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  Bloody Hell Operation Goodwood: July 18-20, 1944 Operation Spring: July 25-26, 1944 by High Flying Dice Games     Depending upon what book...

Bloody Hell by High Flying Dice Games Bloody Hell by High Flying Dice Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

European Theater





 Bloody Hell


Operation Goodwood: July 18-20, 1944

Operation Spring: July 25-26, 1944


by


High Flying Dice Games





 

  Depending upon what book you read, and if it was written by an Englishman or not, the battle to take Caen is represented very differently. Field Marshal Montgomery always stated that his part of Operation Overlord (D-Day) went exactly to his plan. He states that it was the plan all along to draw the SS and other strong German units against his troops and that he would be the anvil and the Americans the hammer. Some books follow this lead. However, most state that Caen was to be taken the first day or shortly thereafter. That Monty's 'slows' stuck the Allies in Normandy for almost two months of desperate fighting. Regardless of the plan, Monty's English and Commonwealth Army was forced to try again and again to crack the tough nut of Caen. High Flying Dice Games gives us a chance to fight two of these battles on our tables. I have always been fascinated by Operation Goodwood, so hopefully this is an extra treat for me. Bloody Hell is one game in HFG's Professional Editions line of games. 


 These are the Designer Notes for the Operation Goodwood Scenario:

"Operation Goodwood

At first we seemed to advance quite rapidly, then suddenly, my tank ground to a halt as did all the others I could see...other tanks I could see were all stationary and several were beginning to brew. There were no targets. Nothing intelligible was coming over the radio. I watched through the periscope, fascinated as though it was a film I was seeing.

--Corporal Ronald Cox of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, July 18th.

This game on Operation Goodwood grew out of the interest and enjoyment I had in developing the companion game about Operation Spring, the Canadian offensive on Verrieres Ridge on July 25th, 1944. Montgomery’s massive onslaught against what was thought to be a severely beaten and depleted enemy was meant to be an unstoppable, irresistible offensive that would finally break the Allies out of the Normandy beachhead. That it instead ran into an un-moveable defense, planned earlier by Field Marshal Rommel, made for a ruinous fight that seriously damaged subsequent British offensives in the war. Nearly 2/3rds of the British tanks committed were destroyed in the two-day fight.

The Germans also suffered heavy losses in keeping control of their defensive positions. While many of Montgomery’s supporters pointed out that Goodwood seriously eroded the Germans’ capabilities to resist the Americans’ Operation Cobra offensive a week later, the cost to Great Britain was severe. That the Allied soldiers came close to winning a dramatic victory ahead of the Americans is a testament to the ferocity and courage both sides brought to this battlefield.

Allied Player

You have a massive armored host, but will have to move quickly and aggressively to win this battle. How you fight your infantry, air and few artillery assets will be crucial, as the tanks, despite their numbers, may not have the capability to punch through on their own. Be careful of how many reinforcements you call upon, as the cost in VP to bring them in early may create a deficit you can’t undo. Make the most of the opportunities you get and you may just end up on the road to Paris.

German Player

At the start of the game you may very well understand how Colonel Luck felt. However, time is on your side, and you have a range of weapons with which to fight, if your opponent, and the fates, grants you the time to bring them to the front. You will have many tough calls, and may not have the luxury of redeploying units once engaged if the dreaded jabos (fighter bombers) show up repeatedly. As Colonel Luck pointed out to the commander of the flak batteries defending Bourguebus, by the end of day you may be dead or a hero. Your actions will, for the most part, determine which applies."




 When the designer has done so well, and succinctly written up about the history and each player's role in the game it makes no sense for me to try and outdo it.


Let us see what comes with the game:

Game Design: Paul Rohrbaugh

Graphics Design: Bruce Yearian


Two,  17" x 22" maps

280 die cut, double sided unit counters and markers

One, Player Aid Card: Terrain Chart & Combat Results Table

Random Events Chart

Designer Notes & Bibliography

One Page of Addenda

Game Record Track 

8 page rule book




 We will look at the components now. The maps are your typical wargame maps with not too much flair about them. The terrain is easily distinguishable, and the hex numbers are easy to read. I guess maps are very much in the eye of the beholder, but I have no issue with them. The counters are normal size at 1/2". This makes them somewhat hard to read for those of us of advanced years. However, you always have to keep in mind the map footprint when talking about larger counters. Even if you are playing the two map campaign the game's footprint is small. This really helps with grognards who only have a limited amount of space. So, the counters are no smaller than many others that we play with. The tank and and jagdpanzer units have a silhouette of each kind on their counters. There are also counters for minefields, entrenchments, and smoke. As stated, the Rulebook has only eight pages of rules, followed by four pages of setup information. The Rulebook is in black and white, and does not come with any examples of play. These should really not be needed for a grognard, and this is not really a game that I would use to introduce a newbie to the hobby. The Player's Aid and all of the charts are pretty much self-explanatory. These are all in black and white, except for the terrain chart (naturally). The game components all pass muster. This is not a game where you will look at it and go Ooh and Ah, but it is all completely serviceable.


