The following article is the 2nd volume of a two volume series (Volume 1 is here), written by VPJ Arponen, originally appearing on The Players’ Aid blog earlier this week. To make sure that all of our GMT customers get to see this excellent article, we’re including it here in InsideGMT as well, with the permission and agreement of our friends at The Player’s Aid. We hope you enjoy the article!
Introduction by Fred Schachter- Game Developer for Hitler’s Reich: A Card Conquest System Game (henceforth referred to as simply Hitler’s Reich) – Vesa “Vez” Arponen is one of those gamers who has talents of his of own, particularly when it comes to designing solitaire-playing “Bots” for GMT Games (most recently for A Distant Plain published in Nr30 of the C3i magazine and upcoming for Colonial Twilight).
Imagine Mark McLaughlin’s and my surprise and pleasure when Vez, a Finn residing in Germany as an educator, came to us to share how thrilled he was anticipating GMT’s publication of Hitler’s Reich and wondering if he and his local gaming buddies could help play test it. Not only that, he volunteered to create a “Bot” for the game. Off to Germany went what was needed for Vez to construct a play test version of the Hitler’s Reich game.
How Vez accomplished creating a “Bot” for Mark’s Card Conquest System design seems is akin to magic to Mark and myself, but did it he did, and Hitler’s Reich will uniquely join GMT’s game line-up being graced with two (2) Solitaire Versions for enjoying this quick playing and entertaining game: the original Solitaire Version previously announced within InsideGMT and now this new “Bot”-driven alternative.
The remainder of this article is Vez sharing an After Action Report (AAR) of one of his play test games of Hitler’s Reich using the “Bot”, which takes on the game’s Axis Side. Hopefully, this will enhance readers’ appreciation of the game and, if you’ve not yet done so, place a P-500 order for it? The exact rules and flowchart image are not here being provided; but what you’ll read is the effect of Vez’s clever work in getting his “Bot” to emulate the play of a live opponent.
This After Action Report article presumes the reader already has some familiarity with the game through perusing material now resident within its InsideGMT archive. It is hoped this piece will add to your appreciation of this exciting and fun to play P-500 listed game and, hopefully, encourage placing an order for the game if it encourages interest.
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.
Introduction: Game Developer Fred Schachter, recently returned from WBC 2016 and its demo/playtests of Hitler’s Reich: A Card Conquest System Game (hereafter referred to as simply Hitler’s Reich); advises the game was well-received… particularly as it featured the cool card and map graphics professionally created by Charles Kibler. It resulted in a bump of P-500 sales for which Fred and I are grateful.
Furthermore, Fred had opportunity to actually play the game with Charlie during WBC. A rare bit of fun for them both.
This article is follow-up to previous InsideGMT posts, particularly those which reference Hitler’s Reich Event cards. During WBC, between game play cards and dice flying, Fred was asked why certain Events are included while other possible ones are not. In the following piece, I endeavor to respond to that from a designer’s perspective.
Please reference other InsideGMT Hitler’s Reich material for additional information concerning this upcoming fun and exciting to play P-500 listed game.
The Basic Design Goal: WW2 in Europe for players in two hours
WW2 in Europe for two players in two hours: That is the basic goal behind the design of Hitler’s Reich. Yes, the game can go longer, but it usually doesn’t, unless one or more players enjoy fully deliberating each card play… and there’s nothing wrong with that since the overarching goal of this design is to have an enjoyable gaming experience.
Introduction: Readers may wish to reference other InsideGMT material regarding this fascinating upcoming P-500 listed game for background and explanation of game mechanics whose general appreciation is presumed by this post.
Finally, a long-awaited day has come… being able to play Hitler’s Reich: A Card Conquest System Game (Hitler’s Reich) with REAL components, using the map and cards created by artist Charles Kibler from my amateurish components used to date in many a Hitler’s Reich play test game. Along with these were GMT “wooden bits” similar to what could be provided with the published game.
Although there is still some prettying up of the game’s European Theater of Operations of World War II map to be done along with minor edits of the cards; the After Action Report (AAR) described by this InsideGMT post was this designer’s first playing of the game with their professionally rendered graphic components… the same components you could experience with Developer Fred Schachter at WBC 2016.
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.
