We just ended a game going all the way to GT19, and this notorious event merites a review in depth.
The game was the third in a row dedied to evolve nationalist play after all the polemics about balance and the republican sudden death victory being in everybody's mouth.
In fact, Republican victory by sudden death was a real possibility until GT11. At the end of GT9, the republican had the four green morale province capital cities. Playing with new living rules, the nationalist is given a last chance in wich two of the four were recovered, then the game lasted to GT19 but by GT14 it was really evident that it will end in Republican Victory by moral, no matter how played or rolled the Nationalist.
Has to be noted that using a tower dice and he dice provided in the game, almost EVERY attack roll made was a six... and, still, the Nationalist lost.
Republican player (Cesc) is an old grognard, is a cautious player, conservative but with great sense of oportunity. Nationalist player (me) is a not so old grognard, defined by my colleagues by "impredictible" or "inconstant" (sometimes conservative sometimes fool).
For the setup, the historical setup was chosen in the south.
Optionals not used are 16.2.1 HQ Reconaissance; 16.2.4 Enter the Italians ; 16.2.5 The Russians Are Coming ; 16.2.9 Republican Rigid Planning ; 16.2.10 Infiltration Movement.
The Optional Republican Sudden Death Victory new rule from Living Rules was not used. We don't think that a bids system can work unless u bid real money or real fingers.
16.2.6, 16.2.7 and 16.2.8 had not the oportunity to be played.
The starting move for the Nationals on the Andalusia-Extremadura front is correctly performed and by end of GT2 the south and the north are connected, and Granada/Córdoba are out of danger. In the north, Oviedo falls on GT2. The National is quite pressured in the Centre and in Aragon but the republican attacks fail to execute or simply fail, and for example, Belchite is attacked three times and still holds.
Critical Turns - Republican militarisation
On GT5, the Republican army turns from militia columns to regular units and very quickly, Segovia and Teruel are taken very easyly.
In the North, Avilés (in Nationalist hands) is sourrounded and pressure is made towards Galicia but a strong attack in Euzkadi breaks the front and places Bilbao in Nationalist hands. Still, the basques can put a lot of replacements on map and their units turn to regular units so even with Bilbao and San Sebastian in nationalist hands, the basque army is almost complete on the map and defending Santander.
Very low quality pic of the fall of Bilbao at GT6
The situation in the north at GT8. Note 4 basque units traped at Amurrio.
The first (and only) Large Battle
On GT7, the bulk of Nationalist reinforcements (the CTV!) is placed in Calatayud area, to try to thrhust towards Teruel. The Republican response is to place the newly arrived 11 XX in the area, south of Soria, and a small buildbup takes place, the 11 XX stack growns to four untis (5 steps). I launch the CTV agains it, and a large battle ensues... the republican stack is eliminated totally, and the "power" of large battle is known. No other republican stack will be never of more than 3 units for the remainder of the game.
GT8 in the center.
Every attack is a Six!
The game had a milestone on GT9. The Basque Surrender Chit was picked so the north situation was partially solved : Santander would be taken by end of GT11. Massing a small army in Ciudad Real, the Republican manages to eliminate the 2-4-4 X holding the area and executes a exploitation to Cordoda. The city will be in supply and all reinforcement of turn 10 will appear in Cordoda, makeing the city hard to take.
By old rules the game will have ended in GT9 with Republican sudden death victory. Well, the nationalist counterattack in GT10 frees Cordoba (2 possibilities on 6 to succeed) and the campaign to retake Segovia culminates also on GT10 (4 possibilies on 6 to succeed there).
GT10 : Cordoba and Segovia recovered. Far in the north the basques are gone and Santander will fall on next turn.
To the bitter end!
The Republican switched to defensive on GT11, every key hex defended by 3 units (one double step) backed by a HQ. Gijón and Oviedo will fall on GT14. all the north army was transfered to Aragon. Every turn from GT14 to GT19 the nationalist made 4 to 5 attacks, at 2:1 worst odds (some of them even 5:1) gaining 1 hex at most. The 3 units four steps defense guarantees for the defender holding the hex, so even rolling almost only 6's, the nationalist was unable to advance more than one hex per turn. Republican morale was over 50 all the game and never menaced to go down.
