60 - Cities of the Damned
No two conflicts show the breath and scope of urban warfare the Western Allies ran up against in 1944 than the battles for Aachen and Cassino. Both campaigns tell a very similar story about the high price of hubris and the quality of courage. Cities of the Damned features two challenging solitaire games in which the player must lead his Allied forces to victory in two of the WWII’s most intense battles.
Cassino by Paul Rohrbaugh: In early 1944 the western half of the German “Winter Line” in Italy was anchored by the town of Cassino high up on Monte Cassino, which also featured a centuries old Benedictine Abbey atop the peak. The position utterly dominated the surrounding valleys, so much so Allied troops HAD to take it to continue advancing on Rome.
Facing some of Germany’s best soldiers, the area was only captured 5 months later after four separate assaults, with the vast majority of the city was destroyed by aerial bombardment and vicious street to street fighting. Taking the town and heights resulted in 55,000 Allied casualties, with German losses being far fewer, estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded. The stubborn defense of Cassino would reveal flaws in Allied tactics and bolster the confidence of the Third Reich to keep fighting.
Aachen by Mike Rinella: Five months later the world would see yet another account of the terrible cost of audacity. Fresh from a string of victories across the length of France, the US Command set its sights capture of the supposedly weakly held German city of Aachen. The Americans confidently made plans to surround the city, isolate it, and accept its surrender.
But being the former capital of the First Reich, and the first true German city to fall into Allied hands, the city’s propaganda value was simply too great: Hitler forbade surrender. He even grudgingly authorized releasing forces from his Ardennes Offensive build up to help the defenders. American troops would have to storm the city and take it by force. Hidden among the picturesque buildings was a fortress of bunkers, gun emplacements, sniper holes and death traps. The GIs advancing into the city would soon be fighting in the nightmare battlefield of Aachen.
Cities of the Damned and issue #60 of ATO
Maps - Two full color 17" x 22" mapsheets
Counters - 176 large 5/8" die-cut pieces
Rules length - 14 pages
Charts and tables - 2 pages
Complexity - Medium
Playing time - Up to 4 hours
How challenging is it solitaire? - Excellent
Designers - Mike Rinella and Paul Rohrbaugh
Development - Russ Lockwood
Graphic Design - Mark Mahaffey
Read more about this game on Consimworld
A dreadful offensive on the Western Front in 1917 that would be called the "Battle of Arras" but remembered far better for what the Royal Flying Corps called it-- "Bloody April." Still flying mostly outdated aircraft, General "Boom" Trenchard insisted on constant offensive actions and round-the-clock missions for recon, artillery spotting, mapping, etc. Facing up against the likes of Baron von Richthofen's Jasta 11, the results were woeful losses. To the RFC's credit, they continually fulfilled the missions, despite the losses.
The Cruelest Month looks at this struggle, with the focus primarily on air operations and ground battle abstracted. As the British player, you must marshal your limited numbers of fighters to help secure the skies for your 2-seater observation craft. As the German player, you will employ your well-armed modern fighters against waves of RFC planes that simply keep coming, regardless of how many you shoot down.
And, as always, this Annual features an "extra-size" magazine, with in-depth accounts of the history behind the games, plus other articles. Make yourself the proud owner of this challenging look at the "horrors" men would inflict - and endure - to command the sky.
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