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Subject: Some impressions on WaW: Eisenbach Gap rss

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Matt Foster
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A quick look at World at War: Eisenbach Gap. I’ve managed to get in a few games of this over the holidays, so I’m able to comment about it without making stuff up. ;-)

The nutshell version is that I like this game quite a bit. It’s not very fiddly, plays quickly, has some interesting hooks and delivers plausible results. The physical production is a pleasant enough package, the rules are fairly well written and the game’s tabletop footprint is manageable without feeling restricted. I confess that the subject matter is a topic of high interest for me, so I was predisposed to appreciate it for content alone if for no other reason.

In a way it’s what I would call a “brave” design because of the combat mechanism. There is no combat results table. This game uses a ‘little buckets o’dice’ system for combat. “Little” because players are never rolling more than four or five dice at a time. Attacker rolls some dice to hit, defender rolls (usually fewer) dice to ‘save’ hits – a mechanism familiar from many miniatures game systems.

Any form of buckets o’dice (BOD) resolution always seem to get a mixed reaction from wargamers. Some gamers dislike BOD because the mechanism does introduce a greater perception of randomness. Odds- or differential- based combat results tables are frequently designed to contain randomness. It’s very rare to find a CRT that offers wild swings of fortune within a single odds or differential ‘column’. (The Advanced Tobruk gunfire CRT comes to mind, and that has taken it’s share of flak.)

But I digress. In Eisenbach Gap, to be certain, there can be some swings of fortune. But I like that combat in the game avoids the Proving Ground Syndrome of 90 percent kills at 2000 meters. Sometimes a platoon of Abrams will fire on a platoon of T-72s and completely flub. Other times they’ll turn the whole lot of them into smoking junk. The odds favor the latter result (or something in between), but the lack of narrow predictability is a key component to the game.

In some other ‘modern’ tactical games, maneuver is generally undertaken only at great (and entirely predictable) sacrifice. While it’s true that modern weapons systems are very lethal, I think under most circumstances it’s highly unlikely that they will ALWAYS achieve complete mission kills against enemy units.

I think Eisenbach Gap models this notion pretty well. You can maneuver without committing suicide. Stupid tricks will get you hammered pretty quickly and exposing your units to enemy fire is a very risky proposition – but I think the game achieves the right chaotic balance (is there such a thing?) and provides a highly enjoyable gaming experience.

Also, realize that it IS a ‘tactical’ game (doh!) and as such it solves none of the problems common to the genre. Line of sight rules are simple and playable, but may be too simplified for some tastes. It can at times become a bit of a Marker Farm, with units marked “Ops Complete” and/or “Disrupted”, possibly “Out of Command” and possibly stacked on top of a Wreck marker and/or under one of the various flavors of artillery strike markers. I solve some of these problems by substituting tile spacers (those little plastic ‘X’ widgets) for Ops Complete, but you still get a handy share of markers on the map.

Players have some small amount of mental gymnastics to perform in remembering units with Concealed status, but the unit count in any given scenario is generally low.

The chit-pull activation sounds like a familiar mechanism, but in practice it will likely come across a bit differently. That’s because in most scenarios there are so few formations in play. For example, in the first scenario the Soviets have one battalion (that’s one chit), the Americans have one company-team (they get two chits) and then two End Turn chits go in the cup. Granted, on Turn 1 the Soviets automatically activate first – but you can see what effect this might have in subsequent turns. The tension factor and timing of this game’s activation is entirely different from, say, the chit-pull activation in one of Richard Berg’s games.

Interplay between unit combat strengths (number of dice rolled), their to-hit numbers and defender ‘save’ numbers offers a variety of possibilities for clever mathematicians. Weapon ranges also play a significant role. The ‘10’ range of the Abrams main gun gives it a handy advantage over the ‘7’ ranged T-72. Gun-based units (not ATGMs) can fire to double range, increasing their to-hit number by one. So at ranges of 8-10 hexes a T-72 (normal to-hit of ‘5’) will score a hit only on a ‘6’, while the Abrams is still hitting at its base to-hit number of ‘4’.
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Niko Ruf
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This review was brought to you by the Conspiracy To Take All Your Money.

