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Subject: Blocks in the East Second Edition Review rss

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Filip Labarque
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1.0 Intro
I wanted to write a review on Blocks in the East since this game really got me started in the wargame hobby.
I was initially attracted by the components, but what really kept me going back to it was the gameplay.

2.0 Components
The component quality of the map, blocks, stickers, rulebook is top notch. The map is a heavy laminated cardstock that, with some minor backbending, lays flat without needing a plexyglass cover.
From gallery of Flupperdeflup

The paint of the blocks does not rub off (I’m looking at you there Guns of Gettysburg) when handling them!
And the stickers are some kind of plastic. This means that they won’t tear when removing them from the sticker sheet, which has happened when stickering other block games from my collection.
For the quality of the components is one of the best there is in wargame-land.
What I don’t like about the components is that the player aid is printed on the map.
From gallery of Flupperdeflup


3.0 The game
What I like about the rules is that they are divided up in basic/advanced/optional. For the first couple of plays I highly recommend to stick to the basic rules and stick to the short scenarios.
I really like the short Babarossa scenario since this one gives you the full scope of the initial onslaught and is still playable in an evening (I think the play time is about 3-4 hours).

Even if you never start using the advanced or optional rules, you will have a great time with the short Barbarossa and basic rules.
The short Barbarossa scenario also gives you some freedom in the deployment of your units. The Germans are divided up in Army Group North, Center and South, the map also has the sectors where these groups are deployed shown by colored dots (which match the colored dot on the counter). Within these sectors you can choose how to deploy your units, this allows you to pick a new strategy each time you play the game. Another neat feature of the colored dot on the units is the position for the setup of the game. Just make sure that the dot is in the right corner (for the Germans, left corner for the Russians) when setting up the game and they are immediately at the correct starting strength!
From gallery of Flupperdeflup


The other three short scenarios (Road to Leningrad, Road to Moscow and Road to Rostov) are more subsets of the Barbarossa scenario. There are good while learning to play the game, but for me the meat and potatoes is Barbarossa.
From gallery of Flupperdeflup


The sequence of play goes like this:
The Axis always start the turn and step one is the supply phase. This where units that are out of supply are marked with a white barrel. Supply is checked by tracing a line of max 3 hexes to your supply source (any rail or port hex that is connected to your capital). But these supply lanes must not be broken by enemy units or their ZOC’s (zone of control, the 6 adjacent hexes).
Being out of supply is nasty, it means that unit gets no reinforcements in the next phase, it’s movement is halved, it cannot attack and if it is still out of supply at the end of the turn it gets eliminated and gives resources to the enemy! Better keep eye on those supply lines.
Step 2 is the production phase, this is where your production centers (factories, mining centers, …) generate production points. These production points can be used to repair or rebuild destroyed units.

The next step is the Strategic Rail Movement phase, each side gets to make a number of rail moves. This can be used to redeploy units by rail. You can move as far as you like by rail, as long as the rail hex is not occupied by or adjacent to enemy units.

Then we have the movement phase, in the basic game all units can be moved without restrictions besides their movement points.

Next is an interesting step, the Defender Reaction phase. Now the defender can move his air units. I like this one, this allows the defender to mess with the carefully laid out plans of the attacker.

Now we have the combat phase, which has some interesting mechanics. Like the shielding of hits, some units have their strength going from 5-3-2-1. This means when at strength 5, they need 2 hits before they are reduced to strength 3. This simple thing has a lot of consequences in the game. Stukas are 4-3-2-1 and fighters are 5-3-2-1. This means that you will use your fighters as an escort for your bombers. I love it when a game uses a simple mechanic to push you towards using your units in the historical way.

After combat we have a Blitz phase, here armor units (and their accompanying artillery and air support) that attacked in the combat phase can spend one 1 movement point and make a new attack.

Now comes the final supply phase, this is where the units that are still out of supply are removed.

The last phase is the armor exploitation phase, this is usually where the encirclements of the enemy occur. Now only the armor units can move, but not initiate combat.

