BULGE ’65 is a regiment/brigade simulation of the first fifteen days of the last major German Offensive on the Western Front in World War II. The German Offensive, codenamed “Wacht am Rhein,” jumped off at 5:30 am on 16 December 1944, with a violent, hour-long artillery bombardment along eighty-five miles of the Allied front line in the Ardennes region of Belgium. As soon as the barrage lifted, the 250,000 men and 1,100 tanks of Field Marshal Model’s Army Group B smashed into the dazed defenders of this thinly held section of the American line. The Battle of the Bulge had begun. One player commands the Allies (American and British forces); the other controls the Germans. BULGE ’65 follows a simple game turn sequence: the first player (German) moves and initiates combat; then the second player (Allied commander) repeats the same sequence, ending the game turn. The German player wins by either eliminating all of the Allied units on the game map, or by crossing the Meuse River in strength by the end of his December 28 pm turn, and maintaining his bridgehead in supply through the end of his December 30 turn.
BULGE ’65 offers two versions of differing complexity: the basic game, and the tournament game. Both versions are 30 game turns long. The basic game allows players to quickly familiarize themselves with the game system and get right down to playing. Players usually want to move on to the tournament game as soon as possible: because it is in the tournament rules that a lot of the historical color and feel of the campaign emerges. This more advanced version includes rules on forts and fortresses, isolation and supply, U.S. Air Supremacy, and one-way road traffic. For players who want to increase the realism and detail of the tournament game still further, there are additional optional rules covering Allied Strategic Air Power, armor in engagements, and German supply. These optional rules can be mixed and matched, as the players see fit, in order to make the game more challenging and/or to enhance its play-balance.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATIONBULGE ’65 is a little quaint by today’s standards: the truly off-putting box art (I used to think it had the absolute ugliest box cover ever, until I saw OSG’s PANZERKRIEG); the abbreviated game rules; and the “baby blue” and “frou-frou pink” unit counters would never (one hopes) appear in a game today. And, of course, James F. Dunnigan's written critique of BULGE '65 got the wargaming icon his first two design jobs with Avalon Hill; unfortunately, JUTLAND (1967) and (the truly awful) 1914 (1968) were the result. So, I suppose that BULGE '65's connection to 1914 is another strike against it, at least in the eyes of some gamers. On the other hand, despite the game's many flaws, in its day, it was a real blast to play; even now, after over forty years, I still have a stack of pleasant memories from my many hours battling my way back-and-forth across the game map of this venerable old title. And there's one other thing: while I have probably played BULGE ’65 fifty to sixty times; I’m still waiting to finish my first game of WACHT AM RHEIN (1977).
- Time Scale: 12 hours per game turn
- Map Scale: 1.5 miles per hex (estimated)
- Unit Size: regiment/brigade/kampfgruppe
- Unit Types: armor/panzer, panzer grenadier, armored cavalry, parachute, infantry/volksgrenadier, and information counters
- Number of Players: two
- Complexity: average
- Solitaire Suitability: above average
- Average Playing Time: 3-6 + hours
- One 22” x 28” hexagonal grid Map Board
- 195 ½” cardboard Counters
- One 8” x 10” Rules Booklet
- One 5½”x 8½” Battle Manual (with instructions for the tournament game, additional optional rules, and examples of play incorporated)
- One 8” x 10” Combat Results Table
- One 8” x 10” U.S. Units Starting Set-Up and Order of Appearance Chart
- One 8” x 10” German Units Starting Set-Up and Order of Appearance Chart
- One 5½” x 8” back-printed Game Turn Record Card
- One six-sided Die
- One 8½” x 11” accordion-fold Avalon Hill Catalogue
- One 5½” x 6½” Customer Response Card
- One 11¼” x 14½” x 1¼” flat cardboard Game Box (“shallow box” version)
Recommended ReadingSee my blog post Book Reviews of most of these titles; all six of which are strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background.
THE WEST POINT ATLAS OF AMERICAN WARS (Complete 2-Volume Set); edited by Brigadier General Vincent J. Esposito; Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. (1959); ASIN: B000MTBTEU