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Subject: Blitz! A World in Conflict: Review after 13 plays rss

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Language disclaimer: English is not my native language. Therefore, and although I´ve tried my best by translating my own review originally written in Spanish, some mistakes may (and possibly will) be found in this review. I would strongly appreciate if you can help me improve it, so any corrections and suggestions are more than welcomed.




Blitz! A World in Conflict



Intro: the basics

It is difficult to review this title without first stating what this game intends: to give a global vision of the Second World War without becoming and endless duration monster. Blitz! A World in Conflict is a strategic wargame, that is, one in which we take control of one of the major powers in the conflict by directing its economic, political and military decisions. Or, simply said, deciding in what way we use the resources of the nation, whom we attack and when, thus leaving for the generals and other commanders the development of the battles.

Although the original idea of the game was to create a World in Flames lite, and even when the influence of said classic is appreciated, finally Blitz! has evolved to be a game with its own virtues and flaws, in which by commanding one of the five playable factions (Allies, USA, USSR, Germany or Japan) we must obtain the necessary victory points to arise as winners.

Game materials

One of the weaknesses of the game are the materials, not a surprise when speaking about wargames, especially if we are referring to a Compass Games’ title.

The map has had significant criticism; I personally like it, because it integrates the main modifiers with simple icons on the ground, but it is true that it can feel too congested with so many symbols. On the other hand, it can end up being somehow small, which provokes some counters jams in important battles, which could have been easily solved by giving the map a few more inches.



What comes in the box


The counters have a sober but functional design, although I personally miss having the flags of each faction in the counter itself. The material is acceptable at most, but they end up getting the work done by making units easily distinguishable from each other. However, the land control markers of each faction (which you put in the map to show control of a zone) are immensely large, something difficult to understand if we take into account the somehow limited map size.

The different playing aids are useful and well designed, although it would have been nice to make those aids thicker to ensure greater resistance to usage. The same can be said of the game box, which does not appear as especially robust.

Rulebook

This is, without a doubt, the biggest flaw of this game. Leaving aside the usual errata, the game’ s rulebook is chaotic. Although at first sight it seems well organized and detailed, the truth is that its core is not well structured, to the point that there is no index of contents, so necessary in games as this one. It seems as if it was written on the fly, adding more sections as it was being written and without being submitted to proper and rigorous schematization and revision.

To give you some insight on this: it is usual that, even with the game already learnt, you do not remember at what point was a specific rule, to the point that you won’ t be able to find it until the second or third attempt. Similarly, some points are too lightly explained, leading to the eternal questions via BGG, where, at least, the designer is always active and available.



¿Where was that rule? Bloody hell...


Nor do we find summary tables or a scenario booklet, resulting in a hodge-podge difficult to understand at first glance and requiring some effort by the player to be properly understood, and in fact it is my opinion that the player must end up making its own aids or summaries to solve this mess.

Mechanics


Some of you may have stopped reading at this point. Don´t! The good things are just about to begin, since in my opinion the virtues this game has redeem it from his previously stated flaws.

Each turn, players will have some forces and resources available, which must be used to increase their faction domains and achieve the different objectives that each one has from the beginning.

As a summary, each turn has 3 main phases, in which the Axis factions will play their turn, and then the Allied ones will.

Each round starts with the regular phase, returning to base the ships and planes (either voluntary or not, if they are out of range), since it is not possible to move to a naval zone except from a friendly port. Once we have moved our naval units we will proceed with the naval combat phase, where we will fight for the ruling of the seas against our adversaries.

Later, we will move our ground troops, invading our enemies and being able to distribute our forces (and their aeronautical supports) as we wish. The combat system, although difficult to understand at first sight, totally meets the designer's goal of abstracting the tactical (but not the strategical) decisions without eliminating the so called “chrome” or “historical flavor”. After summing up the combat factors of attackers and defenders, we will apply certain modifiers that are illustrated in the units themselves; that way, some formations will subtract points from the opponent due to their high quality, and vice versa.



As usual in so many wargames, we will cross these scores with a die roll and a CRT, which will tell us how many hits we inflict to the rival units and whether they have to withdraw from the attacked zone or not. From what I have experienced, in a game of Blitz! (having so many strategic options and such a broad approach to WW2) luck does not end up being decisive, with the die results ending up balanced throughout the game and depending much more on the wisdom- or stupidity - of our decisions.

