Play Time: 20 Min / Players: 1-2 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 14+ / Publisher: PSC Games / Designer: Paolo Mori
Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes Ratings and Summary
Teen rating from our son (15).
Blitzkrieg! World War 2 in 20 Minutes offers a lot of depth in a streamlined package that you can play in 20 minutes. For such a short game there are plenty of satisfying decisions on offer with some great replay value.
- Packs a meaty experience into just 20 minutes
- For a game that appears quite simple there is an amazing depth to decisions
- Pace and tension as the game progresses hits the mark nicely
- Nippon expansion adds some great variety and replay value
- The solo mode is satisfying and quick.
- Solo AI can feel a little clunky at first until you get used to it
- Not deeply thematic.
What You Will Find in Our Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes Review
- How to Play
- Gameplay Experience
- Thoughts on Solo Experience
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Strategy Tips
I haven’t really been that interested in buying 2-player only games in the past, generally I like to have a bit of flexibility in player count with my games. But lately I have been looking for games that pack a punch in a relatively short play time, especially if they have a good solo mode too. Blitzkrieg! World War 2 in 20 Minutes by designer Paolo Mori and publisher PSC Games seemed to tick both those boxes. Which surprised me a bit because generally my experience with war games has been that they tend to chew through a fair bit of time. Was the game in the box likely to live up to what the name promised? Could you really cram a global conflict into a 20-minute game? Was the solo actually any good? I had plenty of questions, but I was enticed enough to shell out my hard-earned cash and find out for myself.
How to Play Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes
In Blitzkrieg! World War 2 in 20 Minutes players will be charged with leading either the Axis or Allied forces in their struggle towards victory on a global scale. The aim of this 2-player strategy game is to get 25 points to win. The Allies will win instantly if they achieve this, the Axis get to start so if they get there the Allies have one more turn to pull ahead. Much like the real war players will be competing across the five main theatres on the board representing Western Europe, Eastern Europe, The Pacific Ocean, Africa & The Middle East, and finally Southeast Asia.
Mastering dominance over these theatres will involve a series of struggles across several campaigns in each theatre. As players commit army, navy, or air force tokens to a campaign, they will move the battle marker on the relevant theatre towards their side signifying a shift in the balance of power. In that sense each theatre feels like a bit of an arm wrestle or tug of war with fortunes shifting as the game progresses.
Once the last space in a campaign is filled by a unit, the campaign is closed, and the victor with the battle marker on their side of the battle track claims the associated points. As campaigns are closed in a theatre, they unlock new campaigns below them with fresh rewards becoming available. Until the last campaign in a theatre is closed and it can no longer be contested.
Deciding which theatres to commit your scarce units to is a key decision here. You are also constrained by the type of units you can place in each space, army units can only go on brown spaces, navy on blue spaces and air force units can be placed on any space.
If you can ever dominate a theatre to the point where you reach the end of your side of the battle track, you are able to immediately close it out and claim all remaining rewards in that theatre. This would be the equivalent of your opponent’s forces completely collapsing on that front and letting you run loose unopposed. I have been on the receiving end of this before with my son dominating a theatre and it feels terrible as you see your opponent collecting multiple reward spaces and points unopposed.
So far, we have talked about the broad strokes of how Blitzkrieg works but the magic is in the way your units trigger special benefits on the board spaces. You see when you place a unit on a space, you not only get the benefit of its unit strength to push the balance of power in a theatre in your favour but you also get the benefit of the battle space effect your unit covers.
Turns seem really simple on the surface, select a unit token, cover a space on the board and grab another unit out of the draw string bag. But there is more to it than meets the eye due to the battle space effects I mentioned earlier. So, what can these effects actually do? Well, most of the things an armchair general would want at their disposal to crush their opponents. You can for example research new technology to add special weapon tokens to your bag, boost unit production by drawing an extra token for your bag or even try to bomb your opponent into submission by removing one of their tokens from in front of them and these are just a few of the effects. Bombing deserves special mention here, as there is one more victory condition I haven’t covered yet. If a player ever runs out of unit tokens in front of them, they have lost the game. You only start with three, so this is a viable strategy.
There are also some special unit abilities on offer. Some units have the ability to blitz which means they allow you to place a second unit token on the board after they have been committed to a board space. Generals and admirals provide additional strength bonuses if you have committed other land or sea units respectively to the same theatre they are placed in. In short, the combination of unit types, special unit abilities and battle space effects provides plenty to chew on when making decisions here.
Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes Gameplay Experience
I bought Blitzkrieg! World War 2 in 20 Minutes because I wanted a snappy game that would offer me some satisfying and meaty decisions to mull over. I am happy to say that it delivered and then some.
There is incredible depth here for a game with such a seemingly simple turn structure. You wouldn’t think that simply placing a token on top of a square would require a lot of brain power, but it does. There are layers to consider here that make every decision have a sort of cascading effect on your immediate reward, the campaign, the theatre and ultimately rolling up to the overall score.
