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The Russian Campaign» Forums » Sessions

Subject: It started the same as history... and went downhill from there! rss

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T. Wesley
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I'd planned to spend my day off on my motorcycle, enjoying the countryside in Virginia on a pleasant spring day. However, spring did not know about my plans, and produced copious amounts of rain, thus providing me with the opportunity to explore yet another ancient AH game I've had sitting on my shelf, unplayed, for years.

I met up with my gaming friend Fred at the Game Parlor in Woodbridge. He's retired, I was off work - and yet I was surprised how many other people showed up there to play Magic before noon. While we set up the L2/4th Edition version of this venerable classic, we got to listen to a young man apparently break up with his girlfriend via cell phone. It did little to suppress our enjoyment of the game, but it was slightly distracting in a slice-of-life kind of way.

I figured it's easier to defend than attack, so I chose the Soviet side. We organized our OOB cards and I set up. Other than Fred pointing out one glaring gap I left in my forward lines, I felt I had a pretty good setup. Fred set up and we began.

In the first turn, I lost Odessa and Lwow and engaged in a general retreat to try and tighten up my lines. I managed to do so without having too many units cut off - only 3, and they lasted another couple of turns before their supply lines were completely cut off.

Turns 2 & 3 were more of the same, as I rapidly lost Kursk, Voronezh, and Riga to a German armored assault to the south. I thought I'd be able to hold Minsk, but I rolled low in a critical 2nd-impulse combat roll and got forced to retreat out of the city. The German forces attacked Moscow, forcing a retreat and killing Stalin, but they were unable to press home the advantage and take the early automatic victory (killing Stalin & occupying Moscow in the same turn).

Finally, in Turn 4, the weather turned to snow. Fred's German forces pulled back, away from Moscow, to regroup, but over by Leningrad, he continued to force home his attack, surviving several half-strength attacks and defense actions over the next couple of turns. I managed to eliminate one Finnish 4-3, but other than that, had zero success in that district. The armor to Moscow's west consolidated their positions, and an attack on Astrakhan eliminated the workers there and conquered yet another of my cities.

Turn 5 was light action as Fred worked towards Leningrad. I railed in my reinforcements (again) towards Moscow and Stalingrad, trying to build up some kind of defensive position.

Turn 6 saw the ground turn to light mud and the German offensive start up again in earnest. I lost Leningrad, but managed to win some critical battles, saving Moscow - barely. I reinforced Archangel to protect incoming reinforcements & replacements and succeeded in retaking Astrakhan.

Turn 7 was the beginning of the end for the USSR. The Germans took Moscow, and I retreated across the rivers and tried to form a defensive line. The German forces received massive reinforcements and, due to Fred's meticulous protection of his advanced railheads, my Partisans were unable to disrupt enough rail lines to prevent their advance into the fray. He managed to cut off Archangel and take Stalingrad.

In Turn 8, my pocket of infantry near Tula collapsed and German forces swung north around my forces outside Moscow, basically trapping me. I lost Astrakhan (again) and was on the verge of losing Archangel.

I resigned at that point, seeing that I had no chance of success. With nowhere to build replacements and dwindling reinforcements, I had to accept that Fred had wiped me out.

Fred suggested that I might have had a chance at forming a forward defense by railing troops up towards Odessa and trying to make a line there during Turns 2 & 3. I agreed - I let his armor run unopposed basically right up to my major cities in the north/northwest.

I was stunned at what a major defense-breaker the Stukas proved to be. I was careful to keep my most powerful units (early on 6-3 infantry, but later on even a 10-7 Guards armor) in the large cities to take advantage of the defense-doubling advantage. For the most part, Fred was only able to stage 1-1 attacks on those cities - but when he added the Stukas, that shifted the CRT 3 columns over, giving him 4-1 odds and almost always resulting in at least my troops being forced to retreat. That probably made more difference than anything else during the course of the game.

Another advantage the Germans have is smaller, more powerful units. Due to stacking rules, the USSR has a bunch of 4-3 and 5-3 infantry units that can only stack 2 to a hex, while the Germans have a solid bunch of 7-7 and 8-7 armor units that can stack 3 to a hex. Add in some HQ and SS units and one German stack can have 20-25 combat factors in it - THEN you add in the Stuka attack. Brutal.

In retrospect, this being my first game and this being Fred's favorite AH game, I probably should have asked for some balance in the game (such as the "off-board" 2 replacement points), but I still think I maintained a decent defensive action. Fred rolled hot for once, and he very effectively used his powerful stacks, Stukas, and rail transport to decimate my USSR forces. I understand better now how the rail transport works, so I think next time I'll do better.
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Nevin Ball
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Good session report. I recently got my clocked cleaned playing as the Russians. I lost Lenningrad early because my opponent got a Contact result which forced me to attack him during my turn. I found it ahistorical and frustrating. Regardless, The Russian Campaign remains one of my favorite games - lots of options and strategies to explore with low overhead in rules.

L2's 4th edition, along with its expansion, is the ultimate version of this game.
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Robert Wesley
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I have to inquire as to WHY wasn't this 'posted' within the L2Design edition's entry here?
The Russian Campaign (fourth and fifth editions)
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Bob
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Thanks for the review Wes. Well done. thumbsup

I've never played this one before, but it sounds like it would be fun to give er a go...
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T. Wesley
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Posted here because this is the version of the game I have, that's about it. It's the same game, just looks different.
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Brian Crawford
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Nice AAR I enjoyed it and it brought back a lot of memories. I have played this game so many times in the 80's and 90's and is a classic. It really reflects the tension for the German player in 1941 as he tries to win in that same year, but also the panic of the Soviet player in trying to just survive and hopefully with enough forces to be able to mount a winter counteroffensive in the winter. Regarding balance, if you have an experienced player against an inexperienced player its better to have the experience on the German side as they practically only have 1 chance to win, maybe 2. After that you are playing for time and will more than likely wind up playing a delaying action on your way back to Berlin as the Red Army gets stronger and begins counterattacking until it launches actual offensives to clear the Germans from Mother Russia and liberating eastern Europe.

 
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