SPI, COBRA (1977)

COBRA: Patton’s 1944 Summer Offensive in France is an operational level (regiment/division) simulation — based on the PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN (PGG) Game System — of the Allied breakout from the Normandy peninsula in the summer of 1944. This game was originally published as the insert game in S&T #65 (Nov-Dec, 1977). Shortly thereafter, COBRA was repackaged for regular retail sale in the traditional SPI plastic ‘flat pack'. When the Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) game company acquired SPI, the game was again reissued in 1984 — this time with fairly significant changes to the counter-mix and with the addition of a D-Day invasion map sheet — in a bookcase-style boxed format. Interestingly, this title was reprinted even more recently by the Japanese game company, Six Angles, in 2007. COBRA was designed by Brad E. Hessel and published in 1977 by Simulations Publications, Incorporated (SPI).

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Waffen SS General Paul Hausser

On 24 July, 1944 (D + 48) the Allied armies in France, despite already suffering over 122,000 casualties, had still only managed to gain control of an area that invasion planners had originally expected would be in Allied hands by D + 5. However, all that changed when, on July 25th, the Allies launched “Operation Cobra:” a major offensive that, its architects hoped, would finally break the German defenses that still confined the Allies to the Normandy peninsula.

The offensive succeeded beyond its planners most optimistic expectations. On that date General Bradley’s American First Army smashed into Waffen SS General Paul Hausser’s Seventh Army which held the western flank of the German front near the town of St. Lo. After a violent Allied aerial bombardment and a short, sharp fight on the ground, Bradley’s forces broke through Hausser’s front and pushed south into the German rear. For the first time in the campaign, the Allies had gained freedom of maneuver; a crisis now confronted the German OKH: with the rupture in the German front rapidly widening, the survival of all of the German armies defending Normandy — Field Marshal Günther von Kluge’s entire Army Group B — now hung in the balance.

DESCRIPTION

COBRA: Patton’s 1944 Summer Offensive in France is a two-player simulation of the Allied offensive — conducted in July-August of 1944 and spearheaded by the tanks of Lieutenant General George S. Patton’s American Third Army — to finally break the bloody stalemate of the hedgerows, and to push into the French interior to envelope and destroy the German forces holding the line at the base of the Normandy peninsula.
The various game counters represent the historical combat units that actually took part in the battle. The four-color, hexagonal-grid game map depicts the area of northwestern France — an area approximately 105 kilometers north to south, and 160 kilometers east to west — over which the historical campaign was fought. For purposes of scale, an individual map hex is equal to 3.2 kilometers from side to side.

COBRA is played in game turns, each of which represents three days of real time. A complete game is thirteen turns long and spans the critical early phases of the Allied breakout, from 16 July to 23 August, 1944. Each game turn is divided into a German and an Allied player turn. The game turn sequence for COBRA is roughly symmetrical, and proceeds as follows (the German player is always the first to act): German Weather Determination Phase; Replacement Phase; Initial Movement Phase; Combat Phase; and the Mechanized Movement Phase. Once the German player has completed his turn, the Allied player then conducts his own player turn in the following sequence: Allied Weather Determination Phase; Supply Phase; Replacement Phase; Initial Movement Phase; Combat Phase; and finally, the Mechanized Movement Phase. At the conclusion of both player turns, the turn record marker is advanced one space, and the next game turn begins.

