Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There is no review after two years of release of the game "The Invasion of Russia, 1812" still. I do not claim myself having a good grasp of the game yet but after three plays and with the arrival of the new game from the same designer Steve Pole - "Napoleon's Nemesis, 1813", it is worthwhile to take a deeper look at the game system.

Revival of Napoleonic wargame - this one from Italian Europa Simulazioni. Divisional unit. Production quality excellent. On the surface the game is not difficult with only 11 pages of basic rules. The rest are examples of play, designer notes, charts and tables (pity that they are not on a player aid card) and advanced rules. But I strongly suggest beginner to play the basic rules first before going to the advanced rules because there are some subtler areas that won't be easily understood in the first but careful reading. The sequence of play is something like this, after removing some of the more detailed descriptions: General Supply, Strategic Supply, Rally, Movement, Combat, Reinforcement.

A combat unit is in General Supply if it is in a city with a friendly depot or able to trace a line of 5 hexes (reduced to 3 in winter) to such a city, free of enemy combat unit or enemy city. Otherwise, it is disrupted. The French unit would be eliminated if it is already disrupted, not so for the Russian! This is a huge difference in the supply treatment between the two sides and thus requires different planning strategy.

In Strategic Supply phase, the role of Supply Trains becomes very important. They can be converted into a local depot on the map, if they can trace a line to the ultimate supply source (the USS network), or they can be allocated to perform rally or movement during the upcoming phase. Somewhat oddly, once established a supply depot, it can continue to operate independently without a trace to the USS anymore. In other words, they operate like forward "ultimate" supply source inside Russia and protecting them is of utmost importance to the French. The no. of Supply Trains available is dependent on the turn. The French has ample and more than the Russian most of the time. For the first seven turns, the French has 14 while the Russian has 11. Both sides can add two dummies to them in order to confuse the opponent. By the way, there is only a campaign game of 16 turns (or extended to a two-year campaign game with 8 turns more) and no shorter scenario. The map size is smaller than the standard one with only 24"x 17".

Disrupted units can be rallied back to good order if they are allocated supply trains while they are stacking with a commander, the number of rallies being limited to his Commander Rating, e.g. Napoleon has a 4. A stack (up to six Occupancy Factor which is printed on the counters) with a commander and supply train can move up to three hexes, two in winter or five upon force-marching. In both cases, the supply train is removed. Interestingly, the moving units must remain stacked together. One neat thing about the classes of units are that they determine the Occupancy Factor, the Veteran has a one, Line has a one and a half, Conscripts has a two), reflecting the efficiency of how they can move and fight together as one force in a hex with a maximum of six OFs. Disrupted units, of course, cannot move nor attack.

There is no ZOC in the game and hence the stack can move on hexes adjacent to enemy units, unless they are un-disrupted cavalry in which case the stack has to stop. River crossing is like a kick without any penalty. Units in a city under siege, when two un-disrupted enemy units are adjacent to the city, cannot move also. If the move is three hexes or more, the stack is subject to possible elimination of a unit or disruption with 1d6 result, modified by being French from turn 3 onwards, during winter, or for each hex of force-march. The supply rules are quite extensive but very capable of simulating the supply problem to both sides. Beginning on turn 3, the French units have to start forage if they are not allocated a Supply Train, unless they are in a city, not under siege, with a depot. French foraging units cannot attack nor support an attack in the adjacent hex.

The Commander Rating is also used to aid in combat. A Combat Command ("CC") has to be issued for an attempt to engage the enemy. The French have four CCs and the Russian three. 1d6 is rolled plus the CCs you spent and and the Commander's Rating. The combat goes ahead if the result is 7 or higher. A "1" is an automatic abortion but another attempt to attack with the stack can be made, while a result between 2 to 6 is a failure to attack. The same "attempt" procedure is applied to the "support units" adjacent to the combat hex. I quite like this mechanic to simulate both sides trying to find the right time and pitch to strike, but then which is not necessarily to your liking when the attack failed if you don't send repeated commands to attack to your frontline generals. The Combat Command mechanics also restrict the number of major battles that can take place in many places in just one turn (two-week time). The attack can call on support from the friendly units adjacent to the defending hex. The same test of engagement should be done for the supporting units as well.

To resolve a combat, both sides calculates their attack values. They are arrived at with basic combat factor equal to the aggregate number of un-disrupted units involved in the combat (i.e. including the supporting stacks) as each unit has a basic combat factor of one, regardless of the class or type of unit. The values are then modified by the level of combined arms by adding more to the basic combat factors according to the number of types of units involved (+2 for two types, +4 for three types). The leader plays a role in combat by adding his Commander Rating to the value. +1 each for the supporting leader as well. The attack value is further modified by the terrain. The final attack or defense value is then arrived at after rolling 1d6. The side with the higher final value wins the combat and the difference is the number of hits. If the number of hits is three or more, the defender must withdraw. Otherwise, the defending units have the option to remain in the hex. Units cannot withdraw across unbridged river, into difficult terrain (forest, marsh, rough, etc.), violation of stacking limit, nor a hex adjacent to the attacking stack (not the supporting stack). The Russian can retreat into difficult terrain though as they are on the home turf (the French can't). Advance is always optional. A rule to model the nature of the "attrition" is the manner in which the losing side inflict hits upon the winning side, suffering one half of the number of hits to themselves, rounded down, with 1d6 possible adjustment of -1 or +1 to the hits whilst limited to the number of combat units in the losing side.

After resolving the combat, there come two short phases to complete a turn: Commanders Movement, Cossack Activity and Reinforcements. The Commanders can move alone on the steppe of Russia to the next friendly unit stack or city within three hexes (150km to travel in two weeks). Cossack then takes the raid against the French single lone-wolf on the map not in a city by disrupting them (and possible elimination if they are already disrupted) with a 1d6. The success rate is one in six chance for the first six turns and increased to one in third from turn seven on.

