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The play's the thing ...
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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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Storm Over Arnhem was designed by Courtney F Allen, published in 1981 and was the first of Avalon Hill’s series of area-impulse games. Focusing on the battle to control Arnhem Bridge during Operation Market-Garden, players take the role of either the besieging Germans or the besieged British paratroopers.

The rules are quite simple with virtually no chrome. Players take it in turns activating an area and the units in that area can either fire or move. Once they have moved or fired the units become ‘committed’ and flip over, which lowers their defensive value and makes them more vulnerable to return fire. There are also rules for artillery fire, reinforcements and random events. But overall the rules are easy to grasp and clearly written.

What makes this such a great game is the situation that develops on the map. Players are faced with tough decisions at all times, do I move troops from one side of my perimeter and weaken the other, do I fire with one unit or with a group to get the bonuses, do I wait until my opponent has fired before moving into a enemy held area, how do I silence those AT guns so I can attack with my armour, can I stop my opponent from using his artillery and so on.

The area-impulse system with its alternating phases does a wonderful job of simulating the back and forth nature of house-to-house fighting that characterised this battle. With the flipping over of committed units is a simple but effective way of modelling how units could lose their defensive advantage, ie - by firing and revealing their hiding places or moving and leaving their defensive positions.

Storm Over Arnhem does a wonderful job of providing tough decisions with a small rules overhead and a manageable number of pieces on the board. While Avalon Hill went on to produce other area-impulse games this may just be the best of them. The tense gameplay coupled with a very simple ruleset makes this game a real joy. On top of that it is also a fair simulation of the real battle, while still allowing the paratroopers to pull of a victory.

Storm Over Arnhem is well worth playing, especially if you are interested in tactical games because it has a very different feel to hex-and-counter tactical games. It also plays very well on VASSAL with no hidden information and a small number of counters being moved each impulse. This is a good addition to any collection and a great place to start if you’ve never played an area-impulse game before.

(The title of this review is the battle cry used by the airborne troops defending the bridge. Calling out ‘Whoa Mahomet’ was good way of designating which houses were controlled by the paratroopers and which were under German control. The battle cry had been picked up in North Africa when the troops were stationed there. See ‘Arnhem: The Battle for Survival’ by John Nichol and Tony Rennell for more information.)
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Malcolm Cameron
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Nice review of an old favourite.
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M@tthijs
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HEY!! Who's the archvillain here?
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Great review. I've played this game far too few times.
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Geoff Burkman
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I've just recently been able to reacquaint myself with this fine game via several plays. First time as Brits; I handily defended the bridgehead against a German noob who, though a good gamer, failed to recognize the necessity for the Germans to assemble a few strong fireteams for his assaults. Second game, I was the Germans, and failed to learn my own lessons. I was so excited about being able to be aggressive that I got too aggressive too early and ended up squandering large numbers of troops for early gains. Also, I rolled some horrendously bad dice; my artillery attacks were mostly misses. Very irritating. Those of us who've played seem to agree that the red dice in the game are irregular, so I'm going to scout up some replacements; they rolled way too many sixes.

Anyway, nice concise review, and I'm looking forward to third time paying for all!
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Jim F
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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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Great game - would like to play it again.
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Andy Daglish
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The game is simple enough it is possible to work out the optimum fire attack mathematically, however doing a big one when you have the Tactical Advantage is impressive if it works. I'd consider considering the "burning buildings" rule as optional, as in doing so there's may be a net benefit in the area where the game succeeds.
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Justin
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aforandy wrote:
The game is simple enough it is possible to work out the optimum fire attack mathematically, however doing a big one when you have the Tactical Advantage is impressive if it works. I'd consider considering the "burning buildings" rule as optional, as in doing so there's may be a net benefit in the area where the game succeeds.

Max attack: 6 infantry + 1 HQ (w/integrity bonus) + 3 armor Max fire-setting odds: 5 assists through units/fires. With the tactical advantage, are you referring to the ability to re-roll if attacking with odds doesn't work out? And what is "the area where the game succeeds"?
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Andy Daglish
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I think you may be conflating the two sentences. Clearly if you have the tactical advantage, your opponent cannot make you re-roll a high DR connected to a strong attack.

We found the main effect of the burning buildings was to slow the game down, and not playing the rule didn't have any noticeable effect on play balance.

As the Airborne player I would be happiest if I managed to eliminate light armour quickly, usually using the 6lbers. Its interesting to note that these anti-tank guns are rather too powerful for this job, and thus less manageable than a 2lber, which would be ideal, given its higher rate-of-fire and so forth, whereas against the Tigers [Kingtigers, in fact] the 6lbers would be inadequate.

For the Germans, the touchstone of victory always seemed to be getting the Bocholt into close combat.
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Nick West
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"Only two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity....
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....and I'm not certain about the universe." Albert Einstein
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A footnote to why the 'Whoa Mahomet’ battle cry seemed to work as a real time method of identifing friend or foe.

It seems the Germans had a tough time getting the pronounciation correct, such that the paras could pretty much always tell German attempts to impersonate.

They picked it up from North African shepherds who had long shouted conversations with others on nearby hilltops. Each conversation was kicked off with a "Whoa xxxx!" - it is just nearly all malesfirst names seemed to the British soldiers to be Mahomet!
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Geoff Burkman
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aforandy wrote:
We found the main effect of the burning buildings was to slow the game down, and not playing the rule didn't have any noticeable effect on play balance.


I'd like to mention that in the sessions I've played so far, the Germans rarely found the opportunity to set fire to buildings in the first place.
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