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  The Last Stand The Battle for Moscow 1941-42 by Multi-Man Publishing  This game allows the players to simulate the last part of Operation ...

The Last Stand : The Battle for Moscow 1941-42 by Multi-Man Publishing The Last Stand : The Battle for Moscow 1941-42 by Multi-Man Publishing

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


 The Last Stand

The Battle for Moscow 1941-42


Multi-Man Publishing

 This game allows the players to simulate the last part of Operation Barbarossa in 1941, or the Russian counterattack at the end of the year into the beginning of 1942. Moscow was not seen as an important goal for Operation Barbarossa by Hitler. It was, however, always seen as an integral part of the invasion of the Soviet Union by the OKH (Oberkommando des Heeres) the German Army's High Command. Indeed, Army Group Center under field Marshal von Bock was poised to strike at the city much earlier. However, Hitler had forced Army Group Center to release Guiderian's Second Panzer Group (later upgraded to the Second Panzer Army) to aid in the vast encirclement of 600,000 + Soviet troops around Kiev. But now at the end of September, the OKH had finally dragged Hitler into the idea of an attack on Moscow. This was to be called Operation Typhoon. Three Panzer Armies (Hoth's Third, Hoepner's Fourth, and Guiderian's Second), along with the rest of Army Group Center are to be unleashed toward the city of Moscow. Multi-Man Publishing is putting you in command of either the German or Soviet Armies in this last do or die struggle of 1941. The Germans were able to see the spires of Moscow before being pushed back. Can you do better than von Bock or Zhukov?

 The game was designed by Masahiro Yamazaki, who has also designed 'Stalingrad Pocket', and 'Red Star Rising', among many others. This is what comes with the game:

One 34" x 22" map
560 ½" counters
32 page full color rulebook
2 player aids

 This is the blurb from Multi-Man Publishing about the game:

Solitaire Rating: very good to excellent
Complexity: Medium
Playing Time: 3-10 hours
Scenarios: 3
Game scale: Units are divisions, turns are ten days, and hexes are 17.2 kilometers across.

 This is a straight up old school hex-and-counter wargame that someone in 1978 would be able to sit down and play. It is not card driven, or has blocks for the units. The map is very well done, and has many of the charts and tables needed for play on it. There are no ambiguous hexes, as far as terrain, and rivers are all on their appropriate hex sides. All of the different Soviet defense positions around Moscow are on the map and easy to see. The Rulebook is twenty-seven pages long, with an abbreviated sequence of play on the back cover. The Rulebook is in full color. It is also printed in very large print. This makes it very easy on us old grognard eyes. The rules are setup very well, and are easy to follow. There are three Player's Aid cards. Two are the same and have the CRT and the weather die roll (this is optional) etc. on them. The other Player's Aid card has the setup for Scenario Two on one side (The First Scenario Setup is on the map), and the reinforcements for all three scenarios on the other. The counters are well done and not too 'busy'. You can easily read the information on them. The Soviet counters come with both historical and unknown strength sides. This allows the players to start with the historical Soviet strengths or unknown. While not a work of art, the game is up to the usual standards I have seen in my other MMP products. The cover of the game and Rules Booklet is another story. This is a picture right off a Soviet propaganda picture from the Second World War. 

 The three scenarios are:

The German Attack - This is ten turns long.
The Winter Counteroffensive - This is six turns long.
The extended Game - This is twelve turns long.

 This is an abbreviated sequence of play:

