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Subject: Can You Afford The Luxury Of Another Montgomery Victory? rss

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David G. Cox Esq.
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Air Bridge To Victory
Operation Market-Garden, 1944



A Two-player Military History Simulation
Designed by Gene Billingsley
Published by GMT Games (1990)


“My country can never again afford the luxury of a Montgomery victory.”
(Dutch Prince Bernhard, commenting on Montgomery’s 90% successful campaign)


Airbridge to Victory is one of three games that made up the GMT Operational Combat Series – the others sharing the same basic set of rules were Silver Bayonet and Operation Shoestring. The concept behind the OCS was that it would”allow players to spend less time fighting through (and over!) the rules and more time having FUN with the game.” Gene Billingsley, the designer, states that the game “has been designed as more of a game than a simulation. We have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible with the order of battle and the scenario information. It is our hope, however, that we have created a GAME that is FUN to play which also allows you to learn about the historical realities of the campaign.”

I have just recently posted a review on the game Kasserine – although published 11 years after AB2V, Kasserine also uses the OCS and is virtually identical as far as the core rules go.



What You Get
As this game was published nearly 20 years ago I have to acknowledge that the graphic quality of the components does not match the level that we now expect from GMT. The map measures 22” by 51” – many of the charts are printed directly onto the map and this will be minor irritation when you play the introductory scenario that only requires a single map – the map looks drab due to a lot of heavy dull browns – the graphics are quite dated (the graphics are reminiscent of some early issues of The Wargamer Magazine). The 300 double-sided counters, while functional, are thinner than we now expect and have black printing on a single background colour (black, grey, lime-green, scarlet and tan for the various national forces in the game). There is a single player-aid card which contains the reinforcement schedules and an airpoint record track – while functional it looks very homemade and I could do just as well with my very limited DTP techniques. The rulebook is the pick of the components as it is well laid out and contains useful design and play notes at the end of the book.



How It Works
The Sequence of Play is fairly standard for those of you used to operational-level world war two games of the Panzergruppe Guderian ilk. There is a Strategic Segment where you determine initiative, check weather and remove fatigue markers. Next the initiative player has their turn where they check for supply, allocate air points, conduct airborne assault, move, declare combat, the defending side can attempt to refuse combat, the defending side may then attempt reaction movement, bombardment is resolved, manoeuvre is resolved, assault is resolved and then initiative player may move their motorized and mechanized units a second movement. The non-initiative player’s turn mirrors the initiative player’s turn.

The Nitty-gritty
There is a lot of detail in AB2V and some of the detail is a little different from other games. The rules for combat are a central aspect of the game and using the combat rules effectively will contribute to your chances of success or failure. There are three types of combat – Bombardment (a very effective way to reduce enemy strength when defending in terrain with a low defensive value), Manoeuvre (this type of combat is likely to force the enemy units to retreat and become fatigues, especially if defending in terrain with a low defensive value) and Assault (this type of combat will eliminate enemy units and is the only way to effectively take out enemy units in terrain with a high defensive value – keep in mind that assaulting a large enemy force will always a dangerous proposition and the proper use of preliminary bombardment should always be considered). All combat units have an efficiency rating – as well as giving positive column shifts when your troops have higher efficiency than the enemy, when assaulting units have a chance of conducting a second assault immediately after the first assault, if they pass an efficiency test. Interestingly, when declaring combat, the attacking player can declare an enemy stack to be the target of all three types of combat.

There are many variable factors which make the game exciting/interesting as many unforseen events can occur during combat. Defending stacks containing motorized/mechanized units may refuse combat by passing an efficiency test and then retreating one hex. Before combat is resolved a single friendly unit that is adjacent to a target hex can attempt to move into the target hex by passing an efficiency test.

Features
The game comes with two different scenarios – the first scenario is a single turn introduction into the game and the system. The second scenario is a full-blooded campaign game.


Each hex on the board is allowed 8 stacking points of units – as the stacking limit is uniform across the entire board this is relatively easy to keep track of during your movement.

Playing the Game
As you would expect in the game in a game covering Operation Market-Garden, speed is of the essence for the Allied player. The German forces can be quite difficult to remove if they can get a few units into good defensive situations such as cities.

The general feeling I have towards the game is that it is visually unappealing. The game system is both intuitive and interesting without being unduly complex. Previously I have preferred playing Hell’s Highway but as my eyesight diminishes the Hell’s Highway counters are just too darned hard to read. AB2V has a lower level of complexity and is more a two-player game while Hell’s Highway is actually better with four players.




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