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Malcolm Cameron
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1914: Twilight in the East is in some respects a traditional hex and counter, zones of control wargame. I was hesitant about it for some time because of that fact. However, a number of things set it apart from its ancestors in a positive way. Those differences are the focus of this review.

Those who may have read other reviews and who have some understanding of the game may prefer to skip to the heading What sets Twilight in the East apart? In that section I give my reasons for liking the game by reference to some of its innovations.

You will observe that this review is completely devoid of pictures. I can do no better than to direct you to a review posted recently by Chris Montgomery (in which he expresses a contrary view to the view expressed here), but in a much more content rich way. His review is here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/432997.

For those who are interested in understanding a little more about what the game is and is not (and the context in which I come to express my views), read on.

This is my first review for BGG. I was inspired to write about 1914: Twilight in the East because I had more or less given up on games of the hex and counter / ZOC genre about fifteen years ago, before this got me back. Like many others, I started in the hobby with games like The Russian Campaign and Fortress Europa, and their lesser known cousin, The African Campaign (all published by Jedko Games in Melbourne in those days).

The African Campaign gave me a taste for space and manoeuvre, which led me eventually to Advanced Squad Leader (which is still my main love) and then to CDGs like We the People and Empire of the Sun - all of which require the players to think in depth as well as in a linear way. The older style games struggled to maintain their appeal against that competition.

When I look back at my gaming tastes since the early 1990s, I struggle to find a hex and counter game with a "front line".

But for some reason, the blurbs that I read about 1914: Twilight in the East fascinated me. I think that is largely because it attempts to deal with something that I have never grappled with before: the war of manoeuvre that existed briefly in the twilight of 1914, before the trench system "stabilised" (if that is the right word). In the write up that follows I don’t harp on much about the possibilities for manoeuvre, but that is an important feature of the game: there is space on the map to move around the enemy (at times), rather than just bludgeoning through.

Paths of Glory had shown me that a game covering the First World War was possible. Without that, my interest may never have been piqued by the much more ambitious title that is the subject of this review.

That belief that the First World War could be the subject of an interesting game, together with my ignorance of the campaign in question (which was virtually complete, apart from the fact that I was aware that some significance was attached to the name Tannenberg), and some well written marketing material from GMT and Michael Resch (via his Oregon Consimgames site http://www.consimgames.com/) had me over the line.

But enough of my journey to this game. What of the game itself?

I like it a lot. But why? And will you?

In this review, I will try to answer the first of those questions, in the hope that it might inform your answer to the second.

Components

You get an enormous pile of cardboard when you buy this game: heaps of counters to while way the hours pressing out; a woefully inadequate supply of cute little GMT plastic bags that have no hope of ever marshalling the troops required for this game (use counter trays instead); lots of colour coded cardboard play aids (which look ‘cool’ - in the sense known only to those of us that read this site); four big dice in three colours (which I particularly like - a small thing in the context of the game but nice anyway) and a ginormous (not a real word) expanse of map which covers the area from roughly Konigsberg on the Baltic to Przemysl in the foothills of the Carpathians.

For those who like to think of Eastern Europe in terms of Paths of Glory, the map covers the following POG locations (give or take a few):

Czernowitz, Kamenets-Podolski, Tarnopol, Dubno, Rovno, Lutsk, Lemberg, Przemysl (still hard to type on the second attempt), Tarnow, Lublin, Ivangorod, Brest Litovsk, Warsaw, Bialystok, Lomza, Grodno, Kovno, Insterberg, Tannenberg (no surprises there), Konigsberg, Danzig, Thorn, Plock ,Lodz, Czestochowa, Cracow.

To be more specific, the map consists of three standard GMT-size maps along with two smaller sections. The smaller sections stretch the map a little further into Prussia (in the north west) and a little further into Ukraine (and Moldova?) in the south east than it would otherwise reach.

I worked out that I would need a table about 2.1 metres by 1.5 metres to fit the whole map with army displays. Tough to do.

Anyway, you get the idea. Big (and beautiful).

But of course a big pile of cardboard is no big deal. It is what you do with it that counts.

Size is not everything

I have to be honest and confess to not having attempted the campaign game. Only in my dreams do I have enough space to both set up a campaign and leave it there long enough to play to a conclusion. (The oddness of the shape doesn’t help - I understand the rationale, but it makes this tough to fit on most tables).

