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 take on the "base" game in this system, check out my review Initial Impression of GMT's Rendition of Jim Day's PANZER board wargame. You may also want to read my short musings Initial Impressions of PANZER Expansion #1: The Shape of Battle on the Eastern Front, 1943-45.

This is the second expansion to the basic game and--according to the back of the box--you only need the "base" Panzer (second edition) game. That seems to imply you don't need Panzer: Game Expansion Set, Nr 1 – The Shape of Battle on the Eastern Front 1943-45 to play with this one. Trouble is, it's not true. One look at the scenarios in the game booklet and you see that you'll need the geomorphic mapboards from the earlier expansion to join with boards in this one. Of course, you don't find that out until you open the box and finger the components.

If you already have the first expansion, why would you want this one? I must say, Panzer: Game Expansion Set, Nr 1 – The Shape of Battle on the Eastern Front 1943-45 is just so good, one could be happy with that and not purchase this one as well. However, this set will appeal to the following kinds of people:

-- Those that have to have everything in the Panzer (second edition) system.

-- Those that want to complete their OOB for Eastern Front tactical warfare in the Panzer (second edition) system (yes, right now this and the first reason are basically the same).

-- Those that have a bent for early war/BARBAROSSA tactical action and Lend-Lease Soviet equipment.

In the box you find two more unit and marker countersheets; while the first expansion had the majority of these as German units, here the majority are Soviet. There's lots of those early-war tanks, vehicles, and--of course--the Lend Lease gear. I'll put one question immediately to rest; yes, there's FIVE T-35 Soviet "land dreadnoughts" in the game. In case you were wondering. One also appreciates that the flip side of the GAZ-AA truck has the dismounted 12.7mm AAMG. Nice. Lend Lease AFV include the Churchill III, the Valentine II, VIII, Stuart III, and M3 Lee, Sherman III (in both 75mm and 76mm flavors), and the Matilda II.

The German counterset brings the Mark I panzer and more Pz-38s and Pz-IIIs. Some other cool vehicles are there as well, like the Ostwind. More game markers are provided, to include turrets (very gratefully received!), and a bit more infantry/heavy weapons crews for both players. As with all the other offerings in this system, the data cards are not on cardstock but cardboard and are easy to read for even my middle-aged eyes, are easy to use, and quite beautiful.

Two more geomorphic boards are provided, which marry up to the four that come in the first expansion. One side of these boards represent town/urban terrain (Boards 11 and 12); like Board 7 in the first expansion, Board 9 in this set won't well adjoin the other boards on one edge due to streams running off in ways that won't match other boards, in this case at hexes J10 and AA10. No big deal; just means that edge will always be the playing surface edge instead of being able to abut to another board there. Board 11 has a six hex triangular lake channeling the action in the middle of the town; Board 12 has a stream running the whole length with plenty of bridges and a big open park in the center of the city.

The game booklet provides notes on the Lend Lease equipment and TO&E tables for Soviet units that use them. My only quibble is that, since this is the "Final Forces" expansion for the Eastern Front, where are the TO&E charts for the 1944 and 1945 Soviet units that we don't find in the first Expansion Soviet TO&E booklet? 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....

Seven scenarios cover a wide spread of actions--two on the Battle of Brody in June, 1941, one drawn from the Bryansk Pocket in October 1941, one in late 1942 in the Ukraine, two from Kursk (even despite that coverage in the first expansion), and one in Byelorussia during OPERATION BAGRATION in June of 1944. The OOBs are varied as well. Scenario 19, The Battle of Brody Part 1, pits two Soviet light tank companies (with an additional platoon) and an AT battery versus a well-balanced German force of tanks and panzergrenadiers mounted on halftracks. Scenario 20, Part 2 of this same battle, shows the same German force going against a polyglot Soviet force of armored cars, a green ATG battery, and a motorized rifle company and uses one of the urban maps. You can link the two scenarios so that the German survivors from Part 1 are the ones that must fight in Part 2!

