Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 Hide
14 Posts

Infantry Attacks: August 1914» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Infantry Attacks Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Don Cooper
United States
Syracuse
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm not sure what to make of this game after two solo plays but here are my thoughts at present:

1.The boards are beautiful and depict the East Prussian countryside very well, with country roads and farms and fields.

2.The game system itself is an amended version of the Panzer Grenadier system. So if you don't like PG, I'm not sure your yill like this game.

3. The off-board artillary system is cumbersome and does not represent artillary practises of the time. Without walkie talkies and high tech communication gear, all bombardments were initiated by the attacker prior to the attack and not during it. Creeping barrages were not begun until the Germans happened upon the process in 1916, ironically in this case, on the Eastern Front. It is not historically accurate to have the OBA artillery change as the game goes on. They didn't have spotters like they had in wWorld War Two.

4. Morale recovery is again another aspect of the game which is faulty. It allows units that are not stacked with leaders or activated by them to recover themselves, at least that is what the rules state. Again at this time on the battlefield, especially with the mass introduction machine guns and repeating rifles, having only those units recover while with a leader is historically justified. There are a lot of morale hit results in games, which are easily recovered, making the combat hits useless.

5. The larger four board scenarios are a bit of a slog and I suspect not tested, properly. Infantry can only go two hexes in open terrain or one if it comes upon woods or fields. Machine guns are even slower. So in the huge four board scenarios with the attacker coming on the board on oneside it is quite boring for ten turns, which is when most wargame scenarios end. Again this comes down to not playetesting the scenarios, properly, The units should be placed closer in and placed, accordingly, to get the battle going. There is an "optional" rule of strategic movement, which should not be an option, especially, in the bigger scenarios, of which there are many.

6. There are only a handful of unfleshed out optional rules, like the "commanding officer" rules, which would have developed the game further.

7. There was an attempt to keep this too close to the Panzer Grenadier game system rather one that was based on it. I think with more stringent leader artillary rulesets that are not stupefying this game would have been great and better represented the early attacks on the Eastern Front.


13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Badolato
United States
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Don, thanks for your input here.I would like to hear the views of others who have played the game as well concerning the artillery rules. They are what seems to be the most controversial. Some have stated that they disliked the fact that the off board artillery has to be pre-plotted before the game begins with no scatter possibilities. I have not yet played the game and so am unqualified to pass judgement on the system as of now. Thoughts on the matter people ?? Good, Bad, Ugly ??? Thanks for feedback.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Don Cooper
United States
Syracuse
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Yes, the artillery is preplotted before the game, which if you have a long game of thirty turns and 6 pieces of OBA rather cumbersome (ammounting to 180 preplotted hexes, possibly), if not a game killer for most people. Not only that but the artillery by doctrine would already have been used before the infantry were sent into the attack. this procedure was not thought out at all, obviously, nor was it playtested. The solitaire rules, however, do allow for the scattering of artillery, which is bazaar. Again the solitaire rules like the advanced rules seem to be after thoughts and not well developed.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DUMASCLUB wrote:
I'm not sure what to make of this game after two solo plays but here are my thoughts at present:

1.The boards are beautiful and depict the East Prussian countryside very well, with country roads and farms and fields.


No argument here.

DUMASCLUB wrote:
2.The game system itself is an amended version of the Panzer Grenadier system. So if you don't like PG, I'm not sure your yill like this game.


It also helps clarify a lot of the PG rules. For instance, the limiting terrain rules and hill rules are much better written here than in PG, and I think can be retrofitted to PG. That's not true of all of the rules, of course.

DUMASCLUB wrote:
3. The off-board artillary system is cumbersome and does not represent artillary practises of the time. Without walkie talkies and high tech communication gear, all bombardments were initiated by the attacker prior to the attack and not during it. Creeping barrages were not begun until the Germans happened upon the process in 1916, ironically in this case, on the Eastern Front. It is not historically accurate to have the OBA artillery change as the game goes on. They didn't have spotters like they had in wWorld War Two.


