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Thunder at Cassino» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Climbing a mountain under fire. rss

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The play's the thing ...
Australia
Point Lonsdale
Victoria
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Going thirty-eight, Dan, chill the f*** out. Mow your damn lawn and sit the hell down.
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Thunder at Cassino was published by Avalon Hill in 1987 and is the second in its series of area-impulse games. Designed by Courtney Allen the game depicts the third Allied attempt to capture the Italian town of Cassino and the mountain behind it in 1944. This game is a really interesting design. Building on the success of Storm Over Arnhem, Thunder at Cassino added a few new rules into the mix to help the series evolve.

First it added a TEM or Terrain Effects Modifier to each of the areas to represent the defensive value of the terrain found in each. The terrain also had elevation, which makes sense as this battle was dominated by the monastery on top of Monte Cassino. Elevation effects ranged combat and also artillery observers on Monte Cassino and Castle Hill have an extended spotting range.

Thunder at Cassino also allows areas to develop rubble at the start of the game due to the Allied bombardment that kicked off the attack. Rubble makes it harder to move into the area for tanks and anti-tank guns. The game also introduces construction units who can be used to remove rubble from areas to free up movement.

Another change is that machinegun units increase the movement costs for infantry moving adjacent to them or entering the same area. This models the power of an entrenched machinegun with good fields of fire in this type of combat and the difficulty in moving up and silencing them. Also artillery units can place a limited amount of smoke to help units move into areas. The Germans are severely limited in their ability to produce this smoke while the Allies are a little better.

Finally instead of their being set night turns as in Storm Over Arnhem, Thunder at Cassino allowed whoever was holding the tactical advantage to declare that the following impulses for the turn will be under night conditions. Night conditions make moving easier, shooting harder and gives both sides a little extra to think about.

Physically the map for Thunder at Cassino is great. It does a wonderful job of showing the town and the monastery towering above it on top of the mountain. It helps to ram home to the Allied player just what a difficult task it is going to be. First you have to clear the town then you have to charge up the side of a steep hill all the while trying to push back a strong and determined defence.

The counters are good and bad. The counters in the game are teeny tiny and the matte finish makes them muddy and difficult to read at times. But on the positive side the breakdown of the different units is impressive and helps to tell the story of the battle. It would have been easy to have semi-generic allied units but instead there are New Zealanders, Maoris, Ghurkhas, Brits and American tanks.

In the end I thought this game played well. It gave a good sense of the slog that the allies faced in trying to capture Cassino, while also providing both players with plenty of testing situations. The ticking clock of the turns slowly draining away can really play on the Allied player, especially if they are a few victory points away from victory. Thunder at Cassino is often seen as the least favourite of the Avalon Hill area-impulse series of games but I really enjoyed it and think it does a good job of portraying the challenges facing both sides in this famous battle.
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Ivan Prat
Belgium
Barcelona
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I found most appropiate the title of this entry, and of course I loved your review.

Got my copy from ebay and enjoyed it many times. Teached my wife how to play and is one of her preferred games. This picture was taken this last june when we visited the place we already knew by the game map.

The picture is to represent the title of your review!!





(picture is taken on the road between areas 11 and 16)
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Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
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Ashwin in front of Tiger 131
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I keep waiting for this to sell at a good price on ebay. Unfortunately my original copy somehow got opened during a move and I lost half the counters. Kept the box for sentimental reasons.
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David
New Zealand
Auckland
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May the Great Spirit Bless all who read this.
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Great review title and review.
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June Hwang Wah
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pessimisticbob wrote:
Does anyone know how to go about getting a map "upgrade?"


Conceptually, I thought a faded background map with black borders for areas ala BKN will be excellent. Too bad my artistic skills are woefully inadequate.
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