Thursday, January 24, 2008

Into The Rubble Overview

Zeb Doyle

Well, the postman made me very happy yesterday by dropping off a mint copy of Bounding Fire's latest creation, Into The Rubble. Here's my quick overview:

Unlike CH, there aren't any 'sales' or Ebay specials, so I think everyone will be paying the standard $40 for it. In the package, you get 8 scenarios, a bunch of one-hex debris overlays, two starter-kit style maps, a big factory overlay, and a monster 'ruined city' overlay. Just as a comparison, Multimanpublishing's recent AP3 Few Returned (which is roughly comparable IMO) is 12 scenarios and three maps for $24 plus shipping. As far as quality is concerned, the printing, graphics, and overall look and feel of ITR holds up quite well against MMP's gold standard. In short, if you're a beginning ASL player on a budget, going with the MMP product will give you somewhat better value. Of course, that's the case for pretty much every third party publication vs MMP comparison ever. For everyone else, I can't call ITR an incredible bargain, but it does look to be well worth the money.

Moving on to the heart of the product, the scenarios all look very interesting and several are being added to my already lengthy 'wanna play' list. Most of the scenarios are big and meaty (my personal preference), appear to have a very high carnage factor (also a big plus in my book), and cover an excellent range of years and theaters. I think it was a smart idea to include such a wide range of nationalities and time frames, as the scenarios could otherwise have blurred into a series of similar city fights. Here are some more details on each scenario:

ITR1 Debacle at Sung Kiang: this is a Scott Holst design (the only non-Chas Smith scenario in the group), and has 17 Japanese squads attacking 16 Chinese squads over 6.5 turns. Both sides get some armor. Beyond that, the scenario feels a little generic. Still looks fun, but doesn't stand out compared to some of the others.

ITR2 Factory In Flix: Some Spanish Civil War action here, with 16 Nationalist squads trying to hold off 24 Republican squads. Could be a fun early-war pillow fight.

ITR3 Tough As Nails: This is a big (two page) scenario with the Germans trying to take away downtown Stalingrad from the Russians. Lots of squads (70 or so), Stukas, flame-throwing tanks, this looks like bloodbath central.

ITR4 Clash At Ponyri: Another two page Russian vs German scenario, this time at Kursk. This is another one I really want to play. Interestingly, there are none of the typical Tigers or Panthers of this period, but the Russians get some ISU-152s and as such have the monster tanks in a fun change. Forty total squads, 17 tanks, guns, OBA, oh my!

ITR5 Fire Teams: Americans attacking in Aachen with (as you might guess) FT-toting crews. Looks like a neat tactical puzzle, with 38 total squads and 8 total tanks.

ITR6 The Ceramic Factory: Late war fighting in Budapest, with some tired 5-4-8 SS getting sandwiched between two massive groups of attacking Soviets. Fifty-five total squads, tanks and guns for everyone, this looks like a real fun bloodbath. I think the scenario is missing an SSR allowing commissars and I've written an email asking for confirmation, but that's the only rules question I have for the entire product. Impressive! The other thing that struck me was how familiar this scenario looked. I had to pull out DASL A To The Last Man to realize this is an awesome-looking remake. Really want to play this one!

ITR7 Rebounded Spirit: Another Budapest scenario, with the Romanians attacking Hungarians. Looks pretty cool: 37 total squads and some reinforcing Zrinyis.

ITR8 Beyond The Slaughterhouse: Late-war East Prussian action, with 20 Soviet squads attacking 14 German squads. The Germans get some variable OB to spice things up, and if this one is as good as The Slaughterhouse scenario, it's gonna be a winner.

That's pretty much it for the quick and dirty overview. The only other point of interest is that many of these scenarios have a MUCH higher ratio of machine guns to squads than you'd normally see. ITR5 The Ceramic Factory, for example, gives the defense eleven MGs for twenty squads, and the attacker gets fifteen MGs for thirty-five squads. I'm not sure if the justification is that troops got more firepower in dense urban terrain or what, but I thought it was interesting and would love to hear the designer's thoughts on the decision. Beyond that. just to sum up, this is an excellent-looking product with top-notch components and scenarios I can't wait to play.

Thanks for reading!


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