There has been a lot of back-and-forth on this topic here and on CSW. My impression is that to do it otherwise might make too "gamey" a system. I agree that plotting 180 OBA attacks is a lot, and I suspect that a lot are just going to be ditto marks. What I don't like is that fire can shift from one end of the board to the other and back again. I have no problem with changing targets during the game, and I think there should be some restrictions. I don't get your argument that the game doesn't model "all bombardments were initiated by the attacker prior to the attack and not during it." This is what pre-plotting accomplishes, concerns about rapid switching of targets aside.

DUMASCLUB wrote:
4. Morale recovery is again another aspect of the game which is faulty. It allows units that are not stacked with leaders or activated by them to recover themselves, at least that is what the rules state. Again at this time on the battlefield, especially with the mass introduction machine guns and repeating rifles, having only those units recover while with a leader is historically justified. There are a lot of morale hit results in games, which are easily recovered, making the combat hits useless.


Here I strongly disagree with you. What is wrong with a unit recovering morale without a leader? The main effect here is to keep people from fleeing off the battlefield. Why would a unit not be capable of regaining cohesion without an officer. Its not about to undertake offensive action (that does require a leader), and it won't just run away. A big difference between IA and PG is that in IA, units without a leader cannot move towards the enemy at all. So if a unit does rout 6 hexes from the front, its just going to sit there until a leader shows up to get it to go back to battle.

If its a unit on the front lines that gets disrupted, that doesn't indicate major rout, and after some time (at least 15 minutes, based on time scale), I see no problem with the unit getting back to where it could at least stand its ground or return fire. As for "easily recovered", that's a matter of degree. A unit with 9 morale will recover most of the time...its elite. A unit with 7 morale won't recover much (remember, you have to roll less than your current morale, so a 6 or less on 2 dice, which is less than a 50/50 shot). A demoralized unit with 7 morale, which is adjusted to 6 for being demoralized, is going to have a hard time recovering.

There's also a common problem of "Unit A disrupts Enemy Unit X. Unit X recovers on its impulse. Unit B then fires and disrupts Unit X again." Well, Unit X has already blown this turn trying to recover, and has to blow next turn trying to recover, too. While its disrupted, other friendly units can advance and not receive fire from it....which is the entire idea of the system.

IMO, to say the combat hits are useless is missing how combat in PG/IA works. PG/IA are all about leadership and morale, and not about step losses. Headlong assaults are usually a good way to get dead units. Wearing down morale and then assaulting while shaken is generally the way to victory.

DUMASCLUB wrote:
5. The larger four board scenarios are a bit of a slog and I suspect not tested, properly. Infantry can only go two hexes in open terrain or one if it comes upon woods or fields. Machine guns are even slower. So in the huge four board scenarios with the attacker coming on the board on oneside it is quite boring for ten turns, which is when most wargame scenarios end. Again this comes down to not playetesting the scenarios, properly, The units should be placed closer in and placed, accordingly, to get the battle going. There is an "optional" rule of strategic movement, which should not be an option, especially, in the bigger scenarios, of which there are many.


With Doug McNair developing, I would guess the scenarios had more than adequate playtesting. At the same time, meeting engagements can definitely be sort of dull for a bunch of turns, as you noted. I think its done this way to 1) Make it harder to predict the enemy's axis of advance, which makes plotting the artillery more challenging and 2) forces units to use roads/trails/open terrain for (relatively) rapid advance, which is quite historical.

DUMASCLUB wrote:
6. There are only a handful of unfleshed out optional rules, like the "commanding officer" rules, which would have developed the game further.


I really can't comment here, the only optional rule I generally use is Fog of War.

DUMASCLUB wrote:
7. There was an attempt to keep this too close to the Panzer Grenadier game system rather one that was based on it. I think with more stringent leader artillary rulesets that are not stupefying this game would have been great and better represented the early attacks on the Eastern Front.


