Road to Berlin – Boardgame Review
Road to Berlin is Avalanche Press’s 2006 Eastern Front game and sequel to Eastern Front Deluxe. It sells for seventy-five dollars. This may seem like a pretty hefty price, so let’s see what you get.
First of all, there are over eight hundred counters. Four counter sheets are German, Hungarian, and Russian units with another counter sheet of markers. The counters represent platoon size units, are multi-colored depending on nationality, and clearly show the particular vehicle or weapons system. I found some numbers on the darker green background of the Soviet Guard units difficult to read. A magnifying glass helps, especially when sorting units for a particular scenario. The next big feature of the game is the maps. Road to Berlin contains eight, 11" x 17" heavy cardstock maps at two hundred meters to the hex. This represents a little over eight square miles per map. While no scenario calls for it, if you laid the maps end to end, they would stretch over eleven feet! For those of you who have the space and time, and like to design your own scenarios, you can truly fight a long road to Berlin, about twenty-seven scale miles.
The game also contains the Third Edition series rules for the Panzer Grenadier games. The rules are sixteen pages and are very clear and specific. There are several player aid charts, four very small dice, and the scenario book. The scenario book contains about a page and a half of special rules unique to Road to Berlin and seventy-five scenarios. When you figure the price of the game against the number of scenarios, you are getting a new game for a dollar each. Not bad! The only fault I have with the scenario booklet is that the number of counters for specific units doesn’t always match the counter-mix available. It is usually only a question of one or two units, and only in a few scenarios. The scenarios range from single map firefights like #72, "What do you do with a Drunken Sailor" where elements of the German Navy’s 1st Marine Division try to stop platoons of the 76th Guards Rifle Division, to #15, a six map free-for-all called "Panzers in Prussia". This is one of the ultimate East Front scenarios with lots of tanks, infantry, and artillery. Most of the scenarios use two, three, or four maps. There are four scenarios that use a single map and eight scenarios that use six maps. No scenarios use seven or eight maps. This leaves the gamer to design his/her own "monsters". So, with eight maps, seventy-five scenarios, and over eight hundred counters, this is a physically impressive game.
Now let’s look at the particulars of the game. To start, the counters are the usual Avalanche Press quality. On the German side you have regular army, Waffen SS, German naval troops, four counters representing eight different aircraft and two counters of Luftwaffe 88mm anti-aircraft guns. The Germans also have a contingent of Hungarian troops – mainly infantry, artillery, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns and a couple of mortar platoons, plus leaders. ( There is no Hungarian armor like the counter shown on the back of the box! ) The German naval troops are strictly infantry with two heavy machine gun platoons. They do not have their own leaders. The German army has gray background counters showing infantry, cavalry, heavy machine guns, mortars, engineers, armored cars, trucks, wagons, motorcycle platoons, and LOTS of tanks. There are Hetzers, Stug IIIs, Panzer IVHs and Vs, one platoon of Tigers and six TigerIIs. German artillery is especially significant where their 105 mm have a range of 31 hexes with a firepower of 16. The Germans also have a self-propelled artillery unit in the form of a Wespe battery also with a 16 firepower factor at a range of 31 hexes. Talking about reaching out and touching someone! The Germans also have leaders ranging from sergeants (3), lieutenants (20), captains (8), to majors (3), Lieutenant Colonels (2), and Colonels (2). The Waffen SS counters have a nice green and tan camouflage type of background. They have infantry, heavy machine guns, mortars, engineers, three platoons of anti-tank guns, two 20mm, one 75 mm, and one 88mm anti-aircraft batteries. The SS armor is mostly panzer IVHs and Vs with a couple of Stug IIIs, Hetzers, and armored cars. The SS also have one platoon of Tigers and three platoons of Tiger IIs. The SS leaders have SS rank with one Scharfuhrer ( sergeant), seven Oberstrumfuhrers (lieutenants), four Hauptstrumfuhrers (captains), two Strumbannfuhrers (majors). two Obersturmbannfuhrers ( Lieutenant Colonels), and one Standartenfuhrer ( Colonel). This is a nice touch.
Now, almost anyone would want to play the Germans with all this firepower. However, this game is set in 1945 and the Germans are fighting for their lives! Let’s look at what the Russian bear has for weapons. First off, the Russian units are divided between the Red Army of Workers and Peasants, ( RKKA ), light green counters, and the elite Soviet Guards with dark green counters and a diagonal red and gold ribbon running across the counters’ top left corner.
The RKKA have infantry, cavalry, engineers, heavy machineguns, mortars, anti-tank guns, field artillery, anti-aircraft batteries, trucks, wagons, three platoons of armored cars, two self-propelled artillery pieces and a total of sixty-five tank platoons with ten different types of tanks. They even have a dozen units of Shermans! ( Thank goodness for Lend Lease.) Most of the Soviet tanks are T-34s with a 76 mm main gun and T-34s with an 85 mm main gun, but there are also SU 122s and JS 152 tank destroyers. The RKKA leaders include one sergeant, six lieutenants, four captains, two majors, one lieutenant-colonel, one colonel, and two "Kommissars." The Kommissars are not combat leaders, but may assist demoralized units in recovering from the effects of combat.
The Soviet Guards also have infantry, cavalry, heavy machineguns, engineers, mortars, anti-tank, and field artillery. The Guards do not have any anti-aircraft guns, but do have a platoon of rocket propelled artillery that has a fire factor of twenty at a range of eighteen hexes. The Guards are lead by one sergeant, five lieutenants, three captains, two majors, one lieutenant-colonel, one colonel, and a Kommissar with a morale rating of eleven!. The real power of the Guards lies with their armor. They have two armored car platoons, three self-propelled artillery units with fire factors of fourteen but only a four hex range, and seven varieties of tanks and tank destroyers. There are four platoons of JSU-152s with a fire factor of eighteen and a range of eight. Most of the armor is Joseph Stalin 2s and T34/85s, but the Guards also have one platoon of Tigers! While the German Tiger has a fire factor of fourteen, the Guards’ is only a twelve. The Soviets also have six powerful air units with fire factors ranging from twelve to twenty-six. Overall, a nice variety of counters representing significant forces for both sides.
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