Friday, October 23, 2009

Drive on Metz -- differences between editions

Drive on Metz is an introductory wargame first published in 1980 inside the pages of prolific game designer James Dunnigan's book, The Complete Wargames Handbook. Since then the book as gone through several print editions and is also available for download at Dunnigan's Website. It may well be Dunnigan's last print wargame to see the market, so in a sense it represents the distilled essence of his design philosophy.

It might have remained a bit of a curiosity, except in 2007 it reappeared -- in not one, but two brand-new print editions!

In one case it appears as a full-fledged wargame inside the pages of GMT's C3i Magazine, issue No. 20., on a countersheet otherwise filled out with variant and bonus counters for more than a half dozen other wargames.

The other edition is a more deluxe. stand-alone version of the game published by Victory Point Games.

None of the games differ substantively in the rules, although the sketchier rules found in Dunnigan's book are filled out a bit in the magazine version and much more in the stand-alone version, which includes more examples of play.

The game itself depicts the attempt by a US corps in Patton's Third Army to seize the ancient city of Metz before the disorganized Germans can react. The Germans forces are a hodge podge of units, seriously understrength, attempt to stop them.

Normally a wargame about a battle at this scale would be set at the battalion level in order to give each player a substantial number of units, but Dunnigan's aim is to keep things simple and one way he does this is by bumping the scale up a notch, the regimental level. This results is just eight US pieces battling 10 German units at the start, plus one reinforcement. Combat is handled with a D6 die roll on a differential combat results table. American units range from a 4 to a 7 in combat strength, while the Germans are 1s, 2s or 3s. The battlefield is full of restrictive terrain, with forests, hills, forts, cities and a couple of major rivers aiding the Germans.

The components:


Book -- Half-inch counters that you'll have to photocopy, cut out and past onto cardboard to use. The American units are black print on white, the Germans are black print on gray. An optional counter for the US 502d Airborne regiment is mentioned i the rules, but not provided. There's also a game turn marker.

C3i -- Half-inch counters that you can punch out. The American units are multi-colored on green, with two optional units, the 502d and an additional infantry regiment. The German units are multi-colored on gray for the regular army units and white on black for the SS. The German units are backprinted with a combat value one higher than their standard value for use in a variant. Besides the game-turn marker, there are markers to mark the capture of the cities of Thionville and Metz, which are worth VPs.

VPG -- Three-quarter inch counters to punch out. The American and Germans are colored much like the C3i version, but here the German variant units are separate counters. Again there are markers for the capture of Metz and Thionville and for the game turn.


In all versions the player has to provide a six-sided die.


Book -- The map is on back and white on an 8 1/2-inch by 5 1/2 inch page in the book. To play it will need to be photocopied.

C3i -- The map is in color on a 17-inch by 8 1/2-inch paper surface, with the actual map taking up half the area and the rest being fileld with charts and tables needed for play.

VPG -- The map is in color on a 17-inch by 8 1/2-inch cardstock surface. The actual map takes up about 60 percent of the area, with the tables and charts making up the rest.


Book -- 12 pages of rules in the book.

C3i -- Six magazine-sized pages as an insert.

VPG -- Six magazine-sized pages


Book -- Well, besides a 332-page book on the design, history and play of wargames, the book includes a 15-page illustrated example of play.

C3i -- A 48-page magazine with inserts, but nothing else directly related to the game.

VPG -- A four magazine-sized illustrated example of play. A setup map. A small insert about computer versions of the game.


Book -- It's free online, but the map and counters are rather poor-quality scans from the book. The 3rd edition of the book is listed at $23.95, but Amazon lists it as low as $16.

C3i -- Included in the magazine, which is $20.

VPG -- List price is $19.95, but currently on sale at $12.95.

There's not much to choose from in price between the different editions, although I think the Victory Point Games edition is probably the best value unless you also own some of the GMT games featured in the magazine, like Asia Engulfed, Flying Colors, Command & Colors Ancients, Down in Flames, etc. The book version is free, of course, if you download it, but more work to prepare.

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