And that are the basic stuff. How do they add up in the gameplay? Amazingly, they work like charm. The audacious French, led by Napoleon, begin the conquest of Russia, the sacred land to the Slavs, blessed by the Holy. As each French stacks of armies steam-rolls and moves forward toward the next target, and as they move closer to Moscow, the Russians seek to delay the inevitable fall. The initial French strength was too much for the Russian to hold. The stage is grand in which "Invasion of Russia" is like an opera - solemn and tragic. You can see the whole theater and watch the play in no pitiful manner. The Russian Army is in gradual retreat but the men stay and defend where they can.

The Designer Notes are very well-written and make sure you won't skip reading them. They offer you why and how the designer comes up with some of design features and presumptions, e.g. the uncertainty of engaging the enemy successfully, advanced rules, the use of cards for random events, general strategies in the campaign adopted by both sides (the designer even suggests an early war on the border might have been a viable Russian strategy which I hardly believe it would work though) and some viable alternative options available, demonstrating how in-depth a research the designer has undertaken it to be. Invasion of Russia is like a chess or GO in that players alternate to deploy and activate the stacks by removing the Supply Train counters, adding some elements of suspense. A supply line is crucial in this game and you better to protect it at all cost. One thing I am not sure is whether Napoleon can really establish a well-function supply line or not, or it is too stretched to the limit that an occupation of Moscow is really not possible. Nonetheless, having clarified with the designer on the issue of Ultimate Supply Source network, the supply depot, once established inside Russia, functions like a forward supply dump and no longer required to be traced back to the USS. Placement of supply depots, therefore, determines the main axis of French advance and the French becomes more likely to reach Moscow. This makes the whole game anew for the French and now they have a possibility to defeat Russia in one fine, stylistic, eloquent game, definite for strategic level Napoleonic War with hex and counters. The Invasion of Russia is like what Avalon Hill classic's Third Reich to WWII.
25 
 Thumb up
0.50
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger Hobden
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
flag msg tools
Avatar
Nice review !

Thanks !

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Colin Raitt
United Kingdom
Boston
Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for your review, it covers the basics well. I'd add some observations on the way the game plays.

The 6 occupancy factors seems strange but works well. Veteran units take up 1 space, line divisions 1.5 and conscripts 2. That means you could stack 6 veteran divisions in a hex but only 3 conscripts. As each division counts as 1 strength and each battle starts as 1 hex attacking another veterans muster more strength than conscripts. I think of it as veterans move and react quickly so each day of battle you can feed in 6 divisions of veterans. Conscripts get lost, take time to change formation and misinterpret orders so you can only feed in 3 divisions a day.

I found myself trying to have the last move each turn. I needed as many depots activating hexes as possible so I minimised the number forming the supply chain. Every time the French advanced on a stack I would retreat it a hex and avoid battle. I wanted to avoid retreating before the froggies advanced as I would have to give up 3 times more ground to elude him. Retreating too quickly results in you getting overruled and forced to fight a Borodino even though you know you will lose.

Forests are impassable to the French because they have neither maps nor guides. I would stand a couple of Russian stacks behind a gap between forests and only 1 hex of French would be able to attack whilst I could feed in reserves on subsequent days of battle.

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice tactics, Colin. The way veteran's efficiency is factored-in is quite clever. The Russian retreat strategy works only if the French don't bring in the cavalry into engagement. It took me a while to realise how to retreat the Russian in an efficient manner together with the supply train and when is best to convert depot into supply train. After losing a few battles in the beginning of the campaign, Russian's number of depots would be reduced to an almost unbearable low. The forests on the map can channel the French movement somewhat and in my case, I saw Napoleon going north to St. Petersburg. What do you think about the combat system? The way the losses inflicted on the attacker and calculated seems a bit off to the French player. Another thing easy to confuse is the number of hexes traversed for attrition and force march. A unit is subject to attrition if it moves more than two hexes but it doesn't count as a force-march until it moves three hexes or more. If you have time, we can start a PBeM game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marco
Germany
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Good review, thank you.

Unfortunately this CoSim is out of print at the moment and difficult to find, at least I couldn't,

Regards meeple
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Grab a copy of 1813: Napoleon's Nemesis then while stock lasts.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Pole

Winkleigh
Devon
msg tools
Lawrence,

Many thanks for such a comprehensive and kind review.

Regards,



Steve
1.11.16
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Yang Ping
China
Zhenjiang
Jiangsu
flag msg tools
I am a Chinese gamer.
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You can use Japanese Version instead.
It has lots of stocks.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrea Magno
Italy
flag msg tools
Just only a doubt on the depot set up in a enemy city.
Is clear that a numbers of conditions have to be respected at the setup turn like the depots chain up to the USS and the presence of a friendly unit in the enemy city.
But than we see that in the following turns at least the condition of the depots chain to the USS is no more required, the depot is becoming an USS independent.
Now the question: does the depot require a unit in the enemy city to be maintained there? What happen if the unit moves and no enemy unit enter in the city? The depot is still there even if alone?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi Andrea,

Depots are removed from play only as a consequence of Rules 7.1 or 8.8.

7.1 is about conversion of Depot into Supply Train. 8.8 states that if an unit(s) moving strategically enters or moves through a hex containing an enemy Depot(s) [Rule 8.4, bullet 5], the Depot is eliminated and permanently removed from the game.

So, to answer your question, no, the depot does not require a unit to maintain it and if enemy unit enters into the city, the depot is eliminated permanently. Otherwise, it is "established" and stays in the city. Think of it like an Army Headquarter in full operation.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.