When I checked my email a few days ago, I discovered that one of my ‘Map and Counters’ visitors had added a short but intriguing set of questions to the comments section of my game profile of SPI’s WAR IN THE EAST, 1st Edition (1974). My anonymous reader — apparently after comparing the commentary in several of my ‘game profiles’ — wrote the following:

“Based upon your reviews, you like both editions of WAR IN THE EAST, although I sense more of a fondness for the first edition (nostalgia, perhaps?). However, if you could only keep and play one edition, which edition would it be and why? What edition would you recommend to a newbie and why? Thanks”.

As most regular visitors to my site already know, I try to answer reader feedback and questions, both promptly and in kind; that is: I usually add my own notes, within 24 hours or so, to the same post on which the visitor’s comments originally appeared. However, when I started to formulate my response in this particular instance, it quickly became apparent that — if my goal was to actually offer an adequate set of answers to my reader’s several questions — the “comments section” was probably not the place to do so; and that, in fact, any reasonably detailed reply from me should probably take the form of a completely separate post. That being said, the purpose of this essay is to respond to the questions listed above and, at the same time, to also offer my personal views on the pluses and minuses of the first and second editions of WAR IN THE EAST. In the interest of brevity, the comments that follow are predicated on the assumption that the reader already has some basic knowledge as to the differences that separate the two editions of the game. For those readers who are unfamiliar with WAR IN THE EAST or who are just curious about my personal views on these two versions of SPI’s first true monster game, links to both of my previously-published essays on the two editions of the game (along with a few others) have been added at the bottom of this post.

A Little History

The first edition of WAR IN THE EAST (WItE) was brought to market by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) in 1974. Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW) had already beaten SPI to the punch by almost a year by publishing its own game on the first part of the Russo-German War, 1941-45, DRANG NACH OSTEN (DNO) in 1973; however, in spite of having lost the first heat in the monster game publication race to the upstarts from Normal, WAR IN THE EAST was still an important benchmark for James Dunnigan and the game company that he and Redmond Simonsen helmed. There were actually two reasons for this: first, it represented SPI’s first genuine monster game and, even more importantly, its subject matter gave it an excellent chance of being a commercial winner. And the significance of this second, purely financial angle cannot be overestimated because, in a very real sense, the commercial success of the first edition of WItE virtually guaranteed that it would only be a matter of time before SPI brought out other even more ambitious design projects. The era of the monster game — particularly at GDW and SPI — had well and truly begun.

In 1976, SPI published WAR IN THE WEST (WItW) and WAR IN THE EAST (2nd Ed.), and then quickly followed-up with a mammoth game package that combined this pair of "stand alone" titles into a theater-wide simulation that — besides covering Poland, the Low-Countries, France and Russia — also added the Scandinavian and Mediterranean fronts. Not surprisingly, the eponymous title chosen for this grandiose new SPI simulation of the entire European Theater of Operations was simply: WAR IN EUROPE (WIE). As an interesting little footnote to all this, a revamped second edition (soap-box version) of WAR IN EUROPE was offered by SPI’s successor (following TSR, of course), Decision Games (DG), in 1999; and there is currently serious talk within certain (nostalgic) hobby circles of this mammoth game project being revisited and republished by DG, yet again. That being said, the WIE series — although getting a bit "long in the tooth" — continues to demonstrate a surprising amount of resiliency for a game platform that first appeared back in 1974; it also explains why these two versions of SPI’s treatment of the Russo-German War, 1941-45, WAR IN THE EAST, are still of interest both to gamers and collectors, even after all these years.

Needless-to-say, a lot has happened in the field of wargaming since the mid-1970s; nonetheless, understanding a bit about the back story of the two versions of WAR IN THE EAST, although probably not essential to understanding the ongoing appeal of their shared game system, is nonetheless useful because it helps explain how most of the major differences between the first and second versions of the game actually came about. Looking back on things now, it is pretty easy to see that the somewhat unexpected popularity (and reassuring sales) of the first edition of WItE, based as it was on a “super-sized” KURSK-based game system, insured that the WIE monster games that followed would all stick with the same overall design architecture and game engine; which is to say: maps scaled to 33 kilometers per hexagon; dual phase mechanized movement; weekly game turns; operational-level (brigade/division/corps) combat units; relatively draconian logistical restrictions on ground operations; highly abstracted air and naval rules; and an elaborate production subroutine. Nonetheless, in spite of this goal of inter-game compatibility, there were still certain design changes that were more-or-less unavoidable as soon as Dunnigan attempted to meld World War II combat operations in the west with those in the very different theater that was Russia. And more than a few of these changes turned out to be fairly notable.

The Game Maps

When players examine the first and second editions of WAR IN THE EAST side by side, the first thing that they will typically notice is that the 1974 and 1976 editions’ game maps are glaringly different. For starters, the original version of WItE includes four map sections; the second edition, only three. The reason for this discrepancy, according to sources at SPI, was actually fairly mundane: the designer opted to reduce the number of East Front map sections in the second edition in order to limit the total playing area of the WAR IN EUROPE game map to a large, but (barely) manageable nine map sections. The end result, somewhat surprisingly, is that — although the individual hex sizes in the two games both represent 33 kilometers from side to side — the second edition’s game map somehow gives the false impression that it is different in scale from its predecessor. Another feature of the second edition’s map which represents a significant departure from the earlier version is the use of color to represent different types of terrain. The first edition’s game map is a functional but drab, two-color depiction of the Eastern Front battle area; the second edition’s map, on the other hand, uses a palette of four colors to represent different types of terrain. In this regard, the design of the second edition game map is actually probably both clearer and more attractive to the eye; although, I confess that — for whatever reason (size, nostalgia?) — I actually prefer the simpler, less visually-appealing design of the first edition’s game map, over its replacement.

