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When T.S. Eliot penned, "April is the cruelest month", he was talking about seasonal and life stages, not about a dreadful offensive on the Western Front that would be called the "Battle of Arras" but remembered far better for what the Royal Flying Corps called it-- "Bloody April." Still flying mostly outdated aircraft, General "Boom" Trenchard insisted on constant offensive actions and round-the-clock missions for recon, artillery spotting, mapping, etc. With the most common plane involved in this work being the dreadfully vulnerable Be2C, facing up against the likes of Baron von Richthofen's Jasta 11, the results were woeful losses. To the RFC's credit, they continually fulfilled the missions, despite the losses.
Now, Paul Rohrbaugh's The Cruelest Month looks at this struggle, with the focus primarily on air operations and ground battle abstracted (something like he did in Chennault's First Fight.) As the British player, you will marshal your limited numbers of fighters to help secure the skies for 2-seaters that would be better suited to training planes. As the German player, you will employ your well-armed modern fighters against waves of RFC planes that simply keep coming, regardless of how many you shoot down.
Bonus Item Inside! Backlash! is an expansion kit for The Lash of the Turk (ATO #30) featuring mounted die-cut counters. It covers the multi-year campaign for the crown of Hungary which lasted from 1684 until 1699 (sometimes known as The Great Turkish War). The fighting concluded with most of Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and Serbia becoming part of the Holy Roman Empire. Now the Imperial player can turn the tables somewhat and be the aggressor against a reeling Ottoman Empire!
DOES NOT INCLUDE THE EXTRAS FOR: Islands of the Damned issue (ATO #43). This is for ATO direct sale customers only!
Maps - One full color 22" x 34" hex mapsheet
Counters - 176 full color 5/8" die-cut counters
Air Displays - 2
Rules length - 16 pages
Charts and tables - 2 pages
Complexity - Medium
Playing time - Up to 3 to 4 hours
How challenging is it solitaire? - Average
Designer - Paul Rohrbaugh
Development - Steve Rawling
Graphic Design - Mark Mahaffey