Recommend
37 
 Thumb up
 Hide
16 Posts

Ambush!» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Mission Reviews rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: Review [+] [View All]
Antifringe Antifringe
msg tools
After retrieving my copy of Ambush! from my parents' house last summer, I have finally gotten a chance to sit down and start playing through it. This game brought me hours and hours of enjoyment as a kid, and I want to take one last spin through the series before boxing it up again.

If you also enjoyed this game back during the golden age of table top gaming, then this is a chance for us to share our nostalgia. If you were always on the fence as to whether or not this game would be your cup of tea, then reading one or two of my reviews might help you decide. But mostly, my intended audience is myself. This is combination love letter/goodbye to a little piece of my childhood.

I have all the whole set, even Battle Hymn and Leatherneck, and intend to play through and dissect each and every one as time allows. Because this is going to be a mixed audience, I want to be sensitive about spoilers. My reviews will use the following format

Intro: The name of the mission and a short paraphrasing of the mission briefing. Spoiler free.

Evaluation: A quick summary of what I thought about the mission. This will be spoiler free unless you're really, really dense. Like, I might mention that Mission #323: Tank Battles: A Tank Battalion Attacks Your Squad (With Tanks) involves a fight against tanks, or that Mission #125: A Peaceful Day in Which Nothing Happens isn't actually a two hour session in which your men talk about old girlfriends, but is in fact a military scenario in which you to fight against some Germans.

Discussion A summary of the action in the mission, strategies I used, etc. Serious spoilers. If you open the spoiler tag, you get what you deserve. Only read this is if you've played the game before, or never intend to play and just want a vicarious thrill. If you are an undecided buyer, maybe read one or two of these to see if it sounds like fun to you.

Cool Stuff: I'll give a shout out to any gee-whiz moments that happen in the mission that I didn't get to in the discussion section. I will also mention any easily missed encounters for the completists out there.

Victory: A quick run down of how easy or hard I thought the mission was, and a list of all of the bonus vps that can be earned. Useful if you've always wondered if you missed something.
23 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth Owen
United States
Norwich
Connecticut
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Looking forward
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Antifringe Antifringe
msg tools
Mission 1: Bloody St. Mick
Your squad is assigned to capture an elevated piece of road. Another squad tried to take the road earlier in the day, and was repulsed by heavy sniper fire.

Evaluation: A fun mission with some nice set pieces. It is a surprisingly hard mission, and is definitely not a gentle introduction to the game. It has some pacing issues near the end.

Discussion:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The mission opens up with a brutal encounter with three elite german snipers occupying the woodsline. If you are a beginner and set your men up in open hexes, you could lose the mission in the very first round. The terrain creates a sort of natural fortress for the enemy. The trees give them cover and the stream acts like a moat that makes direct assault almost impossible. If you were clever and set up your men on both sides of the stream, it not as hard, but still nowhere near easy. Capturing the officer is one of the hardest bonus objectives in the game. Only try it if you get some sort of perfect storm situation where the other Germans are dead, you just got a lucky panic result on the officer at the top of the round, and you have a guy nearby with 2 turns available.

Clearing the woods is about 70% of the mission right there. There's still an occupied building to the south that you have to clear, but the defenders are no where near as elite as the guys you just fought. After you clear the building, its mostly just a matter of pushing your stacks into the objective hexes and ending the game. There's a random German attack that's supposed to keep things dangerous, but it doesn't trigger often and the result is that the last third of the map is just busy work. Of course, you don't know that the first time you play, so there's still a sense of tension, but it's annoying to reach the ridge after scientifically plotting a safe path through the terrain only to find out that there was nothing there to begin with.

As a more general complaint, the SE corner of map A never really gets any use until the expansions. That's too bad, because the crazy maze of trees and crests makes for one of the most interesting terrain features in the game.


Cool Stuff:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
There's an aerial dogfight that plays out over several random events during the mission, culminating in a Spitfire crash landing on the map. You can rescue the pilot from the wreck, and he will even join your squad. Him joining your group is disappointingly symbolic, because by the time time you reach the plane, you will have already cleared the map.

If you searched the brush line south of the road (likely, since this is one of the best ways to approach the southern building), you will find an injured (incapacitated) GI from the previous squad. He'll tell you a little bit about the German snipers, and you can evacuate him for a modest bonus.

