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Subject: Initial Review - Moscow 41 rss

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Rich Radgoski
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Hi all - my son and I played about 4 months of Moscow 41 and I wanted to give the group some initial impressions. As we haven't played a full game yet, I'm not 'scoring' it, but overall I found the game favorable.

The game components are very good - I was a little surprised by the size of the blocks (small) but it didn't cause any issues and made it easier to manipulate on the map. (standard) There was potentially two component issues, however - I didn't get any black flags (I got the bases) nor any white cubes (but did get the white oil cans). We put on the kickstarter special stickers and my son, after the fact, said he wishes he put on the original stickers with the standard symbols. I like seeing tanks though

The game play is interesting - I go, you go style which is done impulse by impulse. your HQ's (and their strength) allow for orders to be given to specific units (or general units) making this aspect challenging if you don't have your HQ in the right place. I made an error in placing my red units in vastly different places (north/south) and that made half of them effectively useless. [You can move them if another HQ is directly ontop of them or using the Pass function, but most times you have something more important to move then]. One major issue - the colors on the soviet commanders are too light! Seeing which color that HQ commands is very difficult and worse - there are two types of Blue. (dark and light). This led to several issues with the blues and constant picking up of the HQ's in order to ascertain which color they controlled. The colors on the units themselves are clear enough.

One of the odd things about the gameplay is that the Germans seemed to be able to continue their impulses much longer than the soviets. This led to the soviets passing several turns waiting for the German player to complete their turn. The rule book states that 'two consecutive passes' ends the turn...but that rule can be seen in two ways - two consecutive passes both players....or one player... Unfortunately, there are many issues of ambiguity in the rulebooks. In my assessment, the rules were probably the weakest aspect.

Combat is fairly simple - Roll dice, evaluate against strength. Standard fair. It was very clear which unit had greater strength (red, white, black) and once you learn this, it stays. Artillery worked well, although for a time we were doing Artillery at HQ strength range and not just Adjacent.

The inclusion of bombers from the Germans could be devastating - especially the stukas. Stuka's can follow a blitz attack. The Germans didn't do Blitzs much, but enough to see their benefit. We never used the give up the initiative for the extra move, however. The Germans just didn't want to allow the Soviets the ability to add more blocks to the table.

The Supply rules are simple, but deadly. Get cut off, and your units are effectively dead unless they can be saved. Our game had several attempts to do this, with the Germans eventually encircling a 4 group of 1 exhausted leader and 3 armor. The leader died in one turn, the others died in turns following. Death by Supply means the soviet units doing go back to the available resources bag.

the German player found it frustrating that the Soviet leaders go back to the bag for redistribution. I couldn't find a rule that countermanded that, so that's how we played. He further found it frustrating that when his leaders died, they were out forever, effectively paralyzing whole parts of his army. (this was a late game event where I got lucky and caught a Luftwaffe HQ with another HQ with a large force of the Soviets.) Is this correct? This seems unusually penalizing. Will no one step up for the Germans?

We also found that the Germans could be paralyzed by not getting his leaders out onto the map from the available resources. The Soviets made great progress in delaying the Germans due to this. Once he was able to get them on board, it was clear that the weather was going to change and bog his army down enough to derail most of his momentum.

the Germans also found that having infantry in the north was painful, especially since many of the victory point cities were in the south.

The map is very nice, but you have a tendency to look at the terrain and not the icon for determining the stacking limits. I believe that if you have a city in a open, then stacking is limited to 2, not 4 for the surrounding terrain. This is easily missed. And it was also a tendency for us to miss that leaders are part of the stack. I often tried to place a leader and two units in a non open location. the other challenge with the map is the white cube for the absorb rule. Absorb basically is Defensive lines and towns/terrain absorbing hits. The rule is not a problem. As defensive lines are placed on the map, they are easy to see. The issue is that the white cubes drawn on the map are often covered by cubes...and sometimes overlooked.

This may seem more negative than positive, but please don't take it that way. The game does flow nicely and I think it's got a great deal of strategic potential. We'll work out the intent of some of these items and move forward. In all, it's a solid game and one I'm looking forward to getting back on the table again soon.

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Rory Colling
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A lot of what you said/misundertood is explained by the real history behind the game.
The Germs almost took Mockba in The Great Patriotic War for The Motherland!!
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Rory Colling
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One small history lesson from the designer:
That's probably the main German concern for the first Impulse.

Historically the LF was just a bit behind the Dnieper, and had to cross it and prepare airfields before the Wehrmacht spareheads could count on the precious air support.

After seizing Smolensk, on July 16, only Guderian and Hoth were on the eastern bank and ready to push, even if short of fuel and facing serious afv brakedown issues.

They tried to close the pincer around Smolensk to trap the already beaten 16th, 19th and 20th Soviet Army, while the 4th and 9th Army were still enaged in reducing the Minsk pocket and avoiding flooding of escaping Soviet troops towards the Pripet marshes.

However, once again, there was a hole open in the east, as Guderian moved eat instead of North-east, and Hoth was forced to dispatch one of his Panzer Corps nortward to seize Velikie Luki.

