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Michael Arrighi
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The War: Europe 1939-1945

published by Compass Games, 2012
designed by: Ernie Copley

A Review
2013-07-08


Background:

My gaming experience with TW (The War: Europe 1939-1945) is based on completing 3 games using the 6 turn 'Turning Point Scenario', scenario #6, with 5 players, two face-to-face France 1940 scenarios, #3, both against the designer, a scenario in development, a solo play of the France 1940 scenario #3 and Norway 1940, #1. Ongoing is a solo campaign game of the war from 1939 to 1945, scenario #12. Additionally, I have had a chance to meet, talk and be defeated by the game's designer, which has provided some additional insight, which I will share here.

My approach is to tell you what I like and do not like, any why. Of course, these opinions are mine and others will differ.

The Setting:
TW covers World War 2 in Europe from the Fall of 1939 to the Summer of 1945. The game will handle up to 5 players, one each as the British, the US, the Soviets, the Germans and the Italians. The game is possible to play solo, if some adjustments, or short term memory impairment, is used for diplomacy. Scale is approximately 50 miles per hex with ground unit generally corps sized. Each turn represents 3 months, with 4 turns per calendar year, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. The entire war in Europe is covered in 24 turns and will take two experienced gamers perhaps 4 full 8-10 hour days to complete. The map is in two sections and when combined is 39 inches wide, east to west, and 34 inches north to south. The map encompasses Europe, including Ireland and the United Kingdom, North Africa, the mid-east (Iraq and Persia), the southern two-thirds of Norway, Sweden and Finland, to the Ural mountains. Some additional areas of some significance include the United States, Canada, South Africa, India, among other areas, represented by 'off-map' boxes; although, printed directly on the map board. To completely layout all the tracks and charts an additional area is required, which is about half the size of the map, or another 20 by 30 inches of space.

Components and Production
The production quality is excellent, which one comes to expect from Compass Games. The graphics are well done. “Clear” terrain is a textured green which makes a nice transition to the brown, textured brown desert hexes. Mountains are dark brown with shading and ridge lines. Forest and swamp hexes are clearly delineate. Countries and regions are outlined and have their national flags on the board. The hexes are large and the counters are sized at 5/8th of an inch, with NATO-like symbols for ground units and large font for the numbers, generally two or three numbers. Air and naval units use silhouettes. Counters are printed on one side with the reverse a generic white, which, according to the designer was to facilitate gamers who mount counters on magnets to keep the game up on a wall or other vertical surface using the magnetized counters on sheet metal or metallic white-board.

The paper documents consist of a rule book of 118 pages, a chart and table book, while the book has 40 pages, only 20 pages are of charts and tables. Included in the chart and table book is 18 pages of blank records sheets for income recording and calculation, tracking of diplomacy and tracking of variants. Each scenarios has its own sequence of play card, of which there are 12, a TEC (Terrain Effect Chart) chart and force pool chart for each of the 6 major powers. The TEC is back printed with the card matrix results.

Complexity
The complexity is high. In my opinion, the game is considerably less complex than “World at War” and “World in Flame” but more complex than “Axis Empires: Totalier Kieg,” “Europe Engulfed,” “Advanced Third Reich” and “Third Reich 4th Edition.” While the complexity is high, the rules have an internal consistency, which make game play rapidly move, once the basics are absorbed. Given the scope and complexity of the game, the rules do have various 'exceptions' that apply to the various nationalities and events that are linked to specific times. For example, the Soviet Union may only begin to build fortifications and fortress in 1941 and is limited to a single fortress in 1941, which must be built in Leningrad. Or that the US Entry is influenced by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the winter of 1941.

Part of the complexity is that most activities involving a die roll have die roll modifiers (drm). DRM may involve force differentiation, types of units involved in air combat, having key locations, such a the island of Malta or a port in France. Thus, the process is more involved than adding up the two sets of factors, determine an odds ratio and roll a die. After a few turns, the majority of these drm are quickly determined but the process may be a little daunting for someone who wants a quick and easy game. The modifiers are what add a lot of the flavor to the game.

Scenarios
The game has 12 scenarios, each with its own sequence of play card. Some scenarios are training, such as Poland (#1), Norway (#2), and France (#3). Scenario #10, campaign 1942-1943, has only 6 turns, from Spring, 1942 through the Summer, 1943; this scenario takes about 1 day to play and has every aspect of the game, with something to do for everyone. Scenario 10 is called the tournament scenario; although, I would consider revising the victory conditions. The full campaign game has 24 turns from the Fall, 1939 to through the Summer, 1945.

Sequence of Play
Income Generation Phase (Once per Year, Spring Turn)
Weather Determination Phase (Spring, Fall and Winter)
Planning (hidden selection of the type of Logistical Effort for the turn)
Diplomacy (Fall and Winter turns)
Declarations of War
Strategic Warfare and Partisan Activities (Fall and Winter Turns):
Axis:
Operations Phases (where the majority of the air, navy and ground movement and combat occurs)
Production
Strategic Movement
Allies:
Operation Phases (where the majority of the air, navy and ground movement and combat occurs)
Production
Strategic Movement

Some activities occur at specific times, such as income. Income generation occurs once at the beginning of each year, although additional resources (in the form of income) may be obtained through conquests or diplomatic actions. Planning phase is where the current turn's logistical effort is selection, which is how much combat and activity one wants to take and is able to afford. Diplomacy is where minor countries may be influence to where they may provide some resources or even join one's faction. Some minors, such as Finland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary are 'hard coded'; they will going the German cause, which represents the underlying effort ongoing with formally modeling it.

