Designed by Mark H. Walker
Published by Matrix/Slitherine Games
U$D 39.99 Digital Edition
U$D 54.99 Digital and Boxed Edition
This board game to PC port has been years in the making and is getting a lot of praise from both board and PC gamers. This is my hands-on experience with it, including some game play notes. This is not a game review, not a treatise in tactical urban warfare and not an AAR. I just want to play and write about it. Spoilers ahead.
The scenario I chose was "Pavlov's House", a murderous affair of urban hell that I played as the Germans against the computer. The game itself features many scenarios in villages and countryside too.
In the screenshot above you can see the initial setup. Every counter represents a leader, a squad, a half squad, a hero (more on that later), a vehicle, a tank, a weapons team and other characters like the famous "little girl" in the original board game (a civilian that has to be kept alive and escorted out of danger in the first mission of the German campaign). Weapons dropped by fallen troops (MGs, molotov cocktails, satchel charges, etc) also have individual counters and can be assigned by the players to troops in the same hex.
Each hex is 50 meters wide, and the time is partitioned into turns that last 2 to 4 minutes of simulated time. There are several types of terrain hexes, each one providing modifiers to movement, cover and concealment. Each turn is divided in three phases: rally phase (each side is allowed to rally their troops and to deploy/pack heavy weapons), and operations phase (fire and maneuver) and an administrative phase (remove markers for fire and movement, smoke and others).
The operations phase is where the thick of the action occurs. This phase sees the players alternating their actions for fire and movement, one counter or one stack at a time. Every time a player fires or moves a counter or a stack is said to have executed a "pulse". The alternating nature of the pulses provides a fluid game play experience with punches and counter punches from both sides occurring during the same turn. Heroes' game play does not feature a WEGO turn system, but the short pulses for each side come pretty darn close to something like it.
On another note, the above screenshot shows how much the informational panels take out from the map during the fire resolution. Not a big fan of that.
|A zoomed out view of the map, showing Sgt. Baumann's stack (red highlighted hexagon).|
|Just a quick note about tanks and armor. Facing is accounted for during fire resolution so after moving the PzIII, I rotate it left to face the target area. This is achieved with a button in the action bar (the strip at the bottom of the screenshot).|
|It was a long shot. The Soviet MG is cozy and in great cover. No effect!|
|Super! An AT rifle team is taking potshots at my Pz III (hexagon highlighted red). The range is tad high and the rounds bounce off the hull, harmlessly.|
The fight is on and it will be bloody. No hopes to brush aside the Soviets with an effortless sweep of firepower. In every scenario I have started, the battlefield looks equally quiet and treacherous during the opening moves. Makes my soldiers wish that, just for once, the enemy won't show up.