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Subject: [Roger's Reviews] No Retreat: The Deluxe Treatment rss

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No Retreat! The Russian Front
A game for 2 players designed by Carl Paradis


Introduction

No Retreat! The Russian Front is a result of the strategic partnership between GMT and Victory Point Games (VPG). No Retreat! was the best selling game for VPG with a proven sales record and GMT has licensed it and given it the full deluxe treatment including a mounted board. This edition includes everything from the original VPG edition as well as the scenarios and rules from the No Surrender! and Na Berlin! expansions. VPG has also published a third expansion, No Retreat! Solitaire that is fully compatible with this deluxe GMT version.

Components

GMT has of late been one of the top notch production companies, and the deluxe edition of No Retreat! The Russian Front is no exception. The mounted board is very easy on the eyes, the cards are of the top notch quality that GMT has become known for, and the counters for the game are the double thick style that has been used in the deluxe version of Twilight Struggle et. al.

However, I highly recommend that buyers of this game go to the GMT site and download the latest edition of the living rules and/or the FAQ. The rules as written have some ambiguities and contradictions that have all been fixed in the updated version on the web site.

One thing that can be confusing for new players of this game is that the back of the unit counters are frequently different from the front. For instance, the back of the Bryansk counter for the Russians has the Soviet 4th Tank on it. Also note that you can either use the counters with the tank silhouettes for the armored divisions or the ones with the NATO style symbols.



At the time this game went into final production, VPG had announced the solitaire expansion (No Retreat! Solitaire. It was too late to include it in the GMT edition, but the counters for the solitaire version are included here, and Carl Paradis has said that the other solitaire components and rules might be coming in a future edition of C3i.

The solitaire counters for the expansion are included in the deluxe edition of the game. This is a comparison image.

In the box is a note from VPG with a link to download a free print and play version of the solitaire expansion, or you can just buy it directly from VPG.

A bonus free download from VPG.


Rules and Game Play

No Retreat! The Russian Front is a strategic game about the Nazi invasion of the Russia, right from Barbarossa until the fall of Berlin. It uses cards to assist game play, but is not a card driven game. Turns are two months long and individual scenarios should run about an hour or so, while the entire campaign could conceivably be played in one evening. Six scenarios are included in the scenario booklet: Barbarossa; Fall Blau; Operation Saturn; Citadel; Operation Bagration; and Na Berlin!

Set up for the Citadel scenario.

The counter density is quite small with about 50 counters per side (total), including the duplicate armor ones so you can select between the silhouette and NATO symbol ones, which means each and every counter on the board has a lot of importance in terms of maintaining your strategic line. The game does this in two ways. One is the use of very sticky enemy zones of control; you must stop upon entering them and you cannot move from one EZOC into another one, so in order to progress you must eliminate or more likely force the enemy to retreat so that you can advance. In addition to your units, you also have a hand of cards which serve multiple purposes and even the cards that aren't strictly beneficial for you can be used for all manner of useful things - buying replacements, getting additional rail movements, recovering units, and the all important counterblows.

As you can see from the scenario set up above, there are about thirty counters on the board. This low counter density means that it's much more a game of grand strategic maneuvering. The kinds of encirclements you'll see in an operational game or even in a similar strategic scale game like EastFront II won't be possible here. Despite this, No Retreat! The Russian Front has everything one might expect from an eastern front game: supply rules, weather rules, and that overwhelming pressure to be successful now before it's too late, and that's a feeling one has whether or not you're the Germans or the Russians!

The Solitaire Version
Although the solitaire expansion is not included in this game, I do want to make some passing comment on it. The rules in the solitaire module will let you play one side until you get to a certain point, but then force you to switch sides, thus turning what was a near victory into a situation you must attempt to salvage. To quote the rules "When conducting the Opposing Side’s Player Turn, you should do so with fidelity; after all, the mess you make here you might soon be cleaning up after switching sides!"

Conclusions

The eastern front of World War II holds an endless fascination for wargamers. The vast catalogue of games on the subject speaks for itself. This may lead to an obvious question, which is, why should I buy this game?

It would be easy to dismiss this game as yet another Russian front game, with the Germans making an initial successful push, running out of logistics, and then face the arrival of winter and the Russian push back. However, as familiar as these elements are to all grognards who've invested hours trying their hand at Barbarossa et. al., this game is really refreshingly different. If you've played an eastern front game before, it's all going to be familiar going, but this one really hits all the right notes for me. Everything feels thematically integrated, the rules are clean and clear and don't get in the way, and the fun is all in the decision making.

