Posted in Family games, Filler length, Solo play review

Blitzkrieg! — solo play review

“[B]ecause the game plays as quickly as it does, I find myself playing multiple times in a session, happy to accept the luck, or lack thereof, in my efforts to defeat the AI bot.”

Summary:

Blitzkrieg! is a Family level game of Filler length. It is playable by 1 to 2 players.

Here’s what we mean when we rate game ‘weight’ or level or game length.

This review focuses on the solo play experience.

Blitzkrieg! has a built-in solo mode designed by David Turczi. The mode employs an AI bot that stands in for the Axis player using a selection procedure and “stratagem” tokens to make decisions.

The best bits of this game are the weighty decisions that are ever-present, in part due to the short nature of the game.

The worst bit of Blitzkrieg! is the learning curve of manipulating the AI bot. The curve is not steep, but it does require the solo player to interpret the procedure.

Review:

Paolo Mori’s Blitzkrieg! is self-described as “World War Two in 20 Minutes.” The game distills the essence of an epic event into a filler game that has become a go-to when I want a quick, but satisfying game to play.

Blitzkrieg! uses a tug-of-war mechanic with players randomly pulling unit tokens from a bag. The tokens have varying levels of strength and represent ground, naval, and air capabilities. Placement of the tokens result in gaining advantage in specific campaigns and theatres of operation as well as access to special effects.

The game is tense, even against the AI bot, because placement options are limited. I constantly evaluate what I want versus what I leave behind, especially knowing where the AI bot will prioritize placement.

Interestingly, two-player begins more or less even. The Axis player will always begin play, but the Allied player will always have the final turn and wins on a tied score. In solo, you will always play in pursuit. On Medium difficulty, the AI bot gets +6 spaces on the theatres of operation tracks when you start and based on the selection procedure, will often times be +10 to +12 before your first move.

The game is challenging. And there needs to be a willingness to accept the randomness of pulling unit tokens from a bag. But because the game plays as quickly as it does, I find myself playing multiple times in a session, happy to accept the luck, or lack thereof, in my efforts to defeat the AI bot.

I have minimal exposure to David Turczi solo modes (Teotibot in Teotihuacan: City of Gods), but I will say I have become a fan and will become interested in any project of which he is a part. AI bot offers an at-times predictable, but always challenging, opponent. Though the 2-player experience is naturally different, a victory over AI bot feels like an accomplishment.

My biggest complaint regarding the solo mode is that the AI bot relies quite heavily on a human player to make selections. The player must filter and execute the AI bot priorities. On any given turn, you must determine the theatre of operations, the campaign position (i.e., triggering special placement effects), and the individual unit choice.

My first game took nearly an hour to complete. Within a half dozen games, however, I was able to reduce game length to 20-30 minutes.

The instructions are concise, but a single-page player aid would be nice. I made a quick cut-and-paste sheet such that I use the procedure listed on the back of the solo rules together with 1) stratagem token descriptions, 2) “greatest change” breakdown, and 3) summary of AI performance of special placement effects.

BoardGameGeek rates this game as 1.73 out of 5 in weight, (at the time of publication of this review), though that rating doesn’t distinguish between solo and multiplayer games and so is not adjusted to reflect the changes involved in solo play.

Availability

I picked this title up in December from Cool Stuff Inc. for $25 USD. It appears to be out of stock in many places, and even Amazon only lists third party sellers. There is a Blitzkrieg! Nippon expansion ($15 USD) that I have yet to play, but it appears equally difficult to find as of February 2020.

It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it.

— Rainer Maria Rilke