Scenario 21, "Pakfront: Kursk, 5 July 1943," is one of the few scenarios in the Panzer (second edition) system where one of the forces is predominantly infantry--in this case, the Soviet side. They have artillery support and ATGs but there's only six tanks in the OOB. As you'd expect, there's lots of Improved Positions, lots of Blocks, and lots of Wire. The Germans come at them with another balanced force of tanks and mounted infantry, with artillery and air support.

AFVs also are noticeably downplayed in Scenario 23, "The Cauldron: Southern Russia, late 1942." Board 11 is put in the middle with 2-story high stone buildings and the Soviets get only one OT-34 M42 flamethrower tank to assist their artillery supported motorized rifle company versus a truck-mounted German panzergrenadier company with artillery, air, and 3 StuGIIIBs and two halftracks.

Like the last expansion, it's just seven scenarios. That's it. As with the first expansion, one must assume that Jim Day and GMT hope players will devise their own scenarios (and hopefully share them/publish them in C3I magazine).

The big remaining question is--with the "base" game and two Russo-German expansions--what is the best way to organize forces amongst and between all three? Here's my take: I'd use the "Basic Game" box to store the game markers in a tray and all the boards. I'd put the Soviet OOB into the Expansion 1 box (see that inspiring Red Guards badge and fearsome T-34s on the box?) and the German OOB into the Expansion 2 box (see that evil German panzer badge and nasty Nazi panzers on the box?). There. Now, this may not be all that portable if you are just toting the basic game around to entice new players to the system, but so be it. I'm sure as more Expansions are added, players may want to combine the German OOB, game markers, and boards into one box alone (the basic game) so they can just pick that one up and another Western Front or Desert expansion. If that's the case, I'd wish for one of those "big box" reinforced cardboard monsters that GMT does for some of their other titles for the "base" game. Maybe that's something the company would consider for P500 someday if the series is a commercial success.

So there you have it.
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Robert Hawkins
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Stop it! I had resolve! I made a decision to stop with exp 1 until I actually played the new version! "Had" being the operative word here... Exp 2 is now back on the "get it when Coolstuffinc gets it in stock" list. See how easy I am?

(Nice write-ups, btw.)
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Keith Talbot
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New Hampshire
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Nice write up ! Now ordering the Expansions...
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Michael Wheal
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Kosse
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Good review. SEVEN scenarios though... not 6. 18 through 24 inclusive.
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Eric Walters
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Chesterfield
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MWAlbion wrote:
Good review. SEVEN scenarios though... not 6. 18 through 24 inclusive.


Thanks. Fixed that--missed one of the Kursk scenarios!
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Runs with scissors
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Vancouver
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You say OCD like it's a bad thing.
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dang it! I hoped to slide past this series. Now it looks like all three are going to be part of the next order. Looks like logging into BGG may have just cost me a 100 bucks.
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Brent Pollock
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I'm glad you mentioned the extra infantry units. Handy for those folks who want to try to add some dirt-chewers to a DYO scenario. Is anyone else considering using SL/ASL infantry pieces to bulk up the counter mix? It would also let you tell the difference between infantry unit grade and armament without having to check the unit ID #. It would certainly give me a use for my mothballed SL/COI/COD/GI:AoV pieces.
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David Siskin
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Playa Del Rey
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You are better than any marketing department!!!
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Charles Lewis
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I ordered the expansions because I knew I was going to want early war equipment. Anyone who thinks that Barbarossa was a pushover for the Germans hasn't faced down a T-34 or worse! a KV-1 with only early model Pz-IIIs or Pz-38ts.
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Jim Day
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ericmwalters wrote:
The game booklet provides notes on the Lend Lease equipment and TO&E tables for Soviet units that use them. My only quibble is that, since this is the "Final Forces" expansion for the Eastern Front, where are the TO&E charts for the 1944 and 1945 Soviet units that we don't find in the first Expansion Soviet TO&E booklet?


