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Europe Engulfed

a brief review of GMT's recent block game of the ETO


by Lawrence Hung


Good gaming topic and concept, but the wooden pieces deter me from approaching it.  The final map just throws me back to those S&T years back then under 3W.  I am worried about the hype around all this game.  Even the streamlined version "Blockskreig" rules as it stands now is fairly complex and cannot be taught to kids under 2 hours.  


The game system covers operational and strategic movement, initial combat and special types of combats (e.g. amphibious landing assault or airborne attack) carried out by the use of special action points in a standard I-go-u-go fashion.  This makes the game long and dull as little and no interaction between Allied and Axis during other sides' phases.  Production is handled by WERP ("War Effort Resources Points"), something similar to Third Reich's BRP ("Building Resources Points") whereby players spend them to build up new units and purchase replacements.  



Naval action is completely left out in "Blockskreig" version but I doubt the full version can handle it completely afresh.  Victory in a campaign game can only be determined by the end of 1945 to see how long the Reich could survive.  At a strategic level game like this, it could have been much more tense if a year by year victory conditions could be phased in (like something in the Russian Campaign).  


Overall, a game which lacks colours and flavours.  It does not add motives for players to do things aggressively, other than repeating what we had known about the history.  The political considerations also scripted the game to a historical line where a nation cannot declare a war before a certain date.  The designer seems to throw in a mix of herbs from the games like Third Reich's ambition, Columbia's blocks, Axis and Allies' dice-rolling and area movement, TSR's Europe Aflame's scale flavour, and boiling them all over in one pot again.  The final taste is a rather disappointment from GMT recently, considered the rather well-received card driven series games.  Check out similar game from Neppa: European Theatre of Operations (no, it ain't from TSR or Decision Games) or the PC game "Hearts of Iron" for game on the similar scale and play.

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