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The critics raved about Krieg!...
"Krieg! is a game where the complexity lies in the play of the game rather than the learning of the game. The components are excellent and the rules are complete." --Paper Wars magazine
"Krieg!'s greatest merit is that it really does simulate World War II on the military, diplomatic, and economic levels but is, at the same time, highly accessible and playable on your kitchen table in a weekend. Buy Krieg! if you've never played a World War II strategic game. Buy it if you've played any of the others and want to see an entirely novel and elegant treatment of the war in all aspects. Buy Krieg! if you want a World War II game that will replay differently every time you set it up and challenge you to see war as more than just combat factor bean counting." --Bergs Review of Games
"It is hard to point at a single mechanic that makes Krieg! so outstanding. This is definitely a case of the sum being greater than the parts! To fully appreciate its nuance and variety, Krieg! must be played repeatedly. That's exactly what our group did. We've pushed around a lot of cardboard over the years, but for the first time in a long time we found a game that each of us just had to own. Krieg! has made wargaming fun around here again..." --Zone of Control magazine as it appeared in The General
...but we wanted to give you more:
Totaler Krieg! (Total War!)
Now the "good time, rock n roll panzer pushing" board game of the 90s has been tuned to vroom for the 21st century. While the classic core game systems remain pure and playable, weve added more of what you wanted. More Option cards, more variations, more game pieces, more scenarios (including several one-map and tournament scenarios), more optional rules, more examples, a comprehensive rules index, improved graphics, extensive players and designers notes, and weve added something really special....
Included inside is the complete Dice of Decision module, a Random Campaign Game generator that gets you rolling through 25 years of European history in a mere matter of minutes to create an almost unlimited number of alternate "What if?" World War 2 starting situations. What if Germany or Russia triumphed in WW1? What if a German Democracy started WW2? What if France or Italy (or even Germany) were communist countries? What if there was no Russian Civil War? Or Red Army purges? Or if the Western Allies were ready to fight? Or if Germany was prepared for a long war? Its all here, plus a whole lot more!
Totaler Krieg! is a 2nd edition redesign that extends the boundaries of Steve Kosakowskis classic Krieg! game and takes players one step further. With complete online support (featuring players House Rules, a Pacific Module, and several articles - all for free), co-designer/developer Alan Emrich promises you that "Owning Totaler Krieg! is as close as it gets to being set for life in gaming." Enjoy a proven winner. Enjoy Totaler Krieg!
Number of players: 1 to 4. Totaler Krieg! is a pretty good game to play solitaire because the turn structure is procedure-oriented and it is easy to "change hats" and play all sides. Because it is a three-faction game, it is great with three players. When four play, there are two Axis players and fascinating rules for how they have to share their authority over the war effort.
Solitaire Suitability: High
Complexity: Medium (for a wargame)
Age range: 12 and up, but you should have some experience with board wargames before leaping into Totaler Krieg!
Time to play: 3-4 hours for scenarios; a full campaign from the start of WWII to the bitter end is about 36 hours.
Totaler Krieg! was designed for anyone who has some experience with wargaming under their belt. It's just a notch above The Russian Campaign in complexity.
560 mounted, die cut, back-printed, full color counters
153 large Option-size cards
10 assorted Player Aid sheets
2 forty-eight page booklets (one Rules booklet including Optional rules, House rules, and a complete index and one Scenarios/Examples/Notes booklet including the complete "Dice of Decision" module)
2 two-sided 34" x 22" maps (one Historical WW2 side and one Alternate History side including Czechoslovakia, Austria, the Ukraine, etc.)
This is a must for all wargamers and even some of you who aren't. The rules are simpler than most grand strategic wargames I have played, and very streamline. Even if you mess up a rule or two, the game will not break down. It is also perfectly possible to learn the rules as you play your first game, which allows you to dive right into the action. Despite its simplicity, this game is endlessly replayable. Political events constantly alter the landscape of the game and always keep you looking over your shoulder. You are constantly planning and guessing, and that’s the kind of game I like. Finally, if you don’t feel your games aren’t crazy enough, or just want something completely different, you can use the random campaign generator for an alternate path between the 1914 and 1939. Communist Germany, Imperial Russia, or a surviving Austria- Hungary make for WWII unlike any other game can offer. This game is all I can ask of any game: it’s a blast.
