Review of John Prados Third Reich (3rd edition rules)
The second world war in Europe. Stuka sirens wail. Panzer corps streak across the map. Peaceful nations are ground beneath the Nazi jackboot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZZ504TGDpE
Snow flutters down on starved men deployed in gutted buildings. A U-boat slips silently into the midst of the benighted convoy. Hoards of landing craft wallow through the surf onto a mined beach shuddering from the impact of 15” shells on strong-points overhead.
The game runs from 1939 to 1945. 3 month turns, 60 mile hexes, ground units are corps for everyone except armies for Russia. Detailed diplomacy, economic and political event systems. Combat is by buckets of dice. Supply is traced. Activation chits make turns interactive.
The map is quite pretty, colourfull mounted on board and stretches from the Atlantic ocean to the river Volga. It is crowded with hexes barely large enough for the counters. The boards have visible black edges. There is a misprint of the hex grid in Russia, The Hague shouldn't be an objective and Cairo is missing. The pictures are of the deluxe map which fixes all these problems I would like to see names on rivers, mountain ranges and the Pripet marshes.
Counters Silhouettes for tank, air and naval units, NATO symbol for infantry. Italian 3-3 infantry should flip to 1-3.
Suits 2, 3, 4 or 5 players as the contending alliances can be split into the 5 major powers. Germany and Italy vs Britain, France (+USA) and the USSR. Scenarios for each year. Can link with Great Pacific War. USA and USSR can fight on over the ruins till 1946. A 1938 scenario is mentioned but missing. The start line for 1944 has Kiev and Sevastopol on the wrong sides.
Troop types are infantry, cavalry, parachute, garrison and armour. Armour and cavalry can exploit move and attack. Armour has ZOCs which block retreat, supply and slow movement. Tactical air gets a combined arms bonus with armour. Naval unit types are surface, submarine, carrier and landing craft. Air units are either tactical or strategic. Only ground units vary in quality between nations.
Basic resource points (BRP) are received at the start of each year depending on the size of your population, conquests and level of industrialization. They can be lost to bombing cities and sinking merchant ships. BRP uses: buy new and repair destroyed/damaged units, bribe neutral countries, declare war, operate units and absorb combat losses. They can be transferred between nations. The country with the fewest BRP left carries out most phases first (a disadvantage). I have niggles with BRP listed in scenarios. Italy always misses 3 for Albania and Germany often 3 for Danzig and 43 for Italy and Vichy France in 1944.Britain ought to benefit from 3 for Italian East Africa from 1943.
Turn sequence: Production, Diplomacy, Sea zone placement, War declaration, Sea control and raid, Strategic redeploy, Operations, Supply, End.
Production buys new units from force pool and rebuilds reduced air and naval units and operation chits. The force pools are deliberately a little more generous than history to give you options. Surface and carriers take 3 seasons to build. Nations can fall into the trap of buying lots of planes, ships and armies leaving no BRP for diplomacy, operations and combat losses. Political chits and Russian weather also happen now. Political chits include: Guarantee peace between Russia and Germany for a year. When/if USA joins. Italy invents Jet engine. An historical minor entry chart and political chit list would speed up the first time you play the campaign game.
Diplomacy=bribe neutrals with BRP or territory. Likes and dislikes between countries are built in. Greece and Turkey are at daggers drawn and nobody trusts a bolshevik. Some minors like Belgium are committed neutrals and become involved only if invaded. My secret plan is for Mussolini to give Rhodes to Turkey, declare war on Greece, invade Cyprus and Syria to give to Turkey as well. The grateful Turks surely ally with Il Duce.
Sea zone placement leads to control of sea zones. Control allows naval interception, blocks supply lines, strategic redeployment and escorts against raiders but costs a few BRP. Britain crucially places after Germany (better signal intelligence). Surface, carrier and tactical air can only control their starting zone but subs range out to 4 zones. Units moved now can’t operate later.
Declaration of war costs BRP triggers counter declarations and influences neutrals. E.g. if France and Britain are allied and at war with Germany. Neutral Italy declares war on France (15BRP but gains 1 influence with Turkey). France declares war on Italy (free). Britain as France’s ally may opt to instantly declare war on Italy (probably will as Britain wants to combine with the French fleet in the Med). Italy declares on Britain (free) and allies with Germany. Any future declarations will cost each axis BRP, funds can be transferred between them, HQ and general offensives activate both and Germany might get plans for SAC .
