Grognard Wargamer Thread!

Thanks for the reports! That Mr. President looks ambitious. Most of the counters look like status markers by the looks of your photos. You get a chance to see some gameplay?

Just curious, but how many people are there do you think?

About 100 people registered. I haven’t watched the Mr. President gameplay that closely. We’ll see tomorrow morning during Gene’s speech.

Nice, thanks! Have a great time there and thanks for the updates. :)

Update: I am really enjoying Downfall.

I played the first ASL starter kit mission over VASSAL with a friend during our lock-down last winter and I really liked it, but found it a bit difficult to follow without the rules in front of me. Earlier this month, I picked up a copy for myself and have been using this tutorial to walk myself through the game:

He’s done a good job of explaining the ‘why’, along with breaking everything down in to small digestible chunks. Infantry rules are explained primarily through an exploration of a simple scenario - can three US infantry squads displace a single German squad from a building hex across the street in a single turn? He runs through it several times, each time adding a new concept – squad leaders, explosives, machine guns etc. I’ve found it really helpful as a supplement to the rules and learning the game

I had the local copiers print up a cheap booklet so I could walk through the scenarios while reading. It’s about 130 pages long, covering infantry, artillery and tanks so it’s going quite a bit further than what‘s in first starter kit.

My wife and I are still working from home, so I’ve left his scenario set-up in a corner of my table and one of us will putter through a chapter during our coffee breaks. We’re just about ready for the two of us to give the first real mission a go.

Heh, a long time ago I pre-ordered a couple of games that were on sale from Compass Games. One, the NATO reprint, arrived some months ago. The other, the one I am really interested in, a game on a hypothetical NATO/WP conflict playing out in Berlin (I think it’s called something like “Enemy at the Gates” or close to it), is now listed as arriving in…2023. Yeah. Not holding my breath.

Oh wow, thanks.

I am counting just under 80 people during Gene’s speech.

This is including GMT staff. Some people who were playing yesterday are not here now. So, overall, not that far from a typical edition of the convention.

Sounds like the GMT event is fun. I look forward to an AAR!

So I’m curious what options you considered. One squad attempts to place smoke; the others Dash across the street from different directions into close combat or advancing fire? Or: one Prep Fires; one lays smoke; one assault moves into close combat?

Thanks for the update. That Absolute War stack caught my eye and before I knew it… ordered. Looks like a spiritual descendent and refined version of the No Retreat: Russian Front game. Looks quite interesting.

Is there any other game that it reminds you of? (I have preordered)

I’ve been thinking of Downfall and comparing it to this Ted Racier game that was brought up here.

In the PC world I’ve been watching some tutorials on Grigsby’s War in the West. Without the DLC it seems to start with operation Husky and covers the same general Downfall timeline of the last years of the war in Europe.

I left a couple of key details that makes it’s a bit of a tough ask without being lucky: the German position has a 9-2 leader there and, in order to ‘win’, the US has to occupy the hex.

The tutorial is scripted and builds so the very first attempt is about as simple as you can get. The US uses two units for prep fire, which after a pair of 7s fails to pin the Germans. The third US unit advances into the street hex, faces point blank fire and promptly fails a morale check.

The second attempt introduces smoke and assault movement. This time the assaulting unit makes it to the building but gets stuck in close combat.

After that, with the introduction of support weapons, it gets easier. US gets an 8-0 leader of their own and he’s toting a demo charge so the US side has a good chance of winning. In the final two examples, the US side has a flame thrower and then a machine gun.

I didn’t divert from the script and just manually followed along with the results he got. He normally goes through a couple different ways you could do things in the course of each example so that was enough for me. My wife did play through them a bit more and was making rolls to see if things would happen differently, mostly to reinforce ideas and to check her understanding of the mechanics.

You lucky man. Now, my wife is a long-time gamer, PC games, board games, card games, you name it. Wargames, though, are one area where she simply won’t go. Just not her thing at all. If I tried to get her to play ASL, I’d be on KP duty for a month. Ok, well, I’m already on KP duty perpetually, so maybe that isn’t the worst thing in the world…

Heh. I’d love to claim that I’ve been running a stealth campaign for the past 15 years, but getting into wargaming just kinda happened organically. It helps that she’s open-minded, interested in history, and almost pathologically competitive.

One of the main different things about Downfall is that there is no Axis player. I have often found grand-strategy games about the whole WW2 underwhelming because of course Germany is losing and it can get a little frustrating once the Soviets start to steamroll everything. So you need contrived victory conditions. Conversely, if you just have Western Allies and Soviet players and the Axis is a bot it’s probably not very interesting.

In this game, the Soviet player also controls the OKW faction (German forces in the West, plus Italians and Vichy), while the Allies control the OKH (German forces in the East, plus other Axis countries). The OKW and OKH are treated like separate factions, with their own initiative, deck, etc. This works surprisingly well.

There are elements from Downfall that you find in other games.

  • Your available orders come from a chit-pull system. But the way it works here (with different orders having different initiative costs, so a “move-attack” chit is both scarce and more costly than normal attacks) is different.
  • There is a deck of events that get played automatically as the turn progresses (once each faction’s initiative passes certain thresholds in a track around the map). Some are recurring and some are one-offs. This is reminiscent of COIN and, more closely, of the upcoming Hubris.

Then other things are more standard. For instance, the supply is simple (trace up to three hexes to a rail line, of which there are many). The ZOCs are very strong here, it is easy to get encircled (you cannot move from a ZOC hex to another ZOC hex of the same enemy counter), but the Germans have several actions cards in their deck that allows them a break out.

When I read this I was intrigued. I did catch that in the initial description when it was announced. It’s a concept I like very much because in any game covering this period the German player will have to accept that they are on the back foot there. But, It’s not that different from playing Poland or France at the beginning of the war. There is another game I know of that has a split player. In Maria one player is the Pragmatic Army and Prussia simultaneously fighting France and Austria respectively.

Oh, yes, I should have thought of Maria. In the thread linked above were I was commenting on the game as I played I probably was not clear enough on this point. In my defence, I had to concentrate on learning the game and fighting its co-designer (It went well until early in 1944, when I though he did not have enough points for a landing and left the south of France too unprotected, but it turned out he had an action card that gave him a discount).

To me, playing a single campaign (even a long one) where you are at a disadvantage is not a problem. But a grand-strategy game which forces you into the insane strategy of invading the USSR and trying to take Moscow always feels a little off.

Thank you very much for the report. When it was announced I was very excited for it and I’m glad I get to stay optimistic. When we first saw pictures of the counters it looked like it might have been a block game or at least borrowing the block game convention of rotating the units. That is correct right? No hidden information in this? Excepting the hand of cards.

Yes, that’s correct. The action cards are either good for combat (die roll and/or strength modifiers, negate terrain, etc.), give you extra attacks, interfere with the other player’s hand or facilitate some operations on the map (break out from encirclement, strategic movement, etc.). There are not that many in relation to card-draw capacity and if you opponent builds up a big hand you have to assume they have the particular card that will derail your plans. So I would say hidden information is not a huge part of the game.

I did not like the look of the rotating counters for strength but the truth is that, even with different player orientations, they were not confusing on the table. I guess the main reason for this choice is that many counters have an Infantry/Motorised and a Mechanised/Armor side, and they are often flipped. Even so, I think I would prefer to double the counters and pay a little more for the game (it’s incredibly cheap at $ 39 in P500).