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Subject: And Nature’s Balance Is Thus Restored rss

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David G. Cox Esq.
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Berlin ’45: The Nightmare Ends



Two-player Simulation of the Battle of Berlin, April-May 1945
Command Historical Simulations
Designed by John Desch
Published by XTR Corp. (1992)



At the same time that the XTR Corp. released Berlin ’45 they also released Poland ’39, alternatively titled ‘the Nightmare Begins’. There is nice balance in that. I like balance.

The back of the rules state that “the German player is virtually guaranteed his units will be annihilated by the end of play’. That seems only fair as in Poland ’39 the Polish player was virtually guaranteed the same thing. As a piece of advice, if you play Poland and your opponent takes the Germans, you make sure that they stay the German when you ask for a follow-up with Berlin ’45 – unless of course you actually enjoy to finish a game with no units on the map.

XTR made a habit of looking at hypothetical battles. They also made a habit of offering lots of different ‘what if’ scenarios in their games. While I personally like my games to be based on real world conflict I must say that they way the different scenarios give a variety of more balanced situations really does make the game more useable – who wants to have their forces totally wiped every time you go and fight.

To win the game the Soviet player basically has to achieve the historical result which was to wipe the map of German troops. Given that even an inexperienced player will probably make better decisions than did Hitler in the same situation, this may actually be difficult for the Soviets but is certainly achievable. By using the ‘what if’ scenarios you can play situations that are much more balanced. Berlin ’45 uses the standard Krim/Mississippi Banzai system that permeates the pages of Command magazine. All scenarios can be played to completion in an evening. Solitaire play is easy. Beginners rules are provided to make it easy as an introductory game (by removing a lot of flavour such as supply and mobile combat).

Berlin ’45 comes with a 34” x 22” map designed by Mark Simonitch. The map is very green. From an artistic point of view you are not likely to find it hanging in any galleries but it is clear, clean and functional.

There are 320 counters of a ‘larger than was previously usual’ variety. They are functional rather than stunningly attractive.

The rules are clearly written but it would have been nice if the charts, tables and Turn Record Track had been printed on their own card rather than requiring to be photocopied out of the rulebook.

The game scale is 1 turn equals 2 days, 1 hex equals 5 miles and German/allied divisions represent approximately 13,000 soldiers while the Soviet corps represent in the vicinity of 16,000 soldiers.

The sequence of play is extremely stand with players receiving reinforcements, moving units (including mobile combat) and then finishing their turn with prepared assaults.



The game comes with four different scenarios.
1. Historical scenario – Western Allied units are not used in this scenario. This is strictly between the Red Army and the Wehrmacht. The Soviet forces are in two armies – one controlled by Koniev and the other by Zukhov. Due to the intense rivalry between these two commanders the two Soviet armies are forbidden to cooperate. The scenario runs for 10 turns and to win the Soviet player must control all city hexes on the map, several of which are close to the western map-edge. The key to the game is the capture of the Fuhrer Bunker. If you capture Hitler’s Head Quarters German units lose their ZOC’s and their ability to attack. Four turns after the capture of the Fuhrer Bunker all remaining German units will surrender and be removed from the map.
2. Operation Eclipse – in this scenario the Western Allies have their own drive on the German capital. The game is a little reminiscent of Battle for Germany as the Western Allied player also controls the Eastern German forces while the Soviet player controls the Western German forces. It is basically a race for the Fuhrer Bunker.
3. Watch on the Vistula/Watch on the Oder – this scenario assumes that Hitler used the forces from the Battle of the Bulge to forestall the Soviet advances in the East. In this situation Roosevelt and Churchill demand that Stalin not take Berlin and that free elections be held in Poland. This, understandably makes Stalin quite unhappy and he has not alternative but to make the Western Allies unhappy as well, by attacking them. This scenario finishes when players agree that it is over. Players score 3 points for each Berlin hex they control and 2 points for each other city they control.
4. The Bleedin’, Battlin’, Bloody Bastards o’ Berlin – this is a continuation of the theme commenced in the previous scenario. The Western Allies occupy Berlin and the the Soviet player basically has 8 turns to try to kick them out.

The mechanics of the game are standard for your Ugo-Igo hex-and-counter type game. Only German units in cities and fortifications exert Zones of Control. During movement supplied, mechanized units may launch attacks as part of the movement process. When determining the final odds of a combat terrain plays an important part, as do artillery, air power and heavy tank battalions.

As far as the game goes it is nice to play a game that can be finished in a single session. Your reaction to the game will be largely determined by the subject matter.

Before playing the game you probably need to ask yourself two questions.
1. Am I the sort of person who likes to be responsible for the total collapse of a totalitarian regime?
2. Where can I find a masochist to run the German army?




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Re: And Thus Nature’s Balance Is Restored
Great review!

Quote:
Before playing the game you probably need to ask yourself two questions.
1. Am I the sort of person who likes to be responsible for the total collapse of a totalitarian regime?


Yes I am!

Quote:
2. Where can I find a masochist to run the German army?


No problem, I play solo!
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Sim Guy
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Re: And Thus Nature’s Balance Is Restored
ARRGH! angry

You beat me to it - after your Poland '39 review I thought that I would pull out the old XTR zips and play/review this one. Oh well, I guess I can still do a session report. Anyway-

Another nice review. I've alway thought that the best solo games sprout from a situation where there isn't a lot of room for subtlety for one side - in this case, the Germans. Like SPI's Battle for Germany this can be a fun three player game - as long as the German is playing for pride and not so much to win (even if he does win by the victory conditions he's going to feel like he lost).shake

I've only played this one two or three times, just because the conclusion is so foregone. But it is good standard XTR fare - a cut above standard SPI magazine fare from the late Dunnigan years (a little more polish all around: nicer components, solid rules, but not terribly innovative).
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