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  Across the Bug River Volodymyr - Volynskyi 1941 by Vuca Simulations  The Germans launched Operation Barbarossa on July 22nd, 1941. They ha...

Across the Bug River by Vuca Simulations Across the Bug River by Vuca Simulations

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Army Group South

 Across the Bug River

Volodymyr - Volynskyi 1941


Vuca Simulations

 The Germans launched Operation Barbarossa on July 22nd, 1941. They had split their forces into three main forces: Army Group North, Army Group Center, and Army Group South. While each of the three had their own Soviet forces to deal with, by far Army Group South was faced at first by the largest concentration of Soviet Military power. This Soviet concentration of power in the south of Russia has led some authors to believe that the Soviets were planning to strike into East Europe. Most historians do not agree with their assessment. So, Vuca Simulations have chosen to give us a sim/game about a small piece of the titanic struggle that was unleashed by the German Invasion. This is a piece of the Rulebook from Vuca Simulations that explains the situation at the start:

"The Situation
Early in the morning of June 22, 1941, the 
German army unexpectedly crossed the borders of Soviet Russia, thus launching Operation Barbarossa. One of the resistance points on the Molotov Line - the 2ndfortified area near Volodymyr-Volynskyi 
- found itself in the advance zone of Army Group South. 
The Breakthrough in this place was supposed to be done by III. Motorized Corps, element of 1st Panzer Group v.Kleist and by 
XXIX Army Corps, part of the best known German Army, the 6th.
At the outbreak of the war between Germany and Soviet Russia in the Volodymyr-Volynskyi region there were elements of 5th Army – 41. Tank Division of XXII. Mechanized Corps and 87. Rifle Division from XXVII. Rifle Corps – most of the remaining elements of both corps were far from the border. The situation was not improved by the fact that the 41st Tank Division was ordered to go to the Kovel area, north of Volodymyr-Volynskyi, where the main 
strike was expected. Only two tank battalions from 82nd regiment were left to support 87th Rifle Division in delaying the 
German advance."

 This is what comes with the game:

One rulebook
One mounted map board
382 large counters of which 181 are combat units
Four player aid charts
Full color setup charts
Full color reinforcements charts
Two ten-sided dice 

 This is the third game I have reviewed from Vuca Simulations and I am still surprised at the components and attention to detail that you find inside the box. The map is mounted and reminds me of a mural instead of a game map. The terrain is easy to see with no ambiguities. The counters are very nicely done with a lot of color. The only knock on them is that they are maybe too 'busy' and have smaller lettering and numbers on them than we have become used to now. However, you will not have any problem distinguishing the different divisions etc. that each counter belongs to. The four Player Aid Charts (two sheets, one chart on each side) are made of the same material as the mounted map. These are very easy to read, and the fact that they are not just flimsy paper is such a good idea. They are done in full color. The two Setup Charts/Reinforcement Charts are made exactly the same way. These are also very easy to read and are also in full color. The Rulebook is in full color and twenty-five pages long. It has a good number of play illustrations in it. On page twenty-one starts the Designer Notes, Historical writeup, and Developer Notes. There are also tips for both players. The Counters, Map, and Player Aids etc. are all extremely well done, and have become a Vuca Simulations trademark. It is amazing how small touches to the game components really make the player feel good about their purchase.

 This is the Sequence of Play:

"Across the Bug River is played in a varying number of game turns, 
depending on the scenario. 
A game turn usually consists of an Administrative Phase (Admin 
Phase), followed by the Operations Phase (Ops Phase), existing of 
a varying number of so-called Operations (Ops) Cycles. 
The first turn of scenario skips the Admin Phase as is indicated on 
the turn track. Therefore, the Ops Phase is explained in the rules 
before the Admin Phase.
The Standard Procedures are general rules, which apply at any 
time during each turn."

 As in all Barbarossa Campaign games/scenarios, the German player has to get from one side of the board to the other as quickly as he can. If he can inflict substantial losses on the Soviet player so much the better. The Soviet player is attempting to sacrifice troops to slow down the German juggernaut. For me, playing as the Soviets is always harder, because you have to always try and judge when to retreat and stop trying to inflict casualties on the Germans. My play style can almost always be summed up as "Il nous faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace!". This has been attributed to both Danton and Frederick the Great. I am not sure who said it, but I have always liked the sentiment. So, my attempts to stem the German tide in games resembles a general who just got a call from Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvii ( No wonder he changed it. Hard to get a chant going with that name), or 'Koba' to his friends. 

 Air power is abstracted by interdiction points that are decided by a rolled die by the German player. These can be either a 0,1, or 2. This is an important rule of the game:

"8.1.2 Interdiction Level Adjustment
The German player rolls one die and consults the Interdiction Table to determine the Interdiction Level (0, 1 or 2) of the current 
game turn.

Interdiction Effects:
• The German player applies the Interdiction Level as an additional Initiative DRM.
• The Soviet player uses the Interdiction Level to determine Soviet Formation Activation Recovery levels.
8.1.3 Soviet Formation Activation Level Recovery 
The Formation Activation Level Recovery of Soviet Formation is 
not fixed, but based on the individual Formation Activation Recovery Rating and influenced by the Interdiction Level of the current game turn.
• The Soviet Player checks the Formation Activation Recovery 
Rating of his supplied formation and cross references this rating 
with the Interdiction Level on the HQ Recovery Table to obtain 
the result. 
This means that the Soviet player does not know the exact Interdiction Level and Recovery values for a given Recovery Segment during the preceding Ops Phase!"

 This really can make the Soviet player's heart skip a beat, and destroy all their well thought out plans. This is just one example of the 'friction' of war that is built into the game.

Not the final artwork

 This is a great, tense game that shows both the fragility of both the Soviets and German forces in the first days of the war. The game also shows that there are plenty of battles that Vuca Simulations can develop using the formula. So, a company does not have to make the hundred and fiftieth Kursk game to let players have a great romp on the Eastern Front. For those of you who have to have Tigers and Panthers in your force pool, either broaden your horizons or look elsewhere. The amount of Panzer IIs that were still being used in 1941 will astonish you. Ivan had to take a nine count in 1941, but rose again to victory. Mayhaps with you as a general you can do much better than your real counterpart, and not get sent to the Gulag or worse.

 Thank you Vuca Simulations for the chance to review another of your excellent games. I will also put some links below to the other two games I reviewed for them. 


Vuca Simulations:

Across the Bug River:

The Great Crisis of Frederick the II:

Crossing the Line - Aachen 1944:

  Rostov '41 Race to the Don by Multi-Man Publishing, The Gamers  Field Marshal von Rundstedt, in command of Army Group South, had the t...

Rostov '41 Race to the Don by Multi-Man Publishing, The Gamers Rostov '41 Race to the Don by Multi-Man Publishing, The Gamers

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Army Group South

 Rostov '41

Race to the Don


Multi-Man Publishing, The Gamers

 Field Marshal von Rundstedt, in command of Army Group South, had the toughest assignment of the three Army groups in Operation Barbarossa. To Hitler he also had the most important assignment. Army Group South was supposed to capture the Ukraine and especially the Donbass. Then it was to capture the Soviet oilfields in the Caucasus. It didn't help that the Soviets that were fighting Army Group South were the most numerous and best equipped German opponents at the time of the attack: June 22nd,1941. The actual 'largest tank battle in WWII' had taken place at Dubno early in the campaign for Southern Russia. 

 The game comes with:

Standard Combat Series (SCS) rulebook (version 1.8)

Rostov ‘41 game-specific rulebook

One full color 22" x 34" map

280 counters

4 Scenarios

Box and dice

 This is the first part of the SCS Rulebook. It not only explains the games, but informs you on how to treat your opponent if need be:

"This series was designed for two reasons. First, it was meant to offset our other series which, by an order of magnitude, are much more complicated than the SCS. Second, it was designed to be a basic—read FUN—game which can be played at times when the others seem like too much of a good thing. These games are made for the “break out the beer and pretzels, and here we go” type of evening. While none of our games are designed with the beginner as their raison d’ĂȘtre, the SCS was designed as something the beginner would be able to was designed as something the beginner would be able to handle—as opposed to being devoured by. 

 I want to make the reasons behind a few things in this series known. First of all is our standard rounding rule. I have been forever pained by the “11 to 6? Oh, I’m so sorry, that’s only a 1 to 1 attack.” More importantly, watching players scrounge the map looking for a strength point or two to “make the odds break” is downright embarrassing. By making the “table break” happen at the 1/2 value, I hope to make players spend less time pre-calculating and more time just shooting from the hip. Its the shoot from the hip gun fight that is fun in wargaming, not the ravings of the accountant gone mad looking for each individual strength point. If your opponent starts to pre-calculate combats in this system (even after making it tougher on him), feel free to slap him silly! Sure, he can start scrounging for enough points to make that last 0.5, but only if you let him dodge around the Fog of War rule!"

