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Little Bighorn Review

This Custer game, in particular, is one of the best Little Bighorn board games that I have played, and I have played most of them.

I wrote a review of the game and posted it on Boardgame Geeks, hopefully it will encourage other gamers to try the game.

The game design was excellent, simple but capturing faithfully the nature of combat between the cavalry units and their Sioux opponents. Very well done.

Thanks,

Tom D


 

Little Bighorn is a fast-paced and interesting game of Custer’s famous fight on the Little Bighorn. It is one of the most interesting Little Bighorn games that I have played, and I have played most of them.  A deceptively simple game system recreates the difficult tactical choices confronting Custer and his command, and allows players to explore the consequences of different decisions. 

A note of caution here – while this game is marketed as a “Pub Battles” game, it actually has a completely different and unique game system, designed specifically for the Custer fight. It makes for a gaming experience that is distinct from other Pub Battles games, and is fascinating in its recreation of the swirling, unpredictable fights along the Little Bighorn.

The game has one of the best maps I have seen of the Custer battlefield, accurately capturing the military significant terrain and identifying key landmarks. This is not a small thing – maps of the battlefield as it existed at the time of the fight are notoriously problematic, and this one is outstanding, as well as being a real work of cartographic art. Battle enthusiasts will enjoy acquiring the game for the map alone.

The game avoids traditional hex-based systems altogether. Movement is regulated by a simple combination of distance, facing, and terrain, using measuring sticks (take note – the measuring sticks must be ordered separately, although it is fairly easy to make your own using the movement gauges printed in the game rules). Units are small blocks of wood, representing companies (and battalion headquarters) for the cavalry and small groups of warriors for the Sioux. The Sioux are grouped into seven identical “tribes.”  Each tribe also includes a critical “Noncombatants” unit, capture of any one of which will end the game (and usually result in a victory for the cavalry).

Some historical purists will object to the absence of tribal designations, and the identical nature of each tribe. Some other games have very specific Sioux orders of battle, with differing strengths, combat capabilities, and including key leaders and arcane leadership rules. In this case, I think the simpler approach is better. The truth is we have no idea who was really at the battle on the Sioux side, or what their strength, equipment, or specific capabilities were, other than in the most general terms.

The key component of the Little Bighorn system is its variation in how many tribal encampments are actually present, from a minimum of one to a maximum of seven. This critical feature accurately reflects what Custer expected to find in the valley – a series of villages, of varying size, strung out up and down the valley. The Sioux had never in living memory or oral tradition – ever – summered in a single large camp, for several very good reasons, sanitation and grazing for the huge pony herds among them. Custer expected to encounter several villages, and was probably hoping to round up two or three of them at most, declaring victory and escorting the captured tribes to the nearest reservation.

The Indian player determines prior to the game how many tribes will be present, and where. He places a single tribal marker on each of seven camps; the cavalry player will not know which markers are real until he has a unit within “spotting” distance of the camp. For their part, the Sioux cannot move until turn 4, and must exit their noncombatants off the board through two exit points on the northern (downstream) map edge. Since the cavalry enter from the south (upstream) edge of the map, the cavalry player must be able to get a force north of the village before the Sioux can get rolling after turn 4 to have any chance of victory.

 

 

Rules are simple and easy to apply, making for fast moving games that are easily completed in the advertised 1 to 1.5 hours. As with other Pub Battles games, the game is divided into a movement phase, during which each of the Army battalions and each Sioux (and Cheyenne, to be accurate) Tribe moves according to a random “chit” draw, followed by a combat phase.  The Army (only) can attempt to pre-empt the Indians in the movement phase, either by forcing Indian units to move first, or by moving first with one of the cavalry battalions.

 Combat results are generated by simple (and simultaneous) die rolls, using two dice per unit, with “hits” scored on a four, five or six. Complicating this process for the Indians is their treatment as “Militia,” giving the Army a significant combat advantage. The significant numerical superiority enjoyed by the Indians (even if only two or three tribes are present) can counterbalance the cavalry’s advantage in combat, but only if the Indians can engage single cavalry units with two, three or even four warriors at a time. This last point makes positioning cavalry units in mutually supporting positions – too close for Indians to engage with more than one warrior unit – a key Army tactic. It also makes open flanks potentially fatal for the Army.