Sea control has three rounds of sea combat then survivors attack raiders before they cause BRP loss. TAC is queen in sea control, Subs are cheap and choose their target but don't count. Controlling a sea zone blocks supply and strategic redeployment by ships, slightly reduces the effect of raiding and allows interception of amphibious assaults.
Strategic redeployment moves any unit almost any distance across the map. It requires surface or landing craft to go over sea. BRP transfer between allies happens now and uses up an SR. The US has the most, able to shift 9 units. The unit can’t end in the front line nor activate.
Operations are the meat of the turn, this is when the panzers roll. Chits bought in production are pulled in random order. General offensives allow all units to move and exploitation after landings., all types of attack and armour to exploit (15BRP). HQ chits activate ground and air units within 4 hexes of that HQ and armour to exploit. 1 paratroop can drop (5BRP). Naval chits allow carrier strikes, sea transport and invasions (5BRP). Invasions are possible in most coastal hexes but easier in beaches. Air chits allow strategic bombing and straffing air fields. Attrition chits are the poor man’s option, they activate ground units within 3 hexes of where they’re placed and 1 air unit, only 1 attack and no exploitation (2BRP). A hangover from the old version is attacking a long line of units in one go. All units are stronger in defence than attack.
Supply. Unsupplied air and ground units are reduced. Damaged supplied ground units can be repaired. Unsupplied ground units are fragile in battle. Tracing supply more than 5 hexes through enemy controlled territory is allowed which seems odd.
End. Countries surrender. For major powers there is a die roll once some cities are occupied. Minors mostly give up when their capital falls. Some minors will swap sides. For Russia every objective city must be captured.
Victory. Judged on possession of the 42 objective cities in 1945. Italy can sneak a victory with Corfu and starting territory. Unhistorical de-facto alliances can carve up the map between the western allies and Germany legally. The weight of expectation and distrust stop this in practice.
Switzerland can be invaded which is not allowed in many games. The gnomes of Zurich are an easy target for Germany despite the mountains and having to capture Bern and Zurich to collapse her. When she does collapse everyone except the communists loses 10% of their BRP income which deters aggression. I think this overeggs the importance of Swiss banks but it’s a nice twist.
Pre-game political chit. This changes the war state. 60% probability for Molotov-Ribbentrop gives Germany a year to conquer Poland then France without interference from the USSR at the price of Karelia, the Baltic states, eastern Poland and Bessarabia. This was the historical chit. No event means Germany could be fighting Poland, France, Britain and Russia all at the same time at Stalin’s pleasure 20%. Why Die for Danzig lets Germany take out France in fall 1939 as Poland starts neutral 20%. But it could all change again by winter.
Buy all tactical air, armour, landing craft and subs. Garrison capitals, beaches and objective cities. Combine air with armour. Secure your own supply. Save some BRP for battle losses and operation chits. Raiding and strategic bombing are only worthwhile to try to draw off defenders unless you have masses of attackers. Surface aren't worth it.
On the attack I count the number of hits I need to force the defenders to retreat and try to have at least enough attackers to get this number with average rolling. I will attack at lower odds if that is all I can manage but I won’t attack at poor odds as I figure I’m increasing the damage I take. I will attack at slightly higher odds knowing I will probably get some wasted hits, I will over kill for vital hexes like capitals. Short line offensives are good if a weak unit partially masks a stronger one. They are even worthwhile when you probably won't flip an enemy with the strength you can bring against 1 hex though your own losses will be greater.
In exploitation don’t get carried away against major powers which aren’t on the verge of collapse. Exploitation move should place units out of supply. Exploitation attacks should kill off these unsupplied units as they might be resupplied before the end phase. Be wary of exploiting as far as you can. This often leads to your armour being caught out of supply by the counterattack. It's a bit safer if you have the last offensive on that front.
When a major country is defending I want to double stack the front, an armour every second hex with a single stacked second line. In Russia once the line falls apart I double stack objective cities and leave the flanks hanging. Minor countries often have to spread out just to force the panzers to fight in exploitation. Attrition chits give me a cheap extra chance of reforming my line after the enemy breaks in.
