Tim Korchnoi
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Greetings all!
I just wanted to see if anyone could recommend/make the argument for the best strategic game on WWII Europe. I have played Third Reich and Advanced Third Reich way back when as well as Hitler's War. I have looked at Totaler Krieg! and Europe Engulfed, but have not played either. I'd like to find a good game with good options to try all kinds of strategies. Time is not an issue for me, only playability.
Thanks for any and all help in advance.
Regards,
Tim
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Well, my first thought was indeed Europe Engulfed.

It seems to be regarded a kick ass game on that very subject. Seeing as time is not an issue, I think it's a safe bet.
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I personally like the TSR version of European Theater of Operations. Its out of print but is a lot of fun to play. There is a remake called AETO by Decision Games. It doubles the amount of counters but is suppossed to be the best simulation on the subject, depending on who you talk to of course. I like the TSR version because its simplier and only has 1200 counters.

I am currently reading the rules of World in Flames: Final Edition. It has scenarios covering just the war in Europe. After reading the rules I think it is going to be very enjoyable to play, although it is detailed.

I have also played the Struggle for Europe series by Clash of Arms. It has 3 modules that, when put together, cover the entire European theater. It is much simplier than AETO and WiF:FE but since you have to buy three games probably costs more.

I don't know if any of that helped but it may point you in the right direction.

Dan Stueber
 
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Sam Carroll
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I'll second the recommendation for Europe Engulfed. (Although I'm not sure how much my opinion is worth, since I'm a new wargamer.) In any case, I find EE extremely playable, with a lot of options, but also producing good historical results.
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Bill Powers
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Let me be the third vote for Europe Engulfed. I have played more ATR than I can remember, and have also played Hitler's War, SPIs WWII, and a bit of World in Flames, Totaler Krieg.

EE is the best of the bunch IMO. Blocks allow for strategic bluff and 'fog of war' which is a favorite feature of mine. There are plenty of strategic options, and, since it plays more quickly than the others you can get more games in!

Enjoy!
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Alan Richbourg
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I think you should try the Europa series, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_(wargame)

And when you recover from that, try something relatively light and breezy, such as WiF Final Edition.

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marc lecours
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Europe Engulfed is the most playable of the bunch BUT it is not going to let you try very many alternate strategies.

Totaler Krieg has a lot of political stuff and this allows you to try different things. But I find the rules unelegant and the option cards seem too programmed.

World in Flames is probably the best of the bunch for alternate strategies BUT it is very very long. (just playing with europe speeds things a bit.)
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Isaac Citrom
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Tim;

I am a WWII strategic grognard. Here is the lay of the land as I see it.

First off, it is important to place games like Europe Engulfed in a different category from games like World War II: European Theater of Operations (ETO). Europe Engulfed is a lighter game playable in 10 to 20 hours. ETO is a classic highly detailed boxed wargame in the spirit of the '70s and '80s. If you get together once every couple of weeks with a gaming group, these types of games take months to finish.

Axis & Allies in its day filled a niche with wargamers who were looking for something deeper than Risk but did not want to go so far as the map & hex boxed games à la Avalon Hill. Likewise, Europe Engulfed filled a niche with wargamers who were again looking to go deeper than Axis & Allies but still wanted a game that did not require a hobby level of investment in time and energy.

The most popular games in this catgeory are Europe Engulfed from GMT Games, Totaler Krieg from Decision Games, and the EuroFront set from Columbia Games (EastFront II, WestFront II, and EuroFront II).

I own the EuroFront set but I am not a fan of it. It almost exclusively concentrates on the land battle. Strategic warfare such as the Battle of the Atlantic is non-existant and even tactical air power is highly abstracted into air points.

I am neither a fan of Totaler Krieg. I find it is too highly abstracted with turns encumpassing a couple or more months.

In any case, it is not necessary to delve to deeply as Europe Engulfed outclasses everyone and by far. This is the definitive WWII strategic game of this class. It too is a "block" game. However, it handles the other aspects of the war in the ETO elegantly. The game is excellently designed and it is just plain a lot of fun to play. It is a weekender game playing in about 20 hours.

Now, if you want a high level of detail--a conflict simulation (consim)--then there are another set of games to look at.

