Hitler’s Reich: WW2 in Europe from GMT Games is a 2-player slightly abstracted card game that focuses on the European Theater of World War II from 1941 through 1945. The game is advertised as the first game in The Card Conquest Series and uses cards to decide battles between players for not only the control of territory, but also for the use of certain event cards.
In this Action Point, we will be taking a look at some of the Event Cards and how players can search their decks for the available ones that they want to play but have to then earn with a “battle” called a Conflict Resolution.
Event Cards are available to both players during the game and represent the various historical elements of World War II. There are 3 different decks of Event Cards, including the Axis only Events, the Allied only Events and combined Axis and Allied Events. Each event card has a title and then an effect on the game that happens when players use those cards. One thing that I really liked about the Events Cards was the quick summary of that card’s effect that appears just under the title of the Event. Then, for further clarification, there is a longer detailed explanation found beneath the picture that will help players better understand that cards effect. The quick summary is helpful as you are searching through the deck looking for the Event Cards that you are interested in gaining through what is called an Event Action (more on this later).
There are four different types of Event Cards. Reusable, Returnable, Removable and Recyclable and each type has their own symbol for quick identification.
The Reusable Events are ones that reside in front of the player and once used during a Conflict Resolution are either retained if the player won the conflict but then flipped over to signify they are used or are returned to the appropriate Event Card deck to be used later.
Returnable Events once used are placed back in the Event Card deck that they came from and can also be reacquired in the future by the player.
Removable Events are typically more powerful events and once they are played they are removed from the game and placed in the box top to avoid confusion with other reclaimable Event Cards. But, if the player using the Removable Event wins that Conflict Resolution, rather than getting rid of the card for the entire game, they simply then place it back in the Event Card deck and can use it again in the future.
Finally, Recyclable Events once played are placed out of play but can be brought back into the game at the end of a turn. This can be a little confusing so when you place cards in the box top to show they are gone for now or permanently, you need to keep them separated.
Each player can never have more than 6 Event Cards in their possession. If they have 6 Event Cards, and somehow gain a new card, they must immediately discard one card in order to take the new Event.
At the end of each year, the players will assemble all of their Returnable and Recyclable Event Cards into a single deck. Then, each player will randomly select two of the Event Cards from this deck that will become a part of the players held Event Cards. But, at the end of 1942, the Allied player will receive 3 random cards while the Axis player will still only receive 2.
So, what type of actions do these Event Cards provide? Let me show you just a few examples.
General Patton is a Reusable Event that provides the player with the ability to change one Conflict Die result to a 5. The card is great to have on your side but is limiting as it must be used when the Allied player is attacking an Axis controlled land area from a Western Allied controlled area. Being able to change a die result to a 5 is very powerful. When you roll Conflict dice during a Conflict Resolution, if you roll a 1 you are in trouble. But never fear, “Old Blood and Guts” can assist you when you really need it. I have used many a card like this to win battles when there was no other hope of a reroll.
General Eisenhower is a Returnable Event that is very, very powerful. When played during a Conflict Resolution after choosing a card from your hand that you are going to play, this Event allows you to randomly draw a card from the top of your Conflict Card deck and add both of these numbers to your total before rolling. This can be the difference in winning or losing a key battle and there are some battles that are must wins for both sides in order for future attacks to have a reasonable chance of succeeding.
The final Event Card I will show you is Desperate Gamble, which is a Reusable Axis Event Card. Like the General Eisenhower Event Card I showed earlier, when played you will also get to randomly draw a card from the top of your Conflict Card deck to add to the total of your attack value. But, there is a price for this maneuver as the Axis player will have to reduce their hand size by one card. This is not good as it can make it harder to win if you are going for a hand size discrepancy victory and also will limit your future hands’ options.
Now that I have shared with you some examples of Event Cards, and I have referred to the Conflict Resolution phase and Conflict Cards in general, I think you need to understand the makeup of each players’ Conflict Card decks. Each player and side has a Conflict Card deck that consists of various suits of cards. These suits include German (gray cards denoted with the Balkan Cross), Italian (mint green cards denoted with the Fascist symbol), American (green cards with the White Star) and Soviet (tan colored cards with the Red Star). Each of these suit of cards has the same numbered cards in their deck numbered 1-13 with an additional 10 card that is called the Double Agent that will block the reroll special abilities of the higher valued cards. These 14 cards make up the Conflict Card deck. The suits are not all made the same though as the German suit is the most powerful, with the Italians being the weakest. The Germans have an ability that allows them to win all ties while the Italians will lose a tie.
You will also notice that the three highest valued cards, being 11, 12 and 13, have a special ability attached to them to allow for a certain amount of rerolls. The Lieutenant-General can re-roll one die, the Field Marshal can re-roll up to 2 dice and the Supreme Commander can re-roll up to 3 dice. These high value cards are very important and can make a huge difference between a victory and total disaster!
Players use these cards to attempt to win Conflict Resolution for various purposes, including control of a territory or the ability to obtain an available Event Card and place it in their tableau to be used. The Conflict Resolution process is very simple and involves each player selecting a card to be played from their Conquest Card deck and then revealing those cards before rolling a prescribed number of dice. The players then add up the values of their Conquest Card(s) and the sum of their dice roll to compare to that of their opponent with the highest total being declared the winner, or in the case of a tie, the German’s being declared winner or the Italians the loser.
I wanted to end this post with a look at a Conflict Resolution between my Americans and the Germans over obtaining the available Event Card called Higgins Boats. This point of the game was a key time for the Allies as I had gained control of all of North Africa by defeating the Germans at Libya and also gained control of the Sicilian Sea Zone with a marker having been placed through a victory in a sea battle and then an Allied Fleet Marker being present.
This was my time to strike and I needed to have the Higgins Boats Event Card to use in order to execute an Amphibious Assault on Sicily.
I called out that I was taking an Event Action during my turn, which meant I could acquire an available Returnable or Reusable Event Card through winning a Conflict Resolution. With that, I found the Reusable event in the Allied Event Card deck and brought it to the table and placed it on the map in full view of my opponent. We then each chose one Conquest Card secretly to play and simultaneously revealed it. I only had a lowly 8 value Major but was pleased when I saw that he also chose a Major. It would come down to our rolls.
During a Conflict Resolution, each player will roll at least 3 dice plus any bonus dice, up to a maximum of 5, granted by Events or other processes. In our case, there were no Events granting bonuses and no other bonuses so it would just be a straight roll off of 3 dice each. As you can see in the picture below, I rolled a 6, 3 and 3 for a total roll of 12 (white dice) while my opponent rolled a 5, 3 and 2 for a total roll of 10 (black dice). Once we added in the value of 8 for the Major, my final total of 20 beat his total of 18. This meant I would win the Conflict Resolution and be able to secure the available Event Card Higgins Boats.
Hitler’s Reich is a very interesting game of risk versus reward. There are many ways to go about winning the game, and more often than not, games will be decided with conflict, as the Axis attempt to capture the Allied Capital of Moscow and other Production Centers and the Allies will work to make their way onto the European mainland first in Italy and then into France with Operation Overlord. I found that the mechanics were very interesting and simulated the entirety of World War II in a fairly interesting and challenging way. You must make good odds attacks, by ensuring that you have either the advantage in the number of dice, or the various Event Cards that you have to manipulate die rolls and also must be very skillful at managing your hand of Conquest Cards. I have enjoyed our several plays thus far and am still learning the system. I hope to play the game again soon and we will be doing a review on the game.
If you want to learn a little more about Hitler’s Reich: WW2 in Europe, you can check out our designer interview with Mark McLaughlin or watch our unboxing video to get a closer look at the cards, board and other components.
In our next Action Point, we will take a look at a few examples of the Attack Action, including one battle over a sea zone and another over a territory.