Games Gazette Logo

ARDENNES '44: The BATTLE of the BULGE
Mark Simonitch   GMT Games

This edition is simply a reprint of the 2012 game. The 2003 game was revised  in 2012 and sold well until calls for an update brought about
the 2012 release, all of which goes to show how well liked this amazing Tank battle was, and how much wargamers love to reproduce it and/or
try to change the outcome.

     

The components:

LIVING RULES

   

Using the GMT complexity chart Ardennes '44 is actually one step up on solitary play being in the High bracket
compared with the 2-player game which peaks at top of Medium.

As a casual wargamer I prefer the GMT Block games to the old style hex and counter games (mainly because I
no longer seem to have the time needed to play nor the space to keep games set up for convenient play. Having
said that, the game system has flexibility (hence the suitability for one of two players) and even I can appreciate
the time and effort that has gone into the accurate detailing of the map, (though I am pretty sure the land wasn't
covered in grid-referenced hexes back in 1944).

The Germans surprised the Allies with a massive Tank offensive against the (mostly) Americans who were meant to be
advancing on towards Germany but instead were left defending, rather thinly spread out as it were, the Ardennes and
Antwerp across the Meuse River. 26 Divisions of German forces were sent by Hitler to split and break the Alliance of
France, America and Britain. For 2 days the Allies were forced backwards and the defensive line bent out of shape into
what has historically been named as "the bulge", but the line didn't break. Then the Germans started to falter and the
Allies kept up an aerial attack on their adversaries fuel supply. The German armour simply ran out of fuel and their crews
ended up marching back the way they had come on foot - a great idea but badly planned and executed.

GMT gives us the chance to alter history by using the knowledge we have of what actually occurred and implementing it
on the wargaming board. To change history though the German player has to be clever, thoughtful and have a good degree
of luck - not that I am saying this game depends only on any luck factor, but luck is a factor of that there's no doubt in my
mind.

This paragraph from BoardgameGeek.com saves me from rewriting the same thing using a few different words.
"German attacks follow historical advance routes, and the Bastogne and St. Vith defense perimeters are often as large as they
were historically (instead of one big stack of units in the town itself). The Allied player has a chance at holding Elsenborn Ridge
and making the Germans pay dearly for the twin villages of Rockerath and Krinkelt. Likewise, the German player has an equal
chance of changing history and reaching the Meuse River."

In 2007 GMT published The Bulge which covers the same ground as ARDENNES '44 but not to the same exacting detail. It is
also a block game which makes it visually more interesting to players and watchers, plus it has rules that allow it to motor along
at a good swift but still enjoyable rate. Personally I enjoy The Bulge more but that is mainly because, as I have stated regularly
and recently, my eyesight and stamina aren't as good as they once were and my concentration is now rather wayward at times.
This means that Blocks are easier to manage, move and see for myself.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015