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Subject: My First Hex/Counter Wargame rss

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Mike Stevens
United States
Nebraska
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Tonight I met with fellow BGG Geek:
Rob Ryan
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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for some gaming. When we got to our FLGS, Rob asked me if I would mind playing Stalingrad Pocket II? He said he would teach me how to play and thought that if I gave it a chance, I might like it. I have to admit that when I saw that huge map and all those tiny counters that I could barely read, I was pretty intimidated by the game.

Rob turned out to be a very good and patient game teacher and after about an hour of going over rules, mechanics, combat and barrage charts, we rolled the dice to determine weather. It turned out to be fog which was not a good start for me since I was the Germans and Rob the Russians. Fog gives the Russians a +1 on the next dice roll which determines how much air support we each get. I rolled a 4 and he rolled a 3 so we each ended up with 4 airplanes.

We were playing the scenario where I am trying to get at least 2 armor divisions all the way across the map and off the northern side of the map. I start with several high powered German Panzer divisions as well as their much weaker Romanian sidekicks. I have to place my units first and I decide to split them up with one group heading straight ahead toward the closest bridges and another group trying to head east and do an end around down the road. Rob set up the Russians all across the map and focused on blocking the roads and bridges. All he had to do was wait for me to come to him. The game only lasts 4 turns so I had no time to diddle around.

I quickly moved several armor and mechanized infantry units along with artillary right up to the closest bridge. I then moved the other half of my force along the road on the east side of the map. My artillary struck early, destroying a few of his units and disorganizing a few others. I was not able to cross the bridge or river on the west side. Even though I had broken through a bottleneck on the road on the east side, I quickly realized I had stacked all my German armor units over by the bridge and river so on my next turn I moved all my units on the east road west bound to hook up with my main group of units. My thinking was that one giant massive push across the river and with my exploitation moves I may be able to scurry down the west road to freedom.

On turn 2 we again started with Fog, but this time I rolled a 6 for air support and Rob only rolled a 3, which actually gave him 4 air support because of the
+1 Fog for the Russians. What kind of goofy rule is that?

Rob and the Soviets started moving back toward the same area I was going toward and I knew this was going to be one big battle for the bridge.
I got all of my artillary and their spotters set up for my barrage attack. WHIFF, I got one stinking Disorganized unit and that was it. Time for my main attack. I throw all my air support and the kitchen sink at the Russians giving me the BEST odds that you can have on the Combat chart plus I get to move over 2 columns in my favor. All I have to roll is a 3 or higher to clear the bridge and start my run over exploitation plan. I roll snake eyessoblue That was the one roll that would actually cause me to lose my strongest unit in the stack. Needless to say, it was downhill for me after that.

Rob was nice enough to pretend that I rolled a much higher number and was able to get across the bridge just to show me how the game could have played out differently. I'm not really a hex/counter grognard but I found this game very enjoyable and would certainly play it again. Thanks Rob, you were a great teacher.
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Great session report! You might not be a "hex/counter grognard" but I think you are made of the right stuff for it. You seem to have a good grasp on how these things go, especially for your first game! Welcome to the amazing world of wargames--they really are different and satisfying to play. Hex and counter might seem dated or weird, but it gives you a unique gaming experience that really can be amazingly fun. I love it!
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Dan Owsen
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Redmond
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Great session report and welcome to the world of wargames!

This game, and some of the others in the series (Standard Combat Series) are great introductions to hex and counter wargaming. They have enough complexity to be interesting, but the mechanics aren't too tough. My recent favorite is Bastogne.
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Rob Ryan
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Mike, Thanks for trying something different. Of course, when I got home my wife asked what I had done with my daughters plexiglass sheet that protects her desk (and more importantly my gaming maps.... I have printed out special maps to play the 3 smaller scenarios of SPII at a much larger scale so as to make moving the counters easier(no tweezers required), but I can tell in the future we will need a magnifying glass to read the original counters or I will have to make a custom oversize set of those as well.

Next time we play bring 8 more friends and we can start on SPI's classic Cam"pain" for North Africa. Please check out the BGG entry for the game so you can appreciate the fact that the game lasts longer than the actual WW2 battle for North Africa.
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Mike Stevens
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Rindu wrote:
Great session report! You might not be a "hex/counter grognard" but I think you are made of the right stuff for it. You seem to have a good grasp on how these things go, especially for your first game! Welcome to the amazing world of wargames--they really are different and satisfying to play. Hex and counter might seem dated or weird, but it gives you a unique gaming experience that really can be amazingly fun. I love it!


Thank you. I found myself thinking about Stalingrad Pocket II quite a bit today (probably helped because I was shooting an AR-15 combat course all day). I kept thinking if it would have been better for me to try and spread my units out along the medium river and just punch across wherever I could and take the movement penalty. It would have been much slower than trying to take the bridge and cruise down the road, but once I got a few armor or mech infantry across I could have establilshed some zones of control and tried to flank his units holding the bridge. Now I cant wait for my rematch

I am not a total noob to wargames, just hex/counter ones. I'm not sure if you guys would consider these wargames but I am a huge fan of Memoir 44, C+C:Ancients, and Battle Cry. I certainly consider them war games since they are games about wars
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Martí Cabré

Terrassa
Catalonia, Spain
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They are low complexity wargames. Each wargame has its public and each person can enjoy different kind of wargames. Welcome to medium complexity wargames!
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Keith Plymale
United States
Huddleston
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Welcome to the wargame hobby. I have been in it since 1977 and this is one of the few games I would use to introduce a person to hex-and-counter play. Good report.
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