If you think the DTW rules are clear or concise, please tell me. I hope I am not being obtuse about this but if you feel you can help, please email me with the answers.
Q/A and IC
3.11-.12 Leader determination. For a company or larger unit the CG card will instruct you to make additional leader DR" While the German l notes points this out, the Russian l note does not. It is true Russian companies (I1, I2) get only one leader this way? I understand a 7-0 is supplied as a SW.
A. No. The additional leader is supplied in this case in lieu of the extra DR. The 7-0 is supplied as an "addl. SMC". Note z reads "...the following SW/addl. SMC" and continues, "Guards Rifle Coy - 1 x HMG; 1 x MMG; 2 x LMG; 1 x ATR; 1 x Lt. Mtr.; 1 x 7-0. Thus, the note provides a second SMC, the 7-0 to I1. A second leader is then obtained as per 3.12. The Guards SMG Coy, I2, receives one leader as per 3.12. The Storm Pltn also receives one leader as per 3.12, and note I4 also receives a -1 DRM to their roll.
IC (Insightful commentary). Succinctness eschews obfuscation, or at least Critical Hit's version of a straight answer. It brings to mind Groucho Marx: I can't say I don't disagree with you. Bottom line (I think), Russian companies get two leaders while Germans get three.
Q. CGII I2 states that purchase
restrictions may be ignored for the initial scenario. But what
exactly gets ignored? Does this mean the purchased units are
available immediately? Or that more sections may be purchased, even
in excess of the Scenario and CG maximum, but only if purchased for
the initial scenario?
A. It's an I2 to I2 comparison, i.e., the German _may_ purchase the previously restricted M2, G1-3 not allowed by I2 in CG I.
IC. For CGII, this rule is not needed. Since each CG should be a standalone set of SSR (of FSR), I2 causes confusion.
Q. For the Russians in CG II, set up is
an area defined on one side along hex row G. The German setup area is
"south" of the Russians although the German FBE is West. I am trying
to confirm that you actually mean no Germans may _setup_ west of row
G but reinforcements may still enter along there?
A. The Russian set up is delineated as G1-G27-R32-KK23. Replace "south" with "southwest" or "outside of" to avoid confusion.
IC. Important clarification.
Q. German RG note A is interesting. It
states units as "available for on-map set up on CG day of purchase
[EXC: German Initial scenario]." Additionally CGI2 for both CGs
states neither side has purchase restrictions for the initial
scenario. Strictly interpreted, the German may not purchase OBA since
note a applies to several groups including the 'O' type. If CGI2 is
used, then the EXC clause is completely unneeded since both CG use
the I2 rule. What is correct?
A. The Germans may purchase OBA. Bring a radio in from off-board, do not add a phone for the Initial Scenario (i.e., on board as Germans enter from off board). No restriction on purchasing an Offboard Observer (O4) for Initial Scenario. Note a reads, "Available for on-map setup on CG day of purchase (EXC: German Initial Scenario)." The EXC simply reminds you this note does not apply for the listed RGs for the Initial Scenario.
IC. This question was my fault for not thinking through the cases enough. However, any updates may wish to make this more explicit.
Q. Regarding Russian entry from east
board edge hex, can the Russian just enter onto shoreline hex, as if
they have boat capability? If they are allowed to move onto
shoreline, how many movement points do they have left when do move
onto shoreline hex. Perhaps only the edge edge hexes that are not
shoreline are available for off board entry.
A. No. Correct.
IC. This is a significant change they forgot to mention. It cuts down on the entrance hexes by half.
Q. As far as setting up Set DC, the PL
rules state they may begin HIP. Without additional notation, this
implies it is discovered by the first enemy unit in that location.
However, the Red
Barricades rules does make this
explicit inclusion. Does DTW use
Red Barricades-style Set DCs, that is, they are HIP until the
location is searched? Does mere occupation of the location discover
A. Yes. No.
IC. A very important change; it turns DCs into little atomic bombs. Again, another example of very sloppy rules writing. If you had the experience of playing Red Barricades, you might question this. If you did not play Red Barricades why would expect to question this? Even if you did suspect this was the case, there in is nothing in the DTW rules indicate they intended it. I wish CH! would pull their heads out of themselves and bother to read the trash they are trying to sell.
