In the Special Edition #3 of MMP's OPERATIONS
magazine, one of the games contained therein is yet another offering on Operation BARBAROSSA, entitled FURY IN THE EAST
Given the title, I had visions of the Civil War, imagining a companion game to Battleline's/Avalon Hill's old classic, FURY IN THE WEST, for those who remember it! Ho hum, I thought. How many games do I have on this topic? Why would I play another one? Well, no matter how jaundiced an East Front grognard you may be, you will want to give this game a spin.
You'll need to get the errata posted for the game on the header in the CONSIMWORLD folder for the game here
. Adam Starkweather, the developer for the game, has compiled it there but there aren't any "living rules" or published errata elsewhere as of this writing. It's crucial to use this errata--it's all of a few paragraphs, but your playing experience won't be good without it.
There's a colorful map and less than 250 counters in the game. Originally published as G-BARBAROSSA
(at least so it is known) in Game Journal #1 by Japanese designer Ginichiro Suzuki, the design has gotten the usual elegant MMP/IGS treatment. The rules are easy to read and--when coupled with the errata, easy to remember and relatively complete. Most questions people have come up with are answered by Starkweather in the CONSIMWORLD Forum thread, some obviously contributed to the errata.
But what makes this game different from earlier titles, especially favorites like XTR's BLITZKRIEG '41, the old PROUD MONSTER,
and DG's LAND WITHOUT END
? It's about as fast to play as the first XTR magazine game and far faster than either of the latter two titles. But it's also got some novel quirks. Soviet "Tank Corps" and "Rifle Corps" strengths are known, but the step reduction side is unknown until they take a step loss. Soviet leaders are completely unknown at the beginning of the game and are really key for the Soviet player to supply and command his forces. Conserving high rated leaders like Zhukov, Konev, and Rokossovsky are very important--but that's hard to do when they show up commanding front line Soviet Armies in the path of the Panzers! The way leaders work in the game is somewhat reminiscent of PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN
and RED STAR RISING
Logistics for the Germans will raise the most eyebrows as each Army Group has a counter representing major depots that move first--and often leapfrog far ahead of the combat forces that eventually overtake them in the movement phase and panzer movement phase. It's a nice abstraction, but it is disconcerting. You also won't have the rail conversion issues and that is either a relief to you or a problem. Given the paltry German rail movement capabilities, I generally don't miss it. But it's not often the German is out of supply for his major drives for each Army Group; it's really only a problem if (a) the Soviets are given the luxury of dashing Corps behind the lines to interfere with Lines of Communications to these depots, and (b) if an Army Group is going for two divergent geographic objectives at once. That might irk the purists who imagine German out of supply last gasps in front of Moscow or Rostov on the Don.
The pieces are corps-level for both sides. Each side has different CRTs and the Germans NEVER get any terrain benefits. The Soviets always do, whether attacking or defending and ZOCs are always locking for the German units--not for the Soviets. So the German will move adjacent to Soviet units as much as he can safely get away with at the end of his movement phases, for the Soviets are obliged to counter-attack back in their turn. What takes getting used to is the Soviets still reap advantages from attacking out of their terrain and over rivers, which seems a bit counterintuitive at first. Starkweather does a good job explaining the rationale in the CONSIMWORLD thread--the way to think of this is just a series of sustained set-piece battles where the Germans are actually forced by Soviet offensives to counterattack back (and suffer the terrain advantages the Soviets possess, even though it's the Soviets initiating the fight!).
Weather variation and German airpower is worked in nicely and best of all, there are Hitler Commands that are given to the German player which guide objectives and cause him to lose victory points if he ignores them. This marvelously models the division of opinion in campaign concept between OKW and OKH--and the player is free to use the Halder vision of driving for Moscow come hell or high water and sustaining the fury of Der Fuhrer! Just be sure to take the place and all will be well. If not....
The game lasts ten turns, with each turn representing a month. The German gets basically a "mech movement phase" on top of regular movement and combat and can overrun with his Panzer units in each--obviously, this is THE major tool in the German offensive arsenal. The fascist invaders have the dilemmas of trying to mount large encirclements/kesselschlacht battles, killing Soviet forces but not moving forward fast enough, or lifting a page from Guderian's manual and driving hard for distant objectives full speed ahead, the flanks be damned. The Defenders of the Communist Motherland have the usual balancing act of trading space for time and troops, or trading troops for space and time. It's quite tricky to walk that knife edge and the dead pile of Soviet Tank and Rifle Corps is HUGE either way. No matter what, the Soviet has to watch how he uses his leaders; the German will be trying to kill the few good ones as soon as they are revealed--and losing too many leaders, regardless of quality, will spell the doom of the Red Army as it can't be adequately commanded when moving and fighting and supplied.
As for me, this is now the strategic Russian Front game I'll be playing for quite some time as it's quite the puzzle for both players. I've not been this intrigued since the old days of AH's reissue of Jedko's THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN back in 1976!
If you've played this emerging gem of a game, tell us your thoughts about it!