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Subject: European Theatre of Operations - Best of the Crop? rss

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Leo Zappa
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Aliquippa
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I find myself intrigued by some of the newer wargames that portray the ETO in WW2. To me, "newer" means something published after the Reagan administration! I own and still enjoy an occasional game of that old standard, Third Reich, but three of the "newer" breed sound interesting. Although I spend most of my time these days playing the "Toys in a Box" lite war-themed games, I am no stranger to the heavier hex and counter fare, and sometimes have a hankering to "push panzers"! I am hoping to get some experienced players' comparisons of:

1) Europe Engulfed
2) Barbarossa to Berlin
3) Totaller Krieg

All three appear to attempt to model the ETO at the grand-operational/strategic level. How do these three stack up (high, medium, low) in terms of:
a) complexity
b) playing time
c) multi-player potential
d) historicity
e) tension/"fun-factor"
f) components
g) value for money

Just wondering what the current thinking is on these treatments of European conflict. Any and all comments welcome!
 
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Mark Mokszycki
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Snohomish
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Of these 3, I've only played EE, but I can tell you it's terrific.

Fun factor and tension are very high, more so than in most other wargames I've played. There's a real sense of "aha!" when you suddenly spot an apparent weakness in your opponent's plan, and then begin to formulate a plan to exploit it over your next few turns. Very satisfying stuff.

Playing time is about 10-15 hours for the full game (probably more like 20-25 on your first time through), but there are shorter scenarios that can be completed in just 2-4 hours. I found setting up the campaign game and leaving it set up, in order to finish a turn at a time over a couple months, was actually a joy... The game, when all set up, is just so durn purdy and fascinating to look at!

EE doesn't score so highly as a multi-player. It has *some* multi-player potential, though it's probably best as a 2 player since one or more players would have quite a bit of down time in a multi-player match. Still, if you are interested enough in the history (or alternate history, if the players choose to go this route), then sitting and watching others take their turns might not necessarily be a bad thing. It gives you time to ponder the possiblities and plan your own turn.

I found components and value for money to be well above average... despite the hefty price tag, what you get for the money is actually above and beyond what other wargames offer for a price that is only marginally lower. Figure in the well written rules and Rick Young's excellent support of his product right here on this sight, and the value is phenomenal. If the $100 price tag scares you, check out some of the online retailers, like Thoughthammer. I think they have it for about $64. At that price, it's a steal.

I have also played Advanced Third Reich, another European theatre WWII game. It is also very good, though moderately more complex and clunky than EE. I think you'll have an easier time learning, teaching and finding opponents for EE. It is smoother, faster, and ultimately more fun than A3R.
 
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Patrick Havert
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Brandon
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I actually like Barbarossa to Berlin better as a game. It is not an accurate simulation of WWII ETO.

Europe Engulfed is a complexity between A&A and 3rd Reich, so it will get more people involved, but abstracts way too much, and I feel that the dice fest is just too much. Some parts are nice, and it is an ok game, but is #3 of the games you listed above.

BtoB is a Card Driven Wargame, and I feel that it is a very fun game. The cards add great history, and almost every game I have played has come down to the last few cards played. It is #1, mostly because I like the CDG's, and it is well balanced once you get the rules revisions.

Totaller Krieg is like third reich, but with more options in politics. It is a good game too, but more complex, and less playable than the other 2. It is #2, as I think it is fun, but it is the most complex, and it is harder to find people to play with.

World at War(A3R) is the most complex, and requires too much effort devoted to it to play it well.
 
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David Brown
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I own and have played all the three you list.

To my mid EE is by far and way the best - it's a very elegant design where everything works well together.

TK is very good but a bit more complex and a lot longer to play. My main concern with TK is that production is based on card play, which means that with Russia no matter how hard they are kicked their production doesn't alter. However it has some excellent concepts which work very well.

BtB - Used to like this but I'm unlikely to play again - it's very good but feels just a little too scripted.

 
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Kevin Nesbitt
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EE and BtB are easily the best two. You would do well to get one or both of them.
 
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