First game question – strategy, comments, and rule clarifications


  • i played my first game of BOTB last night as the allies.  despite it being my opponent’s first game and me studying the strategy articles here to put a strong defence, i lost big time.  i hang on my a miracle in turn 5 and lost in turn 6.  my post includes two parts.  (1) a debrief from my game.  (2) possibly strategy ideas and general comments.  (3) rule questions.  any feedback would be greatly appreciated.  here’s a map for reference:

    http://www.wizards.com/avalonhill/images/AA_BoB_map.jpg

    (1) on the first turn, germany killed or drove back all 8 of my hexes.  the axis simply advanced all of it’s units west by one hex.  here’s what i did, starting in the north and moving south.  (a) art died, inf retreated to eupen.  (b) inf died, one art retreated west.  © died.  (d) died.  (e) inf retreated west (so i could waste a supply from st. vith moving it there).  (f) art died, inf retreated west.  (g) inf and art from delutch retreated west.  (h) died.

    from here, i used 2 supply from eupen.  1 to bring in the art from the SW, and the other to move an inf out of eupen to the SW.

    i burned 4 supply from st. vith.  2 to blitz the tank to there, 1 to move the retreated inf to the SW there, and 1 to activate the inf in st. vith but i opted to not move him.

    that’s all i could move.  to reinforce, i put everything on my northern chart into eupen, and i put my two tanks into bastonge.  i also used only 1 truck and brought just two supply to bastonge.

    (i was trying to prevent losing supply and truck to the enemy, and i succeeded.  the entire game i never had extra supply that even could have been captured, and i never lost a truck.  i also gave up on trying to hold a continuous line since i only had 10 units alive after the first round, i figured they would all just die if i spreaded them out.)

    on the 2nd turn, i wont the initiative and struck out of eupen.  the axis was able to advance one square west everywhere except for eupen.  on the 3rd turn, i once again dumped all of my northern chart into eupen and everything else into bastonge.  i won the initiative again and struck out of eupen.  the axis advanced one square west everywhere except for eupen again and bastonge.  on the 4th turn, and axis won the initiative and ended up driving out of both eupen and bastonge.

    at this point, on the 5th turn, the axis had 19 points, and were threatening five 3-point cities: neuf, liber, orth, la roche, and verviers (i could afford to lose only 1 of them).  i ended up abandoning la roche, and by a miracle defended the other 4 cities, but then i lost all of them on the 6th turn.

    (2) after the fact, i realized that i had 8 trucks at the end of the game, but only used 2 at a time.  what a waste.  despite frimmels warning about risking losing these to the enemy, i think it would be smarter to bring in a truck with one supply to the front line just to provide two cover shots–provided there are at least 3 defensive units there.  would it be smarter to dump the northern chart into eupen only once, and split the 2nd round troops into bastogne?  i thought about it for a long time, and i decided that the allies just can’t afford to lose eupen.

    (3) my opponent and i found some of the rules ambiguous. 
    (3a) specifically the state of a square going into “enemy control” and being in a “zone of control” were not 100% clear.  when, exactly does this occur?  do these hex states update immediately after the axis movement phase?  or do they update after the axis reinforcement phase?  or do they update after the allied movement/reinforcement phase?

    for example, say in a hex the allied troops are forced back and the axis player moves his troops forward into the original allied hex.  at some point, this originally allied hex become under enemy control, placing the retreated troops in a ZOC, but when?  if a truck is there, it can still go off board, but my opponent and i found the allied troops are trapped.

    for a 2nd example, say in city wierbomoar all the allied troops are killed, leaving a gaping hole in the line, an open westerly path to Huy, and the middle of the board wide open.  if axis troops claim the city in the movement phase, does that mean an axis truck can drive along the road through wierbomoar (no longer hostle?) all the way to Huy and drop off troops Huy (provided of course that road isn’t in an allied ZOC)?  then do they get to claim Huy as well?