There is a pair of German soldiers that are supposed to crop up as a random event during the last half of the mission. The problem is that the event is rare and has too many condition attached to it, so you may never see it. If you felt like there was supposed to be more action in this mission, you were right. The Germans appear in a random hex, so scouring the map won't help. I even once had them appear in a hex containing half of my squad, which was hilarious.

There's a lot of programming under the hood that most players will never get a chance to see. If you kill/capture the officer, there is a small chance that the remaining Germans will lose heart and try to run away. There is even a chance that the officer himself will break, in which case his men follow suit.


Victory:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The victory conditions are surprisingly tight. You need 13 points to win. If you encounter all of the Germans and successfully capture the road, you end up with only 11 points. You can't win without finding some of the bonus points, and even then it will be close if you took casualties.

Capturing both buildings and the ridge: +4
Capturing the officer: +2 (very hard)
Rescuing the GI: +3 (high chance of failure if using the dragging rules. The optional litter rules from Silver Star help a lot)
Rescuing the pilot: +2 (the plane can explode if you wait too long, so these aren't free points)
Keeping the pilot alive to the end: +2 (stacks with previous)
23 
 Thumb up
0.07
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ruben Rigillo
Italy
Roma
Rm
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
...I'm not able to read spoilers on the ipad...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate K
United States
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Qwirz wrote:
...I'm not able to read spoilers on the ipad...


Isn't modern technology wonderful?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeremiah Lee
United States
Milan
MI
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is a great idea, and I look forward to reading more. I didn't get into Ambush until I was 30, but I love it. I break it out once a year to play through a bunch of scenarios.

Qwirz wrote:
...I'm not able to read spoilers on the ipad...
I've had this problem as well. My workaround is to select/copy the text and then paste it into a 'quick reply'. It shows up that way.

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pelle Nilsson
Sweden
Linköping
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Or simpler, just click...uhm...tap the Quote link.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Malcolm B
Australia
Sydney
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
thoroughly enjoyable,
bring them on
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Antifringe Antifringe
msg tools
Mission 2: Advance on Chasoul
The Germans are retreating faster than the Allies can advance. Your squad is sent forward to scout the French village of Chasoul while your parent regiment gets resupplied. No opposition is expected.

Evaluation: There is a neat little emerging story here that you can piece together as the game unfolds. The mission suffers from similar pacing issues as Mission 1. This is probably the easiest mission in the set.

Discussion:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This mission uses a conceit that will become common in the later expansions: what appears to be a routine bit of footsoldiery suddenly turns into an impromptu strike against a high-value target of opportunity. While it's never explicitly explained to you, you can figure out what's going on in Chasoul pretty easily. The Germans were maintaining a secret command bunker here, and the sudden Allied advance has left it unexpectedly exposed. The bunker has important deployment documents that need to be either retrieved or destroyed. When your men arrive, there is an officer and his loyal staffer hurriedly sorting through the papers while a small unit of soldiers protects the operation. Everything in this mission, from the placement of the Germans to their special programming, revolves around the officer and his papers.

The two westernmost buildings each contains an enemy sniper. This ends up being nowhere near as dangerous as the sniper ambush in mission 1 because you'll likely encounter them one at a time, because the activation conditions are more favorable, and also because you probably brought a bazooka with you this time.

The command bunker itself is hidden, but if you pass your PC checks, you'll get several clues as to its existence. Your soldiers get several chance to notice the camoflague netting that conceals it from the air, there is a French boy hiding in a cellar that will tell you about it if you happen to find him, and you can find fresh tire tracks pointing towards it. If you know the bunker is there, it's very easy to ambush it. If you sneak up on it through the woods instead of approaching it from the road like a chump, you can actually start the fight with the machinegunners in their very own hex! Even if you don't successfully creep into their hex, you still get several chances to get strong activation conditions (eg US advantage, automatic 2 turns) on a good PC check, even if the Germans pass their activation check.

After you clear the machinegun nest, it's likely that you will find the officer and his driver still packing their bags. They surrender so fast that you don't even get to start rounds. The officer is worth a pile of points if taken alive, as are the documents in his car. It's actually very rare that the officer will ever be given a chance to escape. There is an uncommon (one entry only) random event that activates him and lets him try to drive away, but you'll probably never see this happen.

