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                Gary Grigsby's War in the West                            By                           2by3 Games   ...

Gary Grigsby's War In the West with the DLC Operation Torch Review Gary Grigsby's War In the West with the DLC Operation Torch  Review

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Gary Grigsby's War in the West

                Gary Grigsby's War in the West


       2by3 Games


 Gary Grigsby's War in the West; what a lineage this game has to look back on. One of the reasons I bought a computer was to play 'Bomb Alley'. His first game is listed as 'Guadalcanal Campaign', and it came out in 1982. Thirty-four years later we are still playing wargames programmed by him. Looking at his list of games, I am trying to total up the amount of hours I have played all of them. I think I'll stop that, because it might add up to more time than I spent with my children; maybe I should make him an honorary  family member.

 War in the West, with the 'Operation Torch' DLC, is a massive undertaking.  Unlike the older 'War in the East', this game has to simulate a larger amount of area and the inclusion of both a very large ground and air war. In 'War in the East', the map was 25k hexes; WITW comes in at 36k hexes. 

 Every type of air or ground unit that saw combat in the European theater of war is present. Paratroop drops and armored assaults  along with amphibious invasions are replicated.  

  The air war in WITW is a game in itself, with a few scenarios just for the air war. You can issue orders and even command the bombing campaign against the Axis. That is on top of being able to run the entire tactical Air Forces of the Allies. For those of us who are still employed  or are not yet living as hermits, you can also let the AI issue all of the separate orders. The gamer gives directives to his AI air marshal, and he fills in all the minutiae.

 The naval war was being lost by the Axis in 1943 with the invasion of Sicily. The naval war in the game is abstracted and is mostly used by the Allied player to order amphibious landings on the continent. Playing as the Allies, the huge armadas of air and sea are at your disposal.

 Playing as Germany, once Italy is knocked out of the war, you will be filling the shoes of the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht)  . There is one hitch: you must also keep your eyes on the eastern front and its needs. The war with Russia is still going on while your troops are battling the western allies. While it is all fine and good to stop the allies on the beaches, it will be pointless if Berlin falls behind you. The game uses the 'Eastern Front Control Option' to deal with the Russian front. It can be utilized in the longer scenarios. If you are using the EFCO, the war ends when Berlin is captured or until early August 1945. Units can be moved to and  from each front and also be pulled from the battle line for refit.

 This is a good time to discuss 'victory conditions'. Playing as the Germans, it is pretty much an unattainable goal of complete victory. You are up against too much of everything everywhere to be able to pull your irons out of the fire. The person playing the Germans is trying to do better than the historical outcomes at any given time. This is not a game where you start in 1936 and can change your country's strategic options in the coming war. You will be put in the Allied or Axis shoes mid-war and will have to play with the cards that you were dealt. I only mention this because some players don't like games where they cannot have a complete and utter victory, instead of just winning on points. I like to play games where I start in desperate situations, so to each their own.

 This is the scenario list: 

 The game includes 3 main campaigns and 7 smaller scenarios:
  • 1943 Campaign - 3 July 43 to 3 Aug 45 (109 turns)
  • 1944 Campaign (May Start) – 11 May 44 to 1 Aug 45  (64 turns)
  • 1944 Campaign (D-Day Start) – 30 May 44 to 6 Aug 45  (62 turns)
  • Air Campaign – 1 May 44 to 28 May 44  (4 turns)
  • Operation Husky – 3 July 44 to 20 August 45  (7 turns)
  • Salerno to Rome 43-44 – 9 Sept 43 to 28 June 44  (42 turns/multiplayer only)
  • Battleground Italy – 10 July 43 to 4 May 45 (95 turns)
  • Breakout and Pursuit – 25 July 44 to 9 Oct 44  (11 turns)
  • Westwall – 17 Sept 44 to 10 Dec 44  (12 turns)
  • Bulge to the Rhine – 16 Dec 44 to 10 Mar 45  (12 turns) 

