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     £43.99 from Leisure Games   

CASE YELLOW 1940: The German Blitzkrieg in the West




Game Scale

UNITS: Corps & Division, with some Regiments
TIME: 4 days per turn
MAPS: Approximately 9 miles per hex

DESIGNER: Ted Raicer
DEVELOPER: Tony Curtis
ART DIRECTOR: Rodger B. MacGowan
MAP & COUNTER ART: Mark Simonitch
PACKAGE ART: Rodger B. MacGowan
PRODUCERS: Tony Curtis, Rodger MacGowan, Andy Lewis, Gene Billingsley & Mark Simonitch

Here below are some of CASE YELLOW's counter mix. These counters are full of necessary and useful information but they also show why I have a preference for GMTs Block Games; similar information on both media (Block and Counter) but clearer on the Blocks.

This game has a (GMT determined) complexity of 3 (of 9) as a 2-player game and a Solo Suitability of 8 (of 9). FALL GELB (CASE YELLOW) was the codename of the first of two German Operations to invade France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. It was the Operation that led to the British Expeditionary Force (aka BEF) to fall back to Dunkirk and evacuate France.
FALL ROT (CASE RED), the drive onto and into Paris, was the codename of the follow-on Operation.

One side of the map is for scenarios 1 and 2, the other is for scenario 3 plus there is a smaller introductory scenario.
The battles take place near the beginning of WWII when the German Army and Airforce were ready for invasion whilst the Allies were not expecting an attack - remember that infamous piece of paper.

The German player is in better control throughout each scenario. Actions occur according to the chits drawn randomly from a cup (or recepticle of some kind). The German chits have both Movement and Combat on them giving the German player the choice of which to use - they cannot use both from the same chit. The Allied player's chits are single order chits, thus they are either for Combat or Movement, the Allied player has no choice.

Combat is resolved by dividing the Attackers Factors into the Defenders Factors and get the Battle Odds which are then cross referenced on the Player Aid Card's CRT (Combat Result Table). This is standard wargaming combat and should be already known by most players; it is a very simple system that actually gives a good semblance of historical results. Obviously there is a little more luck due to the chit drawing which favours the Germans but then if you look at the armies and their resources in the cold light of day, removing the human factor and the will of the people, then the Germans really should have been odds on favourites to win by a country mile. As it is it adds excitement and anticipation as well as disappointment and frustration to the game, just like any actual Commander would experience in a reality situation.

The games mechanics work very well, particularly the way Panzer units can skirt around enemy units that have a lower Tactical Rating. For me this is the first time that my personal idea of logic in wargaming (apparently I have a really skewed view on logic, according to friends) actually makes sense.

The scenarios can be played in the order as you wish though if you are new to Ted Raicer wargames you should play through Fortress Holland the introductory game. This was the first major airborne invasion of WWII as the Germans hit the Dutch with a mechanised force augmented by Airborne Troops and Paratroopers. I found this scenario to be a good fun challenge to play solo.

The other scenarios are: The Historical Campaign - The Germans have the advantage (as mentioned above) with the Allies caught flat-footed and offguard, but this is no easy victory for the German player as the demands to win are high.

Two other Scenarios are "What ifs"  - The Allies are not expected to completely follow the historical path.

From the Box Cover: The game also includes rules for Limited attack supply provided by motorized supply units; Fortresses representing Eban Email and the Maginot and Siegfried lines; German and Allied tactical air assets; German parachute and air landing units; German terror bombing; Refugees and more!

Anyone expecting Blitzkrieg in the West to be another Eastern Front (but on the other side - sorry couldn't resist that) will either be disappointed or very happy. The rules are generally well written - there are a couple of places which could be open to rules lawyering - with examples that clearly define necessary points and actions. By the rules alone this would be a good introduction to WWII wargames but (there has to be a but) it is, apart from the introductory scenario, a very long and fiddly game - mind you I personally regard almost every cardboard counter wargame as fiddly - which would do as much to turn new players away as the simplicity of the rules would do to entice them in. Furthermore the frustrations that build for the Allied player when they draw Movement chits when they need Combat and vice versa can be enough that some losing players leave the table regarding the outcome as little more than just luck.

I'm not sure (that means I haven't found it on the website) if GMT have made a version with a mounted map - probably not as being a double-sided play-board it would be quite expensive - but because it is so playable and replayable a mounted board would be great. However it is not that difficult to purchase a piece of clear perspex plastic (it needs to be thin but sturdy) to put over the paper board whilst playing. It is also a good idea, no make that an imperative idea, to ensure the table is absolutely clean before laying the board on it. Trying to stop the German invasion is hard enough as it is, but also having to fight the remnants of toast soldiers is just one bridge too far.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021