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Sabratha
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This is a grand ww2 strategy game, so does it make a good job at simulating the war and being enjoyable?

The GOOD:

1. Decent simulation
While you can get results that differ from history, most of these are plausible. If very unlikely events happen in the game (say Germany manages to invade England) it is always because one side put a lot of effort into it and the other side made blunders.
Germany has an edge in the early war, but it is a race against the clock. Germany does lose the war, if it fails to deliver a knockout blow by 1943 - something many other "grand strategy ww2 games" failed to replicate.

If there is no knockout blow, the German player still has a chance to wrestle a victory by surviving into 1946, but this will be a fight against the odds. USA and the USSR increase their potentials rapidly, whiel Germany is sapped by strategic bombing and oil shortages. This basic narrative of WW2 is very well depicted.

2. Complexity
The game simulates military, economic, political and diplomatic actions of WW2. The rulebook is long, but in the end you get a very fine-lens and detailed control over many aspects of the war. This game is full of "chrome" tat actually has meaningful impact on the game.

Submarines in the battle of the Atlantic, free Siberian transfer, Malta blocking convoys to Africa, the Battle of Britain, Vichy French colonial allegiance, V2 rockets, moving the industry to the Urals - these all become factors in winnign the game and decision avenues that may or may not be good depending on the current military situations.

3. Offers meaningful decisions
There are some things you will always do in any game - for example it makes no sense for Germany not to invade Poland on turn 1. But because the diplomatic and economic systems in this game ggive both sides numerous paths to victory. Concentrating on the Mediterranean front instead of the East front, making Spain or Turkey join the war, making an allied invasion of the Balkans or France in 1943 - these are game changing events and can be brought about if you concentrate your effort and successfully implement your strategy (and realize what the other side is up to).
This is imho the strongest point of the game - it offers multiple, very interesting and feasible choices to both players.

4. Variety
A followup to the above point:
Playing the core scenario alone will provide very different gaming experiences depending on the strategy you choose. I had many games against the same opponent and no two games were alike. On top of this you have "what-if" variants you can play with. Modernized Italian army, no maginot line, on Stalinist purges etc.

The BAD:
1. Graphics and components
Unfortunately, they did not age well and have this "generic 80s-early 90s" feel to them. Also you have very numerous fleet and air counter "strength step counters", which you need to swap each time air or naval units take losses (pretty much each time they are in combat). Which can get messy and the "strength step counters" tend to outnumber all other counters as a result.

On the plus side, the hexes are large and counters are small, so it is easy to move them around without bumping over stacks. Its an utilitarian, but not very pretty design.

2. A limited force pool
Basically you have a fixed force pool in the sense of: "Britain has this-many armored corps units in 1941 and cannot get any more, even if you cut down on other units"

While historical, this does not give you as many options and possibilities as the other parts of the game. Very often you would wish you could invest in say more fast infantry at the expense of the airforce, but the game simply does not give you tat possibility to alter the force pool.

3. Complexity - the downside
On the flip side, all that chrome and detail comes at a price. The rulebook is long and some rules are rather complex, so you will find yourself checking the rules quite a lot, especially if you are new to the game.

While not a "monster game", ATR certainly is not a game for the casual eurogamer. You will not finish the full war scenario in one afternoon either.

CONCLUSIONS:
6 out of 6 stars

To sum it up: This is a very fine strategy game that is full of meaningful decisions. It provides a lot of nail-biting tension, a lot of historical chrome and a lot of the joy of gaming that strategy gamers seek. I have many fond memories of playing ATR and can recall many memorable moments and events that happened on the board. It is one of the rare games that you can talk about for hours afterwards.

ATR makes my top 10 list, a true classic right up there with games like Twilight Struggle .
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Robert Lesco
Canada
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For many of us the "generic 80s" look is a point in favour. Kidding aside, thank you for a great review - the memories!
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Vance Strickland
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Many of us still have that "generic '80's look"!

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Jonathan Townsend
Italy
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Enthusiastic yet with detailed justifications - a great review, I love it!

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James Istvanffy
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Well done, I think it is a great game also.
It might be worth noting the other games it inspired such as World in Flames, Krieg, Totaler Krieg, etc.
 
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Tony Doran
United States
Columbia
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rlesco wrote:
For many of us the "generic 80s" look is a point in favour. Kidding aside, thank you for a great review - the memories!


;)I agree. I like the simpler graphics of yesteryear.
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Sven Folkesson
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Great review! I played Third Reich a fair bit in my youth. Does anyone care to comment on how ATR holds up against TR?

Cheers!
 
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Enrico Catanzaro
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SvenFu wrote:
Great review! I played Third Reich a fair bit in my youth. Does anyone care to comment on how ATR holds up against TR?

Cheers!


well, it depends on the TR editon, I guess.
I think elsewhere you can find more detailed informations, but here is how I summarize differences in no particular order:

Game duration: A3R is much longer, since during any game turn there are more things to do and consider for each player. I estimate it takes broadly 50% time more to end a full game of A3R or, if you prefer, 3R play flows 50% faster.

Diplomacy is a key element in A3R. Virtually any Nation, including Russia, US, Italy and Japan, can be targeted with a diplomatic offensive capable to influence the events. In 3R any political/military event follows a strict schedule. In A3R everything changes with dip -points allocation. Even US entry could be delayed or anticipated with a tremendous effect on strategies.

Military: one major difference was adding the overrun. It is now possible an overrun during movement an/or exploitation. This makes risky/obsolete the classic Russian three line defense.

Supply: Now is more detailed. Probably in A3R is easier the sea supply, but it requires constant attention and accurate planning. Units can be supplied at different degrees.

Mechanics of play: The limited offensive option is in my opinion the most notable innovation you find in the basics of the old 3R. Now any faction can spend up to 14 BRP to activate units capable to move and attack in a front under the Attrition Option. This opens new options expecially for Italy.

Variants: now there are 25 variants per faction. The options are obviusly much wider, so - literally - every game is a new story. Something that not always happened in 3R, where openings and basic tactics were always the same.

Strategic Warfare: no comparison here, in 3R SW was too abstract and basically automatic (and very boring). In A3R you have plenty of ways to attack enemy economy. All requires planning and hard choices.

British and Russian Surrender throught politics. Another great difference in favor of A3R.
Britain and Russia can now be beated lowering to zero their morale. No need to reach London and the three Russian capitals. A solid military campaign and the right diplomatic -political decision can put out of game Britain and Russia at different levels. Among the many factors influencing their morale, there are also things as terror bombing, bankrupt, heavy casualties on the field, territorial gains in the home country or overseas. The Axis can always decide to delay the conquest of Britain or Russia (not accepting the surrender) to force better peace conditions in a later turn. This was simply impossible in 3R, with the absurd result that a Russia or a Britain on their knees, continued the war with just a couple of armor units encircled in the capital.

All in all I think they are two very different games, sharing counters, board and several basic concepts.
So any comparison is unfair.









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Sven Folkesson
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Great, thanks a bunch for the detailed response. My take from this is that ATR does not make TR obsolete but is rather a more complex sequel to - and a better simulation than - TR. And TR is still worth playing in its own right. Would you agree?
 
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Enrico Catanzaro
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uhm... today I would play 3R only if time does not allow a full A3R committment OR vs unexepert players that find A3R too much complex.
Even in such a case, I would see this just as an intermediate move in prevision of a future A3R game
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Sven Folkesson
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Gotcha! I used to own both but my ATR copy has disappeared over the years. May have to track down a new copy then
 
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