This is a short review of Command Magazine's Budapest 45 game from the golden days of Command.
The physical components and the game details have been described by another user already, so I will restrict my comments to a few:
1) The map is bland, but functional. A nicer map could have been done to give the game more historical feel. The whole portrayal is already a bit bland given the fact that counters do only have their designation on them (movement is generic and combat factors are handled via a tracking sheet)
2) The rules are super-clear with only minor, but important additions/errata.
3) The combat system is clear, although the fact that all combats do cause a step loss to the defender, is quite strange. So, it's an attritional system, well suited for the situation, but takes some getting used to. Die roll modifiers are important
4) The situation is challenging for both sides. The Germans have to defend Budapest (though that is more like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic than real strategy), the Russians are pounding them to dust there. In the plains and woods before Budapest, the real drama happens.
General strategic observations:
The Germans must be aggressive. Failure to bag enough Soviets early will lead to unsurmountable odds later.
The surprise turns create lots of pain, use them well.
The Budapest garrison is hopelessly outnumbered. Put your strong Panzer SS division in Castle Hill and pray for good die rolls.
The historical withdrawal of two Panzer divisions will hurt you when you need it most.
Soviets must pull out decent forces from the siege of Budapest or they are toast (at least 6 divisions).
Defend in depth, the mechanized movement phase of the Germans does not allow for significant counterattacking. Pinch him where you can, especially try to hit the infantry as this forces him to use Panzer steps which are worth 2 VPs.
Historical and general game observations:
The Germans are too strong in this one. But it's a fine balance, currently they are favored by about 30 VPs, so I would think about bidding for them. The game is tailored towards a stronger than historical German offensive and the terrain is not really that well depicted. I especially liked the supply system, which forces to rely on roads, however, in the Northern part of the front, the terrain is a bit too easy to cross via the road along the river and the one in the middle of the woods.
All in all:
A decent, very enjoyable game. I reckon it takes about 3 hours to play to completion, possibly a bit longer with inexperienced players. Don't bother with the fog of war to invert counters, the off-map strength tracking is good enough for this. The combat system is bloody, but effective. The Germans are on a roll for most of the game and they have a decent shot at Budapest right until the end. Don't despair as the Soviet, pull back, shore up the line where it's vulnerable, the fog of war actually helps you as the German is never safe in his attacks, time and again he hits stronger units with too weak forces or weak units with too much force. I rank this highly on my Command games list. Now, I need to compare it to Bitter End.