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World War II: Barbarossa 1941» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Operation Barbarossa 1941: Initial review rss

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Paul Shabatowski
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Please understand that this is an initial review based on first play. Having said that, first play showed a full game played with a full understanding of rules. It didn't appear that we made any errors, carefully reviewing the rules prior to continuing.

I picked up OB at the end of May and have spent until now assembling the base pieces and then painting the entire set. I refused to play until that happpened. Call it OCD, call it what you want. During that two month period I read, reviewed and discussed the rules so that I would be very firm to teach the game the first time around.

Components
The base set is fantastic. The pieces are correct to the historical examples and the diversity means that a person could have quite a number of games before deciding if they wanted to obtain expansions. Zvezda, as has been mentioned many times, is a model company that decided to release a boardgame which incorporated the models. The level of detail is fantastic and the size of the units (I am not talking scale here, I am talking the physical size) makes it very easy to visualize the situation on the game surface. As I age, my manual dexterity due to arthritis worsens. The ability to pick up these larger pieces is a bonus. Oftentimes with wargames, I struggle with counters or blocks. My only concern about the pieces were some of the agonizingly small arms that needed to be attached. The models benefit from glue despite the "snap-together" advertisement. My Russian anti-aircraft battery was kidnapped by my cat. To this day I cannot find the arms for one of the battery operators so I have to detail it as a combat casualty who had his arms blown off. Call it creative license. I never figured my cat for a National Socialist but there you go.

The benefit of such detailed pieces on the game surface really enhances the wargame experience in my opinion. I guarantee that this game will stop wargamers dead in their tracks to take a look at what is going on.

The game board is richly illustrated hexes. My only criticism of the hexes would be to have the numbers show a little larger font. Due to the fact that the game relies on written orders hinged on the hex numbers and you can see that larger numbers would do better. The terrain differences are easily distinguished.

I really like the elevation mechanic, using stackable hex pieces which then have terrain features fitting on top. This adds to both the visual element and helps to work out terrain modifiers.

The rulebook is well laid out with only a few sticking points that quickly get sorted out. The iconography is the key learning curve to this game. Once you have that sorted out you are ready to play.

I did not like the scenario book and found that the terrain construction could have benefit from better wording. It took me a while to sort out the orientation. There was no tutorial scenario. I think that a sequence of starter scenarios incorporating more units progressively would help not only to learn the game more quickly but also to act as a selling tool for more units.

Gameplay

The best description that I can give to you is this: simultaeneous turns that are resolved with sequences based on the actions taken. For instance: if any unit selects the "defend" order then all units resolve the defend order before proceeding to the next order. The orders are secretly written on dry erase unit cards then all cards are revealed.

Force point values of each unit are assigned and players build their force based on a preset force point value which might comprise mandatory units.

Combat is determined by dice rolls on six sided dice which are affected by modifiers for terrain, range, unit type, etc.

Casualty resolution is very easy to understand. Once penetrating armour, the units are eliminated one by one until every unit represented by the figure on the board is eliminated completely then that figure is removed.

Glory points are acheived through both unit elimination but also objectives. Glory points for elimination are based on the force point value required to purchase the units. The flexibility of both objectives and opposition elimination opens this game up to home made and future provided scenarios. I plan to work on the battle of Brest-Litvosk as soon as possible.

Teaser alert
The Battle of the Danube expansion rule book provides breakdowns of unit composition to match historical accuracy. You can really take this game to highest level of historical recreation if you want.

Conclusion
I am a fan of this game. My biggest beef about many wargames is the agonizing wait for your opponent to make up their mind. This game moves at a quick pace due to turns resolved at the same time. Thumbs up for that. Setup of the game board is fast and you can get to the battle in a few minutes. Thumbs up for that. It is easy to teach and you can get a game going for a newcomer in less than 30 minutes. Thumbs up for that. The components look beautiful. Major thumbs up for that.

This is a completely tactical wargame. The moment I introduced it to one of my game club members who is an old school wargamer he was mesmerized and we had a fantastic game in two hours.

For someone looking for a wargame that takes you away from the operational simplicity of commands and colours this is a great gateway to the next level.

For a seasoned wargamer there is enough meat on the bone that you won't be complaining about lack of diversity and lack of choices. This game gets into the nitty-gritty that a wargamer looks for. Get past the large hex terrain. It is worth it.

Thanks for reading.






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Rob Arcangeli
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Paul Shabatowski wrote:
I picked up OB at the end of May and have spent until now assembling the base pieces and then painting the entire set. I refused to play until that happpened. Call it OCD, call it what you want.


I call it dedicated.

Paul Shabatowski wrote:
I never figured my cat for a National Socialist but there you go.


They all are.

Thanks a lot for this review, I am still eyeing it up in my local model shop and I think you may have just persuaded me to go for it!
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clive holland
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wang nam khieo
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A very good review, which on the whole I agree with. I bought the expansion along with the base game and I recommend anyone wishing to buy the base game buys the Danube as well. The expansion is in fact the first game you should play. It contains a very good player aid sheet, 2ND edition rules and a learning scenario to get you going. Also trains and ships make an appearance.

I found the scenarios in the base game a little difficult to work out, IE where armies were deployed, where terrain was situated etc, a bit confusing to start with.

I have not played the game yet and look forward to it's first outing, hopefully soon. My only concern is that playing against an experienced war gamer the time taken to write orders for say a dozen units may take some time.
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Paul Shabatowski
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dutchy124 wrote:
A very good review, which on the whole I agree with. I bought the expansion along with the base game and I recommend anyone wishing to buy the base game buys the Danube as well. The expansion is in fact the first game you should play. It contains a very good player aid sheet, 2ND edition rules and a learning scenario to get you going. Also trains and ships make an appearance.

I found the scenarios in the base game a little difficult to work out, IE where armies were deployed, where terrain was situated etc, a bit confusing to start with.

I have not played the game yet and look forward to it's first outing, hopefully soon. My only concern is that playing against an experienced war gamer the time taken to write orders for say a dozen units may take some time.


I think that an experienced wargamer will adjust to the time it takes to write orders due to the concurrent nature of the game mechanic. That will give them built-in patience.

We need more people to enjoy this game and some people to begin setting out home-made scenarios.
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Rolf Van Ishem
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Great review Paul! It is good to see you finally enjoying this awesome game system. There is so much more coming down the pipe, waiting patiently...whistle
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Yiannis Avramandis
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Paul Shabatowski wrote:
The rulebook is well laid out with only a few sticking points that quickly get sorted out.


I could change the word few with a lot...
 
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Bartosz Popow
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I read the rulebook once and almost everything seemed understandable.
Except for aircraft rules. Now those will have to be read at least 2 more times to grasp. Still, I think for my first scenario I will choose something with no aircrafts.
 
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