Defending a coast I have weak naval units in ports backed by TAC. Non-port beaches held with 2 infantry units. Armour + HQ for immediate counterattack.
We used paper and pencil to record BRP and diplomacy to save table space.
Hitler should take out Poland then France then must choose between Britain and Russia. Germany can’t afford the ships to fight Britain and the ground troops for Russia. I prefer Russia. Britain is stuck behind the channel without a general offensive but Stalin has a long border and will be exploiting into Konigsberg the same turn he declares war.
He should pick up minor allies with diplomacy. It is not completely necessary to tackle Norway and Denmark. They stretch Britain, provide BRP, protect winter iron ore shipments and threaten lend lease to Russia. They are extra coastline to defend and a modest diversion of effort. Belgium and Holland widen the front against France and provide BRP. If Italy allies early she also extends the front against France. Getting Spain as an ally helps against Britain and France. Keep some units facing the Balkans as diplomacy and political events will throw up surprises for you to crush. Italy should defend Italian beaches, Rome, Sicily and North Africa. With Rommel’s assistance she should threaten Egypt.
Invading Britain is possible, Italy’s air and naval forces can help directly or draw off the British. You can keep units supplied after the first season only with sea control of the North Sea or western approaches. That needs tactical air and surface fleet based on the coast of that sea zone.
Barbarossa could start as soon as France falls. It needs lots of ground troops, allies can provide some of them. You have to take every objective city. That’s Leningrad, Moscow, Riga, Smolensk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Sevastopol, Stalingrad, Maikop and Grozny. Getting Turkey as an ally helps. Threaten beach landings. Tie up the western allies with your TAC.
Make Poland’s fall difficult, strongest double stack in Warsaw and surround with the weak units. Support France with 6 British corps and 2 air units near the Channel. Pull GHQ from the western desert to Dover. Draw BRP from Belgium and Holland to stop Germany getting half. Threaten Italy with LC to keep her out of the war till after France falls. Burn off French BRP and navy on the presumption she will surrender. Have infantry ready to SR to minors who get invaded. Get France, Russia and Britain to war with Germany ASAP. Spend on diplomacy, gang up with France and Soviet if your opponent makes a play for Spain and Turkey.
Once the US joins you can watch those fascists squirm. Dismiss their appeals for mercy as you transform into an unstoppable juggernaut.
Session reportFall 1939
No event was drawn. Russia declared on Germany after the USA promised to subsidise the BRP cost. Russia built her SAC and missed the BRP later. Italy declared on Turkey, Yugoslavia and Russia gaining Spain as an ally. Germany bought all her TAC and ARM and declared on Denmark and Norway but failed to control the Baltic. Turkey, Yugoslavia and Spain are not yet fully set up.
Strategic redeployment: France INF to the Spanish border and Copenhagen. Britain INF to Gibraltar and Oslo leaving the Norfolk beach open, GAR to Cyprus and Palestine. Russia from Finland to Poland but did not double up with the Poles as much as she could. Italy moved a unit of the beach South of Naples. The Copenhagen and Oslo moves would be impossible if Germany had even one Surf on sea control in the Baltic. The USA supports Britain, France and the USSR.
Operations: Britain made an unopposed amphibious assault Salerno beach in Italy and advanced one hex to Taranto. Germany has a general offensive and takes Warsaw but is repelled from Denmark losing a paratrooper. I watched the German player eyeing up an invasion of Norfolk but he shied away and landed at Bergen instead, the exploitation bounced off Oslo. Invading Britain is a very long shot before the fall of France unless London is open. Germany was out of BRP from combat losses. French HQ offensive shifted an ARM and CAV to Barcelona without combat. Russian West offensive killed an exposed panzer and damaged one in Warsaw. Italian Africa offensive advanced to the outskirts of Belgrade. Italian attrition is used to form a line between Naples and Rome. Italian Naval offensive attempts an opposed landing at Alexandria but he forgot to bring INF, any way he would probably have bounced off the INF and TAC there. Polish last hurrah failed to retake Warsaw. Spain’s attrition stalled at the French border.
End: Poland surrenders giving Germany 10 BRP and leaving a Russian ARM and GAR cut off. Italy passed the 1/36 surrender roll. British and French fleets base in Oslo to contest the Baltic.
