This is a report of my first effort at one of the EFS games. I picked the first scenario proper in AGS, as it allows you to concentrate on the movement and combat rules - the scenario expressly omits supply considerations, reinforcements and replacements.
Historically, the German XXIX Corps launched a frontal assault on the fortified line that formed the defensive perimeter west of Kiev. It suffered heavy casualties in an unimaginative operation and was forced to halt the attack in the face of heavy counter-attacks by the Red Army. Kiev fell only when the great encirclement move was completed in September.
The Soviet force consists principally of low-grade infantry, bolstered by some elite airborne brigades and some artillery. Mostly these are militia or fortified area troops, whose abilities are unknown until it comes to the crunch. These are arranged in a hemicircle west of Kiev, backing onto the Dnieper to the east.
The Germans are formed up to the south and west of this fortified hemicircle. Their infantry is of rather better quality, as one might expect, and they have plenty of artillery to back them up, including several super-heavy artillery units to breach the fortifications.
The Germans have eight turns to break through this ring without suffering too many casualties. They must either take one hex of Kiev itself, or get adjacent while breaching a large enough hole in the fortified line.
I opted to recreate the historic attack with the Germans rather than move around to attack the north-west of the fortified line, which is less heavily defended.
The Soviets are initially extremely restricted in their flexibility, as they are still forming a local army HQ. Until such time as it becomes operational, their defensive artillery support is limited and movement is also restricted to just a few units each turn. Close air support is also impossible.
The first four days of fighting saw minimal progress, the fortified line only being breached in one place. The rules do not permit units to pick and choose which adjacent enemy units are attacked - attack one and all must be attacked by someone (with a few exceptions where units cannot physically get at each other). This means the Germans cannot mass their units against one part of the line without attacking others at worse odds. Despite heavy artillery and air support at the crucial points of attack, poor die rolls prevented much progress, and relatively heavy casualties were suffered.
Crucially, however, the Red Army command was taking a long time to organise, and on turn 3 (days 5-6) the Germans widened the breach to three hexes, inflicting substantial casualties in the process. A few infantry units reinforced the inner sectors, which had been fortified through civilian labour earlier, and the Army HQ finally became operational.
Turn 4 saw the Germans press their attacks - Red Army infantry reinforcements were approaching the front line and the improved Soviet efficiency would make it more difficult to make progress. This was, in effect, a last throw of the dice, as a large number of attacks were being made both to clear another part of the fortified line and drive closer to Kiev itself, fulfilling the second of the victory conditions.
The attack got off to a bad start, as the Luftwaffe was unable to contribute any ground support due to effective fighter and AA defences. Furthermore, the super-heavy artillery was out of range, and takes some time to reposition and prepare to fire again.
Two of the less important attacks (i.e., the mandatory ones) fared poorly, leading to more casualties. Excellent rolls on the two critical attacks, however, resulted in more Soviet casualties and German advances to the edge of Kiev and the clearance of another hex of the fortified line. The Germans were now in a victorious position, and the Red Army would have to dislodge them to win.
At this point, there is little further reason for the Germans to attack. Instead, they must position their units to defend the crucial hexes and also force the Soviet player to spread his attacks as widely as possible.
The Red Army counterattacked immediately with what was to hand, trying to push the Germans back from Kiev before they could organise their defences, but failed to do so and lost numerous militia units (these turned out to be the worst possible quality). A pause then occurred while Red Army reinforcements were brought in, but these two were unable to drive the Germans back from their gains.
A German victory. Barely. Kiev was not taken, and so the lesser of the victory conditions was fulfilled. The Germans suffered nine step losses in total, three short of Soviet instant victory. It may be that I would have been better served (in my role as Red Army commander) by more frequent attacks, in the hope that enough step losses could have been caused by good rolling.
In any case, this is a good introduction to the system. There's enough to think about without being overwhelming, and it's reasonably short. Not a lot of fun for the Soviet player, though, I suspect.
USAG Humphreys - Pyeongtaek, South Korea
US Armed Forces - Pacific
Great intro. I wonder if your just getting started what made you take the big step into BGS? What is your background in gaming?
I have BGS and N waiting for me at home when I get out of this sandbox so keep your play reviews coming to keep me interested in this series. I am waiting on getting Center when the update for it along with Typhoon comes out togeteher.
Stay in touch and maybe we can cyber a game sometime.
Earl, SFC Schutz, FOB Salerno, Afghanistan
Thanks, Earl. As it happens, I've been gaming for quite a few years now, although I don't have the background of gaming that most grognards can bring to the table (I've probably only played a few games published before 1990). I have played some of the bigger and more complex games out there (ASL and OCS, for example), so AGS isn't that intimidating.
On that note, I have a suspicion that the EFS has a bit of a rep as a highly complex monster, which my limited experience isn't bearing out. There's no doubt that the linked games would be nigh unmanageable alone, but certainly the 28 turn AGS full campaign was smaller than I had expected.
As to why: I'm an East Front aficionado. The opening few months of Barbarossa aren't that enticing to me (give me late 42/early 43), but AGS has the advantage in my eyes of being more evenly matched than the two more northerly games. The Red Army has its 'elite' armoured masses down here, and the Wehrmacht + allies are light on armour. I don't think I'll be hunting down AGC and AGN, but I'm certainly looking forward to the next installment, which will expand AGS eastwards.
Anyway, Earl, keep safe out there. (Like the avatar, btw. Are the adaptations home-made or is this some obscure ASL variant?)
Thanks for the excellent review (overview). I recently picked up this game and am about to tackle this scenario (played Scenario 4 of AGN twice already).
The combat system is a bit of a challenge, ie having to attack all units that exert ZOC into your hex. That's the one part of the system that I'm still dealing with, and this scenario represents a challenge to me for this reason. Hopefully when I'm done I'll have a better handle on coordinating attacks with counter-density like this (and I'll post a review afterwards).
Take care, and great review. You got me into this one.