Recommend
43 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

WestFront II» Forums » Reviews

Subject: WestFront II review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
badge
Caution: May contain wargame like substance
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is a companion piece to and complements my review of EastFront II (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/131978).

As I stated in the other review, I am a long time fan of Columbia's block games, and in particular their WWII Front series. When Columbia Games (CG) announced that WestFront II (WF II) was coming (along with EastFront II (EF II) and EuroFront II), I "upgraded".

Two comments about this review:

1. I am a long time fan of CG's block games.
2. This review compaires WF II to the original. It is recommended to read reviews and gameplay of the original WF before reading the remainder below.

For the unitiated, Columbia Games (CG) published the original WestFront in 1992 as a sequel to EastFront. It was also possible to combine the EF and WF maps and games together (also complemented by the VolgaFront map, which expanded the EastFront map eastwards).

CG was going to add maps for the North (Scandinavia) and Turkey, but ultimately decided for a variety of (IMO good) reasons to clean up the rules, the maps, and the games, and make three new games, namely EuroFront II, WestFront II, and EuroFront II. EuroFront II is the final piece and is finally officially released. (The new combined maps look like this: http://www.columbiagames.com/pix/3407-euf2map-1200.jpg)

The gameplay for WF II is essentially the same as the original WF, and just like EastFront II, the core game mechanics are:

1. You are provided with a mix of units (HQ, infantry, armor, mechanized, cavalry, fortress, and cadres - the latter two are only for the Germans). There are a few units that are special (e.g. amphibious infantry for the Allies, SS units for the Germans)

2. You can deploy the units as you see fit (there is a historical order of battle for the opening Barbarossa scenario) along start lines set out by the various scenarios.

3. HQ's govern how much you can accomplish.

The rules of the game, while lengthy and detailed, are not tremendously complex, allowing the players to focus on their strategy and tactics.

In contrast to EastFront, which has eight scenarios starting in 1941, WestFront starts in 1943 with the invasion of Italy, and has only four scenarios.

The scenarios can be played independently or serially or any subset. The individual scenarios give the information required to continue to the next six-month period. This is useful because if you finish a six-month scenario and the victor isn't clear (such a marginal win for either player), you can seamlessly continue.

HQ units are the basic engine of the game. The allies have two strategic HQ's (one each for the US and British forces) to the German's lone one. Each side also has several tactical HQ units. In the 1943 scenarios, the Germans have more, and in the latter ones, the Allies do. This reflects the progress and buildup of the Allied forces. More HQ's give you more flexibility.

What's different in WF II?

For starters, the map. The original WF map included the UK and western Europe to the Atlantic, but excluding most of the Mediterranean. The new map (cf. http://www.columbiagames.com/cgi-bin/query/cfg/zoom.cfg?prod...) now also includes all of the UK, Scandinavia, Spain, and North Africa.

The new map is also significantly larger than the original (check out this EF II photo for size contrast - http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/133536)

This can make finding a suitable playing surface tricky. As some other BGG commentators have noted, this can be problematic.

As in EF II, the new graphics are less artistically attractive than the original, but more functional - making for net easier ability to play the game.

The rules in WF II are largely unchanged from the original. Where EastFront had several optional rules sections (sea invasions and beachheads for instance), they are required in WestFront, as the Allies absolutely depend on successful sea invasions and the establishment of beachheads.

The full rules are available on the CG website in PDF.

One of the key changes in the game is that strategic HQ's in source cities (Berlin for the Germans, London for the Allies) are not subject to weather disruption. Where this was a benefit for the Germans in EastFront, it's a much bigger benefit to the Allies with their two strategic HQ units.

What makes this game different from EastFront is the nature of play. In EF II, you have two essentially balanced and equivalently capable opponents, with a lot of ebb and flow. Mud affects everyone and snow is bad for the Germans (especially as the play order switches to the Russians moving first). WF II is much more of a waiting, building, and momentum game. The Germans set up their fortresses and cadres and lines of defense and hope that the Allies guess wrong when they invade. The Allies meanwhile stockpile resources and HQ points and try to guess right.

One of my disappointments with WF II is that it would have been easy to include some scenarios for the early parts of WWII - for instance, the invasions of Poland, Belgium, Holland, France. Also, given that Spain is now on the map, it would have been easy to include the roughly 30 blocks for the Spanish Civil War (which was a subgame of MedFront). Granted, all of these are included (rules, scenarios, and blocks) in the recently released EuroFront II, and it would have made WF II more expensive.

However, Columbia will not have the EuroFront rules and their attendant scenarios online like for EF II and WF II, so if you really want these things, you will need buy them.

Who should buy this game?

For original owners of the entire Front series (EastFront, WestFront, VolgaFront, MedFront, EuroFront), there is an upgrade path outlined at the CG web site (http://www.columbiagames.com/resources/3405/EuFII-FAQ.shtml).

If you bought WestFront in 2000 or later, it's worth thinking about getting the components you need to upgrade, if only for the larger map. Doubly so if you Have both WestFront and MedFront.

If you currently own an older copy of WestFront, don't have EastFront, and don't plan to, then you're already set.

If you're looking for a game to replay WWII, then you need this as part of the greater EF II/WF II/EuroFront II trifecta. You could also consider getting Europe Engulfed, but while the CG offering is more money overall, I also feel the Front series recreates the tension in a much more visceral eay.