Tactically, the overwhelming numerical superiority usually enjoyed by the Sioux can be deceptive. A careless Indian player who cedes the initiative to the Army can find himself severely punished over the course of two or three turns, reducing his ability to successfully screen the withdrawal of his non-combatants. The Army’s tactical advantage combines with two other factors to enable the occasional Army victory: the Army’s ability to engineer two consecutive moves, and the unique capacity of the Custer unit to attack during the Army movement phase. This gives the Army the ability to open a “hole” in the Indian line with Custer, then move through and attack with other units. This requires the Indian player to maintain a layered defense at all times, as the Army can and will punch through outer layers in the combat phase, then seize the initiative to move immediately in the following turn, again led by the Custer unit. Once a single Army unit contacts (by being fully adjacent to) any noncombatant unit, the game ends immediately (before the ensuing combat phase).

Victory conditions for the game are variable, depending on how many cavalry battalions and tribes are present. Generally, more tribes or fewer battalions makes it easier for the cavalry to win, while fewer tribes or more battalions make Sioux victory conditions easier to achieve.

The key to winning for the cavalry is early reconnaissance to determine how many tribes are present, combined with a flexible strategy to accommodate the level of Indian superiority in numbers, once it becomes apparent. Small numbers of tribes require highly aggressive Army play, while large villages will force a much more cautious approach. Even with most tribes present, the Army has a chance for victory. More tribes means more noncombatants, with will be more difficult to screen effectively against the Army’s ability to combine consecutive moves with Custer’s unique attack capabilities.

An additional – and significant – advantage for the Army is in mobility. All of the Army units except for the pack train and the “Gatling Guns” (ahistorical – Custer left the guns behind, as they limited his mobility) are mounted, while most Indian units are on foot. This advantage is fleeting, however. Once a cavalry company has engaged in combat, it moves dismounted for the remainder of the fight (the Indians have run off its horses). This feature, besides simplifying play, makes it wise for the Sioux player to engage cavalry units early, even with single warrior attacks. The cavalry will almost always win these initial engagements, but will be deprived of their mobility advantage for the remainder of the game.

The mix of Tribes and the varying configuration of the villages makes each game different. The action can shift rapidly from daring cavalry attacks to seize noncombatants and end the game, to desperate fights for survival by encircled Army battalions on isolated hill tops. It is a fun game to play, easy to learn but difficult to master.

 

 

Review -Supply Lines of the American Revolution

Product Description

This is a 2 player, strategic level game of the American Revolution. The Complexity is moderate / low.  Point to point movement with counters. 

In a way, the name is misleading. You aren’t just in charge of logistics.  You are in charge of the entire war.  There IS a strong military component to the game.  You have leaders and Army SPs that you get to build and move around the board.  And yes, you DO get to fight battles.  So relax.  It IS a wargame.  🙂

A better description of the game would be that it is a simple strategic wargame but it also includes logistical considerations. I very much applaud this effort in design.  Logistics in real wars are huge.  In many ways the logistics are the most important thing .  It does no good to raise a bunch of troops and deploy them into the field.  Those troops need to eat.  In order to fight they need powder and shot.  They need all this stuff at the right time and place.

When I look at buying a wargame, I want to look at the rules first. Why?  Because I want to see how the supplies work.  That is the first thing I check.  If I don’t like how the game models supplies, I don’t buy it.  To me, this is key to a game at this level.  This is what induced me to try this game out.

Here is some feedback for the publisher:  I showed this game to a friend.  He immediately assumed the name of the game was “Join or Die” by the box cover.  I think this would make a better name.  More simple and catchy, if it’s not already in use. 

SLOTARTNT: 1775-1777 is a bit long and misleading in a way. On the other hand, this might be part of what makes it stand out and look different.  That might actually be good in a crazy, backwards way. 

