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Subject: Strategic WW2 games - most "bang for your hour"? rss

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Derek H
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I'm looking for opinions on the best strategic WW2 game out there - the one that you feel offers most "bang for your hour".

There was an earlier forum post where someone wanted a strategic WW2 game that played in under 2 hours; while this might be possible, I doubt that such a game will really offer much insight into the complexities of the era and I do assume that a decent game will have at least an 8 hour playtime.

I currently have access to:

* Hitlers War (HW)
* Advanced Third Reich (A3R)

I have also looked at/read about:

* Europe Engulfed (EE)
* European Theatre of Operations (ETO)

All of these seem to cover WW2 in a similar; addressing military, economic and political issues.

Of them, my interest is tending towards EE although the price tag is a little daunting. I appreciate that each game has its strengths and weaknesses, but if I were to invest my time to learn and play just one - which game stands out above the rest?!
 
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Kurt Keckley
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My favorite, by far is EE. Yes it is expensive but divide it by the number of hours you play and before long it has cost you pennies to play.
 
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Andrew C
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I'd go with Europe Engulfed. Its worth it.
 
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Isaac Citrom
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Derek;

Hello. That's my "area," if you will.

There are basically 2+1 classes for WWII stratgeic games. Also, just about every rules system is divided along ETO/PTO lines. Most of the games that cover the entire conflict are a marriage of the ETO and the PTO versions of a game system.

The two classes, in my opinion, are (a) the WWII stratgeic simulations and (b) a WWII stylised game. There is a third interim category as well.

The posterchild for the stylised games is Axis & Allies (A&A). A&A attempts to offer the flavour of WWII grand-strategy. But, because it is so abstracted many of the main features of WWII grand-strategy are only touched upon. Another game in this category is Risk. A&A gained popularity with those of us who sought more WWII flavour but did not want to invest in a 50 page rule book, 100 hours of play, and a hobby level investment of time. And, in my opinion, A&A succeded in doing so.

These games match your criteria of playing under 8 hours.

Another catgeory is the WWII grand-strategy simulation. These are 100+ hour games and take a serious investment in space and time. Almost all these games centre around corps sized units. Turns represent about 2 weeks or more.

I comment on the best and most popular.

1. World in Flames. This is my favourite. The system covers every aspect of WWII grand-strategy. It is arguably the best of the lot.

2. ETO and PTO is another of my favourites. ETO has been retooled and redone as Advanced ETO (AETO). It is available from Decision Games. Do not buy it now. The first printing is replete with errors. The second printng due out very shortly corrects all of it. I highly recommend AETO. Based on the success of AETO, Decision Games has plans to publish APTO. I sense that this will come to pass. Together, the two make up one of the best WWII grand-startegey game systems.

[Follow-up: I recently confirmed with Eric Harvey, the designer of AETO, that the reprint and correction of AETO and the simultaneous release of APTO have been pushed back to early 2008.]

3. Advanced 3rd Reich (A3R) is the sister game to Empire of the Rising Sun. Both games are deprecated. They have been redone and released as one unified game called A World at War from GMT Games. There is only just so much time one can devote to mastering various game systems. I own A3E and ERS, but do not plan on buying AWAW. That said, certainly the system has its own loyal following.

4. Totaler Krieg is another WWII grand-strategy game with a loyal following. I do not at all like the turn length of the game as I believe it is too coarse even for grand-strategy. Units are armies and army groups. That said, the game is shorter to run than the more detailed games I have mentioned.

5. War in Europe and War in the Pacific. Both these games are definitely icons of the "monster game". WiE is a simpler rules set. WiP is a different and much more sophisticated rules system. In fact, in my opinion, WiP is the premier game for simulating the PTO. That said, the units are more fine grained. One really has to be a PTO expert to play WiP. Both are available from Decision Games. WiP has just been redone and rereleased as a $400 monster of monsters. A similar treatment is just around the corner for WiE. If you want 120 or so square feet of maps and about 12,000 counters, this is the way to go. I recommend these games if you have the stamina, time, space, and money for them.

6. There is also Europa, but this series of games is not grand-strategy. It is grand-tactical.


So now we get to the (+1) category. What if someone wants more than Axis and Allies, but does not feel like dealing with a hundred pages of rules, 20 maps, and 10,000 counters.

The two best games, in my opinion, in this new category is Europe Engulfed from GMT Games and the "Front" games from Columbia Games. Both are block games. But, neither fit into your 8 hour time limit. They are more like 20-25 hour games.

The "Front" games from Columbia are called as such because the set of games are entitled WestFront, EastFront, etc. It is a fine system. You will not be disappointed.

The newest arrival is Europe Engulfed from GMT Games. If you will get just this or the Front games, go for this one. It is an excellent design. Because of its resounding success, Asia Engulfed is just around the corner. Pick these up and you will certainly not be disappointed.

If you really want to stick with under 8 hours, I would go with Axis & Allies. But, I sense you want something more than that. I would suggest Europe Engulfed if you are willing to put in more time. If you want a monster game, AETO+APTO or World in Falmes is the way to go, in my opinion. Either is a fine choice.

If you have more sepcific questions, let me know and I will be happy to answer them.
 
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Hoplosternum
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Following on from isaaccs list is another GMT game which I would recommend.

WW2: Barbarossa to Berlin.

Unlike Euope Engulfed and the Columbia games this is Card driven rather than a block game. It's just the European theatre and starts in mid '41 (so no Poland and French campaigns). But it's a good, tight game. Plays in around 8 hours or so once you get used to the mechanics.

The two sides play very differently. The germans get the first few turns to push for a points victory then play a special card which prevents them winning by points but gives them +20 VPs and the win if they have any remaining by the end of the game.

I prefer the card driven mechanic to the mass dice rolling of the block style games so I'd recommend this over east front or Europe Engulfed. But EE and EF, as well as WW2:BtoB are all good examples of there respective types. So if you like one mechanic over the other then I doubt you will go wrong with picking either.

I'll second World in Flames (although I like ETO and PTO too) as the best 'big' WW2 game. But then I've never played the highly regarded Totaler Krieg. But World in Flames is well worth the time if you ever have that many dedicated people, for that long with a big enough table
 
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j b Goodwin

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Quote:
The two best games, in my opinion, in this new category is Europe Engulfed from GMT Games and the "Front" games from Columbia Games. Both are block games. But, neither fit into your 8 hour time limit. They are more like 20-25 hour games.

The "Front" games from Columbia are called as such because the set of games are entitled WestFront, EastFront, etc. It is a fine system. You will not be disappointed.


I agree that the "Front" games are fantastic, and that you will not be disappointed, but as to the playing time, I'd very much disagree. The campaign is broken down into various scenarios, which are individually playable in single sessions. Your first EastFront game will probably take six to eight hours, but soon you'll be able to knock out a scenario in three or four hours. It takes a commitment to get the ball rolling, but you'll really enjoy it once you get the swing of it.
 
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David Brown
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My view is go for Europe Engulfed. I own and have tried many strategic WWII games and this has had more plays than any other (Apart from A&A and Hitler's war)but I'll discount these as they are way more abstract.

I liked Totallar Krieg but just found it a bit too scripted (no matter how much you beat up the Russians it has no impact on their production). Very good game though but quite difficult to learn.

War in Flames - Tried to play it but gave up as it's a massive undertaking. Very clever game.

Btitzkrieg General II - Some clever ideas but under developed (Great shame because this had the potential to be a really great game)

Barb to Berlin - Very scripted, but I have enjoyed playing it.



 
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