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Subject: KIEV 1941 - All Summer they drove us back through the Ukraine.... rss

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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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KIEV 1941 - All Summer they drove us back through the Ukraine....






What prompted trotting out this old trick pony was that Dr. Santander of VentoNuovo Games kindly asked me to write another historical piece for his upcoming game on the Kiev battles of 1941. So it was time to get me back into the right frame of mind, and what better way to do it quickly than with this simple, fun but balanced game.

Almost every game we have played of this have come out to a draw with the Germans poised on the verge of annihilation of the Soviet forces. I vaguely recall having an extraordinary good game in Kiev against Mark Walker who later returned the favor that night in Settlers of Catan. With that in mind I wanted to play the best possible game for both sides here BUT play it quickly as well in terms of making decisions. The extra length factor for the game was primarily both the note taking aspect and then making sense of it via my notes for a BGG Sessions Report. We were playing the CS1 version or the VPG game here.

TURN 1

Our goal as the German is to wreak as much havoc and destruction upon the Soviet border forces to allow our Panzers the opportunity to run wild. However for the first game turn we are mandated by history to do nothing in Romania. Never been a problem in other games the Romania border so we start in the north with 2 (6-4 / Attack-Defense) IN Corps spanking the Soviet 22nd Mech Corp which is a 4-2-6 (attack-defense-movement) achieving a Defender Eliminated (DE). The 48th PZ Corps smashed up the Soviet 2nd Mech Corps, another 4-2-6, getting another DE result. 3rd PZ Corp smashes the 9th Mech Corp whose tanks seemed to be in large part non-mission capable as it is rated a 2-1-6 and was an easy DE. The 11th & 4th IN corps attacked the 24th Mech Corp that seemed paralyzed after a Luftwaffe strike and eliminated that 2-1-6. The 14th PZ and 7th IN Corp took on the Soviet 7th Army at 2-1 odds and got an EX. The beauty is though the Panzretruppen can move in the second phase.

Much to my horror the Soviet 9th and 18th Armies and 19th Mech Corps attacked the 52nd Corps and achieved a DE. On the first turn the Soviet Mech Corps get an attack bonus! In Romania the surprise was almost as bad but the 36-6 odds attack or 6-1 merely resulted in a DRL result where they lose 1 step and have to retreat 2 hexes. Fascinating to see a different turn after all these games.

Well now - the Soviets punch back....

TURN 2

We noticed on this turn there is a disconnect between the Rules and the TEC on German Reinforcements as to their entry schedule. Interesting to see that here. 2 German IN (6-4), 17th Corps and 48th PZ attack a Soviet Army with Air at 4-1 and achieve a DE result. 4th Corps along with Panzers assault the Soviet 6th Army and cause them to retreat out of Stanislavov. The 11th Corps and 3rd PZ smash into the understrength Soviet 40th Army as their retreating columns were making for the forest at 4-1 odds with Air became a 5-1, leading to a DE.The 3rd Romanian and 64th German IN Corps took on the Soviet 15th Mech and got a DRL result EXCEPT that due to not being able to retreat became a DE result. That appears to be a huge blow for the Soviets. We brought back a Soviet 4-2-6 and a 4-4 Soviet Army to Sheptovka.



This is not good for the Wehrmacht...the 14th PZ Corps is diverted to the South to handle the new Soviet tanks - T34 and KV1s.(The Romania unit should be flipped over here)


TURN 3

The 64th & 51 and 17 IN Corps attacked the 17th Soviet Army who was out of supply. The result was a DRL. The 48th PZ and 29 IN Corps achieved an 8-1 odds in their sector with the inevitable DE. We took a gamble with the 11th Corps and one Air Unit against the Soviet 40th Army but achieved a DR. The 3-1 gamble attack on Tarnopol against the Soviet 37th Army led to an EX. So-so result in my mind. However the Soviet 54th Army and 30 Mech Corp caught the Romania Corp and sees a DR. These Russians are certainly feisty! This Soviet play almost seems like the Soviets in the South in the summer of 1941, giving ground grudgingly and punching back. At this point we have taken just five Victory Point hexes - this is on reflection real slow.