    (3b) i also found the rule about placing reinforcements ambiguous.  the rule book states troops can be placed on the edge of board from the proper side if they are not “under enemy control”.  then there is a 2nd explaination (with an image with green/red hexes) saying “on the proper side of the line” that doesn’t completely jive.  we had an exception in our game.

    consider this example.  the allies have troops in the southern city of mar, and the axis kills all of them.  during the axis movement phase, they blitz tanks through mar to the west, and end up with no troops in mar.  so my question is, can the allies put troops from the southern chart straight into mar?  according to the green/red chart, this is still on the proper side of the front line (it hasn’t updated yet).  i think the city is controlled by the enemy since the blitzing tanks claimed it (right?), but, since there are no troops there, is it “under enemy control” for reinforcement reasons?  i found “under enemy control” means has enemy troops in it, so we found that i could place troops there if i wanted (to cut off retreat).  agree?

    -c

  • Official Q&A

    @bigchris:

    (3a) specifically the state of a square going into “enemy control” and being in a “zone of control” were not 100% clear.  when, exactly does this occur?  do these hex states update immediately after the axis movement phase?  or do they update after the axis reinforcement phase?  or do they update after the allied movement/reinforcement phase?

    Control of a hex and a unit’s zone of control are two different things.

    Control of a hex is determined entirely by the position of the Front-Line Markers.  If the hex is on the Allied side of the lines, it is controlled by the Allies.  If the hex is on the Axis side of the lines, it is controlled by the Axis.  The Front-Line Markers are moved during the Board Upkeep phase.  If Axis units move across the line, the hex is still Allied-controlled.  This hex is said to be Allied-controlled and Axis-occupied.  During the Board Upkeep phase, the Axis units will claim control of the hex.

    Zone of control is a different matter.  Infantry, Tank and Artillery units always exert their zone of control for one hex around them.  This has nothing to do with which side controls any of the hexes involved.

    @bigchris:

    for example, say in a hex the allied troops are forced back and the axis player moves his troops forward into the original allied hex.  at some point, this originally allied hex become under enemy control, placing the retreated troops in a ZOC, but when?  if a truck is there, it can still go off board, but my opponent and i found the allied troops are trapped.

    When the Axis units move forward, the retreated troops fall under their zone of control, and vice versa.  However, the occupied hex is still controlled by the Allies at this point.  That won’t change until the Front-Line Markers are moved in the Board Upkeep phase.

    @bigchris:

    for a 2nd example, say in city wierbomoar all the allied troops are killed, leaving a gaping hole in the line, an open westerly path to Huy, and the middle of the board wide open.  if axis troops claim the city in the movement phase, does that mean an axis truck can drive along the road through wierbomoar (no longer hostle?) all the way to Huy and drop off troops Huy (provided of course that road isn’t in an allied ZOC)?  then do they get to claim Huy as well?

    No.  Werbomont is still controlled by the Allies when the Axis units move.  The Trucks must stop there.  This applies to Tanks as well, however they may do a blitz movement and move one hex further if you wish.

    @bigchris:

    (3b) i also found the rule about placing reinforcements ambiguous.  the rule book states troops can be placed on the edge of board from the proper side if they are not “under enemy control”.  then there is a 2nd explaination (with an image with green/red hexes) saying “on the proper side of the line” that doesn’t completely jive.  we had an exception in our game.

    The position of the line determines control.  Just as with movement, you can’t place reinforcements into a hex occupied by enemy combat units.

    @bigchris:

    consider this example.  the allies have troops in the southern city of mar, and the axis kills all of them.  during the axis movement phase, they blitz tanks through mar to the west, and end up with no troops in mar.  so my question is, can the allies put troops from the southern chart straight into mar?  according to the green/red chart, this is still on the proper side of the front line (it hasn’t updated yet).  i think the city is controlled by the enemy since the blitzing tanks claimed it (right?), but, since there are no troops there, is it “under enemy control” for reinforcement reasons?  i found “under enemy control” means has enemy troops in it, so we found that i could place troops there if i wanted (to cut off retreat).  agree?

    Yes, the Allies can place units there.  The hex is on the correct side of the lines and there are no enemy combat units in it.  In order to gain control of a hex containing an enemy City, Supply and/or Truck, you must have combat units actually in it during the Board Upkeep phase.  If Tanks blitz through a City and leave no units behind, the City does not change control during the Board Upkeep phase, and a pocket of enemy territory is created behind the lines (see page 22 for an example).