After encountering a pile of Germans after only checking two buildings, you probably will be super cautious about the rest of the map. However, it's all for naught. After methodically exploring each building, you'll find that the rest of the village is completely empty, and then suddenly the mission is over. It's kind of an annoying and anti-climatic way to finish the mission. There's actually supposed to be more to it, but it depends on getting just the right sequence of random events for it to happen.


Cool Stuff:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
There's a small German counterattack that's supposed to make the second half of the mission more interesting, but you can only see it if you reach condition 5 or 6, which doesn't always happen. One way is to get there is to let the officer escape (presumably, he dispatches a unit to take care of your squad). Like I mentioned earlier, it's really rare for the officer to get activated, let alone successfully escape.

However, there is another way, and it involves one of my favorite events in the game. There is a chance that a German fighter will do a flyby and strafe your squad. Its guns use the HMG table, which is the only time in the game that that particular weapon gets invoked. In true Sgt. Rock style, your men are given a chance to shoot down the plane with their small arms. If you succeed, the condition advances and you'll likely get attacked by more Germans (they are presumbly coming to investigate the crash).

Sometimes you'll get an event where the fighter gets shot down by a friendly P-51. That's kind of neat and also prevents you from getting strafed.

There is a super rare event in condition 6 where a friendly jeep equipped with a mounted MMG arrives. It's pretty cool, but you probably won't get to chance to do anything with it.

The initial German force is designed to protect the bunker. All of their forces are concentrated to the west, and the snipers have special reactions that get activated if they notice that your men have slipped past them. It's a neat touch, and is something that you'll probably never notice unless you look for it.


Victory:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This is a pretty easy mission. The activation conditions are very generous. The machinegun nest is the only truly dangerous encounter, and its likely that you'll be allowed to take it out before it even gets a single turn. If the officer and his driver get activated it will be hard to stop them, and even harder to take them alive, but that almost never happens (in all the times I played this as a kid, I never saw it happen. I only know about it because I got curious and studied the random event table to see what was up with him).

You need 25 points to win. If you encounter all of the Germans and explore all of the buildings, you'll win with a few points to spare. If you didn't trigger the German counterattack (likely) then you'll pretty much have to capture either the officer or his documents to win.

Exploring the buildings: up to +19
Capturing the officer: +3
Capturing the documents: +3
Capturing the NCO: +2 (leader of the counterattacking force)
12 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Antifringe Antifringe
msg tools
Mission 3: A Cold Morning in Belgium
In a bit of role reversal from last mission, your squad is garrisoned in a small village, on the lookout for advance German scouts.

Evaluation: This is the first defensive mission in the game. The Ambush! system has a hard time executing assaults against player-defended locations. Such operations require co-ordinated actions that the programmed scripts just aren't capable of pulling off. The result is that defense missions are fun but never as challenging as the number of attackers would seem to indicate. There are also some triggering issues that might prevent you from experiencing the full mission.

Discussion:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Since you get to start in the buildings and the Germans don't, you'll have a huge advantage over them. Expect a real turkey shoot. You can only get in trouble if your men are caught out of position. The game offers you a small bonus for exploring the rough hexes. This is an attempt to lure you into a trap.

Things get dicey when the tank arrives. Tanks in Ambush! are super dangerous. I could write a whole post about fighting them. With two MMGs, a cannon, and an innate WS of +2, there is no cover that is adqueate against their weapons. Expect to lose at least one soldier per action when a tank has an LOS to your men. The solution to dealing with tanks is to not ever give them LOS at all.

If you must fight a tank, hitting it from behind with a bazooka is probably your best option. The kill ratio is still only about 40%, even from behind, so don't ever bet your squad's life on a single shot. If you somehow end up in an open tank's front arc, you might consider having everyone make multiple snap fires, hoping to rack up crew hits and maybe even break the coaxial machinegun. Tanks become way less dangerous after losing 2-3 crew, but expect to lose 2 men in the exchange. Grenades can work, but require lucky circumstances.

