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Monty's Gamble: Market Garden by Multi-Man Publishing  The Wehrmacht had been rocked back on its heels sever...

Monty's Gamble: Market Garden by Multi-Man Publishing Monty's Gamble: Market Garden by Multi-Man Publishing

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Monty's Gamble: Market Garden


Multi-Man Publishing

 The Wehrmacht had been rocked back on its heels several times during World War II. In late 1941 the Russian winter and Soviet counterattacks had caused it to stumble backwards. In late 1942 the Soviet surrounding of Stalingrad brought it again to the brink of disaster. Now it is 1944, and the Allied invasion of Normandy, followed by the breakout and then the Falaise Gap, had caused it to almost cease to be a fighting force on the Western front. The Allies had them on the run and it did not look like it would stop until Berlin was taken. Most Allied intelligence had the Wehrmacht in the West as a spent force and that the war would be over by Christmas. The only thing that stopped the Allies were supply problems. The Allied Armies had to stop and take a breather right then at the most inopportune moment. They were poised on the Netherlands border, waiting for their precious supplies to catch up. At this same moment the German Field Marshal von Rundstedt was put back in charge of the German forces on the Western front. He was given the Herculean task of trying to make the streaming refugees that were now the German forces into a fighting machine once again. That he succeeded was a testament mostly to the average German soldier during the war. At the same time, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery was in command of the northern area of the Allied Armies poised in Belgium. Montgomery, who was a master of the set piece battle, decided to break free of his mold and devise an uncharacteristically bold plan. He would drop three Allied Airborne Divisions in a line, described as a 'carpet', to capture bridges in the Netherlands, with the British First Airborne tasked with taking a bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem. The Rhine was the last natural barrier between the Allied Armies and Germany itself. The British First Airborne would be landed more than sixty miles behind enemy lines! The topography of the Netherlands, with it being mostly land reclaimed from the North Sea, made the task for the British land forces to connect with all of the Airborne troops that much more difficult. The stage is set for you to fight for 'Hell's Highway'. You are put in the shoes of von Rundstedt or Montgomery to refight this epic battle. 

 Multi-Man Publishing was founded in 1994 by four Avalon Hill playtesters and a graphics art designer. They originally tried to get the rights to Advanced Squad Leader from Avalon Hill, but it did not go through. Curt Shilling (yes that one, sorry I am a Yankee fan), also tried to buy the rights to ASL. He was put in touch with MMP and joined as a 1/3 partner in 1995. Once Avalon Hill was sold to Hasbro, Hasbro did allow MMP to license the ASL name for their products in 1999. In 2002 MMP acquired The Gamers, and increased their game line greatly. ASL continues to be a huge part of MMP's stable with many new and revamped modules sold every year. The games from the 'Great Campaigns of The American Civil War' series have been or are in the process of being reissued, with even more added content to the games I have looked at. So, there we have the history behind the game and the company, so let us head to Monty's Gamble: Market Garden.

Let us first see what comes with the game:

1 Unmounted Mapsheet
3 Countersheets
1 Rulebook
4 Setup Cards
4 Six-Sided die

 The game is an area movement one and is played in impulses. The scale of the map is approximately 1" = 1.5 miles. The map is divided into sixty-five numbered areas. The game also comes with a new addition for this printing. This would be a new scenario that was originally published in Operations Special Magazine #2. The scenario/full game is 'Fortress Holland', and deals with the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940; more on this later. The rulebook for Monty's Gamble is thirty-four pages long with an additional ten for Fortress Holland. The rulebook is in full color and a good number of pages are dedicated to examples of play. The printing of the rules is in large size and can easily be read and more importantly understood. The rulebook comes with an index on the first page; that is always a nice touch. The map is also very well done with a good number of the player aids built into it. The map is marked for all three of the Allied Airborne Divisions' different Operational Sectors. The three divisions are, The British 1st Airborne Division and Polish Brigade, The American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions ( respectfully the Red Devils, All American, and Screaming Eagles). As the game deals with an airborne assault to take and hold bridges, most of the rules have to deal with airborne landing and bridge seizure or demolition. There are also rules dealing with playing the Extended Game, and a few interesting Optional Rules. One of these deals with Optional D-Day Landings for the airborne troops. The historical landing area for the British 1st Airborne was particularly far from the bridge that they were entrusted with.

