J. R. Tracy
We had seven gamers Tuesday night to refight a small corner of WWII as well as the whole shebang.
Dr. Rob and John finished Beware the Hare, the ASLscenario they started last week. John's reinforcements roared onto the map, delivering panzergrenadiers close to one of the two buildings he had yet to take. Unfortunately, the second objective was well defended and a long way away. Rob's screening force and his sniper took their toll, and the combination of delays and casualties doomed the German cause. This is a good looking scenario but it is looking a little tough on the Germans.
The Germans look for the back door to the objective
Scott and Bill led Jim, Conrad, and myself through a session of the latest iteration of Cataclysm. Jim handled the Soviets, Conrad the Fascists, and I had the Democracies. Conrad got the ball rolling in Asia by overrunning Manchuria and picking a fight with the Soviet bear, while I worked to get the US up to speed in war production, while maintaining the status quo in Europe. I was pleased to see the totalitarian states bleeding each other dry in Asia, but knew the Fascists would soon be coming for me. My plan was to get the US built up and then go after Japan, hoping France and the UK could look after themselves in the meantime. Conrad pillaged some minor nations for resources and soon had panzers rolling off the production line. He launched a surprise attack on France, and we had a bitter back and forth battle, with heroic die rolls by France offsetting the German material advantage. After heavy attrition on both sides, Conrad was able to get his airpower back in action before me, and that proved enough to overwhelm the Paris defenses and break the French political will. Unfortunately I misapprehended the end-game condition, and when France fell the UK was not yet in the war nor (formally) allied with France. With the defeat of the only active Democracy, Conrad triggered the game's end and with it a disgusting Fascist triumph.
The ominous finger of Tojo descends upon Vladivostok
The game has made great strides since I last played, over a year ago. Weird temporal issues rising from the interaction of combat and production have been neatly resolved, and the domestic political consequences of moving to a war footing have a much more natural feel than the old method of VP penalties and rewards. Nifty playaids help make sense of the production and combat systems, as well as the various diplomatic options.
Provocative buildup in the Philippines
Our endgame was weird but due more to my play errors than to the game itself - I should have worked to ally the UK and France from the very beginning, and regret the diplomatic efforts expended instead on sideshows like the Spanish Civil War. With better play on my part, the game would've continued with the Arsenal of Democracy soon making itself felt at Tokyo's expense. I am disappointed we didn't get a chance to test the naval conflict in the Pacific, as this seems to be a point of weakness of many grand strategic WWII games. I'm encouraged by the ideas Bill and Scott have here, but I want to see them in action.
Une cause perdue
Overall, it was a very good gaming experience. Cataclysm has evolved from a jumble of interesting ideas into a real, working game that captures the epic sweep of the topic. I used to merely tolerate it because it was the work of my friends, but now I'm genuinely excited about its prospects and look forward to the next session.
Next week, Andean Abyss and possibly Crown of Roses!