All these mechanics make sure that the placement of your units critical, one wrong placed block can put an entire group of units out of supply.

4.0 Conclusion
I’ve introduced the basic rules to a couple of people already and all were playing after 30min, one even never played a wargame before in his life. For me this is the one game I will always come back to. I even made a vassal module so I can play it when I’m not home.
The game has something for every player, the advanced and optional rules will add things like:

Fog of War
Use of fuel for Armor and Air Units
Air Recon Missions
Chechen Revolutionarists
Elite units (SS and Red Guard)
Russian Winter effect on Axis troops
Winterized Lokomotives and limited use of Rail Lines
T-34 Larger Tracks
Finnish Special Sniper Ability
Diversified Production Lines: Infantry, HQ, Tank and Air Units
New factories may be built
Military Doctrine improvement (5 different fields: Infantry, Armor, Fighter, Bomber, Navy)
Airborne and Marine units
Historical Russian heavy fortifications in Crimea (Tatarenwall and Sevastopol)
Russian partisans
Russian evacuation of Industry Event
Stavka is Frozen Event
Barbarossa Special Bonus
Soviet Oil Route is Lost Special Event
Volkssturm Event
Historical Order of Battle: every unit is unique
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Roger Hobden
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Nice review.

I have played the game and agree with most comments.


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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Hi Filip,
Cool review and cool pictures as well, especially the last one.
Blocks in the East is almost as epic as Barbarossa self.
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Filip Labarque
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Harae wrote:
Hi Filip,
Cool review and cool pictures as well, especially the last one.
Blocks in the East is almost as epic as Barbarossa self.
Thanks, for me the scale of game (corps level) hits the sweet spot between epicness and keeping it manageable.
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Is that a normal edition you have there? I know there are all sorts of special editions.

I've been considering this game, but at one point went a bit off bock games, somehow to me counters seem to give more realism.

This is a game I don't feel I must have, but somehow it keeps sort of tugging at me, to take another look.

I've now seen a special offer for the three games
blocks in the east, blocks in the west and... forgotten the 3rd one now.

Maybe..........

oh and I aggree with the playeraids on the map, that's just annoying.
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sagitar wrote:
Is that a normal edition you have there? I know there are all sorts of special editions.

I've been considering this game, but at one point went a bit off bock games, somehow to me counters seem to give more realism.

This is a game I don't feel I must have, but somehow it keeps sort of tugging at me, to take another look.

I've now seen a special offer for the three games
blocks in the east, blocks in the west and... forgotten the 3rd one now.

Maybe..........

oh and I aggree with the playeraids on the map, that's just annoying.
It's the normal edition. No limited components. I did get the goretex map afterwards.
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Freddy Dekker
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oh that's right there was a special map you could buy or which got in the special edition.

is it a neccessary purchase i.e. is the map you get with the game no good?

looking at a special offer for the three games, apparenlty the 3rd one is Afrika.
good reviews leave me tempted.

do you have any experience with the other games.
I wonder if they come together as one huge game.
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Filip Labarque
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sagitar wrote:
oh that's right there was a special map you could buy or which got in the special edition.

is it a neccessary purchase i.e. is the map you get with the game no good?

looking at a special offer for the three games, apparenlty the 3rd one is Afrika.
good reviews leave me tempted.

do you have any experience with the other games.
I wonder if they come together as one huge game.
The map you get in the game is fine, the advantage of the goretex map is that is is bigger (more room in the hexes).
The games were released in this order: BITE, BITW and then BIA. All three games can be combined into 1 to play the '39 campaign or scenario's for each succeeding year. I played all games and one scenario combining the three. My favorite is still BITE. It is very accessible to new wargamers, due to the rules being split up in basic/advanced/optional rules. While still containing enough realism with all rules included.

Check out some session reports in the BIA forums for the '39 campaign. They give a great feel for the the combined games play.
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I am currently considering buying all in one price.

