Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Out with the old...

The busy month of February is teetering on the brink of Slackerism here in blog land, so I guess a few notes are in order.

My urge to indulge in an entire campaign of ‘Barbarossa’ waned somewhat as I progressed through the early stages of the game. It still produces an entertaining game experience, but there are enough ‘holes’ in the game that I felt time would be better spent if I moved on to something else after wrapping up the 8 turns of the opening Barbarossa scenario.

One thing apparent was the odd structure of the victory conditions. At the conclusion of 1941, basically, a look at the map seemed to tell a tale of woe for the Germans. They had managed to capture Leningrad, but were basically stoned everywhere else and faced a growing Soviet army. They were short of Moscow by several hexes and had just barely managed to squeeze into Kharkov by game’s end – losing an entire Panzer Army in the process. Still, totalling up the Victory Points, the Germans managed to squeeze out a 1-point win. Very strange.

But that one is back up on the shelf. Some new items have arrived in the last few weeks, and one of them has landed on the Big Table. The new $20 small-format game from Avalanche Press, “They Shall Not Pass”, is set up and ready to go. The game covers the first nine days of the German offensive against Verdun in February, 1916. The first snappy here is an overview of the initial setup on the game’s full-size map:

And here’s a detail of the setup along the French center, which gives a pretty good look at the map artwork.

The geographical area covered is the whole sector held by French XXX Corps. Within the constraints of the historical deployments, the German player is pretty much free to set his own agenda for racking up enough VPs to win the game.

Victory in the game is based on what I would call the objectives as the opposing Army / Corps commanders understood them at the time. German local command wasn’t clued in on Falkenhayn’s ‘meat grinder’ strategy. So they really are trying to plaster the French and drive on Verdun.

Only the Germans score VP. They get them for taking towns (1 VP per two towns captured), destroying forts (1 VP per fort) and inflicting higher casualties on the French than they take themselves (0-3 VP – I think – based on the dead-unit ratio at the end of the game). They can also take one division of optional reinforcements for a 1VP penalty. Working from memory here, I think the Germans have to score more than 8 VP to win the game. 5-8 VP is a draw, IIRC. Although it might be 5-7 VP.

Starting soon, with a little luck.

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