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Kreta: Operation Merkur
by Sam Henze Date Added: Tuesday 03 February, 2009
This is a great product, though not without flaws.

The best thing is the map, with excellent artwork and interesting terrain that will challenge your play. The (very) few new terrain types are easy to master, but the effect of this terrain on play is not immediately obvious.

The scenarios are of medium to large size. thre use gliders, one airdrop and one air delivery, essentially Junkers transport aircraft landing on the airfield under fire and discharging German troops. The rules governing glider/airdrop/air landing are not that complicated and the openness of the terrain means that these tactics go off without a lot of variables caused by terrain.

Only 2 have AFV's and few of them at that. This is infantry warfare, with generous numbers of support weapons, good troops on the German side and a variety of troops on the Commonwealth side (Maoris, elite, 1st, 2nd line New Zealanders, plus Cretan partisans of various shades).

The scenarios use the board well, so there isn't a part of the board that goes unused if you play all of the scenarios, or just the last big one, the only scenario to use the entire map.

Flaws: for the New Zealanders, esp in the German glider landing and airdrop scenarios, the defense can be quite static. They don't manoeuver much, just Prep/DFire and hold on. However, the tension and erratic nature of glider/airdrop make these scenarios fairly exciting for the NZ player all the same. But if you like to manoeuver in defense you might not like these scenarios.

Another flaw is the "campaign game". Not a traditional campaign game, but a way to link the scenarios using points per scenario won and after you've played all seven scenarios, voila, you decide who won the campaign game. Beyond the obvious let-down for those expecting a "real" campaign game, to play OM as suggested means that the Allied player gets stuck defending most of the time, while the German player has tons of fun landing gliders/paratroops/Junkers. My playing partner and I decided instead to switch off, so that each of us got to do some of the exciting German attacks and experience those parts of the rules. (By the way, the fighting at Maleme wasn't of the sort to support a "real" campaign game with Reinforcement groups over multiple days, because the fighting didn't go on that long and there weren't very many reinforcements in the area.)

The only other flaw for me was the quality of the counters. I didn't like the color, the glossiness and the rubbery nature of them, plus several were miscut. They do however provide some essential SW and lots of unarmed German paratroops to make playing the airdrop scenario easier.

The above flaws, however, have detracted very little from my enjoyment of this product. The scenarios are interesting, the fighting is down to the wire and the map is gorgeous, a real pleasure to play on.

I highly recommend Operation Merkur.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars! [4 of 5 Stars!]
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Kreta:  Operation Merkur
This is a great product, though not without flaws. The b ..
4 of 5 Stars!

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