My preference in designing a game is to include those elements
that affected or could have affected events. In America
Triumphant this took the form of German supply limitations,
amply covered by the use of diminishing German command points,
Hitler's influence on the allocation of forces, covered by
rolling for reinforcements, and the small (read insignificant)
paradrop, which has its own rule, the length of which outweighs
the value, but is required to cover the unlikely event that
the drop actually accomplishes something.
Other elements bear some explanation, mainly the lack of a
bridge-blowing rule for the Americans and “special rules”
for the U.S. 106th Infantry Division. While it is true that
American engineers opposing the northern wing of the German
advance blew several bridges, but only to halt the Germans
in front of the positions to be defended. The bridges were
not blown and then the locality abandoned. The Americans knew
they were going to return and did not engage in strategic
bridge destruction, and the Germans needed every bridge intact
in order to continue the advance (and the Americans could
place a bridge in very short order).
Hammer of the Plutocracy.
The green 106th Division was mauled in the opening days of
the Bulge offensive, but more as a result of their wide frontage
and unpreparedness than any particular flaw with the formation,
which is simulated by the first turn special rules governing
German chit draws.
Play in America Triumphant usually begins with
the German player breaking through in the south and driving
in the northern shoulder of the American position. The ability
and willingness to exploit a hole in the enemy line is the
measure of risk taking on the German part. The Allied player's
risk is inherent in the decisions regarding unit placement
in containing a breakthrough. Uncertainty regarding the order
of, or even ability to, move can test the hardiest of souls.
I have seen players who would press an opponent at every turn
play circumspectly because they can no longer count on getting
the next move and see in their opponent the ability to do
Of course this is always the case, and players must realize
that because their opponent can do 100 things does not mean
that every one of them will be done. A German player’s
willingness to conduct overruns, for instance, can be the
difference between a steady but overly slow advance and a
breakout that threatens to encircle an entire portion of the
line. This also allows the personalities of the players to
be an even bigger part of the game. As was historically the
case, the German must take ground and destroy units, and the
Allied player retain ground and not lose too many units. How
each accomplishes their objectives by balancing these two
all but mutually exclusive goals is the heart of the simulation.
The game system used in America Triumphant, Alsace,
(with one modification), Red God of War and a number
of projects in the works is the result of the combining of
two of my favorite game systems to simulate the fluid and
uncertain nature of war at the operational level.
The first system is the old SPI standard, Panzergruppe
Guderian, a favorite from my youth. Many enjoyable gaming
sessions have I spent playing PGG and several of its derivatives
(Cobra, Drive on Stalingrad and Kiev to
name the best). At one point I challenged one and all to beat
me at Cobra, something that happened only once in
many games (Randy Heller besting me in a wild but tight game
where I killed Patton but could not win). Cobra appealed
to my anal-retentive nature where understanding the relationships
between game elements (movement, overrun, combat supply and
replacements) made meticulous planning and careful execution
a deadly combination. In the final analysis, it is a very
regimented game where detailed operations can be conducted
(where will all my units be placed to best exploit or contain
a breakout, where is the best place to halt the retreat and
establish a new line, etc.) and knowledge of who moves when
and how far limits possible responses to a manageable number.
The second system is the MacArthur's
Return chit system from our first pair of game releases
in 1994. The drawing of chits and the limits on which chits
can be played provide players with a level of uncertainty
that depicts the fog of war without a mountain of rules. The
uncertainty as to whose action is next (or even if they will
get an action) makes for a decision-making environment where
risk is a much bigger part of the equation and must be weighed
more carefully, but with less certainty than I-go, you-go
game systems. I find that players focus more on the objectives
than the turn-by-turn movement and combat details and attempt
to discern their opponents overall plans or, when on the offensive,
impose their own in a more realistic fashion.
