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A Victory Lost: Crisis in Ukraine 1942-1943» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Possibly the shortest game ever rss

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Tim Taylor
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As the title says, this is perhaps the shortest game of A Victory Lost ever. We sat down to play after covering the rules. I was the Soviets, while my opponent was the Axis.

In the first turn, my 1st Guards, 2nd Guards and 5th Shock armies virtually eliminated the 8th Italian and 3rd Romanian armies. The front was blown wide, wide open in many places and my tank corps roamed individually at will approaching Millerovo and Tatsinskaia. Sharp panzer counter-attacks by 4th Panzer army and Kampfgruppe Hollidt destroyed two Tank corps, but ensured that these panzer divisions were all but encircled by the end of turn one. It looked like clear sailing all the way to Rostov and beyond!

During the second turn, my units were a bit more difficult to control due to their wide dispersion. Still, by the end most German units were nearly encircled in a pocket between Millerovo and Tatsinskaia (roughly). However, during his moves, my opponent was able to eliminate three more Tank corps in the general melee.

I have to confess, I was feeling pretty smug coming into the end of turn two. All German panzer units were pocketed (although still in supply), vast numbers of Axis minor allied units had been eliminated, and I'd only lost five units! Nothing stood between me and those juicy major cities just waiting to be liberated -- nothing except the victory conditions, that is. I almost fell over when my opponent calmly informed me that his 25 Victory Points for holding the five Victory Cities coupled with the 5 VPs for destroying my Tank units gave him 30 VPs and the win.

Whaaa?!

Here he has no front line, oodles of dead units, and his hardest hitting forces will be lucky to stay in supply until next turn. But there will be no next turn!

Axis victory by the end of turn two! Total playing time was about an hour including set up and rules explanation!

What an amazing game! It is so hard for me to play this well. Every time I play, I lose -- yet I keep coming back for more.

But surely, that is the mark of a great game.
 
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Chris Milne
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Hmm. Interesting result - you didn't manage to kill a single German unit (even the Luftwaffe divisions)?
 
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Severus Snape
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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"The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of."--Pascal
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Here he has no front line, oodles of dead units, and his hardest hitting forces will be lucky to stay in supply until next turn. But there will be no next turn!


Does anyone besides me have a problem with these victory conditions? This might make for an enjoyable gaming experience, but how about as history? Just how ahistorical can it become? Did you consider continuing play in order to see how the Axis player would do? goo
 
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Kevin Moody
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In terms of history, the Soviet operation would not have succeeded without sufficient armor, and the chance of a German sudden victory is a means by which that message is driven across. How many Soviet armor losses, without a corresponding Axis loss, would have killed the operation's chances of success is certainly debatable.

It emphasizes the need for combined arms and infantry/cav support, but that's something that only comes across through play.

Remember, out of every 100 Soviet draftees in 1941, only three survived the war, and the tank was often the most important piece of troop transport used during these winter operations. (Hint: make sure you have expendable infantry with your Soviet armor, if you can do so).
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Tim Taylor
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Before this game I had been reading Paul Carrell's Scorched Earth. I had gotten as far as the Soviet Tank spearheads approaching Millerovo and Rostov. Only after the game did I read about how the German panzer divisions were able to eliminate the individual Soviet Tank corps piecemeal. Why had I stopped reading at such a crucial stage?

OK, so I went into this game all hopped up on Soviet Tank glory without any idea of the consequences of such bravery and fanatical devotion to Communism. I'll try to answer all your questions and your points, but please remember this game was the result of my hubris, foolish risk taking, and inattention to detail (like VCs).

Pathirtle wrote:
I have to report this to the Boss.

[puts gun on table]

Perhaps you'd prefer to avoid the red tape.

(From Enemy at the Gates)

Too true, Pat! This was a major disaster! Several armies' generals would have been "liquidated" (1st Guards, 2nd Guards, and 5th Shock).


Chris Milne wrote:
you didn't manage to kill a single German unit (even the Luftwaffe divisions)?

Man, don't rub it in! A lot of German units were on their reduced strength side, and they were all but pocketed between the Don and Donets rivers. I thought I'd have time to crush, kill, and destroy later...


Pathirtle wrote:
I never considered the possibility of the Germans going for an early sudden death win. I suspect that your game was a fluke, but it's an interesting notion. But killing five Soviet mech units without any German losses is definitely a long shot.

It requires a certain level of brazen stupidly and clinical thickness in the Soviet player. Qualities I appear to have in abundance. Seriously though, this will never happen to me again! I will never send out all my Tank units on an unsupported death-ride to glory.


bentlarsen wrote:
Does anyone besides me have a problem with these victory conditions? This might make for an enjoyable gaming experience, but how about as history? Just how ahistorical can it become? Did you consider continuing play in order to see how the Axis player would do?

Kevin Moody wrote:
In terms of history, the Soviet operation would not have succeeded without sufficient armor ... (the game) emphasizes the need for combined arms and infantry/cav support, but that's something that only comes across through play.

