Friday, November 7, 2008

Czechoslovakia 38 review

Czechoslovakia '38 is an interesting treatment of a fascinating what-if from World War II from Command Magazine No. 24 in 1993. It depicts a German campaign in 1938 to conquer Czechoslovakia, assuming the Czechs had decided to fight, rather than accept the Munich appeasement.

The situation is more balanced than one might think. While the German army is stronger, the Czechs do have extensive fortified zones to help them and the Germans are on a tight timetable to secure the country before the British and French work up the courage to intervene.

The game system uses the usual Command variation on standard wargame mechanics. The 5/8-inch unit counters have attack, defense and movement factors underneath NATO-style unit symbols. Most Czech units have one step, most German units have two or four. Czech units are red on white for non-mech units and blue on white for the mechanized forces. They have some mobile "Industry" pieces which can be evacuated for victory points. The airplane counters represent the air force. The game assumes Soviet intervention on behalf of the Czechs, which comes in the form of two useful aircraft units and a 4-step mechanized unit that will likely prove less useful because of its late entry onto the map.

German mechanized forces are black with white print, most non-mechanized units are in field grey. Eight divisions of the German "Strategic Reserve" are included, but they only enter play if the Czechs enter a hex of Germany.

While the Czechs can gain victory points for capturing a German city, they have to weigh the disadvantage of adding even more to the forces arrayed against them.

The Lufwaffe is represented by light blue air landing regiment and seven aircraft counters.
Finally, as an optional unit, there is a regiment of Sudeten Germans represented with a brown counter. For both sides most units are divisions or division-sized groups, with some regiments. The Czech army comprises 45 units, the Germans also 45, not counting optional units.The campaign runs for ten two-day turns across a Mark Simonitch map at 12 km per hex.

The 15-page rule-book describes a fairly standard wargame with a IGO-HUGO turn sequence. Nothing here will surprise veteran gamers.

A "Blitzkrieg" rule section gives German mach units some powers such as an overrun attack and the ability to move through zones of control at a cost in movement points.

The German wins by driving the victory point level of Czech controlled cities below 16 before the French/British intervene. Intervention happens sometime between turns 8 to 10. The Czechs control 45 points at game start, with the big prize being Prague, worth 4 VP for each of its three hexes (12 total).

The general course of play is a Czech retreat by stages in front of the German advance.
No draw is possible. The game can be played in an evening and will take about 20 minutes to set up, with starting locations printed on all the counters.

Command Magazine No. 26 added some variant rules that added another fortification unit to the Czech OB and rules for "Blitzkrieg-capable" Czech mechanized units.

(Yes) For Wargamers: An interesting campaign well portrayed.
(No) For Collectors: Nothing remarkable.
(No) For Euro gamers: No, standard hex-and-counter wargame.

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