Bastogne or Bust

BASTOGNE OR BUST is now in its 3rd Edition, available from PAUL KOENIG GAMES. 23 years later, this beautiful updated edition is truly a work of art, and all pictures here are of the new 3rd Edition.
Left side of map, looking West

Right side of map, looking West

Detail of map around Liege. The small XVII Corps symbols on the map are for entry access to the map for the two scenarios now included. The map may be folded in half for Scenario play. The gold line across the center denotes not only Victory areas during the Campaign Game, but the edge of the playing area for Western edge of the Scenarios. Art for the town iconography was created by me [after the 2nd Edition motif by Mark Simonitch], but the completed map in all its gorgeosity - along with the wonderful OOA charts - was rendered by the amazing Stephen Oliver.

A standard ruler gives perspective for the difference in size between the Allied Campaign Game Set-up card on the left and the Allied scenario card on the right

On the left side of the bottom of the map is the Dec 10 Scenario Turn Record Track

On the right side of the bottom of the map is the Dec 16 Scenario Turn Record Track

Four of the counter sheets. Counter art is based off of the 2nd Edition designs by Mark Simonitch, as rendered brilliantly by Steven Bradford.

Detail of the German Air Units [art for the air units was done by yours truly]

Detail of British counters

Detail of US Airborne troops

Detail of Allied counter backs. AT START units have hex coordinates, reinforcements have turn of entry and Corps Assembly Area icons for ease of set up. Corps icon art courtesy of yours truly.

Allied Air Unit detail. Artwork for these by yours truly. I must note that Mr. Koenig was extremely gracious in allowing me to have a hand in creating so many small pieces of art and be intimately involved in the creation process every step of the way. Paul, Stephen and Steven were extremely patient with me. The incredible offer and work of Danny 'Mr. Bulge' Parker in vetting my unit strengths with an additional 20 years of research have made the World's Finest Bulge Game a truly unique and beautiful work of art. I will be forever grateful to you, gentlemen.

The Player Aid Cards were rendered in full color - awesome bonus!

The rulebook - full color examples of play.

The rulebook presented in spiral binding was a complete surprise!

All the counter sheet fronts are reproduced in the back of the rulebook!

The glorious 3rd Edition from Paul Koenig Games can be found here -

-and cannot be recommended highly enough.

The DTP 1st Edition of Bastogne or Bust, was self published by myself Hendrix in 1994. A few copies are still available for $20 postpaid.

This is the game that was sold at ORIGINS '94 in San Jose that was bid on by two different game companies for the right to publish it professionally. Purchased as a flagship title for what came to be TERRAN GAMES, INC [The TERRAN GAMES part of the name I allowed the purchaser to use, which has since, happily, returned to me].  Affectionately known as BOB, The World's Finest Bulge Game is a single map, regimental treatment of the Battle of the Bulge.

This DPT version requires some assembly. The map is printed on 4 different sheets of 11x17 cardstock and the countersheets [there are 2] are printed on 8.5x11 'Avery Label' type paper so you can mount them [without having to use glue] on blank counters or [as in the picture] on magnetic strip so you can mount it on the wall on a sheet of metal - which is how I play mine as you can see in the picture [this is my personal set I still use].

Comments on the game are below, including an article I wrote on BOB for MOVES magazine.

Payment is by personal check or Money Order.

As the Designer/Publisher of this product, I will be happy to sign/dedicate the rulebook for you as you desire - just be sure to email me directly after your win with what you would like written.

Good luck!

 "Bastogne or Bust"  by Chester Hendrix,
from the Review written by Rick Wagoner for PAPER WARS

I.  The Beginning:
The place: Origins 94, San Jose, California. The dealer’s room is a-buzz with activity. All the biggies are  there. "Doc" Decision, Lou Zocchi, GMT, The Gamers and many more. In front of a booth a man is out in the isle apparently hawking his game. As I passed by he caught my ear with his catch phrase "I hate games where I spend more time in the rule book than on the map." I stopped by to view his game and was impressed with its elegant design and playability. All without a simplistic look about it.

The more we talked the more I liked what I heard  (Chet has this way about him  - he suffers from an excess of personality!- Just kidding Chet!) one thing led to another and another BoB convert was born.

