Alternative Titles/Edition History:
1st Edition, 2004; 2nd Edition (Darkest December), 2011
Critical Hit (1st Edition, 2004; 2nd Edition, 2011)
Country of Origin:
1st Edition: historical map, 8 scenarios, special rules.
2nd Edition (note: this also includes the contents for 2nd Edition Devils in the Woods, as they are combined into Darkest December): 1 12" x 18" historical map, 1 24" x 18" historical map, 1 10.5" x 13.25" historical map, 2 pages rules, 20 scenarios, 2 duplicate sets of 106 die-cut counters (212 counters total)Commentary:
NOTE: See the Devils in the Woods entry for ALL POST-2011 Darkest December information.
Sudden Full Contact (SFC) is one of two Battle of the Bulge related historical modules released by Critical Hit at the same time (the other being Devils in the Woods). Designed by Pedro Ramis and developed by David Lamb, it features a smallish historical map of the town of Hotton on the Ourthe river and the surrounding terrain. The map is attractive, in the latter-day earth-tone Critical Hit style, and features interesting terrain.
Unfortunately, some of the scenarios are less interesting. Pedro Ramis has tended, over time, to design smaller scenarios. A number of the SFC scenarios are indeed small, including SFC2 (Grabbing Some Houses), which features only 3 German squads and 2 American squads and 2 tanks. Moreover, 4 of the 8 scenarios are night scenarios, which are a turn-off for many ASL players. Another is all armor. One scenario, SFC8 (Kraut Disinfected), looks interesting.
The map is a nice map, but the scenario selection in this module leaves much to be desired.
2nd Edition (Darkest December) Notes: In 2011, Critical Hit began a series of module reprints, often hastily done, typically to take advantage of the new style of 5/8″ counter artwork they had recently developed. After a bundle of reprints consisting of, more or less, their 1940-related products, Critical Hit released another reprint bundle that was more or less centered around Battle of the Bulge-related products. That is presumably the only reason why the long-forgotten Sudden Full Contact and Devils in the Woods, two small Bulge historical modules released at the same time in 2004, were combined and given a facelift and a reprint seven years later.
The modules were originally released without any counters–they don’t need any special counters–and the counters provided in Darkest December are also not needed, merely being duplicates of existing counters. It is not clear why anyone would prefer using these over the official counters, though the new style layout and artwork is certainly better than Critical Hit’s previous style of counter layout and artwork.
The maps of Sudden Full Contact and Devils in the Woods were also redone, with generally a poorer result than the originals. The main problem is a much darker palette which makes areas of the map–think dark green on very dark brown–hard to make out. The smallest map, the Melines map, is probably the most usable. The largest map, depicting the village of Hotton, is worse but players can make do. The Quatre Bras map, however, is an essentially unplayable mass of dark and darker brown, often overlayed with dark green. It is far worse than the original. The thinking behind this new map palette is impossible to discern.
The scenarios are the same selection as in the originals; three scenarios seem to have been changed (they are in version “1.1”), probably for errata. Four scenarios use the Melines map, eight scenarios use the Hotton map, and 8 scenarios use the difficult-to-see Quatre Bras map. The scenarios are overwhelmingly small in size (or even tiny); there are 13 small scenarios, 4 medium-sized scenarios, and 3 largish scenarios. Some of the scenarios are simply below the threshold of size that most ASLers would consider acceptable, such as DD4 (Grabbing Some Houses), which pits 3 German squads against 2 American squads and 2 Shermans.
Most of the scenarios have some sort of mist effect, with 6 scenarios having special “heavy mist” rules. Four scenarios use OBA. An amazing 8 scenarios, more than a third of the total, are Night scenarios, so prospective purchasers had better be happy with Night rules.
This is a not particularly well done reprint of two modules that were not all that great in the first place. For owners of those two modules, there is definitely no need to purchase the new module–owners would probably prefer the maps from the originals. For other people, this product is best suited for that subgroup of ASL players who like both small scenarios and Night scenarios.
One additional thing to note is the high price. Originally listed at $69.95, and later reduced to $49.95, this module is overpriced even then.
LATER EDITIONS: See Devils in the Woods entry.