I should first say that I made many rules errors in this first scenario (not counting training scenario). When I realized the errors, I tried to retrace my steps and correct as best I could.
This was played solo.
I should also say that this is my first non TACTICAL game. I guess it falls under the OPERATIONAL category.
The usual format:
Components: tons in the box and the components are great. I am not a real stickler for components, so you may not agree. There is loads of info on each unit counter. The maps are very nicely done and seem to be a reasonable representation of the reality of the time period. Not being a student of geography, I do not know how accurate they really are. I have never been disappointed by the physical components of any GMT game. I personally prefer to play war games on paper maps (these are paper). They seem more authentic than mounted maps.
Rulebook: the rulebook is very complete and very clear in nearly all cases. Well written and fairly easy to understand. I had a few questions that were answered very quickly by firstname.lastname@example.org who has put up an amazing website to support the Eastern Front Series.http://wargalley.com/efs/
The rulebook tries to follow the sequence of play, but this is difficult to do in all cases. There are good cross references.
The playbook is full of designer notes for both the first and second edition as well as differences between the rules for this game and earlier games in the series. A couple of shorter scenarios and a long campaign scenario are included.
Charts and Tables These are very clear. Some have rules references which is great. All of them should have rules references in my opinion. When I have time, I will annotate these-easily done.
Gameplay: This scenario took me a long time to complete running about an hour and one half per turn. This was mostly due to constant reference to the rules.
I should mention here that this game has a lot of rules. Each rule is not difficult to understand, but keeping track of all of them is quite difficult at first. As play went on, I became more and more comfortable with what I was doing and at least recognizing mistakes as I made them rather than an hour later.
I really could see the ebb and flow of the game as the Germans tried to break through the Russian lines or do and end around run to cut off retreat and/or supply. The game really had a grand spectacle feel to it as if I watched it unfold.
Most importantly the game was very very tense and lots of fun.
SummaryThis was my first Operational level game. I enjoyed playing it much more than almost all of the squad level games I have. I had to use plenty of advil to treat the headaches I got from trying to keep everything straight, but as time went on, the headaches retreated. The game would undoubtedly be easier, but not necessarily more fun to play face to face as two people would be keeping track of the rules. Solo play was great.
This is not the "heaviest" game I have played using BGG ratings, but as for me was the most complicated. Other "heavy" games I have are more linear rather than everything happening at once.
I think that if you enjoy games at this scale with lots of chrome, Barbarossa: Kiev to Rostov would be a winner for just about anyone.
I apologize for the somewhat disjointed review. I am a little dizzy after
finally finishing the scenario.
I just started with this series of games. My experience of playing Crimea was very similar. I love the system but it took a few games to get my head around all of the sub systems. As they started to click you become aware of all of the possibilities that are available to the players. The player aids are superb and save a lot of rule book referencing. There is a four page extended sequence of play available on the GMT site that I found very helpful as well. Kiev to Rostov is on my high priority purchase list as I would love to try the more mobile scenarios this offers compared to the siege warfare styles of Crimes. Still, the opportunity for amphibious landings adds a very dynamic element to many of the Crimea scenarios.