Short review: Hitler’s Reich


Summary: Ignore the haters on this one, the original rule book may have been shoddy, the game is not.

Much maligned due to a first edition rule-book – now updated and improved – that left many heads scratching, Hitler’s Reich is a 2-player card-ish driven game released in 2018 from GMT that is a bit of a hidden gem. It bills itself as a sandbox that plays in 2 hours. If both sides make through to 1945 it will take longer than that. But a sandbox it is.

The game begins in 1941. The Axis forces ascendant across much of the European continent. Your critical first choice as the Axis: launch Barbarossa and take key Soviet resource regions, possibly even Moscow, or avoid Hitler’s folly and concentrate on Western ally interests. But where? The Balkans, North Africa? As the Allied player you may want to spend your initial actions bolstering Soviet defences. But then again, an attack on the oil fields of Romania would knock any German invasion plan of course, wouldn’t it? High risk though. You should also probably reinforce Gibraltar. What to do? Decisions, decisions.

You win the game by taking your opponent’s key regions, or, more often, by grinding down their hand of Conflict Cards, and so capacity to wage war. Your territorial strategies will need to be supplemented by winning event cards that can boost your dice rolls or play of Conflict cards. These Conflict cards drive the game. Both sides have a deck of 26, comprising two sub-decks numbered 1-13 (German and Italian, Western and Soviet). You will burn through these to win battles or events.

Playing your higher value cards at the right time, and bluffing your opponent to use theirs at the wrong time, is what adds a more enjoyable and gamey element to Hitler’s Reich than you find in comparable WW2 sandbox games. There is lots of dice rolling and “arghhh!” moments. It is a lot of fun. With multiple strategies to try out, the game also has a lot of replayability. 

The downsides. Even with the second edition rule book there’s still a few wonky rule gotchas. And if the dice let you down at a few key moments, things can spiral out of control quickly. It is not really a game that allows you to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But, really, who cares? It is only a few hours, and next time you will not attempt that fool-hardy turn one attack on Romania.

Words: James Buckley