It was obvious that from the moment I unboxed the White Eagle Defiant, it would not take too much time to put this on the table. I was really interested to check how others perceive the historical events of my own country – namely, beginning of WWII. Would be great to see the way authors incorporated the Blitzkrieg tactics into the rules, the Soviet attack in the middle of the campaign, the static defenses, armor and panzer advantages over rest of the armed forces and many, many more early WWII specifics.

White Eagle Defiant is a two-person game but thanks to the chit-pull mechanism (which I really like!) it plays very well solitaire. Unfortunately, due to pandemic situation there was no way I can organize face-to-face game. Still, my two young sons (5 and 7 years old ones) love daddy’s games so they were promoted to the ranks of the bots 🙂 Of course, I was providing some options to them to choose from, but all in all they were commanding the attack and defense and of course, were in a full control of dice rolling and chit pulling – their favorite elements of the game.

I played 3 sessions that way which gives me decent amount of information and experience to share my initial feedback and impressions regarding the game. Let us see how the campaigns went!

Session #1

As this was the first play of the game, everything was new to us. No preconceptions other then historical axis of attack. We were discovering the chit-pull mechanics, how the game depicts Soviet entry and familiarizing with the special events of both sides.

  • Game set-up - September 1st 1939
  • At the same time surprising attack by Army Narew destroys German Lotzen fort!
  • 3rd German Army pushes strong from the North but is stopped at the Modlin Fortress.
  • The biggest attack comes in the south - Krakow falls but Katowice - despite being attacked from two sides - holds on.
  • One of the many costly German attacks on Torun fortress. Wehrmacht losses 3 steps, Polish forces 2.
  • After Turn 3; VPs at 7. Significant progress of German forces, occupying now Katowice, Lwow & Lublin.
  • Close-up on situation after turn 4.
  • After Turn 4; VPs at 8. The entry of Soviet forces is inevitable.
  • Another very costly German attack on Torun - 4 hits inflicted by defenders!
  • All hope are gone. Soviets enter from the East, attacking Grodno and Brest.
  • After Turn 5; VPs at 8. Entry of Soviet forces changes everything. Polish forces are between hammer and anvil now.
  • Russian attack on Grodon - this time unsuccessful as fortress holds on.
  • First, concentrated assault of German Southern Group on polish capital - Warsaw.
  • After Turn 6; VPs at 9. The end is near. Brzesc-Litewski finally surrenders. But the Poznan & Warsaw are still free!
  • One more desperate German attack to take Warsaw. All in vain!
  • After Turn 8; VPs at 9. The German/Soviet forces WIN. Still, Poznan, Modlin and Warsaw never surrenders!
  • The losses are staggering, especially German armies - for a victor - are severely mauled. Soviets definitely tipped the balance.

The game finished with German/Soviet victory on Turn 8 with 9 VPs. Warsaw was never conquered, the losses were staggering especially for Germans. And we definitely liked how the game plays!

Session #2

Equipped with insights of the first game we started second session.

  • Game set-up - September 1st 1939
  • After TURN 1; VPs at 2. Heavy fighting near Katowice and Krakow (the latter falls).
  • Second turn attacks in north result in high German causalities.
  • After TURN 2; VPs at 3. Poznan falls, war of attrition is continued in Katowice and Modlin. Very unlucky rolls for Germans (3 units destroyed)
  • After TURN 3; VPs at 5. One of the German armored divisions breaks east to take the Lwow. Polish counter-attack is being prepared near Katowice. So close to Soviet entry!
  • After TURN 4; VPs at 4. Polish counter-attack takes Poznan back!
  • After TURN 5; VPs at 5. Katowice finally falls, Polish Central army is heading towards Gdynia and Danzig.
  • After TURN 6&7; VPs at 5. The North of Poland is free again! But German forces are converging on Warsaw. One more point for Soviet entry...
  • After TURN 8&9; VPs at 3. German Southern armies were annihilated during the attack on Warsaw. Polish forces are starting the mopping-up operation...
  • After TURN 10; VPs at 0. A surprising and astonishing Polish victory - no enemy controlling major objectives on the polish soil!
  • Loses at the end of the game. Very heavy on German side, moderate on Polish.

This time the fight was much more balanced and some unlucky roles for Germans (in high quantities) prevented them from progressing according to the historical schedule. That accumulated delay stopped Soviets from entering the Poland, allowed defender to beef-up defenses and in the end resulted in surprising Polish victory!

Session #3

So far 1-1 as far as results are concerned. Let us see what happened in our third, final approach.

  • Game set-up - September 1st 1939
  • Turn 1-2: VPs at 4. Concentrated Attack on Katowice (repulsed) and Krakow (successful). In the North the assault goes through Poznan to Lodz.
  • Turn 3-4: VPs at 5. Fight for Silesia continues. One Panzer division take Lwow. Large, inconclusive battle near Torun.
  • Turn 5-6: VPs at 5. Soviets enter Eastern Poland. Polish counter-offensive in the North (Poznan and Danzig taken). Katowice finally falls.
  • Turn 7-8: VPs at 7. There is still hope! Germans take Lodz, Soviets are kept near Lomza, Lwow falls but north is free!
  • Turn 9: VPs at 12. Epic end to polish resistance. For almost 5 weeks two enemies were repulsed but then the defense collapsed.
  • Again, staggering loses on Polish and German side. The Soviets lost minimal forces.

That was very close game, much closer then the result indicates. Poles managed to prevent Soviet entry for pretty long time, and even once it happened, was fighting bitterly till the last moment. A great, vert exciting session!

First Impressions

Let me share now my thoughts and experiences regarding the game:

  • A small game as far as game length and counters density is concerned
  • Very engrossing, designed in a way that keeps both sides engaged and on the ropes almost till the last turn
  • A short set of rules giving broad variety of interesting strategic and tactical choices
  • Good tokens quality – I really like them!
  • Attention to detail – the font, colors, map, city names – all this elements are very much appreciated!
  • Good high-level simulation of actual events – like Soviet entry (always a killing blow to Polish forces; just as in history).
  • Chit-pull mechanics – which really makes the game interesting, with variable initiative where you cannot be sure what and in which sequence will happen
  • Blitzkrieg doctrine – a very neat rule implementation which combines possibility for German forces to move always both armies but at the risk of their equipment breaking down
  • Some luck factor stemming from dice rolls – but with the amount of them, it evens out with probability

I am really grateful that such interesting, well-thought and exciting game was created. For me this is of course not only a wargame, but a travel in own’s country history. As painful as it can be, I appreciate objective approach and attention to detail. Thank you Hollandspiele!