May 21, 2024

#UnboxingDay – Celles: The Ardennes, December 23-27, 1944 (Battle of the Bulge Volume I)

Michael Eckefels, 17 June 2021 ~ #UnboxingDay

Celles is one of those titles that you could easily miss (at least, I did). For one thing, it came out in 2012, and I don’t recall hearing about it, which is a shame as this looks to be a fun and very focused title. In this game, which is meant for two players but could easily be solo’ed, the German ‘high tide’ during the Battle of the Bulge is examined. This is unusual to me in that most games covering the Battle of the Bulge cover the entire campaign and not just a slice of it. This makes it a ‘slice’ of the battle which may be interesting for gamers that would like to examine this battle in detail, but don’t want to do a large-scale version of it.


click images to enlarge

The game comes in a Ziplock, which is not surprising given its small footprint and low price tag ($27 as of this writing). It’s a simple matter to put together a game box for it, which I like to do with my Ziplock games as I like seeing them on the shelf rather than seeing large Ziplock bags sitting in there.



The game comes with a comprehensive Player Aid Chart that covers combat results as well as the number and types of chits drawn by each side, each turn. The chit-pull system makes solo play possible since you don’t know what’s going to come out of the cup next. You can tell which units will be acting, but you just don’t know in what order, which adds quite a bit of tenseness to each turn.



The rulebook is pretty straightforward, in two columns and black and white print. 



There are not many illustrations in the rules, unfortunately, but the system is not difficult to learn. I first learned of this game via Stuka Joe’s playthrough videos for this title, which do an outstanding job of explaining how the game plays out. 



The illustrations that are in the book help to reinforce what’s already clear and easy enough to comprehend.



The back of the rule book gives set-up information as well as a schedule for reinforcements, including entry hexes. Some reinforcement units can choose from several entry points, which could be mitigated by enemy occupation of said hexes.



The single sheet of counters has 88 of them in total. The iconography is a bit different from what I’ve seen in other games (such as the tank units with a solid color around the Armor symbol in the center reflecting the same color as the background of the counter itself), but this isn’t a bad thing. It’s pretty clear at a glance what units belong to which formations, and the text and numbers are large and easy to read, to boot.



Since this game is centered on the German’s maximum point of advance (near the game’s namesake, Celles), the entire Bulge is not represented, but rather just the area of operations for that week or so of time in the game.

The goal is for the Germans to try to get units over the Meuse River (which runs north/south near the left, or western, side of the map), for which they earn VPs each turn. They also get VPs, I think, for certain hexes occupied. The Allies want to prevent that as best as they can, of course.

The map looks good; it’s reflective of the cold weather into which the German offensive was launched, with snow decorating much of the landscape and interspersed with woods, towns, roads, villages, and rivers. Tracks along the edge keep straight which units are activated as well as the turns in the game. I also like how one side is German gray and the other, Allied (or U.S. if you will) green. It’s overall a nice aesthetic for a game that comes in a small Ziplock bag. Overall, there’s a lot of nice content for something that comes in a small package like this. 


Thanks for joining this month’s #UnboxingDay with the Armchair Dragoons and we hope you enjoyed our recon of our recent acquisitions.
You can always leave us your feedback in our #UnboxingDay thread, or in the comment area on this article, below.
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