"The goal is to make a post every time I play a board game in 2011. We'll see how it goes after that..." Stephen Brasseur
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Ardennes ’44 (GMT) – 8 Turn Scenario, Part 4 Conclusion
Game: Ardennes ‘44
Scenario: 8 – Turn Scenario
Participants: Bob H and Myself
Time: Sunday, Jan 16th ~ 2.00PM - 4.30PM
On Sunday afternoon, amidst some exciting NFL playoffs, Bob and I met and wrapped up our excellent game of A44. At the start of the sitting I knew that I needed to get 3 VP's in order to win. In our previous game, a 6 turn scenario warm up I made a early penetration of his line in the 6PA sector and really never looked back after that. Near the end of the game we called it as it was looking hopeless for Bob. This time around I had no such big break out and thus we were both unsure of where we stood in relation to the victory conditions.
19PM German Combat Phase
The first picture is one taken prior to the German Combat phase. The yellow dice are the pre-artillery odds, the gray are the artillery units are reloaded. I had 3-1 attacks on both Malmedy and the 2nd hex of Bastogne, in both cases Bob was able to stage a determined defense and keep me out. Not shown was a 2-1 attack on Junglinster, later 3-1 w/ artillery in the South were I did push him out, making the magic VP number now two. Also of note was that I had an attach go well near Elsenborn (look for the 5 Yellow dice in the lower right hand side of the picture). I was able to cross the Warche river here and suddenly put pressure on Elsenborn.
19AM German Attacks
The first thing that caught my eye as I sat down to do my 19AM turn was that I got the 3PG division in the North as reinforcements. I had not really looked at this closely as I guessed that reinforcements this late in the game were not going to have much of an impact at the front. This proved to be the case with the two SS Panzer Divisions (2nd and 9th) that arrive on the last turn (also aided by an incredibly well placed US traffic marker). I don't think Bob was looking at this either as I saw some room to make an attack on Monschau due to him adjusting his line to strengthen now threatened Elsenborn.
I was able to get two units from the 3PG as well as two others from the 326VG to make an attack near Monschau at 5-1. This lead to a breakthrough combat attack on Monschau itself at something like 3-1; I think as I saved my artillery in anticipation of this. This attack failed but it did allow me to get enough units there for another attack a turn later that was successful. Additionally I was able to get a couple of units between Stavelot and Vielsalm that would prove useful the next turn. Lastly I'll mention that Malmedy finally feel on this turn after each of us had paid 4-5 steps in fighting over it. Given that we were near the end of the scenario, I was not going to make use of this in further penetrations, but it did get me one more VP hex.
As the last turn started I had 13 of the needed 14 VP hexes. I was set up with a 3-1 attack (my third) on Bastogne, but this time I had a couple of artillery units in the area and supplied that would assist, Bob had one artillery units in range to support. Elsewhere he was starting to make some attacks but none of them were threatening VP locations except down South at Mersch. Here are several picture taken prior to the 19PM German combat phase.
116PD attacks Vielsalm
Lehr makes its attack on Bastogne
326VG and 3PG attack Monschau
Both Monschau and Bastogne fell with Vielsalm holding out, despite 12SS attacking the covering artillery unit and engaging it. So I was at 15VP as the German turn came to an end. Final US attacks
Bob was forced to make a couple of low odds (1-1 and 2-1 I think) attacks at Mersch and Monschau, neither one succeeding. Here is what the map looked like at the end of the US 19PM turn.
Well I had a great time. I think Bob did too despite being on the defensive. It was close down to the end and there were some late turn surprises that neither one of us had anticipated (3PG arrival in the North). As I mentioned above neither one of us felt like one side was blowing the other out as had happened in our last game. I know that if we turned around and restarted this one I am gonna have a much harder time in the 7A area as I think Bob would do much better there the 2nd time around. He committed a couple of units from the 10th US Armored Division to retaking Mersch that were largely wasted being forced to attack out of poor terrain. These units could have played a bigger role up near Bastogne, which as I recall happened Historically. Also he got one Vehicle unit trapped on the seem of 7A and 5PA that could have helped out elsewhere.
I thought we both played a good game. I know we did a good job of using the rules and not missing any big ones. Near the end Bob tried to make a couple attacks with more that two Divisions, something that I had been long accustom too obviously early on. I loved the traffic markers. The mechanic where you role to see which ones are removed and the others stay where you left them is a brilliant one. I had one Grief marker play a huge role near Monschau late in the game that I had placed there perhaps 5 turns earlier and had forgotten about. On the turn that he needed to get reinforcements in the there he couldn't make it because of that marker! He had a long forgotten one slow down the 2SS from making an attack on Elsenborn on the last turn as well. Great stuff.
Ardennes '44 is now easily my favorite Bulge game, displacing DBW. The combination of innovative new mechanics (ZOC-Bonds, traffic markers, determined defense...) and top notch graphics coupled with peerless historical OBs are but a few of the reasons. Also its important to note that this subject is easily more engaging for both players then the two Normandy games we've recently played (BFN & N44), in both of those games the defender is really struggling for SOMETHING interesting to do, other then getting pounded on turn after turn. In A44 the defending Allied player has his hands full making critical decisions on nearly every turn. My hat is off to Mark Simonitch for designing such an elegant title on a subject that has seem a lot of coverage.
Also, this title is up for reprint at GMT, if you don't have a copy, now is your chance.