Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

La Segunda Guerra Mundial» Forums » Reviews

Subject: WW2 revisited by Spain! rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Miguel (working on TENNISmind...)
France
Caen
(from Valencia, Spain)
flag msg tools
designer
My latest game: Big*Bang, a simple abstract about the first minutes of the Universe
badge
My best-rated game: TETRARCHIA, about the tetrarchy that saved Rome
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
CONTEXT

I didn't expect to write a review on BGG because English is not my first language and most of the games I like have been already reviewed, and I'm not sure about how another review of mine would provide more information to the users. However, I have come across this game, that I played a lot when I was 15 and then forgot... until I found some pictures/posts on the net and realized that it has its own page here! And no reviews!



My recent re-discovery of boardgames thanks to BGG could make me see this old game as not worthy of being compared to modern games, specially being about WW2 which has been covered by a myriad of games. Even not worthy of being played today.

But when I think of it, I played this one a lot when I was a teen because it was simple, colorful and easy. It was the only game my friends (all non-gamers) accepted to play with me, besides Risk, and we all enjoyed a lot of summer afternoons changing the history of the XX century! I had other more complex (better?) Avalon Hill wargames, that I only managed to play solitaire...

Today I have kids that are almost teens, and I hope that they'll enjoy it as much as I did, and will allow me to re-play it 30 years later! The game is long OOP (I've seen copies go far beyond 100 euros!), but there is an alternative version available for download:


So no excuse to try it! The rules are in Spanish (the game is otherwise language independent), but I think I'll cover most of them in this review, so it shouldn't be hard to play it for those of you who don't read Spanish...

COMPONENTS

Very simple map, with countries easily distinguishable by color, and few terrain features: mountain hexes, rivers, and cities/airports. The reinforcements table, in which you track the turns, is printed on the map's lower-left corner, which in addition helps to narrow a bit the otherwise huge North-West African theater.



The counters are coded by color: Axis are black, Allies are white. Nationality symbol, that's all. Navy has the symbol on yellow background, Air units on pink. Very clear and functional, and one of the things that made easy the approach to the game by non-gamer teens.

The rulebook is thin, 8 small pages which include examples of play and WW2 pictures. It could have been written even shorter, today, but maybe all these things were needed 30 years ago. There are some ambiguities concerning Air units, I'll come back to this later. And a special dice, with 2-3-3-4-4-5, supposed to reduce the luck factor.

RULES

As I said, they are quite simple. The initial forces for the main powers are printed on the turn 1 column of the reinforcement table, and must be placed in each Nationality territory. The minor belligerents, with just 1 counter, and the neutral (yellow on the map) countries begin with all their forces.


The setup procedure is not very clear. It says that the neutral forces must be placed by "common agreement", but nothing about the setup order of the belligerents. Who should set up first? One counter each at a time? You can find a "common agreement" here too (I guess we did at that time), but a given order would have been welcome. Reinforcements beyond turn 1 may arrive in any hex of one of your countries/colonies/conquests that is not being invaded. It it is, around any city that is not occupied by the enemy.

A country is occupied when the attacking player occupies all the country's cities at the same time. A city is occupied with 1 unit on it or if it is completely surrounded by land. Once occupied, the country's forces still on it must surrender and are out of the game. If the country has no other colonies or conquests, the coming reinforcements are lost too. If some of its possessions are liberated, reinforcements become possible again.

Every turn, each player may move all his forces once ("fractional movement", interrupting movement to fight or take one counter to transport, for example, and then keep moving is not allowed), first Axis, then USSR and finally Allies. Then combats are resolved and the turn is over. The units have all a combat factor of 1 (maths get very easy!), and a movement factor of 5 for land forces, 8 for naval ones and 12 for air.

MOVEMENT

Each unit can move up to its movement factor. The only things to remember:

1) Every counter has a zone of control or ZOC, the six hexes around it. When a unit enters an enemy ZOC, it must stop and fight (during the combat phase at the end of the turn). If the hex belongs to several units' ZOC, you can choose which one you will attack.

2) Terrain costs extra movement: crossing a river costs 2 movement points, as well as entering a mountain hex (even if already in mountains).