A.) German Player Turn
 1.) Supply Phase
  a.) Weather
  b.) Reinforcement/Supply Placement
  c.) Receive Air Points
  d.) Combat Unit Supply Check
  e.) Isolated Attrition Check
  f.) Supply Unit Removal (Snow Turns)
  g.) Soviet Morale Chit Pull (if applicable)
 2.) Movement Phase
  a.) Unit Movement/Overrun
  b.) Supply Unit Consumption
 3.) Combat Phase
  a.) Resolve Combat
  b.) Remove Supply Units in Expend Mode
 4.) Soviet Reaction Phase (The Soviet Player is allowed to move  and overrun with eligible Mechanized units)
 5.) Exploitation Movement (all German units may move again with one half of their movement allowance)
B.) Soviet Player Turn
 1.) Supply Phase
  a.) Reinforcement HQ and Combat Unit Placement
  b.) Receive Air Points
  c.) Combat Unit Supply Check
  d.) Isolated Attrition Check
  e.) Red Army Morale Check
 2.) Katyusha Gun Phase
  a.) Katyusha movement
  b.) Katyusha Fire
 3.) Movement Phase
 4.) German Reaction Phase (Like the Soviets in his reaction phase, but with different parameters, the German player may conduct reaction move with his eligible Mechanized units).
 5.) Combat Phase
  a.) Ski Unit placement
  b.) Resolve Attacks
 6.) Exploitation Movement (identical to the German Phase)

 You can see by the above picture that both sides receive air points, and there are special rules for the Soviet Katyusha rocket weapons (Stalin's organs). As the German player, you have to strike hard and fast to have any chance of gaining victory. The German player is not going to be able to make up lost time and space in the latter part of the game. The Soviet player has to be ready to have his lines torn open again and again by the German Player. He then must throw everything available to try and stem the German tide, and pray for winter. The game can be played with the historical weather for each turn, or optionally by deciding the weather by a die roll before each turn. This makes a big difference in the game. If the German player is lucky on his die rolls the game is much easier because some of the various modifiers for Rain, Snow, or Frozen weather conditions will not hamper him. Supply for both sides is dealt with entirely differently. A German unit is in supply if it is eight hexes from a friendly map edge. Farther than that, it depends totally on its parent unit's German Supply Unit. For example, a Fourth Panzer Army unit cannot use a Supply Unit from the Second Panzer Army. This is an easy elegant way to show how tenuous the German supply lines became during the battle. The Soviet Units have to be five hexes from a friendly map edge, or within five, (or four for mechanized), hexes of a Headquarters Unit that has an unbroken line to a friendly edge. The German player can also use the Supply Unit to help with odds shifts in two combat situations. However, once he has done that he loses the Supply Unit and must build it up again. 

The Defenses Around Moscow

 The game does a great job at giving the German player the idea that it is now or never. He must bust through the line and get going to get to Moscow before his tank's oil freezes. He also must face what seems like a zombie apocalypse of Soviet Units. Time and time again, he must break through Soviets' defensive lines. The Soviet player is also faced with deja vu. He must carefully construct defensive lines one turn to see them torn to ribbons by the German Units the next. As the Soviet player you must get ahold of the idea of sacrificing units. You must play to save the units that you can to fight again, whilst also knowing which ones to use as speed bumps against the German advance. I believe the game puts both players in their historic commanders seats. As the German you get to see how easy with clear weather and just a month earlier it could have gone. Playing as the Soviet the player can visualize just how close the Soviets came to losing this battle. When the Soviet counterattacks kick in, both players get to change their respective strategic roles. The German player has to try and hang on by the skin of his teeth while the Soviet gets to try and wipe him out. The only thing you can ask for in a wargame is that it replicates history for the players, without being ugly as hell. Judging by those criteria the game definitely passes muster. Thank you Multi-man Publishing for allowing me to review this very good game. 


Multi-man Publishing:

Last Stand: The Battle for Moscow 1941-42:


Barbarossa by The Knowledge Company     I like to do a little bit of history behind the games that I ...

Barbarossa by The Knowledge Company Barbarossa by The Knowledge Company

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




The Knowledge Company

  I like to do a little bit of history behind the games that I review. In this case I hope it is not necessary at all with this game. If the date June 22,1941 is not etched into the brain of every wargamer who has lived since then, I do not know what date would be. Most gamers would find it easier to remember this date than the one they were married on. I am talking about your current wife. If your closet holds one or more, you are totally forgiven the remembrance of those dates. 

 Strap on your seatbelts and hold onto your hats, the big one is coming. Barbarossa is a simulation, definitely NOT a game, about the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The simulation plays out between June 22,1941 and June 30,1943. The invasion of the Soviet Union was the largest military campaign in the history of the world. Just like the invasion, The Knowledge Company has delivered up to us a simulation of monumental size. Up until now I have never compared one boardgame to another. There is just too many variables in every game to really compare them to each other. I am doing this only as a size comparison, not anything about each game's rules etc.

