In 2010 we participated in the Cici charity auction. There were several games put up for that auction, and a couple of them had zero bids. I looked over the list of games without bids, and put starting bids on a few of them. It turned out that for a couple of the games my starting bid was the only bid. That is how we ended up with Origins of World War II. Getting the game was never really the point, but did we at least end up with a good game?
In this game players take control of a country and try to score points by pursuing their political agenda in Europe. This game is heavily abstracted to the point where diplomatic pressures, propaganda, P.R. spin, and military actions are all represented by "Political factor" (PF) units. The initial game is suppose to use a historical set up, but their are multiple agendas and these agendas each have different victory conditions. One of the ways to play is that each player pursues their own secret agenda.
The game is played over a series of six turns, and each turn consist of three phases that the players take. The players resolve each phase in a specific country order (USA, France, Britain, Russian, Germany). The first phase is placing PFs. How many PFs a player gets is determined by a table. Typically, USA gets the least and Germany gets the most. Each round the number of PFs a country gets increases, but again this is at a different rate. After all players place PFs they can make political attacks. This is done using the tried and true war game practice of a Combat Resolution Table. The strength of PFs between the two factions in the disputed area is compared and rounded off to a ratio, a die is rolled, and the result is applied. Finally, players establish understanding or control. A player has understanding when they have at least 5 PFs in a given country. A player has control when they have at least 5 PFs in a country, they are the only player in that country, and they gain victory points for acquiring control. Once control is established, other players can not play PFs into that region.
Players will gain points for having either control or understanding in certain regions, depending on the agenda they are playing with. The agenda also determines how many points these actions award. The player with the most points wins.
The Game We Played
I played as Britain and my wife played as Germany. We had secret agendas. She was pursuing the historical outcome, while I was using the "anti-Bolshevik crusade" In a two player game, the control of the other three powers is determined by a die roll each turn. The die roll tends to favor the allied player. On the second turn, my wife won control of all three of the other countries. This was huge, and she was able to gain control of several areas. However, with a couple of USA exceptions I had control the factions for the rest of the game. I used this control to keep my wife from gaining complete control of more territories. She focused on keeping me from having understanding in the places where she got points for gaining understanding. However, I had understanding in United States and France which gave me a big point boost.
At the end of the sixth round we counted up points and I won 21 to 19.
My Rating: 2.5 (do not care for)
My Thoughts: I appreciate that this game was ahead of its time. This is essentially an area control euro game before there was such a thing as area control euro games. However, I do not have a lot of fun playing it. The game does not work well with two or three players. It is better with four or five players, but at that point it works to well as a historical simulation. Unless the players gang up against Germany then a decent German player can begin to run away with it. Of course, by working against Germany the other players are not able to pursue their own goals and plans. I realize this is historical, but it hampers the game.
Her Rating: 2 (do not care for)
Her Thoughts: I do not like consulting charts, and I feel like the charts make the game more complicated than it should be. I also think the game is kind of bland to play.
Combined Rating: 4.5
We have played this game a few times, and I have played it with different player counts. For me it is an OK game, but not one worth keeping.