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Subject: Trenchzone - Futility of World War I rss

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Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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I always want to be a soldier in WWI. Yeah, I really do. I want to experience that being in the trenchzone, shrugged, dodging the dust coming out of an artillery blast, just in front of me. Then we charge from the ladder when the captain blows the whistle, unto death we come. It would be no fun to do that in reality, but it is much more fun to play that than in ASL tactical environment during WW2, when it is ruled by tanks rather by men. This game comes. I shall play this, to the best of my tactical ability, Sir.

After 3 games, this is by far the best tactical level WWI wargame!!! In the first few hours when you are still limited with gaming experience, it seems to be a slugglish slugfest, while seemingly there is no end to the game, as both sides reinforce and build up the defense works. I would highly recommend the expansion tactical advantage cards to anyone who likes the base game. The expansion just yields numerous different games and situations every time! It is a marvelous design - simple but very elegant.

The components: cards, board and the pieces are atmospheric to WWI too. However, the original rulebook comes with the game has too many errors, even typos. Some of them are quite different. For examples, the original rulebook gives the melee +1 modifier to the side with the most men. This is removed in the living rules. You have to download the living rules from the publisher website.

Some rules are played wrong easily like the card activations. Although the cards are played onto the sectors one card per sector per turn, you can activate more than one cards, to a maximum of three, in a sector in order to execute your well-laid plan. For example, you can asks your tanks roll over the wires, then advance your men while cursing a Typhoid onto the enemy's trench.

To win the game, you should send your men, sorry, they are the cannon fodder as was told by the designer himself in the rules, over the trench (the top) with Advance, Charge or Over the Top! cards. The random arrival of the cards somehow simulates nicely the troop inertia in face of your command at captain level. Troops can move along side-way their own trenches (like Roman ramparts) with these cards. But once they move out of the trench into No Man's Land, a zone named after that, they can continue to move forward one zone at a time. If your men are lucky enough to reach the enemy's trenchzone, and killed all the men down there, you win the game. (That's an automatic victory. You can also win by gaining 5 VPs on the VP track.)

The winning objective sounds easy in the first place and that is because I have not yet mentioned the brutality side. Sending your men into No Man's Land exposes them to artillery fire (both on-board and off-board), machine gun fire, wire and, after all, into a melee with the enemy's men along the way. A lot of dice-throwing exercises here. I can assure you what a picture you see when your men are "slaughtered", and yes, that's the right word. There will be almost only a few men could make the way in the end, and that is only a possibility when you send over 40 squads.

Slowly, you learn the experience of playing this game and the WWI tactics. The advantage is on the side of the defense. However, you can only win the game automatically by landing your men onto the enemy's trenchzone, no matter how small the number of men is. You should send in the men in wave after wave, only after rolling barrages into enemy's trenchzone for neutralizing their defensive MGs, Pillboxes and Artillery; protecting your flanks to prevent all men from being eliminated (that's hurtful 2 VPs each time the No Man's Land is cleared!), while preparing your defense works in the sectors when your men are concentrated in the other. All in the while, pray for that the enemy has no toxic gas to release.

I am sure if this game has a VASSAL module, it will be played by many hundreds and thousands of wargamers in the world around the clock!

Trench warfare has become a powerful symbol of the futility of war ~ Griffith
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Glen Kehoe
United Kingdom
St Clement
Jersey
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Thank you Lawrence for this great review.
I would love this game to digital. (VASSAL or APP)
If anyone out there knows how this can be done I would love to hear from you.
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Matt Hiske
United States
Kentwood
Michigan
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A very fun game and a favorite of mine.

I love to use my painted flames of war minis for this.
 
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The Shader
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DULCE ET DECORUM EST

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen
Thought to have been written between 8 October 1917 and March, 1918
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