Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gaming Report - Kasserine Pass

     Yesterday afternoon my older son and I finished a game modeling the Battle of Kasserine Pass (1943), specifically the GDW game Bloody Kasserine [1992].  It is a mid-complexity wargame with units at the battalion level. I bought the game back in 1992, when it was new, and have finally, 20 years later, actually played against an opponent.
     Kasserine Pass was a step up in terms of the complexity of game for my son. This game includes air units, and specialized ground units like engineers and anti-aircraft (flak) units. Of course my son the plane expert knew all of the aircraft types, both American and German. I played the German side, which has more on the board in the first turns, but at least in the air finds the odds evening and shifting away to the Americans. My son had the rule booklet near memorized by the time we began, and he made few strategic errors. His plans may not have been Patton-esque yet, but he certainly stalled me out in the titular pass. The town of Kasserine is right in the middle of the map, but is actually one of the less strategically important towns. The airfield at Tebessa and the city of Le Kef are much more valuable. I never reached either of them, as the Allied forces went quickly on the offensive and hit me on the south side of the mountains, away from the crucial airbases. The Allied air support was notably more effective than the German's. Only time I've ever not liked the Supermarine Spitfire. They shot down a lot of my Me-109's and FW-190's. A lot of the battles were pitched at 1:1 odds, which is not my favorite, and resulted in the two sides locked in position without any ground being traded. There were a lot of flanking/surrounding moves on both sides. 
     In the end, my son held on to enough strategic ground to end up with a narrow Allied victory, nicely approximating the actual outcome of the battle. Maybe next time, we'll use the optional "what if?" rule that makes George Patton the commander of the Allied forces - this means the Allies get reinforced sooner, and get a movement point bonus reflecting Patton's hard-charging tactics. I'm pleased and excited to see my son's game improving, and as a bonus I have more fun from more serious challenge. I think I'm a big enough guy to congratulate my son if ever he should wipe the board with me.

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