Suggestion Changes for Next Version of B0fB

Discuss John Butterfield’s Battle of the Bulge: Crisis in Command Vol. 1
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NapoleonBonaparte
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Suggestion Changes for Next Version of B0fB

Post by NapoleonBonaparte » Thu Dec 28, 2017 9:59 pm

Battle of the Bulge is a favorite of mine and after many many hours of play and many PBEM games here are suggestions for a future version or even an expansion pack. I would pay for these improvements as an advanced game or expansion.

1. Bridges always available to the side that controls the space, even if contested. It may be the case now but it is hard to tell as the river crossing symbol always comes up which makes you wonder on combat results. Don't have the river crossing symbol come up if there is no penalty for moving in and attacking.

2. Reinforcements cannot enter the board without combat in a contested space. This is very annoying when you are fighting for Verviers or even Liege and a brand new Allied unit waltzes in without combat and full defensive benefits. It cannot be done at any other time. Either the reinforcement enters WITH combat or the space is treated at a controlled space and it enters on the next road to the west. A good compromise would be to allow it to enter the same turn in which case the player may be able to move it to the contested space with proper combat.

3. Clean up combat results. It is routine to have an entire Panzer Corps get 15% or less hits. Something like the old CRT's with a limited range of results or a number averaging, norm averaging program for the dice would be helpful. I usually win as German but with only a total hit rate of about 25% usually and most all attacks are armor. I watched four successive full corps level attacks achieve about a 12% hit rate in a recent game. It was about 50+ shots. That's about 45 bad die rolls. I have seen the converse where an opponent has five or six attacks straight go well with 80 to 100% hit rates every time. I usually suspect a hack. I had this happen in tournament games. In any case, some type of averaging over time would be helpful.

4. Fuel dumps. If Spa is captured and held by the end of 19th the Axis suffers one less out of supply unit for the rest of the game. The Spa dumps were hugely important along with some smaller ones they did actually capture. It was an important part of the offensive plan. Presumably by the 20th the Allies have either secured Spa, moved the fuel or blown it up.

5. Variable reinforcements. If the Germans reach the Meuse or perhaps push a unit across, Allied reinforcements are accelerated. This would pair well with the release of the OKW reserves. It is a realistic and probable reaction, too.

6. Attacker non-elimination. In Bulge units can attack and eliminate themselves. This is rather rare in combat especially at the division level. Units do not attack to oblvion. Usually, a counterattack finishes them off if one can be mounted. When a unit reaches it's last pip it stops attacking. Additionally, no one-pip unit attacks unless paired with other units with spare pips.

7. Garrisoning the flanks. To prevent allied reinforcement entry a German unit must be positioned at each road-entry point. This was the actual plan and if the play stays in the middle of the map this is what actually happens. It should not be assumed that the German units off the north and south edges can advance and do all the blocking. This will further highlight that the Germans really have a unit shortage. The original plan called for a proper 45 divisions, I believe.

8. Correct unit strengths. I would put the U.S. Cav units up to two pips along with the 150Pz/Otto Skorenzy. They were stronger than that.

9. Fortify position. A unit can use it's move to fortify it's position which adds one hit/one pip to it's defense similar to trees and cities. It expends it's turn doing so. This will allow for more realistic defenses for both sides and also an incentive not to delay an attack if you can hit them before they set up a strong position. Would be very realistic.

10. Panzergrenadier units: These units contained an armored regiment, usually assault guns/tank destroyers. They do not suffer hit penalty defending against armor.

Advanced options: The programming on this would change how the game is played because it would require choices at the beginning of moves or end for both attacker and defender but would add realism.

1. Fog of war. I do not know how you would program this but it was a very real thing and key factor in the battle. If you look historically the German attacks were much weaker than one does in the game partly because it was hard to ascertain Allied strength and where they were. On the first turn all units are visible to the German player only. Allies can only see units in contact. After the first turn no player can see any units not in contact. I will leave it to design realities but I think something along the lines that if a unit is in an adjacent space you can see the unit but not it's strength, not until you attack. If you are contesting the space you see the exact strengths. No one can see behind enemy lines until maybe allied airpower. One of the key advantages for both sides is they have a perfect battlefield picture and you can see the reinforcements all the way from Fosse or the Panzers all the way from Stadtkyll and where they are going. You move accordingly including leaving roads wide open because you know the enemy has moved all his units and cannot get down the road. You would not risk that in real life. This rule would change the game play more than any other rule.

2. Variable attacks. Would go well with Fog of War.
A. Move to contact. An attack to either find out where and what the enemy is or quickly break through smaller, weak or delay units. Lower the hit odds for the attacker but lower losses, too.
B. Planned assault. This would be the normal attack you see in the game where you are making a concentrated and coordinated effort to force an enemy out of a position.
C. Fix in place. This is an attack simply designed to engage the enemy but not take catastrophic losses. These attacks are used to free up the main attacks somewhere else or for a defender to tie up and delay attacking units. They should rarely cause losses, never take the space and take only token losses IF similar to enemy in strength.

3. Variable defenses. Similar to attacks defenders may choose to "hold at all costs" which eliminates the possibility of retreat and increases their possibility of elimination. They could do delay defenses or normal, as well.

4. With the advanced options I would actually add more pips to all units to allow for more combat and losses. Probably need to add more impulses to a day as there will be more give and take attacks and defenses as was the case. In fact, I might suggest 12 hour or 1/2 day turns, especially with Fog of War. Will take time to develop situations but breakthroughs will be more catastrophic causing realistic choices. If a half day turn is night, this is when the German player can move at full speed when airpower is in effect.

5. Armor attrition. Armor always loses one pip when attacking. They get it back if they take the space. Armored units actually lose tanks just attacking and moving. If you move an armored division from one side of the board to the other with no combat it will probably lose 20% of it's strength just due to breakdowns and hazards, much less with any combat. It was always important, especially to the Germans to control the battlefield to recover repairable tanks. The famous 3rd Armor division probably replaced half it's losses by recycling tanks that had become casualties. This massively amplified the numerical advantage as the Germans were generally retreating and lost all their armor on the battlefield including tanks that could have easily been repaired. The 2nd Panzer had to abandon a near full division near Celles not just because of fuel but because they could not hold the ground till fuel arrived. If an armor unit is only one pip they cannot attack alone.

6. Exit supply. If the German player exits units two things should happen. 1. For each unit the Germans exit the Allies lose the next equivalent reinforcement, e.g. if a Panzer Division exits (even with just one pip left) the next Allied armor division is cancelled. If a VG division exits it counts only half but the first one will still cancel the next Allied Inf. Division. If another VG division exits (2 or 3 pip unit) it will NOT. 2. The Germans must maintain an open supply line off the board, any road space will do, even if it changes. It is hard to exit units and still fight the entire Allied army on the board and in Bitter End scenario I rarely exit units because of this. I have also exited units for points as I was about to get smacked and cut off by the British Guards Armored Division. Those units would not get to Antwerp without supplies.

7. Allied points. Not a specific suggestion but Allies need to score objective points, big points for re-taking objectives or getting back to the starting positions. If a German player racks up a lot of points early in the game he can often do a controlled withdrawal giving up space for time. I have had games where as Allied player, I have gotten back to the start lines or the eastern edge of the board and lost the game because of points, smashing the German army in the process. It is not hard to do if the Germans really extended themselves for the historical victory objectives. You could give points to the Allied player (or subtract from German points) for each original front line space held or even capturing German ones, especially eastern edge spaces.

8. Extend game. I would add perhaps two days to the game for Bitter End, especially. Allied reinforcements cannot get into the game and it will make it harder for the German player to do the controlled withdrawal and victory on points, alone

While I realize this is a lot of reprogramming I think it would take the game to a new level and would require more real world offensive and defensive decisions as well as capture the real difficulties of the German goals and Allied defensive choices including in counterattacks. Bulge does a LOT of things supremely well like capturing the difficulties of engaging, disengaging and judging the amount of force necessary to accomplish goals. It is a great act-and-react game unlike turn based gaming with simultaneous moves that allow unrealistic movement (like repositioning a whole line at once). It also has the key element that makes gaming fun...tension where every single move made or not made can really make a difference. Every battle great and small has significance and things absolutely go wrong for both sides. It is the norm just like the battle you read about. Bravo to the current game designers and these are my suggestions for discussion.

See you on the battlefield!

JagdTiger700
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Re: Suggestion Changes for Next Version of B0fB

Post by JagdTiger700 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:30 pm

These also, a better history on the bulge (especially St.Vith) and when a unit retreats it goes back to their line and not forward towards the other side, the dice roll is/seems iffy and not crossing bridges by units which can do so is awful, the game does not start historically at all (not that a game would always go that way but when ST. Vith is occupied on the 16th when it took to the 21th is very much inaccurate), the game is disappointing and would if I could get my money back.

Great for starting gamers which like generalized board games...the Avalon Hill game (hasbro) Battle Of The Bulge seems more accurate and would be a great game to produce for tablets.

NapoleonBonaparte
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Re: Suggestion Changes for Next Version of B0fB

Post by NapoleonBonaparte » Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:40 am

The Avalon Hill Battle of the Bulge is one of my all time favorites. I wore out the counters playing it. If that game and order of battle was paired with AI record keeping abilities, it could be awesome.

I have sometimes wondered why many of the great old board games have not been purchased and coverted to PC games. A lot less homeowrk involved.

JagdTiger700
Corporal - 5 cm Pak 38
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Posts: 46
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Re: Suggestion Changes for Next Version of B0fB

Post by JagdTiger700 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:36 pm

That’s true, it would be nice for old board games to be done on iPad, here is a place which has board games and one can make any board game too.

https://tabletopia.com/

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