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Götterdämmerung: Twilight of the Gods: Fall of Berlin, 1945
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Average Rating: 3 in 2 reviews
Gotterdammerung is a well done game with just a few flaws.
The game is all about the Soviet offensive to take Berlin, starting April 15, 1945 and going to May 8, 1945. The Americans play a very minor role, and that is the meeting at the Elbe river, which gives the Soviet player victory points if he meets the Americans there.
The game plays out very well, once you get the second edition of the game with the 2.0 version of the rules. The earlier version of the game had a rulebook that, after reading through it, left you with quite a few questions, and not enough answers. The second edition of the game with the version 2.0 rules goes a long way to addressing and clearing up past questions. I found the 2.0 rules to be of great help in learning the game.
The game itself comes with 420 counters, mainly Soviet and German with some Polish and American units thrown in. The counters are well printed, and easy to read, with Attack, Defense and Movement points printed on them. They represent the units that fought the last battle. Soviet units are Corps, while German units are mainly Battalion and Regiment size.
The map is very nicely done, with the Operational map showing the surrounding countryside of Berlin from the Oder river in the east, to the Elbe river in the west. Once you get your units to Berlin, the action takes place on the Siege map, which is an enlarged version of Berlin that features the Fuhrer bunker, Reichstag, Zoo, etc., that the Germans have to defend so the Soviets don't get victory points for them.
The Soviet player gets 'Support Points' that he may spend to help him in combat or to replace lost troops. The German player gets 'Gotterdammerung Chits' that he may draw in response to a Soviet attack to see if he can shift the odds in his favor during combat.
The winner is decided by victory points - the German player subtracts his VP's from the Soviet player's VP's and the remaining number is referenced on a chart that gives either a German Strategic, Operational or Tactical win, a Draw, or a Soviet Tactical, Operational or Strategic win.
It's not IF the Soviets will win, it's WHEN will the Soviets win, as they have so much firepower, that they blast through the Germans fairly easily. But that was pretty much how the actual battle played out. The German player has two choices: stand and fight at the Oder river, or retreat to Berlin and fight it out in the city.
I was hoping for some optional battles and setups, like just a fight in Berlin, but the only one you get is the historical setup. Still, a very good game for those that are interested in the fall of Berlin in 1945.
I give the game 4 stars.
I've long been leery of Critical Hit!, as I've never actually bought anything from them that I've been satisfied with, but I've had somthing of a soft spot for Moments in History. Royal Tank Corps was quite good (production issues aside), the [page scan/se=0987/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Tunisia '43 series games were remarkably interesting, and the Turning the Tables series of games are good, solid, light wargaming fare.
This game, though, is an unfortunate failure. By Masahiro Yamazaki (of Stalingrad Pocket fame), this is a game with an enticingly elegant system, but it seems to lack any of the hard development work that makes a game actually work. The game comes in two parts: the operational battle for the German countryside, and the siege of Berlin. One is broken, one is uninteresting.
The uninteresting part is the operational battle. The Soviets will be hard-pressed to make attacks that are *not* on the top column. ZOCs in the game are harder to retreat out of than to move into, so the Germans are unable to retreat faster than the Soviets can advance, so their lines are overrun and shattered in fairly short order; the only realistic option once they are engaged is to stand and die. Perhaps historical (although that's debatable; Alan Clark in his excellent Barbarossa, a standard work on the subject, thinks this battle was 'winnable' for the Germans, even if the war was not), but very uninteresting.
Anyway, once you get to the Siege map of Berlin, things get even worse. Now the Soviets are at an utterly unrealistic disadvantage, as the Siege map has critical scale issues. A Soviet infantry corps will take the better part of two weeks to walk from the suburbs of Berlin to the Reichstag--and that's without any opposition at all! Given that the game is only about 4 weeks long, the Soviets would actually be hard-pressed to reach downtown Berlin if the Germans didn't get to play on the siege map at all. If that weren't bad enough, due to the outrageous combat modifiers for fighting in the cities, entire Soviet infantry Corps are essentially incapable of evicting understrength German brigades from behind the fortified lines or across bridges. As a consequence of the horrible scale problems, infantry becomes virtually worthless in the city, with a few tank corps (and somewhat perversely, cavalry) doing all the work. The large costs for moving into and through ZOCs is such that miniscule German formations can control unreasonably large areas and bring huge numbers of Soviets to a screeching halt.
Throw in a half-baked adaptation of the chit system from Turning the Tables (which in this game is mostly just annoying), and Gotterdammerung is very disappointing. This is a game that really ought to have been much better: an interesting topic which hasn't been covered enough, a fundamentally clean system, very nice production values, and a real opportunity for the enterprising designer to show some flair. It was not to be, though, and the game doesn't even work, let alone show any flair.