Race to the Rhine is a war game that’s not a war game – at least, not between the players, who represent the Allies racing across Europe, trying to be the first to reach the Rhine.
There is fighting – it’s the second-world-war, and Nazis are abundant – but the thrust of the game is the race – trying to move at least one of your corps up to and over the river, whilst keeping them supplied with oil (to move) food (to eat) and ammunition (to see off the Nazis). Each player has to manage the three resources as best they can in order to outstrip their opponents in the race to the Rhine.
Blocking their path are Nazi Squadrons that get harder and harder to defeat the closer you get to the river. It’s entirely possible – probable, in fact – that at the game end nobody will have managed it – and in this case scores are tallied based on how many medals each player has won (gathered by defeating enemy troops and liberating towns).
On your turn you have several actions – move a corps, supply a base or establish a supply line being the basic ones. But supply lines only function temporarily, so at some point you’ll need to establish new ones as your corps run out of supplies. At the end of your go you’ll place a new marker representing Nazi advancement eastward – toward the players.
There is a basic game that is relatively easy to pick up, and an advanced one that introduces new combat elements such as air-strikes.
I like the theme in Race to the Rhine and also the speed of gameplay. There are some slightly odd mechanics though – for instance your supply lines work once, and then they simply block the roads as though abandoned in a spontaneous AWOL action. And on our fledgling game we found the winner came down to where we sat around the table, as having all performed equally well (or perhaps equally badly, as we didn’t reach the Rhine at all) the final tie-breaker was turn order. So whilst my own experience had a slightly flat ending it definitely did feel worthy of further exploration.
Although players don't fight each other, they can (and will) steer the Nazis into each others' paths.
Despite looking like a game with a million rules, Race to the Rhine is actually quite fast-moving.
Usually your options are limited - there isn't too much to choose from. But there will be turns that require a bit more thought.
The randomness of the cards for both players and the German army mean no two games are the same.