Retro Game Review: Breakthrough The Ardennes

In mid-1944, Nazi Germany was on the brink of defeat. Hitler needed something to gain a more good quality position in the peace discussions. That something was a counter-attack from the Ardennes with the objective of capturing the port of Antwerp. The Ardennes area was not heavily defended and used primarily as a resting place for worn out units or a destination for a bring in new units. Over the next few months, the Germans covertly built up 13 Infantry and seven Panzer Divisions along a narrow front. These forces were compared with by five Infantry Divisions, three Cavalry Regiments, and one Armoured Division. On November 16th, 1944 the Germans launched their offensive, commonly referred to as The Battle of the Pooch.


Breakthrough in the Ardennes (BIA) is the simulation of the Battle of the Pooch from Strategic Simulations Inc. It occurs both sides of a standard ATARI disk with side one being the set-up and side two the actual play disk. BIA does not require BASIC and you unblocked games wtf do not need a joystick to play. You may take the German side against a computer American or you may get a friend and chose your side. There are three scenarios to choose from with the at best one being the entire 12 days of the battle and requiring about five hours playing. The game comes with two plastic maps of the Ardennes area. Flip the map over and on its backside you will see the Ardennes area as it would look in the middle of winter. Scenarios one and three begin on November 16th, and scenario two begins on November 21st.

BIA is played on a large scrolling map with the the top of screen being East and the right hand edge being north. It is a hex grid with each hex which represents two miles. Surfaces includes woods, waters, roads, rough ground, and towns. Combat units are also represented by symbols which distinguish between Infantry, Airborne, Electrical engineer, Armour, and Cavalry. Units are further famous by Brigade, Division, Battalion, or Program. Each unit also carries it historical identification.

The American player may have fifty-seven units at any one time while the German may have up to 70 units. The game is considered to be at the advanced level and new computer war gamers should allow additional time to become familiar with the machine. BIA is played in 12 stages which constitute one turn or one day in the battle. The stages imitate air quests, supply, encouragement, organization, movement, and combat. Both players have two movement and combat stages.

The basic unit of measure is the operation point. Units get a certain number of operation points each turn which are expended by performing actions. These actions occasionally includes movement, changing to or from travel mode, constructing or destroying links, combat, and fortification. In addition to operation points, players also receive air and artillery points.

The number of Air points relies on the current conditions while artillery points are always the same for each Divisional pool. You may then set aside artillery points from the Divisional pool to the individual units. Air points may be used for interdiction, ground attack support, or supply air falls. Artillery points simply beef up the combat ease of the unit.

Supply plays a critical role in the game. To be supplied, a unit must be able to find a brand of supply no more than two hexes, unblocked by adversary hexes, to a supplied road. Another feature of BIA is the Unit Organization Phase.

In this phase you may determine artillery, set aside substitutes, destroy or build links, make supply air falls, and build-up or break-down Regiments and Divisions. The ability to re-organize your units adds a new dimension to the play of the game.


As an Advanced Level simulation, BIA accomplishes all of its objectives. I like the way air, artillery, supply, encouragement, mobility, efficiency, and combat capability have been combined. I especially like the build-up and break-down ease of units. This game provides a realistic feeling simulation of the Battle of the Pooch.

On the negative side, I miss using the joystick to select units and communicate with the computer. Having to press number or letter keys for each selection slows the game down quite a bit. The build-up and break-down of units may be a little more detailed and provide a little more control of available unit organizations.

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