Assaulting Arnhem

About a year ago, I bumped into a title on Android called Arnhem: Airborne Assault (by Richard Berger). I was always searching for decent hex and chit wargames that have translated to the mobile platform, and whilst Joni Nuutinen’s Conflicts series and DK simulations titles serve us well, this Arnhem title was a new one on me. I was excited. It was a little rough and ready, but had proper wargaming chits, and seemed to honour HQ and supply rules, with a more boardgaming bent (limited activations, random paratroop drops etc.)

Well, much to my surprise, HexWar have got involved and have jazzed the title up, re-badged it as “Assault on Arnhem” and marketed not only for the mobile market but also on PC/Mac.

https://www.hexwar.com/downloads/assault-on-arnhem/

I simply had to dip into it.

assault-on-arnhem-scenarios

I thought I’d take you through the initial very small tutorial scenario capturing the bridge at Grave.

You have a HQ, and three Paratrooper infantry units (scattered randomly every time you play by airdrop and wind dispersal – presumably). You can see you have 4/4 Command Points, each one required to make a unit move in the movement phase. Here we see the movement range of the HQ unit. If you want to keep your troops fighting fit, they need to be the supply range of your HQ. So getting them up into the center of Grave is going to take a little careful placement and negotiating of the terrain.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-start

Having a look at the Unit information panel for the 1st Parachute Battalion, theres quite a lot of detail on offer there, including the terrain and unit modifiers.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-unit-info

You can also toggle on the Order of Battle information (OOB), giving you an overview of your troops and their status in the field.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-oob-info

As the phases and turns tick over, you begin whittling away your Command points available for action, so here we are on the move, and we only have 3/3 command points to play with. I think one of the strengths of the game is that you can shuffle your counters about easily, everything is out in the open, but the logistic constraints you have means careful planning of who moves where and when is needed to get you to the point of contact with the enemy. You really need to bring your troops in co-ordinated enough to be positioned for combat advantages. As I found running this first tutorial scenario over and over again, things can go bad quickly if you haven’t orchestrated the combined hit to the enemy’s defensive position.

I can probably get my paras up to enemy trainees position, but my HQ will be languishing far away and my men will no longer have the benefit of supply and morale effects.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-moving2

Anyway, as per usual, I go in hard.

During the attack phase, you designate the attacker, and then the enemy you want to spank. You can command an assault (but this sucks away double Command points), so a normal attack is called for. Each attack is resolved in three phases, and you are clearly shown the modifiers affecting both sides. The green pipped bar is the health of the unit, and it is divided into 10 steps.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-attacking

1 Para softened them up, and 3 Para charged in to hold the ground next to the objective, the bridge in Grave. 2 Para giving as good as they could to the poor trainees at the waters edge.

At this point, there seems to be a lot of enemy to wade through, and not much time (turns left) to make it.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-endcombat

3 Para took a bit of a beating for pushing too far too soon.

And the night descended upon us.

Limiting Command points. Cooling our actions for now.

Time to get the HQ moved up to support the battered boys at the front.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-nighttime

A quick cup of tea from the canteen and we’re back into the fray.

2 Para pushing forward, and 3 Para fighting for their lives.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-attacking2

1 and 2 Para close ranks whilst 3 Para pulls back – time to hit the enemy 254th Battalion on the Bridge itself! They’re dug in!

assault-on-arnhem-grave-attacking3

Surrounded by enemy 1 Para gets slaughtered! But they significantly weaken the enemy 254th Battalion on their way out. We will remember them.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-attacking-wipeout

Fevered by the loss of their comrades, 2 Para goes in hard in this last ditch attempt to secure the Bridge!

assault-on-arnhem-grave-attacking-lastditchattempt

They spank the 254th, and decide to push forward onto the Bridge itself. The 500 victory points flip-flop over to the Allies in this tense moment.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-attacking-holdout

The OOB overview shows the devastation to our men, 1 Para destroyed, 3 Para significantly reduced in strength, and the battered bastards of 2 Para holding on to the Bridge at the last moment. Can they hold out when the Counter-attack lands?

assault-on-arnhem-grave-attacking-holdout-oob

2 Para bravely held the Bridge, losing only a step of health in the last push by the Axis.

Victory!

When we lost 1 Para, I thought it was touch and go there.

assault-on-arnhem-grave-victory

The new version of the game affords you the luxury of seeing the map in 3d (a tabletop perspective) if you want. Heres a nighttime shot of a previous win. (Obviously, I’m only showing you screenshots of my winning attempts at this tiny scenario… but I can assure you, it’s beaten me more than I have it as I learned the ins and outs of the game)

assault-on-arnhem-grave

Anyway, I hope this brief glimpse into the simplest scenario on offer by the game has whetted your appetite. It’s not overly complex, but there are some subtleties to the gameplay, and its small and accessible enough to make playing it not a huge time and energy investment.

I like proper wargaming on a more manageable scale, especially if it means it can go to other more mobile platforms. I still prefer playing it on the PC though. Old man, dodgy eyesight, fat fingers etc.

The other three scenarios get bigger and bigger in terms of map coverage, and turns and chits involved. I haven’t put much timeĀ  into them, but I intend to. I just wanted to get this nugget of play out there, so you could witness some of the elegance of the game and the excitement that can be had with four chits and a bridge to capture.

Multiplayer has been incorporated into the title (through HexWar), so if that floats your boat you might want to investigate. Hopefully the engine will be robust enough that they could consider adding extra maps and other encounters to the game? Who knows.

There’s a good tutorial for the original title here (and it should stand you in good stead for the new version):

 

 

  • Tim Williams

    Great write up I really enjoyed reading it.