At 04:40am on September 1, 1939, Luftwaffe aircraft struck airfields all across Poland. Almost simultaneously, 44 German infantry divisions and 14 armored divisions surged across the frontier catching Poland’s thirty-odd infantry and cavalry divisions completely by surprise. Without bothering with the inconvenient formality of a declaration of war, Hitler had ordered the invasion and subjugation of his smaller neighbor. Within a matter of seventeen days, Soviet troops would also cross a nearly-prostrate Poland’s eastern frontier to help the Germans with the Polish nation’s dismemberment. England and France, although incapable of providing the Poles with any immediate direct assistance, had quickly demonstrated their support for Poland by declaring war on Hitler’s Germany; for the second time in a generation, Europe’s Great Powers were going to war. Tragically, the Greatest War in human history, seemingly almost by accident, had begun without any of its participants understanding its future geographical reach, its ultimate magnitude, or its unbelievable human and material cost.
ADVANCED THIRD REICH is a detailed simulation of the war that began in Poland on September 1st, 1939, and that spread inexorably to every continent and ocean in the world. The game, however, covers only military, economic, and diplomatic conflict in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. ADVANCED THIRD REICH, like its predecessor, can be played by as few as two to as many as six players. In the six player version, each player represents one of the major belligerents in the European Theater: Germany; Italy; England; France; Russia; and, starting in 1942, the United States. The THIRD REICH game system is heavily weighted toward the economic calculus of modern warfare: essentially, it is a battle between the economies and production capacities of the belligerent coalitions. Thus, basic resource points (BRPs) are essential to the construction and rebuilding of combat units, to increasing industrial capacity, to the waging of strategic warfare, to diplomacy, and to the order in which the two alliances (Axis and Allies) move. A typical game turn follows this sequence: the declaration of war phase; option declaration; movement phase; combat phase; unit construction; and, assuming one or more minor countries are engaged in conflict with one of the major powers, the minor country turns. The opposing coalition then moves, repeating the same steps outlined above. At the conclusion of the two coalition turns, Strategic Warfare is conducted. BRP levels are then calculated, and the alliance with the higher aggregate total moves first in the next turn.
ADVANCED THIRD REICH is a two to six player game that also lends itself very well to solitaire play. Players have the option of beginning play at any of seven critical junctures in World War II: 1939 (fall of Poland); 1940 (fall of France); 1941 (Germany looks east); 1942 (the U.S. enters); 1944 (Germany at bay); Barbarossa (the invasion of Russia); and 1939 (the campaign game). In addition, each side has 25 variants to draw from which affect everything from starting BRP levels, to minor country alliances, to changes in national unit force pools. It is no exaggeration to say that a player could start a hundred ADVANCED THIRD REICH games, and never have any two of them develop along identical lines.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATION
ADVANCED THIRD REICH, in many ways, is probably the most play-tested game in history! Over the years, the feedback and questions from thousands of regular players have contributed to an extensive and detailed overhaul of an already elegant game design. The basic outlines of THIRD REICH are still visible, but ADVANCED THIRD REICH is now, in almost every way, much more than the original.
- Time Scale: 3 months (seasonal turns)
- Map Scale: 60 miles per hex
- Unit Size: corps, fleet, air group
- Unit Types: armor, infantry, airborne, replacement, commando, partisan, fleet, air, SW units, and information markers
- Number of Players: two - six
- Complexity: high/expert
- Solitaire Suitability: high v Average Playing Time: 3-12 + hours (depending on scenario)
- Two 22” x 30” hexagonal grid Map Sheets (with Combat Results Table, Attrition Results Table, SW Tables, Border Key, SW Holding Boxes, and Off-Map Holding Boxes incorporated)
- 1040 ½” cardboard Counters
- One 8” x 11” Rules Booklet
- One 8” x 11” Rules Appendices Booklet
- Six 8” x 11” Table and Player Aid Cards
- Six 5½” x 8” National Scenario Cards
- One 8½” x 11” copy of the Ultra Newsletter
- Two six-sided Dice
- One 8½” x 11½” x 2” bookcase-style Game Box
See my blog post Book Reviews of these titles; all of which are strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background.