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Patton's 3rd Army: The Lorraine Campaign» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Looking back on a solid wargame rss

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Judd Vance
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Patton’s 3rd Army is the 1st Volume in the Victory in the West gaming system introduced by Operation Typhoon.






Details:

Patton’s 3rd Army is a hex-and-counter war game for 2 players. The game only has one scenario, but has an extended version (more turns, different objectives). and it takes about 2 hours to play the short scenario and about 4 to play the long scenario. Joseph M. Balkoski designed it and SPI published it in 1979.


Background:

The game simulates a portion of the Lorraine Campaign, namely the battle of Metz and the push to the German west wall from Nov. 8 - Dec. 1, 1944.

Components:

Like the other games in this series, this game comes with two black-and-white rulebooks, both 8.5” x 11”. One rulebook is the series rulebook, 8 pages long, which explains the mechanics and rules common to all of the games in the series. The second rulebook is an exclusive rulebook. It contains 7 pages of rules specific to this game, along with a counter inventory and game set-up and victory conditions. The rules have a decent amount of illustrations and clearly explain the system with plenty of examples.

The map is a 22” x 34” full color paper map that displays the battlefield with a numbered hexagonal grid laid over the map. The map also contains various tables, tracks, and charts, making it a “one stop shopping” instead of needing extra player aids or flipping back to the rule book.





The game includes 200 1/2" cardboard counters with different colors signifying U.S. and German troops as well as neutral game markers to track ease of play, such as turn markers and out of supply markers. The counters use standard NATO symbols, and contain various ratings (movement, morale, combat strength, etc), set-up hex number, and historical designators. They are not particularly attractive, but they are functional.




Objective of Play:

The game offers a series of victories: decisive, substantive, and marginal for each side, along with the conditions for a draw. These conditions vary based upon playing the short 12-turn game or the extended 24-turn game. They generally involve controlling so many towns or being the last to pass through certain hexes.


Overview of Play:

The game turn is fairly standard for hex-and-counter wargames of this era: there is a movement phase, broken up into tactical and strategic movement and then a combat phase, then the other player repeats the process.

Where the game gets unique is in its combat system. Most hex-and-counter games from this time period that I played involve knowing the offensive and defensive capabilities of your units, so that you can calculate the odds on the combat results table, for optimal probability of success.

In this game, you are not allowed to look at your opponents stack until you declare combat, and then to add even more uncertainty, you don't know the fighting capabilities of any infantry unit until it has seen combat.

Tank battalions have strength values printed on them. The infantry units have a morale value (1, 2, or 3) and a combat class (A,B, or C) printed on them.

There strength is determined by chit draw. There are a series of chits. Each has a large value printed on them (either 1, 2, or 3). These correspond to the morale values and are to be kept in 3 separate cups. (If you look at the picture of the counters above, these counters are white and take up most of the bottom 3 rows.)

The first time an infantry unit is involved in combat, draw a chit from the correct cup that corresponds to that unit's morale value (1, 2, or 3). That chit has 3 rows: A#, B#, and C#, where # is a different number, for example, it may say A7, B5, C3. If your unit has a combat class value of A, its strength is 7. If it's combat class value were B, then it's combat strength would be 5, and 3 if it were C. That counter is placed underneath that unit and remains with that counter until it is lost.

If the unit takes a step loss, this value is flipped to show reduced values (again, you only care about the reduced A,B, or C value that corresponds to the unit's combat class printed on its counter. It doesn't change even after taking a step loss). If it takes an additional step loss, the chit is removed and the unit counter is flipped to its cadre side, which has a fixed combat value.

The next unique aspect of combat is that no more than one regiment or brigade-sized unit may attack from or be attacked in any single hex during a given combat phase. The owner decides WHICH brigade/regiment unit attacks or is under attack, but other units in the hex are affected by the results.

Along with the typical odds ratio that was prevalent in this time period, there are column shifts based on terrain and divisional integrity. The latter comes by having a certain number of infantry divisions or armor divisions that are identical to the type of attacking unit adjacent to the defender. Additional modifiers come from combining an armor and non-armor unit in an attack, and using air and/or artillery support.

Combat results display a number of hexes the attacker or defender retreat along with possibly the number of step losses that side must take.


Results:

I haven’t had the opportunity to play other games in the series to make a statement about how well the system works, but it appears to be a solid system that would be flexible enough to cover a series of battles in the western campaign. I found nothing broken in the system.


Conclusion:

I always give old SPI and Avalon Hill games their respect because these guys were basically inventing wargames, and in that regard, for 1979, this is a very solid game. In its time, I would have loved it. It is a solid simulation and the fog of war that comes from the chit-pull for unit strength is clever and inventive. The combat system is more in-depth than simply summing attack vs. defense and shifting the results one column for rough terrain/river/forest and rolling the die.

With that said, as time has gone on, I find my tolerance for hex-and-counter, odds based CRTs lower than it was in years past. Pushing stacks of counters in a UGO-IGO format, while using odds-based CRTs doesn’t hold the grip for me that it once did, so I wasn’t overwhelmed by this game. However, it was a blast pulling the chits the first few times. I can't say the thrill will be there if I were to play it a 3rd time. Also, since it is a SPI game, you aren't going to find a VASSAL module for it, which meant I played it solitaire, and this game would be better against an opponent.