Game Two: March 18, 2016 (58 Minutes to play)
Hitler’s Reich can be over very quickly. Most games average two hours or a little more…but a few take longer or, in the case of tonight’s contest with my friend Max, less than an hour.
Max elected to take the Allies tonight (his second time playing the game). As the Axis, I decided to go full blast to the West – and to ignore Russia, which the Axis can do in 1941 (as the Nazi-Soviet Pact is still in effect). Not going East means the Fascists can focus on just one front (or the FFF – Fascist Front Focus)…but if they fail (FFFF…for Fascists Front Focus Fail) then they can be very, very vulnerable, as the Soviets are right on their border, with no room for the Axis to sacrifice before the Red Army could be poised to assault their rich with Production Centers heartland.
As the Axis I opened with trying for Franco, and bringing Spain into the Axis Camp with an Event Card Conflict Action to make the British Gibraltar Production Center vulnerable (and no, I won’t make another FFFFF out of this, I promise: although Franco’s first name also begins with the letter F). I Failed. (yeah, again with the Fs, this is like Sesame Street, brought to you by the letter, well, you know). Then Failed again. Failed again. Fourth time, however, was the charm …but in the meantime Max had gotten a Convoy through (to increase his hand size from the starting 6 to now 7 cards) and had put a Fleet in the North Sea to protect that Allied Production Center, which abstractly represents the vital convoy routes which keep Britain a going concern, and he had picked up a few other Event Cards to bolster Allied prospects.
Once I got Franco and could place an Axis control disk on Spain, I went for the Waffen SS (or Panzer Tactics as it is also known) which gives an extra die in land combat. You can’t attack out of Spain the same turn you get it, which gave Max as the Allies a chance to beef up his defenses as he could see my next play …charge in with the panzers from Spain into Gibraltar (a Victory Center, one of six needed to win a knock out automatic game win in the West).
To counter this threat, Max went for “Vichy Defects”, a Political Event Card which puts a lot of control markers on the map, two of which are in the sea zones next to Gibraltar. This helps in the defense of Gibraltar. It was a good plan in theory, but the Waffen SS, led by Rommel, supported by Stukas and with a killer Conflict Card won the day for the Axis…but only by the slimmest of dice roll margins.
This conquest of Gibraltar, however, took ALL of 1941 to accomplish….or almost all. As the deck was nearly empty, which would signal the end of 1941, I decided to go for Russia after all – but not to conquer it, just to bleed Max’s Card Hand and gain a bit of breathing space for the inevitable Red Army offensive..
The Axis gets to call “Operation Barbarossa” anytime during 1941. If they do, that breaks the Nazi-Soviet Pact and brings Russia into the war on the Allied side. “Operation Barbarossa” does, however, give the Axis a special turn in which they are guaranteed FOUR attacks – one against each of the four Soviet territories that border the Axis eastern front. Normally you get one attack and, if successful, a second (and maybe extras with a Blitzkrieg, if you pay for them). “Operation Barbarossa” is four guaranteed attacks, and even if you lose three you still get the fourth.
By this late point in 1941 I had a pitiful hand of Conflict Cards, but this was a chance to burn four cheap cards and hopefully draw out four good ones from the Allied hand. It worked like a charm; yes, I lost all four battles, but it cost him some very good cards to do it. The year ended with him dropping a Fleet off Malta, in the Sicilian Sea, to protect it and threaten an invasion of Sicily.
That ended 1941. The Allied hand size goes up one each year to reflect the burgeoning economic assistance being provided by the USA, so he gained what he had lost from me taking Gibraltar, and we each drew some good Event cards in the year-end interphase – one of the Events I drew was Landing Craft, which allows an amphibious invasion.
As 1942 dawned, I decided to stick with the plan to go West. The Wolfpacks struck, knocking down the Allied hand. A fierce sea-saw conflict in the North Sea (in which the Bismarck was sunk twice…the card actually represents not just that big ship and her sister behemoth, Tirpitz, but the German main battle fleet). The third time, however, saw a successful Axis attach and the North Sea was mine.
