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World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Wargame noob - My First Attempt at B2B! rss

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Rich Hall
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I’ve had this game for a short while and had a free day today to finally get it out on the table and give it a solo run to see how it all works. Despite considering myself fairly good with picking up rules (having played a substantial amount of RPG stuff in my youth) I’ll admit to being flummoxed by the Barbarossa to Berlin rules a couple of times! I’ve never really “war gamed” before so a lot of the rules which might be straightforward to a wargame veteran were pretty new to me. In addition, there had been a bit of time between my rules reading and actually managing to get this game on the table so there were quite a few points I’m sure I got wrong as I went (in particular the pretty darned important rules regarding supply lines weren’t always foremost in my mind when considering moves!). What was foremost in my mind was having a bit of fun, not getting bogged down in the details too much and seeing how everything fit together.

Anyhoo, here’s a quick run down of how I get on!;
Turn 1


The Axis make an initial stab through the centre looking to Blitzkrieg their way through the centre then North. (Note that I’d kicked off my first game with von Paulus Pause rather than Barbarossa so I didn’t have any of those complexities in Winter ’42!). Even in this first turn, some rather unfortunate dice rolling for the Axis holds them up longer than they were planning – a theme that continues through most of the war!

Turn 2


The Axis have made good progress in the centre despite some fairly poor dice rolling, threatening Leningrad (although still missing the card that will let them attack it!) and opening up a hole to pour through in the North. Only some very late withdrawals from elsewhere in the Soviet line manage to stem the flow. Stalin starts to look a little worried in Moscow.

Turn 3


Leningrad falls just as soon as Nordlicht hits the table. Already I feel a lack of units on the table (brought about by my complete ignorance regarding the usefulness of reinforcement points up until this turn!). The situation in Southern Russia looks a little better for the Allies, but the Axis are making moves to cut South and encircle the position at Odessa. No news to report on the Western front – FDR declaring war is hiding at the bottom of the draw deck so the Axis can feel safe on that front for now (alas it’s difficult to keep this kind of knowledge secret from you when you play solo!).

Turn 4 – Spring 1942


A turn spent reinforcing as supplies wane so the front sees little movement. Some further poor dice rolling from the Axis means that the little combat they do order sees them having to retreat from the centre and the Soviets can reinforce the area to the North of Odessa. Africa remains a sideshow – something I guess I wish the game had given me more incentive to get involved in!

Turn 5 – Summer 1942


The Russians fall back to protect Moscow as units collapse all over the place. Thankfully, tank armies arrive to help fight the cause although they are forced to try and just contain the Axis advance rather than fight any forward action of their own. In a bizarre turn of events in the South, 2 Soviet fronts manage to fight back against what I hadn't realised was a ludicrously underprotected Axis front line and break through into Romania. The Axis hastily collect units from further back to fend off the advance. This is where I really felt my lack of real consideration of supply lines hurt my game – not that I had planned to go running into Germany and causing havoc but just how I needed to protect these supply lines going forward. Eventually I had to pull these fronts back just to avoid getting them zapped for being out of supply.

Oh – and finally the Western front cards enter my hand and I am able to have the US declare war and begin the build up!

Turn 6 – Fall 1942


The Brits and US land in Norway, looking to fight eastwards and then down into Germany (it made sense at the time… ). The Axis, knowing that time was running out (for them and me!) make a final last gasp drive for Moscow – finally overpowering the last few Allied units and capturing Moscow and Stalin for 4VPs! With the second last move of the turn though the Allies simply sweep downward to cut their supply lines and the end of the turn sees the Moscow capturing units cut off and annihilated. It’s here where I have to call a halt due to time pressures.

With the Western front opened up (albeit not in a fantastic place), I’m not sure how this would have gone – especially as I had (again) forgotten to reinforce properly (!).

The game was really cracking fun, although took a bit longer than I’d expected (about 4 hours for the 6 turns above), but I guess this would get quicker with some further plays. I think what’s called for next is a good re-read of the rules and to reattempt this but perhaps over a couple of days rather than an afternoon!
Cheers for reading!

-Rich
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Judd Vance
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"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
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Impressive.

I've been wargaming for a long time and I couldn't grasp this game on my own. It's frustrating that it has no designer support, no GMT support, no examples of play, no Vassal tutorial logs, and such (at least back when I tried it back it 2010).

It uses the Paths of Glory system, but I got WWII:B2B first, and it nearly killed the entire system for me. Fortunately, a guy in town knew it and taught me.

Shifting Sands is closest to this game, and I created Vassal tutorial logs for it. PoG also has a lot of support, but B2B was the odd duck in the family.
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Evil Bob
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I've heard that when World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin first came out back in 2002, the rules were generally a mess and the game was considered by many to be unpolished/broken. Early adopters of the game must have felt the burn, dropped the game, and moved on. With the 2006 reprint GMT included the new, polished set of rules but the damage had already been done to the game's reputation.

Its really too bad because I've played both this game and Paths of Glory and very much prefer this game. I find the rules are a bit more streamlined with fewer exceptions and political conditions to have to keep in the back of my mind. I also admit to enjoying this period more than WWI in general.

From the looks of it, GMT has learned from the mistakes made with this game. The Supreme Commander was published recently with lots of problems but GMT has quickly stepped up to the plate to correct the issues and have even promised early adopters with new materials shipped out to them.

EDIT: By the way, great AAR! I had fun reading it. A few weeks ago I had pulled the game off my shelf and onto my table to relearn the system and play it solo. This is a really great game.
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Rich Hall
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Cheers guys, yes Paths of Glory is pretty high up my "next game to get" list, but it was actually more my recent obsession with WWII (brought about by my watching "The World at War" documentary!) that made me purchase B2B first and give it a bash. Hopefully now that I've given it a full run through I can start to get my head around some of the more difficult rules. Hopefully I'll also get to try Shifting Sands (as well as Empire of the Sun which caught my eye) although the difficulty lies in finding the time to play them!

Thanks Bob, I hadn't heard of "The Supreme Commander" before but from the pics it actually looks exactly like the kind of thing I was after before I purchased this! When I thought of getting myself a grand strategy WW2 wargame I always had a hex based system in mind (it seemed more classically wargamey!) but I was surprised how well I got on with the point to point way of B2B. Supreme Commander looks really cool though, although slightly scared by the "Play time will vary, but the campaign game generally will be a weekend long game"!
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Joshua O'Connor
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Four hours seems really good considering Pursuit of glory took me and my friend eight to ten. Can one generally play this in four hours? If so that is a major bonus.
 
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Rich Hall
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Unfortunately the 4 hours only got me to turn 6, not even half way! I would guess with a bit better knowledge of the rules I could have sped up but not a huge lot, especially just in terms of thinking what to do with your turn! I notice the game description says a full run through in 7 hours - that's probably not too far from what I would have guessed if you were able to play without referring to the rulebook.

Also - I understand that there's an "end of war" scenario you can play that I'd imagine you could do instead if you were pushed for time?
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Rich Hall
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And here it is!: http://www.gmtgames.com/nnbb/WWIIAxisHighTide.doc

I'd imagine that could play out in half the time of the full campaign.
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