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Red God of War: The Soviet Operation Mars, 1942» Forums » General

Subject: What are you guys smoking? rss

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olivier R
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So I picked this one up recently because I was interested in the Mars operation. Looking at the reviews here, I have to say that I wasn't expecting much. I have only played it once solo, so take this with a pinch of salt, but this is actually a pretty good game.

I don't get some of the critics and comments at all.

The counters and the map are not quite on par with the quality of components in MMP or GMT games. But it is not a whole lot lower. The counters are actually quite nice, the only problem here is the unit size written in black against a dark brown background but it is not that hard to make out IMO. And although the map is nothing spectacular, it is functional, a bit bland but it does the work.

The rules are not super clear and lack examples but they're fairly short and simple and then again I have seen much worse. With the errata it is definitely not a huge problem.

Some people here have said the set up was painful because there is no labeled set up zones on the map.

But this is because you got a certain amount of leeway. I am not sure I am playing it correctly. The way I do it, I set up the HQs in the designated hex, I am considering this part a fixed set up, then place the army units within range of said HQ, (although you could set them up outside of it, but that sounds like a bad idea) on the front line marked on the map or within 3 hexes toward the rear area.

So that gives you a lot of freedom in the set up and yes it takes a long time indeed. But this is actually good for replayablity. Because you can organize your units differently each time, depending on your plan and the axes of attack you want to pursue.

So really a colour coded map like AVL makes no sense at all to me because you're free to set up where you want around the HQs.

Similarly, I don't understand Jason's comment about the guard units. Yes the background colour is different than regular armies. But the unit symbol (infantry, mech, tank etc) in the center of the counter is what matters. And the square with the symbol has the colour of its supporting army. For tank units, there is the diagonal band in the top left corner with the colour code. There is no need to write anything on the counters.



See here for instance, the guard units are on the top right side with a teal or light green background. The first unit 17 Infantry Division, 8-9-6 has a reddish unit symbol, so it belongs to the 41 Soviet Army, (the one at the top left of the sheet). The second, the 16 Infantry Division belongs to the 30 Army etc...

I will try to write later a bit more on the game play itself and the tactics but I wanted to get this out of the way first because I thought the comments I read were a bit misleading. But it seems like you get a lot of options, at least for the attacking side, the Soviets. You can for instance concentrate your mobile forces and the Tank Brigades in particular, and commit them after you punch a hole in the German defense, or you can spread them out to assist the infantry and get a combined arm column shit. You can go for a deep penetration or a shallow one while protecting your flanks from a German counter attack. And the way the activation system works with the operational halt rule, you can go for a broad front attack with the risk of dissipating your effort and not being able to activate a key army or you can put fewer HQs chits in the cup and have a more focused effort. I think there is a lot of replayability in this one personally.




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Bill Lawson
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I like this game (once I had all the errata!). The counters are the only issue I have with the game. The stripes on the counters that match the HQs in the chit pull can be very hard to read.
I've played it twice and enjoyed both games. It will definitely get played again!
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olivier R
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Yes I can see how the stripe could be a bit hard to read but you only get the stripes for the Tank Corps and Brigades, the infantry has the unit symbol with the matching colour. Besides, it is only a problem with the Soviets because the Germans can pretty much activate any unit with their HQs.

And the way the game works with the limited Soviet HQs mobility and the out of supply penalties, most of the time, the units will be fairly close to the parent HQ, unless you decide to gamble and race deep behind the German lines with a mech corp, after you manage to make a breakthrough.
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Phil Miller
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I also took issue with some of the comments on this game. The setup wasn't bad at all, especially for the Soviets since everything is color coded. Once you have all the errata down, the game plays quickly and is very tense. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a Russian Corps/Division/Battalion/Regiment due to the black text on dark maroon background but this only comes up when you need to verify stacking limits. Overall this is a great game and underrated in my opinion.

-Phil
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olivier R
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I agree, it is underrated for sure. The gameplay is very close to A Victory Lost, which was a huge success, although not quite as polished of course.

It is basically the same system with a couple of twists like weather, supply points, Soviet operational limits and the attitude of both the Stavka and OKH that has an influence on reinforcements and can force units to be withdrawn from the front.

Due to the effects of weather which both hampers movement and combat and the fact that the ZOCs are stickier, it is not as fluid as AVL, but neither was the real operation.

The only thing that bothers me a little bit at the moment, is the way units can get out of supply, but I need to play more to be sure. In AVL, you couldn't trace supply across rivers as far as I remember, but you had to use bridges and thus control key spots on the map. So it probably makes it harder to encirle enemy units here. But you could probably use a variant for that if needed.

Also I am not quite sure about Soviets having to set up first since they are attacking, that sounds counter intuitive. And lastly, how come the units have so many different combat and movement values? I mean sure you don't want a single cookie cutter set of values for all units but I wonder how they managed to come up with so many different values. It is not like they could pinpoint so accurately the experience and combat power of every single Soviet Division. Anyway that's not a huge deal.
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Jason Cawley
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So I am to look for miniscule marks hiding behind counter graphics in different places to tell what formation a unit belongs to? Dude, if you can see the stripe on a guards tank brigade and tell at a glance which HQ activates it as a result, all I can say is you are probably younger than I am (lol). Compare AVL for playable components - not even close.

I like the game design and said so. But the rules are poorly written and the components very far from functional. Every design "call" made for them is the opposite of the right one (that a different color for guards matters more than formation clarity e.g.).

I can set up AVL, make all the initial decisions, and have the first chit pulled to start the action in less than 10 minutes. This one takes 2 hours to set up, minimum, in my experience. With analysis paralysis and a green opponent, add 1-2 hours additional. It isn't much more complicated as a game (some, but not much), but it is a lot less playable out of the box.
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alex w
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Thank you Olivier.

Vindicated.
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I find set up very easy.
 
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