Eric Walters
United States
Chesterfield
Virginia
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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The Allied players are going to gulp as they set up. For the XXX Corps player, it seems that the north end of the map is impossibly far away and there’s just not enough time to get there. For the 101st Airborne Division player, there’s just too many places to be and too much to do. Both players will be fully engaged the entire game. For the German player, the game tends to be fairly reactive at the tactical level as he’s defending nearly all the time. But there are a few major lunges he can make—where he makes them, with whom he makes them with, when he makes them, and how he executes them is the central feature of the campaign game.

The game generally moves along very quickly and the full sweep of the operation in the southern half of MARKET GARDEN is well represented. Three players should have no problem getting through the campaign in a long three-day weekend provided they are well versed in the rules and play for around 12 hours a day.

You can’t just “warm up” to this game—the first turn moves are quite critical for everyone. For XXX Corps, how the rupture through the German defenses is made is very important. It’s very easy to gum up the advance with unsuppressed Fire Zones from German units and barrage markers in all the wrong places. How airstrikes and artillery are allocated as well as how assaults go in needs to be strictly choreographed in sequence. The German Anti-Tank Gun battery behind the front line has to be negated quickly. I strongly recommend solitairing this at least once before doing it for a campaign—the British player can’t afford mistakes here.

The German player may be tempted to pull back a few small units of Kampfgruppe Walther for use elsewhere—particularly the self-propelled and towed artillery—but should think twice about it. Every unit deployed on the road from the rupture point to Eindhoven is going to take time and actions for the Guards Armored Division/ Group Hot to reduce. Each tiny delay can add up, particularly given a few lucky Opportunity Fire shots that gum up the entire column. It’s worth solitairing this as the British player to develop “rules of thumb” for dealing with it in the most effective manner possible.

The 101st Airborne will drop and have to decide what to do with the recce jeeps at the outset—they are very important provided they survive the landing. Major highway bridges at Eindhoven, Son, Best, St. Oudenarde, and Veghel have to be seized; of these, the Son Bridge starts wired. Two German pioneer units start the game on board as part of the Eindhoven Regional Command and can get the Eindhoven bridge area; one to wire it and the other to build an entrenchment next to the bridge to bolster defenders that will coalesce there. Two more pioneers will show up as part of the German 59th Division. Getting friendly forces to the non-wired bridges before the German pioneer units do is essential. But the drop zone must be secure against marauding Germans (particularly small armor units) so that subsequent drops and supply can arrive. The 59th Division has to be prevented from getting past Best and reinforcing Eindhoven in strength. Two “7” Troop Quality infantry companies begin the game in Esp just south of the Son Bridge; if not taken out quickly, they too can get to the Eindhoven Bridge and delay XXX Corps there with an urban defense, particularly if an entrenchment is eventually built for them. There’s also a fortress at St Oudenarde that—if held in strength by quality companies of the 59th Division—will complicate taking and/or defending the bridge there. Where the 101st Airborne Division Player places his airstrikes and how he allocates his Command Points in Division activation second actions and during Direct Command activations is going to be crucial from the very first turn of the game.

For the German, making the few tactical adjustments necessary on the first turn will demand equal precision as the Allied first turn move. It’s worth pondering this well before playing the game, although Allied airstrike results against important units (e.g., the pioneers, those “7” TQ units at Esp) will constrain German options here. But the 59th Division moves in with celerity and has three broad choices—a main effort to Best (and quite possibly beyond to Eindhoven), St Oudenard, and Veghel. Of these, Best provides the most lucrative opportunities but march order down the road and railroad to the bridges requires some careful thought and planning. Some force should be devoted to securing the fort at St Oudenarde so that the 101st has to mount a major effort (typically requiring lots of mortar prep and command points) to take it. A major German decision is whether to use Kampfgruppe Huber as part of 59th Division or save it for Kampfgruppe Chill later in the game. If the 101st Airborne Division stumbles early, using it immediately has some tangible benefits, particularly if the path to Eindhoven through Best will still be open when it arrives.

Until the German is ready for his next big lunges later in the game with KG Chill and KG Walther (which includes the 107th Panzer Brigade), he has got to keep the Allies worried enough with whatever he’s got on the board and use EVENTS judiciously in his favor when they come up. How the earlier battles have gone, where the Club Route “fountainhead” is, how much of XXX Corps has been released, and how the victory point count is progressing along with what parts of Club Route are vulnerable to ground attack and EVENTS will guide where, when, and how the Germans will strike. Veghel, St. Oudenarde, and the Club Route highway in the nearby vicinity of those two towns will of course draw the most attention. Will XXX Corps have to divert forces to help out the 101st Airborne Division, which may be overstretched and weakened by this point? We didn’t get that far in either of our games to get any useful insight into this. Maybe next time!

Continue to Part 4: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/754793/initial-impressions-o...

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Adam Starkweather
United States
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Very nice to see such an extensive review so people can see what the game is about.

Adam
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