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World War II: European Theater of Operations» Forums » Reviews

Subject: European Theatre of Operations rss

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Colin Raitt
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Starts in 1939 with Germany poised to invade one of her neighbours and ends in 1945, likely in the ruins of Berlin. Hexes roughly 50 miles across. Ground units are corps except Russian armies and airborne divisions. Ships are individual heavy cruisers,battleships and aircraft carriers or squadrons of light cruisers and smaller ships and subs. Air units are initially 200 planes rising to 500 by the end of the war. Monthly turns. Air power conquers all.



Every year new units appear in the force pool. The growth of British, German and French armoured forces is better controlled than in John Prados' Third Reich. The quality of air units gradually improves as faster models develop culminating in jets.

Strategic turns happen every third month. The 6 major countries (Germany, Italy, France, US, UK and USSR)receive economic points to purchase new units and offensives and repair damaged units. Heavy cruisers, battleships and carriers that sink are gone forever and there are few new builds so it pays to get cripples to a dockyard. Partisans pop up behind your line. Damaged air and ground units can always be repaired but appear back in the home country and air and armour are delayed by a season so its often better to preserve damaged units till the next strategic turn.

Each month starts with weather determination with 3 zones. Roughly snow for 4 months, mud for 3 and fine for the other 5 per year in the northern zone. Just 4 months of mud in the temperate zone and all sunny in the south. Snow slows all ground units, stops exploitation and normally grounds air so its a prime time for the underdog to counterattack. Naval units are harder to find and convoy losses from U-boats are worse. It also freezes small lakes, rivers, the northern Baltic and the White sea. I think marshes, Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and Turku should freeze too. Mud weakens ground attacks, sometimes grounds aircraft, slows ground units and completely stops armour breakthrough and exploitation. You can check what's in enemy stacks anywhere your planes can fly.

2nd strategic warfare. Planes, subs and surface ships raid the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Baltic and Arctic trade routes. Bombers strike resource hexes. All this reduces a countries EPs. Italian subs should be allowed to join the attack in the Atlantic.

3rd the naval air phase. Ships set sail and planes rebase. Sea transports carry troops and supply. Air transports move parachute divisions or reduced corps. Enemy ships can intercept and be attacked in their sea zone (a sea zone is about one days steaming or 400 miles. Air cover, weather, coast, number of searching groups and ship speed all modify the naval search roll.Fighters can attack moving enemy planes within range, bombers can attack enemy ships. Naval units are rated for armour, gun calibre and speed. Air units have strength, quality (essentially speed) and range. Planes and particularly ships are dealt with in far more detail than Krieg, John Prados' Third Reich and basic World in Flames. This phase hardly matters on the eastern front but is key in the west until September 1944.

Both air and naval combat involve lining up all the units in a space and blazing away at each other for 2 rounds. You select the target for each of your ships or air units. Its a balance between choosing a target you're likely to hit and damaging his best units. Normally it takes 2 hits to sink a ship or destroy an air unit. However, a roll of doubles that hits blows undamaged ships. Historically Royal Oak, Hood and Barham suffered that fate.

Ships with heavy armour are harder to damage, but bigger guns solve that and they fire first. A large fleet battle is hideously expensive for both sides punctuated by shocking explosions, don't expect to come away unscathed. Bismark and Tirpitz have the best armour, whilst Massachussets, Rodney and Nelson all sport 16 inch guns. Transports are easy meat but destroyers are little threat to cruisers which are in turn little threat to battleships. Some aircraft carriers are too slow and some battleships are slower than merchant ships (corrected in AETO).

Planes trump ships. Ships can't do much harm to planes whilst planes make short work of transports,destroyers and cruisers. Even battleships will eventually succumb if there are plenty of planes. For fighters, speed is life. Faster planes are more deadly and harder to hit. I wouldn't even bother take off if there is a difference of 2 or more in fighter quality and never fly unescorted bombers in range of enemy fighters. Me262 are the best quality but their range is a tiny 2 (increased to 5 in AETO) and they come in penny packets so FW190s tie with P51s for the best fighter award.

4th the offensive phase. Sides alternate offensives. Units within range of an army group HQ can all move and a number of hexes up to the army groups rating can be attacked. Armour and planes act in the breakthrough, regular and exploitation segments. Armour can also slide through ZOCs and pounce on foes who dare to disengage. The mighty German army group center co-ordinates up to 3 attacks along a 500 mile front. A leader can activate units adjacent to itself or a single stack can activate. Guderian is the best leader, France and Italy get none. Only armour with a leader can exploit. Leader and stack offensives can't often get air support. Dividing a nations actions into offensives splits downtime into smaller chunks and lets the defender get initiative in some areas.

Armour can't enter marsh and doesn't exert a ZOC into it. Hence, the Pripet marshes really splits Germany's advance. Similarly,Lapland's tundra is a no go zone for Soviet tanks. High mountain hex-sides and the qattara depression block all ground movement. Infantry can slip 1 hex of ZOC in forests and ZOCs don't block retreat and supply paths through them.

Permanent fortresses double defenders and can supply 1 unit. Coastal forts, Leningrad and the Maginot line are directional. New forts add 2 to defenders strength. All forts negate enemy ZOCs and turn a mandatory defender retreat 2 result into attacker takes 1 hit. Coastal forts block naval movement through straits narrow enough for ferry crossings.

