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"Anyone try Rommel out yet?" Topic


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2,019 hits since 27 Aug 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Lord Ashram27 Aug 2017 6:28 a.m. PST

Looking for some AARs and thoughts… anyone playing it yet?

Durban Gamer27 Aug 2017 6:59 a.m. PST

Yes before risking dodgy, slow post out to where I live, I'd also like to hear from some road testers. Looks to be very interesting and original. But the lots of pages aspect, as with FOW, that can be a negative? To what extent are these smooth flow; or heavy mental overload??

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Aug 2017 7:46 a.m. PST

Well, considering they were released yesterday….

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Aug 2017 7:49 a.m. PST

As of last Thursday, Sam was hoping that the books would clear customs by September 1st, and he has publicly stated elsewhere that the PDF would not be released until the book was available.

link

I don't see any more recent announcement than that.

Lord Ashram27 Aug 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

It was just released:)

https://sammustafa.com/store

And I know people just got it… I guess I was thinking people could post thoughts and aars here as they come?

Tony S27 Aug 2017 10:02 a.m. PST

Just played it this morning (well, refereed it, as I had read it a couple of times last night, and one player had not read it at all!) The PDF has been released. Took about three hours to play to completion, which is amazing for a first time outing and with a player who didn't even own the rules. (Nor play WW2 very often).

The rules are very smooth. The page count does not reflect the complexity. You can easily hold all the rules in your head, after one or two play throughs. Download the QRS from Mustafa's website; you'll see how few tables are needed.

Obviously it is a very subjective assessment, but it did feel like you were commanding a division. (Hell it was nice to see a 105mm artillery battery actually on the table, but firing eight kilometers away from the front line). The decisions you made were at that level. Again, download the "command post" sheets and read the events that a player must choose from. Firstly, you can only use them once (until you "reset") and some you can only use once per game. Naturally it costs you OPs points, which of course you need for everything else. Some of the events are nation specific.

There are two types of movement road and tactical.
Road movement can be quite fast; startlingly so! You can have multiple tactical phases, if you really want to push the enemy hard. But of course that costs precious ops points. Which you also need to hold when your opponent attacks, to play your defensive events. Decisions, decisions.

Like all Mustafa's Honor series, modifiers are kept to a minimum. The combat system is fast and simple. It's a bit like Blucher, in that units do take step losses. You can track them on a card attached to the figures' bases, or hit markers, or a roster.

By using a square grid system, play is very clean. A lot of time is saved, and complex and ugly rules (like determining flank attacks, or combined arms, or terrain modifiers) are eliminated.

There are a lot of generic scenarios, some quite interesting.

To me, a good rule set should:

1. Capture that period "feel".
2. Reward reserves.
3. Have a strong Fog of War element.
4. Be constantly forcing players to make hard decisions.

Rommel succeeds fully on all accounts. A simple set of rules are much, much more difficult to write than complex rulesets. And simple rules do not necessarily mean simplistic play. Only had one play this morning, but already I can see a lot of subtleties in the rules.

I would highly recommend Rommel to anyone interested in this level of WW2 game.

The only downside might be that only six nations are included, but the army creation system is transparent and fully explained, so you can figure out Hungarians or Japanese if you wish.

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2017 11:54 a.m. PST

How big is the grid that's reccomended?

8 x 12. 10 x 14
2 inch squares 4 inch squares

Yellow Admiral27 Aug 2017 12:06 p.m. PST

It's available to order, and I bought and downloaded the PDF on Friday, after Sam's announcement went out (3 times).

- Ix

advocate27 Aug 2017 12:16 p.m. PST

There's an awful lot available on Sam's Honor website. All your questions answered! link

GGouveia27 Aug 2017 3:44 p.m. PST

6x 4 with a 6 inch grid is recommended.

Black Cavalier27 Aug 2017 3:56 p.m. PST

The Meeples & Miniatures podcast interviews Sam Mustafa about the rules in episdoe 225. It should be noted that I think some of the hosts were playtesters, so they're probably going to have a favorable review of it.

Justin Penwith27 Aug 2017 5:16 p.m. PST

6'x4' with 6" squares is recommended for the basic game, but it's anything goes with the advanced game, Sam even made comment on that within the rules.

I bought two playmats of 6'x4' with 60mm squares from https://bigredbatshop.co.uk and plan on using those with 3mm armies.

I hope to play with some friends within the next few weeks or so.

Navy Fower Wun Seven27 Aug 2017 5:25 p.m. PST

Yes I was involved in the playtesting and heartily recommend it! (Well I would, wouldn't I!)