Would I recommend it? Well that depends on you. If you like this type of game and have someone to play it with, then run out and secure a copy. If you are like me and find more joy in card driven games, or any of the other genres that have come out since then, then you probably are not going to find a lot of joy and replay in this. My personal rating was a 6. If I were rating it in 1979, it would have been at least a 9.
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Magister Ludi
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The strength chit system is still around. I still find this series of games a winner. I recently did a review of the follow up game, Operation Grenade.http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/554167/operation-grenade-for...

Balkoski is an excellent designer. Whilst not on Vassal I think you can find all 3 S & T games on Cyberboard.
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Jonathan Harrison
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airjudden wrote:
Also, since it is a SPI game, you aren't going to find a VASSAL module for it.

I must be missing something. Is this generally the rule? Is it some sort of stipulation? (I can't imagine the fanbase wouldn't create them, ergo ...)
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Judd Vance
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HuginnGreiling wrote:
airjudden wrote:
Also, since it is a SPI game, you aren't going to find a VASSAL module for it.

I must be missing something. Is this generally the rule? Is it some sort of stipulation? (I can't imagine the fanbase wouldn't create them, ergo ...)


http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module_Section_Information#...
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Jonathan Harrison
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airjudden wrote:
HuginnGreiling wrote:
airjudden wrote:
Also, since it is a SPI game, you aren't going to find a VASSAL module for it.

I must be missing something. Is this generally the rule? Is it some sort of stipulation? (I can't imagine the fanbase wouldn't create them, ergo ...)


http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module_Section_Information#...

yuk
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Wendell
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Glad to hear the game is better than that awful cover!
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Judd Vance
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wifwendell wrote:
Glad to hear the game is better than that awful cover!


I have an affinity for games with awful covers. Here is the game that I reviewed last month:

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In this series, the jewel is Sicily: The Race for Messina.

The VCS Slaerno game that MMP is working on uses almost the same rules as VITW and Sicily.

Got some playtest time at the EWR...just did roll it up.

Of course, the granddaddy, Operation Typhoon is in play with our Thursday group - though a lull now that we are on a Battlestar Galactica binge.

===========================

I personally have found the random strength chits to be a bit tedious in my old age - a well crafted CRT can fix this and avoid the fiddliness of them.


My feeling moving on is that for WW2 Operational Gaming, it is OCS, Simonitch, Racier and then SCS for future needs.

For Sicily, until I get GMT's Sicily or by some miracle OCS Sicily gets in my hands, I will play VITW Sicily.

As to the Lorraine Campaign, Patton's 3rd Army may only be the one ever to be made. Correct me if I am wrong.

My gaming needs are generally first on exploring a particular Operation/Theater, and second the System.
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Kim Meints
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There was a French designed game on Patton's Metz Battle -Lorraine'44 from Simulations Cornejo

It's been years since I played it last
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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I found this game at a thrift store in 2005. No one wanted to play it so I traded it away in 2006. Now I have friends who play me face to face in wargames.

I might give the system a spin.
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Nathan kilgore
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http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/63823/vcs-salerno

There is the BBG link to the first volume of the new series.

P3A stands up there as the toe to toe best balanced of the series. I certainly love Sicily though, so don't make me choose.
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LEUNG CHI KEUNG
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This is my favorite classical wargame system. Famous game are

Iron Tide: Panzers in the Ardennes;
Operation Typhoon;
Sicily: The Race for Messina and

coming as VCS in MMP VCS Salerno....

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Richard Erwin
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Ah, yes, Morgan's Rifles - "proof" that the phalanx was alive and well in the 1780s...
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Richard Erwin
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PTA was, to my mind when I first played it WAAAY back when, a VERY solid game that guaranteed victory for neither side, as in the real-life campaign. It's still a good play, if a little fiddly by today's standards.

Vae Victis #59, Alsace '44, covers some of the area from a different perspective.

I look forward to seeing if MMP can improve upon the system.
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wifwendell wrote:
Glad to hear the game is better than that awful cover!


painted by game designer John Butterfield I believe...he also did the cover of VG's Ambush
 
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Allen Dickerson
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Preparing to play this for the first time next month (Oct., 2015!) but have owned this game since the original issue arrived at my home in Los Angeles in 1979.

Rereading the rules, it seems pretty straightforward, but one thing has jumped out at me as odd...

Why is the combat strength limited to ONE unit in a hex (owner's choice)? Is there no benefit to stacking at all? No combination of forces, particularly of the same unit to augment Divisional Integrity? This one seems really strange to me, and I'd like to know if anyone has any input as to why these rules (7.21 and 7.22) are in effect. I've never seen their like in any other game of this scale before.

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
 
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Don't have the rules in front of me, but isn't the limit One Regt per hex? I think you can have a Regt and 2 Bns attack from the same hex, that is certainly the case in later games in the series.

You can stack 3 Regts in a hex, attack out with one, and also claim divisional integrity.

I think the limit is trying to model attack frontages. Would be difficult to have all 3 Regts in a Div attacking out of a single 2 mile or so frontage.
 
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HuginnGreiling wrote:
airjudden wrote:
HuginnGreiling wrote:
airjudden wrote:
Also, since it is a SPI game, you aren't going to find a VASSAL module for it.

I must be missing something. Is this generally the rule? Is it some sort of stipulation? (I can't imagine the fanbase wouldn't create them, ergo ...)


http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module_Section_Information#...

yuk


Try Mel Atherton’s Cyberboard Gamebox at limeyyankgames.co.uk.
 
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