The mission is written with the apparent expectation that you will want to run from the German advance. If you do this, it becomes a race to see if you can destroy the bridges before the Germans reach them. This is probably the most fun way to play the mission, but is also not the most tactically sound. You're better off just standing your ground and stopping the Germans cold. You start with cover, they don't. If it weren't for the tank, you'd murder them outright. The dense fog is very helpful, allowing you to engage the infantry groups without letting the tank support them. Just remember to immediately abandon your position when the Panzer starts to get close. You don't get penalized for letting the tank through and only get a small bonus for killing it, so think carefully before deciding to take it on.

Collecting the full bonus for blowing both bridges is unlikely to happen. The wooden bridge can be easily burned down with gasoline from the fuel depot, but the stone bridge either requires a Heavy penetration from your bazooka (20% chance) or two satchel charges. The only reason you would go into combat with two satchel charge (or even one, for that matter) is because of meta-knowledge.


Cool Stuff:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Sometimes a random event creates a US runner that wants to speak with your commander. The gimmick is that he is actually a German spy in disguise. Depending on how your PC checks go, he either gives you misleading information about the German assault, or gets exposed as a spy and shoots himself. Amusingly, he stays under your control as long as you don't expose him, meaning that you can cynically use him as a shock trooper if you want. It's meta-game cheese, but funny to think about.

There are 12 German soldiers in this mission, but the odds are overwhelming that you will ecounter only 9. The last wave is triggered by a rare event that has only one entry on the RE column. If you want the full experience, then set your RE number to 9 during the first event check after entering condition 3. It'd be a shame to not see the whole German unit.


Victory:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
You need 25 points to win. This is an easy mission to win given the printed conditions. If all you do is run away, you will win with points to spare. You don't even need to damage the bridges. To make things more interesting, give yourself a penalty for each German that exits the map equal to double their full vp value (eg the tank is +3 for activation and +2 for destroying, so you would lose 10 points for letting it through).

Exploring the rough hexes: up to +8
Evacuating your squad: +2 per active solider
Destroying the bridges: +2 for the wooden one, +4 for the stone one, or +10 if you get both
Destroying the Panzer IV: +2
Capturing an NCO: +1 (there are two of these guys)
Exposing the spy: +2
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Antifringe Antifringe
msg tools
Mission 4: D-Day Night Drop to Destiny
Early morning of D-Day, your elite squad is chosen to paradrop into the outskirts of Carentan to secure a pair of bridges that will be vital to the Allied advance.

Evaluation: This is the hardest mission in the entire Amubush! system, including the notorious Battlehymn sister set. The challenge doesn't so much come from the intensity of the German forces or the deviousness of their placement as it does from the random way your squad is set up. A lucky landing makes the game a cakewalk, an unlucky one can have you losing the mission before you are even allowed to make a single move.

This is also the only mission ever in the entire print run of the system that provides no possibility of saving badly wounded US soldiers. I didn't like this too much, and it looks like the designers didn't either.

Because of its random, almost rogue-like nature, this mission is best played as a separate, self-contained romp than as part of a campaign. If you do want it in your campaign, consider making it the first mission you play, before you've had a chance to grow fond of your men.

Discussion:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Ignore the weapons cache. Only buy weapons that your men can carry with their own two hands. Things are going to be random enough as it is.

Parachuting accidents will probably claim 1-2 of your men. Nothing you can really do about it. Perhaps even worse than parachuting accidents is landing in full view of German positions. The worst places are anywhere within sight of the guardhouse at J13, and the crossroads in the middle of the hamlet. The former alerts the sentry in the building, who will likely blow both bridges before you can even get out of your chute, and the latter alerts the whole damn garrison and will get your squad murdered.

For a more even handed experience, try the following optional rules: US soldiers may remove their harnesses even if they are unaware or panicked due to red numbers on the AR track. US soldiers that are panicked because of German fire or because their action number is in the pink box (only happens for IN 0 and 1) may not benefit from this rule. Any parachuting accident that would incapacitate or kill a US soldier wounds him instead. If the accident stripped him of his gear, the gear is still lost.


Cool Stuff:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I think everyone remembers the SS general and his aide de camp. Taking them alive is worth a pile of points, and may be the only way to win if you lose the bridges. Actually catching them before they escape requires a lucky landing, because they activate pretty early on the random event table and are programmed to make a beeline for their car.