I really don't know what figure and ground scale to go for though! Sam was really keen that people are able to repurpose their 15mm collections, and that worked for us, but we also found 6mm gave a suitably large scale feel to big battles…

GGouveia27 Aug 2017 6:05 p.m. PST

I plan on using both 10mm or 15mm depend8ng on scenario.

Personal logo The Nigerian Lead Minister Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2017 8:17 p.m. PST

How is this different from a board game at this level, other than the use of minis?

Personal logo doctorphalanx Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2017 1:20 a.m. PST

It's not that high a level. The bases are companies. I play a few miniatures games in which the bases are battalions or larger. They don't feel like board games.

christot28 Aug 2017 2:26 a.m. PST

It does sound like a board game with figures and terrain, but, nothing wrong with that.

Personal logo doctorphalanx Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2017 2:37 a.m. PST

I suspect that's more to do with the grid. Good scenery helps to overcome that if it's an issue.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Aug 2017 6:22 a.m. PST

At some point, how is *any* miniatures game different than a board game? All in the looks really. And the use of rulers. But these are pretty minor differences.

I'm considering doing the Bulge. It would need a 6x8 table, using 4" hexes (Hexon terrain) and bathtubbing the OOB (so a company represents a regiment, a battalion stands in for a division, etc.).

Navy Fower Wun Seven28 Aug 2017 2:38 p.m. PST

I've never played bored games so can't comment on whether Rommel plays like one. What I will say is that it plays like operational level WW2 – but with a really good staff team! You really do have to plan ahead, and hope that your plan survives contact with the enemy. It looks good in 6mm, but even better in 15mm…IMHO!

coopman Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2017 4:27 p.m. PST

Does it require you to have a bunch of trucks? Never was big into buying trucks…

coopman Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2017 5:52 p.m. PST

Since Rommel was such a legendary general in North Africa, do the rules give him a bunch of advantages & bonuses?

advocate29 Aug 2017 2:25 a.m. PST

No, you don't need trucks. Without having played it, I do wonder at the lack of support vehicles, but I guess that is handled by a number of abstractions.
And I'm pretty sure that Rommel doesn't get a stack of bonuses, in the way that Lasalle, Maurice and Blucher didn't in Sam's other rules.

Personal logo doctorphalanx Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2017 6:48 a.m. PST

If you have trucks, as I do, you can use them to represent lorried infantry.

GGouveia29 Aug 2017 8:35 a.m. PST

In the advanced rules you can have a skilled or poor general. The impact is extra Op dice or less Op dice.

No trucks required. Optional as Drphalanx intends to use. The cards indicate on the side if the are leg troops with no trucks. Most are motorized so no icon.

Navy Fower Wun Seven29 Aug 2017 2:53 p.m. PST

Yes that's right. Whilst there is emphasis on proper staffwork and planning, its all rapid and abstract via the Ops sheet. No lorries, no typewriters! (But pausing regularly for strong tea is recommended!)

Bertie Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2017 8:17 p.m. PST

Ladies and Gents,
We played our first game on Saturday, the Operation BREVITY introductory scenario from the website and were quite impressed. Usually I play 1:300th Western Desert on a hex field at 1 model = 1 platoon. I've also dabbled in a souped-up KISS Rommel set at 1 model =1 battalion. So "Rommel" falls nicely in between at 1 model=1 company. I ordered the hard copy and PDF option from the website. The hard copy hasn't arrived yet so I don't know if there is any difference in substance between the two versions. We played with 1:300th minis on a 100mm hex grid. Here are our thoughts.

Format

Amazingly the rules are INCOMPLETE. One of the fundamental, and most interesting, facets of the rules is the use of an "Operations File" to evoke events and introduce tactical options but these are not included in the rules! You have to download them from the website, along with the anti-tank rules. Fortunately I glanced over the PDF before I sent it for printing and spotted this so no harm done. But if it is the same in hard-copy I would have been very annoyed to have bought a book of rules from a retailer that I could not read through fully or play. I just think that this is bad form, especially as the rules include many extraneous things that could have been cut to make space for these vital components. Have them on the website so you can download them and laminate them to play with is fine, which is what I did, but they should still be included in the rules so that you can read and refer to as you go along.

