Friday, February 24, 2017

BLAZING CHARIOTS

     I've put my other projects on hold  while I once again hit the boards. Boardgames, that is. My interests seem to ebb and flow and right now my enthusiasm for minis and sports games has ebbed a bit, while my interest in historical wargaming, cardboard-style, seems to have hit new heights. After a short hiatus, all the games seem new again.
     To start off, after several refresher sessions with the rules, I got "Barbarossa: Kiev to Rostov" back on the table. This is an interesting game. I love everything about it -- the highly complex rules, the beautiful components, the history... Yes, I love everything about it -- except actually playing it. Now I remember why I abandoned the campaign game I had started over the summer. The game devolves into a stalemate pretty quickly. The chariots don't exactly blaze in this one.


     The culprit here is that is just too easy to defend. An attacker has to attack EVERY unit in its ZOC, making it virtually impossible to accomplish much of anything in any given turn.
     Here are some examples from a recent playing of "Scenario 6: To Rostov."

The situation a couple turns in. All the victory points are at the top of the map. It's basically a fight for the city of Rostov.
This only looks like a breakthrough. If that 3-2-9 recon bn stack wants to launch an attack, it will have to take on four defending hexes, 5 attack factors vs 9 defense. The 2-2-7 stack could launch some suicidal 1:1 attacks to help out, but that would still leave the 3-2-9 with a couple of 1:1 attacks of its own. The German could apply some Close Air Support and artillery to help, but there's little to do here but retreat. To the right (south), outside of Rostov, the 5-6-7 is in little better shape. The same with the 3-1-7 stack. These guys are going nowhere fast. There is simply not enough supply available to accomplish any of this anyway.
The situation is better in the lower portion of the map (west). The German infantry is free to roam, but there are no VPs in this area and the attack will soon run out of steam. The Soviets get stronger as the game progresses while the Germans have no replacements and few reinforcements. (The purple troops are Italian.)
     I dunno about this game. Forcing the attacker to attack every unit in its ZOC sort of goes against everything you've ever learned about offensive warfare. The benefit of attacking, supposedly, is your ability to concentrate against a single point. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but every attack in this game is made on a broad -- and I mean BROAD -- front. Not exactly blitzkrieg warfare.
     In addition, forcing the player into multiple attacks uses up lots of supply, more than is available. In the 3-2-9 example above, a plausible offensive would require three or four separate attacks costing three or four attack supply points. The German player is generally lucky to have one supply point, forget four. Basically, once a defenses congeals in an area, it's all over for the attacker.
     Even if it is historically accurate, it's not a very fun game. The turns are too complex and time-consuming for so little to happen. Maybe if turns were 1 week instead of 2 days things would play out a little more interestingly. Oh well....This one goes on the shelf.

     Moving back in time about 3500 years.....


     Now, these chariots blaze. I burn hot and cold on this game, too. I'm burning hot right now, though. After a few turns of the Astarpa River scenario (Arzawans vs Hittites), I'm having a great time.

Hittites in blue, Arzawans in orange. The Light Chariots of each side surge forward. The Hittites definitely have the advantage in this battle.

The Arzawans swing across the front to strike at the Hittite light chariots. Possibly a mistake for the Arzawans. The Hittite heavies are poised to hit the lights in the flank.

And they do, scattering the Arzawan LCs, but taking cohesion hits in the process.
Taking the initiative, the Arzawan heavy chariots surge into the gap and slam into the Hittites. Their charge saves the light chariots from certain destruction.
Two Hittite units are routed. The heavies are now engaged. But who will win the next activation?
The god of fortune favors the Arzawans! The light chariots go next and hightail it out of trouble to the east, away from the Hittite heavies. Arzawan infantry advance, daring the Hittite chariots to attack them. (Spoiler: they won't dare.)
While the heavy chariots duke it out in the center, both sides' lights chase each other east across the desert, flinging arrows as they go.
The Hittites finish off the Arzawan heavy chariots and race away from the infantry. The field is now open for the ground-pounders to settle matters. The Hittites have their sights set on the Arzawan flank and rear now!
Routed units have piled up around the  Arzwan standard. Lots of potential VPs for the Hittites -- if they can get to them before they rally.
     An exciting game so far, if a little unbalanced. I think it was clear from the git-go who was going to win this battle, and I see no stopping the Hittites now. The Arzawan infantry can try to swing to their left to protect the standard. But will it be enough to save them?

     To be continued.....

    Here's what's on the docket in coming game sessions:

The Battle of Stones River, 1862-63. Regimental scale American Civil War. In hand now, learning the rules. On the table soon.
Single battle ziplock game from Revolution Games. In transit to my headquarters.
Sister game of Hastings above.
A game I've been looking at for a long time.
    The two "1066" games and "Washington's Crossing" were part of Revolution Games' Year-End Sale. Having been one myself and knowing what it's like, I do what I can to support smaller publishers. I can't wait to get my hands on these games.

Oh, and here's a strategy tip for the Washington game:


     Until next time: Bomb's Away, Dream Babies!

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