White Eagle Eastwards

Playings, 5 (7 1/2 hours)

 

Do I detect some kind of trend, another game including Russians, set in the late 19th early 20th century and simple to boot? If this is the way the hobby is going I'm off. WEE would have difficulty standing up in its own right without being released near the simple Port Arthur and the "not so bad" Russo-Turkish War, as it is it's downhill all the way for this S&T job. Add to its banality, the fact that there is no clear indication of when the reinforcement supply units come on and we have all the makings of a real downer.

 

If you must know the basis of play, not that you will be using it much, the Poles go 1st followed by the Soviets, the map shows post-WW1 Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and a strip of Russia, the Poles start in control of almost all of this. This area is home ground to the East Front types, the ever popular Pripet marshes are half way up the map on the Soviet side, apart from the odd town, a few woods and rivers that's it for the terrain, except for some hills at the map edges. The Poles are about to launch into the Soviet sector, in theory the Reds should be able to build up enough reinforcements to push back the Poles later in the game and turn the tables. This is not guaranteed and the Poles have a good chance of eliminating the Reds faster than they can bring up new troops and thus Poland steadily pushes forward. A good look at the reinforcement track will tell the Pole if he is eliminating more Soviet factors than are being replaced and whether to continue with his advance. Not that he can advance far, the map does not stretch many hexes to the East of Kiev. This is fair sport because if the Pole started knowing that he cannot win by invading Mother Russia he would not bother, in WEE the Poles have an above average chance of wiping the Reds if they go in hard in the 1st few turns. The game rules are pretty simple, a "back to the roots" approach with no ZOCs or supply lines plus (shades of Port Arthur) a 2nd exploitation move for each side. In WEE all units can move an extra D6-1 movement points in the exploitation phase, even if this exceeds the unit's printed movement allowance.

 

WEE can have up to a hefty 36 turns but thankfully the players can reduce this to a more acceptable level, my 1st game lasted for 11 turns with the Poles romping home. The sole good idea in this game is that a player can aim towards peace or war or more likely some balance between the two. This is accomplished by a points system, originally named, Political Points that can be spent to shorten the game or bring on new troops. Political Points are gained in only 3 ways, 5 for capturing an enemy held city, 5 for having a friendly city attacked and 5 for losing a city. According to my maths, this all adds up to a gain of 5 for the victor and 10 for the loser if a city is attacked and captured. The principle is that as a side does worse, it will gain more Political Points. In theory the side that has lost most territory will thus have more PPs and better reinforcements (being bought for 1 PP each unit but depending on the game turn track for availability), pushing the game to its historical flow. Every game turn both players may spend any number of PPs to reduce the game length by 1 turn for each point or stop it being reduced, at another point a turn, it is not possible to lengthen the game beyond the current game end turn. Confused? Imagine that Poland spent 10 PPs to shorten the game, Russia would have to spend 10 to stop this, spend 5 and the game is reduced by 5 turns (10 Polish PPs - 5 Russian). This is a clever idea but it whithers on the vine because the system presented is simplistic and open to gamesmanship.

 

The Pole starts in control of most of the cities on the map, he may capture a few more before the Soviet reinforcements start to build up. To win a player must control 1/2 of the cities, so the Russian is not going to be trying to reduce the game length early on but he must begin to attack to gain the cities for victory. Off he goes, gradually the Poles will lose cities and gain PPs at about twice the rate of the Russian. The canny Pole spends all the PPs he can on reducing the game length, the Russian needs time so spends all his to counteract this (none left for new troops though) because the Pole has many more PPs (gained at a 2:1 rate as he slips rearwards) the game end marker will plummet downwards giving a healthy win to the Poles before the Russian gets off the mark.