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Second World War at Sea: Bismarck» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Ah, Bismarck... rss

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Matthew Lohse
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This review assumes you are familiar with the mechanics of the SWWAS series, if you are not then some of the other reviews of this game do a good job of explaining it. Or course, if you are looking for a first game to try in the series I would probably recommend Bomb Alley over Bismarck due to the larger number of scenarios and smaller average scenario size... but that probably reflects the fact that Bomb Alley is my favorite game in the series.

Ah Bismarck... one of the topics I always wanted to see get the SWWAS treatment... and another case where APL managed to deliver a product that impressed me despite my high exceptions going in. The big question of a Bismarck game is what toys go into the Bismarck scenario itself... and this game has a lot of them. The large British fleet has a number of convoys to protect and missions to accomplish while also finding the Bismarck, while the German player must try to avoid detection and crush scattered British convoys without getting cornered or even worse... damaged. Plus, the various American neutrality patrols are also represented so there is even a chance of a battle between the Americans and the Germans. So not only are there tons of British and German counters.. there are some of the American Atlantic Fleet units [Ranger and Yorktown with their early 1941 airwings, some of the older battleships] You can play the historical version of the scenario if you like, but there are also LOTS of variant options. As the German you could add an carrier, or the Tripitz, or some more commerce raiding designed cruisers among other options. As the Allies, you can see what happens when you add some of the Free French Battleships or with a much more aggressive American presence. In other words, there are a lot of ways to make even that one operational scenario interesting through dozens of replays.

The other scenarios are not bad either... covering a variety of commerce raiding operations from 1939 until 1941. Pretty much all of the German capital ships make an appearance at some point. In most cases the British have a decent numerical superiority... which they have to then waste by guarding tons of convoys while hoping to also hunt down the Germans. The Germans can take advantage of this to wipe out isolated British fleets, if they can find them, but at the risk of allowing the British player to then concentrate his forces and overwhelm the raiders. Perhaps these scenarios could have used some variants as well, but they are still very good and could be played many times.

Most of these scenarios are decently large... and thus they are perhaps not the ideal ones to learn the system on. Fortunately, at some point APL did release several smaller operational scenarios on their website [that hopefully survive the website migration] that might be a good way to start if you feel that this is the first game to have to have in the SWWAS series. So to summarize... there is a lot to like about this game... props to APL for not just doing the bare minimum with this topic. A great game to play, if perhaps not my recommendation for the first game to try in the series due to scenario size, and one that I have no doubt about recommending.
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