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Simon Nicholls
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Our group has played this a few times now and I feel I have enough of a grip on it to give a review. So here it is ...


Days of Decision 3 (DoD3) is the most recent version of the political expansion to World in Flames – specifically designed to be compatible with WiF Final Edition (WiFFE) although it also a standalone game that does not require ownership of the World in Flames games itself. Because most people come to the game from WiFFE I have assumed a certain amount of knowledge of that game so apologies if you have not and some of the terms are confusing.

The game spans the period 1936 – 1946 and recreates the political and military manoeuvring of the eight major powers (MPs) of the period. These MPs are divided into three ideological groups - the Democrats (CW, USA, France and Nationalist China), the Communists (the USSR who also controls the Communist Chinese) and of course the good ol’ Fascists (Germany, Italy and Japan). It is therefore, unusually, a three person game at its heart but if combined with World in Flames, both the Democrat and Fascist ideologies really need a second player so five would probably be the ideal number. I don’t think there is enough to do as say, Nationalist China alone, to justify more players.

It is not a quick game to play even without adding the hex and counter aspect that comes with WiFFE as each two-month turn (as per WiFFE) can have a variable length depending on how many activities any MP gets to play. Each turn can easily take up to an hour to play even in the early game when there is little military activity going on and the game has 60 turns. You are not going to play this in an evening (which you could with DoD1 IIRC). The game only requires a moderate amount of space to set up – unless you are also playing with WiFFE in which case monster game is definitely the appropriate term.

The aim of the game is to gain control of certain objective cities around the world – these are the same as the objective hexes in WiFFE – by military or political means. This is achieved by both playing political options and manoeuvring your military forces. In the basic game, these military forces are abstractly portrayed by the use of Army and Navy points and there is a simplified combat system which awards territorial advances (known as offensives) if your attack is successful. If you get enough offensives into a territory you conquer it. If playing with World in Flames, the military affairs stage is the same as in WiFFE.

The central part of the game however, is the political affairs stage which is the first part of every turn. Firstly, each MP bids to play one or more Political Options. Bidding requires bid points (yes I appreciate that seems obvious) and having enough of these requires careful management. Whoever bids highest gets to play first and if you do not bid you cannot play an option. The order in which the MPs get to play is important: normally you want to play earlier so that you can, for example, get first pick of certain options that are available to everyone on a first come first served basis; but sometimes playing after another MP is what you want. Additionally, there is a bonus added to your bid based on where you came in the previous turn’s bidding so if you came first in the last turn you are more likely to win again.

The options are a mixture of economic, military and diplomatic decisions such as offering pacts, setting up economic agreements with minor countries, demanding territory and gearing up your industry. Each MP has a card with 9 options solely for their own use (Germany has a further 6 to reflect the fact they were the great driver of international affairs in the period) plus there are 20 International Options which anyone can select provided it has not already been played this turn. There are often prerequisites for playing an option and generally the Democrats have less freedom of action particularly with regard to declaring war where they need a causus belli.

Once you have chosen your option you have to pay for it. Money equals build points so playing too many options means you end up with no military forces (a free hint here – this is a bad plan). Each major power has a credit limit, so you can go into debt although some countries can borrow more than others. Because the game starts in 1936, all MP production multipliers are lower than in a 1939 WiFFE game so production is especially tight early on – in the first turn Germany produces a grand total of 6 build / money points and everyone else gets less.

Next up the effect on minor country opinion is tracked – certain countries will like what you are doing and some will not (most won’t care). For example, signing an economic agreement with Greece will be popular with Greece (no surprise there) but will be unpopular with Turkey. Turkey doesn’t like Greece and by extension doesn’t like anyone who does a deal with them. Sometimes the effects can seem slightly curious at first glance, but as a whole they make sense. Each option will have a positive or negative number related to the affected minor country and at this stage you place a numbered chit with the MP’s flag in the country on the DoD map (or the WiFFE map if you are combining the games).

After a few turns there can be a quite a number of chits in each minor country, but these in themselves don’t mean anything – the minor needs to be “activated” before they change anything (see below). This mechanism nicely models the way certain minor countries were more involved in the international diplomacy of the time. Some countries are affected strongly by many of the actions taken by the MPs – some don’t really react as often or as strongly to anything.

