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Subject: What am amazing game!!! rss

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Matt R
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The Barbarossa Campaign is starting to become my favorite solitaire wargame of all time (and I have many). It was delivered on Saturday and I excitedly dug into it that evening. I played for about two turns in my first game just to learn the system and stopped playing because I was a little overzealous in my attempts to encircle large amounts of Soviet armies and was punished very severely for it.

I cleaned it all up but kept thinking about playing it again so Sunday early afternoon I set it up (it actually sets up pretty quickly) and had a go - this time for about three turns before giving up and packing it all away again.

I kept thinking about the game AGAIN all Sunday evening and by Sunday night, before I knew it, I had set it all up ready for a third go of it. This time I played until 3:30AM (even though I had work the next day) and got well into the autumn of 1943 turn where I was holding both Moscow and Stalingrad and had two infantry units beseiging Leningrad. I was making a winner-take-all gamble and only had the two units in range to stage my assault - my Mountain infantry and SS Infantry units. I was using them in case of a Soviet counterattack even though I knew I was gambling losing them as Leningrad was fortified but I didn't have anything else in range (getting to Leningrad is tough by the way).

So I figured my shot here was to get two greens and get the fortifications removed and - hopefully - my two special units (one elite) would hopefully stand against the expected Soviet counterattacks. Well, I got one green chit pull and then.... a yellow. Oh well - at least there's another push I can try in the Spring but instead here came that awful, awful Soviet counterattack.

I drew a long, seemingly endless string of red or yellow chits for a single Soviet Tank unit that just decimated my northern front near Leningrad. I not only lost my tentative foothold at Leningrad - I was pushed at least two hexes back!

To borrow a phrase from "A Game of Thrones" I knew that "winter was coming", it was 3:30AM, and I knew then to fear the Soviet tank counterattacks. So I shook my fist at an imaginary Stalin and packed it up for the next time.

This game... Actually at first I wasn't impressed in videos and reviews when I learned about the system's interesting mechanism of "rebuilding the line" but I have really come to appreciate it - so much so that I'm a little surprised that a variant of this approach hasn't been used in other games. I mean, the system's brilliant. I could even see such a system being used to help determine how "porous" your overall army's strength is simply by counting the total number of line units you have and referencing a table (or the actual number being integrated into the combat system itself) and that the more line units you have the lessened your defense potential is (representing that you are more spread out) with having a better defense in some locations based on where your special units are.

Anyway - enough with my ramblings. I really love this game so far, as punishing as it can be, and can't stop thinking about it. I haven't been this enthralled with a game in some time and can't wait to have a go at it again soon.

Anyone on the fence about this game should just go for it. There is a learning curve but it really isn't that bad and the game system is incredibly solid and overall once you get past the learning curve you won't even need to reference the rules except for very rare rules situations (such as with certain events). By just my third game I was only cracking open the rule book very rarely.

Thanks VPG!!!
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Walter Hearne
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I echo your enjoyment of this game; it's one of my favorites too. It's a great strategic sandbox and the multiple player aids on the layout really make it easier to learn than it would be otherwise. I have yet to find a winning formula, and I have had terrible luck with drawing economic chits, but even after a loss I always come away thinking, "let's try this next time."
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Matt R
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theduke34 wrote:
I echo your enjoyment of this game; it's one of my favorites too. It's a great strategic sandbox and the multiple player aids on the layout really make it easier to learn than it would be otherwise. I have yet to find a winning formula, and I have had terrible luck with drawing economic chits, but even after a loss I always come away thinking, "let's try this next time."


And that's what I like about the game so far. Even when I *think* I'm doing well I inevitably end up getting destroyed somehow - but I don't think it was unfair and it was something I deserved and there was a lesson for me to learn not to do the next time.

And I have been meticulous about making sure that I'm following the rules as much as possible. Knowing how hard to win this game is, I'm now at the point that if I feel that I am doing well, then I'm probably getting a rule wrong (like in my second game where I thought I got to enjoy the Axis strategic benefit every turn and not just when the event card determines it - and yet I *still* lost handily).

Also, I don't know what others are doing when playing this game but I have found that using little wooden cubes and small dice really help with the "fiddliness" of trying to turn over a bunch of units to and from committed and uncomitted sides several times in a game turn. Instead of doing that, I just put a little wooden cube on top and I use a couple of different colors to denote a completely committed unit (such as placing a German line unit to fill in the void left with a blitzing panzer) and to show a unit that just blitzed.