3) You cannot go through a friendly unit's hex, you must go around it.

The exception to the latter is transport. Land units can go on ships (from coastal hex) or planes (at airport/city) and be transported. But remember, no fractional movement allowed, on one turn you go on board, on another turn you can be landed. Ships cannot be used as bridges on straits.

4) The Air movement ambiguities. The main problem we had while playing, and re-reading the rules today has not helped to solve it, is concerning the use of planes. They move 12 hexes, OK, but I assume they have to begin and end their turn on an airfield/city (nothing about it in the rules)? Then they have to move-fight-move, which is fractional movement and it is explicitly forbidden in the rules... We played that they could move 12, then attack, and then had to go back to a base, which meant that they actually could move up to 24 hexes! Also, can they move towards an enemy airfield that has not been explicitly occupied if friendly units have passed it by ("the front" has passed it by)? There is nothing about "occupying airfields" in the rules... Can units be parachuted on an empty land hex? Too many ambiguities that could have been avoided with a few more sentences.

COMBAT

The combat is extremely simple: add the combat factor of attacker units, throw the dice, and multiply by the result. The defender does the same thing, the higher result wins. Re-roll if there is a draw. This makes defending open field with a few counters extremely difficult (ask the Polish counter below), since it is almost impossible to survive a 2:1 attack. Remember, the dice has no 1 or 6, so the only chance to survive a 2:1 attack is the attacker rolling a 2 and the defender a 5: 1/36 chance!


The combat factor is modified by terrain only in the mountains: the defender doubles it to 2. And by the combined surface-air attack: 1 surface (land or ship) plus 1 air against 1 surface gives 3:2. In other words, planes add 1/2 combat factor when supporting a surface fight. Planes cannot attack units in the mountains. All these makes mountains specially good as defensive lines!

HOW DOES IT PLAY

Well, with so few counters and such simple movement and combat rules, one could expect a boring game? Not at all! I remember a very dynamic game, with some historical outcomes during the war, shifting fronts, the Axis overextending its limits, the Allies fighting back towards Berlin...

However, giving mountains the only defensive bonus, plus the almost automatic 2:1 victory, makes for some "strange" tactic battles in areas without mountains: the one who succeeded to make more 2:1 fights was sure of wining. And armies try to find mountain strongholds, which sometimes leads to unhistorical strategies.

The worst one I remember was the USSR abandoning the whole country from the start and fortifying the mountains around Baku, that became almost invincible: you had to fight all units at 1:2, or 2:2 making sacrifices. If the war was won on the other fronts, it lead to a stalemate because the USSR would lose this advantage on the attack, but it felt weird for the Axis to control ALL the map but the Caucasus and not wining.

But, surprisingly, these are not the things I remember the most about the plenty of times we played! An Axis player that wants to extend fast cannot afford 2:1 attacks all the time. It would give him an early and almost automatic lead, but too slow to counter the Allied tide that will grow more and more. The total forces are (land-navy-air):

Axis: 47-4-7
Allies/USSR: 55-8-11 (31-7-8/24-1-3)
Neutrals: 9-0-0

The Axis is outnumbered on all grounds, so it has to take risks in order to recover the disadvantage while it can, at the beginning of the game. On one hand, try to deny areas of the map to the increasing Allied reinforcements, ideally forget about the USSR and try to conquest ALL Allied countries before turn 9: the US forces won't even enter the game! And then turn back to the East.

On the other hand, attack the USSR from turn 1, like the setup shown in the picture above, and hope that the weak Allies will not enter Berlin. And if they try, you are the only one to get reinforcements every turn at the start, so you may use them to counter this threat. The Axis has this flexibility that the Allies don't!

The USSR "Baku-strategy" described above can be countered by attacking Turkey soon, having access to the Caucasus from the South, and to Egypt from the North. Landing in the UK needs to secure Norway before, because the German fleet has to be protected in the Baltic Sea before it is strong enough to face the British/French one. A British unit in Gibraltar can block the Italian fleet in the Mediterranean... or not!