Hendrix...has touted that BOB is 'the first Errata Free game.' And after playing it for the past two months, I'm inclined to agree... impressed with its elegant design and playability. Most Bulge games are fairly well balanced, but don't provide the excitement that this situation cries out for.  But  BOB  delivers!...

I found BOB to be a well designed game that won't sit and gather dust on my shelf. When the Charlie's come around this year, I'm casting my vote BOB's way.

Rick Wagoner, reviewing BOB for PAPER WARS

by Chester Hendrix

You know the routine. You walk into the store and look for something with tanks or panzers that you can sink your teeth into. Something new that will be worth playing more than once. Whoa. Green and red box? Are Santa’s elves moonlighting at some game assembly plant? BASTOGNE OR BUST (BOB). You chuckle at the title and decide to check it out. Just as you thought- another Bulge game. Hmmm. The entire map is on the back of the box. That’s a nice touch. The counters are presentable (hey! those planes look sharp and the red stripe on the SS unit makes it look like a black widow!)- and what’s this about a Von der Heydte unit that actually gets on the map? Off- board movement and combat? That’s different. You wonder what else is different.

Well, unless you can talk the store owner into opening the shrink wrap, or take it home, you may never find out. And you’ll miss out on the best Bulge game ever done. I can say that because that was what I designed it to be.
My design philosophy is very simple. It is a mixture of the John Hill (design-for-effect: does the game you have produced feel like the battle it simulates?) approach and my personal take on two of the Holy Grails of wargaming;

1] Complexity. If I have to spend more time in the rule book than I do on the map board I feel I’ve wasted my money.

2] Playability. Everybody likes a little bit of chrome, but when I sit down to push cardboard, I want it to be a meat-and-potatoes experience. This is a game first, and a simulation second. If you like to approach your wargames from the opposite emphasis, there are lots of copies of CAMPAIGN FOR NORTH AFRICA still out there unpunched. For a good reason.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate things like GULF STRIKE. I just have no intention of buying or designing them. That is another crowd and I tip my hat to them with as much respect as I would expect in return. As in the world, this hobby takes all kinds. So what kind is BOB?

I designed BOB to be the last word on low to medium complexity Bulge games. I enjoy playing Bulge games but I never found one that satisfied me. So I decided to make my own. First off, let’s face it. The Germans had maybe a 1 in 20 chance of getting to Antwerp. The area of the map is the realistic area that the Germans could affect. If the field commanders had been able to commit their troops in a more sane manner, they had the capability to effect the shoulders of the map area (those mystical places that other Bulge games have you “exit units off the map” to). I have represented these with an Off Board Movement Chart. Since these zones represent (for the most part) Allied staging areas, I have restricted the ability of German units to exploit them while giving Allied units unlimited stacking ability. This unlimited stacking is moderated by allowing the Allied player a maximum of six stacking points of units face-up for each of the eight zones which surround the board. The Off Board Movement Chart also plays an integral part of the Victory Conditions because all these areas represent territory the Germans never got hold of. If you can do better than Runestedt, you should be rewarded (and vice-versa). While the map may appear peripheral to the OBMC, just remember- the map was the BATTLE AREA- the OBMC Zones represent the OBJECTIVES of the attack. I tried to show by integrating the two, that either one by themselves doesn't give the feel of what the Bulge was all about.

I have designed these Zones to reflect what they are and how they work. Only Allied face-up units can defend in a zone, but if Allied units in a Zone attack, everybody gets to attack. My rationale here is that as staging areas, most of the troops are en route to assigned positions and there only temporarily. If attacked, they restage. If ordered out, they will attack on their way to their assigned position. Not so with the German troops. They are there to hold the shoulders and gain ground. In the event they perform beyond expectations (actually capture one of these zones), OKW will feel the assault is going well enough to risk more troops in reserve or holding other positions in the line. Thus the variable reinforcements available whenever the Germans can get units into one of these areas.

I have also simplified Allied reinforcements by having them appear in the appropriate Zones. Each Zone has multiple hexes on the map it connects to which on the one hand, gives the Allied reinforcements maximum flexibility for entry, it also gives the Germans multiple opportunities for capture.

