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The German invasion of Russia is as well documented as Napoleon's march north some 130+ years earlier. Weather, terrain, volume of opposition and supply all played a part in both of these excursions and so do they affect the outcome of these battles now fought on wargames tables using the excellent rules set of this ongoing campaign.

BARBAROSSA 1941-42                                BARBAROSSA KIEV to ROSTOV

COMPONENTS: Barbarossa 1941-42                          COMPONENTS: Barbarossa Kiev to Rostov
One 22 x 34" full color map     2 full counter sheets       Five 22 x 34" full color map         1120 full-color counters         
2 half counter sheets                 Player Aid Cards            Player Aid Cards                           Rule Booklet         
Rule Booklet                             Scenario Booklet            Scenario Booklet                           Set up Cards
Set up Cards                              1 ten-sided die                1 ten-sided die         
4   11x17" scenario cards                 

As usual the components are in colour and are top quality in source and production - this includes the pieces, maps and rule book etc.

    

For BOTH Games:
DESIGNER: Vance von Borries                           DEVELOPER: Tony Curtis
ART DIRECTOR: Rodger B. MacGowan            COUNTER ART: Rodger B. MacGowan & Mark Simonitch
MAP ART: Todd Davis & Mark Simonitch          GAME RESEARCH: Thomas F. Burke
PRODUCERS: Tony Curtis, Rodger MacGowan, Andy Lewis, Gene Billingsley & Mark Simonitch
PACKAGE DESIGN: Rodger B. MacGowan

     

These are both stand alone games but they are also part of a much larger series. Apart from games in their own right, Barbarossa 1941-42 and Barbarossa Kiev to Rostov are the 6th part of GMTs Eastern Front Series and thus it can be combined with other GMT stand alone games,  Barbarossa: Army Group South, Barbarossa: Army Group North, Barbarossa: Army Group Center and Typhoon!

Barbarossa Crimea 1941-42
Barbarossa Crimea is based in the same area that made the name The Light Brigade synonymous with bravery, valour and stupidity. In the game you can create and enact your own charges, albeit mostly with mechanized units. As you will probably already have realised this is not a fast moving or uncomplicated wargame. It is a very long wargame joining a history of very long wargames set on the Eastern Front.

Barbarossa 1941-42 and its other Eastern Front Series games are the perfect wargames for someone who has their own games room with a large table (so the game can be left up for play over time) or a games club with similar facilities. The Eastern Front series will set you back a good few quid. Kiev to Rostov and Crimea are on sale with a rrp of £66.99 each - the others are currently unavailable but if you guestimate them at the same rrp and round the rrp up to £70.00 for ease then the Eastern Front series to date would cost £420.00, something a club is more likely to be able to afford. You may not need the entire series but most wargamers and wargames clubs will want to be able to revisit the entire campaign.

There are nine scenarios in this box, six of which use one or both of the maps whilst the other three use single maps only.  Most of the scenarios are of high complexity (7 of 9) and Solitaire Suitability (again 7 of 9). These scenarios are: The Tartar Ditch (introductory scenario)Odessa-Hero City. Crimea - the Road to Sevastopol. Sevastopol - First Assault. The Campaign. Kerch - The Party Boss Attacks. Kerch - Operation Trappenjagd. Sevastopol - Operation Storiang. Kerch - The Kerch-Feodosiya Operation. Like the majority of board wargames Barbarossa Crimea 1941-42 is best played by 2 players, though it can be played with 2 players on either side - mainly because it's good to be able to confer.

The scenarios are all challenging, each different in its own way and each with no obvious superiority for either side. Where one side may have some ground advantage the other may have better air or sea support. This means that players are always called upon to devise different strategies and tactics for each battle. There are times when victory looks like it should be a simple matter and then supply dries up or is broken and the final step cannot be taken without serious reconsideration.

Barbarossa: Kiev to Rostov
There are 7 scenarios in this section of the Eastern Front Campaign. These are Rostov Redeemed (learning scenario), Kiev Pocket, Battle on the Sea of Azoz Battle of SumyTo KharkovTo RostovKiev to Rostov (the Full Campaign - over 100 days).

        

Above are two of the counter sheets (apologies for the poor quality of picture does not do justice to the actual counter art. I tried to expand the pictures but they blurred even more).

I have seen many Eastern Front games over the past few years and each of them has something different to offer by way of game mechanic, counter mix, Unit size and distribution. All of them have one thing in common though, and that is the time required to play them, even when playing solitaire. The game states that the time scale is 2 days per turn and there are times when you begin to believe that this is meant literally and not just game time. One of the reasons for the length of game time is that although the rules are clear and in most cases also concise they are also many to remember who are effected simultaneously. Thankfully many of the Reference Charts also reference the associated rules and whyen necessary any update or revision from games earlier in the campaign set.

The GMT system used for the Eastern Front campaign works for various levels of command, such as brigade, regimen, and battalion. It is up to you as commander of either the Axis or the Allies (in the main German v Russian) to decide where and when you bring your mechanised units, ground troops, artillery and aircraft are deployed. You can change history with luck and logic. Nearly all mechanics of the East Front Series (EFS) reach into every battle. Experienced players should be able to play a scenario almost as soon as the pieces are punched and sorted. New players to EFS can take heart from the examples of play and the Learning scenarios to illustrate how the game should play and how to make the necessary battle decisions.

When you are restricted by table space you can still enjoy many of the scenarios from the series as there are a good number that require just one map board. This is building into one of the greatest wargame series ever imagined or designed. Each of these boxed games uses the same set of rules, modified as required for the depicted battles. These modifications ensure that although every game is similar none is the same; but of course the players decisions, strategic skill and a little luck have the largest say in the results of each battle.

New players are possibly better to find opponents with previous knowledge of EFS due to its complexities. Other than that it may be a good idea to play a solo (one of the starters) scenario to prepare for the long campaigns soon to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015