Battle of the Bulge – An AAR

Developed by Shenandoah Studio and Published by Slitherine

Boggit, 7 November 2015

 

“To the German Commander.
NUTS!
The American Commander”

The response of General Anthony McAuliffe (acting commander of 101st Airborne Division) to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz (commander of XLVII Panzer Corps), on being surrounded at Bastogne by far stronger German forces.

The Battle of the Bulge (hereinafter referred to as Bulge) is a popular setting for world war 2 games, and represents Germany’s last hope to forestall the Allies in the vain hope of bringing them to the negotiating table. Bulge is a divisional level game representing the German offensive in the Ardennes in late 1944/early 1945. The game itself is a port from an iOS game to the PC and Mac, and this short screenshot article is to give you a taste of what is being offered.

Bulge comes with 5 scenarios. There is a separate tutorial which deals with all the basics fairly quickly. The game is not difficult to learn, although as with many easy to learn games winning is not always easy. The game can be played either single or multiplayer.

Bulge comes with 5 scenarios. There is a separate tutorial which deals with all the basics fairly quickly. The game is not difficult to learn, although as with many easy to learn games winning is not always easy. The game can be played either single or multiplayer.

 

The game interface is very slick, and I encountered no problems with it whatsoever. There are several layers of help running from a “Basics”, to “Tutorial”, and “Help”, which a much more comprehensive guide to the game. I recommend that any new player take a few minutes to acquaint themselves with the game using these tools, as it doesn’t take long, and saves trying to figure out what is happening in the first few turns.

 

I’ve chosen the ‘Race to the Meuse’ scenario playing as the Germans. I have three days to drive to the Meuse with a clear line of communications if I want to win. Clicking on the special scenario rules panel will give extra information about special scenario rules, like the German surprise attack – you can use your tanks on turn 1, but get to activate more areas for action in the initial attack.

I’ve chosen the ‘Race to the Meuse’ scenario playing as the Germans. I have three days to drive to the Meuse with a clear line of communications if I want to win. Clicking on the special scenario rules panel will give extra information about special scenario rules, like the German surprise attack – you can use your tanks on turn 1, but get to activate more areas for action in the initial attack.

 

Surveying the southern area of operations, Clervaux looks like an area ripe for attack. The odds are good, with less than a 1 in 3 chance of my unit taking a loss. I did consider sending the 5thFJ division against the US 109 infantry in Vianden, but that would mean a river assault. I’ll be patient and flank them from the north.   The bonuses are explained on the right if the combat preview +/- panel is clicked. The implementation of the game is very user friendly.

Surveying the southern area of operations, Clervaux looks like an area ripe for attack. The odds are good, with less than a 1 in 3 chance of my unit taking a loss. I did consider sending the 5thFJ division against the US 109 infantry in Vianden, but that would mean a river assault. I’ll be patient and flank them from the north.   The bonuses are explained on the right if the combat preview +/- panel is clicked. The implementation of the game is very user friendly.

 

Game turns can range from a half an hour – in the surprise phase -  to potentially several hours in a standard turn. Combat did not turn out too well for me. While I was successful atClervaux, I took a loss to 116Pz at Biealf, and was rebuffed at Losheim with a loss to 3FJ division. Nonetheless, next turn I push 116 Pz through to Vielsalm with the 560VG division following up at St Vith.

Game turns can range from a half an hour – in the surprise phase –  to potentially several hours in a standard turn. Combat did not turn out too well for me. While I was successful atClervaux, I took a loss to 116Pz at Biealf, and was rebuffed at Losheim with a loss to 3FJ division. Nonetheless, next turn I push 116 Pz through to Vielsalm with the 560VG division following up at St Vith.

 

Activation is everything in the game. Usually a player can activate one area a turn, which means you can move your units in that area and fight. You press the “Commit” button when you are done with you orders, and your movement is then confirmed and any combat takes place.

 

I am revenged on 14 Cav at Losheim, but take a hit to 1SS Pz. However, the route to Malmedy is open, and hopefully I won’t have to assault across a river.1SS Pz drives through Malmedy to Trois Ponts, and  560VG occupies Malmedy to protect the flank of my armoured thrust.

I am revenged on 14 Cav at Losheim, but take a hit to 1SS Pz. However, the route to Malmedy is open, and hopefully I won’t have to assault across a river.1SS Pz drives through Malmedy to Trois Ponts, and  560VG occupies Malmedy to protect the flank of my armoured thrust.

 

Taking casualties is something you have to keep an eye on – as the German I was getting no replacements, so it’s important to choose your battles carefully.

 

On the third day I am just one area from the Meuse river objective, but American forces are threatening my vulnerable flanks, and fuel shortages prevent my leading tanks from exploiting the gap at Stoumont.

On the third day I am just one area from the Meuse river objective, but American forces are threatening my vulnerable flanks, and fuel shortages prevent my leading tanks from exploiting the gap at Stoumont.

 

Several turns later my lead tanks are still without fuel, and the advance fails. I used the remaining turns to cut off a sizeable US force that advanced against my line of communication from Monschau, and grabbed a couple of areas in the south to sooth my battered ego. The Reich will need to think up a new plan.

Several turns later my lead tanks are still without fuel, and the advance fails. I used the remaining turns to cut off a sizeable US force that advanced against my line of communication from Monschau, and grabbed a couple of areas in the south to sooth my battered ego. The Reich will need to think up a new plan.

 

All in all it’s quite a fun game, even if my advance that came so close to victory failed due to fuel shortages. Fortunately, it’s a random occurrence so although I ended up frustratingly with a historical result, you are not guaranteed a losing game for lack of fuel.

The Grumpy Grog says “I felt such a fool for lack of fuel!”


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