The rewards on offer in the board spaces kind of make me feel a bit like a kid in a candy store wanting all of the lollies but only able to afford a single bag. ‘Gotta get that research space, I would love to get one of those cool special weapons, maybe I’ll get lucky and score the nuke. Ohhh but if I bomb the snot out of this fella, I might grind out the win that way. Ok, ok, I’m gonna bomb him…but I really would like to commit to one of the theatres that doesn’t have a bombing space, there are 2 victory points just begging to be snapped up in South-East Asia and I am close to the win there. Ok that’s the plan.’ There just seem to be so many viable pathways in this game notwithstanding its short play time.
Amazingly the game seems to have a very definite pacing through the beginning, middle and end. Now what on earth do I mean by that statement, don’t all games have that? Well, let me explain. The early campaigns available to you give you plenty of choice but the fewest points. As the early campaigns are closed out you gain access to more board spaces and a juicier array of rewards along with more points at stake, making it feel like the decision space has expanded a fair bit. Then comes the crunchy, agonising part, as the mid game campaigns are closed out and maybe one or two of the theatres are decided. At this point the walls start to close in, you have fewer options not just due to game board restrictions but also due to the state of play in each theatre. You don’t necessarily want to invest resources in a lost cause and so your focus narrows. Importantly, the last campaign in each theatre is worth the most points and so can have a big impact on the result.
All of this adds to some nice tension building as the balance of power shifts throughout the game and you need to be more careful about where you will get the most benefit for committing your units. Most of the time you can only place one unless…. you use a blitz unit. These little gems can set up a massive play. You can unexpectedly snatch up a campaign that’s closely contested by being able to place that one extra unit. My son and I have both experienced the joy of pulling this off, much to our opponent’s surprise. Placing that extra unit down to close the campaign and swing the balance of power just enough to steal it is priceless. It is a double-edged sword though, by playing two units instead of one, it leaves you more vulnerable to bombing, a smart player could try to turn your elation into despair by trying to bomb your dwindling forces into a defeat. It’s challenging to pull off, but it can be done.
Ok so I have been really generous with my praise so far for Blitzkrieg, but I think it’s well deserved, and I haven’t even got to one of the best parts yet. The second (square) edition of the game comes with an expansion baked in on the reverse side of the board called the Nippon expansion. In this iteration of the game the Japanese turn against their former ally Germany in an attempt to conquer occupied United States. They even get a special Godzilla unit, which I always imagine crushing high rises clumsily as it wreaks uncontrolled havoc on the German defenders. There is plenty in this expansion to keep things fresh and I love alternating between the two boards. In short, replay value is fantastic here.
So, for all the depth and crunchy decisions why might you not like this game? Well, although World War 2 is meant to be the theme here Blitzkrieg! is more abstract than thematic. While I don’t mind that, in fact I think it will give it broader appeal, some might come into this expecting more from the theme. My son for example enjoys this game but would prefer to play something that feels a little more the part. We have played a fair bit of Axis & Allies together and although these games are far more time consuming, he would much prefer them to Blitzkrieg. If you are in that boat Axis & Allies 1941 is the quickest playing game we have tried in the Axis & Allies series, but it will still set you back between 1-2 hours. I still think Blitzkrieg has a lot to offer for a meagre 20-minute time investment.
Thoughts on Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes Solo Experience
The solo experience in Blitzkrieg! Is largely the same as the two-player game except there is an AI controlling the axis forces. The AI utilises a series of procedural steps and stratagem tokens to decide which theatre, campaign and unit to use for their turn.
I have to admit, at first the whole process of stepping through each line in the procedure can feel quite clunky. Especially for a game like this where the two player game flows really well. It feels like the game kind of pauses for a minute or two until you can step through each line item and find the one that fits the situation and the stratagem token. The good news is that over time you begin to remember the conditions and the process becomes quicker.
Unfortunately, if you only play once in a while, I can see this being a little bit of an issue. I am not sure if there were other options considered, but I do wonder if a card system like Paladins of the West Kingdom might have been possible which is very smooth. I don’t know.
Notwithstanding the gripe above I really enjoy playing this game solo. I have started to get used to the AI now and so it’s a lot quicker for me to play AI turns. I can still complete a game in 20 minutes, and I get a very good challenge. There are three difficulty levels which I find are pitched quite well. I find I often don’t win at medium difficulty, but it is achievable, that’s about perfect for me. The bonus is you can also use the Nippon expansion when playing solo, which is just awesome! Overall, I will happily play this game solo.
The components are basic here but, the cardboard tokens are a nice thickness, the draw string bags are nicely illustrated, and the board is also nice and thick. The illustrations overall are fine but not amazing.
The player screens are probably the high point for me as they give you a handy reference that explains the various symbols and special units. It makes everything a little easier when learning the game.
The tracking cubes that sit on the board can sometimes get knocked about a bit if you nudge the board, so you do have to be careful. Recessed boards are always nice to keep things like that in place, but I get that they are more costly. Overall, the components are nice, but not exceptional.
As I mentioned earlier, I would say Blitzkrieg is more abstract than thematic. For me this isn’t an issue though as the gameplay is very solid and engaging. I think there is enough here though to evoke a sense of presiding over a global struggle, all be it at a very high level.