 Fire in the East by GDW:

Time Scale - Two Weeks per Turn
Hex Size - 16 Miles per hex
Counters - 2500 +-
Maps - 6 - at 21" x 27"


Time Scale - Half-Month Turns
Hex Size - 15 Miles to the hex
Counters - 7840
Maps - 14 - 18" x 26"
              2 - 10" x 26"
              2 - 18" x 14"

Just as an extra comparison I will also give you another monster game that I was awarded the honor of reviewing; Australian Design Group's World In Flames Collector's Edition Deluxe:

Time Scale - 2 Months
Hex Size - 90 Kilometers per hex
Counters - 4900
Maps - 4 large (574 x 820mm) maps covering most of the world (West Europe & Africa, East Europe & the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific);
One 297 x 420 mm full-color map of The Americas 

 So, you can see that Barbarossa easily stacks up as the largest of the three games. It has twenty-eight counter sheets! That was not a typo. If you are into corner clipping, good luck. I believe you will need a new clipper and a set of hands when you are done. Either that or you will have the grip strength of the world's strongest man. 

 This is the perfect time to compare monster games. I mean we have Godzilla against King Kong coming out soon, although I am not sure how a 50' King Kong is supposed to do battle with a 200-300' Godzilla. They must have fed him steroids or zapped him with radiation. But I digress, we are here to pay homage to a simulation that is literally worth its weight in postage stamps. As an aside, I have been weightlifting for 47 years and I was surprised at the heft of the box. 

 So, now let us list what comes with this behemoth (take my advice and sit down and get a cup of coffee, we will be here for awhile). This is the list from the Colonel's Edition:

Game Rules Book (notice I did not write booklet) - 174 pages
Soviet Order of Battle - 84 pages
Axis Order of Battle - 107 pages
Axis Minor Nations Order of Battle - 40 pages
Western Allied Order of Battle - 49 pages
At Starts (for the numerous scenarios) - 125 pages
Maps - 20 From the top of Norway to Iran, and from Budapest to the Aral Sea
Game Charts  - 18 separate pages, with 17 of them double-sided
Replacement Schedule booklet  - 8 pages
Terrain/Unit Identification Charts  - 4 pages
These are the scenarios:

A. Learning Scenarios:
  1. Target Berlin
  2. Stuka
  3. Panzers Los!
  4. The Battle of the Barents Sea
 B. Crimea Scenarios (Discovery Group)
  A. Scenario One (D): The 'Neck' Taken
  B. Scenario Two (D): The Crimea Invaded
  C. Scenario Three (D): The First Assault on Sevastopol
  D. Scenario Four (D): The Soviet Amphibious Attack
  E. Scenario Five (D): Trappenj√§gd
  F: Scenario Six (D): The Final Assault on Sevastopol
 C. From the Danube to the Don
 D. The Crimean Campaign
 E. Kalinin - The Northern Gateway to Moscow
 F. Operation Mars
 G. Operation Uranus
 H. November 11 1942
 I. Northern Finland 1941-1942
 J. Fall Blau: The 1942 Campaign
 K. Rommel Goes East
 L. Hitler Goes East
 M. Barbarossa Extreme
 N. The Beginning of the End
 O. Enemies of the Blood Royal
 Scenarios L,M,N, and O require other games and their assets from the TSWW series.

 Looking at the list, you can play scenarios from only one map up to the full twenty. This is excellent for people with limited space now that are going to have a larger area to play on in the future.

 All of the books, Game rules etc. come in black and white, and four of them are hard bound. The maps are a sight to behold. They are designed to be totally functional and good looking without any added garishness or unnecessary clutter. They are not just paper, but 'single side matt laminate'. Per TKC, that means you can spill coffee on it and not ruin them. The counters are also well done, and are a 1/2" in size. The land units are very easy to read, and the ship and aircraft ones come with a side-view depiction of the type.