Well, while I share some concerns about the artillery, I totally disagree with you on the leadership. To each his own.
10 
 Thumb up
0.07
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Australia
Sebastopol (Ballarat)
Victoria
flag msg tools
That's Karl on the left. Eternity on the right.
badge
I love Melissa, but don't tell her. It's a secret if she can find this. Shhhhh....
Avatar
mbmbmb
Re: Artillery, I pre-plot with a lot of ditto marks. Additionally, I often combine factors. I've never spent more than 5 mins pre-plotting artillery.

The system also rewards keeping the OBA in the same hex (drumfire) so although switching targets to the other side fo the map is allowed, it is not always beneficial. Also, also, OBA fire is an abstraction of off-map batteries. You don't neccessarily need to think of a single artillery piece flipping targets wily nily. Personally, I usually give on-board artillery "open sights", so I don't have this issue with on board pre-plotted infantry.

RE: Leadership and morale recovery. Joshua gave some great comments.

Also, you need not think of the leader chits as the only officers present in the battle. Would a company really be marching along without even a LT present? Leader counters in IA/PG represent outstanding individuals and systemize chain of command and communication. So, you need not think that the company is a self-rallying throng of privates just because a leader counter is not present.

Just my 2 cents.
15 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Don Cooper
United States
Syracuse
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Russian and Junker Miltia, which is mostly what the Russians came up against, were not professionally trained soldiers. They simply did not have the combat initiative to recover morale on their own or make decisions on their own without an officer present. In WWII this leadership problem was adjusted. It is so obvious that Avalanche neither did any playtesting or historical examination of tactical combat in World War One. They simple overlayed Panzer Grenadier system without any real attaention to the subject matter and the distinct differences that 25 years in military tactics can make.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You seem to miss the point that there are other leaders present in each counter, just not the exceptional ones that get individual counters, as Randy points out. So, there are people helping them recover morale. However, to make the units combat effective, they are going to need one of these exceptional leaders.

One of the big differences between PG and IA is that in PG units without a leader can move closer to the enemy (although not in direct fire range), while in IA, they can't move closer to the enemy. This puts a HUGE premium on leadership. You won't get anything done without leaders. There are other differences, too, and if you think IA is just PG overlayed on WWI, I think you're missing the importance of these changes.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Don Cooper
United States
Syracuse
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree there were some changes. The assualt movement being important. But on a platoon level the leadership was not there to direct tactics and combat in a coordinated fashion, at least not at this point so early in the war. The units were extremely fragile, as they were professionally trained and only had weeks of indoctrination mostly moving about on trains.

The calvary was also a bit oddly portrayed in the game. I thought the replacement of units distinguishing leaders while on horse as opposed to not is a bit odd unwieldy. It along with the artillery rules indicate to me that rules were thought-up but not put to the test. The artillery rules in themselves are a serious design flaw that needs to be addressed.

I am conflicted about the game. I was excited to see it released and will continue to play it and bring it up to my wargame club to see if there are any takers. But Avalanche, seriously, needed to take a closer look at this series before plopping down some PG rules over a WWI setting. It is cheap enough to get into and thye battles seem to be more interesting.But someone should have read a history book.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
michael esposito
United States
morton grove
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow. Pretty rough review. Joshua and Randy make some great points regarding other leaders within the units. Probably NCOs or Lieutenant.

I have the pleasure of playing only the Cavalry scenario# 1, it was lots of fun! Granted, not as complex as ASL for instance. But I feel the system is elegant and places prime importance of leaders makes for very interesting situations. Units without leader activation are next to useless. The combat mechanics seem pretty good, I have to play a true infantry scenario to see for sure. MGs seem spot on. It was suicide to rush a MG position, but in my scenario, it was neccessary so other units could advance.

