About a year ago the Brigadista and I separately talked ourselves into buying John Prados Third Reich. Actually the Brigadista went whole hog and purchased Third Reich, the Third Reich Deluxe Map, Great Pacific War, the Third Reich/Great Pacific War Player's Guide, and (later) the Rumors of War supplement. Avalanche Press may have also sold him a used car and/or a bridge in Brooklyn. I was content with Third Reich and the Deluxe Map.
Third Reich, for those who don't know, is a strategic-level game of the Second World War in Europe. It was originally published by Avalon Hill in the 1970's. The Avalanche Press version evolved from the original Avalon Hill version, but the mechanics are very different. Boardgame Geek has an excellent overview of the game as well as some detailed reviews. (Be aware that the current version of the Third Reich rules is 3.0. Many of the reviews on Boardgame Geek reflect earlier versions of the rules, which frankly weren't very good. I plan to post a detailed review after our first complete game.)
Brigadista and I are in the midst of our first playing of the game. This is a long game and in our first session we managed to get through four turns in about four hours. I'm sure it will go faster as we become more familiar with the rules. I'm playing the Axis and Brigadista the Allies. Here's a report of our first session.
Turn 1 (Fall 1939)
Event: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (Each turn you draw a chit for a random political event. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact divided eastern Europe between Russia and Germany and guaranteed at least a year of peace between the two powers.)
Poltical Activity: None
Military Activity: Germany invades and overwhelms Poland. France launches a limited attack on Germany. Other powers build units from their force pool.
Turn 2 (Winter 1940)
Event: French Mass Strike (French Communists strike, causing significant damage to the French economy.)
Political Activity: Finland, angry with the loss of Karelia due to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, declares war on Russia.
Military Activity: Another French attack on Germany. German forces move west. Italians build up in Libya. Britain builds up.
Turn 3 (Spring 1940)
Event: Fuhrer Directive (This event represents Hitler's meddling in military affairs. The net impact was that the German offensive against France was totally disrupted for this turn.)
Political Activity: Germany declares war on Denmark.
Military Activity: Germany occupies Denmark and launches a costly attack on the Maginot Line. Another French limited attack on Germany. Britain and Italy build up in the desert. Russia launches costly (and completely unsuccessful) assaults on Finland.
Turn 4 (Summer 1940)
Event: Mussolini is Always Right! (Italy is forced to declare war on either Greece or Yugoslavia; Britain gets to choose which).
Political Activity: Germany declares war on Luxembourg. Italy declares war on Greece.
Military Activity: German armored forces launch a two echelon assault on France through Luxembourg. The initial echelon, with massive air support, seizes Sedan. The second echelon passes through the first and attacks and occupies Paris. France surrenders and Vichy is established. Italy moves forces from Libya to Albania to prepare for eventual Greek offensive. Italians terror bomb Athens. Russia launches another unsuccessful assault on Finland.
Notes: Germany intended to declare war on Norway, but completely forgot to do so during the Declarations of War phase!
The game has a unique sequence of play for military operations. Each country purchases chits for each offensive they wish to perform during the turn. The chits are then randomly drawn so that you don't know the sequence of actions. This is an interesting game mechanic with some advantages and disadvantages. You can choose headquarters offensives (units within four hexes of the selected headquarters may move and attack), naval actions, air actions, or attrition. Germany, Russia, and the US have the option to purchase a general offensive once per year that allows unlimited activity.
The German attack on France was accomplished by purchasing two headquarters offensives. The first headquarters activated an group of armored units for the assault on Sedan. The second headquarters activated a second group of armored units to pass through Sedan and attack Paris. Each unit may only activate once per turn.
End of Session
The first year of play ended with roughly historical results. Poland and France have fallen. An interesting twist is that the Low Countries are still neutral. Italy was on the verge of declaring war on Britain and attacking Egypt, but was completely disrupted by Mussolini's insistence on war with Greece.
Brigadista and I both liked the random political events. They threw some curveballs at us and made us change our plans on the fly. In this game, you can't count on everything going strictly according to your carefully made plans.
There are some interesting choices to be made in the Fall of 1940. Will Britain declare war on Italy to support the Greeks? Will Germany overrun the Low Countries? Did I mention that the BEF was stuck in France and needs to march to a port if they want to go home? Plus the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact expires! How's that for a cliffhanger?
Next game is Friday night, so look for another session report this weekend.