The mechanics of play for COBRA — given that the game uses the popular PGG Game System — are largely familiar to most experienced players; moreover, they are also logical enough that, with only eight pages of rules, they are comparatively easy to master for new players. Most of the game rules, in fact, are quite conventional; that being said, there are a number of important differences between its East Front parent game and COBRA. The first of these differences is immediately obvious: unlike PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN, there are no ‘untried’ units in COBRA; all of the combat values for both German and Allied units are always known. The stacking rules are also different from those of PGG and are limited, for both players, to one division or ‘divisional equivalent’ per hex. A divisional equivalent, by the way, is typically composed of three regiments or brigades; however, stacking for British and Canadian units is restricted to two brigades per hex; also, headquarters, German tiger tank battalions and information markers do not count for purposes of stacking. Like the other titles in the PGG family of games, stacking limits in COBRA apply only at the end of a movement phase, and there is never a penalty to stack or unstack with other friendly units during movement. Stacking restrictions, however, do apply throughout the combat phase, and any units forced to retreat in excess of legal stacking limits are eliminated. Interestingly, zones of control (ZOCs) are both rigid but, unlike PGG, they are semi-sticky. This means that all units must halt immediately upon moving next to an enemy unit and may only exit an enemy ZOC as a result of regular combat, Overrun or ‘disengagement’. The ‘disengagement’ option is another noticeable change from the regular ZOC/movement rules for PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN, and its effect on play can be significant. Simply stated, units in COBRA, unlike those in PGG, may voluntarily ‘disengage’ from enemy ZOCs on any subsequent movement phase after that of entry; they do this by paying a two movement point penalty and by then moving out of, and staying out of, all enemy ZOCs for the balance of the ‘disengagement’ movement phase. As might be expected, besides locking enemy units in place for at least one movement phase, ZOCs also block both supply paths and retreat routes; however, the presence of a friendly unit in the affected hex negates the ZOC in both cases. Finally, ZOCs do not extend across Major River or all-sea hex-sides.

The terrain and movement rules for COBRA are generally familiar and, in the main, quite orthodox. Terrain types are relatively few, and their effects on movement and combat seem reasonable and hence, are easy to keep track of. For example, units defending in Heavy Forest, Hills or City hexes, or when attacked exclusively through Major River hex-sides receive a ‘-2 column’ shift on the Combat Results Table (CRT); units defending in Clear Bocage, in Towns, or when attacked exclusively through Minor River hex-sides receive a ‘-1 column’ shift on the CRT; units defending in Clear or Light Forest hexes, on the other hand, receive no defensive combat bonus. Terrain effects on movement are equally simple. All units, whatever their type, expend one-half movement point (MP) per hex to move along a Major Road, one MP to enter a Clear terrain or Minor Road hex, and two points to enter a Clear Bocage or Light Forest Bocage hex. Non-mechanized units, however, pay two movement points to enter Heavy Forest or Hill hexes, and a + 2 MP penalty to cross Major Rivers. Mechanized units — including all headquarters and Allied truck units — expend two movement points to enter Light Forest hexes and a + 2 MP penalty to cross Minor River hex-sides. Mechanized units pay four MPs to enter Heavy Forest or Hill hexes, and a + 4 MP penalty to cross Major Rivers. In addition, no unit may cross a Major River hex-side directly into an enemy ZOC, unless the hex being entered is already occupied by another friendly unit.

One critical feature that separates the movement rules of COBRA — and the other titles in the PGG family of games — is the incorporation of a far more flexible type of ‘Overrun’ combat into the Initial Movement Phase of each game turn. Unlike earlier titles which also used Overrun combat as an integral part of their game systems, but required overwhelming odds for success; in COBRA, just like in PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN, Overruns do not require particularly large strength differentials to be effective. Even comparatively low-odds Overrun attacks are, with the right die-rolls, capable of clearing a path through an enemy line for the Overrunning and/or other phasing units to exploit. Only units with ‘Divisional Integrity’ — that is: all divisional component units are present in the same hex — may, so long as they meet all other requirements, conduct up to two Overrun attacks in any given Initial Movement Phase. U.S. mechanized infantry divisions are the one exception to this rule: these American divisions may only conduct one Overrun during any single Allied game turn. What this translates to is a game situation in which German and Allied units can potentially attack enemy positions during both the Initial Movement Phase and again during the Combat Phase. Mercifully, unlike in PGG, units in COBRA are not ‘disrupted’ as a result of a successful enemy Overrun; more importantly, neither side’s units are permitted to conduct Overruns during the Mechanized Movement Phase.

