don't tell me the odds...

It wasn't to be, and the game ended in a sudden death US win.

I really like FAB Bulge, it's perfect for weeknight gaming. I just wish I could play it enough to internalise its unique features. My impression - perhaps a mistaken one - is that FAB Bulge has flown under the radar, for some reason. If so, it's a sleeper, because it's a good 'un.
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Jan van der Laan
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Scotty Dave wrote:
I really like FAB Bulge, it's perfect for weeknight gaming. I just wish I could play it enough to internalise its unique features. My impression - perhaps a mistaken one - is that FAB Bulge has flown under the radar, for some reason. If so, it's a sleeper, because it's a good 'un.


That's exactly my feeling towards this little gem. A great game packed in such a small box.
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Adam Ruzzo
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Jan van der Laan wrote:
Scotty Dave wrote:
I really like FAB Bulge, it's perfect for weeknight gaming. I just wish I could play it enough to internalise its unique features. My impression - perhaps a mistaken one - is that FAB Bulge has flown under the radar, for some reason. If so, it's a sleeper, because it's a good 'un.


That's exactly my feeling towards this little gem. A great game packed in such a small box.


Mine as well. The rules are well written but as you said, many concepts that should be right together in the rules are spread out between the two books and so hard to internalize.

I always do enjoy the game when I get to play it, but it often can take a whole 4-5 hours, so it doesn't hit the table very often.
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Tom Stearns
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David nice session report. I played this recently ftf for the first time. I like the system and the game quite a bit. I was the American and lost with sudden death vp condition on turn 6 or 7, whichever the turn is before all the American reinforcements pour on to the map. I was frustrated at the rate my opponent was repairing his elite armor. After the game was over I reread the rules and realized we used the "wildcard" chit the same way as the block, so he was getting 2 "wildcard" repl's every turn instead of just one. I also rolled extremely poorly. Our decisive battle also hinged around Malmedy. The oos rules were what I found difficult to keep straight and what ended up beating me in the end, after I allowed some units near Malmedy to go oos. Looking forward to another go of it also. Definetly a sleeper game as you don't hear much about it, good or bad. I picked it up relatively cheap and feel fortunate to have done so.
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micah qs
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I've been prepping for my first game of FAB:Bulge for months now... Ok maybe I haven't been prepping the whole time, but this game has some serious intimidation factor when you first read the rules. Enjoyable session report, makes me look forward to my first play.
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David Hughes
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Thanks Micah.

My advice on getting up to speed for a first game would be:

- get your head around how hits are taken, and in particular, how the defender can avoid them. Most of the time, Disruption holds no fears for the defender, as his units will be fully recovered by the end of his next turn.

- spend as much time as you can on the rules sections covering assets, events and special actions. Don't skim any of them - you will probably use all of them in a game.

- have a good look at the map, especially where the VP areas are. Pay attention to rivers, but not too much, as they tend to channel rather than halt attacks

- check out the reinforcement charts; the US gets a huge boost on turn 3, and the Germans of turn 4. It's good to know what's about to hit you!

I'm sure others have their tips too.

Good luck!

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John Foley
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David, that's good advice.
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Timothy Phelps
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And most importantly - play the Nuts! scenario.
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Sam Carroll
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Yes, I agree that the Nuts! scenario is valuable as a learning aid. Question for the more experienced teachers here: which side do you play in Nuts!? Then which side for the full deal?
 
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