Then the US entry effect is of the option is calculated – the mechanism here varies significantly depending on whether you are playing with WiFFE and using the USE system inherent in that game. We do use this and although it was complicated to work out initially, it combines with DoD very well. The system uses the same basic idea as WiFFE. If the Fascists or Communist do aggressive things the US will not like it and this will make it more likely that they will be able to declare war on them. If the Democrats do aggressive things, their US entry will rise making it harder for the US to declare war on a Fascist or Communist.

The next step is to implement the actual option effects – occupying the Rhineland, holding an election (which is a requirement for the Democrats on a regular basis), gearing up your production, declaring war on Persia, allying with Hungary and so on. At present the MP option cards are out of date (ADG used the stock they had produced for DoD2 to save money) so it is important to refer to the latest rules to ensure the correct effects are carried out.

Finally, you get to choose a minor country to activate – which means moving them around the political display. The political affiliations of the minor countries (and Major Powers) are shown on the political display – a large hexagon of hexes on which the minor country markers are positioned and moved. Within this display are the three ideology areas - equidistant from each other and separated / surrounded by a neutral zone. Within the ideologies are three increasingly “committed” factions – for example the Democrat ideological zone has an outer faction of “Social Democrat” where France and China start, then the “Free Market” faction (the CW starts here) and then the inner sanctum of Democracy – “Capitalist” where the US starts. The MP markers can also move within their ideology (but not outside it unless playing an optional rule).

Some minor countries start in one of the three ideologies, or at least on their way there, but most start in the dead centre of the display (truly neutral). Your aim as a MP is to move them towards you so that you can progressively control their resources, factories and, if you get them under your own marker, their military. If under your marker you can align them in the same way you would in WiFFE – but only if you also have an alliance with them. Movement of a minor country marker is achieved by picking up all the numbered chits in that country on the map and totalling the positive or negative effect for each MP. You then move the minor country marker towards or away from each MP on the display – one MP at a time. The cost to move each hex varies depending on a number of factors but generally once you have a minor country within your ideology it is easier to bring it to (and keep it with) your Major Power. Because it generally costs two or three points to move a single hex you can usually “burn off” low numbers of points against you (or your ideological partners) or equally burn off points for opposing MPs.

Because there are so many variables at play in the political display, it seems impossible to do any more than short term planning on this aspect of the game and often other considerations will take a higher priority. This means that minor countries can often end up in unexpected positions (Fascist Sweden anyone?) but this usually comes at a cost (Democrat Spain for example).

Once you have finished this stage, you make a die roll to see if the political affairs stage ends. This becomes increasingly likely as more options are played but the randomness is just as delightful / infuriating as the end of action stage roll in WiFFE. If it doesn’t end, you carry on to the next MP and they repeat the sequence (unless you have bid for two or more options in which case you go again).

Once political affairs have finished, you move on to military affairs which, as noted above is either somewhat abstracted or, for the real deal, WiFFE in all its glory.

This review is much longer than I had planned so I’ll stop now. DoD3 is a complex game to get to grips with but is definitely worth it as it completely reinvigorates WiFFE and really does ensure that no game is ever the same. The complexity means that you just can’t execute that perfect plan and events are almost guaranteed to throw you off course. I love it.
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Sam H
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Thanks for an interesting review. I was surprised to see that this game didn't already have one, so have some as promised here.
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Jason Johns
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Good review. Thanks. I have a couple of comments...


nailsworthnobby wrote:
Our group has played this a few times now and I feel I have enough of a grip on it to give a review. So here it is ...

Days of Decision 3 (DoD3) is the most recent version of the


Didn't this come out in the late nineties!?! devil


Quote:
The game spans the period 1936 – 1946 and recreates the political and military manoeuvring of the eight major powers (MPs) of the period. These MPs are divided into three ideological groups - the Democrats (CW, USA, France and Nationalist China), the Communists (the USSR who also controls the Communist Chinese) and of course the good ol’ Fascists (Germany, Italy and Japan). It is therefore, unusually, a three person game at its heart but if combined with World in Flames, both the Democrat and Fascist ideologies really need a second player so five would probably be the ideal number. I don’t think there is enough to do as say, Nationalist China alone, to justify more players.


