Year Published
# of Players
1 − 2
User Suggested # of Players
Best with 2 players
Recommended with 1–2 players
(8 voters) [poll]
Mfg Suggested Ages
Playing Time
500 minutes
User Suggested Ages
14 and up
(6 voters) [poll]
Language Dependence
Moderate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(1 voter) [poll]
(17 voters) [vote]
Primary Name
The Dark Valley
Alternate Names
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ObjectID: 66855
Description Edit | History

(from GMT website:)

The Dark Valley is a new game from award-winning designer Ted Raicer, focusing on the entire East Front campaign in World War II. The game components feature a beautiful map from Mark Mahaffey, stretching from Leningrad in the north to the Caucasus Mountains in the south, and around 600 counters representing every major unit that appeared during the course of the conflict. Initially most Soviet infantry are divisions, but as the game progresses these are replaced by armies and corps, so that players are not overwhelmed by the increasing Soviet Order of Battle. All German mechanized divisions are present in the game, while their infantry is a mix of division and corps.

Although the game is a semi-monster, and covers the entirety of the conflict from the launch of Barbarossa to the end of the war, the game system emphasizes playability rather than rules overhead, allowing the players to concentrate on strategy choices rather than rules minutiae.

The core of the game system is a “chit-pull” activation system. Each turn a variety of action chits are drawn, in a random order, from the Action Chit Pool, and it is this that determines the exact flow of operations on that turn. [...]

This chit-pull system imposes constant uncertainty upon the player and introduces considerable tension into the game. [...]

The Axis supply network, which imposed crucial restraints upon the effectiveness of the offensive, is represented using supply depot units.[...]

Besides the full campaign game, TDV features scenarios for Barbarossa, Case Blue, Kursk, and the Destruction of Army Group Center. Scenario start dates can also be used to explore shorter versions of the campaign.

The Dark Valley is designed to be playable and exciting, modeling the tension of the campaign elegantly and simply. The game also plays very well in solitaire mode due to the underlying chit-pull system. From the German blitzkrieg in 1941 to the blazing ruins of Berlin, The Dark Valley provides a truly new look at this much-gamed theater.

TIME SCALE: 1 or 2 months per turn
MAP SCALE: 20 miles per hex
UNIT SCALE: Divisions/Corps/Armies


  • Two 22x34" maps
  • Three sheets of 1/2 " counters
  • Four Player Aid Cards
  • Two 6-sided dice
  • Rules Booklet
  • Players Booklet

DESIGNER: Ted S. Raicer
DEVELOPER: Paul Marjoram
MAP ART: Mark Mahaffey
COUNTER ART: Charles Kibler

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More Information Edit | History

(by Mark Mahaffey:)

The Sovs start out as divisions (plus 41-style mech corps and a few cavalry corps), then add in armies. Armies arrive as reinforcements. Later Guard Rifle Corps are formed from 3 rifle divisions each. Guard Tank Armies can later be formed from any 3 tank/mech corps, provided they have at least one each tank and mech corps, and one of them is a Guard Tank or Guard Mech Corps. These armies pack tremendous power into a single hex. Guard Corps can be combined into Guard Armies (3 Guard corps per army, maximum of 11).

The Germans meanwhile have Corps and individual divisions (all motorized, panzer, panzer grenadier, light, mountain, and para units are divisions).

The combat system gives the defender even at the best odds (the 6-1+ column) a 50% chance of surviving, unless surrounded by units or ZOCs (which at 6-1 reduces his chances to zero) or is out of supply (which reduces his chances to 1 in 6). So instead of simply vaporizing the initial Soviet line (as in many games) the Germans will find they have to open holes, pocket, and kill the pockets.

The game uses a random chit draw activation system. Chits include Move, Combat, Panzer Army activation, Soviet Counterattack and Deep Battle. The exact chit mix depends on the year, the weather, and to a degree, player's choice. There is also a Logistics chit so that when to check supply is variable each turn. The Germans draw supply from depots that move (by die roll) a variable amount each turn, but may use Panzer HQs to extend supply.

The air war is fairly abstract - basically air to air combat is built into the declining number of German air units and some drms, but air/ground effects are shown in some detail. Most Soviet Air Armies (and there are eventually quite a few) simply add 1 CF in Combat (maximum of +2 per any one combat, +4 after January 1944). This also true of Axis Allied air.

Then there are the German air units and a Soviet Strategic Air unit that may add to combat, interdict movement, or attack ground units directly. Combat is odds not vs. the enemy units but the terrain in the target hex.

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The Dark Valley
First edition
Publisher: GMT Games
Artist: Mark Mahaffey
Year: 2013
Product Code: GMT1313
Size: 9.20 x 12.30 x 2.20 inches
1.70 pounds
Release Date: Dec 6, 2013
Link Image
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Title | Hot | Recent
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Pg. 1 of 2 »
24 The Dark Valley - playability review
An analysis of key rules to understand, explained in the context of the 1941 scenario.
9 TURN RULES in Excel
List of all specific TURN Rules. When I use this sheet, I filter the rules that are relevant to the current turn that I'm playing so that only those rules will be visible on the screen. I hope you find it useful. I am loving this game.
13 Sequence of Play and Rules Summary
Summarized Sequence of Play and most relevant rules.
24 Initial Setup Card (Revised) PDF
Soviet 228th (Reserve) added...
14 The Dark Valley Soviet Reinforcement card.
The Dark Valley Soviet Reinforcement card by Greg Rogers.
14 The Dark Valley Axis Reinforcement card.
The Dark Valley Axis Reinforcement card by Greg Rogers.
13 The Dark Valley Initial Setup card.
The Dark Valley Initial Setup card by Greg Rogers.
18 TDV Rules reminder by turn.pdf
TDV Rules reminder by turn (version 3) from CSW
16 Order of Battle - Dark Valley
Order of Battle for The Dark Valley, sorted by order of appearance. Print the two pages for each player on a single piece of A4 paper.
42 Turn by Turn rules
Rules that only apply to specific turns are listed by effective turn. Weather rules are included where appropriate. Grouped by: Rules that start or stop on each turn. Full list of all special rules in effect for each turn. Effective turn range - same format as reminder posted by Ted Raicer. 1.4 Correction – Romanian air unit was incorrectly listed as not available on the turns it is available. Addition – Snow -1 MP reduction for all Axis units. Addition – New entry from living rules that limits unit movement when entering via Zhukov/Stavka. Addition – TEC entries - Road removal during snow turns, mountain rails as roads on non-snow turns.
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