From my love of these two systems came the desire to combine
the best elements of each. The first opportunity came when
I selected the Soviet 1942 “Mars” winter offensive
as an area of study. Recently-revealed Soviet records and
the interesting timing and nature of the battle made it very
attractive as a game. Here was a major Soviet offensive not
previously covered in a wargame. The battle was huge in terms
of scope and was expected to eliminate a major German salient
in the North and possibly lead to a repeat of the Soviet Winter
1941 success. That it did not succeed was by no means a certainty
and required the commitment of German forces from Army Group
Center that could have been sent south (and later were) to
oppose the Soviet “Saturn” offensive that ultimately
destroyed the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad. Soviet estimates
of German strength and their own forces’ capabilities
were optimistic and the improved tanks and fresh forces could
not overcome their own poor command and control and a tenacious
defense. The German line was repeatedly bent, but never completely
broken. Even in terrible winter weather conditions, the Germans
were able to reinforce and even counterattack in those sectors
most threatened. The offensive did succeed in wearing down
the Germans so that a similar offensive on their part was
not possible and the dispatch of reinforcements south delayed.
Command limits in the game represent the supply (all forces)
and command (Soviet) problems that plagued commanders on both
sides. Weather, as always, is an outside force that can destroy
the best laid plans. Soviet forces include those poised to
launch the second phase of the operation and pinch off the
salient. Players can optionally release these forces to operate
with the first phase, although supply problems will reduce
the effective period of operations if they do so.
I was very happy with the game and the system and set it
aside as one to be produced later. It wasn't too many months
later when Mike asked about doing a game on the Bulge in a
small format. I offered to do one using the same system and
America Triumphant was quickly produced. Supply was
not a problem for the Americans, so it was dropped, but German
fuel shortages were conveniently portrayed by the command
limits table. The possibility of the German player receiving
outside reinforcements was pretty good and additional units
were historically committed after the offensive began. The
replacement pool concept was born and the German player given
the ability to request additional units.
Two additional games have been produced: Gazala,
which uses a scale different enough to require the addition
of anti-tank combat, and Alsace, a small game covering
operations along the southern French-German border in late
1944 and early 1945, most famously the German Nordwind offensive.
Each game includes scenarios of operations that were planned,
but not conducted and Alsace can be played in conjunction
with America Triumphant and forces and supplies from
one game sent to the other. Alsace, and others, include
outside political and command influences which may limit operations,
the commitment of forces, or the definition of victory. The
system is ideal for covering large to very large battles and
campaigns. Future games might include the fighting at Alamein,
the Italian campaign, the battle for Normandy, the battles
for the Kerch peninsula or many, many others.
Brian L. Knipple
Clarifications to America Triumphant
(Not applicable to other games.)
The river running through Liege is the only major river on
Machine Gun Units.
The three factors on German machine gun units are (from left
to right) attack strength, defense strength and movement.
The late insertion of the special rules in section 13 led
to a mismatch between the rules index and rules body references
to section 13. In all cases a reference to a 13.# rule should
read one higher (13.1 should read 13.2 and 13.5 should read
13.6, for example).
Somehow the costs to enter and exit enemy zones of control
were deleted in the final map file. The cost to enter an enemy
ZOC is +1 movement point. The cost to exit an enemy ZOC is
+ half of the unit's current movement allowance (round any
The American VIII and V Corps headquarters unit set up locations
are reversed (this has no effect on game play).
Use of Air Power.
Air power is available on both clear and cloudy turns. Rule
3.2 is incorrect; rule 11.3 is correct.
Weather conditions have no effect on reinforcements or German
supply points (3.1 is misleading in this regard).
Engineer units have no special powers in combat or in river
crossings other than to build bridges (the implications in
11.7 are misleading on these points). The Allied player may
not destroy bridges.
The 507th Parachute Regiment should be part of the 17th Airborne
Division, not the 82nd. The 289th Infantry Regiment (of 75th
Infantry Division) was duplicated; the extra piece is not
The only modifier to this die roll is to subtract 2 from the
result in snow turns (the plural “modifiers” should