What's to like
The game has many aspects that really come together to make the entire system move, the air system, the assignment of economic values, force levels, logistical effort, diplomacy, automatic victory system, depletions among some other aspects. In turn, most of these aspects will be described.

Air
Air units are the queen of battle. The role and use of air is different from most other games, as a single air unit may, and should, perform multiple missions each turn. Essentially, a single air unit may perform a mission during each phase, and stage to a new location twice turn a turn. For example, without air support, undertaking naval mission near the coast or in the Mediterranean, under the range of enemy air units is a high risk proposition, as it should be. If you want to undertake any activity near the enemy and conversely prevent anything then you need air power. Obviously, air force is not able to achieve victory alone and, thus, combined operations are essential.

NARFs (National resource factors):
The economic currency of the game is referred to as NARFs (National Resource Factors). Each country has a starting value and conquests and 'satellite countries' add their value to the total. Every minor country has its own value, even Morocco. The “major” powers are allowed to grow, albeit at different rates. The economic values of the countries give incentive to take, hold and retake even some of the smaller countries. For example, Norway is worth 6 NARFs, Denmark 9 and Germany starts with 173 NARFs; thus, the German player has real incentive to take Norway and Denmark. The combined total is nearly 9 percent of the German starting NARF level and the total declaration of war cost is 10 NARFs, which is less than the combined total.

The economic values and growth rates differ from other strategic level games. The difference is that these values are closer to my reading of the history. Additionally, in my opinion, the values work.

Force Levels
Each branch of the military, naval, air or ground may be first, second or third-rate. This aspect is most intriguing, as it captures so much with an easy to implement, elegant solution. Ground unit stacking is dependent upon the army's force level. Three (3) units may stack in one hex if the army is first-rate, two (2) units if second-rate and one (1) unit if third-rate. Additionally, differences in force ratings translate into drm (die roll modifiers) during combat, which may have a substantial influence. Thus, Italian are 3rd rate across, starting the game, while Britain has a first-rate navy and air-force but 3rd rate army. Force levels may be upgrade by spending resources each turn but failure to maintain this effort, until the next level is reached, results in a step back each turn.

Germany starts the game with all three branches at level 1, while say the US starts with their army at 3 and air at 1. So by expending NARFS one may improve a branch's level with a caveat that this effort must be continuous, every turn, otherwise one falls back. And it takes several turn to improve a level. Thus, for Italy a substantial part of their military effort has be devoted to improve their force levels, which will impact other activities, such as, the ability to actually wage war. For me, the approach reflects the effort in training and research to improve one's forces but if one is not continuously making the effort then one 'falls back', as these activities are not easy to turn on and off 'at will' without substantial consequences.

The use of force levels captures the underlying research, training and combat experience required for the lower ranked forces to “catchup” to the leaders. While the Germans started the war with arguably 'the best' ground forces in the world at that time, other countries improved their forces both in terms of equipment and, more importantly, in tactics to reduce, if not eliminate, this gap. Thus, while the German army improved, the advantage difference decreased in in some instances was exceeded by the Allied forces. The use of force level captures a lot with an easy to implement solution.

LE (Logistical Efforts}
LE (Logistical Effort) is another creative approach to execute the war effort. There are 5 types of LEs, Sustained LE (SLE), Regional LE (RLE), Limited LE (LLE), Movement LE (MLE) and a PASS options. All except PASS require NARFs; thus, if one runs out of NARFs by the end of the year then one will be in very serious trouble.

The SLE allows for all units to move at fight, the RLE allows for all units within 4 hexes of an RLE marker to move and fight, the LLE allows all units within 1 hex to move and fight, the MLE allows all units to move (not fight) and the PASS is when you're broke. Each LE has it own NARF cost and limits on what is done and even their own unique benefits. The more restrictive means the less cost.

A player selects one type of LE for the turn. For RLE and LLE, a player may purchase multiple of these markers but a unit may only be activated by single marker. Why not always pick an SLE, because you may not choose a SLE on two consecutive turns; which, to me, represents the activity limits that the country is able to maintain. Additionally, each major power pays LEs for its own units, the Italians in Russian and Germans in North Africa.

The different types of LEs provide flexibility and they allows for the Italians to maintain some level of activity in North Africa and for the Western Allies to undertake actions in the Mediterranean or Western Europe at a reduced cost.

An approach that has tremendous flexibility and give the opportunity for everyone to keep some level of offensive activity in the game.

AV: Automatic Victory
AV (automatic victory) occurs during the movement of ground units; in other games, the term 'over-run' is used. Here the attacker, phasing player, moving a stack to achieve an AV against enemy units may use other friendly units adjacent to the enemy units undergoing an AV; one caveat is that the other friendly units must not have moved in the current phase. The other caveat is that AV may only be undertaken by First Rate armies and requires the presence of at least one ARM (armored unit). But after the AV is achieved and the stack initiating the AV has completed its movement, the other friendly units that assisted in the AV may then move. And it is possible for these units to undertake an AV. Again, air units may assist and are often essential in achieving the AV.

