It is always refreshing to see how others perceive the historical events of your country. It gives different perspective and is usually much more objective, not clouded by some martyrdom or false assumptions. I am always eager to familiarize myself with such opinions be it in books – Norman Davis being one of my favorite history authors – or my greatest hobby – boardgames. With that in mind I reached for White Eagle Defiant from Hollandspiele.
September campaign (as known in Poland), Fall Weiss (know in Germany) or simply beginning of World War II (as known throughout the World) is a very painful period in my nation past. Betrayed by Allies, invaded by Soviets, overwhelmed by Germans. Still, the recent historical studies provide a lot of new information regarding that campaign and it could be surprising to many to learn about stiff Polish resistance, losses in German Armor, tremendous effect of Soviet invasion or even the involvement of Slovak forces. With that in mind, let us tell more about game mechanics and check what is in the box!
So the White Eagle Defiant recreates the German, Slovak and Soviet invasion of Poland in September and October 1939 that marked the beginning of the Second World War. Germany and its Slovakian ally began the invasion on September 1, 1939; the Soviet Union followed suit on the 17th.
In this game one player controls the Germans, Slovaks and Soviets while the other commands the Poles. The German objective is to gain control of Warsaw and other designated Victory cities while preventing Polish forces from destroying their forts in East Prussia and recapturing Victory cities. If the German player does so in less time than the historical campaign, they win the game. Anything less is a draw or a win for the Polish player.
The title employ one of my favorite mechanics – point-to-point map and a chit pull mechanism to simulate the campaign and uncertainty of action. On top of this, random event chits are included to add variety to the game, reflecting the weapons (such as armored trains and aerial bombardment) used at the beginning of World War II. We also have specialized units, like German Panzers (which can roll two dice instead of one) and cavalry for the Poles (which can roll a “first shot” at the beginning of a combat round).
A Victory Point track allows for variable entry of Soviet forces (depending on the success of the German player in capturing Victory cities), as well as the possibility of the Allies launching an attack in the West (if the German player fails to do well in capturing Victory cities). Finally, a “blitzkrieg breakdown” track is used by the German player; if the turn ends before both German army group chits are pulled, the German player may elect to activate a group, but possibly suffer a “breakdown” while doing so – and if five such breakdowns occur, the German player automatically loses the game.
The box contents
Even the first look at the game components shows that a lot was done to keep with epoch theme and a particular concern to detail is evident throughout the game. The font and color used for the Map, the names of Polish, German, Slovak and Russian cities. The great picture on the box.
As a wargamer from Poland I can really appreciate such thorough approach and can say only one thing – thank you Hollandspiele! Can’t wait to start playing!