Today on December 16th we commemorate yet one more anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge – and at the same time, full-day engagement at Lanzerath ridge. As you probably learned from various social media channels, Lanzerath Ridge by David Thompson from Dan Verssen Games will be hitting Kickstarter very soon. In coming weeks I will be publishing materials familiarizing Dear Readers with that great position In the below article I will attempt to present this title in more details so you, hopefully, will be able to make a conscious decision of supporting this project! Full game play through, through all four Attack Phases, will follow.
First, let us talk about the series. The Valiant Defense series allows you to play amazing stories of courage, with small forces holding the line against truly unimaginable odds. Games in the series focus on the individual defenders and are deeply rooted in history, while providing a quick play experience with a light complexity rules set.
What are the key features? Gameplay is focused first and foremost on solitaire play, it takes about an hour per scenario to complete, the low complexity rules means that you can start playing almost immediately and (what is very important for me as a fan of history) they are deeply rooted into historical context.
Thanks to that fantastic creation by David Thompson we already have 3 positions in the series, now with the fourth on its way:
- Castle Itter – game based on incredible true events, which you might familiarize yourselves with in the novel The Last Battle – Wehrmacht+Allies fighting SS! you can find my impressions and digital app review here too
- Pavlov’s House – hell of Stalingrad; I it played extensively and you can find my session reports, digital app and game review on this blog
- Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms – an incredible defense by Polish Postal workers in Danzig on September 1st – you can read my first impressions or watch a Veteran level play-through
- Battle of Lanzerath Ridge – which will be main topic of this article
So let me move now to the historical background of the Lanzerath Ridge, game mechanics and components. Enjoy!
The Battle of Lanzerath Ridge was fought on December 16, 1944, the first day of the Battle of the Bulge, near the village of Lanzerath, Belgium, along a key route for the German advance. The American defenders consisted of 18 men from the 394th Infantry Regiment’s intelligence and reconnaissance platoon and 4 forward artillery observers. They fought against a German battalion of about 500 paratroopers and another 50 German soldiers from a fusilier regiment. During a day-long confrontation, the Americans inflicted dozens of casualties on the Germans and delayed the advance of the entire 1st SS Panzer Division, the spearhead of the German 6th Panzer Army.
In Lanzerath Ridge you take control of an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon and an artillery battery’s forward observer team in the village of Lanzerath, Belgium on the first day of the Battle of the Bulge. Under your command the defenders must fend off relentless attacks from German paratroopers and fusiliers.
The goal of Lanzerath Ridge is to recreate the incredible historic accomplishment by defending the key roads in the town and delaying the advance of an SS Panzer Division. In the game, this accomplishment is represented by playing through four decks of enemy cards.
Lanzerath Ridge is divided into four acts, each of them representing different attack phase:
- Attack Period 1 which began at approximately 1030. This was the 9th Fallschirmjäger Regiment’s initial assault, which consisted of two platoons from the regiment’s 2nd Company charging straight up the hill at the defenders. Repealed with heavy attacker losses.
- Attack Period 2 which began around 1100. This attack also consisted on a straight-forward charge up the hill, though limited efforts were made to attack the defenders’ flanks. Again, summarily beaten back.
- Attack Period 3 which began around 1400. This attack was supported by extensive machine gun and mortar fire, but no efforts were made to flank the defenders. Will be one of the most difficult parts of the game.
- Attack Period 4 began at dusk. The 9th Fallschirmjäger Regiment was joined by men from the 27th
Fusilier Regiment. Together they launched coordinated attacks against the defenders’ right and left flanks, eventually penetrating the lines and capturing the Americans.
Each of the attack periods lasts typically eight turns – can be shortened due to the defenders actions. Every turn consists of two phases:
- German Phase – play 3 attack cards. There are several different categories of Cards/Enemy Actions, based on the effect: Assault (Riflemen, Grenadiers, SMGs & Leaders), MG-42 and Mortar.
- Defender Phase – perform 5 actions. Among them we have Major (exhausting actions) like Attack, Close Combat, Command or Reposition as well as Minor ones (non-exhausting) like Dismount Weapon, Move, Recover, Reload, etc.
The game ends immediately if the defenders’ morale drops to 0 or if there is an enemy assault counter in a defender combat position at the end of the Defense Phase. Otherwise, the game ends at the end of the last turn of Attack Period 4. You than score the points to see if you managed to repeat the incredible feat of the defenders!
I could not help myself and had to create extensive, picture-rich components section where I am trying (in vain!) to reflect the whole astounding beauty of this game. The art and graphics are crispy, striking, functional and very thematic – you can click each below picture to enlarge it. Enjoy!
I hope that above overview gives you a good feeling of what to expect from the game, how would it look like and what is the game-play. I had a privilege to play-test it and if you had a chance to bring to the table any of the previous Volumes in series you would not be disappointed – this title will keep you on the ropes, fighting for survival in every turn. Hope you will enjoy it!
PS. Stay tuned to play-through videos which will systematically be published in coming weeks!