However, I do not think of Twilight in the East as a monster game. There is a monster game in the box if you want to get it out in all its glory. But if that was the only worthwhile way to experience the game I would not be as happy with it as I am.

For me the strength of the game is in its scenarios, and in particular the one map scenarios which are the Tannenberg campaign (Russians v Germans in August and September) and the Galicia campaign (Russians v Austro-Hungarians in August and September). (The Galicia campaign can also be played on a slightly wider front using three of the five maps, but the one mapper seems more digestible. The campaign game links the events of the Tannenberg and Galicia campaigns, and carries the war on into November 1914. There is also a short scenario dealing with the Masurian Lakes battles and an introductory scenario dealing with part only of the Galicia campaign).

The Tannenberg and Galicia battles each use a single map which is a little less than 900mm by a little less than 600mm - 34" by 22" to those still using the Imperial System. Tannenberg covers 15 turns and Galicia 12 turns (the campaign game covers 47 turns over a much wider area, by way of comparison).

The number of bits used in each of those games is also manageable: about forty to sixty units on each side for the most part. Not tiny in scale, but manageable. I regard these two scenarios as the heart of the system for most gamers. I think they alone are worth the price of the whole box. Think of the campaign as a bonus.

The campaign game no doubt has its rewards, but the time and space investment puts it out of my reach in the real world.

The Game in Play

At the start of this review I said that Twilight in the East has some features which, in my mind, set it apart from other hex and counter, ZOC traditional board wargames. I will come to those in a moment. First I should mention some of the more familiar elements, to put the differences into context.

Old favourites

What is familiar about Twilight in the East?

Units have an attack strength and a defence strength (which is usually a fair bit higher than their attack strength). They also have a movement allowance (mostly 7 or 8 for infantry and 8 or 9 for the cavalry). They have a size (mostly divisions but some brigades and smaller units) and a type (mostly infantry but also cavalry and independent artillery). There are stacking limits which relate to size.

Infantry and cavalry divisions (and some smaller units) mostly have an intrinsic artillery strength, which takes on real importance in combat.

Terrain affects movement (a lot) and combat (not as much). Enemy units exert zones of control which costs movement points to enter and exit (but which do not stop your troops altogether). Combat uses odds ratios and a CRT (more on that later). Capturing territory and inflicting losses score VPs, which improves your prospects of victory, but is only a small part of the story, as it turns out.

All reasonably familiar stuff.

What sets Twilight in the East apart?

I thought that it was important to give that background - about me, about the big picture of this game, and about what makes it familiar, in order to properly explain the original aspects of the game that strongly appeal to me.

The are five main things that give it that appeal.

The first two concern the way Michael Resch has structured the victory conditions. Victory is won by accumulating victory points. You earn some VPs by capturing strategically important towns and cities. Nothing earth shattering there. You can also earn VPs by destroying enemy units. Again, nothing new there.

But there are two ways of earning (and losing) VPs that give the game much of its unique flavour.

Prepared Attacks

First, the bulk of the VPs you will earn during a typical game will come just by attacking your opponent’s troops. A "Prepared Attack" which leads to a combat involving two or more divisions in total earns the attacker a VP (divisions are the standard unit size - so one of yours attacking one of theirs in a Prepared Attack is worth one VP to you). You earn the VP whether you win, lose or draw the resulting battle. To make a Prepared Attack, a unit spends three movement points after moving adjacent to the target. You can force march your troops to increase their movement allowance by three points (coincidentally enough to make a Prepared Attack), pushing them into the attack to earn the VPs. (Unsurprisingly, forced marches are not free of risk - but more on that later).

That pretty simple mechanic has enormous effects on the way the game plays: the players are encouraged to throw their troops into the attack at every opportunity, whether or not it is strategically sensible in terms of force preservation or territorial integrity, and whether or not it is tactically ideal, in terms of the local superiority over the enemy. The attack is the thing, and should go in as often as possible.

The brilliance of that mechanic is that it encourages the players to treat their troops just as badly as the generals of 1914: an ill thought out offensive or local counter attack will produce casualties and may be of no strategic benefit, but will earn points.

To anyone familiar with the qualities of the general officer corps in all of the combatant nations in the Great War, that should ring something of a bell.

Strategic Plans

The second victory point related mechanic which appeals to me relates to strategic plans.

