Sunday, July 31, 2011

Retro gaming with the lads, Part 1

Years ago, I collected all of the special series of wargames by Milton Bradley, which included the original version of Axis and Allies (a game I loaned to my friends and haven't seen in over 25 years). Now that my sons are older, my old game collection is getting some use once again. Last weekend, we watched Red Dawn and then played Fortress America.

 I played the side of the victimized USA. Fionn took on the Western Association, Aidan became temporarily hispanic, and Liam suddenly looked a bit more Slavic than I had previously noticed.

Turn 1
 Fionn went for as many cities as he could take and, when aided by my mis-remembering the rules, he took Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles on his first turn. I had forgotten that only one round of combat is fought per battle per turn and during this first turn, we actually fought to a clear victory for one side. Thus, this first turn went very badly for me.
 Aidan came on strong in the south, going heavy on his left, so that he could link up with Fionn's forces and squeeze me out of the region. He took Phoenix and San Antonio, leaving Houston for the next turn...a tragic mistake as it turned out.
 At first, Liam was not really into playing the game at all. So, his heart was not into really thinking through his strategy. As the game went on, he got more involved. He captured Washington D.C., Tampa, and Miami and suffered minor losses.
The U.S. player must give ground in the West, contest the South, and really fight hard in the East. This is because of the density of major cities in the Eastern Region and that the victory conditions state that the US loses if the Alliance controls 18 cities at the end of any US turn. I placed my first laser tower in Milwaukee and fired it at D.C., but missed the bomber there. I received some partisan reinforcements in the South, but my other reinforcement card was a bust.

Turn 2

 Fionn pushed in and took San Diego and Seattle. There wasn't much I could do to stop him, really. I had retreated my troops from Seattle on my turn, so I was able to slowly give ground and prevent a mad dash for the heartland.
 Aidan began by attemptign to take Houston and was stopped cold. Houston proved to become a graveyard for many of the Latin American troops.
 Liam sat on his hands this turn, but reinforced his lines. Granted, there were not many easy victories for him here, so he chose to gain strength before attempting a breakout.
Both of my laser towers missed (need a 5+ on a D10), which was disappointing, but the highlight was my regaining Washington D.C., which was helped by Liam's poor die rolling. Otherwise, my forces were playing for time in the West and South.

Turn 3
 Fionn advanced his troops inland, but wanting to cover his rear areas, he did not advance with the bulk of his troops.
 Aidan again failed to take Houston, even though I did not have many troops there. I had one reinforcement card each of my past two turns which gave me troops in this critical region. Elsewhere in the South, I had to retreat.
 Liam attempted to retake D.C., and failed badly. With each city that the US player recaptures, he receives an additional reinforcement card, so my early recaptures saved me in this game.
One of my extra reinforcement cards was a Major Airlift and this allowed me to transfer all of my troops from one city to another city, even if already owned by the enemy. I moved my troops from threatened Atlanta to San Diego, which I recaptured. My lasers took out two bombers, finally.  Reinforcements in the West allowed me to recapture Portland and Phoenix.

Turn 4

 Fionn immediately retook Portland and San Diego and he because even more cautious after seeing how troops could pop up behind his lines.
 Aidan still failed to take Houston, but it was close and I did lose defenders. He retook Phoenix as well.
 Liam finally was getting into the game and pushed into Atlanta as I had left it vacant. He attempted to take D.C. again, but rolled really badly after I was able to take out three of his better units.
 Weather cleared for my lasers this turn (needing 3+ on a D10) and they performed very well, taking out three bombers and a helicopter. In Seattle, some guerillas were able to blow up a couple of enemy tanks.

Turn 5

This turn was critical for Fionn. He failed to capture Salt Lake City, because he rolled poorly, not because my defenders did any good. And his other battles in the mountains did not attrit my forces enough, especially since I had received some reinforcements here the turn previous.
 Aidan still failed to take Houston, my last defender narrowly escaping death. He linked up with Fionn's troops in preparation for an attack on Denver.
 Now that Liam was focused on the game, he did a lot better, exploiting my lack of troops near the Gulf Coast. He easily captured Memphis and advanced on New Orleans, which was undefended as I had pulled those units to Houston. He attempted to retake D.C. yet again, but my defenders were able to hunker down and ride out the wave of bombers.
My lasers malfunctioned and only two got hits, taking out more bombers. Otherwise, my reinforcements were slim because I did not have the units available. A point to make here is that there are only 60 units a piece for each player, all forces being exactly equal in unit strength and types. In order for the US player to receive any non-partisan reinforcements at all, he must have already lost those units in combat. So, during the first few turns, the US player has to decide weather to sacrifice high value units in risky, but perhaps profitable, combats, or play it safe...which means reinforcements may well be spotty.

To be continued...

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