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Barbarossa by The Knowledge Company     I like to do a little bit of history behind the games that I ...

Barbarossa by The Knowledge Company Barbarossa by The Knowledge Company

Barbarossa by The Knowledge Company

Barbarossa by The Knowledge Company



The Knowledge Company

  I like to do a little bit of history behind the games that I review. In this case I hope it is not necessary at all with this game. If the date June 22,1941 is not etched into the brain of every wargamer who has lived since then, I do not know what date would be. Most gamers would find it easier to remember this date than the one they were married on. I am talking about your current wife. If your closet holds one or more, you are totally forgiven the remembrance of those dates. 

 Strap on your seatbelts and hold onto your hats, the big one is coming. Barbarossa is a simulation, definitely NOT a game, about the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The simulation plays out between June 22,1941 and June 30,1943. The invasion of the Soviet Union was the largest military campaign in the history of the world. Just like the invasion, The Knowledge Company has delivered up to us a simulation of monumental size. Up until now I have never compared one boardgame to another. There is just too many variables in every game to really compare them to each other. I am doing this only as a size comparison, not anything about each game's rules etc.

 Fire in the East by GDW:

Time Scale - Two Weeks per Turn
Hex Size - 16 Miles per hex
Counters - 2500 +-
Maps - 6 - at 21" x 27"


Time Scale - Half-Month Turns
Hex Size - 15 Miles to the hex
Counters - 7840
Maps - 14 - 18" x 26"
              2 - 10" x 26"
              2 - 18" x 14"

Just as an extra comparison I will also give you another monster game that I was awarded the honor of reviewing; Australian Design Group's World In Flames Collector's Edition Deluxe:

Time Scale - 2 Months
Hex Size - 90 Kilometers per hex
Counters - 4900
Maps - 4 large (574 x 820mm) maps covering most of the world (West Europe & Africa, East Europe & the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific);
One 297 x 420 mm full-color map of The Americas 

 So, you can see that Barbarossa easily stacks up as the largest of the three games. It has twenty-eight counter sheets! That was not a typo. If you are into corner clipping, good luck. I believe you will need a new clipper and a set of hands when you are done. Either that or you will have the grip strength of the world's strongest man. 

 This is the perfect time to compare monster games. I mean we have Godzilla against King Kong coming out soon, although I am not sure how a 50' King Kong is supposed to do battle with a 200-300' Godzilla. They must have fed him steroids or zapped him with radiation. But I digress, we are here to pay homage to a simulation that is literally worth its weight in postage stamps. As an aside, I have been weightlifting for 47 years and I was surprised at the heft of the box. 

 So, now let us list what comes with this behemoth (take my advice and sit down and get a cup of coffee, we will be here for awhile). This is the list from the Colonel's Edition:

Game Rules Book (notice I did not write booklet) - 174 pages
Soviet Order of Battle - 84 pages
Axis Order of Battle - 107 pages
Axis Minor Nations Order of Battle - 40 pages
Western Allied Order of Battle - 49 pages
At Starts (for the numerous scenarios) - 125 pages
Maps - 20 From the top of Norway to Iran, and from Budapest to the Aral Sea
Game Charts  - 18 separate pages, with 17 of them double-sided
Replacement Schedule booklet  - 8 pages
Terrain/Unit Identification Charts  - 4 pages
These are the scenarios:

A. Learning Scenarios:
  1. Target Berlin
  2. Stuka
  3. Panzers Los!
  4. The Battle of the Barents Sea
 B. Crimea Scenarios (Discovery Group)
  A. Scenario One (D): The 'Neck' Taken
  B. Scenario Two (D): The Crimea Invaded
  C. Scenario Three (D): The First Assault on Sevastopol
  D. Scenario Four (D): The Soviet Amphibious Attack
  E. Scenario Five (D): Trappenjägd
  F: Scenario Six (D): The Final Assault on Sevastopol
 C. From the Danube to the Don
 D. The Crimean Campaign
 E. Kalinin - The Northern Gateway to Moscow
 F. Operation Mars
 G. Operation Uranus
 H. November 11 1942
 I. Northern Finland 1941-1942
 J. Fall Blau: The 1942 Campaign
 K. Rommel Goes East
 L. Hitler Goes East
 M. Barbarossa Extreme
 N. The Beginning of the End
 O. Enemies of the Blood Royal
 Scenarios L,M,N, and O require other games and their assets from the TSWW series.