IMHO, so many strategies open and just a few drawbacks from the simple combat system. It has been 30 years since, but I think we used slight modifications/variants in order to avoid this few drawbacks and make the game play even better. In the alternative components link there are alternative rules too, but I think that the beauty of this game relies in its simplicity, there are a lot of complex games covering WW2. I'll review some small variants that I find in line with the spirit of the game.

VARIANTS?

1) Die. I said that the almost certain 2:1 attack was a bit upsetting, but this is due to the absence of 1 and 6 on the die. So why not use a normal 1-6 die? Even a 3:1 would not be guaranteed, but being able to lose 3 units against 1 would make things even worst. I would suggest using a 1-6 die but limiting loses to 1 unit.

2) Rivers. They were often used as defensive lines during WW2, on all fronts, and here they only slow movement. I would suggest that rivers double defense factor. Lines could be broken, since they provide defense only on one side and even a frontal assault could be supported by air, but they would help front lines to form away from mountain chains.

3) Mountains. They are way too strong, double defense factor and avoid air support. I would suggest that attacking mountain units becomes 2:3 instead of 1:2. They still get protection from air support, but 2 units attacking would get a slight lead of 4:3. The USSR defense strategy would follow history much more, Baku-only would be less attractive and the different rivers across the USSR would provide shifting front lines.

4) Other small changes? Another one suggested is changing the turn order, from Axis-USSR-Allies to Allies-USSR-Axis somewhere during the game, at a given turn (middle) or progressively (roll for initiative at mid-war). Or add the need to attack all units in which the ZOC is entered (in the game you can enter 2 units' ZOC and choose to attack only 1), in order to introduce diversion/sacrifice attacks.


5) Modifying units? It has been proposed to add unit types, different strengths for each nation, even increase the unit numbers (the image above corresponds to 2 sets). The former would change the game into a too complex one but not detailed enough, IMHO. The latter would help to form front lines, but would make the game last much longer, well beyond 1945. I think that even with such simple units the game displays very well the superiority of each nation during the different stages of the war. And a very simple change like the river defense one would help forming front lines with the actual unit count.

6) The Air movement ambiguities noted above should be settled before playing. I like the parachuting possibility, even if nothing is said in the rules. It would be the only way to get to Crete or Cyprus without a navy, for example.

FINAL WORD

I have re-discovered how many fond memories I had of playing this game, and it may well be that now I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I did. But I don't think so. I don't remember feeling like I had conquered France or Poland, the game is not detailed enough at a small scale, but I do remember feeling like I had won WW2 in less than 2h. And after a few years on BGG I have not found another game that could fill this gap.

I'm on the way of mounting the new map (I may recover the original one at my parent's though, not so pretty but clearer I think), and re-designing counters to use on wooden cylinders/discs (see the other thread), and then I'll be ready to go almost 30 years later. I think I'll take these small tweaks from the list above:

- River/Mountain defense.
- 1-6 die with 1 unit loss.
- Need to attack all units in ZOC.

I don't know what will I do with the Air ambiguities noted, maybe try one possibility and see how it works. And if you go and check my new counters thread you'll see that I've added one for Portugal and Ireland.


The former will suit our Portuguese neighbors, the latter will avoid an unopposed German landing in Ireland. Being both neutral, it shouldn't affect game-play. The 3rd counter I added is the "Division Azul" that Franco sent to help Hitler in Russia, it could enter the game the turn after the Axis attacks the USSR.

thumbsup I won't give a note yet (I want to play it before!), but I expect a high one. By now I'll "just" review it!

4 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Antonio
Spain
Granada y Oviedo
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very nice review.

Some suggestions:

- Air movement: I've always played with no obligation for the planes to end its turn on an airport/city, maybe it's not real but...

- I suggest to place all your ground units in cities for the starting setup, so you can avoid the "Baku Strategy" placing all you soviet units in the Caucasus.

- My favorite strategy with the Germans was invading the USSR before the 5th turn (the picture with the germans ready to invade Poland is mine)

- Allow the combined combat in mountains.

- Using the neutral units as parts of the playing armies (Spain & Turkey for the Axis, Switzerland and Sweden for the Allies)

- I like the parachuting possibility and disembarks, and, in order to make it more decisive, I propose to increase the transport capability of naval and air units to 3 and 2 ground units.