The Counters

Although the differences between game maps of the 1974 and 1976 versions of WAR IN THE EAST are both obvious and important, they are not the only component features that distinguish the first from the second edition of the game. Thus, while the overall playing area of the 1976 revamped version of WItE is smaller than that of its predecessor, the total number of counters included with the game is significantly greater. By way of illustration, the first edition of WItE includes five counter-sheets (each with 400 counters) for a grand total of 2,000 game pieces; in the case of the second edition, on the other hand, the total number of game pieces increases to 2,400 unit counters. The reason for this increase is fairly straightforward: many of the counter-sheets used in the several independent titles that, together, comprise the WAR IN EUROPE game series are identical; hence, the second edition of WAR IN THE EAST includes a number of unit counters (FLAK, different types of air units, information counters, etc.) which are necessary to the play of both WItW and WIE, but which really serve no useful role when WItE is played as a “stand alone” game. This is not to say, by the way, that all of the second edition’s extra counters go unused when WItE is played independently. For example, the second (1976) edition of the game — in keeping with the historical record — actually includes both a German cavalry division and a fallschirmjäger division in the initial Axis “Barbarossa” invasion force; in contrast, the earlier (1974) edition of the game includes neither of these unit types in its counter-mix but, instead, simply substitutes ordinary infantry divisions for these specialized combat units. In addition, SS mechanized and armored units — which are indistinguishable from regular Wehrmacht units in the first edition of the game — are, in the second edition, differentiated from regular German combat units in two ways. The first is by color: SS divisions in the second edition of WItE are black instead of the standard German field gray. The second difference lies with these units’ combat strengths; that is: SS panzer divisions in the 1976 version of the game are 13-8s versus the standard Wehrmacht panzer divisions (in both versions of the game) which are 10-8s; and SS panzergrenadier divisions are represented by 11-8s, in contrast to ordinary German mechanized divisions which are 8-8s. The second edition of WAR IN THE EAST, it should be noted, also presents modest changes from some of its predecessor’s Axis allied forces (Romania, Hungary, and Italy) by substituting — at least in a few cases — cavalry and motorized units for armored brigades. Finally, it appears that when Redmond Simonsen set about updating the graphics from the original game design, he also decided to alter the colors of virtually all of the counter-sheets in WAR IN THE EAST (2nd Ed.) in an effort to make the newer version of the game more visually appealing. And while this change certainly makes the second edition game pieces a bit more colorful (Russian counters, for example, metamorphasized from a drab greenish-brown to a bright hunter green); whether these color changes actually represent a significant improvement in the overall appearance of the game, in the end, pretty much lies in the eye of the beholder.

Railroad Repair Units & Supply

No discussion of either the first or second editions of the WAR IN THE EAST can really go very far without addressing one of the most controversial (if not downright notorious) features of the game system’s underlying design platform: the — in my view, at least — exaggerated strategic importance of the German Railroad Repair (RR) Units. For those readers who are unfamiliar with this aspect of the game, Railroad Repair Units — by converting enemy rail lines to friendly use — are the only means by which an advancing army’s supply lines can be pushed forward into previously enemy-controlled territory. Moreover, because of the special “severe weather” rules that apply to almost all of the Eastern Front, these units may only convert one enemy rail hex per game turn when operating in Russia; and, as a special operational restriction, German RR units may only convert Russian rail lines during non-winter turns. In game terms, this is actually a pretty big deal because a lack of supply not only halves a unit’s combat power, but also guarantees heavy casualties to any attackers unsupplied at the moment of combat. Needless-to-say, the ability of RR units to extend the maximum reach of Axis supply lines is vitally important — particularly during the summer of 1941 when the Germans are at their strongest and the Red Army is most vulnerable. This also means, in essence, that the total number of Railroad Repair Units available to the German player during the opening stages of the invasion is of critical importance to the first year planning of both sides. In the case of the Axis player, both the Barbarossa Scenario and the (200+ turn) Campaign Game begin with the Germans fielding only three of these precious units; thereafter, the Axis receive a single additional RR unit in the spring of each succeeding campaign year. These repair units, it should be noted, are equally important to Soviet operations once the Russians finally get the chance to launch their own series of major counteroffensives starting (typically) in 1943; however, unlike the fixed number of RR units available to Hitler’s forces, the Soviet high command — at least in the Campaign Game — can construct as many RR units as it wants in order to supply its advancing forces once the battlefield initiative permanently shifts from the Wehrmacht to the Red Army.

As might be expected, the impact of the German Railroad Repair rules on early Axis offensive operations in WAR IN THE EAST became apparent to most players very soon after the game appeared; however, some of the more subtle implications of this facet of Dunnigan’s design really only emerged once the Campaign Game started to see repeated play. As things turned out, within a few months of the introduction of SPI’s opus on the Russo-German War, it became clear that the WAR IN THE EAST was not STALINGRAD writ large. On the contrary, Dunnigan’s game revealed a built-in and somewhat worrisome game dynamic which, instead of rewarding a tenacious Russian defense of Soviet territory (as had the old Avalon Hill standby), actually punished Russian players who attempted to fight for Holy Russia; that is to say: any determined effort by the initially out-classed and out-numbered Soviets to make an early stand against supplied Axis forces (even in advantageous terrain) was not only futile; it was patently suicidal.

Not surprisingly, once a few thoroughly one-sided drubbings had convincingly hammered this fact home, experienced Soviet players began to resort to a defensive strategy that — although counterintuitive on its face — actually allowed them to achieve two important, if seemingly mutually-exclusive goals: the first was to limit and then contain the extent of the Axis advance during the middle and late summer game turns following the German invasion of the Motherland; the second was to significantly reduce overall Russian casualties by largely eliminating the Wehrmacht’s opportunities for supplied attacks against the Red Army’s westernmost forces during much of the 1941 campaign season. In short, bitter experience had demonstrated that — at least when it came to the first edition of WAR IN THE EAST — the only truly viable Soviet strategy for coping with the opening phase of “Barbarossa” was for the Red Army to hightail it far enough to the east that an overrun-proof Russian line could be established that was beyond the reach of both Axis supply and advancing German infantry. Different Soviet players might opt for slightly different versions of this “territory for time” approach, but, in virtually all cases, experienced Red Army commanders began to adopt a defensive strategy during the summer of 1941 that capitalized on the game’s built-in Axis supply restrictions — along with zone of control (ZOC) movement penalties — to keep the German army at bay long enough for incoming reinforcements to shore up the Russian line in late summer and fall, 1941. Not surprisingly, given the rising popularity of this strategy among experienced WItE players, it was only a matter of time before an operational blueprint for this Russian defense finally found its way into the hobby press.