It was mentioned in this thread, the 1991 version of WWII-European Theater of Operations (ETO) from TSR. This is truly an excellent game. I especially like how sea battles and air power is handled. The game has been updated and retooled by Decision Games. It is called Advanced European Theater of Operations (AETO). The rulebook is 183 pages. It is wordy but I find pretty clear (I prefer wordiness to vagueness for this reason). The game has more than the normal number of misprints. I did not buy it for this reason. I don't think Eric Harvey, the designer, got along too well with Decision Games. There is some kind of backstory here. In any case, he sells an update kit with errata and counter reprints. An Italian-Mediterranean expansion as well as a corrected reprint of the game was due out now. This has been pushed back to the end of 2007/beginning of 2008. The Mediterranean expansion will be rolled in with the reprint of AETO.

The 1991 version had a sister game, World War II: Pacific Theater of Operations (APTO). It was just as good. Because AETO sold well, APTO also went forward and is due out soon.

I also own Advanced Third Reich (A3R) and her sister game Empire of the Rising Sun. These two games have also been retooled and combined and have been released by GMT Games as A World at War. This is a very fine grognardian strategic WWII system. I did not buy it because frankly there is a limit to how much time one can spend assimilating these complex rules systems. If you are a fan of A3R you may want to go with this game.

The other major contender is World in Flames (WiF) from the Australian Design Group (ADG). This is not so much a game as it is a hobby in its own right. It is an all encumpassing WWII strategic system. It has a plethora of expansions: Ships in Flames, Planes in Flames, Carrier Planes in Flames, Africa Aflame, Convoys in Flames, and on and on. For politics within the scope of WWII there is Politics in Flames. You can play Days of Decision III to play out the geopolitics leading up to the war instead of dealing with the many axia that all these games contain. There is Leaders In Flames. You can continue an Allied victory past 1945 with Patton in Flames or an Axis victory with America in Flames. ADG even has a WWI game that meshes with WiF. If you are so inclined you can simulate the conflict from 1914 to 1950 in every detail across 10 giant maps and over 7,000 counters.

I think WiF is an amazing achievement and I own everything ADG has put out in the WiF world. Be advised however, the rulebook is unlearnable on your own. It is complete, correct and accurate, but poorly written and with very few examples. You need someone to show you the game. In any case you will have to join one of the many WiF gaming groups in order to play.

Another great achievment is the Europa series. While all the strategic games I have mentioned thus far deal at the corps level, Europa deals with divisions, regiments, and sometimes even battalions. The maps are huge and the games are famous for their accurate orders of battle. There are many sets each dealing with a particular area and period of WWII in Europe. Although the system has had some criticism of its air rules, the games are unbelieveably detailed and historically accurate. I have given up on this sytem, however. It has been passed from undercapitalized publisher to undercapitalized publisher several times. There are never but a few of the games ever in print at any one time and games come up years apart. Games in the set are repackaged time and again. The system is unbuyable and there is not even a definitive list of games. Too bad really.

As much as I am a fan of WiF, in my opinion, the best of the lot is AETO. I will wait for the reprint, and with APTO, I believe I will have the premiere WWII strategic game. For a lighter time I own the excellent Europe Engulfed. Her sister game's release, Asia Engulfed, is imminant. I can hardly wait to pick it up.
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Andrew C
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Yet another vote for Europe Engulfed. Its my favorite game given 3 or 4 players and a weekend.

One other to consider is Clash of Arm's Struggle for Europe series games: War Without Mercy (East Front), Brute Force (West), and the Mediterranean (North Africa).

They are corps level and with pretty detailed air and naval systems. For example, for air you need to manage your airbases (they are counters) and you have different aircraft types for fighter, attack, bomber, and transport. They include unique air-to-air, bomb, and range ratings by aircraft type- for example Me109 vs FW190 (though aircraft type is not ID's and must be inferred from the counter art).

Naval units get the same treatment (BB, CL, FF etc) and are rated on "protection", flak, shore bombardment, transport, and speed.

I've only played WWM but its a great, and PLAYABLE game with perhaps 20 pages of rules. All three combine together for a 4.5 map monster game but still with playable mechanics. It focuses on the operational level and you can use the historical order of battle, which factors in historical strategic warfare. It does, however, include optional rules to play out the strategic dimension where more investment means you negatively impact the enemy's OOB.

That's a lot about Struggle for Europe, but I'd still recommend Europe Engulfed first.


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You might want to clarify "time is not an issue". Some of the options here (WiF in particular) are just incredibly long, even by grog standards. My understanding is that even stripped-down WiF games are 100+ hour affairs. To me, even if I had the kind of time to complete one game, I'd prefer something shorter just so that it's easier to play again and try different strategies. Unless you have weeks of non-stop, full-time gaming available, I can't see how you can start a new game and still have a useful understanding of what happened in the last one (Started months ago? Years ago?). But WiF is tops in terms of providing options, if that's really your first priority.