Once we have finished with these phases, each major power will be able to spend oil (a precious resource in the game) to make an additional turn, called the Blitz phase, that will allow to correct the mistakes that have been committed, to give a deathblow to an enemy that managed to survive, or to execute a new plan in a different theater of operations.

Later, and with these phases already concluded, we will move on to the political and economic phase, another of the aspects where the game shines the most. Each turn, partisans may appear in different areas of the map, thus limiting the resources that the occupying power can obtain from its conquered territories. Similarly, both the USSR and the US will begin as neutrals, with their interventionism rising as the Axis powers capture resources or declare wars.



Resources, VPs and neutrality markers next to the game sequence


Also, weapons development is cleverly abstracted, since each turn we will add two or three new units to our reserve; as a general rule, units added to our force pool will become better as we advance in the game, reflecting the technical improvements experienced by the WW2 weapons throughout the conflict. With these new units already available, we can spend the resources that our territories provide, always considering what strategy we will apply to achieve our goals: Will we build submarines to attack allied convoys, or will we focus on taking Egypt? Do we reinforce the Japanese armies to conquer China or do we prepare for the inevitable naval conflict? Do we design and build heavy airplanes to bomb German factories or do we try to land in Italy?

With such a premise, the game manages to shine in one of the most crucial and complicated aspects of all wargames: to balance simulation with entertainment, and historical rigor with experimentation possibilities, forcing us to always consider not only our own objectives, but also those of our enemies.

Feelings

We have already analyzed the shortcomings of this game, which some may consider important; we have also reviewed its strengths. How do they merge in the end? What experience does this title provide us when we have learned to play it? After all, games are, first and foremost, entertainment, and this may be the most important aspect when it comes to reviewing a game.

And this is where Blitz! A World in Conflict shines the most. With a relatively small need for time and space, it gives us the feeling of actually living the whole Second World War, without any feeling that we are leaving aside any important parts of the conflict.

We will always feel tense, knowing that the opponent will have to act later, that there are goals to achieve and limited resources. We will have to decide cautiously if we want more resources now, or if we prefer to delay the entry of the United States in the war. We will see ourselves trying to cover holes and prioritizing, overcoming the temptations of doing crazy things... or falling into them.



It is true that the VPs system is difficult to understand at first, but later it will be revealed as a great way to force the player to think very well what he will do his next turn, or turns.

This way, Blitz! overwhelmingly achieves its main goal, its purpose: to provide us with an enormous Second World War experience, with no need for a huge games room, with no need to leave our daily obligations aside, and with the opportunity to try different strategies and challenge history as we know it.

Game length

I calculate that a complete campaign (starting in 1939) can last about 10 hours, more or less; that is, about two or three long gaming sessions. Obviously it can vary depending on the number of players and their experience, but in any case I think it's a good approximation to the game length, not to mention the shorter scenarios that the manual also explains.

Replay value and solo suitability

As mentioned, this is a game that you will want to play lots of times; with 5 powers that can be played and with different strategies to try, the possibilities game offers are tremendous, that leaving aside the scenarios and the different gaming experience you will get depending on whether you play with 2, 3 4 or 5 players.

The game does not contain any solitary mode, but it plays quite well in this way as there is no hidden information. Obviously you must control all sides, but the game mechanics itself makes you enjoy watching the war unfold, being able to leave it mounted and play turns at your own pace.

Conclusion

For me, a jewel that needs some arrangements but works wonders. A great alternative for those looking for a good strategic WW2 game, which does not require months to play, and that includes both economic, political and military aspects.

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Luke Hughes

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Thank you for a careful and thorough review.
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Lai Tze Kay
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How do you think about the CRT ? Since there could be 1-2 rolls for each power in each combat phase only, every dice roll turn to be very critical. We find poor German dice roll can easily cripple the German side especially in the early game when Germnan try to conquer France.
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Dave LeLacheur
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Thank you for the review, and especially taking the time to translate it into English -- an excellent job on the translation as this reads perfectly in English.

For solitaire play, I wanted no special rules needed. I played the game dozens of times solitaire so I'm quite confident that it works very well that way.

As for the game's flaws and shortcomings, points duly noted and I hope to do better next time. I'm glad to read that for you, the game did reach its stated goals of being a (relatively) quick but comprehensive, fulfilling, challenging, replayable, and most of all entertaining, game of WW2.

Cheers,
Dave L.
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lhughes41 wrote:
Thank you for a careful and thorough review.


You´re welcome! Thanks to you for reading, and happy new year!

