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Tornio '44 by Miku Games  This is totally new ground for me. I knew that Finland had in 1944 concluded a peace...

Tornio '44 by Miku Games Tornio '44 by Miku Games

Tornio '44 by Miku Games

Tornio '44 by Miku Games

Tornio '44


Miku Games

 This is totally new ground for me. I knew that Finland had in 1944 concluded a peace treaty with the Soviet Union. I was under the assumption that the Germans left Finland, because without Finnish support their presence would be untenable. What I had no idea about was that the Finns actually fought the Germans to remove them from Lapland. They did this under pressure from the Soviet Union. Peace was concluded between Finland and the Soviet Union on September 4th 1944. One of the terms of the treaty is that the Finns had to get rid of all Germans in Northern Finland before September 19th. The Germans and Finns were unwilling to fight each other, so a secret retreat plan was hatched between them called Autumn Maneuver. The Soviets were beginning to get suspicious after two weeks and demanded that the Finns begin hostilities with the Germans no later than 08.00 hours on October 1st. This is a game about the Finnish amphibious operation to attack the Germans in Tornio and Kemi. The action takes place between October 1st thgrough the 8th. Who says you cannot learn anything playing wargames?

 This is what comes with the game:

1 Rules Manual
2 Identical Playing Aide Cards
2 Order Of Battle Cards (Finnish & German)
1 Countersheet (228 die-cut Counters)
1 map (84 x 59.4 centimeters / 33 x 23 Inches)
2 Regular Six-Sided Die

Unit Scale: Companies & Batteries (100-250 Men)
Time Scale: 12 Hours Per Game Turn (Daytime & Nighttime)
Map Scale: 1 Kilometer (0.62 Mile) Per Hex
Playing Time: 6-10 Hours

 Miku Games is a one man labor of love. This is actually their/his fourth game. The first three were called the Finnish Trilogy and consisted of:

Volume 1 - The Winter War 1939-1940
Volume 2 - The Continuation War 1941-1944
Volume 3 - The Lapland War 1944-1945

 The first two were the Finnish against the Soviets and the third was the Finns against the Germans, as we see in this game. The most unfortunate thing about doing this review is that these three games are sold out and will never see a reprint. In fact their are only so many copies of Tornio '44 left, and after they are gone so is Miku Games. This is an incredible shame. If the Tornio '44 game is any indication the other three games would have been excellent. I know that for a one man designer/company the Tornio '44 game is incredibly well done. Let us look at the components.

 The counters are large at 5/8", and done in NATO style. The are easy to read the information on them is very large. There is only one thing that took me aback. You have to get it through your head that the Finnish units are the light gray/almost blue ones, and the German Army are green, with the Waffen SS units in dark gray.They do not pop out of the sprues like some newer games, but the printing is spot on and you can easily cut them. The map is a real beauty. The hexes are large and the terrain is easy to see for each hex. The Player Aid Cards and the Order of Battle Cards are done in full color and also very easy to read. The rulebook is sixteen pages long. The rules take up the first eleven pages, and there are also a few optional rules for players. These deal with Antitank Capability, Antiaircraft Defense, and Support Units, among others. The Historical Summary/Designer Notes are two pages long and extremely well done. There is an index on the last page; these are always very helpful with rulebooks. It also has the map on one page, and both sides of the countersheet on another.

 This is the sequence of play:

6.1.1 [0] Initiative Check: Determine which player has the first Player Turn (as Player 1) & reset the VP Diff. marker [29.3]. 
[1] Player 1: Initial Phase: 
1a: Determine the Weather [12.0] (in each Player Turn) (not in Game Turn 1A); 
1b: Check the Supply status [13.0] (not in Game Turn 1A); 
1c: Remove or Reduce Broken Levels, if in supply [23.1]; 
1d: Place Nationality markers [8.1]; 
1e: German Player Turn: Attempt Demolitions [15.0]. 
[2] Player 1: Movement Phase: 
2a: Reinforcements may arrive - see OOB Card [16.2]; 
2b: Move any number of units [17.0]; - Overruns are allowed [19.0]. 
[3] Player 1: Combat Phase: 
3a: Resolve any Air Strike [20.0] (not in Game Turn 1A); 
3b: Resolve Attacker Indirect Fire Support [21.0]; 
3c: Resolve Defender Indirect Fire Support [21.0]; 
3d: Resolve all Combat [22.0].

