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David G. Cox Esq.
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The Caucasus Campaign, July-November, 1942
Two-player Military History Simulation



Designed by Mark Simonitch
Published by GMT (2009)



I like this game. I think that is the best of Mark Simonitch’s hex-games that I have played.

Operation Edelweiss, named after one of the best-known European mountain flowers, was a German plan to gain control over the Caucasus and capture the oil fields of Baku during World War II. The operation was authorised by Hitler on July 23, 1942. The main forces included Army Group A commanded by Wilhelm List, 1st Panzer Army (Ewald von Kleist), 4th Panzer Army (Colonel-General Hermann Hoth), 17th Army (Colonel-General Richard Ruoff), part of the Luftflotte 4 (Generalfeldmarschall Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen) and the 3rd Romanian Army (General Petre Dumitrescu). Army Group A was supported to the east by Army Group B commanded by Fedor von Bock and by the remaining 4th Air Fleet aircraft (1,000 aircraft in all). The land forces, accompanied by 15,000 oil industry workers, included 167,000 troops, 4,540 guns and 1,130 tanks. The Caucasus Campaign is GMT’s latest game which simulates this part of the Second World War.

I think that GMT has done a fabulous job on the physical components of the game. The map is colourful and functional – it actually looks really good and I can see it framed and hanging on one of my walls. The counters are 5/8” (larger than normal) which makes them a lot easier to read and to move around – especially for aging gamers like me. The counters are colourful and have the information well and clearly set-out – the game is really easy to set-up and special features of individual units are easy to recognise due to the intelligent use of colour and symbols. The game also comes with a couple of dice, a couple of identical player aid cards and with 10 plastic bags in which to store the counters. These GMT guys think of almost everything.



Just as an aside, I personally would like the counters to be a little thicker as I like the feel of slightly thicker counters – but this is just a personal call and does not detract from the game. Also, I can’t believe that they didn’t supply a weather counter.


In the above photo, the yellow box around an attack factor indicates a column shift due to armour superiority. The coloured bands at the top of some counters refers to their set-up area. The different coloured centres to the NATO symbology refers to troops quality, which will also give a combat advantage. If you look carefully at the counter with an armour icon you will see that there is a white square around the edge of the counter - this indicates that it does not count against stacking limits. These are well designed counters.

The rules are printed in colour and have four pages dedicated to an example of play. I have to confess that as I become older I am finding that I am becoming dumber – examples of play are a lot more useful to me now than they were during my youth. I actually have a theory about this – I feel that people are born with a finite amount in wisdom and if you use too much wisdom too early in life you become really stupid as you get older. I now try to limit myself to a maximum of three pieces of wisdom each day.

The games mechanics draws upon ideas Mr Simonitch has used in some of his earlier designs.

There are two scenarios – the campaign game goes for 14 turns (representing 14 weeks) and the tournament scenario lasts for 7 turns. Victory is achieved by controlling victory point hexes at the end of the game (usually cities). However, the German player is on a tight schedule, and must acquire a certain number of points at the end of each turn to keep the game alive. Also, there are around 40 victory points on the map and the Axis player only needs 20 of them for victory in the full game or 14 of them in the shorter tournament scenario. This means that there are several ways that the Axis player can go about achieving victory.

Before looking at the actual Sequence of Play and mechanics that drive the game, two aspects of the game present themselves with even just a quick perusal of the components – there are not all that many counters (counter density on the map is low and this is good for a game of this scale – the game moves along really quickly) and that infantry have low movement rates and low attack strengths. His means that for the Axis the armour play the primary role in advancing and that you have to be careful about where you move your infantry because it may take some little time to reposition them if necessary.

Sequence of Play
A. Axis Player Turn
1. Initial Phase - place reinforcements – collect replacement points – roll on weather table – place previously removed Headquarters.
2. Axis Primary Impulse – move and shoot.
3. Soviet Secondary Impulse – move and shoot with restrictions.
4. Axis Secondary Impulse – same as Soviet Secondary Impulse.
5. Axis Supply Phase – check supply status – check for possible attrition on Isolated units – remove Disrupted markers.
B. Soviet Player Turn
1. Soviet Initial Phase – place reinforcements – acquire three random reinforcements – roll on Soviet Event Table – place previously removed Headquarters.
2. Soviet Primary Impulse – move and shoot.
3. Soviet Supply Phase – remarkably similar to its Axis counterpart.
C. Victory Check Phase



And The Difference Between the Primary & Secondary Impulses Is?

During the Primary Impulse units may move, may use Rail and Sea Movement and may use ‘Extended Movement’ – Extended Movement just means units receive an extra two movement points AND must not end their move in an Enemy Zone of Control. Units may also receive replacement points during the Primary Impulse.

During the Secondary Impulse mechanized and cavalry units are allowed their full movement – but must pay 3 movement points if they wish to participate in a combat. Foot units have the option of either moving a single hex OR participating in a combat – they can’t do both. Mechanized units are also allowed to perform Mobile Assaults during movement – something that they are not allowed to do during the Primary Impulse.

Strategic movement is allowed during both impulses – this just means that units may move along roads at a reduced cost but must stay clear of Enemy Zones of Control.

One very important feature of the design is that units may move through enemy zones of control – it just costs an extra two movement points to leave an EZOC. This means that the defender may need to create a solid line of defenders as the enemy may be able to infiltrate through any gaps between units.


Bang! Bang! You’re Dead!

Combat is fairly standard for this type of game. However, column shifts are most important. To achieve this the attacker needs armour – these can be cancelled if the defender has anti-tank units. Both sides have air units that will provide column shifts. Troops are also rated for their quality – high, medium, low – and superiority in this regard will also give a column shift.

Naturally terrain has some impact on combat. Units attacking across rivers are halved. Defenders using terrain, such as mountains, are given a terrain bonus – but this is in the form of a number of defence points rather than being doubled which is fairly standard in most games of this type. The impact of this is that stacking lots of units together in a single hex is no longer the most effective way to defend.

If forced to retreat, defending units have the option of making a Determined Defence which allows them to nullify retreats at the risk of possibly losing steps. The chances of success when making a Determined Defence are based on the type of terrain occupied, troop quality and support from air and naval power.


Playing the Game

It’s nice to play. The rules are not at all complicated. The decision making is relatively straight-forward due to the small number of units on the map. It is interesting as both players have a plethora of options available to them.

The system is clean and doesn’t have a lot of chrome – the chrome that is in the game is very easy to polish due to the clever use of colour and symbols on the counters and the user-friendly map.

My only disappointment is that there is no weather counter to place on the board in one of the two weather boxes. Given time, I’m sure that I can get over this one disappointment.




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Pottsie
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David,

Thanks for the review David. I have read the rules and was leaning towards a purchase, and your review has helped push me over the edge.

Thanks,

Mike
 
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nolan Guthrie
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Thanks for the review. I wonder how this will compare to Normandy 44? They seam like similar systems.
Nolan
 
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David G. Cox Esq.
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nguthrie wrote:
Thanks for the review. I wonder how this will compare to Normandy 44? They seam like similar systems.
Nolan


It has some similarity to Mark's Decision in France game.


 
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Dan Owsen
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Nice review! I can't wait for my copy to arrive (must have been the last pre-order...)
 
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Brad Heath
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A one map game of the Caucasus campaign. Probably a better alternative to CoAG's Edelweiss which is a monster in comparison and which I've solo played a few times!
 
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Clifford Mudd
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O Fallon
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Dan, you might want to send them a message. It seems that a few of the late orders didn't get transferred to the shipping department.

I know this because I had it happen to me. But it was shipped the day after I contacted them.

Great job ladies.

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Richard Savage
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This is a neat game, a throwback to the old style hexagon wargames with the piling on of units to get that elusive 5-1 or better. BUT with the Troop Quality ratings, armor and air shifts, etc. and the interactive sequence of play, it avoids the I-GO U-GO syndrome nicely. Looks great to play by Vassal with Skype, anyone want to play that way, drop an email, ok?
 
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Dan Owsen
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Hi Cliff,
I did contact them and I'm sure they'll work it out. I'm not worried-- GMT always comes through-- just impatient! cool
 
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Dan Owsen
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Just arrived. Looks fabulous! Color rule book is nice, counters are clear and map is fantastic. Can't wait to play this one.
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Dan Owsen
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I just solo'd through 7 turns. Seems like this is pretty tough on the German player-- which I have no problem with. Since I'm not really a solo game player, I'm interested in how this one will play against a live foe. I'll find out next week.
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Bill Lawson
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The Caucasus Campaign » Forums » Reviews
Re: Looks Good – Feels Right!
I'm going to a friends to play this FtF tomorrow for the first time. Looks good.
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Bill Lawson
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I played this today. The tournament scenario , I was the Russians and pulled off the win. Now I guess I need to buy this , its real good!
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Darrell Pavitt
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irreg77 wrote:
A one map game of the Caucasus campaign. Probably a better alternative to CoAG's Edelweiss which is a monster in comparison and which I've solo played a few times!


Mark Simonitch notes Edelweiss as being about the only other game around on the subject in his design notes.
 
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Sean McCormick
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Yeah, Edelweiss is pretty huge. On the one hand, I think huge is generally the best way to get a sense of the scale--it's no coincidence that the OCS/EFS games are such evocative monsters. On the other hand, it's tough to actually sit down and play a four-map monster.

It's not a campaign that I'm especially interested in, but after missing out on Ukraine 43, I'm thinking of picking this up.
 
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Dan Owsen
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I played this with a buddy the other day, he's very knowledgeable about the campaign and about wargames in general. His opinion was that this is an interesting game, but he had reservations about the scale. He also thought something like the Caucasus scenario in Case Blue was a better simulation of the campaign. But, we did have a lot of fun playing this, and of course it's playable in a long session unlike OCS which takes several.

Having played twice (once on each side) and in both games the Germans lost by sudden death, I think there are some Axis tricks that I'm missing. As the Germans I killed a TON of Soviets, but they seemed to have an unending supply of replacements and still were able to keep me out of Maikop and Krasnodar before turn 7. Definitely want to play it some more to figure this out.
 
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William (Andy) Anderson
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How long did your game take? I played it last Sunday and after 6 hours we had only 4 turns completed. That was with a 20 minutes lunch break.
 
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Dan Owsen
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I think it was around 3-4 hours to do the 7 turns, in a convention setting so plenty of distractions. I'd played it a couple times before, he hadn't, but both of us are pretty experienced wargamers.

This game should play pretty quick, the Germans don't have that many guys and they start disappearing quickly.

 
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Adrian Hyde-Price
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Thanks for a very helpful review: it helped me decide to invest in this game
 
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Mark Mokszycki
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Quote:
The map is colourful and functional – it actually looks really good and I can see it framed and hanging on one of my walls.


Funny you mention it, because the map is framed and hanging on my wall!

Nice review.
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Leo Zappa
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Great review! This pushed me over the edge and I just bought this on eBay, for $18 plus shipping for an unpunched copy, a real bargain! Can't wait to play it!
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