Final Thoughts on Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes
Blitzkrieg! World War 2 in 20 Minutes packs a lot of depth and crunchy decisions in a streamlined and snappy package you can actually play in 20 minutes. I think this is an exceptional game and while the solo AI can feel a little clunky at first, I would happily play Blitzkrieg! with one or two players.
My son enjoys this too, but not as much as more thematic World War 2 style games. For me the gameplay is solid enough that I don’t need a strong theme.
Is Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes easy to learn? The challenge will be learning the various symbols on the board but with the handy prompts on the player screens it makes it easier. Overall, the gameplay is actually pretty simple and easy to learn.
What will Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes teach my kids? There is a lot of strategy packed in this game. Plenty of trade-offs to be made and learning to prioritise.
What age is appropriate for Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes? The box says 14+ I think a couple of years younger would be fine if you have a child that plays modern board games regularly.
Does Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes have good replay value? Between the depth of the base game and the inclusion of the Nippon expansion there is exceptional replay value here.
We hope you enjoyed our Blitzkrieg! World War Two in 20 Minutes review. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts on this game please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page.
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Frequently Asked Questions
When you cross the bonus victory point threshold on a battle track in a theatre do you get those points immediately?
No, these bonus points are only granted when a campaign is closed.
What happens if a campaign is closed and the battle marker is in the middle of the battle track?
Both players are awarded the victory points for that campaign.
Do special weapon tokens ignore any land or sea placement restrictions?
No, land units and the nuclear bomb can only be placed on land spaces, navy units on sea spaces and air units on either land or sea spaces. The scientist can be placed on any open space on the board and the spy has the same placement restrictions as the unit they copied.
When you place a blitz unit to close a campaign can you place your next unit in the newly opened campaign below it?
Yes, the rules state the next unit placed after a blitz unit must be in the same theatre but they don’t require it to be placed in the same campaign.
If I reach the last space of the battle track in a theatre, do I gain the points for all campaigns in that theatre?
No, just the campaigns that have not yet been closed, along with receiving any benefits for unused battle spaces.
Are air force units included when calculating unit strength bonuses for the general and admiral tokens?
Yes, they are. So, for the general you would gain 1 strength point for them, plus 1 additional strength for each of your army and air force units already placed in that theatre.
For the admiral it would be 1 strength for them, plus 1 additional strength for each navy and air force unit already placed in that theatre.
Why are there blank tokens included in the box?
They are provided in case you want to make your own units. Pretty cool right?
When you place a spy token do they copy the last unit your opponent played and the board effect?
No, just the unit is copied not the board effect as well. That would include unit type, strength and any special abilities they have.
Let me start by saying that a lot of what you do in this game depends on your opponent’s moves as well. So, this is a general set of tips that will need to be considered in the context of your situation in a particular game.
- An opponent’s blitz can present an opportunity to bomb your way to victory – When an opponent uses the blitz ability of one of their units it reduces their available units by 1 and makes them more vulnerable to bombing. If nothing else bombing them the following turn will severely constrain their options and in best case scenario set up the win.
- When trying to bomb towards victory try to target bombing and production spaces – When you bomb your opponent, they are likely to want to replenish their units by looking for an available production space. If you can set it up so that you consume those spaces before they get to them, you can make bombing more viable.
- Moves that allow you to flip the balance of power in a theatre are valuable – Look for opportunities to flip the balance of power in theatres where your opponent has a slender lead. This is even more important if you can for example, close out the campaign and snatch the points. Strategic advantage spaces can be very valuable for this purpose.
- Track the high value units on the board to help predict your opponent’s attacking potential – There are only a small number of 3 strength units in each player’s bag. If you can track these as they are played on the board, they can give you a sense of your opponent’s maximum attacking potential. That matters because it gives you a sense of how far you need to shift a battle track to prevent them from shifting the lead in one turn.
- Use blitz units to try to snatch close campaigns from opponents – If you have access to blitz units look for campaigns that only have two squares left to be closed out. If they are closely contested and you can flip a narrow deficit to a lead you can surprise your opponent and snatch the points.
- Admirals and Generals can be more valuable in the final campaign of a theatre – Admirals and Generals increase in value with more of your navy or land units respectively placed in a theatre. Being patient and waiting until you have accumulated the appropriate units in the theatre will provide a greater strength for these units. Generally, they are stronger in the final campaign of a theatre for this reason.
- If a campaign is a lost cause look to limit your opponent’s advantage – If an opponent is about to win a campaign and you can’t change that look to limit the points, they will receive by either decreasing their lead, so they don’t get bonus points or snapping up any available propaganda spaces in that campaign.
- If you have been bombed or blitz and have only 1 or 2 units left, go for production – It is important you don’t allow your opponent an ability to bomb you to a loss. If you are reduced in units in front of you respond with a production spot if available to replenish your pool.
- Thing carefully before snapping up the second to last spot in a campaign – By taking the second to last spot in a campaign you leave the opportunity for your opponent to close it. That might be desirable if you can secure a large enough lead but maybe not if you are in deficit or your lead is only a point or two.