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  Red Strike Air, Land and Naval Combat in Europe 1989 by Vuca Simulations  When we last picked up Wolfram von Eschenbach's magnum opus,...

Red Strike by Vuca Simulations Part 1 Red Strike by Vuca Simulations Part 1

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

Vuca Simulations

 Red Strike

Air, Land and Naval Combat in Europe 1989


Vuca Simulations

 When we last picked up Wolfram von Eschenbach's magnum opus, Parzival was wandering through the forest of other wargames looking for the Grail. According to the tale, he stopped at the castle of Vuca Simulations and spoke to the fisherman. Did Parzival find the Grail or was this just another false lead from Klingsor? Read on to see.

 This is from Vuca Simulations about the 'history' of the game:

Red Strike is a war game simulating a hypothetical clash between NATO and Warsaw Pact (WP) armed forces in Summer 1989. It covers operational land, air and sea warfare in Central Europe and the Northern Atlantic, while also keeping an eye on the strategic situation around the world.

Red Strike is a highly interactive game. Its detection and interception mechanisms allow for simultaneous actions and reactions from both sides. Having to constantly monitor the battlefield minimizes player downtime and maximizes their ability to recreate a very fluid “What if“ representation of a Cold War gone hot. The mechanisms can seem complex at first but will soon become second nature.

The rules that make Red Strike so interactive, also make it perfect for team play. Players can divide responsibilities between air, ground and possibly naval forces. The ground forces could be split by army/front or corps.

The crucial naval/air war over the North Atlantic can be played either as a standalone game, or as part of the Campaign Scenarios. As would have happened historically, its impact on the battlefield in Germany can be decisive; the interception and sinking of convoys carrying supplies and reinforcements making the difference between success and failure.

The greatest feature of this game is that it perfectly embodies the theory of the "Depth-Three-dimensional" combat theory of the Soviet Union in the 1980s and the "Air-Land Battle" theory of the US military."

The game in some of its glory

 I had thought that Vuca Simulations 1914 Nach Paris was the pinnacle of wargaming in both playing and artwork. Now along comes Red Strike and I have to eat my words. All you have to do is to check out the box. Like all of Vuca Simulations games it is a work of art all by itself. However, the size and heft of the game put it in another category. It is one of the few wargames where I am stumped as far as where to begin. The game is so big that it is only the second game I have reviewed in eight years that needs a two-part review. 

 This is what comes with the game:

24 Counter Sheets 3/4"!!!

82 Cards in two Decks

2 Operations Maps 46" x  34" Combined

1 Strategic Map 27" x 15"

24 Setup Sheets

2 16 page Player Aid Booklets

10 Air Base Sheets

5 Scenario Sheets (1-32"x 18", 1- 16"x 18", 3- page size)

1 56 page Rulebook

ADN  (pad ) sheet block 16 pages

2x10 sided die

This is a close shot of one of the Airbase Player Aids

 I have to add what is below so that you can see exactly what has gone into the designing of this game. How many games have a bibliography or one that is two pages long! This is straight from the designer Mr. Yes Rettel. If a game has had a longer time in design and incorporated more research, I would like to see it.

"Red Strike is based on the games Gulf Strike and Aegean Strike and uses many of the same mechanics. Mark Herman designed the Strike games as detailed, complex simulations. Red Strike, like its predecessors, is not for the fainthearted.

The game comes with this Rule Book and the Scenario Book. The Rule Book covers the entire game system and the Scenario Book contains everything needed to set up the game

Other games I took as reference to design this game:

G-SOF-G (S&T 220), NATO: The Next War in Europe (VG), 3


Fleet (VG), The Next War (SPI) and

above all the “Next War” series from GMT.

Internet links:


General / Cold War

Bidwell, Shelford—World War 3 A Military Projection Founded on Today’s Facts, Greenwich

House, 1983

Bishop, Chris—Firepower Air Warfare, Orbis Publishing, 1999

Cockburn, Andrew—The Threat, Scherz, 1983

Crawford, Steve—Kriegsschiffe und Flugzeugträger, Gondrom, 2000

Donald, David—Modern Battlefield Warplanes, AIRtime Publishing, 1994

Dunnigan, James F. and Bay, Austin—A Quick and Dirty Guide to War, Quill, 1991

Dunnigan, James F.—How To Make War, revised edition Quill, 1988

Edited by Vojtech Mastny, Sven G. Holtsmark and Andreas Wenger—War Plans and Alliances

in the Cold War—Threat Perceptions in the East and West, Routledge, 2006

Epstein, Joshua M.—Conventional Force Reductions, The Brookings Institution, 1990