The Oztunali ‘Quick Step’

In Moves #20 (Apr/May 1975), several articles appeared which, when taken together, presented a wide-ranging analysis — with weight given to the strategic goals of both the Russian and German players — of optimal play in WAR IN THE EAST. These articles covered a variety of different aspects of the game, from German and Russian battlefield tactics to the special challenges posed by the radically-new Soviet Production rules, but the most intriguing of these essays — penned by a long-time SPI play-tester named Oktay Oztunali — focused on the critical importance of the Red Army’s opening Campaign Game set-up and on the early actions of Red Army forces during the turns immediately following the German invasion. The early-game Russian strategy that Oztunali advocated — which he christened the “Quick Step Defense” — eschewed virtually all voluntary combat with the advancing Axis juggernaut and, instead, called for the immediate abandonment by the Red Army of the western military districts and a rapid (but carefully choreographed) retreat to a final Russian defense line that could be formed safely beyond the reach of supplied German forces during the period of greatest Soviet vulnerability: the summer 1941 campaign season. Moreover, the logic underpinning Oztunali’s three-point thesis was, it turned out, largely irrefutable. The author's first argument was that, since there was no compelling reason (game-related or otherwise) for Soviet units to be squandered in a futile attempt to defend the western reaches of European Russia, there was absolutely no reason for these units not to retreat as quickly as possible out of range of Axis attacks. Second, because German Railroad Repair Units could advance only one hex per turn along connected rail lines (and then only on “clear” and “mud” game turns), it followed that, once the three Axis RR units had been placed on the map, the Soviets would then be able to precisely predict the maximum turn-by-turn reach of the enemy’s supply lines for the balance of the first year of the war. This knowledge was crucial to long-term Soviet planning because it made it possible for the Russians to set to work organizing their main line of resistance literally as soon as the Germans launched their attacks across the Soviet border. Third, the mandatory (and substantial) losses that were automatically incurred by the phasing player, whenever his units made unsupplied attacks against enemy positions, insured that very few major assaults would be conducted by the Germans so long as Russian frontline units managed to stay out of the reach of Axis supply.

Reduced to its essentials, the Oztunali essay persuasively argued that, when properly executed, the “Quick Step” approach was not just a good Soviet defensive strategy, it was really an almost fool-proof means by which the Russians could overcome the strategic challenges posed by the German army’s powerful early-game advantages in stacking, combat strength, air power, and mobility. And as things turned out, the “Quick Step” article in Moves #20 actually did more than simply present a primer on correct Russian defensive play for the 1974 version of WAR IN THE EAST; it did that certainly, but because of the way that its author exploited seemingly unrelated elements buried in the game system in order to construct his overall defensive strategy, his essay also drew attention to a number of peculiar features of the WItE game engine that had somehow slipped by unnoticed during the title’s original development process.

Of course, to be fair to both Dunnigan and SPI, whenever any new game (monster or otherwise) is first published, it is almost certain that at least a few unforeseen design glitches will crop up once the game actually gets into the hands of the public. Inaccurate Orders of Battle, map errors (some small, some serious), misprinted charts or tables, and — the bane of all wargamers — poorly-worded, ambiguous, or even missing rules cases: these are all common defects when it comes to the initial printings of new games. Therefore, given its sheer size, it is hardly surprising that the first edition of WAR IN THE EAST had its share of all of these problems. However, once the “Quick Step” article appeared in Moves, it was not long before both the Barbarossa Scenario and the Campaign Game began to draw complaints — particularly from dispirited German players — that because their Russian adversaries had started running away from the western frontier just as soon as the Axis attacked, the post-invasion, summer 1941 game turns had increasingly turned into a tedious “snake dance” in which the Red Army — while always taking pains to maintain a four hex gap between the retreating Soviet line and those advancing Axis forces that were supplied — slowly withdrew eastward, a single hex row at a time. Moreover, players complained that not only was this “one hex per turn” pace of Axis advance and Russian retreat ahistorical; but even worse, because of its almost total lack of accompanying combat, it was downright boring. And a simulation of the “Barbarossa” Campaign that, for long stretches in the game, did not actually include any significant combat was not, in the eyes of most players, considered to be a mere design glitch. Unfortunately, in spite of widespread and growing player dissatisfaction with the effects from some of the supply and combat rules in the WAR IN THE EAST, most of the more controversial design problems were never really addressed in any of the many pages of official errata that flowed, in successive waves, on the heels of the first edition’s publication; however, subsequent events would show that these customer complaints did not go completely unnoticed at SPI. James F. Dunnigan was smart enough to realize that, while gamers might put up with a certain number of quirks when it came to his designs, “dullness” was probably not one of them.

The ‘Shock of War’ and Mobile Supply Units

Interestingly, although he never actually acknowledged the validity of many of his critics’ arguments, by the time that the second edition of WAR IN THE EAST appeared in 1976, Dunnigan had come up with a pair of rules fixes which he clearly hoped would undo at least part of the damage done to the simulation “chops” and playability of his original design by the Oztunali “Quick Step” strategy. In the eyes of many of the game’s most determined critics, myself included, these “tweaks” fell far short of what had been hoped for; nonetheless, inadequate though they may have been, they were both still generally acknowledged to be major improvements to the basic game architecture of WAR IN THE EAST.

The first of these changes — which really had no other purpose than to force the Russians to fight (rather than run away) during the first few weeks immediately following the German invasion — was the “Shock of War” Rule. In a nutshell, this new, baldly pro-German rule stipulated that the Russian player — in order to stave off an early defeat — was required to prevent the Germans from capturing a certain number of Russian population centers (PCs) during the first few game turns of the invasion: one or more population centers, for example, on turn one; two or more on turn two, etc. Since four population centers (Riga, Minsk, Kiev, and Odessa) were situated relatively close to the Russo-Axis border, a diminishing number of these highly-vulnerable cities would have to be defended by the Soviets until the “Shock of War” period ended at the conclusion of turn five.

The second, considerably more modest fix, was the introduction of Mobile Supply Units (MSUs) which could be used independently or in concert with friendly Railroad Repair Units to extend the owning sides’ supply lines. The RR units in the second edition operated in a fashion that was virtually identical to that of the original game; the MSUs, on the other hand, were permitted to move one hex during both the initial and the mechanized movement phases. The actual impact of dual-impulse Mobile Supply Units on Axis combat operations, however, was largely negated by a “special” second edition rule that shortened the reach of Axis supply lines during the first year of the war. The addition of Mobile Supply Units to the counter-mix did allow the Germans somewhat greater flexibility when it came to supplying their frontline units, but the actual effect of these new supply units on play during the crucial first summer campaign season turned out to be minimal, at best.