If you're new to the WWII Front series, this is a good solid game, but I believe you'll get a lot more table time and enjoyment out of EastFront II; however, if you're looking for a good game that's set in Western Europe in WWII, you won't go wrong buying this.
20 
 Thumb up
2.51
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Farrell
United States
Cupertino
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I assume WFII did not include a lot of the "peripheral" campaigns (Spanish Civil War, early war campaigns, Mediterranean) just because it's a lot of extra blocks (many of which are either already in EastFront II so would require needless duplication for folks who buy the whole series, or which are only useful under narrow parameters) for a small payoff. The vast majority of the gaming value for most people is in the campaigns included, so that's good. My only real gripe is that I would have liked to have seen enough blocks to put Scandanavia into play for most scenarios, just as I'd like to have seen the Finns in EastFront II. But, that's a pretty small gripe.

I played the new WestFront II recently, and it reminded me that I think that WestFront is really under-rated by fans of the series, Not least because it's a very different game that you can still play with virtually all the same rules as EastFront. The challenges are very different - it's more logistical. You have to prioritize your effort across two theatres (Italy and France). The Germans are stretched very thin, and the player has to have nerves of steel when it comes to comitting HQ steps. The Allies on the other hand have plenty of supply but no great excess of units, so they have to push hard in situations where it would be mad to do so in EastFront.

The other nice thing about WFII is that single-campaign games can be played in noticably less time than EFII, generally. Even WestFront Summer '44 should play in 3-4 hours, while most Summer campaigns in EastFront will take 5 hours or so.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
badge
Caution: May contain wargame like substance
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cfarrell wrote:
I assume WFII did not include a lot of the "peripheral" campaigns (Spanish Civil War, early war campaigns, Mediterranean) just because it's a lot of extra blocks (many of which are either already in EastFront II so would require needless duplication for folks who buy the whole series, or which are only useful under narrow parameters) for a small payoff.


And my review concedes as much. However, the gripe isn't that the blocks are not included, but rather that while both EFII and WFII have their rulebooks (and consequently, scenarios) posted on the CG web site, EuroFront II will not. To quote CG's site "We anticipate releasing the EastFront 2 and WestFront 2 rulebooks free online. The master EuroFront rules set is going to be released in print only."

The Spanish Civil War mini-game that was included in MedFront did not (and does not ) get a lot of attention, but it was excellent! Nothing's stopping me from downloading the MedFront rules and using some of the hundreds of blocks I have (I bought about 400 in four different colours of the old ones when CG changed suppliers) and make my own labels to play SCW on the WFII map, *but* wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have to buy EuroFront (US$99) to get that? Why not make the blocks and labels available as an add-on kit for $10-20? Or better yet, post the scenarios as a PDF, and if you want the unit labels and blocks, you can buy them.

But that's not an option. Either you stick with the original Front series or you upgrade wholescale. Incidentally, I *did* upgrade wholescale - I pre-ordered all three and EuroFront II will be in my house soon; but for the casual browser and the new to CG's WWII Front games, it merited being highlighted in the review IMO.

cfarrell wrote:
I played the new WestFront II recently, and it reminded me that I think that WestFront is really under-rated by fans of the series.


No argument there. You will note I did rate the game an 8!

cfarrell wrote:
Not least because it's a very different game that you can still play with virtually all the same rules as EastFront. The challenges are very different - it's more logistical.


No argument there either, but this is precisely why I prefer EastFront.

cfarrell wrote:
The other nice thing about WFII is that single-campaign games can be played in noticably less time than EFII, generally. Even WestFront Summer '44 should play in 3-4 hours, while most Summer campaigns in EastFront will take 5 hours or so.


My experience is that you can hammer out an EF/EFII scenario in 3-4 hours with experienced players. YMMV.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bart Grubben
Belgium
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Haven't played Westfront yet, but I was wondering if there is enough fun in this game for the German player. Especially from autumn 1944 onwards it must be a very onesided affaire. Maybe only for the masochistic wargamer?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
badge
Caution: May contain wargame like substance
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Karel wrote:
Haven't played Westfront yet, but I was wondering if there is enough fun in this game for the German player. Especially from autumn 1944 onwards it must be a very onesided affaire. Maybe only for the masochistic wargamer?


I think there is, depending on what kind of player you are. If you're the kind of player who enjoys siege games, then being the Germans in WF is definitely for you.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the scenarios are handicapped (for instance, the Allies in the Summer 43 scenario have a -55 handicap) , so even if the Allies "succeed" in invading and making inraods, if they don't manage to get the strategic objectives (or enough of them), then they won't "win".
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Harrison
United States
Fisher
Illinois
flag msg tools
So long ...
badge
... and thanks for all the fish.
Avatar
mb
leroy43 wrote:
... the gripe isn't that the blocks are not included, but rather that while both EFII and WFII have their rulebooks (and consequently, scenarios) posted on the CG web site, EuroFront II will not. To quote CG's site "We anticipate releasing the EastFront 2 and WestFront 2 rulebooks free online. The master EuroFront rules set is going to be released in print only."

The following 2006 edition rules, labeled "Complete System Rules", are now available on Columbia's website:
EastFront
WestFront
EuroFront
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.