Q. The cover art of DTW has the
following excerpt: "Students of this famous battle can recreate the
struggle with the tactical level game of their choice using the
enclosed, a full color historical battle map, all the play aids,
rules and campaign data you need. Whatever system you choose..." DTW
does not have all the rules you need. A copy of the
A. As is the ASLRB. All the new rules you need are included for play with ASL/Red Barricades.
IC. Sort of a snotty answer, don't you think?. While it would be a reasonable and unsaid assumption that the Rule book is needed as well as Beyond Valor, requiring a copy of Red Barricades might qualify for a mention. Other games state which modules are required. I do not have Red Barricades and bought DTW based on that disclaimer. Nothing is more frustrating than to get a new game only to find out you don't have all the components you need.
More Insightful Commentary and Fascinating Questions
The rules and rule book might have been better edited. They are missing sections, rules are referenced improperly and have several obvious omissions. All of which makes me think an insufficient amount of time was spent in preparation.
Set DCs. There is no special note saying they may be discovered only by searching. Are we to assume it is Red Barricades-like? That allows a Set DC to remain HIP even if enemy units occupy the Location.
Russians may buy MOL projectors. I assume this is the same of the Red Barricades version although there is no explicit reference.Again we have to guess what the designers meant.
Use of Red Barricades rules appear random. Also references to them are inconsistent. Debris correctly references rule O1 while Storage Tanks use RB9; there is a RB9 (Stuka Air support) but it probably intends O9.
The victory conditions for the initial scenario: Germans must control >= 15 Stone Locations within the Russian setup are at scenario end. Has any German not won the entire CG on the first date much less not captured 15 stone locations?
The debris example art in the rules uses a bad example. It shows hex H28 but the text refers to G28.
Does the Game Turn Track art work exclude the area it covers from play? For instance, is FF37 considered the east edge?
Can storage tanks not be destroyed by barrage? It seems funny that they can't.
The concept of railroad cars as LOS obstacles is good one. In practice, it's a bad one. The artwork is so small and the cars' color is so similar to the background, they become nearly impossible to see. Additionally, the last thing you want to do in games with excessive unit density is to be forced to remove stacks to see what is in the hex.
Curious is the inconsistent use of marking levels of buildings. If a building has a circled one in it, it is a two level structure. But if a building has a square two instead, it is a two level building. Rather than fancy artwork, just put the actual number of levels it has. For people who have memorized the rules book already, I do not think this will press us beyond the limit.
Are there gullies with cliff hex sides? The art work and poor choice of colors make this very hard to see.
Small hexes + Stacking density = Formula for disaster.
Cut out these mutual agreement clauses. Everyone knows that by mutual agreement the players can do anything. The last thing we need is a Q/A explicitly stating this.
DTW Fanatic Resistance Nests. Are they serious that *all* ground locations must be fortified? In some cases that there are as many as 33 locations. While some have as little as two, serious study of the map means this is just plain unreasonable. In Red Barricades, just being in a factory makes them fanatic; that and a Commissar.
CG3: Bore-sighting is allowed in a CG normally. States the obvious but was it necessary to do so? Please do not list rules that do not change anything, it just confuses matters.
I used to like crews for HMGs. However, in a game this size, they detract more than they add. The problems with stacking, the size of the stacks and managing those tall bad boys become more acute. Additionally, it significantly frees up German squads. Since this is an optional rule, I can't help but think play testing did not accommodate this. I would vote to remove all SW crews.
Do different colored open hexes make a difference? There seems to be a pale yellow (EE31) and brown (FF29). Cosmetic appeal?
N22 - some explosion, eh?
Has anyone figured the numbering system for DTW 15? It goes 15.4, A1.124, A1.1241, 1.1125, A22.3. Is this a prime number sequence I am missing?
