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Wacht am Rhein - 2nd Edition (2005)
Publisher: Decision Games
Designer: Joe Youst
Players: 1 to 4
Ages: 12 and up
Duration: 240
Languages: english 
B&B Price
1 in Penn
List Price $150.00
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On 16 December 1944, Hitler's armies suddenly seemed to have regained the insurmountable skill that had brought them victory after victory in the first years of the war. Most Americans at the time believed the inevitable triumph of Allied arms in the war against Germany was at most only a few weeks away. Yet Hitler was convinced the war could still be decided in the Reich's favor in the west. For many months, he and his closest advisors had worked to reorganize and re-equip the beaten divisions streaming back to Germany on both fronts. A massive surprise counterattack — deceptively code-named "Wacht am Rhein" (Watch on the Rhine) - against the weakly held Ardennes sector of the American front was prepared.

WaR2 is a grand-tactical simulation of that enormous three week battle. The more than 2,200 counters in the game represent every formation, at company and battalion levels, which fought in the Ardennes, including US, German, British, French, Canadian and Belgian units. Infantry, armor, anti-tank, reconnaissance, engineer, assault gun, howitzer, rocket, parachute, ranger, glider, and headquarters units are all fully represented in the counter-mix. The four map sections are an accurate representation of the Ardennes region. Compiled from the 1944 German staff maps and the 1943-1944 1:50,000 US Army map series, the area portrayed shows all primary and secondary roads, trails and other types of terrain in relation to their suitability for armor and infantry, along with all the towns and villages that proved to be the bastions of the American defense, as well as every creek and river that couldn't be crossed by wheeled vehicles without a bridge.

Players may use single map sections for the six smaller scenarios. There is also a campaign game that utilizes all four map sections and portrays about three weeks of the battle (50 game turns). In that one the Germans race for the Meuse River, the last hurdle before the open tank-country leading to the vital port of Antwerp, in the face of ever increasing concentrations of Allied infantry, armor and air power. Extensive supply, weather and air power rules are included.

This new edition of Wacht am Rhein presents extensive modifications to the combat, artillery and supply subsystems of the first edition in order to better depict tactical and operational warfare at this scale. For example, an "exploitation mode" has been added in order to allow mechanized units to take advantage of breakthroughs in the enemy frontline during the combat phase. That exploitation movement is actually interleaved with the opposing player's movement, working to completely recreate the fluid and chaotic situation as it existed during the first week of the fighting. Other changes include the addition of "vantage points," which function as high ground, enabling units to spot more effectively for artillery barrages, as well as "constricted terrain," which accurately represents the channeling of mobility caused by the steep gullies and ravines running throughout the Ardennes.

The orders of battle have also been extensively revamped in order to provide an accurate and functional depiction of the armies of both sides. All units of both sides are now deployed in the organizations within which they actually fought, not the administrative formations that were, in reality, quickly discarded due to the requirements of combat.

For more information, including rules translations, visit BoardGameGeek.
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