Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Battle of the Bulge Product Review

Zeb Doyle

I got asked at OwlCon about Battle of the Bulge ASL products and so here's a brief rundown of the stuff I have. I've only mentioned stuff that is 100% Bulge, and will skip over KGP I and KGP II since there's lots of info on those. That pretty much just leaves third-party publishers like CH and Lone Canuck. This is a very brief run-down; if anyone has more questions about any specific product, just ask!

Euro-Pack II: The Battle of the Bulge has the following scenarios:

EP10 Leapfrog

Germans attacking Americans. The Germans get 21 Volksgrenadier squads, the Americans start with a single squad, six guns, and later get 3 more squads, 3 Shermans, and a pair of meatchoppers.

EP12 Bloody Christmas!

Another big force of Volksgrenadiers attacking 7-4-7s from the 101st Airborne, guns, and tanks. A night scenario.

EP20 Trojan Horses

Eleven SS 5-4-8s and five Panthers attack four American squad equivalents, 4x .50cal, two 76L AT guns bolstered by mines and OBA.

EP45 Red On White

Americans attacking Fallschirmjagers (a few 5-4-8s and a lot of 4-4-7s). Both sides have optional reinforcements that alter the VC, which is interesting.

EP52 Time For Lunch

A weird-looking scenario, with ten American 2-2-6 HSs and a bunch of immobilized tanks defending against 4x 6-5-8 SS troopers and a group of PzIVHs, Panthers, and HTs. It uses a bunch of KGP SSRs.

EP53 Fuel Depot #2

Another odd-ball, this is a four turn scenario where the American secretly picks an all-HIP force. Four 6-5-8s, Pumas, and HTs then probe forward, trying to score CVP, exit, and unHIP American units. Interesting way to simulate a recon mission, I guess. A bunch of KGP SSRs are in effect for this one.

EP54 Devils In The Graveyard

Also using KGP SSRs, this has SS with a Panther and PzIV attacking five 6-6-6s, an AT gun, and four Shermans.

EP62 Down The Road

Again with the KGP SSRs, here we have two columns in a meeting engagement. The US gets lots of Shermans, the SS gets lots of HTs, a few AT guns, and a King Tiger. This scenario uses a map, ASLN#1, that doesn't come with the pack but can supposedly be downloaded from the CH site (never tried myself, so don't know if true or how the map looks).

Overall, this pack looks slightly more interesting than I remembered, but there's probably only two or three I'd play out of here and nothing that really jumps out. Just my subjective opinion, of course, and if one has a special interest in the Bulge and is willing to deal with the KGP SSRs and so forth, it's probably worth the $12 or so you can get it for.

Next up, also from CH, are 'Devils In The Woods' and 'Sudden Full Contact,' which run about $20 each and come with their own historical maps. I'm a huge fan of HASL maps, but haven't actually played any scenarios from either of these packs. You get twenty scenarios between the two of them, more than I feel like detailing right now (lazy, I know!), but many of them are very small (like three squads and a leader against two squads, two tanks, and a leader small!). There are a few scenarios in here that look cool, so the packs aren't completely uninteresting, but both come with a lengthy list of SSRs so there's a bit of a learning curve before just jumping in and playing. On the plus side, several of these scenarios have pretty interesting VC and variable/random OBS, which is cool.

The other ASL product I have that centers on the Bulge is the Lone Canuck's Wacht Am Rhein. This pack is $16 for sixteen scenarios, and is much more standard ASL than the tiny/odd CH scenarios. The Wacht Am Rhein stuff also has many fewer SSRs and the scenario size is, on average, much bigger, especially when it comes to armor. WAR15 Glimpse Of The Meuse, for example, has the defending Germans with 12 squads and 9 AFVs. while the attacking Americans get 18 squads and 20 AFVs. I've considered playing a lot of these, but have never quite got around to it although some do look like a lot of fun.

Finally, I just remembered there's also Baraque De Fraiture. This is long out of print and was by the now-defunct Frontline Productions, but CH just bought up the rights and did a 'new, improved' version two. Assuming CH didn't mess this up too much (a big assumption!), this is highly recommended. It comes with a historical map and some very good scenarios, including a nice mix of small, medium, and monster. Sadly, I only have the original and so can't really comment on the next generation CH version. At $40 for 9 scenarios, it's well worth it if it retains the quality of the original but a ripoff if it doesn't. Tough call here.

Overall (and disregarding Baraque De Fraiture) , if you could only get one and were just looking for more scenarios, Wacht Am Rhein is the easy choice. If you don't mind tiny, odd-ball scenarios and like historic maps, the CH stuff is worth checking out too, and if you want a blend of the two, the Euro-Pack II (also available from CH) probably works.

I hope this helps, and again, I'm happy to provide further details or answer more questions on the products. Happy gaming!


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