    I hope this helps.  If you haven’t already, check out the FAQ for more information.

  • Official Q&A 2007 AAR League

    Hi, a couple of things.

    Krieg is once again spot on about the rules.

    My strategy articles probably could use a revision and expansion.

    One of the things the Allies can do is stick a few trucks into hexes to use as fodder. It has proven a pretty useful idea. Particularly in places where the Axis can not put enough dice on the town to kill all the units. It will spread out the hits a little. Remember you only need one to pull out the strip and get an extra ‘address’ and help protect some of your combat units.

    The trick is to not lose to many trucks in this way and to use them in spots where they will get killed and not captured. This should also not short change your options for moving troops and supplies. But if you have the extra trucks using them as fodder is pretty useful.

    As far as the line goes. Early on it isn’t so much about keeping a continuous line but preserving units and preventing deep penetrations of the Axis. This is really something you can only learn by experience. You have to be working your units back to the Eupen-Bastogne line (the anchors) while hampering the Axis ability to bring up supplies. If you can control key road hexes you can keep the Axis supplies from the front and hamper the advance despite being behind on units or not having a continuous line. Six tanks against one infantry lose if the tanks have no supply.

    Make good use of ZOC of your units.

    Also don’t be afraid of a wholesale retreat but Eupen-Bastogne is the ‘here and no further’ spot.

  • Official Q&A

    Frimmel is once again spot on about strategy.  😄

  • Official Q&A 2007 AAR League

    @Krieghund:

    Frimmel is once again spot on about strategy.   😄

    Thanks.  🙂

    It is tough to play the Allies.

    Although I’m at a spot where I wonder if there needs to be a rule that the Allies need to maintain contact with the Axis.

    Last game I pulled everything back and reformed the line on turn 3 and that was it for the Axis well, my opponent conceded. I don’t think it was as grim as that but he wouldn’t play out another turn.


  • Krieghund and frimmel, thank you!  not only did you guys answer all of my questions, but also you did it quite clearly and in a matter of just hours.  you guys are awesome!

    i do have one more rule clarification that i just rememberd, and i’d like to get from Krieghund. 
    (3c) is it legal to consume a supply to activate a unit for movement, and then decline to move it?  similarly, is it legal to consume a supply to activate a tank blitz, and then decline to blitz it?  the rules state the activated unit “may” be moved but do not specify that it shall be moved.  so i could see how this could go either way.

    frimmel, i thought this tactic would be good to use in st. vith on turn 1 to kill supplies the axis would otherwise claim on turn 2.  also, frimmel, my idea here was to defend st. vith, but i get the impression from your post that your strategy is to retreat from st. vith on turn 1 and just leave ~4 supply there. 
    @frimmel:

    Last game I pulled everything back and reformed the line on turn 3 and that was it for the Axis well, my opponent conceded. I don’t think it was as grim as that but he wouldn’t play out another turn.

    is that right?

    -c

  • Official Q&A

    @bigchris:

    i do have one more rule clarification that i just rememberd, and i’d like to get from Krieghund. 
    (3c) is it legal to consume a supply to activate a unit for movement, and then decline to move it?  similarly, is it legal to consume a supply to activate a tank blitz, and then decline to blitz it?  the rules state the activated unit “may” be moved but do not specify that it shall be moved.  so i could see how this could go either way.

    No, if you pay for an action you must perform it.  However, you can use a Supply token to perform a legal action that is useless, such as moving a Tank out of a hex then blitzing right back into it.

  • Official Q&A 2007 AAR League

    I defend St. Vith only to the point of denying the Axis the entire supply dump (2 or less supply) and then abandon it. Mostly this is just till movement turn two. If you are lucky (Axis doesn’t kill any units) you can hold till Allied movement on turn 3. But past that and you are probably sacrificing your troops for little gain.

    Be careful with wantonly burning the supplies in St. Vith at least on turn 1. Remember supplies are an address for hits too. The Germans might do you a favor and blow up the supplies instead of your troops. You also will be able to shoot with them.

