Blitzkrieg touts itself as a game that lets you simulate World War 2 in 20 minutes. In my family’s experiences the latter game is certainly true. In fact, most of our games are often concluded in under 15 minutes.
But let’s not kid ourselves here by thinking that a conflict as epic as World War 2 can be compressed into such a tiny box. If you are looking for something that lets you push a ton of plastics or counters across a world map, then you are better off playing something like Axis & Allies or any one of the hundreds of grittier war simulations out there.
Blitzkrieg doesn’t pretend to be any of those bigger games. Rather, if you are looking for a game that plays like a tabletop trailer of World War 2 in under half an hour, then this game is certainly one to consider.
What’s in the Box
The board is compact and functional. The symbology is easy enough to grasp allowing players to determine who is winning at a glance. Tiny wooden blocks help you keep track of score and the war’s progress in the various theatres.
Apart from the board, all you need is a bit more space for each player to erect a small player screen (with practically all the game’s rules printed on it), and a spot to pile special weapons tokens facedown and you are pretty much good to go. There are no jars of chits to dig into, no fiddly foldout charts to consult.
Each player will have a cloth bag filled with tokens to draw from during the game. In the original game pit generic Axis units versus the Allies. The Nippon expansion includes Japanese tokens – including Godzilla!
Overall, the game fits easily into the handy box making it relatively easy to take with you. The colours of the board and counters remind me of the war comics I read as a kid.
Blitzing Through The War
Blitzkrieg is a bag-building, chit-pulling, puzzle game in a World War 2 skin. As mentioned earlier it wears the skins relatively well. Each turn, players will play one of their unit tokens onto a space on the board which is itself divided into various geographical theatres.
Spaces are colour-coded to denote what types of units can be played there. Brown for ground units, blue for naval units. Air units are treated as ‘wild’ and can be played in either type of space. Almost every token has a numerical value and placing it in a theatre swings the balance of power towards you.
Covering certain spaces will activate different effects such as generating extra production (i.e. drawing more reinforcement tokens at the end of your turn), earning extra victory points or unlocking specials weapons which are drawn from facedown pile and added to your bag.
Each row of spaces represents a campaign in that theatre and filling up a row ends that current campaign and triggers scoring. The greater the difference between the two player’s efforts to control the theatre, the greater the number of points earned by the victor.
This sometimes leads to difficult choices involving the losing playing weaker forces to a theatre so as to force an early (but less damaging) conclusion to the campaign. Similarly, allowing your opponent a runaway victory while you focus your efforts on a single theatre is a sure way to lose the game fast. The game ends when one player accumulates 25 victory points.
There are some small but significant details that add more flavour to each theatre. For example, the first campaign in the Pacific has ocean spaces with a bombardment bonus that allows players to remove a random enemy token (Pearl Harbour maybe?). Conversely, the vast steppes of the Russian Front are represented by three rows of solid brown spaces.
If you do play the Nippon expansion, the world map is replaced with an abstract map of the USA with a few major, connected cities to battle over.
Suitability For Younger Players
This is certainly a game I would introduce to younger players. The absence of text on the counters means that reading ability is not critical in playing the game. Sure, there are some special pieces which have slightly more complex rules which you can either leave out completely or introduce one at a time to the young ones.
When it comes to teaching children tabletop games, I particularly enjoy games where players are required to perform just one meaningful action per turn. It helps ensure that gameplay is brisk and keeps analysis paralysis at bay – both important considerations when getting younger and newer players into the hobby.
All things considered, Blitzkrieg is still a wargame – albeit an abstract one – that truly lives up to its name. It’s more than a puzzle game with a war theme tacked on, and it does play in a really short time. There’s also enough variation between each playthrough so that one can easily enjoy two to three games at a stretch without feeling bored. All in all, I have found Blitzkrieg to be a delightful package to bring on family trips – especially where game sessions in hotel rooms won’t go beyond an hour.