Diplomacy
Diplomatic actions are taken through the use of political points (POPs), which are purchased with the standard currency of the game, NARFs. However, each country has limited on how may POPs may be purchase and which neutral countries may be influenced. Additionally, each minor country one attempts to influence has an 'inherent' defense, abstractly representing its independence. Diplomacy adds an dimension to influence minor countries and attempt to pursue alternative approaches, such as an invasion of England.

Unit Depletion
What is a depletion? A unit may be depleted, which represents more than a 'step-loss'. The unit remains on the map but has substantially reduced capabilities, including the loss of projecting a zone of control. While the cost to rebuild is half of rebuilding the unit from the force pool, the unit is not capable of being on the 'front-line'. The technique is clever in the way that a unit takes substantial causalities but needs to be pulled back from the front to rebuild; the caveat is that a depleted unit can not move and rebuild in the same turn.

The use of depletion and the additional 'omega' depletion that the Germans may take in Russia is, yet another. nice mechanic. An 'omega' depletion occurs throughout the ground combat results table, even at the most favorable of odds, 5:1. Here, the Axis must deplete one unit which represents the tremendous challenges faced in Russia.

During winter turns, Axis units in Russia may undergo depletion due to weather. The colder the winter the more units that will be depleted. The units undergoing depletion must be selected from front-line units. Another aspect that reflects the Axis being ill prepared for the Russian winters and, in an abstract way, incorporates other factors negatively impacting the Axis in Russia.

Other Aspects, in brief
Numerous other aspects that I enjoy but will not go into detail are the lend-lease requirements, the British and US are required to send aid to Russia, at least twice a year. Rail moves occur at the beginning of the turn and allow a ground unit to be railed, from one city to another, and then move. Strategic movement occurs at the end of the turn, allows for units to travel farther distances to be traveled, including across seas with naval assistance.

Superb support by the designer
Additionally, the designer has given excellent support both on BoardGameGeek and ConsimWorld.

Some Errata and Clarifications
A minor issue is that the game is in its initial release and there is some errata and need for clarification. This is not unusual and given the amount of information and innovation, some errata and clarification is expected. What I have observed here is about average, which for is a reasonable and acceptable amount.

A few pieces of information that have yet to be formally incorporated. The Soviet may not evacuate factories until at war with Germany. Naval and ground units undertaking an amphibious assault at multiple beaches transit each beach hex and have the ground units disembark at each location awaiting the final result of the naval mission. Note, the naval mission may be intercepted at any point and may be turned back and for any amphibious landing to proceed the entire naval mission must be successful. The published rules state that one naval fleet may launch amphibious assault into beaches in 3 consecutive sea area with naval movement and ground movement in separate phases; this section was a source of confusion. One additional map errata is there is an erroneous border between Romania and Yugoslavia following the river hexsides along 2222 and 2223. The capital of Bulgaria is Sofia, which should be in red, as it is in black. The capital of Yugoslavia is Belgrade, which should be in red, it is in black. The city of Zagreb is in red which indicates it is a capital but not mentioned in the rules; Zagreb will be the capital of Croatia if created. The first paragraph in section 24.1 has an error that states an oil hit reduces Germany's current number of oil factors by 2; the third paragraph in the section is correct, the reduction is 1 oil factor for a critical hit, starting in the Spring, 1944.


What are my issues
For me, none of the issues are game-breakers mostly annoyances.

More Examples of Play
The game would benefit with more examples of play, particularly examples involving more complex situations. Say an example of the British trying to run supply to Malta under Axis air and Italian naval forces in the Mediterranean, with supply routes coming through both Gibraltar and Suez. An amphibious assault using multiple ground units, going to multiple beaches; yes, an example is in the book but it is incomplete. A brief series of examples has been posted but the game would benefit from other examples, particularly more complex examples.

An Index
The lack of an index is a particular issue, as aspects are discussed in several areas. While some may say that with a PDF file searching is easy, say when looking for a particular aspect on shipyards, 110 instances are found and this assumes that it really was shipyard and not shipbuilding that one had to search on.

Single side counters
The counters are single sided. At a minimum, the counters would benefit by having the same color as the front side to assist with sorting. The counters would really improve if they had a side that indicated the depleted state without having to use a marker. Double sided counters would be possible for the computer-aide modules, such as Vassal, if there were improved communication between the module's developer, the game designers and on-line players.

Force pool cards
The Force Pool cards would benefit by having country specific information printed on the back. These cards do not need to be on the table. The only key aspect on the cards is that one has to separate units eliminated out of supply (OOS) from units eliminated otherwise and other units in the force pool. Units eliminated OOS cost double the amount to rebuild. Thus, one may cut the cards or use a small piece of paper or the back of business cards to designate units eliminated OOS from other units in the force pool to save table space. Then one may make notes on the back of the cards and use these as a quick reference guide of country specific items.

The TEC (Terrain effects Chart)
The TEC (terrain effects chart) has too many errors and I do not recommend using it. Also, why do so many games, including this one, not put the effect on movement due to ZOC (Zones of Control) in the TEC and rename the chart the Terrain Effects and Movement Chart (TEMC)?

Rules are somewhat wordy
The rules have a conversational nature opposed to being written in the case system. The case system would be more efficient and lead to less wordy rules and, in my opinion, improve clarity. Due to the complexities of a strategic game; some rules have exceptions; thus, one needs to carefully look in multiple sections, generally in the specific section that explains the rule and in the nation's section that explains their particular exception. Note, not all exceptions are cross-referenced. Additionally, in a least one situation, Soviet restrictions on constructing fortress, the section in the rules on fortress (13.2.2) is more complete than the Soviet specific sections on fortresses (21.3).

