Reichstag is a WWII solitaire wargame that was published in the first issue of Minden Games' Panzerschreck. As such, this is as much a review of issue #1 as of its issue game (Reichstag). Looking at the first issue of Panzerschreck and the more recent issues, it is amazing to see how much the 'zine has evolved. Instead of one game per issue now, we have at least two or three. There is actually artwork in the magazine now. The cover is made of nice, hardy cardstock instead of thin paper. The issue size has ballooned from 20 or so pages to 60+.
Reichstag puts the player in control of Red Army forces as they attempt to "clear out" Berlin and fly the hammer and sickle over the Reichstag. Facing them are German units of varying quality, ranging from scared kids in the Hitler Youth to seasoned veterans shoved into ad hoc units to face the Red Tide. Victory points are determined on the basis of how quickly the player achieves his task and how many casualties he takes (which is somewhat curious since the Red Army didn't really seem to give a hoot about how many casualties it incurred in WWII but that is another story).
If you've ever played First Day of the Somme (issue #5), you would notice several similarities between the two games. Movement is point to point. The player primarily conducts the movement of his forces while the game system controlled enemy forces don't really move that much at all. The enemy forces occasionally conduct counter-attacks but they are relegated to random events which occur when a certain card is drawn (in the case of Reichstag) or when a certain number is rolled on the events table (as in First Day of the Somme). Thus, the game system controlled forces don't really attempt to outmaneuver you but to merely delay you. In both games, this is particularly vexing (in a good way) since, in Reichstag, the end result (the fall of Berlin) is not in doubt...what is in doubt is whether Comrade Stalin back at the Kremlin will be pleased with how you're conducting this little operation...take too long and instead of being declared a Hero of the Soviet Union, you may find yourself subsisting on thin potato soup somewhere in Siberia as you are forced to dig for coal with your bare hands while trying to warm dressed in the tattered remains of your uniform, stripped of all rank and decorations. Thus, delay is not good.
The conduct of the game is fairly simple - enemy forces are set up (counters face down so what forces are located where is in unknown until they are actually encountered) and the player moves his forces in an attempt to take the Reichstag. Cards are drawn to determine the effects of artillary barrages, when reinforcements arrive and to trigger various random events like the Hitlerjugend (which comprise some of the forces facing the player) being disbanded, Hitler trying to flee Berlin and the ever dreaded German counter-attack which can throw one's plans into disarray and (more importantly) delay victory and put one's alter ego one step closer to being carted off in irons by the NKVD. Combat occurs when the player's units enter a point occupied by enemy units - if the unit is face down, it is flipped over to reveal what it is. Usually, it's just a German unit of varying quality but sometimes, it's actually a "random event" of sorts in the form of a German ambush or a booby trap.
Players must decide on what "posture" their forces will take during the game, deciding between "artillary", "cautious" and "aggressive". Each of these postures has advantages and disadvantages but, in order to change them, the player must run the risk of "his orders getting jumbled", resulting in his units not acting at all that turn. In practical game turns, it basically means you miss a turn, which is bad, since victory is determined by the speed with which you accomplish your goal. It's not as bad as First Day of the Somme, where divisions not getting their orders in a timely manner could result in a carefully planned operation going to pieces and turning into a debacle but it's bad enough.
One nice thing which Reichstag has (which First Day of the Somme lacked to some degree except in the case of the quality of the Corps Commander and the division's "initiative") is differentiation in the quality of troops. There is a difference in performance between Elite troops and regular leg infantry. Unfortunately, neither the Russian nor German units are really labeled with their historical names which is a minus where immersion is concerned. I realize it wouldn't have made much difference in the game but one thing that was nice about the later First Day of the Somme was how one got to identify with divisions and their battallions just because they were identified by name. Here, we don't have the luxury of rooting for Captain Petrovich and his company of green troops as they root out surviving Fascist elements out of the Reichstag - instead, we're rooting for a little red square with a "5" and a NATO symbol for infantry written on it as it battles a little blue square with a "5" written on it as well. It'd be nice to know that we're resolving the battle between such and such a unit of the heroic People's army against Wehrmacht or Waffen SS hold-outs comprised of survivors of such and such division.
However, in all, Reichstag is a solid effort. I don't enjoy it quite as much as I do First Day of the Somme as I feel the later design is more thematic despite being burdened with more chrome, being dependent on a plethora of dice rolls to determine the effects of artillary barrages, and having to rely on charts and tables to generate events rather than the more elegant card draw of Reichstag. However, with that being said, like most of Minden Games' solitaire games, it is a fun way to spend half an hour or so when you just need your wargaming fix and noone is around to help you out.