doug draa
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Hi, this is my first ever attempt at writing a game review, so please be kind.
To start out let me say that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed and like my War Games fairly simple. To be honest, AH’s “Bitter Woods” is the most complicated game I’ve ever played where I could remember most of the rules. So I’ve played lots of “Onslaught. From D-Day to the Rhine”, “Russian Campaign”, “Battle Cry”, “Field Marshall” and “Afrika Korps”. The only two squad level games I’ve ever played were “The Forever War” and the original version of “Starship Troopers” from AH. I’ve recently tried to get into Panzer Grenadier BotB, but just couldn’t seem to get the hang of the rules/system. Like I said, I’m of the SUB-GENIUS category of Grognard. 

Last week I was looking for a new game, having been fairly successful with a few Ebay sales, and went down to our local games/comics store to look around.. I’m an ex-pat Buckeye living in Germany and war games are not all that easy to come by, not to mention the massive mark-up in price. Anyways I saw this boxed hex & counter game that had a wonderful painting on the lid and must have weighed a ton. It was called “Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear”. After checking out the box I figured that it was a PG clone. Even though I lurk a whole lot at BGG this game had completely gone under my radar. I couldn’t find anything that interested me and went home disappointed. Later that evening I went to BGG and took a look at the war game rankings figuring I have to order something online. I saw CoH:AtB was at number 19 on the war games list and at Nr.46 on the overall game rankings list. Wow! After doing some reading I became interested enough to go ahead and cough up the 60 Euros (90 dollars) and buy it! Ouch!!!

So After lugging this massively heavy box home and unpacking it I was almost overwhelmed by the quality of the bits. This puts most modern war games to shame. I thought it was 1976 all over again. Which isn’t really true since, thank god, I didn’t have to look at any more NATO symbols. After having spent 8 years in the Army and over 30 years of gaming I hate those things!  The counters actually had 3D views of actual figures and vehicles like PG. These though are thicker, wider and prettier than PG. They are fully punched and fall out of the frames! NO CLIPPING!!!! The 5 maps are fully mounted and fairly big. The rules are a bit oversized but very easy to understand with lots of illustrated examples of play. The PG rules kept me busy for a week for I trusted myself to play the first scenario. I had CoH up and running within 90 minutes of unpacking the game!

IMHO the game system is amazing in its simplicity. The first scenario only runs 5 turns and by the 3rd turn I was actually playing the game and not screwing around with the rules. The rules summary/players aid sheet was a huge help. IMHO this game has some of the most intuitive and logical rules breakdown that I have ever seen. To illustrate this I’ll now quickly explain the game to the best of my ability without referring to the rules book.

The scenario gives the layout and number of units needed for the scenario.
Each counter has to sides, Fresh and exhausted. On the counter you have a picture of the unit, his movement cost in APs (Action points), firing cost in APs, Forward and flank defense value, Normal and armor piercing attack value and range. The flip side of the counter display the same unit in its spent/exhausted state. A lot of info, but you catch on quickly. So you want to move and fight? Well at the beginning of each turn you role for initiative. The highest roll goes first. The turns are broken down into “action” phases. The active player activates one unit per phase. Each phase you get 7 APs (activation points). You use these to move and fire. Let’s say that moving cost one AP per grid (plus terrain modifier costs) and firing costs 2 APs. That’ll cost 3 points. You still have 4 APs left so you can move and fire the same unit again. Each action you commit allows the opposing side to use reaction fire. For example you want to move 3 hexes. For each hex you enter any opposing unit that is unspent, has line of sight and is within range can fire on you. This doesn’t cost him any points, but he has to flip the unit to its exhausted/spent side and it can’t be activated anymore during the same turn or take part in anymore reaction fire. Once the active player is done with his activated unit it has to be flipped to its spent/exhausted side and can’t be used any more this turn. He no passes and the active phase goes to the opponent. He gets 7 APs to activate one fresh/unspent unit and spend his APs on that unit. The opponent gets reaction fire with any fresh/unspent units that then get flipped to their exhausted side.

Now here’s what I find really cool. PG has leaders that you need to activate to be able to activate your units. In Conflict of Heroes you get Command points to use. These are different from APS. You get 7 APS per action phase/round. That means with 7 units you might get 7 action phases per turn. The turn ends when each player passes on their action phase.

Command Points are only refreshed each TURN! This means you need to conserve and wisely spend these during your actions phases. APs and CP can never be saved. APS are only good for the one activated unit each phase and CPs are for an entire turn. The scenario decides how many CPs each player gets pr TURN. In the first scenario the Soviets get 7 CPs and the Nazis get only 6CPs. CPs represent your command structure. So when you lose units you have less CPs on the next turn. This simulates the loss of command structure through attrition.
You use your CPs to extend you APs. Suppose you want to fire with a unit with a 3AP firing cost and you only have 2 APs left. You can use a CP to add an extra AP. You can also use CPs to improve any dice roll up to +2 ore use CPs for reaction fire and the reacting unit remains fresh and doesn’t need to be fliiped to its exhausted side. So you have to use these wisely. These are also useful in firing since you can add up to +2 to your fire power.
So you have to use these wisely as you only get them refreshed at the beginning of each turn.
So you have some serious resource management here to work with. Not too much of it though. I found it just right.

I forgot to mention what I find to be another fun aspect of the game. You units have “facing”. This allows you to only fire into your “forward firing arc”. You can’t fire to the rear! This allows your unit to get flanked! You can change facing for free after moving, but if you want to pivot in place you’ll have to pay 1 AP. Since you have “facing” you have to defense values. One defense value for your forward flanks and one weaker value for your rear flanks.

