Sunday, April 10, 2016

Crete 1941

Bought the latest issue of World at War magazine, part of the Strategy and Tactics family, and have been playing the game that comes with it, Crete 1941.

The game is a solitaire simulation of the German invasion of Crete in 1941, with the player controlling the Germans and the game system handling the various Anglo-Greek forces.    It features a point to point map of the island, and is divided into four large sectors which facilitate the staging of the German forces.  For example, in the staging phase of the game if you wanted to do an airborne assault on the Heraklion airfield, you would place the German paratroopers and transports in the "Heraklion Airborne Sector" space, and then move them to the airfield during the airdrop phase.

Besides the victory point track, there is a Allied Command Level track, ranging from 1-12.  Once a turn you roll two dice and if you exceed the Allied Command Level, then the Allies will begin to evacuate the island.  Once the evacuation is complete, you total up your victory points, which are awarded for eliminating allied units (evacuated units don't count, this is very important), and taken away for losing German ones.  You also get points for occupying airfields and ports and game's end.  Before this roll is made, you will increase the Allied Command Level one for every port and airfield still under Allied control or contested.

Combat is pretty simple.  Each unit has a combat factor, and if you roll equal to or under that number you score a hit.  All of the allied units are single-step, while the Germans are two.  The flip side of the allied units features UK and Greek flags, and facilitates the hidden status of those units until the Germans are in the same zone as they are or have gained intelligence in order to reveal them.  There are no movement factors on the counters since the allied units rarely move (one of the allied command events has their units moving into adjacent ports or airfields) and the Germans can move two spaces during their tactical movement phase.

There are numerous ways for your aircraft to be shot down.  Not only do any AA units in a point under attack get to attack each and every aircraft in the raid or drop, but when attacking in combat any roll of six will reduce a German air unit.  The Luftwaffe can either fly missions in support of the ground offensive or make strategic attacks against allied morale (these will reduce the Allied Command Level track)  or the Royal Navy.  Attacks against the Royal Navy reduce that track, which will make it less likely that the German amphibious operations will be intercepted.

Overall I really like the game.  I feel I've learned more about the battle from playing the game that I would have from just reading.  My only criticisms would be on what is typical of solitaire games (necessarily procedural rules and turn sequences) and magazine games (obvious errata and mistakes in the rules) in general.  The game really gives a great feel for the battle, and since I barely scraped by with a draw in my first play, I'm already thinking of what I can do differently to achieve a better outcome next time.

Speaking of reading, I was disappointed in the magazine article on Crete.  Funnily enough, I think the Wikipedia article on the battle is written much better, and has better pictures!  So if you're interested, I recommend buying the game version of the magazine.