    Managing St. Vith correctly alone, won’t win for you. While getting it wrong isn’t quite enough to lose it carries a pretty good penalty. I would equate it to getting a punt blocked or muffing a punt return in football. Not a disaster but certainly making it hard on yourself.

    Make sure as the Allies you are leaving St. Vith on your terms not the Germans’.

  • Official Q&A 2007 AAR League

    @bigchris:

    @frimmel:

    Last game I pulled everything back and reformed the line on turn 3 and that was it for the Axis well, my opponent conceded. I don’t think it was as grim as that but he wouldn’t play out another turn.

    is that right?

    -c

    Yes. I offered to change sides of the board to keep playing. I came out on the right side of some bad rolls. More than half my intial units made it through turn 1.

    I went two deep instead of two on the front at a couple of key spots. Stacked St. Vith pretty deep (like six units or something) and came out decent again on turn 2 combats. So I just disengaged from the Axis and reformed the line. It was the first game I tried that. It was also the first game I had enough units to try it.

    The Axis would have lost a whole turn of attacks and I would have been able to dig deeper at my key cities and given the line depth and even with losing units turn 4 Germany would have gained no real ground. It was a rout. Mostly due to luck on turn 1 though.


  • I tried this in a my 2nd to last game as the allies, just purposely pulled everything back from the front that survived (slowly and shooting when I could) while I dumped everything into a line from leige-weirbomont-laroche-bastogne (sorry, don’t have a big version of the map with me to read and spell names correctly).  I retreated (shooting) from malmedy back to weirbomont  and also from clerveax back to bastogne.
       once there I reinforced everything I there and once the axis arrived i always kept one truck in the cities along with fuel to take hits.   When air support arrived I aimed for and pounded where ever the axis had a truck and hopefully where that supply dump supported 3 surrounding zones.
       This was the first time where my air power actually seemed to do anything (could be that I quit splitting air force into 3 groups and went to 2 or even 1)  my opponent always won initiative on air power and always had me place first.  He put all of his into where ever most of my planes were. 
      It had to do with some luck, but targeting his trucks seemed to be the key for me–by turn 6 he only had two left and they were in a ZOC so they couldn’t leave the board to resupply.  He only needed 4 points but only had enough on board supplies to attack either bastogne or leige.  He chose bastogne and moved everything he could to attack from 3 hexes.  After the battle, i had 1 tank and a truck in bastogne, and he had lost all of his trucks.

    This was quite a change with the allies generally winning on turn 6.

    So after this we swapped sides and played again.  I figured that he with would try what I did and was wondering what I could do to change it…   
       What I came up with was because Clerveax was cleared, I blitzed tanks right up to the doorstep of Bastogne and didn’t allow him to move his tank from south of Clerveax to move and block me.  He began pulling back as before but he had to put more into bastogne to start.  Well, he destroyed all of my tanks at bastogne, but my supply lines were opened all the way to the gates and by the end of turn 2 I had a sufficient force to threaten bastogne.  I also chose to strike more through Malmedy than into eupen.
       by turn 4 i had taken Ortheuville and was threatening the 10 points of cities just northwest of there as well as the down towards Libramont.  It all happened so quick that the allies just couldn’t put enough units anywhere in the south to hold anything.

    thoughts about this… maybe not be too cautious to blitz tanks and lose them, because they can open supply roads.  I lost tanks blitzed to Ortheuville and Bastogne, but was able to move into them soon after because roads became clear.

    So in the span of like 5 hours we saw our first rout by the allies followed by an even scarier rout by the axis and unless we missed some rule that should have kept something from happening, we now have more questions and interest in the game than before.  we’ve played most of the AA games, and BOTB has to be arguably one of the best.

  • Official Q&A 2007 AAR League

    Sounds like the Allies in the second game didn’t give their line any depth. Did the Axis wipe out all the intial Allied defenders?


  • they did, only the tank in the south even survived, –in the north, a couple infantry, an ART and the tank.  Allies should have dumped more into Bastogne and surrounding area i guess. 
      And since nothing else survived, the tank was cut off from supplies and allies didn’t bring any more up to allow it to even move.

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