Graphics

Ok, to be fair, I am extremely picky when it comes to graphics. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate this game as a 6.  By that I mean it is slightly above average for the industry.  It is ok.  There is an attempt to make the map look somewhat period.  It works.  I have seen much worse from the wargame industry. 

The pieces look like they are upgraded, cut hardboard. Nice.  The graphics are average.  I bought the Print N Play.  It downloaded and printed easily.  I made my own custom pieces, so my pix are very different from what you will get with the regular game. 

Rules

Rules, rules, rules. Does anybody like rules?  Have you ever seen a rule book that you liked?  I’m not sure I ever have.  They never seem to be easy.  I have very high expectations for rules.  I don’t think any rule book lives up to what I want it to be, even my own.  With this in mind, I would rate the rulebook a 4 out of 10.  Slightly below average for the industry.  –Which in my view has a lot of room for improvement.

The rules are simple and short. Only 11 pages.  I found them difficult to remember and difficult to scan for answers.  I kept having to look things up.  That may be my age and failing memory though.  🙂

Even so, I was able to learn and play the game fairly easily. These rules are no worse than most wargames out there. 

Mechanics   –Under the Hood

To move, you must spend a green food cube. The cube has to be in the area with the troops.  No food?  No movement. 

The fighting was a bit different than what we normally expect. Each side gets dice to roll for hits.  The difference is: the number of dice you roll is based on the number of war supplies you spend, NOT on the number of troops you have.  The war supplies you spend, need to be what you have with you at that moment.  So, no war supplies?  No dice. 

Each city produces 2 food and 1 war cube at the beginning of each turn but only if you have an army there. That is fine if you plan on fighting there.  If not, you’re going to have to get these supplies moved up to the front. 

So as you would expect, you are going to be spending much of your time planning how you are going to get these supplies and troops where you need them. You need to build supply lines by spreading your troops out in a line.  At the end of the line, you need to assemble a concentration of troops to fight with.  They will need a leader and a steady flow of supplies to move and attack with. 

There isn’t any Fog of War in this game. Both players can see and know what each side has.  This works well for this design.  You usually have 10 things that need to be done in your turn but you can only do 1 right now.  This creates enough unknowns and Fog of War by itself. 

Playability

If dealing with all of these issues sounds complex, don’t worry. This game is very easy, fun and playable.  It all plays out in a quick and streamlined fashion.  It will take a few turns to get a feeling for what is going on and how to plan.  Experience seems to be the best teacher: 

You will move quick and shatter the enemy’s army. All of these undefended Victory Cities will be sitting right there in front of you but you won’t be able to do a darned thing about it.  Why?  Because you just ran out of food.  You can’t march anymore. 

Do that once or twice and then you will start to get your act together.  

Pros

A nice melding of Logistics with movement and combat.

Fast.

Easy.

Quick.

Short rules.

I really like how this system models the timing of war. In most games, every turn, every piece you have flys around on the map and fights.  If you read about real wars, you will see that there are long periods in between the battles.  For months, everybody just sits there.  Nothing is happening.  Why?  In this game, you can see why.  There actually are a lot of things happening during those periods of ‘nothing’.  These periods of ‘nothing’ can be very interesting and fun. 

Cons

Only the “Northern Theater”? I really wanted to see the entire war played out. 

Summary / Conclusion

In spite of its short comings,  I definitely recommend this as a buy. Overall, I’d rate this game an 8 out of 10. 

Great little game. The rules are a little rough around the edges.  It is refreshing to see wargames incorporating logistics in more detail.  This game proves that it can be done in a simple way, with short rules and that it greatly adds to the strategy and enjoyment of the game.  I hope we see many more designs in this direction!

Supply Lines of the American Civil War? Supply Lines of Napoleon?  Supply Lines of Caesar?  Tom Russell, you better get to work!  


You can find Supply Lines of the American Revolution at Hollandspiele Games

Top 3 Amazing things about Iron Bottom Sound III

Short Rules

I’ve spent years playing monsters like ASL and World in Flames. I’m not afraid of a long rule book and complex rules.  That said, I have been trending more towards shorter, simpler rules these days.  I must admit, I was a little reluctant to take on a game as detailed as Iron Bottom Sound.  I was expecting 60-100 pages of triple column, fine print. 

