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Subject: Tell me about Target : Leningrad rss

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alex w
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I have more than a dozen Victory Point Games, ranging from No Retreat to Borodino to The Alamo. I like the Napoleon 20 series which are both simple and does not take too much time to complete. The Napoleon Series has more than 10 pages of rules...... so how come a WW2 game that has it’s complexity in technological warfare comes with only 6 pages of rules?

Just a quick walk down the standard lane of most review :

The Components

The Map

As with most VPGames, the map is of a thicker card stock that comes with quite standard terrain coloring and symbology. The map stretches from Insterburg to Leningrad of course. All major rivers and lakes are included. At the corners are the sequence of Play chart and the CRT.

The counters

As always, beautifully hand made to perfection. They include the standard military symbols and the usual, Attack-Defense-Movement numerals. 4 of the Russian corps are weak units with 1 step; 4 others are 1 step mechanized corps but starts the game as ‘?-6’ . The Germans have their Armour units as well as their very useful Air units.

The Chart

The player aid chart includes the terrain chart/modifiers and the turn record track which, incidentally, is also the reinforcement/ replacement information track.

The Rules in brief

6 Pages of rules covering :

(1) Stacking limit is 2, except Russians which can only have 1 Army in a hex.

(2) Sticky ZOC, standard Movement rules (as in most hex and counter wargames)

(3) Mechanized movement (at different phases for Germans and Russians) and Rail movements options available.

(4) Standard ODDs CRT calculations, but remembering that attacks are made by only 1 unit per hex side.

(5) Usual (good old AH game way) column shift modifiers.

(6) A single Baltic Fleet with simple rules on naval movement and support.

(7) The all present and all powerful German Air units.

(8) Last but not least, a variable frontline setup that makes it similar to most Russian Front games.

Great!....now that we got those out of the way.....let’s take a look at how it fares.....

My hats off for you :

(1) The Battle for Leningrad is anything but easy in terms of size and design. The SPI version took it to great heights. With 40 counters and a simple CRT, it brought the flavor of Army Group North to my table in less than 50 minutes of gaming time. A feeling I share similarly with the SPI version, though that took much longer.

(2) The simplest Hex and Counter game I could teach in less than 15 minutes to any non-wargamer. This comes close to Gettysburg 88 by AH. I would rate this game high on the introductory level.

(3) The components are top notch even though they are not from established publishers. If these are the components that they can churn up, can’t imagine if they have better publishing tools! They would rival most game companies!

(4) Played this game quite a few times and enjoyed it all. Which lead me to the following comments below........

Either this felt weird or I can’t accept it to a certain extend :

(1) There are only 4 ‘?-6’ units, that’s not a lot of variations. Second guessing those units as more are revealed only make this exercise of uncertainty ..... futile? and questionable?

(2) The simplification of the Baltic fleet rules, I understand, makes it play fast without much hassle. But I felt it being ironic, that I should ever move the fleet out of Leningrad under known circumstances that the fleet could be sunk 33% to 50% of the time it makes a move. Nothing wrong here.....just weird having a counter in this game. (The Russian Front has more naval units and thus was quite an option to consider.)

(3) The Germans are like a Juggernaut that are almost unstoppable. The game usually makes a telling by turn 6, where the Germans have eventually broken through and are rampaging through the Russian lines grabbing Cities. The 2 Air units are confirmation to Russian unit destruction. Leaving almost no Russian line to fall back to. That’s kind of strange as most Russian Front games I play would have a rather solid front forming around Novgorod-Leningrad line. At this moment, I can stroll to Siberia If need be?

(4) What happen to the Finns? The Russians can leave Leningrad nearly undefended and rush to the front lines with minimal stress.

(5) Where are the Russian weather? With the double movement phases, the German Panzers are steam rolling into Russian! Really!

(6) Where are the Supply rules? I’ve Russian units trapped behind lines and I’m not exactly worried.

(7) These kind of designs share a similar edge-of-the-world problem. One of the frustrations I have playing Bulge games are the issues faced by the German Army flanking the central assault. Hold a certain corner hex and the Germans will be saved from that direction. From this map, the Osha Land bridge do not exist, thus the Russians do not have the need to ‘defend’ from that direction. The Dvina river line becomes a good defense area. There were no worries from anywhere further East.

(8) The CRT favors strong attacks. There was no ‘soak off’ or any detrimental effects coming to any attackers (much). Even a 1:1 attack has a good 50% chance of doing the necessary damage. The German 6-4s are the best ‘Tag team partner’ to any attacks as they can soak up the Exchange results. The Russians do not have much option here. The Russian Army units are sorely needed along he whole front line.


All in all, a simple game that has many questions (not flaws) due mainly to its simplicity. But if you look beyond that and use this game as what it intends (or designed) to be, a gateway game for new wargamers. Than it has succeeded pretty well.

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Lance McMillan
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alexisW wrote:
(1) There are only 4 ‘?-6’ units, that’s not a lot of variations. Second guessing those units as more are revealed only make this exercise of uncertainty ..... futile? and questionable?


