Ambush! was published in 1983, perhaps at a peak time of the board wargaming hobby's popularity.  A number of successful purpose-designed solitaire titles had been on the market for years, (Wolfpack, a submarine game, had been published in 1974, for example, and B-17: Queen of the Skies debuted in 1981). Ambush! was a unique mix of individual character interaction and a less hardware oriented approach than other solitaire games which tended to be weighted heavily toward the simulation scale of the spectrum between game and sim.

Game play is uniquely divided between Operations and Rounds; the solo player moves freely in Operations until the presence of the enemy is detected. This is done by making "paragraph checks." A mission cartridge (several, in fact, for each scenario ("mission") in the game) is coded with data, and each time a friendly soldier moves into a new hex he reads the data off the mission cartridge. The paragraph booklet, with numbered instructional paragraphs - hundreds of them - contains the preprogrammed artificial intelligence that makes the game work, and will trigger random events, place enemy soldiers in their position, and generally guide the player through the mission. Once the enemy is spotted, play is segmented into Action Rounds, with the turn sequence determined by chit activation. Initiative and command ratings for individual soldiers help determine the order of movement also. The combat system is simple - you try and hit targets, then damage them, but unlike, for example, the Advanced Squad Leader To Hit table, there are not 300 cases to be memorized nor are there complex data modelling for the equipment.

The intent of the designers was to capture the feel of television shows like Combat! and the player's squad of heroes (abbreviated to a playable eight men per mission - historically, G.I.s were divided into squads of 12) see more action and adventure in a single session of this game than most would historically have seen in an entire campaign. But that is the point. Hidden V-2 rocket bases, downed pilots, U-boat bases, enemy tank and parachute attacks, all show up during the missions or those of the sequel modules.

Replayability may well be in the eye of the beholder; some won't enjoy replaying games where they know what to expect the second time, others will enjoy the challenge of bettering their performance, and some will be able to revisit the missions after long absences not remembering what they had encountered.

This successful game series spawned a companion series, Battle Hymn, set in the Pacific, as well as a two-player variant called Shell-Shock, and a tank variant called Open Fire.


The General
  ►"An Infantryman's Diary: From the Journal of Daniel Coke Simmons" by William Hamilton
  ►'His Majesty's Soldiers: Adding the British to Ambush" variant by Stephan Negus
  ►"An Ambush ! Special Scenario: Mission VI #1, Traffic Control" by Paul Fasoldt
26-5   ►"The Moral Dimension: Personal Reminiscences of Ambush" by Carl Hoffman
No. 2 May-Jun 1987 ►"Fallschirmjaeger" variant by Wayne C. Close
No. 4 Sep-Oct 1987 ►"Block Party" scenario by Wayne C. Close




Developer: Victory Games
Publisher: Victory Games
Date of Release: 1983
Scale: Man-to-Man
Players: 1
Campaign Type: Linked Scenarios
Components: ► two 16" x 22" unmounted maps
► rules booklet
► paragraph booklet
► 2 die-cut sheets of 1/2" and 5/8" counters
   (218 counters in total)
► 82 character and vehicle cards (and 6 blanks)
► 19 mission cartridges
► Mission cartridge view sleeve
► cardstock player aid card
► two 10-sided dice
► counter storage tray
Expansions: ► Move Out!
► Purple Heart
► Silver Star

Official Mission Listing by Number

Ambush! 1 Bloody St. Mick June 30, 1944
Ambush! 2 Advance on Chasoul August 15, 1944
Ambush! 3 A Cold Morning in Belgium December 17, 1944
Ambush! 4 D-Day Night Drop to Destiny June 6, 1944
Ambush! 5 Operation Pickpocket July 4, 1944
Ambush! 6 Pleasure Boating to the West Wall January 16, 1945
Ambush! 7 Bait for the Trap August 8, 1944
Ambush! 8 Dash for the Sambre September 1, 1944
Move Out 9 The Dawn's Early Light September 11, 1944
Move Out 10 Assault To Kill June 21, 1944
Move Out 11 The Fog of War December 16, 1944
Move Out 12 Through The Eye of the Needle August 16, 1944
Purple Heart 13 Drop Outs June 6, 1944
Purple Heart 14 Reconnaissance in Force July 22, 1944
Purple Heart 15 Homecoming August 25, 1944
Purple Heart 16 On Guard September 3, 1944
Purple Heart 17 The Racer's Edge March 15, 1945
Purple Heart 18 The Morning After December 20, 1944
Silver Star 20 Easy as Apple Pie December 25, 1943
Silver Star 21 Surprise, Surprise! July 19, 1943
Silver Star 22 Another Bridge Too Far? January 15, 1944
Silver Star 23 Strangers in the Night September 15, 1944
Silver Star 24 Muleskinner Blues October 15, 1943
The General VI1 Traffic Control September 14, 1944 2008-present    email: The Tactical Wargamer