 The map is fully functional and utilitarian in look. This is keeping with the whole SCS series. The games were meant to be easy to play and simple to figure out. It also helps that the terrain in the area is mostly steppe. The counters complement the map. They are 1/2" in size, and use the standard NATO symbols. The symbols are a bit small, but the numbers are easy to read.  The counters are the regulation Soviet brown and German gray and black (SS). Both of the Rulebooks are in black & white. The Series Rulebook is only eight pages long, while the Rostov '41Rulebook is also eight pages long. However, only three pages are for the actual Rostov '41 rules and the next four are the setup instructions for the four scenarios/campaign. The last page has the Terrain Effects Chart and the Combat Table Chart. All of the components match the style and price of the games in the SCS series.  

 You can play these four scenarios:

Fritz on the Don (Campaign), 14 Turns

Fritz on the Mius, 4 turns

Fritz Grabs Rostov, 7 turns

Soviet Counterpunch, 4 turns

 This is the Sequence of Play:

Initiative Player Turn

Reinforcement Phase
German Barrage Phase
Movement Phase
Barrage Phase
Combat Phase
Exploitation Phase
Supply Phase
Clean Up Phase

Non-Initiative Player Turn
The non-Initiative Player now repeats
the steps in order above.

Turn End
Advance to the next turn or end the game
if last turn of scenario.

There are also rules for:

Zones of Control
Terrain Effects
Unit Reconstruction
Disorganized Units (DG)

 The game plays as a free-wheeling affair. It is a standard size map, but the counter density is extremely low. The Series Rule that does not allow for your opponent to inspect your stack is a nice touch for some Fog-of-war. The Standard Combat Series was the brain-child of Dean Essig, and there are now over twenty games in the series. Rostov '41 was designed by Ray Weiss. The rules have no ambiguity in them at all. They are a model of rules for wargames, in both their being easy to understand, and their terseness. The Barrage rules (both Artillery and Air Strikes), are some of the most interesting ones in the game. The Soviet player can only use a barrage during the Barrage Phase. The German player can use his artillery in the German Barrage phase and the Barrage Phase. The German Air Strikes can be carries out in either Barrage Phase, but also in the Movement or Exploitation Phase. The German players' Air Strikes take precedent over anything else. This means that if the Soviet player is going to conduct a Barrage or Movement, the German player can interrupt him and use an Air Strike before the Soviet player makes his move or Barrage. The roll for Initiative decides how many Air Strikes each player has each turn. Each player rolls a six sided die (+1 to the Germans in a clear weather turn), and this decides who has the Initiative, The difference between each side's die roll is the number of Air Strikes the player with initiative receives.

 The game plays just like in any other Eastern Front game in 1941-42. The Soviet player must decide when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em. He must try and stop the German motorized troops from shredding and then encircling his front. Some cardboard sacrifices will have to be made. The German player does not have time on his side. First the Rasputitsa (mud season), and then the winter will throw a monkey wrench into his plans. The campaign game has only fourteen turns for the German player to take as many Victory Hexes as possible. He needs at least twenty-two+ to get a Decisive Victory. In this game the five hexes of Rostov are worth fifteen points, so the German player does not have to occupy too many others. However, leaving supplied Soviet forces behind him will cost him dearly in taken away Victory Points. 

 In summary, this is a great game with excellent rules. Thank you multi-Man Publishing for letting me review this game. I have a few other games in the Standard Combat Series that I have not given the time they deserve judging by Rostov '41.


Rostov '41 Race to the Don:

Other Multi-Man Publishing reviews.

Monty's Gamble: Market Garden review:

Monty's Gamble: Market Garden by Multi-Man Publishing - A Wargamers Needful Things

Last Stand: The battle for Moscow 1941-42 review:

The Last Stand : The Battle for Moscow 1941-42 by Multi-Man Publishing - A Wargamers Needful Things

Baptism by Fire review:

Baptism by Fire by Multi-Man Publishing - A Wargamers Needful Things