The final 5 turns of the game were quite absurd. On GT17 a glimpse south Toledo allowed for the nationalist to breakthrought to Alcazar de San Juan but cross-zocs made the thrust almost useless. And after a brutal attrition any important area was threatened... maybe in a couple of turns, the Republic would have crumbled... but for this game, they hold Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and the Cartagena Area.
GT19 : at the start of nationalist move.
The time track at the end of game. Republican Morale was 50.
1. The ZOCs are a problem : early on the game unsing Infiltration Rule makes playing Nationalist a nightmare.. is simply too easy for the republican to over-maneuvre and pick the 4 cities needed to won. Later in the war, not using the rule leads to some situations unbelieveble... two stacks 2 hexes apart hold the line, and if u have those stacks 3 untis 4 steps, the front line will not move at all, no matter what you do.
Proposal : only regular units can use Infiltration movement
2. The republican offensive capability is very powerful because of the hability to sacrifice low value units as losses. He can make almost free attacks between GT5 and GT7, most critical GT for Natinalist because he can always absorb losses with columns about to be withdrawn.
Proposal : enforce to take first casualty with strongest unit.
3. The nationalist is very short of RP. Every loss counts if he wants to spare RPs for ammunition. His army in late war deteriorates very quickly but he needs the RPs for columns shifts with HQ.
4. Republican Aviation is far too strong AND the offensive value of aviation is near zero in late war. The only way for aviation to be effective in offense is to concentrate it on one attack, and as exact defense value is unknown you will end "wasting" air points. Au contraire, in defense it adds a lot. The nationalist tends to keep the AL and the BAH counters for defense and use only the LC in attack (only for the column shift). The game is maybe too simplistic with the aviation and encourages his use on defense.
Proposal : Reduce Republican aviation value.
Proposal : let the aviation counters cancel each other. i.e. if in an attack, both players put one aviation counter none is counted in the attack. If one side has more aviation counters than the other only the excess may help in the combat.
5. Large battle? 3 units (totalling 4 steps) defend a lot more than 4 units (4 steps). Strange. Note it, Republicans players. we saw one large battle in our game, the first and only ever, I guess.
Proposal : Consider steps and not units in large battles?
6. By GT 14 or 15 the nationalist has a lot of 2-4-4 X that have taken one loss and thus becomed 1-3-4 X ... those reduced brigades can never be taken as loss in a combat and don't provide offensive punch.. so thay are useless in offensive. They are one step and thus you need two of them to defend a hex. This is a problem for the nationalist, I really doubt the Franco staff had.
Proposal : allow for conversion of 2x 1-3-4 for a 2-4-4 and an RP. It will solve the RP's shortage and couple with forcing the loss of the strongest unit, help to prevent the degradation of nationalist army.
7. Reserves ? Not Cesc nor me used Reserves at any time. In fact we saw no use for reserves for multiple reasons : HQ are too valous for providing support in combat; the only purpose of keeping units for exploit move is one, you made a hole in the line, two, to do a second attack in an hex. The first case is dreamland playing with intense ZOCs, the second is hard, units from first attack will limit stack for a second attack in most cases.; RP are too valuable to be spended in a such futile way.... this is first world war, not blitzkrieg war !
Proposal: maybe large battle rules and reserves can be consolidated in one single rule allowing for bloody battle with units reinforcing from behind and always with the purpose of taking one hex. there is enought exploit with the front breakthrough.
8. The feeding-bottle rule will have to be tied to general mobilisation. It's a non-sense to allow to mobilise the younglings before calling to gen mob.
Proposal: add to "feeding-bottle rule" the requeriment of having done Gen Mob before
9. Last note on Cavalry pursuit... the first one that finds a use for this rule, mail me, please. The MP won by non attacking cavalry units will be used with luck to enter the attacked hex !!
Well... I think that is all for now. In overall, our common opinion in the Snafu Team, is that the game has resolved in a very clever way the early stage of war, the columns and the militarisation. But has some other elements that seems not fully tested. It is a very hard game to play as Nationalist and too easy to play as Republican, so it's unbalanced. After intense play since we had our first copy, we will let the game rest for a while... and retake it some day.
(edited to add picture of gt19)
- Last edited Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:06 am (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:32 pm
A great analysis with tons of important information and proposals! Tip deserved.