 This is a rundown of a very few of the rules you will be dealing with in a full campaign game:

 Geography and Climate
 Facilities (Fortifications, Air Bases etc.)
 Ground Unit Movement
 Air Unit Movement
 Naval Movement
 Air to Air Combat
 Antiaircraft Combat
 Political & Economic Rules

 As you can see, everything including the kitchen sink and the installation instructions for said sink are included with this edition.

 While we are discussing the game's editions here is a rundown of the different ones that you can buy from The Knowledge Company:

Download (Print & Play) - £120
Quartermaster (Print & Play DVD) - £130
Lieutenant (Maps and Counters with all rules etc. on a DVD) - £380
Colonel (Everything except the General's Edition add-ons) - £435
General  (includes the Arctic Front and Generic Counter Set) - £520

 If you are handy and have the time, the print & play versions are a perfect fit for you. If you are a wargamer like me who is both time and artistically challenged, let The Knowledge Company do the work.

 Is it an expensive game, in a one word answer: yes. Is this simulation for you? Please see the next paragraph. The simulation is of unbelievable value for not only the grognard, but also to anyone who is interested in the history of the first two years of the Eastern Front in WWII. The amount of information and erudition that has gone into the simulation is as imposing as a mountain. The amount of enjoyment and time that you are buying with this simulation is almost limitless. For the simulation collector, I have no doubt that this will be worth its weight in gold once it is no longer in print. 

 We now have to go into a very personal decision about the simulation Barbarossa. The question that is always asked about monsters is "are they worth it?". That is a totally unanswerable question for any but the wargamer in his own mind. Do you have the space or time are much more pertinent questions. We have no idea about your personal finances or tastes. We can however tell you that you will need both time and space to enjoy Barbarossa to its full potential. Some of these scenarios are not ones  that you are going to be thinking about taking down and setting back up. If you are lucky enough (the writer falls to his knees and pleads to God) to have rooms that are empty because your children have moved out, or from some luck of inheritance etc. then of course it is worth it. We are Grognards, not mice or lemmings! This is a sign of worthiness in our hobby. Say with pride that you have enough empty space to set up Barbarossa for as long as you want with no repercussions. This is like similar badges of courage in our hobby, much like "I played Campaign for North Africa for a year", or " I got into an internet screaming match with Richard Berg". Every hobby has its marks of honor. When model making, who hasn't glued their fingers together, or pulled numerous muscles playing some sport you were good at forty years ago! Monster wargames cost a lot, but they in turn give a lot back to the player. So you may hear "Is this game too expensive" from a man who just bought a 70K Camaro or what have you, because he can no longer cover the bald spot with a comb over. Ever since H.G. Wells crawled about on his dining room floor, or the German General Staff devoted entire rooms to Kriegspiel we have been in love with monster wargames. It is certainly not a new phase.

 Thank you so much to the Knowledge Company for letting me review this masterwork on the Eastern Front. I will be following up this unboxing with a review of gameplay in the near future. Please take a look at the other simulations The Knowledge Company has to offer, at all price ranges. I especially like the look of their 'Merkur' about the Battle of Crete.

  The Knowledge Company also gives some fantastic vassal modules free of charge (thank you Tom Wenck) with all of their games except; Merkur, or Battleaxe. For those who want to play online or have space issues this is an extra bonus.

The Knowledge Company:



Kiev '41 by VentoNuovo Games  The Germans have come a cropper against the Soviet Union in the southern part...