Faringdon, Hugh—Strategic Geography—NATO, the Warsaw Pact and the Superpowers, 2


ed, Routledge, 1989

Friedman, Norman—The Fifty Year War, Naval Institute Press, 2000

Gaddis, John Lewis—The Cold War A New History, Penguin Books, 2005

Gunston, Bill and Hewish, Mark and Sweetman, Bill and Wheeler, Barry C and Taylor John

W.R—Air Forces of the World, Salamander Books, 1979

House, Jonathan M.—A Military History of the Cold War 1944-1962, University of Oklahoma

Press, 2012

Isaacs, Jeremy and Downing, Taylor—Cold War, Bantam Press, 1998

Jeschonnek, Friedrich and Riedel, Dieter and Durie, William—Alliierte in Berlin 1945-1994,

Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag, 2007

Krüger, Dieter—Am Abgrund?, Parzellers Buchverlag, 2013

Krüger, Dieter (Hrsg.)—Schlachtfeld Fulda Gap, Parzellers Buchverlag, 2017

La Guerre de demain, Tallandier, 1983

La paix surarmée Pour la Science, 1979-1987 (french edition of Scientific American)

La Stratégie Mondiale Bordas, 1985 (french edition of Atlas of Global Strategy, ed.Gra


ham Speake)

Leonhard, Robert—The Art of Maneuver, Maneuver-warfare Theory and AirLand Battle,

Ballantine Books, 1991

Miller, David and Foss, Christopher F.—Modern Land Combat, Salamander Books, 1987

Price, Alfred—Air Battle—Central Europe, Free Press, 1986

Stöver, Bernd—Der Kalte Krieg, C.H.Beck, 2007

Ware, Pat—Cold War Operations Manual, Haynes Publishing, 2016

Watts, Anthony J.—Jane’s Warship Recognition Guide ,HarperCollins, 2006

Winchester, Jim—Military Aircraft of the Cold War, Grange Books, 2006

World Air Power, Vol.1, Spring 1990, Aerospace Publishing Limited

World Air Power, Vol.2, Summer 1990, Aerospace Publishing Limited

World Air Power, Vol.3, Autumn/Fall 1990, Aerospace Publishing Limited

Zaloga, Steven J.—Duel 18 - M1 Abrams vs. T-72 Ural, Osprey, 2009


Behrendt, Hans-Günter—Flugabwehr in Deutschland, Miles-Verlag, 2021

Bolik, Gerd—NATO-Planungen für die Verteidigung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland im

Kalten Krieg, Miles-Verlag, 2021

Dorn, Wolfram—So heiss war der Kalte Krieg—Fallex 66, Dittrich, 2002

Eshel, David—The U.S. Rapid Deployment Forces, Arco Publishing, 1985

Ganser, Daniele—NATO Geheimarmeen in Europa Orell Füssli, 2008

Gehring, Stephen P.—From the Fulda Gap to Kuweit

Hughes, Wayne P.—Fleet Tactics, theory and practice US Naval Institute Press, 1989

Knobloch, von, Heinz—Bundesluftwaffe intern Motorbuch, 2008

Oestmann, Rainer—Handbuch für Unterführer, Walhalla Fachverlag, 2000

RAIDS n°24, Histoire & Collections, 1987

RAIDS n°31, Histoire & Collections, 1988

RAIDS n°34, Histoire & Collections, 1989

Walter, Uwe—Artilleristen, Aufklärer, Flieger, Infanteristen, Jäger, Logistiker, Pioniere und

Panzermänner, BoD—Books on Demand, 2018

Walter, Uwe—Die Strukturen und Verbände des deutschen Heeres (2. Teil), BoD—Books on

Demand, 2020

Walter, Uwe—Die Strukturen und Verbände des deutschen Heeres (Teil 1), Edition Avra, 2017

Walter, Uwe—Von Wölfen, Leoparden und anderen Raubtieren, BoD—Books on Demand, 2017


Clancy, Tom—Tempête Rouge Livre de Poche, 1986 (french edition of Red Storm Rising)

