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Subject: 1st Mn Does Liberty Roads..and, Is Pleased. rss

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David Dockter
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First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society tackled Liberty Roads on June 13: we're on a Normandy '44 kick this month given the 70th anniversary of D-Day. A few of us had previously played this game, and raved about it, so we (BGG's wendell and I) thought we would introduce others in the club to this outstanding game.


Pushin counters...Alsen, Dr, Wendell - left to right


A labour of love

A Labour of Love

These designers packed a lot of love (respect for the wargame craft/hobby) into this package. The game is a beauty. The 16 page rules are smart & clear. Very cool chrome. Lots of innovation here: "supports", a der fuhrer track and the CRT really stand out.

We decided to play the 9 turn D-Day scenario. We averaged 30 to 45 minutes a turn...and about 45 minutes of set up. About 6 hours of game time in total. A decent playaid chart is provided for setup.

With the D-Day scenario, the Allied player selects 4 out 10 possible conditions. If 2 are achieved, the game ends in a tie. 3? An allied win. Minor quibble here: there really are only 4 viable conditions: Capture a major port, capture Paris, capture 5 V1 bases, capture 3 U-Boat bases. Capturing a German Major City? No way (meaning, if the Allies have got to that point in 9 turns, toss in the towel boys and girls). Also, we would have liked to see some causality impact - since, a German could unrealistically grind up his forces (since, the world ends in 9 turns) without regard for the defense of the fatherland later in '44 or '45. But, a MINOR quibble: this is a scenario afterall, and, well, real wargamers only play the campaign game. arrrh

One of the great aspects to this game is that the Allies can invade about anywhere in France. Each possible section of the coast is rated (1 to 5) for coastal defense, 1st wave capacity, follow on capacity and allied air support. In our game, the Allied player decided on invading close to St.Malo (the Allies actually get two invasion per game - the Allies in this game also hit the French coast on Turn 8).


Initial paradrop debacle

The longest day begins..

So, after finishing the setup, we were shaking dice before it was noon (always a good thing on a Friday). First roll? Allied paratroops toss a "2" and die near the beaches. We're off to our usual D-Day start


Initial allied invasion...west of Normandy...target beach between St.Malo and Brest

The invasion mechanic is another smart component of Liberty Roads. Each side gets a number of supports and allocates them to the attacked hex. Some cancel out each other, others provide modifiers, etc. Sort of a combination of combat cards, speciality units, leaders and what not. A great way to bake in some beloved chrome into the design. THe picture below shows a few of the German supports (apologies for the lighting):


German supports

So, we figured out the odds, impact of supports and rolled a die:


Allies ashore!

Another MINOR quibble is the results of the invasion: they seem a little lite on the Allies - no likely Omaha beach debacle here.


The key German reaction roll....a "1"!

After the successful invasion, the Germans have a chance to react. Essentially, the result of die roll is the number of units that may react. The German rolled....a "1"!. Much laughter. For the first 6 turns, the Germans are under movement restrictions (Operation Fortitude). They try to end these restrictions each turn. Our German player was an inept die roller when it came to Operation Fortitude and suffered the restriction thru turn 5. Anyways, another smart mechanic and adding to the fun of the game.


Situation: End of Turn 2



You are NOT a god: you are subject to the whims of a knucklehead

A really cool mechanic in the game is the der Fuhrer track. Essentially, your boss (if the German) is pleased or displeased at your actions & progress during the game. If displeased, your replacements are reduced, your supports are limited and movement is restricted. I love games with these kind of constraints on use of force; especially the feedback loop - do poorly, immediately suffer some restriction. I hate games like Risk, where there are no restrictions, either economic or political or strategic will on use of force.

Another minor quibble with Liberty Roads: There isn't a similar mechanic for the Allies. I'll bet Ike had to answer to FDR, so, it would have been cool to see some similar mechanic. But, BIG hats off to these designers for coming up with the der Fuhrer track - and how well it is integrated into progress, or lack of it, and specific actions the German player makes in the course of the game.


der Fuhrer track


Fuhrer and FF triggering events


Turn 3

In the case of our German player, der Fuhrer was quite annoyed by the end of turn 3, after a key german armored attack failed just some of St.Malmo. If it would have succeeded, Allied beaches would have been in some serious trouble.


