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Subject: General advice on Area Impulse play rss

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Ted Spencer
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Recovering from surgery (I'm fine, thanks), I slapped down Storm Over Stalingrad because I've never played an area impulse wargame and thought it would be an easy solo diversion.

All set up and ready to play, I realized I hadn't a clue what general approach to the game was useful. There's no terrain, no LOS, no ZOC to use or avoid. No armor or crossfire bonuses, no CRT considerations and no op fire.

In Storm Over Stalingrad the roles of aggressor and defender are fixed. Don't know if that's the same in other area impulse games. Here, though, the Nazis need to apply force to take areas quickly. The more areas they control, the more likely they are to win. A strategy of attrition won't help the Nazis because of the ticking clock of 6 turns. An attrition strategy will help only the Russians, who need to slow the Nazis as much as possible. Easy enough to understand. It's in imagining how to do it that I'm lacking.

My imagination goes only so far as to see the areas as little more than huge hexes with huge stack potential. But this doesn't help me imagine what I'm generally supposed to accomplish in this type of game.

Any help with a general approach to area impulse games? Thanks.
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Some thoughts that I have on this game:

As the Germans, I like to advance single units into Russian areas to limit or deny movement to or through that area; the idea being to make it more difficult for the Russians to reinforce or retreat. I may activate a German area and send two or three units, one each, into adjacent areas depending on what is nearby and which area I am planning to try to capture.

Another element is deciding which formation will move and which will fire. The Germans have one card (I can't remember what it's called) that allows a formation to do both, which is a very useful card. But, outside of that, I try to pick one or two areas that I'm hoping to grab and then determine which units will support by firing and which will make the assault in to occupy the space. As part of the process, I try to keep in mind a retreat area if things go awry.

A related consideration is how many units to move into an area. One unit is good to disrupt movement by opposing forces, but you need more to hold the space. If the Russians can fire at your recently moved units, or drop some kind of offensive card, then you want to have enough units to absorb the "hits" by retreating.

Another item to consider with the Germans is where to put the "free" standing armor units. You can group them all with a single formation to make one "uber" assault formation, or you can go with spreading them around to give a couple of formations a boost. At the moment, I favor the former since it gives the Germans a group that can pretty much blast anything it targets.

On the Russian side, which I haven't played as much, I try not to rush to do anything. I move a unit here, a unit there, and so on to force the German to "play out" all of their moves. The Russians have lots of expendable units and it's good to never give up anything for free. Always make the Germans advance in and kill something to get control of an area.

One thing the Russians can do is mass a fair number of 2-strength units to form a dangerous fire group. With a little bit of time, the Russians can have enough strength in an area to give the German player a bad case of nervous-induced hives.

Anyway, the main ideas are to use some units to deny movement and/or control, to designate other units to fire into a target area, and a third set of units to make the actual move to occupy the area. Once you settle on those choices, you'll begin to learn the quirks to attacking and which formations are well positioned to do what.

SoS is a great game. I've had a ton of fun playing it.

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The only strategy link I saw:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/345475/single-session-strate...
Good luck!
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Ted Spencer
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Thanks all on the advice. This will certainly improve my game.

What I'm getting out of this is (maybe) each area impulse game is too different to develop general strategies. I don't know. One of the things about hex & counter is the action is pretty much the same, depending on level, with only the chrome being very different (generally). This is either a plus or minus to the hex & counter play, depending on whether that excites you or bores you.

I reading that, as in any conflict game, each side is trying to control, or at least limit, the options and effectiveness of the other side. With hex & counter, you can do that with ZOCs and terrain, among other things.

In SoS you do that by entering areas with at least enough power to absorb counter attacks, and reduce effectiveness with strategic use of on board bonuses, movement modifiers and retreat options.

Is that true, generally, of area impulse? Or is each game unique?
 
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This plays differently than Storm over Arnhem. This one has that Stalingrad feel: that meat grinder/attrition war, where the Soviets are throwing bodies (ex: those 0-strength units) into an area to absorb losses, and hold the area. The Germans have superior firepower and movement, but this type of fighting is not their forte.

Storm Over Arhem has that feeling of being crushed from every side (if you are the Brits) and racing the clock before the help arrives if you are the Germans. In other words, both games feel like their respective battles. Note: game play is very different because you don't have defensive modifiers (defender rolls and tries to roll higher than the attacker) and there are no cards. This game plays perfectly solitaire, as there is no hidden information.

I was so impressed with both that I got Breakout: Normandy and I've been trying to acquire some of Michael Rinella's Area-Impulse games.
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I've got the old folio edition of Arnhem sitting in envelope, and has been for years. Maybe that should be my next game after I finish off Winter War and Molotov's War.