I have to agree with Kevin here, Bent. Reading on in Carrell's book last night, to my astonishment and horror, I read about almost the same thing happening in history (just not as bad). The way Carrell put it, and I'm paraphrasing here, the Soviets had just gotten together their Tank forces and were trying to imitate the German panzer successes of the past. With that in mind, when the front broke open each individual Tank corps raced for their objectives without thought of their flanks or that the Germans might react a bit more deftly than Soviet infantry conscripts had in summer 1941. The Soviets thought that once the front had been breached the battle was won because that's what had happened in the Nazi invasion. They didn't realize until they'd lost several Tank corps that an active, mobile and energetic counter-attacking force can eliminate the spearheads before any real gains can be made good on. Historically, the Soviets only lost three Tank corps (that I read about), but it really set back their Tank force's growth. They weren't able to muster such a force again until after Kursk, and then they were real cautious about advancing -- mindful of the shellacking they'd gotten near Millerovo and Rostov during Dec '42 - Jan '43.

When my game ended so abruptly, I was shocked and ultimately amused at my incompetance. I didn't want to play on because my opponent had won fair and square (besides it was his first game and my third!). Plus he wanted to switch gears and get in some time-travelling roleplaying that we do. I'll admit, the win didn't feel completely right (or if you will it felt a bit "game-y"). But I was floored later that evening as I read on in Carrell's book. Those poor sorry Soviet bastards suffered nearly as dreadful losses as I had and look how they ended up -- Manstein's "Backhand Blow", the third battle of Kharkov lost, the miraculous survival of 1st Panzer army -- and I could see how all those things might have happened (or actually been worse) had we continued play.

The Victory Conditions simply saved us time -- time better spent travelling with Professor Terwilliger and his Victorian companions as they explored the futuristic city of San Francisco in the year nineteen hundred and ninety six...

TT 1/14/07
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Kevin Moody
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I can't think of many games that can illustrate historical events or circumstances in such an easy format like this game can.

Don't be hard on yourself. The game has a few examples like that which can bite a person. It doesn't mean the Axis literally won the battle, but that the Soviets blew it.

There's another aspect of the game that some may think of as gamey, and that's supply*. Many games require tracing supply to a friendly map edge(s), but as you know in AVL each side has three distinct sources. Woe is the commander who fails to protect them! It requires thoughts of reserves and rear guards in a simple way that other games (such as the excellent OCS games by MMP/the Gamers) require dozens of pages of rules and hours upon hours of playtime to show.

It's definately a "less is more" design**, and not for those who may require every aspect of a game explained or covered.

*You think you're embarrassed? After having driven an Axis spearhead deep in the middle to block Soviet supply sources twice, my next opponent did the same thing to me. shake Hint: that's what those reduced little 1-4 Soviet infantry units are good for...rear guard speed bumps!

**many of the other IGS games in preorder or soon available for preorder are the same way. Red Star Rising is a good example. Keep an eye out for the Tide at Sunrise, too.
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Jesper RugÄrd Jensen
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I played my first game today against the son. I took the Russians, and he was the Germans. We havent played a lot of real wargames. We were both looking at the map somewhat overwhelmed, and my son was saying that he didn't understand anything of the rules I had told him.

Well we began playing, and I felt good about the way the Russians rolled over the German allies, and how the South was loosing up. I knew that I had to hurry down South, in order to survive the coming of the 1 pz. Up North I had lost a couple of units, and had been forced to withdraw a couple of places. Nothing big I thought. After the first turn we got our replacements, everybody was in supply, and we chose out chits.

Second turn started innoncently enough, only worrying was how my son kept reading the rules and checking the map. Then suddenly he broke through up north, and we sort of swithed places up there. My Russian forces on the South and him on the North. He dislocated the lone unit on the left supply point. Meanwhile I pounded him in the middle and in the South. Only loses still were German allies and small Russian stuff. End of turn two. Supply okay. Reinforcements: Two German tanks race up the railroad the rightmost supply point (we played it wrongly - he took both, but the result would have been the same).

Thirs turn: I started trying to go North. 1 GdA comes close, their panzers race along small unused roads, but have to stop just South of the left most supply point. In the East I don't get to move anything valuable up. I pound on his forces up there, but am painfully aware that this is just a small consolation. He consolidates the Northern parts and moves his commands post up towards the right supply points. When we get to the supply phase I almost close up all the supply points to the German force in the NE that is keeping my supply closed, but a roundabout route all the way over to Stalingrad keeps the Germans in supply. I am still out of supply, and what is worse, my whole third turn reinfocement force is eliminated as they cannot get on the board. Then comes the real blow: The rules say that "Out of Supply" HQ's are relocated. If a HQ is relocated and it is not possible to placec it in supply, then it must wait a turn and enter the map with the next reinforcements. This means that I should play the whole fourth turn with no HQ's. This was when I gave up.

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Tim Taylor
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Jesper, first games of A Victory Lost always go like this! Live and learn!

Confidentially, I've never won a game of AVL yet! But I keep trying...

TT
 
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Drew Heath
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Herr Niemand wrote:

I will never send out all my Tank units on an unsupported death-ride to glory.


Dude, seriously, death-rides to glory are what it's ALL about! arrrh
 
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Robert Wilson
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I know
 
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