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Subject: Review based on play of Anzio rss

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Norman Smith
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Out of the box experience - this deserves its own paragraph, because the game is gorgeous to look at. The thick counters are almost an inch square, classic in design (avoiding that ‘too busy’ look) and use a large bold font. The map has jumbo sized hexes (hurrah) and is very pleasant on the eye, with well laid out charts outside the map area. If only more (read ALL) games looked like this. So well done Worthington and Sean Cooke the graphics man.

Rulesets - there are two rule folders, each have only 3 pages of rules plus a page of historical notes. This gives the player fast access to play - but do not just scan read them, a proper reading (10 - 15 minutes) is important as there are important 1 line rules tucked away. Michael Rinella (designer) was working to a brief for a compact ruleset, so words are carefully chosen to maximise their value.

Errata - The said brief for compactness has inevitably left a few grey areas. The ones that I found important to play are (1) Tactical actions - a player can MOVE and ATTACK with the same units in the same impulse. (2) When a victor advances after combat, regardless of the allowed length of that advance, the victorious units must cease movement when they first move adjacent to an enemy (i.e. conform to rule 5.1). (3) In both battles, the artillery counter is usable by either the British or the U.S. forces.

Order of Battle - It is difficult to determine an OoB for the Germans at Anzio, because even their main units arrived in dribs and drabs spread over days and weeks. Even the German daily battle reports leave some arrival dates in doubt. The designer has made a good choice (helped by the 5 day turn) in representing the major formations but also including a host of Kampfgruppe that seem to represent more than the actual designated KGP present (i.e. Pleiffer) but to include the myriad of smaller units, giving some much needed flexibility to the German force - good shout and good handling of a difficult subject.

The system - I have only played Anzio so far, It plays in 2 hours or under and is fine for solitaire play. There are 6 game turns, each representing around 5 days and then each turn has 4 impulses. In each impulse the allies take their actions first (move and / or attack or pass), followed by the Germans. When activating, the allies must choose whether to activate the British or the U.S. (never both) and this adds a really nice touch of decision making once things hot up.

Every unit has an efficiency rating, which is effectively the number of steps that it has. As casualties are taken, markers are added on top of the unit until the number of casualties equal the efficiency rating, at that point the unit is removed from play - except the weak German Kampfgruppe return to play in the next impulse.

In combat, there are attacker and defender results, expressed as casualties, the loser must retreat by the difference in the casualty number and this can provide some real nice twists - especially if the attacker has to retreat and can’t!

The allies have an air / artillery / naval counters, each can be used each impulse and each gives a column shift. The Germans just have an air / artillery but they can only use theirs once per turn - that is a big difference in play.

To win, the allies are trying to capture villages and towns which offer victory points .... or exit at 1 of 3 exit points that will provide a sudden death victory. Interestingly, although there are some terrain benefits, buildings are not one of them, it feels strange at first, but in fact it works very well, and allows for the seesaw of places to be taken but then re-captured.

Does it work - First sight of the rulebook gives the impression of a simple game - it is, but it is not simplistic, there is much going on under the bonnet, that will keep both players very much mentally engaged with this game throughout.

The allies land and basically reach their historical deployment point - though the allied player still has some control over this. The Germans are able to get their belt of steel into place. The line bogs down, attrition starts to get increasingly serious and both players continually desperately seek those 1 hex breakthrough opportunities, or to block off such opportunities. In this regard, this game feels very much like an Anzio game should.

In conclusion - The design reminds me of a John Hill game, in which he would design for effect, the system is fairly simple, quite elegant and delivering a good feel - and it is all wrapped up in a real eye pleasing format. Well done to Worthington, Rinella and Cooke.

Note .. review edited to correct a mistake I made in the Errata paragragh

[edit .. after 9 playings of the Anzio game, the Allies are winning convincingly each time - In my games, the germans really struggle to give the allies anything to worry about]
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Aaron Silverman
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There hasn't been much feedback on this game yet, but I took a flyer (I have played Desert Duel, the ATO game that these were based on) and it arrived today. Thanks for the good news!
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David Janik-Jones
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Good review Norm, and echoes my feelings after three plays now. Components and maps are top notch and now knowing Worthington's standards I am even more looking forward to the upcoming Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles release by designer Jim Krohn.

I have several minor issues with the rules. I know they were trimmed to the bare minimum due to space issues and that has lead to a number of minor misunderstandings where a simple example would have been effective. I feel there are also that are missing a line or two to explain. Michael has posted a FAQ here to answer some of these concerns.

Re: move/attack. I thought that Michael had clarified that units can move AND attack in the same turn, but that all movement must be completed before any attacks take place? That's the way we've been playing it. And with regards to retreating, only the first move has to be back towards your supply edge, so I've never been in a situation where the player couldn't retreat. That said, I've been trapped inside enemy ZOCs at times and have had to take the hits instead. (Rule issue ... do all units each take the required loss of, say, one step, or only one unit?)

But overall, yes. It's a simple, elegant, great looking system that delivers great battles. Not much more we gamers can ask for.
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Norman Smith
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Thanks David ....Doh - yes you are right, i got the move / fight thing wrong, I have edited the review so that it is now correct, sorry about that.
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Norman Smith
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I have seen a few games in which by using the American only, I have been able to batter my way all the way to the 'sudden death' hexes in the North, within the first 5 impulses.