In a sense, this aspect of the game is a variation on the theme discussed above: structuring victory conditions to encourage logically absurd but very "1914" conduct by the players. It works like this. Most armies in the game (two of the four starting Austrian armies; and all six of the starting Russian armies, but not the sole German army) start the game bound by the strategic plans that had been worked out prior to the war.

Rennenkampf’s 1st Russian Army is obliged to head for Insterburg and its surrounds; Samsonov’s 2nd Russian Army for Allenstein and Osterode via a place called Tannenberg; Dankl’s Austro-Hungarians must march for Lublin and a host of Russian armies for Lemberg and Przemysl and the surrounds.

What does it mean to be obliged to head for those objectives? Well, it means "obliged": any infantry unit attached to an army bound by a strategic plan must, if it moves at all, end up closer to one of the preset objective hexes for that army (and it can’t be detached from that army to get around the rule). If you move, you must move towards a strategic plan objective.

That restriction has a dramatic effect on what the army in question can do. Scope for manoeuvre is minimal. Local retreats or shifting forces sideways to cover gaps in the line or to meet threats to a flank or to the supply line are not possible when bound by a strategic plan.

If that sounds a little pre-programmed it is - but with a twist. Starting from game turn 5 (which is not long after the armies start to come into contact with each other in earnest) a player may have any of his or her armies abandon its strategic plan, and be freed from its movement restrictions. But at a price: for each plan that is abandoned a price must be paid in VPs. The further the abandoning army is from its objectives when the plan gets binned, the higher the price. To give that some proper content: losing a whole infantry division is worth 4 VPs. Abandoning a strategic plan before getting within 8 hexes of it loses you 16 VPs.

Conversely, capturing an objective earns VPs, and the earlier the capture the more VPs (capture also liberates the army from movement restrictions). If you get there by turn 3, your objective will give you 14 VPs.

So you can stick with the plan in the hope of positive VPs or a lesser VP penalty (by getting closer before giving it up), or abandon early to gain your freedom.

If you abandon the strategic plans of all your armies whilst they are still a long way from their objectives, you will sacrifice a heap of VPs, and will probably lose. If you keep all of your armies bound to their plans for too long, the loss of flexibility in movement may give you a number of other problems and may result in sacrifices of a quite different kind.

Historically, Samsonov’s 2nd Army was ordered to stick with its strategic plan until too late, with catastrophic results (it was encircled near Tannenberg and effectively destroyed). This mechanic makes it possible (in theory) to recreate the decision making process which lead to Tannenberg by giving the Russian good reason to press on towards his goals despite the difficulties and risks.

Ordinarily, a gamer with perfect knowledge of enemy dispositions and the capabilities of its rail network (good and close at hand in the case of the Germans in the Tannenberg scenario; overstretched and increasingly distant in the case of the Russians in that example) would never put the Russian 2nd Army in a Tannenberg like position. But that can happen in this game by the combination of carrot and stick built into the victory point system.

Slip sliding away

The third main point of distinction that appeals to me about Twilight in the East is the way that your decisions (particularly about throwing units into combat and forced marches) cause your units to disintegrate over time. To explain what I mean it is necessary to say something more about the mechanics of the game.

Combat and to a lesser extent forced marches expose your troops to two types of unhappy outcome: outright casualties (step losses) and loss of combat effectiveness.

A combat unit starts the game with a number of steps which is equal to its attack strength. Most infantry divisions have an attack strength of 10, so they have 10 steps. When a unit loses its last step it is eliminated. That does happen, but not quickly or easily. Units tend to be ground down, not obliterated in this system.

Step losses are marked by placing a number counter under the unit (no peeking allowed). Apart from leading to the eventual destruction of a unit, step losses also reduce its attack and defence strengths.

Units also have a combat effectiveness level (CEL), which seems to represent a combination of their morale and level of disorganisation. Forced marches and combat cause units to take CEL checks - which are by rolling 2d6. Equal to or less than your CEL is a pass - your CEL is not affected. If you roll more, your CEL drops, usually by one. If you roll heaps more, your CEL drops more quickly and other bad things can happen.

German regulars have a starting CEL of 11 (pretty good against 2d6). A-H and Russian regulars have a starting CEL of 10. Reserve troops and assorted others have lower CELs to begin with.

