About game:

White Eagle Defiant from Hollandspiele by Ryan Heilman 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.

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.

Number of players:

The game is best of course with 2 players but thanks to chit-pull mechanism also plays great as a solo wargame. You can also test 3 player variant, but one of the players might wait pretty long for Soviet entry.

Playing time:

Initially the game take you around 1.5-2 hours, but with time it should be quicker. The scenarios added to the game (links in one of the sections below) can be played even in shorter timeframe.


You do not need too much time to start playing – rules are pretty straightforward and easy to grasp. This is high level, strategy orientated game which gives a good approximation and tons of fun – by no means tries to be a perfect simulation.

What I like:
  • The game theme – Ryan Heilman already showed to us the start of First World War (Brave Little Belgium) and now we are presented with very interesting position regarding beginning of WWII.
  • It is a small game as far as play length and counters density is concerned but gives a lot of fun and replayability (especially, with additional scenarios)
  • We have a short and clear set of rules giving broad variety of interesting strategic and tactical choices.
  • Good components quality – I really like them! On top of this, attention to detail – the font, colors, map, city names – all this elements are very much appreciated!
  • Chit-pull mechanics – which really makes the game interesting, with variable initiative where you cannot be sure what and in which sequence will happen
  • Good high-level simulation of actual events – like Soviet entry (always a killing blow to Polish forces; just as in history).
What I do not like or would like to see in the game:
  • Some luck factor stemming from dice rolls – of course, the number of them is so high that evens out.
  • It is a very high abstraction and one can debate if the units characteristics should be like they are depicted – e.g. Polish Cavalry being so effective.
For whom?

Definitely you do not need too much wargaming experience to play this title. It can be a good entry position into our hobby but the experienced grognardd will find it interesting and engrossing too. 

More about the game:

And now let us have a look at the components – all pictures taken during my plays:

After Turn 6; VPs at 9. The end is near. Brzesc-Litewski finally surrenders. But the Poznan & Warsaw are still free!
Turn 6, Polish forces barely holding as Soviets already entered the war.
Close-up on situation after turn 4.
Close-up on situation in Western Poland after four turns.
Game set-up – the concentration of German troops in the North looks ominous.
Second turn attacks in north result in high German causalities.
And here comes the blast – German Northern front attacks in multiple spaces.



I will of course can be a little biased in my opinion about the game – in essence, this is part of my country history. 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.

It is encouraging to see another great game about the topic – not overly complex nor too simple, nicely depicting the strategic dimension of fight and being superb addition to the series by Ryan Heilman. I can wholeheartedly recommend that title to any player interested in fast-playing and exciting strategic level wargames. Additional benefit is its suitability for solo play

See you in another game review!