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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Two sessions down, here are some observations on strategy and history within the game. If I am wrong at any point feel free to let me know. I am liking the game but wondering about a few features.

1. Germany can build up a west wall and dive into Russia. This is because the French never get any better in the game and there just are not enough Brits. The front they can attack is narrow. Overall, better to strike early. You only have 2 good campaigning months in 1941 so why wait?

2. If Germany attacks France and bogs down in 1940 (possible since attacking is VERY difficult in this game) USSR should strike. Not much Germany can do. USSR penalties just are not severe enough and Berlin is within sight.

3. The Vichy French navy is a non factor.

4. The fall of London is not very drastic. Army and air units in Britain take a step loss. That is it. My opponent yawned.

5. The Pacific War does not draw away British forces, such as naval steps.

6. Winter is as rough in Libya as it is in Germany.

7. Not sure, but can an air unit defend an area without army units supporting it?
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Chris Rice
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Intersting observations. I don't have the game yet so can't comment on all points but:

1. In an open-ended game of this nature I would expect this to be a viable tactic. However, surely it should have its risks, especially if US entry happens?

2. Is this not the flip-side of the above. Can the Germans not leave a holding force in the West and free up enough forces to effectively combat the Russians in the East? If not, surely strategy 1 above could never work?

3. The Vichy French Navy was a non-factor!

4. Of itself, yes. But if in addition, Paris and Cairo are lost, the game is over so I wouldn't regard it too casually.

5. I expect that the RNs overseas commitments have already been factored in.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Point 2 reinforces 1. That is, why destroy France if her military never improves? So I say ignore the west and plunge into the east as early as spring 1940.

Vichy navy was a non-factor in hindsight, but figured in the planning by both sides. I wish there was a way for either side to get the battleship unit. That was the real bone of contention. Yet, its removal from the game does not make or break it. It is just an issue for naval buffs like myself.

RN overseas commitments have not been factored in. Repulse (part of BC unit) and Prince of Wales (part of KGV unit) will stay in Europe. Seems logical to have the Brits lose a few steps there and maybe the ANZAC too. The game does not include the old Revenge class battleships so no issue there.

As for London, I can see the argument going both ways as far as how it is handled in game. I think it ought to negatively effect the diplomacy chart. London had not been occupied by a hostile force since 1689, and even then large parts of Britain wanted the Dutch to land. I recently captured London and I faced the wraith of the Russian army. I am bogged down in Britain and Egypt is holding out.

In other words, forget France and Britain. Hammer the Soviets!
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Chris Rice
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Hitler clearly didn't think the Russians were preparing to attack him or he wouldn't have invaded France with the Russians in his rear. In the game however, there is nothing to stop the Russins attacking early and the German player will of course be aware of that, so his thinking will be ahistoric. But what to do about that without making a scripted game?

Still, surely the lure of knocking the French out early still has some value in the game?

I am waiting impatiently to get my hands on this beast!
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alan beaumont
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Wimplesaur wrote:
3. The Vichy French Navy was a non-factor!
It was only a non factor after the British navy attacked it at anchor at Mers-el-Kébir in Vichy French Algeria on 3 July 1940, killing 1,300. This is still regarded as a war crime in some quarters, but the fear was Vichy would turn it over to Germany to support Sealion, the invasion of Britain.
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Chris Rice
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Indeed. In fact, my comment was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek dig at Sean's expense. The French Navy was a potentially powerful force, which is why the British felt they could not allow it to fall into Axis hands.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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misteralan wrote:
Wimplesaur wrote:
3. The Vichy French Navy was a non-factor!
It was only a non factor after the British navy attacked it at anchor at Mers-el-Kébir in Vichy French Algeria on 3 July 1940, killing 1,300. This is still regarded as a war crime in some quarters, but the fear was Vichy would turn it over to Germany to support Sealion, the invasion of Britain.


I have to split hairs here, but the attack at Mers-el-Kébir led to the loss of 1 out-dated battleship. The fleet was not "knocked-out." This was not Taranto: The Prelude. The French navy was doomed not by the attack but by being spread out. All the attack did was deepen the old anglophobia flames already being stoked by Petain. His regime did get a considerable boost from the attack, but fortunately it was nothing to tip the scales.