 This is the sequence of play:

The game has four turns (there is an Extended Game you can choose to play). Each turn has four Phases and a variable amount of Impulses. Each Turn is comprised of:

1 - Dawn phase (place Reinforcements, reset markers, and make a Weather Die Roll if it is September 19th or 20th)
2 - Daylight Phase (players choose Assault, Bombardment, infiltration, or Pass Impulses)
3 - Refit Phase (Refit and place Supply Depots)
4 - Regroup Phase (move any units into adjacent Free Area)

 The Turn sequence for the first Turn is changed from the above and replaced with four special D-Day Phases:
1 - Air Bombardment Phase
2 - Artillery Bombardment Phase
3 - Airborne Landing Phase 
4 - XXX Corps Ground Assault Phase

The Germans conduct their Refit Phase first. The Refit Phase is as follows:

1. Supply Depots are placed and moved to eligible Areas on the map.
2. Units use supply points to Refit. After All units have finished refitting Impulse advance/retractions may be purchased with reserve Supply.

3. Isolated Units may have to make a Surrender die roll.

The Germans have five Depots that they can use. Also German Units in Zone I may automatically Refit without using a Supply Depot, as long as it is German controlled.
The Allied Player has five Supply Depots for XXX Corps and three for the Airborne Units, and an air Supply Marker.

The Air Supply Marker is worth five Supply Points. The German Supply Depots are worth five Supply Points in clear weather and six in cloudy weather. The Allied Supply Depots are always worth five Supply Points regardless of the weather.

The above is a simple and elegant way to portray how units recover from movement or battle etc. The Player is not forced to keep a log of each Unit's supply throughout the game. The flipping of the Unit to its Spent side and the Disruption Markers also make it easy to keep track of the abilities of each Unit. Map Areas that are heavily contested, and are small on the map, do lead to a bit of congestion, but it never reaches a problem point.

Another interesting and seldom seen ‘historical reality’ is that if the Allied Player uses Air Bombardment in a contested area, there is a chance that his own troops will be hit by some of the bombing.

 The Allied Player must deal with German Interdiction from FLAK Towers, FLAK Units, and Air Interdiction Markers when trying to Invade, Supply, or reinforce his Airborne units. Bad die rolls on the Airborne Landing Phase can possibly turn the game into a first turn nightmare for the Allied Player. Airborne Units can be landed Fresh (available for use), Spent (cannot do anything else), to even being disrupted. For the Allied Player, speed is of the essence to get and keep those bridges. For the Allied XXX Corps it is just as imperative to keep moving as quickly as possible to the next bridge. The Allied Player will understand why the name Hell's Highway was put on the roads leading to Arnhem. For the German Player it is naturally the reverse. Delay the Allies at every turn, and if in danger of losing a bridge destroy it if possible. The historical recipe of the battle cannot help but make a tense and eventful game for a player of either side. To make it more nerve wracking the designer added the 'Advantage Chit'. This chit starts in the Allied Player's possession and when it is used goes to the German Player, and so forth during the game. The Advantage Chit has various uses, including rerolling a die roll etc. In speaking with the designer he had this to say " The fact is the game sets up and plays quickly and yields consistently historical results, better than most other Market-Garden games." 

 One part of the rules is a little perplexing: knowing the history of World War II airborne attacks. The only way that an Airborne Unit that is landing in a Drop Area becomes Disrupted or Spent is if a German FLAK Unit, FLAK Tower, or Air Interdiction Marker is in or adjacent to the Drop Area. Going by what really happened during the war in air drops I think that you should use a house rule and have every Airborne Unit have to pass a die roll to see if it is Disrupted or Spent on landing. This would represent the actual chaos that ensued during the different airdrops in WWII.

 The addition of the scenario of the attack on Fortress Holland is a great plus for the buyer. This is one of the few Western Front battles of WWII that has not had too many games done on it. The scenario uses many of the same rules from the main game. There are some additions like a German Armored Train and some other interesting twists to the rules, so that it does not seem like the scenario was just cookie-cuttered in.

 The designer is correct in that the game sets up rather quickly. The play, except for new players, goes along at a good clip. As far as being historical, the events that happen during games are well within the historic might-have-beens of the battle. Thank you Multi-Man Publishing for letting me review this very good and very different approach to 'A Bridge Too Far'. The 'almosts' that happen in a game really portray the nature of the battle, without the player getting bogged down in details.


Monty's Gamble:

Link to my review of Baptism by Fire by MMP: