Gameposting for Jon Mollison and Jeffro. Small but high energy.
I ordered Merrill’s Marauders: Commandos in Burma, 1943-1945 on a whim because I needed a few extra dollars added to my Amazon order for free shipping. It’s my first solitaire game and the solo play concept is somewhat interesting.
The game comes in a ziplock bag and includes a small map of Burma, 40 counters, 18 cards, and instructions. The ruleset is the Decision Games Commando series rules shared by their line of mini-games. It uses point-to-point movement powered by Ops points which are set by the scenario and increased or decreased by cards and combat. The OPFOR, in this case, the Imperial Japanese, are run by the deck and their composition and strength determined by blind chit pull.
The four scenarios require you to either capture and transport objectives or to build and secure forward operating bases. The location of the objectives is randomly determined by die roll and assigned blind due to some of the objective chits being ambushes.
My first game was pretty exciting, drawing Operation Galahad out of the scenario pile. It started with two elements heading into the jungle. Merrill’s group secured Sumprabum right as they receive news of the Japanese invasion of India losing half of their airbases. Meanwhile, the second group failed to recon Indaw and walked into a Japanese ambush. The battle was ferocious and the Commandos had to summon air support and air resupply but finally secured the objective.
Unfortunately, the group led by Merrill was raided and pinned around Tianzup airfield by a superior force. Air was unable to support or resupply and all elements were KIA.
Finally using Air Reconnisance the final objective was discovered at Mogaung. Commando elements paraglided in and successfully secured it. Unfortunately even with the objectives secured the mission was an overall failure due to the massive loss of American lives.
I played four games this weekend and managed to win none of them. I came within one move in my third but lost due to being out of operation points. The key to the game is observing where the hidden objectives are located and creating a force mix that can complete the mission.
Merril’s Marauders is a pretty fun and after four games I feel like I got my money’s worth out of it. I’m going to keep playing until I beat one of the scenarios then I’m going to try to play them linked together using the campaign rules where Ops points spill over from mission to mission.
The games main fault lies in the ambiguous nature of the rulebook. A lot of game specific rules supersede the Commando base rules and there’s a distinct lack of clarity, specifically surrounding the required KIA points and how to come about that score. My other minor complaint lies with the number of cards in the deck. The game would be much improved with a bit more card variety.
I enjoyed the solitaire wargame experience and I want to try more. I have GMT’s Labyrinth which I didn’t enjoy two-player with my wife but might be better solo, and other, strictly solitaire games like Zulus on the Ramparts or Air Wing games kind of interest me. I’m going to keep an eye out for more.
One of the main thing I enjoy about wargames is the historical aspect. I’m not very familiar with WWII in South East Asia and playing this game makes me want to do some reading on Chindits, Merrill, and the Burma Campaign.
This weekend Judy and I decided to bust out Twilight Struggle and throw down some Commie vs Capitalist action. We managed to get two games, each winning one. The first one was a complete shutdown. Judy playing the Soviets locked down the Middle East, Africa, and most of Asia before I could contain the Red Menace. The game was over in the Early War. The second game was a brutal back and forth that slowly turned my way(U.S.) in the Late War causing Judy to concede early due to it being way past our need to wake up at 5 am for work bedtimes. I accepted her surrender but with two turns left I felt like she was still capable of pulling a win. So, right now we are 1-1 and itching to get some more games in.
Twilight Struggle is such a fantastic game that days after my last play I still think of strategies and actions I could have played differently. It captures the frenetic reactionary nature of the cold war, where the powers didn’t directly go at each other but play an endless game of back and forth through influence, political maneuvering, and sometimes covert and overt military action. The game simulates the action perfectly. One minute the U.S. is focusing on protecting Israel from the Arab League when a slew of revolutions turn South and Central America into Communist hangouts thanks to Fidel and his buddy Che.
What’s great about Twilight Struggle is that it really hits the complexity and setup sweet spot for us. It’s a fast-paced strategy game with a lot of depth but manages to be easy to learn, teach, and set up. We can open the box, set up the chits, mix some beverages, and start playing in about 10 minutes.
I plan on writing a detailed review in the near future covering some of the really cool features. I also ordered Labyrinth: The War on Terror, a game I have been wanting to play for a long time. And of course, I have a bunch of other games that need to be played taking space on my shelf like the amazing Sekigahara.
So, if you haven’t played Twilight Struggle, do so, you won’t regret it. And if you are a fan, please recommend games that play the same so I can add them to my list.