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David G. Cox Esq.
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Tigers in the Mist
The Battle of the Bulge, December 16-22, 1944



Two-player Second World War Battle Simulation
Designed by Ray Freeman
Published by GMT Games (1999)



"A combat infantryman just does not last forever under combat conditions."


You know the story so I don’t have to fill you in on many of the details – the Battle of the Bulge is the largest European battle involving the army of the United States of America.

The Battle of the Bulge has certainly captured the hearts and minds of America and there have been heaps of games on the subject – is this just another one?

At present I think I have around 10 games on this battle – Dark December, Ardennes 44, the Axis & Allies version, the ’81 Avalon Hill version, Bulge 20, Iron Tide, Hitler’s Last Gamble, Bitter Woods, FAB: The Bulge and, of course, this one. I have previously owned several other ‘Bulge’ games that weren’t worthy of space on my gaming shelves. I make the final point simply so you won’t consider me to be a ‘Bulge game whore’.

GMT are very brave publishing three different games on the one battle – although each of the GMT games is totally different from the others that they really are quite separate products.

Anyway, Tigers in the Mist is a ‘keeper’.


My Experience of TitM.

I’m a bit of a collector of games and will often purchase a game in the expectation that some time in the future it will ‘scratch an itch’. I had been playing FAB: The Bulge a couple of years ago and had been reading histories of the battle and stuff about other ‘Bulge’ games. I noticed that there were lots of favourable comments about TitM. I was able to buy a copy on eBay as the game had been out of print. It sat on my shelf for a couple of years before I became itchy.

I read the rules and design notes and prepared for battle. The rules were surprisingly simple. When playing the introductory scenario solitaire it all seemed just a little too easy – playing the game that is. I played the scenario twice and it seemed like a walk-over for the Germans – reading up about the game most experienced players seem to think that the Germans actually have a hard time of it.

I got some answers to questions from Ray Freeman himself, via GMT.

I played the 5th Panzer Army scenario against a live opponent and it was a cake-walk for my 5th Panzer Army. Yesterday I played the scenario again, solitaire, and after four turns the United States army has put in a quite superior performance and the Germans are looking as though they are in trouble. It was a great relief to find that the game is quite balanced.


How Does the Game Work?

TitM covers only the first week of the battle. The map is made up of lots and lots of tiny areas. To me the map feels cluttered. The important part of the map is that all movement takes place on roads – if there is no road between adjacent areas then there won’t be any movement between them either.

Each day/turn is broken into three segments – units can move/battle during only one of these segments – you choose when.

Combat is resolved with the defender firing first and the attacker absorbing losses before returning fire.

At the end of each day the German player is awarded victory points for control of terrain.

Units are multi-stepped – a combat unit with a strength of ‘4’ has four steps and so must be hit four times before it is eliminated.

Bridges and Engineers are important for both the building and destruction of bridges.


Positive Aspects of the Game

One of the elements that I really like is that the sequence of play is highly interactive – both players are busy all of the time.

The mechanics of the game are very straight-forward with virtually no ‘chrome’.

Ray Freeman’s design notes are excellent and his explanations of the rationale behind some of the design decisions make good reading and increase the playing pleasure.

The counters are large and easy to read.

There are lots helpful charts on the map and you don’t spend much time referring to the rulebook once you start to play.



GMT support with a couple of rule issues is first-class.


Negative Aspects of the Game

There are a couple of mistakes in scenario details and you need to read the errata for the game.

Some counters were mistakenly not printed – the good news is that you can play the game quite easily without them and, better yet, GMT sent me some replacement counters even though the game and magazine with the replacement counters have long been out of print.

The map areas are too small and feel cluttered.



My Considered Opinion

As is the case in many ‘Bulge’ games, an inexperienced U.S. player will have real trouble the first couple of times that they play the game. They have a very small number of units at the start of the game and will be overwhelmed by the superior German forces. It is crucial that you look at the map and see where are the choke points on the road network and it is just as crucial that you see how far the Germans can move each turn. It is possible to cause great delay to the Germans by putting the right unit at the right spot at the right time – but you have to play a few times to be able to see where these places are.

Due to the way combat units lose steps you can feel your army becoming more brittle as time goes by. As the Germans you have to keep pushing and as the U.S. you need to keep feeding in reinforcements to stop a massive breakthrough.

I haven’t yet played the full campaign but hope to – soon.

My gut feeling is that the combat system may be, perhaps, a tad too random but then I could probably say that about any wargame in as much as, even with a CRT, there will always be a couple of really crucial dice rolls that can have a quite disproportionate impact on a game.

I am really enjoying TitM at the moment, and while I won’t say it is my favourite ‘Bulge’ game it is certainly up there on the podium.

If you already have lots of ‘Bulge’ games but don’t have TitM then you are missing out on a really great gaming experience.





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Jeff Thompson
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I agree it is a fun game.

The complete absence of "fuel shortage" rules for the Germans makes it a little suspect in my opinion.
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Tompy wrote:
I agree it is a fun game.

The complete absence of "fuel shortage" rules for the Germans makes it a little suspect in my opinion.


But then, as Ray Freeman says in the design notes, the game only simulates the first week of the battle and in that time frame the supply issue was not as big a deal as it would be in the second week. On top of that, the clearing weather and Allied air supremacy would have made German movement virtually impossible even if they had fuel at that time.

Also, Ray adds in the design notes that the primary focus of the design is that it is a game first and a simulation second.

Your comments are quite valid.

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Rob Veenenberg
Netherlands
Vinkeveen
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Which counters were mistakenly not printed?
Is this critica's?
Where can I obtain the missing counters?
Still possible?

 
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Mircea Pauca
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As a deep fan of this game, I welcome every other player enjoying it!

Yes, it has minimal chrome - and most important thing, it's very streamlined, very little exceptions that make other games hairy. I especially liked St.Exupery's quote Ray Freeman found: like "something is perfect not when there's nothing to add, but when there's nothing to take out".

It's not so interactive, it's just Igo-Yougo x3 for each day-turn ;-) So it's quite easy to play PBEM. That rewards flexibility and having reserves -even the front line as source of reserves in some cases.

Yes, US play is delicate from the not-so-many units; a few misplaced counters may ruin defensive chances. A sense of terrain chokepoints and tempo is essential. Germans are more workmanlike, emphasizing efficiency in marching and not-stepping-in-each-other's-way, consequences of the elegant Road Congestion rule (which for this phase of history was more important than fuel constraints).

I consider that 5th Panzer Army scenario is quite strongly pro-US with good play on both sides. Luck is important locally, especially in 5PzA. The Campaign scenario is more forgiving: more forces to shift around laterally to compensate for ups and downs.

Rob: the 'missing' pieces are generic 2/1 step replacement counters for German mech. inf. (after 3 or 4 step units lose 2 steps; but there aren't too many of those; and often there are enough 1-2 step units eliminated by that point to recicle those instead).

If anyone liked this game, please feel free to contact Ray to enter in the Cyberboard PBEM Ladder - great competition and sportmanship!
Or you may just play me ;-) [beware, I'm quite a shark at TitM and have built an advanced statistical predictor/tracker I may share with anyone interested enough to use]
 
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Martin Spetz

Tampa Bay Area -Pinellas County
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RVeenenberg wrote:
Which counters were mistakenly not printed?
Is this critica's?
Where can I obtain the missing counters?
Still possible?



The 6 counters were included in C3i magazine issue #14 (published in 2002).

They look like this - https://boardgamegeek.com/image/468131/wilderness-war
 
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