General Hackett, Sir John—The Third World War Macmillan, 1978

General Hackett, Sir John—The Third World War—The untold story Macmillan, 1982

Peters, Ralph—Red Army Pocket Books, 1989

Nuclear Warfare

Bernstein, Jeremy—Nuclear Weapons—What you need to know, Cambridge University

Press, 2008

Walmer, Max—Strategic Weapons, Prenticehall Press, 1988

Osprey Publications

Combat Aircraft—27 Air War in the Gulf 1991

Combat Aircraft—60 B-1B Lancer units in combat

Elite 10—Warsaw Pact Ground Forces

Elite 12—Inside the Soviet Army Today

Elite 16—NATO Armies today

Elite 26—Tank War—Central Front : NATO vw. Warsaw Pact

Fortress 36—US Strategic and Defensive Missile Systems 1950-2004

Fortress 69—The Berlin Wall and the Intra-German Border 1961-1989

New Vanguard 115—Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 1942-2002

New Vanguard 120—Scud Ballistic Missile and Launch Systems 1955-2005

New Vanguard 125—Huey Cobra Gunships

New Vanguard 134—Red SAM: The SA-2 Guideline Anti-Aircraft Missile

New Vanguard 138—US Nuclear Submarines: The Fast Attack

New Vanguard 152—T-80 Standard Tank

New Vanguard 158—T-62 Main Battle Tank 1965-2005

New Vanguard 2—M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank 1982-92

New Vanguard 85—M60 Main Battle Tank 1960-91

Wargame related

Allen Thomas B. War Games—The Secret World of the Creators, Players, and Policy Makers

Rehearsing World War III Today Naval Institute Press, McGraw Hill, 1987

Dunnigan, James F.—The Complete Wargames Handbook, revised edition, Quill 1992

Perla, Peter P.—The Art of Wargaming Naval Institute Press, 1990

Warsaw Pact

Department of Defense Soviet Military Power, Prospects for Change 1989

Donald, David—Tupolev Bombers, AIRtime Publishing, 2001

Gervasi, Tom—Soviet Military Power—The Annotated and Corrected Version of the Pentagon’s

Guide, Random House, 1987

Gervasi, Tom—The Myth of Soviet Military Supremacy Perennial Library, 1986

Glantz, David M.—Soviet Military Operational Art—In pursuit of Deep Battle Frank Cass, 1991

Gordon, Yefim and Dexter, Keith—Mikoyan MiG-21 Midland, 2008

Gordon, Yefim—Soviet Strategic Aviation in the Cold War, Hikoki Publications, 2009

Hoffman, Hans-Albert & Stoof, Siegfried—Sowjetische Truppen in Deutschland und ihr

Hauptquartier in Wünsdorf 1945—1994, Verlag Dr. Köster, 2017

Kopenhagen, Wilfried—Die NVA Land-, Luft- und Seestreitkräfte Motorbuch, 2006

La puissance militaire soviétique Bordas, 1984 (french edition of The Soviet War Machine

Salamander Books, 1984)

Lautsch, Siegfried - Kriegsschauplatz Deutschland - ZMSBw 2013

MccGwire, Michael—Military Objectives in Soviet Foreign Policy The Brookings Institution, 1987

Normann, Michael—Typenkompass Kampfflugzeuge der NVA 1956-1990, Motorbuch, 2010

Odom, William E.—The Collapse of the Soviet Military Yale University Press, 1998

Polmar, Norman—Guide to the Soviet Navy, 4th

edition Naval Institute Press, 1986

Suvorov—Inside the Soviet Army Macmillan, 1982

Sweetman, Bill—Soviet Military Aircraft Hamlyn, 1981

The Russian General Staff—The Soviet-Afghan War, How a Superpower fought and lost,

University Press of Kansas, 2002"

 This is a really amazing list on so many levels. It really shows the depth and detail that went into this design.

This is the Fulda Gap Scenario Map

 In another part of the booklets Mr. Rettel mentions that he has been working on this design since 2003. This is just one more in the list of superlatives that shows in the design. He is also completely correct in saying that the design is not for the faint-hearted. If you are a neophyte or someone who has just played block wargames, opening this box will come as a shock. This is the simulation side of our esteemed hobby. You might be inclined to look for the rule about pasta in the Rulebook. However, the game does not throw you into the deep end and hope you swim. There are many different sized scenarios that comes in this cornucopia. The naval and air portions of the game are simulations in their own right. The Operational Map has hexes of two different sizes. The smaller hexes are 28 kilometers across and the larger are 280 kilometers across. The game also comes with a Strategic Map. 

 Every land, air, and sea asset available to the NATO and Warsaw Pact Alliances is in the box. One thing about the game, there is a good amount of stacking of counters. I never really remember this being an issue when SPI and Avalon Hill released their monster games. I believe it has a lot to do with the now advanced age of some of our grognards. As far as stacking years ago, it was considered the more the merrier. 

 The price of the game at Vuca Simulations is $178 US dollars. Now before you get your knickers in a bunch, I think you should compare the normal sized games from other publishers and Vuca Simulations. Almost all wargame publishers now have prices for their AAA games right about or just under this price point, and sometimes over. This game should really be considered in the price per pound group of wargames. 

 This is a game that many grognards have been dreaming about. I'd bet after looking at it, many designers wish that it was theirs. Of course, you have to compare the 20-year gestation period of the game in the mix. Many will not like it because of the depth and the stacking and because it does not match the drapes. So be it, different strokes for different folks. If you grognards are lucky enough to have a gaming night where you have a few buddies who like games, this makes playing it that much easier. It would be just like the teams that played Campaign for North Africa. However, this game has all the eye candy and refinements that comes with a game that is almost 50 years newer than CNA. 

 The game comes with these scenarios:

10 Exercise Scenarios to teach you different parts of the system

Battle Scenarios:

 Fulda Gap - The one we know and love

 Berlin Blockade - Another one you have probably played

 North German Plains - The opposite of Monty in WWII

 Bavarian Option  - Southern Germany fighting

 Miami 1989 - North Sea naval scenario

 Valkyrie's Embrace - Invasion of Norway

Campaign Scenarios:

 99 Red Balloons - No preparations for war on either side

 We Didn't Start the Fire - Tensions rise slower given each side the time to call in more troops etc.

 Land of Confusion - Prolonged period of saber rattling before the Warsaw Pact attacks

 Two Tribes - Prolonged period of saber rattling NATO attacks


Part of the clash on the North German Plain

 I am overwhelmed, in a good way, that Vuca Simulations has sent me this monster of a simulation to review. I feel like a snake that now has killed its prey but cannot quite figure out how to swallow it. The detail and thinking, dare I say love, that has gone into the design is truly breathtaking. Please come back to read part two where I actually get to really play this big bad boy.

Robert Peterson

Vuca Simulations:

VUCA simulations - Premium conflict simulations from Europe – VUCASIMS

Red Strike:

Red Strike - 1989 – VUCASIMS

Across the Bug River by Vuca Simulations My Review:

Across the Bug River by Vuca Simulations - A Wargamers Needful Things

Donnerschlag by Vuca Simulations My Review:

Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingrad by Vuca Simulations - A Wargamers Needful Things

  Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingrad by Vuca Simulations  One of the biggest questions that comes out of World War II is whether the German...

Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingrad by Vuca Simulations Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingrad by Vuca Simulations

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

Vuca Simulations


Escape From Stalingrad


Vuca Simulations

 One of the biggest questions that comes out of World War II is whether the German troops surrounded in Stalingrad could have escaped or not. There are many games about the entire Fall Blau Campaign and most of them have scenarios about the attempt that was made to break though the Soviet units and reestablish contact with the 6th Army. This is one of the few games that are just about the break into Stalingrad or break out from there. The overwhelming consensus of historians is that even if the troops in Stalingrad did break out, they would have done so only with the clothes on their backs and what they could carry. The other issue is that all of the Soviet divisions around Stalingrad would then be able to hunt this moving mass of men across the frozen steppe. Many historians have theorized that the only reason the German Southern front in Russia did not collapse completely is because so many Soviet divisions were tied up around Stalingrad. 

Notice the A, B, and C zones

 This is what Vuca Simulations has to say about the game:

"'Donnerschlag' is a two player game which is playable in one sitting. It is more of a game than a simulation and intended to bring a high player interactivity and replayability to the player's table.

 From December 12 to December 23 in 1942, "Unternehmen Wintergewitter" was in progress. This was the code name for a relief attack by Heeresgruppe Don to free the trapped 6th Army in Stalingrad.

