Playings 3; 5 hours (2 German, 1Allied win)
Having just played Blue vs. Grey I am struck by the simplicity of this game. Cards are played and dice are rolled with victory likely to go to the best picker or roller. Any skill influence must depend on the law of averages. I have both decks but have been playing with the North set. The South game is much the same with some variation in cards or you can put the pair together, probably best for 4-player games. The 150 cards in each set are half Allied and half German and these 2 decks are drawn separately. About 2/3rds of each deck is represents combat units with the rest controlling terrain and random events. There is no official board but each set is played on a grid of 3 boxes by 6. German units arrive at an additional box 0, adjacent to the initial Allied defence line and win by exiting 3 mechanised units from the 6 to a hypothetical 7th row. Infantry can move 1 area but cannot move and attack, mech units can move 2 or 1 and still attack, diagonals are not allowed for move or attack. There is a map file on the web that can be used although I found it left too little space for the units and terrain to be all easily seen. The space of the cover of a paperback book is a better size for each area.
All terrain must be played when drawn but for the record all the built up areas are in the German deck and the woods, ridges and rivers are with the Allies. Each combat card is rated for artillery, armour, infantry and cohesion. Up to 4 cards or 2 formations (a possible 7 cards) may attack. One dice is rolled for each factor brought to bear, first the artillery rolls, hitting on a 5,6 (6 in some terrain), then armour (5s and 6s but woods and ridges halve attacking armour factors) finally infantry requiring a 6. Artillery can be skipped by the attacker also preventing the defender from firing Ė handy if you are short on guns. The armour and infantry firing is simultaneous both sides fire regardless of any armour hits they receive but any effect of artillery reduces armour values and armour hits may change the infantry available. A combat card can take up to its cohesion in hits and is then destroyed. There is 1 extra armour and infantry factor for having 3 cards from the same attacking formation or 2 from the same defending. If all defending units are eliminated the attacker may advance all his units into the defenderís space, even those that did not take part in the attack. If a unit takes cohesion hits but is not destroyed it must roll under or equal to its cohesion to remove all hits or is destroyed. I use small dice for these hits. Cohesion may be modified by terrain and other event cards. You need at least 6 dice for rolling hits and another 8 to mark hits. Defenderís cohesion is checked after the combat phase so a hit unit will prevent an advance and allow moving in a replacement in the upcoming defenderís movement phase. Attackerís cohesion is not checked until the start of his turn meaning that a stack may attack and do badly, retaining its hits. The defender will recover his hits or die and will have the option of counter-attacking the original units that still retain their hits. This will increase the chance of their elimination in the upcoming recovery phase.
There is not a lot of wide decision making. The German puts everything up front and hopes to get off the map before the Allied defines gels. The Allies play what they can get and move around to cover the gaps. If mech units attack towns and roll 6s for armour these units can move past the town into an adjacent empty square so if possible a weak 2nd line is in order. If the Allies get into a position where it is worth counter-attacking the German has probably lost anyway. Units that cannot trace a path of friendly squares to their map edge are out of supply. Some cards allow an air drop otherwise they take a hit and check for cohesion at each friendly cohesion check phase. This and the ability to bypass units in towns allows the Germans some choice of blocking some rows and moving up in others. Some Allied units are set up on the 1st turn together with the terrain on row 1, the German has a some choice in what units will be facing these squares. In the North game the centre square 1 has a ridge and town together with Americans and will be hard to take out. After the initial deployment who gets what and when the terrain appears is entirely up to the cards. The German could have an easy time of it as plenty of defensive terrain shows up but not Allies to fill it allowing him to move on down. An average mix will see some easy and some hard squares to take as more cards are drawn the opposition will mount up. The game continues until the German runs out of cards (he must draw 3 a turn) but if he is going to win it is likely to be well before his deck empties. A rough guide if he can get past the 1st 3 rows fairly quickly he is in with a chance or things will start to slow up as losses mount and the Allies start to put people and terrain together.
Initially I thought this game way too simple and indeed there is not a lot of depth to it but that is possibly a strength of the game. The only confusing (to me) part of the game are terrain cards as more than 1 may apply to a given square. These are cumulative although if all units are in a town it can be bypassed. So the best approach is 2 units 1 in, 1 out (cover the town and protect the flanks). A single unit may as well go inside as it has little chance otherwise although it needs to be outside to stop the defence. Certainly the rules could do with more detail, a glossary of the card types and what they do is needed (there is a huge glossary like that on the Decipher Star Trek site). Otherwise I can cope with the game despite being a subject that does nothing for me. The only other Bulge game that I have is the Command issue (still unpunched) and the only other Bulge game that I have is played is the AH original over 20 years ago. So Nuts got me to play a Bulge game although Nuts does not have that much in common with the Bulge. The units and events are there and win or lose it is not going to change history so perhaps it does reflect the battle after all.