I see it as a mistake understood in context of the dark situation Britain faced and the mercurial nature of Churchill.
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Chris Rice
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gittes wrote:


I see it as a mistake understood in context of the dark situation Britain faced and the mercurial nature of Churchill.


Agreed. It's easy to see these errors with the benefit of hindsight, but in war, many decisions have to be taken quickly without such assistance.

A list of the "Major Errorsof WWII" would run to many pages.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Wimplesaur wrote:
Hitler clearly didn't think the Russians were preparing to attack him or he wouldn't have invaded France with the Russians in his rear. In the game however, there is nothing to stop the Russins attacking early and the German player will of course be aware of that, so his thinking will be ahistoric. But what to do about that without making a scripted game?


This is always the main constraint on grand strategic ETO games. To be fair though, Victory in Europe allows for some crazy outcomes that get beyond the old script. I got the Spanish to join the Allies in 1939!

My first thought...Germany gets three free diplomatic rolls at +1 the moment the Soviets attack. Such a move would be sure to stoke anti-communist fears across Europe.

Quote:
Still, surely the lure of knocking the French out early still has some value in the game?


It does increase German resources, but the coastline you have defend is rather long. I do think knocking out Belgium is a good German move though, in part so you can put a buffer between the Allies and the Ruhr. The Allies are certain to enter Belgium one way or another.

Anyway, I have not yet tried my Soviet first strategy for the 1939 scenario so it is just a thought for now.
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Chris Rice
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As we Europeans may have to wait a few more weeks, we are relying on these sorts of reports to keep our appetites whetted.

Let us know how your "Russia First" attempt goes if you try it!
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ralph kramden
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I have only dabbled solitaire with the game so far. I will play my first game Saturday. Did you see the video example where the Germans use a 5 phase battle to take out France?

The fact that most of the at-start Russian units hit on 1's, and that the Urals units and production may not be used against the Germans was suppose to make a Russian attack risky. If this is not enough to deter the Russians, then we may have a problem. Presumably the main issue for the Russians, if they attack, is that they will have to face 39 through 41 without the Urals units or production (although it will be building for 42).
 
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John Griffey
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The principal deterrent to USSR attack on Germany was political. USSR's international reputation was not good and backstabbing Germany would have made it worse. If the USSR had in 1939-1942 treacherously violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, then even if the USSR won the war, its political gains would not have been nearly so great as they were after the actual war. The dismemberment and forty-five year occupation of Germany would have been impossible. The Western Allies, along with their chastened, contrite and humbled German ally, would not have allowed it. The Western Allies, plus Germany, would have kept the USSR out of eastern Europe, by threat of war if necessary. USSR's international position would have been worse than it was before Barbarossa, when it had only to deal with a single powerful frenemy, which was distracted by ongoing war with Britain.

USSR would have attacked only after years of war on the Western Front weakened Western will to resist USSR moves into eastern Europe. Stalin's grand design (like Mussolini's) was to win without much fighting. The design was realistic.

IMHO, these sorts of calculations could have been kneeded into the victory conditions. But, the game design imperative of simplicity prevents it.

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Mark Kwasny
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AnimalMother wrote:
The principal deterrent to USSR attack on Germany was political. USSR's international reputation was not good and backstabbing Germany would have made it worse. If the USSR had in 1939-1942 treacherously violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, then even if the USSR won the war, its political gains would not have been nearly so great as they were after the actual war. The dismemberment and forty-five year occupation of Germany would have been impossible. The Western Allies, along with their chastened, contrite and humbled German ally, would not have allowed it. The Western Allies, plus Germany, would have kept the USSR out of eastern Europe, by threat of war if necessary. USSR's international position would have been worse than it was before Barbarossa, when it had only to deal with a single powerful frenemy, which was distracted by ongoing war with Britain.