Turn 4

The CRT


Bob, the Source, stopped by, because, hey, it's his store, and he always stops by when we are having one of our all day summer Friday sessions of Siege of Jerusalem, or Carthage: The Punic Wars, or another monster. Also, Bob, the Source, is our EiA Sawatdee group, and as the RABID Spanish Admiral, he wanted to talk strategy with the French, who, was playing as the German in Liberty Roads

With Bob, the Source (the owner of our club's game store den)jawboning with us for a bit, we discussed the CRT for Liberty Roads; yet, another innovative feature of the game. A picture of it is below (apologies for the poor lighting)


Creative CRT

The table is very "Bergian". It is not linear and the range of results is very impressive. For me, it had as big as a "Wow, this is cool" factor as Berg's CRT in Carthage: The First Punic War - something that truly captures the range of possible combat outcomes vs the usual-boring-and- stale-vanilla-CRTs-with-few-die-roll-modifiers one runs across, unfortunately, in many wargames. Again, one of the factors that makes the CRT work is the support chits both sides draw.

There is even one result that allows the defender to activate units with 2 hexes of the combat and react (what a great idea! - sort of a counterattack ability along with movement). The CRT has an attrition result for each side and separate tactical results for both the defender and attacker.

Back to our game at hand....the Allies decided to mount an offensive around Redon. The Germans had concentrated 3 armored divisions + support in the area and we're about to launch an attack of their own. The allies stole a march, rolled a "12" (actually a "10"+2 die roll modifier), wiped out 2 SS divisions and then caught another armored division in the exploitation.


Turn 5 crushing allied victory at Redon (0912)


Turn 5


Turn 6

The Late Game


Turn 7 and the der Fuhrer is tossing another tantrum...his support level for the current German commander has reached zero...which means 1/2 movement for German forces, no "support chits" and no reps...the following turn, the track is reset {a new commander appointed}, but instead of starting at a the top, it is slipped a level for each time there has been a new commander appointed.


Turn 7

As we moved into the last few turns, the Germans had continued to keep a good cork in the St.Malo, Brest, Lorient bottle. Despite this, der Fuhrer had tossed another tantrum and, for a second time, replaced the military leader in France. On turn 8, the Allies launched their second invasion at Dieppe. They got ashore, but were quickly hemmed in by reinforcing german divisions (now free from guarding the rest of the French coast).


Turn 8...2nd Allied invasion: this time seeking revenge at Dieppe


Turn 8

As turn 9 rolled around, the Allies had achieved only one of the victory conditions - (Major Port). They did hold two u-boat bases (Lorient and Brest). A sleeping German commander had only left a token garrison for the magical third u-boat base that would be required to avoid an Allied defeat.

The Allies mounted a final offensive in the area and managed to capture St. Nazaire. Capturing this 3rd u-boat base meant the Allies had achieved a tie with 2 of their four condition met. We ended the game there. Our gut says the Allies have a tough slog in the D-Day scenario. Maybe a house rule would add a German relative to Allied losses condition into the mix. Or perhaps lower the number of French major cities needed. Anyways, we had a GREAT time playing the scenario and it is perfect for a 6 hour gaming session.


Turn 9 2nd front goes quiet


Turn 9 main front goes quiet

Bottom Line?

Great operational wargame. Very innovative. All parts work well together. Get this game. Play it. Use the D-Day scenario as boot camp and then spend a weekend immersed in the glorious campaign game.

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Sam Carroll
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Your report on Liberty Roads reinforces my conviction that it must be mine.
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Colin Raitt
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Nice report David. I like the game a lot too.

I find Normandy a tougher proposition than Brittany because there are infantry on the beaches and 21st panzer available if the motorized reserve comes up.I once saw Omaha fail completely, though normally they get ashore with just 1 or 2 hits.

Historically the Normandy landing had liberated Caen, Rennes, Nantes, Angers, Le Mans, Orleans, Troyes, Reims, Rouen & Paris by the end of August. Not to forget Nice, Marseilles, Nimes, and Grenoble thanks to operation Dragoon plus Bordeaux from FFI. Less than 8 French cities would be a bit cheap in comparison.

I think the invasion reaction roll is modified by the number of beachheads. Here come the questions. Did you have more than 2 players? How was the weather? Did the allies only use 2 beachheads in Brittany and 1 near Dieppe? Where did the Brittany PLUTO go to on turn 8? Should the operational port on St Malo be on Lorient? How many panzer exploitation attacks did the Germans declare?
 
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Roger Hobden
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Very nice review !

I am glad I already own this game.

Now I need to find time to play it.

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Gordon J
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So does this game allow the Allied player to choose where they land? Or are you locked into the historical landing spots?
 
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Craig Houliston
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Anyone know where I can pick up a copy? Looks like it is out of print at both GMT and Hexasim.
 
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Paul Borchers
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You are not locked into the historical landing spots, but you might find good reason to use them (or maybe not).

I noticed that the Hezasim website said temporarily out of print, so hopefully that will change to back in print soon.
 
