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Target Arnhem: Across 6 Bridges» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Target Arnhem: Across 6 Bridges rss

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Elijah Lau
Singapore
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TA is a FREE game from Multiman Publishing. According to MMP, the aim of giving away TA for free is to promote wargaming in general and MMP games in particular. Good thing for MMP that TA is an excellent game! TA covers Operation Market Garden at the regiment level, with the aim of the Allies to secure Arnhem and the highway leading to it, and the Germans aiming to prevent this. The game has only 2 pages of rules, 88 counters and can be played in less than 2 hours. More importantly, the simple ruleset does not compromise the gameplay and leaves enough strategic considerations for experienced wargamers to enjoy the game as well.

Components

For a free game, the components are extremely well-done. The map is printed on glossy paper and the counters are a reasonable 5/8” size. I’ve paid more for DTP games that pale in comparison in QC compared to TA. So in terms of components, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth with TA. And for the wargamer, it’s nice to see the graphics of the actual vehicles used in that mechanised unit on their respective counter. And it also makes it easy to distinguish between the mechanised units and the non-mechanised units (which is important in determining who gets to take actions in the 3rd impulse phase – only mechanised units can). The only thing missing is a suitable container to put all the game components (the envelope in which the game came in is wholly inadequate). But any suitable-sized box will do (it helps if either you or your significant other goes shopping and keeps the gift boxes for clothes. They are a handy size to put the game in.) And you can jazz up the box with your own Arnhem campaign artwork!

Gameplay

As mentioned, there are only 2 pages of rules. The game basically consists as such. There are 9 turns in the game and each turn is broken up into 3 impulse phases. In each impulse phase, the Allies go first, then the Germans. With this UGOIGO flow to the game, “turnover” time between players is very short. 1 turn takes at most 10 minutes. Because units can do only 1 of three things in their impulse phase: move, fight or re-supply, the decision tree is also very simple and there’s nothing here to overwhelm beginner players or drag the game down with AP.

But through the simple rules, there’s a remarkably tense and exciting game. This is partially enhanced by the all-or-nothing victory conditions. For the Allies, there’s always that concern. Can the British Airborne hold out at Arnhem? Because if Arnhem is lost before reinforcements arrive, it’s very difficult for the Allies to win. Of course, it’s difficult for the Allies to win even if Arnhem holds out. Market Garden, by historical standards, is a very difficult campaign for the Allies, needing to fight your way through to relieve a beleaguered force on the end of a very narrow supply line. IMO, it’s next to impossible for the Allies to win with the “historical” drop zones. Well, which are the “right” drop zones? That is the challenge for the Allies. For the Germans, it’s a game of resource management. Many of the German units are considerably weaker than the Allied units, so the German player needs to find a way to contest the highway/Arnhem without getting mauled by the superior Allied units. The Germans do have some tough units, their Panzer units, and managing them is an even more critical task. Having them at the right place and right time and really screw up the Allied plans!

Although the game is simple, this is no abstract. There is a very strong flavour of the Arnhem campaign. I suppose it helps that I’ve watched the movie A Bridge Too Far (great movie!) and can recall the scenes during the game when the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions grind down the British paras in Arnhem or the Guards units getting held up constantly on the highway. That German units can use off-board areas to appear or reappear at the "rear" to hit at Allied units strung out on the road also reminds me of Band of Brothers, when the 101st Airborne was attacked at Neunen by the 107th Panzer Brigade.

As this game does capture the basic essence of Operation Market Garden, it is more difficult for the Allies than for the Germans. It’s difficult to design a balanced Arnhem game, just as it is difficult to design a balanced Napoleonic era wargame. That was just the way history went. In my experience, if the Germans roll well early in the game and score major hits against the British in Arnhem, it’s virtually impossible for the Allies to win. And even if the British hold Arnhem, a good German player will redeploy to press the Allies along the road and it’s quite difficult to defend that long-thin straw of a highway. The game is more forgiving on the Germans, even though the German player still must think carefully about how to manage his meagre resources. For the Allies, they have their work cut out but it’s not impossible. Much thinking needs to go into how the Allies choose to deploy their Airborne units and how they will be supported by the rest of the Allied forces.

Conclusion

A short, well-produced, easy-to-learn-and-play wargame that captures the basic essence of the Arnhem campaign is a good game to me. Such wargames are not easy to find! And if it’s FREE, then it’s even better! Given that the game is short, easy to grasp and has a variable setup for the Airborne units, players can easily spend many games exploring different strategies reliving their A Bridge Too Far experience.

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David Chachere
United States
San Francisco
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Thanks, Elijah, for the well thought-out review. I've found that the game's structure boils down to a few key fights. It can mean the game running on for a bunch of extra turns in a tank slug out over the Arnhem Bridge, accompanied by some more or less interesting harassment along the road. The'speed bump' Germans on the road might delay the eventual arrival of reinforcements in Arnhem, but its been too late in every game I've played, and that's because my paratroops were able to take that single south-Arnhem hex on the very first action of the game (per the special rule that allows two units to take actions on the first impulse on which they arrive) and hold it, before the Germans can act to reinforce the hex.

There are a few other key fights, I guess, but wont stay interesting for long, I expect. Sure is easier than Monty's Gamble, though.

 
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