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The Race to the Sea

None of this is complicated in terms of how it is implemented, but you do need to think about how you are going to best employ the few cavalry units you have.

Cavalry acts as your eyes, revealing enemies it is next to, but it is certainly not your fists. It is not as weak as the cavalry in the aforementioned designs, but it is scarce, fragile, and you do not want to lose it. In fact, one alternative rule I would tentatively suggest is making cavalry impossible to replace given the time frame of the design — just to make sure you do not get too much into the habit of having it doing too much actual fighting. Going hand in glove with this is the impulse system, which is driven by players making bids from a small deck of cards. These card decks are nicely illustrated with depictions of soldiers of the era, but the working bit is a number which may permit you to win the bid higher number , and then get an amount of activations in the current round equal to the difference between the winning score and the losing total.

The numbers on the cards range from a high of six to a low of two, with a greater presence of cards valued at three. If both players bid the same value, the front is deemed temporarily paused, and the side with initiative gets just the one activation before the bid process is commenced again.

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Certainly, part of mastering this system is getting a feel for the front tensions, and alongside acquainting yourself with the play inclinations of your opponent, knowing when to play your best value cards as well as the lesser values. In this context one should not assume that playing a two card is some sort of lesser option, as it all depends on the context.

Combat resolution simply works around both sides drawing a combat card. However, combat itself comes in three different types:. Assault Combat — This is the ground gainer, but remember it is , and so everything within that on-map narrative is likely to be clumsily performed and depending on sheer weight to effect anything.

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Planned Operations — Only the side with initiative can try this; you place the marker on the map somewhere important and somewhere the enemy would not like to lose and then, when you are ready, conduct a bigger, more violent assault. When you need to draw a combat card, you will look at the relevant portion for the combat type, and then check what factors the card determines to be relevant to creating losses — presence of heavy artillery in your units, their quality rating, how much of any one combat aspect you possess etc.

Terrain can come into play to help the side currently on the receiving end, and this is where I have one of my small issues with how the design operates. Certainly, if, as seems distinctly possible, this design does go to an expanded, boxed edition, a change like this is something I would love to see — a compulsion to defend somewhere you would really be better off in many cases leaving well alone.

Another area for improvement, although in its original form we are dealing with the realities of a magazine, small budget design, is having a larger number of combat cards. As things stand, both sides only have twelve each to draw from, and thus, inevitably, issues of card counting may come into play.

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Personally, I can never be bothered counting cards — it is like appreciating a piece of music more for how many notes are in it rather than what those notes are doing. But some players will see card counting as a legitimate part of good gaming, and so, both for the greater colour of the game and to make a experience rather more than recalling what you pulled out the pile last time, more cards would help.

So how do you win?

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Destroying enemies and grabbing key pieces of territory is important, but again, in seeking to create something with measurable notions of success, I feel the design strays just a little. The main aspect of this is the process of seeing, at game end, where your forces are in relationship to where the historical front actually was. Personally, I think this needs a bit of nuancing.

Simply standing in this or that muddy field a bit further one way or the other than the historical forces were in late November means nothing to me. It starts to mean something if, in addition to having a given quantity of your units to the west or east, you also have control of this or that city, or this or that stretch of railway. But this is still, at least for me, a far better recreation of the challenges of late campaigning in than Clash of Giants II …or I. They came into action, division after division, from the La Basse north towards the city of Ypres in a series of bitterly fought meeting engagements, in which both the British infantry and cavalry continued to outperform their opposite numbers, but neither side could obtain a decisive result.

Finally, on 21 October , with General Haig's I Corps coming into the line north of Langemark a solid line of trenches that stretched from the North Sea to the Swiss Jura was being established. The German Schlieffen Plan had failed back in August and now they concentrated as much of their force as possible to break through the ragged British and French Lines around the Belgian city of Ypres. Blow after blow fell but the line held but only just.

The BHTV team of military historians and battlefield guides take us to the muddy fields of the emerging Salient. To name but a few locations they take us to the scene of the Gloucester's defence of Langemark and the attack of the 'German Student Corps' and the resulting 'Massacre of the Innocents' as the young men bravely marched into the concentrated fire of the Old Contemptibles.

At Whschete Ridge, the team examine how the crumbling line was reinforced and held at tremendous cost by the first units of the Indian Corps to arrive and how on Halloween's Eve the Territorials of the London Scottish fought another desperate battle to hold the Line in the same area. The crisis of the battle was at Gheluveldt where massing a ratio of six to one and with the Kaiser himself present on the battlefield the Germans aimed to punch up the Menin Road.

Under crushing artillery fire the British defences were rapidly wasting away. Field Marshal French sent a message to Foch 'My line is broken, I have no more reserves … the last of the British will die fighting! This is an excellent resource which provides an excellent reference point for the first few months of the war, and the important action in and around Ypres.

Throughout his over twenty years of service, the importance of the history of the forebears of his Corps, the Glider Pilot Regiment, has grown on Mike. Tim Saunders is a former Army officer and author of thirteen Battleground titles on a wide range of Second World War battles.


Tim is now also a script writer, programme maker and presenter for Battleground History TV. In addition he regularly leads battlefield tours, including to the scene of Glider Pilot actions in Sicily, Normandy. Arnhem and the Rhine. Products Authors Categories Series. Toggle navigation.