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Subject: Session Report :: [Market Garden] Valkenseaard Revisited rss

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John H
Hong Kong
Discovery Bay
Lantau Island
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Since Mike had played this Market Garden Valkenseaard scenario (from the terrain pack) six times without a victory (though most were very close), we set this up again for a two game "switch sides" affair.

The American force, which outguns the Germans and has a six command card to four advantage as well, is being ambushed along a narrow road amidst terrible swampy terrain.

In the first game, I took the Americans, and pushed quickly up the center along the road, as I had several good center cards. Mike repulsed me, leaving three of my units at only 1 strength, but didn't knock many units out of the fighting. Meanwhile, my Allies made short work of his forward infantry and made good inroads on my right flank. A left flank attack never materialized for my Americans.

Much like the last time we played, this game featured spectacularly poor shooting, as both sides missed opportunities to deliver decisive blows after setting up favorable attacks. In the end, the Americans had their second "finest hour" of the campaign, activating six units(!) to finish off the Germans 6-4. Mike had inflicted heavy losses on my Americans, but through luck and judicious retreats, I had four units with one strength remaining active at game end.

In the second battle, Mike commanded the Americans to a patient, well-planned 6-5 win, breaking his string of hard luck in this scenario.
I actually drew excellent cards as the Germans (Ambush, Infantry Assaults, Close Assault, Center Attacks...), and probably would have won with these cards if it weren't for Mike's key strategy: knocking out the lone German artillery unit.

As this German artillery straddles two flanks, and is situated essentially out of reach of the Americans, it is clearly the "hammer" in the German arsenal for this ambush. However, Mike shrewdly used an airstrike and barrages to take out the artillery... leaving my Germans relatively toothless. Meanwhile, he moved his artillery up, putting my defended positions in peril. He never had to run into the teeth of my defense to finish me; he whittled away at my forces while keeping his troops skillfully away from my fields of fire. A great victory for Mike as a skilled Allied General.

After playing this scenario four times (twice on each side), I have to say I prefer other scenarios much more. The first couple plays, the terrain restrictions were different enough to make things interesting, but further plays have made me feel as if this one completely boils down to what cards each player is dealt. There are basically no choices for the Allied commander on the flanks; those troops have to do the exact same thing every time-- muck through the swamp to close assault the Germans in the forest. The center offers little room for maneuver either as the armor in front clutter the narrow road, leaving few strategic or tactical alternatives. There is basically no mobility among the flanks. The Germans just need to hold their ground, and make the most of their four command cards... Getting bad cards dooms them quickly in the face of a decent Allied card draw.

Few, if any, interesting choices make this scenario pretty unexciting for me at this point. The statistics on the web seem to say this is an extremely well-balanced scenario, as win rates are 50/50 for Allies and Axis. It's well balanced and fun to play a couple times, but it soon wore out its welcome for me. Your mileage may vary.
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