Combat between adjacent enemy units is always voluntary. One pleasing element of the COBRA combat subroutine — at least, for the historically-minded — is the restrictions that it imposes on the Allied player when it comes time for him to plan and execute his offensive operations. Because of the multi-national make-up and command structure of the Allied forces in France, coordination between different attacking Allied units is severely restricted. American and Free French units may attack together, and British, Canadian and Polish units may combine to attack the same target hex; however, these two Allied groups are not permitted to combine forces in a single attack. Other combat rules are identical to those of PGG. For example, defending stacks must be attacked as a unitary whole; in contrast, different units in an attacking stack may choose to attack the same or a different adjacent hex, or even to make no attack at all. Combat in COBRA, as previously noted, can take one of two forms: ‘Overrun’ or regular combat. These two forms of combat differ in only one important respect: one type takes place during the Initial Movement Phase (Overrun) and the other occurs during the Combat Phase (regular combat). Both types of combat utilize the same Combat Results Table (CRT), and, as is typical of the PGG family of SPI games, the CRT is more-or-less bloodless. In fact, all combat results are expressed as numerical values and take the form of attacker retreat/step losses, defender retreat/step losses, or split results (requiring both sides to take losses). The decision whether to retreat or to stand fast and suffer one or more step losses is always left to the owning player, and, in the case of retreats, the owning player also chooses the retreat path for his own units. All terrain, supply, and other effects on combat are cumulative. One intriguing feature of the ‘Divisional Integrity’ rules for COBRA is that qualifying divisions are doubled in combat strength when defending against enemy Overruns, and are also doubled for both offensive and defensive purposes during regular combat. Another innovative wrinkle in the COBRA combat rules that marks a significant departure from PGG is that ALL Allied Overrun and regular attacks require the expenditure of ‘Command Points’, and ALL regular attacks must be supported by ‘Supply Points’. This requirement does not apply to the Germans. The importance of these two design features cannot be overemphasized. These two types of Allied points are listed on the Turn Record/Reinforcement Track as they become available for use and are apportioned by nationality; that is: there are separate points for American (and, by extension, Free French) units, and for British (including Canadian and Polish) units. Command Points may not be accumulated and represent the maximum number of Overrun and regular attacks that each of the two Allied national groups may conduct in the course of a single game turn. In the case of Command Points, they may be used twice: once for Overruns and again in the Combat Phase. In addition to Command Points, regular combat also requires the expenditure of an appropriate national Supply Point for each attack made by the Allied player. Moreover, American and British points are not interchangeable: an American attack must be supplied by an American point; a British/Canadian attack must be supported by a British point. Supply Points, unlike Command Points, may be accumulated, but once assigned to support an attack, are expended.

Falaise Escape Corridor Aftermath

The supply rules in COBRA, as the previous paragraph illustrates, impose very different restrictions on the combat operations of the two sides. However, general supply requirements for Allied and German units are very similar. German units are in supply if they are able to trace a supply path of any length, unblocked by enemy units or their ZOCs, to the eastern map edge. Allied units, to be in general supply, must be able to trace an unblocked supply line, of any length, to that part of the northern edge of the map that depicts the base of the Normandy peninsula. For both armies, movement supply is determined at the beginning of each movement phase, and combat supply, at the instant of combat. Supply effects are identical for both sides: unsupplied units are halved (fractions rounded up) for both movement and combat; ZOCs, however, are unaffected. Unsupplied units may not conduct Overruns, but may attack at reduced strength. Somewhat surprisingly, unsupplied Allied units are permitted to attack, but any such unsupplied attacks still require the expenditure of a supply point.

