Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Game Too Far?

My son John was visiting me from BC this summer, and expressed a great interest in my board games collection.   John is a miniatures gamer, and knows W40K like the back of his hand, but he was intrigued by old school hex and counter games.    His birthday was coming up, so I gave him three websites, GMT Games, Compass Games, and Vassal, and told him to pick whatever game he liked that was still in print and had a Vassal module so we could play i by email.   More to follow on that.

I am not sure exactly how many Market Garden games a chap needs in my collection, and to be honest, my collection has a bit of a mind of its own and hasn’t been effectively curated over the years.  

I have four MG games by my count.   One is an Avalon Hill classic, and is a sort of operational/tactical hybrid, focusing on the British defence of Arnham.   Designed by Courtney F. Allen and published in 1981, it featured an ingenious area impulse movement system for its day and spawned several other AH games using the same engine, one on Stalingrad and the other on Monte Cassino.  Breakout Normandy used the same basic engine but at a larger, more truly operational scale. SOA is the only Market Garden game I own that I’ve actually played head to head, and it is a much better played H2H than solitaire.

Hell’s Highway (published 1983) is a strategic level game by John Butterfield, who was one of the stable of SPI designers who went to Victory Games.  John is coming to a gaming convention in March 2019 in Toronto, which is kind of exciting.   Maybe by then I will have actually played this game, or at least peaked inside the box.

I bought It Never Snows shortly after MMP published it in 2012, partly from what I’d heard about it and partly on the strength of its designer, Dean Essig, who has won a hockey sack of awards and has a long and distinguished design resume.    Alas, it is still in the shrink wrap.    Hopefully when I retire I can get to grips with it.

So, going back to my son John - what did he choose, but a Market Garden game?    Holland 44 is a 2017 GMT title, designed by Mark Simonitch, and is an operational, battalion-level game, starting with the airborne landings and ending on 23 September.  As with the other big titles (Hells Highway and It Never Snows), the game is a race to relieve or reduce the airborne bridgeheads before the Allied ground forces can get there.

Notice how GMT recycled some of Rodger MacGowan’s SoA artwork for the back of the box!

Well, that’s all I have to tell you for now.   I am waiting for John to tell me that he’s digested the rules (he is a demon for memorizing complex rule books) and then deciding what scenario and which side to play.   If you are interested in playing Holland 44 with me via Vassal, by all means let me know, I could use the practice.



  1. Sounds fun! I never really got around to trying these sort of games so can't comment on how complex or not they are. The only ones I got to try where the Games Workshop Horus Heresy and Armageddon type ones.

  2. Good relationship with your son Michael!

  3. Hexy goodness. Will you be posting on the game - or would that reduce the enjoyment of it?

    1. Hey Pat! I shall definitely be posting updates once we get the game going.

  4. Wish I had the time and space to set up and play this type stuff because I used to enjoy these hexmap games as a teen. I own a bunch too that were donated to me and really need to go to a good home...

  5. Nice collection of market garden games,admirable thoroughness!
    Best Iain

  6. We played the AH Storm over Arnhem a couple of weeks ago. It had been a while, but nice to get back to the evolutionary roots of the Area Movement games. Very playable and a fun evenings game …. I lost!


Blog Archive