Amazingly no!  The rule book is only around 30 pages and half of those are scenarios.  Double column.  Big font size.  Easy to read with lots of space.  The actual rules only come in around 15 pages.  The rules make sense so they are easy to remember.  Very clean. 

Written Orders

What?!! How could that be?  Sounds like a mess.  It’s not.  It is amazing.  I love Columbia Games and Kriegsspiel because they bring in hidden and unknown features of war.  This game does the same thing only without umpires and blocks. 

Now at first I thought this sounds like a big hassle. You have to write out where each ship goes?  Who wants to sit around, hand writing orders.  Their system makes it painless, quick and fun.  How does it work?  You ships face hexsides.  Want to just steam dead ahead?  Fine.  How many Movement Factors does you ship have?  Five.  Ok, just write down “5” on your log.  That simple. 

Ok, then how do you turn? Easy.  Let’s say I want to move ahead for 2 hexes, then turn 60 degrees (that is the next hexside) to port and continue.  That would be:  2P3. 

Making a hard 120 deg turn costs an extra MF. So in that case you would write 2PP2.  All stop?  Just write: 0.  How hard it that?

These little order notes are easy to track on each ships log.

Fog-of-War

That’s pretty sleek and painless but still, why bother with all this writing? Because it is incredibly fun and realistic!!  All the ships move simultaneously.  So you have to try to guess what the enemy is going to do.  Where is he going to be?  Where do you want to end up?  Both players try to anticipate this and plan accordingly while writing down there moves. 

What happens when the enemy doesn’t move like you expect? I can easily imagine all sorts of tricks, maneuvers and mishaps.  Be careful because if your ship ends up in a hex with another ship, they can collide!  All the fun of Kriegsspiel without an umpire or teams in a straightforward 2 player game. 

 

This game is a gem!

Supremacy -report from the front

I got this email recently.  It isn’t a full review or AAR on Supremacy but it does give you a good independent take on the game.


 

Game played great.   

 

As I mentioned in the post, so many of the issues in the original have been corrected.  

 

– Randomly determining next market trade reduces the amount of control two players can obtain on the markets.   

 

– Randomly distributing the initial cards allows everyone to start with different resource needs and establishes alliances very quickly.

 

– Operations for the attacks is amazing.  Allows for very creative attack strategies – multi theatre, blitz, amphibious assault, and offshore bombardments!  So simple a rule but the strategic complexity is huge.  Took a little time to fully appreciate it.  

 

We used a hybrid rule interpretation for the navel assault (when, if ever, do you spend a full set of supplies and an oil?   It appears the rules initially required the oil but later interpretations ditched the extra oil for just the set of supplies.   We settled on – if the navy and units were in or adjacent to the same sea as the attack location, then no oil is required (just the full set of supplies).  If the assault requires moving into a new sea, pay the additional oil.  So Japan assaulting California would be full set of supplies plus one oil. Japan assaulting China would be just the full set of supplies. 

 

Japan was sacked on turn 1.  Brazil fell to Europe on turn 3.  The Russian player was the only to develop nukes and the Commonwealth the only to develop Anti ballistic missiles.   On turn 4 it was a conventional World War III with numerous attacks and counter attacks.  The Commonwealth attacked Spain to gain control of Gibraltar, then Italy, France and Saudi Arabia.   The USA invaded/liberated Brazil then attacked a Russian Navy to add them to the War.  Russia nuked the U.K. with 2 missiles, one got through.  The Commonwealth then removed the US force in Brazil with a naval attack.   This prevented the US from gaining a second supply center at the end of the attack phase. 

 

We needed to end on that turn, declaring a Commonwealth Victory!   They had anti missiles systems, high tech edge, and a second supply card.

 

With the older rules, the games usually degenerated into a Nuclear winter.  With these rules we had a much more conventional World War III  with a very limited Nuclear exchange.   

 

Looking forward to playing again!!!