We were strictly limited to 40 counters for this game, and while it would have been nice to include a few extra Soviet infantry corps for variety's sake, we just didn't have the counter space for it.

alexisW wrote:
(2) The simplification of the Baltic fleet rules, I understand, makes it play fast without much hassle. But I felt it being ironic, that I should ever move the fleet out of Leningrad under known circumstances that the fleet could be sunk 33% to 50% of the time it makes a move. Nothing wrong here.....just weird having a counter in this game.


The fleet counter allows the Soviet player a degree of flexibility in supporting other ports than Leningrad, but there's a risk involved. Historically speaking, the Soviets realized this risk and were reluctant to sortie the fleet -- when they did, at Tallinn, they suffered fairly heavy losses. The rules in the game are intended to reflect that reality.

alexisW wrote:
(3) The Germans are like a Juggernaut that are almost unstoppable. The game usually makes a telling by turn 6, where the Germans have eventually broken through and are rampaging through the Russian lines grabbing Cities. The 2 Air units are confirmation to Russian unit destruction. Leaving almost no Russian line to fall back to. That’s kind of strange as most Russian Front games I play would have a rather solid front forming around Novgorod-Leningrad line. At this moment, I can stroll to Siberia If need be?


The key to the game, as the name implies, is Leningrad. While the German player in the game can routinely rip through the Soviet border defenses, and often make it to the outskirts of Leningrad ahead of his historical counterpart. However, actually taking the city is a far from certain proposition, and the German player is often forced to commit all his strongest units against the city to have a decent chance of taking it. This typically means that the rest of the German front line is left relatively lightly held, allowing the Soviets to mount counter-attacks that threaten to re-take some of the other cities. Yes, if the German player chooses to simply bottle up Leningrad, then he usually has an easy time of clearing the rest of the map, but he won't win the game because Leningrad will hold out. This, however, was an intentional design element as it reflects (to a large extent) the historical situation: by the last few turns of the game, the Soviet lines were paper thin, and the only thing that prevented the Germans from "strolling to Siberia" was that the bulk of their their own forces were concentrated around Leningrad.

alexisW wrote:
(4) What happen to the Finns? The Russians can leave Leningrad nearly undefended and rush to the front lines with minimal stress.


The Finns spent the first couple months of the war inactive. Taking Leningrad was not one of this national objectives and they didn't want to suffer the extreme casualties it would have taken to mount a credible attack on the city. While some other Russian Front games may allow you to use the Finns to support attacks on Leningrad, this is wildly ahistorical and designer Frank Chadwick wanted to ensure we didn't make that mistake.

alexisW wrote:
(5) Where are the Russian weather? With the double movement phases, the German Panzers are steam rolling into Russian! Really!


The game ends about six week-long turns before the weather began to have an impact on the course of the fighting. If you want to see the effects of weather, look at Frank Chadwick's "Battle for Moscow" game.

alexisW wrote:
(6) Where are the Supply rules? I’ve Russian units trapped behind lines and I’m not exactly worried.


At this scale, and in this phase of the war, we felt that supply rules were an unnecessary complication. Russian units trapped behind the lines could (and did) survive for long periods without supplies. Further, in game terms units that are isolated are naturally vulnerable already to retreat results and will typically get killed off by the other side without the need for any ponderous supply rules.

alexisW wrote:
(7) These kind of designs share a similar edge-of-the-world problem. One of the frustrations I have playing Bulge games are the issues faced by the German Army flanking the central assault. Hold a certain corner hex and the Germans will be saved from that direction. From this map, the Osha Land bridge do not exist, thus the Russians do not have the need to ‘defend’ from that direction. The Dvina river line becomes a good defense area. There were no worries from anywhere further East.


Again, like the counters, this is due to the constraints of VPG's production capabilities. If it didn't fit on an 11x17 map, there wasn't a lot we could do.

alexisW wrote:
(8) The CRT favors strong attacks. There was no ‘soak off’ or any detrimental effects coming to any attackers (much). Even a 1:1 attack has a good 50% chance of doing the necessary damage. The German 6-4s are the best ‘Tag team partner’ to any attacks as they can soak up the Exchange results. The Russians do not have much option here. The Russian Army units are sorely needed along he whole front line.


I have to disagree with your assessment of the plentiful German 6-4 infantry corps being good soaking up EX results. Since the average Soviet infantry army is an 8-4, and a step loss for one of those results in a four strength point loss, you'd have to eliminate four German strength points to satisfy the loss requirement, and flipping a 6-4 over only fulfills three of those required four points. This means that the German must either eliminate (not just reduce) the 6-4 or reduce some other unit to meet the loss requirement. Optimally, the German would want to use one of his stronger 8-4 corps, but there are only a few of these and their extra strength means that they're often needed as "shock troops" rather than simple cannon fodder.

Lance McMillan
VPG's Developer for Frank Chadwick's "Campaigns in Russia" Series
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alex w
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Thanks for the reply.

I must say that I would have known these answers already but like every old grumbling wargamer, I just had to let it out.....

But I really appreciate your thoughts and effort to bring such games to our table.

As for the reply about the 6-4 units, I meant them in an attack role, not so much as on the receiving end against the the larger 8-4s of the Russians. But against those smaller Russian Corps, they are the next best thing to absorb the 'collateral damage'.

The good old Russian Campaign tactic!
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