I use the little dice to show where the most "engaged" units are on the Soviet counterattacks and I turn the die sides to denote how many Soviet units are engaged with them - and then putting a wooden cube on them if they resist the Soviet counterattack and are now committed. Works great...
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Carl Paradis
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Thanks for the nice words. I am quite sure that everybody involved with making this cool game appreciate this.
I was asked to help the team in the middle of the design to make the game "work better", add se=cenarios, revamp the event cards, the production model, etc... The efforts I put into this delayed the rest of my game design projects by at least a year. Very happy to see that it was time well spent. meeple
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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A very timely post - I finally pulled the on this some days ago at it should arrive at my doorstep any time now .
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Matt R
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licinius wrote:
Thanks for the nice words. I am quite sure that everybody involved with making this cool game appreciate this.
I was asked to help the team in the middle of the design to make the game "work better", add se=cenarios, revamp the event cards, the production model, etc... The efforts I put into this delayed the rest of my game design projects by at least a year. Very happy to see that it was time well spent. meeple


Funny you should mention that because I thought I noticed a few stylistic similarities between No Retreat! The Russian Front and TBC while I was playing it. In fact, playing TBC was putting me in the mood for some No Retreat! which I haven't brought out in a while and then it made me think that it would have been really cool for them to have been combined into a single game. I'm just glad I have both and even though they are on the same game scale and on the same exact topic I definitely have a place on my shelf for them both.

And yes, I do appreciate the work you and the rest of the VPG crew put into TBC - I just wish I would have discovered it sooner and cannot believe there is not an entire series of games using this game's mechanisms. I had been looking for a good solo hex-and-counter game that feels like an "old fashioned" wargame for a while but was mostly low complexity and just playable and TBC is it. I already have No Retreat! for my two player East Front needs.


mortenmdk wrote:
A very timely post - I finally pulled the on this some days ago at it should arrive at my doorstep any time now .


Just don't give up!!! The game system really is not that hard once you "get" it. Probably the main things I messed up or learned from at in my first play throughs:

1) The Axis Economic Phase: Yes, the "oil drum cans" you pull out of the Axis Economic cup count as the "Axis" economic chit pull and yes they DO go onto the Soviet Lend-Lease track. That's just life on the Eastern Front.

2) Just because you have the "German Strategic Mode" (ASM for "Axis Strategic Mode") counter on Tank Production or one of the other locations does not mean you automatically get a free tank each turn! The way the German Strategic Mode counter works is that wherever it is you have the POTENTIAL to get a benefit from it. Funny story - last night in a 1942 turn I had just moved my marker FROM the Tank Production track to another location and THEN of course on the very next turn I drew an event card that would have given me a free Tank! Thankfully, the event card said that if your ASM marker wasn't in the Tank Production box then draw another card and consult the special event table. Lucky me - that special event was a free unit upgrade so I got an SS Infantry counter out of the deal so I got my special unit anyway.

And here is some general strategy:
-Be careful with leaving Soviet Tanks available for counter attacks. They will wreck you. I advise that you try and get them destroyed during your Axis blitz and regular combat turns.

-Pay attention to the tables:
I learned (the hard way) that attacking a fortified major city with any unit but a line unit just isn't worth it because they only hit on a green and if you draw a red chit then if you were attacking with a special unit then it is Eliminated. So I learned after that fiasco to just surround a major city with a blitzing panzer and then NOT attack it with my precious special units.

-Do NOT underestimate the power of "releasing" the "x" chits from the awfully named "x-box" shake into the cup holder at the cost of the -1 initiative OKW Directive marker. That is a VERY powerful tool to use at your disposal no more than two times in a game! I used it before the Spring of '42 and Spring of '43 at it made my advances in the spring and summer of those turns easier... until they all came out and I was back to more normal "odds" in the Fall. I normally hate chit pulling in games but this game uses chit pulling the correct way - by basically reducing the odds throughout the rest of the turn and going into multiple turns by basically emulating the "wearing down" of the German forces physically, mentally, and logistically. It is one of the two main brilliant systems in the game and do not underestimate how much it can help (or hurt) you.

-Just as you would expect from reality if you leave your blitzing units hanging and exposed with a lot of enemy Soviet units surrounding that unit there is a very good chance it will become eliminated. Your entire campaign hangs on the resourcefulness of your few precious special units as the line units cannot be counted on for much (and the non-Finnish Axis Allies can be counted on even less).

Just writing about this game is making me want to set it up again..... it is so good.... I love how historical it feels - even down to details, for example, requiring you to place Rumanian units on the board but yet you don't want to put them in places where they will encounter much enemy resistance or where you need a good special unit strategically so I find myself placing them into hexes where they can only be attacked by at most two Soviet units or in crappy places like swamps. Kind of similar to real life....
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Gator Skin
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I just bought a ton of VPG games but Barbarossa is the one I'm still holding out on in hopes of the 2nd edition. I can't bear to pay $60 for this and learn next year that the 2nd is coming. No complaining intended -- I hear such great things!
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Matt R
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gatorskin wrote:
I just bought a ton of VPG games but Barbarossa is the one I'm still holding out on in hopes of the 2nd edition. I can't bear to pay $60 for this and learn next year that the 2nd is coming. No complaining intended -- I hear such great things!


I hear you. After I heard that the 2nd edition work had been put on hold to get other projects completed, and then after hearing that VPG would be moving soon and then when I saw they put the ziploc bag version of The Barbarossa Campaign back up for sale.... I couldn't resist. I figured if I loved TBC that much (and I do) then I'll spring for a 2nd edition version if/when it ever gets released. Until then I am more than happy for the money I spent on TBC and it wasn't $60 - they had their summer sale on and I bought TBC along with Wings for the Baron (second edition) and a box and got the $100 10% discount on top of the summer sale 10% discount.

