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World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Full Review after nearly ten years of play. rss

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Dampenon Fabien
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This game is the "WWII European Theater of Operations" adaptation of awards winner Paths of Glory (PoG). So, it’s a card-driven wargame designed by Ted Raicer. By choosing to start in 1941, designer concentrates on the most active period of this war, covering all Eastern front and Mediterranean (then Italian) and Western Europe fronts. Axis armies begin at their climax, with one objective, downing the Red Clay Colossus before being submerged by Soviet /Western steamrollers.

Let’s go for the review.


I) Components

a) One standard GMT size map, unmounted but a beautiful mounted version is available for players like me which are nostalgic of AH games. Map is a point to point system, no hexes. Terrain is well depicted, in the space and in a little symbol outside, except for Urban Centers ;



b) Player Reference Card with all informations needed during play ;

c) Counters. Colourful, with pretty pictures. There are two sizes of counters, reflecting size of units, each one with a distinctive Combat Table ;





d) 110 Strategy cards. Core of the game system, divided in two periods, Blitzkrieg (first part of the war) and Total War (second part of the game). One deck of 55 cards for each player, with only events favourable to him ;












e) Rulebook. Rules will be detailed later but card-driven mechanisms allow rules to fit in only 16 pages. Version 1.3 is available online on GMT.


II) Rules

Rules are well written, with some Optional Rules and Clarifications, a card list and an abbreviated (?) sequence of play. There are plenty of Design/Play notes but very few examples.

Each Turn covers 3 months, I propose to follow Sequence of Play :


a) Orders Phase
Sometimes, after a die roll, your best War Plans will be disrupted by orders given by Hitler, Stalin or Churchill/Roosevelt. You will have to launch offensives in some theatre, or can’t retreat your armies like you want. Elegantly, German die roll will be (badly) modified after Hitler takes Command of Whermacht...


b) Action Phase
This is the core of the game. Each player will alternate Actions Rounds until each has taken six Actions. In each Action, a player may play one card (if available) or take a cardless action allowing to move or fight with only one stack (Allied player may also place Partisans without playing a card, after "Partisans" Event has been played).

Each Strategy card has a number and an historical event and may be played for only ONE effect :

- Operations Points (OP) to move and/or combat with on-map units ;
- Strategic Redeployment (SR) to move units on map or off-map on long distance ;
- Replacement Points (RP) to replace weakened or destroyed units ;
- In Combat, to increase die roll, only Combat Cards (red CC) ;
- To implement the Historical Event.

Of course, very important events have always high number, so you will have to make tough choices. You have to know that Reinforcements (introducing new units) are implemented by Events. For example, will you give Panzer Armee Afrika to Rommel or will you use the 4 points of the card to move/fight (or replace your weakened units) in Russia ?

Note that (precious)Yellow Cards may be played for the Event AND for OP. (Imagine, you’re playing Twilight Struggle and you play "Purge/Red Scare" for the Event and you get 4 OP in bonus...).

When you choose to conduct OP, each stack will move OR fight, with the notable exception of Mechanized Units which can move AND fight. Here is one difference between BtB and PoG which simulates impact of armoured troops.

Combat is resolved by each side rolling a dice (possibly modified by CC) and using a column on Combat Table with his own Combat Factors (no ratio), possibly modified by terrain. Losing defenders will retreat and winning attackers may advance; with Mechanized Units which may advance deeper, simulating armoured encirclements.


c) Attrition Segments
Out of Supply (OOS) Units are destroyed and non-soviets units will be available to be replaced only 3 turns ahead.

d) Replacement Phase
You have to know that during Action Phases, when playing a card for Replacement, you only score the number of replacements. They are available only during this phase, at the end of the Turn ! And you will find that some turns seem endless...
Players can’t play Replacement cards twice a row and Axis Player will be hampered in late war, reflecting manpower difficulties.

e) Draw Phase
You draw your cards for the next Turn, 7 cards for each player, a number which can be lowered by Strategic Warfare (Submarine or Bombardment). Iron and Oil resources Control may affect this number too.