Card deck(s)
Perhaps my least favorite component is the deck of cards. A card deck is provided to add additional randomness to strategic warfare, naval combat and espionage. There are several sets of cards for each category. For example, in naval combat each player may play one of 6 naval cards to generate additional die roll modifiers (drm); here the range of the drm is from -2 to +2, occurring at frequency of 8,7,6,7,8, which is fairly balanced. However, for espionage/counter-espionage there are 17 negative drm compared to 12 positive drm, with 7 zero drms, an intriguing distribution. Given that most espionage/counter-espionage effort is to influence minors, the slight overall negative drm would tend to push the minor toward the major power attempting to gain influence. However, in my opinion, the additional effort to add drm isn't worth the effort and I would have preferred the cost and effort going into the cards have been used in other areas.

OVERALL
The many fine games at the strategic level of World War 2 in Europe reminds one of walking into a fine restaurant; one may choose just to have a drink at the bar, an appetizer, perhaps just a light meal, or have a full course meal. TW is the full course, the game has a little of everything and allows for reasonable variation from the historical course of events through diplomacy or declarations of war. For me, all the individual pieces fit well together well.

Like a fine a wine, TW will further improve with age, as gamers gain experience, learn the subtleties and questions are clarified. The designer provides excellent support on both this forum, BoardGameGeek, and ConsimWorld. For me, Tw strikes the proper balance between detail and playability and results in a game that is eminently enjoyable and replayable.
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Galileo wrote:
The complexity is high. In my opinion, the game is considerably less complex than “World at War” and “World in Flame” but more complex than “Axis Empires: Totalier Kieg,” “Europe Engulfed,” “Advanced Third Reich” and “Third Reich 4th Edition.”


Ouch my heard hurts!

Great review and thank you. I bought this when it came out, but it's yet to hit the table. Now it might be a bit longer...whistle
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Thoughtful Review.
This highlights some of the concerns I had but alleviates others....harder than Totaller Krieg puts it up there on the curve as Rexbinary points out!!

I almost feel like I need to go back to 3R and try it again after 2 decades away from it before I try the new improved goodies.

Back to the sidelines I go!
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Having put a bit of effort into this game myself, with others, I find your review spot on as to all its positives.

However the negatives we found breaks the game for us.

Some parts of this game give me great concern.

For example, the surrender of Minors.

As soon as a minor capital falls, the entire nation becomes controlled by the conqueror and can use all its bases, etc, immediately.

1. How to Defeat Norway and Keep the Allies Out.

a. Take Oslo.
b. Strat Move air to Trondheim, Narvik, Bergen.
c. Escort in a Strat Moved ground unit to Narvik.

2. How to make a Lake out of the Med.

a. Conquer France.
b. Invade Spain. All that armor and air need something to do.
c. Madrid falls on impulse one of an RLE and then you just rebase some of the Luftwaffe to those bases around Gibraltar and isolate it. Dare the Brits to counter - they will suffer grievously.

You see, in Naval Combat, each TAC/MDM air is worth 3 fleets and each CV with air is a fleet and a fleet is a fleet.

Airplanes are cheaper and faster to build, and the Med so confined, or any German Coastal Region, that an undistracted LW is ruinous to the RN.

And all that rebasing air does in every phase - the Germans dominate the board with their Air - and rail moves in combination gives them one heck of an interior lines advantage.

It will automatically fall in one year after no supply.

Generally, between Fall 1940 and Summer or Fall 1941, the LW had time to do this and the Allies have not enough to stop it.

Meanwhile, Germany can play in the Balkans and build up for taking on the Soviet Union.

d. (optional) - don't even bother to get the Italians into the war, especially early. They make a great reserve for much later in the game AND can still contribute in Diplomatic Warfare AND they never leave the German Side until they get conquered - and the Allies are not going to do that early in the war.

3. Diplomacy. The early diplomacy game seems to be pro axis - In two games I took the Balkans using POPs alone. Had to defend Sweden politically, but eventually made her into an Associate. And the Allies were a bit busy making sure I did not flip the Low Countries to my side. And after Spanish Gambit, Portugal seemed real important politically to the UK. The plan here being to counter the isolation of Gibraltar with RAF and RN out of Portugal.

Italians and Germans COMBINE POPs offensively - even with Italy Neutral - the Allies stand alone and have other priorities. As soon as France goes, Allied options with POPS are slashed.

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Wilhammer wrote:
Having put a bit of effort into this game myself, with others, I find your review spot on as to all its positives.

However the negatives we found breaks the game for us.

Some parts of this game give me great concern.

For example, the surrender of Minors.

As soon as a minor capital falls, the entire nation becomes controlled by the conqueror and can use all its bases, etc, immediately.

1. How to Defeat Norway and Keep the Allies Out.

a. Take Oslo.
b. Strat Move air to Trondheim, Narvik, Bergen.
c. Escort in a Strat Moved ground unit to Narvik.

2. How to make a Lake out of the Med.

a. Conquer France.
b. Invade Spain. All that armor and air need something to do.
c. Madrid falls on impulse one of an RLE and then you just rebase some of the Luftwaffe to those bases around Gibraltar and isolate it. Dare the Brits to counter - they will suffer grievously.

You see, in Naval Combat, each TAC/MDM air is worth 3 fleets and each CV with air is a fleet and a fleet is a fleet.