Production: USSR, Italy and Germany are low on BRP. Britain builds 1 INF and 1 ARM. France has already emptied her force-pool. Spain builds an extra TAC and 2 INF. Mass strikes hit French BRP.
Diplomacy: Greece allies with Italy. Britain improves with Turkey.
Sea control was skipped. Britain should have blockaded Bergen.
Strategic redeployment: France reinforces Copenhagen and sent a TAC to Spain. Britain reinforces Salerno and Oslo. USA lent to France, Britain and USSR. Germany was so strapped for cash she took 2 BRP from Slovakia. Italy stripped Sicily and sent them to Libya.
Operations: Russian General offensive mauled the German line killing one panzer out of supply and catching the Luftwaffe on the ground in Konigsberg. British HQ offensive took Messina and Naples. British Naval landed unopposed at Syracuse. Italian attrition took Belgrade. German West offensive bags 3 Russian ARM and a GAR out of supply and runs the Russian air force out of Konigsberg. German attrition bounces off Copenhagen. French GHQ captures 2 INF in Valencia, catches the Spanish air force on the ground and exploits to Corunna. Yugoslavia catches Italian planes on the ground in Zara. Spain repelled at Corunna.
We started at 7:15pm called a halt at 2am.There were several rule errors, tactical mistakes and silly omissions but it was very enjoyable.
The battle in Poland swung back and forth, teetering on a knife edge though in the end the Germans had the upper hand here. Come 1940 Russia could rebuild. France was thin on the ground behind Benelux. A speedy conquest of Spain might release troops to bolster the Franco-German border.
Italy’s surrender roll looked to be getting harder and she would probably give up eventually.She had no German units so British should ba able to take Rome. At least Italy was rich from the conquest and allies. Germany had an army out on a limb in Norway and was stalemated in Denmark. She needed to send more troops east to match the Russian rebuild and to strike hard through Benelux.
Overall it looked good for the allies. Italy and Germany cannot beat Britain, France and Russia at the same time. Russia’s declaration of war on Germany was the decisive moment.
Pros: Takes less time than European Theatre of Operations, World in Flames and Krieg because of the seasonal rather than monthly/bi-monthly turns. Trading territory for influence is a nice extra detail. Political chits and diplomacy makes the game veer off history several times in an average game (some might count this a con). Planning is needed because of the lag between buying chits and the operations phase and to make BRP last the year. Risky behaviour like leaving open flanks in a dash for an objective city has a chance of collapsing a major power. Amphibious assaults and panzer exploitation make dramatic changes within each turn.
Cons: Less detailed air and naval war than ETO and World in Flames. Playing time 30 hours for the campaign. Murmansk is just off the North edge of the map. There is no end phase movement for troops not attacking, so you must buy an attrition offensive or use up strategic redployment to set a defensive line in your own territory.
Faults: The starting surface naval forces seem to be wrong. Italy is stronger than France and Russia stronger than Germany. Armour ZOCs extend into fortresses and across straits. (History buff spotted this 1st)
Overall I like the game but ETO is still my favourite. My gaming buddies prefer JPTR because the map is pretty, the playing time is short and they are familiar with it.
- Last edited Sun Mar 4, 2012 11:42 am (Total Number of Edits: 14)
- Posted Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:12 am
Looks like there's some good information in here, but it's hard to read. I suggest you spend a couple of minutes separating the text into more paragraphs and/or bullet points, to aid in reading.
As for the game, have you also played the original 3R from Avalon Hill (either regular (1st through 4th editions) or Advanced? If so, how does the Prado version compare in terms of ease of play, time to play, and overall enjoyment to any of these Avalon Hill versions?
EDIT: Thanks, that looks 100% better! Nice overview of the game, which is one I've given some thought to picking up.
- Last edited Sun Aug 29, 2010 7:47 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:08 pm
In re the starting surface naval forces, the USSR did have a relatively powerful surface fleet, certainly more powerful than the German in 1939. They also had more submarines than Germany--in 1941, prior to the invasion of Russia, the German Navy was ordered to begin sinking Red Fleet submarines in the Baltic, with any reported incidents justified as erroneous attacks against what were presumed to have been British submarines.