USSR would have attacked only after years of war on the Western Front weakened Western will to resist USSR moves into eastern Europe. Stalin's grand design (like Mussolini's) was to win without much fighting. The design was realistic.

IMHO, these sorts of calculations could have been kneeded into the victory conditions. But, the game design imperative of simplicity prevents it.



I would disagree with this. In my opinion, the Western Allies would have welcomed Soviet help against Germany if France was being destroyed, or Britain invaded. If nothing else, the ramifications of a Soviet attack could lead to many debates and differences of opinion, and thus become very difficult to build into a game system.

The game is a simple, open-ended game based on the reality of WWII. The simple victory conditions keep this openness workable. More complex victory conditions could ultimately be a set of hoops each player has to jump through and then the game scripts how players play and win.
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Mike Szarka
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I think the principal deterrent to a USSR attack on Germany was that Stalin did not expect his armed forces to be ready for a conflict on that scale until at least 1942.
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The ideas that DO matter...
One measure of the merit of a game is when the number of post-production BGG comments on "Strategy" and "Sessions" exceeds the number of post-production queries about "Rules."


This string on Strategy is a good start on enhancing that balance!
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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ralph123 wrote:
I have only dabbled solitaire with the game so far. I will play my first game Saturday. Did you see the video example where the Germans use a 5 phase battle to take out France?


I did. The Allied player did not deploy his forces all that well. The main point of any German advance is Sedan. Keep a maximum stack there (French 3rd Army is a must). This is not a fool proof plan of defense but it worked in both sessions. Germany was bogged down both times.

Quote:
The fact that most of the at-start Russian units hit on 1's, and that the Urals units and production may not be used against the Germans was suppose to make a Russian attack risky. If this is not enough to deter the Russians, then we may have a problem. Presumably the main issue for the Russians, if they attack, is that they will have to face 39 through 41 without the Urals units or production (although it will be building for 42).


As the USSR I would only strike if the Germans do not knock out France before Summer 1940. The Red Army is too weak to do it alone, but concentrated attacks in the east with Yaks and armor can have quite an effect when the weight of the Wehrmacht is in the west. You also might be able to destroy a minor ally before the Axis can help them. This is to put you in a stronger position before the Germans turn on you, which is nigh inevitable.
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alan beaumont
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Observations observed
gittes wrote:
misteralan wrote:
Wimplesaur wrote:
3. The Vichy French Navy was a non-factor!
It was only a non factor after the British navy attacked it at anchor at Mers-el-Kébir in Vichy French Algeria on 3 July 1940, killing 1,300. This is still regarded as a war crime in some quarters, but the fear was Vichy would turn it over to Germany to support Sealion, the invasion of Britain.


I have to split hairs here, but the attack at Mers-el-Kébir led to the loss of 1 out-dated battleship. The fleet was not "knocked-out." This was not Taranto: The Prelude. The French navy was doomed not by the attack but by being spread out. All the attack did was deepen the old anglophobia flames already being stoked by Petain. His regime did get a considerable boost from the attack, but fortunately it was nothing to tip the scales.

I see it as a mistake understood in context of the dark situation Britain faced and the mercurial nature of Churchill.
Worked though didn't it?
 
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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misteralan wrote:
Worked though didn't it?


French battleship and battlecruisers were still afloat and not in British hands. There were no plans to put them into German hands before Mers-el-Kébir (not that the British knew for certain). If anything the attack encouraged Petain to offer the Nazis more aid (although to what extent is debatable).

Not a disaster but not a success either. Indeed, if Hitler wanted Vichy to join the alliance in 1940 he could have. Petain was reluctant but not opposed, and Laval was all for it. The sticking point was German aid to the French and Hitler's disinterest in Vichy participation outside of defense. Vichy internal popularity was at its height in 1940-41, both due to anglophobia and fears of communist domination.

The issue with Vichy in summer 1940 was delicate. Formal collaboration with Germany had not yet occurred and Britain could hardly use more enemies. If Hitler had accepted French proposals and brought them into the fighting then Mers-el-Kébir would be seen as an error, in part for failing to actually destroy any modern French warships.

