I was excited to find Troll & Toad a couple of weeks ago. They sell euros and wargames. This makes it easier to get all the games I want in a single shipment without having to order twice, pay for shipping twice, or wait for a package to arrive twice. I was going to wait until several euros on my want list were released. Since then, one of my wargames went out of stock there.
So I said, "screw it," and decided to order the wargames by themselves from Bunker Hill Games. They are very close to me and charge exact shipping. Late Saturday night I placed an order for ASL Starter Kit #1 and A Victory Lost. Sunday morning (Memorial Day weekend!), I got an email to verify shipping method and amount. The order shipped Tuesday morning, and will likely be here Wednesday. Note that, since I placed my order, T&T has AVL in stock again.
I've already started playing AVL on Vassal. It's rather deep for a game with such simple rules. I had figured out the basics of play just by reading the reviews and rules questions. My online opponent filled in the missing pieces. The Vassal implementation has a few huge advantages over face-to-face play: it highlights active units when their command chit is drawn, and it can display command radius for HQ's (even when it snakes across a bridge). The only downside (especially for the Axis) is that you have to zoom way out to get a good overview of the situation to decide what chits to select for the current turn. It would be awesome if you could right click on an HQ and select "use the chit for this HQ".
The game covers Operation Saturn, in which the Soviets launched a major effort to push back the Germans (and other minor forces) late in 1942. It ended with Manstein's famous Panzer counter-offensive. The Soviets have superior numbers, but their units are weak, less mobile, and more difficult to command. The Germans must fall back very quickly or suffer flanking and severe losses. As the turns progress, the Germans get better reinforcements and command ability. If the Soviets push too far, they will get cut off. If they do not push enough, they cannot secure enough victory points. Railroads are key for reinforcements. Supply lines must be maintained or your units become weakened.
Playing the Axis feels a little bit like playing the French in Bonaparte at Marengo. except that the Germans need to run away a little more deliberately. If you try to hold your ground at all, it's very easy to get flanked. And if you are forced to retreat into a zone of control (a space adjacent to an enemy unit), you lose a step (in most cases counter gets flipped for first step, then eliminated for second).
I've played 113 games so far in May (with 2 more game nights coming this month). I only missed one day, which was an all-day D&D event. The real hits this month have been Struggle of Empires, Torres, and Colossal Arena.
A Victory Lost image by mandelberg