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  Tolling of the Bell by Three Crowns Games  This is a game about the 'last' German offensive in World War II. Seriously, this is th...

Tolling of the Bell by Three Crowns Games Tolling of the Bell by Three Crowns Games

Tolling of the Bell by Three Crowns Games

Tolling of the Bell by Three Crowns Games

 Tolling of the Bell


Three Crowns Games

 This is a game about the 'last' German offensive in World War II. Seriously, this is the last one. Last German offensives seem to keep cropping up like the Energizer Bunny. The Battle of the Bulge is sometimes called the last, also Operation Nordwind has been talked about with that sobriquet. On the Eastern Front, Operation Konrad (the relief of Budapest) has also been called the Germans' last offensive. Well, here we have 'Operation Spring Awakening', the absolutely, positively last German offensive. Operation Spring Awakening was carried out by the Heer's 6th Army, and the 6thSS Panzer Army. There were two other operations that the Germans tried to carry out. These were 'Icebreaker' and 'Forest Devil'. Icebreaker was an attack by the 2nd PZ Army, and Forest Devil by Army Group E. In Hitler's mind these operations would be able to break the Soviet Armies in the south and the German forces would be able to not only do this, but recapture Budapest, and then continue to reconquer Romania. It is amazing what tertiary syphilis or Dr. Morell could do to the mind. 

 This is the fifth game the Swedish company Three Crowns Games has produced in their WWII Battle Series. The others were:

Army Group Narwa
Konigsberg '45
Starguard Solstice
Plan West

 They also created the game Pax Baltica. Pax Baltica was released in conjunction with GMT Games. Revolution Games carries Narva and Konigsberg. 

 This is what comes with Tolling of the Bell:

One 23.5" x 33" (A1) full color map
Two dual-side printed countersheets (286 9/16" (15mm) counters)
One 16-page rulebook
Two single-side printed Player Aid Cards


 This is what Three Crowns Games say about the game:

Game Scale:
Game Turn: 2 days
Hex: about 3 to about 4 km
Units: Battalion to Division

Solitaire Playability: High
Complexity Level: Medium
Players: 2+
Playing Time: 3-10 hours
Note: Players will need to provide one 6-sided die for game play.

"Tolling of the Bell is taught in 30 minutes and easy to digest yet a challenge even for the more experienced players.
It utilizes a Command chit-pull system to activate HQ, which in turn allow their controlled combat units to move and attack."

Historical notes on one side of the Player Aid Cards

 If you have any of the other four games, you will know exactly what the components will be like. The map is very well done and is on high gloss paper. The map is mostly of the area south of Lake Balaton in Hungary. The terrain is easy to see, and you will not have to decide what terrain is in each hex. The counters are done with vibrant colors and are easy to read. They are also thicker than most counters. The two Player Aid Cards are of hard stock and in full color. All of the information on them is easy to read. The Rulebook is sixteen pages long. The actual rules are only thirteen pages long. The other three pages are for the game's setup, Designer Notes, and Random Events etc. It does also come with some Optional Rules. The Rulebook is in black and white. The components are very well done for a game of this price. 

Test Game

 This is the Sequence of Play:

Air Unit Phase
 Refitted Unit Return Segment
 Grounded Unit Refitting Segment
Random Events Phase
 Random Event Table Roll Segment
Command Phase
 Command Segment
 Movement Segment
 Combat Segment
Supply Phase
Reinforcement Phase
 Reinforcement Segment
 Replacement Segment
End of Turn Phase
 Out of Command Segment
 Turn Advance Segment

 The game would be recognizable to a wargamer from the 1970s. Albeit, with a good number of newfangled bells and whistles. The chit pull system adds to the fog of war enveloping both players, along with the Random Events that are possible. This is a wargame that a Grognard can sink his teeth into. I certainly wouldn't transition someone from Axis & Allies right into this game. That is not a knock, it is a good thing. The more real Grognard games the better. The weather in the game is both historical and a bit odd for a game. The weather for the first five turns is going to invariably be mud, not really something you would expect in a game about Panzer operations. At least both sides suffer the same effects from it. 

 The game's Victory Conditions are based upon city Victory Objectives Hexes. Each city is assigned its own value. The Russians and Germans both start the game with ten Victory Point Objectives. There are also Sudden Death Victory conditions. The player has to have a unit that is in supply in these hexes at the end of a turn. These are:

German Player - They have to occupy one of the bridge hexes across the Donau at either Dunafoldvaar, Baja, or Ercsi. 

Russian Player - They have to occupy either Nagykanizsa or Papa.

 The Tolling of the Bell is a very well-done wargame. Naturally, with it taking place in March of 1945 leads the German player having to do better than their historical counterpart. The German player is not going to be able to blitz his opponent, especially in the mud. As the German player you will need to play well to get more than a draw against a competent Russian player. The Russian player has four different types of victories. They are: Minor, Major, Overwhelming, and Triumphant. The German player can only get two: Propaganda, and Major. 

 For Grognards, the game is easy to learn and with the relatively small number of counters you should be playing in no time. This is the third game of the series I have played, and I have enjoyed all of them (Konigsberg, and Narva being the other two). Thank you very much Three Crowns Games for letting me review this game. They have two games coming up.

Iskra- Spark of Victory 1943

Mud & Blood, Lodz 1914


Three Crowns games:

Tolling of the Bell: