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Subject: Fulfilling the legacy of SPI's first BARBAROSSA Game? rss

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Eric Walters
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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Some of the older grognards (and maybe some of the collectors) will recall that venerable SPI game, Barbarossa: The Russo-German War 1941-45. Early versions had colored paper sheets that you mounted yourself onto cardboard and cut out--the map was basically black and white. Later versions had a two- color map (black/grey and blue) with the standard SPI-style mounted counters in the typical flatbox (either printed cardboard or eventually the black plastic tray one with the coversheet under a clear plastic lid).

What was noteworthy about this game was the attempt to allow you to play the entire Great Patriotic War in a day. Given the relatively small map and counters that most often represented armies (German) and fronts (Soviet)--with some breakdowns--it was meant to be a player, a competitive game. There were scenarios you could explore and while intended as a game first and a simulation second, it did its best to provide insight into the war. While the game didn't succeed all that well, it was a far cry better in providing a more historical treatment than AH's Stalingrad, which was the only other well-known Russian front game out there at the time.

A lot of games on the Eastern Front have come and gone since then, but few have tried to compress such a widely encompassing combat theater into a compact form. Both AH's original editions of Rise and Decline of the Third Reich and Hitler's War had an Eastern Front scenario if I recall, but weren't terribly satisfying.

It wasn't until Ty Bomba's WORLD AT WAR magazine premier game, Barbarossa: The Russo-German War, 1941-45 that I felt the legacy of SPI's initial title had been taken on and substantially improved. But now we have the GMT version of Victory Point Games' runaway favorite, No Retreat! The Russian Front.

The former DG effort exhibits elements from Bomba's earlier designs, honed and polished into a comprehensive (if compact) treatment of the war. It is both a puzzling and tightly competitive game that is quite unforgiving for either player. And, if luck holds for both players so that the war doesn't end early, it can go quite long. The newer game exploded on the scene from a relative newcomer to the topic, Carl Paradis, and provides novel treatments of familiar ideas. It is no less puzzling for both players and appears--at least as of this date--to be a competitive player as well. I've not played long campaigns of it, so I don't know how many hours it takes to get through the full war if it goes to 1945.

Which game best fulfills the promise of the original 1969 SPI title? Which one is the favorite of gameplayers? Of East Front grognards? Are either destined to become a classic? Why?
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Bill Lawson
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I owned and played a zillion times the SPI flatpack version. I have both Barbarossa: The Russo-German War, 1941-45 and No Retreat! The Russian Front.
I've played Barbarossa a few times and like it. I've played the original NR and liked that also but felt it was a bit to zoomed out (Armys/ Fronts) compared to Barbarossas (Corps/Army) level. I have not given the new game a chance yet and it looks great! I'll let you all know what I think after a few playings. I'm waiting on the vassal mod. A pity theres no mod for Barbarossa (or any other DG at this point)!
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Eric Walters
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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Some might wonder why I didn't include Ted Raicer's/GMT's Stalin's War for this comparison. While the scale is also somewhat comparable to the other games, since it's a Card Driven Game (CDG), it just did not seem right to put it side-by-side with either of the others or to the original SPI title. Admittedly, No Retreat! The Russian Front has cards, but it's a "Card Assisted Game" (CAG?) vice a CDG.

If you want to include this game into the discussion/debate, by all means have at it!
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p55carroll
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So you don't think Barbarossa fulfills the legacy?
 
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Eric Lai
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
So you don't think Barbarossa fulfills the legacy?


I love Barbarossa.
 
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