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GMT GAMES UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER! World War 2 in Europe

Designed by Salvatore Vasta with assistance from Mark Dey and Allen Hill

This is basically a 2-player game with a high suitability for solo play,  but there are many good  instances for 2-4 players. As all three factions involved in the European Theatre of WWII not all scenarios are playable by all players, but most are playable by a single player. There are scenarios designed for two factions, best played by one or two players taking the Axis and the Allied forces, and three player scenarios where three players take on one faction each of the Axis, Western and Soviets. The larger three-faction games are quite difficult for solo play but much easier if two players split the Axis between them; the third and fourth players run the Soviet and the Western.

COMPONENTS:  840 counters on 3 countersheets    Two 22"x34" maps   Three 11"x17" Player Aid Sheets  Three 8.5"x11" Faction cards   Two 8.5"x11" Flowchart cards   Rulebook   Playbook   Three six-sided dice

LIVING RULES:  Errata-Questions (1-2-15)  Rulebook as published  Playbook as published  Player Aid Sheet as published  Italian Rules

SAMPLES:   Countersheet One - Front   Countersheet Two - Front   Countersheet Three - Front   Map Preview

ONLINE RESOURCES:  Unconditional Surrender! Topic on Consimworld   Unconditional Surrender! Page on BoardgameGeek  Cyberboard Gamebox     VASSAL Module

REVIEWS:  BoardGameGeek: An Unconditional Endorsement of Unconditional Surrender! 
The game box - Review of Unconditional Surrender  
Unconditional Surrender Review - Video  
Unboxing video      Board Time (Polish)

AWARDS: 2014 GrogHeads Readers’ Choice Awards winner - Tabletop Strategy / Historical Game of the Year and Overall Tabletop Game of the Year

PUBLISHED: 2014;  DESIGNER: Salvatore Vasta;  DEVELOPER: Mark Dey;  LEAD TESTER: Allen Hill;
MAP ART: Salvatore Vasta & Mark Simonitch;  COUNTER ART: Charlie Kibler;  PRODUCTION COORDINATOR: Tony Curtis
PRODUCERS: Andy Lewis, Mark Simonitch, Tony Curtis, Rodger MacGowan, Gene Billingsley;
ART DIRECTOR & PACKAGE DESIGN: Rodger B. MacGowan;
Regular Price: $70.00  P500 Price: $45.00 

Each faction must complete the following phases in order. Each phase must be completed by all three factions before the next phase can begin:

The Phases: Weather; War Declaration; Economy; Strategic Warfare; Strategic Movement; Operations (Action & Supply sub-phases); No Supply; Replacements; Upgrade; Mobilisation; Diplomacy; Victory Check and End of Turn.

 

In the days of Avalon Hill wargames were always loaded with rules and sub-sections and heavily dependent on the map being filled with hundreds of counters. This GMT game has all the hallmarks of an Avalon Hill game; heavy scenario playbook 52 pages) and a slightly lighter (48 pages) rules booklet, but it is a lot lighter on the unit counter count. It is the scenario type in the playbook booklet that determines how many players a game requires.

 

As you will have noticed, there are quite a few phases to complete one full Round. This isn’t particularly unusual in a counter-based wargame, especially an Avalon Hill old-style game, but for players who are becoming used to GMTs block gaming system this may come as a bit of a culture shock. The rules are written in a slightly jovial manner; not making fun of the war or the players and certainly not in the way some role-play games have approached the fun way of offering their rules to the public. Instead they are of a gently humoured nature, reminding us that this is just a game and we are merely players.

The map board is in two pies of four-folded quality glossy, highly coloured, paper. One part contains the Western side from Ireland to Hungary, the other Poland to Russia. Both sides contain Turn tracks and other necessary charts and useful information. The maps are hex based and covered with colourful illustrated rail tracks, rivers, forests and mountain terrain.

Before playing the game for the first time you should read and understand the rules booklet. The reference sheets are top-notch and should be at hand throughout each game. There is also a section not found too often in rules books and that is the “Rules to Avoid Getting Wrong” section; these are pages that are continually useful because what they cover are points so easily overlooked in the buzz of the battle.

Throughout both booklets there are highlighted passages which cover; Important notes (blue); Designer notes (beige and italics); and Examples (Lavender); that not only break up the pages of black on white text but also make them easy to locate speedily during play. The examples are really solid and easy to follow and unlike many so-called examples actually do cover each specific topic extremely competently. They are written to be played through and are quite likely to occur during play, they are not just hypotheticals.

One of the first things to remember about this game is that the designer has created it to be fun foremost and historically strategic second. If you follow the directions then the game will flow quite quickly, each small part of every simple mechanic fitting in alongside the next like building blocks creating a beautiful mansion. The Playbook itself tells you to learn as a Turn is played through, focussing on the Economics, the Movement, the Combat and the Supply systems. To this aim the number of counters has been kept to a minimum, which makes for speed of play without losing any of the skill required. This is a good game for thoughtful players who enjoy a powerful challenge where the result may have a dice roll to edge it along but where dice aren’t the full-on mechanic.

The first few scenarios are training missions and as such they detail which rules to read prior to embarking, and continue with a large map area that introduces the setup and terrain as well as the events and actions that then follow. These Training games are wonderfully constructed to be so informative that even newcomers to the tabletop wargames genre should be able to follow them with consummate ease. There are numerous reference points as well as the “Rules to Read” suggestions (as well as specifically noted rules and part-rules not to read at this point) throughout these “L-Plate” practice runs that are not found in the main scenarios where you are expected to already know the rules. The “Rules to Read” suggestions are replaced with “Special Rules & Notes” once you move away from the Training scenarios.

There are enough reference sheets for every player to have their own – that’s always a sign of a well produced game – with specific cards for each Faction. These, as I said, are well detailed, with both sides of each card (bar one) also containing quick notes for a flowing game. Found on the back two pages of the Playbook are the Event Marker Quick Reference sheets which are described in a slightly fuller manner in the Rulebook; the back two pages of the Rulebook contain flowcharts for the Operation Phase and for the Sequence of Play.

 

This is a concise game about the war in Europe from 1939 onwards but be assured that although this is a game about war and for fun it is also a superbly well structured strategy wargame with scenarios that are not constructed to play out in 15-30 minutes; there is depth in each and every one of them, the Training Scenarios excluded.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015