 Looking at the list, you can play scenarios from only one map up to the full twenty. This is excellent for people with limited space now that are going to have a larger area to play on in the future.

 All of the books, Game rules etc. come in black and white, and four of them are hard bound. The maps are a sight to behold. They are designed to be totally functional and good looking without any added garishness or unnecessary clutter. They are not just paper, but 'single side matt laminate'. Per TKC, that means you can spill coffee on it and not ruin them. The counters are also well done, and are a 1/2" in size. The land units are very easy to read, and the ship and aircraft ones come with a side-view depiction of the type.

 This is a rundown of a very few of the rules you will be dealing with in a full campaign game:

 Geography and Climate
 Facilities (Fortifications, Air Bases etc.)
 Ground Unit Movement
 Air Unit Movement
 Naval Movement
 Air to Air Combat
 Antiaircraft Combat
 Political & Economic Rules

 As you can see, everything including the kitchen sink and the installation instructions for said sink are included with this edition.

 While we are discussing the game's editions here is a rundown of the different ones that you can buy from The Knowledge Company:

Download (Print & Play) - £120
Quartermaster (Print & Play DVD) - £130
Lieutenant (Maps and Counters with all rules etc. on a DVD) - £380
Colonel (Everything except the General's Edition add-ons) - £435
General  (includes the Arctic Front and Generic Counter Set) - £520

 If you are handy and have the time, the print & play versions are a perfect fit for you. If you are a wargamer like me who is both time and artistically challenged, let The Knowledge Company do the work.

 Is it an expensive game, in a one word answer: yes. Is this simulation for you? Please see the next paragraph. The simulation is of unbelievable value for not only the grognard, but also to anyone who is interested in the history of the first two years of the Eastern Front in WWII. The amount of information and erudition that has gone into the simulation is as imposing as a mountain. The amount of enjoyment and time that you are buying with this simulation is almost limitless. For the simulation collector, I have no doubt that this will be worth its weight in gold once it is no longer in print. 

 We now have to go into a very personal decision about the simulation Barbarossa. The question that is always asked about monsters is "are they worth it?". That is a totally unanswerable question for any but the wargamer in his own mind. Do you have the space or time are much more pertinent questions. We have no idea about your personal finances or tastes. We can however tell you that you will need both time and space to enjoy Barbarossa to its full potential. Some of these scenarios are not ones  that you are going to be thinking about taking down and setting back up. If you are lucky enough (the writer falls to his knees and pleads to God) to have rooms that are empty because your children have moved out, or from some luck of inheritance etc. then of course it is worth it. We are Grognards, not mice or lemmings! This is a sign of worthiness in our hobby. Say with pride that you have enough empty space to set up Barbarossa for as long as you want with no repercussions. This is like similar badges of courage in our hobby, much like "I played Campaign for North Africa for a year", or " I got into an internet screaming match with Richard Berg". Every hobby has its marks of honor. When model making, who hasn't glued their fingers together, or pulled numerous muscles playing some sport you were good at forty years ago! Monster wargames cost a lot, but they in turn give a lot back to the player. So you may hear "Is this game too expensive" from a man who just bought a 70K Camaro or what have you, because he can no longer cover the bald spot with a comb over. Ever since H.G. Wells crawled about on his dining room floor, or the German General Staff devoted entire rooms to Kriegspiel we have been in love with monster wargames. It is certainly not a new phase.

 Thank you so much to the Knowledge Company for letting me review this masterwork on the Eastern Front. I will be following up this unboxing with a review of gameplay in the near future. Please take a look at the other simulations The Knowledge Company has to offer, at all price ranges. I especially like the look of their 'Merkur' about the Battle of Crete.

  The Knowledge Company also gives some fantastic vassal modules free of charge (thank you Tom Wenck) with all of their games except; Merkur, or Battleaxe. For those who want to play online or have space issues this is an extra bonus.

The Knowledge Company:




  1. What is the table size required if the 6 maps are used?

    I am crafty would be tempted to get the PnP version and blow up the components to 110-125% if I can fit the maps on my table.

  2. The post is about Barbarossa from the Knowledge Company. The 6 maps you mention are from GDW's old Fire in The East. I own it, but have never set the whole game up, sorry.

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