Searching the building where the general was will turn up valuable deployment documents. One of the other buildings on the map has less valuable documents of an unspecified nature.

In the center of the map is a German sergeant that I affectionately call Sgt. Kaboom. Sgt. Kaboom has 4 grenades and a card filled with grenade related actions. Probably the most unique German soldier in the original set.

There are 4-5 randomly placed sentries scattered about the map. By random, I mean, undetermined at the start of the game. You can't rely on your previous playthrough to figure out the German positions. The sentries are programmed to work their way to the guardhouse at J13, where they will destroy the bridges if left alone.

It's fairly rare, but you will sometimes get a chance to rescue a US hangglider pilot who suffered from a bad landing. There's an event that causes him to crash off map, and a subsequent event that causes a wounded GI to come limping onto the map.


Victory:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
It all comes down to the bridges. If you take them both, you can take a lot of casualties and still win. If you lose them both (and it is rare that you will lose one without also losing the other), then you need to get every little bit of bonus vp you can to pull through.

You need 10 vps to win. Besides the basic activation points, you can get:
Capture the bridges: +4 for one or +10 for both
Capture the SS General: +2
Capture the Aide de Camp: +2
Find the deployment documents: +3
Find the 'important' documents: +1
Rescue the hang glider pilot: +2


10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Replaying the campaign, and dear God - had the VPs to win, should have exited, but got greedy.

Triggered the you-know-what.

4 squaddies in the path, conveniently stacked.

I buried 4 good men that day.

I love this game.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Garry Stevens
Australia
Gunghalin
ACT
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My goodness, thanks for that. I bought Ambush in 1990, and only got around to playing it recently (May 2013), while on a long unemployment stint. After all those years, the game components were immaculately preserved, and only soiled when a brushtail possum pissed all over the rule book last week after I left the first scenario out on my dining room table. Naughty possum.

Where was I? Oh yes. After spending a desultory week wading through the rules, I manned up for the first scenario. After the usual amount of "Oops, got that mechanism wrong!" and "Cool, got that procedure right!" I thought I had the system down ok. I played about one set of rounds each evening, which I thought was a good pace.

I had a jolly time with scenario one, which I won by one point.

Good show, I thought.

Then I went through scenario two. What the fraccedy frack? It was over in two nights. I met a total of one hex of dastardly Germans, whom I dispatched with a few grenades, and a whole bunch of empty buildings. Jeebus! Until I read your post, I thought I had misread the scenario if not the entire system.

Your post has given me the enthusiasm to go on to the next scenario. I'll read your spoilers for later scenarios after I have finished them.

G.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin Gallo
United States
O'Fallon
Missouri
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
It is a great game. I do wonder why you would have a possum in your dining room. They can disturb the counters of a game in progress.whistle
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Garry Stevens
Australia
Gunghalin
ACT
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm now up to mission 5 (having skipped the dreaded paradrop).

I have to doff my hat to the designers. In the pre-PC era, the Mission Card-Paragraph Book system really was a brilliant way to accomplish what today would be trivial in a computer game. And the amount of work the designers did to write and organise all that material, when they didn't even have spreadsheets to organise it all. Oi vey!

But, of course, there is always the nagging feeling you are misinterpreting a rule, or even getting the whole thing wrong. But what can you do, save consult BGG?

I'd like to know how replayable these scenarios are. Once-offs?

Possums: they get in through the cat door. They are the only native Aussie mammals that flourish in urban environments, even in the inner-city, so I put up with them. As long as you avoid their Wolverine-class razor-sharp front claws*, they are completely harmless.

Garry

* I can personally attest to how much damage a cat-sized marsupial can cause with a single slash. Which is why I always keep a large bottle of Betadine and a roll of bandages on hand.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Sawhead
Scotland
flag msg tools
Its a great game. My mate had it back in the late 80s and i remember playing some missions on sunday afternoons. I opted for Battle Hymn a couple of years later. Its still a good game but not as good as Ambush IMHO. The expansions are good but i think its a shame they never brought out an eastern front version or vietnam version,the number of missions would have been enormous .
I suppose the replayability depends on how long you leave between games and how many missions you have to play. I didnt play Battle Hymn from maybe 93-2001 and when i went back to it i couldnt remember much at all, just the basic premise of the scenarios.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.