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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!

Eastern Front





 Across the Bug River


Volodymyr - Volynskyi 1941


by


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. 

Robert

Vuca Simulations:

Across the Bug River:

The Great Crisis of Frederick the II:

Crossing the Line - Aachen 1944:

  Panzer tactics: Tank Operations in the East, 1941-42 Oskar Munzel Translated by Linden Lyons  This is part of a set of books that were wri...

Panzer Tactics: Tank Operation in the East, 1941-42 by Oskar Munzel and Translated by Linden Lyons Panzer Tactics: Tank Operation in the East, 1941-42 by Oskar Munzel and Translated by Linden Lyons

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

Eastern Front






 Panzer tactics: Tank Operations in the East, 1941-42


Oskar Munzel


Translated by Linden Lyons





 This is part of a set of books that were written in Germany in the 1950's, and 1960's. It was meant to be a history of World War II operations from the German point of view. Because of the Cold War, the NATO countries were all interested in the German accounts of fighting Russia. Considering they had the Warsaw Pact breathing down their throats, it is not surprising. 


 This author served in the 6th Panzer Regiment of the 3rd Panzer Division from June 1941 until September 1943. He rose to become commander of the regiment. After that, he served in several staff positions, and then became the commandant of the tank school. He commanded at the division and corps level before the war ended. In 1955, when Germany created the Bundeswehr in 1955, he became the commandant of the tank school once again. So, you can see he was the perfect person to write about panzer operations during the war. 


 The book is around 160 pages, and goes from the beginning of Barbarossa to the drive to the Caucasus and retreat in 1942. This is a history of the 6th Panzer Regiment, and in a broader scope, the attack of Army Group South during that period.


 The book is well written, and the translation seems to have been done very well also. It is an easy read for those who already have some knowledge of the Eastern Front in WWII, and specifically panzer operations. The book has twenty-one maps! The only caveat is that they are just copies of the original ones in German. They do, however, allow you to follow along with the author's prose to get a good look at the operations he is describing.


 This is a great work on a small slice of operations on the Eastern Front during the first two years of the war. It shows just how tough the Russians were in 1941 (the Germans lost about a million men that year). This is not a paean of praise for German troops. The author gives his thoughts on what the Germans and Russians did both right and wrong. Being a trained staff officer, he was appalled at the decision to attack toward both Stalingrad and the Caucasus at the same time. Thank you, Casemate Publishers for letting me review this very informative record of these operations.


 Robert


Book: Panzer Tactics: Tank Operation in the East, 1941-42

Author: Oskar Munzel 

Publisher: Casemate Publishers

  







  1914 Galicia The World Undone by Conflict Simulations  I know it will seem strange to many people, but a large proportion of the dead and ...

The World Undone: 1914 Galicia by Conflict Simulations The World Undone: 1914 Galicia by Conflict Simulations

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

Eastern Front





 1914 Galicia


The World Undone


by


Conflict Simulations





 I know it will seem strange to many people, but a large proportion of the dead and wounded during World War I came during August-December of 1914. We also are more used to hearing about the Somme,  Passchendaele, or Verdun. The charnel house that was Galicia is almost never brought up. Oh, we know that Russia lost a great amount of men, but we do not really hear about the Austro-Hungarian losses. Galicia, even past 1914, was one of the worst abattoirs in the whole of World War I. The ineffective Russian and Austro-Hungarian medical services was one reason, along with the almost non-existent transport system in the area. At least in the Western Front there were railroads and a road network near the battles. In Galicia this was not the case. Plus the odds were about even that if you were a soldier there that you would die from hunger or the elements long before you would hear enemy fire. We normally think of the 'attack at all costs' mindset with the Western Front Generals. This was just as ingrained in their Eastern Front counterparts. The Carpathian Mountains, so imbued with evil to us because it was Dracula's home, should be the stuff of nightmares to a psychic trying to contact the dead. Their head should explode if they come anywhere near them. As mentioned, this is a part of World War I that is hard to find information about. For every book about Galicia and the Eastern Front, there are 100 available about the Western Front. To me, anything about Austro-Hungary during World War I is like a candle to a moth. So, I jumped at the chance to review this game.


 Let us take a look at what you get:

One Map 22" x 33"

One Countersheet with 140 Counters

Rulebook 





 The Map is about as plain Jane as you can get. Do not get me wrong, it is perfectly fine and full of all of the pertinent information that a player needs. It is just in this day and age, many gamers have become enamored of the glitz that comes with many new games. Those of us who teethed on SPI and Avalon Hill will have no problem with the map. It is much like color TV. We who were raised on black & white have no problem watching older shows or movies. You young'uns who only knew color are a lot more picky. You seem to go for the outside of the book instead of the meat inside it. One thing that is different is that there is a different CRT for both the Russians and the Austro-Hungarians. The counters are well done and the strength and movement values are very easy to see. Once again, they would fit right in a 1970's wargame, although their color and manufacturing is to a much higher standard. The Rulebook is actually only eleven pages long. Then there are two pages of Optional Rules, followed by the Designer Notes. The rulebook is a bit different than the norm we are now used to. It is almost totally in black & white, and the type is as large as the one used in large print books. If for no other reason than the above mentioned easy to read counters and Rulebook, I can guarantee this will probably be the last game you have on the table before your dirt nap. 


 This is the Sequence of Play:


Russian Player Turn

 First Movement Phase

 First Combat Phase

 Second Movement Phase

 Second Combat Phase


Austro-Hungarian Player Turn

 First Movement Phase

 First Combat Phase

 Second Movement Phase

 Second Combat Phase

Advance Game Turn Marker


 The Sequence of Play, among other parts of the game, shows the designer Ray Weiss's dedication to gameplay and ease of play. Along with more than a hint of worship for the older days of our hobby. 




 So, we now know that the game is much more like games of yesteryear. This does not mean that it should be written off. The game represents the swirling battles that took place in Galicia at that time. The Austro-Hungarian Chief of Staff Conrad von Hotzendorf was perhaps more taken with the cult of the attack than any other commanding general in World War I. He also, like the French, believed that as Napoleon had said "morale is to the physical as three to one". However, now in the 20th century morale did not mean as much if you did not have the sinews and weapons of war. The Austro-Hungarian Player is tempted by the high values of the Victory hexes in the North of the map. If he can take them, he keeps those Victory Points until the end of the game, even if he is smashed back by the Russian steamroller. Speaking of which, the Russian Player should play for time and use space until his steamroller picks up speed. This it will inevitably do. If the Austro-Hungarian Player can do as well as Conrad and hold the Carpathians, he should consider himself lucky.


 These are some Special Rules of the Game:


Conrad's Offensive Gambit (These are the high value Austro-Hungarian Victory Hexes)

 2502: Lublin (15)

 3203: Kholm (15)

 4202: Kovel (20)

 2706: Lutsk (25)

 5507: Rovna (30)


Russian Fortresses - These do not exert a Zone of Control


Austro-Hungarian Coordination Modifiers - This is sort of a misnomer. Whenever Austrian Units and Hungarian Units are stacked together, there is a -1 DRM penalty for defense, and +1 DRM penalty for attacking.


 These are some of the Optional Rules:


Hidden Movement

Cavalry Not Allowed to Attack Infantry

Cavalry Retreat Before Combat

Forced March

Refugee Congestion - This is a nice historical touch.

Cutting/Repairing Rail Lines


 So, how does it play? Like a very well designed board wargame sans the glitz. If you need the glitz look elsewhere. On the other hand, if deep play and historically accurate gaming is what you are after, this game is for you. Thank you Conflict Simulations for the great game and a bit of nostalgia. The game is part of a three part series gaming the Eastern Front in the beginning of World War I. The game 'The World Undone: 1914 East Prussia' is already released. There will be a 'The World Undone: 1914 Serbia' coming up. Conflict Simulations also has some games in the works about European Warfare during the middle of the 19th century.


Robert

The World Undone: 1914 Galicia:

THE WORLD UNDONE: 1914 GALICIA — Conflict Simulations Limited (consimsltd.com)

Conflict Simulations:

Conflict Simulations Limited (consimsltd.com)


 









  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!

Eastern Front




 Rostov '41


Race to the Don


by


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
Stacking
Reinforcements
Retreats
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.

 Robert


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





 Korsun Pocket 2 by Pacific Rim Publishing   This is the Designer Notes for Korsun Pocket 2 that is on pre-order from Pacific Rim Publishing...

Korsun Pocket 2 Designer Notes by Pacific Rim Publishing Korsun Pocket 2 Designer Notes by Pacific Rim Publishing

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

Eastern Front



 Korsun Pocket 2


by


Pacific Rim Publishing





  This is the Designer Notes for Korsun Pocket 2 that is on pre-order from Pacific Rim Publishing. The original Korsun Pocket is considered a milestone in wargaming history, and is worth hen's teeth now. Thank you Jack Radey, and Pacific Rim Publishing for allowing me to post this.


"Designer’s Notes 

Korsun Pocket, Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr, was my first effort as a game designer.  I fell in love with Jim Dunnigan’s and Joe Balkoski’s “Wacht am Rhein” back in the latter part of the 1970s.  Immediately, I was thinking, “Gosh, that would be interesting on the other end of the war…”  As I ruminated on the thing, the Korsun Shevchenkovsky Operation came to mind.  I began to dig into it, and found it was just about the right size battle, and a very interesting situation.  Whereas the Battle of the Bulge was pretty much a straight penetration and exploitation, Korsun Shevchenkovsky was an encirclement.  Both sides would be attacking and defending.  Great.

So I began digging, and found immediately that it is easier to research a game where at least one side wrote up their reports in English.  But I taught myself some German, learned the Cyrillic alphabet and began to learn a little Russian.  And I was aided by David Serber, who went to the archives in Washington and returned with a lot of German microfilmed records, and Leslie D’Angelo, who translated a chunk of Grylev’s “Dnepr, Karpaty, Krym” from Russian for me.  Colonel John Sloan provided me Rotmistrov’s account of the battle, I translated part of Degrelle’s disgusting little book “Le Front D’Est” from French, and found the marvelous map collection at UC Berkeley.  The game was proclaimed a masterpiece of research, and its researcher and designer a master of all things Great Patriotic Warish.   Well…

Marx once described a fellow philosopher as “standing out like a high peak, due to the flatness of the surrounding terrain.”  Wargame companies who were intent on staying in business did not devote a year to research for a game, no matter how big.  The reputation I got has carried me far, but looking back, I do blush from time to time.  But the world has changed… The Soviets, who documented EVERYthing, and valued their WWII experience as their national treasure, from which they drew their military doctrine, kept their data very close, and even Soviet historians had difficulty accessing it.  So there were a lot of aspects of the battle that remained blurs to me.  I had the basis for some guesswork, but some of it was based on SPI’s writings, and much of that was either grossly in error or was misunderstood by me.

But since those days, first perestroika and glasnost caused the archives to open for a while, before the sad passing of the USSR set in motion events that led to their reclosing.  But the archives are all on war-time acid-based paper, and someone in the Russian staff realized that in twenty years or so they would be sitting on the world’s largest pile of dust.  So they have begun scanning it and dumping it onto the internet… by the trainload.  So when I asked my friend Charles Sharp to look into my guess that 4th Guards Army had attacked for three days and gotten nowhere at the beginning of the offensive, within 24 hours I had a rough summary of the Combat Journal of this army for the relevant days in my inbox, recounting precisely where the problems had been.  Color me gob smacked.  And then Helion Press brought out “Stalin’s Favorites – 2nd Guards Tank Army” (they were 2nd Tank Army at Korsun before they became a Guards army), with more detail on the strengths, losses, and activities of this army than I could have hoped to see in my wildest dreams.  I have not completely re-researched the battle, this would require either exploiting the friendship I have with people who could do the massive amounts of translation that it would require, but I have gained a much more detailed understanding of the events of January and February, 1944.  Consequently while you will recognize the basics of the game, there have been some changes, both based on better knowledge of the battle, and on some small knowledge of game design I have gained.




What’s the same?  The basic Dunnigan/Balkoski combat and movement systems.  My changes in the approach to Zones of Control, visibility, weather, etc.  The broad outlines of the battle.  The scenario structure.  Much as one longs for a scenario for just the pocket, the notion of using all four maps just to play a small scenario seems silly.  The map is pretty much the same, with a few additions.  The rules about tanks are the same, but require some explanation.  Why does a battalion of Panthers, say, with a tank strength of 4, break up into companies but still each has the same tank strength of 4?  Shouldn’t it be less per company? After all, it’s less tanks…  My thoughts, strongly supported by some friends who served in the armed forces, are that the difference between NO tanks, and a FEW tanks, is infinitely larger than difference between a FEW tanks and A BUNCH MORE tanks.  The actual tank strength numbers, unlike the attack and defense strengths, are based on the effectiveness of the tanks weapons and armor.  A tank with a bigger gun and heavier armor is inherently scarier and more destructive than more numerous tanks which have great difficulty damaging it.  Tank size figures in to this too.

What’s different?  Well, when I designed Korsun Pocket originally, I thought, “Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics.”  And an encirclement battle was going to require a more detailed treatment of logistics issues.  So I did some research and constructed a whole elaborate system for keeping track of supplies, and artillery ammunition (which makes up the bulk of supply tonnage).  As game systems go, it worked, and pretty much produced the results I was seeking, namely that both sides were plagued by supply problems throughout the battle, as well as the supply challenge that a large encircled force produces.  But looking back I fear that the operative words were “worked” and “plagued.”  After the game came out, I figured out a truth of design.  Time is the enemy of wargame design.  Time is a constant, you only have so much of it to spend gaming, so much time you can get a team together, so much time that table will be useable.  If there are a LOT of playing pieces in the game, it will take a lot of time to move them.  A game with only a few pieces in play can have complex detailed rules.  A game with a lot of pieces in it is already pushing the time envelope.  Adding more work for the players… something will have to give.

So I set out to create a new and cleaner supply system.  But being me, I dug into the research and found four credible sources who gave daily tonnage requirements for a full strength infantry or rifle division in combat.  And got numbers that said 300+, 200, 100, and 20 tons a day, respectively.  The 100-200 range seemed the most common number.  True, none of these units was anywhere near full TO&E, but the fact is a badly worn infantry division will retain most of its artillery, even as its line infantry is worn to a nub.  And artillery ammunition accounts for over 80% of the supply tonnage required.  Worse, the 20 tons per day, derived from the deliveries by air to the pocket, are very well documented.  I was pulling my beard out trying to come up with a compromise, so that a supply point would actually mean something in tonnage terms.  And then…

I stepped back, squinted so I could not make out the details, only the broad outline of the problem.  And it came to me.  Doh.  The bottom line truth is that while both sides experienced all kinds of problems getting supplies from railhead to fighting units, they succeeded in doing so sufficiently well to fight the battle.  Only the pocket forces faced destruction when their supplies were cut off, first by land and finally by air.  No complex systems, book keeping, supply points, or other fancy footwork required. 




Similarly the air rules took a haircut.  Bottom line, again, fighters were unable to prevent enemy air from having an effect on the battle, so why include them?

One other change evident is the counter mix.  KP 1 had some holes that I filled with fudge.  Some of the fudge has since failed to live up to the tasting.  So: no more Ferdinands (it turns out the Soviets used the term “Ferdinand” to describe any assault gun), JS-2s, or T-34-85s.  There weren’t any in the battle, they came out of my ignorance.  No more killer cavalry units, they have been tamed a bit.  No more tanks organic to panzer grenadier battalions, nor are the tanks that were part of 5th Mechanized Corps mushed into the motorized rifle battalions.  This is a far better OB for both sides, I believe I have it all. 

There is a matter that the players will have to ponder.  In the order of appearance, there are a number of situations where units are required to exit the map, some of whom return, some do not.  These units were usually withdrawn due to requirements for them somewhere outside of the scope of the game.  Since players have no control of these events, this seems more than reasonable.  The oddest may be the peregrinations of most of 5th Mech Corps, who immediately after the drive to Zvenigorodka, are forced to withdraw to the west, to reinforce a portion of the off-map front threatened by a German counterattack.  After a difficult march, they were turned around and marched back onto the map area in the game, as by this time the Germans had ended their attacks and were shifting their panzers east, towards the Korsun Shevchenkovsky area.

But another matter entirely were the various inter-formation transfers that are called for in the order of appearance.  While the Germans, sorely lacking in reserves, were known to pull a couple battalions from one division, attach an artillery battalion and maybe a company of antitank and another of engineers to a neighboring division in need of beefing up, the Soviets did a lot less of this.  The exception would be their tank brigades, which would sometimes be detached from their parent tank corps and attached temporarily to another corps, or to a rifle corps or army when there was not an immediate need for a tank concentration.  Then there is also the question of major reorganizations that happened historically.  Towards the latter part of the battle, 27th Army of 1st Ukrainian Front was transferred to 2nd Ukrainian Front, in order to put the forces around the pocket under a single headquarters.

All of these decisions were historically made within the scope of the player’s discretion and in response to the developments in the battle.  If the Soviets never formed pocket, would the inter-front transfer of 27th Army have happened?  Would corps have transferred between armies had things gone differently?  With this in mind, the players may choose to ignore all the transfers between on-map formations, or leave them up to the decision of the players – you could transfer 27th Army to 2nd Ukrainian Front, but you may decide not to.  However, all withdrawals from the map are still mandatory."


Pacific Rim Publishing:

Pacific Rim Publishing (justplain.com)

Korsun Pocket 2:

Korsun Pocket 2 | Pacific Rim Publishing (justplain.com)

  From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II: The IV SS-Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945 by Douglas E. N...

From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II: The IV SS-Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr. From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II: The IV SS-Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945 by Douglas E. Nash Sr.

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

Eastern Front





 From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II:


The IV SS-Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945


by


Douglas E. Nash Sr.





 The first volume took us from the creation of the IV SS- Panzerkorps, and all that entailed, to the battles around Warsaw on the Eastern Front in WWII. This second volume takes us to Hungary and the desperate battle to relieve Budapest. The action takes place on the Eastern Front which by that time is getting uncomfortably close to Germany itself. Hitler demanded that the besieged in Budapest be relieved. Guiderian (Chief of the General Staff) wanted as many troops as possible to keep the Red Army off German soil. He described the Eastern Front as "A house of cards. If the front is broken through at one point all the rest will collapse".


 There were three relief attempts to fight through to the beleaguered in Budapest. Each operation was named Konrad. So, we have operation Konrad I,II, and III. The IV SS-Panzerkorps was in the thick of the fighting in all three operations. The backbone of IV SS- Panzerkorps were the two SS Panzer Divisions Wiking and Totenkopf. At different times during the IV SS-Panzerkorps existence, many other divisions and kampfgruppe's (battle groups) were added to its Order of Battle. 


 Long before the IV SS-Panzerkorps was created, both of the SS Panzer Divisions had been in the thick of the fighting in Russia. While one can be disgusted by their actions, one also has to reluctantly give them their just do. Both of the divisions were nearly destroyed several times over in the fighting on the Eastern Front. However, their cadres were able to install an esprit des corps in even their most reluctant, almost press ganged, soldiers. 


 The first volume was by far one of the best military history books I have ever read. This volume continues in that vein without even the slightest hiccup. In this book, like its sibling, the author seamlessly takes the reader from the highest councils of war to the individual battles for each plot of ground.

 

 There are two groups of photographs that are in the book. The first is a portrait gallery of most of the German persona listed in the book. The second is sixteen pages of photos taken of the troops during the actual operations described in the book.


 Some of the book is pretty eye-opening as far as the actual relations between the German Army and this SS-Panzerkorps. General der Panzertruppe Hermann Balck was the commander of the newly reconstituted 6th Armee. The IV SS-Panzerkorps, under Herbert Otto Gille, was subordinated to the 6th Armee for these operations. That there was no love lost between Gille and Balck is shown in several areas of the book along with Balck's actual disdain for the SS. On page 311, Gille is quoted as saying that his new deployment "smelled like a briefcase". This is in reference to the July 20th 1944 attempted assassination of Hitler. The book states that Gille believed Balck was actually trying to destroy his command in an act of treachery. This amazing piece of history is just one of the many that are found in the volume.


 This book, and the preceding volume, are exactly the kind of history that history buffs want to read. From the who, what, and when to the actual descriptions of the battles, these books are almost unparalleled. Thank you Casemate Publishers for letting me review this second volume of a planned trilogy on the IV SS-Panzerkorps. I cannot wait for volume III.

Robert


Book: From the Realm of a Dying Sun Volume II: The IV SS Panzerkorps in the Budapest Relief Efforts, December 1944-February 1945

Author: Douglas E. Nash Sr.

Publisher: Casemate Publishers

Conflict of Heroes Storms of Steel: Kursk 1943 (Third Edition) by Academy Games  Kursk was one of the biggest...

Conflict of Heroes Storms of Steel Kursk 1943 (Third Edition) by Academy Games Conflict of Heroes Storms of Steel Kursk 1943 (Third Edition) by Academy Games

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

Eastern Front





Conflict of Heroes Storms of Steel: Kursk 1943 (Third Edition)

by

Academy Games





 Kursk was one of the biggest battles in World War II, although it was not the largest tank battle. That distinction we now know goes to Dubno in 1941. Still, it was a massive clash between the Russian and German armies. Guderian had worked tirelessly to rebuild the Panzer force in the early months of 1943. He was able to build a large hard hitting force by the Summer. Kursk was an on again off again operation that kept being postponed from April until it finally occurred in July. Hitler was staking all on his new pet cats, the Tiger and Panther, and the massive Ferdinand, although the Germans took an incredible toll of the Russian forces. They also were damaged, but they just couldn't break through to Kursk. Then the other Allied Nations invaded Sicily, so the offensive was called off. Manstein had wanted it to continue to bleed dry the Russian reserves. The Germans lost a good number of tanks and men at Kursk, but they were really bled dry by the defensive battles they had to fight in the Autumn of 1943. So, this is the backdrop to the game; let us see what comes with it:


4 Folding Mounted maps (19.5" x 14.75")
1 Mounted Board That Comes With 6 Various Shaped Pop-out Geomorphic Pieces
4 d6 Battle Dice
2 Custom d10 Spent Dice
4 Counter Sheets
 1 with 70 German Units
 1 with 70 Soviet Units
 1 with 15 German Units, 15 Soviet Units, and Hit Markers
 1 with Miscellaneous counters
1 Round and Victory Track
4 Command Action Point Tracks
48 Battle Cards
7 Weapon Cards
10 Veteran Cards
1 Rulebook 40 Pages long
1 Mission Book 36 Pages - With 14 Missions
2 Rules Summary Sheets




 This is the Third Edition of the game. Here is a rundown of what is new:

Featuring the latest 3rd Edition Conflict of Heroes Rules!
We have updated the maps and overlay artwork to be highly detailed and more beautiful than the original!
Storms of Steel 3rd Edition will feature a number of new firefights in addition to classics from the original!
All new counters in addition to new versions of the previous counters!
New box format, with updated tray inserts designed by Game Trayz!





 The maps are very well done, and the hexes are huge at 1 1/4". They represent a lot of the same terrain, so there is not that much difference in color from map to map. However, they work extremely well and the size of the hexes makes it very easy to determine the terrain. Each hex has a dot in the middle of it. Whatever terrain that dot is in represents the terrain for the entire hex. The map hexes represent 50 meters of real terrain. Now we get to the really good stuff. The counters are fantastic and are a full inch in size. This means we can not only read them without glasses, but they are also easily handled by less nimble fingers. The unit and armor pictures on the counters are very well done. It is also very easy to see what each counter represents. The Rulebook is in full color and fits in with the rest of the components, meaning that it is very colorful and wonderfully put together. The way the Rulebook is setup up is this: You read x amount of pages and then play the suggested scenarios. After playing those you read a few more pages and then you are ready to play the next few scenarios. So each scenario has a level of the rules involved in playing it. So, by the end of the Rulebook you are thoroughly prepared to play any scenario that comes with the game. Everything about the components is meant to thrill a wargamer. Even the trays for the counters are done differently than normal. Instead of just laying in a heap, they are laid out for the player like a flattened out rolodex. The two Rule Summary Sheets are the only pieces where the writing is a bit small. 




 The game is played in 'Rounds' with players taking alternate Turns. Here is a description:

"The Player who has the Initiative takes the first Turn.
On your Turn, take a Single Action or Pass.
The Rounds ends when both players Pass consecutively."

 "To take an Action follow these steps in order:
1.Select a Unit.
2. Perform an Action.
3. Determine the Action Cost.
4. Make a d10 Spent Check."

These are Common Actions a Player can take:

"Move to an adjacent hex / pivot.
1. Attack a Target hex.
2. Rally to remove a Hit Marker.
3. Stall.
4. Play Action Card."

 As you can see the game uses many elements that we wargamers are used to. The game works with Command Action Points as its main mechanic. This way of giving each side a certain amount of points to use each turn for actions is also a well known feature of wargames. In Storms of Steel, it is the interconnected usage of these mechanics that makes this such a great game.




 Storms of Steel won a ton of awards when it was first released, and it only keeps getting better. The greatest praise that you see for the game is that people believe it is one of the best games for teaching a new player its rules. The Rulebook states that you will be up and playing in five minutes, even if you know nothing about the system at all. I would believe that amount of time is right on the money. However, that does not mean that this game is a beer & pretzel one. Each player has to keep thinking, and thinking quickly, because the rules make it so that everything can change in a heart beat. All of your well laid plans can go up in smoke in an instant. The play is not only very fun, but very deep. The Third Edition has been worked on for a few years, and it includes many suggestions from players. The designer team of Uwe and Gunter Eickert originally released a winner and each edition just keeps getting better. 




 I was first introduced to the Conflict of Heroes series when Matrix/Slitherine were developing the PC versions years ago. I liked the games and played them a lot. One of the things I remember about them was that the designers were trying to make them as close to the boardgames as possible. A lot of the players of both were surprised how much they got right in the PC games. Now that I have had a chance to play a boardgame version of COH Storms of Steel I am completely blown away. Everything about the game feels and looks so well done. I do not think I could ever go back to the PC version. This boardgame is that good. This is pretty astounding when you add in the fact that it was meant, and succeeds, to be a players game, and not a rule heavy monster. 




 Than you so very much Academy Games for letting me review this excellent edition of an already great wargame. For anyone who is looking for a game that you can quickly learn, here it is. People looking for a historical portrayal of the Kursk battle look no further. Those two sentences are rarely seen together in a review about a wargame. When they do coincide you know that you have a real winner.

 I changed the size of the boards to represent their actual size. I forgot to times by 2. I am still not used to this getting old stuff.

 This is a blurb that one of the designers sent me that explains the difference in the Third Edition, better than I could.

"The biggest change in the 3rd ed is that a player takes an action with ANY of their fresh units. No more tracking APs. After the action, you test to see if the unit becomes spent by taking a stress test. That's it. Quick and simple
The stress test checks that Unit's cognitive suppression probability (its natural tendency not to move towards or interact in fire interchange. Units will often 'stop to assess the situation' before continuing on.
And this is what makes the 3rd ed so much different from the previous editions"

This is the Academy Games site:

This is the Storms of Steel site:

This is a review I did earlier on Academy Games 1754:
Robert


PixelPLaybox.co.uk