Recommend
67 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

Fortress Europa» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Fortress Europa! ‘Excitement' Be Thy Middle Name! rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Fortress Europa


Strategic Simulation of the War in Western Europe, 1944-45
Two Players – 10 Hours
Designed by John Edwards
Published by Avalon Hill (1978)


How many games do you have where you can clearly remember the first time that you played them? If you are like me there will not be many that are that memorable, especially 17 years after the event.

I can still remember the first time that I played Fortress Europa. It was at Bondi Junction in Sydney. It was the first time that I had visited Ivo Jerenko at his home. We started the game at around 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. We had a dinner break at around 6:30. We returned to the game and the next thing I knew was that the time was 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

It was the first time that either of us had played FE and we found the game to be totally absorbing and completely engrossing as a wargaming experience.

FE is considered by many to be a sibling of The Russian Campaign, John Edwards’ previous design which also used a double-movement system. Due to FE being a much smoother design I see the relationship between the two more like first cousins once-removed.

The game starts with the Allied Invasion of Europe in 1944 and simulates the situation in Western Europe over the final 11 months of World War Two. FE gives the Allied player the choice of invasion site (the nearer to Germany the greater the risk involved) and the option of a second invasion (to simulate the German uncertainty regarding Allied intentions), as is the case with games of this type. Naturally, in this situation, the onus of attack is primarily on the Allied player with the German player looking mainly to defend.

Game turns represent one week of time and this means that there are 37 turns in the complete game, which finishes in the first week of March 1945. Most military units represent formations of divisional size.


The Basic System

The game starts with the Allied player selecting an invasion zone - Amersterdam-Ostende is 9 hexes wide and allows 32 infantry factors to land on the first impulse and a further 16 factors on the second impulse. Dunkerque-Le Harve is 10 hexes wide and allows 48 and 24 infantry factors to land. Le Harve-Cherbourg is 19 hexes wide and allows 32 and 16 infantry to land. The Bay of Biscay zone is 18 hexes wide and allows 16 and 8 infantry to land. The Mediterranean zone allows 32 and 16 infrantry to land.


Regarding the sequence of play:
1. Allied Player rolls for weather.
2. Both players allocate aircraft on the Aircraft Mission Chart (AMC).
3. Allied Player Takes Replacements
4. Allied Player Moves Units.
5. Allied Player Resolves Combat.
6. Allied Player Conducts Second Impulse Movement.
7. Allied Player Resolves Second Impulse Combat and Checks Supply.
8. Axis Player Takes Replacements.
9. Axis Player Moves Units.
10. Axis Player Resolves Combat.
11. Axis Player Conducts Second Impulse Movement.
12. Axis Player Resolves Second Impulse Combat and Checks Supply.

As can be seen from the sequence of play, the game utilises a double impulse system (similar to The Russian Campaign) where the Allies move, fight and then move and fight again before the Axis get a chance to react. The Axis then get their own double-impulse. From a defender’s point of view this means that you need to put a lot of thought into building what is basically a double-line of defence that is strong enough to withstand two consecutive attacks. From an attacker’s point of view it means that you need to put some serious thought into planning your attacks as you need to coordinate both impulses so as to maximise your changes of breaking through the enemy line and not exposing yourself to two turns of counter-attack.

Stacking is based on the type of terrain occupied – three units may stack in a clear hex, two in rough areas and one in mountains. This has the effect of making it sometimes better to defend behind a terrain feature so as to minimise the number of enemy units available to join in an attack where in most other wargames the tendency is to stack in terrain so as to get a defensive benefit.

The game has standard rigid zones of control and compulsory combat.

The Axis player has most of his starting units allocated to one of five different military districts. Just like his real-life counterparts, he is very limited in how his units may be initially moved as they react to the Allied invasion.

The Axis player is allowed to move a small number of units each turn via the rail network. The Allied player is allowed to use sea movement for some of their troops.

Air combat is quite interesting and gives players lots of options. At the start of each turn players allocate available aircraft to specific types of missions. These include Straffing, Ground Support, Railway Attacks, Bridge Attacks, Strategic Attacking of German Replacements, Strategic Attacking of U-boat Sites, Strategic Attacking fo V-1 Sites, Counter Air and Carpet Bombing. Once committed to a mission at the start of the month planes may not be switched to a different mission-type. Players need to give some thought each turn regarding how to make the best use of their air assets.

Rivers which are targeted for Bridge Attacks cause armoured units to roll a die when they attempt to cross to see how their movement will be affected by the aerial interdiction (possible results are don not cross, cross and stop, cross and stop and lose one step).

