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Barbarossa: The Russo-German War 1941-45» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Barbarossa scenario rss

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Michael Sommers
United States
New Jersey
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Barbarossa: The Russo-German War 1941-45 was first published by
SPI in 1969, and a second edition came out in 1971. It is an army-level
game on the war on the eastern front in WWII.

The rules are fairly standard. There is a movement phase, a combat
phase, and another movement phase. ZOCs are asymmetric: Germans can
trace supply and retreat through Soviet ZOCs, but Soviets cannot do
the same through German ZOCs. Units pay to enter and leave ZOCs, and
are thus able to infiltrate through holes in enemy lines. All
supplied units can move at least one hex, so even infantry can
infiltrate a little bit.

The CRT strongly favors the attacker. Even at 1:1 there is a 5/6
chance of the defender retreating. However, because there are no
advances after combat, the usual tactic of attacking on either side of
a target unit in order to surround it does not work.

The situation

Germany starts with 4 panzer armies, 7 infantry armies, and a couple
of Rumanian armies. On turn 2 thet get another infantry army. And
that's it (except for some Rumanians, Hungarians, and italians). In
the campaign game, they also get a few, a very few, replacements.
That is what they have to conquer Russia with.

Russia starts out with just enough weak units to cover the frontier,
but at least they get a constant stream of reinforcements.

Supply is another very critical limitation. Supplies are expended in
attacks, and the Germans, who start with 4 supply units, get only one
new one per turn. Although supply units can support any number of
attacks when they are used, and the German supply units can support
attacks 6 hexes away, they Germans can't afford to attack on a broad
front (even if they had the units to do so). They must pick a general
area each turn, and limit their attacks to that sector. At least as
long as they are on the offensive.

Setup and plans

The Russians have put more of their strength in the north, on the most
direct route to Moscow, and where the terrain is generally favorable
to attackers. In the south, they are weaker, but a series of rivers
provide good defensive positions. The south is also farther from the
juicy targets.

The Germans, however, have decided to attack in the south. The rivers
will slow them down significantly, especially as they can prevent deep
infiltrations by panzers, and it is a greater distance to vital
cities, but they reckon that they can obliterate the entire Russian
line on the first turn. The German left will be guarded by only a
light screen, even after breaking down two infantry armies into their
constituent corps. The main strength is provided by the Rumanians,
who have deployed here instead of in Rumania (which seems to be
allowed by the rules; only Finnish units are restricted to their own
country). However, the Russian supply has been deployed too far from
the front to allow any attacks until turn 2 (this was to prevent them
from being overrun), so nothing can go wrong right away. The plan is
risky, but I'd like to try something different this time.

Turn 1 -- June 1941


In the north, the Germans simply advanced to contact. This is a bluff
more than anything else. There will be no attacks here.

Infantry, including some of the Rumanians, moved to encircle Brest,
but they could not get all the way around, and they are too weak to

On the right, the panzers and accompanying infantry infiltrated the
Russian line. As expected, though, the rivers prevented the total
encircling of the Russian extreme left.

From the left, German infantry attacked the tank corps keeping the
supply line to the forward Russian infantry at 7:1, including some air
support. The defender was eliminated. There is no advance after
combat in this game. This isolated the infantry, which was attacked
by the panzers at 2:1, enough to guarantee a retreat. Since the
infantry had no place to go, it was eliminated.

Farther south, a similar story was played out, with identical results.

On the extreme right, panzers and infantry attacked an infantry army
behind a river at 2:1. This was the place where the rivers slowed
down the Germans enough that they could not surround the Russian. The
defender was forced to retreat 2 hexes, into Odessa, where there was
already a tank corps.

Finally, back in the center, an infantry corps, with air support,
attacked a tank corps at 3:1, which was pushed back 1 hex.

Thus a 5-hex-wide hole was blown in the Russian line. In the second
movement phase the Germans poured through this hole. Odessa was
isolated, and there will be no way to relieve it (unsupplied units
can't move). The infantry that made the final attack infiltrated some
more, and another Russian infantry army was almost isolated. Kiev is
being held by a supply unit, which the panzers just missed being able
to overrun.


Russia moved up the 4 armies that began the game in the rear to shore
up their left. They also shifted units from the right to the left.
They withdrew from Brest, which might not have been absolutely
necessary, given the weakness of the nearby Germans, but there was no
point in taking any risks at all to keep it.

On the far right, the Russians prepared for a counter-attack, but it
will have to be delayed until next turn, because it took both movement
phases to get in position.

Nothing could be done about Odessa, and the garrison was eliminated.

Russia lost 3 infantry armis and 3 tank corps this turn. Not a lot,
but the Germans have grabbed lots of territory in the south.

Turn 2 -- July 1941


Germany got 1 infantry army as reinforcements. These are the last
German reinforcements for the entire game; further reinforcements are
from their allies.

The reinforcements went to the left, to give a little punch to the
troops there. A corps moved into Brest. The rest of the left flank
did nothing.

In the south, Odessa fell. Panzers headed west atains the weak
Russian extreme left.

West of Kiev, an infantry army and a corps attacked a tank corps, with
air support, at 8:1, which was an automatic elimination. East of
Kiev, panzers attacked a tank corps across a river at 5:1, forcing it
to retreat 3 hexes into Bryansk. Then west of Kiev again, panzers and
infantry attacked an infantry army at 4:1, causing it to retreat 3 to
the northeast. Kiev was now ripe for isolation.

The leading panzers on the far right each attacked an infantry army
with the help of air support, getting 3:1s. One defender retreated to
the neck of the Crimea, and the other all the way back to Stalino.

In the second movement phase, the reinforcements in the north moved
into the line on the far left.

Panzers near Kiev isolated the city, but there are Russians nearby who
can reestablish a supply line and rescue the troops inside.

Other panzers occupied Kharkov and Dnepro-Petrovsk. They are far
ahead of the infantry, who have been somewhat slowed by the rivers.
The Russian near the Crimea was left alone, with the hope that it
would run away.


Russia got a supply unit and 6 infantry armies as reinforcements in

Most of the reinforcements went south to build a new line between the
Dnepr and the Donetz. Other units linked up with Kiev.

In the north, the Russians launched a 3:1 attack against the infantry
corps on the far right, forcing it back 2 hexes.

Russia lost only a single tank corps this turn.

Turn 3 -- August 1941


A flaw in the German plan has become evident: Russia is big, and the
great advance of the panzers in the south has not only far outstripped
the infantry, but has created a very long line that is becoming
difficult to man.

A Hungarian and an Italian corps arrived as reinforcements.

In the north, the recently retreated corps moved back into the line.

In the far south, a corps moved into the Crimea. It will take
Sevastapol, and then cross the Kerch strait to take the cities in that
area. This move is intended to distract some Russian units in that

The main front reoriented itself to face north, the panzers in
Dnepro-Petrovsk leaving it to be occupied by infantry. The main
thrust will be east of Kiev, with the goal of isolating that city next

On the far left, German infantry attacked 2 tank corps, using air
support, at 4:1, and the Russians retreated into Riga.

On the main front, west of Kiev, two infantry armies attacked 2 tank
corps at 5:1, and eliminated them. East of Kiev, on the right of the
main line, panzers attacked, with air support, an infantry army at
3:1, and retreated it 2 hexes to outside Kursk. Then more panzers
attacked 2 tank armies at 5:1, and eliminated them. This isolated an
infantry army that had foolishly moved into an advanced position. Two
infantry armies attacked this unit at 2:1, which guarantees a retreat,
and it was eliminated. Just east of Kiev, panzers attacked the last
army linking Kiev to the outside world at 3:1, using air support, and
retreated it 2 hexes northeast. Kiev was now isolated, and the last
panzers attacked it at 1:1. A retreat result (a 5 out of 6 chance)
eliminated the infantry army and tank corps in the city. Kiev fell
earlier than expected.

In the second movement phase, the Germans decided to continue
northwards, and pushed into the hole in the Russian line caused by the
loss of Kiev. In the process, they isolated an infantry army, but one
of the panzers was put out on a limb. Since Germans can retreat
through ZOCs, the danger is not great, though. On the far right, they
decided not to try the Caucuses adventure. An infantry army broke
down into corps, one of which moved back into Dnepro-Petrovsk.


Russia received 2 armies in Moscow, and an army and a tank corps on
the east edge of the map.

The current German thrust is aimed between Minsk and Smolensk. If
they go farther, they might well isolate the Russian right, so that
flank retreated behind the river. Elsewhere, the reinforcements were
fed into the line, and the isolated army managed to escape.

This turn the Russians lost 2 infantry armies and 5 tank corps.

Turn 4 -- September 1941


The Germans advanced on the left into the space vacated by the
retreating Russians.

Most of the rest of the Russian line is behind rivers, so the Germans
attacked straight towards Smolensk, more or less.

