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Sandy Petersen
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Hitler’s War (HW) is an odd little game that breaks so many rules of “normal” wargame design, but it’s a gem.

A Strange Tale, Strangely Told
The rules to HW incorporate a number of features I haven’t encountered elsewhere in wargames. Here are the basics.

You only have 12 units, and they are at a very high organizational level. For instance, one of the German units is titled “Italian Army”, and it represents the whole Italian Army. The map is enormous in scale too – the entire border of France from Switzerland to the Channel consists of only three hexes. But even with such a scale, 12 units may seem insufficient.

Your 12 units do not have a fixed structure. Instead you have a separate record card on which you keep track of exactly what your armies individually consist of. Each army can have up to 10 total factors. So for example, you might have an army consisting of 6 Infantry and 4 Armor. There are rules for airplanes, paratroops, and amphibious units, as well, but the bulk of your factors are always going to be Infantry and Armor.

Any hex you control in which you do NOT have an army, is considered to have a “garrison” force, equal to 1 Infantry, except it can’t attack, only resist enemy moves. A garrison can also be killed in combat, but it will regenerate back into existence if the enemy doesn’t advance into its hex during its turn.

MOVEMENT – during the mis-named “Movement” phase, you simply rearrange any of your factors among your units as you see fit. And you can also rearrange your units anywhere on the board you please. You can fill up the Romanian Army with 10 tanks and place it in Norway if you like. The units are just place-holders. I like to keep armies in their historical areas, because that helps me remember which armies are supposed to do what when I look at the board, but it’s not a requirement. You do NOT advance into neutral or enemy territory during the “movement” phase. You just rearrange. It’s more like a “preparation for movement” phase.

COMBAT – in the combat phase, you now can advance into enemy territory. You can also attack. Each unit can attack once (defenders fire first, then remaining attackers fire). Attacking units can also try to “advance” into enemy territory. Your chance to advance is based on a simple table comparing your army’s Armor factors to the total factors in defense. “Advancing” is the major way to conquer enemy territory. Each hex you advance after the first, 1 is added to your die roll, which makes it harder to do. But if you have enough tanks, you can start off with a chance to advance of 1-9, which is pretty good for a 6-sided die roll. Of course eventually the odds catch up with you and your army is forced to stop.

Good Things About Hitler’s War

1) It has awesome little scenarios, such as the “Fall of Germany” which takes only a couple of hours to play. And the Russian Front scenario is excellent for teaching the basic game rules to a friend. Plus it’s fun, unlike most “introductory” versions of games.

2) If you probe too deeply, you can get cut off. This strikes a fun balance between a desire for a blitzkrieg and fear of failure. Usually (not always) you can save an army that’s been surrounded, but it does stall an advance.

3) And unusually among “WW2 in Europe” games, HW can be played in a couple of evenings, or in one long afternoon stretching into night.

4) If you’re sick of the same old thing in wargames, the dynamics of HW are completely novel.

5) it's one of the few ETO WW2 games where you're NOT instantly impelled as Germany to conquer Spain so you can take Gibraltar and win the war. Man I'm sick of that meme.



Bad Things About Hitler’s War
1) it's ugly. The map is ugly and small, and the counters are nothing to write home about.

2) it has lots of niggly extra “advanced” rules such as Morale or R&D which add little or nothing to play but do slow down the course of the game.

3) it’s out of print cry

4) it's not amazingly realistic, though the general course of the war is followed. But what do you expect from this size of game?



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Robert Carroll
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Nice overview. I have a soft spot for Hitler's War as it severely "dummies-down" Rise and Decline of the Third Reich while still staying more advanced than Axis & Allies. Besides, you can race for the BOMB!
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eryn roston
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It's not everyday you read the following:

"Hitler's war: cheep and cheerful"

"Good things about Hitler's war"




great review!
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Eric Smith
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I too have always admired this design - a Steve Jackson game originally, if memory serves.
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Dan Nunuyerbiznez
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Research is the FUN part of the game...

Actually, quite a nice game in all respects. Naval warfare could have been more well-thought-out - it could easily have been done similarly to the land war.

I always wanted to redo the pieces: a small 4-dice-holder with the colors determining what each die meant (e.g., a red 3 = 3 air power). Then the information moves around on the map.
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"L'état, c'est moi."
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ericleesmith wrote:
I too have always admired this design - a Steve Jackson game originally, if memory serves.