While some of his Generals wanted to go staright forward, Hitler was afraid of leaving too many gaps between his Army Groups, and for this reason he committed the only reserve available - the Weich's second army - to fill the gap between AGC and AGS and wanted the 16th army to go on for Toropets (and that's the reason we wanted this army - formely under AGN control - in the game.

emanuele
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Rich Radgoski
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I think intuitively we know that the History is the main driver for what is going on...and that's ok...but not knowing (like you do) makes it even more of a surprise.

I really am looking forward to playing again - with a better understanding...and I'm brushing up on my history too
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Kev.
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how have you had the game for four months?
How many times did you play?
How many turns per play and do you know who won each game?

Or am I miss reading your post?
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Steve Duke
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he played 4 months in game terms..
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Kev.
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sduke wrote:
he played 4 months in game terms..

ok I see that now. So part of a game.
It is aor can be a beat down for the Soviets Turn 1. But the most the German can do is 3 impulses without losing a HQ. He starts with 2 HQ's. Kind like a 'surprise' effect.
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Rich Radgoski
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Yes - 4 game months - sorry!

And The Germans quickly passed me the initiative once his HQ's were exhausted, then drew more HQ's. (The Soviets immediately used the Initiative to draw more blocks) and the Germans did it again in Turn 1. This significantly lengthened Turn 1 - almost to an hour. (much of that is newness to the game, but still...by drawing more HQ's, he was able to continue turn one without passing for quite a while. This seemed odd, as the soviet player, to sit there 'passing' for many impulses because all of my revealed HQ's were at the heart level and he kept finding a new HQ to use.

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Kev.
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Arkobla Conn wrote:
Yes - 4 game months - sorry!

And The Germans quickly passed me the initiative once his HQ's were exhausted, then drew more HQ's. (The Soviets immediately used the Initiative to draw more blocks) and the Germans did it again in Turn 1. This significantly lengthened Turn 1 - almost to an hour. (much of that is newness to the game, but still...by drawing more HQ's, he was able to continue turn one without passing for quite a while. This seemed odd, as the soviet player, to sit there 'passing' for many impulses because all of my revealed HQ's were at the heart level and he kept finding a new HQ to use.


That can happen. I think tho the German can get to heart level with the initial two HQ. Then end turn and re generate, both sides get reinforcements then too. Then move to turn 2.

Why take reinforcements by giving up the Init Disc? Punish the Russian as much as you can first then use the turns to get more units as he will also. Then if and when the tide turns and you have maxed out as far as you can get, then give the Initi disc, get the most reinforcements....or build defensive lines etc.??yes?
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Martin Gallo
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Historically the early part of the operation was a depressing affair for the Russians as they watched the Germans roll through their front lines and get halfway (or so) to their objectives deep in Russia. Once the Germans started to hit the prepared defenses (in their better terrain) and got funneled by terrain into bad defensive positions the Russians started their counterattack and started to frustrate the Germans. It started to be a battle the Germans were not prepared for.

It all came into the Russian plan when the Germans reached Moscow and Stalingrad, the trap was sprung and the Germans walked right in to it. A gross simplification and many mistakes were made on both sides.

I am currently reading "Thunder on the Dnepr" by Bryan Fugate and Lev Dvoretsky and it has completely changed how I look at the whole Barbarossa affair. I used to believe the common fallacy that Stalin was caught unprepared and so the Germans almost took Moscow and Stalingrad, but in reality Stalin (and staff) laid a trap of sorts. Russia knew about the attack while it was still being planned and adapted their strategy to match the realities of the attack and their situation. Many soldiers were knowingly sacrificed as part of this plan (Stalin was not a "good guy").

The situation still makes for an "interesting" game as both sides get to be on the attack, as well as feel the desperation.
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Kev.
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martimer wrote:
Historically the early part of the operation was a depressing affair for the Russians as they watched the Germans roll through their front lines and get halfway (or so) to their objectives deep in Russia. Once the Germans started to hit the prepared defenses (in their better terrain) and got funneled by terrain into bad defensive positions the Russians started their counterattack and started to frustrate the Germans. It started to be a battle the Germans were not prepared for.

It all came into the Russian plan when the Germans reached Moscow and Stalingrad, the trap was sprung and the Germans walked right in to it. A gross simplification and many mistakes were made on both sides.

I am currently reading "Thunder on the Dnepr" by Bryan Fugate and Lev Dvoretsky and it has completely changed how I look at the whole Barbarossa affair. I used to believe the common fallacy that Stalin was caught unprepared and so the Germans almost took Moscow and Stalingrad, but in reality Stalin (and staff) laid a trap of sorts. Russia knew about the attack while it was still being planned and adapted their strategy to match the realities of the attack and their situation. Many soldiers were knowingly sacrificed as part of this plan (Stalin was not a "good guy").

The situation still makes for an "interesting" game as both sides get to be on the attack, as well as feel the desperation.

I'm not sure I accept that whole cloth premise.
But I'll take a look at the book.

