Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

Second Kharkov: Strike & Counterstrike, May 1942» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review based on 2 playings rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Norman Smith
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The topic, scale and compexity level, combined with my favourite game mechanic ..... 'untried units', made this a must buy for me, I was hoping for something that would be something of a classic, in the way that I feel about the original S&T Cobra.

The components are nice. Counters are large, simple and easy to read. The map is tasteful. providing a good backdrop for the counters. The rules are very thorough, they do not make any assumptions about previous gaming experience, so this is a good set for a new wargamer. The magazine is a good read and I enjoyed the lead article, which includes a couple of substantial sidebars lifted from the article in the original S&T game.

Kharkov is three hexes in size and a few hexes beyond the city a perimeter is marked on the map. This become important in the game because if the soviets have not moved across this line or attacked across it by the end of game turn 4 then the Germans get an auto sudden death victory. The full game is 8 turns long.

The map also includes the southern bulge, presenting something of a sideshow that adds a touch of interest because fighting can lead to casualties on both sides and it is the accumulation of casualties that decides the Victory Points, so the contribution from this part of the game can have an impact on the final result.

German units are 4 steps, soviets are 1 step. All soviets start the game set up with their reverse side showing, so neither player knows the true strength of each soviet counter until the point of combat, so some surprises can be had for both sides and I really like that rule.

The system gives the Germans quite a lot of benefits which include being able to move from ZOC to ZOC, which is common in east front games, being able to trace supply THROUGH and enemy ZOC, which is not common and having the ability for motorised units to advance further after combat, ignoring enemy ZOCs.

Collectively and with the 4 step values, this gives the German units a lot of potential and sometimes when considering the situation on the map, this can feel a little counter intuative compared to how I expect games to flow - perhaps this is a good model for the situation, I am undecided, it just feels like the system is forcing the German side to be a tad on the 'super' side.

The germans can retreat 1 hex to absorb a step loss and at first this seems the natural thing to do. But some posters at Consimworld noted that if the 4 steppers just absorb the casualties and make a forward defence, they will get hammered but will still be surviving by the end game turn 4 and therefore have prevented the Russians getting to the perimiter line, resulting in a sudden death victory for the Germans - not a fun situation and players might want to drop the rule or convert sudden death to some kind of VP benefit for the Germans instead.

If the game goes to turn 8, the Soviets can get adjacent to Kharkov, but the die modifiers make it unlikely that they will ever capture any part of the city, so there is no real incentive to drive hard for the city as victory points are casualty based.

I have had a German Auto win on game turn 4 (in which I combined a forward defence with some carefully considered retreats) and a turn 8 victory for the Germans (in my first game, when I didn't realise the loophole about a forward defence).

In conclusion, I like the presentation and I enjoyed the couple of games that I played and I did learn something of the battle. I don't see much replayability in the game from an interest point of view but is is a simple system and so could come out often. It would make a nice introductory gift to someone you are trying to hook into wargames.

It plays well solitaire and I feel from the challenge point of view, it may well be better as a solitaire play than a face to face game, especially with the untried units aspect of the game. I am glad that I bought it and have played it a few times but it lacks the 'classic' Cobra type feel that I was hoping for.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Garnett
United Kingdom
Horley
Surrey
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
As a solo gamer your review has tipped the balance for me to buy as it sounds like a good easy play game to setup up once in awhile.
Thanks
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles Vycichl
Switzerland
Geneva
Geneva
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
excellent review.
I have played three times and have a few additional comments based on these initial plays, maybe I missed something:

- I enjoy the game and despite its simplicty it is replayable with fun, but

- There is one major flaw which makes the game ahistorical, there are not enough German units to hold the front line and on turn 1 the Russian as the first moving player can encircle several German units and the German player is helpless. If these untis are destroyed then there is no chance that the German playing can ever survive and win (despite he has not even started to play). This is not Bagration in June 1944 this is Kharkov in May 1942.

