Downfall of the Third Reich: Designer’s notes

In 2005 I published BLITZWAR, a game whose objective was to faithfully simulate the Second World War in the European Theater, at a strategic level, with simple rules and short duration games.

DOWNFALL OF THE THIRD REICH was born with the same objective, but with the aim of simplifying the rules and shortening the duration of the games, without losing simulation fidelity. The rules of the game occupy only 6 and a half pages and it can be played in one sitting, when you are familiar with the game.

The parallel objective of the game was that it should be exciting and that countless plays could be played without getting boring.

DOWNFALL OF THE THIRD REICH (DoTR) was inspired by the mechanics I used in DOWNFALL OF EMPIRES (World War I simulation game, which I created before) so it can be considered of the same family. Some of these mechanisms are: the combat unit is the army, the combat is army to army with supports, each player does a certain number of Actions per turn, one of the Actions is to perform Developments, etc.

The system of Actions per turn, which forces players to choose among multiple alternatives, is one of the pillars of the game.

In addition to performing Actions, players, in their turn, can spend what they have accumulated in previous Actions (missions, tanks and supply).

One of the challenges of DoTR was to introduce chariot armies and have them behave historically. This is achieved with Blitzkrieg Development, which allows you to break through enemy lines and pocket armies.

DoTR also has its operational component. You have to play finely to penetrate enemy lines, pocket armies and prevent your own armies from being pocketed.

There is a tactical movement rule that is necessary for the game to function correctly at the operational level, which is: “From a zone in which there are armies of another side you cannot move tactically to uncontrolled zones nor to zones with armies of another side, …”

The above rule caused me, playing as a German, to suffer the bagging of two armored armies in Stalingrad.

It was a surprise that reaffirmed its good performance.

The aviation (which has great importance) and naval warfare (Battle of the Atlantic) works with the mission system. After much thought I decided not to include surface fleet. It is up to the German player to decide how much resources to devote to submarines at the expense of other military efforts.

Only special rules are included to represent facts that are necessary for the game to work well as a historical simulation. For example, those included in the section on Political Restrictions on Operations.

The special rule -German tanks, in the Soviet Union, if not Forest, Swamp or Mountain, and Africa Korps and British tanks in Africa, turn a die roll of 1 or 2 into 3, was necessary to represent the historical efficiency of some units and to encourage players to use these units in a logical way.

Perhaps the most artificial rule in the game is the one relating to North Africa in Vichy France. I preferred to solve this aspect of the game in this way, rather than over-complicate the rules.

The control of Trondheim represents the control of Northern Norway, especially the port of Narvik. The importance of its control in DoTR, simulates the one that occurred, with the consequent large number of German troops stationed there.

DoTR games can be very different, given the innumerable possibilities that the players have, as well as the randomness provided by the dice (which represents very well the randomness in wars).

In many games the Axis is successful in its first operations and can make a powerful Barbarossa. In others, if it has bad luck at the beginning, it may be preferable to focus on the fight against the Allies, keeping a more defensive strategy with the Soviet Union.

Despite the many possibilities, it is surprising that when players on all three sides play well, most games end with German surrender in the last turns or very close to surrender.

Enjoy Downfall of the Third Reich very much!

 Víctor Català

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