The panzers that had penetrated closest to Smolensk attacked an
infantry army in front of the city. With air support, they got a 3:1,
and the defender retreated 2 hexes. Then, the infantry stacked with
those panzers joined with other panzers and attacked another army at
4:1, getting an elimination. Next another 4:1 pushed an army back 2,
and a 3:1 got a 1-hex retreat.

In the second movement phase, the Germans pushed into this new hole
in the Russian line.


The Russians got reinforcements of 2 armies in Moscow.

They shifted troops around to strengthen the line south of Smolensk.
They managed to build up a pretty solid line.

Total losses to this time are 6 armies and 9 tank corps.

Turn 5 -- October 1941


An Italian corps arrived on the map. Those are the last German
reinforcements in the Barbarossa scenario.

There does not seem to be any alternative but to attack the
Russians across the river they are hiding behind; the Germans need to
destroy more units to have a chance of success. As it is, on most of
the Russian line all they can do is push them back, which will not
accomplish much.

There were two 2:1 attacks across the river against infantry armies.
One defender retreated 1 hex, and the other 4 hexes. Some panzers,
with air support, attacked an infantry army in front of Smolensk at
3:1, retreating it 2 hexes. A final attack at 4:1 pushed back another
army 3 hexes. The Germans have not got many elimination results in
this game.

On the left, infantry infiltrated into a small gap in the Russian
line. They did not attack, due to worries about supply shortages.

In the second movement phase, the Germans pushed into the new holes.


Russia got 2 armies in Moscow as reinforcements.

They pulled back on the right, and solidified their line around
Smolensk. They also abandoned Bryansk and Minsk. It looks like they
have the strength to blunt any German attacks, although they will
certainly lose more territory.

Turn 6 -- November 1941

Winter is setting in, and the Germans are way behind schedule.
Actually, I forgot that last turn was a mud turn, which is basically
the same as winter; I guess it was a particularly dry autumn.

Winter means that the German offensive will virtually shut down, since
units must be adjacent to supply units in order to attack. Not only
are the Germans unprepared for this (the supply units are not
positioned close enough to the front), but there are only enough for 4
more attacks, which won't make much of a difference.

Therefore, I ended the game early. The Germans have destroyed 33 VP
worth of Soviet units, and have taken 22 VP worth of cities (including
those that would be taken in the current turn by just moving into
them), giving them a total of 81 (including VP for initially-held
cities). The Russians have 55 VP worth of cities. This gives the
Germans a marginal victory.


The Southern Strategy did not work very well. Lots of ground was
taken, but ground does not win the war. To do that you need to take
cities and destroy the Soviet army. However, most of the high-value
cities are in the north, and usually the bulk of the army is, too.
The Germans only have four turns until the mud arrives and basically
shuts down the war, so if the war is to be won decisively, it must be
done quickly, and it does not appear that that can be done by
attacking in the south.
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Kim Meints
United States
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Thanks for the Session report on this old favorite of mine.Many times it's this game I play every year when June 22 rolls around but also just when I want a entire East front game to play that's easy. Yes the graphic's are early 70's crude but still the game is fun and tense.

Good job
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Michael Sommers
United States
New Jersey
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Thanks. The more I play it, the better I like it. The Russians do better each time.

The graphics were not the best even when I got the game in the early '70s, but they get the job done.
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Interesting that the CRT gives attackers a 5/6 chance at 1:1 odds. Initial thought is 'ridiculous' if you think tactically. However, if you think EastFront strategically, this CRT approach balances the initial German advantage and when Russian reserves pour in, they will benefit from the CRT and that is quite an interesting approach.
(I initially thought this report was about the TSR game with the same name).
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Michael Sommers
United States
New Jersey
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Harae wrote:
Interesting that the CRT gives attackers a 5/6 chance at 1:1 odds. Initial thought is 'ridiculous' if you think tactically. However, if you think EastFront strategically, this CRT approach balances the initial German advantage and when Russian reserves pour in, they will benefit from the CRT and that is quite an interesting approach.

I think you're right.
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Bob James
United States
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I have heard that 69 version was superior in gameing than the 71 version save in quality of components.
Anyone have both to compare and tell us.
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Paul Stark
United States
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For a relatively simple game, this plays very historically in all of the scenarios. It was a major leap forward compared to AH's Stalingrad (which didn't yield historical results at all). Have fond memories of this (the '71 version) and played it many times back in the 1970's. I think it holds up very well to newer offerings.
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Charles Sutherland
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Is it me or does the removal of 4 additional 2-4-2 to reserve cities makes it impossible to cover the front with infantry zoc? 7 units can't cover Finland and the main front so what am I missing?
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