In my capacity as staff developer for Turning Point Simulations
, I'm on my fourth development assignment. With that, the company should be ready to offer its first year's worth of titles.
The game is The Great Northern War: Dread Poltava's Day
, and it is by new designer Jason Juneau. As far as I know, it is the first game to cover the entire conflict from beginning to end, and it does so on a grand strategic scale. One player takes the side of Sweden and its allies, and the other takes the role of a Coalition consisting of Saxony, Denmark, Poland, Russia, and others. It is a contest of quality, in the form of one of Europe's most fearsome and aggressive armies under Sweden's young warrior king, against quantity, especially in the form of the emerging Russian Empire under Peter the Great.
In 1709, an ill-fated adventure in Ukraine resulted in the destruction of the Swedish army, and Charles XII's flight to Turkey, in an event that decided Sweden's fall from Great Power status and the establish of Russia's. Yet he was able to continue the war from there for thirteen more years, and thus the game too can go on to 1722.
There is a lot to The Great Northern War
. Armies maneuver across a map of Europe that stretches from central Germany to the heart of Russia, and Scandinavia to Ukraine. For a war in which land power was decisive, naval power is extremely important, as Russia works to build a navy and contest the status of the Baltic as a Swedish lake. As in the historical conflict, the Coalition usually has to take the war to Sweden itself in order to win, and for that Peter needs a fleet.
To make sure that he can keep that fleet, he needs a permanent presence on the Baltic, and the only way to do that is to move his capital from Moscow to a Baltic port. He can pick an existing one, such as Riga, or take smaller town and build a city in its hex, as he did historically at St. Petersburg. This takes time though, years in fact, and Russia had better not lose its new capital in the meantime or else it will be stuck in Moscow, and its seapower imperiled, for the rest of the game.
The Great Northern War
plays quickly and smoothly. Players alternate activating forces, moving and fighting until all have done so, or both have passed. Combat is resolved on a traditional odds-based table, but with a twist: It is always the Swedes who attack. In the real war, the Swedish army was pathologically aggressive, even rash, resulting in both impressive victories and incredible defeats. In no case though is passivity part of their tactical playbook.
Playtesting is wrapping up now, and I'm proofreading the rules for final submission to TPS. Like the rest of the first year's offerings from Turning Point -- Covering Tours, Stalingrad and Joan of Arc's decisive campaign at Orleans -- I expect players to find a combination of education, fascination and fun in The Great Northern War: Dread Poltava's Day