- Another flaw is that there shall be on hte first two tunr a rule forced the German to covert step loss into retreats in fromt of Kharkv at least if not it is impossible for the Russian to advance to the Kharkov perimeter so if the Russian does not win on turn 1 then it is too difficult for him to win.

Despite of this I liked the game and it is worth to buy it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M St
Australia
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
So, if, as the last poster points out, it is possible for an experienced Russian player to force a victory by doing the right attacks on the first couple of turns, and the OP points out that if this does not happen, the retreat ploy offers an assured victory for the Germans, that seems to be the type of game that in the old days was simply called "broken", and neither option would seem to have anything to do with the historical battle. Certainly not a game I would recommend to anyone, least of all a beginner. The way to get people into the hobby is to show them exciting games that work well, not those where a perfect strategy can be quickly worked out.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger Morley
United Kingdom
Hastings
East Sussex
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
M St wrote:
So, if, as the last poster points out, it is possible for an experienced Russian player to force a victory by doing the right attacks on the first couple of turns, and the OP points out that if this does not happen, the retreat ploy offers an assured victory for the Germans, that seems to be the type of game that in the old days was simply called "broken", and neither option would seem to have anything to do with the historical battle. Certainly not a game I would recommend to anyone, least of all a beginner. The way to get people into the hobby is to show them exciting games that work well, not those where a perfect strategy can be quickly worked out.

After reading this thread, I have to say that like all games, it will have it's likers and dis-likers. I guess it all depends what you want to get from a game, or what you expect from it, which can be different from what games tries to exemplifies by way of its design.

I treat every game on its own merit, and I look for the good in them all, not the bad, which I think too many wargamers do the opposite, especially the old seasoned ones. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a broken game, but some do have their issues, but these can be fixed by using house rules, experience and common sense, or maybe some gamers just cannot see the woods for the trees.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M St
Australia
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
It is quite rare to find a post where every single sentence is either pointless, wrong, or a personal attack. This is one of them.

nemesisuk wrote:

After reading this thread, I have to say that like all games, it will have it's likers and dis-likers.

Tell us something we don't know.

Quote:
I guess it all depends what you want to get from a game, or what you expect from it, which can be different from what games tries to exemplifies by way of its design.

How about just working rules or a design that does not offer perfect (and ahistorical) strategies? It isn't all that hard to satisfy.

Quote:
I treat every game on its own merit, and I look for the good in them all, not the bad, which I think too many wargamers do the opposite, especially the old seasoned ones.

Well, it is far easier to separate the wheat from the chaff if one has seen a lot of both. Many gamers do not reflect on the meaning of "grognard", but there is a reason it was chosen. (And that doesn't mean that a judgment based on experience is always right, but it's likely to be more right than one based on a lack of same.)

Quote:
In my opinion, there is no such thing as a broken game,

Thank you for warning us about that.

Quote:
but some do have their issues, but these can be fixed by using house rules, experience and common sense,

But that's not the question, and I have not seen you propose any such (I have, many times). So what are you talking about?

The question is, is it worth the effort. There are thousands of games out there, it seems there are at least a dozen on Kharkov that are easy to get and work better than this apparent piece of thoughtless and ill-tested schlock. Closing one's eyes and attacking the fellow gamer may satisfy some people but does not address the problem.

Quote:
or maybe some gamers just cannot see the woods for the trees.

I am more fascinated by those gamers who bristle at a game being criticised but will turn ad hominem at the drop of a hat. Games are tools or toys. "No game is ever broken" is as nonsensical as "no car is ever broken". Getting personal about about a broken magazine game (sadly, they are legion) shows a dire need for a change of perspective.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger Morley
United Kingdom
Hastings
East Sussex
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
M St wrote:
It is quite rare to find a post where every single sentence is either pointless, wrong, or a personal attack. This is one of them.

Sorry if I offended you, but where was the "personal attack" in my post?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.