Ken and I played through a full game of Sam Mustafa's "Rommel" over the last 2 x weeks, making this a truly celebratory post as we successfully played through turns 1 through 8 last week and completed 9 through 16 this past weekend. We played the "River Mius" scenario from the outstanding Hexes and Miniatures website, which I will link to on the right side of my blog. This post is part battle report, but mostly a collection of our thoughts on the game.
|Soviet HQs/ Supply Source - Made for Rapid Fire as the 307th Infantry Division CP|
The Battle takes place in Ukraine, 1943 along the Mius River with the Soviets making post-Kursk drives attempting to take advantage of an off-balance German Army. Both sides are well-equipped for this titanic showdown and we fielded the better part of 2 x Divisions on the table (Rommel is an operational-level game where stands are companies). I felt that the OOB lended itself nicely for beginner play (and conveniently I had all of the elements in the OOB painted and ready to rock and roll). The Germans must hang on to two of their objectives, and capture 2 x Soviet objectives. The Soviets must hold 4 objectives, and 1 of those objectives must be a German one. The stage is set!
|Germans coming from the right - Soviets the left. I used flocked pennies to mark the grid - yellow dice are German objectives - Red dice are Soviet|
|Three units are allowed in a square. Units of the same "element" such as brigade, must try to fight together or they are penalized.|
I sent my units forward very aggressively along non-supporting axes to try and dislodge Soviet battalions (squares with 2 or 3 stands) from their objectives. I found out the hard way that armor should not fight in a city without support, nor should they try to move through forests without accompanying infantry. Rommel has a really neat combat system that kind of works like a boardgame (the whole game really almost feels like a boardgame). I have to say infantry really is the centerpiece of the game, as it probably was the war. Your armor is always sexier, but your infantry have tremendous staying power and attacking power.
I have to admit that it's easy in a board wargame to overlook the infantry especially when you have armor and mech battalions, but in Rommel you cannot make that mistake. You're forced to use combined arms attacks if you want to make any dents in enemy positions. You'll also need to set up 3:1 odds to dislodge an enemy - something a textbook or field manual once told me when i was a cadet.
|Armor in a city fights at a disadvantage but this was a first game! I regret nothing! ATTACK!|
It's easy to be surprised in Rommel at just how good your German armor is, until you end up losing it all if you're not smart about conserving it! German armor units are incredibly powerful but you'll never have enough of them. Ken played very smartly with his armor and was able to commit his armor where he could make a breakthrough, which I'd argue he almost did in the center but we reached the end of the game. In this manner, the game forces you to have a plan and to think. I'm quite sure I've never played a wargame quite like it and I am looking forward to playing again, albeit in 6mm.
|Look at that massive armored force going into the attack! This would make an excellent game to fight out a big battle during the Kursk or Bagration offensives|
|A huge tank battle!|
|Took me the whole game to take this objective and it took me attacks with almost 9 stands!|
Ken focused his efforts on capturing 2 German objectives - on my left and in my center and his generous use of artillery and fresh reserves earned him a hard-won victory. As fpr me, I learned what it takes to fight and win as a WWII general on a WWII battlefield. Rommel gets you that close and puts you in the command post of the Army headquarters, making decisions about where to attack, how to attack, and what your fireplan is to support your attacks. I cannot say better things about this game!
|Desperate German armored attacks going in!|
|Soviets trying to overrun a German objective!|
|A Soviet breakthrough effectively surrounds a German objective!|