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airjudden wrote:
Storm Over Arhem has that feeling of being crushed from every side (if you are the Brits) and racing the clock before the help arrives if you are the Germans. In other words, both games feel like their respective battles. Note: game play is very different because you don't have defensive modifiers (defender rolls and tries to roll higher than the attacker) and there are no cards. This game plays perfectly solitaire, as there is no hidden information.
Like the "no hidden info" part, too, for solitaire.

I appreciate this insight: "both games feel like their respective battles." I had no idea what area impulse could do, and this is about as high a recommendation as I could hear.

Unfortunately, SoA is pricey, and I don't see me grabbing it except in a math trade, if I'm lucky. Any thoughts on Kawaguchi's Gamble? I'm on-again-off-again about this game. Or any others? Gotta say I'm liking area impulse!
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Jason Albert
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Just a head’s up, the 2011 L2 release of Breakout: Normandy is available new for $40: http://www.l2designgroup.com/SALE2012/Games/Deluxe%20Breakou...

And if you do buy it, check out this thread. A four-time WBC champ spent an inordinate amount of time over a couple of months patiently -- so patiently -- teaching the game in large part to a bumbling idiot. (That’d be me.) Prior, my couple runs at the Greenwood rules had me stymied. After, I’ve since taught it to two people and everything makes perfect sense.

I too started with Storm over Arnhem and later bought Storm Over Stalingrad. SoS didn’t connect with me even a tiny bit, but I know I’m in the minority there. That said, since learning BKN, with limited gaming time, it’s hard to look at either. Once you understand how BKN flows, it’s only marginally more complex than SoA. And for my money, the payoff in depth of strategy, narrative tension, and pure fun is a couple orders of magnitude greater. Phenomenal game and well-deserving of its stature within the hobby.
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AlbertaClipper wrote:
Just a head’s up, the 2011 L2 release of Breakout: Normandy is available new for $40: http://www.l2designgroup.com/SALE2012/Games/Deluxe%20Breakou...

And if you do buy it, check out this thread. A four-time WBC champ spent an inordinate amount of time over a couple of months patiently -- so patiently -- teaching the game in large part to a bumbling idiot. (That’d be me.) Prior, my couple runs at the Greenwood rules had me stymied. After, I’ve since taught it to two people and everything makes perfect sense.

I too started with Storm over Arnhem and later bought Storm Over Stalingrad. SoS didn’t connect with me even a tiny bit, but I know I’m in the minority there. That said, since learning BKN, with limited gaming time, it’s hard to look at either. Once you understand how BKN flows, it’s only marginally more complex than SoA. And for my money, the payoff in depth of strategy, narrative tension, and pure fun is a couple orders of magnitude greater. Phenomenal game and well-deserving of its stature within the hobby.
Just getting back into the gem that is BN after two games this weekend. Amazing how much of the rules I retained after 15 years.
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AlbertaClipper wrote:
Just a head’s up, the 2011 L2 release of Breakout: Normandy is available new for $40: http://www.l2designgroup.com/SALE2012/Games/Deluxe%20Breakou...

And if you do buy it, check out this thread. A four-time WBC champ spent an inordinate amount of time over a couple of months patiently -- so patiently -- teaching the game in large part to a bumbling idiot. (That’d be me.) Prior, my couple runs at the Greenwood rules had me stymied. After, I’ve since taught it to two people and everything makes perfect sense.

I too started with Storm over Arnhem and later bought Storm Over Stalingrad. SoS didn’t connect with me even a tiny bit, but I know I’m in the minority there. That said, since learning BKN, with limited gaming time, it’s hard to look at either. Once you understand how BKN flows, it’s only marginally more complex than SoA. And for my money, the payoff in depth of strategy, narrative tension, and pure fun is a couple orders of magnitude greater. Phenomenal game and well-deserving of its stature within the hobby.
I appreciate this. You, sir, have made a sale! Thanks.
 
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superflat wrote:
airjudden wrote:
Storm Over Arhem has that feeling of being crushed from every side (if you are the Brits) and racing the clock before the help arrives if you are the Germans. In other words, both games feel like their respective battles. Note: game play is very different because you don't have defensive modifiers (defender rolls and tries to roll higher than the attacker) and there are no cards. This game plays perfectly solitaire, as there is no hidden information.
Like the "no hidden info" part, too, for solitaire.

I appreciate this insight: "both games feel like their respective battles." I had no idea what area impulse could do, and this is about as high a recommendation as I could hear.

Unfortunately, SoA is pricey, and I don't see me grabbing it except in a math trade, if I'm lucky. Any thoughts on Kawaguchi's Gamble? I'm on-again-off-again about this game. Or any others? Gotta say I'm liking area impulse!
Two things for Storm Over Arnhem:

1st, go to the listing for the game and check out the Marketplace. I saw them there for $35-40.

Also, post it to here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/145551/playing-matchmaker-...

And get your fellow wargamers looking out for it for you.