There was a willingness to attack but not press the advantage in the Allied camp, save in Syria and Madagascar, where not coincidentally Allied offensive action was actually provoked. Gabon is an exception.
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John Griffey
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mvkwasny wrote:
AnimalMother wrote:
The principal deterrent to USSR attack on Germany was political. USSR's international reputation was not good and backstabbing Germany would have made it worse. If the USSR had in 1939-1942 treacherously violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, then even if the USSR won the war, its political gains would not have been nearly so great as they were after the actual war. The dismemberment and forty-five year occupation of Germany would have been impossible. The Western Allies, along with their chastened, contrite and humbled German ally, would not have allowed it. The Western Allies, plus Germany, would have kept the USSR out of eastern Europe, by threat of war if necessary. USSR's international position would have been worse than it was before Barbarossa, when it had only to deal with a single powerful frenemy, which was distracted by ongoing war with Britain.

USSR would have attacked only after years of war on the Western Front weakened Western will to resist USSR moves into eastern Europe. Stalin's grand design (like Mussolini's) was to win without much fighting. The design was realistic.

IMHO, these sorts of calculations could have been kneeded into the victory conditions. But, the game design imperative of simplicity prevents it.



I would disagree with this. In my opinion, the Western Allies would have welcomed Soviet help against Germany if France was being destroyed, or Britain invaded. If nothing else, the ramifications of a Soviet attack could lead to many debates and differences of opinion, and thus become very difficult to build into a game system.

The game is a simple, open-ended game based on the reality of WWII. The simple victory conditions keep this openness workable. More complex victory conditions could ultimately be a set of hoops each player has to jump through and then the game scripts how players play and win.


The question is, why did the historical Stalin behave in a way very different from the way an Allied player or players in this game would behave? The answer is political, not military. Just as a player has, Stalin had a purely military incentive to gang-bang Germany, with Britain and France as allies. Why didn't he? As inept as the Red Army was in 1939, it was large enough to hold its own in conjunction with France and Britain, with every prospect of beating-down Germany in a war lasting several years.

The problem was political. Stalin had little to gain from such a war. After overthrowing Hitler and restoring Versailles Treaty limitations, the next Western Allied goal would have been removing Red influence from eastern Europe. With Germany in the post-war Allied camp, the USSR, if it did not withdraw its forces from eastern Europe, would certainly have lost the resulting cold (or hot) war.

The game incentivizes Stalin jumping into the trap he feared the West had set for him: USSR jumps early into the war, does most of the fighting, but the West scoops most of the political gains at the end of the war, all at low cost to itself. The Allies would have welcomed early USSR intervention, but they would never accept USSR political terms which alone would have made USSR's sacrifice worthwhile to USSR--domination of eastern Europe. At least, they would not accept those terms before the fall of France.

In the end, Stalin was forced into the war against his will. Britain was then in no position to demand a Red Army-free eastern Europe. It took considerable skill for them to put together NATO and win the Cold War.

Look at my variant here for how the politics could be modeled without too much complexity:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1319106/victory-conditio...

I also posted an earlier, more detailed variant.


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Mark Kwasny
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AnimalMother wrote:


The question is, why did the historical Stalin behave in a way very different from the way an Allied player or players in this game would behave? The answer is political, not military. Just as a player has, Stalin had a purely military incentive to gang-bang Germany, with Britain and France as allies. Why didn't he? As inept as the Red Army was in 1939, it was large enough to hold its own in conjunction with France and Britain, with every prospect of beating-down Germany in a war lasting several years.

The problem was political. Stalin had little to gain from such a war. After overthrowing Hitler and restoring Versailles Treaty limitations, the next Western Allied goal would have been removing Red influence from eastern Europe. With Germany in the post-war Allied camp, the USSR, if it did not withdraw its forces from eastern Europe, would certainly have lost the resulting cold (or hot) war.

