November 24, 2021

Piercing the Reich vmod

Piercing the Reich (Dirk Blennemann, 1995) is the original version of the recently released Crossing the Line. (In this article we will call them PTR and CTL.) The scenario is the Battle for Aachen, Sept-Oct 1944 - the initial crossing of the Westwall defenses by Allied forces.

The game system in PTR is very much in keeping with Joe Balkoski's interactive systems such those used in St. Lo, Omaha Beachhead, and even GCACW. The designer of PTR, a long time resident of Aachen, did extensive reseach into the orders of battle and the way events transpired. PTR hits the sweet spot (for us) with "just right" levels of operational complexity and abstraction.

Judging by forum volume (BGG and consimworld), the rebirth of this game (as CTL) has received more attention in 2 years than PTR did in 25! Many will say that the original game had an ugly map. Fair enough, but that was redone (by John Kranz) soon after initial release. The Blennemann brothers even did a cassette audio tape tutorial of game play.

It seems likely that most people interested in this design will opt for the newer edition with a mounted map and tons of graphic bling. But we're more interested in the game system here at Consim Comment (i.e. wargames as software). When a copy of PTR came up on ebay for $10 it was a must buy. When we discovered an even newer (fan-made) map image we decided to make a vassal module based on PTR Scenario 2.

Download PTR vassal module.

The map was made by Edmund Hudson and posted on Consimworld Forum in 2015, where it was described as being in the SPI style. Building this vassal module was made much easier because of this map file. Without it, a new scan of the Kranz map would have been required.

The units in the module are minimalist compared to the new ones of CTL, which offer redundant features. Why have a formation logo AND a color band? Why have a diagonal line (for disrupted) AND a "d" over the movement factor? The module game pieces show essential information only. Individual unit ID appears under each game piece in the mouse-over stack viewer. For example, here is the US 3rd Armor HQ:

Top right = Activation Points available (dynamic property)
Left = Reaction Rating
Bottom = Command Range, Support Points (dynamic property), Relocation Cost

If you decide to try the module, note that it consists only of the map and units. You will need your own copies of the printed rules and charts.

Scenario 2 ONLY: The module opens up with the units setup for Scenario 2 already on the map. This is the same setup as Scenario 4 (the campaign game), but for now the only units that exist in the module are those for Scenario 2. This is the one we're playing to get familiar with the game system.

PTR Scenario 2 provides a good solitaire experience. The German 526 Division is essentially static defending Aachen against US 1st Infantry. The mobile battle in the Stolberg corridor pits the US 3rd Armor against two German division that alternate between blocking and counter-punching US thrusts.

Clarifications

Activation Levels available to each HQ are included on each HQ unit as a dynamic property. So there is no Activation Track in the module.

Action Points, Interdiction Level, Game Turn, and Initiative DRM are implemented as game pieces (with dynamic properties) instead of tracks on the map.

Errata is available on grognard.com - here are the two that came to mind in our initial reading of the rules:

> Road movement rate applies when leaving a city/town/industry hex but not when entering (per CTL rules).

> The "Reinforcement Chart" mentioned in the rules actually refers to the reinforcement schedule in section 21.6 of the rules.

> Roll for Action Points before reducing the Activation Track marker of the active formation (per the example in 10.12).

November 11, 2021

Victory in the West: vmods

It started with an SPI subscriber feedback survey. The resulting game from SPI was Operation Typhoon (OT), and if you read just the first half of the designer's notes in OT you might think it turned out an unplayable mess.

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October 25, 2021

GCACW CV, MV & AV

Thoughts on Combat Value, Manpower Value, and Artillery Value in Great Campaigns of the ACW.

See also: House RulesSeasonal Movement Points.

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October 20, 2021

HSN Scenario 4

Ongoing comments as I play through the GCACW tournament starting in October 2021. All scenarios are from Hood Strikes North: numbers 4, 6, 2 and 7 (in play order).

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September 12, 2021

Hood Strikes North: vmod

Here at Consim Comment, we're not particularly interested in the western theater of the USCW. So we quickly off-loaded BAC and AIO. But with HSN being billed as a simpler one-map campaign suitable for newbs, we are giving it a close look. This gives us something new in GCACW-land while waiting for the new version of On to Richmond!

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August 31, 2021

GCACW vmod Summary

I've always taken a learn while doing approach. In this instance, I wanted to learn how to make VASSAL modules so I started with a favorite game series: Great Campaigns of the ACW.

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August 19, 2021

Anzio (basic game) vmod

After a muddled 1st edition in 1969, Anzio was rescued from oblivion and improved over the years by its dedicated fans, most notably Tom Oleson.

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August 13, 2021

Defending Anzio

This is a reaction to an unfavorable video review of Anzio posted today on youtube by a veteran wargamer with 50 years experience in the hobby.

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