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World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin» Forums » Reviews

Subject: BtB: an early 2nd edition review. rss

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Troy Adlington
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Firstly may I say that this is going to be a positive review. Barbarossa to Berlin is my favourite boardgame right now and in doing this review I hope to subjectively spell out the reasons why.

Scope BtB attempts to simulate, at the grand strategic level, the war in Europe from June 1941 to the bitter end in 1945. As such the Map stretches from Algiers to Trondheim in the West, and Basra and The Urals in the East. Choosing this date the designer has done away with the favourite Axis "what if?" scenarios (Sealion, Gibraltar, or Turkey 41) putting the ball more in the Allied court with their choices of how best to start a Second (and Third) Front in Europe once the US is in the War. Within these design contraints I feel that Mr Raicer has done an admirable job. Let's talk about why.

Map The Map is your typical boardgame 22 x 34 Inch size. The basic map is glossed paper although a deluxe map (heavier stock, and I think bigger) is available. Overlaid upon a topographical map of the region is a system of square areas, delineating the movement and combat areas available to your units. The 2nd addition map has changes in that it traces the rivers more accurately and also now has the 41 set-up printed on the map areas. In a nod to the cyberboard version the map now also contains superscript indicators of the terrain in an area so that you can see it without lifting the units covering the area.

Units The game contains 88 Large pieces (5/8") and 280 of the more traditional smaller pieces (1/2"). The smaller combat units (SCUs) represent formations of up to 60,000 men. Whereas the Larger combat units (LCUs) can represent well over a quarter of a million men, plus strategic assets of airpower, artillery, etc. Each unit has a combat value ranging from 0-6 (disrupted Italians to Patton's 3rd Army), a movement value ranging from 1-5 (Untrained Luftwaffe militia to veteran Panzer formations), and a loss factor ranging from 1-3 (Most SCUs - Most LCUs), The Western Allied Corps all have a loss factor of 2 probably representing the practice of shunting men to the front as replacements rather than hoarding them in the rear areas and creating new units as was the Wehrmacht practice. The unit density is sparse for much of the game. Often with say 15 inits to try and hold a front 10 areas wide on the Eastern front. Of course in North Africa, Italy, & France the fronts will be smaller.

Cards The game comes with 110 Strategy Cards. These cards are the meat and drink of the game. Their are 2 decks (Aliied and Axis) which are further divided into a Blitzkrieg and Total war decks. The Total War cards are added 3 turns after the USA's involvement in the European Theater. Each card has a value ranging from 2-5 which can be used to generate movement and combat (OPS), Strategic redeployment (SR), or Replacements (REPL). Each card also have an event. These events range from the combat effecting (Rommel, T34s) to the Strategic offensive (Barbarossa, Overlord). Some events (usually the bigger ones) are one offs...if you use the Card for the event....it disappears from the game. Also each player only gets 6 action rounds each turn, which makes for hard decision making. (eg. Do I play this card to get those Soviet Units out of trouble? or perhaps to generate replacements? or to SR Stalin out of Moscow? or should I use the event to deploy the Desert Army in Alexandria?)

There are some cards that are pre-requisites for others and this makes the luck of the draw something to be dealt with in a different way every single game. This is an especially dangerous balancing act for the Allies as they have many more pre-requisite events than the Axis and must try and play them in the face of The Axis' best offensive capabilities, The Blitzkreig deck. The Cards have actually seen the most rule changes by the designer as feedback from the gaming populace has been received. Generally these changes have been slight, but have fine tuned the game to be a hard fought contest often going down to the final wire. Some see the 'living rules' as a problem, and keeping up a drag. But as an old school wargamer I can remember how jaded one becomes with a broken ruleset and how quickly such a game is sent to the bookshelf (or is it Ebay these days?) The 2nd edition will include a full set of updated cards and can be bought seperately for those holding a 1st Edition.

How does it play? The Game generally starts with the Axis play of the Barbarossa card, and then follows a fairly historical push into the Soviet Union that will see the Allied player fighting for his life. If the Axis can get to 20 VPs they automatically win. They start with 7 and this total is quite attainable. However things get interesting if the tide starts to turn. Once the Total war deck is added the "Totaler Krieg" card is added to the Axis hand. By play of this card the Axis can add 20VP to their total but gives up the ability for an auto-victory. To play their card they must currently have 11 Vp. If through invasion, Soviet Counter-offensive or Partisan activity the Allies manage to reduce the Germans to under 11 before they can play that card, then the war will be short. Germany will surrender when they reach Zero VP. There is also an Allied card "Bomb Plot" that might actually knock the "Totaler Krieg" out of the Axis hand. If so consider it a successful assassination of Hitler with all the ramifications of such a power void.