 This is the Sequence of Play:

Weather and Random Event Determination Phase

Air Phase - Allied Only

Initiative Determination Phase - Starts on Game Turn Two

Operations Phase - Chit Pull of Formations Activation Marker

End Phase




 The game is really not your typical folio game. It comes with two different operations that you can play (Goodwood, Spring), and it also has a campaign game of playing through both operations. There are not too many games at all on this level about Operation Goodwood, and none that I know of about Operation Spring. The life and death struggle for Caen, by the British and Commonwealth soldiers on one side and the Germans on the other, has had many excellent books and articles written about it. With this game it is much easier to understand the history of the battles, and why things happened the way they did. I find the game to be very enjoyable, and spot on as far as following history. Playing as the British you are going to find exactly how large of a can opener you are going to need to pry the Germans out of their defenses. As the German player, you will realize exactly what it was like to try and stem the tide with always diminishing resources.


Close up of some German Units

 

 As mentioned, the game has a small footprint, which is great when you do not want to play a monster, or do not have the room. The game comes with lots of chrome also. These are the Random Events:


Wittman Strikes - If the 1/101st Panzer is in play, you can get a second die roll

Allied Snafu - Remove one Allied Formation Activation Marker, and -1 to the Allied Initiative Die Roll

German Snafu - Same for Germans

Auftragstaktik - One German Formations Undisrupted Units can Activate for a Second Time

Oh Canada! or, For King and Counter - Same as Auftragstaktik for the Allied Player


 On the Addenda sheet there is also a variant that you can try out. According to the designer it is a bit  of a "what if" in his mind. The Allied player, to simulate more planning and cohesion on the Allied side, is allowed to activate the 2nd Canadian Armored Brigade with either the 2nd or 3rd Canadian infantry Divisions. This would be instead of activating on its own.


Allied Units


  I am very impressed with my first High Flying Dice Games. Thank you very much High Flying Dice Games for letting me review this. I am also going to be reviewing two more of their games, which look very interesting. These are the two:


A Test of Mettle - Three Battles From the Allied Campaign in the Lorraine: Tough Hombres - Battle of Mairy, Revanche! - Battle of Dompaire, Patton's Finest  - Battle of Arracourt.


September's Eagles - The Thompson Trophy Air Races 1929-1939

Name me another game where you can fly as Howard Hughes, or fly Gee Bee Racers!


You can also get boxed editions of all of their games.


Robert 

High Flying Dice Games:

High Flying Dice Games, LLC: From the Filing Cabinet to the Game Table (hfdgames.com)

Bloody Hell:

Bloody Hell Information (hfdgames.com)

WarPlan by Matrix games     WarPlan is a slight misnomer, although hopefully all countries and generals hav...

WarPlan by Matrix Games WarPlan by Matrix Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

European Theater





WarPlan

by

Matrix games





  
 WarPlan is a slight misnomer, although hopefully all countries and generals have them. They are almost always chucked out the window after the first contact between enemy forces. As Clausewitz wrote, "Friction is the concept that differentiates actual war from war on paper", and those surprises that make "even the simplest thing difficult". Though your plan for the next campaign might be completely sound, it is still at the mercy of the enemy, weather, and your own commanders etc. About the game's cover, why Rommel? Bradley is totally understandable as a general. However, looking at the scope of the game, maybe it should have been Marshall? There are so many choices for the Germans instead of Rommel. This game is a strategic and operational one of World War II in the European Theater. The first question is why? There are so many that have been done, and a few that are very good. Let us look at Matrix's blurb to see what you actually get on your computer screen:

 "WarPlan is a game designed and coded by Alvaro Sousa, from Kraken Studios, creator of Strategic Command 2 products (Assault on Communism, Assault on Democracy, Brute Force, Strategic Command 3 Image Importer).
Developer Kraken Studios places their emphasis on games that are easy to use, hard to win. WarPlan employs one of the best interfaces to lower micromanagement as much as possible so players can focus on playing and thinking.
SCALES
The game's scale is massive, covering 70 different potential countries, in a map large 30 miles / 50km per hex using a Peters map scaling (which better represents real distances). The land scale is 15k - 60k men, air scale is 300-400 aircraft and naval scale is 2 capital ships + support ships.
COMBAT SYSTEM
Combat takes place on Land, with multihex attack based on operation points allowing for multiple moves and attack tactics allowing for frontline breakthroughs, on Air, where you can attack selected targets and may automatically support land attacks, and on Sea, where fleet and raider modes affect detection. Night action, Surface, Sub, and Carrier combat are available. Use the Zone of control to restrict the movement of the enemy.
20 different units with 15 different attributes, 17 different technological advancements, 5 different specialties. Each country has their own units with their own attributes. Additionally, units can be impacted by: Breakdown - Land units can be split or reformed, corps may detach a division, armies may split, Formation – Small formations may be grouped into larger ones, Generals - Each player comes with their own generals that affect combat, mobile attack, and retreats, Support pool Units - 11 different support types. Naval units stack in fleets. 1 land, 1 air, 1 fleet per hex. Land units have the capacity of having a specialization. This is an attachment of equipment, elite trained units, or gear. With advancements, this allows for 120 different land unit configurations.
COUNTRY MANAGEMENT
Production takes into account oil, manpower, logistics, strategic resources, trade agreements, convoy zones. The system allows you 17 different advancements and each unit has at minimum 2 advancement choices. You can have 47 different unit configurations. The supply system is based on cities, rail, ports, headquarters, and distance from railways. The supply system more accurately represents the North African Campaign. From a diplomatic standpoint, players may declare war, influence, attempt a coup, or negotiate a surrender. Each country has a loyalty score and an entry-level. Actions in-game may alter the entry and loyalty of various countries.
MAP
The map is Hex based, with 15 different types of terrains subdivided in to sizes with each different features including motorized and non-motorized movement, airfield capacity, and defensive bonuses; 12 different resource types, 5 different strategic resources. Realism is enhanced by the presence of Fog of War, with detection levels that determine information of units. Moreover, 5 different weather conditions make the whole gameplay more challenging."






