War in Europe is a grand strategic "monster" board wargame published by Simulations Publications Inc. (SPI) in 1976 that attempts to simulate the entirety of World War II's European theater of operations from 1939 to 1945. One of the largest wargames ever produced, War in Europe features 4000 counters, four rulebooks, and nine maps that when placed together cover an area of 38.5 ft2 (3.6 m2). The game is nominally a three-player game (Allied, Axis, Soviet), but each side can be represented by teams of players. SPI estimated the full game would take at least 180 hours.
|Published by||Simulations Publications|
In 1974, SPI had produced War in the East, a "monster" wargame (having more than 1000 counters) that simulated the Eastern Front conflict between Germany and the Soviet Union from "Operation Barbarossa" in 1941 until Germany's surrender in 1945. Two years later, in 1976, SPI published War in the West, which covered the Allied-German conflict in Western Europe and North Africa. Later the same year, SPI published War in Europe, which combined a revised version of War in the East (henceforth called War in the East, 2nd edition) and War in the West. Players can either play one or the other, or can combine both games into one massive campaign covering the entire European Theater called War in Europe.
- 4000 die-cut counters
- 4 rulebooks:
- Standard Rules (used in both East and West games)
- Rules used only in War in the East 2nd Edition
- Rules used only in War in the West
- Rules only used in War in Europe
- Nine 22" x 34" paper hex grid maps scaled to 33 km (22.5 mi) per hex
- Various game aids and Combat Result Tables
War in the West
- Poland 1939: four-turn introductory scenario designed to teach the rules.
- France 1940,
- North Africa 1942 (from Gazala to Tunis)
- Italy 1943
- France 1944
War in the East
War in Europe
The Combat Result Tables (CRTs) are variable according to the game year: Germans begin by attacking on the table most favourable to the attacker, but deteriorate slightly in quality during the war, while the Allies and Soviets begin on an unfavourable table and improve in quality during the game.
The Soviets may attempt to slow German tank advances by flipping their small infantry divisions to create static fortifications (which double the combat value of another unit in the hex) and by using antitank brigades (which halve the value of attacking German armour). Another factor slowing the German advance into the USSR is the different railway gauge, which means that railroad lines in the USSR take longer to convert to German control.
Air and Sea Warfare
Each player has air factors, which may be used either for "air superiority" (fighting the enemy air force), or to enhance the die roll for ground combat, to suppress ports or to interdict hexes, making them harder to move through; the numerically-superior air force, after winning the air superiority combat, may largely prevent the enemy from conducting the latter functions. Whereas the German Luftwaffe might have ten or twenty factors during the invasion of France in 1940, by 1944 the Western Allies alone might have approaching 100 air factors, enough to interdict almost every hex in France.
The Western Allies may also conduct a strategic bombing campaign, increasing in range and effectiveness as the war goes on, to bomb German industrial and resource centres (see below); the German player may attempt to fight this off with his own air factors and with flak units.
The game also includes very rudimentary rules for naval evacuations (evacuated units are flipped to battlegroups) and seaborne invasions. Western Allied naval forces are not shown in the game apart from the landing craft needed for invasions, and these need to be used before most of them are withdrawn for the Pacific Theatre in the latter part of 1944. The German player may also build submarine and surface naval factors.
The game places great emphasis on German and Soviet production; only German production is used in War in the West and only Soviet in War in the East (in each of these sub-games the German player must add or remove units to reflect historical transfers between the fronts). Once each month, the players spend production points to construct units, which are placed on giant production spiral displays to show how many months in the future they will become available – infantry units being available fairly quickly, with armour units taking longer, and air and naval units longer still.
German production points are generated from industrial and resource centres (provided the Western Allies have not bombed them), with resource centres in Romania and the USSR – representing oil and other raw materials – needing to be controlled for the German economy to operate at full effectiveness (Germany also has a limited capacity to "loot" production points from conquered countries). German production points are increased by a multiplier, which reflects the increased productivity of the German war economy as the war progresses.
The German player has a wide of choice of units to produce: infantry, garrison infantry (for fighting partisans), static infantry (for coastal defence), Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions (stronger SS versions of both of these becoming available later in the game), small Panzer brigades, paratroops and air transport points, flak, fortifications, supply depots, and railroad repair units. Replacement points may be produced to rebuild battlegroups into full-strength divisions at the front. The German player is limited to spending at most 30% of his production on naval units, although he may spend between 30% and 50% on the Luftwaffe.
Soviet production points are created from personnel and arms points; the latter are increasingly available as the war progresses, whereas personnel points, abundant in 1941, become scarcer and by 1944 are not available every turn, often forcing the Soviet player to cannibalise no-longer-needed infantry units for their personnel points (the arms points used to create them are lost). Soviet production is largely determined by the course of the war: the USSR needs to build infantry and antitank units first – although even in the desperate early turns the USSR is still required to build two new air factors each turn, so the Red Air Force will gradually increase in size – then switch to armoured corps and artillery units (which have offensive firepower of ten factors, equal to a German Panzer division) as the tide turns.
Game designer Jim Dunnigan combined a revised version of War in the East with the newly published War in the West to produce War in Europe, featuring cartography and graphic design by Redmond A. Simonsen. Although War in the West stayed in SPI's Top Ten list for four months following its publication War in Europe never entered the Top Ten.
In 1977, SPI released a game extension called The First World War designed by Frank Davis, that used the War in Europe maps.
Hobby Japan published a licensed Japanese version in 1979.
Following the demise of SPI, Decision Games acquired the rights to War in Europe, and produced a new version with streamlined rules in 1999. Decision also published a computer version of the game.
In the five years following the publication of War in Europe, over two dozen articles containing in-depth analyses, variants and game replays appeared in Battle Plan, Moves, Fire & Movement, JagdPanther, Adventure Gaming, Battleplan, Boardgame Journal, American Wargamer, and Wargame News.
In Issue 50 of Moves, in a survey of wargames covering the Russian Front, Steve List called this "the biggest game of all [...] which could become a way of life." He concluded by giving the game a rating of B–, saying it was "a game no collection of multi-map monsters should be without."
- Moves #100 - Godzilla Returns: Phillip Evans
- Fire & Movement #6 - Close-Up: War in Europe: Mark Saha
- Fire & Movement #73 - World War II Anthology: Chapter 7: Global Wargames: Terry Lee Coleman
- Boardgame Journal #2
- "War in Europe (1976)". boardgamegeek.com. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
- "SPI Best Selling Games - 1976". spigames.net. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
- "The First World War (1977)". boardgamegeek.com. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
- List, Steve (January 1980). "On the East Front: Twenty-nine Games in Print: A Survey". Moves. No. 50. pp. 22–28.
- Miranda, Joseph; Cummins, Christopher. "The Top Ten Wargames of All Time". Moves. No. Special Issue 1.
- War in Europe at BoardGameGeek