The page count mentioned by Durban Gamer above is not an issue because you are really paying for a lot of white space. The type face is huge, probably about 14 or 15, with 1 spacing. I'm not sure if this is because the designer fears for our old age eyesight or expects people to play the game from their telephones. The chapter headings take up a quarter of the page, there are a few, not too many, "eye-candy" photographs, some "product placement" for Cigar Box mats and Paper Terrain, and lots of extraneous rules to produce hypothetical armies to play hypothetical scenarios that I, for one, will never use. (But I do accept that many players like equal strength "pick-up" games.)There are graphics in the text for play examples, which I like, but then it goes overboard on graphics for other things, for example there are six pages of graphics for kit that could easily have been condensed into a one or two page, more user-friendly table. With more concise formatting and less graphics and eye-candy the page count could easily have been halved, and the cost too I suspect. What is not included are the Ops Files mentioned above and there is only one historical scenario. I think that only by playing historical scenarios and determining if the outcome falls within a reasonable range of possibilities can you determine if the rules are any good so the more historical scenarios the merrier as far as I am concerned. I realise that what I would prefer would be a more sort of "WRG" approach to rule formatting and that this is anathema to many: you pays your money and you takes your choice. I've paid US$49 for these rules and don't feel cheated, I would just have preferred to pay less for the content in a more concise format.

The index works well.

Content

The designer opted for a square grid, which gives you all kinds of problems with artillery firing much further, and units moving much faster along diagonals. But if you keep the game to a 12 x 8 grid this is not a big issue because artillery can fire 12 squares anyway so if you put it in the middle of your baseline it can range over the whole table diagonally, vertically or horizontally, so the distortion is not apparent. We played on a hex grid so didn't have this problem.

Don't be misled: this is a board game with miniatures. It has a grid, it has zones of control, and it has a combat results table, all features of board games. I play both boards and minis so this doesn't bother me in the slightest, but for miniatures purists out there: be warned.

The designer opted for unit cards to display strengths and record losses. You do not need these at all unless you cannot remember the following strength sequences: 5-4-3, or 4-3-2, or 3-2-1. We just used cotton wool in dirty black to mark the first and second hits, and in white to show that the unit was "tipped" which means that it has marched, barraged or retreated. Likewise the relative strengths of the armour are easily remembered: in our game Vickers Light Tanks and Pz IIs were the same. Cruisers were better than these, but prone to breakdown. PzIIIs were better than cruisers, and Matildas on the defensive were better than PzIIIs. So again, no need to use unit cards.

Some of the nomenclature in the rules is a bit odd. All high terrain, whether a slight rise in the desert or the Alps, is called a mountain. There are "road moves" but no roads. British anti-tank guns are called "Pheasants" but not restricted to 17 pdrs in Tunisia and Sicily. "High Ground", "March Moves" and "anti-tank guns" would have been less jarring and a lot clearer, but as long as you understand the concept the names don't affect things.

A lost opportunity in the rules is that many of the events and tactics available from the OPS File are homogeneous. Some might have different names but they are still the same from country to country, so you do not really differentiate one army's tactics and characteristic from another. For example look at the early war German file and you see that their panzers can manoeuvre around the flanks of the enemy and exploit gaps in their lines: now that is a good rule and the sort of thing that I would expect of the Germans careering through France. But now look at the French File: they can do exactly the same! In mid-war, German anti-tank doctrine is the same as British: they can only support infantry, you can't use your Pak and 88s in support of armour to ambush British tanks having a go at your tanks. The German artillery capability in Normandy is the same as that of the Allies. And so on…. The designer says feel free to change these things… don't worry I will since I only consider a set of rules to be the designer's opinion of how the game should be played. But I know a lot of gamers who feel that they cannot stray from the rules as written.

Play

The outline of the game system is given above by Tony S so I won't rehash it here. Because all combat takes place in a one kilometre square there is no direct distant fire so the IGYG system doesn't suffer from the opportunity fire problems of Blucher. You can only attack a battalion with a battalion (the "stacking limit" is three companies per square,) so you could never clear a full strength battalion in one attack (since the maximum number of hits that you can cause is 6 and a full strength battalion can take 9 hits.) So saving the ops points to make multiple attacks is important. The ability to make multiple attacks means that if you retreat you can get clobbered, so it pays to retreat as far as you can. Units that retreat or that are rebuffed in an attack are vulnerable to further attack or counter-attack and this gives a very fluid, and to my mind accurate, feel to the play. Rules for digging- in and for advantageous ground are simple but have a good feel to them.

The use of OPS Dice gives the game a rhythm that I really liked. You cannot go hell for leather every turn since you have to save points for the judicious use of events, tactics, and multiple moves. If you want to move and shoot all of your toys in all of your turns these are not the rules for you.