I believe this may have been one of the best decisions of my gaming life as I love Wings for the Baron as well...

If you are holding out for a 2nd edition of TBC you may be waiting for a while is all I am saying.
 
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Carl Paradis
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Noonespecial wrote:


Funny you should mention that because I thought I noticed a few stylistic similarities between No Retreat! The Russian Front and TBC while I was playing it. In fact, playing TBC was putting me in the mood for some No Retreat!


Darn. My Machiavellic evil plan is discovered!

Seriously, check out the NR! game page on BGG, the title will be reprinted soon by GMT, and I have revamped the rules one last time to 3rd edition to remove a few rough spots, but more importantly redone all the cards in a way that will make them more clear and easier to use: these will be available as a low cost expansion. All these will be posted online soon.

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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Noonespecial wrote:
licinius wrote:
Thanks for the nice words. I am quite sure that everybody involved with making this cool game appreciate this.
I was asked to help the team in the middle of the design to make the game "work better", add se=cenarios, revamp the event cards, the production model, etc... The efforts I put into this delayed the rest of my game design projects by at least a year. Very happy to see that it was time well spent. meeple


Funny you should mention that because I thought I noticed a few stylistic similarities between No Retreat! The Russian Front and TBC while I was playing it. In fact, playing TBC was putting me in the mood for some No Retreat! which I haven't brought out in a while and then it made me think that it would have been really cool for them to have been combined into a single game. I'm just glad I have both and even though they are on the same game scale and on the same exact topic I definitely have a place on my shelf for them both.

And yes, I do appreciate the work you and the rest of the VPG crew put into TBC - I just wish I would have discovered it sooner and cannot believe there is not an entire series of games using this game's mechanisms. I had been looking for a good solo hex-and-counter game that feels like an "old fashioned" wargame for a while but was mostly low complexity and just playable and TBC is it. I already have No Retreat! for my two player East Front needs.


mortenmdk wrote:
A very timely post - I finally pulled the on this some days ago at it should arrive at my doorstep any time now .


Just don't give up!!! The game system really is not that hard once you "get" it. Probably the main things I messed up or learned from at in my first play throughs:

1) The Axis Economic Phase: Yes, the "oil drum cans" you pull out of the Axis Economic cup count as the "Axis" economic chit pull and yes they DO go onto the Soviet Lend-Lease track. That's just life on the Eastern Front.

2) Just because you have the "German Strategic Mode" (ASM for "Axis Strategic Mode") counter on Tank Production or one of the other locations does not mean you automatically get a free tank each turn! The way the German Strategic Mode counter works is that wherever it is you have the POTENTIAL to get a benefit from it. Funny story - last night in a 1942 turn I had just moved my marker FROM the Tank Production track to another location and THEN of course on the very next turn I drew an event card that would have given me a free Tank! Thankfully, the event card said that if your ASM marker wasn't in the Tank Production box then draw another card and consult the special event table. Lucky me - that special event was a free unit upgrade so I got an SS Infantry counter out of the deal so I got my special unit anyway.

And here is some general strategy:
-Be careful with leaving Soviet Tanks available for counter attacks. They will wreck you. I advise that you try and get them destroyed during your Axis blitz and regular combat turns.

-Pay attention to the tables:
I learned (the hard way) that attacking a fortified major city with any unit but a line unit just isn't worth it because they only hit on a green and if you draw a red chit then if you were attacking with a special unit then it is Eliminated. So I learned after that fiasco to just surround a major city with a blitzing panzer and then NOT attack it with my precious special units.

-Do NOT underestimate the power of "releasing" the "x" chits from the awfully named "x-box" shake into the cup holder at the cost of the -1 initiative OKW Directive marker. That is a VERY powerful tool to use at your disposal no more than two times in a game! I used it before the Spring of '42 and Spring of '43 at it made my advances in the spring and summer of those turns easier... until they all came out and I was back to more normal "odds" in the Fall. I normally hate chit pulling in games but this game uses chit pulling the correct way - by basically reducing the odds throughout the rest of the turn and going into multiple turns by basically emulating the "wearing down" of the German forces physically, mentally, and logistically. It is one of the two main brilliant systems in the game and do not underestimate how much it can help (or hurt) you.

-Just as you would expect from reality if you leave your blitzing units hanging and exposed with a lot of enemy Soviet units surrounding that unit there is a very good chance it will become eliminated. Your entire campaign hangs on the resourcefulness of your few precious special units as the line units cannot be counted on for much (and the non-Finnish Axis Allies can be counted on even less).

Just writing about this game is making me want to set it up again..... it is so good.... I love how historical it feels - even down to details, for example, requiring you to place Rumanian units on the board but yet you don't want to put them in places where they will encounter much enemy resistance or where you need a good special unit strategically so I find myself placing them into hexes where they can only be attacked by at most two Soviet units or in crappy places like swamps. Kind of similar to real life....


Thank you for the strategy tips.
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Matt R
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You are welcome for the tips Morten. I don't think I "spoiled" anything by giving you a few tips - trust me - there are PLENTY of decisions to make in this game - probably more than any other solitaire game I've ever played.
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