This is my second recent play of Monty’s Gamble: Market Garden (MGMG), and I seem to be conflicted on the game.
I think part of this stems from the fact that I am a huge fan of Breakout: Normandy (BKN), the game on which MGMG is based, and I have played the former a lot – probably 25+ games, which is a bunch for a 6+ hour wargame. My counters have faded. As such, all the good stuff in BKN that was new when we played it is now, well, no longer so new.
MGMG is, in effect, a somewhat more playable BKN. It’s only 4 turns for the basic game, which should come in at under 4 hours, perhaps 3-ish once the players are familiar with the rules. This is huge, as the 6-8 hour playing time of BKN is just on the uncomfortable side. On the other hand, however, it’s not hard to long for BKN’s broader sweep of activity while you’re trying to ram a column of tanks down one road in MGMG. On the other other hand, Market Garden is an inherently somewhat more tense situation than Normandy, in which the ultimate result (Germans lose) is somewhat inevitable – here a dramatic campaign hangs in the balance.
On balance, I think Monty’s Gamble succeeds. It’s a fun, tense, playable wargame with a very sensible playing time and which does a very good job simulating the historical campaign (regardless of what those nit-picking whiners on consimworld say). The back-and-forth of the impulse system is great because it keep you in the game all the time, unlike the problematic downtime issues so many wargames have. It presents the players with tough choices (run for Arnhem vs. securing the flanks for the Allies, where to attempt to interdict for the Germans), and as such is an engaging game. There are some minor downsides of the more limited scope than Breakout: Normandy – the time pressure on the “end of day” die rolls is not as great, and the scope for good/bad luck not balancing out is greater. But I think it’s a fair trade off for the reduced playing time.
Bottom line, MGMG is a very good game. Since I was such a huge fan of Breakout: Normandy, I was hoping to be blown away by MGMG, which I wasn’t … but that seems quite an unreasonable expectation for a derivative game, no matter how great the predecessor. Barbarossa to Berlin suffered from this a bit, it didn’t make the splash that Paths of Glory did, even though in the end I think B2B is the better game. What can you do. The ultimate judgment of whether MGMG is better than BKN will have to wait, I guess, but for the moment it is a worthy stable-mate.