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Subject: Hitler's Reich a Fly Casual first impression rss

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Dave Boschen
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First Impressions (After a single vassal play)

If Axis and Allies is a morbidly obese, cheeto finger licking, ameritrash classic then Hitler's Reich is her slim, erudite, german speaking cousin (read: minimalist and eurogame influenced).

Gameplay

Hitler's Reich is built with card driven and deck building mechanisms riveted to a hand management frame. The goal is to reduce your opponents hand size while increasing your own. Primarily this is accomplished through capturing resource territories, indicated with oil barrel symbols on the map, or by successfully playing event cards like Convoy and Wolfpack.

Event cards are available for "purchase" on a "menu." The game plays like a deck builder. When you declare you want a specific card a struggle is fought for the event printed on the card. Each player plays a numbered combat card from hand facedown and reveals simultaneously and then adds 3 dice to the result. Battles on the map for territory control work this way too. This reminded me of the combat system in Forbidden Stars (a favorite of mine). Events can increase dice from 3-5, or augment dice (ie change one die result to a 5). The combat decks are designed after a playing card deck. Face cards (J, Q, K) 11, 12, and ,13 have rerolls built in.

Some map locations have barrels indicating resources. Losing a barrel means losing a card and dropping your hand size limit. A player whose hand size reaches 0 loses the game. As you can imagine, even losing 1 card in your hand size has a dileterious effect on your flexibility in battle. There's more to the game but that's the core engine.

Theme

The event cards add historical flavor, emersion, and narrative. Examples: Wolf pack, V-2 rockets, convoys, lend lease to Russia, the Bizmark, fast carriers, Guderian, Rommel, Manstein, Monty, Eisenhower, Patton, LSTs, T34s, Stukas, enigma machine. Also the game has several major historical operations built in to the turn track. Barbarosa, Bagration, Overlord, etc are all abstracted into special attack opportunities in their historical geographical locations. These aren't mandatory, but are highly incentivised. Players can make ahistorical choices in this game which is intriguing.

You get to decide which type of warfare to engage in and where. Will you focus on allied shipping and knock down the allied hand size? Or would you rather take a famous general and blitz across Russia to Stalingrad siezing oil in the caucusses?

The Experience

There are no armies on the board (apart from fleets and Fortresses) which makes assessing the board state very simple, and setup very quick. The majority of the pieces used are wooden disks identifying capture of an opposing territory, not unlike A Few Acres of Snow or Hands in the Sea.

The turn passes quickly after a single action and, if successful, a bonus action. Some of the actions are: attack a territory, acquire an event card from your array and trigger its effect, or place a fleet or fortress. You may also blitz up to three times per turn retaining the use of your played event cards but at the cost of one hand size point (which are victory points). This makes for some tense press your luck situations and interesting cat and mouse card play. Does my opponent have the 13? Will they use it now, or am I being baited? There's a poker like battle of wits occuring. "...so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."

Hitler's Reich reminds me a bit of Triumph and Tragedy in that it's the ETO and the player has decision power to pursue ahistorical outcomes using the strategies and technologies available to Churchill, Stalin and Hitler. The fog of war can be thick. This puts the player in the mind of the supreme commander, and it's wicked fun.

HR offers lots of great decision points, but with a relatively simple rules overhead.


So far, I bloody love it.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

More impressions (After multiple plays)

I can now offer some higher resolution thoughts on the game. My overall opinion remains very positive.

Every game is like an array of sliders and dials in a sound booth. You can't have it all, rather a designer must carefully dial in an experience that works cohesively and produces fun. In Hitler's Reich, the luck factor is dialed up high between the dice, the combat card draws, and the yearly event card draws. The players are essentially riding a wave of luck based odds, trying to manipulate those odds in their favor through card play, and gaining dice through the map control (owning more adjacent countries to a battle produces a die advantage). This reminds me of Blood Bowl, a game where luck is a heavy factor but the player is using assists and ordering their activations in order to mitigate the odds of failure. If you lose a battle as the Germans with a General and Tiger Tanks and Waffen SS cards in play (all of these cards will manipulate the odds in your favor), you lose all the strategy cards back to the array, and must take one action per card to acquire them to your hand again. It's brutal to lose a fight that you went all in on because the dice just say no. That's the dogs of war. Tough breaks. Like poker, don't go all in unless you have the right hand, or can afford to lose.

