Eric Walters
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Chesterfield
Virginia
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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First, the caveats. These impressions are based on two sessions of the full campaign game, played at the annual WINTER OFFENSIVE 2012 wargame convention that MMP runs in Bowie, MD. We only got through the first two days before calling the game in favor of the Germans each time. I’ll provide some tactical advice at the end of this review to help new players get a bit farther than we did, so don’t take our results to mean the game is unbalanced. We didn’t play any of the scenarios before taking on the campaign but we’d had a little experience with The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen from the year before. We also had one of the rules proofers and playtesters, David Hoskins, play XXX Corps in both sessions. I played the Germans and Doug Behel played 101st Airborne Division each time as well. Nick Richardson, the game’s developer, was also on hand the next table over to handle any questions.



Physical Component Impressions: The game is huge and gorgeous-looking. For those familiar with The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen, you know what to expect.

The full color and glossy Grand Tactical Series Rules have been updated to v1.1 with the publication of this game and the new version is available on the MMP website as well as on CONSIMWORLD Forum, incorporating all of the relatively minor errata. Of course, the game has the hardcopy version of the new series rulebook within it. Countersheet 11 of the game also has replacement counters for 18 of the ones in The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen that required very minor modification and were also provided in an issue of OPERATIONS magazine. The color alignment works much better than the replacements in the magazine, particular the one EVENT marker which matches the others in The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen much more closely. Until this game, I’d been using the original TDC EVENT counter and, when it was flipped, substituting the OPERATIONS counterpart.

Once you read through and understand the GTS rules through practice, you’ll rarely if ever refer back to the glossy series rulebook. MMP has provided a black and white rules summary of four text pages and four “flow chart” diagrams (Direct Fire/Opportunity Fire, HE Indirect Fire, Mortar Fire, and Assault Charts) that you’ll use from then on. After a few play sessions, you won’t even need to refer to this often if at all.

The maps also color match with the ones in TDC quite well and are rendered in the usual top-notch Niko Eskubi style. There are five in the gameset (not four as was advertised) and—for the campaign game—lay out in a staggered style which will require a larger than expected table. There are separate color diagrams in the back of the Exclusive Rulebook that show how the maps are arranged for both the WHERE EAGLES DARE campaign game and for a combined massive campaign for all of OPERATION MARKET-GARDEN involving both this and THE DEVIL’S CAULDRON. We often showed spectators that diagram when getting questions on how the game mated with its predecessor.



The Divisional Displays and charts are color coded differently than those in The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen, presumably so it would be easier to discriminate parts between the two games if doing the combined campaign. They are just as utilitarian and the graphical treatment is reminiscent of actual military organizational papers, complete with a faded coffee cup ring stain on the player reference card! Players looking for the card for 43rd Infantry Division won’t find it; this isn't an issue for this campaign game and when you mate both this game and TDC together, you'll be using the card in the earlier title. The Terrain Effects Chart on one side of the player reference card adds the Sand Dune and Swamp terrain types but seems harder to read from a distance than the one for The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen; the Charts and Tables on the other side includes all the known errata and is as easy to use as the original.

The counters are simply breath-taking as they were in The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen but do take some getting used to. Allied units use the usual NATO symbology save for vehicle companies, which have detailed line silhouette graphics that show the predominant type of vehicle. German units use period German unit symbols and similar vehicle silhouettes. The unit names are in quite small print and hard to read for late middle-aged eyes like mine, so we had to resort to using a magnifying glass when setting up. That’s the only time this was an issue; the numbers on the counters are large enough and the formation color coding system for the units is clear enough to made it easy to play the game after set up.

The set up is the worst part of the campaign game. There were no setup charts provided in the package, although there are some for the first three scenarios available online at the MMP website. If you are playing the scenarios, the Exclusive Rules have reproductions of the countersheets showing the units you’ll need, with dotted lines showing which units are used for which scenarios. Additionally, the units used for the scenarios are completely separate from those used for the campaign game, so they can be sorted and stored separately—a very nice touch. They also have no formation watermarks and are thus easily discriminated from the campaign game unit counters. With these, you can organize your setup for the first few scenarios very quickly.

Unfortunately, you don’t get any of that for the full campaign game. I’d strongly advise making color photocopies of countersheets #3, 4, 9, and 10 so you know which units you are supposed to have once you’ve punched the game. For setup, you have to refer to the text set up instructions in the Exclusive Rules, which can be a tedious process, particularly given all the unit name abbreviations. For me, this was the most irritating part of the game. The good news is that this is easily remedied by making home-made setup sheets and I expect the better ones will get posted on Board Game Geek or on the MMP website. This is important because the watermarks on these counters tended to throw me. I was used to unit watermarks matching the symbols on the Divisional Display cards (mostly because I had a hard time in The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen distinguishing between the Hohenstaufen in midnight blue and the Frundsburg units in black). In WHERE EAGLES DARE, it’s the counter color that matters the most in marrying units to Divisions for the German side, never mind the watermarks!

The Exclusive Rulebook unfortunately had a minor problem or two. It is as equally gorgeous as the Grand Tactical Series V1.1 rules, but once delved into some niggling errors are apparent. In my copy, the leftmost column of Page 10 shows a bulletized list under 2.15.6 Bridge Demolition that got the first few characters run together/overprinted in each item. Not a show-stopper by any means, but irritating. Most of the Exclusive Rules are common to those for The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen and are therefore easy to pick up. Most of the other problems we uncovered in our playing have since been corrected in the errata published on January 17th. I will say this; when any questions are brought up regarding needed clarifications to play this game, both Adam and Nick are very quick to answer them. The good news for our game is that initial errata was published very quickly and we incorporated it into our Exclusive Rules booklets. Like The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen, there wasn’t a whole lot of it.

Some observers have question why the maps in WHERE EAGLES DARE aren’t backprinted with scenario-unique mapsheets like we see in The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen. Frankly, you don’t need them—the standard maps work fine and there’s no point to having separate maps for the scenarios in this game. It should be said there aren’t as many scenarios in WHERE EAGLES DARE as there were for The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen, but that’s a reflection of the situation more than anything else.

The Order Of Battle work for the game is tremendous, reflecting the more recent research and scholarship on this operation. This will raise questions from those players well familiar with other MARKET GARDEN Games, particularly Highway to the Reich (first and second editions) (SPI/DG) and Hell's Highway (VG), among others. The most striking example at the beginning of the game are that the dug-in Fallschirmjagers in the woods on the road to Valkenswaard--so often seen in other games--are NOT THERE in this one! But XXX Corps will struggle along to Eindhoven all the same.

All in all, you get your money’s worth in component quality. Having an extra set of counters for the scenarios is a nice bonus and there are more than enough markers to play the game without having to borrow any from The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen. Like the earlier game, WHERE EAGLES DARE is far more visually striking and evocative of the period than either the old or newer version of SPI’s venerable Highway to the Reich (first and second editions), which I personally always considered to be one of the examples of the apogee of wargame graphics. Well done to accomplished graphic artist Niko Eskubi and MMP’s production team.

Continue to Part 2: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/754334/initial-impressio...
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Robert Wilson
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ericmwalters wrote:


The set up is the worst part of the campaign game.


I always found that too when playing monsters "back in the day"

I was a bit dismayed that the chits were 5/8 inch instead of the bigger 1 inch used in TDC
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Eric Walters
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Chesterfield
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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I was disappointed too, but I think that was to ensure you wouldn't mix up the chits between the two games when playing the large campaign that combined them.
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