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FAB: Sicily» Forums » General

Subject: Great Game, but a few questions rss

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Don Lambert
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I have been enjoying the second game in this excellent series. The game system is fun, plays fast, and is not overly-complex. The series has a seamless sequence of events and a very dynamic combat system. FAB: Bulge is one of my favourites, and I think Sicily has a chance to be right up there as well. The game has been well developed and my first few games were exciting and went down to the wire.

The game plays a little bit differently from Bulge with less breakthrough movement (fewer armour units) and more assets available for combat. The Allies will often need their Special Actions to re-fight their battles in the Breakthrough Combat Phase as they will often score few hits against tough German defenders in difficult terrain. The Germans will need to be aggressive and should try to minimize giving up good defensive ground. It might be tempting to "absorb" a hit and retreat disordered (as the US do so effectively in the first few turns in Bulge), however I found it is often better to take the hits, stand your ground, and use a Special Action to withdraw on the following turn. This will delay the Allies by a full turn and have the added bonus of conducting the retreat during the allied turn in good order (thus being able to build fieldworks during your own turn - something you can’t do if you retreat disordered!).

The Asset / Event mechanism does a good job at incorporating Allied Naval and Air support (and German Air support - the new air rules are simple and elegant) and the weakening Italian resolve. The battalion-size end run invasions also make for some tricky situations for the Germans and keep up the uncertainty of where the allies will strike next.

I think there is some feeling that Sicily was an odd choice for the second game because the system does such a great job of capturing the fluidness and unpredictability of movement warfare. In this argument, a more ideal game would have been one focused on a battle in North Africa (Crusader?), the East Front (Kharkov ‘42?), the Israeli-Arab Wars, or maybe the Korean War (all of which I think would be awesome and I hope are done in the future). However, Sicily in my mind has great appeal, an exciting narrative, and shows off the system in other ways. Often games where one side does all the attacking are boring (hence the popularity of Bulge and Market Garden games), but this system keeps the action so tense throughout that it would be hard to make that argument here. Having plenty to do during you opponents turn (engineer functions, commit battle assets in defensive battles, reinforce or withdraw from battle, and conduct Reaction movement in order to upset your enemies plans) is a mainstay of the system and one of the reasons (in my opinion) why Sicily is such a fun game. And although the Germans lack the offensive punch to go on the offensive operationally, aggressive play and well-timed counter-attacks will keep the Allies off balanced and often score victory points for eliminated units.

I did have two questions on the ratings for some of the allied units.

1. The British 50th and 51st divisions both fought in North Africa. Why is the 51st rated so much higher?

2. Likewise, why is the US 45th rated much better than the 1st or 3rd. To my knowledge, the 45th did not see extensive fighting during Operation Torch, while the 1st at least made it into Tunisia. Did the 45th receive additional training or out-perform the other American Divisions?

Thanks and great game. I hope others are enjoying this one as well.
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Rick Young
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The ratings are subjective of course, but they are based on the performance of the divisions in the campaign and the trust their commanders put in them.

The 45th was called, by Patton, the best division in the Army after its performance in this campaign, whereas the Big Red One performance was average, at best. Added to that both Patton and Bradley had very little faith in the 1st Infantry Division's commanding officer.

The 51st was Monty's go-to division when he needed something done (pre-empting the Americans and abducting the US line of advance roads).
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Rick Young
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Plus the 51st would get all manly anytime Monty offered them some scooby snacks....

Monty - 'Can you lads beat Patton and grab that road before his divisions start using it?'

The 51st - 'I don't know, it seems kind of hard...'

Monty - 'If you do it, I'll give you 50,000 packs of Lucky Strike cigarettes.'

The 51st - 'yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah'
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Don Lambert
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Thanks. I appreciate the response. That makes a good deal of sense. Of course, I didn’t mean to pry into all of the factors that one must consider when designing a game; however, when I play a game I enjoy it is damn hard not to be interested in the history and in some of the thinking that was involved during its development.

On the same note, I picked up Mark Zuehlke’s Operation Husky on the 1st Canadian Division in Sicily. They were also part of that left hook (cutting off the Americans who were required to shift west .. and go west they did!) after the initial British attempts to take Catania failed (Monty spending a precious Special Action to release them). Although a fresh division (they actually embarked from England) they performed quite admirably, fighting several fierce engagements with both the Hermann Goering and the Panzer Grenadiers (much of which took place in the Leonforte Area) and finishing off their campaign in the capture of Adrano (although the latter took place in early august and therefore just after the game ends). On a lighter note, but to the ire of Patton and the Americans at the time (and probably justifiably so), they snuck a recce (recon) patrol into Enna after the Germans withdrew in order to claim the town’s liberation before the US 1st Division. Sneaky bastards! However, unit rivalry is usually a good thing.

All that to say, I don’t think I would have picked up the book prior to playing the game, so Thanks!
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