Both players have several Headquarter Units. While they have a limited military capacity, their main purpose is to work as supply distribution points. The Allies, naturally, have a limited amount of supply based upon port facilities controlled.

In the standard rules there are provision for paratroops, commandoes and rangers, coastal defense units, training divisions, partisans, volkssturm, reinforcements, panzer reserves, and mulberries.

There are also optional rules for SS units, Luftwaffe replacements, attacking accumulated replacement points, decoy counters, German free set-up, armour release, Rommel, Allied rail movement, flooded terrain, the Isle of Jersey, Allied fuel restrictions, and extending the game.

For those wanting more realism there is an Advanced Air System


Comparisons With The Russian Campaign

It is only natural to compare FE with The Russian Campaign. Afterall, they have the same designer, came out within a couple of years of each other and feature the double-impulse system.

I came as rather a surprise to see that while 450 BGGs are listed as owning FE, 1,065 BGGs are listed as owning The Russian Campaign (Russian Campaign 808 – Russian Campaign II 38 – Russian Campaign 4th Edition 219 – and a further 80 own the Southern Expansion). FE rates lower than TRC on BGG and I really don’t understand why.

While there are certainly some very strong similarities, FE shows much greater detail and refinement than TRC. There is much more chrome on FE and its representation of Tactical and Strategic air power add an element to the game that is missing in TRC.

I get the feeling when playing TRC that there is often times (especially in the first year of the war) a lot of dead time for one player. FE seems to be more balanced in regards to player turns being more equal in the amount of time taken. I have participated in some TRC games where the Russian player may spend only 15 minutes in the first few turns while the Axis player may be using closer to 120 minutes for the same turns.


Components

Rules: 16 pages of basic rules; 3 pages of optional rules; 2 pages Advanced Air System; 4 pages of scenarios; 1 page of charts.

Map: the map measures 24” x 22” and is mounted and in three separate pieces. The map is fairly bland but very functional.

Counters: the counters are glossy and double-sided. Initially most of the units are set to come into the game as reinforcements. Due to the small number of units involved at the start of the game it tends to flow fairly quickly (much more quickly than is the case in TRC).

Charts: Air Mission/Replacement Chart; German & Allied OOB Charts; Time Record Chart. The Terrain Effects and Movement Charts are on the back cover of the rule book – I feel that they should have been placed on a separate chart. Those players new to, and learning, the game need to constantly refer to the Movement Chart as different types of units have a different number of movement points available in the first and second impulses. The first impulse movement allowance is printed on each counter while the chart needs to be consulted to find out how many points of movement are available for the second impulse.

Scenarios: The Campaign Game has Sudden Death Victory Conditions which are based on capturing specific geographic objectives by certain dates – these Sudden Death Victory Conditions force players to fight on a time scale that may not be of their own choosing, just as the contemporary commanders were given objectives by their superiors. As well as the standard 37 turn campaign game there are five scenarios. To The West Wall (12 turns), Breaching The West Wall (28 turns), Invasion (7 turns), Battle Of The Bulge (4 turns) and On To Berlin (11 turns).


Impressions

As you can tell I like the game and I like it better than TRC. The rules are slightly more complex due to the extra chrome. The game plays more quickly with less down-time than in TRC. I have more interest in the Western Front than the Soviet Front – mainly due to watching U.S. television shows and movies during my formative years.

The air system adds interest to the game without adding much in the way of complexity. Both players have serious restrictions placed upon them – the Allies in terms of supplying and reinforcing the invasion and the Axis in terms of Military District limitations and the small amount of manpower available due to the demands of the Eastern Front.

I have played several games on this topic and am most impressed with FE. The scale of the game is both comfortable and manageable. The system and sub-systems are smooth and well integrated. The game is realistic enough for my tastes.

If you haven’t played FE and come across the chance to do so you should do yourself a favour and give it a try.


arrrh “Dead Men Tell No Tales!”


41 
 Thumb up
1.06
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Belli
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Fortress Europa! ‘Excitement Be Thy Middle Name!’
Very nice review.

There are two versions of this game.

The original Jedko Games edition was a remake of the classic Avalon Hill D-Day game. There is a good description of that version in Fire & Movement #11 witten by Ray Lowe and wargame legend Rodger MacGowan.

Avalon Hill bought the game from John Edwards and a team from AH that included the famous game designer Alan Moon reworked the Jedko edition.

The Jedko and AH versions of Fortress Europa are quite different.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Humphries
Philippines
Unspecified
Metro Manila
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Fortress Europa! ‘Excitement Be Thy Middle Name!’
da pyrate wrote:

FE rates lower than TRC on BGG and I really don’t understand why.


