Phil came back today to "finish the job" on Barbarossa to Berlin. I was fully expecting to lose before lunch, but actually managed to drag it out until 4:30 and the penultimate turn. I failed to get "Totaler Krieg" played, but a 2-year siege of Kiev, no less than two failed invasions of France, and a mistimed play of "Casablanca" all kept the tension high right to the very end - Phil's final victory in Spring 45.
What a great wargame! I think Ted Raicer's decision to cut out the phony war and start with the invasion of Russia was inspired. It makes for a tight, compact game (we finished inside 12 hours, whereas I have played Europe Engulfed for 3 exhausting days in a row and still not finished) that feels like World War 2 - fewer opportunities for the weird "what-if" branches from history that a game starting in 1939 has to navigate.
Do I prefer it to Paths of Glory? Not sure, but I'm leaning towards BtB. PoG has the big strategic decisions (East or West) that are kind of settled before BtB begins. But there's still a lot of strategic thinking that has to be done about balancing risks, covering your back (guess where the next invasion comes) and managing your manpower resources (RPs vs the latest crisis). And I definitely prefer it to Europe Engulfed - it's more compact both in time and space.