Game Review: Downfall of the Third Reich by GMT Games

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Number of Players: 2
Time: 6-12 Hours
Age: 12+
Game Type: High Strategy
Gamer Type: Committed
Complexity: 6
One of the biggest drawbacks of World War II games is that someone has to play Germany. Not only do you know Germany loses at the end of the war, but you, well, have to play the Nazis in the game. Not exactly fun for the whole family. GMT, known for their top-of-the-line war games, solved this problem. There were two competing sides looking to end the evil empire of the Axis, so GMT realized you could play the US or the Soviets to eliminate the Third Reich. As a result, you are playing a game to end the Holocaust, not support it.


Downfall is based on one of the most compelling stories of the last 200 years: humanity coming together to stamp out one of the darkest periods in history. Yes, this story has been done over and over – but it needs to be, because we cannot forget how devastating it was. Vietnam, 9/11, and so many other historical tragedies have been forgotten to the annals of time, but World War II needs to be fresh in the memory of every generation. As a result, this game brings the end of the war to the forefront and allows a new generation to see how important the heroes of the Allies and Russia were to keeping the freedoms we have today (OK, so maybe not Russia as much, but they were very important to the war). 7.5 of 10.


One of the best parts about GMT is their games are always in standard medium or thick medium boxes. This means that not only is the artwork unique on each box (so you can find it quickly) but also that they look amazing on your shelf. Added to that, once you open the games, they are beautiful on the inside, too. Downfall is no different. The pieces for Downfall are GMT’s signature chits, which look like units you would use on a military map. The map looks like a battle map. This gives you the feeling of controlling the armies of the good guys (and some less-than-good guys) as you tear apart Hitler’s forces in a race to Berlin. 8 of 10.


One of the ultimate features of GMT games is that they are a balance of randomness and strategy. As a hybrid Amero/Euro game, there is a randomizer (dice). However, even with the cards in the game, the play is well laid out so you can strategize against your opponent. Before we start, however, this is very long game: 6-12 hours. This means you may be conducting your campaign over several days. Further, one of the unique features is there are units only able to be attacked by the Allies and units only able to be attacked by the Russians – this can place blockers in your path that you cannot deal with. Also, the Allies have a the ability to move naval resources to build up their assault. The dice are then used for the resolution of battles, which keeps the randomness of war – even for the best laid plans. 7 of 10.


If you cannot build a strategy in 12 hours, why are you even war-gaming? All four strategies are represented in this game. Rush was used by the Germans in their advance – which failed – and now Russia and the Allies are battling back. The Russian player has the option of a strong rush and it can be effective. Offense in the game is preparing your lines and moving across the board; this allows you to keep Hitler on the defensive, hoping your partner can force the Nazis to move their forces back. Defense will always be a needed element and the lines in this game are quite important. Finally, building your strategy means working with someone with whom you are competing – this could be one of the more brilliant engine-building strategies out there today. Overall, this is a high strategy game and deserving of GMT’s reputation. 9 of 10.


The subject matter in this game is important but it has been done several times. The strategy focuses on the end of the war, which is not that common. Also not common is the method of interaction with your opponent. The collab/competition game dealing with World War II is interesting and, as far as I know, unique in the field (outside of high-end war games). The military maps, as always, look amazing and, even though they will be on your table for a while, are a great decoration. This is a good system and, as always, a fun game from GMT. 9 of 10.


GMT is one of the best gaming companies on the market for long-term, high-end war games. The simulation of this game is one of the best out there. With a score of 40.5, this game is a must-have for any war gamer out there who wants to kill Nazis. The subject matter is important and it treats the subject matter with the respect it deserves. This is one of the elements that makes GMT games leaders in the field: they take on serious subjects with the respect needed, but still keep their games exciting. While this is not a casual game, this is a game that anyone should enjoy having on their shelf.

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Christopher W Smithmyer
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