Didn't FE have both rules and balance issues? I haven't owned it for decades, but I have a lingering memory to that effect.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Leo Zappa
United States
Aliquippa
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Fortress Europa! ‘Excitement Be Thy Middle Name!’
Mark_WH wrote:
da pyrate wrote:

FE rates lower than TRC on BGG and I really don’t understand why.


Didn't FE have both rules and balance issues? I haven't owned it for decades, but I have a lingering memory to that effect.


I own both and have played them. I think one factor that may drag FE down versus TRC is the very thing our reviewer sees as a strong point for FE, namely, the additional chrome on FE. Especially when you factor in the special rules for invasions, FE is a much denser game than TRC and can be both more of a challenge to grok as well as taking up more play time than TRC. FE just doesn't flow as smoothly during play as TRC in my experience.

To the OP: Good review!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Lowry
United States
Sunnyvale
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Fortress Europa! ‘Excitement Be Thy Middle Name!’
Good review, you got me wanting to play it again! (Not that that's so hard....)

FE is paced oddly. You have a big setup, then a little fight, then it gets bigger until it turns into a mobile fight, then it stalls on the Rhine and turns into slog until that is breached and it becomes a desperate brawl for final victory cities. At least, if it goes well for the invaders. However, the invasion planning makes it a very replayable game, as there's a lot of flexibility and pros-and-cons to be weighed there.

Time to hit eBay, dangit....
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Fortress Europa! ‘Excitement Be Thy Middle Name!’
desertfox2004 wrote:


I think one factor that may drag FE down versus TRC is the very thing our reviewer sees as a strong point for FE, namely, the additional chrome on FE.

To the OP: Good review!


What is really quite unusual is that normally I prefer games with less chrome. FE is the exception. It seems to me that the chrome adds to the game rather than detracts - and despite the appearance of adding complication, the chrome is all really very straight-forward and doesn't add very much in terms of complexity, IMHO.

arrrh

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
An excellent review of one of my favorite wargames.

pete belli wrote:
. . . There are two versions of this game.

The original Jedko Games edition was a remake of the classic Avalon Hill D-Day game. There is a good description of that version in Fire & Movement #11 witten by Ray Lowe and wargame legend Rodger MacGowan.

Avalon Hill bought the game from John Edwards and a team from AH that included the famous game designer Alan Moon reworked the Jedko edition.

The Jedko and AH versions of Fortress Europa are quite different.


This is the first time I've heard of this version of the history on Fortress Europa. I had always understood that Edwards' original Jedko edition of FE used the same move-shoot-move-shoot system he introduced in The Russian Campaign.

But if I understand your post correctly, the original Jedko edition was basically a rehash of AH's D-Day, and the AH team reworked the design by fitting the move-shoot-move-shoot system into it. Have I got that right? Or was the move-shoot-move-shoot system in the original Jedko edition that AH bought?

I had always understood that the principal difference between the Jedko and AH editions was the chrome added to the latter.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Eldard wrote:
An excellent review of one of my favorite wargames...I had always understood that the principal difference between the Jedko and AH editions was the chrome added to the latter.



You are correct - the Jedko FE has the same basic system as the AH edition. I feel that the other posters reference was similar to John Edwards' TRC being based on AH's Stalingrad.

The AH edition has far superior physical quality and shinier chrome.

arrrh



3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Belli
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
This is the first time I've heard of this version of the history on Fortress Europa. I had always understood that Edwards' original Jedko edition of FE used the same move-shoot-move-shoot system he introduced in The Russian Campaign.

But if I understand your post correctly, the original Jedko edition was basically a rehash of AH's D-Day, and the AH team reworked the design by fitting the move-shoot-move-shoot system into it. Have I got that right? Or was the move-shoot-move-shoot system in the original Jedko edition that AH bought?

I had always understood that the principal difference between the Jedko and AH editions was the chrome added to the latter.


This is going to require a lot of typing on my part to discuss a 30 year old wargame... cry

I said that the Jedko Fortress Europa was a remake of the AH classic D-Day.

Allow me to quote from the F&M article. Ray Lowe was discussing the evolution of the wargame hobby, specifically how previously treated subjects (D-Day, the Russian Front, etc.) were getting a fresh look with new games. He wrote:

"Jedko's Fortress Europa is a remake of AH's old D-Day in this tradition, in the same way that their Russian Campaign (subsequently purchased by Avalon Hill) was a remake of Avalon Hill's Stalingrad."

Remake, not rehash. Sorry if that caused any confusion.