The low counter density really emphasizes the importance of good decisions and there's one engaging element in the game that makes even that a challenge, which is the counterblow. After declaring your attacks, your opponent can expend cards to declare counterblows, which are in effect small advances to counter your assaults. They require that you attack those units (at slightly improved odds), but that can mean your carefully planned assault gets sidetracked and not necessarily in a nice way.

It's been ages since I've played a game with sticky zones of control, where gaps in my line can be protected by same, and had so much fun doing it. EastFront II, with its powerful logistical bent, remains my favorite grand strategic game on about the eastern front, but No Retreat! The Russian Front is one of the most enjoyable wargames I've played this year and will see a lot of table time.


Thank you for reading this latest installment of Roger's Reviews. I've been an avid board gamer all my life and a wargamer for over thirty years. I have a strong preference for well designed games that allow players to focus on trying to make good decisions.

Among my favorites I include Twilight Struggle, the Combat Commander Series, the Musket & Pike Battle Series, Julius Caesar, Maria, EastFront, Here I Stand, Napoleon's Triumph and Unhappy King Charles!

You can subscribe to my reviews at this geeklist: [Roger's Reviews] The Complete Collection and I also encourage you to purchase this very stylish microbadge: mb
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Wendell
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Part way thru my first game of this and I'm really enjoying it. Not sure the full campaign could really be played in an evening though. (Well I guess it depends how long your evening is!)
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"L'état, c'est moi."
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wifwendell wrote:
Part way thru my first game of this and I'm really enjoying it. Not sure the full campaign could really be played in an evening though. (Well I guess it depends how long your evening is!)
I suspect one evening would be wishful thinking. Still, a scenario from this plays a lot quicker than one scenario of EastFront II, which is why I have such a hard time getting it to the table.
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Thanks for the excellent review. A friend picked this up recently and now I'm more anxious to give it a try. Sounds like the eZOCs and cards make for some interesting decisions.

So as to the cards, can you play one per turn or as many as you like? How do they usually end up affecting a turn?
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The cards all have events on them, and they usually specify which phase they can be used in. Outside of using them as events, you can use them in any quantity you like. You do want to keep some in reserve to use on defense.

As for how they affect a turn, generally speaking there are no events that are singularly unbalanced or overpowering, but as with anything, timing is all important.
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leroy43 wrote:
The cards all have events on them, and they usually specify which phase they can be used in. Outside of using them as events, you can use them in any quantity you like. You do want to keep some in reserve to use on defense.

As for how they affect a turn, generally speaking there are no events that are singularly unbalanced or overpowering, but as with anything, timing is all important.

Just to add to Roger's explanation to Kurt's question - you need to discard cards to do things like bring on destroyed units, build up damaged units, and place "counter blow" markers (i.e., during the ENEMY'S combat phase, you designate YOUR UNITS that the ENEMY must attack). In those instances, the text on the cards is unimportant - you just have to have something to discard. And as Roger noted, there is no limit on using them, though many cards can only be used at certain points in the turn.

Also at the beginning of your turn, you discard any cards in excess of two, and then draw four (usually) additional cards.
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Also, contrary to other Card-Driven games, there is no cards that you must play as prerequisite to other cards; you don't have "one-use then remove from game" cards either. The cards stay in the deck for the game's duration (but in 1945, where you remove about a dozen cards and replace them by a new set).
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licinius wrote:
Also, contrary to other Card-Driven games, there is no cards that you must play as prerequisite to other cards; you don't have "one-use then remove from game" cards either. The cards stay in the deck for the game's duration (but in 1945, where you remove about a dozen cards and replace them by a new set).

I wouldn't actually call No Retreat! a card-driven game, since it is possible to move units and conduct attacks without using a single card. Card-assisted, perhaps!
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wifwendell wrote:
licinius wrote:
Also, contrary to other Card-Driven games, there is no cards that you must play as prerequisite to other cards; you don't have "one-use then remove from game" cards either. The cards stay in the deck for the game's duration (but in 1945, where you remove about a dozen cards and replace them by a new set).

I wouldn't actually call No Retreat! a card-driven game, since it is possible to move units and conduct attacks without using a single card. Card-assisted, perhaps!

Yes you are right.

In fact there is a way to play the game without the cards, and the first test "Proof of Concept" prototype I did in 2008 did not use cards at all.
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Roger,

when I read your reviews I wish I was Canadian.

