Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Just another Friday-night firefight

'Bloody' Omaha
A week of sleepless nights and long days had left me pretty frazzled by the time Badger arrived for Friday night games. Our success at last week's DiceCon East prompting an obvious choice- more Memoir Operation Overlord, Badger's week at work on top of my own condition meant that we kept things simple and revisited Omaha beach.

Operation Overlord: a plan comes together
The better known of the two invasion beaches allocated to the US forces, Omaha beach is infamous as the location of the bloodiest fighting on invasion day, as immortalised in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. The average movie-goer might not be quite so familiar with the depth of planning which the Overlord operation entailed.

There is a plethora of books and web resources available on this topic- eg. Overlord@Wiki; but even this WW2 buff had never seen anything quite so profoundly informative as the maps to be found in the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection- part of the University of Texas Libraries in the University of Texas at Austin (Austin is home coincidentally, of Steve Jackson Games: one of the few survivors of the early 80's explosion of small adventure gaming publishers).

These maps truly have to be seen to be believed so here is the full set of links:
Meanwhile, I've put together a graphic showing how the Eastern map relates to the layout of the M44 Overlord map, and highlighting some of the clever features of the original maps.

As you can see the simple M44 layout captures the essential features of the Omaha battlefield surprisingly well. More than that, the panoramic sketches and the map legends show both how exhaustive was the detail the planners had amassed, and how cleverly they had prepared it to give the leaders of the first assault waves an unprecedented amount of information about what they and their men would face when they hit those beaches.

What went down
Badger was suitably impressed by the sight of the American invasion forces arrayed before him when he sat down to play the German defenders. Both games followed pretty much the same pattern that we'd seen in the game at DiceCon East:
  • The German defenders laid down a punishing hail of fire which generates lots of hits but results in surprisingly few VP.
  • The American attackers established a local superiority in one of the beach sectors, from which point they were able to sieze victory.
The results were:
  • Game 1:
  1. Badger (German): 7.
  2. Me (American): 8.
  • Game 2:
  1. Badger (American): 8.
  2. Me (German): 6.
Both games were pretty close then, although Badger was able to sneak in the minor achievement of the lowest American losses of our 3 games thus far. :0)

Axis 0
Allies 2

I remember an old epal of mine from M44@DoW commenting that Overlord was the way to play M44. Our 3 games of Omaha Overlord have convinced Badger and I of the truth of this. Last Friday's games demonstrated that Overlord games take little or no more time to play than regular games. At first I found this surprising, but now I imagine the extra orders mean that each turn can be very dynamic, with action breaking out all across the front.

More in due course you can be sure! :-)

The Battle for Hill 218 is a game I first saw on the web some time last year. The idea of a tactical wargame in a single deck of cards intrigued this longtime fan of the classic Up Front, naturally enough; so I recently finally got myself a copy from a FLGS. I had hoped to get a chance to try it out at DiceCon East, but twas not to be. So it seemed like a good idea to get it to the table on Friday.

Frazzled as I was by lack of sleep last Friday, I was almost dead to the world as we played this game. As a result I can't really comment on whether or not it lives up to the advance billing given it by its publishers. I can only note that I'd really like to like this game: a tactical combat in 15-30 minutes is my idea of a dream filler game. I'll have to give it another go to see what I think.

What went down
I can't remember much, except that Badger won our first game; and that our second game was a bogey because my apparent victory was actually against the rules.

War-weary veteran 1
Fresh reserves 2
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