Russian Production, 1st Edition Rules

If there is any single design feature of the WAR IN THE EAST game platform that can truly be described as “groundbreaking”, that feature has to be the Russian Production subroutine. To understand why this is so, it is only necessary to reflect on the handful of strategic simulations of the Russo-German War, 1941-45, that were published prior to WItE. The very first of these early games, Avalon Hill’s corps-level STALINGRAD (1963), made no provision whatsoever for the appearance, as the war progressed, of newly-raised Soviet reinforcements; instead, the only way that the Russian player could bring fresh units into play was to rebuild previously-eliminated corps using replacement points gained via Soviet control of certain key cities. SPI’s army-level BARBAROSSA (1969) added Soviet reinforcements to go along with replacements, but the timing and composition of these new units was largely predetermined before the onset of play. Even GDW’s 1973 monster-scale simulation of operational combat on the Eastern Front, DRANG NACH OSTEN, stuck pretty closely to the same design conventions as BARBAROSSA when it came to new (post-invasion) Russian units and combined a rigidly-scheduled menu of Russian reinforcements with a geographically-based (variable) replacement formula that, when everything was said and done, differed surprisingly little from the rudimentary system first introduced in STALINGRAD, a decade before. That, of course, all changed in 1974.

It is interesting, with the benefit now of 20/20 hindsight, to recall that — in the view of more than a few gamers during the mid-1970s — SPI was considered to be little more than a “crank’em out as fast and cheap as you can, game mill”; nonetheless, like a great many of the other design innovations that appeared during the so-called “golden age” of board wargaming, it was SPI’s publication of the first edition of WAR IN THE EAST (and not the work of some boutique game designer) that finally broke the traditional and hitherto unchallenged reinforcement/replacement design mold when it came to modeling strategic warfare in Russia during World War II. This flash of inspiration on Dunnigan’s part was a genuine breakthrough in game design. Not only did Soviet Production add an extra layer of simulation detail to WItE when it came to the 208 turn Campaign Game, it also introduced what was, for all intents and purposes, a completely new “game within a game” which allowed Soviet commanders, much like their historical counterparts, to construct (over time) precisely those forces that they deemed necessary for future combat operations. Of course, Dunnigan, not being anybody’s fool, still elected to hedge his bets by not using his new Soviet Production system when it came to his design’s individual (more manageable) seasonal scenarios; nonetheless, whether one liked the Soviet Production rules or not, it was absolutely clear that the introduction of this elaborate subroutine had added a fascinating new strategic layer to the simulation architecture, not only of the first edition of WAR IN THE EAST, but of other similarly-scaled games to come.

In some ways, WAR IN THE EAST, given the differences between the quartet of scenarios and the two Campaign Games, really offered several simulation platforms in one package. As those readers who are familiar with the 1974 version of the game already know, the first edition of Dunnigan’s East Front opus offered four relatively short scenarios (Barbarossa, 1941; Stalingrad, 1942; Kursk, 1943; and the Destruction of Army Group Center, 1944) and two versions of the 208 turn Campaign Game (the Historical and the Standard Game). The shorter seasonal scenarios ranged in length from eighteen to thirty game turns and, because of their limited duration, handled the arrival of reinforcements — just like their smaller-scale East Front cousins — by listing both incoming Russian and Axis units’ turns of entry on the scenario turn record/reinforcement track. In game terms, this meant that the special rules that comprised the Russian Production subroutine were only used when players were ambitious enough to undertake the much longer Historical or Standard Campaign Games. However, for those players willing to take on these longer games, the innovative new production rules provided Soviet players with a broad spectrum of different Order of Battle options. This meant that, for the very first time in the history of board wargaming, an individual Russian commander could build precisely those combat units that he thought would best strike a balance between his short-term battlefield needs and his long-term strategic goals. Just as importantly, the addition of the Soviet Production subroutine, while somewhat time-consuming, really did not overload the basic game system; quite the contrary: although the rules section in the first edition of WAR IN THE EAST which covered Soviet Production was fairly long, the actual production procedures, taken individually, were not particularly complicated. In fact, when everything was said and done, Russian Production was really dependent on only four main variables: Personnel Points (manpower); Arms Points (armaments and war materiel); Training Centers (the entry and exit points for Soviet units); and Time (number of game turns required to complete production). [Please note: because Soviet Production is described at some length in a previously-published profile of WAR IN THE EAST (1st Ed.), only a few key features of this aspect of Russian play will be covered here. Those readers who are interested in a more detailed description of Soviet production are invited to visit the aforementioned post; and to that end, a link has been included at the end of this essay.] Utilizing these four production variables, the Russian player could — during the Production Phase of each game turn — perform one of three different operations at each of his operable Training Centers: construction (creation of new units); rebuilding (rehabilitating units reduced in combat); and conversion (converting or combining existing units to form one that is more powerful).

Of course, no game innovation as radically unfamiliar as this one ever appears without provoking complaints from at least a few disgruntled players; and hence, it wasn’t very long before the first edition WItE production rules began to draw a certain amount of criticism. To be honest, most of the complaints leveled at Dunnigan’s new Soviet Production rules were actually relatively minor. There were, for example, arguments over the arbitrary requirement that the Russians build air units (whether they wanted them, or not); quibbles about production costs; and even protests about the number of game turns that were required to build/convert certain types of units. These complaints, although fairly widespread, were also easy for most players to brush off; however, there were two issues that, because they dealt directly with the mechanics of the production process, itself, were a little bit harder to ignore — even for those of us who, in spite of our occasional misgivings, still genuinely liked the game.

The first of these had to do with that great bane of many wargamers: the absolute requirement that, if players opted to play one of the two versions of the 208 turn Campaign Game, careful turn-by-turn records would have to be kept. This built-in recordkeeping requirement derived from the fact that, because the tallies of Soviet personnel and arms points changed with each game turn, whoever was entrusted with running the Russian Production process had no real choice but to maintain the game equivalent of a detailed accounting ledger. Moreover, because the accuracy of these columns of figures was actually relatively important, someone from the Axis side — just to be prudent — had to periodically inspect these written records to make sure that no mistakes had been made. Even many of those of us who really liked the Soviet Production rules had to acknowledge that this seemingly inescapable “accounting” requirement was a persistent and thoroughgoing “pain” for both sides.