I haven't played in a decade or so and this was a combined DoD/WiF game, so we were using the Wif map. It may have even been DoDII. Take it for what it's worth. I agree about having not needing a stand-alone Chinese player. So, I think 5 is good, but I think 6 is still better! We had an independent Italian player. If you have a generous German, Italy can be fun.

In our game (ages ago), we also divided the Euro-zone in half. He covered the Med region and I did the North. Eventually that axis (hee hee) split to me covering North and West and him covering South and East. So, some of the units were split.

How did we do it? Well, at the beginning of the round we'd both discuss what we needed: X# of land moves or air rebased or naval moves and then we'd dole them out. Germany said" I need 4 Ge land moves this impulse to shuffle around". Italy said "I need 4 also". Then we'd do land or whatever. It was pretty cool.


Quote:
It is not a quick game to play even without adding the hex and counter aspect that comes with WiFFE as each two-month turn (as per WiFFE) can have a variable length depending on how many activities any MP gets to play. Each turn can easily take up to an hour to play even in the early game when there is little military activity going on and the game has 60 turns. You are not going to play this in an evening (which you could with DoD1 IIRC). The game only requires a moderate amount of space to set up – unless you are also playing with WiFFE in which case monster game is definitely the appropriate term.


I sure preferred it using the Wif boards. But our goal was to lead into a wif game. I think that this is the "best way" to play wif.

I do remember DoDI. It was maybe "better" in being that one or two night self-contained game.



Quote:
The central part of the game however, is the political affairs stage which is the first part of every turn. Firstly, each MP bids to play one or more Political Options. Bidding requires bid points (yes I appreciate that seems obvious) and having enough of these requires careful management. Whoever bids highest gets to play first and if you do not bid you cannot play an option. The order in which the MPs get to play is important: normally you want to play earlier so that you can, for example, get first pick of certain options that are available to everyone on a first come first served basis; but sometimes playing after another MP is what you want. Additionally, there is a bonus added to your bid based on where you came in the previous turn’s bidding so if you came first in the last turn you are more likely to win again.


This Political Phase is where the game really shines. The agony over bids, trying to time important events correctly, etc. So, placement is important, since the turn can end without you getting a chance to do anything! It is amazing how it accurately it models life too. The Demos have a hard time early one, but gain PE (political effectiveness?) as the Fascists do stuff.


Quote:
The options are a mixture of economic, military and diplomatic decisions such as offering pacts, setting up economic agreements with minor countries, demanding territory and gearing up your industry. Each MP has a card with 9 options solely for their own use (Germany has a further 6 to reflect the fact they were the great driver of international affairs in the period) plus there are 20 International Options which anyone can select provided it has not already been played this turn. There are often prerequisites for playing an option and generally the Democrats have less freedom of action particularly with regard to declaring war where they need a causus belli.


There are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many potential choices that a player. A few are ahistorical (if I remember correctly), but most are legitimate How many times have you thought, “Why the hell do I have to start at war with Poland” or whatever? Now you can try to fix that.


Quote:
Next up the effect on minor country opinion is tracked – certain countries will like what you are doing and some will not (most won’t care). For example, signing an economic agreement with Greece will be popular with Greece (no surprise there) but will be unpopular with Turkey. Turkey doesn’t like Greece and by extension doesn’t like anyone who does a deal with them. Sometimes the effects can seem slightly curious at first glance, but as a whole they make sense. Each option will have a positive or negative number related to the affected minor country and at this stage you place a numbered chit with the MP’s flag in the country on the DoD map (or the WiFFE map if you are combining the games).

After a few turns there can be a quite a number of chits in each minor country, but these in themselves don’t mean anything – the minor needs to be “activated” before they change anything (see below). This mechanism nicely models the way certain minor countries were more involved in the international diplomacy of the time. Some countries are affected strongly by many of the actions taken by the MPs – some don’t really react as often or as strongly to anything.