I never heard of Kawaguchi's Gamble. I did purchase an in-shrink copy of Breakout: Normandy (Avalon Hill version) for $22. I'll let you know after I play it, but I hear it's the best of all of them.
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airjudden wrote:
Two things for Storm Over Arnhem:

1st, go to the listing for the game and check out the Marketplace. I saw them there for $35-40.

Also, post it to here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/145551/playing-matchmaker-...

And get your fellow wargamers looking out for it for you.

I never heard of Kawaguchi's Gamble. I did purchase an in-shrink copy of Breakout: Normandy (Avalon Hill version) for $22. I'll let you know after I play it, but I hear it's the best of all of them.
Just ordered BN from L2D. That's done. As Churchill said "I am easily satisfied by the very best."

I'll keep a watch for SoA. That's quite a geeklist! I never knew about it. Thanks!
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airjudden wrote:
superflat wrote:
airjudden wrote:
Storm Over Arhem has that feeling of being crushed from every side (if you are the Brits) and racing the clock before the help arrives if you are the Germans. In other words, both games feel like their respective battles. Note: game play is very different because you don't have defensive modifiers (defender rolls and tries to roll higher than the attacker) and there are no cards. This game plays perfectly solitaire, as there is no hidden information.
Like the "no hidden info" part, too, for solitaire.

I appreciate this insight: "both games feel like their respective battles." I had no idea what area impulse could do, and this is about as high a recommendation as I could hear.

Unfortunately, SoA is pricey, and I don't see me grabbing it except in a math trade, if I'm lucky. Any thoughts on Kawaguchi's Gamble? I'm on-again-off-again about this game. Or any others? Gotta say I'm liking area impulse!
Two things for Storm Over Arnhem:

1st, go to the listing for the game and check out the Marketplace. I saw them there for $35-40.

Also, post it to here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/145551/playing-matchmaker-...

And get your fellow wargamers looking out for it for you.

I never heard of Kawaguchi's Gamble. I did purchase an in-shrink copy of Breakout: Normandy (Avalon Hill version) for $22. I'll let you know after I play it, but I hear it's the best of all of them.
That's the popular view, but I strongly disagree with it. The area-impulse system was designed to model urban combat at a tactical level, and I think the best games in the system are the ones that stay tactical--SoA and then Thunder at Cassino. I don't really understand why the concepts are supposed to translate to an operational level. I was looking forward to Kawaguchi's Gamble, but it seems stuck in P-500 limbo.
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seanmac wrote:
The area-impulse system was designed to model urban combat at a tactical level, and I think the best games in the system are the ones that stay tactical--SoA and then Thunder at Cassino. I don't really understand why the concepts are supposed to translate to an operational level. I was looking forward to Kawaguchi's Gamble, but it seems stuck in P-500 limbo.
I have the same feelings toward Kawaguchi's Gamble. I think I've pre-ordered and cancelled twice! I figured I could wait, for years, actually, to purchase it at 50% off. Heck, I've waited this long already. Why not?

But is it operational? I don't know.
 
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superflat wrote:
seanmac wrote:
The area-impulse system was designed to model urban combat at a tactical level, and I think the best games in the system are the ones that stay tactical--SoA and then Thunder at Cassino. I don't really understand why the concepts are supposed to translate to an operational level. I was looking forward to Kawaguchi's Gamble, but it seems stuck in P-500 limbo.
I have the same feelings toward Kawaguchi's Gamble. I think I've pre-ordered and cancelled twice! I figured I could wait, for years, actually, to purchase it at 50% off. Heck, I've waited this long already. Why not?

But is it operational? I don't know.
No, I believe it's platoon-level.
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seanmac wrote:
superflat wrote:
seanmac wrote:
The area-impulse system was designed to model urban combat at a tactical level, ...I don't really understand why the concepts are supposed to translate to an operational level...
...is [Kawaguchi's Gamble] operational? I don't know.
No, I believe it's platoon-level.
If so, area impulse should work well, yes?
 
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My favorite game style is area/impulse and my favorite game is Breakout: Normandy. I was a play-tester for Kawaguchi's Gamble: Edson's Ridge way back when, and I thought it might just be the best of all of them because of the multiple paths to victory, the true counter-punch capabilities of the defenders and the movement capabilities of both sides. It's a real shame the game is languishing so badly on their pre order page.
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Scoobysnacks wrote:
... I was a play-tester for Kawaguchi's Gamble: Edson's Ridge way back when, and I thought it might just be the best of all of them because of the multiple paths to victory, the true counter-punch capabilities of the defenders and the movement capabilities of both sides. It's a real shame the game is languishing so badly on their pre order page.
Thanks for this. I agree it's a shame, especially if the game is as good as you say. I would have purchased it twice by now! Any idea of what the hold up is?

[edit] Never mind. The number of necessary pre-orders has not been met (from the MMP pre-order page).
 
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