LaiKay wrote:
How do you think about the CRT ? Since there could be 1-2 rolls for each power in each combat phase only, every dice roll turn to be very critical. We find poor German dice roll can easily cripple the German side especially in the early game when Germnan try to conquer France.


This is a clever question! From what I have seen, the CRT ends up being quite balanced, specially when:

- the Blitz phase can be useful to "correct" failed plans due to some unlucky rolls. It is true that the German can have problems if Poland and France do not fall early, but that woulld mean failing both in the regular and the blitz phase, which is quite unusual.


DaveLeLacheur wrote:
Thank you for the review, and especially taking the time to translate it into English -- an excellent job on the translation as this reads perfectly in English.

For solitaire play, I wanted no special rules needed. I played the game dozens of times solitaire so I'm quite confident that it works very well that way.

As for the game's flaws and shortcomings, points duly noted and I hope to do better next time. I'm glad to read that for you, the game did reach its stated goals of being a (relatively) quick but comprehensive, fulfilling, challenging, replayable, and most of all entertaining, game of WW2.

Cheers,
Dave L.


Thank you too for this game!


(I´ll try to analyze the CRT question and Dave´s comment more deeply once I have some spare time )
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Steven Keen
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Thank you for the great review! I have finally ordered a copy of this game, after dreaming about it for quite a while. :-) I am looking forward to diving in soon! If I feel I have something useful to add, I will also post a review after some time of play.
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LaiKay wrote:
How do you think about the CRT ? Since there could be 1-2 rolls for each power in each combat phase only, every dice roll turn to be very critical. We find poor German dice roll can easily cripple the German side especially in the early game when Germnan try to conquer France.


So, the CRT...first of all, I think that it is extremely complicated to design a CRT that allows to include some balance between luck and preparation or strategy.

Blitz!´s CRT manages to find a balance between simulation and luck; if the forces of one side are clearly supperior to their enemy, the overall result will be clear even before rolling, which is, in my oppinion, logical. The CRT will just "decide" if the attacker suffers any losses, how many units are actually stopped from advancing, etc.

As you pointed, the problem could be when the two forces are more or less close in force relation, and one rolls a 1 or two, which can be quite serious if Germany rolls some 1s in the first two or three turns.

However, normally the blitz phase will allow to correct it, and it would be really weird to find that Germany has not conquered Poland and France at the end of turn 3...although that could be tragically late for the Axis, taking into account that the USSR should be (or not!) attacked.

To this, I am afraid I cannot give an appropiate answer. It is true that in wargames some frustration may appear due to some die rolls, even with games (such as this one) in which the big picture tends to balance good and bad rolls in the long term. I guess that, in such case, the German player should be ready for changing its strategy, perhaps not attacking the USSR and focusing on the Mediterranean...


DaveLeLacheur wrote:
Thank you for the review, and especially taking the time to translate it into English -- an excellent job on the translation as this reads perfectly in English.

For solitaire play, I wanted no special rules needed. I played the game dozens of times solitaire so I'm quite confident that it works very well that way.

As for the game's flaws and shortcomings, points duly noted and I hope to do better next time. I'm glad to read that for you, the game did reach its stated goals of being a (relatively) quick but comprehensive, fulfilling, challenging, replayable, and most of all entertaining, game of WW2.

Cheers,
Dave L.


Now that I have more time to answer, here´s my two cents about your comment:

I agree that no special solo rules are needed. All the info is not hidden, so it is fairly easy to play all powers at once, going at your own pace and enjoying the story the game creates.

I am thinking of a variant where you pick one major power and, with some "Great Plan" charts, the others will decide what to do with a die roll. For instance, if you pick AFA, Germany (once France and Poland have been conquered) could opt for a Sea Lion on a die roll of 1, for a Med+Russia strategy on a 2-6, and for a Russia only strategy with a die roll of 7-0.

But, as I say, it is just an idea in my head, and I have not started actually thinking how it could really work.

Luckily, the game "flaws" are easy to correct in the future, and I am guessing that the majority are not related to its design, but to the production and publishing process.

For me, it is one of the best games in my collection, but I did not want to focus only on the good things, since reviews must be, IMO, based both in the good and bad things about a game.


sdkeen wrote:
Thank you for the great review! I have finally ordered a copy of this game, after dreaming about it for quite a while. :-) I am looking forward to diving in soon! If I feel I have something useful to add, I will also post a review after some time of play.


Nice to hear! I´m sure you´ll like it, this game offers tons of entertainment and replay value. If you want to practice via Vassal, PM me.

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