{snip}

Finally, you get to choose a minor country to activate – which means moving them around the political display. The political affiliations of the minor countries (and Major Powers) are shown on the political display – a large hexagon of hexes on which the minor country markers are positioned and moved. Within this display are the three ideology areas - equidistant from each other and separated / surrounded by a neutral zone. Within the ideologies are three increasingly “committed” factions – for example the Democrat ideological zone has an outer faction of “Social Democrat” where France and China start, then the “Free Market” faction (the CW starts here) and then the inner sanctum of Democracy – “Capitalist” where the US starts. The MP markers can also move within their ideology (but not outside it unless playing an optional rule).

Some minor countries start in one of the three ideologies, or at least on their way there, but most start in the dead centre of the display (truly neutral). Your aim as a MP is to move them towards you so that you can progressively control their resources, factories and, if you get them under your own marker, their military. If under your marker you can align them in the same way you would in WiFFE – but only if you also have an alliance with them. Movement of a minor country marker is achieved by picking up all the numbered chits in that country on the map and totalling the positive or negative effect for each MP. You then move the minor country marker towards or away from each MP on the display – one MP at a time. The cost to move each hex varies depending on a number of factors but generally once you have a minor country within your ideology it is easier to bring it to (and keep it with) your Major Power. Because it generally costs two or three points to move a single hex you can usually “burn off” low numbers of points against you (or your ideological partners) or equally burn off points for opposing MPs.


This minor interaction is also awesome. After picking your important minors, then you have to squabble over the rest. And this is all balanced by the other political actions that you have to do. So, do you activate a minor to hinder an opponent or one to help you? It can be a tough call.


Quote:
Because there are so many variables at play in the political display, it seems impossible to do any more than short term planning on this aspect of the game and often other considerations will take a higher priority. This means that minor countries can often end up in unexpected positions (Fascist Sweden anyone?) but this usually comes at a cost (Democrat Spain for example).


I disagree here. I definitely had a plan for my top three or four minors, then a second tier too. I was always trying to work those angles.

On particularly good/crappy combination was Communist controlling Denmark/either Norway or Sweden to allow access to the Baltic…ugly.

In one game we had a fascist Italy, Romania, Sweden and POLAND.* Couldn’t get Spain to save our lives though.

*This one was hard to arrange. Basically, they got moved towards the Fascists because the Coms didn’t think I could activate them. They moved and somehow got stacked in the German sphere. (I forget.) But I couldn’t activate them (if I remember correctly), they could only come into the war on my side by being DoWed and me coming into the war too. I was finishing up Spain and Gibraltar. He didn’t think I’d respond. I did activating the revolt in Ukraine too. Hee hee.


Quote:
Once you have finished this stage, you make a die roll to see if the political affairs stage ends. This becomes increasingly likely as more options are played but the randomness is just as delightful / infuriating as the end of action stage roll in WiFFE. If it doesn’t end, you carry on to the next MP and they repeat the sequence (unless you have bid for two or more options in which case you go again).


This can be really frustrating, when turn after turn you don’t get a chance to go. Gotta get that PE up.

I really like this game.
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Simon Nicholls
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Thanks for your well made points - and for reading the review.

Yes we did drag our feet a little with DoD III but in fact the first game of WiF we played was 5th edition combined with DoD I. It was during the Olympics in 1992.

If 6 players were available then an independent Italy would be good. We struggle to get four of us together however, so I think it may some time before this comes about.

Yep, PE = Political Effectiveness.

While I always plan to get a minor under my control, my opponents spend an equal amount of time trying to deny me. So I often look for slightly opportunistic activations to throw then off balance. But your point is correct - any grand strategy in DoD/WiFFE will involve snagging at least one minor (definitely if you are a European Fascist). A Japanese controlled Mexico is fun too.

Our next game is scheduled for three weeks time. Looking forward to it (and the beer and curry that go with it) already.
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Simon Nicholls
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sxmpxr wrote:
Thanks for an interesting review. I was surprised to see that this game didn't already have one, so have some as promised here.


Thanks very much for your comment - and the . Much appreciated.
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