The Many Paths to Victory or Defeat in GMT’s Hitler’s Reich

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Introduction: InsideGMT posts to date regarding Hitler’s Reich: A Card Conquest System Game (henceforth referred to simply as Hitler’s Reich) reference the game’s victory conditions in a somewhat disjointed basis, e.g. within context of an after-action-report, without providing an overview of players’ various potential “paths to victory” in a more cohesive manner.

This article hopefully remedies that as well as introduces the game’s various scenarios.  For more regarding this fun and exciting new GMT P-500 offered game, kindly reference the InsideGMT site for a host of related material.


WW II for two players in two hours.  This concept always was and still is the overriding design goal for the Hitler’s Reich game.   While there have been many articles on GMT’s website about how the game looks and plays, this article examines how a player creates – or takes down – Hitler’s Reich.

 Note a year of Hitler’s Reich play concludes when both sides reshuffle their respective Conflict Card draw decks… which can come sooner than expected since every Conflict Action resolution, whether to acquire or deny an Event Card or to battle over a Land or Sea Area requires Conflict Cards.

With but 27 Conflict Cards in each players’ deck, the year can draw to a sooner than desired close when “burning through” one’s Conflict Cards.  Hitler’s Reich is very much a game of resource management.  Reference InsideGMT’s extended example of play posts for Hitler’s Reich, albeit using the game’s original play-test art, to learn more of the game’s mechanics:  Part One is http://www.insidegmt.com/?p=1019.

With that aside taken care of, Hitler’s Reich Basic Introductory Game is the shortest as it covers only 1941 and 1942.  The Axis have to win a decisive Sudden Death victory or at least do better than their historical counterparts; if they do not, the Axis lose.

Allied Powers and Nazi Germany WWII Posters

Allied Powers and Nazi Germany WWII Posters

The Extended Basic Introductory Game adds a third year, and ends at the conclusion of 1943.  The Allies have to win a decisive victory, or at least do better than their historic counterparts or they lose.

The Standard Game adds two more potential years of play, and unless concluded by one side achieving a Sudden Death Victory, ends at the conclusion of 1945.  The Allies have to win by fully conquering the Axis or they lose.

A menu of Optional Rules in Hitler’s Reich  Playbook allow players to customize any of these three games by adding variants.  Each of these adds a little complexity to the game (but nothing veteran war gamers who read InsideGMT should encounter difficulty with).   These options offer players more choices to make during their turn or at select points in the game and may be used individually or in combination.  These also enhance the game’s historical flavor, yet still keep Hitler’s Reich a fast-paced, quick-playing contest rather than turning it into a lengthy detailed simulation.

In addition, there is a unique Overlord/Bagration Scenario: a two year contest which begins with 1944 and utilizes many Playbook listed Optional Rules.  This scenario opens with the Western Allies’ D-Day return to the continent and the Red Army’s massive Operation Bagration Eastern Front assaults.

A couple of Panzer IV tanks destroyed during Operation Bagration.

A couple of Panzer IV tanks destroyed during Operation Bagration.

It covers the last two years of the war and the Allies must either triumph by the conclusion of 1945 or yield the laurels victory to the Axis: who by surviving outperform their historical counterparts in terms of the game.

Five Roads to Early Victory 

Regardless of which game or scenario is chosen, there are five ways players can bring the game to an early conclusion.  Although some games may be contested right down to the final card play on the final turn, any Hitler’s Reich game can come to a Sudden Death Victory end should any of the following five conditions be met.  These five are:

  • Sudden Death Card Hand Size Victory
  • The Fall of Berlin
  • The Fall of London & Moscow
  • National Capitulation
  • Surrender

Sudden Death Card Victory

The relative power of the players is measured by the number of Conflict Cards they are allowed to hold in their hands.  This number is recorded by the Hand Size Track.  (As highlighted in the picture of the game board as shown below):

HR-map 17x22 hi-res

The track goes from 12 to 0, and is adjusted with the loss or recapture of Production Centers located on the map and through the play of Event Cards.  Players may positively influence their Hand Size through acquiring economic Events: e.g. Convoy for the Allies, Synthetic Fuel for the Axis, and War Production for both sides.  Winning one of these Events increases Hand Size by one.

A player must always have at least one card in hand.  If a player is ever out of cards, after completing any draw of cards they are entitled to, their opponent is immediately declared the game’s winner.

Example: if at any time a player has only one card in hand, and must discard that card or more for any reason – such as through an Event (e.g. Strategic Bombing or Wolfpack) or due to loss of a Production Center through enemy attack – that player is out of cards.  Their opponent has won. 

Example: if a player must discard more cards than they have in their hand, they are out of cards. Their opponent has won. 

The Fall of Berlin

If at the start of the Axis player’s turn, Berlin is in Allied Control, the Axis player must recapture Berlin by the end of that turn. If the Axis player fails to do so, the Allied player wins.