 

David

Museum Quality Game

Well, I always say our maps are “museum quality”.   It’s not just marketing hype now, this game actually IS in a museum!!  Amazing!  Pub Battles are in an exhibit on display at the Washington County Historic Courthouse .  These aren’t the best of photos but check it out:

 

Here is their FB page:

https://m.facebook.com/washingtoncountyhistoriccourthouse/

 

The museum is using them as part of their Civil War exhibit to show the position of the armies for the battles of Gettysburg, Antietam and Manassas.  

Top 4 Great Things About Bobby Lee

Top 4 Great Things About Bobby Lee, from Columbia Games


#4  Blocks

Columbia is known for their block games which incorporate Fog-of-War. The blocks rotate to conceal the strength of the unit:  1-4.  This is mechanic is interesting.  It creates a sense of fear and uncertainty.  Yes, fear.  Remember fear is often rooted in the unknown and Bobby Lee is full of unknowns. 

Hidden blocks allow for bluffing. The enemy just created a big huge stack of blocks.  This looks intimidating but are they all full strength or is this a ruse?  They could all be strength 1 units that will collapse like a house of cards if you have the guts to strike.

The blocks and hidden strength are fun. They do add to the game but you may be surprised that I ranked this as #4 on the list.  Isn’t this the main attraction?  Hidden blocks with rotating strengths? 

Surprisingly no. I don’t see this as the best thing about Bobby Lee.  Considering all the other features, this effect seems minor in comparison.  

 

 


#3 Political Will

How do you win? Cities are worth VPs.  When you take them, the Victory marker moves towards your side that many spaces.  Get the marker all the way down to your side and hold it till the end of the turn and you just won the war! 

I love this. Simple, accurate and effective.  Basically it is tracking the political will of your side to continue hostilities.  Need troops really badly?  Institute a new draft.  You get to raise ‘free’ troops but it costs you VPs.  The Confederate player gets free VPs over time.  The clock is ticking for the Union.  The burden of offensive is squarely upon their shoulders.  They must invade the South.  They must take and hold cities.  If you can’t do this, international pressure and support for Southern Independence will become insurmountable. 

The VPs threshold drops for the election. The Union is very vulnerable here.  This gives Lee the perfect motivation to launch a northern Gettysburg style invasion.  You don’t have to conquer the North, just crash their support for the war right before the election.  

 


#2 Two Scales at Once

Is it a strategic game? Is it a battle game?  A campaign game?  Somehow, Bobby Lee amazingly pulls off all of these at once.  To me, this fills a perfect niche.  The overall Strategic game is played on the big strategic map.  Once forces collide for a battle, you pull them off and place them on a smaller battle board to slug out the results blow by blow.  You play on two different maps and at two different scales at once.  Amazing. 

All the other games struggle with this dilemma. If you have a Strategic game, the battles and maneuver are abstracted.  If you have a battle game, the over arching strategic situation is strictly regimented. 

I usually hate battle games. What are you fighting for?  VPs on terrain?  Why do I need to take that hill?  I don’t care.  Battle games often feel pointless.  Not in Bobby Lee.  You are fighting the campaign.  All of the strategic concerns are right there.  You are always fighting the battles with these in mind.  How hard should you push it?  How badly do you need to win?  At what cost? How will the campaign continue over the next few turns if you lose or win?  The players must weigh all of these concerns against every battle move and die roll they make while fighting.  Finally, the battle makes sense.  The campaign makes sense.  The whole war makes sense!  All in one, small neat package. 


#1 HQs

The number one best thing about Bobby Lee? HQs!  Their HQ system is nothing short of brilliant.  In real wars, you see long periods where both sides mostly just sit and wait, broken up by brief periods of insane levels of furious activity.  Hurry up and wait.  You never see this in most games.  It’s I-go-you-go.  Every turn, every piece moves and attacks.  Very unrealistic. 

Bobby Lee flows like a real war. Months and months where both sides sit and build.  Wouldn’t that make for a boring game?  No!  If both sides pass for the month, then the turn is over.  You build and off you go to the next turn.  You can blow through 6, 1 month, turns in a few moments.  When both sides start marching, then the game slows down to savor every delicious moment of conflict.