The original edition of Jedko's Fortress Europa had some odd zone of control and supply rules which had a strange effect on play. The later AH edition was cleaned up (if memory serves) by Alan Moon.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Eliason
United States
Iowa
flag msg tools
mb
This is a good review with a point that needs fixing. Each air unit changes missions every week, not each month. The Germans get a total number of aircraft for the month, and after a one week mission they are used up.

There are some important aspects to the game omitted from the review, perhaps for space reasons. The Allies need to capture ports since their total value (plus that of the mulberries) limits the number of units they can supply. A couple of major differences from Russian Campaign are that FSE units mostly have two steps and there is no automatic victory in FSE, making deep penetrations harder.

Mark thought there were rules and balance issues. The campaign game is well balanced. The invasion and On to Berlin scenarios were quite unbalanced in favor of the Germans. Modifications to the Invasion scenario used at the WBC fixed this to a large extent. There were some errata to the first edition rules, but the 2nd edition rules were good and didn’t change any other components.

There is a totally new edition of FSE developed that will be published by L2 Design Group as Deluxe Fortress Europa sometime next year. It is still the same basic system but has enhanced capabilities of RGR/CDO units, better depiction of overstrength US divisions, better stacking rules, more realistic invasion capacities, more realistic supply rules, a map that goes all the way to Berlin, the war goes to May, and other improvements.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert Lesco
Canada
Brampton
Ontario
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review. I get the impression that this one is not particularly well-suited for solitaire play, which would be a shame considering that 10 hours can be a bit much for ftf. Could you please comment on this?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
rlesco wrote:
Excellent review. I get the impression that this one is not particularly well-suited for solitaire play, which would be a shame considering that 10 hours can be a bit much for ftf. Could you please comment on this?


As was the case in the actual campaign, some of the play involves the allies disguiseing their real intentions from the Axis player. It is hard to simulate this solitaire. Apart from that aspect it works okay. Perhaps the use of dice rolls to determine the landing beach and dice rolls to determine how axis or allied air power will be used would add to the solitaire experience.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
L. Silver
Sweden
Umeå
Select a State
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As for FE being a remake of D-Day, I have the somewhat distinct memory that it was mentioned in "the General" that FE developed from TRC. The basic system is virtually the same, but as was mentioned FE is "fiddlier". The leap from Stalingrad to TRC is about the same as the leap from D-Day to FE. Same campaign but play very differently in both cases. The charm of TRC is in the fact that the simplicity of the game is part of the charm. If you play TRC you deliberately sacrifice historicity for playability. FE tries to do both at the same time to an extent. I like TRC and FE, but find FE to play slower. More Anzio than TRC to an extent.

One interesting and somewhat controversial aspect was stacking. Stacking is reduced in difficult terrain. One of the best way to use for instance mountain terrain to an advantage is to stack behind the mountains instead of on the mountain, as this forces the enemy to attack with fewer units.

As for solitaire I have used an option of preparing three reasonable alternate location plans for hidden units and randomly drawing these after I have decided on where to land. The air system is a little more difficult in this respect, but I guess that randomizing the German air effort would work. The basic problem of going solitaire is of course that you are seldom able to surprise yourself (if you are, you may find yourself in trouble in other aspects of life). I find that to be less of a problem in the grinding type of games such as Anzio or FE.

BTW, the campaign game is the way to go. It is worth the effort.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United Kingdom
London
London
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
There is a totally new edition of FSE developed that will be published by L2 Design Group as Deluxe Fortress Europa sometime next year. It is still the same basic system but has enhanced capabilities of RGR/CDO units, better depiction of overstrength US divisions, better stacking rules, more realistic invasion capacities, more realistic supply rules, a map that goes all the way to Berlin, the war goes to May, and other improvements.


Thanks for the heads-up!

I hope that they enlarge the board - my only real criticism of the game (I love it) is the small hex sizes. It's so irritating around the invasion hexes and along the West Wall.

SD
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
ryan campbell
United States
Rockford
Illinois
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
saab dastard wrote:
Quote:
There is a totally new edition of FSE developed that will be published by L2 Design Group as Deluxe Fortress Europa sometime next year. It is still the same basic system but has enhanced capabilities of RGR/CDO units, better depiction of overstrength US divisions, better stacking rules, more realistic invasion capacities, more realistic supply rules, a map that goes all the way to Berlin, the war goes to May, and other improvements.


Thanks for the heads-up!

I hope that they enlarge the board - my only real criticism of the game (I love it) is the small hex sizes. It's so irritating around the invasion hexes and along the West Wall.

SD


Was this ever published, perhaps under a different title?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.