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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!

Vuca Simulations

 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:

The Great Crisis of Frederick The Great by Vuca Simulations  Friedrich der Große was an anomaly for an 18th c...

The Great Crisis of Frederick The Great by Vuca Simulations (formerly Furor Teutonicus) The Great Crisis of Frederick The Great by Vuca Simulations (formerly Furor Teutonicus)

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

Vuca Simulations

The Great Crisis of Frederick The Great


Vuca Simulations

 Friedrich der Große was an anomaly for an 18th century general. He was more than happy to engage in battle. Most of his comtemporaries would fight wars of maneuver. This didn't mean they did not fight battles, it was just the cost of training troops was always on their minds. Frederick reminds me of Robert E. Lee. He had plenty of victories, and some defeats, but the cost in manpower of even his victories was too much for Prussia in the end. The last two years of the Seven Years War he was forced to fight a war of maneuver, because he could not afford to fight battles. The death of the Russian Empress Elizabeth, who hated him, and the coronation of Peter III, who worshipped him, really saved Frederick. Elizabeth's death was called the 'Second Miracle of the House of Brandenburg'. Strangely, Hitler was hoping for such a change of heart in one of the Allies in 1944-45. He referred to Frederick's luck at the end of the Seven Years War constantly. In a complete reversal of alliances France and Austria, enemies for hundreds of years, were now aligned with Russia against Prussia and England. So the stage is set for the Seven Years War. Let us see what is in the box from Vuca (their name was Furor Teutonicus, however because of its far right wing conotations, they changed it.)

One rulebook
One mounted map
198 large unit counters / 360 counters total
32 tactics cards
Four six-sided dice

 This list does not do the contents of the box any justice. I previously had reviewed Vuca Simulations 'Crossing The Line: Aachen 1944', and the components were wonderfully done. I can say that most of the ones for this new game are equally well manufactured. The map is mounted and it is simply gorgeous for a wargame map. The style is point-to-point movement. All of the information you need to play is right on the map. The fortresses and cities of central Europe are all there in pristine glory. There is also a deck of thirty-two 'Tactics Cards' split evenly between the Prussian and Austrian Player. The cards are just as well done as the map. The counters and different chits needed are, just like the first game, very well done and come with pre-rounded corners. The only difference I had with this game was that the counters were connected to the cardboard sprue almost too well. This time I had to be careful when removing the counters because I thought I might rip some of them. I was kind of surprised, because in the last game the counters popped free very easily. This is not that much of a ding on the game, just make sure you are careful taking them apart. The Rulebook is only sixteen pages long and the actual rules only take up eleven of them. The rest are examples to play, and a full two page spread of the map to show the player where to set up the counters. The Rulebook is in complete color, and is set up for the player to easily understand the game mechanics. The actual print is a little on the small size, but even I could read it without squinting, so it must not be that small. 

 So, it is beautiful, but can it be played? The easy answer is a resounding Yes! For any player who has used a point-to-point map before the mechanics are simple to pick up. Even if you are more used to hexes, the game mechanics are easy to follow. This is the sequence of play:

Procedure of a phase: During their phase, each activated army follows this procedure:
1. All Alliances check their LoC network and mark isolation. (see 4.2).
2. Determines their Action Points  (AP; see 6.).
3. Recovers and moves their forces  (see 6.1 and 6.2).
4. Fights battles  (see 6.3).
5. Removes recovery markers  from units.
6. Marks control of spaces by placing  or removing control markers (see 4.1).
7. Checks if he may draw tactics cards (see 7.4).

8. Checks Victory for his Alliance.
 Each single strength point on a counter represents 4000-6000 troops. 

 Vuca Simulations, and the designer, have kept the game as historically accurate as possible. This means that the Prussian Player has the ability to roam about and put out fires. On the other hand, the Austrian Player has to learn how to herd cats. The Austrian Army under some generals (Browne, Daun) is capable of putting up a very good fight. The French Army is quite a different subject. It represents a threat in being to the Prussian Player, but is as hard to start as a Model T. The Russian Army gave the Prussian Army fits historically, but again it was hard to get into 1st gear. For those of you familiar with the Battle of Antietam, the analogy fits pretty well. McClellan, the Austrian Player, was capable of crushing Lee, the Prussian Player, but because of fear and an unwieldly Union army, Lee was able to fend off all of the disparate attacks by the Union forces. The Prussian Player in this game must play like Lee at Antietam. He must rush around the board and fight off every new invasion of his territories. The Prussian Player must remember that he does not have an endless supply of soldiers. He cannot afford to take as many losses and chances that Frederick did. The Austrian Player has overwhelming strength, but he must be able to bring it to bear. He is like a sumo wrestler fighting an MMA fighter. The Austrian Player must take advantage of any mistakes that the Prussian Player makes.

 The game play is based mainly on Lines of Communications and Resource Points. Keeping your Lines of Communication open to your different forces is vital. If a force becomes isolated, they are penalized by the fact that only four units can move, compared to the usual eight. Their dice rolls for attack and defense are also halved. Resource Points can be either a city or a Resource Fort. Victory is determined a few different ways. If Prussia survives until the end of the game, that is a Prussian Victory. Prussia can also win  after the death of Elizabeth of Russia. Each turn after her death a die is rolled. If a one is rolled then there is a peace settlement. If the Prussian Alliance controls sixteen or more resource Points, that is also a Prussian win. The Austrian Alliance wins if they are able to remove Frederick from the game, or Prussia has only eight resource Points or, nine if the Austrian alliance controls Berlin. 

 Battles and sieges take place off board with each side's troops lines up. The actual mechanics are very like a game with a separate 'Battle Board'. The low amount of units in most battles, and the absence of reserves etc. means that an actual battle board is not needed.

 The game rules are not long at all, but the game is very deep nonetheless. The rules are also easy to remember, and well written. You do not need to put on your judge's wig to determine what the designer meant in each rule. These are clear and concise and you will be up and playing in no time. For the game's sheer beauty some people might want this in their collection. For the person who plays games it is also an excellent addition to his hoard. There is a new version of the Rulebook with errata add in that is about a month old. I will have a link to it below. Thank you Vuca Simulations for allowing me to review this excellent and beautiful game. I think I will have to put an old Avalon Hill game into moth balls, if you catch my drift. 

Vuca Simulations:

The Great Crisis of Frederick The Great:

Rulebook Errata:

My review of 'Crossing the Line':