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Subject: Ted Raicer VARIANT rss

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Robert Wesley
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From: Radicus
Subject: Russian Front (AH) article by T.Raicer

> I seem to have missed the original post here, but if anyone wants to repost the article on Consim-L, it's fine with me ( it was printed twice in the Wargamer without my ever being paid for it, so I think I have the right to give it away here).
> Ted Raicer

Ted (and Nikola), here is the original article from Wargamer Vol2#4 Jan 1988 (hopefully edited for typos.) Feel free to comment on it. I've played with these changes which are fair and make for a more interesting game for both sides. If you came up with other suggestions over the last 9 years, I'd sure like to hear them! I also have the article with the short finnish scenario, but we never really played it. (I vaguely remember setting it up once upon a time)

German Front:A Russian Front Variant
Why tamper with a good game? by Ted S. Raicer

Russian Front is a very good game. Its simple but realistic mechanics create a true feel for the problems of operational command, its combat system is unique, and most of all, it's lots of fun. But it's exactly the solid foundation of the game that makes it easy to deal with Russian
Front's major flaw without having to do a redesign.

What major flaw? Russian Front, in common with nearly every eastern front game, fails to focus on the real strategic options facing the Germans in their campaigns in 1941 and 1942. The root of the problem lies in victory conditions that do not reflect the political importance in Moscow in 1941, or the military importance of the Caucausus oil fields the following years. In fairness, Russian Front's victory conditions are far more subtle and realistic than most other east front games. And they work well in 1943-44 when hopes of conquest are past and the Germans are fighting to achieve stalemate.

First, let's look at the German situation at the start of the game. To have any hope of winning, the German player must prevent the Soviets from gaining even a single victory point in the November 1941 Victory Level Phase. To do this he must capture at least 22 objectives (cities, factories, replacement numbers, oilfields.) To actually gain 1 victory point in 1941, he must capture 29 objectives. To win the game outright in 1941 he must gain a near-impossible 34 objectives!

What this means is that both players know the game is going to last at least until the end of the second German summer campaign, and must plan their strategy with this in mind.Thus the game fails to give the German player insights into the actual course of Barbarossa when the Germans here, first confidently, then deperately, trying to bring the war to an end before the first winter. In 1941 the German army had two viable but
mutually exclusive strategic options in Russia. Happily, Hitler was unable to choose between them and failed by attmpting both.

The first option was to secure the northern and southern flanks (the Ukraine and Leningrad) as a secure base for a final campaign in 1942. The advantage to this strategy was that it was well within the capacity of the Germans in 1941. The obvious disadvantage was that it postponed a final decision until the following year, when the Russians had recovered from the shock of the opening blows.

The second strategic option was more of a gamble, but it was the only strategy that could end the war in six months- a drive on Moscow. Moscow in 1941 was very much the political center of Stalin's empire, as well as being the communications hub of European Russia. Taking Moscow might -might- have toppled the Soviet government, and with it, organized control of Soviet resistance.

In wargames held at Zossen, the German generals noted the strong temptation to attempt to combine the two strategic options, and the disaster that might (and did) result. They realized Army Groups North and South would be hard pressed to take their objectives without loans of armor and air support from Army Group Center. They recommended such loans not be made for they considered Moscow the greater prize.

Of course any Axis offensive must threaten Moscow, if only to keep the Russian player on his toes. But a serious attempt to actually capture Moscow in Russian Front, as in the games at Zossen, will probably leave Leningrad and much of the Ukraine in Soviet control.

But Moscow is worth (even with its factory) only 5 objectives. Taking the city by November, and holding it, will mean a costly and hard fought battle for the German player, yet will likely leave him on the losing end when the victory points are awarded!

To add insult to injury, against competent Russian play, the Axis won't be able to hold Moscow until the following spring. The disadvantages of the Germans in their first winter in Russia are serious enough that the Soviet player may turn Moscow into an early Stalingrad.

Finally, if the boys in gray do take Moscow and Leningrad, and a good deal of the Ukraine, they may still fall short of the objectives they would need to end the war in the first six months.

One can argue that the German belief that taking Moscow in 1941 would mean victory was an illusion. The fact remains that in Russian Front, the favored strategy of most of the German generals is virtually ruled out.

Fortunately the solution is as easy as it is obvious- make Moscow a more valuable prize in 1941. Give the Axis the second strategic option to go with the first (along with the temptation to pull a Hitler and attempt both.)

I propose the following rules additions:

1. The weather is always Fair in June 1941. (While only a 1 in 6 chance, wet weather on mapboard A on the first turn can have severe effects on Axis chances.)

2. If the Germans hold Moscow during the November, 1941 Victory Level Phase, the victory points awarded are shifted 1 in the Axis favor. For example, a total of 22 objectives taken (plus the 10 held at the start) would normally result in a 0 award of victory points, but would now result in an A1 award. A result of S1 would become 0, etc. A result of A1 would become an A2, winning the war for the Germans in 1941.

3. In addition to the political effect of Moscow's capture, the Russian rail system would have been greatly disrupted. As long as the Axis hold or have isolated Moscow from supply, suspend Russian Off Board Rail Movement.

Russian Front also has problems simulating the German's strategic choices in 1942. The caucausus oilfieds, while not vital to the German war effort as Hitler claimed, were vital to the Russian war effort. But a German player who wishes to recreate the drive on Grozny and Baku is going to run into a serious obstacle- the south map edge. The failure to extend the map south of Maikop leaves most of the oilfields off the board. This prevents recreating the drive of the First Panzer Army into the Caucausus (and out on a limb.)

The following rules are intended to correct this problem without redoing the map:

1. German armor units (only) may exit the map between hexes A26 and A31 inclusive, at a cost of six movement factors. They must be in supply and not in a Russian ZOC at the moment they exit. They may remain off the map idefinitely.

2. While even one German armor unit remains off the south map edge, no Russian unit may enter the board or trace supply through partial hexes bordering hexes A26-A31.

3. If at any time the Soviet player occupies Rostov or isolates hexes A26-A31 from Axis supply sources, all exited German units are instanly eliminated.

4. Exited German units may return to the board during any German movement or explioitation phase though hexes A26-A31, at a cost of six movement factors. They must be in supply and not in a Russian ZOC when they re-enter.

5. During any Victory Level Phase the German player may count each armor unit currently exited as 1 objective point (not victory point.) Previously eliminated exited units do not count.

The above rules and comments are offered to help more accurately simulate the strategic choices the Germans made, or failed to make, in Russia. The German player may win the war in Moscow or the Caucausus, or merely be tempted, like Hitler, into overreaching.

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