 Well that is a bit of a mouthful. Let's take a look under the hood and see how many of the above statements hit the mark.

 One of the really big differences with WarPlan compared to other games is the inclusion of a working interception/interdiction mode for the units. Supply in the game is also innovative, as seen below.









 The map is large, actually very large. I really like this in games. It makes the sweep and size of the operations come to life. Of course for every plus there is a minus in computing. The larger the map means more units and decisions. So, a large map with a lot of units make it much more difficult for a designer to create a competent AI. The map itself tends more toward functionality instead of artistic beauty. This is fine, because I am going to play it, not take a screenshot of it for my wall. You can easily tell one terrain from another. If your old eyes are having a problem, there are numerous levels of zoom available for the budding general. The counters also tend toward function and are easily distinguishable from one another.
 




 The game comes with six scenarios: 1939, 1940,1941,1942,1943, 
and 1944. These scenarios start not at the beginning of the year in question, but at the date where important operations are going to take place. Thus, in 1943 the date the scenario starts is July sixth. The player does not have to wait until the middle of the year for the Battle of Kursk or the Normandy Invasion to take place. Conversely, this means that the player does not have the chance to change anything before these operations take place. The game is strategic in scope at all times so it does not have scenarios that condense the map and allow the player to play out separate important battles in WWII. This is not a knock on the game, but I do like it when games include them as a choice.  






  Okay, so now we come to the crux of the game. How is the AI, and how effective is it? With most polls showing that eighty to ninety percent of players only play computer games solo, the AI in games is a big deal. So how is this one? It is a bit of a mixed bag. The AI on the operational scale is very good. It will defend and attack with units in a very competent manner. On the Strategic side, not so much. However, with the game being situated in the European Theater of WWII, there are much more times for the AI to shine rather than not. The designer actually has stated that he really likes to work on the AI routines of the game. So this bodes well for future upgrades of the AI to make it that much better.







 One of the game's strongest points is its attention to supply. Unlike many games of its ilk in this one supply actually matters. Most other games abstract it or only really use it for the construction of new or replacement units. In this game, supply matters at all times. For the Axis player, it means that you will have to pay much more attention to supply than you are usually used to. It also means that the game plays more historically correctly than most others. In this game, you cannot make non historical or ludicrous decisions. Take North Africa; because of the lack of supply historically the amount of troops in North Africa had to be on the small size. Some other games allow you to build a huge Panzer Armee to conquer the Middle East. In this game, supply forces the player to play within historical limits. If there is one thing I love about the game it is this. Sandbox games are all well and good, but only if they make sense historically. 






 The rulebook is over 100 pages long. So you know this is not a 'lite' or 'beer and pretzels' game. The rulebook is laid out well and allows you to instantly look up whatever you need. The fact that Matrix allows you to download the full manual helps immensely. Putting it to your phone or tablet allows you to play and look up  the rules at the same time. It also comes with an editor that allows the player to change almost anything he wants. You could also create your own scenarios pretty much from scratch if you wanted to.



1939 Start

 The naval war in strategic games are usually the weakest part of the game, especially because it is usually abstracted to an incredible degree. When I play these games I usually ignore the naval aspect completely. In this game the naval war actually means something, and though it is still somewhat abstract, it makes sense. 



Trying to Save Army Groups Center and North

 So what is the final verdict? I would say two thumbs ups. For the minutiae lover it has all of the bells and whistles. For the player who only has time to get in a few turns before dinner or bed it is a good game also. The designer is already talking about what he wants to implement in WarPlan II. Do not let this make you  think that this game will be abandoned; it has already been upgraded once and the designer is involved as much as he can be with any questions or problems. Thank you Matrix for allowing me to review this excellent game. It is especially good for a first time endeavor, and I look forward to many other games from Kraken Studios. Below will be some links.


Matrix Games:
https://www.matrixgames.com/

WarPlan:
https://www.matrixgames.com/game/warplan

Robert

PixelPLaybox.co.uk