How to win ? VP are scored by each player by taking objectives Cities on the map and by the play of some Events. 20 VP scored is an Automatic Axis Victory; 0 VP or control of all German supply sources is an Allied one. Nonetheless, game ends in Summer 1945 and Axis Player wins if Allied player don’t achieve an Automatic Victory.



III) Conclusion

Dynamics of the game is very interesting. Due to Victory Conditions, Axis may go eastwards to gain Automatic Victory at all costs but, if failed, will be downed to 0 VP very quickly. So, an Axis player must adopt a balanced approach, ramming URSS but preparing the inevitable defensive stance of the second part of the war. Allied Player must obviously defend Holy Russia but small resources allocated to Mediterranean may be well rewarded, early in the war. Indeed, VP needed to take "Totaler Krieg" are well balanced, and, often, 1 VP may make the difference...

Beware of chronology of Events ! For example, if Axis player doesn’t play "Hitler Takes Command" Event in Blitzkrieg, he cant’ play "Totaler Krieg" later which may cost him the game...

Chronology of Events is often scripted, obviously, to respect a coherent flow of the Second World War... I have read that this has pushed away some player of this game.

There is only one Scenario, the campaign game. A "High Tide" Scenario is available online on GMT, covering only the beginning of the war. You can find unofficial 1942/1943/1944 scenario on the net. May an official 1944 scenario be interesting to allow Allied Player to get even with Axis, quickly...

Opening moves may be different, Axis player having to choose between (historical) Operation Barbarossa and (hypothetical) Paulus Pause, with some cautious moves in Russia in first turns but allowing Axis Units to be fully effective in Winter 1941/1942. This choice (and many others)will be yours !

I don’t think this game is suitable for Solo play, only, obviously, to learn to play.


This game covers all ETO, from June 1941 to Summer 1945, in 8 to 10 playing hours, sometimes less. I’m fan (I have bought it in 2002, upgraded it in 2006 to his actual version and I have played it since 2002) and I will playing it again.
















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Gordon Watson
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Good review of a good and enjoyable game.

I have two slight niggles with the game:-

- The Armour is just a little too mobile sometimes.

- The Allied common pool of actions for the East and West Fronts, i.e. you have to sacrifice taking an action on the Eastern Front to take an action in N.Africa or W.Europe. This gives a nice game dilemma but is completely un-historic - there was no real opportunity cost for the Russians being able to commit resources/launch an attack due to the US/UK having done so.
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Andrew C
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Excellent review of an under appreciated game. Probably my favorite CDG of all, I like how it puts the importance of the eastern front into perspective. Making hard decisions like sending Rommel to Africa, or using the card for Ops in the East, keep the game tense.
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Edward Pundyk
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Good review, but I disagree that it's not suitable for solitaire play. I've spent many enjoyable hours playing it solo. To each his own.
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Matt Jolly
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domus_ludorum wrote:

- The Allied common pool of actions for the East and West Fronts, i.e. you have to sacrifice taking an action on the Eastern Front to take an action in N.Africa or W.Europe. This gives a nice game dilemma but is completely un-historic - there was no real opportunity cost for the Russians being able to commit resources/launch an attack due to the US/UK having done so.


Gordon,

I am just wondering whether if you were desperate for an historical justification you could argue that it's a crude attempt to reflect the US (and to a lesser extent Britain) choosing to increase the amount of lend/lease aid to Russia and thus constraining their own opportunities for an offensive?

Pretty tenuous I know, but perhaps better than nothing?

Cheers,

Matt
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Chris B
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I have had this game for 6+ years and still haven't played it...
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Joshua O'Connor
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Thinking of buying this... One thing is CDGs feel a bit railroady to me unless I'm playing something like Pursuit of Glory where frankly I don't have the historical knowledge.
 
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Dave Shane
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Thank you for the solitaire mention. I play all my games solitaire, including Paths of Glory many times. It simply takes a different mindset that solitaire gamers perfect over time. I always look for the comments to make sure somebody says it can be done.
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