Paradrops and amphibious assaults happen now. Empty hexes have a nominal defence against amphibious landings. Even at maximum odds with air superiority, forts destroyed and a succesful paradrop a landing can still fail utterly on a roll of 1. That seems a little harsh, given the allies pulled it off at Casablanca, Oran, Algiers, Sicily, Naples, Taranto, Salerno, Normandy and the French Riviera. Still it makes life exciting and a determined player can try again next month. Interceptors can pick air out air transports so escorts don't help. You need to counter-intercept them before they reach your transport planes. Paradrops are fraught with danger, even with air support in hex and co-ordination with ground troops they are damaged 1/3rd of the time.

Ships bombard coastal hexes and planes aid ground battles with bombs and by reconnaisance. Breakthroughs and encirclements are very exciting and deadly. The defenders retreat route can be blocked but the attackers flanks will be exposed if the defender holds. Ground combat is odds ratio with drms for air superiority, German 1st turn surprise, mountains, rivers and supply. With air superiority I'll happily attack at 1:2 odds if bombers bring it up to 1:1. I hate attacking against it as I'll have a -1drm and probably drop a column on the odds but I'm sometimes obliged to.

Air offensives can knock out forts, ports and airfields and allow an extra shot at ships. Top tip, bomb Malta's installations on the turn you land.

5th, movement phase. Any units that haven't activated move, possibly by rail, but no attacking. A poverty stricken defender who couldn't afford an offensive can reform his line before the next blow.

Finally the end phase where ships head back to port and attrition for unsupplied units. Supply is traced to a nation's city resource hexes. Over seas supply has to be transported to ports. Port capacity can be a problem for the Italians in Libya (doubly so for Germans) and the allies after D-Day. Air units reduced in their home country can be repaired. This little rule turns the Battle of Britain in the RAFs favour if they have enough EP in reserve. Infantry destroyed in their home country can be rebuilt and minors get a free rebuild for each city resource hex. Norway and Greece typically benefit greatly from the free rebuilds.

Political rules. It is fairly scripted. Russia can go to war early but won't get nearly as much EP nor any capitalist aid. The US will join in winter 1942 unless they are drawn in earlier by the conquest of Britain. Greece and Yugoslavia can be ignored. Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Finland will join the axis. France and Italy surrender easily. Switzerland is impassable. I think it would be better to give her a determined, moderate strength army in good defensive terrain. Hitler will naturally prefer to go through the low countries than Switzerland.

Optional rules. Italy can't join the main war till France is almost defeated. Italy and Russia can try to conquer minor countries before joining the main war. Spain or Turkey might join either side. Its good that you can opt to play fairly historically or vere off.

Liberation. Liberated countries get 1 corps immediately + 1 more each winter. This should be extended to Romania and Bulgaria if they are conquered by the soviet union. Greece should be excluded as the civil war is already under way. Additionally partisans of the liberated nation should be converted to infantry corps in the liberators force pool. This will probably speed up the rebuilding of the Yugoslav, Polish and French armies.

There are 13 scenarios. The first 3, Bismark, Finest Hour and Case White introduce naval, air and ground rules respectively. The example of play booklet helps with Case White although it covers the search for Graf Spee too. There are 6 regional campaigns for Norway, 1940, Barbarossa, the russian front, north africa & the med, invasion of Italy and the final year in the west. There are 4 full map campaigns starting in September 1939, April 1940, June 1941 or January 1942. These 4 all end in June 1945. There is an option for Russia and the western allies to attack eachother. Sadly the naval OBs for the Norwegian, North African and late war have some inaccuracies.

Good points.
Sheer excitement of breakthroughs.
The quality of ships and air units is as important as their numbers.
Armour has unique advantages and limitations compared to infantry as well as being strong and fast.
Amphibious assaults are always risky.
Sink the Bismarck.
One day I'll get to land in the toe of Italy, luring the Germman army down there then land behind them.
Laugh at the pathetic quality of the Fleet Air Arm.
Early conquests can fund a run away victory for Germany.
Conquest is instant, minors often surrender before they react.

Wishlist
I'd like to use the random events and diplomacy from John Prados' Third Reich and the railway lines from Advanced European Theater of Operations map. Free French ground units and Poles are missing.

Gripes
Takes a long time to play.
River Jordan flows into the gulf of Aqaba.
Massif Central and mountains of Lebanon missing.

Overall
I love the game.




Fleshed out to assuage Wendell.
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Wendell
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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A little terse... but good review. The game sounds interesting.
 
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simon thornton
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An very good review. Personally I like this type of bullet point review/Rules explanation tells me all I need to know about this game. Which is I want it even more now.

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Dan Shaw
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always looking for pbem players, drop me a note
 
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Eric Lai
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wifwendell wrote:
A little terse... but good review. The game sounds interesting.


Wendell,

I am surprised you haven't found an opportunity to play this little gem. Really good game, despite what some think, the rules are easy to understand (especially coming from WiF), its quite fun and a fast game (relatively speaking.)
 
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Kevin Grey
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This is the overall best game on WW2 I have found to date! I will use this review as a guide to use while playing. Thank you Colin.
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Enrico Catanzaro
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if you are new to the game I suggest you to try the "advanced sequence of play" in the files section. It should help to apply the rules as they are written and play the phases in the corret order avoiding any confusion.

https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/63258/eto-sequence-play-i...
 
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