When a unit gets “hit” you draw a hit chip. It can be anything from total destruction to being stunned, pinned, panicked ect. Once a unit has 2 “hits” it is considered destroyed and removed from play. If your attack roll is for points higher than the enemy units defense value then he is automatically destroyed. Your attacking range is actually your middle range. You can fire a twice this range, but with greatly reduced fire power. If you are directly beside an enemy hex than you get a 3+ fire power bonus. There are also melee rules for fighting inside of a hex. When you attack a stack you only pay once but roll against every unit in the hex. The logic is that troops packed in such close quarters are easier to hit. So sometimes stacking is a bad idea. If you fire into a hex with friendly and enemy units in it you fire on all of them!! You can end up killing your own guys. You can though, fire through friendly occupied hexes since the hex has plenty of room not to be actually firing into your own troops.

See how easy this is! I actually remembered all of this from playing last night.

I love this game. I CAN PLAY IT!! It’s fast and fun. I need to make decisions, but not so many as to be overwhelmed! It has amazing components. Solo play or with up to 4 people!!
Like I said, I’m a sub-Genius player and if I find this game easy to play then it is easy to pay.

It is expensive, but I’d rather spend the 60 euros for a game that will see plenty of play than a game that costs a lot less and only gets played once and then ends up on Ebay.
I thank you for your time!
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Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
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The good news is that the rules have slightly changed for the next two expansions 'Storms of Steel' and 'Price of Honour'. In an act of almost unrivalled generosity/astute marketing the PoH expansion contains the updated counters necessary(ish) to plat AtB with the updated rules (which can be downloaded for free from the Academy Games website).

Glad you enjoyed CoH, I play it with my eldest son who loves it (the one on my avatar just likes 'sorting out the pieces').

If I could make a suggestion for your review - can you introduce spaces between the paragraphs. Makes it easier to read.
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Gary Wilson
United Kingdom
Blandford
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Good review. Nice to read genuine enthusiam for a game.
(Personally I like shorter reviews but you had a bit of a back story)
It's been out a while so not sure how much interest you're get to your review.
60 Euro's isn't a bad price eiether. It's about £54 in the UK.
And as you said it's really good quality.
 
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doug draa
Germany
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Thanks ofr liking the review and for mentioning the improvements!
I broke it down some.

take care!
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James Megee
United States
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Nice review! I had read it before you broke it down and now it does look nicer even.

I too am not a sharp tool for wargames However, this is one that I can play with my wife and she also likes it. Have fun with it!

I "still" play with the rules that came with my game and yes; I know that 99% of the people like the newer SoS rules. I will play it with them sometime soon and give it a go!

Just have fun with it!

Jim
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uwe eickert
United States
Fremont
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Doug,
It is great to hear that you enjoy the game. That makes all of the hard work and long hours worth it. If you go to our website, you can download the Storms of Steel rules. I suggest at least using new section 2.0 of the rules. We just changed that both players can now activate a unit simultaneously. Makes the game even more interactive. You can keep playing the rest of the rules from AtB as is.
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doug draa
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Hi Uwe,
Thanks for the tip!
This is a game whose beauty lies in it's simplicity and logical rules.
CoH has definitely killed Panzer Grenadier for me. I'm now hoping to trade my 2 PG games for a copy of Storms of Steel.
I don't know why, but I had problems with the PG rules and system even thought 1000s of others don't.
Like the guy on TV says, "Weil Einfach einfach Einfach ist!"

When will the Pacific version hit the streets?

And thanks for the great game!!
 
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uwe eickert
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Dean and Pavlos are in the play test stage for Guadalcanal. I expect a release for this fall.
 
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Robert Riddell
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This is a good reveiw that answers my basic questions. I have been playing Tide of Iron and Memoir '44 for the sake of comparison. TOI has been more interesting for myself.

But now your review has me interested in yet another good bame.

thanks
 
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doug draa
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you're welcome!

And I completely forgot to mention that you also draw combat cards which add to the playing experience.
 
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Coen Velden
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What a great read!
Thanks for the review, and it's nice to see someone else being so over-enthusiastic about this game.

Are you sure you haven't been paid by Academy games?
 
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doug draa
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I wish! :-)
But now that you mention it, I can't seem to get my hands on an affordable copy of "Storm of Steel"!!
 
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Coen Velden
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astrodoug wrote:
I can't seem to get my hands on an affordable copy of "Storm of Steel"!!


Affordable is the right word: (All prices in Euros)

http://www.phalanxgames.de/ - 57,99-
http://www.milan-spiele.de/conflict-heroes-storms-steel-engl... - 56,80-
http://www.spieltraum-shop.de/cms/public/show.php 59,95-
http://www.spiele-offensive.de/Spiel/Angriff-Ostfront-Teil-2... - 57,99- (Phalanxgames' distribution-partner)

soblue surprise whistle
 
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doug draa
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Hi,
thanks for the links!! €57 is what I paid for COH:AtB.And I honestly feel that it was worth every cent. Sadly the guys offering the English version have it "auf Anfrage". I guess I'll have to settle for the Phalanx version after all. I just hope that they solved their issues concerning missing unit counters.
What's weird/creepy is that Amazon.de is asking more for CoH:AtB than for "Tides of Iron". go figure. But I bet that CoH sells a whole lot better than tides of Iron.

take care.
Doug
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