 The Axis formations entered with 50,000 men and 250 tanks, while the strength of the Soviet formations was reported to be about three times that. For the enterprise to have any chance of success, the troops in the encirclement had to break out and meet the advancing Axis troops. The breakout had to be precisely coordinated with the advance of the relief troops and was to commence on the cue “Donnerschlag”. The breakout was never ordered and the troops in Stalingrad were never able to be relieved. This sealed their fate.

 Players will be recreating this episode, with the Axis side attempting to secretly establish and reach a meeting point, thus effectively freeing the 6th Army, while the Soviet will try to impede such outcome."

 This is what comes with the game:

One rulebook.

One mounted map.

184 counters.

Two player aid charts.

Two Setup Displays.

126 Cards.

Two 6-sided dice.

The Scale

A hex represents 4 kms (2.5 miles) of terrain from side to side.

Each turn represents a period of 1-2 days.

Combat units are mostly Brigades & Regiments for the Soviets and Romanians, Battalions & Abteilungen for the Germans.

  As usual, Vuca Simulations has hit another long ball with their components. The map is a mounted one. It is roughly 21 3/4" X 34" in size. The color is of a winter landscape, which fits the campaign fine. The Turn Record Track and a place for both sides' cards are also on the map. It is a very fine-looking piece of work. The counters are what we have come to expect from Vuca Simulations. They are pre-rounded and come off the sprues easily. They are color coded with a band across the top for their different formations. Nato symbols are used for everything except the various armor units. You actually get a choice with the armor unit counters. There are two different styles to choose from. One style is the normal profile of the tank. The other is a little more artsy, with the tank looking like it is charging at you. They also included a good number of 'Breached Minefield' counters for use in their 'Theseus' game. All of the information is pretty easy to see on them. The Rulebook is glossy and in full color. The rules are really only ten pages long. Then come four and a half pages of 'Historical Notes'(these are very well written). Next up is one page of 'Designers Notes'. This is followed by a setup page and last by the Index. Even though they are only ten pages long, there are a good number of play examples in the rules. The game comes with four Players' Aids. The first thing to say about them is that they are of hard cardboard. These are not as thick as the map, but I was still pretty amazed that they were not just paper. Two of them are one-sided and have the German and Soviet setup and reinforcement information on them. Then there are two identical Player Aids for each Player. On one side, there is an extended Sequence of Play. The other side has The CRT and Terrain Effects Chart etc. Having them be on a hard piece of material is just another way that VS shows how much effort they put into the manufacture of their games. 

 Next, we have three decks of Cards. There is an Activation Deck for both the Soviets and the Germans. There is also a Combat Deck. The cards have all of the information and die rolls needed for the activation of the different formations. They are not artsy, just plain large instructions in English. Even the boxes you get with VS games are better than normal. They are very heavy duty and have an interesting matte finish on them. 

 This is the Sequence of Play Summary:

1. Admin Phase
a. ‘Schwerpunkt’ marker is placed 
  (after becoming available).
b. Reinforcements placement. 
c. Deal Formation Cards and Combat Cards 
  & place Cards in the STAVKA/OKH box 
d. In Turn 4 (and possibly in Turn 8): Reshuffle 
  and add Formation Cards & Combat Cards.
e. Calling out ‘Donnerschlag’.
f. ‘Schlachtenglück’-Marker goes back to the Axis.
2. Action Phase
  Resolve Activations alternatingly 
  with the German player always going first. 
  An Activation consists of the following four steps:
a. Play one Activation Card and activate Units
b. Check Supply of activated units only
c. Movement
d. Combat 
  If there are Activation Cards left in 
  the hand, return to step a.
  If there are none, advance to segment e.
3. Advance ‘Donnerschlag marker’
4. Adjust Turn Track Marker

You can see the profile compared to the art for the tank units

 Before we start into playing the game itself, we need to take a small course in German first.

Donnerschlag - Thunder Clap (Donner being the German equivalent to the Norse God Thor)

Schwerpunkt - Main Effort

Schlachtengluck - Fortune of War

Alarmgruppe-Einheiten - Alarm Group

Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung - Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance

 Okay, you really do not need the last one. It is officially the longest word in German. Mark Twain wrote an essay called "The Awful German Language". He also wrote this "In German, a young lady [das Mädchen] has no sex, but a turnip [die Rübe] has." Enough said.