No clue asto how large these maps are, so did you need to built a shed in the garden in order to have enough room to play the mega game, or is there no scenario which uses all maps at the same time.
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okay, checking this out a bit more in dept as the purchase I'm considering is not peanuts, money wise.

looked at those Goretex maps and they are really expensive.
so that probably means they are not for me, but I understand the standard maps are fine anyway.

what about the cards I heard mention but do not come with the game.
do I need them? what do they do?


I wonder is this the kind of game you keep playing or are there some out there who got bored with it after a few plays.

will now go find the session report.
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sagitar wrote:
okay, checking this out a bit more in dept as the purchase I'm considering is not peanuts, money wise.

looked at those Goretex maps and they are really expensive.
so that probably means they are not for me, but I understand the standard maps are fine anyway.

what about the cards I heard mention but do not come with the game.
do I need them? what do they do?


I wonder is this the kind of game you keep playing or are there some out there who got bored with it after a few plays.

will now go find the session report.
The standard map for BITE consist of 2 parts of 87x62cm, and the same for the BITW map. The BIA map does not increase the total size. So the total size for the maps to combine the three games is 174x124cm, not including the Order of Battle cards. So it might be interesting to calculate some extra same or a spare side table for those.

The card decks are a nice to have feature, they contain some optional rules. The are usefull as a reminder, but are not required to play the game.

The games should keep you entertained for quite some time, specially if your goal is to play the '39 campaign combined game. But I would advise you not to start out with the big monster, but learn the game through the shorter scenarios. And even start out with the basic rules, add the advanced rules once you get a good feel for the game. And only then add the optional rules. And finally graduate to the '39 campaign.

Enjoy!
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dank je Flip.

Is there a difference between first and second edition and does the game lend itself for solo play?

Having a go at the monstergame is one thing, finding an oponent with enough commitment quite another.
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sagitar wrote:
dank je Flip.

Is there a difference between first and second edition and does the game lend itself for solo play?

Having a go at the monstergame is one thing, finding an oponent with enough commitment quite another.
The first edition came in a tube, the second in a box. The rest of the components was mostly the same I think. I prefer a box, since then I was able to make an isert.
Like this:
Board Game: Blocks in the East


Also, make sure to download the third edition of the rules as these have been cleaned up quite a bit since the first edition.

For me, the games certainly lend themselves to solo play. Thanks to the fog of war by not being able to always see the other side of the blocks. I played many solo games and found it tremendous fun. My favorite scenarios are the short Barbarossa from BITE and the Desert Fox scenario from BIA.

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Yeah, box, diffinatly better.
So what material is that standard map, I really prefer mounted maps but I guess that would be asking to much.
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sagitar wrote:
Yeah, box, diffinatly better.
So what material is that standard map, I really prefer mounted maps but I guess that would be asking to much.
The standard maps are a heavy cardstock. Much better than paper maps. You can get them to lay flat without need for plexiglass if you bend the seems a bit. The maps are probably too big for a mounted map. They would be too heavy, the game box would need to be bigger, shipping would cost more,...
That is why the gorextex maps were created, I guess. Sure they are expensive, but they will last a lifetime. Getting both goretex maps laid out on a table truly is a thing of beauty.
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I have only played solo and I had a blast with it. There are not many games where I grin from ear to ear while I play. Yeas I scratched my head a few times until I got used to what was going on, but the game is definitely fun to play.
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Flupperdeflup wrote:
sagitar wrote:
Yeah, box, diffinatly better.
So what material is that standard map, I really prefer mounted maps but I guess that would be asking to much.
The standard maps are a heavy cardstock. Much better than paper maps. You can get them to lay flat without need for plexiglass if you bend the seems a bit. The maps are probably too big for a mounted map. They would be too heavy, the game box would need to be bigger, shipping would cost more,...
That is why the gorextex maps were created, I guess. Sure they are expensive, but they will last a lifetime. Getting both goretex maps laid out on a table truly is a thing of beauty.
and laminated. drink proof.
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