One Minute Bulge

One Minute Bulge

 Tim (I believe) came across this little gem on the Interweb. Originally designed as something of a joke, given the plethora of Battle of the Bulge games, the entire Battle of the Bulge in one minute! One Minute Bulge, by Pete Belli https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/170759/one-minute-bulge 

I missed the Zoom session where the gang played this, but it is just crying out to be done with toys instead of Powerpoint, so I gave it a few run throughs myself. This is a solo game, with the player running the Germans..

The enormous battlefield! The Westwall is the right hand three hexes, with the more heavily wooded Ardennes in the centre. Antwerp is in the top left corner with the Meuse in front. Parked in front of the Meuse are Allied supply dumps. 

Starting forces. German 15th Army in the north, 7th Army in the south with 5th Panzer and 6th SS Panzer armies in the Ardennes. Only the Panzer armies can stack. 
Facing them are the three US Armies, from north to south, 9th, 1st and 3rd. All the Westwall hexes are contested (contain both sides), but the wicked Germans have massed 5th and 6th PAA opposite 1st Army.
I gave 6 SSPA a Panther and 5 PAA a Pz IV as my King Tigers were a bit on the big side to fit in the hexes. Although I have represented an entire Corps with a single model before, I’ve never done it for a whole Army. 
The officer figure is the player commanding this lot. With hindsight, I should have added Hitlers HQ as well, as trips to see Hitler are fairly common in the game.

The game is played in three phases, the surprise attack, Allied response and finally the actual ‚battle‘ of the Bulge. The player is trying to do better than historically, although worse outcomes are also very possible. An interesting wrinkle is that if the player chooses not to attack a hex when they can, they are summoned to a chat with Hitler, who may not be very amused. 
The best possible result (capture of Antwerp) earns 5VP, whereas being sacked in disgrace by Hitler earns 0! 
As it is the Ardennes, the weather is important. The blue counter shows it is overcast/raining. This is good for the Germans, clear skies double the Allied combat strength. 

The Germans have two options for the surprise attack phase, rapid or prepared. The latter has a better chance of an operational success, but an increased chance of the Allies detecting the preparations, which is very bad indeed and results in an unpleasant chat with Hitler. 
In this case I opted for prepared attack, and the attack succeeded with Operational Success, which pushed back the US forces towards the Meuse and gives a bonus to capturing the fuel dumps. 7th and 15th Armies don’t participate in this bit. 

Next up is Allied Response. In this case, the Allies failed to delay the Germans long enough, and the vital fuel supplies were captured. This would allow the Panzers to remain in supply for the battle phase. 
However, they would be fighting at a disadvantage as the skies cleared and filled with allied aircraft, which negated the bonus for the fuel. Oh well. 
The Panzer Armies attacked, at 1:1, but rolled a Stalemate, so they didn’t get over the Meuse. 7th and 15th Armies are also in contested hexes, so need to attack in the Battle phase. Due to Allied air superiority, these would be at 1:2, and I declined to do so as the possibility of a military defeat was too high.
  
Instead, I opted to chat to Hitler, and try and stick at a ’stalemate‘ result, which would give 3VP. 
The clear weather provided an excellent argument to reason with the Fuhrer.
Sadly the Fuhrer was not impressed with my arguments, and I was relieved of command, Oh dear. 1VP for all that. I should have gone with the doomed offensives in the north and south. Well, at least I wasn’t shot out of hand.
I tried again with another prepared attack.
Once again, the US were pushed back towards the Meuse, but this time the Germans failed to capture the supplies, and the weather cleared toom so the sky was black with P47s as stalled panzers line the roadsides.
Blimey, we are really up against it this time. After my bruising encounter in  the previous game, I decided to show National Socialist Ardour and attack anyway. With no fuel and no air cover. 
The attack goes in at 1:2.

Outrageous good fortune favours the brave, and 6th SS Panzer Army pushes across the Meuse and to the edge of Antwerp! I rolled a 6. A contested Antwerp counts as German controlled, so I think that is an immediate Military Victory and the game ends with 5VP to me. I perhaps had to attack with 15th and 7th Armies too, but I’m not sure? Anyway, I banked the victory. About a 10% chance of that series of die rolls.
Time to try again with a hasty attack this time.

This effort got the best possible outcome from the surprise attack. Fuel dumps captured and rainy weather.

With a 2:1 attack on the US, Antwerp falls. This time to 5th Panzer Army. I applied the same end game criteria as in the second game. 5VP for that one. Perhaps I should have executed all three attacks, but reading the various comments on BGG, it seems this is right. Someone crunched all the numbers and the overall chance of a military victory is 28%, but obviously it is higher if you’ve got as far as grounding all the allied planes and pinching their fuel.
Time to try another hasty attack. 

This effort pushed the US forces back but failed to capture the fuel dumps.
The assault on the force covering Antwerp went in at 1:1 and failed miserably, rolling a catastrophic military defeat. The game ends immediately at that point. Ooops. 2VP for that. Better than being sacked though, which tends to point to the game encouraging the player to keep attacking, regardless of how bad the odds are.
I was keeping track of the VPs for the various iterations, Dismissed once, Military Victory twice and Military Defeat once. I did roll some outrageous dice on the two victories, particularly the second victory, and the odds are certainly stacked against the Germans, which I think would come out in more iterations.
That was very good fun to set up and play a few times, although I think once you’ve figured the optimum strategy it would get a bit samey. I believe we are thinking of running it as a show game, with 54mm toys. It occurred to me later that you don’t even need the hexes, as the narrative can be covered just with dialogue and pushing a few toys around. 

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Autor: Martin Rapier / The Games We Play

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