  So, the first thing that happens after setup will be the placement of the Schwerpunkt counter (when it becomes available by one of the Combat Cards). This game is very much about command and control of your units by their HQs. The Schwerpunkt counter allows all friendly units within four hexes to be activated. Other than that counter, all units need to be activated by the owning player's Activation Cards. These work muck like a Chit Pull System for activation. 

 The Schlachtengluck counter allows the owning player (it physically goes to the opposing player after use) to reroll a die or to discard a card and draw a new one. The counter returns to the Axis player at the beginning of every turn. 

 The Donnerschlag marker and use is a bit convoluted so I will use the designers' words from the Rulebook:

"With the code word “Donnerschlag”, the breakout of the 6th Army
begins. On any turn, the Axis player may call out “Operation
Donnerschlag!” in the corresponding segment of the turn and
secretly determine a Meeting Zone. Place the Donnerschlag
Marker on the “0” box of the Donnerschlag Advance Track.
In each corresponding segment, the Donnerschlag Marker is
moved forward one box.

There are five boxes on the Donnerschlag Advance Track. When
the Donnerschlag Marker reaches Box 4 on the track, the game
ends and Victory Conditions are checked. If currently on the "6.
Army Survival" side, the game ends when the marker reaches
Box 5 instead.

If the Axis cannot meet the victory conditions in the Victory
Check Segment, that means the 6th Army could not be reached.
The 6th Army then disintegrates and the Soviet player wins.
This usually means, from the moment “Donnerschlag!”' is
called out, that the Axis player must reach the chosen Meeting
Zone exactly four turns later in order to win the game (and
must be in Supply and in Command).

Special Case
The Axis player can extend the survival of the 6th Army by one
turn (and only one turn). To do so, he must successfully play
the “Air Fleet 4” event. (If “Donnerschlag!” is called in Turn 4
and the “Air Fleet 4” event is played in Turn 7, then —and only
then — does a Turn 8 occur. Conversely, if the Axis units are
progressing well and “Donnerschlag” is called before Turn 4,
there can be no Turn 8.)
 Assuming the German plays 'Luftflotte 4' and thus unlocks
Donnerschlag box 5 for turn 8, but then fulfills the Victory
Conditions already at the end of turn 7, the game would end
with a German victory.
 If ‘Donnerschlag’ is called out after turn 4, we did not explain
this rule well enough.
There are special rules for Turn 8:
The last great effort
There are special rules for Turn 8—No Activation Cards are dealt.
There are only five Activations for each side. These Activations
take place as follows:
Axis Player
 At each Activation, the player decides whether to activate an
HQ or the Schwerpunkt Marker.
Soviet Player
 At each Activation, the player decides whether to activate an
HQ, or a formation, or the color of an army.

Axis Victory
The Donnerschlag Marker must be in Box 4 of the Donnerschlag
Advance Track (either side) and at least one Axis unit must be
in Supply and in Command in the chosen Meeting Zone at the
end of the turn. (Note that if on its “6. Army Survival” side, the
marker can be in Box 5.)
Soviet Victory
If the Axis does not meet its victory conditions, the Soviet player

 To me the game hits the sweet spot in between a simulation and a game. It has more 'meat' to it than Vuca Simulations suggests in their writeup about the game. The game is based solely on if Operation Thunderclap would succeed in linking up with the German pocket at Stalingrad. The player does not have to worry about what to do when you get there (thankfully). So, you can try as hard as you like to meet the victory conditions without having to worry about trying to get back. The little extras that have been added to the game make it much more than a game. Only quick thinking, and not just luck, will help you playing either the defender or attacker.  

 One little twist to the game happens after the German player announces Donnerschlag. At that time, he must also choose which zone he is to meet up with the besieged in Stalingrad 6th Army. If you noticed, there were three zones at the top of the map marked A, B and C. On the map, there is also a track for these three different areas. The German player chooses which zone to strive for and then puts the three markers down (two are dummy counters). This rule helps to make the Soviet player not really sure where to place his units and which one to defend against.

 Once again Vuca Simulations has come through. The components are top notch and the rules and gameplay easy to follow. In their summary about the game, they said they strove to make it fun to play and were not going for a hardcore simulation. As far as the former, they hit the nail right on the head. As far as it not being a simulation that is a bit hard to judge. It is certainly not Axis and Allies, that is for sure. The game has only one map and a small number of counters. It is also playable in an evening or shorter. So, they have met all of the parameters they set out in the beginning. I can easily recommend this to anyone who is looking for a smaller game that can give the players a lot of enjoyment. Thank you Vuca Simulations for letting me review this fine game. Hopefully, it gets more press than it has gotten.