The second characteristic of the production process that tended to irritate some players — although it never really bothered me or my regular opponents — had to do with the tedious manual operations required to actually run the numerous Soviet Training Centers. To keep track of the status of each and every unit undergoing some type of production, each Soviet Training Center was represented by an on-map counter and an off-map chart. Each chart, as noted previously, displayed a trio of different tracks which represented one of three production processes: construction, rebuilding, or conversion. The advantage of this system was that it insured that all units entered and exited the production process from the same Training Center. The downside of this system was that it required units on these different tracks to be moved one space during the Production Phase of each game turn. Since a typical game would often see sixteen or more operable Training Centers in play during any given turn, this procedure actually required someone on the Soviet side to perform what I and my friends took to calling the “Training Center shuffle” for every unit on every track during each turn of the game.

As a moderately interesting side note, players who commanded the Germans in the first edition of WAR IN THE EAST also got a chance to perform their own mini-version of the “TC shuffle” by placing and then moving units along the German Rebuilding Track. This special game track, which operated completely independently of both regular German replacements and reinforcements, permitted one eliminated German divisional kampfgruppe to start its own rebuilding process on each game turn. In the case of infantry divisions, rebuilding required 20 turns (weeks) to complete; in the case of panzer and panzergrenadier divisions, on the other hand, 25 turns were required before they could reenter the game at full strength.

Russian Production, 2nd Edition Rules

As soon as SPI rolled out the second edition of WAR IN THE EAST in 1976, it immediately became clear that the design team at SPI had not spent the intervening two years in idleness. Spurred on by Dunnigan’s desire to expand the scope of the successful WAR IN THE EAST franchise, SPI (with a major assist from Redmond Simonsen) had — along with completing the final design and development work on both WAR IN THE WEST and WAR IN EUROPE — also come up with a number of modifications (some minor, some major) to the original WItE game platform.

Although a few additional rules were introduced in the 1976 version which affected combat operations: the “Stand Fast” defensive option, for example; on the whole, most of the minor changes in the second edition were directed towards improving the shorter seasonal scenarios. These modest “tweaks” mainly took the form of adjustments to the two sides’ Orders of Battle, and in the case of the Germans, to the addition (in the Destruction of Army Group Center Scenario only) of Axis fortifications. None of these changes, it should be noted, really affected the play of either side all that much, but they did, nonetheless, add a bit of interesting and very welcome historical color to the four yearly (1941, 1942, 1943, and 1944) mini-games.

The truly big changes in the WItE second edition game platform appeared when it came to how reinforcements and the Soviet Production subroutine were to be handled in the Campaign Game. In the first edition, Soviet Production had been an integral, if time-consuming phase in each and every Russian player turn. In the 1976 version of the game, the Campaign Game turn sequence was adjusted to include a new series of “Strategic Cycles” each of which appeared at the end of every four turns (thirteen per calendar year) on the Turn Record/Reinforcement Track; this modification, in turn, allowed for the somewhat tedious game operations previously associated both with the various Soviet Production processes (more on this shortly) and with newly-arriving reinforcements to be redirected away from individual game turns and into these Strategic Cycles.

The second big change in the 1976 version of WAR IN THE EAST was the elimination of the first edition’s individual Training Center tracks (with a hat tip, again, to Redmond Simonsen, naturally) and their consolidation into a single, virtually error-proof new graphics device — titled, because of its design, the Production Spiral — which required no unit “shuffling”, but which still allowed every one of the Soviet production operations to be clearly and accurately monitored. The concept underlying the display was simple and was based on the newly-added Strategic Cycles. In a nutshell, the Production Spiral chart was divided into thirteen radiating arms, each of which corresponded to a different Strategic Cycle. To use the spiral, the Soviet player simply paid the arms and personnel costs associated with those production processes (construction, conversion, or rebuilding) he wished to initiate during each cycle and placed the units that would ultimately emerge at the end of the process directly on the cycle “arm” that corresponded to their specific production timelines. The beauty of this approach was that, instead of being obliged to move each unit undergoing production along its own track, the Soviet player was only required to adjust the Strategic Cycle marker one space along the thirteen-arm Production Spiral every four game turns. This meant that units undergoing production only had to be handled twice: once when they were placed on the track at the start of their production; and once when they were moved onto the map at the end of the process. Needless-to-say, this change — besides streamlining the typical Soviet weekly player turn — also dramatically reduced the amount of game time required for the Russian player to execute all of the various processes associated with production.

Interestingly enough, along with the modifications to the turn-by-turn mechanics of Soviet Production that were introduced in the second edition of WAR IN THE EAST, a third graphics-based modification was incorporated into the later version of the game that, while not at all significant in terms of the title’s basic design, was nonetheless, a very welcome improvement — in the eyes of almost everyone familiar with the SPI original — over the first edition’s graphics presentation. This modest change was the introduction, in the 1976 version, of brand new (track-style) game charts which at last allowed players to easily and accurately monitor Soviet arms and personnel points’ tallies, along with those of Axis armored and infantry replacement points, without having to depend on written records to keep track of these various points’ constantly-changing totals.

Not surprisingly, given their generally beneficial effects on play, most of the second edition’s rules changes were well-received by fans of the original version of WAR IN THE EAST. However, it should be noted that there was one particular rules change that was greeted by a certain number of experienced players with considerably less enthusiasm, if not outright skepticism, than the others — especially within the ranks of those gamers with a preference for playing the Axis. This was because one effect of the second edition rules, much to everyone’s surprise, was to completely eliminate what many players saw as a small but key aspect of German play in the middle and late game: the ability, over time, to resurrect — using the German Rebuilding Track — a single division (if completely destroyed in combat) on each successive turn of the Campaign Game. Although the actual effect on German battlefield fortunes of a single extra division returning to action each week — when considered in relation to the size of the forces engaged on the Eastern Front — was arguably not great; nonetheless, the elimination from play of 150-170 rebuilt German divisions that this second edition rules change entailed, over the course of an entire Campaign Game, was still not without consequences. Small as it was, this was a surprisingly unpopular change among the ranks of long-time WAR IN THE EAST players, but, for most gamers, it was not enough to seriously undercut the overall appeal of the second edition’s other rules changes.


At last, we come to the end of this review of — in my opinion, at least — some of the most important differences between the first and second editions of IN THE EAST and hence, it is finally time to revisit my anonymous reader’s original set of questions.