TURN 4

The German 52nd Corps returns to action. As the German Player you need everyone as each combat is such where you never have enough, even on the opening invasion. The 2nd Mech Corp evaporated under the hammer blows of the 48th PZ and 29th IN Corps. The half-strength Soviet 40th Army was attacked northwest of Tarnopol by the 1st and 34th Corps. The Luftwaffe was called on enroute to a DRL result. Tarnopol fell this turn with the loss of the 37th Army and a huge bag of prisoners of war. All of a sudden it feels like we have unhinged the Soviet line. Is it too late? The gaps albeit are small, but they are there NE and SE of Tarnopol.

TURN 5

The 51st and 49th Mountain Corps attacked a full-strength Soviet 8-8 army and achieved a DR. The 11th Corps supported by the 48th PZ Corps achieved a DRL and watched Shepetovka fall. The 18th Mech was laagering in the forest with a Flieser Storch reconnaissance plane spotted in. It dropped a message to the Italian Fascist. Add in two German IN Corps and we get a DE result. But what I think we are NOT accomplishing is the killing of enough Soviet units this game. The Soviet line had really bent in Turn Four, but now it feels like that although it is under extreme pressure, it's not a series of crisis up and down the line. Replacements come on in Kiev, Uhman and Kirovograd.




TURN 6

The 29th and 34th Corps attack the Soviet 40th Army (4-4) at 3-1 odds. It led to an EX. Worse the EX led to both German 6-4's flipping to make up the same strength point as the Soviet unit. The 48th and 14th PZ Corps along with the 11th Corps attack a Soviet Army and got a DRL! At Vinnitsa, the Germans achieved another DRL. The 30th, 54th and 52nd IN Corps cleared a forest hex on the way to Kiev with a DE result.
The Soviets brought on 2 (4-4) reduced Armies and a 4-2-6 Mech. We are going for MASS here.



TURN 7

I don't see any way to win the game as the German Player so it's about prestige. The 48th and 14th PZ in conjunction with the 49th MTN Corps attacks the Soviet 4 strength army in Kiev and with close air support achieves a 6-1 DE result. However seizing Kiev in of itself does not confer victory upon the German Player.

51st, 29th and 34th Corps assembled a 4-1 attack against the Soviet 15th Mech. It was a DR result but became a DE as there was no retreat path. The 54th Corp attacked the Soviet 16th Mech at 3-1 with Luftwaffe support that became a DR, and also died due to no retreat path. The 3rd PZ and 111th and 17th IN Corps achieved a 7 to 1 attack that led to the death of another Soviet unit. An attack on Uman was 5-1 but with Air bounced up to 6-1 and back down to 5-1 due to the city. A nice DE result. The Italian CSIR Corp and the German 30th Corp attacked the Soviet 22nd Mech with a 5-1 result, leading to a DR - and it dies. The Soviets launched a massive counterattack at Kiev 24-12 with 2-1 odds that became 1-2...and rolled a NO EFFECT.


It was fun winning finally as the Soviets against myself!



We had a blast this time and winning with the Soviets was a bonus. For folks interested in Army Group in the summer of 1941, this is really Army Group South minus as there are parts to the south towards Odessa pushing through the Ukraine.
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Terry Lewis
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"But first, the children ought to be fed." -- Virginia Held (1980) from "Property, Profits, and Economic Justice"
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Another great review, Smitty!! It was enjoyable to be along for the ride with your Panzers, even though they fell short of your objectives!! Kudos to your Russians!!

A question: You note that Objective Kiev is "balanced." Does it also feel historical? Or, has the "game balancing" overshadowed the "historical confliction simulation" aspect of this design?

Cheers!

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Barry Kendall
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Another nice review, Smitty, thanks for your efforts. Sounds like a good thing in a small package. I'm thinking that, even if play balance and action was a design priority over absolute historicity, the designer made a good call with this game to produce nice tension and dramatic outcomes in the small format.
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Juan Valdez
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When I first started playing this game, I could not win as the Germans.

A dozen plays later, I am having a very hard time winning as the Soviets.
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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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Juan:

Oh boy do I understand that. It's a game where I think I played in a rut until this one.

Smitty
 
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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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Barry:

What's interesting in a historic sense is the Soviets start as the Kiev Special Military District and then become the Southwestern Front...but none of that matters here. It's a good balance in terms of game play.

Smitty
 
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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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Terry:

Balanced in historic senses. Well the Germans will always get o Kiev it seems sooner than they will historically but isn't that the case for many of the games we play on the East Front? As the game doesn't reflect stuff more to the north and southwards to Odessa it's iffy in guessing that aspect, so I'm going more by the game as presented I suppose.

Smitty
 
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