Its more likely that the logistics, # of capable mean and machines were just not up to the task. OK we knew before they started this was a doomed affair. The War was lost in july of '41. - There is another interesting book on the topic, - its a bit of a "I told you so" affair but lots of interesting data. -
https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Barbarossa-Germanys-Cambrid...
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Martin Gallo
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I have not read that book, but it sounds like a traditional look at the German failure.
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Lawrence Hung
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Wouldn't this by the same author be more on spot?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q8TWV04/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_tt...
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O. C.
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Thanks for your review, Rich

Arkobla Conn wrote:
We put on the kickstarter special stickers and my son, after the fact, said he wishes he put on the original stickers with the standard symbols. I like seeing tanks though
Arkobla Conn wrote:
One major issue - the colors on the soviet commanders are too light! Seeing which color that HQ commands is very difficult and worse - there are two types of Blue. (dark and light). This led to several issues with the blues and constant picking up of the HQ's in order to ascertain which color they controlled.
I love icon stickers design, but their color is confuse for me... NATO stickers colors are more distinguishable.

Arkobla Conn wrote:
One of the odd things about the gameplay is that the Germans seemed to be able to continue their impulses much longer than the soviets. This led to the soviets passing several turns waiting for the German player to complete their turn.
This is hard for Soviets, but I think is a good representation of the very superior german mobility at that moment.

Arkobla Conn wrote:
The rule book states that 'two consecutive passes' ends the turn...but that rule can be seen in two ways - two consecutive passes both players....or one player...
I think that two consecutive passes both players is the only logic interpretation... If one player could end the turn with two own consecutive passes, the best defense for Soviet would be two early passes for stopping german operations. And there would be no game.

Arkobla Conn wrote:
Unfortunately, there are many issues of ambiguity in the rulebooks. In my assessment, the rules were probably the weakest aspect.
I think rulebook is quite good but have some flaws... I hope Ventonuovo will upload an updated rulebook with clarifications and fixed erratas.

Arkobla Conn wrote:
Death by Supply means the soviet units doing go back to the available resources bag.
Surrendered soviet units (death by supply) don't go back to the Reinforcement Pool, they are permanently removed from the game.
On the other hand, destroyed soviet units (death by combat) go back to the Reinforcement Pool.

Arkobla Conn wrote:
the German player found it frustrating that the Soviet leaders go back to the bag for redistribution. I couldn't find a rule that countermanded that, so that's how we played. He further found it frustrating that when his leaders died, they were out forever, effectively paralyzing whole parts of his army. (this was a late game event where I got lucky and caught a Luftwaffe HQ with another HQ with a large force of the Soviets.) Is this correct? This seems unusually penalizing. Will no one step up for the Germans?
Surrendered soviet HQs don't go back, they are permanently eliminated. Destroyed soviet HQS go back to the soviet Reinforcement Pool. Surrendered and destroyed german HQs are permanently eliminated.
It's very hard to find in Russia a replacement for a highly qualified german general

Arkobla Conn wrote:
We also found that the Germans could be paralyzed by not getting his leaders out onto the map from the available resources.
I completely agree that the arrival of new HQs is too luck dependent... In last game my friend and I have played, after Logistics Phase of turn 3 the germans had 5 Tactical HQs an 2 LW HQs, but the soviets only had the 2 starting Tactical HQs. This situation completly ruined the game experience, because the germans had 20 activations but the soviet only had 6 activations, so the soviet had no chance at all.
We are going to homeruling the HQ reinforcements procedure to avoid this type of very unbalanced situations.

Arkobla Conn wrote:
I believe that if you have a city in a open, then stacking is limited to 2, not 4 for the surrounding terrain.
Cities (white squares printed on map) don't change the stacking limit of an area. Stacking limit in a green area with a city is 4.
You have three types of terrain:
- Green Area -> stacking limit is 4.
- Yellow Area -> stacking limit is 2.
- Victory Area -> stacking limit is 2.
And that's all. .
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Lawrence Hung
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Quote:
Surrendered soviet units (death by supply) don't go back to the Reinforcement Pool, they are permanently removed from the game.


The Vassal module has a bug - the Soviet 32nd Infantry cannot be hidden on the map like others. And it doesn't have the option to go to dead pile when it is eliminated. The module also doesn't distinguish the difference between go to dead pile and go to OOBs of the other side for permanently eliminated (surrendered) units due to OOS. If the module creator could look into these two issues, the game is perfect.
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Filip Labarque
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Lawrence Hung wrote:
Quote:
Surrendered soviet units (death by supply) don't go back to the Reinforcement Pool, they are permanently removed from the game.


The Vassal module has a bug - the Soviet 32nd Infantry cannot be hidden on the map like others. And it doesn't have the option to go to dead pile when it is eliminated. The module also doesn't distinguish the difference between go to dead pile and go to OOBs of the other side for permanently eliminated (surrendered) units due to OOS. If the module creator could look into these two issues, the game is perfect.


Hi,

I've fixed the bug with the Soviet 32nd Infantry, and will look into the extra function to send eliminated units to the OOB's. Expect an update soon.
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