Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Alsace 1945

The next random game from my collection to discuss is Alsace 1945, a relatively small wargame (only one counter sheet, MSRP around $20) from Avalanche Press dealing with the German offensive in Alsace that coincided with the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 and early 1945.  The game uses standard "hex and counter" mechanics, with counters having combat and movement values on them, and combat involving totaling attack and defense combat strength and then calculating an odds ratio, rolling a die, and looking up the result on a Combat Results Table.  If you have familiarity with this kind of game, the rules are easy to pick up.  This game does have a few interesting mechanics worth mentioning, though.

First, rather than a standard "I go, you go" format, units are organized into commands, and each command has a counter that can be put into an opaque cup (you don't have to put the counter in the cup, if you don't want to activate that command on a specific turn).  You then draw command counters at random to activate a command to move and fight.  The reason for maybe not wanting to activate all of your commands is due to limited supply.  It takes supply points to activate a command Headquarters unit, and especially the German player may run out of them depending on the draw order.  Also, after two commands have activated you start rolling dice to see if you end your activations, so if you put all of your command counters in the cup in a big scenario, you might not get to draw the one that is most important to you.  I kind of like this mechanic, and "chit pull" activation systems are generally friendly to solitaire play.

Second, in three of the five included scenarios, the Allies have to check to see if Eisenhower starts pulling units away to reinforce the Ardennes front.  This is represented by the American player getting few supply points, and perhaps having to retreat from specific objectives.  This is an interesting aspect of the historical situation, where Eisehnower thought about doing this, but DeGaulle talked him out of it.  The mechanic works well enough.

So, this is a pretty standard game with a couple interesting mechanics.  Unfortunately, the game has a fatal flaw; it is boring.  I did not enjoy playing this game, as it just wasn't that interesting to me.  Other games using similar mechanics I have found much more enjoyable than this game.  So, I'm not sure that this will ever see the table again.

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