Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mussolini as Schrödinger's cat

The Storch lands next to the hotel in preparation for evacuating Mussolini (represented by the German Victory Medal) under the protection of Otto Skorzeny (represented by the Green Battle Star counter). The landing site is well-guarded by German paratroopers, but note that each unit has lost a figure. At upper left is a unit of Italians (here depicted using Russian figures) trying to stop the evacuation.

Was he alive, or was he dead? It all depended upon when you looked, Thursday as Game Store Tony and I took a short break from our Russian Campaign to play a scenario from the new Memoir '44 Campaign Book 2, specifically the Rescue of Mussolini scenario from the Air Aces campaign.

I really wanted to try this one out because it's quite different from the typical Memoir '44 scenario. For one thing, victory is not based on medals -- but simply on Mussolini's fate. If he's rescued the Germans win, if not, they lose.

There are quite a few special rules and a chance to use pieces that don't see much use otherwise, such as the Storch liaison plane and paradrops.

The Italian force is comprised of eight regular infantry units deployed in four pairs across the hill and mountain hex adorned map. Mussolinui, himself, is represented by a German Objective marker in the Prison Camp Hex.

The German force is comprised of six elite infantry units which enter via the Paradrop procedure, which in Memoir '44 involves actually dropping the pieces from about a foot above the map! After they land the Germans can give a marker to one of the units representing the legendary German commando leader Otto Skorzeny. The fnal element of the German force is the Storch Liaison plane, which must be used to evacuate Mussolini.

On our first go around, the raid was pretty much a disaster. Two of the six German units were destroyed while landing and the others were scattered. While Skorzeny was able to lead two units in an assault on the prison that liberated Mussolini, the Italians seemed to have no shortage of useful cards, and were able to react energetically. A mad dash for some safe spot was unsuccessful and the Italians ended up mopping up the whole German force and recapturing Mussolini. The Storch was never brought on.

We set up and played again and this time it was the Germans who seemed to get most of the luck. Only one German unit was lost in landing and the three units in the eastern batch landed in a tight group near the hotel, as did one scattering unit from the western group. Skorzeny again led a charge on the hotel that liberated the deposed dictator but this time there were a bunch of supporting units along for the show. Meanwhile the Ilatlians had areal drought of usable cards, being stuck with several for a sector where they had no units.

The Storch was brought in, landed and took off with Mussolini for the win -- although possibly just in the nick of time, because the Italians had just drawn the Bombardment card, which Game Store Tony was clearly going to use on the grounded Storch if there had been another turn.

We agreed that we needed one more game to resolve the split, so we made plans to play a tie-breaker at the first opportunity!

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