I then went for the Paratroops Event and got them. This allows an attack across an intervening space such as the North Sea. I used them to attack Scotland with the dreaded Fallschirmjaegers (German for airborne troops). That attack, however, failed. Undeterred, I went direct for London with the Landing Craft Event supported by Rommel, Stukas and the Waffen SS. This concentration of powerful attack enhancing cards did the trick – even with Max getting the extra die for defending the capital. (It helped that I played the Outfoxed Event which made him play a random Conflict Card from his hand rather than the card of his choice). The loss of London cost him two cards from his hand…..cutting him down to three cards to my nine. The next turn I took Scotland as well, leaving him no land route back into London.
Max was now on the ropes, despite getting a Convoy through which increased his Card Hand Size by one. I now shifted the Axis focus to the Middle East, and got Iraq to revolt. That cost him another card and Production Center. I then attacked out of Syria (which ironically had joined the Axis through play of the Vichy Defects Event Max gained – as that card is a two-edged sword, but one that normally favors the Allies, as it protects Gibraltar, helps with Malta, and gives the Allies a foothold in North Africa).
The panzers rolled out of Syria into Palestine under Rommel and from there blitzed into Suez. In Hitler’s Reich, you can launch a Blitzkrieg Attack from a successful land assault, reusing that attack’s conflict enhancing Events, at a cost of minus one card to the attackers Hand. If successful, up to three Blitzkrieg attacks can be made from a single assault… which simulates the hard driving mechanized offensives which so characterized WWII in Europe.
That was another Production Center taken from the Western Allies. Unfortunately, here I got a little careless, and instead of blitzing again into Egypt, I stopped (as previously mentioned, blitzes cost cards from your hand and knock your hand size down).
Max played for and got Sherman tanks (the equivalent of the Waffen SS – an extra die in combat) and damn, retook Suez out of Egypt! I should have knocked out that offensive base which enabled the Suez attack.
He also sent Fleet Carriers (an excellent Naval Conflict Event) into the North Sea and knocked out my fleet there (but failed to regain control of the sea zone and its crucial Production Center).
It looked like the tide had turned – but I was not yet ready to give up the Axis Western gambit.
Back into Suez I roared with Rommel, the Waffen SS Panzers and Stukas – and then after that victory blitzed through to seize Egypt. Then I put a fleet in the Irish Sea, another Production Center abstractly representing the convoy routes back to the USA. He matched it with a fleet of his own, and then we went head to head, four dice to four dice, one card to one card for the Irish Sea. I won, and then won again to take it – and gained a Sudden Death Victory by taking all six Western Allied Production Centers (Irish Sea, North Sea, London, Gibraltar, Suez, and Iraq).
….all in 58 minutes.
Max played well. Going after and getting “Vichy Defects” to help defend Gibraltar was a good play, as was his attempts (some of which succeeded) to bring Convoys through, get Sherman tanks, bring Turkey into the war and recruit a good Russian defensive general. My play was hardly flawless, but it was solid, focused, and backed by good card draws and a little bit of luck (we went back and forth on the dice).
The FFFF doesn’t always work (actually, it doesn’t usually work) but when it does…
Introduction: If this is the first InsideGMT piece you’re reading regarding the Hitler’s Reich game, you’re urged to reference other material within this site for additional background regarding this exciting and fun forthcoming GMT offering.
What you have here (in two successive InsideGMT articles) are Designer Mark McLaughlin’s After Action Reports for two games of Hitler’s Reich with a new player during March 2016… one game resulting in an Allied victory and another in an Axis victory.
Game One: March 5, 2016 (2.5 hours to play)
Intrigued by the gorgeous new Charlie Kibler map-in-progress and sample card art for Hitler’s Reich which he saw on the GMT Blog and Consimworld; my friend Max decided the time had come to try this game. A veteran board wargamer, Max swiftly picked up on the system after I provided him a quick 10-minute overview, and then, without ever needing to look at the rules or a player aid card again, we got into a hard fought exciting game of Hitler’s Reich and finished that game in just under two and a half hours.
Hitler’s Reich just got real – a real artist, that is. Veteran GMT artist Charlie Kibler has taken his professional brush to designer Mark McLaughlin’s hand-drawn playtest map and cards. Although this is just his first pass and more work will be done to brighten it up and bring it to life, Kibler’s map is clean, crisp and clear. The designer, editor and playtesters are excited about seeing the game’s wooden pieces march and retreat across Charlie’s map’s nicely delineated borders and into the production centers and capitals control of which will determine whether Hitler’s Reich will rise or fall.