How does Bobby Lee do all this? With HQs.  The troops can’t move by themselves.  They are natural slackers.  They need lots of shouting officers to get things going.  When an HQ activates, all units in range can move and attack.  The catch is, after it deactivates, it drops a level.  So you can only activate and move so many times before you can’t move anymore.  How many times?  It depends.  How many levels did you have the HQ build up to?

Imagine a game where the enemy can move and attack but you can’t. How long would the game last?  Not long at all.  So it is critical that you keep enough HQs around with enough steps left to respond to the enemy. 

Building up your HQs costs Production Points. Note how this simulates logistics and supplies as well.  A huge part of war that is mostly just ignored by most games.  Now the game flows like a real war.  No fuss, no muss.  Quick, easy and all integrated into one seamless system.

Absolutely brilliant.

 

You can get Bobby Lee here!

 

W1815 vs Pub Battles

W1815 is a zip lock game on the battle of Waterloo by U&P Games.  It is fast, small, simple and has a period looking map with wooden blocks.  Is this the same thing as Pub Battles?  How do they compare?

This is a great little review by

Chris Rakowski


Q:  What is the difference between W1815 and Pub Battles?  How do they compare / contrast?

 

Pub Battles is a very traditional miniatures-ish wargame. You choose where to set up. There’s terrain with modifiers. You measure distances and maneuver. You get close to and attack the other pieces and if you roll high they get hit and lose strength or fall back.

There is some hidden info about which units exactly you’re attacking until you start fighting. Cavalry is fast but weak, artillery has range and defensive first fire, and elites ignore a hit. There are no formations other than the occasional road column. It’s a full fledged black powder battle with no bull.


W1815 has none of this. The pieces go in their places and don’t move. Either they’re there or they’re not. The game board is more like a very pretty chart showing you how strong each corps is. The “game” is in the notecard for each corps showing whom it attacks and what can happen when it does with modifiers for the state of the game.

There’s a back and forth as one attack opens up the opportunity for a counterattack and you follow that branch until one side can’t stand it anymore and focuses somewhere else.

Your attack can hurt you more than it hurts the enemy, sometimes even as the best possible outcome. Instead of fighting, the Allies can shore up the line with reinforcements or roll for more Prussians.

As things get worse, each side has to roll rout tests on an asymmetrical table to see who quits the field first. It’s elegant, has strong narrative, is very easy to teach and really can be played in 15 minutes leaving you wanting to have another go with a different strategy. It’s a wargame bonsai.


I love this block aesthetic. It’s like l’m looking at a page in a military atlas. The actual games are very different, though, both accompishing what they’re going for, which is a game you can pull out and just play, without needing to make it a big event, and without your head in the rules. I happily have both and would get more in both series as they come out.

Marshall has several more in the pipeline. If UP isn’t interested in making more I’ll probably try to do more of those on my own.

 


Where to get them:

W1815

Pub Battles

Capture Those Colors

Pub Battles works great for scrappy little battles like Brandywine and Little Bighorn.  Is that what this system was built for?  Is it capable of modeling bigger engagements like Gettysburg or Austerlitz? 

This is a great analyses by Mike Strand.    -And by the way, we have pieces for Gettysburg and started on the graphics for the map this week!  I would expect to see this out sometime next year. 


The way many folks talk about Gettysburg, you’d think it was a fait acompli that the union would win, yet there are those who also maintain the 1st Minnesota “saved the union.” This dichotomy creates a real problem for game designers. How do you make the game realistic in the sense of what could the participants have realistically expected from various actions, and then factor in such unpredictable variables as the case of 264 man battalion charging a fresh 1400+man brigade and stopping them cold. 

 

One way is by just ignoring such anomalies and saying “well this game doesn’t count actions by smaller units.” Another design technique would be to include a deck of cards, one card would be the 1st Minnesota card that allowed a combat re-roll. Unfortunately, having the card be a known quantity that a player can lay down at any time is too powerful.