 If you get the chance, have a look at 'Nach Paris' from Vuca Simulations. It is about the 1914 campaign on the Western Front. Any gamer with even a passing interest in World War I will want this game. They have also released 'The Chase of the Bismarck: Operation Rheinubung - 1941' with Jack Greene as a co-designer.


Vuca Simulations:

Donnerschlag Escape From Stalingard:

  Red Strike by Vuca Simulations  This game seems to have flown under my radar (sorry, had to). This is still in preorder so I will let Vuca...

Red Strike by Vuca Simulations Red Strike by Vuca Simulations

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

Vuca Simulations

 Red Strike


Vuca Simulations

 This game seems to have flown under my radar (sorry, had to). This is still in preorder so I will let Vuca Simulations do all the talking. 

 "Estimation of included components:

Three map sheets (2x full size, 1x half size)

Numerous Airbase display sheets

One turn track sheet

One deck of ca. 50 cards

Nearly 2.000 counters

Numerous charts and player aids

One rulebook with lots of graphical examples

Red Strike is a game project based very closely on Mark Herman's Gulf/Aegean Strike game system. It is the Cold War turning hot and is about modern warfare (late 80's) on the Battlefield Central Europe.

 It is a simulation of multi-arms synthetic warfare that simulates the European battlefield of the Third World War.

The game scale is operational, counters representing divisions and regiments/brigades although some battalions are included. Complete air, land, and sea orders of battle for several dozen nations allow you to fight each conflict to its unpredictable and often startling conclusion.

The map reaches from the southern parts of Norway to the Alps and from East Germany to the Channel. One hex is 28 km."

 The preorder price is $130 US.

 I am a tremendous fan of every game that I have played from Vuca Simulations. I just bought their '1914 Nach Paris' and will have a write up on that game coming up.

Vuca Simulations:

VUCA simulations - Premium conflict simulations from Europe – VUCASIMS

Red Strike:

Red Strike - 1989 – VUCASIMS

  Operation Theseus Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations  Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is either put on a pedestal or not looked at highly at all. ...

Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 by Vuca Simulations

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

Vuca Simulations

 Operation Theseus

Gazala 1942


Vuca Simulations

 Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is either put on a pedestal or not looked at highly at all. The fact that he was forced to take poison and end his life, because he knew about the plots against Hitler's life and said nothing, has given him a bit of a martyr status to some historians. The German generals after World War II had some harsh things to say about him. Did they say these things out of jealousy, or did they really not think that much of him? He was, after all, a darling of Hitler from the beginning of the war. His seesaw battles for control of North Africa even had Winston Churchill praising him. British historians rate his generalship very high; other nationalities go either way. On a tactical level he was a very good commander. It is possible that he was in his element on a more tactical level than in higher commands. Leading from the front while commanding an army in the 20th century is a pretty hard trick to pull off. To many, the Battle of Gazala was Rommel's greatest victory in WWII. The stage is set. The Germans and Italians have overrun Cyrenaica once again and are looking to defeat the British and Commonwealth forces and take Tobruk. The British and Commonwealth forces have dug themselves in. They have sown the desert with mines and have constructed 'boxes' to surround each of their forces. The desperate battle around the southern box and its Free French defenders at Bir Hakeim is the stuff of legends. Rommel looked defeated and was about to be destroyed when he pulled a rabbit out of his hat and defeated the Allies and actually took Tobruk (which had withheld a months long siege the year before). This is the background of the battle. Let us see what is in the box:

One rulebook.

One mounted map.

383 counters.

2 double-sided player aids.

1 double-sided setup display.

1 Solitaire play display

Two 10-sided dice, referred to as "d10".

A hex represents 3.5 kms (2.2 miles) of terrain from side to side.

Each turn represents a period of one to six days.

Combat units are mostly infantry-type regiments/brigades, and armoured-type battalions/regiments.

The Map

  This is a blurb from Vuca Simulations:

"Operation Theseus - Gazala 1942 is an operational level simulation of the Gazala battles of 1942, which took place during May and June 1942.