I am trying out a couple of house rules,

(1) during game turn 1, Neither the British or the Americans can activate in more than 2 impulses - this forces the player to land both forces and limits the initial gains and allows the German line a chance to get its act together. it allows the allies to still protect their two grey star hexes in the woods.


(2) I am limiting the naval fire to beng used every other impulse, so it will rest for 1 impulse between firing. (the designer offers an alternative of firing once defensively and once offensively per turn)

I would stress that I do not like to move to house rules too quickly and I will be testing these house rules to make sure they do not hurt the game.
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Norman Smith
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Another tweek that I am now testing - the germans can win a sudden death victory if they capture ONE grey star hex, rather than the TWO required by the rules.

I am trying this because I can't really see an opportunity for the Germans to capture both and by allowing them just to grab 1, makes the Allies as fearful of a German breakthrough and more sensitive about controlling their rear areas, they are more likely to cover gaps and that leads to fewer big stacks - worth a try and it motivates the germans to take risks and press into the allied lines.

EDIT .....This will not work because there are turn 1 germans that could instantly win the game.
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Norman Smith
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I have played the Anzio game some 9 times now, solitaire and face to face, in these games, the Allies have consistently won and done so convincingly - and that does not feel any fun for the German player.

I have yet to play the Cassino game, but will be trying that next.
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Robert Stuart
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normsmith wrote:
I have seen a few games in which by using the American only, I have been able to batter my way all the way to the 'sudden death' hexes in the North, within the first 5 impulses.



From what I've read of Anzio, this is realistic -- the Allies could have swept the field before the Germans could mount significant resistance, if they had focused their efforts.

It sounds as if, to make this a good game, a house rule such as the one you've introduced, along with a few others regarding Allied artillery / naval / air, might do the trick.

I have yet to play the game, but thanks to this thread, have decided to order it.

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Adam Parker
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Norman, thanks for the honest review incorporating your views on subsequent play balance and especially for including a coverage of errata.
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Tom Jones
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[EDIT: I see that my post here will only add to the already substantial confusion on this rules question. My post here did not take into account a major reversal in the answer the designer was giving in mid-October. So the current status (Nov 19, 2010) is that (a) the designer claims units can move AND attack each impulse and (b) the Anzio scenario is proving to be a frustrating Allied romp, according to several different people, including Norman here who has played this battle almost 10 times. I just sent a detailed email to Worthington Games asking them to consult with their developer/playtest team to determine how they were playing the game. It's clear that designs are tweaked after they leave the designer's hand, so I'm not yet willing to consider this matter settled.]

----------------------------------------


normsmith wrote:
Errata - The said brief for compactness has inevitably left a few grey areas. The ones that I found important to play are (1) Tactical actions - a player can MOVE and ATTACK with the same units in the same impulse.

I've commented elsewhere how maddening it is that this vital mechanic is ambiguous, in what should be an elegant, killer, gateway wargame. Interestingly, I think your errata reported here is incorrect. There is a Q&A with the designer that suggests that each unit can only move _or_ attack within a single impulse:
"2) During an impulse, a given unit may either move, attack or pass. Is this correct?

Yes, correct. I retained this wording from Desert Duel (published by ATO magazine)
though I'm not sure why."

REF: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/564089/cross-posted-from...

When I read that, I was still uncertain because "move, attack or pass" in the question is opposite to, but similar to the published rules formulation of "movement, combat and pass". Since I'd read your "errata" first, and it conflicted with the designer above, I wondered if Mike Rinella possibly didn't read the question carefully enough in that particular instance, and his answer was refined/changed in some later post.

So I trundled over to Consimworld, where I find what seems to be the definitive designer's intention. Each unit may either move or attack in each impulse, not both.
"Does that means that you can move a unit AND do combat with the same unit, all this
in one single impulse?

No. That would be the opposite of what I just said."

REF: http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?14@846.FFWzbZdZJvS.54@.1dd4...

When I say "definitive", I have my fingers crossed, because in different, contemporaneous post, he makes an erroneous claim from a different section of rule 4.1.1, where he claims:
"Rule 4.1.1 (both games): "The order in which units perform actions is up to the
active player."

Move everyone intending to move. Resolve combats.
OR
Resolve combats. Move everyone intending to move."

REF: http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?14@846.FFWzbZdZJvS.54@.1dd4...

This is how it works in the _draft_ rules, which are still posted on Worthington's web site.
http://www.worthingtongames.com/images/bcs/CASSINO_DRAFT.pdf

However, in the published rules, 4.1.1 has clearly changed to indicate that "All movement actions are completed for a side before it's (sic) attacks are resolved". Undoubtedly Michael was referring to how he played the game, and was unaware or had forgotten that Worthington had changed that rule in the final edition. (And no, the draft rules are just as ambiguous regarding the "move and/or attack" question.)

normsmith wrote:

[edit .. after 9 playings of the Anzio game, the Allies are winning convincingly each time - In my games, the germans really struggle to give the allies anything to worry about]

Have you allowed each unit to both move and attack in the same impulse? If yes, then I think this would explain your lopsided results. The initial Allied push would be way too efficient.

I'm looking forward to playing me first solo game after work tonight. I have written some harsh words about this single, badly written rule. But I remain upbeat about the prospects for the game (and the series).
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Norman Smith
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Tom - in my first game, which the review was based upon, i thought it was attack or move and the results of polaying like that meant the the germans could get a defensive ring in place and the game did stalemate, with both sides searching for that 1 hex breakout opportunity - i felt that was quite realistic. But since going to the the Move AND attack, the germans have always been on the back foot fo me.
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