The use of a board game like CRT means that you cannot mentally internalise the combat results system as you can with most miniatures rules, you have to refer to the CRT every time. This was not a problem for us as there were rarely more than two attacks in each turn. If you really have a problem with this you can use a "buckets of dice" approach and throw one dice for each strength point and count sixes as a hit. Many gamers would find this more fun, and more accessible than a CRT, but the CRT is probably quicker and I had no problem with it.

Overall

I think Rommel gives a good feel for operational level battles at about divisional size. If this is what you are looking for I recommend them to you. They are easy to pick up. I will certainly be playing them again.

Quick Fixes

The designer says that playing on a hex grid you can't use the "Gaps in his Lines" rule: Tosh! We just made it that if a unit is in the ZOC of two enemy held hexes it cannot move into a vacant hex that is in the ZOCs of those same two enemy held hexes unless it is using "Gaps in his Lines." So you can use the rule for what is intended: going around or through a loosely held enemy line.

We allowed "88s" to support armour as well as infantry.

We used toys for the "88s" and "Flak" tactics and made them "sticky": when the tactic was used the toy was placed in the square, and it remained there with the same effect until either the square was vacated by the Germans or they "reset."

Cheers,
Bertie

repaint04 Sep 2017 12:00 a.m. PST

thanks for the review Bertie. I bought the rules and I am happy with what I have read so far (2nd reading).

How different is the feel of each army from one another? I was under the impression that units were a bit generic with minor differences and that most of the differences would come from the Command posts sheets.

Is it the case? According to your comment, it is not really pushed as much as it could.

Bertie Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2017 2:28 a.m. PST

Dear Repaint,
I think that you are right, there are some differences, like early war Germans get two possible airstrikes and late war none, against the allies getting one strike in early war and two in late; or the Germans get Kampfgruppen so they can combine attacks from different commands without a penalty; or only the mid and late war Allies get fighter bombers to strafe road movement etc., but the differences are not pushed as much as they could be. But that is easy to fix.

For example in the rules I cited above it would be easy not to allow the French armour to exploit gaps, or if you believe that they had the capability but not the doctrine make it cheaper for the Germans and more expensive for the French: say one ops for the Germans against three ops for the French. As it stands they both pay two ops so both are equally capable… that doesn't sound like an accurate assessment, or even period flavour to me.

In the Normandy example both the Allies and the Germans get one Massed Target for artillery and one Reserve Artillery. That's not my reading of the situation: either discard the German reserve artillery or allow the allies two of each, just like airstrikes.

In fairness the designer is clear that the rules are not written on tablets of stone and he is not going to lose sleep over you changing things as long as you don't send him whining mails about it.

Probably the reason why the OPS files are so much alike is that they don't want to "unbalance" equal points pick up games. If you play historical games with your chums then you can fix anything you like.

Cheers,
Bertie

Dexter Ward08 Sep 2017 2:26 a.m. PST

It occurs to me that the Ops Files are very like Saga Battleboards.
You use dice to activate units, to invoke special effects, to get attack and defence bonuses. Some of the abilities can be used only once per turn.

barcah200108 Sep 2017 5:25 p.m. PST

I've been playing for the past week and like the system. However, I agree with Bertie that an opportunity has been lost here by making the OPS selections so homogeneous. Since we basically have a series of 1 up or down alternatives it shouldn't be too hard for someone with some in-depth knowledge
to craft more unique lists.

Condottiere10 Sep 2017 5:19 a.m. PST

Amazingly the rules are INCOMPLETE. One of the fundamental, and most interesting, facets of the rules is the use of an "Operations File" to evoke events and introduce tactical options but these are not included in the rules!

The rules are not incomplete. The Command Post with the "Ops File" is a free download as stated on page 5, making it easier to print than if it was in the book. Don't understand the gripe here.

…along with the anti-tank rules.

Anti-tank rules are for "massed" anti tank fire. As stated in the optional rules PDF:

"Rommel does not generally depict AT guns as separate massed units except in a few rare cases such as certain lightly-armored self-propelled weapons (Marder, Archer, SU-76, etc) or as tactics like the German "88s." This is because AT guns were typically assigned to infantry units and dispersed along their fronts. They should not, therefore, be separate units in the game, taking up space in stacking, fighting on their own, etc."

"There were certain historical cases, however, in which massed AT guns made a difference, such as the German PaKfront in the Soviet Union, or the 8th Army's use of massed AT guns in North Africa. In order for these tactics to be successful, certain preconditions had to apply, typically a prepared defensive position in very open terrain and a high density of enemy armor. If you wish to recreate these conditions, this optional rule is for you."

Again, a free download.

