My wargames buddy Matthias recently proposed to play The Dark Sands from GMT. This we will do and certainly there will be a post on our game. Normally we prepare by reading the rules and setting up a game solo to get used to the game mechanics. When I went for this I reminded myself of a huge box in my COSIM library: The Dark Valley.
I do not like the mounted map board too much. While the map itself is excellent, when I set up the game I feel the urge to glue the map board to the table. I just cannot figure out how to get it to lie flat on the tabletop.
The counters are quite basic, and that is fine for me. This makes them easy to decipher. The accompanying charts are excellent the rules are largely well written , the index is very helpful. Some information though I find could have been highlighted, i.e. the rules for the maximum length of a logistical path to a supply source.
My thinking is that the game system of the “Dark” series is similar enough that I can prepare for our game by going for The Dark Valley. So on I went for a solo game. Here I submit a few shots from the June 1941 invasion turn of Operation Barbarossa.
Turn 1 June 1941 Operation Barbarossa
The Germans have reached a line southwest of RIGA to west of VILNIUS, BREST-LITOWSK, and LWOW. The latter city accounts for the only Victory Point taken by the Germans.
For Army Group North the situation is still fluid. No Soviet units were isolated or put out of supply. So there is still much work to do for the Germans before they can move towards LENINGRAD.
Army Group Centre was very successful in isolating and killing many Soviet units. The runway towards MOSCOW is now cleared of enemy units right up to west of MINSK.
Army Group South has me much resistance and thus made little progress. After all the Germans have taken LWOW for the first Victory Point.
Most probabely I could have made better use of the German Air and StuG Assets. Some Panzers might have moved to more effective positions to isolate more Russian units with their ZOC. Also I noticed that I used the wrong Combat Chart for the Stalin Mandated Counterattacks resulting in 3 German units killed due to the BL1 result instead of the correct NE. Aslo I forgot to apply the rule 12.3.c for step loss. This might have resulted in more German ZOCs than would have been correct. I deemed it impossible to retrack all this so I decided to keep the results.
Although the Germans have the upper hand in the first few rounds I think its a challanging game. Overrunning the puny Sovets forces looks all so simple first, but I estimate that the Germans will strech thin on the long run. For the Soviets the task is to delay the Germans so they cannot take MOSCOW. If this means throwing in dozends of Soviet divisions, so what. The Soviets will get better forces in the start of winter.