Critical Hit (2011)
Country of Origin:
22 scenarios, 8" x 22" geomorphic map (KB1), 28-page rulebook, 1 page charts, 2 duplicate sets of 4 die-cut countersheets (for a total of 1,616 counters)
Genesis II is a sort of mutant new edition of the 2001 release Genesis ’48, a historical module that looked at the 1948 Arab-Israeli Wars and the Battle for Jerusalem. However, Genesis II, despite its name, is so different from its predecessor that it cannot really be considered a second edition and really needs its own entry.
The main reason that it is different is that it excises the Jerusalem historical map and campaign game from the original Genesis ’48. In its place, Genesis II includes a geomorphic map, additional scenarios, additional counters, and more vehicle notes. Much of this new material, moreover, is not related to the 1948 conflict but to later Arab-Israeli Wars. As a result, though it reprints the geomorphic map scenarios from Genesis ’48, it really is a very different product from its predecessor. Allegedly, the Jerusalem materials will later be published on their own, and other products will be published that will take advantage of and expand the post-48 weapons and counters.
Genesis II is by no means a stand-alone product, despite the many counters. The product packaging informs prospective purchasers that ownership of Beyond Valor, West of Alamein, Hollow Legions, and Croix de Guerre are required to play Genesis II. This is not really accurate. Although players do need those modules, in part because the various forces in Genesis ’48 somewhat rely on the Soviet, British, Italian, and French counter-mixes, they need components (mainly maps) of more modules in order to play all the scenarios. The maps required in the scenarios include: 6, 8, 9 (6 scenarios), 11 (2 scenarios), 12, 13, 15 (3 scenarios), 16 (2 scenarios), 18 (2 scenarios), 20, 23, 24, 25, 26 (2 scenarios), 27 (2 scenarios), 28 (3 scenarios), 29 (2 scenarios), 31, 33, 35 (2 scenarios), 38, 39 (2 scenarios), 40 (2 scenarios), 43, 45, 46.
The geomorphic map (one of several geomorphic mapboards Critical Hit released in 2011), KB1, depicts a kibbutz (the map name suggests there will be a series of kibbutz maps, which is fairly unlikely), essentially replacing a kibbutz overlay from Genesis ’48. Designers might be able to use the map to represent other community-living situations, such as prisoner of war camps or certain state farms. The map artwork is not remarkable, with “stamped” woods terrain (i.e., the same one or two woods graphics showing up in hex after hex) and “gloopy” fields that have somewhat amoeba-like graphics.
Unfortunately, the geomorphic map was one of a number of geoboards designed and printed by Critical Hit in late 2011 that suffered from problems. Some of the boards were not cut to the correct size, while seemingly all of the boards suffered from a slightly undersized hexgrid, which means that the boards typically will not properly line up against official mapboards. This was a problem that should have been detected and prevented. It certainly detracts from any value the geoboard might otherwise have brought to the product.
Four scenarios utilize the KB1 map: GII1 (Sons of Galilee), GII4 (Buying Time), GII5 (Triple Play), and GII20 (Molotov Inferno).
Genesis II comes with a ton of counters, even if one does not consider the duplicate set that Critical Hit typically throws into its products now (printing two sets of identical counters is cheaper than printing fewer numbers of more different countersheets). Genesis ’48, released in 2001, used the standard Critical Hit vehicle and gun artwork of that time, which was, to say the least, atrocious. Critical Hit felt that it had to develop that alternative counter artwork in order to avoid copyright actions by MMP over a duplicate “look and feel.” Unfortunately, little thought was put into clarity or user friendliness, with the result that the new artwork–which Critical Hit used for years–was almost incomprehensible. Players typically always had to keep a cheat sheet at their side, especially because they would only occasionally use Critical Hit counters. Moreover, in 2001, even Critical Hit’s MMC counters were atrocious, typically portraying three identical figures in a way that made the counters seem static and ugly (Avalon Hill tried that with GI: Anvil of Victory and quickly gave it up). With Genesis ’48, the counters were also on a thick cardboard and were not that well die-cut.