The PL 2.01 Q/A needs a Q/A. The first Q refers to CG3 which actual means CG2. Similarly, the second question about CG 12 means CG 11. In fact, about half the references to numbered rules in the "Changes & Clarifications (PL2.01)" are wrong.
Platoon Leader rules should not be decimalized if you have rules greater than x.9. For instance 2.14 is the fourteenth section under what appears to be rule 2 (The Reorganization Phase). As a result 3.92 is a lower numbered rule than 3.10.
The Platoon Leader chart "Leader/Armor Leader Table" should be 3.1111 not 3.121. 3.12 is "RGs Ownership"
Platoon Leader fortification note for HIP states "No >15% of a side's non-Reserve Infantry squads [EXC: Japanese] may set up HIP...Japanese setup 10% of on-Map forces HIP." Shouldn't that be the other way around?
The Grain Elevator
(or as far as errors are concerned: Size Doesn't Matter After All)
For a small scenario (the map comes in the Special Issue 1997 CH! and is 11"x17") there are several mistakes. But we have come to expect that. Some of the comments are minor, some are obvious typos, however, some can't be overlooked. Remember, we are investing time and resources in these games. If unconcerned for our time, then we need to consider that of our spouses, children and friends. For what could have been a quick edit on the writer's part, ends up costing the players hours. Implicit to our enjoyment of The Game is the feeling a scenario is balanced and play tested. We have to question that foundation when we guess or suppose about such basic features as which units we have at the start or even what the victory conditions are. Having to do this makes me think it was not tested.
CGSR I2: Neither side has RGs purchase restrictions for the Initial Scenario.
Just because other games might have purchase restrictions, you don't need to point that out here.
Victory Conditions: GE1 Objectives: The
Germans win at the end of any CG Scenario if they Control (A26.1) all
stone buildings on the map. The Russians win at the end of any CG
Scenario of which the Germans do not control at least two stone
buildings (i.e., not Locations).
Draws can occur? I normally would not think so since draws are un ASL-like but CH 89 "Old Man Forward" does allow draws.
About as irritating as not using enough words to clarify their meaning is when they use too many words to confuse their meaning. I get the idea they just like to hear themselves talk. Take the GE CG Scenario Rules:
CGSR I1 - I4 apply only to the Initial Scenario and its applicable RePh steps. I5 applies to all GE1 CG Scenarios. All DTW rules apply (i.e., including 15.3 OPT. MG Crews and Support Weapon Teams).
Reading the rules, I2 and I4 specifically refer to the Initial Scenario anyway; I3 refers to the OB-given mortars and hence apply to the Initial Scenario. I suppose redundancy clarifies meaning but the first sentence is unneeded and tends to confuse the matter. It is curious why they explicitly included I1 weather as an Initial Scenario only rule; read the Weather chart at the bottom of the scenario card.
I5, weapon replenishment, is an RePh action, so why confuse matters by repeating the fact it applies to all scenarios?
I6, rubble attempt clearance, is not mentioned in the first sentence. It is here the confusion factor pays a dividend. While the first five rules may have been included for clarity, what of I6? Again we have to guess, and rightly so, that it applies to all scenarios, including the Initial one, but why do we have to guess at all? In other words, that first sentence is meaningless and actually detracts from the game.
Additionally, the game has a serious design flaw that might have been discovered had they tested it. For the Germans to win, they have to control all stone locations. But since the Russians usually move last and can enter from the north, south or east, they can advance in the last turn of directly to any building along one of those edge. Are the Germans to cover every hex along the edge and at the same time, conduct an assault in the middle of the board? One solution I have seen is to prohibit the Russians from entering on any hex the Germans have otherwise captured. That is a nice simple solution but now we are doing design and test for CH!