The supply rules are fairly straightforward, but there is a small twist in the OUT OF SUPPLY rules that simulates the drastic difference in supply support between the Wehrmacht and the Allied units involved (who had access to air resupply not to mention falling back onto their own lines of supply). When German units are OOS, their attack, movement and defense factors are halved as you might expect. But to show the superior Allied supply capabilities, when they are OOS, they only lose half of their attack and movement factors- their defense factors remain intact. A simple solution to what could have been two extra pages of rules.

One thing I notice about the Bulge that just doesn’t come through in most other games is the impetus the attacker had. For the first week, the Germans rolled through the American lines just about everywhere that they could bring superior force to bear. As the odds got more even, they tended to lose steam. As Allied reinforcements began to pour in, the same thing happened in reverse. Right about now you’re probably saying ‘duh!’. So did I. But the feel still wasn’t quite there until it hit me- the attacker at higher odds hits harder. And I mean HARDER! Not just the extra die roll modifier for the Germans on the 16AM turn, but everywhere they have initiative and concentration of force. The same goes for the Allies. So how do you build this abstraction into the game?

I did it by shifting the odds between the 3-1 column and the 4-1 column on the Combat Results Table (CRT). In virtually all board wargames, the CRT is built like a step ladder as you advance from one odds column to the next. By essentially throwing out the normal 4-1 column and moving the 5-1 column in it’s place I accomplished a number of design goals.

First, it puts back the feel of initiative. When the Germans are rolling, the Allies are taking a beating. When the Allies go over to the offensive, the Huns are gonna feel it like they never want to. The ambiance of the game changes subtly, but dramatically precisely at the time it should and without lots of extra rules.

Second, it reinforces command control. By giving a die roll modifier for divisional integrity (HQ+ any 3 divisional units gains a +1), this is the equivalent of a column shift. Because of the structure of the CRT, at 4-1 odds or better, divisional integrity becomes the equivalent of a TWO COLUMN shift! This is a powerful incentive to keep divisional units close together where they can be most effective. Thus there was no need for command and control rules.

Third, it gives the Allies the ability to hold out in fortified towns for days at a time (as actually happened). In most Bulge games, units hold out in towns for as long as the German player wants to ignore them. It is usually not a problem to get enough units to knock the Allies out of any town you want to. In BOB, two regiments of infantry and a combat engineer battalion can cause the German to have to commit three full divisions plus independent units and artillery just to get a 3-1! That’s a lot of units. And one of those divisions is going to have to be a Panzer Division. Even then, you’re going to have to roll a 5-6 just to knock out one or two units. You might be there a few days.

Another area of trying to simulate the feel of the Bulge is in the Engagement combat results rules. These are designed more to reflect the 'pinning' effect of units engaged in combat having a tough time disengaging. The loss of ZOC shows small disasters where pinned units lose their ability to control ground (read: overextended attacking units) and be able to move when ordered (ENG markers are removed AFTER the movement phase) and also deals with retreats after combat.

One group that played BOB were disappointed in a WWII game without overrun rules or a mech movement phase intimating BOB doesn't quite measure up to 1996 standards. I purposely left these out because the Bulge is one battle where a squad or company well placed (say at a crossroads) not infrequently held up a regiment or two for half a day or more (one or two game turns). One way to simulate this is to NOT HAVE overrun rules OR a mech movement phase. Without them, you get the feel of frustration at your advance being halted by green troops thrown in your way (who happen to dig in better than ANYBODY expected). Sure, you blow away the unit as a cohesive force (eliminate the counter), but the remnants stop you cold (no more  movement until next turn). I suppose you could try it with overrun rules (say X-1 odds allows you to expend half your movement points to eliminate any unit) and a mech movement phase (3 movement points per armor unit after combat) and see if it still plays as a balanced game. I don't think it will. I predict a boring cakewalk.

