As my interest in the Italian front in WWI grows, so too does my desire to play a game related to it. With no painted miniatures and no rule set decisions made, my options are fairly limited. In fact, I currently only have one option, Burning Mountains.
Saturday night, I could hold back the dam no longer and I set up a game, with the goal to play though five or six turns to try to learn the rules.
That would turn out to be optimistic. After 2 hours I had played 1.5 turns and it was time to turn in.
The rules are not immensely complicated, but as an infrequent board wargamer at best (I've only played two others, Worthington's Hold the Line: The American Revolution and Minden Games' Remagen Bridgehead, the latter of which barely qualifies) they were beyond my usual fair and I admittedly struggled a bit.
Even setup took longer than I anticipated.
Here is the bulk of the board prior to the first turn (the observant among you will see a misplaced Austrian fort. It was moved before the game began officially, but by then my phone was put away):
|The setup. Not much to look at really|
I am either misunderstanding supply, I'm playing poorly or it's an actual issue. Either way, I'll make some by hand for next time.
In any case, having to worry about supply lines is a marked difference from anything else I have played.
I believe Featherstone talks about supply lines in his campaigns book, but it's not something that has been much a part of my gaming. Only recently using the Pz8 division-level WW2 rules, did suppply even come up as an in-game phase and it's quite abstract. The combination of large scale units of regiment/brigade level in Burning Mountains, and worrying about which units are going to be low on supplies, and therefore impeded in combat, because they are too far from the baseline or not on an unblocked road definitely feels more like I'm playing a higher level game - more concerned with operations than tactics.
Whether or not this game captures the feel of 1916 warfare in Italy, I can't say yet - I'm far more focused on learning the rules. The advantage given to units for higher altitude certainly seems to fit in with my reading, as does the first turn starting with the Austrian combat phase (in my game, this forced a number of Italian units to fall back one or more hexes right off the bat). Lack of supply for many Italian units became an issue by the second turn, and that too seems right.
At the risk of overstepping my limited experience with the game, I think it makes a better 1-player game than a 2-player game, unless the Italian player is of the kind that enjoys the challenge of denying points to the attacker, rather than trying to make gains of their own.