Editor's Note: The following is an update on the Avalanche game project from Bruce Howland. This is a BIG effort -- it's a mini-monster game in terms of its overall footprint. In recognizing Bruce's efforts here and to more accurately reflect his work on the project, I'm re-classifying his status from Developer to Designer for this new Consim Press edition. The work he's already poured into this project and his focus on enhancing the original design is well worthy of this recognition, and it's well-deserved!
OK, you already know that the game will be a two-mapper, but the scale is now 1 kilometer to the hex covering an area from the Chiunzi Pass in the north to the hills just south of Agropoli (the scale was 900 meters but I wanted to make sure you have enough room for your counter stacks). We’ll have a total of about 200 battalion (5/8”) counters and roughly the same number of Company / Support unit counters (1/2”) plus an as-yet undetermined number of markers (maybe another hundred or so); we will be following the original Avalanche counter format of NATO symbols and vehicle silhouettes. John Kranz & I have been working on getting a top notch and well known artist for the artwork and once we have the agreement finalized we’ll announce it here, I’m pretty sure you will be very pleased.
Game mechanics: each side activates a formation (Regiment / Brigade) and gives it an order; Offensive orders are conducted immediately while Defensive orders are noted by assigning a chit to its HQ. Offensive orders are March, Hasty Attack & Assault, defensive orders are Defend, Reserve, Support & Delay (only Recon units may Delay). As I said before, a player will activate a formation, give it an order and complete that formation’s activities before moving on to the next formation, however before the active player activates his next formation the opposing side may interrupt and attempt to activate one of their reserve formations – if successful, the reserve formation gets to do its thing inside the active players turn; counterattacking a now overextended unit, plugging a hole in the line or just becoming a general nuisance to the now thoroughly irritated active player. Support orders allow a formation (usually artillery units) to add its firepower (offensively and / or defensively) to another formation’s combat. Formations ordered to Assault or Defend may also place one or more stacks in “Tactical Reserve”, the reserve stack(s) may move after the formation’s combat and seize a critical terrain feature or at least plug a hole before things get much worse.
This new iteration of Avalanche: the Salerno Landings places a heavy emphasis on opportunity fire a.k.a. Transit Attacks, as it will allow usually underappreciated weapon systems (for battalion level games) like heavy machine guns, light flak guns and smaller caliber anti-tank weapons to have useful applications and distinct flavors all their own. And while the dreaded German ’88 is heavily represented here in Italy, the constricted nature of the terrain doesn’t usually allow it to be used to full effect, but when it does, you, as the Allied player take particular delight in calling down several battalions worth of heavy artillery in payback after seeing one (or more) of your companies of Shermans reduced to scrap.
Each formation will have a Troop Quality (TQ) rating that will determine how likely a given unit is to hold its position, advance on the enemy, recover from losses, etc, etc. Now I hear you out there in the CSW; “But Bruce, that’s been done before and it always gets too involved and fiddly”, OK buckeroos I agree with you, but allowing your troops to disagree with you is very important too, so what we’re going to do is have a single ten-sided die that is rolled versus a single number, if you roll higher than the TQ number the attempt fails otherwise the troops are good to go; Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.
I’m looking at some optional rules too; and while I don’t like the old “having the Mk V Panthers available for early deployment”, I do think the possibility of holding onto the 1st Panzer Battalion and not sending it back to Germany to reequip is viable, and having another whole Mk IV battalion available on day one might be very interesting. Another option is allowing the US VIth corps to use pre-invasion naval bombardment by taking the extra support the British offered up (it was used instead on the British Xth Corps beaches). You see, the American commanders had this great idea, they were going to sneak up on Salerno and surprise the Germans by landing in the dark without a sound (Shhh, be vewy, vewy, quiet); now that’s all well and good but German air reconnaissance had been buzzing around the invasion fleet for several days before the landings and try as they might to send a message, all those aircraft with the tiny little black crosses still made no difference to our intrepid leadership, they were going to surprise them damn Nazis come hell or high water, so they turned down the pre-invasion bombardment option and landed anyway (with predictable consequences for the poor GI’s in the boats).
I’ve probably gone on for too long as it is so I’ll stop here and finish up by saying things are proceeding nicely (I’m having a great time) and I look forward to showin’ off our stuff at the Expo. Are there any questions I can answer for you?
Bruce Howland, Designer