The Fall of London & Moscow

If at the start of the Allied player’s turn, London and Moscow are both in Axis Control, the Allied player must recapture at least one of them by the end of that turn. If the Allied player fails to do so, the Axis player wins.

These capitals, Berlin for the Axis, London and Moscow for the Allies, are highlighted with a large white star by the game map illustration below: (Note, each giant white star will not be present on the published mounted game map, but is shown for purposes of this illustration only)

HR-map 17x22 hi-res

National Capitulation (Conquest of Production Centers)

In addition to driving a player’s hand size to zero, or taking their capital(s), the Axis player can deliver a Sudden Death Victory knock-out blow by conquering ALL of the original Production Centers of either the Soviets or the Western Allies.  Similarly, the Allied player can also achieve this type of victory by conquering ALL six of the original Axis Production Centers.  These centers are highlighted on the illustration of the game board below:

HR-map 17x22 hi-res

These are the following types of victory by National Capitulation:

  • Soviet Capitulation

If at any time the Axis controls all six original Soviet Production Centers, the Soviet Union immediately capitulates and the game ends in an Axis Victory. There is no Allied counterattack opportunity.

  • Western Allied Capitulation

If at any time the Axis controls all six original Western Allied Production Centers, the Western Allies immediately capitulate and the game ends in an Axis Victory.  There is no Allied counterattack opportunity

  • Axis Capitulation

If at any time the Allied player controls all six original Axis Production Centers, the Axis capitulates and the game ends in an Allied Victory.  There is no Axis counterattack opportunity.

Surrender (The Writing is On the Wall)

In some games, not just Hitler’s Reich, one side is so far behind that to continue play is not only pointless, but also rather cruel.  In Hitler’s Reich, a player must surrender at the end of his turn if his opponent’s Maximum Hand Size is 12 and the player’s Hand Size is less than 4 (see this post’s Hand Size Track illustration which color highlights these numbers).  That player’s opponent is immediately declared the winner.

End of Standard Game Time Limit Victory (1945)

If a game is not brought to an end by one of the Sudden Death Early Victory conditions previously noted; it concludes when the Time Limit for that game is reached.   For the Standard Game (and the Overlord/Bagration Scenario), the outcome is adjudicated with a victor declared when 1945’s last Conflict Card is played.

Troops advance over the sea wall at Utah Beach during Operation Overlord.

Troops advance over the sea wall at Utah Beach during Operation Overlord.

Several 1945 alternatives are possible:

  • Axis Survival Victory

The Axis wins a Survival Victory, regardless of the players’ respective Card Hand sizes, by controlling Berlin and at least two of the other five original Axis Production Centers (Rome, Paris, Ruhr, Romania, Austria).

  • Axis Substantive Victory

The Axis wins a Substantive Victory if the Axis has an equal or larger Hand Size to the Allies, with control of Berlin and two or more of the other five original Axis Production Centers (Rome, Paris, Ruhr, Romania, Austria).  If the Hand Size criteria can’t be met, an Axis Survival Victory is awarded.

  • Allied Notional Victory

If the Axis fails to achieve a Substantive or Survival Victory, the Allied Player is declared game winner through a Notional Victory. (That means Berlin gets the dubious distinction of having the first warfare dropped Atomic Bomb detonated above it.)

Design Note: The design of Hitler’s Reich compels the Allies to make gains against Axis “At Start” territories in order to achieve victory.  With sufficient conquest of the Axis Empire, vast conquered tracts (e.g. in Russia) are rendered moot.

The exceptions to this need for Allied territorial conquest are the automatic game victory conditions of Sudden Death Card Victory and Surrender (The Writing is on the Wall).

End of Introductory Game Time Limit Victory (1942/1943)

The Introductory Games, Basic and Extended, can also be brought to a sudden conclusion by an Early Victory.   In these games it is more likely for the Axis to win in that manner than the Allies, whose full power is not realized until later in the war.    As noted in the introduction, however, these games also have Time Limits, at the end of which the game victor is adjudicated.

In the Basic Introductory Game, the Axis must perform better than their historical counterparts or they lose.  In the Extended Introductory Game, it is the Allies who must do better than their historic counterparts or they lose.  This is determined by the lead one player has over the other in terms of Hand Size and Production Centers.

Match Play

The two short Introductory games are especially suitable for Match Play, in which each game is played twice, with each player playing the Axis in one and the Allies in the other.  Whichever player does better in a two-game Basic or Extended Match is declared the winner.  There are tie-breakers should each player win a game each.  Details regarding this will need to be shared through another InsideGMT post.

It’s hoped what’s here shared has whetted your appetite for the game (and if you’ve already placed a P-500 order for it, thanks!).

Fred and I, with our play-testers, are still fine-tuning these scenarios and their victory conditions to provide as fun and entertaining a Hitler’s Reich gaming experience as possible… whichever “Path to Victory” is chosen.


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