Airplanes are cheaper and faster to build, and the Med so confined, or any German Coastal Region, that an undistracted LW is ruinous to the RN.

And all that rebasing air does in every phase - the Germans dominate the board with their Air - and rail moves in combination gives them one heck of an interior lines advantage.

It will automatically fall in one year after no supply.

Generally, between Fall 1940 and Summer or Fall 1941, the LW had time to do this and the Allies have not enough to stop it.

Meanwhile, Germany can play in the Balkans and build up for taking on the Soviet Union.

d. (optional) - don't even bother to get the Italians into the war, especially early. They make a great reserve for much later in the game AND can still contribute in Diplomatic Warfare AND they never leave the German Side until they get conquered - and the Allies are not going to do that early in the war.

3. Diplomacy. The early diplomacy game seems to be pro axis - In two games I took the Balkans using POPs alone. Had to defend Sweden politically, but eventually made her into an Associate.

Italians and Germans COMBINE POPs offensively - even with Italy Neutral - the Allies stand alone and have other priorities. As soon as France goes, Allied options with POPS are slashed.



Hello Bill - my thoughts:

1) You cannot move a ground unit to Narvik any other way but by sea, so you'd have to use a Fleet to do that, which can be intercepted; if the Brits send max # of naval units to intercept this move, I'm not so confident that a single TAC unit (which is likely all you'd have, unless you're ignoring other tasks, like conquering France)) could necessarily stop the Brits. They might...then again they might not;

2) Re: Spain - you left out how long a siege (air or otherwise) is going to take. If Britain has a 6-7 MOT in Gibraltar, and two 3-3-2 FTRs there (one for the city itself and one more using an airbase), plus some flak, it's not necessarily going to be a walkover. The land hex adjacent to Gibraltar has limited stacking, so a direct assault may be very costly and sieges take a long time. Note that there's a piece of errata inthe rules regarding units in Gibraltar - it says the one ground combat unit you can stack there must be INF or STA - that's an error, as Britain doesn't have any INF - should read MOT or STA;

3) I think I should mention that Spain begins as an Axis Sympathizer, and attacking one of those gives Germany a +1 (adverse) modifier on all diplomatic rolls from that point on;

4) Gibraltar certainly will fall after a year or so +/- if you devote enough Axis resources to it, but what's going on with the rest of the board? Brtiain doesn't surrender even if Gibraltar does fall, and the Brits can re-supply Suez around the Cape;

5) if most of your Luftwaffe is still strangling Gibraltar in Summer 1941, you're going to have a very attentuated Barbarossa; there's nothreat to the British home islands; the 8th Army will do just fine in the western desert (even if Italy is in the war); and the Brits lose nobody supplying Malta.

6) Italy usually enters the war to increase the chances of a French surrender - which you apparently take for grated will occur in (I assume) Spring 1940; you lose the Italian modifier if Italy stays out.

7)on Diplomacy - I'm not sure it's nearly so cut-and-dried as you indicate; the Diplomatic table is intentionally biased towards one-level results. Further, you only get Diplomacy in Spring/Fall turns so the window of vulnerability for the Allies is basically Fall 1940 (after France falls) + Spring 1941. If Greece, Yugoslavia and Sweden are indeed potential Axis targets during the Allies' window of vulnerability. I think you are postulating an amazingly lucky Axis player to accomplish so much in so short a time;

8) the Soviet Union can add its POPs to British POPs defensively as soon as Germany declares war on the USSR, which usually means Soviet POPs are available (defensively) from Fall 1941 on;

9) don't assume that the Allies cannot declare war on Italy - they can. Further, you can't upgrade Italy's lousy 3rd rate units until and unless Italy DOES declare war;

10) an alert Allied player will probe for Axis weaknesses. One example: I've seen British carrier air ravage the Kriegmarine (in one game, two German Fleets sunk at anchor at Trondheim, in another game two of them sunk at Kiel). Your Fleets won't have the proper air deterrent to prevent such operations (3-3-2 German FTRs) since they'll be in Spain. Carrier strikes on the Italian Navy are even easier, as they are 3rd rate.

You make some good points - thanks for posting. And yes,the Germans are indeed riding high from the Fall of France until mid-to-late 1941, but they have much to do in that time. I would suggest that being the Axis player against a skillful Allied player might be a bit more of a challenge than you think.

regards,

ernie
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Ernie Copley
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rexbinary wrote:
Galileo wrote:
The complexity is high. In my opinion, the game is considerably less complex than “World at War” and “World in Flame” but more complex than “Axis Empires: Totalier Kieg,” “Europe Engulfed,” “Advanced Third Reich” and “Third Reich 4th Edition.”


Ouch my heard hurts!

Great review and thank you. I bought this when it came out, but it's yet to hit the table. Now it might be a bit longer...whistle


Hello, Rexbinary - Just curious - what wargames do you usually play?

ernie
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Thanks, ernie

"9) don't assume that the Allies cannot declare war on Italy - they can. Further, you can't upgrade Italy's lousy 3rd rate units until and unless Italy DOES declare war;"

The flip side - the Allies are not going to want to declare on the Italians as it mucks up the USA getting in and other diplomatic effects.

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hipshot wrote:
Thoughtful Review.
This highlights some of the concerns I had but alleviates others....harder than Totaller Krieg puts it up there on the curve as Rexbinary points out!!

