Saturday, September 12, 2009

Walking On Omaha - Turn 1 US Action Phase

On to the US Action phase. Since we only have three units landed on the map, this will be pretty quick, but it's a good time to discuss the basics of this phase. To be fair, you don't have a huge number of decision points until now, things more or less just happen to you, although it happens pretty quickly and intuitively once you've done it a couple of times.

In the early part of the game, meaning up through turn 16 when the turns equal 15 minutes, you get two actions per sector. That doesn't seem like a lot, especially as you have units landing on the beach and getting shot up. However, there are a number of "free" actions that you can take that don't count toward this limit. It is important to note that you you can only use one action, free or not, per unit, and that some of those free actions are in fact mandatory. For example, if you have a unit with a disrupted marker on it, you *must* use a free action to remove the marker, regardless of the condition of the unit otherwise. For our purposes, the important free action to understand now is that of "preservation movement". What this means is that any *infantry* units on the beach that are not adjacent to a protective hexside such as a shingle, bluff, etc, may move one space for free *if* it puts them *closer* to a hex that does have such a hexside.

What is also important is that we have no infantry on the beach at all yet, but I might as well mention it now as it will come up next turn. Plus, you need to understand that the three tank units cannot take a preservation action, so any thing they do will require one of the "normal" actions. Fortunately, with only two units in one sector and one in the other, we are not short of normal actions to use.

At this point, we have really only one option for the tanks. If any of the German WN positions were revealed (they are not), we could Barrage them with the tanks. Interestingly, in the early game, only tanks can barrage, arty cannot. I assume this is because the arty units are still getting set up on the beach in the first three hours or so (although we don't have any onboard yet) and haven't set up the necessary infrastructure to do what they do best. Barrages are useful for temporarily shutting down German units through disruption for the most part, although it requires a card draw and a little luck. For now, best to simply move the units one hex, which is all any US unit can move in an action phase during the first sixteen turns. Here is the positions in the East sector after movement:

Notice that the leftmost unit moved into a space that has two Sporadic fire symbols. However, the other unit has fewer choices - it has to move into a space with two Intensive Fire symbols no matter where it goes. At some point, the unit needs to move off of the beach (for very good reasons - if you have five stacking points or more in a hex, those units are considered to have a "universal" target symbol on them, making Steady fire hexes as deadly as Intensive fire hexes, not a good thing). So, we move it up the beach and hope we don't get nailed next turn.

We do the same in the West sector:

In this case, there is an Intensive fire symbol, but we hope we'll get lucky. At some point in the very near future, we'll want to get as many of these units off of those hexes with Intensive fire symbols as possible. Note that ranged units, such as tanks, don't need to be right next to their targets, although there are some advantages for being closer rather than farther that we'll see as we move through the game.

Thus, we use one action in the West, two in the East, but no more units are available to take actions, so we finish the Phase. The next phase is the "cleanup" phase, but all you do in that phase is take the cards from the phase track at the top of the map to the discard pile, and look to see if we are supposed to shuffle the card deck. Placing the cards along this phase track is a great idea, as it allows you to look back and see what happened in every sector as the turn progressed. Note that there are some boxes that aren't used until you get to the extended game at turn 17, although for our purposes we won't be going that far as we're playing a shorter scenario (and are unlikely to document the entire game anyway).

That's it for turn one, I'll continue with turn two in a few days.

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