I’m going to work backwards here and share some pictures from Saturday’s game between Volko Ruhnke and Charles Lewis. I’ll do Friday in a future post. Volko and Charles took the 1915-1916 Great Stalemate scenario out for a test drive. Below the photos I’ve added a cut/paste of Charles’ AAR he wrote for BoardGameGeek. Enjoy.

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End of Game

The Central Powers won the scenario but had some serious problems vs the British if the scenario had continued.
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Kurt Keckley has a gem on his hands. It’s that simple.

Volko Ruhnke and I sat down Saturday afternoon at the GMT Fall Weekend to try Scenario 2: 1915-1916, to see how a block game which does just fine for the mobile warfare of 1914 handles the transition to trench warfare. The answer? It handles it just fine, thank you. Once the game transitions to trench warfare (noted on the turn track), then all hexes are assumed to have trenches. Trenches allow the defender to fire first and those losses take effect before the attacker gets to shoot. The defender also gets bonus dice based on the size of the attacking force, up to five extra dice.

So attacking the trenches is bloody, as it ought to be. He was also experimenting with the implementation of a Strategic Will rule that could lead to a side surrendering the war if it fell to 0. Not launching an attack of at least 10 strength points per turn (thus proving we’re still trying to win) causes the loss of a SW point, so you have to do at least one big push every six months.

Now with the blocks, you might think you have to just pick a spot and start bashing, but not quite. Each side has air assets for reconnaissance. Each air asset that gets past enemy interceptors can reveal a number of enemy blocks equal to its rating. So you can go looking for a possible weak spot before launching your big offensive. Each side also has artillery assets, which can be used either to soften a place up prior to assault, or to try and break up a pending assault. At the end of each phase (two phases per turn), each player has the ability to freely redeploy strength points but cannot vacate any currently occupied hexes. Given that each hex can have up to three units for each side (when contested) and each unit can have up to 20 strength points, and each side also has 0 Strength decoy units to deploy, trench warfare in Fields of Despair is a high-stakes poker game.

In our play, Volko entered the last turn up 2 VP because of a successful push northeast of Paris. To win I needed to regain three hexes; two for a draw. I attacked in strength in six areas; two were left with 1 German SP each, and two more with 2 SP. So close, yet so far!

The irony is that I suspect people sitting down to play FoD are likely to overlook this scenario dismissing three turns of trench warfare as “not fun.” They’ll be missing out on a really good scenario, but it’s all good, because they’ll still be playing Fields of Despair!

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