Lanzerath Ridge is a solitaire wargame that takes place on the first day of the Battle of the Bulge December 16, 1944 during World War II. In the game, the player takes control of a small group of American soldiers who must defend against the attacks of German paratroopers and fusiliers. The goal is simple but very difficult as the player has to attempt to do as well or better than the historic defenders by holding the attackers from taking the town of Lanzerath, Belgium to delay the advance of an entire SS Panzer Division. With limited actions each round, the player has to utilize their limited resources to attack the advancing German forces while also trying to accomplish objectives such as denying the Germans their equipment and strategically withdrawing to live to fight another day. The game lasts four rounds and each round has its own Assault Deck from which enemy counters are drawn along with nasty surprises such as mortars and MG42’s.

In Action Point 1, we took a look at the game board focusing on the Defender Combat Positions and Assault Tracks for the enemy Assault Counters. In Action Point 2, we examined the various Defender Counters and their Special Attributes and Action Designators. In Action Point 3, we dove into the makeup of the Enemy Attack Deck and discussed how the cards drive the assault and work against the player. In this Action Point, we will examine the interesting new Vehicle Counters and their uses.

Vehicle Counters

If you remember back to Action Point 1, we discussed the special white colored Vehicle Positions and the lone purple colored Vehicle Position located on the right side of the board. These positions are special areas that players can utilize during the game to access very important secondary actions that can assist in performing better in the game and obtaining a better score.

The 2 white Vehicle Positions are home to the Radio Jeep in 2 (white circle) and the Artillery Jeep in 3 (white circle). The M2 Jeep is located in the 1 (purple pentagon) space and this is where the M2 machine gun starts the game. It can fire from this position as it does have Line of Sight to several of the Assault Tracks that carry the purple pentagon symbol on the right side of those circles. You will notice that the Defense Value found in those circles is a bit higher than the corresponding brown square Defense Value as, once again, the M2 1 (purple pentagon) position is further away and also has their view obscured by trees in the forest.

These 3 Vehicle Counters are a nice addition to the game and give the player some additional ways to score Victory Points to improve their standing at the end of the game. But, these are not necessarily vital to the outcome of the game and players must be sure they are doing well in handling the onslaught of the Germans before investing resources into using these special abilities. You can score extra VP all you want but will still lose if your positions are overrun before the end of the 4th Attack Period. Let’s take a closer look at these Vehicle Counters and their role in the game.

Radio Jeep

The Radio Jeep counter is located in the 2 (white circle) position and is used by the player to call in intelligence to HQ regarding the makeup of the attacking German forces and their capabilities. The more information that can be passed to HQ, the better their chances of planning for and stopping these attacking units. The Vehicle Counter can only be activated by a unit that has the R (Radio) or Ri (Radio Intelligence) Action Designator printed on their counter. This includes either Bouck (R) who is not a part of any specific squad and has the special Inspire Attribute star or Fort (Ri) who is a part of A Squad. The Radio Intelligence Action is a bit of an odd duck as this action only gets you VP for your end game score and provides no immediate benefit for the player. It is very tempting to use but can be a disaster if you fail as it is also an action sink. A counter with the Ri or R Action Designator will have to move to Vehicle Position 2 (white circle) and then take Minor Actions to place Radio Tokens on the Jeep. Once 3 Radio Tokens have accumulated, the player can take a Major Action to attempt to give intel by rolling 1d6 per token discarded needing a result of 5 or 6 to move the Intelligence Track up 1 spot. This gains 1 VP for the end game scoring. That is all that this action accomplishes but is important if you hope to get a good score at the end of the game.

As mentioned, this Radio Intelligence Action takes an investment of a minimum of 5 actions (1 Move Action to move from the Log Cabin to the 2 (white circle) position, 3 Minor Actions to place 3 separate Radio Tokens on the Radio Jeep and then finally a Major Action that will exhaust the defender counter to then attempt to roll 3d6 hoping to obtain at least one 5 or 6). This is a big commitment and can take away needed actions to defend against the Assault Counters moving up the Assault Tracks toward the Defender’s Combat Positions. This is an action that I would recommend caution with, especially at first until the player gets more familiar with the game. You simply cannot afford to commit resources with no return in this game and 5 Actions for no results can be deadly.

