It’s been several years since I’ve dabbled at playing any of the Europa games. I had started a couple of times with FAQ Rat or Satan to attempt a couple of the smaller games (Narvik and Marita-Merkur respectively), but those attempts always failed for reasons I’ll explain in a second. I certainly haven’t tried any of the big games since my huge War in the Desert run of the early 90’s (with probably 15 feet of map stretched around my then gaming area). Primarily, the lack of Europa (or any wargame) playing has been due to a combination of space and gaming schedule. Sure, the gaming table at the Rat’s Nest is certainly big enough to accommodate any Europa game, but there’s not much point in setting one up when it would have to be torn down a couple of weeks later for our regularly scheduled gaming sessions, and having two gaming areas set-up at the same time just wasn’t feasible.
All that appears to have changed with the recent semi-renovation of the Gaming Garage. Now that I’ve removed all of the crappy looking storage shelves and added marginally less crappy looking cabinets, I have more flat space to lay things on. This was in the back of my mind when I designed the cabinets, but as originally laid out, they weren’t big enough for a single map sheet. However, because of the unfortunate placement of the outlets on the south wall, and at the suggestion of FAQ Rat, I added some spacers to the backs of the cabinets to provide room for plugging stuff in. On a lark one evening, once the dust had settled and the Garage was once again fit for gaming, I broke out some maps and laid them down, just to take a look:
And they fit. Perfectly.
I was as giddy as a school girl. I broke out each and every Europa game and explored the possibilities. Sure some of them would take some work. The southern map of the L shaped Case White would have to be placed to the side. The monster Fire In The East would have to be broken into 3 two map sets. But it’s doable. The only one that is probably out is running another entire War In The Desert game, but even that isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.
Then I experimented with a couple of other wargames I own, but have never played. Imperium Romanum II also fit perfectly, and while 6th Fleet did hang over the edge by about an inch, it certainly wasn’t bad enough not to be playable. And most importantly none of it was on the gaming table. I have the space to wargame once again without interfering with normal gaming. Wahoo!!
But what to start with? I gave it a lot of thought and it was only after I had taken the two above pictures (admittedly to taunt FAQ Rat with) that I settled on starting at the beginning. It was time to break out Case White, a game I hadn’t played since the great Hurricane Jennifer debacle of ’89(ish).
And so, I laid out the maps:
As I re-familiarized myself with the rules, I started sorting counters:
And then deployment began, first with the Poles:
Then the Germans:
And finally the Soviets, who are just waiting for the Germans to do all the dirty work.
It should be noted that I originally took all these pictures to try and entice FAQ Rat into playing, but tempted though I’m sure he was, he ultimately bowed out, no doubt because he couldn’t take the pressure. Having already spent the time setting the game up, however, I was determined to press on and vowed to fight the war solo, as in olden times. I did manage to keep FAQ slightly involved in a small, but crucial role at the beginning of the game: the hidden deployment of the Polish air units. He notified me yesterday that this had been done, and so:
September 1, 1939:
The war has begun as the Germans commence their pre-invasion air strikes:
Will the Luftwaffe catch the unsuspecting Polish Air Force on the ground? Will the Polish Army be able to delay the Germans long enough to register on the victory chart? Will the Soviets do more than sit on the sidelines drinking vodka? Is the entire campaign doomed to falter and die due to waning interest as so many Europa games before it? These questions and more will be answered in the coming days…
Stay tuned for (hopefully) regular updates.