Eric Walters
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Chesterfield
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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For my initial impression of the "base" game that this expansion enhances, see Initial Impression of GMT's Rendition of Jim Day's PANZER board wargame.

I need to say this up front: while the original "base" game provides the rules, system pieces, and a counterset of the most common Soviet and German AFV for 1943-44, the Expansions to the game are the best part of the entire Panzer (second edition) system. Here is why:

-- First of all, gone is that single sheet map. By the time a player has worked through the published scenarios (and maybe even designed a few of his own, using the AFV availability charts in the back of the Playbook), he/she is SO done with that map. You just don't want to see it again. All those LOS lines are known and well defined; you are simply ready to get that terrain off your table. Here are four DOUBLE-SIDE geomorphic maps. Nothing terribly unusual or innovative; the terrain is what you'd expect for this kind of system. But I do like some features, like the village "Orlovo" that covers both ground level terrain and the adjacent Hill 4.19 on Board 4. Love having streams that run the LENGTH of Boards 1 and 8 instead of through the middle. That big dacha/manor house on Board 5 surrounded by a moat is also somewhat interesting. Board 7 is a little bit problematical when butting up against boards on one side, given the stream in Z10 abruptly ends at the board edge in such configurations. All in all, we at last have some really cool variety.

-- Second, you get a LOT of new German counters and data cards to play with. Yes, there's some Soviet pieces and cards too, but the focus here is clearly on the OstHeer. Mark II panzers are here, so are the Panzer Jager Is, as well as the Pz-38 Czech tanks. There's even counters for horse teams to haul around stuff.

-- German and Soviet Tables of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) books. It's clear that Jim Day and GMT don't want players to be content with just the published scenarios. These booklets outline the composition of various formations in the game, their subordination, and what game pieces are needed to recreate them. German forces run the gamut from an early 1940 Panzer Regiment to a late 1944 Volksgrenadier Regiment. For the Soviets, there are a lot of early and mid-war organizations but very little for 1944 or later. Actually, all that gear is there; you simply have to purview the "notes" sections for the 1942 and 1943 formations to find them. For example, the player can determine that the ISU-152 M44s and the ISU-122 M44s belonged to the SF6 Heavy-SU Regiment mid-43 organization by consulting the notes for that formation. Or that KV-85s, IS-2 heavy tanks, and IS-3 heavy tanks go in the SF5 Heavy Tank Regiment mid-42--yup, just check those notes! Not very easy to access given that scenario designers will have to hunt and peck for those formations, given their desire to create some scenario "that has those heavy metal Soviet tanks" in them. Nevertheless, these TO&E books are a huge boon for scenario designers and players who simply want to fool around with how different organizations operate against each other on the game board.

-- But wait, there's more. The scenario book also contains TO&E charts for four different German divisions committed at Kursk: (1) the GrossDeutschland Panzergrenadier Division, the 1st SS Panzergrenadier Division "Liebstandarte SS Adolph Hitler," the 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division "Das Reich," and the 3rd SS Panzergrenadier Division "Totenkopf" as they were organized on 1 July 1943 (yes, there is a typo for Liebstandarte regarding the date--it is not 1 July 1993!). So for those who want to recreate famous German divisional actions at the South Flank of the Kursk Offensive, you've got what you need to do that. Additional diagrams outline the larger organization for German Army and Soviet Front formations at Kursk.

-- Spread of scenarios is a nice surprise; they aren't all Kursk. There's one on the North Flank (Scenario 12, Ponryi--and there is a Ponryi on one of the maps!), two others on Kursk, two after Kursk in '43, one on Hungary in March 1945, and one on Silesia in 1945. While some are small to moderate in size (the smallest being Scenario 11: 3rd Mechanized Corps Operations: Ukraine, August 1943, pitting a Soviet reinforced "mixed" Motor-Rifle Company against a German Panzer Company with an panzergrenadier platoon), there are some big and meaty scenarios that will take the better part of a day to play--they are basically battalion versus battalion actions. These are great for multi-player team games where players can get a company to command for themselves. But there's only seven scenarios. Seven. That's it. I'd expect we'll see a lot more in the pages of GMT's C3I magazine, so those scenario designers out there can get cracking.

