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GrogHeads Reviews: World At War Compendium 2

Is the new Compendium for you? Read on!

Jim Owczarski, 27 March 2015

And now, as a public service, a simple decision matrix to help you determine if you should purchase “World at War: Compendium #2” (hereafter Comp2) from Lock ‘n Load Publishing.

  • Are you a fan of the World at War series’ take on the Cold War gone hot?
  • Are you enough of  fan of this series that you have purchased many — not to say all — but many of the games, modules, and expansions that have come out since the release of Eisenbach Gap?
  • Even if you are a fan of the series, did you neglect to pick up issues 8-14 of Lock ‘n Load’s “Line of Fire” magazine?
  • Are you a fan of the Bauhaus font?

If you answered “yes” to all of the above, there is no reason that I can think of for you not to pick up Comp2.   It’s available for a scant $49.99 from www.lnlpublishing.com  You’ll be glad you did.  Thus endeth the review.

If, on the other hand, you answered “no” to any of the above, read on; matters are a bit more complicated.

For those not in the know, the World at War series  is a rather brilliant wargaming take on an alternative universe in which neither glasnost nor perestroika proved fractionally as appealing to the Warsaw Pact as pouring T-72s and other arms through the Eisenbach Gap in an effort to assert Soviet dominance in Western Europe and elsewhere.  It’s relatively simple and elegant system has been very well received and has drawn a sizable following to games like Eisenbach Gap (regular and deluxe), Blood and Bridges, Operation Garbo, The Untold Stories, etc.  Its approach is tactical with maneuver elements typically being platoons and small units of vehicles.

With one most notable exception, Comp2 is a perfect bound, well, compilation of all the World at War material included in Lock ‘n Load Publishing’s “Line of Fire” magazine issues 8-14.  It comes in a ziplock bag and includes the book itself, a 108-counter countersheet, and an 11” X 17” map.

LOF-Comp

There’s a bunch in the package

 

As far as content is concerned, Comp2 includes a nice refresh of the World at War alternative timeline, a single variant rule (intended to nerf the HQ units that some perceive to be overpowered), as well as a couple of after action reports based on scenarios from different releases in the series.  More than anything else, however, it includes scenarios, either 30 or 36 of them depending on whether or not you count the variants for six scenarios included with the original Eisenbach Gap..  This is the kind of thing that would, under normal circumstances, make a World at War fan very happy indeed.  These are, however, not normal circumstances.  If I may explain…

You’d never be able to tell it from my office, but, when it comes to my wargames, I’ve got a strong streak of OCD.  If Clash of Arms ever released a special 200th Anniversary D’Erlon counter for La Bataille de Mont St. Jean, I would, under no circumstances, play the fool thing unless that counter was in place.  For this reason more than any other Comp2 gives me absolute fits.  Please check out this table listing the first 19 scenarios included in Comp2, as well as the units and maps needed to play each of them:

Scenario Units Needed from: Map Needed From:
First Blood The Untold Stories (TUS) Eisenbach Gap Deluxe (EGD)
Erste Bewegung EGD EGD
First Catch Blood and Bridges (BB), TUS EGD
First Fight BB EGD
First Moves ‘82 EGD Line of Fire #2 or Compendium #1 (Comp1)
First Encounter BB EGD
Lancers to the Front BB Battles within Battles (BwB)
Brothers in Arms TUS, BB, EGD TUS
Tank Battle – FIrst Encounter EGD, TUS, BB EGD
Nymaeshamn Operation Garbo (OG), BB, TUS OG
Tanks of War EGD, Comp2 BB
The Other Guys EGD, Comp2 BB
The Mainz Event EGD, BB, TUS, Paris is Burning (PIB), Into the Breach, Comp1 TUS, PIB
The Sting EGD,  BB BB
Solidarnosc and the Fifth Partition EGD, TUS TUS
Spring Cleaning EGD, BB BB
Tanks, Mr. Rico! Zillions of ‘Em! EGD, BB, ITB, Comp1, Comp2 BB
New Moon On Monday EGD, BB, ITB, Comp1, Comp2 BB
Hill 252 EGD, TUS, ITB PIB

Note that I used Eisenbach Gap Deluxe above rather than the first edition of Eisenbach Gap and the expansion Death of the 1st Panzer; some of the scenarios require bits from the former, some from the latter, and some both, but my impression looking on line is that most have upgraded to deluxe leaving the first edition available at a discount.   As you can see, to get your money’s worth out of Comp2, you’ll have to make a fairly substantial investment in the W@W series.  What really stands out in the above, though; is the frequent appearance of The Untold Stories — a game that has gone out of print and can prove very difficult to find on the secondary market.  I get the notion that mega scenarios — “Tanks, Mr. Rico! Zillions of ‘Em!” is certainly one — require lots of parts.  I also very much appreciated one of the designer’s remarks that creating scenarios for boardgames is not unlike the circumstances confronted by the crew of Apollo 13, where there are only so many pieces in the capsule, but making the tweaked versions of the original Eisenbach Gap scenarios depend on three other games is a strange choice.

None of the potentially very cool Sino-Vietnamese scenarios are playable without The Untold Stories either  — a bit of a personal disappointment as I find this a fascinating possibility…and the pieces look really cool.

LOF-Sino

New new LNLP countersheets show individually-cut counters that cut down of the need to clip corners

 

 

I also do not understand the decision not to include any of the South African Defense Force components that appeared in “Line of Fire”.  I picked up a number of those magazines at the time because I’m a bush war kind of guy, but to not include even a single scenario with components while at the same time including an AAR of one of the scenarios is a poor choice.

LOF-Book

So very cool…and not in the package…

Please bear in mind that I say all these things as a fan.  I’ve been concerned about this series since it left Mr. Walker’s hands and I want very much for it to succeed under the new leadership of Lock ‘n Load.  What’s more, there is a good deal of “stuff” in Comp2 to like.  I always enjoy well-thought-out AARs and these did a nice job of suggesting alternate approaches to “problems” I had already thought I’d solved.  The scenarios that I tucked into were well designed and the components — I long ago stopped trying to answer my wife’s “what gives with the Bauhaus” questions — are consistently well done.  Here, for example, are my mighty Luxembourgers waiting in the weeds:

LOF-Lux

Sneaky Luxembourgers

 

So, at the end, “Compilation #2” is not the place you want to start a love affair with the World at War series.  If you’re already in for a penny — and probably for a pound — though, and you didn’t pick up all the “Line of Fire” issues as they came out, it’s a fine place to do some one-stop shopping.


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