sean johnson
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As I was reading the rulebook for Panzer General: Russian Assault, I realized that this game exists because Petroglyph's roots are as a video game company. Russian Assault is very much a sequel to Panzer General: Allied Assault. While there are exceptions, board games do not get sequels. They get expansions and they get spinoffs. Video games get sequels, especially sequels like this. A typical video game sequel often tries to fix the common critiques made of the original, offer a more polished appearance, and packs more features into it. This is exactly the kind of sequel that Russian Assault is for Allied Assault.

Brief Game play Overview

If you are curious as to how this compares to Allied Assault, then skip this part. If you have never played either game and want to get an idea about how the game works, then this section is for you. Panzer General is very much a game, and not a simulation. If you are looking for a game that painstakingly capture the nuances of the fight for the tractor factory at Stalingrad, then this is not that game. The card based game play comes before any desire to simulate the subject matter, and it would not take much effort to transform this card game into something different (like afantasy game ). This game has multiple scenarios that have their own victory conditions. These scenarios indicate how the terrain tiles will be set up to make the board. Both players will put unit cards (as defined by the scenario) on the board to get things going. Despite being played on a modular board, this is very much a card game. Players will play action cards for special advantages and use their units to claim territory, in order to get more resources (called Prestige Points) so that they can play more cards.

Eventually, the opposing players will start fighting and the heart of the game lays in the combat. The quick version of the combat is the attacking player takes their attack value based on the target they are facing, the defending player takes their defense value, both players add appropriate modifiers, and the loser will lose some of their morale. In practice, this combat system can feel a little clunky. This is illustrated by the fact that game comes with a player aid that walks through the combat system and it is eighteen steps. If the defending unit survives, they get to counter attack so for each battle each of these eighteen steps have to be done twice.

There is a lot of strategy to this game, as players figure out the most effective ways to use their units and cards. For me this combat system works well, but it is not very streamlined and it will be a deterrent for some. Because, the combat system IS the game, how one feels about will really determine how they feel about this game.

Improvements over Allied Assault
As previously mentioned, this is a video game style sequel to Panzer General: Allied Assault, and in that light there are several improvements over the original and new features. The biggest tweak to the original is the limited ammunition of the ranged units. In Allied Assault, ranged units could give support in an unlimited number of battles which tended to be dominating. In Russian Assault, players get one ammo point per ranged unit (and factory) per turn. Each time a ranged unit lends support in a battle, an ammo point is used. Another addition to the combat is that it is now possible for combat to end quickly by overwhelming forces. If the attacking force is three times stronger or if the defensing force is two times stronger, after calculating the modified attack and defense values of units then it is possible for the losing unit to be instantly destroyed.. Flanking attacks are another addition, and these attacks allow a player to cancel the advantages of dig-in, by having adjacent friendly units on the flanks of the target. Another change is that the action cards are now all part of a common deck. This does streamline the game set up. As far as new features, Russian Assault does add small minis. These plastic pieces do not actually affect game play, but they do make it easier to tell at a glance what type of units are on the board and it looks nice. Russian Assault also has several more single player scenarios that Allied Assault

What Allied Assault Does Better


In just about every way, Russian Assault is an improvement. The only thing that Allied Assault has that Russian Assault does not is the ability to make custom scenarios. Allied Assault, with the separate decks, provided players with the ability to customize their own decks. While this might be possible in Russian Assault, it is not included in the rules like it was in Allied Assault.

Final Word
Panzer General is a really fun game. It takes CCG style combat and mixes it really well with a board game. Taking into account movement, terrain, and position on board adds an extra level of depth. While the combat in this game is not streamlined, I do think it works really well in the game. Even though the game does not accurately simulate battles, the WWII themes is very well represented by the cards. This game is recommended for people who like strategic card games or like conflict based games. As far as how this compares to Panzer General: Allied Assault, this is a true sequel and superior in just about every way. If some one is trying to decide between the two then this is the one to get. For people who already have Allied Assault, this game is worth getting but you will be asking yourself, why could this not be a $30 expansion instead of a $60 game. The answer is because Petroglyph is a video game company first, and this is how sequels to video games are done.
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Bob
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Thanks for the review Sean. I'm looking forward to getting this one to the table...

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Nils R.
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Thanks for the review, as an owner of Allied Assault I also would be very interested if you could retrofit the new rules of Russian Assault (Ammo, Flanking etc) to the previous game. Have you tried such a thing yet, or does it alter game balance too much?
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Doug Andrews
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Aliso Viejo
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SeanXor wrote:
Another change is that the action cards are now all part of a common deck. This does streamline the game set up.


Sounds like this means that you use all of the cards that come with the game in each game as oppossed to separating out specific cards as defined in each scenario.

Hmmmm... I haven't played Allied Assault for a while, I wonder if it would work doing this in that game?

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David Wessman
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Thanks for the comparative review! Please forgive me if I'm reading something into your tone, but you seem to be taking a swipe at Petroglyph's marketing strategy because they are primarily a video game company. This doesn't seem fair because both tabletop and video game companies employ the exact same strategies.

Video games do not just generate sequels. They may also have expansion packs, and (increasingly so nowawadays) they may have additional content in the form of downloads.

Board games also generate sequels. They're usually referred to as "series" and a popular example is Avalanche Games' Panzer Grenadier series (which also features numerous expansions and even, OMG, downloadable content.) The most recent games in the series are arguably more polished and have more "features."

More often than not it makes more sense to release a sequel than an expansion. Expansions typically require that you own the original, and this limits potential sales. Usually, only a small percentage of the people who bought the original game will buy an expansion. By contrast a sequel is a standalone product which can appeal to a larger audience.
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chicagopsych

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Hi Sean,

I know this is an old posting, but I'm trying to decide if I want to pick this game up at the super low prices I see for it. So my question: In your review, you seem to like the game, but in your blog you seem to dislike it. Can you please let me know why the inconsistency? Is it that over time you grew to dislike it? Was the review written after only a few plays? Thanks!
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sean johnson
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chicagopsych wrote:
Hi Sean,

I know this is an old posting, but I'm trying to decide if I want to pick this game up at the super low prices I see for it. So my question: In your review, you seem to like the game, but in your blog you seem to dislike it. Can you please let me know why the inconsistency? Is it that over time you grew to dislike it? Was the review written after only a few plays? Thanks!


This is a game that I really wanted to like more than I did. This review reflects many of the positives I saw in the game.

The issue that emerged after repeated plays is that the game is just too clunky. The set up is a pain and the combat system while unique and interesting becomes tedious far, far too quickly. Other games like Memoir '44, Frontline: D-Day , or Spearpoint 1943
give a better lite war game experience.

This game works much better as a digital game. It is available on xbox arcade for $5 or $10, and that is the much better way to play the game.
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chicagopsych

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Thanks for the reply! I appreciate the help with my game search.
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