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REDS:  Russian  Civil War  1918-1921  GMT Games 

Ted S Raicer 

This is not a war I was not familiar with until I received this game. I hadn’t actually realized that the two main armies involved were actually referred to as the Reds and the Whites - that sounds more like a Liverpool v Leeds soccer match.  

It’s main problem is that it is a fairly long and complex game, possibly too long for most players to be comfortable. Some of its redeeming features, apart from introducing people (like me) who were ignorant of this wars effect on World politics, are that there is no fixed turn sequence (partly helping to depict the chaos of this conflict) and that it is playable equally as well by one or two players. Unlike many wargames that claim to be good for solo play REDS is a satisfying solitaire game. 

The Russian Civil War concluded when the Red Army (Bolsheviks) eventually defeated the White Army (anti Bolshevik alliance) and established the Soviet Union as we knew it with the independence for the individual countries of Finland, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia when the Russian Empire broke up.

REDS is for me what I refer to as a fairly typical wargame similar in complexity to the old style of companies such as Avalon Hill but without the 120 page rule book.  It is played on a hex overlaid map board (8 folds in the map make it imperative that you flatten it before playing) using small cardboard counters which each (mostly) hold a lot of vital, important information. Because of the geography involved in the conflict’s situation there is a great demand made on controlling the supply routes, roads and rivers. 

The Result: In reality the RED army won and, apologies for again using a football anaology, this often plays like an Attack versus Defence session with the Reds only needing one goal to win.

There is strategic and operational movement. Mostly operational which limits units to their base movement. Strategic movement allows for Infantry and Cavalry to move further. Random Events give the White Army a slim chance of Victory but because they are random you cannot rely on them. Many players don’t like a random influence but I understand the reasoning and as stated the chaos is well represented.

Combat uses modified combat strength values referenced to a CRT with these three Possible Results:

a.d. = Partial Disorder - a single Attacker or Defender is either flipped to its back or eliminated and removed if already flipped.

A.D. = All Disordered - all Attacking or Defending units are disordered (flipped over or eliminated).

R = Retreat - Garrisons are eliminated, non-garrison units go back 2 hexes.

Retreat (and in fact most Movement) can be messy and confusing when lots of counters are involved so care has to be taken to check if any units need to be eliminated.

REDS is a good thoughtful test for experienced tabletop wargamers.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021