The Great War in Europe
List Price: $89.00
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(Worth 6,995 Funagain Points!)
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The Great War in Europe: Deluxe Edition is a new revised and combined edition of two of Ted Raicer's most successful designs for Command magazine, The Great War in Europe and The Great War in the Near East. The Great War in Europe won the Charles Roberts award for best pre-WWII game, and its designer the James F. Dunnigan award for elegance in game design, and was nominated for an Origins award. The latter was nominated for a Charles Roberts award for best pre-WWII game design. Both have been out of print for over a decade, becoming collector's items earning high prices online.
The Great War in Europe (TGWIE) is a division level game (with some 1200 counters) covering all of the First World War In Europe, from the trenches of the western front, the mountains and plains of Italy, the vast expanses of the eastern front, and the Balkans to Gallipoli. The order of battle including infantry, cavalry, army headquarters (with attached artillery), German stosstruppen and Allied tanks. The Great War in the Near East adds in the Turkish fronts in the Caucasus, Egypt/Palestine and Iraq on a division/brigade scale.
TGWIE Deluxe Edition contains many innovative features, including event chits that introduce new weapons, tactics, and political events into the game, Trench Levels for different nations at different points in the war that remove the need to place hundreds of trench markers on the maps, rules to cover the German U-boat campaigns and its effects on US neutrality, and the conversion of the Tsarist army to the weaker units of the demoralized Provisional Government after the fall of the Tsar.
Best of all, this is a rare "monster game" that two people can play to completion in a long weekend's gaming. That's because the maps divide the game into Eastern and Western fronts, allowing one player to move and attack in the east, while the other is moving and attacking in the west. No waiting around for 15 minutes while your opponent moves all his divisions, this mechanic effectively cuts playing time for two players (or teams) in half.
Successful as the original games were, Ted has continued to tinker with them since their publication, and the new version adds revisions which improve both history and play balance. (Players of the original version will particularly appreciate the ability to call up Emergency Replacements -- at a cost in victory points.)
The new edition also includes all the scenarios published for the two designs. You can play The Great War in Europe and the Near East separately or together, and play out each year of the war in its own scenario. Plus pre-war variant chits allow you to explore major What-Ifs (what if Teddy Roosevelt won the election of 1912?).
Perhaps best of all, TGWIE Deluxe benefits from the map and counter art of Mark Simonitch, and Rodger's wonderful box art, reflecting the usual high standards you've come to expect from GMT.
With three maps and approximately 1500 1/2-inch counters, The Great War in Europe: Deluxe Edition updates two classic designs in an edition that provides all the challenges and Great War flavor you've come to expect from the designer of Paths of Glory, Clash of Giants, Reds, and Grand Illusion.
It is August 1914, and The Great War is about to begin...
The new GWIE is possibly the worst-written rulebook I've seen in 20 years.
The basic game systems are all very simple and straightforward: how to move, how to fight, how to replace units… But there are a Billion exceptions. And they aren't laid out in a logical way, where you'd learn the rules, and then the exceptions, and then have those exceptions printed on the map or a QRS or something… No, he puts them right into the text, so:
A unit can do BlahBlah… except on the Western Front map prior to 1917, except for the following six specific units (two of which can't do it prior to 1916, and only if they're also stacked with at least one Belgian unit (but not a Belgian headquarters) prior to the Allies playing Event F or G (unless the Germans have already played their Event R, in which case….
He actually has exceptions within exceptions in some cases, as an item on a bullet list – that is already an exception – references that there's an exception to that exception, in another bullet item elsewhere.
I like many of Ted Raicer's games, but I resent how "scripted" they often are. If the 8th Division only served in Egypt, historically, then you may only use it in Egypt (unless the Turks have played options P, S, or W prior to the Armenian revolt, or prior to any German (but not Austrian) troops being sent to Map X after the Tsar has fallen, but not before the Bolshevik Revolution, unless Britain and France have activated Options Y or Z or A (after 1916), or a combination of F and G …)
Many things that ought to be left to the players are scripted into the game, sometimes to an absurd degree. Like turning the town of Kut (in Iraq) into a "Fortress." He devotes a quarter page of rules to this, which can only happen if the British do exactly what they historically did. (If Townshend hadn't stopped his retreat at Kut, and dug-in there, historically, then I guess that rule wouldn't exist? Because Kut certainly wasn't a fortress or a supply center until the campaign just happened to end up there.) Racier does that a lot with other rules that are put in, in order to let the players do this or that one unusual thing that happened historically – but only if they do it in exactly the scripted historical way. (Like a German general who broke out from being out of supply… so there's a rule that that can happen once in the game, and so on.)
The East and West maps are nicely done, but the middle-east maps are totally baffling. One is upside-down: the writing is in one direction, but the map is in another. (Egypt is up, and Syria is down.) Right next to it is the Caucasus map, which is tilted sideways, so that North is to the Left. And between them, the Iraq map, which is a traditional "North is up" orientation. Three maps on one sheet, each facing a different direction, are very disorienting.
I get the feeling this game was rushed into production. The fact that they actually give you the "errata counters" right in the box, because there were so many mistakes… gives me the impression that this game didn't get GMT's usual proofing process.
I still give it three stars because hiding under all this mess, is a decent game. I'm going to make some Reference Charts of my own, just to keep track of all the things in the rulebook that can or can't happen before, on, or after this or that turn. There are a million of them to remember, and they're not collected anywhere, but rather scattered through almost 100 pages of rules and player-guide.