Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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I want to revisit this game since I played this 3 years ago. In memory of the bravery of the soldiers both sides fought in this war, the play of this game times close to the actual operations of the campaign that began on 22 Jun, 1941!

This June 22 is the 68th anniversary of the start of the war. We used the historical weather and historical setup (found only in the Avalanche Press game page) to replicate what actually the Germans were facing at that time. I found that while the historical light mud and mud weather in turn 4 and 5 slowed the German advance for quite a substantial amount after a while, the clear weather in Novemeber 1941 actually revived the German hope of an onslaught again to Leningrad, Moscow and Bryansk at the same time and the chance of capturing one of them, was not as slight as it might seem.

Supply
The supply rules are relatively simple and yet very effective. Supply cannot be traced through enemy ZOC unless you have a friendly unit to negate the ZOC presence. I saw my opponent Lai playing the Soviet, using his numerical superiority to outflank me from the side in the Voronezh - Stalino area, found the way to cut the supply lines to the weakly defended area by the Axis Romanian units. In the end, he even threatened the city of Kiev.

Movement
Movement depends very much on the weather. Bascially both sides can move in their regular movement phase, then again on the exploitation phase with reduced movement rate: the German armor units can move 3 movement points while the Soviet armors can only have 2 movement points. Infantry, calvary and shock units can have 1 movement points. 2 combats therefore can be conducted in each phase in a single turn. The German units have to utilize this attempting to have a major breakthrough, while the Soviets combining the strategic rail movement (6 units a turn for the Soviet! Only 3 for the German and was reduced in snow to 2.) There is no railhead counters in the game but you can only rail your units over those already "controlled" by your side, being the last one moving over the rail hexes. Sounds a lot like the old Russian Campaign? You bet.

Combat
Combat System is the typical Avalanche Press' "roll-a-6-to-hit" with the number of combat strength representing the no. of dices you are going to roll. Sadly, the game only provides one dice and the rest you have to find somewhere from your local gaming buddies...especially those ASLers who would be so kindly offer the dices generously. I myself don't like this sort of system particularly where you might find a unit almost surrounded by the enemy units inflicted casualties to the attacker without being damaged sometime if your roll is poor! There is no "concentric" attack rule like that of Ty Bomba advocate per se. But then, historical results showed that a besieged unit in a city could always hold out a bit longer than expected, didn't they? This combat system could simulate about that quite nicely.

Order of Battle
The game has rather a complete OOB from the previous games I have seen. It didn't forget those tiny CSIR Italians and Azul Spanish Blue Division, apart from the usual suspect like those Romanians, Finnish and Hungarians. They really made up the cannon fodders for the main Axis advance much needed along the way and when defending, holding out the flanks of the main axis of advance. Charismatic leaders like Zhukov, Guderian and Stalin are present and appropriately they played a significant historical role in the campaign. Both Guderian and Zhukov can bring 2 more dices when attacking and 1 more dice when defending. One more dice is added when there are 2 adjacent Soviet attacking units participating with Zhukov's own attack, simulating his superior organization and planning ability in the Soviet Army. Guderian, on the other hand, can only stack with his own panzer armor units all the way. The leaders can get killed if any unit was eliminated when they provided the extra dices by rolling a dice of "1". Yes, that adds much more color to the game when we saw Zhukov got killed in our game! Comrade Stalin smiled coldly back in Kremlin...he would add 2 dices to the combat and no, I wouldn't retreat, said Stalin.

Special Units
Red Navy and paratrooper are also featured in this game. The Baltic and Black Sea Fleet may enter coastal hexes, attack adjacent hex and defend itself. They always only roll a 6 to hit even defending a fortress or in snow turn...they are less prone to the weather effect and city fortress because they are marines! For paratroopers, they can be dropped within 3 hexes radius from a controlled city. In our game, we saw they were dropped into the besieged Lenningrad from Tikhvin...yeah, that little small unknown town within 3 hexes of Lenningrad! Remember to take that city the next time, General!

The Rules
There was no major problem with the rules and I do find them easy to read and absorb. Some minor problem like whether hex 4015 is a land for the Finnish to encircle Lennigrad besieging the city. It has a partial land piece but certainly it is not a terrain in "majority" per the rule on terrain. However, it would be odd not to see the Finnish to use that hex because the Fins have four units in the game and stacking limit is 2 per hex. In our game, we have a house rule to let the Finnish unit to use that hex. Secondly, the time to conduct rail movement is not clearly spelled out in the rules apart from "Rail movement is only possible in each player's initial movement phase". It seems to suggest that it can be done in the first movement phase in a turn any time, not necessarily like that in Russian Campaign where you have to conduct rail movement first before moving the units. We took a relax approach to the game and therefore we allowed the railed units to appear anytime during the movement phase.

Comparisons
When comparing the game to the recent S&T entry of Barbarossa: The Russo-German War, 1941-45, this game sees less of a swirling and circling movement possible by the German because of the more rigid ZOC rules and the larger than expected (at least in my view) Pripet Marsh in the center on the way to Smolensk. It bascially divided the German drive into two on the flank and a complete surrounding of the Soviets inside the marshland was unavoidable if they chose to stand inside for the Motherland. My oppponent was always able to use the rail movement to redeploy the Soviet units, replacement and new arriving reinforcement units in two line of defense for preventing the German breakout. I'll attempt later another S&T game Drive on Moscow to see how is that being dealt with. Defiant Russia still successfully told a general story of the war on a grand scale. I like this game and would play this game solo again in future!

Playability
Speaking of which, the game is very playable either solo or with a friend in an afternoon allowing 6 hours to complete. The game rightly focuses on the first year of the Barbarossa operation from Jun to Dec 1941 at the right time and unit scale and thus giving you a sense of accomplishment. Game balance is slightly tilted to the Soviets by the victory conditions but it is fine as long as you have win by outperforming what the German troops could do by the same time.

Overall
My impression with Avalanche Press after this game in fact was strengthened and I am aroused to open up the games like Gazala 1941 (by a different designer) and They Shall Not Pass (by the same designer William Sariego). The completion of this game really conveys a sense of good time in the summer of June and wondering what's actually had been happening back in that summer of 1941.
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James Nolan
Canada
Saskatoon
Saskatchewan
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Lawrence;

Nice to see a good review of a fine game - I really like the scale and look of DR. The dice issue is a bit of a pain, but in my experience the games are always close and exciting. As you allude to, the AP website has very good support and historical discussion - would be worth trying one of the posted variants at some point.


James
 
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simon thornton
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Liverpool
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Quote:
allowing 6 hours to complete


Good lord ! I really enjoy this game but it really shouldnt take 6 hours to play. Thats nearly a hour a move ! and really its not that big a game. I think you can reasonably more than half that time amongst experienced gamers.

BTW I m a huge fan of the buckets of dice system but it really is a matter of taste.
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Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Thanks for the comments. I calculate the time to play based on my actual play experience and the time needed to complete a turn by both sides. With about 40 counters on the map by both sides, it is not unusual to use 30 minutes to move a side and combat 2 times in the regular and exploitation phase. It would take 1 hour to complete both sides and with 6 turns to go, 6 hours would be a reasonable time to finish the whole campaign game. Play like a professional without any reference to the rulebook, of course, can reduce the amount of time by 1/3.
 
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