General Omar Bradley

In PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN, uncertainty is baked into the turn-by-turn play of the game because of the presence of ‘untried’ Russian combat units. COBRA has no ‘untried’ units, but what it does have in their stead is a game feature almost as frustrating and unpredictable: that of Weather. And weather, in COBRA, plays a key role in determining the flow and tempo of the game. The way it works is relatively simple: At the beginning of each player turn, a die is rolled to determine the weather condition — Stormy, Overcast or Clear — for the balance of the phasing player’s turn. Interestingly, the possible outcome from each weather roll is directly influenced by that of the previous player turn. What this means, in a nutshell, is that, while dramatic turn-to-turn swings in the weather are always possible, actual weather conditions in the game will tend to either stay the same, or to change gradually from player turn to player turn. Weather and its effects are critically important to both players. Weather rolls significantly affect German movement capabilities, but, at the same time, they also control the availability of valuable Allied ‘Air Points’. For example, depending on whether the German player rolls Stormy, Overcast or Clear weather, the effect on German movement can range from ‘no effect’ (Stormy) down to a two-thirds reduction in available movement points (Clear). This means that weather conditions will directly impact the German player’s ability to maneuver his units to meet developing Allied threats as they arise. In the case of the Allied player, the type of weather rolled will determine whether the Allies have ‘0’ Air Points (Stormy), ‘3’ points (Overcast), or ‘6’ Air Points (Clear weather). And speaking of Air Points: the Allied commander can use his Air Points — one per attack — to shift his combat odds 1 column to the right. In addition, once per game, beginning on turn two, the Allied player may use 6 Air Points to conduct a ‘Carpet Bombing’ attack against any single German occupied hex. Such an attack may, for obvious reasons, only be conducted during a Clear weather turn, and the target hex cannot also be attacked by Allied ground units during the same game turn.

Field Marshall Gunther von Kluge

COBRA, as already noted, shares many common features with PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN; however, because of certain operational factors unique to the Normandy battlefield, it also incorporates a number of design elements that set it apart from its East Front predecessor. One of the more obvious of these differences can be found in the role played by headquarters counters. In PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN, Russian headquarters units and their ‘Command Spans’ represent logistical and organizational centers that form a crucial link in the Russian player’s supply network. In COBRA, headquarters have no supply function; instead, they impart a combat bonus to any friendly attackers within the headquarters’ Command Span. German headquarters provide a bonus 1 column shift to any eligible units whether they are attacking or defending. In contrast, the single Allied headquarters in COBRA — that of Patton’s 3rd Army — can improve a single American (only) attack with a 2 column shift to the right, or, alternatively, can support two different American attacks, each with a favorable 1 column shift. Unlike German headquarters, however, “Old Blood and Guts” does not confer any defensive advantage to American units within his Command Span. Another interesting, if minor, twist to the COBRA combat rules has to do with the special role that German Tiger Tank Battalions play in the game. These units, when participating in an attack, shift the battle odds 1 column to the right. This bonus, it is important to note, only applies to attacks; Tiger Battalions have no effect on combat odds when defending.

Finally, as might be expected, both the Allies and Germans in COBRA periodically receive reinforcements; however, unlike PGG, the two sides also receive replacements. Replacements enter the game in the form of abstract Replacement Points, each of which represents one step; for a unit of either side to receive a Replacement Point (and be rebuilt one step), it must be in regular supply and three or more hexes from the nearest enemy unit. In addition, no unit may be rebuilt more than one step per game turn, however many steps it has actually lost. The Allies receive an unlimited number of Replacement Points during the Replacement Phase of each game turn; the Germans, on the other hand, only receive two infantry and one mechanized Replacement Point per game turn.

The winner of COBRA is determined by comparing the accumulated victory points of the two sides at the end of turn thirteen. Both players add to their points by completely destroying enemy units. In addition, the Allies gain victory points for exiting American mechanized units off the western map edge on or before game turn seven. The German player receives victory points both for exiting units off the eastern map edge, and/or for maintaining supplied (and either out of Allied ZOCs or disengageable) mechanized units on the map east of Falaise at game end.

The original SPI version of COBRA (the one profiled here) offers only the Historical Game; there are no alternative scenarios or optional rules. Later reissues of the game, however, beginning with the two-map TSR version, do include additional scenarios and game situations for players interested in additional gaming options.

A PERSONAL OBSERVATION

General George S. Patton

The 1944 Allied campaign to liberate German-occupied France offers an extraordinarily rich vein of different possible topics for conflict simulations. The historical events surrounding the Battle for France — considering the numbers and types of units involved, and the generals commanding them — really encompass virtually everything that a game designer could want in the realm of World War II military operations. The 1944 Western Front narrative begins, of course, with the costly but successful D-Day landings. Very quickly, however, the arc of the story shifts from the early efforts to expand the initial invasion lodgments on the Normandy peninsula, to the later, even tougher Allied struggle to push through the difficult bocage terrain of the Norman country-side against a tenacious and determined German foe. Finally, after weeks of bloody fighting and near stalemate, the chronicle of the spring-summer 1944 campaign in France suddenly changes again with the armored breakout by Patton’s Third Army, and the ensuing Allied encirclement and destruction of nearly 160,000 German troops in a massive pocket near the town of Falaise.

U.S. Sherman tanks passing through St. Lo after the breakthrough.

Given the innate drama of the basic situation and the potential for sweeping, fast-paced action built into this clash of Allied and German mobile forces, it is not surprising that various designers have attempted to model different aspects of the Battle for France, beginning back in 1961 with Avalon Hill’s D-DAY. Not surprisingly, the scale and design quality of the different titles inspired by the Normandy campaign have varied widely. Some of the Normandy games — such as SPI’s ATLANTIC WALL (1978) or Avalon Hill's THE LONGEST DAY (1979) — have been very big, multi-map monsters, and some — like Avalon Hill’s Smithsonian edition of D-DAY (1991) — have been relatively small; some — like SPI’s BREAKOUT & PURSUIT (1972) — have been good, and others — such as Rand Game’s OMAHA BEACH (1974) — “not so much”. In short, when it comes to the Normandy campaign, different game titles seem to abound. Nonetheless, since its first appearance in 1977, COBRA: Patton’s 1944 Summer Offensive in France has been, and continues to be, one of my favorite treatments of this campaign. Brad Hessel’s design may not be the best overall simulation of the Allied breakout from the Normandy hedgerows, but it is still able to hold its own when matched against other, much newer titles. Moreover, it would appear that I am not alone in my opinion. A quick visit to http://boardgamegeek.com/ will show that COBRA currently enjoys a “Geek Rating” of 6.47; which, all things considered, is pretty impressive for a thirty-three year old game.

Of course, it goes without saying that players who like the PGG Game System will probably also like COBRA. However, even for those gamers who don’t particularly care for PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN, COBRA, I would argue, is probably still worth a serious look. The original version of COBRA may not offer a lot of different scenarios for players to try, but the game still presents a number of interesting and very thorny game problems for both the Allied and the German players to solve. Moreover, these problems seem to take a different shape every time the game is played. For example, Allied offensive operations, as was the case historically, are constrained by serious supply limitations. The Allied player would like to accumulate extra supply points for use during the middle and late game turns, but, with only thirteen turns to work with, time is short; so while he wants to save supply points, he also needs to keep steady pressure on the Germans right from the start. In addition, while the British and Canadian units will probably be attacking towards the south and east, the Americans will be trying to break out to the west so that at least some American mechanized regiments can exit the western map edge before the end of turn seven. The German commander, not surprisingly, has problems of his own. He wants to contain the Allies during the early game turns; however, once his line begins to crumble, he then needs to begin extricating his mobile forces from the path of the Allied juggernaut so that he can move as many mechanized units as possible off the eastern map edge before the last game turn. Balancing these conflicting goals, particularly in the face of uncertain weather, is what makes this a challenging and often frustrating game situation for both players.

One minor criticism of COBRA that does crop up periodically among certain players has to do with the game’s graphic presentation. This is a common but, I personally believe, unfair complaint that tends to attach itself to quite a few of the S&T magazine games. Certainly, the back-printed counters are visually unimpressive, but they are also, it should be noted, pretty typical of SPI counters during this era. The rules are extremely well done and post-publication errata are minimal. The main complaint seems to center on the four-color game map which, admittedly, is somewhat understated, color-wise. One wit even suggested that the COBRA game map reminded him of a square pizza. This criticism, I think, is a bit overdone. While it is true that the pastel hues of the map are not particularly eye-catching, they are also not nearly as off-putting as some other game maps — those of DARK DECEMBER (1979) and ALEXANDER THE GREAT (1971) come immediately to mind — that I have seen over the years. Moreover, the COBRA game map’s treatment of terrain is unambiguous, and — as is typical with most of Simonsen’s work — the charts and tables printed at the margins are uniformly clear and very nicely done.

Finally, although I personally think very highly of this title, COBRA is, nonetheless, probably not a good choice either for the absolute novice (simply too much detail), or for the ‘chess player’ type gamer who hates nasty surprises: those occasional unlucky weather rolls can really hurt! However, for anyone else who, for one reason or another, has never tried this game — whether they are a casual or an experienced player — I recommend it strongly. It may be old, but it has aged extremely well.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: 3 days per game turn
  • Map Scale: 3.2 kilometers per hex
  • Unit Size: regiment/brigade/division
  • Unit Types: headquarters, armor/panzer, mechanized infantry/panzer grenadier, armored cavalry, infantry, airborne infantry, truck counters, and information markers
  • Number of Players: two
  • Complexity: average
  • Solitaire Suitability: above average
  • Average Playing Time: 2-3 hours

Game Components:

  • One 22” x 32” hexagonal grid Map Sheet (with Turn Record/Reinforcement Track, Terrain Key and Effects Chart, Combat Results Table, Weather Table and Effects Chart and Allied Supply Points Track incorporated)
  • 200 ½” back-printed cardboard Counters
  • One 8½” x 11” COBRA Rules Booklet (with Set up Instructions, Combat Results table, and Terrain Effects Chart incorporated)
  • One small six-sided Die (not included with original magazine version of game)
  • One 3¾” x 8½” SPI Customer Complaint Card
  • One SPI 12” x 15” x 1” flat 24 compartment plastic Game Box (with clear compartment tray covers) and Title Sheet

Recommended Reading


See my blog post Book Review of this title which is 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

18 comments:

  • Eugene Reynolds said...

    I never seemed to get the hang of COBRA. My American breakouts were slower than historical; they got blunted by the diversion of troops west to Brest; and they were restricted in maneuvering by the fact that much of the historic breakout takes place to the south of the game map (and hence, off-map).

    Plus, the German victory condition of having supplied mech units EAST of Falaise always triggered a strange "race" to abandon any kind of decent German front line. Shouldn't the game reward having supplied mech units WEST of Falaise (at least in conditions in which no ready danger of a "pocket" developing is holding)?

  • Greetings Eugene:

    Thank you for your interest and your comments; I appreciate your taking the time.

    In so far as the German Falaise victory points are concerned, I confess that when I first looked over the victory conditions, pretty much the same thought occured to me. In retrospect, I suspect that Brad Hessel opted to keep things simple and not risk odd, unhistorical situations that would have required a lot of additional rules writing to cover the many inevitable unforeseen permutations of the circumstances you describe.

    You are correct that, after turn five, there really is no inducement for the Germans to maintain any kind of a coherent line over and above preventing pocketing. However, prior to turn six, the victory point opportunity cost if the Wehrmacht simply cuts and runs is very punishing as the Allies can scoop up a pile of victory points by exiting the southwest map edge.

    Also, you might check out grognards.com for post-publication Errata both for the SPI original and for the Decision Games reissue of this title.

    Thanks Again for your interest and

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Greetings Again Eugene:

    After I finished my response to your earlier comment, it occured to me that, if you are interested in the Allied breakout and dash across France in summer 1944, you might like SPI's BREAKOUT & PURSUIT. Although this Dunnigan game never really generated that much enthusiasm when it first appeared, I personally like it a lot. And if you think the Allies have problems in COBRA, wait till you see the difficulties that a few German garrisons in the French coastal fortresses create for the Allied commander. All in all, an excellent (if somewhat drab) game that I recommend highly.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Eugene Reynolds said...

    Aloha, Joe,

    I admit that I have tried to think of a simple way to change the German victory condition to prevent the "Eastward, ho!" end-game flight, so I do appreciate Mr. Hessel's dilemma. The best I could come up with was assigning the German supply to different hexes on the east edge of the map so that an Allied "pocket" as it developed would cut off more and more German mech units. The problem comes in trying to simplify the logistical calculations of units supplied versus distance and/or road capacity. It's a bit of a pickle, I confess.

    Thanks for the recommendation of BREAKOUT AND PURSUIT. I know of it, but never played it or bought it. Coming of age in the mid-70s, I was so overwhelmed by all the new games being published that I rarely went back to the classics (aside from the inevitable Avalon Hill titles like AFRIKA KORPS and BATTLE OF THE BULGE). I will ask one of my fellow SPI fans if he has the game or at least has played it.

    - Eugene

  • Greetings Again Eugene:

    I strongly encourage you to give "BREAKOUT & PURSUIT" a serious look; I don't think that you'll regret it.

    Also, for what it's worth, I wrote an analysis of the game and posted it on my blog quite awhile ago; hopefully, my old post will give you a little bit of a feel for how the game actually plays.

    One final note while we are on the subject of "BREAKOUT & PURSUIT": Although the initial battlefield situation seems very dire for the Wehrmacht, the Allies begin to experience growing difficulties almost as soon as they achieve their initial breakout. For my own part, I usually played the Germans and, despite the historical outcome of the campaign, actually tended to do very well when refighting the battle on the SPI game map.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • I've lost the rules to my TSR version. Any ideas where I might find a copy online to print off. Thanks.

    Tom
    gohrns@att.net

  • Greetings Tom:

    I suggest that you visit: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4008/cobra and make your problem known to the other "COBRA" players who periodically join into discussions in the game's forum. You may be able to find someone with the TSR version of the game who is willing to forward you a copy of the rules.

    I hope that my suggestion helps you out, and
    Best Regards, Joe

  • Well, I'm glad to hear that somebody other than me really likes Cobra; it is, and always has been, one of my very favorite games. The TSR version, which includes rules to simulate the invasion, is excellent. There are so many random factors, that a multitude of possibilites exist; I've actually seen the British not being able to get off the any of their beaches (admittedly, that only happened once, and the poor Brits got HORRIBLE die rolls on their first player-turn of X1), but at the same time I've seen the opposite, with the Brits dashing off all of the beaches on the first turn.

    What is really great, and is very accurately depicted, however, was the difficulty for the Allies; even if everything goes perfectly, simply getting enough units landed and supplied to exploit a break-out is difficult, which is exactly the situation the Allies faced.

    I totally agree with practically everything the reviewer said, and as far as the victory conidtions are concerned, I never really paid attention to them; if the Germans could hold out, and maintain a cohesive line (pretty difficult) then they won, if not, I and my opponent just tried to judge the situation, relevant to the actual one; I mean, I play for the joy of playing, and to learn; I guess I'm not a big tournament person.

    In any event, I'm located in the Baltimore area, and would love to play a game or two, especially the D-Day version.

  • Greetings Kevin:

    Thanks for visiting and for taking the time to share your thoughts on this great old game.

    So far as rounding up opponents for the TSR version of 'COBRA': I think that, if I were you, I would probably advertise for local area players over at Consimworld. Both Consimworld.social and the Consimworld game forums should give you enough exposure to Baltimore-area players to solve your "lack of face-to-face" opponents problem.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful comments and
    Best Regards, Joe

  • Personally I am a massive Cobra fan. I have a cast iron battleplan for playing either side that makes it hell on the opposition in nearly every situation; that is not to say that victory is guaranteed, but if you want to win you are going to have to really work for it.
    That said, disaster has struck recently. I was visiting with some gamers and when I unpacked the car the ziplock with my beloved Cobra in had snapped open and the counter bag had vanished. No matter how hard I have searched it has never reappeared.
    Anyone know where I can get a new set of counters from? Or is it fork out for a new copy time?

  • Greetings Peter:

    I suggest that you visit the COBRA forums at Boardgamegeek.com and Consimworld to see if anyone has a spare set of counters for the version that you own (SPI versus Decision Games).
    If you can't get a line on a replacement set of COBRA counters at one of these forums, you could still download the "counter scans" (front and back) from the COBRA game page at Boardgamegeek and then make up your own counters.

    In any case, thanks for visiting; I appreciate your interest.

    Good Luck and Best Regards, Joe

  • Peter Burke said...

    Joe,

    Thanks, Boardgamegeek is down today but I will check in over the weekend.

    Peter

  • Peter Burke said...

    Joe,

    Just ordered an entire replacement copy for 4 pounds sterling! Now that is great value for an outstanding clssic.

    Keep playing.

    Peter

  • Greetings Peter:

    I'm delighted to hear that you had some luck finding a replacement copy (and very reasonably priced, at that) for this great old title.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Robert Brown said...

    Joe,

    I really like you website and appreciate the work you've put into publishing it. It's has made me get off the fence and try to track down copies of PGG an Cobra.

    And, I think the image at the top of this page is that of Sepp Dietrich, not Paul Hausser.

    Thanks again!!

    Robert

  • Greetings Robert:

    Thank you for your kind words and for your interest.

    I think that you will find that the many PGG-inspired games are almost all interesting, if not always as good as they might have been.

    Your timing is excellent. It turns out that -- although I have been spending the bulk of my time delivering online "tutorials" on 'STALINGRAD' and 'WATERLOO' to a few players in advance of the CSW PBeM Tournaments on the same titles -- I have also been spending my mornings putting the final touches on a relatively detailed survey of many of the games that, to one degree or another, owe their patrimony to 'PANZERGRUPPE GUDERAIN'. I think that you'll be surprised at just how large this extended family of titles actually is.

    Regrading the image of Hauser/Dietrich: it is certainly possible; I have a "rogues gallery" of literally thousands of images stored on Picasso, and it is not unheard of for me to mix them up, on occasion.

    In any case, enjoy your new games and
    Best Regards, Joe

  • Hi Joe, awesome website - thanks for your efforts to keep alive the glory days of wargaming.
    More to the point, Cobra is one of the better games (imho) to come out of SPI's stable. Completely palayable and rewarding of skilled play.
    I had cause to play this game recently with my brother and was surprised how quickly we recalled and re-engaged with concepts. And one of those key concepts is not often appreciated by many players: Overrun.

    For the allies, hitting a couple of hexes with two or three divisions followed up by an attack in the combat phase can massively throw open the line in the mech phase very quickly. For those that have commented above about how the game degenerates into a controlled German withdrawl, my advice is that they may be missing 4 or 5 extra attacks in a turn, because they aren't concentrating and overrunning.
    Finally, do you know if there is a VASSAL module for Cobra?

    Cheers

    Bill

  • Greetings Bill:

    Thank you for your interest and for your comments.

    VASSAL modules for SPI games were unavailable for quite awhile, mainly because Decision Games -- the current holder of the copyrights to most of the old SPI titles -- opposed their games being made available for use for "free" online use. This policy, I am given to understand, has been relaxed of late, and if there is not yet a 'COBRA' module available on VASSAL, there probably will be one "coming down the pike" fairly soon.

    As an alternative to VASSAL, you might also check out the "Zun Tzu" game site: SPI game boxes have been a staple on this French-based online game platform for years.

    Good Luck and Best Regards, Joe

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