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Subject: Operation Uranus, Weather, and Headquarters rss

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Paul Lucuski
United States
Trenton
New Jersey
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Operation Uranus is the second scenario being play tested for TITE. It is a 7 1/2 turn scenario that centers on the Soviet offensive from November 1942 until February 1943.

This is a large scenario in map area as the starting line goes from Leningrad in the north across to Voronezh to Stalingrad to Grozny. The game starts with the Soviet half of the November III turn as they are poised to surround or take Stalingrad.

Victory conditions center around control of supply cities. The Axis start with 14 victory cities requiring the Soviets to capture 2 to gain a draw. Stalingrad is almost surrounded and Maykop is close. To gain a victory then the Soviet player will have to take Rostov or Kharkov.

The Axis sets up his forces first along the long diagonal starting line. His large units all start with their reduced side facing up. There are barely enough units to cover the starting line with relatively weak minor allies covering parts of the line. The Soviet player then sets up his forces, again making sure that all hexes contain a unit or its ZOC.
Then the Axis player can flip 4 of 11 armor units and 20 of 33 leg units to their full strength side. Reserves are then placed and the game begins. This process allows the players to pick their strong points. The Soviet player can see the initial dispositions of the Axis and then put his stronger units where he desired to attack. The Axis player can see where most likely the attacks will occur and strengthen those units.

Weather plays a large part in this scenario and I thought that it would be good to discuss weather effects in this brief review. There are 5 possible types of weather: clear, mud, snow, extreme cold, and overcast. Different months have different probabilities of weather occurring. For instance November has clear on a die roll of 1-2 and mud on a roll of 4-6 while December has snow on a roll of 1-4 and extreme cold on a roll of 5-6. This variable weather is especially good for solo play as the player does not know what he will be able to do on his next turn. You might plan for a large offensive and find that you can't move and have no air support. Conversely on defense you may hope for several turns of bad weather so that you can rebuild your line but there is always the chance that your opponent will be able to perform an offensive.

The weather is also taken into account with the number of turns in a month. For example in the summer there are 4 turns/month while in autumn 3 and winter 2 turns. This nicely shows that reduced ability to do something in bad weather months without a lot of rules.

Weather effects: Depending upon the weather only 1/2 of your air units can recover, air missions can be curtailed, ground movement can be affected, and ground combat can be affected. For example in snow weather only 1/2 of the air recovers and air power cannot be used for combat air support. Ground movement costs are increased to "2" for non-mountain hexes.

Headquarters are a very important part of this game as they provide supply to their units. A unit out of supply attacks at 1/2 of the printed value. A HQ has 2 supply ranges depending upon their mode. Balanced mode had a 2 hex larger supply radius and allows the player to put units into his reserve and also deploy one unit during the opponents regular movement phase. Attack mode has a smaller supply radius but increases the attack odds 1 to the right for any unit within range. Reserves can deploy onto HQ during movement phases

The German HQ has supply ranges of 8 and 6 while the Soviet has ranges of 6 and 4.For this scenario the German has 4 HQ while the Soviet has 5. As with other things in this game nothing comes without cost, otherwise you could put your HQ in attack mode constantly. To put a HQ in attack mode requires offensive points. The scenario gives a limited number of offensive points while the player can purchase more , receiving 2 points for 1 fuel point plus 2 equipment points. Of course if you purchase offensive points then those equipment points aren't available to purchase armor units.

HQ can be moved from city to city but they must be removed form the map for 3 turns and then brought back on in the desired city. For a game with this small number of turns you can see that this means that the HQ will be out of commission for about 1/2 of the game. So where to initially put your HQ at the start is a very important decision. A rule is being play tested that would allow HQ to move 4 hexes along a railroad but not be able to use its supply ability while doing so.

After playing this scenario 4 times I feel that the Soviet player has a hard job to accomplish. Taking 2 cities is easy but capturing the others proves to be difficult. Weather and moving out of supply hampers the Soviet effort. The offensive seems to start out fine but then just kinds of stalls out. In this case the game seems to follow history. The German player has the ability with his armor units to deliver a sharp attack at a limited numbers of locations so that the Soviet player has to watch not to become overextended.

I hope that is brief discussion of the scenario and some of the rules will increase your interest in what I think is turning out to be a great game on WWII.
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