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:
The game booklet provides notes on the Lend Lease equipment and TO&E tables for Soviet units that use them. My only quibble is that, since this is the "Final Forces" expansion for the Eastern Front, where are the TO&E charts for the 1944 and 1945 Soviet units that we don't find in the first Expansion Soviet TO&E booklet?


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.


I am probably missing something. Yes, I see the notations on pages 4 and 5 regarding how organization for the Tank and Mechanized Corps remained relatively stable after 1943. I even see that in some of the notes in the organizational charts where those 1943 TO&Es saw some 1944 and 1945 modifications. But, for some of us heavy-metal heads, we're still trying to figure out where the Joseph Stalin II and Joseph Stalin III tanks belong! Once I figure that out, I'll fix the review text to reflect it.
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Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Awesome write-up! Whilst I am anxiously waiting for my preorder to come via slow mail, the tanks fever I got since the recent games in ATS perhaps can be healed finally. I would very much want to compare the tanks in this two different systems to see if they are reasonably approximate each other, noting that I now have the powerful knowledge of all the German and Russian TO&Es on the eastern front! I hope there will be similar fansite like that of Command and Colors being developed to contain the wealth of scenarios in one chest. By the way, is KV I available in the early war? I mean it was available in Moscow but not sure if it wa existing on the border front.
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Todd Reed
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Clayton
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The KV-1 did see action in the front early on:

http://itineranthobbyist.blogspot.com/2012/06/kv-1-wow-barba...

This book I refer to is full of scenario ideas for wargaming.
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Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Hope to play your DIY scenaiors based on the book soon!
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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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ericmwalters wrote:
mongoose27 wrote:
ericmwalters wrote:
The game booklet provides notes on the Lend Lease equipment and TO&E tables for Soviet units that use them. My only quibble is that, since this is the "Final Forces" expansion for the Eastern Front, where are the TO&E charts for the 1944 and 1945 Soviet units that we don't find in the first Expansion Soviet TO&E booklet?


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.


I am probably missing something. Yes, I see the notations on pages 4 and 5 regarding how organization for the Tank and Mechanized Corps remained relatively stable after 1943. I even see that in some of the notes in the organizational charts where those 1943 TO&Es saw some 1944 and 1945 modifications. But, for some of us heavy-metal heads, we're still trying to figure out where the Joseph Stalin II and Joseph Stalin III tanks belong! Once I figure that out, I'll fix the review text to reflect it.

Okay, I finally found all these in the notes for some of the 1942 and 1943 organizations. A bit frustrating!
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Brian Isikoff
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Well, this First Impression (and the ones for the base set and Expansion 1) tilted me to buy the series. I had actually left out Expansion 2 at first ... but then thought better about it given (a) price point, (b) the discussion here, and (c) my bad luck with choosing to follow-up on such purchases after they go OOP.

Really appreciate the time the OP put into the First Impressions here.

Thanks!

Brian
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nick P
United Kingdom
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I think it was this set that included a Soviet BT-8 tank and the main gun seemed odd and compelling. I've never come across this model anywhere else and even Chapter H ASL doesn't mention it. Can you tell me anything about this?
 
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Brent Pollock
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Nothing here, either:
http://english.battlefield.ru/light-tanks

...but it looks like an alternate name:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT_tank
BT-7M[4] (1938, prototypes designated A-8; sometimes referred to as BT-8): new V-2 diesel engine replacing earlier gasoline engines, three DT machine guns: coaxial, in P-40 AA mount on roof and in a ball-mount on turret rear.
 
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nick P
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Thanks.
 
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Hawkeye
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Great write-up, Eric.

I picked this up for the early war vehicles, especially the T-28 and T-35. Gotta love kooky Soviet landships. I can't imagine anything I am less interested in than an East Front battle with Lend-Lease equipment, unless it's an East Front battle in 1945, but I know there are guys who live for that stuff.
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