France versus Italy in naval strength is a little more difficult to gauge, since some of the French fleet would be offboard in colonial ports. And both sides were still outfitting battleships at the start of the war (as were Germany and Britain). Historically the French navy spent most of the war inport--if the war goes extremely ahistorically and France stays around for a long while, I think it is an acceptable compromise to presume some of those British surface forces are partly made of French ships (e.g., the ships historically based at Alexandria which were immobilized at the demands of the British after the fall of France).
I still think the german surface fleet was stronger than the russian in 1939.
The soviets had 3 battleships (Marat, Paris Commune and October revolution) built in 1911-14 for the Tsar to british design. The Kreigsmarine had 2 battleships (Scharnhorst and Gneisenau) and 3 pocket battleships (Lutzow, Scheer and Graf Spee) all launched in the 1930s.
I thought twice about including the pocket battle ships but they were unlikely to be badly damaged by russian heavy cruisers which had 7.1" guns so I count them as capital ships. I know the Graf Spee was crippled by cruisers. The damage was to her fuel purifier that was unprotected. It left her with 12 hours fuel. Plenty for the Baltic but not the South Atlantic. Their weight is dubious, probably still an underestimate.
Weight (t) Marat 24,800, Scharnhorst 32,100, Lutzow 12,100?
Thickest armour (") Marat 10, Scharnhorst 13.7, Lutzow 8
Speed (kt) Marat 24 , Scharnhorst 33, Lutzow 28
Guns x calibre Marat 12x12", Scharnhorst 9x11, Lutzow 6x11
Rangefinder accuracy Marat optical 250m, Scharnhorst+ Lutzow radar 50m
Shell(lb) Marat 1038, Scharnhorst+Lutzow 727
Muzzle velocity(m/s) Marat 762, Scharnhorst+Lutzow 890
Rate of fire (rnd/m) Marat 1.7 Scharnhorst+Lutzow 3.5
Number of guns 30:36 and weight of shell favours the russians. These are partially balanced by higher muzzle velocity and improved penetrator steel.
The general rule I use for armour penetration is you need a gun of a calibre as thick as the armour. The russian 12" guns would struggle to damage vital areas on the Scharnhorst class. Their armour was especially hardened and well sloped out to medium range. The Lutzow class in contrast would be easy meat. German 11" guns could penetrate the old fashioned armour on the russian battleships fairly easily. Overall the Germans are better protected.
Higher speed and the ability of radar to locate the enemy at night or over the horizon let the germans choose when to fight. Rate of fire and more accurate rangefinders are decisive advantages for the germans once battle is joined.
Stalin kept his 2 battleships in the Baltic in port. This might have been from fear of the Luftwaffe, Bismark and Tirpitz which appeared later. The other battleship was in the black sea. Northern and Pacific fleets had nothing larger than a cruiser.
In a stand up fight to the finish the germans should win but probably lose one or two of the pocket battleships. Given all this I rate the german surface fleet in 1939 at 1.3 times stronger than the russians. Yet the game gives russia 18 surf vs 9 for germany. I would give Russia a 6 in the Baltic and 3 in the Black sea. Germany should be raised to 12 surf.
Italy had 4 battleships versus 5 for France at the start of the war. 2 of the French ships and all the Italians were modern so I rate them equal. The game gives Italy 36 surf and France 27. I would give them both 18.
Britain had 15 capital ships all with 14-16" guns though they were WW1 vintage and gets 54 surf. I leave her as was. Even after France falls Brittania rules the waves.
(Warning generalization. Does not apply within range of TAC)
- Last edited Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:48 pm (Total Number of Edits: 6)
- Posted Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:45 pm
There is so much more to this issue than the number of capital ships. Doctrine and preparedness alone call for the Soviets to keep their navy close to their ports.
JP3R tries to leave most of this kind of thing to the vagaries of the economic system. Correspondingly, both Germany and Russia should have to invest heavily in their navies (at their peril) to have anything viable on the seas. More so the Russian. The Germans had some good ships as well as some good naval doctrine, but like most games at this scale, JP3R does not handle asymmetrical naval warfare very well.
The chit draw system allows a bit more variation but unfortunately the designer chose to use naval boxes instead of continuing with their open system. Done properly, some of the interesting asymmetrical naval situations could be played out and would become at least an interesting sideshow in the game.
- Last edited Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:33 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:32 am