The game incentivizes Stalin jumping into the trap he feared the West had set for him: USSR jumps early into the war, does most of the fighting, but the West scoops most of the political gains at the end of the war, all at low cost to itself. The Allies would have welcomed early USSR intervention, but they would never accept USSR political terms which alone would have made USSR's sacrifice worthwhile to USSR--domination of eastern Europe. At least, they would not accept those terms before the fall of France.

In the end, Stalin was forced into the war against his will. Britain was then in no position to demand a Red Army-free eastern Europe. It took considerable skill for them to put together NATO and win the Cold War.

Look at my variant here for how the politics could be modeled without too much complexity:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1319106/victory-conditio...

I also posted an earlier, more detailed variant.




I would offer as an opinion that Stalin acted as he did because even he understood that war is not a sure thing, it leads to a lot of destruction and loss of life, and offers no guarantee that he would get what he wanted anyway. He had no idea if Hitler would be overthrown. The risks were too high. Which, I would argue, is exactly what this game sets up nicely and simply. So to me, the answer is mostly military. He had no idea if the Soviet military could hold its own against the Germans in an early war, and went with caution to give more time for his military to prepare for war, which he was probably pretty sure would happen sooner or later.

The game offers no incentive that I can see for the Soviets to attack early. They will do so without benefit of the forces and PPs of the Urals until 1942, and with units that cannot match the higher quality infantry, armor, and air of the Germans, not to mention the higher German productivity. I suspect 1940-1942 without any of that would seem like a very long time! Much better to wait and let the Germans attack. If anything, the game offers perhaps too strong of an incentive (in my opinion) for the Soviets to let the Germans get the first hit in. Only if it looks like Hitler is about to win the war (by forcing surrender on the Western powers) does the USSR have an incentive to intervene early. I personally do not see Stalin sitting and letting Hitler take over all of Western Europe and bring the British to their knees. Because he would have had good reason to believe that he was next on the chopping block anyway. Much better to launch an attack while there were some allies left to get help from.

I find the games mirrors historical thinking and events very well, yet still leaves the door open for many other possibilities to play out. And all while remaining a relatively simple game to play.
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Quite apart from being an interesting thread, some of the comments have me rolling on the floor.

gittes wrote:

4. The fall of London is not very drastic. Army and air units in Britain take a step loss. That is it. My opponent yawned.


AND

Wimplesaur wrote:

3. The Vichy French Navy was a non-factor!


On a more serious note;

MHDworkin wrote:

One measure of the merit of a game is when the number of post-production BGG comments on "Strategy" and "Sessions" exceeds the number of post-production queries about "Rules."


I am yet to received the game and hope this is true.


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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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da pyrate wrote:
Quite apart from being an interesting thread, some of the comments have me rolling on the floor.


Normally I would not care either way, but you are one of my favorite users on here (I chose you for GoW way back in the day) so I gotta know....why you rolling on the floor?
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David G. Cox Esq.
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gittes wrote:
da pyrate wrote:
Quite apart from being an interesting thread, some of the comments have me rolling on the floor.


Normally I would not care either way, but you are one of my favorite users on here (I chose you for GoW way back in the day) so I gotta know....why you rolling on the floor?


ROTFL...rolling on the floor laughing of course.

I found the dryness of both comments to be just right for my funny spot.

ATB!


WTG!


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gittes wrote:

2. If Germany attacks France and bogs down in 1940 (possible since attacking is VERY difficult in this game) USSR should strike. Not much Germany can do. USSR penalties just are not severe enough and Berlin is within sight.

And this is what happened to me. My opponent immediately built up the Soviets on the Vistula. When my attack on France stalled, the Soviets knocked out Hungry and Romania dwindling my resources. In spring 1941, I played my Barbarossa card and my attack against the Soviets utterly failed. The border limits are rough on the attackers. Even though I knocked France out of the war, it seemed my best course of action was to buckle down, not attack, and wait for 1945 for a marginal victory. Due to time, we called the game after finishing 1941.

Attacking in this game is hard!
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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da pyrate wrote:
ROTFL...rolling on the floor laughing of course.

I found the dryness of both comments to be just right for my funny spot.

ATB!


WTG!


I need you on more of my tours. I would kill ya!
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