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Jim Allard
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Very nice review. Just received the game and will be playing tomorrow and am looking forward to it.

One of the other reasons that us older wargamers might prefer CRTs; it is much quicker to figure the odds and figure out what you need for the results you want. Also, the results are fixed (not modified by a saving throw), generally. Unlike many on the Geek, I have no aversion to die rolling (although I'm not a big fan of the roll 12 die and all the 6's are hits kind of resolution). The system in WaW seems to be a quite clever middle ground and reduces the perfect knowledge of a CRT - wonderful for a tactical game.

Thanks for the review.

JimA
 
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Bulldozers
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Thanks for the review.
 
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Edward Bosco
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Bogatir wrote:
For example, in the first scenario the Soviets have one battalion (that’s one chit), the Americans have one company-team (they get two chits) and then two End Turn chits go in the cup. Granted, on Turn 1 the Soviets automatically activate first – but you can see what effect this might have in subsequent turns.


It means that Ivan is meat. Set up in the far town, Joe, and take him out.
 
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Andy Watkins
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Query for you on the chit pull mechanism.

If a US company got 3 chits each for 1 platoon, whilst a russian company got 1 chit for the whole company, I don't think that would really give the US flexible tactical units sufficient of an edge.

You need more than that, one way would be to allow the US more than 3 chits so some platoons take more than one turn....

I believe the way this game handles it is to introduce end of turn chits?

Could someone clarify this further please. What benefits do more flexible forces enjoy over the might Russian bear?

Andy
 
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Andy M
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andywatkins1963 wrote:
Query for you on the chit pull mechanism.

If a US company got 3 chits each for 1 platoon, whilst a russian company got 1 chit for the whole company, I don't think that would really give the US flexible tactical units sufficient of an edge.


Ok, that's not quite how it works.

e.g. in scenario 1

* Russia gets one chit which activates the whole of 1st Tank (10 T72 platoons + HQ)
* US gets two chits which each activate the whole of Team Yankee (2 Abrams, 1 M113, 1 infantry + Dragon, 1 ITV, 1 HQ)
* there are two end turn chits

The turn ends once both end turn chits are drawn. If you did not get an activation on that turn, you keep an end turn chit until you activate on the next turn.

Other scenarios are bigger, but I haven't tried them yet (e.g. scenario 6, the Soviets get 23 units through 1st Tank, 2nd Airborne and 69th Attack Helicopter)

I hope that clarifies a bit!
 
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Andy Watkins
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Thanks Andy,

So basically on average luck, the US teams get to move and fire twice as often as the Russian teams.

That actually sounds reasonable.

The 2 end chit tokens seems interesting as well.

Are the chits "coded" to specific platoons? I presume not e.g. if the US had 3 "teams" and 6 chits, the first US chit drawn could be used to activate any of the 3 teams the US player wished to activate.

The 2nd US chit drawn could activate any of the three US teams including the one you just activated.

I assume no US team may be activated more than once?


Actually remembering a picture of the counter mix, I suspect this is not true, and the chits ARE "coded" to specific teams? Is this correct..

Andy
 
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Andy M
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Quote:
Actually remembering a picture of the counter mix, I suspect this is not true, and the chits ARE "coded" to specific teams? Is this correct..


Correct.

Quote:
I assume no US team may be activated more than once?


It can be activated as many times as there are relevant chits drawn before the End Turn chits are drawn.

andywatkins1963 wrote:
So basically on average luck, the US teams get to move and fire twice as often as the Russian teams.


In scenario 1, yes. The Russian 1st Tank battalion is bigger, but the US team has better fire power and the possibility of two activations in the turn.
 
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Andy Watkins
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Thanks Andy much appreciated. Think i will get this game

Happy new year!

Andy

 
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Andy M
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No problem, happy new year and I hope you'll enjoy the game!
 
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