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Eurofront II – First Look!

So what’s inside Columbia’s big ol’ Eurofront II box, anyway?

Cyrano, 3 December 2014

As much as I’ve defended the rituals of electronic gaming elsewhere on this site, I know in my soul that I will always love the monster board game.  I shall always love, for I am now too old to change, the pages of rules, piles of pieces, and the maps, the lovely, lovely maps over which I can pore like Berthier, imagining myself to have responsibility for the fates of armies of men.

Columbia Games’ Grant Dagleish took advantage of this when we talked at Origins about the company’s Eurofront II.  He lured me with talk of battles lasting days, if not weeks, and of near-sighted men waging the whole of World War II from beyond the Urals to the mountains Pyrenee.  I wound up angry-buying the Ogre Designer’s Edition at Origins, but, by the time GenCon rolled around — and Grant made the company’s usual generous convention discount offer, it was all too late.  I offer, then, this unboxing to the splendid excess of this monster.

The first thing to note is that Eurofront II is actually a bridge between the updated West Front II and East Front II, adding much to both and allowing the whole of the war to be played out simultaneously.  Here they stand together:

3

Like all of Columbia’s games, the covers are actually sleeves wrapped around cardboard drawer-like boxes.  When one has opened all three, they disgorge this:

opened

I’ll make my way to the maps in a bit, so the biggest thing to notice here are the bags of blocks.  They’re the familiar Columbia size and come in side-appropriate colors.  Both West Front and East Front have large enough bags on their own, but Eurofront, at least based on a good old-fashioned “heft” test, would seem to top them both.  My cursory review of the rules suggests those extras are intended to fill in all the minors that came to fight.  Blocks, of course, mean you need stickers, and there are a lot of those too.

Stickers

My long-suffering wargame widow has attested that she doesn’t mind mindlessly stickering blocks for me, but I’ve since hit on a better solution — a loving six-year-old who will happily work for a wage that would cause an Apple phone-plant worker to cavil.  He will be busy.

Once stickered, there are extensive OOB sheets intended to help organize forces prior to their being set out on the map.  Put another way:  they help the befuddled player make certain he’s got all his pieces.  Here’s the OOB sheet for the Western Front:

WFOOB

And here’s the OOB sheet for the Eastern Front:

EFOOB

Now to the subject of the map.  I confess to being a bit ambivalent about the map.  It’s not printed on paper but on card.  Because of the way it folds, however, I was repeatedly worried about unfolding it the wrong way and, due to the awkward distribution of weight, causing it to tear.  I know how much such things cost, but I wonder about the merits of printing something like this onto the material banners are made of these days.  There is no doubt that it’s going under plexiglass when it comes time to play.  In any event, the map is definitely big.  My leafless dining room table was unprepared for the experience:

BigMap

Quality control on a project like this must be nightmarish and I have nothing but respect for the level of detail and accuracy that’s put into the best of these.  I very much enjoyed just looking around the map, seeing which cities and towns were represented, which cities had what level of production, etc.  A single hexside was seemingly misprinted and Columbia took the trouble to insert a sticker that can be cut out and placed lovingly on the map.  A nice touch, I think me.

This picture of the West Front portion of the map gives a better sense of the area covered.

WFMAP

And this one gives a sense of the close-up detail in the vicinity of Constantinople which gives me the further opportunity to get that particular earworm stuck in each of your heads.

Istanbul

As a parting note, the included scenarios use the clever notion of introducing the game via the shortest time periods (1944 and on) and then allowing players to push back as far towards 1939 as they’re inclined.  Grant (and his father, Tom) warned me that a 1939 start was no small commitment.  Well, I just need to round up a bunch of retired guys (and gals, if spirit moves them) and have at.  See you in Rostov!


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