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Subject: First Impressions rss

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Alexius Exfalso
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I'm not submitting this as a review as it is based upon my experiences playing solo with the demo rules and the VASSAL module. However, for what it is worth, this is what my first impressions are. I shall be writing this in the style of Louis Balfour on Jazz Club:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoRv--cosIo

First off, the componants. They are beautiful. It is good to see the standards set by the Lock n Load series are being emulated. If the quality of the artistry in this game become the norm in the hobby, the future looks bright.

(Turns to camera) Nice.

The counter set covers most of the factions and contingents active in the conflict, with a bias towards the early part of the conflict; left wing militias, guardia civil, asaltos and the falange espanola, as well as more regular army units and the foreign legion. The Carlists and Basque nationalists are also in the mix. All in all, a colourful set with a lot of scope. The vehicles, support arms and aircraft cover a similar spectrum, from improvised armoured cars to the state of the art armour and support of the Condor Legion.

(Turns to camera) Great.

The demo rules - a little vague in parts; the armour rules suffer from the lack of an annotated counter illustration, and the casualty rules are incomplete; the document I read didn't specify how many hits it takes to reduce and then kill a unit. Apart from that, the core rules are there and playable.

(Turns to camera - exhales smoke) Fantastic.

The game. The unit selection mechanism is great; leaders are selected at random, and you then have to live with the mix of factions and temperaments. Some scenarios narrow the choice somewhat, but the scope for colourful knock-around games is great. The basic scheme will be familiar to players of LnL; the sides activate alternate units til there is nothing left to play with or both players pass. The difference lies in the company activation rule; a player may activate more than one hex within the command span of the unit leader. Units beyond that span are out of command and have to pass a morale check to activate. Aditionally, a player may try to activate more than one company to perform a group move; emphasis on 'try', there, as the rules penalise attempts to get factions who don't like each other very much to work as a team. Your chances of getting an anarchist company to follow the lead of a bunch of communists is slight...

Units have a limited number of command options; movement, reaction fire, fire, rally, march or load/unload. Movement is conventional; firing is CRT based, cross referencing the total of fire points directed into a hex with the modified roll of 2d6, the result being divided by a factor according to terrain, and the hits distributed evenly among the units on the sharp end of the stick. That sounds a bit intricate, but it actually works out well; by the end of my first session it was second nature.

Hand to hand combat is also CRT based, expressing the points on either side as a ratio and cross-referencing with a 1d6 die roll. The results are of the 'attacker/defender retreats/retreats and gits some' variety, which is a nice change from the sudden death encountered in most mid-twentieth century tactical games.

(Turns to camera) Super.

Morale is tested upon making a close combat assault, losing a leader or losing a counter during combat. The units morale factor is modified by the number of hits divided by the number of bases in the unit at full strength (again, sounds tortuous, but bear with it - it works) and 2d6 flung with force and conviction. If the result exceeds the modified morale factor, the unit retreats and has to be rallied to come back into play; if it exceeds the morale factor by five or more, the unit breaks and is removed from play.

The overall experience - I dig it, and I'm sure you'll dig it too. The rules come across as a bit clunky, but in practise they come together nicely, and the impulse activation system makes for an enjoyable, interactive game without much hanging around waiting.The games I've played so far have not betrayed any imbalance in the rules; units die in a crossfire as well they should, mutually supporting units come off better, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing better than mounting a machine gun on an enormous armoured egg-thing and catching the fascists as they come round that turn in the road.

Try it out - I did, and I don't regret it. One thing though - can we have the armour, artillery and casualty rules clarified?

(Turns to camera) Ladies and Gentlemen - A Las Barricadas...
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Alexius Exfalso
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One more thing, actually - the terrain.

The game comes with four maps; two generic Iberian highlands, arable and hilly, one river board and one with a small town/large village on a hill.

The hilly terrain has a noticable effect on gameplay; there is alot of scope for exploiting defilade, as well as scope for commanding a large area with a well played support weapon. While the boards are dotted with small woods and olive groves, there is enough dusty open ground to pose a headache should you have to cross it when it is watched...

Hills = Line of sight problems. As in any game. The demo rules don't specify the rules for LOS and contour lines; I dare say the full rules will. In the meantime, commonsense and experience of other games fills the gap.

The company movement and co-ordination rules allow for dashing charges up and down arid hillsides, which is as it should be in a SCW game.

More I play this one, even with the barest outline of the rules, the more I'm getting into it. Seriously, guys, download the module and give it a whirl - it's worth it.
 
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Nicolas Eskubi
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Sorry to dont answer before and thanks for your review, so now, just have to buy the game!

Best
Niko
 
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Alexius Exfalso
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I certainly shall, Niko, I certainly shall.

Looking forward to the France 1940 effort, too.

 
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Nicolas Eskubi
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Hi Alexius,

Great! , about La Bataille de France, 1940 we are working right now, Juan Carlos is now on "brain storming" updating the ALB rules to the WW2 era and really would be a lot of cool things...


Cheers
Niko
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John Di Ponio
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Thanks Alexius!! This First Impression allowed me to get a feel for the game. I have beel looking at it for a couple of days trying to make out if the MMP pre order of FRANCE was this game but I see I will have to order form Lock N Load to get the ORIGINAL!!! I look forward to playing the game soon!
 
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Nicolas Eskubi
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Hi John,

Now you can buy A las Barricadas! from MMP.

Best
Niko
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