Monday, February 27, 2017

RETREAT FROM MOSCOW

     In my last post, I was attempting to offer an alternative to the bang-your-head-against-the-wall strategy the Germans pursued historically at the Battle of Mtsensk. I thought I had achieved that, and had a good time doing it, too. The only problem? It totally won't work.
     Why? One word: Supply. I screwed up the supply rules in that Trails (those dashed roads you see on the map) cannot act as supply roads, contrary to my belief. This means that my German attack on the Russian left flank will quickly run out of gas, literally.
     As you can see in the pic, the German supply line will only reach to the little red circles I've drawn on the map. The supply line is shown by a red dashed line. The German line of attack is shown in green. A couple problems here. A) The attack should have been made against the Russian AT unit on the road (there were more guys there at the time of the attack, which is why I bypassed them). The route I chose goes across an unbridged stream, verboten to supply lines; and B) Even without the Russian AT unit blocking the trail, an intact supply line is not going to take me very far anyway. You might be able to get away with operating with Low Fuel, but not without supplies.

     So what we're left with is a situation where the German force is completely tied to the main road for supply reasons. That means full-on, full frontal, head-against-wall pointless attacks on the fortified Russian position. 
     So I went ahead and tried it and was predictably repulsed. I felt like Sam Elliott in Gettysburg. I saw it coming from a mile away, but the damn game was making me do it. (Sometimes you get the bar, sometimes the bar gets you. Oh, wait. That's Sam Elliott in The Big Lebowski. Whatever, I just like Sam Elliott.)
     Some games are like that. The Battles from the Age of Reason game, Fontenoy, has the Dutch flinging themselves on French bayonets for no good reason. (The game oughtta be called Battles from the Age of No Good Reason.)

The Dutch are arrayed along the bottom of the picture. The French are the ones in the redoubts and behind the earthworks. They are also of superior quality and more numerous. Spoiler alert: The French win!
       So I looked ahead in the Roads to Moscow package and what I see in all four of the scenarios are dug-in Russians along a single supply road. Happy bludgeoning!
     What made Vance von Borries' game Kasserine so good was that there were lots of options for both players at almost every stage of the battle. It only occasionally bogs down into a toe-to-toe slugfest. But these moments are short-lived. Mostly it's a game where both players are sure to have plenty of surprises for their opponent. I love the rules of Roads, as I do another von Boories' game Barbarossa: Kiev to Rostov, but the situations they simulate are poorly chosen, if you ask me. Great games mired in abysmal scenarios.
     The upshot of all this? I've suddenly lost my enthusiasm for Roads to Moscow. I think it's time to retreat.
     Bring on the next!

For real this time -- and I mean it!

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