The biggest distinction between mech units vs. leg units is the 'bullet' next to the movement factor. Virtually all German & Allied armor have it (as well as Allied infantry- most units had adequate truck capability), but none of the German infantry do. The 'bullet' reflects much greater road movement capacity (as it should). Increasing one or decreasing the other would skew the relative abilities of both. During playtesting we tried giving leg units 1/2 and mech units 1/5 (we ended up with leg units at 1/3 and mech at 1/4), plus various combinations. 1/3 & 1/4 worked best.

I apologize to those who feel the mechanics don't seem like a big step forward, but I wasn't trying to produce a game that would dazzle with chrome and fancy mechanics and added complexity. I wanted to produce a game that would foster repeat play without burnout that gave the feeling of the campaign.

Another pet peeve of mine is weather rules. Just as you get used to the movement factors and how far you can expect units to go- bammo! Now you gotta spend twice as much time trying to refigure who can go where and how. Plus, doesn’t the Bulge just sort of nudge your brain about what the weather’s biggest effect was? I don’t remember it being the ground troops. Rain or snow, they slogged on and on. Actually, for the 18 days of the Bulge that BOB covers, the effects on the ground troops and their movement over the terrain was not the day to day story.

What changed day by day with the weather was Allied Air availability. And THAT affected German movement more than anything the weather did. So, instead of including weather rules, I included die roll modifiers to Allied Air availability (you roll for it on most turns) based on the weather. Not only does this streamline play, it puts more unpredictability into the game (which is what I tend to think of when considering the effects of weather). Instead of rethinking the movement factors vs. the terrain for all the pieces on the board, we alter the amount of Allied Air Units interacting with the board. Allied Air performs one of two functions. Combat support (+1 die modifier) or air interdiction (German units entering the hex must stop movement, German units under a placed Air Unit may only move 1 hex).  A simple, elegant method of handling not only weather, but Allied air superiority and the devastating effect it had on German ground movement.

I have also given the Einheit Steilau Commandoes more flexibility. On their turn of entry, they are not required to enter the map. They can hang back in the OKW staging area (another zone on the Off Board Movement Chart connecting to the map) for a turn or two before entering. The Commandoes only move on the board the turn they enter it and they function by the simple expedient of halting the movement of the first Allied unit that enters the hex. If the German has made dramatic gains in territory, the effects of the Commandoes will be minimal, but if the advance has been slowed, their effect can be most aggravating.

And speaking of Commandoes, remember that little parachute battalion you get in almost every Bulge game you buy? The one that you hardly ever get to see on the board and can never understand why they bother to put the darn thing in there? Well, if any of the other designers had been aware of the facts of the ill-fated drop of the Von der Hydte battalion they would know that because the drop was a failure, and that the battalion had been dispersed over such a large area, that for about two days (four or five game turns) the Allied commanders were doing a headless chicken routine convinced they had as much as a division of Fallschirmjaegers in their rear. So how would you simulate something like that? I took the direct route. If the battalion doesn’t drop intact, then it becomes a Commando unit that functions like the ES units- which is what it actually did historically. So in BOB, the Von der Hydte unit gets on the board every game! Thank you.

As far as playing Bulge games in general goes, I believe the reason we keep returning to this particular battle (or for that matter, playing any board wargame), is that we have the idea in the back of our heads that if we had had control of the available troops, we would have secured the objectives. I have tried to cater to this inherent mind set by giving the German player (who has the initiative in the beginning after all) maximum flexibility in his set up options. Each Corps has its own section of the map in which it can set up freely. Army assets (independent units assigned to the Corps as needed) may be placed within any of the appropriate Corps areas as desired by the German player. The Allied player has greater versatility in reinforcements as far as where they arrive and whether they actually enter the board or not (which allows them to affect German reinforcements drastically. Command and control which (admittedly) the historical commanders never had, but as wargamers, we cannot help but have (not to mention 20-20 hindsight), indeed we MUST have in order to make a competitive game out of it instead of a simple choreographed replay we could just as well read in any book. After all, isn’t that why we play these games?

Originally published in MOVES

Praise for
Bastogne or Bust

"Hendrix has done a nice job...I've played a bunch of simulations and put BOB on my list of better ones. Very good, with some nice touches...As a single-map version, right up there with the best."

John W. Leggat III, reviewing BOB for Berg's Review of Games.