I will say that in order to obtain a good score, the player must do some Radio Intelligence and be successful. If the player can somehow squeeze 2-3 such VP out of the action, it will benefit them greatly as in order to score a Minor Victory, the player must finish the game through Attack Period 4 but also amass 1-9 VP, which is pretty easy. But, in order to get a Major Victory you will need to amass 10-12 VP’s and you cannot reach this without at least a few such VP from Radio Intelligence. But make sure you are judicious about your efforts in this arena as it will not help you to survive the onslaught.

Radio Artillery Jeep

Now, let’s dig into the Vehicle Counter that will really help you survive the attack. The Radio Artillery Jeep allows for just Springer who has the Ra Action Designator to move to the Artillery Jeep located in Vehicle Position 3 (white circle) to use his ability to call in an artillery strike on the advancing Assault Counters. This is once again a multi-turn process and Springer will have to take a few Minor Actions to move to the position and then to place a Radio Token onto the Jeep and then a Major Action to discard the Radio Tokens there to roll 1d6 per discarded token to possibly remove 3 Assault Cards from the top of the Assault Deck. This is a high risk situation though as you still must roll a 5 or 6 on at least one die to be successful but can be a high reward as removing those cards means you won’t have to fight those enemies and it might just be the breather you needed to make it through a round.

For example, in the picture above, Springer does well rolling a 6, 5 and 2 which enables the player to then take the top 3 cards off of the Assault Deck and remove them from the game. This means that they will not get placed on the Assault Tracks and the Attack Deck will be shortened by these 3 cards. In this example, an MG-42!, Mortar! and Assault! Cards are removed from the game. This could be the difference between life and death for the player and this was a good result.

M2 Jeep

The M2 Jeep is a different case as the Jeep Counter itself does no good for the defenders. It has been used to simply transport the M2 Machine Gun to the battle and the Jeep sits in the 1 (purple pentagon) position and really only comes into play if the player leaves the M2 Machine Gun in that position and fires from there. This is not recommended but can work if you are focused on other actions. If the M2 Jeep is ever targeted and destroyed by Mortar fire, and the M2 Machine Gun in left emplaced in this position, then it will be destroyed and removed from the game and you won’t get to use it in attacks or Adjust Fire. You don’t want this to happen as that extra fire power is nice in holding off the flank attacks that come later in the game. I recommend that the M2 be moved from this location to another location closer to the right flank.

As I stated in the 2nd Action Point, these Radio Action Designators are a trick bag! Important and can make the difference between victory and defeat but costly and you have to weigh when is the right time to use them as you simply cannot afford to throw away 3-5 actions for no results.

The final thing that I wish to cover regarding the Vehicle Counters is when they are attacked. Sometimes, these Vehicle Counters can be targeted by Assault Cards in the targeted combat position. When they are targeted, the player will roll one 6-sided die and compare it to the Vehicle’s Defense Value. If the result is equal to or higher than the Vehicle’s Defense Value, flip the Vehicle Counter to its damaged side. If a Vehicle is already damaged, there is no additional effect from a mortar attack.

When Vehicle Counters have been damaged, they have the following effects:
• M2 Jeep: If the M2 weapon counter is emplaced in the combat position, it is immediately removed from
the game.
• Artillery Jeep: Must roll a 6 when performing Major Radio-Artillery Actions.
• Radio Jeep: Must roll a 6 when performing Major Radio-Intelligence Actions.

These damaged effects are not huge issues but can make those actions very hard to accomplish as it lessens the percentage chance of success. A damaged Vehicle Counter can still be moved onto the Deny Equipment Objective Card during the 4th Attack Period, which will gain additional VP for the player.

I really liked the addition of these Vehicle Counters as they gave me some additional things to think about and prioritize as I play the game. You will have to play it by ear each round and determine whether you can and should use these actions as each round will unfold somewhat differently based upon cards draws and dice rolls.

In Action Point 5, we will review a few examples of player actions including Attack, Adjust Fire, Close Combat, Assist, Command and Recover.