 With the addition of the 'Operation Torch' DLC you gain these scenarios:

  • Torch to Tunisia (10 Nov 1942 - 26 Jul 1943 - 37 turns)
  • Battle for Tunisia (Feb 1943 – June 1943 – approximately 20 turns)
  • Rommel Attacks (Feb 1943 – March 1943 – approximately 6 turns)
  • Operation Dragoon (8 Aug 1944 - 18 Sep 1944 - 6 turns)
  • Operation Diadem to the Gothic Line (11 May 1944 - 27 Sep 1944 - 20 turns)
  • Breaching the Gothic Line (25 Aug 1944 - 4 May 1945 - 36 turns)
  • Weakest Link (13 Sep 1944 - 10 Feb 1945 - 20 turns) is an air only campaign covering the attacks on the German oil and fuel industries
  • Pointblank Directive 1944 (16 Jun 1943 - 5 Apr 1944 - 42 turns) is an air only campaign covering the early strategic bombing efforts by Bomber Command and the US 8th Air Force
  • 1945 Campaign (16 Dec 1944 - 4 Aug 1945 - 33 turns) starts with the Battle of the Bulge and covers the entire western theater of operations.
  •  The 4th Supreme Command (3 July 1943 - 4 Aug 1945 - 109 turns) is a hypothetical Grand Campaign that assumes Hitler had been assassinated in March 1943, and that the Axis armies were in a better situation in the summer of 1943.
 The hypothetical campaign is not that far-fetched. There was actually a bomb on board Hitler's plane on that date; unfortunately it malfunctioned.

 For those of us who like to game  the Italian campaign it is here in a big way. You can play from the invasion of Sicily to the fight for Rome itself. If you are a battle of the Bulge fanatic it is here also, but be aware that you are running the entire front in western Europe, not just the small area where the Bulge was fought. 

 As the Allied commander you get to choose where and when you will invade.  The game is an empty canvas  that you can use to make your own decisions. Playing as the German high command you can decide to fight on the beaches as Rommel wanted, or to gather a huge armored fist off the beaches to throw the allies into the sea, as Rundstedt wanted. As the German player you have no idea of what will happen. You have to try and make educated guesses on what the Allies are going to do.

  This is not only a large game it is also a complex one. As the commander for the entire western front you are responsible for not only warfare, but also logistics. There are many things you will want to do each turn, but do you have the resources to pull them off? In complexity it would fit right between 'War in the East' and another Grigsby title 'War in the Pacific'. You can play against  the computer, hotseat, or multiplayer. With new updates, the multiplayer options have changed and now include 3 and 4 player games. You can also have 2 player cooperative against the AI.

  The audio component of the game is top notch. The obligatory sounds for battle, etc. are great, but where it really shines is the background music. On most games the first thing we do is usually try and shutdown the background music; I've actually played the various .wav files to just listen to them.

 To sum it up, the game works as a simulation of land and air combat in the second half of WWII. It is complex, and you will probably be a bit overwhelmed at first. It does come with a manual, over 300 pages long, a living manual ( for all the changes in its many updates), and a players handbook that comes with many one page guides to help you along the way. All of the manuals, etc. have printer friendly versions included. There are also a few videos included to help the newbie along the way.

 One other thing we have to discuss is the price. Yes, it is a digital download of  $79.99 US for the base game and another $19.99 for the DLC. To put it into perspective, a three hour night out with a friend will run anywhere from $50-100 US or even higher depending upon your taste. This game is going to give you literally hundreds of hours of playing time. It is money well spent.  

 Of course, a few days after I had written the above, the Matrix/Slitherine holiday sale kicked in. The base game is now just $39.99 and the Operation Torch expansion is only $9.99. Pick this game up now. It was worth it at almost $100; it is certainly worth it at only $50.


Game: Gary Grigsby's War in the West
Developer: 2by3 Games
Distributor: Matrix/Slitherine Games
Date of Review: 11/21/2016

Editor Comment: Go check out our interview of Joel Billings!