Please look at my comment regarding pre-plotting OBA. Let me know what you think.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/518145/out-of-the-box-fi...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Gottesman
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DUMASCLUB wrote:
But on a platoon level the leadership was not there to direct tactics and combat in a coordinated fashion


One big difference from PG is that IA is on a company level, not a platoon level. I agree with you about the platoon level tactics not existing at this point in time. Maybe by 1918 with the infiltration troops, and not in 1914.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Stafford
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think if you are expecting to play an IA game in a brief amount of time you are not familiar with it's mechanisms.

The bottom line on artillery, before we get into rules specifics, is that in this period and throughout much of the war, indirect firing artillery (OBA in game terms) was organized and planned hours if not days in advance. There was no "call for fire" as in WW2. You may see some changes when we get to later war scenarios, but there was no flexibility in the artillery plans of this period. It was mostly on or off. Since artillery prep is an important part of the flavor of this period, and as noted the infantry are rather slow compared to other games, this allows you to experience the artillery prep going on while the infantry advance for those first several turns. This is an intentional design feature. Only in the batteries on the field do you have any flexibility, and that's because they can use the Open Sights rules and shoot whatever they please, which is also historically accurate. I can assure you, all the sources mentioned in this thread have been read by the designers.

As Randy points out later, since most of your plotting will be "dittos" the time it takes to lay our your artillery plan is fairly minor, even for 6 pieces of OBA for 30 turns--maybe 5-10 minutes if you are meticulous and change often. While it is theoretically possible to choose 30 different targets, in reality, you are guessing how the battle will unfold, or at least how you are going to try to make it unfold. It is unlikely you will have enough prescience to target 30 different locations (this is not PG), plus as others have cited, you give up one of the unique and powerful features of the artillery rules--the Drumfire. More likely you will set up curtains of fire to channel the enemy's attack and deny certain locations, or soften up an area for attack. This willt ake time to compound the morale effects so you will likely need 4 turns or more in one location if it is an entrenchment or town. If a fire shift is needed, you are probably right there should be a delay between last shot/old target and first shot/new target but that did not make it tot he rules. you can always hose rule it, of course.

As to accuracy, as someone noted, the hexes are 200 meters--the dicing for effect handles the accuracy issue without overly complicating the rules.

I think experienced board game players have grown accustomed to having the "God's eye-view" of the battlefield, and the ability to move units as they want, when they want. We tried to limit the tools a little more so as the commander you would feel more closely the limitations of the period. It is exactly these limitations that drove the improvements that let us call in artillery and aircraft in minutes if not seconds today, with extremely accurate counter-battery fire--we learned out lessons, and upgraded our technology so we would not have these limitations today.

Anyhow, I'd be glad to address more design issues or answer questions. I'm the new designer/developer at AP for the IA and PG games, trying to fill Doug McNair's worthy shoes.
Cheers.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Pariseau
United States
Tulsa
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
game_till_you_drop wrote:

The bottom line on artillery, before we get into rules specifics, is that in this period and throughout much of the war, indirect firing artillery (OBA in game terms) was organized and planned hours if not days in advance. There was no "call for fire" as in WW2. You may see some changes when we get to later war scenarios, but there was no flexibility in the artillery plans of this period.


One problem with this position is that it cannot account for the counter-battery fire that was a common part of artillery practice in the opening battles of 1914, and a major reason for German tactical successes as their longer-range guns took out enemy batteries regularly. In fact, German batteries were able to change targets as battles developed and reports came in from the field. I have no idea about the Russians and Austrians, but the artillery rules short-change the German army of 1914.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Stuart
United States
Los Alamos
New Mexico
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DUMASCLUB wrote:

5. The larger four board scenarios are a bit of a slog... So in the huge four board scenarios with the attacker coming on the board on oneside it is quite boring for ten turns, which is when most wargame scenarios end. Again this comes down to not playetesting the scenarios, properly, The units should be placed closer in and placed, accordingly, to get the battle going.


This is one of the things I like about Panzer Grenadier -- that one has time to approach the enemy and develop an assault. I'm glad this feature was retained in Infantry Attacks.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Splendid discussion. This raised my interest up for a game before the end of 2014 for a Centennial memorial. meeple
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.