Leros: Endgame

When we last left off, the British were pressing the attack home on Leros, when the German reinforcements landed.

The prospects for this attack were looking increasingly grim, but the Brits kept trying, which ultimately ended up savaging both involved battalions, putting the British below the threshold for possible surrender. Facing down a couple of days of pounding at the hands of the Luftwaffe, the British conceded. You know, I was going to chide Milton a bit for pressing home the attack well past any rational point – but every game of TCS or CWB I’ve played has ended up coming down to this, one player pushing an attack they see as critical well past any sane limits, creating a situation where the game will be decided one way or the other right then and there even if the odds are bad, and the player would be better off breaking off and regrouping. I think players just can’t face down the prospect of doing it all again, regrouping, reorganizing, writing up more Ops sheets, rolling more dice …

Which leads us to my final appraisal on TCS, which I have been holding out to pass until we had finished. I think TCS is an interesting system, but one that is critically flawed in a number of ways. The most important one is that it is just way too slow. Some of these game reports I’ve written, I have a hard time coming up with anything interesting that happened during that session. Combat is tedious, with multiple die rolls on multiple charts to come up with a step loss and an often totally irrelevant suppressed result. Due to the fact that Assault combat is suicidal and you can’t evict a unit from a position without killing off every last man in the platoon due to the lack of any sensible morale rules, interesting and/or decisive results essentially never occur; you spend way too much time resolving fire that has little effect. The order system only works when players are utterly scrupulous about not trying to push it. And don’t get me started on the LOS or SYR retreat-route rules (“we can’t write a reasonable rule, so, like, just do something sensible please!”).

But the critical element is the time commitment. You know, I love OCS, which takes just as long to play, but it’s interesting because every turn you’ve got stuff happening, combat can be deadly, and the situation is fluid. You move from opportunity to crisis with surprising rapidity. TCS, though … I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the old saying is that combat is hours of tedium followed by minutes of terror. In TCS, you game out both at equal fidelity, not a thrilling proposition.

So I won’t be playing Leros again, not when I could be playing OCS or Barbarossa or ASL or GCACW. The time commitment is just way too high for too little action. I actually hold out some hope that some other more mobile, higher-firepower, more open titles might be better, maybe Screaming Eagles, GD ’40, A Raging Storm … but I am not hugely optimistic. Several of my TCS titles are now on the eBay pile (Black Wednesday, A Frozen Hell, Semper Fi!) and will hopefully go out this weekend. An interesting concept and a reasonable attempt, but I have much better uses for my gaming time than this.

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