As the week goes on here in Sunriver, there is a definite effect on the players (at least me) that I call Leaking Brain Syndrome. At some point, the relative lack of sleep and near constant tension and concentration start to wear to the point where even focusing my vision on a map requires more effort than I can muster. As such, we tried to schedule the week such that the heavier material would come earlier in the week, and for the most part we were successful. Two things in particular have really eaten away at my stamina - the first is having to search a ruleset for obscure situations (and sometimes obvious ones), which I've more or less minimized by studying the games we plan to play in advance through reading rules and occasionally running through a play session in advance. The second and more difficult problem is that many of these games require a close examination of the board situation and/or idiosyncrasies of the map. In other words, having a game that requires a lot of concentration to enjoy, such as BtB, uses up my resources much faster than a "ride" game, such as Arkham Horror.
And so it was that I immediately violated my second rule (lighter games later in the week) as Chuck and I decided to finish our BtB game in the morning. We only had a third of the game to go, which actually goes a bit quicker once the Western Allies start getting on the board and require more OPs and thus less time to resolve. This also, oddly, gives the Germans a bit of a breather on the Eastern Front as there are only so many OPs to go around, although it also requires the Germans to get their reinforcements out in a prompt manner so as to have units to deal with the Brits and US.
I began 1944 by putting up trenches on the Eastern Front, buying me a bit of time, while Chuck landed the Allies in France using Round-Up. This meant Calais, and he quickly learned why this is a Bad Idea when the Atlantic Wall has been built. A single 3-3-3 army held off the invasion, and a couple of extra units moved into the space thanks to the use of a 1-OPS on the second turn when Chuck forgot that you can't play OPS *cards* during the Spring Thaw. This effectively bottled up his forces in Northern France into the Summer, and he landed the Frogs in Marseille soon after, which were met by the Slowest Army In The World, Goering's Fliegelkorps. Unfortunately for Chuck the FJ threw the French out of Marseilles (his die rolling went seriously south for a couple of turns), and we ran into a very complex situation where we weren't sure if the French ended up eliminated in the space in question as they had to retreat two spaces, pushing them off of the beachhead. It was a bit of a mess, frankly, but it all ended up to Chuck's benefit when he got a US army and a corps into Vichy France.
At this point it was time to pull the Germans off of the Cassino Line in Italy, and form up a line just west of the West Wall, although the Allies had yet to get off the beaches in Calais. The Russians had convinced the Romanians to defect, but in general were having some trouble making serious headway in the northern part of Russia. As the end of 1944 neared, and Chuck realized he had just a few more than two turns to grab 20 points, he conceded. Kind of a depressing end to what had been a very tense game, although I think that had he rolled Hitler Orders one more time I would have had to burn some of those VP just to get the Balkan approaches to Germany secured as most of my units had been locked on the front line in the second half of 1944.
Chuck then picked up his game of Reds! with Tex, and Mike and I pulled out Combat Commander to play the Rubble Rousers scenario from the bonus sheet sent to P500 customers. This is a particularly interesting scenario as both the Russians and Germans are defending in Stalingrad, and each side sets up in a triangle of the board. Mike won handily when time ran out, although I came very close to doing serious damage to his broken units thanks to a fortuitous 150mm arty battery that showed up very late. Sadly, the first barrage drifted the wrong direction, and the second did as well as Mike pulled his final card to trigger Sudden Death. Even though I spent most of the game trying to do things that weren't working particularly well (it was very bad when a melee went wrong when I drew a three when I'd had a very good differential going into the combat and I lost eight points). Even so, this game will see so many plays, with great tension and relatively low situational complexity, in a scope that is currently only filled by the ultra-complex ASL and poor ruleset of Up Front!. Clearly the game of the year, and I strongly suspect the game of the decade.
At this point, Mike and I took time to get our blog entries up to date, followed by an attempt to get the leftovers eaten before we had to leave the next day. I'm always very sad to see the week come to a close, although I am happy to get home to normalcy (a good thing for me) and a comfy bed and regular sleep schedule. And my wife and dogs, of course.
I will post the evening game with the report from Day 7 (which will consist mostly of a Formula De game) in the near future. Thanks for following along if you've been with me this far.