A few things I don’t like:
Despite the number of wargames I have played, I’m still not much of a fan of small cardboard pieces and paper maps.
You will constantly have to look up the meanings of markers and political events. However, these are well-indexed and easy to find in the rules.
I don’t think the option cards give much freedom of choice, especially with the onset of Total War. On the bright side, though, you don’t get enough rope to hang yourself; it is hard to end up skipping a vital card.
World War 2 fanatics look no further, but be warned this game is not for the meek. A very massive amount of table space must be sectioned off in your house for a weekend of Ultra Warfare. There is nothing that is written on the box that captures the essence of this game. It is about being being beaten or beating up the other guy. The pendelum swings like some devilish pact you make early on. If you are the Axis powers, expect an easy strings of victories one after the other. Take historical detours and go on to capture and collapse the English. But beware! The Russians are an inevitable quagmire of endless lands that test the resolve of your entire German and allied Axis forces. Every step is littered with Soviet dead bodies, but there is also a few German ones too. And as the German Army moves deeper and deeper into Russia, the Russian troops become better and better trained. Their air forces grow and their numbers swell to gargantuan proportions. No mattter how many you kill, they keep coming and coming. Stunning victories and major upsets are just a good days work for a Russian. Until the day it happens, the plug is pulled out of the Axis war machine. The US's heavy hardware comes to play and their economic muscle makes the German war machine gasp. Reinforcements to the Russian front begin to trickle while the Russian numbers grow exponentially huge. You then get this analogy of a German Soldier waving away millions of Russian bodies with a stick and a whip. The back slide begins and the Germans scramble to hold their key objective cities to reach victory. All over the 3rd Reich are attempts by the Allied Powers to break Fortress Europa. Can you do better?
This game is so fun, that not even one weekend will do it complete justice. You could spend a whole life on this game and happily go to hell. I must say that I will look to create the best life possible with TK! being the center of it...or dog gone near it. If my values seem out of whack, its probably because I have a strong predisposition to these types of games.
If you love trivial pursuit and laughing with a crowd out loud, then perhaps you should hit the Family Games button on this site...but, if you like to make major strategic decisions with far reaching consequences....pick this one up and don't forget I warned you.
What else is there to life then taking Moscow and collapsing Russia? You can go all day working your job and listening to music on the way home, but when this board is in front of you...you are Hitler,Eisenhower/Churchill and Stalin. What can beat that?
Totaller Krieg is superb! It creates the historic feel of the War in Europe, including the politics and the logistics.
The core game mechanics are very simple, which makes the game very playable. Whichever side you choose to play, there is always a challenge.
There are a number of scenario's, including a main campaign game which will take about 5 or 6 days to play (well, we are are talking about a major simulation from 1939 to at least 1945). My favorite is to play from the Axis high water mark, which starts in Nov 1942. This scenario is playable in 2 days (at a pace).
If you have the time, and a likeminded opponent, this is a fantaztic investment. Even if you don't have an opponent, it's pretty good in solitaire.
Few WWII games have worked for me. Third Reich was just too fiddly, War In Europe/Europa both impossibly big and long, and a list of others that never quite made it. Although the game requires a commitment, a full game can be completed in the course of two Saturdays.
TK! also manages to be interesting to both sides at all times. The Germans are given an opportunity to play a 'high water mark' card for their empire, which translates into a victory condition shift. If the Germans manage to play the card at the best time, it may mean the Allies must win decisively or else lose. In other games, there isn't much incentive for the Germans to manage their crumbling empire.
Also, each game I've played has been very different because of the double sided map (for alternate political geography) and the 'Dice of Decision' pre-game module.
What are you waiting for?
I love this game, it was the first war game I had ever bought (yes, even before Risk). When I opened the box and saw two 40 page manuals my eyes filled with glee. People tell me this game isn't very complex compare to other war games...I'd like to take a look at some of those. It took me about 2 weeks playing solo to figure this game out fully, but when you do, you will see the true power behind this game system. There are a few things that bug me though.
1) for $70 I expected a little more than cardboard pieces and map and reserve sheets that I have to get cut and laminated.
2) the rules are so massive friends really have to read the rule books to learn the game. (Try getting two 17 year olds to do this... still can't, bummer)
3) you need a very very large table. The board is 3'x4' when it is put together and then you need room for the ocean boxes and reserve sheets... don't forget the cards too. All in all if you have a 4'x6' table everything should fit on it and you will have a little room for drinks.