 

Now look how this plays out in a Pub Battles game. The Union has a bunch of spent units that have just retreated off Seminary Ridge and some fresh units behind those. The confederates facing them are all in good order. Whoever moves first will decide whether or not the Confederate player rolls up the Union line or not. The confederate command chit is drawn first, the union player rolls for his divisional commander to alter turn order…Fail! Next he rolls for his corps commander, success! The union spent units rally to fresh and the confederate attack is repulsed when Picket’s division is chewed up by a couple of the union units rolling 3 hits.

 

What happened historically? The corps commander, General Hancock, was trying to move up his fresh brigades to fill the hole in the union line, but Wilcox’s Virginians were already closing in, a 1400 strong fresh brigade. He had to delay them just a few minutes. Looking around, he spotted the only unit available, a Battalion of a couple hundred Minnesotans. He rode up to their Lieutenant and pointed to the Virginian’s colors. He said simply, “I want you to capture those colors.” The lieutenant said, “Yessir!”  The little Battalion surged forward and captured the colors before being repulsed with 83% casualties. The delay was time enough for Hancock to move his troops into position. The line and the Union was saved.

 

Pub Battles does not try to recreate the heroics of the 1st Minnesota directly, instead it creates the same results with a player’s decision to involve the corps commander directly, and with a die roll showing how successful he is.

 

Simple. Elegant. Brilliant. 

 

-Mike Strand

 

Hitler’s War- Game Review

 

hitlers_war-map

Hitler’s War is an old strategic wargame on WWII.  What is it like?  Is it any good?  Though I am almost embarrassed to admit it, this is actually one of my favorite games.  Serious wargamers (WiF, A3R, AETO) scoff at it.  Axis & Allies players would be disappointed in no minis.  What could I possibly see in this game?

Well, compared to Axis and Allies,  it doesn’t have the cute minis but it does a much better job in recreating the war:  economics, bombing, subs, Africa, Minors, you can start in 39.  The rules used to be  longer but Axis & Allies rules keep growing.  These days, Hitler’s War rules might even be shorter.  Hitler’s War used to take a little longer to play too but again the play time for Axis & Allies has grown.  I’d almost bet Hitler’s War could be played faster now.    

Hitler’s War does have some quirky things in how your armored spearheads work.  It is abstracted but then again, look at Third Reich.  Hitler’s War isn’t THAT whacky and gamey looking.

WiF and ETO are hard to beat for realism.  They are wonderful games.  The question is:  Do you have time to play them?  Do you have space to set them up?  I love those big, monster games but Hitler’s War is a game you can actually fit into your life.      

 

You can pretty much play through the entire war in a good day.  Try that with WiF or AETO! 

Yes, much of the detail is gone but in many ways I like this better. This allows you to focus on the truly strategic issues.  What is your production compared to the enemy?  What should you produce?  What countries do you attack?  When and why?  These big level issues are what really determine the war’s outcome anyways.  All the rest is just matter of grinding out the results isn’t it?

There is some detail. You can produce infantry, armor, air, bombers, navies, subs and ASW.  You can even invest in technology.  There are partisans and great leaders like Patton and Rommel.  You can direct the flow of the war by controlling how much you spend on these weapon systems.  Hitler’s War gives you the feel of WWII without bogging you down in tons of rules. 

Hitler’s War is a great example of how less it more. Removing all the minutiae allows players to focus on the big trends. Who should we invade first?  Poland, France then Russia?  Or Poland, Russia then France?  How about France, Poland, then Russia?  Guess what?  In Hitler’s War, you could test out all 3 of these plans on a Saturday!

In many ways this reminds me of Pub Battles. One of our play testers commented that Pub Battles is the game he has played the most this year.  Why?  It is exciting and has great re-playability but one of the biggest things going for it is speed.  It plays fast.  He just doesn’t have the time it takes to play a regular wargame these days.  He can always fly through a battle of Brandywine in a spare hour.  How many other games can you do that with?  Time and again, he finds himself pulling out Brandywine because it is fun and convenient.

Maybe Hitler’s War was onto something. Should we do a WWII Pub Battles?  Do you still like and play Hitler’s War?  What do you like about?  Hate about it?