by Russ Lockwood
Designer: Perry Moore
Marc sorts through the first wave of Soviets, blurry as the photo may be. In the interest of full disclosure, I am the Staff Developer for the game, which gets me a corner office, limousine, and private jet. And bodyguards. Did I mention the
I’m sure I did. No? Oh well.
Now that I open my eyes, I see the corner office is indeed in the corner of the house, the limo seems to be the same ol’ car I’ve been driving, and the trio of bodyguards seemed to be stoned on catnip.
Jet? What jet? Maybe the lockdown is getting to me…
Anyway, game designer Perry Moore came up with a variation of the usual move, blow things up, fight the remains, and exploit if possible. In his scheme, Soviet air and all artillery bombardments come first, then move and combat, and then any exploitation from the CRT.
Decision making is marvelous, because the air and artillery you use in the bombardment phases are not available to you as artillery and air support in the regular combat phase.
Marc’s first air attacks were a bit cautious, for he kept about half the aircraft back for air support during the combat, but he picked at German units not under the AA umbrella. His moves were also considered, for he could see that the initial Soviet ground wave, and there are many during the game, is weaker than the German defense. So, he pulled up short and waited for the second wave to arrive on the next turn.
Then came the first German artillery bombardment. During the historical 1945 siege, the Germans had a plentiful supply of artillery and a decent supply of ammunition.
Hmmm, Marc noted: open terrain, infantry, massed German artillery… He became quite familiar with the idea of using cover after the Turn 2 German artillery bombardment caught his 218th Division infantry out in the open.
Not that there is a lot of cover next to the initial German defense line. Yet, he mounted a few massed attacks against the German defense line. He eliminated a unit here and there, which allowed me to point out rules mechanisms as we went through the turn sequence. You could see multiple light bulbs turn on as we went through the phases, and presumably ran WWII history in his head.
The Red Tide rolled in with the second wave and we traded losses. Then came the third wave on Turn 3 and a hole opened up on my left flank. This also coincided with me pulling back troops on my right flank, centering the defense on the RR line. I’m not too worried about this western flank per se, for although the Soviets will pop a couple divisions here later in the game, the Germans will bring in a large, strong SS regiment from this side of the map.
One of the cleverest of mechanics adapted to combat was the pre-combat die roll to determine if an attack surprised the defenders, was ‘normal,’ or was ambushed. This represents the uncertainty of urban combat, although it applies to all attacks in all hexes on the board.
‘The Red Tide rolled in with the second wave and we traded losses.”
So, as we ran through his Soviet-initiated combats, sometimes he rolled an ‘Ambush,’ which meant the Germans ambushed his attackers. That’s always a good thing for the defender. Admittedly, sometimes my forces and rolls did not match my initial enthusiasm for the ambush, but that uncertainty also keeps both players involved.
As we went through the third turn, Marc started to figure out that his ground attacks were going in without artillery support — not really a problem per se, since he was maxxing out the CRT, but, with artillery support, he could almost double the number of attacks. And if there’s one thing the Soviets want to do is cause lots of German casualties in the suburbs and prevent any wholesale German withdrawal to the city proper (as defined by a railroad ring that the Germans had half turned into fortified areas).
Overall, Marc was impressed with the player interaction within a turn and the multiple ways the various mechanics provided decision points. I will note that this was the basic game only. Perry provides a variety of optional rules for additional nuances, albeit with additional attention to details, such as Luftwaffe supply runs, Tabun nerve gas, Soviet command limitations, and so on. Marc liked it enough that I left him the playtest copy so he could torture- test the rules some more. Nothing like a fresh set of eyes to pick out any errors, oversights, and conundrums.
About the Author
Russ Lockwood has been bouncing around the wargaming world for the last 25 years in one capacity or another. Most know him as creator and CEO of MagWeb.com (on-line archive of 162 military history and related magazines from Coalition Web, Inc. from 1996-2009). He appeared on camera on The History Channel (Modern Marvels), ABC, NBC, Fox, and various cable TV shows. MagWeb was also covered by the NY Times, USA Today, and other newspapers, a variety of trade and consumer magazines, and a multitude of on-line sites. He’s given lectures at various HMGS conventions, Origins War College, and various professional meetings and seminars. Although MagWeb closed in 2009, those white MagWeb rulers still appear on wargaming tabletops across the country.
On the prior professional front, Lockwood was Editorial Director of AT&T’s web division, Senior Editor at Personal Computing Magazine, Assistant Editor at Creative Computing Magazine, Telecommunications Editor for A+ Magazine (Apple), tech writer at AT&T, Staff Writer (Financial) NY Times Information Service, and freelancer for PC Sources, Windows Sources, PC, MacUser, Byte, Restaurant Business, Hotel Business, Computer Buyer’s Guide and Handbook, and other magazines. He also hosted a radio show, ComputerWise, for five years, and was an on-line editor for ZiffNet on Compuserve and Ziffnet on Prodigy.
He is currently a freelance editor and writer covering financial and defense news, with a concentration on the retail industry. If you are really interested, go to Linked In, where he maintains a profile.
On the miniatures front, you may have seen his byline in various hobby publications in the 1990s and 2000s. Lockwood is also the author of: Snappy Nappy: Simple, Subtle & Ultrafast Miniature Rules for the Napoleonic Era, and, Hyperspace Hack: Ultrafast Spaceship Fleet Battles with Miniatures (both published in 2009 and available from http://www.onmilitarymatters.com and http://www.caliverbooks.com). Lockwood is also the editor of the Secrets of Wargame Design series, releasing the fifth volume in 2015.