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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another bloody Sunday?

From the skies and the forests they came!
It was just Donald and me for games on Sunday, so we decided to begin our first campaign from DoW's Memoir '44 Campaign Book, Volume 1, which this M44 completist had treated himself to with the hoary old "it's my birthday" excuse.

The quick play and simple unit representations make M44 an ideal game for a system linking a series of scenarios into a campaign, and M44:CB1 was eagerly awaited by the game's many fans. After just 2 games it is impossible to have a sense of the full scope of what the DoW team have added to M44 with CB1, but I can report that I like the look of what I have seen so far (surprised, dear readers?):
  • A nice hardback book, with full colour art throughout: it's expensive to go hardback, but the book's more durable, and I think kids'd be extra proud of one.
  • A punchboard of counters stuck in the back of the book (keeping these in good nick is another good reason for a hardback book).
  • 51 new scenarios, many drawing on underused expansion sets.
  • 3 grand campaigns; each comprising several mini-campaigns, themselves played out across 3 or more scenarios (as many as 8 in the really big ones):
  1. Unternehmen Fall Gelb: France 1940.
  2. Operation Barbarossa: Soviet Union 1941.
  3. Normandy: France 1944.
The core campaign rules themselves are simple but effective:
  • Reserves: each player has a reserve pool; reserve rolls at the start of each scenario govern access to your reserve units.
  • Objective VP: many scenarios contain various objectives other than just destruction of the enemy; these provide bonus Campaign VP as well as victory medals in the given scenarios.
  • Victory events: dice rolls made before each new scenario begins, these provide another layer of variation by enforcing small changes to each side's deployments.
All told, these rules will add a few minutes to each scenario's setup time, which I would expect to see become increasingly insignificant as players gain experience of the campaign game.

Unternehmen Fall Gelb: Airborne Operation
#16. Fort Eben Amaël
Starting at the beginning, as you do, and with some random selection, I found myself the Belgian defenders of fortress Eben Amaël on the Meuse near Maastricht, under attack from German glider-borne combat engineers. The original action there was one of WW2's first and most famous coup de main operations.

Historical revisionism took root right at the start of our new campaign: the Belgians held the fort against the German attack so that the panzers were unable to cross the Meuse as quickly as had been planned. There was a minor rules hitch which might've contributed to my 5-4 victory, but I reckon more significant was the excellent shooting of my units, which was some 1 pip above the mean on the day as a whole.

#17. Unternehmen Niwi
Another interesting scenario showcasing the new depths brought to this old favourite with the expansions, Unternehmen Niwi features the operation in which the Germans used Fieseler Fi 156 Storch light utility aircraft to seize crossroads vital to the planned panzer 'infiltration' through the Ardennes. Among the new rules in play were:
  • Depleted units: units starting at less than full strength.
  • Armour Breakthrough: armour reinforcements which can enter on your opponent's side of the map.
History was again rewritten, despite Donald's canny use of an Armoured Assault card to mobilise his Armour Breakthrough. I had kept my own armour units safe, ready, and waiting, and so was able to mount a decisive armoured counterstrike which won me the game.

So, with 2 scenarios to go, the Unternehmen Fall Gelb: Airborne Operation minicampaign stands at 10-7 to the Allies. All to play for then!

Score
Grizzled veteran 0
Stubborn defenders 2
:-)

Attack Sub
I've recorded a game or two of Courtney F. Allen's Attack Sub with Andy in the past, but none with Donald. We'd played it several times before, although sufficiently long ago that we decided to stick to the introductory scenario.

I drew the Russians. The game started well for me, as I was able to build up contact sufficient to take the first shot (IIRC), which missed. All told I think Donald and I each fired 3 times; mine all missed; 2 of Donald's were the 1-shot kills that won him the game. I will have my revenge.

Score
Old seadog 1
Not quite got his sealegs 0
:-\

PS. I don't know why the scans for the M44 maps turned out so scabby. I'll look into it. ;)
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