4) this isn't a game you can just invite friends to play (I made this mistake) because it is just too complex for the average board game fan.
I still love this game though, and the support it awesome! They even give you the designers personal emails in the box to email questions to and an email versio of the game that can be fun, but is just too slow for me.
Because of this game I have given up playing anything else! It is so much like chess where no two games are alike. The Axis have the run early in the game and then hang on for the end! Great fun. I can't say enough. The heart of the system is the option cards. Without this, TK would be alot like any other of the grand strategy WWII games only better. If you get a chance to play this jump on it!
I've managed to get 1 serious wargamer and 1 non-serious wargamer to take this game to heart. It plays much faster than say, WIF, but with the complexity that folks tired of A&A are looking for.
The politcal options make this game a fabulous time for all. *You can't predict anything!* I love that no matter what the game look like at time X, in a couple of turns things turn around or fall apart.
I have been wargaming since '84 and have a particular love of WWII games. I have played A3R and WiF, and though they are both great strategic level games, sometimes the rules and exceptions to rules get overwhelming. Like many wargamers, I spend a lot of time with solitaire play, and have found that TK! is by far the most amenable, due to its relatively simple rules, size, and time required to 'get things done.' Further, learning the game and watching it grow and develop is augmented greatly by the support from its creators and bulletin board groups at Consimworld. This is a true gem.
For someone who likes to have something to think about in the spare time I should be working, this is the game. TK is simple enough that a whole turn can be wrapped up in a matter of minutes (And yes, passes the 'my back still feels fine' test that Quentin proposes, but... I have never before played a game that was this fundamentally simple and at the same time could leave me considering for an hour what the ideal disposition for a 3 counter army is without being able to come to a correct conclusion. It is a game driven by subtlety, and that is what makes it fun. It's too subtle to analyse, so you just have to get stuck in, go with your gut, take the chance, damn the torpedoes, and fight the war. What a thrill. Any game that lets you fight a war by the seat of your pants deserves to be number one, and this one will be for a long time.
If you are evenly mildly interested in this genre of game, you already know that this is a great game, and already have a copy. So, if you are looking at reviews to decide if it's worth your money, you must not normally play games of this genre. Still, if you're looking in this area, you probably haven't restricted yourself to parlor-room fluff like [page scan/se=0121/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Pictionary and those infernal collectible card games. So, this article is aimed at people who play games like 1776, or Panzer Leader, or perhaps even [page scan/se=0503/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Diplomacy.
Ok, I won't hide the ball... buy this game! The reason people like you play games like that is that you believe--very sensibly--that the purpose of playing boardgames is to have fun, not to take on a second job. For some reason, the gaming industry lost sight of that fact for a while there, but you didn't. TK, which Alan Emerich bills as a 'minimonster,' was built by someone (Emerich) who didn't. Yes, it's got two big maps, so it takes up more table space than the trusty old bookshelf games, and it's got more counters. And the rulebook is pretty thick by those standards, too. But the game is easy to learn, forgiving of mistakes, and, most important, is not logistically painful to play. I mean, you don't spend much time shuffling counters, you don't spend much time calculating odds, your turn doesn't take long to do, physically, so your back doesn't hurt when you stand up straight again. You may want to spend a few minutes thinking about your turn, though, because the game is RICH with decisions, which, we all know, are what make a game entertaining.
Which brings me to my other point: If you've been happy with Diplomacy, why try something like this? Well, I could give lots of answers, but the most important is 'variety.' I've never seen a game that offers so many options, both long term, strategic decisions, and short term, tactical options. Without playing it, you can't understand why the system is so sleek and versatile, but, believe me, the mathematics behind this game are brilliant in their elegance and power. Not only are there zillions of smaller scenarios, including a number of one-map games, but with the addition of the random scenario generator, you can start the campaign game from zillions of different alternate history starting points. And, of course, you get all this along with the chance to do what we all want to do: rewrite history.
The punchline is, I already know from the fact that you were interested enough in wargames to read this review that you'll be happy with the purchase, even if it seems a bit out of the field you normally prefer. So take a chance, and widen your horizons. You'll thank me.
P.S. If you're in the Indianapolis area, look me up. I'm always happy to have new opponents.