First, when it comes to the question of which of the two versions of the game I personally like better, my short answer is that, although there is much about the second edition that I really like, I nonetheless have a strong preference for the first edition over its successor. There are a number of reasons for this and it is quite possible that nostalgia may well be one of them; still, there are other factors which, in my view, are equally compelling. One factor, not surprisingly, is the difference between the two versions’ game maps. On this matter I realize that my opinion tends to differ from that of most of the players I know; nonetheless, bland though it is, I find that I actually like the larger, more detailed, first edition game map better than its smaller, more colorful second edition replacement. However, this is really a minor factor in my overall calculus; and although the overall visual effect of the two sets of maps is certainly one consideration, a far more important factor in my favoring the original game over its successor has to do with the differences between the first and second editions’ handling of the “nitty-gritty” of Soviet Production. For example, in the 1974 version of WAR IN THE EAST, if three 1-4 rifle divisions enter the conversion process at the Rostov Training Center, then that is where they will emerge once they have been converted to a single 4-4 rifle corps. In the second edition, on the other hand, it is perfectly legal for divisions to begin their conversion at Rostov, but reenter play, once the process is completed, at one or more of the Moscow Training Centers. This change continues to bother me enough that, cumbersome and time-consuming though it may be, I still greatly prefer the first edition’s production rules (manual bookkeeping or no) to the simpler, more streamlined Production Spiral approach of the second edition. Finally, I was both surprised and irritated — like a number of other grognards that I know — over the second edition’s elimination of the German Divisional Rebuilding Track. Although the actual effect of this change on the overall dynamic of the game is not great, I still find it personally irksome, even after all these years.

Second, there is the two-part question, raised by my anonymous reader, as to which of the two versions of WAR IN THE EAST I believe that a new player would be best served acquiring for his own game collection; and why? In this instance, my answer to both parts of this question will probably be a little surprising because, in spite of the several points that I catalogued previously, I am still going to strongly recommend that a new player (unless money is no object, or he is a serious collector) buy the second edition instead of the first. The reasons for my complete volte-face on this issue are several, but a good place to start is probably with the purely esthetic issue of graphic design: the various components of the second edition of WItE are simply a lot more attractive and modern-looking than those of the original; hence, they are likely to be more visually appealing to a new player than those of the older game. Another notable advantage of the 1976 edition is that it is compatible with the other WAR IN EUROPE titles, whereas the first edition is not. What this means is that, if a player first buys a copy of WAR IN THE EAST (2nd Ed.) and finds that he likes the game system, he can then, with the acquisition of both a copy of the WAR IN THE WEST game and a downloadable copy of the WAR IN EUROPE Standard Rules, end up with a relatively inexpensive simulation of virtually all of World War II in the European Theater of Operations. Finally, there is one other potentially worthwhile benefit that I can think of that might encourage a new player to acquire a copy of the second edition of the game; that is: it offers a very good basic introduction to the still evolving WAR IN EUROPE Game System. In view of the fact that Ty Bomba and Decision Games are considering re-releasing — at some point in the future — an updated (and hopefully, improved) version of the (1999) WAR IN EUROPE game package, familiarity with the WItE (2Ed.) rules and game system is probably an excellent way for a player to determine whether this expensive new monster game will actually be worth either his hard-earned money or his time.

Related Blog Posts

SPI, WAR IN THE EAST, 1st ED. (1974)

SPI, WAR IN THE EAST, 2nd ED. (1976)

A Few Recommended Rules Changes for WAR IN THE EAST

More Recommended Rules Changes for WAR IN THE EAST



Recommended Reading

See my blog post Book Reviews of these titles which are strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background, or just go ahead and get the books:

Book Review: Battle of Kursk , Book Review: Panzer Battles, Book Review: German Army 1933-1945
, Book Review: Genius for War, the German Army ,Book Review: Command Decisions


  • I purchased a copy of War in Europe on eBay last year which was missing a few charts. I sensed this going into the auction and wasn't surprised when I won the game at $150-ish.
    Anyhow, if any readers of your forum could help me with scans of what I am missing, I would be very grateful. As it stands, i cannot play the game until the charts are recovered in some form. I may be reached at:

    trobinsonayer - at - gmail.com

  • Greetings Regularjoe:

    Thanks for visiting.

    My first thought would be for you to visit the 'WAR IN EUROPE' forums at Boardgamegeek or Consimworld (you can find both sites on my sidebar) and see if anyone at either of these forums might not already have scans available of the specific charts that you need.

    Based on my own experiences with the players who frequent these forums, I am pretty sure that you should be able to connect with another player who would be more than happy to pass the charts you need along to you.

    Good Luck and Best Regards, Joe

  • When I asked for your comparison about the two editions of WAR IN THE EAST, you stated, "have patience--my response will be forthcoming." Well, I have just read your response and my response is, "beautiful, baby, beautiful." I definitely enjoyed reading your very detailed comparison and greatly appreciate the time, effort and care that went into producing it. I also like the fact that you end your comparison with links to your other WAR IN THE EAST related articles which allows the reader to peruse your entire body of work on this subject. When taken as a whole, it is, quite simply, an amazing group of essays which are unsurpassed. If one is a SPI fan (such as myself), your blog is appointment reading because nowhere else can one find such in-depth analysis of SPI games (of course, you don't have to be a SPI fan to enjoy your blog, as you offer a wide variety of reviews and opinions). All I can say is, like James Bond, "nobody does it better."

  • Greetings Anon:

    Thank you for your kind words; I'm glad that you found my answers helpful. Although, I should probably thank you for bringing up a set of questions that, I suspect, are of interest other gamers besides yourself.

    In any case, thanks again for giving me the idea for this "stroll down memory lane" and

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Regarding the game maps between the two additions, there is quite a change in the area around the Pripet Marshes. For example in the 2nd edition to the west of Gomel is 11 straight hexes of marsh, while Gomel and east is 5 straight hexes of forest. They also removed the rail lines extending from Gomel, which would have surprised the German air reconnaissance in 1941.

  • Greetings Glen:

    Thanks for visiting; I appreciate your interest.

    Yes, there are an number of odd discrepancies between the distances between different localities on the two editions' game maps, although the explanation that came from SPI when this was first noted was that the 2nd edition used a "Polar projection" and the original 1974 game map did not.

