Raid and Riposte – Boardgame Review
Raid & Riposte. Boardgame. Publisher: Lock’n Load Publishing. Designer: Mark H. Walker. Available in Lock n Load’s Line of Fire magazine issue #12 as a hard copy with die-cut counters and printed map is $39.99. Line of Fire #12 is also available as a download for $15.99. Raid and Riposte is available as a stand-alone game as a digital download for $9.99.
Passed Inspection: Interesting map. High quality counters. Short learning curve for experienced gamers. Quick set-up and play. Surprising depth.
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Failed Basic: Very short rulebook needs lots of interpretation. Somewhat unbalanced game play. Not for beginners.
Raid and Riposte is a good old-fashioned boardgame that is ideal for that lazy afternoon when there is nothing on the tube and you have an hour or so to play a quick and intense game with a friend. Although the rules are deceptively simple (the rulebook is only four pages long), the game has unexpected depth. The main contributors to this deep level of play are the “special” units and random chance in the guise of the roll of the dice.
Raid and Riposte is a tactical-level game, with the unit counters representing platoons and companies. Instead of the traditional boardgame hexagon (hex) grid map, the game uses an area movement map. Each area on the colorful 11 X 17 inch map is irregularly shaped and represents different terrain types, such as forest, open fields, a river or buildings. The game also uses a unique action point allocation system, in which each unit is assigned action points each turn which may be used to shoot, move, assault or retreat. Units may use just one point per impulse, which eliminates the need for cumbersome opportunity firing rules and greatly speeds up game-play. It should be noted here as the rulebook says: “Above all else, Raid and Riposte is a game, not a simulation.”
The game depicts a single small battle in a hypothetical Soviet versus NATO war fought in 1985 and is part of Lock n Load Publishing’s World at War universe. Early in the war the Soviet First Parachute Infantry Regiment seizes the fictional West German town of Tanenhause and its strategically important bridge. This is the “raid.” The “riposte” is NATO dispatching a mixed force of German reserve Bundeswehr units and an American mechanized infantry battalion to retake the vital river crossing.
Players may either command as the Soviets or as NATO. The Russian player, besides the paratroops, also commands ASU-85 light tanks, BMD infantry fighting vehicles, Sagger anti-tank missiles, T-12 anti-tank guns and a Hind attack helicopter. The NATO player has a headquarters unit, as well as Luchs scout vehicles, M-60 and M-48 Patton tanks, a sniper and both German and American infantry units. Either side may receive on-call airstrikes. The thirty-two unit counters use icons instead of standard NATO symbols; this is no drawback as the icons are clear and readable. The nine administrative counters are also easily understandable. With the counters, in the course of the game, there is virtually no chance of confusing the status of a unit. A number of “special” units are included in the game, such as one-shot anti-tank weapons or the commander of the Soviet forces, Colonel Balakirev. These counters can do things like add power to ranged combat or give added action points to other units and perform other special actions. These special counters add a good deal to the depth of the play, as does the airstrike ability.
The game has a four-step sequence of play:
- The Initiative Phase: In the Initiative Phase the players roll the dice for the initiative and to determine if either player has an airstrike available. The airstrike availability also determines if the Soviet player can use the Hind helicopter during the turn.
- The Rally Phase: Previously suppressed and recovering units can be rallied depending on dice roles and the units’ morale.
- The Operations Phase: This is, of course, the bread and butter of the game. The players will alternate moves and conduct ranged attacks or assaults until all the units have used all their action points, or until both players pass on performing any actions. Units may also retreat in this phase to reduce the effect of a hit.
- The Rout Phase: Players can move suppressed or recovering units out of harm’s way.
Raid and Riposte has two kinds of combat: ranged and assault. In ranged combat, units may fire at enemy units a number of areas away, and her, the character of the map comes to the fore. The Line of Sight (LOS) of a ranged attack is determined by drawing a line between a black dot in the firer’s area to the black dot in target unit’s area, since these LOS dots are not centered in each area, target solutions can be thrown off. For example, even though area “8″ and area “9″ are adjacent, units may not fire on one another from them, since the LOS passes through area “13″ which is forested and therefore blocks the LOS.
Assault combat takes place when opposing units occupy the same area. Various factors such as terrain type, supporting units and dice rolls modify the combat values of the units involved, which means a simple three-to-one ratio of attack to defense may not be enough for the attacker to overcome the defending units. As with all games that use dice, much of any player’s success or failure depend on the throw of the dice.
The deep level of game-play is displayed as the players work out their tactical details. Do I use an airstrike on the enemy’s mortar or go for that armored unit threatening my infantry? Should I retreat a unit, thereby giving up ground, or stand and fight it out in hopes of surviving and rallying the next turn? The variations are nearly limitless and not completely in the hands of the player.
For this reviewer and his opponent, once a few rough spots in the rules—such as when a retreat is allowed—were worked out, a rhythm of selecting areas, units, actions and dice rolling was developed and the gaming moved rapidly along. The turns went quickly, between five and seven minutes to play out. With only seven turns, each turn is important and there was no unit that was left out of the action for long. The pace, action and game-play is equal to that in a medium-sized scenario from the Advanced Squad Leader game system. This is all to the good and makes the game very involving for players.
This is not to say the game is perfect. The rulebook is too short and makes too many assumptions about the level of experience a player might have. The rulebook would have been much better if it included a few brief examples of how actions take place. Simply put, the more experienced the player the better the game-play and the quicker the start; a beginning gamer would find the rules hard to interpret. Also, the game-play is somewhat unbalanced. In the early moves the Soviet player must just stand and take what the NATO player dishes out; in the later turns the Russian player can do some counterpunching against NATO but never has the scope of maneuver that the NATO player does. Finally, given the victory conditions the Russian player wins simply by not losing, potentially cutting down on the risks the Soviet player is willing to run to beat his opponent.
Raid and Riposte, while not for the novice gamer, is a fast-paced, entertaining and involving game with surprising depth and high solo playability. With the digital downloadable stand-alone version a mere $9.99 US, old grognards could hardly go wrong in buying it and giving the dice a few throws.
Armchair General Rating: 88%
Solitaire Rating (1 is low, 5 is high): 4
About the Author
Patrick Baker is a former US Army Field Artillery officer, currently a Department of Defense employee working on games and simulations for training. He cut his wargaming teeth on Squad Leader and Victory Games’ Fleet Series. He bought his first PC in 1990, a Wang PC-240, specifically to play SSI’s The Battles of Napoleon (much to the annoyance of his wife). He has Bachelors’ degrees in Education, History and Political Science. He just earned his Masters in European History and has decided to use all his education to play more games and bore his family.