Casualties and retreats give you adverse modifiers in post-combat CEL checks. The higher the number of additional MP gained by a force march the worse the adverse modifiers in a forced march CEL check (gaining three MPs - the maximum for infantry - would give the unit +4 on its forced march check).

CEL is tracked on a separate Army Display - there is a marker kept there for every formation on board. The marker has the unit’s CEL printed on it. The marker sits in a box to show whether it is still at starting CEL, or has dropped by 1, 2, 3 or 4 (the worst - demoralised).

Step losses are essentially permanent, CEL losses are temporary - but your troops need distance from the enemy and time to recover combat effectiveness once it is lost.

The slippery slope effect is pronounced: full strength units fight more effectively (they have higher attack and defence factors because they have no step losses to reduce them), so they are less likely to suffer casualties which will give them adverse modifiers on CEL checks. Their CEL is higher anyway, so they are well placed to pass those checks.

So you use them more boldly: you can risk that forced march because the unit will probably pass the CEL check. You can afford to make that attack because the units strength means retreat, casualties and loss of CEL are less likely.

But one or two reverses have a multiplier effect. Your units have lost a couple of steps and have failed a couple of CEL checks. They are weaker in battle now, and their CEL is down to maybe 7 or 8. Next time you check your effectiveness, you use the new level. At a CEL of 7 or 8, passing those effectiveness checks gets pretty tough, particularly if you suffer some adverse modifiers. Once you get to four less than your starting level you are demoralised. Time to run away (can’t attack; defend with adverse modifiers; can’t recover effectiveness unless at least five hexes from the bad guys).

Troops that were happy to tough it out last turn can lose a couple of levels pretty quickly - force march them into a prepared attack to win a VP; fail your CEL check and you are down one already; if the combat goes badly you may be down another almost straight away. Now your CEL 10 troops are down to CEL of 8. Everything gets more difficult. If they fail checks they tend to fail by more, which means slipping into demoralisation much quicker.

So the system pushes you to push your troops forward (to get to their strategic objectives) and to attack the enemy whenever you can (to earn VPs for Prepared Attacks) and then punishes you by weakening the army almost every step it takes. Your armies will start to resemble houses of cards - so catastrophe is possible.

The price that the gamer pays in return for (what I regard as) the elegance of the slippery slope effect is a bit of counter fiddling: sliding the CEL marker to the next box on the Army Display when a CEL check is failed; putting a numerical counter under a unit that loses a step. That is a price I have no difficulty with, but it does add some admin to the game that some may dislike.

Combat

Combat in this system takes a bit of getting used to. Essentially each battle has three elements:

(a) Attacker-defender odds ratio

This is where most CRT-based games start and stop. In Twilight in the East, the odds ratio (and the roll on this table) determines who retreats, if anyone, and can give modifiers to the casualty results. The higher the odds the more chance of forcing your opponent back and getting a favourable modifier.

(b) Size of battle and artillery strength

This determines casualties (ie step losses). The bigger the battle (number of divisions involved on both sides) the worse the losses for everyone. The more artillery you have the worse your opponent’s losses.

(c) Combat effectiveness check

This has already been mentioned. Casualties suffered in this battle are bad for your CEL check (+2 to your roll for each step loss) as are retreats (+1 per hex retreated). There are other modifiers based on supply state (see below) and other things.

To me, these are all important elements in the game system because they work together. Odds ratios are important but not that important (3-1 is not massively better than 2-1). Unlike some traditional hex and counter ZOC games, finding that extra factor is not all important.

And because units suffer step losses and you are not allowed to peek at your opponent’s loss counter, you probably won’t know exactly their strength so you will be unable to count factors with any real precision.

Those elements speed up movement, because there is not the need or ability to "optimise" movement to juice the odds up to the perfect column in each combat.

Artillery is also given its proper place in the game, as an important intensifier of combat casualties. Those with powerful artillery (the Germans are super troops in this and most other departments) inflict losses much more reliably than those without.

Combat effectiveness is really the controlling feature of who is doing well on the map: you will not win many games of Twilight in the East by causing 10 step losses to your opponent’s infantry divisions in combat. What you may do is cause enough casualties and other disruption to shatter the effectiveness of divisions, which will then retreat to regroup with the other side as hot on their heels as their own state permits. (Hopefully the casualties and disruption will largely be to the other side’s troops ...)