Bertie Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 9:41 a.m. PST

Dear Condottiere,
Each to his own, but if I pay $40 USD for a hard copy set of rules I expect it to contain the rules, not a reference to a web-site where I have to search, download, and print the stuff out before I can read it along with the rest of the rules. Hence I think that the rulebook is incomplete, especially as the Ops Files are one of the most important and interesting components of the set. Eleven more pages would not have added to the $40 USD cost by much, and if it did there is lots of extraneous hypothetical stuff that could have been put on the website instead of one of the best bits of the rules.

As I stated, it is not a big problem, but I do not consider it good form.

If you are not bothered by it then I am happy for you.
Cheers,
Bertie

Personal logo Old Warrior Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 9:59 a.m. PST

Bertie,
Are there any examples of the Ops file in the book? Sounds like the Ops sheets being in the book would be useless to playing the game. Would we tear the pages out of the book and use them for gaming?

I can see your point if you wanted to develop sheets yourself for a game rather than tracking down a PDF.

Bertie Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 10:46 a.m. PST

Dear Old Warrior,
Yes, there is one reduced size ops file in the book, but because of the reduced size it is difficult to read and, anyway, it is just one out of 11. The point about the ops files is that they are supposed to reflect the different capabilities of the armies, so there are three different ones for each of the Western Allies, Germans and Soviets for their early, mid and late war situations and one each for the French and Italians. It is only by comparing the files that you can see the differences between the capabilities of the armies. That to me is key part of reading the rules. I don't need to be told that a Panther is superior to a Sherman, I know that and would expect the rules to reflect that. I do need to know how the designer differentiates the capability and doctrine of the German Army in 1944 from the capability and doctrine of the Allied armies and that information is not included in the rules, you have to download it.

If the argument is made that from the one copy of an ops file you can see how the rules work in principle, without it being necessary to compare the 11 armies, then why is it necessary to include six pages itemising all the individual kit used by those armies? One example would do and then you would see how the rules work in principle, without it being necessary to compare each type of unit against another. If the rules are complete in one area, why leave things out in another?

Personally I think that hanging is too lenient a punishment for anyone defacing a book, even just a lowly rulebook, even just using a highlighter pen. So no, no gentleman would ever tear the pages out of a book. For example my DBMM rules include the Quick Reference Sheet in the back of the rules so you can always refer to them when you are reading the rules. I would never dream of tearing those pages out, and for play on the table we use laminated photocopies.

I've still not received my hard copy but I doubt if they include the ops files, but I can see no reason why the PDF download of the rules at $20 USDUS could not have included the Ops Files as well.

Fortunately in my case I read chunks of the PDF rules,(in some excitement and appreciation I might add,) on my computer before I sent them for printing and binding. I would have been a trifle miffed if I had sent the rules off sight unseen and then found that I had to make another trip to the print store with the ops files.

It is not a big hassle to have to download important bits of the rules, I said that in my review, but I do consider it bad form to have to do so before you can read and fully appreciate the rules. And if the practice is to become widespread then what will be the point in buying hard copies of rules at all?

Cheers,
Bertie

Dexter Ward10 Sep 2017 2:21 p.m. PST

Why would you want the Ops files included with the rules?
They are free to download.
There's only 13 of them, so it's only 7 sheets of card to print them all out double sided anyway.
Many rules don't include a quick ref sheet any more – but do tell you where to find one to download.
I don't see this is any different, so not sure what the fuss is about.

Bertie Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 3:09 p.m. PST

Dear Dexter,

I would want the Ops files included in the rules because they are all slightly different and that way you can read them without having to download them separately, so that a $40 USD US rulebook would be complete.

Obviously this is just a matter of perception, I don't think much of it, others don't mind it. That's fine.

But following your argument through why bother including the Rommel QRS in the rules as they did? Should that have been only a download too? Not to mention including a four page appendix explaining the contents of the ops files, when they don't give you the ops files! Why not delete the appendix from the rules and move it to the download: you cannot use one without the other.

I agree with you, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about and I don't understand why people are being so defensive about a deliberate omission in the rules. It was obviously a choice made by the designer that I do not understand, but the rules remain, just in my opinion, an interesting and playable set, (once you've downloaded the ops files,)with a good historical feel and a system that you can easily modify for your own preferences, something that the designer encourages. I recommend them to anyone looking for a game in this scale.

Cheers,
Bertie

Condottiere10 Sep 2017 5:57 p.m. PST

I don't see this is any different, so not sure what the fuss is about.

Exactly.

Personal logo Old Warrior Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2017 6:23 p.m. PST

Bertie,
Thanks for the great explanations! They open my mind to the rules and seems a very fair report>

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