Designed by veteran designer Brian Train, Summer Lightning is an operational simulation of the invasion of Poland by German, Slovakian and Soviet forces in September-October 1939. The campaign was a brief, bloody, and confusing affair fought between two armies which were considered equals by many in the world.
Despite the interesting campaign, there aren’t many war games on the Polish campaign, probably because the conventional wisdom is that it was a very unbalanced contest. This is informed mostly by hindsight. The German Army knew it had superior numbers and organization, but much of its equipment was no better than that fielded by the Poles, the concept of blitzkrieg had not been proven in actual combat, and they were not at all sure that the campaign would not bog down into static fighting. As it was the Germans lost over 16,000 dead in five weeks of campaigning.
Summer Lightning uses a proven game system that features an interactive sequence of play and near-diceless combat that both shows the historical German superiority in command and control and is flexible enough to allow players to explore many variations and options, so that the game can be as equal (or unequal) a contest as they want. Options include: variable Polish deployments; greater or lesser surprise and speed of mobilization; changed attitudes of the Soviet Union or neighbouring countries; French intervention; Plan Zachod (the Romanian Bridgehead Strategy); and even the possibility that the Blitzkrieg, so appealing in theory, fizzles out on the battlefield. Also, because so many war games are designed for two but played by one, an optional solitaire play method is included.