Saturday, September 26, 2009

Operation Market-Garden came to close this day in 1944

The survivors of the British 1st Airborne Division were rescued on this day (Sept. 26, 1944) 65 years ago.

This operation is generally considerd to mark the end of the end of the battle.

Operation Market-Garden is one of the most controversial battles of World War II. The stakes were high, the valor unmatched and the sides evenly matched. It was really a battle that could have gone either way and is one of the classic situations in wargaming.

It's not one of my personally focused topics. One has to draw the line somewhere and my main battles/campaigns that I follow are Midway, Gettysburg, D-Day, Bulge and Waterloo.

That said I do have quite a few games that touch on the battle. Most tactical WW2 wargame systems have a scenario or two on it like Memoir '44 or Tide of Iron. The TCS game Screaming Eagles in Holland is about one aspect of the battle.

Arnhem on

Cvering the whole battle is the free introductory wargame Target Arnhem, but by far my most played game on the battle is the old SPI quad game Arnhem which is on Hexwar. It turns out it's one of the most popular games on that subscription PBeM service and it works surprisingly well, especially when played with the optional Fog of War rules. That option provides hidden movement, which aids the Germans considerably. The Hexwar stats don't differentiate between games played with Fog of War and those played without. but I think the majority of Arnhem plays probably use FOW. The Germans have won (as of Sept. 26, 2009) 4,513, the Allies 3,517 and there have been a mere 13 drawn games.

My experience with the game suggests that playing without fog favors the Allies, while adding Fog of War makes it an even contest between experienced players. I think the Hexwar results are skewed considerably because the Allied side has a very steep learning curve. One error and you lose, so many of those losses are part of the learning process. Once a player learns what he must do as the Allied player, then it becomes a very tight and even contest.

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