I usually played as you described, with the Baku Strategy, attaking through Turkey,etc.

I agree with you. This is a very simple wargame but very dynamic and fun
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Miguel (working on TENNISmind...)
France
Caen
(from Valencia, Spain)
flag msg tools
designer
My latest game: Big*Bang, a simple abstract about the first minutes of the Universe
badge
My best-rated game: TETRARCHIA, about the tetrarchy that saved Rome
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi Antonio, indeed I didn't acknowledge the pictures I used (all from the gallery), but I saw that most of the content about this game comes from you, thanks!

termini wrote:
- Air movement: I've always played with no obligation for the planes to end its turn on an airport/city, maybe it's not real but...
A pity the rules were not explicit here. Re-reading them today it seems you could leave them anywhere, but then airports make little sense (planes could be anywhere all the game, only transport would require 2 airports). Flying-attacking-returning makes their movement factor effectively 6, which is very short. The way we played it was too long, a plane could fly 12, not attack, and fly 12 "back" to another direction!

termini wrote:
- I suggest to place all your ground units in cities for the starting setup, so you can avoid the "Baku Strategy" placing all you soviet units in the Caucasus.
The Allies you mean, because the Axis starting the war they place wherever they want... This would make things too easy for them?

termini wrote:
- Allow the combined combat in mountains.
Indeed I think we got this rule wrong, we did allow combined attack in mountains! But it was too risky, 2 land units plus 1 plane against 1 unit was a 5:4, losing 3 units including a plane was catastrophic. I think the river defense is very easy to implement and makes sense, and reducing the mountain bonus to 2:3 instead of 1:2 makes them good but not too much. I'll see.

termini wrote:
- Using the neutral units as parts of the playing armies (Spain & Turkey for the Axis, Switzerland and Sweden for the Allies)
This would make things too easy for the Axis, having access to Gibraltar and Baku so soon? I like the fact that taking these countries requires an effort from the Axis player, hard for one of them but almost impossible for the two.

termini wrote:
- I like the parachuting possibility and disembarks, and, in order to make it more decisive, I propose to increase the transport capability of naval and air units to 3 and 2 ground units.
I think that allowing parachuting 1 unit (which I think is not in the rules) is already a big offensive advantage. But I would try increasing the naval capacity to 2 units, to be tested.

I have found the special 2-3-3-4-4-5 die today! So I'll be able to try both dice approaches...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Miguel (working on TENNISmind...)
France
Caen
(from Valencia, Spain)
flag msg tools
designer
My latest game: Big*Bang, a simple abstract about the first minutes of the Universe
badge
My best-rated game: TETRARCHIA, about the tetrarchy that saved Rome
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A simple way to avoid unhistorical things like Baku-strategy could be giving more value to the country's capital. Like for example one of the reinforcements has to be placed in the capital.

If you lost it, then you lose one of the reinforcements. If the front is far from home, you overextended and communication lines become longer, one of the reinforcements will take some time to get to the front. I'll try it and post here...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Antonio
Spain
Granada y Oviedo
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
franchi wrote:
termini wrote:
- I suggest to place all your ground units in cities for the starting setup, so you can avoid the "Baku Strategy" placing all you soviet units in the Caucasus.
The Allies you mean, because the Axis starting the war they place wherever they want... This would make things too easy for them?


I mean that all the starting ground units (of both sides) should be placed in cities, so the russians can't place all the starting four units and future reinforcements in Baku, and the Axis can´t make an overwhelming attack in the first turn with all its units who eliminates the french, the belgians and the dutch in one turn.

franchi wrote:

termini wrote:
- Using the neutral units as parts of the playing armies (Spain & Turkey for the Axis, Switzerland and Sweden for the Allies)
This would make things too easy for the Axis, having access to Gibraltar and Baku so soon? I like the fact that taking these countries requires an effort from the Axis player, hard for one of them but almost impossible for the two.


I've already tried this possibility, and the Axis won the game (I usually win with the Axis). But it's not so easy, if you try to invade the USSR with the support of the finnish, you have to take care of the swedish and norwegians who attack your back
1 
 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.