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Posted on Jun 23, 2020 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

Can you save Rome? – High Flying Dice Games’ Eternal City’s End  Board  Game  Review

Can you save Rome? – High Flying Dice Games’ Eternal City’s End Board Game Review

Rick Martin

Eternal City’s End Board Game Review.  Publisher: High Flying Dice Games  Designer:  Roberto Chiavini, Marco Lazzerini and Marco Spepi  Developed by Paul Rohrbaugh  Price $20.95 (unmounted counters)  $26.95 (mounted cardstock counters)

Passed Inspection:   Beautiful components, fun to play, easy to learn but tough to master, multiplayer or solo from either the German or Italian side, playable in one afternoon, very challenging, great value for the price, tons of optional rules to make the game easier or harder

Failed Basic:    some typos and rule issues (mostly addressed with an Addendum), a little review of the background history would have been helpful to put the game in context, would have preferred a cheat sheet with the turn sequence and combat results table, combat results tables need a little more explanation in the rules

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 On September 3rd, 1943, after arresting Mussolini and forming a new non-fascist government, Italy signed an armistice with the Allies.  The Reich along with Italian fascists launched Operation Axis to attempt to stabilize Italy as a “partner” of the Reich, disarm the Italian military which didn’t support the Axis and capture Rome and other important locations before they could fall to the Allies.  While many Italian soldiers deserted, many others resisted and met horrible retribution if they were captured by the SS.  In Rome, the royal family and the new non-fascist government quickly abandoned the capital and were smuggled to safety.

On the evening of September 8th, the 2nd Parachutist Division and the 3rd Panzergrenadier Division moved in to the suburbs of Rome.  The Italian units defending included the famed Ariete Tank Division.  The Italian defenders put up a stiff defense but the elite German troops took Rome on the 10th of September.  By the 23rd of September, the Italian troops were disarmed.

High Flying Dice Games Eternal City’s End looks at these few critical days of September 8th to the 11th.  It can be played as a two player game or with the solo rules from either the Italian or the German side.  It’s a very unique subject and provides for a great gaming experience.

The game comes in a zip lock bag and 312 unmounted counters or for a few dollars more features mounted counters.  It includes two 11 “ x 17 “ maps of Rome and the surrounding suburbs and a sturdy 7 page rule book.  You’ll need to provide two 6 sided dice and a cup to put some counters in.

Setting up the game is fast and you have control over where each Italian division sets up in some specific areas if you are playing the Italian side.  If you are playing the German side you also have control over exactly where you set up.  Not having the units be tied to specific areas allows you to replay the game and fine tune your strategies without the game play becoming monotonous.

The map is very attractive and printed on sturdy card stock.  The map is marked in regions.  The terrain is marked but aside for roads doesn’t appear to effect combat or movement.

The turn scale is most day turns have 3 daylight sequences (aside for September 8th) and 1 night time sequence (aside for September 11th).  Only the German units may take advantage of nighttime sequences.

Each unit is rated for unit type (using standard military unit pictographs), movement factor and combat efficiency.  The Italian side has an interesting combat efficiency rule.  While units such as the 3rd PzGdr or the U.S. 92nd Airborne may have a specific combat efficiency on the counter, the Italian units have variable combat efficiency.  There are several optional ways to find their combat efficiency (CE) based upon how challenging you want the game to be for the Italians.  Each Italian unit is rated with an A to C for CE.  You can either draw 1 chit for the entire game and that chit assigns the value to A to C CE’s or you can draw a chit when ever that unit is involved in combat.  This represents the dynamic nature the Italians were facing in terms of how motivated they were to fight or how many of their troops deserted the units to get back to their families now that they were out of the Axis.  I love this system!  It’s a brilliant way of adding the fog of war to your own units if you are playing the Italians as well as hiding the nature of the troops you are fighting against if you are playing as the Germans.

The turn sequence is as follows:

  1. German movement
  • German fire combat
  • German shock combat
  • German morale determination
  • Italian movement
  • Italian fire combat
  • Italian shock combat
  • Italian morale determination
  • Special Night Turn Rules
    • German special movement
    • German morale determination
    • Supply phase
    • Italian surrender phase
    • Victory determination

The Germans used the night to infiltrate the suburbs and Rome itself.  These night time turns can be terrible for the Italians as they are forced in to the possible mass surrender of their forces once they realize that they have been surrounded by veteran German troops.

Combat can disrupt or suppress units which then can possibly recover during the moral phases.  Some combat can reduce a unit or eliminate it entirely.  Shock attacks can force the enemy to retreat so you can capture terrain.

While German units are more powerful and tend to have better moral than the Italian units, the German players have to maintain a strict supply line unlike the Italians whose supply lines are all around them.  When playing as the Italians, use this to your advantage and cut off the German units by encirclement.  I used this to great effect in my review game.

Optional rules abound in this game.  One such rule allows the 82 Airborne to reinforce the Italian defenders.  In my review game, they helped save the day  and just as the Germans were about to achieve total victory, the 82nd helped me push the German paratroopers South which bought me some breathing room so I could launch a counter attack towards the 3rd PzGrd to the North.  I still lost control of Rome but I inflicted so much damage on the Germans that they decided holding Rome was not viable.  So I kind of won even though I lost Rome.  This is the kind of real life victory condition that helps make this game such a fun and educational play and adds significantly to its replay value.

The solo rules define new starting points to make every game different and set movement priorities and objectives for the solo side.  They are simple but very effective.

Eternal City’s End can be played in one afternoon and has a fairly compact footprint.

While I really love this game, there were a few concerns I had with it that were quickly addressed by an Addendum written by publisher Paul Rohrbaugh and can be found on High Flying Dice Games’ website.

The set up states that there are three airfields in the Rome sector but there are just two – this is where some units of the Sassari Division set up.

3rd PzGrd starts in any map area with the German cross marking not with the helmet designation as stated in the rules.

Also there was some confusion to how to reduce a unit per the combat results and what the “1/2” chit is used for.  Turns out that a suppressed unit is reduced if it is suppressed again.  If a unit is reduced, mark it with the “1/2” strength chit.

I would have preferred to have a cardstock cheat sheet with the turn sequence, moral rules and combat results table on it instead of having them in the book.  Also although I figured out the combat result tables, they needed a little more explanation in the rules.

Lastly, a short description of the Battle of Rome would have been nice to read in order to put the game in to some type of historical context.

These minor points aside, Eternal City’s End is an important war game detailing the Battle of Rome.  It is also brilliant!  Eternal City’s End is great fun and very challenging. I will certainly be playing this game many times over the years to come.

Armchair General Rating:  94% (1% is bad, 100% is perfect)

Solitaire Rating: 5 (1 is not suitable, 5 is excellent solo play)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer. He designed the games Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Expansion and Sherman Leader for DVG and has designed the solo system for Forsage Games’ Age of Dogfights.  In addition, Rick can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!

components
game turn 1
defend Rome
Ariete take damage also a look at the CE chit
German paratroopers take an airfield
the 82nd Airborne arrives

2 Comments

  1. Odd colour choice for the 3 PzGD. Is it easily distinguishable in real life?

    • Yes. For some reason the color came off strange in the photos.

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