Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bombarossa: War in the East

A new month means it’s time to turn my Sesame Street attention span to a new game. Accordingly, the Big Table has been cleared of the enjoyable Island of Death and replaced with one of the newer offerings from Decision Games, Ty Bomba’s “Barbarossa” – which appears in Decision’s equally new “World at War” magazine as the first edition game.

The game began life as a redesign of Jim Dunnigan’s original “Barbarossa” from way back in the early 70s. Truth be told, SPI’s old Barbarossa was the second wargame I ever purchased (SPI’s “Tank!” was the first).

However, one quick look at this game tells me that the two designs have very little in common. Not much beyond the subject matter. In fact, this new game strikes me mainly as every arrow in Bomba’s East Front design quiver all shot into the same target at the same time. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But it definitely is not the old Barbarossa somehow remade.

So just to keep things clear, I’m going to refer to this game as “Bombarossa”, mainly because it is entirely and obviously a ‘classic’ Bomba design. It uses nearly every mechanism, feature and sub-system that has appeared in any of his East Front games over the last umpteen years.

No zones of control. Variable game-turn sequence (fight-move or move-fight). Trace supply with no transport lines on the map. Single step units. Bloody combat with lots of reinforcements and replacements. Sudden death victory conditions to drive the action. If you can think of a favorite design element from any of Bomba’s games in the last decade or so, chances are that it’s in this game.

Again, not that any of this is necessarily bad. In fact, reading the rules to Bombarossa was like reading a long letter from an old friend who lives some place where things never change. There’s a lot of chrome in the game and a touch of fiddliness about the victory conditions, but the core mechanics are so simple that none of it is difficult to keep up with.

I have the game set up now on the Big Table – everything on the map or sorted as reinforcements onto the Turn Record Track – so I should get going with it over the next couple of evenings. I may even get some digisnaps of it in progress once my camera returns from the beach (along with the rest of my family) later this week.

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