    Your point about missing rail lines is also well taken. For some reason, thousands of kilometers of European rail lines just disappeared when the 1976 edition came out! And this issue of missing railroads is even more noticeable when it comes to western Europe.

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Love that spiral!

  • Greetings Again Itmurnau:

    Obviously, I don't share your enthusiasm; however, I have to admit that, as much as I like the original 'WItE' Training Center Tracks, they clearly would be pretty much unworkable once German (and Allied) Production was added to the mix in 'WAR IN EUROPE'. And I should probably also confess that -- when everything is said and done -- I really wasn't disappointed that Simonsen went with the Production Spiral approach when it came to one of my all-time favorite Civil War games, 'WAR BETWEEN THE STATES'!

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Have to tell you, that entire essay was nothing short of great. I really enjoy these trips back - especially when I had the great good fortune to play the game in question and remember my experiences with it.

    Of course, I can also only realize I barely scratched the surface in my playings compared to what you bring out in these essays!

    As one of the writes above said, "When taken as a whole, it is, quite simply, an amazing group of essays which are unsurpassed." I second that completely!

    Thanks again!


  • Greetings Again Russ:

    Thanks, as always, for your kind words.

    It will be interesting to see what changes Ty Bomba and friends (at Decision Games) incorporate into the third edition of WAR IN EUROPE when, and if, it finally makes it out of development and onto the market. Of course, since the new game will undoubtedly have a price tag of $200 or more, it may be awhile before I get around to picking up a copy of the 3rd edition so that I can compare it to my first edition "flat pack" version of the game!

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Bravo for your analysis.

    One of the big diffs that you did not mention is the hex grid orientation changed, and this is no small thing.

    The rationale given for the removal of some RR lines in 2nd edition was that it showed the double track lines only, not the single track line. Again, this was no small thing as the line from Rumania into Russia vanished.

    SPI noticed that people really got into the production systems in their games, so they came up with a spoof game proposal about only doing production for some war, there would be no movement or combat, just production. I heard that it actually got quite a few votes.

    Of course, War in Europe extended the production system to Germany, but not the minor Axis powers.

    I have fond memories of playing the 1st edition and then War in Europe. Thanks for your articles.

  • Greetings Don:

    Thanks, as always, for adding your comments.

    Yes, you are quite correct about the change in hex grain: for my own part, I have always attributed the change to the "Polar Projection" approach taken for WAR IN EUROPE.

    The "double-line" argument, I suppose has some validity so far as the Soviet Union is concerned -- at least, during the period covered by WItE. When it comes to the western front, however, this explanation really breaks down because World War II Europe -- prior to the 1944 Allied bombing campaign, of course -- was covered with rail lines. In fact, on the 33 kilometers per hex scale used in the game, there would be a railroad in almost every hex in Germany and France.

    Thanks again for visiting and
    Best Regards, Joe

  • Thanks for a truly excelent article. My happiest wargaming memories are of long summers playing WitE (both editions). This is now almost as distant as the actual conflict was when we played these games.

    However, as youngsters we matured quickly through this period. Initially believing that the Germans were foolish not to have spent their resources on RR units, this modified to a deep unease and then total dissatisfaction with the games.

    Fond memory prompted me to persuade my current wargaming friends to play 2nd edition about 15 years ago, and they found it laughably bad; indeed they were offended I'd wasted their time displaying the sensible (and too clever by half) Russian withdrawal technique.

    It's a great shame these games are really so poor; I'd love an East Front game on this scale that simulates the historical flow of the campaign in operational detail. I'd tried and failed with the von Borries games, marvels though they are, as being a too finicky system, whereas I'm looking for a broader brush approach and a somewhat practical length.

    Regards, Tim Alanthwaite

  • Greetings Tim:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Like you, I still look back on 'WAR IN THE EAST' with a mixture of frustration and affection: there was so much about the conflict that Dunnigan and company pretty much got right; but, sadly, when he went off the rails, his design misses were truly breath-taking.

    Interestingly, your comments are similar to those of another visitor who described his own failed attempts -- over the years -- at trying to come up with a version of the 'WItE' game system that actually delivered historical results. Now, of course, contemporary gamers would, I suspect, tend to find such efforts on the part of amateur players a bit eccentric, particularly given the flood of new titles that keep washing into the marketplace each year. But, back in the seventies, I and many of the serious gamers I knew thought nothing of lavishing dozens (or even hundreds, in the case of 'DNO/UNT' and 'WItE') of hours on experimeting with and/or modifying the design platforms of existing games that, although flawed, we still liked and admired.

    In point of fact, once I began to reflect on the extraordinary efforts that many gamers I knew (myself, included) had once put into trying to fix the main defects in the movement/combat engine of 'WAR IN THE EAST', I couldn't resist tabling several of my current writing projects and turning my attention, instead, to starting an essay on those long ago attempts by ordinary gamers to create a "super" 'WItE'. So, having having decided to dive head first into the "nostalgia well", I will probably be adding yet another essay on 'WAR IN THE EAST' and the early and persistent post-production attempts -- which were sometimes quite elaborate -- to actually transform Dunnigan's design into the game that many of us (in the seventies, at least) really wanted.

    Thanks again for visiting and
    Best Regards, Joe

  • Joe

    Thanks for your reply. I must say, your blog is a superb piece of work, voiced by someone from my gaming era, and reflecting on subjects that are still of interest to me. I smiled when you mentioned the long hours spent 're-designing' games. Frankly, I was too enthralled by and in thrall of the designers back then; I've since not been so hesitant in my efforts to 'improve' upon some classics.

    At some stage i'll try to get a website up with some of my work. As a body, and with a bit of background about me, it should give people a bit more confidence than they might otherwise have in some anonymous character's tinkerings. It would be my attempt to put a little something back into this hobby that has given me so much pleasure and prompted so many friendships over the years.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Greetings Tim:

    Thank you, as always, for your kind words.

    I suppose that, long ago, I was probably inclined to defer to the designer when it came to questions about about the validity of a game's underlying assumptions, but that deference disappeared after I actually met a few game designers at early wargaming conventions. Ever since then, I have been a lot more willing to fiddle with a game I like -- at least, around the edges -- before I give up on a game that, although flawed, contains a few interesting ideas.

