Wargame Designer Ted Raicer, best known now for the popular Paths of Glory, has pretty much single-handedly resurrected interest in World War I games with his series of interesting designs depicting various aspects of the Great War.
It started with this game, which appeared in Command Magazine No. 16 in mid-1992. 1918: Storm in the West is a detailed hex-and-counter wargame covering the crucial final campaigns on the Western Front that brought the war to its conclusion. Covering both the German offensives and the final Allied Victory, the game covers one of the most dramatic periods in an otherwise strategically dreary war.
The campaign scenario runs from late March to early November in half-monthly turns and 8-mile hexes. Units are generally corps-sized, with a few smaller specialized units. The large American divisions get a counter each.
The 15-page rule-book is clearly written and outlines a rather standard hex-and-counter wargame system that should be second nature to most experienced players. As usual for Command Magazine games it's the "chrome" that gives the game its flavor. The Mark Simonitch map is attractive, functional and uses oversized hexes.
The counters are the 5/8-inch size that was common in Command during this era. The armies are shown using modified NATO-style symbols in a color-scheme by-now familiar to Command readers: Germans (field gray regulars or black stormtroopers), Commonwealth (brown) French (blue) and USA (olive drab).
Most units are two-step.The game mechanics are standard wargame IGO-HUGO turn sequence with some units eligible for a second "infiltration" movement phase and all units able to take part in a second combat phase. Zones of control stop movement for the turn but do not force combat.
The combat results table is odds-based with numerical results for the attacker and defender. The results can be satisfied by losing steps or retreating units.
Appropriately for World War I there are no results that are bloodless for the attacker and only in poor-odds attacks is there any chance the defender will get off Scott free.
The game revolves around the respective "national morale" levels of each side, which starts at 15 for each. Capturing certain hexes provides morale points for the winning side and debits the losing side an equal amount. If a side's morale is driven to 0 at the end of a turn that side loses immediately. In addition the Germans must make a morale check on Turn 9 and have a level of at least 18 or they lose. This prevents an ahistorical strategy of just sitting back and parrying Allied attacks instead of launching offensives. If the German morale is still above 0 on turn 16 they also win, so the allies are forced to do at least as well as the historical result to win.
Playing the whole 16-turn campaign should take a long evening.
Both sides have free set up with some minor restrictions so set up time is less then 20 minutes.
The game includes an optional "Storm Elsewhere" scenario where the Germans seek victory on other fronts and sit on the defensive in the West. In this scenario there are no stormtroopers and the burden of attack in on the allies. In addition Command No. 19 included a Plan 1919 variant which assumes the Germans held out through the winter and the Allies go for a final victory in 1919 using J.F.C. Fuller's plan. The variant adds new counters for the expanded tank corps for all nations and a bunch of additional US divisions that would have been available. Recommendations(Yes) For Wargamers: A detailed and satisfying simulation that allows both players to attack and defend. (No) For Collectors: Just another wargame.(No) For Euro gamers: Like most hard-core hex-and-counter wargames game play is marked with a lot of detailed rules accounting for the messiness of simulating actual events.