Recommend
37 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

Poland '39: The Nightmare Begins» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Polish Sausage & Sauerkraut Lack Flavour rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Poland ’39
The Nightmare Begins




Two-player Military Simulation of the First Month of World War II in Europe
Command Historical Simulations Series
Designed by Ty Bomba
Published by the XTR Corporation (1992)




I see the XTR Corp as the nineties answer to SPI. They both had their own game magazines – Command and Strategy & Tactics. Both produced non-magazine games separately. Each company’s games had their own particular flavour.

One of Jim Dunnigan’s early popular designs was Napoleon at Waterloo. It used a system that was slightly modified and used in many SPI games such as the Napoleon at War Quad, Napoleon’s Last Battles Quad, Blue & Grey Quad, Blue & Grey II Quad, etc. Looking back at these games now they appear to me to be very bland. The systems worked and, in a very lose way, gave the impression of verisimilitude. The problem with the game system was that it didn’t give enough detail and consequently all the battles, regardless of the period from which they come, all have a remarkable ‘sameness’. There is not enough flavour to make one game really stand out from the next. This is not to say that all of the SPI/S&T games suffer from this. However, the magazine games that, to me, stand out are ones where new systems were introduced and this allowed the game to better represent the war/battle that was being simulated.

I feel the same about many of the XTR/Command games. Many of them utilize what is basically the same system that was introduced with Krim (Command Magazine #6 – 1990). The trouble is that a lot of XTR games, especially those designed by Ty Bomba, have that same feeling of ‘sameness’, regardless of the campaign and regardless of the battle.

Having now got that off my chest, let’s look at what Poland ’39 offers.



Poland ’39 is a simulation of the first month of the war. Each of the 11 of the 12 turns represent 3 days of action, while the first turn represents only two days of fighting.

The map stretches from Germany in the West to the Soviet Union in the east. In longitudinal terms it stretches from Slovakia in the south to Latvia and Lithuania in the north.

The game comes with 192 counters representing the armies of Poland, Germany, the Soviet Union, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia.



The Rules

The rules are clear and give players lots of options and design notes. At a basic level the designers says new players can ignore a lot of the rules such as those that pertain to supply, blitzkrieg, limited intelligence, off map movement, etc. For the beginners all the chrome is stripped away leaving a very basic game of the Igo-Ugo variety.

Using the full rules adds a small amount of complexity but adds a large amount of simulation value to the game. The full rules don’t add much, if any, playing time to the game.



The Scenarios

One of the game’s strongest selling points is that it offers four different scenarios. The historical scenario is just that. In this scenario the Poles to win must evacuate 15 points of troops off the map or inflict 15 casualty points on the German player. For the German player to win he must eliminate all Polish units on the map while avoiding the two Polish victory conditions in 12 turns.

The second scenario allows the Poles a free deployment. The historical scenario has a set deployment where the Polish army is heavily exposed with a forward deployment. In the second scenario the Poles can deploy units as they see fit. This scenario uses the same victory conditions as the historical game so this one is clearly more difficult for the German player.

The third scenario speculates that Stalin had a last minute change of heart and decided to join the Poles rather than attack them. The historical deployment is used but Soviet, Lithuania and Latvian troops are allied with the Poles. This game goes for twenty turns and to win the Germans must control every city in Poland.

The fourth scenario is one where the Poles get to fight the battle that they were expecting. There are no German armor units in the game and the German mechanized units are restricted on what they can do. All blitzkrieg rules are removed and the Luftwaffe no longer exists. The game is 12 turns long and to win the Germans must occupy all Polish cities.



Components
The map is moderately attractive and functional. I particularly like the fact that the counters are larger than normal – I am really finding small counters less user-friendly than when I was younger. Charts need to be photocopied from the rules.



Overall
It is a good looking package overall. The historical scenario is very one-sided and may not be much fun for the Polish player, depending upon their emotional make-up. The rules are standard and straight-forward – and very clearly written. The range of scenarios is quite good as they give both variety and balance to the game. If you are looking for a game on a rarely gamed and one-sided campaign this is okay. But, it is very much an XTR game from the 90’s.



23 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bartosz Trzaskowski

Tucson
Arizona
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The black counters look great - really badass. IMHO every wargame should have at least a set of them.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Szarka
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I thought the game was quite clever in that it managed to make a game even of the historical situation. The Pole can win, and can do so in a way that makes sense without being "gamey". It has been a long time so I can't comment on play balance in the historical vs. free deployment scenarios but that is something which would be pretty easily fudged.

Considering how little there is for wargamers on this campaign it is a worthy way to fill that "slot" in one's collection.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sim Guy
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review. This game got quite a lot of play when I first picked it up. An experienced wargamer will not need much over 10-15 minutes with the rules to get playing. The game plays quickly, and the variants give the poor Polish player a chance to get revenge on the German in subsequent plays. This one makes it into my travel bag now and then.

I was a full term XTR subscriber, and I agree with you regarding the sameness of many of their designs. They explained away a lot of this as continuing to use a system that worked for many situations. I didn't mind all that much because I was in the throes of buying the bulk of my current collection, and getting a game that was basically the next "Series" game was somewhat of a relief. Overall I think that the XTR magazine games were better than the standard SPI and DG offerings and were much better than the TSR/3W era of S&T. They did suffer from rushed development (as at S&T) and you could almost count on a significant amount of errata and corrected counters (and probably new variants or scenarios)in the next issue. I miss the magazine.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marco Arnaudo
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"My spoon is too big!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
thank you for the review - and for pursuing your mission of sharing information about less known games!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
marnaudo wrote:
thank you for the review - and for pursuing your mission of sharing information about less known games!


My pleasure - thanks for your comment.

For some time I have been making a point of trying to review games for which no review yet exists.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
da pyrate wrote:
But, it is very much an XTR game from the 90’s.


I've really come to appreciate what Command magazine did in the 90s. The games maybe vanilla, but they are easy to play and easy on the eyes.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Lighthouse Beach
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gittes wrote:
da pyrate wrote:
But, it is very much an XTR game from the 90’s.


I've really come to appreciate what Command magazine did in the 90s. The games maybe vanilla, but they are easy to play and easy on the eyes.


They certainly had a higher quality control team than the old SPI Guys - most of the Command games actually worked.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I still don't understand why they choose to ignore railway as a terrain feature in all of their games......wow
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Szarka
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lawrence Hung wrote:
I still don't understand why they choose to ignore railway as a terrain feature in all of their games......wow


Well, in most games set in Western Europe, for example, the argument was that the communications net was sufficiently dense that printing it on the map would have little effect on game play and just lead to a cluttered look and a bunch of unnecessary rules. Or in the case of places where this was not the case, using "city to city" abstractions for rail movement or supply accomplished much the same thing without a lot of rules overhead.

I never had a problem with it. Marking railheads and moving construction engineers was never one of my favourite activities in other games anyway.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
That is one argument that never sold me. The operational effect of railroad can't be missing out for what essentially a good operational level wargame. The "instant" transfer of the unit counters on the map on any maps of war since WW2 would just self-defeat our worship towards the pantheon of wargaming.
 
 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.