Australian military history has many fine moments and one of them is the second battle of Villers-Bretonneux on the 24th and 25th April 1918. Remembered as the first true tank battle, it also included a successful night attack by Australian forces that pushed the Germans out of the town at the cost over 1,200 Australian lives. Into the Bastard! Which appeared in Battles Magazine #6 is a recreation of this battle and the fierce fighting that accompanied it.
Designed by Nicolas Rident, Into the Bastards! has some interesting features that make it a fun, and challenging experience in a neat package. The main areas I want to look at are unit activation, and turn sequence.
Unit activation is one area of this game that I really dig. Instead of a combat and movement factor on the counters, all units are instead given a set of medals, ranging from 2 for average troops to 4 for elite. To move, fire, assault, rally, infiltrate and withdraw costs medals to perform. This wonderfully models the effect of extended operations on troops. For example, for every medal spent an infantry unit gets 2 movement points, and attacking costs 1 medal for 1 fire point while assault costs 3 medals to perform. Not only does this show that average troops can’t perform assault, but the more you move the less powerful your attack will be. A neat mechanic that can leave you scratching your head as you try and manoeuvre while setting up attacks.
Turn sequence is another interesting feature of this game. To begin with the game has a standard igo-ugo sequence. But once the ‘Intensity’ marker reaches the ‘Confusion’ marker the game goes to a chit pull sequence. The ‘Intensity’ marker starts at zero but every time a battalion is eliminated or an assault is launched it increases by one. This models the fact that once the battle gets really intense the commanders have less control hence the confusion, and play order becomes random due to the chit pull. This added uncertainty is another head scratching moment as a nicely planned assault begins to break down as the intensity rises too high and confusion reigns!
Overall I really enjoyed this game. There are special nightfall rules, as well as rules for the Australian night attack, as well as rules for eliminated battalions to return to the battle. I will definitely play this again, another good Battles Magazine game. On a personal note, I love the title I can just imagine Australian NCOs yelling at their troops to get into the bastards.
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- Michael MatsonUnited States
- Your review is spot on. A very enjoyable game with the great mechanics you mentioned. Once the "Confusion" phase of the battle begins it gets quite interesting. In my game the Germans were on the road to a strategic victory when the "Route" chit was pulled for them! Then the British/Australians were on their way to victory when the "Route" chit was pulled for them! The game ended in a draw. Recommended!
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