Sunday, September 25, 2011

Conflict of Heroes

Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel--Kursk 1943 is produced by Academy Games. I haven't even punched the counters, but I like this game already--it was designed with solo play in mind.

The box is solid, the rule book is glossy and well laid out; the four maps are mounted and have a satiny texture. There's a scenario book with fifteen firefights. There are tracking sheets, so each player can track his Action Points, Command Points and Victory Points; there are well-designed one-page (front and back) summary sheets. The counters are big 1" squares, which is good because there's a lot of information on the counter; each counter represents one squad, vehicle or gun. Seven pages of rules will get you playing the first two scenarios; the remaining nine pages add tanks, half tracks, trucks, artillery, ground attack planes, mines, bunkers, anti tank ditches and other obstacles, snipers, smoke, and special effects cards.

The key concept is action points. When you activate a unit or group of units, you get 7 Action Points, which you spend on Actions: move (usually costs 1 or 2 points per hex), fire (2 to 4 points per attack), or rally (5 points). Leadership is represented by Command Points, which can be used as extra Action Points or to influence die rolls (directing fire, rallying a squad); however, those Command Points are in short supply and must be used wisely.

The attacker has different firepower values depending on whether he's firing at a soft or armored target; the target has different defense values depending on whether the incoming fire is coming through front or flank (which includes rear). If attacker's Firepower + 2d6 (and Command Point DRMs, if any) is equal to or greater than target's Defense Value and Terrain modifiers, the target takes a hit. The target unit might be destroyed by a hit, but it might also be stunned, pinned, suppressed, or merely unnerved; the defender draws an effect chit and puts it under the unit, so the attacker doesn't necessarily know how effective his fire was. Is the enemy panicked and suppressed, or just waiting for us to get closer?

The "thank you" letter that came in the box lists several awards won by the first game in this series: an Origins, two Charles Roberts, a James Dunnigan and an International Gamers. I'm thinking that this might be the game that ASL should have been.

The first scenario is small: five Russian squads are in a village, and three German squads need to clear it. Perhaps tomorrow...

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