Like most ETO games, the Germans start with advantages and the offensive burden, to blitz and capture territory. The allies are largely just hanging on and attempting to create roadblocks and reduced odds of success for the Germans. Essentially a delay action. Then, in '44 the tables turn and the Allies go on offense against Festung Europa, while the Germans dig in and try to not lose the game. The victory rules are very interesting. It's less about hand size and more about conquest. If the allies cannot take most of Europe, the Germans win. The allies can also take Rome + Berlin for an instant victory. If the Germans take Moscow + London, or 5 Russian oil barrel marked production centers, then they win instantly. So even when you are enduring knockout punches on the ropes with a hand size of 4, you can win, and the pressure is on your opponent to seal the deal. Also, both players get to play the aggressor in turn, which is fun.

Hitler's Reich will appeal to those who like...

-a full ETO experience in 3 hours, maybe even 2
-dice and card play causing luck with player engineered luck mitigation
-narrative through Generals, and other event cards, including ahistorical "what if" player generated scenarios
-WW2 History (or learning opportunities for players new to WW2 history)
-accessible to gamers of all types, including adolescents and perhaps non-wargamers
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Will Miner
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Good short to the point review Dave,I have this on order can,t wait.
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Bobby Factor
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Fly Casual wrote:
Hitler's Reich is a hand management card driven quasi deck building game. The goal is to reduce your opponents hand size while increasing your own. Primarily this is accomplished through capturing resource territories, indicated with oil barrel symbols on the map, or by successfully playing event cards like Convoy and Wolfpack.

Event cards are available for "purchase" on a "menu." The game plays like a deck builder. When you declare you want a specific card a struggle is fought for the event. Each player plays a numbered combat card from hand facedown and reveals simultaneously and then adds 3 dice to the result. Battles on the map for territory control work this way too. This reminded me of the combat system in Forbidden Stars (a favorite of mine). Events can increase dice from 3-5, or augment dice (ie change one die to a 5). Some cards offer rerolls. The players combat decks are designed after a playing card deck. Face cards (J, Q, K) 11, 12, and ,13 have rerolls built in. 1 reroll for the 11, two rerolls for the 12 etc.

Some map locations have barrels indicating resources. These affect hand size when they are captured. A player whose hand size reaches 0 loses the game. As you can imagine, even losing 1 card in your hand size has a dileterious effect on your flexability in battle. There's more to the game but that's the core engine.


Honestly,... I believe that if the above three paragraphs had been the official intro of the HR Rulebook, much of its mechanical opacity would be considerably diminished.

How to win. How to lose. Well stated, FC.
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Richard A. Edwards
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Fly Casual wrote:
Each player plays a numbered combat card from hand facedown and reveals simultaneously and then adds 3 dice to the result. Events can increase dice from 3-5, or augment dice (ie change one die to a 5). Some cards offer rerolls. The players combat decks are designed after a playing card deck. Face cards (J, Q, K) 11, 12, and ,13 have rerolls built in.

Great summary of the conflict system! I wish this had been at the start of that multi-page conflict rules sequence.
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David Janik-Jones
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Waterloo
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Up Front fan, Cats were once worshipped as gods and they haven't forgotten this, Combat Commander series fan, The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me!, Fields of Fire fan
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Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
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Very well done overview to the game, Dave.

Now if only USPS and Canada Post could actually deliver my copy to me, that'd be swell!
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Lee M
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Hopefully game will be a success, already posted a Vassal opponent wanted on Vassal forum. I'm optimistic.

Thanks for the review.
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Steve Duke
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I would like to give this a go in vassal also.
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Dave Boschen
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I'd be game to play on Vassal, and have two other friends who play as well.
 
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Steve Duke
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Pbem?
 
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Dave Boschen
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I don't think HR would lend itself to PBEM because of the many decision points. Combat declared, play strategic cards, wait for opponent to play strategic cards, select combat card, wait for opponent to select combat card, roll dice and modify, wait for opponent to do same, Stukas reroll one opponent die, opponent rerolls... Seems very cumbersome to finish one part of one turn.
 
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