July 18, 2024

#UnboxingDay – Battlefield Europe by GDW

Brant Guillory, 18 March 2021 ~ #UnboxingDay

Dipping back into the archives again, here’s another older game from Frank Chadwick and the genius crew back at GDW. A part of the First Battles series, Battlefield Europe had a generic countersheet and a whole passel of then-near-future hypothetical scenarios, ranging from the plausible (Czechs v Slovaks) to the silly (Belgians v Walloons).


Hey look!  It’s a box!

click images to enlarge


The back of the box gives a good amount of detail, including a lot of information about the game counters.



The box contents: 4 maps, 3 countersheets, a big book, 2 scenario books, and a basic rules folio, 2 player aid cards, some propaganda, and a basic sharp-edged d10.



The basic rules folio gives you enough info to play 3 of the low-complexity scenarios, which are, of course, not the first 3 scenarios in the books.  And while the idea of blind, paired scenarios is separate books is a nice one, the ‘generic’ nature of the game means that red/blue are referring to the countermix, but those counters aren’t necessarily always the ‘traditional’ red/blue sides we’re conditioned to think of.



The Battle Manual is a trove of info, though.



It leads off with info on different European flashpoint, even though Europe was considered pretty stable at the time this was being developed.



They did rightly ID Yugoslavia as the most likely flashpoint of the time, but the “Albanians going rogue” narrative turned out to be a bit ahead of it’s time, even if Kosovo was getting a little frisky when the game was being developed in the late 80s.



The advanced rules are also in this book, but buried a bit further back.



There was some nice macro-level info on the current state of most European forces. It wasn’t to the level of Isby’s more famous references, but it was pretty helpful.



There was also a bunch of hardware detail in the book, keyed to the counters.



Hey, speaking of counters….



You’ll note that there are both western and eastern hardware in both color schemes, which allowed for mixed scenarios, like the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, and the Belgian civil war.



Again, multiple types of equipment in different color schemes.



I get that you put a counter of me in the game, but c’mon now – did you need that many of them?  In both colors?!



2 identical double-sided reference cards.



First Battles series maps 7-10.  In case you’re curious, maps 1-6 are in Test of Battle, but the color scheme isn’t quite the same.  Frankly, the Test of Battle maps look 1000000000 times better and less grotesque.  And yes, they are all geomorphic with each other, except the ones with a river running the length of one side of the mapsheet (in the other game)



One map is a heavy urban area.



All of them have disgusting contour-line colors.



The propaganda included a pull-card for the First Battle-compatible Last Battle (not sure if they ever released the long-anticipated In Between Battle) which doubled as a vehicle-based combat game for the (original) T2K RPG.  There’s also a customer response card.  We really need more of these in games today, just ‘cuz.


Thanks for joining this month’s #UnboxingDay with the Armchair Dragoons and we hope you enjoyed our recon of our recent acquisitions.
You can always leave us your feedback in our #UnboxingDay thread, or in the comment area on this article, below.
The regiment also occasionally musters on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and occasionally at a convention near you, once we’re allowed to hold them again.

Brant G

Editor-in-chief at Armchair Dragoons

View all posts by Brant G →

3 thoughts on “#UnboxingDay – Battlefield Europe by GDW

  1. I had such high hopes for this series, beginning with Test of Arms. It never did give proper shrift to infantry, so the tankies rush on ahead at full speed and blow each other up, while the infantry might meet by scenario’s end.
    Some very imaginative match-ups.

    1. CABbie Steven Bucey did a re-implementation of this series about 15-20 years ago as a home-brew that was quite well-done, as I recall. I wish he’d had the enthusiasm for polishing it up to offer to someone for publication.

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