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David Dockter
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Saw a copy on EBAY today.

You have a choice of 3 beaches in the South of France (which cover almost all of Med France)...8 beaches in West Atlantic coast of France...7 beaches in North coast France...3 beaches Bel/Netherlands/Germany. So, 21 potential invasion zones. Each has trade-offs in terms of 1st wave capacity, follow on capacity, "supports" and air support.
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Wendell
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polate wrote:

I think the invasion reaction roll is modified by the number of beachheads. Here come the questions. Did you have more than 2 players? How was the weather? Did the allies only use 2 beachheads in Brittany and 1 near Dieppe? Where did the Brittany PLUTO go to on turn 8? Should the operational port on St Malo be on Lorient? How many panzer exploitation attacks did the Germans declare?


Just me and Dr. I used two beachheads in Brittany, and later two near Dieppe. I took St Malo first; Lorient I only took later and never made operational (I had Brest). Only ONE fair weather turn out of the nine; I rolled two consecutive box-cars on turns 5 and 6 for storm, and an '11' on turn 7 for bad weather - and overall, the Allies (I) also rolled poorly for generating supports.
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David Dockter
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The German did not attack much at all: I think only three attacks the entire game. And, I believe they all involved panzers...and, exploitation attempts, if I recall correctly. One attack was a total 3-1 odds misfire (the attack to set up the lunge on the beaches turn 3). The other two were successful, but, not wildly so.

Germans really concentrated on setting up a solid defense to contain the initial invasion. That worked. However, given we were only playing the 9 turn scenario vs the 24 turn campaign game, there is no way to determine whether the losses the German paid to hold the line were realistic in light of conserving some force for the longer game. Hell, the German is required to withdraw something like 10 of their 16 armored divisions during January 1945: Uncle Joe and his boys are rampaging thru Poland on their way to Berlin about then.
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Colin Raitt
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Quote:
I used two beachheads in Brittany

My preference is to use the maximum of 3 beachheads in the first landing. I know it spreads your assault wave and D-Day markers more thinly but Brittany has few defenders, it increases your landing rate, and it upsets Der Fuhrer. As Brest wasn't operational till the end of July there are 5 fewer allied divisions on the map by then.

Tough luck with the weather. Every turn of storms or bad weather makes the Germans almost the equal of the allies.

I thought St Malo didn't need engineers as it's a minor port.

Quote:
The German did not attack much at all: I think only three attacks the entire game. And, I believe they all involved panzers...and, exploitation attempts, if I recall correctly.

Well my feeling is you need to get stuck in. Every panzer exploit attack raises Hitler Humeur. Your losses should be fewer than the extra replacements you get. Panzer kampfgruppes can take the hit. Further, Hitler sends you more supports and the allies will be taking some casualties.
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Mark De Cicco
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Quote:
Anyone know where I can pick up a copy? Looks like it is out of print at both GMT and Hexasim.


About a month ago I got copies of both Liberty Roads and the expansion, Roundhammer 1943, from Fine Games (Michael Dean). Maybe he still has some left.
 
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Mark De Cicco
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Quote:
Quote:
Anyone know where I can pick up a copy? Looks like it is out of print at both GMT and Hexasim.


About a month ago I got copies of both Liberty Roads and the expansion, Roundhammer 1943, from Fine Games (Michael Dean). Maybe he still has some left.


And it looks like Noble Knight also has a copy of the 1st edition. There are only minor differences of errata between 1st and 2nd ed, the main difference being 1st ed counters were glossy (perhaps too shiny), and 2nd ed matte.

Mark
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David Dockter
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Thanks for the tip - I didn't know the expansion is out.
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Craig Houliston
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newmanium7 wrote:
Quote:
Anyone know where I can pick up a copy? Looks like it is out of print at both GMT and Hexasim.


About a month ago I got copies of both Liberty Roads and the expansion, Roundhammer 1943, from Fine Games (Michael Dean). Maybe he still has some left.


Thanks, Mark. Looks like it is now listed as OOP/OOS there.
 
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Mark De Cicco
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Quote:
Thanks, Mark. Looks like it is now listed as OOP/OOS there.


If it is any consolation, it looks like Hexasim has the English-language base game back in stock, and Roundhammer is still available in the French edition.

http://www.hexasim.com/4-Liberty-Roads.html
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Corey H
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David,

Great AAR. Just started reading the rules (finally) last night after seeing the report.

Makes me wish that I had made it last Friday instead of pretending to fish and getting quite shut out
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Craig Houliston
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Woot! I found a new LR - second edition copy in Canada! With postage, it wasn't cheap, but this looked so good, it was pretty much a zombie buy.
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