If you're a board wargamer, you must have this game in your collection, it really is that simple. It is great!
Totaler Krieg! is much more than a gussied-up reissue of Kreig! Sure, the new maps are gorgeous, and the counters are much nicer and easier to tell apart. However, there's been a concerted effort to balance out the game (in K1 the Soviets just can't be beaten if played competently, in my opinion) and add a lot more flavor. There are some new option cards, new units such as fleets, and the whole 'Dice of Decision' module that lets you roll up (or simply choose) a completely different map of Europe for the start of WW II.
The rules are now indexed (yea!) and there are numerous optionals and 'house rules' submitted by players and playtesters.
This is a fun game if you have any interest at all in the European Theatre from a strategic level. You can play out the war in one or two weekends, and from the games I've seen, any side has a good chance of winning. If you've never played Kreig!, the mechanics can take a bit of getting used to, especially the retreat rules. But they're not that hard to grasp (the rules have numerous play examples) and the simplified production rules (all production handled by picking cards) make getting to the heart of the matter - blitzing across the ETO - a fairly hassle-free experiance.
If you liked Krieg!, you'll love Totaler Krieg! There are many improvements to the game, but the core rules remain. Totaler Krieg! adds more options and optional rules, as well as providing the standard historical game of World War II. If you like World War II in Europe, this game is a must have.
Finally a European World War 2 game that is both good, and can be played in a week-end.
Totaler Krieg is very playable. I find it addictive, always wanting to move on to the next phase, the next turn, the next season, whereas in other games you occasionally want to pause.
TK abstracts away a LOT of details, but keeps just enough to put your accurately in the shoes of your historical counterparts. Your decisions will have plausible outcomes.
You don't need to count factors, painfully stare at the map, or play a dozen times to learn critical concepts. Make reasonable moves, and get reasonable outcomes.
TK brings a lot of new concepts to the table. It's comprehensive, but simple. It has lots of critical die rolls, but it works out in the wash.
TK has a unique view on World War 2. It views WW2 as a war of surprises and unpredictability. A war where a bigger Germany isn't always better, and a smaller Russia isn't always weaker. It is totally worth playing to gain these designers' perspective on this great conflict.
What are the disadvantages?
Well as attractive as the map and counters are (VERY well done), the playing cards are not done well. They'd do well to have nicely done cards like in other games (Paths of Glory).
That's a minor complaint, but I have heard many people complain about having to look up rules incessantly. True, 95% of what you need is VERY handy, on the single chart, or on the map. I find the rules to be well-indexed when you have to look something up. Besides, the game is extremely well supported, the designer himself (Alan Emrich) is glad to answer questions when the legion of other players can't help you out.
My major complaint is that the game doesn't offer you as much freedom as you'd like. You don't have much control in this game, over production for instance. You don't even have a lot of control about which cards you play, they're written in such a way that you are still relatively limited in what you can do. You have a handful of broad options, but you will pay dearly if you try to beat your own, unique path.
The German Kriegsmarine had a simply philosophy with regards to their pocket battleships. If you can't out-gun it, out-run it. Totaler Krieg out-guns the simpler World War 2 games by covering more of the war, and creating a more accurate and complete game. It out-runs the more complex World War 2 games by being easier to learn and easier to play.
Totaler Krieg easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the best World War 2 games. Believe the hype.
Any game that takes an entire weekend to play cannot be considered an all time great. Who has entire weekends to play a single board game? It's so much easier to construct a game that is complex and long, than it is to invent a game that is simple and concise. Even the new edition of Risk understands this principle and has now created a limited number of rounds to keep the game within a reasonable time frame. This game might be better than an Axis or Allies, but it really cannot compete in originality or elegance of the many games that have captured the interest and energy of this generation of gamers.
When Krieg! was released by Decision Games in 1996, it was a truly revolutionary addition to World War II European theater wargaming. Solid, classic wargame mechanics combined with card play to control the strategic, economic, and diplomatic aspects of the war. Despite the game's awesome scope, it could still be played over a single weekend! This second edition, Totaler Krieg!, gives you more cards, more options--more of everything. There is even a complete "What if?" module that allows you to rewrite history and generate optional WWII starting situations. For example, what if a German democracy had launched WWII...? Totaler Krieg! is totally engrossing.