In this Action Point, we will take a look at several of the special actions available during the game, including Exploitation Movement, Improved Positions and Roadblocks.
Exploitation is generally chosen in order to take advantage of a successful attack by following that up with an additional attack on the retreating units. This is a special class of tactical maneuver. When a HQ unit is activated, the player can choose to place a special Exploit marker on top of several units before conducting any regular movement or combat. After the combat is conducted that round for the units that either didn’t move prior to attack or that used tactical movement, and then after all resulting retreat or advances have been resolved, units that were designated for exploitation may then conduct movement and combat. Exploitation can only be conducted by motorized units so planning is required to be able to use the benefit.
When properly used, exploitation can really benefit the Germans particularly as they are trying to break through the American lines to wreak havoc and capture Town hexes which will grant Victory Points at game’s end. Also, in later rounds, as the Allied counterattack is in full force, they can also take advantage of the mechanism to try desperately to take back those captured Town hexes prior to final scoring. Neat little mechanic that we enjoyed quite a bit.
Improved Positions and Roadblocks
I love Engineers. They make life for combat troops bearable as they can build fortifications that protect as well as those that hinder the enemy. In Winter Thunder, a big part of the American strategy will have to be a coordinated retreat and fall back to more defensible positions to withstand the onslaught of the Germans and to hopefully contain their advance. The two elements in the game that are available to aid this effort are Improved Positions (IP) and Roadblocks.
IPS are simple. Any in-supply unit that is under the command of an HQ, that hasn’t moved or participated in combat that round, may place an Improved Position marker in its hex. The effect of the IP marker is to give an additional +1 to the Terrain Modifier of the defender’s hex. If the units in the hex with the IP move or attack, the marker is removed. I found that these were very important to keeping the American units alive in the early going and found myself using them often rather than flinging my under powered units headlong into the German war machine. These IPs are very key to any possible victory for the Americans.
Roadblocks are also very simple but provide a good means of slowing down the German advance until reinforcements can arrive to bolster the beleaguered Americans until they can muster sufficient forces to counterattack and drive the Germans back. When an Allied HQ is activated, they may place one Block marker in or adjacent to the HQ unit, or to the hex of a friendly unit that is in Command Range. Only one Block marker per hex is allowed and the hex must be empty or friendly controlled. The Block markers stop units once they enter the hex with them and are then removed. They act as speed bumps only and also disrupt supply as the enemy cannot use the hex containing the Block marker to trace supply. Really neat little element that can be used in multiple ways. To impede the Germans advance as well as to cause issues with supply.
Overall, Winter Thunder: The Battle of the Bulge from Tiny Battle Publishing is a great little game that we enjoyed quite a bit. It is not the best game I have ever played on the Bulge, but definitely had some very interesting and unique elements to it that made it very playable and also memorable. Nice work again Brian! You are a great designer and I appreciate your take on many battles.
If you missed it, you can check out Action Point 1 where we took a look at the Operations Phase and the Combat Resolution.