Gina Willis
United States
Walnut Creek
California
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Why am I reviewing a little-known wargame from the mid-1980s that's long out of print?

* St-Lo's distinctive playing system stands the test of time -- it splendidly simulates the challenges of battalion and company level warfare in the "bocage" in July 1944, while remaining playable and and fun. The experience of playing St-Lo is one of managing your troops' energy and exhaustion -- always balancing the need to squeeze one more battle or march out of them vs. pushing them past their limits of effectiveness. The artillery rules in St Lo are a standout: Everything is there, from forward observer counters to church steeples on the map that give them a spotting advantage. With a relatively flat terrain map, St-Lo's gameplay realistically focuses on capturing the few highly elevated observation points, like Hill 122.

* St-Lo is still readily available through online sales of used copies, or from sites that specialize in out-of-print titles (I got mine from Noble Knight Games).

* St-Lo makes an outstanding solitaire game. St-Lo's system of "headquarters morale" and "tactical action points" limits how often units can move, and how much they can do. So, even if you know what you want to attack or where you want to move, you can't necessarily do it. Played live, St-Lo is potentially frustrating and a bit dull for the German side, since they're always outnumbered and outgunned. This is painfully realistic and historically accurate. So, if you're the patient type of player who enjoys waging a stubborn retreat and sacrificing units for time and position, you'll enjoy St-Lo as the German player. Otherwise, play as US or play it solitaire.

*The St-Lo boardgame has new relevance as an operational layer for the tactical PC game, "Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy" (Battlefront, 2011). The scales of the two games mesh very well. So you can play the boardgame, wait for an interesting or desperate combat phase to develop, and then set it up as a scenario to fight out in 3D using CMBN. The only challenge I've faced is translating the combat results (men-and-vehicles in CMBN) back into the "step-loss" terms that St-Lo uses, and vice-versa.

Joseph Balkoski, who designed St-Lo, is not only a Charles S. Roberts Wargame Design Hall of Fame member (Sixth Fleet, Wacht Am Rhein, Atlantic Wall), but the author of several definitve books on the Normandy Campaign ("Beyond the Beachhead, "Utah Beach").

Asked about the St-Lo design, Balkoski said recently: "I was very proud of that game in that I think it broke new ground in the hobby.

"Everything in the game was based on the realities of WWII combat that I had learned from interviewing the veterans in the process of writing my book 'Beyond the Beachhead.' The combat they described to me I tried to represent in the game."
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Roger Sjögren
Sweden
Skövde
Västra Götaland
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Agreed, this is one of the true classics.
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Pete Belli
United States
Florida
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
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Quote:
Everything in the game was based on the realities of WWII combat that I had learned from interviewing the veterans in the process of writing my book 'Beyond the Beachhead.'


A fine book:

A fascinating WWII military history book written by a wargame designer
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Mark Riley
United Kingdom
Bridport
Dorset
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I would have bought this game years ago but I knew I wouldn't be able to look at that map for the time required. Somebody should do a re-print
 
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Marco Arnaudo
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
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...aaand now I need to gert this game too...
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Mark Riley
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Marco - if you do, please review it - I might be able to overlook the map!
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Gina Willis
United States
Walnut Creek
California
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Vassal and Cyberboard modules exist for St-Lo, too.

I don't know how to make or mod those modules, but I think you can make the digital version of a game map look any way you want.

For me personally, the map's just a map -- I can get all the eye candy I need in the tactical battles with CMBN.
 
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jerry adamsson
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Karlshamn
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Svarthand wrote:
Agreed, this is one of the true classics.


And you and i had a classic fight in 2007 at the "friendly fire"whistle

Think i have to buy another copy.
 
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