As I was browsing the internet (a dangerous activity, for sure), I came across this wonderful blog entry on Rise and Decline of the Third Reich. Avalon Hill was the major player in War Games for much of its history, and as I get older, I find that investigating its older offerings to be quite rewarding.
This is not to say that they’re better than today’s war games. Not at all! At the time it was pioneering in its efforts, and games such as Third Reich, PanzerBlitz and Squad Leader influence a lot of games today. These days, you can see the more elegantly expressed rules and concepts in modern games, and so looking at the older games can be slightly irritating; the rules tend to just sit a little wrong for modern sensibilities.
However, the good games remain that: good games. I picked up a complete copy of the original Panzer Leader yesterday to go with my copy of PanzerBlitz. Neither are games I’ve had a chance to play yet, but having them in my collection makes me happy. At some point, I’m likely to pull them out and either play them solitaire to see how they work or I’ll inflict them on one of my friends.
Third Reich belongs to the school of monster wargames. It’s a grand strategy game (says that on the box!) that covers the western theatre of World War II. It can be played 2-player or by up to 5 players. Apparently it doesn’t play badly solitaire either. How long does it take to play? The full game is long; BGG suggests 24 hours, although that may be wildly inaccurate. “Long” is perhaps enough – though not as long as World in Flames!
And yes, I do now own a copy, picked up earlier last year. It’s missing a few counters, but I have some blank counters I can use as substitutes. The mere fact that it uses single-sided counters makes it much easier to create substitute counters.
At some point, I really do want to try playing it. I just need to find (a) time and (b) players. Both of these seem somewhat unlikely at the current point in time, but if you’d told me I’d be playing a lot of Advanced Squad Leader this year, I wouldn’t have believed you. So, I remain in hope.
Third Reich was succeeded by Advanced Third Reich and John Prados’s Third Reich, and A3R was succeeded by A World At War by GMT Games. I actually own that last title (expensive it was, as well!) and you can see where it hearkens back to the original Third Reich design. Yes, I’d like to try it as well, but although it will have a bit more of the modern elegance, it’s still a terribly big game with a lot of special exceptions in the rules (which run over 100 pages). So, learning Third Reich which, while rough around the edges, still doesn’t quite have the same scale and so is easier to digest, seems like an easier option.
I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance, but seeing the blog entry I linked to above made me think about this game. I did manage to play another game of ASL SK with Michael last night; so a session report for that will be forthcoming. Tonight? Nations or Britannia seems likely.