The wargame scene there must be fr****ing cool. I'm sure.

Regards,

Piero
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Gorgoneion wrote:
Roger,

when I read your reviews I wish I was Canadian.

The wargame scene there must be fr****ing cool. I'm sure.

Regards,

Piero

I live in Canada, and in my part of the country there is just NO wargaming scene. Period.
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licinius wrote:
Gorgoneion wrote:
Roger,

when I read your reviews I wish I was Canadian.

The wargame scene there must be fr****ing cool. I'm sure.

Regards,

Piero

I live in Canada, and in my part of the country there is just NO wargaming scene. Period.

You could always join a Curling club then, or move
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zhodanicommando wrote:
You could always join a Curling club then, or move

Right. The nearest Curling club had their building transformed into an indoor swimming pool by the town last year for lack of club members!!! blush

BTW my girlfriend has been bugging me for years for us to move to Vancouver or Calgary, so you never know...
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licinius wrote:
Right. The nearest Curling club had their building transformed into an indoor swimming pool by the town last year for lack of club members!!! blush

BTW my girlfriend has been bugging me for years for us to move to Vancouver or Calgary, so you never know...

Hey from what I hear (I know some gamers there) and see on TV (not always to be trusted) it's supposed to be the happening place in Canada right now.

Oh, and see, had you joined that Curling Club it probably still be open
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licinius wrote:
BTW my girlfriend has been bugging me for years for us to move to Vancouver or Calgary, so you never know...
Come to Vancouver, you'll have a ready made gaming group waiting for you!
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leroy43 wrote:
licinius wrote:
BTW my girlfriend has been bugging me for years for us to move to Vancouver or Calgary, so you never know...
Come to Vancouver, you'll have a ready made gaming group waiting for you!

Jesus... Don't tell her that!!!
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licinius wrote:
Jesus... Don't tell her that!!!
laugh

How about there's a vibrant cultural scene, fantastic restaurants, nice people, pretty decent transit, mild winters, ...
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leroy43 wrote:
licinius wrote:
Jesus... Don't tell her that!!!
laugh

How about there's a vibrant cultural scene, fantastic restaurants, nice people, pretty decent transit, mild winters, ...

OK, OK, she knows that already, as she lived there for a few years already in the late 90's.

I kinda do too, as I worked in the U.S. Seattle-Bellevue area in 1998-2000 and visited Vancouver a few times while there.

It's just too bad that house prices are through the roof right now in that area of Canada.
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licinius wrote:
It's just too bad that house prices are through the roof right now in that area of Canada.
That, sadly, is very true. I couldn't afford my place if I had to buy it today!
 
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leroy43 wrote:
licinius wrote:
It's just too bad that house prices are through the roof right now in that area of Canada.
That, sadly, is very true. I couldn't afford my place if I had to buy it today!
Sell! You'll be able to afford to quit work, buy a huge wargaming complex somewhere in rural northern Canada, then complete the deal by hiring a lifetime opponent! cool
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FderGrosse wrote:
Sell! You'll be able to afford to quit work, buy a huge wargaming complex somewhere in rural northern Canada, then complete the deal by hiring a lifetime opponent! cool
What do you think my retirement plan is?

Just don't tell my wife. whistle
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leroy43 wrote:
FderGrosse wrote:
Sell! You'll be able to afford to quit work, buy a huge wargaming complex somewhere in rural northern Canada, then complete the deal by hiring a lifetime opponent! cool
What do you think my retirement plan is?

Just don't tell my wife. whistle
Ah - I was hoping she was safely enrolled in the local wargamification institute... Won't say a w.o.r.d. ninja
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Thanks Roger, great review. I've read a lot of positive posts on the game and yours was the nail in the coffin that convinced me to get this. I just ordered this on the GMT Fall Sale.
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boisse wrote:

Thanks Roger, great review. I've read a lot of positive posts on the game and yours was the nail in the coffin that convinced me to get this. I just ordered this on the GMT Fall Sale.
Let me know next time you're in Vancouver - we can get together for a game!
 
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leroy43 wrote:
boisse wrote:

Thanks Roger, great review. I've read a lot of positive posts on the game and yours was the nail in the coffin that convinced me to get this. I just ordered this on the GMT Fall Sale.
Let me know next time you're in Vancouver - we can get together for a game!

Roger, would you be willing to extend that offer to me?!
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