Multiman Publishing (2018)
Country of Origin:
30" x 32" historical map, 1 1/2 counter-sheets with 366 die-cut counters (270 1/2" counters and 96 5/8" counters), 8 scenarios, 16 pages of rules (Chapter HF), 2 chapter dividers/charts pages, 2 campaign games, 2 chapter dividers/chart pages.
In 2018, MMP produced Hatten in Flames (hereinafter Hatten), its first historical module since Festung Budapest, published way back in 2012. It is a module that in no way resembles Festung Budapest, a module that–though very good–is also very large, very complex, and which features heavy urban combat. Hatten, in contrast, is small, with only one map, and easily accessible (it makes a good intro to campaign games). Moreover, the only products required to play the scenarios and campaign games of Hatten seem to be Beyond Valor and Yanks. There are very few rules to memorize, while all of the scenarios are basically playable in a tournament setting as well.
Hatten, designed by Andy Rogers, depicts fighting around the French village of Hatten near the French-German border in January 1945 during Operation Nordwind, Germany’s failed smaller sequel to the Battle of the Bulge. The module depicts a German armored assault on the village of Hatten by the 21st Panzer Division and the 25th Panzergrenadier Division against the U.S. 42nd Infantry Division and part of the 79th Infantry Division, as well as counterattacks by the 14th Armored Division. The terrain is thus village fighting rather than urban fighting.
The fighting takes place on a single, squarish map that can easily fit on a gaming table (even a hotel-style tournament table). The historical map is dominated by small stone buildings, out-of-season orchards, and plowed fields. Parts of the map are fairly congested, but in general the map is more open than a Festung Budapest or Red Barricades map is. Random rubble rules generate a bit more constriction in some of the scenarios.
The map is distinguished by being the first MMP map to feature winterized terrain. In other words, the ground (at ground level, though the entire map has only ground level terrain) is colored white (perhaps eggshell) rather than green, while plowed fields and out-of-season orchards also have their own distinct artwork. Winterized terrain has been available in simple form on VASL for some time, while third party publishers have been using winterized terrain in suitable products for some years now, so it is nice to see MMP finally join the bandwagon. The winterized art design for Hatten is very basic, with no snow dotting the woods, buildings or roads. Moreover, the combination of the brown, unpaved roads, the brown orchards and the brown fields, combined with the color chosen for open ground, gives the map a very warm look, as opposed to the icier, bluer look of some other winterized artwork. Hatten’s winterized artwork is not as good as that used in Kampfgruppe Scherer, but it is still serviceable.
Hatten comes with 1 1/2 countersheets, none of which seem to be new to the system, except perhaps for two Steeple counters. Many of the counters are standard HASL info counters or extra foxholes, fortified building locations, and burnt-out wrecks. Some duplicate American and German 1/2″ and 5/8″ counters round out the mix. This module is not really about the counters.
The rules for Hatten (Chapter HF) are 16 pages long, but basically 15 of the 16 pages are only needed for the campaign games. To play a scenario, one need master only a single page of rules, all of which are simple and straightforward, such as declaring that No Quarter is in effect or decreeing that AFV crews may not voluntarily Abandon non-Immobilized vehicles. It is possible almost immediately to jump straight into a scenario. The campaign rules are for the two campaign games. The first, HF CG I (Hatten in Flames) is 5 CG days long and depicts the main German assault on Hatten. The second campaign game, HF CG II (Hatten Breakthrough) is only 3 CG days long and represents only the initial fighting. It is one of the shortest and most manageable official campaign games published and is a good introduction to the concept and to standard campaign game rules. Moreover, neither of the two campaign games require knowledge of Night rules. Despite the small size of the campaign games, both players are offered a good mix of units to purchase, including some nice toys, such as flamethrower AFVs for the Germans
Hatten also comes with 8 standalone scenarios, each of which uses a portion of the map (there is no larger or “monster” scenario that uses the entire play area). The scenarios are mostly medium in size, typically featuring 9-16 squads per side and 0-7 vehicles per side. Every scenario has at least some AFVs. One of the scenarios, HF7 (Gotta Get Out), features two of the complicated U.S. halftracks. Consulting the half-track play aids that appeared in Special Ops Issue #3 (Summer 2012) will be helpful to the American player. None of the scenarios use OBA, Air Support or Night Rules, all of which also contribute to the accessibility of the module. Conversely, ASLers looking for very meaty offerings may not find sufficient fare here.
Probably because of its accessibility, Hatten in Flames has been well-played in the year since its release, and so far, all but one of the scenarios appear balanced; HF5 (Graveyard Shift) may be the odd man out, though it has gotten less play than most of the other scenarios. Your humble correspondent has played two of the scenarios in Hatten so far and enjoyed them both.
At $60.00, Hatten in Flames is not cheap, but the days of inexpensive ASL products seem to be over. It certainly is inexpensive compared to the much larger Festung Budapest or Red October. For this reason, a newish ASL player might wish to try Hatten as an initial HASL purchase, to see if the concept and execution of MMP HASLs is to their liking. It requires much less investment (both in terms of this product as well as other products needed to play it).
All in all, Hatten is a modest but satisfying effort.
Players should note that there is some Hatten errata, most of which is related to the campaign game rules. The Texas ASL club has kindly made some “sticky errata” for Hatten, i.e., a file that you can print out on label paper and affix to your rules and scenarios. They say to print on Avery 5265 with scaling and resizing turned off.