I play A World At War which, while still monstrous, is actually completeable by mere mortals - at about 30 hours a game, you can complete a game in two months playing once a week and allow for a little downtime to reflect and plan before the next game. I also like the fact that AWAW, compared to WiF, is a single game and not a whole system - everybody plays by the same rules in the same scenario, so it's easier to follow strategy discussions amongst other players.
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Isaac, awesome post! That should be on a Wiki somewhere. Best summary I've seen.
 
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Isaac Citrom
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Thanks.
 
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marc lecours
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great post isaac. Your evaluations of the various games are right on.

Some more thoughts:

I think the Eurofront games (especially Eastfront) are very playable and fun. They are on par with Europe Engulfed in the "fun" category. BUT they only really cover the land battles. That is why only Eastfront really works for me.(but it is excellent)

Totaler Krieg is actually pretty good. In Europe it does almost all that World in flames does on land but a bit faster. But this is at a cost of abstract production, abstract tactical and air war, abstract sea war. Also the rules of Totaler Krieg are incredibly difficult to learn on your own because the various abstract systems have no relationship to familiar things. Also the political rules are detailed,long,difficult to get a feel for but allow for a lot of alternate history. Once you get past learning the rules it is not bad. But still I am not a big fan.

World in flames was my first love in wargaming. I loved the 3rd edition. It was still moderately playable then. But all the expansions made a monster game into a monster monster game. I no longer have the courage to play it. But I used to love the game system. Lots of fun decisions to make. The game lends itself to analysis and planning. During the downtime (of which there is lots), I would fill notebooks full of plans and calculations and strategic analysis. I would give codenames to plans. I especially liked planning out invasions of pacific islands. How many ships, how many troops, what are the odds, when to get them into position etc. Good memories.

Europe Engulfed is a brilliant design. WWII plays out fairly close to historical. The game is fun. It is a GAME more than a simulation. The invasion of France for example does not have the feel of the historical invasion of France, the invasion of russia does not have the feel of the historical invasion of Russia. But the end results resemble the end results in the war. France falls easily but the german losses can be large, Barbarossa gets to the door of Moscow by december 1941 but no further (actually the germans can take moscow by having a narrow advance.) The game plays fast compared to all the monster games and it is a game (a contest between two players, it is also playable at 3). The rules are very elegant. Great design.
 
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Isaac Citrom
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Marc;

I agree with everything you said!

Indeed, Europe Engulfed does lack grandure. D-Day and Barbarossa don't feel like the monumental and historic events that they were. They boil down to just another play. And, for example, although the sea rules properly abstract the war at sea, you will never get a Bismarck event like you would in a game like ETO (or AETO).

Regarding WiF, yes, it is the perfect game if you want to be a war planner, which I find to be a lot of fun in its own right.

Similarly, if one is a fan of operational planning, I think the definitive game is the new retooling of War in the Pacific (second edition). I think this is the ultimate PTO consim. There is also a computer based game with the exact same level of detailed consimming. It has the exact same title but I believe the games are unrelated (http://www.matrixgames.com/games/game.asp?gid=294).

I would add that I recognize that all of the games I mentioned as well as titles I did not, each have their own loyal following. I am sure there are those who take Columbia's EuroFront set as the best WWII strategic game ever.
 
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Tim Korchnoi
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Thanks for all the feedback guys, especially Isaac.
When I say time is not an issue let me put it this way: I'm single so I can leave a game on a table for months (nay, years should I prefer) and I like a lot of detail. The only time I find a system to be too cumbersome is when the rules are unclear.
Thanks again for the suggestion. WWII was my first love when I entered wargaming some twenty years ago and I am hoping to get back to some games that cover that conflict more frequently.
Regards,
Tim
 
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Question for somebody: where does AP's John Prados' Third Reich fit in - or does it?
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AETO!
 
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The current design thinking in WWII European Theatre games.

If the UK had only supported the French with more troops and resources and the Dyle idiot plan hadn't been implemented, then France could have withstood the German Blitzkreig well into 1941 goes the current thinking. This in turn would delay the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union which usually falls if the Wehrmacht are ready by May of 1941.

I beg to differ with this kind of analysis which started with World in Flames and became very popular during the 90s. Supreme Commander continues with the above premise. And like many games, it downplays or ignores the following historical facts.