Genesis II, in contrast, utilizes the newer style of counter artwork that Critical Hit developed in the late 2000s, after seeing some of its third party competitors utilize the same strategy. This new artwork, for guns and vehicles, utilizes a layout very similar to that of “official” ASL counters, so they are in fact understandable and playable, but eliminates any confusion with official counters primarily by including a large CH in the corner of each counter. The SMC/MMC counter artwork is also new, and again represents an improvement over the 2001 era. There are other improvements as well. In Genesis ’48, for example, the Israelis, rather perversely used the same color counter as the Germans. In Genesis II, they get their own color, a sort of olive (.
However, regardless of the color, what is on the counters is substantially the same. As a result, like its predecessor, Genesis II has Israelis with a huge number of new squad types. The Israeli OOB includes 7-4-8s, 6-4-8s, 6-3-8s, 5-5-8s, 4-5-7s, 4-4-7s, 4-3-6s, and 4-2-7s. Moreover, the Israelis are still generously endowed with special abilities, including a limited free deployment capability, 20% initial deployment limit, free recombination, tank hunter heroes (though thankfully the rules for them are slimmed down from Genesis ’48), increased broken side morale, no cowering for Elite/1st Line squads, extra powers during Night scenarios, and more. This is consistent with the noticeably Israeli-centric nature of the product.
The counter-mix includes more AFVs/Guns that appeared in Genesis ’48, including a sprinkling of 1967-era AFVs and guns. Other counters, however, were scrapped, because those vehicles/guns did not actually see combat. In addition, changes were made to the values of some of the counters that appeared in Genesis ’48. Were all these changes adequately proofread? The rulebook makes one wonder, because it explicitly warns players that changes were made in many of the counters and that “in the event of any variance between the die-cut counters and the vehicle and ordnance listings, the data on the counters takes precedence.” Some of the counters seem to be more for marketing purposes than anything else. The rulebook states that “The intent of Genesis II was to provide a teaser batch of rules and counters from [the ’67/’73 wars] in hopes that players will want to come back for more.”
The scenarios, 22 in whole, consist mostly of the previously released scenarios from Genesis ’48 (and an issue of Critical Hit magazine designed to accompany that product), plus a handful of new scenarios designed by Ray Tapio. No playtesters are listed for these scenarios. Some of the previously released scenarios appear in updated versions, to correct rules or balance issues in the original. Of the scenarios, 13 focus on the 1948 conflict, 1 takes place in 1950 and represents a border skirmish, 4 scenarios take place in the 1956 war, 3 scenarios are set in the 1967 war, and 1 scenario is set along the Bar-Lev line in 1973. The 1956 scenarios stretch the time frame that ASL was designed to represent, and the 1967 and 1973 scenarios go well past that demarcation line. ASL was not designed to simulate conflicts from the 1960s and 1970s.
Half of the scenarios are large in size; 7 are medium-sized and 4 are small. Almost half (10) of the scenarios employ OBA. Four scenarios use the Air Support rules (one scenario, GII11 [Ben-Jabo!], has an all-air OB for one side, yuck), while 3 scenarios use the Night rules. Nine scenarios use substantial Desert Terrain, while a couple more use elements of it (such as vineyards).
At present, Genesis II, along with its predecessor Genesis ’48, represent the only way for ASL players to simulate the Arab-Israeli conflicts. With the better counters, Genesis II is probably a step up from the original (except for fans of campaign games and historical maps). As a result, people interested in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war will probably want to obtain this product. For others, it may be a bit too esoteric.
There is one final issue. The price of Genesis II, listed at $149.95, is grotesquely overpriced. It is priced about three times as high as it should be. This is a module that is basically a partial reprint, with no historical maps, yet the price tag makes it, as of its printing, the highest price ASL item in ASL history. No player should pay $150 for this module. It isn’t worth it.