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Quartermaster General WW2

[Quartermaster General]

Ian Brody

Ares Games

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Since I was a teenager I have an aversion against 2nd world war boardgames. It’s not mainly the theme, but I lost so many games of Axis & Allies, the classic game from Milton Bradley, against Frank at that time, that this type of game is almost a phobia for me. Frank usually played the Axis forces. He was incredible lucky when rolling the dice. I mean, there are rules for statistics. The result of a 6 on a die has the chance of 16%, hasn’t it? But when Frank rolled the dice at that time, the chance in reality changed to 50% or more. It was really a mess!

Quartermaster General WW2 is much newer 2nd world war boardgame. It was first published in 2014. A new new version was released in 2019 by ARES GAMES and this version improves several elements that were under criticism in the first edition. Still I was hesitant to because of my experiences with Axis & Allies. First relief for me: there are no dice in the box. That convinced me to give the game a shot. Maybe it even had the chance to overcome my dice trauma. Still, in order to be on the safe side, I decided to find some a different player than Frank. At least I wanted to start with positive feelings into the battle.

Similar to Axis & Allies, the game focuses on the whole 2nd world war, beginning with the expansion of Germany to Russia and France as well as Japan's expansions to China and the Eastern Pacific. On the other side with Great Britain's and America's entry into the war. The outcome of the battles is open, of course, but I found out that many games repeat the historical expansion strategy of the Axis powers and their driving back due to strong advances from the Allies. This is not only the outgrowth of possible expansion directions of the involved countries (I mean where else should Germany send its armies than to France and Russia in the early stages of the game). The comparable expansion plans are also supported by the unique card decks for each country.


Click on image to enlarge!

Six countries take part in each game: Germany, Japan and Italy for the Axis and United Kingdom, Soviet Union and United States for the Allies. And this is true for all games you play, independent on the player number, meaning that players must assume several countries with lower player numbers than 6.

All countries start with exactly one army unit in their home space and of course with the unique card deck. These cards are almost everything in the game. They enable the players to build your new armies or navy units, the only other unit type in the game. They are used to start land or sea battles, evoke special events and to interact with your opponent's actions (response actions). A lot of the cards have historical background information and introduce those historical elements into the gameplay. For example a card describes the conquest of Egypt by the Germans with the result that the German player can send an army to that region. Some type of cards don’t have immediate effects, instead they must be prepared (you simply play these cards face up or face down on the table) to be used in later rounds. Response cards are used in that way for example. As a result you have to guess your opponent’s plans in order to be able to react. In the Egypt example the British player might have the chance to prevent the conquest with the matching response card on the table.

But of course you are limited in your free actions and you weight different options with your available card choices. All countries start with seven cards in their hands. During the turn a player exactly plays or discards one of these cards. If it is build card, a new unit is placed, if it is a battle card, a battle takes place and if it is a response or status card it is placed in front of the player, ready to be used from now on. Event and economic warfare cards are the remaining card types which are carried out immediately after the play, specifying what will happen on the card.


Click on image to enlarge!

With progressing time the world is filled up with army units and the different forces get in contact with each other. Fights are the result. But in contrast to Axis & Allies, Quartermaster General is not a game of endless battles and rolling the dice and determining the winner. However it is game about supply. All units (armies and navy pieces) represent military forces, but also the supply line that is necessary to keep your troops fighting. And there are mass accumulations of forces (does anyone know the Irkutsk strategy in Risk?), because each country may only have one piece per space.

And it's the players' aim to break the opponent's supply lines, because if a unit is not supplied in the second phase of a player’s turn, the supply phase of the game, it will be removed from the board at once. Battles are resolved only by playing the cards with a battle card that simply allows the player to remove an enemy unit from an adjacent space to one of the player's own supplied countries (of course only, if your opponent does not have a matching response card like a counter-attack ready to be used).

Scoring is the last detail we should broach. On the map there are strategically important regions that are marked with a star (among those regions all home countries of the players). Each turn a player collects victory points for starred supply places that are occupied by a unit of the player. Additionally there are cards like Status cards that enable the player to gain more victory points when conditions are met. These victory points are accumulated for the Axis and Allies respectively, meaning that the different forces always play in teams, no matter how many real players take part. To prevent tough rounds in lost causes, the normal number of 20 game rounds is shortened with a sudden victory, if one of the teams is 30 victory points ahead at the end of the round.


Click on image to enlarge!

Quartermaster General turns out to be a light, fast-paced and strongly asymmetric war game. The design is straightforward and modern, so I think that a lot of wargamers should have a closer look at the game. I especially liked the idea of the supply chains. That was unexpected for me and was definitely a new and interesting approach to the battles. I think I will try to beat Frank in this game. He won't have a chance to roll a 6. However, luck is still a component in Quartermaster General, because of the many different cards that are drawn randomly. So you continuously have to adopt your strategy to your current choice of hand cards. I made the experience that some countries are a little bit handicapped with the wrong starting hand. So maybe you should introduce a possible new draw of hand cards at the start of the game once you are familiar with the game mechanics.

However, the game works well with every number of players due to the strict separation of the card decks. Even when you take over more than one country, each country has its own player turn and the hand cards may only be looked at in that turn. Maybe it is a little bit better to co-ordinate the moves of the different countries, because you will still remember the hand cards of the other country. On the other hand there is also the chance to loose track of your plans. Especially if a player takes over 3 countries (playing with 2 or 3 players), this player continuously takes and discards cards from a different country. For new players it is definitely better to only control one country. To sum up: Quartermaster General WW2 is a funny experience if you are ready try a new approach to the 2nd world war battle theme.

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