I almost feel like I need to go back to 3R and try it again after 2 decades away from it before I try the new improved goodies.

Back to the sidelines I go!


Hello, Kev - You don't have to have played the old 3R to play TW. What I've said many times in many forums is that if you DID play the old 3R, the TW system would probably be comfortable and familiar.

I have no idea what level of complexity causes Rexbinary's head to hurt, which why I thought I'd ask him what games he does play...my thought would be to compare TW to those.

I would also like to point out (as I have elsewhere) that TW has a much gentler learning curves than many games in its class. I've structured the Poland-Norway-France trio of introductory scenarios so people don't have to wade through the whole rulebook just to learn the game.

ernie
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Indeed,

The Scenario Presentation and the Scenario specific SeqofPlays is awesome - sort of like Programmed Instructions for the game.

1. Poland - perfect introduction to movement, combat and air.

2. Norway - a great little scenario - a 3D campaign that adds the Naval component.

3. France, meatier and grand.

Then we get the Atlantic Campaign - learn those strat rules real fast.

Barbarossa - taking on the Soviet Union is very different than taking all the others.

And suddenly you have found yourself eased into the system and are ready to Campaign.


====================

Regarding Campaign Game Victory Conditions.

The Med Front strategy I outlined in a previous post does have a downside - the Germans are probably not going to win the war that way by conquest - nope - it is the long game hoping to fight the Allies to a draw - to win by not losing.

Now if you want an aggressive German play style ala Historical then you are going to need the Italians. Their Navy is needed to invade and supply the ME, because you are probably going to need Cairo.

And, if you are in a multiplayer game with an Italian player, no self respecting Italian player is going to be a vassal to the Reich.
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Ernie Copley
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Wilhammer wrote:
Thanks, ernie

"9) don't assume that the Allies cannot declare war on Italy - they can. Further, you can't upgrade Italy's lousy 3rd rate units until and unless Italy DOES declare war;"

The flip side - the Allies are not going to want to declare on the Italians as it mucks up the USA getting in and other diplomatic effects.



Hi Bill - I think you're referring to 22.8, which sets the USEL back by two if Britain-France do declare war on Italy. If so, that's correct. However,consider: a) the closer the US is to war, which can happen as early as Fall 1941, the less that USEL modifier means; and b) it might be worth it anyway if the Brits can sink the Italian Fleet. If that happens, North Africa and Malta are both safely Allied, and the Italian Fleet will not be able to sail into the Atlantic, as it will be at the bottom of its harbor(s); and c) the Brits can at least partially (if not fully) offset the adverse USEL modifier by using British propaganda in the US, as per 22.5.1

If you are referring to 16.2, that's not a problem as Italy is not a minor country.

ernie
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The counters would really improve if they had a side that indicated the depleted state without having to use a marker.


Just curious as to the rationale here. . .why rely on markers instead of double-sided counters? That sounds kind of fiddly.
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DJ Kuul A wrote:
Quote:
The counters would really improve if they had a side that indicated the depleted state without having to use a marker.


Just curious as to the rationale here. . .why rely on markers instead of double-sided counters? That sounds kind of fiddly.


Hello Aaron - way back when I discussed it with Ken Dingley and with Mark Mahaffey, two reasons:

1) before doing TW, I spent a lot of time with A World at War gamers, and many of them magnetize their game sets - that's not very do-able with two-sided counters;

2) Ken is in the printing business and we had a long chat about getting the backs of the counters exactly right in the printing process. This was my first game, and I've seen too many games by too many publishers where the back-printing was off-center.It's certainly a surmountable challenge - lots of games have very good two-sided counters - but it was one more complication in a very long and complicated process. So I went the single-sided route.

ernie
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Wilhammer wrote:
Indeed,

The Scenario Presentation and the Scenario specific SeqofPlays is awesome - sort of like Programmed Instructions for the game.

1. Poland - perfect introduction to movement, combat and air.

2. Norway - a great little scenario - a 3D campaign that adds the Naval component.

3. France, meatier and grand.

Then we get the Atlantic Campaign - learn those strat rules real fast.

Barbarossa - taking on the Soviet Union is very different than taking all the others.

And suddenly you have found yourself eased into the system and are ready to Campaign.


====================

Regarding Campaign Game Victory Conditions.

The Med Front strategy I outlined in a previous post does have a downside - the Germans are probably not going to win the war that way by conquest - nope - it is the long game hoping to fight the Allies to a draw - to win by not losing.

Now if you want an aggressive German play style ala Historical then you are going to need the Italians. Their Navy is needed to invade and supply the ME, because you are probably going to need Cairo.

And, if you are in a multiplayer game with an Italian player, no self respecting Italian player is going to be a vassal to the Reich.


Hi Bill - good points. In my own games (as the Axis) I tend to go for the knockout - two major powers surrender, and the Axis wins. France is a given, but in my experience, it's easier to force a Soviet surrender, than a British one. Therefore the Spanish gambit, although intriguing, has never been central to my own campaigns,

ernie
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e_copley wrote:

Hello, Rexbinary - Just curious - what wargames do you usually play?

ernie


Hi Ernie,

I play them all, but just not a lot of monsters mostly due to space. I have found Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg! has had a very high learning curve for me, so anything more complex than that seems overwhelming currently. That being said, I have A World at War on my wishlist. I am a glutton for punishment I suppose.
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rexbinary wrote:
e_copley wrote:

Hello, Rexbinary - Just curious - what wargames do you usually play?

ernie


Hi Ernie,

I play them all, but just not a lot of monsters mostly due to space. I have found Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg! has had a very high learning curve for me, so anything more complex than that seems overwhelming currently. That being said, I have A World at War on my wishlist. I am a glutton for punishment I suppose.


If Totaler Krieg was difficult, I would skip AWAW and snag a 4th or 5th edition World in Flames. That's a slight step below TK, if memory serves. And fun!
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thank you for the nice review!! I have the game and this review makes me want to put it on the magnetic wall even more! Two technical questions to help me prepare for the magnetic conversion:
- how high are the stacks usually?
- what percentage of all the counters would you say is actually on the board at any given time?
Thanks!!
Marco
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Bill,

Thanks for the comments.

First, didn't we meet way back in NC and had a common gaming buddy, Byron S? I won't mention the year, well not certain that my memory is that good.

Generally, I agree with your posts and with Ernie's counterpoints; how's that for a non-answer.

But everything is a matter of taste, again with food analogy. So, if its not you cup of tea that is fine.


Norway should fall, quickly, after all turns are 3 months. Scenario 2 presents the same challenge, conquer Norway in one turn. It doesn't bother me that a minor capitulate immediately on the loss of their capital. One has to plan accordingly regarding the sequence of events.

The Germans did have air units in Narvik and did wreck havoc on the Allied convoys, PQ-17 being the most infamous. These loses were a big reason for the Persian corridor and serious consideration was given to abandoning the northern route during 1942 and exclusively use the Persian route.

I don't think air is that cheap at 15 NARFs but I'm probably a tightwad.

If you tie up a unit in Narvik and several around Gibraltar for a year, seem the German air force will be thinned out. The British have to always present a cross channel threat and be willing to run a raid to keep the Germans/Axis honestly defending the French/Benelux/Danish coastline. If the Germans only have STA units in France/Benelux/Denmark then the British are letting them get away.

Gibraltar is hard to starve out and the British may run mu.ltiple supply convoys in the same turn, so wait 4 turns then run lots of convoys. The British could just run 1 more convoy than the Germans have TAC/MDM air in range. Yes, some will take some damage but with success Gibraltar holds and will take another 4 turns to starve out. By then, then US is in the war and they may be in France or perhaps in Portugal?

Would be nice if one could invade the Spanish Atlantic coast but then maybe that's why these games don't let you do that?

Italy is always a bit of a problem. As the Italians really had no business waging war and except for Mussolini probably wouldn't have, at least in my opinion. As Spain is Fascist, were Germany to declare war on Spain, even Il Duce would have been a little concerned about this. The problem is we have no idea what would have happened, since it didn't. Thus, if Germany actually did a DoW with a currently neutral Italy (and French surrender), Italy might have stayed completely neutral and given under the table support the wAllies, thinking she might be next serving on the German dinner plate? IF Italy doesn't join in with France then what would Italy want, with respect to the war? This applies to any game where Italy isn't forced to join, very little incentive. Thus, if there were a separate Italian player s/he should exact a price from Germany, a good portion of the French NARFs every turn; otherwise, Italy has a real challenge trying to upgrade her forces. And if Germany goes against Spain this should also be part of the bargain. Italy is hard pressed to upgrade her forces without German support and can not begin to upgrade until at war. A first rate Italian air force in the Med would really hinder the wAllies but this will take a total of 100 NARFs over 10 turns and Italy receives around 60 once per 4 turn year.






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Yeah, Mike - it was 1986/87. You introduced me to my first GMT game and I think we may have played WiF together at Byron's once or twice.

And I have a copy of GMT's 30 Years War via trade from you a few years ago.

---------------------------------

I played a LOT of Third Reich in the early to mid 80s - probably 50 times or more with others and gosh knows how much time solitaire grokking.

Returned to the hobby, and 4th Ed. 3rd Reich saw a few more plays - then we did a bit of WiF - and I acquired ETO, then AETO/APTO (none of these played), briefly had TK 1, and put on preorder years ago AWAW.

3rd Reich had lots of good times to it.

I await AWAW in August.

We are looking for a single WW2 Strategic Game to pour ourselves into.

Seems we have the luxury of trying many out before we chose one to devote most time too.

The War has some great strengths and will get more play - the presentation of the game is awesome - dbl sided counters is picky - the large scale map, the large counters, the font and overall graphical presentation of the rules and charts are darned friendly to these old eyes.

--

We have another Compass Game in the house that needs a try out - Nations in Arms: Valmy to Waterloo
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marnaudo wrote:
thank you for the nice review!! I have the game and this review makes me want to put it on the magnetic wall even more! Two technical questions to help me prepare for the magnetic conversion:
- how high are the stacks usually?
- what percentage of all the counters would you say is actually on the board at any given time?
Thanks!!
Marco


First rate units can stack 3, possibly one depleted marker for 4
In an unlikely case you could also have air (for another 3)
Maybe a fort marker as well
Combat hex could have breach marker, so in normal cases max is about 4-5

If playing a scenario mid- late war with all powers I'd say most non allied minor units would be in play (less units combined into the convenience markers) so 70%?

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marnaudo wrote:
thank you for the nice review!! I have the game and this review makes me want to put it on the magnetic wall even more! Two technical questions to help me prepare for the magnetic conversion:
- how high are the stacks usually?
- what percentage of all the counters would you say is actually on the board at any given time?
Thanks!!
Marco


Once into the full swing of the game, probably about 1/3 of the total counter set. This is a wild guess. Many of the markers come and go and the minors generally make a limited appearance and this is 3 counter sheets.

