Barbarossa review

Rated: 3/5

Introduction (ie addressing some criticisms of the game)

So there are 2 versions of this game. One is the version which has anime chicks in scantily clad outfits doing some implied and ridiculous sexual gesture. The other version is a more historical version with black and white WWII photos. Regarding the latter, where’s the fun in that?

First of all, I own the anime-chick version, not the historical photograph edition. Some would ask why I would buy such a game. I bought it for a simple reason, spite. I despise all you easily offended politically correct gamers with all of my little black perverted heart. Some of which state that no one should play this game because it is vile, perverted, sexist (sexploitation), pro-lolita, pro-nazi, and glorifies horrible people in a horrible war. That revisiting/addressing WWII should be done in a serious/professional matter, and in no other way. And there’s also arguments along the lines of keeping your sexual fetishes in private. Subject matter like this should not be perverted.

“It amazes me that people who fancy a certain fetish can seriously be upset by the aversion displayed by people who don’t share this fetish.”Simon Mueller

I’m starting to think that political correctness is also a fetish.

You know, stuff like that. It’s less controversial to have a game with images of individuals getting their brains/organs blown out by knives/gunfire/bombs/zombies, but more controversial when there’s any amount of skin shown in any fashion, perverted or otherwise. That’s how it works here in America. Doesn’t help that the girls in this game are under-age.

All you SJWs scared off now?  Good.  This review is for everyone else.  Image by jpwrunyan.

So here’s my counter-argument to all of that. America has its culture, Japan has its culture, China has a culture, Thailand has a Culture, Russia has a culture, Britain, Mexico, France (ok maybe not France), etc. Every country (and even state) has a culture. I say it’s worth taking a dive into the culture of other countries. Because it can be fascinating, if only to see things from their point of view, or to at least be aware of their point of view. And who knows, their culture may actually encourage you to adopt some of it into your own lifestyle.

In this game’s case, what’s the worry here? That playing it will turn you into a sex-crazed pedophile? Haven’t been hearing much about that epidemic over in the land of the rising sun where they have content like this in abundance, in higher extremes than shown this game. Because despite what some may think, decent people can play this game and stay as decent people. You know, like those who play Cards Against Humanity (a title which many think should’ve been given to this game apparently).

But if they’re that worried about this game causing older men to suddenly start going after the kiddies just from playing a session or two of this game (hasn’t happened to me or my friends, yet; fingers crossed), do the smart thing. Get teenagers to play the game instead. Then at least the age difference won’t be a factor anymore.

Behold the corruption of youth!  Image by viper_1

But in all seriousness, if you don’t like the game, or are put off by its art style, then just don’t play it. But don’t talk down to the rest of us for wanting to play and, dare I say, enjoying ourselves. Stop trying to ecchi-guilt us. Besides, you should know better, we have no shame. I believe in a world where we can treat events of the past both seriously and non-seriously. I believe in a world where we can watch Inglorious Basterds, Schindler’s List, and Downfall, while also playing this and serious WWII games, and watching those Hitler rant parodies on youtube. Just because we can take some subject matters seriously doesn’t mean we also can’t have a more lighthearted take on it.

Just because we play this doesn’t mean we’re pedophiles. Just because we play this doesn’t mean we’re nazi sympathizers. Just because we play this doesn’t mean we also can’t play/enjoy/appreciate the other products that portray this time period in a more serious and grim light. We are still gamers, and there is no need to treat us with disrespect because we also have an immature sense of humor and who enjoy satirical games that also promote an immature sense of humor. Not all of us prefer the classy sense of humor with Shakespeare and Plato telling jokes amidst their high unicorn horses in the clouds looking down on everything else.

“It’s odd by Australian standards but then the collision between cultural norms is part of the appeal.”harro

The Review


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I played this game yesterday at a game store with 2 complete strangers. I mentioned I had a game with Nazi lolitas and they became interested (ok, they’re not really nazis since none of them have any Swastikas on them; they’re German girls). Seriously doubt they would’ve been if this was just another bland WWII themed game.

So we set it up and, as per the rulebook’s recommendation, removed the Support card pile (one random card pile is supposed to be removed each game, so that it becomes possible to be forced to change your strategy from one game to another). It didn’t take long for the inevitable “This is like Dominion!” comparisons to show up. But they also noted the differences. What put one of them off is the wording on one of the cards (nope, not the image).

Mainly the Security Company card, where is has a Play Bonus, and a separate “Forfeit” condition, making them wonder if you get the card draws and the forfeit option, or can only do one or the other (we determined the former). One of the things he stated made him prefer Dominion to this with it’s more clear-cut text.

Like many deck builders, we spent some time looking over the cards to attempt to memorize what the good buying options are before purchasing a card. But after a while we learned enough of them, and started to discover some interesting combos. Despite the (almost) static setup, there are definitely different paths to victory.

Plus the Event cards, while acting as defense modifiers for cities (aka victory point cards), also act as ways to hinder another player. It acts as a slight lead-bashing mechanism, which in essence makes this game shine at a 4 player count (so far I’ve only played a 3 player game). The more players there are, the more they can even the playing field a bit and give others a chance to catch up if they fall behind. At the same time, these event cards have never felt overpowering. They do hinder an opponent (or boost the one who gained the card), but it never felt unfair to the player it hindered. And that’s a difficult thing to pull off in games like this.

I didn’t bother with the 3 Strategy cards, but the other 2 players did. My strategy didn’t require those cards. Instead, I went with the card that allows you to trash and upgrade certain cards. For instance, you start with supply cards that only provide 1 supply (aka points for buying more cards to add to your deck), you play this special Army card which can upgrade it to a superior supply card that provides 2 supply points instead of 1. Dominion (base game) has a card that does essentially the same thing. I didn’t have to go with that strategy, but I did, and there are other strategies that can be used. Whether you want to build up to getting humongous tank units out there to blow things apart, or have a bunch of small infantry filling up the ranks quickly, or something in-between, the game allows for diverse approaches. But again, the random pile removal at the start of the game could throw a wrench into one of those. Not quite as random/diverse as Dominion (unless you get the El Alamein game, in which case you can get some of that randomization that is missing from Dominion), but so far it doesn’t need to be in order to stay interesting.

There’s also the fact that the cities you can take vary in how much VP they are worth. Plus the powerful tank cards and a strategic point are also worth a small amount of VP. This can encourage delaying of an attack, or timing. But so far it just seems best to take a city when and if you can. Repeated plays will let me know for sure if there is an added element to this. For close games, I suspect there is, especially when considering the event cards and how well you can recover from those).

Overall, the game is enjoyable, and I for one prefer it to Dominion.

Other Notes

So people compare this to Dominion. I’d say it has a lot more in common with the Resident Evil deckbuilding game. Except that this is the game Resident Evil should’ve been. Not saying that Resident Evil should have scantily clad anime girls in it (or maybe it should), just that it gets a little dull and boring how you build up your deck strength until you’re guaranteed not to fail at taking out a boss (the equivalent of a city in this game). The punishment is too harsh for failing. In this game, there’s a punishment, but it’s not as overly harsh as in Resident Evil, thus it encourages more chance-taking, especially in close games.

Resident Evil DeckBuilding Game

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Plus I also think of it as a mixture of Dominion and Core Worlds. Like Dominion, a bunch of static card piles are out there for you to purchase. Like Core Worlds, you can deploy cards that stay out in play until you use them to take over worlds (or in this game’s case, cities).

Dominion

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Personally, I prefer Core Worlds more if only because I have a distaste for most deck-builders that have static card piles, because that can make card purchases and plays automated, even with expansions that make for different card pile combinations. Core Worlds (and Ascension) remove that aspect and have a continually changing marketplace for card availability, forcing players to adapt and not stick with a single reliable strategy. Barbarossa still has this element, but it’s alleviated with a small amount of randomness with the city order (and their varying VP amount and card effects), the event cards, and the Support cards (if they’re not randomly removed). This variability makes it the reason why I prefer it to Dominion, and even more-so with the El Alamein stand-alone expansion which can add variety if that is something that you feel is needed. Plus El Alamein has it’s own combat mechanism that adds even more randomness to the VP distribution, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your preference for randomness in deck-building. Haven’t tried El Alamein yet, but someday I’m hoping to get around to it.

Like the other related deckbuilders, there are ways to thin your deck. Aside from the card that can Scrap (ie remove from the game) or upgrade a card from your hand, you can deploy certain types of cards into the play area and keep them there until they are needed. But you have to be careful, because there are many cards you can by which aren’t soldiers that can be deployed. They go from your hand to your playing area to your discard pile to your deck and back into your hand again. Although, I will admit, it might be possible to actually win the game without having very many soldiers deployed. Might be possible to win by having a bunch of non-soldier cards that just give a firepower boost. I think I might try that next game if someone else doesn’t. Guess it would depend on which random card pile gets removed from the game during setup.

Core Worlds

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But the main reason I have this in my collection is because I want a well-rounded collection that contains what I consider the best of everything. Games optimal for 1 player, 2 players, 3 players, etc. Abstract strategy, deckbuilding, dice rolling, worker placement, dexterity, etc. Fantasy, sci-fi, evolution, simulation, historical, etc. At this point, I wanted a game that was satirical like Corporate America, like Cards Against Humanity, among others. I wanted a game that delved into the perverted side of things. But just having that aspect isn’t enough. There needed to be an actual game in there that has actual strategic and/or tactical elements. You know, an actual game, with replay value, that can be played seriously (or not). And this game fits that for me.

PS: And yes, I ended up winning that game session. Tank Girls FTW!

PS: I was originally going to post this review on boardgamegeek.com, but apparently the admins have considered it too unsanitary for their site.  The reasons why, and I quote:

Reasons:
60% Offensive
20% Poor Structure
20% Irrelevant

First of all, of course it’s offensive. This game is offensive.

Second of all, poor structure? I use paragraphs, which makes me better than some of the reviews I’ve seen on that site. This structure isn’t poor, it’s mediocre!

Third, irrelevant. Speaking in terms of being relevant to the game itself and the gameplay, yeah I guess, but when I make a review, I tend to apply it not just to the actual game/film/thing itself, I also want to apply it to aspects of society and/or various cultural things. In the case of this review, making note as to why this game is considered offensive to some, and why it’s ridiculous.

In any case, the review is here now, with a few added features and some tweaks/edits, some of which make it even more unsanitary (ie all the animated gifs). Muahahahahah!

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