ESCAPE FROM COLDITZ
Osprey Games $65
WORLD WAR II RATING: 5/5
THE BASICS: Escape from Colditz is the Osprey reissue of a popular game originally released in 1973, designed with help from Major Pat Reid, a British Army officer who escaped the real Colditz Castle. One player plays the German Security Officer, while the others control Allied Escape Officers—prisoners of war. The game returns with clearer rules and nicer components, but keeps its original format.
THE OBJECTIVE: Players in the Escape Officer role draw cards that contain items, such as fake passes and disguises, or provide opportunities, such as finding tunnels, to get as many British, Dutch, or French officers safely out of Colditz as possible. Naturally, as the German Security Officer, players use guards and various card-driven search tactics to prevent the prisoners’ escape.
HISTORICAL ACCURACY: Hard to determine. Given the map board and cards, there is not much room for creative out-of-the-box thinking. However, with input from Reid, the game captures—in his opinion—the sport of escape and the realistic options at hand.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: The game is visually gorgeous, simple in execution, and exciting in its competitive tension. Contents include a recreated Red Cross package, a detailed board, and a historical reference book. One criticism is players are limited to preset options. For example, players cannot dig new tunnels, only use preexisting ones. But enterprising players can modify rules if desired.
PLAYABILITY: Colditz is a real “beer and pretzels” type of game—fun for gatherings. Certain cards can be omitted and game length can be altered to change it up for repeated play. To add intrigue, the game sets a certain amount of turns counting down to 1. Experienced players can increase difficulty by reducing the number of turns.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Escape from Colditz is enjoyable and atmospheric. Few games can boast having a designer involved in its subject, which gives it a unique quality. Unlike other war games that attract mainly military historians, Colditz has the ability to attract wider crowds, including families and kids.
Chris Ketcherside, a former Marine, is working on a PhD in military history.
This review was originally published in the March/April 2017 issue of World War II magazine. Subscribe here.