Monday 26 August 2013

Axis & Allies: The Battle Of The Bulge

For the first time really this summer last weekend saw quite a bit of gaming activity, as well as playing a fair bit of Jurassic wars (see two posts back) we also finally got around to playing the Hobbit game from games workshop and my friend brought round a new board game for us to try, Axis and Allies: the Battle of the Bulge.  I've played the original Axis & allies game many times, but this is the first time I've tried many of the 'off-shoot' games that have been released using the same brand.  This one of course sets out to simulate the battle of the bulge at the end of 1944 in Belgium.  It's very different from the original Axis and Allies game.  The objective of the game is for the Germans to capture more territory than they did in the historical campaign and for the allies to stop them.

It started to go wrong on turn one as the Germans fail to push back the whole Allied line 

The board and pieces all look good, they don't scrimp on playing pieces either and we never go close to running out of any of the troop types.  I took the allies and my friend took the Germans.  The Germans start the game getting to attack on turn one without any response from the allies, this push didn't go as well as my opponent hoped, with one group in particular holding out unexpectedly, which critically slowed the Germans down.

By mid-game it looks like the Germans are about to breakthrough
Reinforcements are fixed and each turn both sides get a set group.  The Germans seem to start off getting the upper hand, but by the mid-game the allied reinforcements and planes (which you get from turn 5-8) swing it back in the other direction.  The other major consideration is supply (fuel, ammo, etc.)  which you also have to manage, the allies get the lions share of this too, but it can be captured.  This is designed well I think, it's not complicated, but does add another tactical layer to the game. 

Mike makes his next move
I won a convincing victory in the end, with the Germans only having around half the territory they needed to win at the end of turn 8.   I liked the game and in particular it's played at an interesting scale, but I also have a few concerns, I'd never played before, but had no real difficulty in halting the German advance against someone with experience.  Admittedly this is only after a single game, but the allies seem to have a distinct advantage.  My second concern is replayability, I want to have another go, being the Germans next time of course, but then I don't have a desire to play the game for quite a while after that.  The proscribed reinforcements hamper this as inevitably games are going to play in a similar way.

In the end the German attempted breakthrough is insufficient and easily knocked back.

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