Charles Kibler is one of GMT’s premier graphics artists, as prospective map and Conflict Card art for the currently GMT P-500 listed Hitler’s Reich amply demonstrates via the below link. Charlie worked on many of GMT’s top designs, including my own Rebel Raiders on The High Seas, which, like Hitler’s Reich, was developed by Fred Schachter.
This spring, Charlie took my hand-drawn playtest map in hand and created a clean, clear, easy to play on map of the WWII European Theater that stretches from the blistering sands of the Sahara to the frozen waters of the White Sea and from the stormy reaches of the North Atlantic to the vast steppes of Central Russia. The prototype for this map is truly worthy of a mounted game board, which is what those who’ll play this quick, two-hour, two-person game of WW II will find in the box.
Unlike most WWII games – and most wargames for that matter – Hitler’s Reich does not use stacks of counters or piles of blocks with stickers to represent the great armies and mighty naval and air fleets engaged in this mighty struggle for the future of mankind.
While the ebb and flow of the front lines are marked by round wooden control markers, which occasionally share an area of the map with a fleet or fortification marker, also made of wood, the forces which actually battle for control are represented by several decks of cards. These include two decks of Conflict Cards (one Axis, one Allied) and three decks of Event Cards (one Axis, one Allied and one shared by both sides). Charlie gave gamers a peek at some of the Conflict Cards in the “Hitler’s Reich Gets Real” InsideGMT blog posting this spring, and since then he completed the initial design for the game’s Event Cards, as shown below.
Notice the fantastic progress of these Event Cards’ evolution, in both graphic and play test driven content perspectives, from a previous InsideGMT blog posting (Hitler’s Reich – The Event Decks: Broadening the Front in Hitler’s Reich)
Those text only cards served well for playtesting; but now, thanks to Charlie’s hard creative work by adding exciting relevant images, prospective gamers can get a look at the Event Cards which should accompany the finished game. All Fred and I could reply when Charlie first shared his handiwork with us was… “wow!”. We hope you agree.
The Allied Deck: From Ike and Patton to Enigma and Strategic Bombing
The Allied Event Deck has 23 cards. Some of these add to or modify the dice used to determine which side wins a battle, referred to as a conflict in Hitler’s Reich, for a piece of the map, while others effect conflict to gain or prevent an opponent from gaining Event Cards. Here can be found the game’s generals (Ike, Patton, Zhukov, Montgomery, Chuikov), weapons and tactics (Fleet Carriers, Artillery & Partisans, T-34s & Shermans, Mustangs, Fleet Carriers, Red Ball Express, Their Finest Hour) as well as events that strengthen the Allied economy – or batter that of the Axis (Convoy, Strategic Bombing).
There are also cards that can be played to trigger political events (Vichy Defects, Turncoats) which can change which side controls key parts of Europe, from unoccupied France and her colonies to the Axis minor powers of Finland and Romania. To make the most of all of these, and to take the war to the heart of Hitler’s Reich, there are of course the Higgins Boats, the landing craft that made Torch, Husky and Overlord possible. Then there is also that most secret and most vitally effective of devices, Enigma, which allowed the Allies to see what their opponents were doing.
The Axis Deck: From Rommel and Von Rundstedt to Jet Fighters and Wolfpacks
Just as the Allies have their great generals, so do the Axis have their famous combat leaders (Rommel, Von Rundstedt, Guderian, Von Manstein) among their (slightly) smaller deck of 21 cards. Here can be found the mighty Bismarck and the Wolfpacks that tightened the noose around Great Britain, the V-Rockets that pummeled London, as wellas the Stukas, Tigers and Waffen SS that swept across the vast open spaces of Russia and the Ukraine.
Just as the Allies have cards that can strengthen their economy, so do the Axis as Synthetic Fuel and Swedish Trade depict. With the Franco and Iraqi Revolts cards, the Axis can bring a new power into their camp or open a new front behind Allied lines. Albert Speer can buy the Axis a little time by influencing economic growth (the Allied player’s card hand size), if briefly, while with Landing Craft, the Axis too can strike across the seas – perhaps into London itself? Finally, no WW II game would be complete without some way to recreate the Battle of the Bulge or Kursk – as Desperate Gamble is intended to replicate.
The Shared Axis and Allied Deck: Eleven Cards to Stack the Deck
The third of the Event Decks is one that either player can access. These include cards that help improve their economies (War Production), strengthen their chances for battlefield victories (Air Supremacy, Reserves, Counterattack), outflank their opponents (Paratroops) or go for broke (Maximum Effort). A Master Spy who allows a player to see the opponent’s Conflict Card before choosing their own, Outfoxed, with Charlie’s inspired use of an image from one of Operation Overlord’s inflatable tanks of Patton’s “Ghost Army”, which forces your opponent to randomly select a Conflict Card from his hand, and Turkey Declares War!, which can bring that nation into the war on either side, round out this deck, one that if accessed smartly can determine the rise or fall of Hitler’s Reich.
Conclusion and an Opportunity to Play Hitler’s Reich at WBC 2016
Kindly reference InsideGMT’s other Hitler’s Reich material for further background into this P-500 listed game. This material will hopefully convey what an exciting, fun, unique, fast playing gaming experience Hitler’s Reich offers (and encourages you to place a P-500 order for it).
If you’re still on the fence placing an order for the game and planning to attend this summer’s WBC gaming convention; perhaps you could stop by one of the Hitler’s Reich demo/playtest sessions which are scheduled? My friend and game developer, Fred Schachter, will be there and he’d be happy to explain the game, teach you its rules/cards (which takes but a few minutes with an experienced gamer) and have you try a few card plays to get a sense of the game’s dynamics or play an entire game.
Heck, if you’ve already ordered Hitler’s Reich, please stop by at WBC and “say hey” to Fred; who’d like to show you the latest, wonderful Charlie Kibler map in full size and express our gratitude for your P-500 support of Hitler’s Reich: A Card Conquest System Game.