Kiev '41 by VentoNuovo games Kiev '41 by VentoNuovo games

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


Kiev '41


VentoNuovo Games

 The Germans have come a cropper against the Soviet Union in the southern part of their Barbarossa attack (the invasion of the Soviet Union) in 1941. The strongest elements of the Red Army are deployed here below the Pripyat Marshes. Even a few books have been written that put forth the idea that Stalin was getting ready to attack into Poland, Romania etc. If so, that would explain the huge amount of soldiers, planes, guns, and tanks to be found in the Southern area. The German intelligence before Barbarossa was either non-existent or denied, again depending upon what book you read. The commander of the German Army Group South, von Rundstedt, was in for a rude awakening as far as Soviet might. Contrary to most histories, the largest tank battle on the Eastern front was not at Kursk in 1943, but around Dubno in 1941. The Germans were faced with what seemed like the zombie apocalypse. No matter how many Soviet tanks or soldiers they destroyed, more seemed to rise from the ground itself in front of them. The German Luftwaffe was the only part of the German war machine that successfully completed most of its task. The Soviet Air Force was almost completely destroyed, mostly on the ground, during the first month of fighting. This allowed the Luftwaffe almost free reign to assist the German ground forces in the South for a few months. Enough of the background; you are given the task to defend Mother Russia, or as the German commander to kick the rotten door in. The only thing is the door has been reinforced by iron bars behind the rotten facade. On to the Game!

 This is the third part of VentoNuovo Games trilogy of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. The other games are Leningrad '41 and Moscow '41(they also released a game on the Stalingrad Battle - Stalingrad Inferno). Kiev '41essentially uses the same rules and precepts of the other games. The rules have been continually updated, but if you have played either of the other two games you will be up and playing in no time. The timeline of the game is from June to December 1941. It comes with five scenarios. These are:

1. Les Preludes - July 1941
2. The River - August to the end of September 1941
3. The Pocket - September to the end of October 1941
4. The Snow - November to the end of December 1941
5. The Southern Struggle Campaign Game - July to the end of
     December 1941

 The map is a large card stock one of the Southern area of operations in 1941. The map goes from Tarnopol in the Northwest, to Maykop in the Southeast, and from Constanta in the Southwest, to Novi Oskol in the Northeast. The map (86cm x 62cm) is colorful and is like a cross between a glossy and flat finish. You do have a choice of buying either a Mounted Map or a larger (103cm x 77cm) Gortex Map. The normal map is just as good looking as the other maps that VentoNuovo produces, and I have almost all of their games. It is an area map, and for the most part you will have enough room in each area for both side's units to be in. There are some choke points that you will have to squeeze the units in if you have large scale battles in them. The blocks are small at 15mm x 15mm, which is almost too bad. The reason being is that the stickers are very well done and a pleasure to look at, especially if you invest in the Icon Stickers. I realize that the size of the blocks is so you do not need a map that takes up an entire table. You have to make some adjustment somewhere. All of the components are up to the usual great standard of VentoNuovo Games. The player's aid cards are all card stock and done up the same way as the map. When you open the box you will be happy if not delighted with what you find. This is what comes with the game:

 1. 1 Mapboard (heavy stock, laminated 86x62 cm)
 2. 1 Rules manual
 3. 2 rules Summary and Player's Aids
 4. 151 PVC Stickers
 5. 2 Orders of Battle/Scenario Setup Aids
 6. 56 Wooden Markers: 1 Weather Forecast Marker (yellow
      cylinder); 1 Initiative Disc (large green disc); 2 Weather 
     Markers (white discs); 4 Soviet Supply and Control Discs 
     (1 yellow, 1 orange, 1 light blue, 1 blue); 13 Artillery Fire
     Markers(squares, 2 blue, 4 black, and 7 red); 20 Area
     Control Markers (cubes, 10 red, 10 black); 5 River
     Crossing Markers (blue cubes); 10 Out of Supply Markers
      (white cubes);

 7. 112 wooden Block Counter Units (black, blue, brown, green, 
      tan, and red blocks)
 8. 8 Luftwaffe Bombers (8 black discs)
 9. 2 Soviet Fleets (red plates)
 10. 4 Dice 

 This is the scale of the game:

Map: 1:1,000,000 (1cm = 10Km)
Unit Size: Axis Corps/Divisions; Soviet Armies/Corps/Divisions
Time: 1 turn = 1 Month
Players: 2 Players, with excellent solitaire suitability

  Sequence of Play

1. Logistics Phase (2,3,4,5, and 6 turn)
2. Impulse Phase (player with the initiative first)
    Bad weather Check (2nd impulse of October)
    Supply Check (always)
    HQ Activation Segment (TI only)
    Command Segment (always)
    Combat Segment (TI and SI only)
    Blitz Segment (TI only)
    HQ Deactivation Segment (TI only)
    Isolation Check (always)
    Exploitation (playing the Initiative Disc after a TI)
3. Final Phase

 I will use their own words to describe a turn:

"A Turn is made up of a variable number of Impulses, from a minimum of two, up to unlimited. When a new Turn starts, the player with the Initiative plays the 1st impulse, followed by the other player, and so on.
  A player may:
a. play a Strategic Impulse (SI) or
b. play a Tactical Impulse (TI) or
c. Pass
After two consecutive Passes (by the two players. one per player), the Turn ends and a new one begins."