I also have to assume the last sentence requires the use of MG Crews
An Official Q/A Oddity
An interesting Q/A comes by way of Scott Romanowski's April 18, 1998 version of his compiled Q/A. It lists three Grain Elevator questions, none of which appear on CH!'s errata site. The first and third questions actually address the points above, the second one:
Grain Elevator CG-GE#1 ("The Grain Elevator")
Q. In the German order of battle 4 Flak Pz IV/20 (Wirbelwinds) are shown. In the scenario aftermath 4 Flak Pz IV/37 (Ostwinds) are mentioned specifically, Should the Germans have Flak Pz IV/20 or Flak Pz IV/37 ?
A. Flak Pz IV/37 [Misc26]
My version does not list any Flak Pz's nor has an aftermath. Also, if the game is balanced now, what effect would these 20 or 12 FP monsters have, much less four of them? The Chapter H listing has them coming out in late 1944, a full two years after this battle.
Comments on Platoon Leader as a system
Critical Hit! needs to be complimented for several things. It has developed the ASL line quite nicely and is forming real competition for AH. I understand now why AH legally went after CH! fearing them as a pretender, usurper or just plain challenger to the ASL thrown. Platoon Leader is a required addition to the lineup. It was clear a unified campaign game system was going to be developed eventually; with the releases of HASL, certainly no one doubted it would happen. Better yet, CH! realized it needed to be free as well. Since it is not a game per se, but a game system, it encourages the expansion of their product line. No longer are we burdened with having to buy a copy of some rules for every player involved. We buy the game from CH! and download the rules.
That is not to say the procedure is without room for improvement. While PL provides a generalized structure for CGs, we would disappointed if one system applies in all situations. Indeed, we would be skeptical it did. DTW, like many of the other games, provides so many exceptions to the rules, it seems PL is marginally applicable. Rather, CH! does a curious thing with DTW. The game is very similar to Red Barricades by AH, the same company that tried suing them, CH! incorporates RB rule references right inside the DTW rules. In what could appear to be some back room deal, you have to have Red Barricades in order to play DTW. I can see how that decision was made, but I would much rather have all the rules in one place. If Red Barricades CG rules are in effect, go ahead and list them in the DTW rules, risking a certain amount of redundancy. Even though AH has stated it clearly, I disagree with incorporating specific HASL rules modules such as KGP's Chapter P and RB's Chapter O into the main body of the rules A - H.
Comments on CH! as a company
I wrote 'Comments on Platoon Leader as a system' while still naive about Critical Hit. Since then I lost much of my positive feelings about them. Nevertheless I am leaving it in to remind me (and perhaps others) what CH! was like at one point. Not that they were all bad but neither were they all good. I would like to think DTW represents the worst they can do - sort of like Dustin Hoffman making Ishtar. But DTW is a horribly bad and embarrassingly poor product. I still expect Ray Tapio to issue a public apology and beg the ASL community's forgiveness. Clearly it was never play tested, proofread and is not "the result of extensive research and testing."
Perhaps DTW is a single aberration in their quality but I can not quickly dismiss it either. CH! might have lost perspective over the last few months. The game is much more than the sum of the physical components. Remember, part of the enjoyment of the game is the implicit knowledge the scenarios are tested and evaluated. Not only do players invest a lot of time in a CGs but others are effected as well. We have wives, children and friends, all of whom are impacted by our hobby. While they are patient and permissive with me, I will not tolerate any condition that wastes my family's time. In playing DTW, I felt that time, effort, money and commitment had been wasted. In my ASL world, that is one of the few unforgivable crimes.
Another aspect of the enjoyment of the game is the inherent confidence entrusted in the rules. As seen by the many typographical errors, the editing of the rules did not convey any feeling that designers spent time with their own creation. By the same measurement, why should we? It was ambiguous where the units set up, how many leaders the Russians received and what rules even applied to the game. Perhaps I am obtuse and perhaps smarter players did not have a problem with this, but had the rules been explicit and clear, much of this frustration could be avoided. This trend would continue during the playing of the game. All of which reduces the enjoyment if players have to continually guess what the designers meant. Adding to the frustrating was that many of the corrections could have been fixed during proofreading. That is, a change requiring only five seconds by the editor could have saved us weeks worth of trouble.
As always, I encourage discussion. If you agree or disagree, feel free to write me.