Despite all of those elements, combat is essentially one throw of the four dice included in the box - the two white dice are the CRT, red is Russian losses, black is central powers’ losses. Then the troops take their morale checks separately. (Easy for an ASL player to cope with).

So, although it is unusual, for me the strength of the combat resolution system is that it works with the other design elements to continually place pressure on the players’ decisions about risk (in terms of losing force integrity) vs reward (in terms of VPs or potential VPs). (It did take a bit of getting used to, but it is not hard to get the hang of).

Supply

The last element I will mention is supply. In my view it is handled both elegantly (in terms of the mechanics) and so as to constrain the players in a way that feels right historically.

There are really two types of supply, although this terminology is not used in the rule book: guns and butter.

At the beginning of each player turn, that player’s units check their supply status. At that stage they are either in full supply (no adverse affects) or in Low Supply or Out of Supply. Those states depend essentially on range to a supply source. The unit remains in that state throughout that player turn and then throughout the opponent’s turn.

This is what I think of as "butter" supply: it does not directly affect how the troops fight but it does adversely affect their CEL (+1 modifier on CEL checks for being in Low Supply; loss of a CEL for being Out of Supply).

At the moment of combat, any unit wishing to use artillery (either intrinsic artillery or separate independent artillery units) must trace supply and be allocated an ammunition point (AP). This is what I call "guns" supply.

If supply lines are stretched, there are limited numbers of APs to be spent, so not everyone will be able to use their artillery. This makes combat much less attractive, because it is tough to inflict casualties without the big guns.

Supply is all about rail lines and distance from the rail head. Each Army has two or more depots. Depots sit on rail lines and can only move by rail. The major depot has unlimited APs to spend. The major and minor depots both have unlimited "butter", to use my terminology.

Depots have a limited range within which they can dish out the guns and butter - 5 or 6 hexes.

Each Corps within an Army (there are usually three of four Corps per Army) has a Corps Train - basically a bunch of horse drawn wagons to ferry the guns and butter from the depots to the front.

They have a supply range of 5 hexes. So a combat unit 10 or 11 hexes from its Army’s depots will usually have full supply, and access to as many APs as it has combats.

Units can get further away: depots and corps trains can flip over to extend their range - 8 to 10 hexes for a depot; usually 9 for a corps train. But depots that flip have a finite (and smaller) number of APs to hand out (usually 4 for a major depot and 2 for a minor - not many for a whole Army), and corps trains that flip are even less attractive: any unit drawing "butter" supply from a flipped corps train is in Low Supply, and a flipped corps train can only hand out 2 APs for the whole game turn (not great if it has three divisions fighting six combats - three as the attacker and three as the defender).

An Army operating at maximum range from its railhead is therefore at a major disadvantage in combat (through inability to use artillery) and in combat effectiveness (adverse modifiers and loss of CEL for units Out of Supply). Railheads can be moved forward, slowly, behind some advancing armies in the game - but distance is a real constraint handled with a real simplicity (it is much easier in practice than my explanation may suggest).

Conclusion

Innovation within a somewhat familiar framework is the real strength of 1914: Twilight in the East. All of the innovation drives player behaviour that is "rational" if viewed with (what I imagine to be) a 1914 mindset, by aligning player objectives with not only the historical objectives, but with the historical means by which those objectives were pursued.

I do not think this is a complex system, nor one which is too big to absorb and to play. In the Tannenberg and Galicia scenarios, Michael Resch has created games that can ebb and flow, and that both sides can win, without investing more than a reasonable amount of effort in learning and playing.

I do not doubt that the campaign would hold great reward for those with unreasonable amounts of time and energy to play with.

This is not Carcassone, but to my way of thinking it is no harder a system (and no more fiddly) than something like SPQR.

I am very much looking forward to Michael Resch’s Western Front adaptation / evolution of the game system.

I am grateful to him for restoring my faith in this style of operational level game, and for bringing some real elegance to an undertaking of this scope.

Malcolm Cameron
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Bill Lawson
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Thanks for the review. This is the second one since yesterday and I can't wait for the game to arrive! I've heard pro an con ( con didn't sound that bad to me!) now.
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Steve Herron
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It is nice to read two excellent reviews done from different view points.
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c m
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Excellent review. I ordered this one a while ago during the big sale, but have yet to get it played. The handling of effectiveness vs. step losses sounds quite compelling. The prepared attack VPs seems an elegant bit of design. I think I'm going to try to get this one out soon. I guess that means I'm resigned to a couple hours of punching counters soon....
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Lindsay Scholle
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Nice review.

It's always interesting to observe how a game designer dealing with an historical setting can coerce the players (with their benefit of hindsight), into making the same supposedly foolhardy decisions that were made in reality. To manoeuvre the players into this thought process in a subtle way is, I think, rather clever. It sounds as if it's been pulled off quite nicely in this instance.

"The brilliance of that mechanic is that it encourages the players to treat their troops just as badly as the generals of 1914..."

It also sounds like a lot of gaming goodness for your gaming dollars. Nice stuff again GMT.
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Iván Juan Camps
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Good detailed review for a good big game with plenty of chrome.

(I can't wait to try this one...)

Iva.
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Wendell
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Malcolm C wrote:
This is not Carcassone


It's NOT??!!

Seriously, great review, thanks.
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Chris Montgomery
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Nice counter-point, Malcolm. Thanks for writing.

Chris
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Malcolm Cameron
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Chris,

Thank you.

Your review (which I thought was great) was what prompted me to knock this into shape and post it. I had been meaning to for some time but needed an impetus.

I thought that having my review go up shortly after yours would give anyone interested in the game some pretty good information from a couple of points of view, which is something this site is good at.

Regards

Malcolm
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Bill Lawson
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I have my copy now. I tried to use the vassal mod but it wont load.
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Malcolm Cameron
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Bill,

There seems to be some pretty good support for the Vassal module (and for the game generally) on Consimworld in the game forum.

Regards

Malcolm
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Bill Lawson
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I just got the vassal mod yesterday on CSW. Seems there was a problem with the mod at GMTs site. This one works fine!
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David Dockter
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As others have pointed out, this review, and the negative review just before it, are both great reviews. Each make me really want to play this game taunting me from my gaming closet.
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Bill Lawson
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This ones still sitting in my closet but I do have the vassal mod working now. I want to play this in 2010.
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Kevin Hammond
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Outstanding review, had never looked hard at a WW1 eastern front-focused game, now I'm interested
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Fine review. thanks for the info, I'm very interested now in this style of game.
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John Kantor
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I really like what this game tries to do. Unfortunately, it's almost unplayable in its current form. There's no reason that with a bit more development work, the system couldn't have been streamlined significantly. If they come out with a streamlined version 2, I'd buy it.
 
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Malcolm Cameron
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Hi John,

Although I do not agree with the suggestion that the game is almost unplayable, it is undoubtedly a dense wargaming experience.

As I mention in my review, I appreciate that it will not be to everyone's taste. But it is well developed and in my view an elegant piece of design (in the ways I have tried to explain in the review). Chris Montgomery took a different view in his review posted a day or two prior to this one.

The designer is working on the Western Front sequel. My understanding (from following some of the discussion here and on Consimworld) is that certain mechanics will be more streamlined in that game, in that there will be fewer steps involved in various sub-systems. But don't quote me on that.

Given your liking of what this game attempts it might be worth keeping an eye out for that when the time comes (might be a way off yet).

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond (it is nice when a review thread posted a couple of years ago comes back to life!).

Regards


Malcolm C
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michael resch

Las Vegas
Nevada
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Hi John,

"I really like what this game tries to do. Unfortunately, it's almost unplayable in its current form."

Woa?!?! Unplayable???

See Yockbos' blog http://yockbosboardgames.blogspot.com/search/label/1914%3A%2...
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Peter Veenstra
Netherlands
Delft
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Attaque! Toujours attaque!!
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jkantor wrote:
I really like what this game tries to do. Unfortunately, it's almost unplayable in its current form. There's no reason that with a bit more development work, the system couldn't have been streamlined significantly. If they come out with a streamlined version 2, I'd buy it.


This game is realy playable!! See my AAR's in the session folder...
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Jim F
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
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Very playable. Trying out the example in the book with punched out counters really helped. The railways are the only really fiddley bit but the rest of the game is pretty straightforward.
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Björn Engqvist
Sweden
Goteborg
Unspecified
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This is one of the most popular wargames around here, so far I have yet to encounter a single person calling it unplayable after getting an introduction to it. There are some who are not that enthusiastic about some of its features, but the majority of players who have tried it are very positive. Personally I think this is one of the best wargames I have ever played.
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