With this particular Expansion, Panzer (second edition) fans at last can "stretch the legs" of this particular system with the additional terrain and wide variety of OOB, particularly for the Germans. I honestly can't imagine playing the game without having at least this one Expansion for it. The tactical situation horizon is greatly enriched. If you have doubts whether you'll like the "base" game system, get that first to see if you do; if you like it, acquiring this Expansion will be a no-brainer.

Here's my take on the next expansion: Initial Impressions of PANZER Expansion #2: The Final Forces on the Eastern Front


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Joel Tamburo
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I can mostly agree with one exception - I don't feel like the basic game map is "done" at all. It has a really nice combination of terrain types that make for interesting tactical challenges.
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Runs with scissors
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Is there a strong argument for just buying expansion #1 if you've played the base game and enjoyed it. It seems almost a no-brainer to pick up expansion #2 at the same time, particularly as it costs significantly less.

I haven't been following the development, but the only reason that I can think of for there being two separate expansions is that they didn't want the expansion costing more than the base game.
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Eric Walters
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Chesterfield
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autumnweave wrote:
Is there a strong argument for just buying expansion #1 if you've played the base game and enjoyed it. It seems almost a no-brainer to pick up expansion #2 at the same time, particularly as it costs significantly less.

I haven't been following the development, but the only reason that I can think of for there being two separate expansions is that they didn't want the expansion costing more than the base game.


You make a good point about the economics; as for just purchasing this expansion and not the second, I'd say that would make sense for a lot of people. Let's face it, there's not a whole lot of tactical fun watching the Soviets get massacred in the early war (play the first two scenarios on the Battle of Brody in Expansion #2--one right after the other using the German survivors of the first to play the second--to get some idea of that). Lend-lease equipment actions don't always go over well--if I want to play with Shermans, Stuarts, M3 Lees, Matildas, Valentines, and Churchills against the Germans, why am I not playing a West Front game instead?
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David Siskin
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Playa Del Rey
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I am quite sure the western allies will be up soon!
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Jim Day
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ericmwalters wrote:
For the Soviets, there are a lot of early and mid-war organizations but very little for 1944.


The 1944 through 1945 TO&E data is included in the tables. If you note the 4th bullet for the Tank and Mechanized Corps summaries on pages 4 and 5, you’ll find that the last major organization change occurred in 1943.
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Eric Walters
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Chesterfield
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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mongoose27 wrote:
ericmwalters wrote:
For the Soviets, there are a lot of early and mid-war organizations but very little for 1944.


The 1944 through 1945 TO&E data is included in the tables. If you note the 4th bullet for the Tank and Mechanized Corps summaries on pages 4 and 5, you’ll find that the last major organization change occurred in 1943.


Well, these are fairly "large scale" Tables of Organizations and not what I'm lamenting over; however, the 1943 TO&Es do provide a few footnotes about additions to bring them up to 1944, etc. The problem is, for those of us who are looking for 1944 and 1945 material, we have to weed through the 1943 stuff in hopes of finding it.

For example, if you want to find the unit for IS-3 tanks, you have to go to the SF5, Heavy Tank Regiment mid-42 to find that. Here we find the notes that tell us we can substitute IS-3 tanks for the KV-1S. Argh! Why couldn't we have separate org charts?
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Jim F
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dumpty wrote:
I am quite sure the western allies will be up soon!


Agreed. In my usual 'never satisfied wargamer' way I was hoping one of the expansions would cover the Western Front.
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Andy Evans
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dumpty wrote:
I am quite sure the western allies will be up soon!


You were right!

http://www.gmtgames.com/p-420-panzer-exp-3-drive-to-the-rhin...
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Jason Cawley
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Anthem
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"they aren't all Kursk. There's one on the North Flank (Scenario 12, Ponryi-"

Um, Ponryi is definitely part of Kursk. It was the center of the fight on the north face of the salient.

An historical quibble...
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