Wednesday 31 March 2010

Arras game - Preparing the next test

I'm about to leave for a few days of holidays and will be off-line until mid next week, but will be taking with me reading materials and a handy copy of Stouts Hearts ( Before leaving, some thoughts on the Arras scenario and potential lines of improvement.

Analysing the outcome of the first test, I conclude that there are two major flaws in the design that unbalance the scenario on the British side: they have overwhelming firepower and no time constraints.

On the basis of these two factors, they can take whatever time is necessary to deploy their troops and make use of that fire power almost at leisure on the German forces. In order to rebalance the scenario I’m planning to introduce two changes to the scenario conditions.

The first change is to allow only 1 British platoon to deploy at the start of the game; the second platoon will be released only after the first has reached the first trench line, being activated on the “blank card”. This change will limit the strength of the British fire initially. Also, the second platoon was considered to be a “mop-up section”; this may reinforce that role, as once it is in play, the first platoon may then concentrate in exiting through the rear side of the table (one of the victory conditions)

The second change is to introduce some sort of time constraint condition for the British to achieve their objectives. This is tricky, considering the card-based system of Mud and Blood, as the number of turns is not fixed. I don’t really have an answer now so I’ll think a solution over my holidays.

On the German side I think the only change to be made is now fixing the position of the bunker in the center of the German line and to the rear of the position in order to provide fire cover to the whole front. I still think the German’s strength is enough in a defensive position so no changes to the number of squads, at least yet (let’s see how the second test develops)

A final point that I keep thinking is on the artillery. I was surprised of the low impact it had on the German sections but it may be a combination of my initial strategy to occupy the second trench line and some lucky dice numbers. Again, no changes yet but I‘m considering to introduce a pre-bombardment phase (see rule 10.2 Preliminary Bombardments). That will reflect the historical fact that the assault from Arras was carefully planned by the British with a long and effective artillery preparation.

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