[4] Player 1: Exploitation Phase: 
4a: Move any number of Combat Units half MF - not in combat or enemy ZOC [25.0];      
 - Overruns are allowed [19.0]. 
Player 2: Repeat all Phases [1]—[4] above (play all Phases & sub-phases) and proceed to 6.1.2 Nighttime (B) Game Turn. 

NIGHTTIME (B) GAME TURN [27.0]:6.1.2 
[0] Initiative Check: Determine which player has the first Player Turn (as Player 1) & reset the VP Diff. marker [29.3]. 
[1] Player 1: Initial Phase: 
1a: Remove or Reduce Broken Levels, if in supply [23.1]; 
1b: Place Nationality markers [8.1]; 
1c: Place 1 RP on an unbroken Combat Unit on a road or railroad hex [14.0]; 
1d: German Player Turn: Attempt Demolitions (with at least -1 DRM) [15.0 & 27.3].
[2] Player 1: Movement Phase: 
2a: German Player Turn: Reinforcements may arrive - see OOB Card [16.2]; 
2b: Move any number of units half MF. Restricted Road Bonus [17.0, 27.1 & 27.3]. 
[3] Player 1: Combat Phase: 
3a: Resolve Attacker Indirect Fire Support  (with at least -1 DRM) [21.0 & 27.3]; 
3b: Resolve Defender Indirect Fire Support (with at least -1 DRM) [21.0 & 27.3]; 
3c: Resolve all Combat (subtract at least 1 odds ratio) [22.0 & 27.2]. 
Player 2: Repeat all Phases [1]—[3] above (play all Phases & sub-phases) and proceed to 6.1.1 Daytime (A) Game Turn.

 The rules are pretty much standard, although stacking is generous at ten units of any kind per hex. There is Advance After Combat, and also an Exploitation Phase for all Combat Units (not Support Units). There is one rule that I do not think I have ever seen in a wargame. This has to deal with 'Intoxicated Units'. Apparently the Germans built up two large caches of alcohol to help them during the long northern Finnish nights. If Finnish units move through or end their turn on one of these hidden markers they automatically become affected and an 'Intoxicated' marker is put on them. Not only that, but the next turn the marker is flipped to its 'Hangover' side. I am assuming that the Germans had stockpiled any drinking alcohol from the surrounding areas, and once one of them was found by the Finns, it leads to a party to end all parties. 

 This is from the designer notes:

"The rules are fairly mainstream. The most unique feature is the combat mechanism. I wanted to create something that did not have a standard Combat Results Table, but Instead gives the owning player more freedom in how to take his losses. The game focuses almost solely on combat actions. I wanted to include a feature where units could be both physically and psychologically exhausted, but only for a short period of time. The bizarre rule about the alcohol depots is used since they played a major role in the battle."

 As you may have noticed, each player does a weather check. This is because the weather can change so quickly in the area. It is possible that the Germans used the alcohol depots historically, as they are used in the game. It is more like a rule that you would find in an RPG, but it happened historically and adds a little color to the game. The Germans are trying to skedaddle it out of Finland to get to Norway. The Soviets expected the Finns to actually capture the Germans before they got away. The Finnish troops need to capture both the bridges at Kemi intact. The German Player will be trying to blow both those bridges. Victory points are awarded for both Victory Hex Points and German losses, as well as exiting from the map. The historical Summary says this:

"Who won? Both sides failed in their objectives as the Finns failed to take the bridges at Kemi in one piece and the Germans failed to push back the Finns from the Tornio area and open up the road to the north."

 If you have a very good game, and the action portrayed has never been in a game before, you should have a winning combination. Now, unfortunately, for the bad news. It looks like Miku Games will be closing up shop at the end on 2020. I really wish that this was not the case and that we would see many more games from them. The designer/developer/artist Mikael "Miku" Grönroos brought four games to the wargaming community. Tornio '44 was apparently and unfortunately the last one. I would love to have been able to have gotten my hands on one or all of the other three games he did on Finland from 1939 to the end of the Second World War. I wish it was possible for him to connect with another gaming company to re-release his games, and possibly design a few more. Thank you, Miku Games, very much for not only letting me review this very good game, but also for teaching me some new things along the way.

Miku Games: