Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A Bridge Too Far

"Wasn't Fluffy Positivity a Bond Girl?" - Scott, yesterday.

Fluffy Positivity post mentioned the new Flames of War boardgame "A Bridge Too Far", the stand alone boardgame version of their Market Garden campaign set. I have some moral qualms about FoW, mainly because the game and it's creators seem to have a puerile, morally dubious and outright embarassing mancrush on the Late War Germans and SS in particular which reached, for me at least, a nadir with their releases of SS themed d6 - complete with your choice of favourite SS Division insignia on the six face. Classy. Why don't you show the courage of your convictions and release proper swastika dice instead of wimping out with the Luftwaffe balkenkreuz?

(Oops, Fluffy Positivity's twin sister Spiky Negativity - the mardypants one who wears too much mascara - has crept in. Back to normal service right about now....)

Which makes it amusing that in both games of this last night, the SS infantry troops were complete rubbish.

ABTF is a traditional board wargame albeit with nice plastic meeples and a modern standard of presentation. The long board forces the allies to fight two seperate battles - undersupplied paras in the north and strong armoured columns entering from the south which suffer badly from easily cut lines of supply. Bridges and towns are all rated with victory points and victory is determined by totting these up at the end of the 5th and final turn.

There are a couple of neat mechanisms which impressed both Scott and myself.

The number of battles per turn is capped at a random number. The two sides dice off for initiative and the winner picks where the next battle will be - battles being zone to zone. This means that not all potential battles fire up in a turn and the initiative winner will fight where he wants, not where the enemy wants. I got stuffed badly here as the Allies on Turn 5, wanting to do nothing more than hold Arnhem and Nijmegen and pick up a few empty bridges but Scott kept winning the initiative and using the limited number of battles to both force me out of both my key objectives and prevent me from attacking the other bridges that I wanted.

Also you can attack from empty zones. It is assumed that all zones contain troops of one side or another, the little meeples only represent large or crack formations. Empty zones get no bonus on a 2d6 roll for combat, meeples do depending upon terrain being attacked into - for example Brit/American/Polish paratroops get +2 in Open terrain, Shermans +3 in Open but +1 in Town etc. This means that no zone adjacent to an enemy zone is ever really safe and the Allied supply lines are very vulnerable.

We got two games in, swopping sides and Scott won both times even if pushing me out of Arnhem and Nijmegen "at the death" was a bit fluky. Very good game, look forwards to introducing it to the rest of the Stourbridge lot and getting more play in.

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