Welcome to today’s battleground… Western Europe in 1918! We are going to be taking a look at an old classic that was published in the May-June 1992, issue #16 of Command Magazine. I truly believe this game is worth taking another look at. It plays fun and fast, took only one evening to learn, and the game itself has some very good rules tha were possibly before its time. WWI is not one of my favorite topics, actually it’s far from that list. So if I’m telling you it’s good… it is. It was brought to my attention by my best friend and fellow gamer The Black Panzer, when he dug it out of his garage for some spring cleaning. He hadn’t played it in the fifteen years of ownership so this copy was still unpunched. At the time BP was unsure if he wanted to punch it, so I busted out my wallet and now I own a punched copy of 1918.
Now to the main course. 1919: A Storm in the West is a two-player game that simulates the last nine months of the Great War on the western front. This time frame includes the German Strosstrupen-led offensives of the spring, to the final Allied “Big Push” in the fall. Players controll either the Germans or Allies.
Each game turn represents a half-month of real time. Each hex represents about 8 miles from side to side. Units in the game are mostly European corps of between 10-60,000 men (or 300-400 tanks), or American divisions of about 30,000 men.
The main objective of the game is to flatten your oppenents morale to tear the willingness to fight from the enemy. This can be done a few different ways but the most obvious is to take the enemy’s cities and towns. The German player can also win a diplomatic victory by holding their lines long enough so the Allies just say “Screw it we’re done, let’s sue for peace.”
The rulebook is simple and easy to read. The longest task one will have is locating the deployment guidelines and setting up. Once that is all set, the game plays rather fast. Inluding rule look-ups, our first game came to a resolution somewhere around the three hour mark. I’m guessing with further play we could wrap things up in under two hours.
The combat system is simple, although keep your smart phone or a calculator handy because this game does use the “Combat Odds” of dividing the Attacking value by the Defenders value to reach the odds. After that, the rules themselves only contain 3 charts: the Combat Results Table (CRT), the Terrain Effects Chart (TEC), and the Replacement Chart. This was a refreshing taste of a simple system that I can appreciate.
Combat can be handled with just one chart because the dice roll modifiers (DRM) contain all the adjustments needed for whatever situation may occur. Only the attack rolls during a combat. Aircraft and tanks will add + or – to the DRM, along with terrain, fortresses, trenches, etc.
One thing I really thought worked well for the CRT for this period in history is that the attackers are always going take casualties, even with the best odds and the best roll. The question is… how many? And true to form fresh replacements are readily available for both sides and can be shipped very quickly to the front lines by rail, keeping the meat grinder happily fed.
In our first game the Germans changed history and forced a war of attrition, in the end the Allies could not break through. Just as a path started to open, I (the Allies) rolled an instant victory late in the game (the longer the game lasts, the greater the odds are of this happening.) Which brings me back to this point: Simple and quick. My final say on this game is an green light. Get this game if you can find it and have an extra $10-15 around. I look forward to posting some battle reports of 1918 on YouTube in the following days.