No Retreat

edited October 2015 in Board Game Reviews
A small game company in California was formed some years ago to provide publishing services for aspiring designers. They are still around today and they have forged an alliance of sorts with major GMT games who brings some of the better VPG games to a larger audience with deluxe components.

Canadian designer Carl Paradis came up with an interesting system to model WW2 operational level combat with his No Retreat game on the Eastern Front. This was later picked up by GMT for the deluxe treatment and has been followed by 3 additional volumes - North Africa, Italy and France/Poland 1940.

Mark Franke and I recently sat down to No Retreat 2 - The North African Front at a wargame night. Both of us had played either the East Front or North Africa game solo prior to this face to face session, so we had some familiarity with the mechanics of the game, which are a little different that the normal hex and counter wargame.

The game system primarily revolves around one player having the initiative and generating offensive actions with the use of target markers that are purchased with supply points. So with fairly limited rules overhead, the action can be moderated with the use of supply points. Another interesting twist in the system allows for the non-initiative player to place counterblow markers (also purchased with supply points). These force the initiative player to attack additional places as determined by the defending player. The effect of this can seriously disrupt an attacker's plans and is a far cry from the old classic wargame tactic of factor counting to align the perfect 3-1 odds. The combat results table often reverses the roles with the result being an immediate counterattack required by the defending player. Managing all this chaos is a challenge and proper planning and sound military strategies are rewarded.

As we were just learning the system, we did not complete the full scenario but Mark's Allies were well on their way to vanquishing the hapless Italians (made all the more hapless by my poor play). The next wargame night in about 3 weeks will see a different scenario of this same game played.

I like the No Retreat system. It has a relatively small number of pieces but it is not necessarily a light game in terms of depth. The deluxe versions have really nice components including mounted mapboards like the old Avalon Hill classics. the unit counters are large and easy to read for the most part and the rules are illustrated in full color. The system is a bit different so there are some new concepts to get one's head wrapped around at first, but after a bit, the system flows pretty well.

We'll give this one another session and then after that, it will be an evening with Combat Commander. Also planned is a wargame day for one day in the week after Christmas. This would be a grand opportunity to play out a COIN series game or Churchill or a good old wargame. If you are interested in any of these, let me know.
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