If the "Totaler Krieg" is successfully played, the players settle in for the long haul. The Axis tries to defend their VPs and the Fatherland as the Allies can win either by reducing the VPs to Zero (attainable) or by destroying all but one of their sources of supply. (The Historic result).

In the game as in History the main engine for destroying the Third Reich is the Eastern Front. But the Western Allies have a significant part to play, as if allowed to focus on the Soviets, the Axis will probably be able to force a stalemate in the East. So by the play of Invasion cards the Allied player can open up new fronts for the Axis to worry about and if not attended to quickly by the Axis player, can be devastatingly quick in liberating Western Europe and pushing into Germany.

Overview A classic of the genre. This game is one of the best two player contests available at the moment. Although exhibiting a steep learning curve, once you and a competent opponent get stuck into this you will be back again and again (As I was/am). If you appreciate holistic complexity and hard decision making, little in the way of number crunching and some old fashioned application of game theory, this game is for you. Counter-Intuitively this game actually works well as a Solitaire simulation. Using the designer's suggestions on Consimworld, your card hand is somewhat hidden from your view and you must make hard decisions as you turn over a card each round. A good vehicle to get a feel for the flow of the game and just how to juggle the Allied hand to get out those big units and offensives. To Summate, my rating a 10.
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Doug Adams
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Nice read. I admit being a bit disillusioned by this game when it was initially released, as it appeared to undergo another round or two of development post-publication. I have pre-ordered the new edition on the understanding it's now a tight design and the new edition will have the new set of cards included.

Have you received the new edition already?
 
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Troy Adlington
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Doug,

No mate. I have just been reading up on what the designer has been revealing on the BtB discussion board. I'll be ordering the 2nd edition myself. My 1st edition has been taking a real beating!!
 
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John Boocock
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hi

thanx for your fine review.

on a personal level, I am looking for UK gamers to play this and other GMT games.

I live in Peterborough, and would like to hear from interested parties.

Anyone know if you play this game via email??

John B
 
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John Boocock
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hi

thanx for your fine review.

on a personal level, I am looking for UK gamers to play this and other GMT games.

I live in Peterborough, and would like to hear from interested parties.

Anyone know if you play this game via email??

John B
 
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Klaus Knechtskern
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eddylnn wrote:
hi

Anyone know if you play this game via email??

John B


John you can easily play this game via email using cyberboard or cyberboard and acts...
 
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Troy Adlington
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Finally received my copy of this last week, and the production values are very nice.

Also appreciated is a full listing of all the cards as an addendum to the rules.
 
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Troy Adlington
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Mike Rinella wrote:
A new pbem tournament is in the offering, using 2nd edition rules. Currently has close to 70 people signed up.


yup I'm in Michael! devil
 
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Jason Johns
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Hey John,

My name is Jason and I live in Hungtingdon, UK. Here is my email address:
iamspamus@yahoo.com.

Give me a buzz. Put boardgamegeek or BGG in the subject line.
Jason


eddylnn wrote:
hi

thanx for your fine review.

on a personal level, I am looking for UK gamers to play this and other GMT games.

I live in Peterborough, and would like to hear from interested parties.

Anyone know if you play this game via email??

John B
 
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Kevin Hammond
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I'm just learning Paths of Glory, and am a bit overwhelmed by the number of 'exceptions' that are part of the basic rules. Does WWII: BtB have a similar number of exceptions?

Both seem like great games that I will likely become of a long-time player of...
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Troy Adlington
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5th_Para_Bde wrote:
I'm just learning Paths of Glory, and am a bit overwhelmed by the number of 'exceptions' that are part of the basic rules. Does WWII: BtB have a similar number of exceptions?

Both seem like great games that I will likely become of a long-time player of...


Hmmmm,

I don't think there is

There are a couple of special units, and some finesse in how some Allied Armies can be used in Invasions, but otherwise...no don't think so.
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David Folksman
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Does anyone know if this game has a mounted map available for it?
 
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Jeff S
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Yes, a mounted map is available.
 
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David Folksman
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Sweet any ideas where I can get my hands on one?
 
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rexbinary
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DaveyF wrote:
Sweet any ideas where I can get my hands on one?

http://www.gmtgames.com/p-321-ww2-barbarossa-to-berlin-mount...
 
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David Folksman
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THanks

I was hoping for a UK supplier bit pricey just for a board + import costs.

Thanks tho.
 
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