1944 Race to the Rhine is a Euro game with a very unusual theme. In the game, players represent Eisenhower's generals (Monty, Bradley and Patton) as they race across France to be the first to enter Germany in WW2. In spite of the military theme, this is basically a goods delivery game. Supplies must be moved from bases to the forward areas via truck conveys. Supplies are either gas (needed by the military to move forward), ammo (to fight the Germans) and food (everyone's got to eat). A card system handles the non-player German side and generally provides a tough opponent. So while players are in competition with one another, they must still work together somewhat to defeat the Germans or at least keep them out of your particular part of the front. The game was published in limited quantities here in the USA by Phalanx Games and was designed by a Polish designer.
The board is very nice looking and the bits are also very good, especially the truck meeples Players get two actions per round (take supplies, move supplies, move armies, take trucks or place trucks). After all the players have gone, there is a German reaction round in which the Germans can counterattack. Trucks cannot move once placed so the paths tend to get pretty crowded. Every few rounds, once all the available trucks are taken from supply, there is a reset round where truck markers are placed back in supply and then the action begins again.
A typical game will last about 8 rounds. It takes at least 4 rounds to move units forward so the game comes down to a balance between moving units and moving supply. The game is playable with one to three players.
This was a game I had been seeking for quite some time. The theme was extremely appealing to me. A few Saturdays ago, I was in Augusta, Ga. for a small gaming convention. One of the dealers had a shrinkwrapped copy so I bought it. Last night I had the chance to put the game on the table in a solo game. I played Bradley, whose territory in located in the center of the three
areas. I did not play very well in my first time as I failed to move enough supplies up to the front (mostly ammo).
1944 Race to the Rhine was a pretty large disappointment to me. I think it would be an OK three player game but in spite of the interesting theme, the game play gets a bit tedious, especially in the solo game. With more players, player interplay would make it a bit less tedious. This is a game where the theme is far better than the game play. Granted, there is only so much one can do with the movement of supplies within the restrictions of a historic military campaign, so I cannot fault the designer.
I'd like to give this a go with three players before I decide to move this out of the collection. I may get that chance sometime as one of the local game stores* has open gaming every Thursday night. So until then 1944 Race ti the Rhine will sit on the shelf.
*The local store nearest my apartment is called Parker, Banner, Kent and Wayne. They sell comic books as well as games and is only about 8 minutes from my house which is like walking distance compared to many locations around the sprawling Charlotte metropolis.