1. The French army was extremely weak in many areas, especially in organization and communications. Assuming a game starts in Fall 1939, these shortcomings would not have been revealed by spring 1940, let alone corrected.

2. If the British had put everything they had into France, then there could have been extremely disastrous consequences. In contrast to this, in Supreme Commander, evacuating UK forces isn't overly difficult, and the consequences are usually negligible in my play experience.

3. There is an underestimation of the robust defense the Soviets, or more accurately their rather stubborn infantry, could put up in a fight. The idea of zero casualties should be done away with; it was the attrition that hurt the German army that eventually caused its downfall.

So what happened historically is almost impossible. It just doesn't happen. The point of view that the British must at all times keep an eye out for their exit to the coast during May 1940 is just a quaint idea from the golden era of wargaming during the 70s to 80s.

To put it another way, we have come a long way since the days of Avalon Hill and France 40 where France fell in two weeks. Thus, I have some serious doubts about the alternate history interpretations currently employed by designers being a valid point of view. Another thought about this is France becoming stronger and the Soviet Union becoming weaker in simulation board games has a correspondence to their fortunes during the 90s and the 2000s.

I think I will not play such games until I read a very convincing review. I am starting to have a deeper respect for Third Reich and ETO which were made before WIF. The above is not to take away from some of the combat systems. WIF has the best air-to-air system produced to date, and Supreme Commander has a superior land combat system.

The Compass games offering of The War: Europe 1939-45 may be more to my liking as I hear it goes against the popular thesis that Blitzkrieg was just a myth.

take care
rwmccoy

------------------------
On French HQs being too effective:

I came across a similar problem with WIF and downgraded the French HQs so that they only had a 50% chance to re-organize units during 39-40, in Supreme Command terms think support in combat.

The following is a scale for how one views the Fall of France:

HQ capabilities as they are now in games like WIF or Supreme commander — designer and players blame the Dyle idiot plan and lack of British support exclusive of other factors.

50% HQ reliability — slightly critical of French general staff's performance during 1940.

HQ reliability equal or less to HQ rating on a D10 (such ratings are usually 2 or 3) — strongly critical of French generals during 1940.

No HQs can be built during 1939-40 — harshly critical of French general staff.

I am in the strongly critical camp with sympathies towards harsh — only one HQ can be built and has 20 to 30% reliability.

Len Deighton's superb 'Blood, Tears and Folly' is must read in this regard.
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Derry Salewski
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You could start your own thread if you want people to see your ideas, instead of necroing a decade old one
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Mark Helton
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catosulla wrote:
Greetings all! :)
I just wanted to see if anyone could recommend/make the argument for the best strategic game on WWII Europe.

I'd like to find a good game with good options to try all kinds of strategies.

Time is not an issue for me, only playability.


Okay, since time is not an issue for you, then how about War in Europe!



I am somewhat surprised no one mentioned this game, although it is OOP.

Another option is Unconditional Surrender! World War 2 in Europe.



This game was just re-released by GMT this month, so it is available, for awhile at least.
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marc lecours
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Talk about a long time between posts on this thread.
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Tony Doran
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Might consider Struggle for Europe, the Clash of Arms game made up of three other games out together; War Without Mercy, Brute Force: The War in the West, 1940-1945, and The Mediterranean. Really great game.
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Mike Stoddart
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If you want a quirky outlier, try Morsecode ···–. There are other games in the same series for North Africa, Eastern Europe and the Pacific. They're probably quite hard to find now as they were never popular and there aren't many copies floating around.

Here's the link to the series family record in BGG: Empires of Apocalypse series
 
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stodge wrote:
If you want a quirky outlier, try Morsecode ···–. There are other games in the same series for North Africa, Eastern Europe and the Pacific. They're probably quite hard to find now as they were never popular and there aren't many copies floating around.

Here's the link to the series family record in BGG: Empires of Apocalypse series


The games are okay, but those maps... yuk
 
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nyhotep wrote:
stodge wrote:
If you want a quirky outlier, try Morsecode ···–. There are other games in the same series for North Africa, Eastern Europe and the Pacific. They're probably quite hard to find now as they were never popular and there aren't many copies floating around.

Here's the link to the series family record in BGG: Empires of Apocalypse series


The games are okay, but those maps... :yuk:


The maps are ugly, but functional. To cover all of Europe you need three games; Morsecode, Triumph and Fall of the Desert Fox, and Cold Days in Hell. The last is the one hardest to find. The games themselves are fun to play, and use a combat system very simikar to that in the old Avalon Hill game, Russian Front. Combat takes place within a hex.
 
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