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MC Lothlorien Ltd
1985
Strategy: War
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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85,86
Sean Masterson
Chris Bourne

This name marked in change in direction for Lothlorien. It was the first title to take advantage of Lothlorien's skills as a design and programming house in combination with Argus Press Softwares marketing power. The game was glossily produced in medium format complete with historical dossier covering events and decisions leading up to the conflict, notes on playing techniques and of course, instructions for play. The game has single and two player options.

One of the fascinating details about the conflict was the fact that the Allies made the same crucial mistake twice. In 1940 the French commanders wrongly concluded that tanks could not be effectively deployed in the dense forest of the Ardennes - a mistake which contributed to the rapid fall of France. By Christmas 1944, the Allies had pushed the Germans back to their borders. Then made the same mistake as the French: only a light screening force was deployed on the Ardennes front. Hitler knew that enough pressure could be brought to bear, creating a bulge in the enemy front and leaving him in an ideal position to take the Allied supply base at Antwerp.

It was a sound basis for a counter attack, but there were problems General Sepp Dietrich, who headed the advance. said 'All I had to do was cross a river, capture Brussels, and then go on to take the port of Antwerp. The snow was waist deep and there wasn't enough room to deploy four tanks abreast, let alone six armoured divisions. It didn't get light until eight and was dark again at four; and all this at Christmas time.'

The Battle of the Bulge, or Wacht am Rhein as the Germans called it, is an excellent choice for a military simulation and this one is the best cassette based simulation of the conflict avail able for any micro. The map is well defined and simultaneous movement adds to the professionalism of the program.

Both sides have to learn different lessons from the fighting. The German problem is mainly one of logistics. They have to move fast to knock out enemy resistance before being bogged down. The Allied player, on the other hand must choose his methods of defence well. Initially, the Allied forces will be vastly outnumbered and outgunned. Only clever deployment of meagre resources coupled with the realistic view that some units will have to be lost to buy time can help win the day for the Allies.

Whether or not a successful counter attack could have brought the Germans victory on the Western front is not in question here, though in case you're interested, this seems most unlikely. Hitler had few resources, the Russians were looking unstoppable, the rest of the Axis powers were close to collapse and the Americans were only months away from having their first nuclear weapons (though the Germans too, were very close to achieving this aim). What is certain, is that a successful counter attack and consequent capture of Antwerp would have been a serious blow to the Allied war effort and would have lengthened the war by several months.

Angus made this game a Smash and I wholeheartedly agree with him. There are no difficulty levels but the strength of the computer opponent is great and would take some time to master. The Bulge would still be an excellent addition to any wargamers collection and a good game for the aspiring beginner also.

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Thoughtful bunch that Lothlorien are. If the snow hurts your eyes, you can invert the screen colours. Won't confuse they enemy though...