    Regarding your idea about starting your own blog: I think that such a project would be a capitol idea! However, be forewarned -- blogging can be surprisingly hard work, particularly if you decide to focus on analysis instead of conversation. In my own case, when I began this blog in 2009, I was knocking out a fresh (relatively short) post about every other day; now, however, because the interests of most of my readers seem to be in more nuanced, detailed analytical pieces, almost all of my current material tends to run much longer than the posts I wrote when I started out. And the plus side, I usually know how I will be spending much of my day when I get up in the morning!

    That being said, I still strongly encourage you to forge ahead with your plans. In spite of the occasional drudgery that continuous writing entails, I think that you will find having your own blog immensely rewarding.

    Best Regards, Joe

    P.S. After your and another reader's comments, I embarked on a short (well, not that short) retrospective of all the design contortions that I and several of my gaming friends long ago went through in our failed attempt to successfully mesh 'PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN' with 'WAR IN THE EAST'. Presently, I am a little over half done; I hope you find it interesting -- assuming, of course, that I ever actually get it finished!

  • Joe

    I strongly suspect our commitments differ; I'm chief executive of a group of companies battered by the recession, and am working long, long hours in an effort to steady the ship. Frankly, it has always been so, and I do recognise your comment on the huge time investment required to do a job well, be it a formal occupation or a hobby interest.

    My game revisions have been enormously time consuming, but rewarding nonetheless. I can certainly appreciate the care and attention that goes into your articles and yes, the depth and nuanced approach are greatly appreciated. There is plenty of wargame babble on the net, and relatively little of true substance and worth.

    I wrote a poker blog (via email) for many years for friends and professionals who I mentored, until I simply ran out of time. That hobby is now so popular that there is actually a plethora of good information, analysis and comment available, making my blog unnecessary.

    But, you are right, I should make the effort to get my work in front of a few more people who might appreciate it. As I said, I owe this hobby a lot more than it owes me, and it's time to balance the books.

    Kind regards, Tim Alanthwaite (TRA@TheLindenGroup.co.uk)

  • Greetings Tim:

    Yes, it is clear that our current circumstances are very different, indeed. I can well understand why you would take a more measured approach to blogging than my own. Frankly, if I and my wife had not retired from the "horse business", but, instead, were still running our stable/riding academy, then my starting this blog would have been utterly out of the question.

    That being said, I encourage you to proceed with your "blogging" project at your own pace. As you note, there are any number of wargaming sites that already cover contemporary gaming topics -- and, in some cases, do so quite well -- but, with the passing of many of the old-style gaming magazines, very few contemporary sites any longer devote much attention to "scenario" creation or game "variants", particularly when it comes to older titles. So my advice, for what it's worth, is that you should go ahead with your project, but that you should publish your material based strictly on your own tastes and schedule. It may take a little time, but interesting and useful material will always find an audience, even if new content is not posted every few days.

    Again, my best wishes for your future gaming endeavor, and

    Best Regards, Joe

  • Greetings
    Me and my brother had the 1st edition WITE in the 70's. I thought we were the only people in the world that played these games.After both of us serving 4 years each in the Army he met another gamer who had 2nd edition WIE. We started a club and through the mid 80's played or tried to play several times. Grown men would have a fit if they could'nt play the germans.They would do a rotten job invading Poland and want a do-over. I always played the soviets because nobody else would.Never lost, german player would quit when it was realised they could'nt win.Only attacking at max odds to not take any losses.Invading the soviet union with only 2 or 3 attacks per turn!What a joke.
    Got to play germans once in WITE.Drove straight to Leningrad and took it before bad weather.Took losses but it was worth it.Soviet players were stunned.Anyhow, I thought computer games had taken over.Me and my son set up WITE yesterday and I'm teaching him how to play with my new rules.Having fun.Looking on net is how I found this site.Thank you.

  • Greetings Ronald:

    Thank you for visiting.

    Yes, despite its many flaws, there is something about the scale and overall look and feel of 'WAR IN THE EAST' that I still like, even now. This is not to say that I haven't tried other East Front "monster" games, but only that this specific mix of design elements tends to work particularly well for me; although I do have to admit that I and my friends invested a truly amazing amount of time trying to eliminate the most irritating flaws in the game.

    Thanks again for your interest and
    Best Regards, Joe

  • Joe
    Thank you for responding so fast.
    Your bio says you live in Phx AZ.
    I was born and raised in Phx. That is where me and my brother had or gameing club. At its peak we had about a dozen players, all with their own little piece of the war.Now I live in Prescott Valley.
    I have tried other east front games too,didn't care for europa fire in the east.bi-monthly turns don't work for me. war in the east is the best and easiest to play. still need to find a german player that will play to the bitter end when the red army is a steamroller.

  • Greetings Ronald:

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Like you, I didn't really care that much for 'FIRE IN THE EAST/SCORCHED EARTH', but my own bias was mainly due to the fact that I and the others in my group had spent so many hours reworking DNO/UNT that we much preferred our "custom" version to the newer game.

    Try as we might though, we could never overcome what is probably the main problem with the GDW EUROPA WW II Game System; that is: it is actually too "dynamic" when it comes to a broad, largely featureless front like that found in parts of Russia. What this tends to translate into -- particularly on the open steppes of the Ukraine and the DonBas -- is that the feeble remnants of the two opposing armies tend to skulk out of range of each other's armor; which often ends up, in turn, creating a wide (and ahistorical) "no-man's land" between the two belligerents.

    When it comes to finding opponents who are prepared to fight to the "bitter end", I know and sympathize with your quandry. Its easy for players to maintain their morale when they're advancing; but, its always a little tougher when they realize that the "salad days" of the Wehrmacht are finally over.

    In the case of my own games of WItE as the Axis, I usually managed to get pretty deep into Soviet territory by, as you noted previously, accepting Axis casualties from the very beginning of the game; even if, Heaven Forbid, it meant attacking while out of supply. After 1943, I usually delighted in turning the "Oztunali Quick Step" strategy against the Russians. Because the Soviet supply leash is so short, I could often use my kampfgruppen -- at least until the frontline approached the original "Barbarossa Startline" in 1944 -- in very much the same way as the Russians used their rifle divisions in 1941!

    Good Luck and Best Regards, Joe

  • The quickstep is why I came up with Attack on the March

  • Sir:
    Enjoyable reading even after all these years. Thank you. A lot of interesting proposals and discussion on DG's forum also.
    Regards, Randyl Kent Plampin

  • Greetings Randyl:

    Thank you for visiting, and for your kind words.

    Best Regards, Joe

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