The Task Force counters and Army counters help to reduce stack height, to a limited extent. The Strategic War counters have multiple factors to reduce the number.

Generally, most stacks are between 1 to 3 units. Key locations may have a fortification with 2 ground units when the Soviets upgrade to second rate. Or El Alamein might have a fortification, 3 British units and an air unit. Many British ports will have 5 or more units, 2 fleets, a CV, a NAC air, and perhaps a ground unit or two. A few locations will have around 6. Some stacks will be higher, perhaps 8 to 9 or so, during Barbarossa or 1942 in the Russian Steppes, 3 ground, 3 air, an airbase, a MOTFlak, and para-unit.

If needed for some ports, create some off map displays.

Enjoy, and I look forward to your video review
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Wilhammer wrote:
Yeah, Mike - it was 1986/87. You introduced me to my first GMT game and I think we may have played WiF together at Byron's once or twice.

And I have a copy of GMT's 30 Years War via trade from you a few years ago.

---------------------------------

I played a LOT of Third Reich in the early to mid 80s - probably 50 times or more with others and gosh knows how much time solitaire grokking.

Returned to the hobby, and 4th Ed. 3rd Reich saw a few more plays - then we did a bit of WiF - and I acquired ETO, then AETO/APTO (none of these played), briefly had TK 1, and put on preorder years ago AWAW.

3rd Reich had lots of good times to it.

I await AWAW in August.

We are looking for a single WW2 Strategic Game to pour ourselves into.

Seems we have the luxury of trying many out before we chose one to devote most time too.

The War has some great strengths and will get more play - the presentation of the game is awesome - dbl sided counters is picky - the large scale map, the large counters, the font and overall graphical presentation of the rules and charts are darned friendly to these old eyes.

--

We have another Compass Game in the house that needs a try out - Nations in Arms: Valmy to Waterloo



Bill,

I have an unpunched copy of "A World At War" with the extra counter sheet, essentially the version to reprinted. Unfortunately, too much to send. I have another copy but find that I just can not get into it.

Europe Engulfed is much more stream-lined, if you're into that block sort of thing. (Another excellent game, in my opinion)

Danny Holte's Supreme Commander is coming out if you want something that will be faster, with less 'chrome'?

What about Totalier Krieg?

Regarding the single sided counters, using depletion makers is a bit of a pain, adds to the density but then I don't use magnets, my personality suffices cool I would prefer to flip a counter than add one. Also would be nice to have noZOC band on those units without ZOCs and on the depletion side, or ZOC, noZOC, and flexibleZOC indicator. Again, its all a matter of taste.

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Numerous other aspects that I enjoy but will not go into detail are the lend-lease requirements, the British and US are required to send aid to Russia, at least twice a year.


I agree. Further supporting the Design Note in 14.8.2: Reading the "The Last Lion" and other sources, in addition to the impact of British and U.S. popular opinion, perhaps more importantly, Churchill, Roosevelt, and others in the west were terrified militarily that Stalin would, if the WA were not sufficiently helpful to Russia, push the Germans back out of Eastern Europe, and then stop fighting (with or without a cease fire), leaving Hitler to occupy Western Europe (including France) without any longer having a Second (Eastern) Front to drain his resources. If so, Hitler could have put scores of more divisions on the beaches of France and into Italy. Stalin sent cables to Churchill and Roosevelt intended indirectly to exacerbate this fear when convoys to Russia were slow. Regardless of whether Stalin would, or would not, actually have done this, hindsight is 20/20, and the potential of Russia stopping short of Berlin was a very powerful fear factor in the decision-making in Washington and London in keeping Lend-Lease flowing hard and fast to Russia and in committing to open a Second Front ASAP.
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e_copley wrote:
3) I think I should mention that Spain begins as an Axis Sympathizer...


Rule 23.48 says that "Spain begins the game as a neutral minor country." Is that incorrect?

EDIT: I see in the Diplomatic Targets chart near the top of 16.0 that Spain begins as an Axis Sympathizer.
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rexbinary wrote:
e_copley wrote:

Hello, Rexbinary - Just curious - what wargames do you usually play?

ernie


Hi Ernie,

I play them all, but just not a lot of monsters mostly due to space. I have found Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg! has had a very high learning curve for me, so anything more complex than that seems overwhelming currently. That being said, I have A World at War on my wishlist. I am a glutton for punishment I suppose.


Hi, Rexbinary - I played A World at War for years before designing TW. The learning curve there is very steep, even if you've played the other titles in the 3rd Reich family of games.

Naturally, I would hope that you'd give TW's introductory Poland scenario a go before looking elsewhere. But if I had to recommend a WWII strategy boardgame that's less complex than TW, I'd probably go with Europe Engulfed. It's a really fun game - not that I'm very good at it

ernie
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Old Marine wrote:
e_copley wrote:
3) I think I should mention that Spain begins as an Axis Sympathizer...


Rule 23.48 says that "Spain begins the game as a neutral minor country." Is that incorrect?

EDIT: I see in the Diplomatic Targets chart near the top of 16.0 that Spain begins as an Axis Sympathizer.


Hi Alan - you've noticed an errata item - Spain begins the 1939 Campaign game as an Axis Sympathizer, as per 16.1 - ernie
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