... ignore your fears and buy it!
The learning curve isn't anywhere as steep as all the (incredibly helpful) posts here would lead people to believe. Yes, the manual is a monster, but that's because it's thorough, and there are a lot of quirks to the system. But the basics of the system are actually quite simple, daresay intuitive. It's probably not your best first wargame, but it doesn't require a grognard Ph.D. to play.
When I buy games like this, I do so because I want to jump right into a giant campaign and conquer the world. I accepted that you can't do this with WITE, you're best served playing a few tutorial and small campaign scenarios. The pleasure with WITE is that given the depth of the game, even those small scenarios are fun and challenging.
Me, I played the tutorial once, then Road to Minsk three times, then Road to Leningrad three times. RtM takes less than an evening to complete, and RtL is a good solid night of fun (3-4 hours... helps that the GF is outta town ). I've won some minor victories, but the major victories have eluded me (how the HECK anyone manages to take Leningrad by turn 7 or 9-- as seen in some AARs-- is beyond me... you have to REALLY race, and get lucky, and if you don't, be prepared for an impossible siege).
What's fascinating about the small scenarios is that I actually care about them, i.e. I want to win them (as Axis)-- but that's dang hard to do given the objectives and the little time to complete them. Not as brutally impossible as the ol' Panzer General games, but not a pushover like so many other games.
Now, I imagine that once I get my feet wet enough times I'll want to try my hand at the Soviets, which is a harder nut to crack: not just because of their strategic situation, but also because of the extra rules (production, factories, creating units, etc.) that the Soviets must deal with.
Like all players, there are always some things I'd like to see addressed in future patches; I think the air model needs help, managing leaders could be improved (a few too many clicks right now to find the best replacements, IMO), and the game appears to memory leak as the turns pile up (a restart solves it). But on the surface, nothing's broken-- for your hard-earned money, you are most definitely NOT getting patchware (like from some other beloved studios *cough* ).
So really-- don't fear the game. Even with a skimming of the manual, you'll be playing in minutes. In three days, tops, you'll be completely comfortable with the basics of the game, and finding yourself at the end of the night going, "One more turn to get Smolensk... I can be late to work, right? Just one more turn..."
< Message edited by Davekhps -- 12/14/2010 2:40:49 PM >