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Death in the Trenches: The Great War, 1914-1918» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A very enjoyable game... rss

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Philipp Klarmann
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Death in the Trenches Review

DitT is a low-to-moderate complexity game of World War One. It´s mechanisms revolve around an innovative attritional combat system with no CRT and a multitude of semi-random events (app. 500 events) which are played out twice in a turn.

It plays in about 12-16 hours, is therefore on the longer end of the scale but there is almost no downtime involved as actions are taken alternatively during turns.

The units mostly armies and divisions, armies have a varying strength from one to twenty divisions. Each army has an offensive and defensive combat factor as well as a fortitude rating. The army´s strength is the multiplied strength of the army times the number of divisions. The nationalities have very diverse strengths, the Germans e.g. 3-5-8, the Austrians 3-3-5. As you can see the Germans are strong defenders and have a high staying power (fortitude). In combat, losses are rolled for under the combat factor value of the army (e.g. a German army has 15 divisions, its offensive strength is therefore 15 times 3 = 45). If you roll in combat you have to decide how many dice you want to roll to stay under that number, if you overroll, you do not cause any damage. Damage is taken off the fortitude value. (To keep up with the example, if the German army attacks and the player rolls 12 dice causing 38 points of damage. A typical Russian army has a fortitude of 7, so you cause 6 divisions of damage to the army (fractions are rounded up)).

The game includes hundreds of random events, which cause losses, let neutral countries enter the war and other major or minor events of the war. The US enter along an entry track. They start slowly, but certain random events cause the track to go up until it reaches 70 entry points, at which time the US commits. The Russians are collapsed by the Bolshevik Revolution which also happens at 70 points (the provisional government is included but does not change that much -> it continued the war).

Due to random events, players gain combat advantages on a separate sheet which can be used several times in a combat (mostly, they add firepower to a combat or negate trench effects). E.g. the Germans have their Krupp siege guns which they can use up to 15 times during the game, in 1914 these add +20 firepower, in later years only +10. There is also Gas, Tanks, Flamethrowers and other nice inventions.

The game even includes a colonial campaign.

How does is play?

Very well, but a tad long. The combat system needs to be streamlined either with the help of an electronic dice roller or a tool which was designed and will hopefully appear on boardgamegeek soon. You can also use a dice alleviation table which is included in the rules -> much faster.

The Central Powers have a decent shot at victory in 1914, then it gets much tougher. The Russians are strong due to their 7 fortitude rating, the Austrians are a catastrophe and a pain. The Turks are tough (8 fortitude) but cannot dish out much (1 firepower on offense -> they are helped by Kemal greatly).

All in all, a very enjoyable wargame about WWI, probably the best hex and counter WWI game out there at the moment.
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Karl Benisch
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Great review. Always nice to read about WW1 games.

You mentioned the event cards. Are there research and diplomacy as well?

Could you compare it with any other game covering that era? I got "The War to end all Wars" but it's difficult to play with just two players since there is so much to manage (The central Players only need to control Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey but the Entente player got Serbia, Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S. to start with, the neutral powers can be convinced to enter the war as well!)

 
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Philipp Klarmann
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Sardukar wrote:
Great review. Always nice to read about WW1 games.

You mentioned the event cards. Are there research and diplomacy as well?

No, that is abstracted into the random events. Mind you, there are no cards in the game. The random events are handled via the rulesbooklet (it includes the events), then there is a separate sheet which includes tactics and technologies used by the respective player. On this sheet you place markers to note the use of the tactic (e.g. there is a Mustafa Kemal box in which you place 10 markers, so you can use Kemal 10 times in a game, each time you use him, you substract one marker.

Sardukar wrote:
Could you compare it with any other game covering that era? I got "The War to end all Wars" but it's difficult to play with just two players since there is so much to manage (The central Players only need to control Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey but the Entente player got Serbia, Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S. to start with, the neutral powers can be convinced to enter the war as well!)


Much better. I can compare it to Paths of Glory, Great War in Europe, La Grande Guerre, Guns of August and World War One by SPI (wow, that´s quite a list ). It´s a mix of all of them somehow...maybe Paths of Glory combined with WWI.
 
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Ken Waido
United States
Fort Collins
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Can anyone who has this game comment on the game map? Based on views of the map on various web sites, it is about the ugliest thing I've ever seen. Being a geographer I am sensitive as to how the maps look in my wargames. I am thinking about purchasing the game, but the map is making me delay that final decision.

Thanks for any comments.
 
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Steve Constantelos
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Ken,

I think the map and the bookkeeping are two hindrances to fully enjoying this game. I have not experienced a more disorienting map; and it grows crowded easily as well. This combined with myriad tracks to, um, keep track of, and the game is heavy to play (solitaire anyway). I don't usually discount a game much based on its map, but a new edition with a larger, more aesthetic map would highly improve in this case.
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