MetaGaming actually. Steve Jackson used to be part of the company though.
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Greg Costikyan
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Actually, Hitler's War is about my least favorite ETO game. Colorless, complicated without being strategically interesting, and rather tedious. A few months ago I pulled it out with the thought of playing it, read through the rules, and wondered to myself what I had ever seen in it. But it maybe that this particular gaming jones is adequately satisfied, at least for me, by digital games -- I wound up firing up Gary Grigsby's World at War instead.
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Tom H
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I used to play Hitler's War quite a bit and loved it. Haven't played in a long while but it was excellent fun and the R&D track was hilarious, as well as the arms races for advanced tanks, etc. I also liked the nerves involved in armoured advances.... just one more hex... oh and another... oh maybe another!!

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Ray Smith
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HW is my favorite grand strategic ETO wargame. A condensation of all the usual minutia of monster games into a manageable format. The research tracks permit each player to pursue their favorite strategies. By today's standards, it's appearance is very bland, but HW is a realistic and satisfying (not grinding) look at WW2.
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Chris Ferejohn
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You know who else liked Hitler's War?

Hitler.
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Malcolm
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cferejohn wrote:
You know who else liked Hitler's War?

Hitler.


Actually I get the feeling he enjoyed it at the begining but once it started to drag on a little long he began to tire of the whole thing. By the end he was sick to death of it...
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simon thornton
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Quote:
Cheap cheerful
... and Broken ! .

I enjoyed this when I had it. Once I even played two 3 player games back to back (both games lasted 6 hours !). Germany won them both.

Then one day I downloaded the "Hitlers war" computer game (available Freewarev online , no AI your supposed to play pbem or hotseat), played it through several times solo tried all sorts of variants but it didnt matter what I did , Germany always won.

Now I realise I ve fallen into the trap of playing myself and so may well be missing something. But still I couldnt see a way out so traded my copy away.

Its a pity because its choc full of interesting ideas and I enjoyed the feel of it but there you go.
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Sandy Petersen
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I assume they named the game "Hitler's War" after the book by A.J.P. Taylor, who is always an entertaining writer, if a rather adversarial type of writer.

I do agree that the naval war is almost absent. I never play with the advanced naval rules - they add little except complexity. The basic rules are enough to let me think about (but usually not carry out) an invasion of England as Germany, or carry out invasions of Europe as the Allies.

Actually one of the features of Hitler's War that I have not seen often reproduced in other WW2 games is the shortage of landing craft that afflicted the Allies - in this little "oversimple" game you actually have to worry about whether you've produced sufficient amphibious assets, and parcel out your invasions, as hisorically happened.

Obviously a game at this level of scale isn't going to include such all-essential aspects of WW2 such as the Slovakian Army Group or Hans Rudels Stuka feats, but it's far better than, frankly, it has any right to be.


For what it's worth, I've won plenty of times as the Allies so I'm not sure it's broken. I don't think it's because my opponents suck, because I've lost to them as the Axis as well. If you do find that it is pro-Axis for you, it's pretty easy to fix that - just drop Germany's basic production by a couple of points.
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simon thornton
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Im probbaly being too harsh calling it brokem I admit. WHen you did win as the allies how? Through military conquest or Destroying Germany's Morale or both ?
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Sandy Petersen
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I have always won as allies by either conquering Berlin, or by having the German player give up (the usual "real" winning technique in any wargame, let's face it).. I have not won by destroying Morale, though that does seem possible.

As with other WW2 games, if Germany wins, usually it wins in the first few years of the war, when it's impossible for the Allies to win.

I view this as a "flaw" in World War II as a war - first one side gets to win, then the other. Both sides don't get to have fun at the same time. What was Hitler thinking?
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Lawrence Davis
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Swastikas.....counters with swastikas.....

That's how old this game is....they sold it with swastika counters....

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Lawrence Davis
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DocD wrote:
Swastikas.....counters with swastikas.....

That's how old this game is....they sold it with swastika counters....

I can't believe I just purchased this game.....a game with Swastikas!!.....counters with swastikas.....!!

...I bought it with swastika counters!!!
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Robert Wesley
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DocD wrote:
DocD wrote:
Swastikas.....counters with swastikas.....

That's how old this game is....they sold it with swastika counters....

I can't believe I just purchased this game.....a game with Swastikas!!.....counters with swastikas.....!!

...I bought it with swastika counters!!!
So, WHY do you think that I created this instead? surprise



For THAT even! Charts
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Mmm is it a problem? I mean the Swastikas: it is History, like the Soviet Union Symbol. The 3rd Reich had Swastikas: so why not use them?
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Martin Gallo
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aledrugo1977 wrote:
Mmm is it a problem? I mean the Swastikas: it is History, like the Soviet Union Symbol. The 3rd Reich had Swastikas: so why not use them?
The German government is not fond of the symbol. I do believe it is illegal to sell products adorned with swastikas in Germany.
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Randall Shaw
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Good thing for me then that I don't allow the German government to have undue control on any facet of my gaming.

Come to think of it: I don't allow anyone to do that.
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