Review – Paul Koenig’s Market Garden: Arnhem Bridge from Victory Point Games
Designer – Paul Koenig
Art – Tim Allen
Victory Point Games has provided a review copy of this game for review purposes
For quite some time, I have been interested in Operation Market Garden, the failed Allied attempt to cross the Rhine into Germany and end the war in Europe by Christmas in 1944. Having played and reviewed Victory Point Games’ earlier effort, Paul Koenig’s D-Day: The American Beaches, I was very interested to hear that they would be publishing 3 games on the Market Garden campaign.
The first, Paul Koenig’s Market Garden: Arnhem Bridge, is like the D-Day games; a very much a simple, “beer & pretzels”, game for 2 players, age 12+ covering the northernmost target of the campaign, the capture of the bridge at Arnhem.
The production is very much what Victory Point Games is all about. Heavy paper map, cardstock counters, a set of rules and a tiny die, all in a ziplock bag. As I’ve said before, VPG is a print on demand company and really know what they are doing within the boundaries they have chosen to work in. Within those limitations, I found the artwork, clarity of rules and counter information up to their standards which I am happy with.
The game process is very much similar to that found in the D-Day games so should be familiar if you’ve played any of those games. If not, it should be easily picked up to those new to these games.
The game comes with rules that are standard for the 3-game series, Exclusive rules are there for the particular game, as well as optional rules.
The core engine of the game is a chit-pull system where headquarters chits are randomly pulled to determine which operational unit can move, attack, etc. This makes for a reasonable amount of uncertainty and replayability and keeps you thinking.
The sequence of play is -
Paratroop Landing phase – German anti-aircraft fire may impact how many Paras actually land. The historical landings are actually off-map so the Brits come on-board at entry points.
Support phase – Artillery and Allied support makers can be allocated
Operations phase – HQ chits are drawn and their units can move and conduct combat. This mechanism keeps things uncertain as you don’t know in which order the divisions will be released. Movement is pretty standard stuff and of course, effected by terrain costs.
- Mobile Combat takes place during the Movement phase – Units can move up to half their movement factors and conduct combat at half strength.
There are 2 types of Fire combat which cannot be combined). Support factors can be added and terrain can impact as well. Simply, it is a matter of comparing the final Attack factor and Defence factor. Hits are scored when the AF is larger than the DF. Both sides take a hit when the AF and DF are equal. Very simple.
- Full (strength) Combat is conducted from adjacent an adjacent hex by units that haven’t moved
- Close combat – A previously unmoved unit may move into an enemy occupied hex and attack at full strength and then both sides conduct combat in rounds, effectively trying to knock each other out, or at least see who blinks first and retreats. This will feature particularly in the city fight for the Arnhem bridge.
German re-deployment phase (Night turns only) – the German player only may move units not adjacent to allied units
The rules are laid out well and easily take you through the process. The map is 11×17 but most of the action will be confined to north of the Rhine as the British 1st Airborne fights to get into Arnhem in strength while copious Geman units come in to try and shut them down. This is not a game of maneuver but rather a slugfest once the fighting for the city and bridge gets going.
There are a few optional rules for Leadership, Interdiction and Indirect fire which are easily brought into the game and although adding a little more complexity, are recommended for a more interesting experience.
Victory is determined through victory points earned from eliminating enemy units, taking objective city hexes, capturing the Arnhem bridge, units still on the map at the end of the game and the Germans exiting the Recon/9ss unit from the map.
Did it work for me?
Paul Koenig’s design stands up very well alongside his D-Day games and is straightforward to get into. The process works well, provides for a challenging entry-level war game on an interesting topic. The system is a nice step up from from the old-style igo-hugo systems of older games. I have to say that this is a tough one on the British and it would be best to play 2 games and swap sides to compare how you did. The mechanics are straightforward and would urge you to use the few advanced rules to make things more interesting and fun. I really like Paul Koenig’s Market Garden: Arnhem Bridge and recommend it as fun, accessible, and interesting. I’ve read that there will be a campaign set of rules combining all three games in the series (the Eindhoven game is now available and the Nijmegen game will follow) and I think that when then the series will be great fun to play.
Experienced war gamers will enjoy this game as a light, beer & pretzels diversion and new gamers will find it a gentle entry point. A very nice job and another fun game from Victory point Games and long may they continue to produce great games..
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 8 out of 10
No this is for hobby gamers.
For more information, go to – www.victorypointgames.com