What Is WIF?

World in Flames is a strategic level game of World War II that covers the entire struggle, Europe, Asia, Pacific, and possibly all points in-between. This is the best strategic level game I have played and is able to combine traditional elements with innovative new ones. 

At face value, World in Flames is a traditional war game. This includes hexes, counters, and factor fussing to get the numbers all right. The basic movement and combat system is like many wargames, with a few added twists. Units can move and attack only as long as they are face up. Getting a bad combat result or moving while out of supply, for examples, flips units face down, making them unusable for the rest of the turn. Units can also be attacked by aircraft to flip them over. Air units are flipped over after flying most missions. Headquarters (HQs) units can reorganize or flip them back face up by them themselves flipping face down. The net effect of this is that as the turn goes on, there are fewer units to move and fight. 

The naval system is area based. Whereas land units could move several times during a turn, ships can only move once. Each naval area consists of five zones or boxes. A ship is more effective for combat in the higher numbered boxes. Naval combat is brutal and being ambushed in a sea zone is usually fatal. On the other hand, the interaction between the naval and land forces is very well done, perhaps making it one of the best aspects of the game. 

The kicker is that each player has to select the type of action they do one there phase. A land phase allows unlimited land actions but no naval actions. With a naval, you can do unlimited naval but no land actions. And a combined, as the name implies, is a compromise in which the player can do a limited amount of land and naval actions. The trick is to plan your tactics by using the right kind of phases during the turn. While this minimally impacts the Russian player (since he is mostly land oriented), the British, Japanese, and American players canít be capricious since they are playing some kind of two front war. The Japanese-American game is more like a chess game with both sides posturing. 

Turns are two month games each or six per year. The difference is that each turn is composed of an undetermined number of impulses. Impulses are essentially player turns in which the own can move and fight. At the end of each impulse, he rolls a die against the turn track to see if the game turn ends. If not, the next player get his impulse. Turns coinciding with the European summer months typically have more impulse (conceivably up to eight each) and the other months may be a short as three impulse. The balance for players getting two impulses in a row (by ending one turn and going first in the next one) is that the other side often has the choice of going first or second Ė an important decision at times. 

As with most strategic level games, there is a significant amount of end of turn activities, such as unit production and political events. The key to the game is this strategic level influence. 

Production is perhaps the more important features of the game that drives strategies of the game. More than just getting new units, players have a wide latitude in building units. They can decide the exact mix and flavor of their forces and that in turn drives their strategy. Production depends on having both resources and factories. Major countries and some minor countries have "red print" factories that can be used when conquered, otherwise a country can only use factories in their country (or ones they build) and resources that they can transport to those factories. Units are built from the build points. Different units take different number of turns to build. Carriers require two years to build while militia and conscripts just a turn. The bulk of the game is infantry (two turns) and armor units (four). Although you can build almost any unit, it takes time to retool to different ones. You can only build one more of that type than you did the turn before. All said, you have to plan your strategy carefully. 

Another strategic driver is the US entry into the war. Almost every action some power takes has a political influence on America . The US needs a minimum entry to declare war. Starting at zero in 1939, at the occurrence of certain events (such as Germany declaring war on Russia , or Japan taking Chinese cities), the number may go up based on a die roll. By the same measure, as the other Allies take aggressive actions (such as Britain declaring war on Belgium , ironically to better defend against the German invasion), the number may drop. In addition, as the US get closer to being able to enter the war, it can perform more actions, like lending production, protecting sea areas, and so forth. 

Overall, World in Flames is about choices. And there are lots of them. You are not limited in recreating the war but can choose how to wage it.