Secret Weapons of the Third Reich is a game simulating the race for military might during World War II from the German perspective. Central Europe is falling into Nazi hands and all the best European scientists will soon compete under the aegis of Heinrich Himmler, for whom no scheme is too wild or too improbable. Secret submarine bases, the mysterious Base 211, V-1 buzz bombs and V-2 rockets, flying saucers or could the German scientists finally produce an atomic bomb to be dropped a flying saucer or with the warhead of a futuristic intercontinental V-3? Would it even be possible to build a huge solar satellite gun to strike America? All this and more will be answered when players work together in this semi co-operative look at alternative history based on weapons the Third Reich actually researched.
WAR WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
Secret Weapons is at heart a worker placement game. Where players will try to develop the technology to advance their own personal weapons agenda. All the while working in a semi co-operative way with other players as you try to complete enough weapons to win the war (game). Each player controls one or more research groups working on a secret weapons project. Each research group has a leading researcher which provides you with an initial bonus when the project is assigned to them. A player tries to get their projects approved, then completed. Certain requirements must be met and costs paid in order to reach the completion of the project. Approved projects will generate specific amounts of resources funding. Completed projects also award victory points and in most cases produce weaponry. Weapons also counting towards the cooperative goal for all players. The number of weapons required for victory vary based on the number of players. If the required target is not met by the end of the game everyone loses.
You start the game in 1938, one year before the outbreak of world war. At the start, players can only work towards their approved projects in the portion of the map representing Germany and Austria. After 1939, the expansion of Nazi Germany will allow you to deploy plants in occupied European territories. Some areas allow only research and development, others only weapon production, and still others only research and development for U-Boat projects. All the time though you are working in a “state of war”. What this effectively means is that as time goes on there are more and more enemy bombardments that can cause a great loss of resources and technologies. In addition, from 1943 Allied and Soviet advances on Berlin make the map gradually smaller, you will start to face logistical issues as space becomes restricted.
If a weapon is captured by the Allies, you lose not only victory points but also the overall weapons target recedes as well! You are forced into a certain amount of co-operation. Each player must balance his personal interests with the common need to share technologies complete the weapons produced goal. Cleverly through events one player may secretly become a traitor, working to help the enemy, and winning the game if all players lose.
Player Count is 1-4 players
Game time 2-3hr+
8 Player Cubes
40 Scientist cylinders
13 Control Chips
24 Project Plant Chips
4 Player Aids
12 Small White weapon Disc
1 Large White Weapon Disc
3 Large Black Cubes
1 Game Board
CUBES, CHIPS CYLINDERS?
Being a medium weight worker placement game, immediately you are confronted by lots of cubes, cylinders and bits. At first it all seems very confusing. Unfortunately this is not helped by the rulebook. Which In this reviewers opinion is one of the most confusing I have read in a long time. There are several passages which for the first two or three read through s seem unfathomable. This could possibly be due to the fact that it is translated into English. But it could seriously benefit from a large revision. That to one side though. Once you start to get a grip on what you can and can’t do on your turn. It all starts to fall into place.
This is where I must share some honesty. When Jesus of 4dados first sent me a copy to review I found the rules to be so difficult to understand I put the game to one side for quite a while. Then after playing some Phil Eklund games I realised there was a lot of similarities and gave it another go. I am glad I did.
After getting an understanding of the rules I think the solo variant while interesting is not really that challenging and definitely feel that this is a game that is best served by the full 4 player count. Then you will truly see the potential of this game. Yes you will need to put some serious effort into learning it Yes it is a very dry play. No it most certainly will not be for everyone. All that aside If you enjoy the Eklund “style” of game this should most definitely be on your radar to try
I would love to see this game have a second edition print, with a (large) rulebook overhaul, an improvement production quality and visuals. With a little more development work, Secret Weapons of the Third Reich could find a larger audience beyond the more adventurous and accommodating game players willing to look past the rough edges.
worth a try? YES
for everyone? NO