|Field Marshal Gerd von Runstedt|
|German soldier in the Ardennes, 1944.|
|Battle of the Bulge, German "Tiger II" tank|
BULGE ’81 is offered in two versions: the Basic Game and the Advanced Game. The Basic Game is intended to introduce new players to the game system, and to familiarize them with the essential features of the movement and combat rules. The Advanced Game builds on the Basic Game by adding both additional units and additional layers of complexity to the simulation.
The Basic Game
|Battle of the Bulge, American soldiers.|
The Advanced GameAs soon as players have mastered the rules of the Basic Game, they will usually want to move on to the more complicated, but also more interesting Advanced Game. This version of BULGE ‘81 brings a number of new factors into play: some of these factors are important; some are simply interesting, but all add historical color and excitement to the game.
In addition to a new CRT, the Advanced Game also introduces a number of other new rules; these include: rules governing the use of tactical and strategic air power; bridge demolition (several bridges begin Advanced Game already "blown") and construction; the success of the German "Fifteenth Army offensive"; and Fort construction (in towns) and Improved Positions (in other types of terrain). Each of these new design features adds more simulation value to the game situation, but at the cost of increased complexity. Also included in the advanced version are rules for the capture of Allied fuel dumps and alternative rules for British reinforcements.
Finally, in addition to the standard rules, the Advanced Game also offers a collection of “optional” rules — for those players who want to maximize the game’s color and content — that cover historical “might have beens” as diverse as the German early commitment of the SS Panzer forces, the German airdrop behind American lines, Otto Skorzeny’s special 150th Panzer Brigade, Steilau commandos, additional limitations on British force commitment, and even restrictions on armor in the attack.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATION
|American soldiers, Ardennes forest road.|
|German grenadiers, Ardennes, 1944|
In BULGE ’81, I think that, considering the origins of his project, Bruno Sinigaglio did a very nice job of modeling the critical elements of the fighting in the Ardennes during the winter of 1944-45. His decision to simulate the battle at the grand-tactical (regiment/brigade) level is hardly unusual, but it is, nonetheless, a scale that seems to work well for this particular battle. Of course if it didn’t, why would so many game designers’ keep returning to it when it comes to the Battle of the Bulge? Admittedly, no dramatic innovations show up in this game, but neither is the game system weighed down by any real design clunkers. [Note: the choice, on the part of the designer, to keep the game mechanics relatively simple was, as Bruno noted later in 'The General', a conscious one: it was aimed at insuring that the new game was both accessible to beginning players and easy to play by mail. That being said, the “Blitzkrieg” CRT can be seen as a way for the designer to introduce some of the simulation sizzle of “mechanized movement” into his design without actually adding an additional movement phase to the game’s relatively uncluttered turn sequence.] In fact, all things considered, the game has a surprising amount of simulation value given the simplicity of its underlying design platform. Bad weather, supply, Allied fuel dumps, the critical importance of bridges and roads to the German advance; in short, everything that a player familiar with the battle might expect to find is present in Bruno’s design.
|General George S. Patton|
|Supreme Allied Commander |
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, France 1944
- Time Scale: 12 hours per game turn (AM and PM game turns)
- Map Scale: 2 miles per hex
- Unit Size: team/battalion/regiment/brigade
- Unit Types: armor/panzer, motorized infantry/panzer grenadier, armored cavalry/reconnaissance, infantry, parachute infantry/fallshirmjӓger, glider infantry, corps artillery, nebelwerfer, commandos, air unit markers, and information counters
- Number of Players: two
- Complexity: average
- Solitaire Suitability: above average
- Average Playing Time: 3-6 + hours (depending on game version and scenario being played)
- One (two section) 22” x 28” hexagonal grid Map Board
- 377 back-printed ½” cardboard Counters
- One 8” x 11” Rules Booklet
- One 8½” x 11” Game Turn Record/Reinforcement Track (with Sequence of Play Chart, German Bridge Construction, Commando Recognition, Bridge and Oil Dump, and Strategic Bombing and Air Supply Tables incorporated)
- One 8½” x 11” German Order of Appearance Chart
- One 8½” x 16” Allied Order of Appearance Chart
- One six-sided Die
- One 5½” x 8½” Avalon Hill Game/Parts Price List
- One 5½” x 8½” The General Magazine Subscription Ad Slick
- One 5½” x 7” Customer Response Card
- One 11¼” x 14½” x 1¼” flat Cardboard Game Box
Blog PostsTAGC, BATTLE OF THE BULGE (1965)
SPI, THE ARDENNES OFFENSIVE (1973)
SPI, BASTOGNE (1976)
SPI, ‘WACHT AM RHEIN’ (1977)
OSG, DARK DECEMBER (1979)
GDW, ROAD TO THE RHINE, (1979)
TAHGC, FORTRESS EUROPA (1980)
GDW, ATTACK IN THE ARDENNES,(1982)
TAHGC, BATTLE OF THE BULGE (1991)
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