 The game mechanics of the series is a lot different from what you have been used to in Eastern Front games. In other games there is a sheet where you place all of your reinforcements and they come automatically at the appointed time. In these games the reinforcements are randomly drawn from the Reinforcement Pool in a number equal to the player's Logistics Value. A lot of people might call this heresy. However, the one mechanic that this does enforce is complete randomness to every single game. It also makes it easier to play it solitaire. You will have no idea of what you are going to pull, or more importantly, not pull from the Reinforcement Pool. You check for reinforcements during the logistics phase, or you can use the Initiative Disc. There are Logistic Phases on turns 2,3,4,5, and 6. You have to choose to activate your Supreme Leader (Hitler or Stalin) to be able to draw reinforcements or replace steps on the HQ or unit blocks. Your Logistics Value is calculated by the Supreme Leaders points and your non-exhausted HQs along with enemy losses etc. Each block unit is also color coded as far as their strength. They can be either black, white, or red. Depending upon the unit's color, the cost for Replacement Points is different (1 for black, 2 for White, 3 for Red). One part of the rule is that, say you have 6 as your Logistic Value after calculating it. You then have a total of 6 for HQ regeneration, AND 6 for replacement points, AND 6 for reinforcements, not just 6 for all three. The weather will also affect your Logistic Value. For example, a snow turn will halve the Axis Logistic Value once you have added it up.  The Initiative Disc is pretty much a Nuclear Option for the player controlling it. Using it allows the player to 'play a Strategic Impulse', and 'play an Exploitation Movement after a Tactical Impulse'. This can easily be a game changer. The only problem being is that once used, the enemy player now gets control of the Initiative Disc to use at his discretion. This is also a big change from most games where initiative is determined at the beginning of each turn. So, the big question is, do I just hoard the Initiative Disc and not use it for fear of what my opponent can do with it, or risk using it?

 And the verdict is (drum roll please), another winner from VentoNuovo Games. This game, while using the mechanics of its older siblings, is in most ways a lot tougher nut to crack, at least in the beginning. The player will get to see exactly what Amy Group South was up against during Barbarossa. The components are second to none (especially if you avail yourself of the more expensive options). The gameplay is as usual a winner (when you have a winning combination, why change it). The addition of all of the randomness in the games, as mentioned, lead to each game being different. It also lends itself to solitaire play. This is a great selling point in this day and age. Thank you VentoNuovo for allowing me to review this game. Owners of the first two in the Barbarossa trilogy will be pleased to know that work is being done to make all three playable together. What a monster that will be!

 A whole slew of YouTube videos about the game:

VentoNuovo Games Kiev '41:


Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa Review In the begining there was the much liked  Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Par...

Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa Review Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa Review

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


Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa Review

In the begining there was the much liked Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris followed by the highly praised Decisive Campaigns: Case Blue and at the same time Vic the main man at VR designs was developing the much loved Advanced Tactics. So far his games had all been very well received especially Advanced Tactics and the later Gold version which soon gathered a large fan base and modding community. Then we waited....

First we found out a new face was developing the next Decisive Campaigns game, a soon to be heralded innovative genius, a man called Cameron. Cameron was going to be the man behind VR Designs immersive masterpiece. However before we fully understood what was coming our way Cameron drip fed us game development updates. First we found out it would be at a slightly higher scale than the two previous games, which I must admit was a little disappointing for this lover of the lower scale wargame, and next we found out its name and the period the game would cover, it's name Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa the period, well, erm, Barbarossa, which was the name the Germans gave to the first phase of their invasion of Russia during WW2.So pretty standard fair so far wouldn't you say?  Well carry on reading....

Once the basic game info had been announced then development updates started to get more and more interesting. Slowly, agonisingly slowly each update brought us more and more information on the games new features. Features that where way more than just interesting, they where fascinating to those who started to take note on what was being developed. I was one of those who linked many times to the updates across the forums trying to get the word out. You see Cameron was trying to overcome something that I've found has been the main reason why I have struggled to enjoy wargames above say Coy scale. That something is  'Immersion'. He was developing  what I can only describe as a roleplaying element that was not just some gimmicky way to add immersion but would actually have an impact upon that  wargame itself. Here was a developer finally willing to take a risk and do something new, something innovative. Innovation has been a very rare thing in wargame development and is something I've been crying out for for awhile.

You can either take the role of a member of the German High Command or if playing as the Russians Stalin himself where you not only have to do the usual hex based wargame thing of moving your divisions in sweeping encirclements or constantly having to manage your depleted divisions as you desperately try to plug the gaps and stem the enemies advance, but you also have to manage relationships with other high ranking commanders, plus deal with all kinds decisions that  could have an affect, either positive or negative, on how successful you will be in completing your objectives. Well if all this held together it was going to be awesome, if not it would no only be bad news for VR Designs but could also put others off from trying something new and innovative themselves.

Well the game was released to an expectant crowd and boy we weren't disappointed. The way you have to deal with the chain of command by managing those important relationships plus make important far reaching strategic decisions turned what would have been a very good traditional hex based wargame into a tour de force. As soon as you start the campaign you can see that this is something different to other wargames you've played. First off there is an option asking if you want to stay within the Geneva Convention. The lets say you decide to play as the Germans, straight away you have to decide whether to go along with Hitlers plans or suggest alternatives. Soon other decisions have to be made, for example whether your going to join the "Party" or not. You'll be asked to make tough choices on things ranging from giving out a unit commendation or sorting out propaganda photo shoot to logistical decisions like worker allocations for the rail way conversions or tyre replacement priorities for Army transports. All these things require political points, or PP as they are called, and if your not careful you'll soon find you have no points left to make certain major decisions which most likely will result in a bad outcome. So even this aspect has to be thought about very carefully. Do you spend points on that tyre decision or leave it to others  in case you need those points for something more vital later? Then you have the tried and tested wargame mechanics from the two previous games. With the brilliant card driven mechanics and excellent simultaneous turn resolution. Each turn has extensive staff officer reports to go through which never become a chore and again show huge amount of detail that's gone into the game. The integration between the wargame and the new roleplay decisions making features coupled with the excellent staff officer reports and briefings creates a fantastic, exciting, immersive and  all round bloody marvellous wargame experience.

Now there are plenty of reviews of the game across the internet that show that Cameron achieved what he set out to do, not just well, but extremely well. The game has received the highest plaudits across the internet including several awards one of which was Grogheads "Digital Wargames of the Year".  There have been some minor bumps in the road along the way. Some say the map isn't particularly attractive. Others  found playing the Germans and trying to get anywhere near an historical result let alone any better to be extremely difficult. However, overall in my opinion, there is no better wargame out there at this scale. Yes there are games that cover so much more than just a small period of time during WW2 but they can't compete when it comes to immersion which DC : Barbarossa has through it's clever role play features and coupled with a great hex based wargame then you have some very happy wargamers.

At last DC: Barbarossa has been released on Steam and with this release also comes a new update packed full of improvements and new features. First off we have a new map which is an improvement of the previous one (though I still prefer a modded one you can download here). Also new counter art for those who like that sort of thing. Another great little feature is a War Diary where at the start of a game a division of yours is chosen and you'll get to read a War Diary written by a solider in that division which he updates as fighting continues. The poor chap may even get killed! This is just typical of the effort Cameron has gone to create an immersive high scale wargame.

So if you haven't already got this triumph installed proudly on your hard drive then what are you waiting for?? Go buy it!!


Game: Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa
Developer: VR Designs
Publisher: Slitherine\Matrix games
Steam Release Date:29\04\2016
Review Date: 03\05\2016