The game is intended for two players but is also suitable for solitaire and team play. The goal for the Axis player is to hit the Commonwealth forces hard and to seize specific victory locations, thereby opening the door to Egypt. The Commonwealth player wants to prevent this from happening, thereby eliminating the Axis potential for further offensives. The game is played in a semi-interactive way and keeps both players involved all the time..."

 This is the third game in their Operational Level games about World War II. The series does not have a name, but you can see in the rules that they are related to one another. It appears that Vuca Simulations have listened to grognards and also revisited the rules to make an even better game. The other two games are:

 Crossing the Line: Aachen 1944

Across the Bug River: Volodymyr-Volynskyi 1941

  Vuca Simulations has always had very high production standards in their games and this one is no exception. The mounted map board looks very good for a map of what is usually shown as a mostly featureless desert terrain. The detail of the map close up is pretty incredible. The Maps hexes are large ones. The Game Turn Track etc. that are on the sides of the map are large enough to easily read. There are four full page Player Aids. They are made of hard cardboard, almost as thick as the map. Three of them are double-sided:

Player Aid A has the Combat Results Table, Terrain Effects Chart, Combat Sequence, and Combat DRM.

Player Aid B has the Sequence of Play, Action Points, Stacking Limits, Minefield Check, and Command and Supply information.

Then comes the Scenario Setup Aid: one side has the Axis and the other the Allied Setups.

Next, there is one with the Game Turn Track, and Formation Assignment Boxes.

 Another excellent addition by Vuca Simulations is a hard 'ruler' that is used to help the player see the correct row on the combat Results Table. The counters are 15mm in size and come pre-rounded. They are very colorful and have both NATO symbols and small pictures to see what each unit is made up of. Some of the writing on them is a bit small. The information and their respective units use color identification, so this makes reading them easier. The counters are a bit on the thin side, but they feel sturdy enough. The Rulebook is made of glossy paper and seems large because the writing is so big, thank you Vuca Simulations. The rules themselves are twenty-four pages and then come the three scenarios. Then comes two pages of Combat Examples, followed by the Designer and Player's Notes. Next up, is a small Historical Context, and then a two-page Index. The Rules are also filled with full color examples that follow the text. 

 This is the Sequence of Play:

1. Admin Phase
  A. Recovery
  B. Organization
  C. Replacement
  D. Reinforcement

2. Ops Phase: consisting of variable number of Ops Cycles
  A. Initiative Determination 
  B. Formation Activation or Independent Unit Action

3. End of Turn Phase

 As mentioned, the game is at the operational level. So, it comes with all of the flavor of a game done at that scale. Headquarters are incredibly important in the game. They are the font from which springs control and supply of the units under them. To be out of command, unless you are an independent unit or isolated, is a capital sin in these game rules. Gazala was a bit of a strange battle. You always read about minefields being used in World War II, but here they were used extensively. As the Axis you must find a way through them to attack the Allies. Historically, after Rommel's first attack was stopped, he laagered up in the middle of some Allied minefields. These are some of the items that the game has rules about:


Stacking and Limited Intelligence

Zones of Control

Effectiveness Check

Formation Reaction


Breach Minefield Action

Improved Defense Action

Schwerpunkt Marker - One Axis formation gets bonuses for that turn.

 The game comes with three scenarios. These are:

Scenario One: Assault on Bir Hacheim - A solitaire scenario where you are in command of the Ariete Italian Division. It is just to show game mechanics. 

Scenario Two: The Opening Phase - This is four turns long.

Scenario Three: The Gazala Battles - This is eight game turns long.

 The designer D. Blennemann, has taken on a large challenge by bringing us the Battle of Gazala. It is a mixture of a WWII and a WWI battlefield. I think that he and Vuca Simulations have done a great job in bringing this battle to life. Do not think that history or the game gives the Axis an easy victory. To win the battle and take Tobruk is not an easy task at all. Playing as the Allies, your job is to not repeat the historic Allied response which was piecemeal. The Axis forces are always dangerous, so plan ahead and hit them with a good-sized force and not dribs and drabs.  

 Thank you Vuca Simulations for allowing me to review this, more simulation than game, newest effort of yours. I have enjoyed playing this as much as your other two operational level games. They have two new games coming up. These are:

1914 Nach Paris:

The Chase of the Bismarck (Jack Greene had his hand in this, so I am expecting very good things):


Vuca Simulation:

Operation Theseus: Gazala 1942 Rulebook:

  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

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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: