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Board Game: Na Berlin!
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Subject: A first review rss

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Edward Hung
Hong Kong
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Hi,

I saw no review of this expansion kit yet, but I think it really deserves one. This review will skip the parts about the basic game since you can find some good reviews on the page of the basic game.

This Na Berlin expansion kit adds a map with the East Greater Germany part, and part of the southeastern Europe like Romania. This additional map allows you to play to the end of 1945 where you can try to capture major cities of Germany or even kill Hitler.

The little changes of the original rules (such as German units placement in cities or west end, both not in enermy ZOC) realistically simulate the weaker defense of Germany in the later years of the war. The kit does allow you to make some strategic decision whether you want to concentrate in attacking the northern border near Warsaw (a shorter path to objective cities) or also capturing Rumanian oil field (to make Germany player draw one less card and weaker in armor attack). The rule that Soviet player can stack 2 units in one hex starting from turn 23 is clever and necessary to make it realistic and possible to more easily break German's defense line. I actually would like this rule to take effect before turn 23 for the Soviet player to get the benefit earlier. The addition of new units after 22 turns, and after Russian units enter Germany or Rumanian area shows the careful design of the game designer. The addition of the German fortress units gives more challenges to the Soviet player to attack and advance.

I am ok with the addition of the three normal cards (used with other 24 cards in the whole game). However, some of the additional 5 cards used after turn 22 seems a bit annoying to the Soviet player. For example, one card requires the Soviet player to have captured both Yugoslavian areas and some city (Budapest?) so that he will gain 1 VP, otherwise he loses 1 VP. It is quite unlucky if the Soviet player gets it in earlier turns like turn 23 which is very hard for him to get the above areas at that time. I solo a few times and my Soviet VP is usually much lower than the sudden death VP requirement due to this kind of cards.

The two additional scenarios are good. They let you try the later war years if you have no time to start from turn 1 or scenarios in middle war years. I'm not sure how historically accurate they are (I didn't study this history), but they look reasonably well designed. I tried them for a few times and they played well.

My little complaint (or just question) is on the new set of winning conditions. (The following also appears in my post in the basic game page.)

In [12.3]: ... by the end of Game Turn 22 ... If the Axis High Tide higher value box, the Axis Player win the game outright and immediately. If both markers are in the same box, the game ends immediately in a draw. The Western Allies win. If the VP marker is in the higher value box, the game continues into 1945. ...

[12.3.2] End Game: If the Soviets do not win the game at the end of Turn 28, the Axis Player wins the game.

It is noticed that: if both markers are in the same box, the game ends immediately in a draw. If the VP marker is in the higher value box, the game continues into 1945, which means that it is possible for the Soviet player to lose the game ([12.3.2]). In the other words, with a higher VP, the Soviet player may lose the game rather than get a draw!

Compared with the result of "Western Allies win" as a draw at the end of turn 22, if the Axis player can win at the end of turn 28, it only means that the Axis player is more skillful and/or more lucky (in card draw or dice roll). It really isn't related to Western Allies. In the other words, even though the Soviet player can't kill Hitler, or capture 3 objective hexes, or win by sudden death, the Western Allies will still get to Berlin and win the war. So, why is it a German victory rather than a draw (Western Allies win)?

One point to note is that in [13.0]: "23+ SS Panzer Return: The SS Panzer unit removed on Game Turn 18 can reappear as a full-strength (two step) German reinforcement unit on a 1945 Game Turn at the cost of 1VP, payable during the Axis Organization Phase." It doesn't only mean that it is harder for the Soviet player to win (so, to be fair, German loses one VP), but it also means that the Western Allies get easier to defeat the western defense of Germany. So nevertheless, the Western Allies will win UNLESS Soviet player wins first.

From another point of view, compared with getting a draw, it is even better for the German player to "lose" at the end of turn 22 since he can still have a chance to win at the end of turn 28.


In short, if you like the basic game, then you will also like this expansion kit and you should also get it. You won't feel your game is completed without going to turn 28 (well unless you stop the game earlier by sudden death victory or German player wins by the end of turn 22; Note that you can continue the game even though you satisfy the sudden death victory requirement if you use the optional change of rule of sudden death victory in the 2nd expansion kit "No Surrender"). And it adds one or two more hours of fun! Why not?

Hope this little review helps.

Edward


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Carl Paradis
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Thanks for the Review, Edward. You should do one for "No Retreat!", too!

Compared with the result of "Western Allies win" as a draw at the end of turn 22, if the Axis player can win at the end of turn 28, it only means that the Axis player is more skillful and/or more lucky (in card draw or dice roll). It really isn't related to Western Allies. In the other words, even though the Soviet player can't kill Hitler, or capture 3 objective hexes, or win by sudden death, the Western Allies will still get to Berlin and win the war. So, why is it a German victory rather than a draw (Western Allies win)?

The "draw" (NB! Rule 12.3) victory conditions of "Na Berlin!" rule (12.3) exists as a link with the "No Retreat!" "draw" (NR! Rule 12.3) victory conditions: There was a possible draw in NR!, so the same is draw is possible in the NB! rules. True, the Germans could try to "lose" so to stop a draw, and take his chances with continuing the game, and this is expected and was specifically designed like this in the rules.

There is no "draw" in the end game, as I consider that in this desperate situation an Allied Win is also kind of a German Win too (the Allied influence in post-war Germany will be bigger).

Note also that at first the "Na Berlin!" game extension was supposed to cover a good part of West Europe, with the Low countries, France and Italy included: The German Player could chose to play the Allies, OR the West Germans, depending on the Victory level attained in the "No Retreat!" Game. So you could have a "two-front/game" Situation like the old SPI Game "Drive on Germany". The cards, maps and counters were all done in fact, but it did not work properly for reasons of scale, so I reduced the scope of the extension, for now, to only Eastern Europe. I will do it again later as a new expansion, playable separetely, or together with "No Retreat!".
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