Recommend
61 
 Thumb up
 Hide
9 Posts

Reds! The Russian Civil War 1918-1921» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Turning Order Into Chaos. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Port Macquarie
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Reds!
The Russian Civil War, 1918-1921



Two-player Simulation of the Russian Civil War and Russo-Polish War
Designed by Ted Raicer
Published by GMT Games (2001)



The figures vary, but it is estimated that during World War One 3,300,000 Russians died (military and civilian). During the Russian Civil War it is estimated that approximately 9,000,000 Russians died (although much of that was the result of disease and starvation). As far as casualty rates go the Russian Civil War was BIG.


I am lucky enough to have three games on this topic in my collection – The Russian Civil War (SPI, 1976), Rossiya 1917 (AWE, 1995) and Reds! All are excellent games and all are totally different to each other. The one element that all three games have in common, however, is that all the forces involved in the war lack co-ordination. I have also played Lloyd Krassnar’s Print & Play Game, Reds & Whites.


I think that ‘Reds!’ is simply brilliant – there is nothing about the game that I don’t like. It looks good, has some innovative mechanics that work well, is interesting to play and is about a period of history that I, personally, find rather interesting. The moment I sit down to play Reds! I anticipate to enjoy the experience – and so far, that has always been the case.



Components

The components are first class. The map is attractive with a delightful combination of colour shades and tones that just look right. The map is also functional, with no confusion or ambiguity. There are several charts and tracks around the map that mean you can find the information you need both quickly and easily.



The counters represent a wide range of different national groups that participated in the war. Consequently the counters have a wide range of colours that make it easy to identify who is fighting whom. The counters are 5/8” and have the information clearly laid out and easy to read.


The rules are a joy to read. Everything you need to know is there and arranged in a logical manner that makes it easy to find information, should you need to check something out during the game.



The Systems

“In the never-ending conflict between order and chaos, chaos will always win – its better organised!”

The essence of the war was chaos. Chaos is built into the system by dividing the Red Army into geographical sectors – the White Army, too, is divided into different national groups, each group with its own region in which to operate.

Activation – each turn a chit for each White Army group is placed into an opaque randomiser (some of you may think it looks like a coffee mug, but it isn’t). The Red Army has 7 different chits – initially only three are placed into the ‘opaque randomiser’, meaning that some Red Army forces will not be activated. As the war progresses and Trotsky gets the army better organized the number of Red Army chits placed in the mug will increase. There is also a ‘logistics’ chit placed into the mug which will allow units a chance to un-disrupt themselves.

The implication of this activation system is that your various forces will be unable to cooperate with each other and will work quite independently. The fact that there is no way to tell the order in which the chits will be pulled is that much of the operational aspects of the war will be quite haphazard.

Supply is a major factor in the game. To be in supply units may trace one hex to a railway or river. This means that your armies will be using rail/river networks as the axes of operations. Guarding your supply lines is crucial – it is so easy to have massive numbers of troops wiped out because you have not protected your supply lines.

Combat – the combat system is unique in my experience. Each unit has a stacking value (White units tend to be 1 or 2 stacking points each while Red units tend to be 4 points) – you are allowed to stack 6 points worth of units into a hex. A unit’s combat strength is the same as its stacking value – combat is voluntary. Both sides may be given extra combat units (such as planes, tanks, armour trains) due to random events. When you fight a combat you add up the stacking value of your forces and convert that to a simple odds ratio – both players roll a die and MULTIPLY the number rolled by the number of units – both players modify this number by combat modifiers for the troops concerned – work out the differential between the two numbers and see whose forces are depleted and/or have to retreat. It sounds different and complicated but it works very simply and gives reasonable results.

The implication of the combat system is that using lots of units gives you the potential of very positive results due to the die roll be multiplied by the number of friendly units involved in a combat.



Victory Conditions

The game has been designed with the premise that there was no way the Whites were ever going to win the war, due to a number of political and personality factors. The Red forces get stronger as time goes by – in the real-world situation of the Russian Civil War, the White forces achieved their best results when receiving support from foreign powers. In this game the object of the Soviet player is to either control every city on the map OR, basically, gain enough cities quickly enough that the foreign powers will withdraw, leaving a very weak White force that will be easy to overcome. Even though the object of the White player is to hold on for as long as possible, if they go purely defensive from the very start of the game they will lose foreign support.



So How Does It Translate Into A Game?

Everything works beautifully – it is just like a finely engineered piece of high-tech machinery – it has the artistic completeness of a work of art by Michelangelo.

You have two forces with widely different potential and goals. The Red units are bigger than the Whites, but due to their stacking size they can’t get as many units into a battle as the Whites. The Whites have better units but they are smaller. The Reds can afford to form a line and move forward, slowly wearing away their opponent’s forces by pure attrition.

The Reds have a numerical advantage and a central position, but to gain an edge against any one opposing force they run the risk of being weak elsewhere. As the White player you can’t afford to be aggressive everywhere – where the Red player advances you should fall back and where they are few you should be aggressive, hoping to cause as much worry and disruption to the Red player’s plans as possible.

Initially the White Army is better organised than the Red Army. As the war progresses the Red Army will gain leaders who will give automatic activation to the region that they are in. The White army has to take advantage of this at the start of the game.

A lot of detail has been put into the rules to create an authentic aura or realism in the game – rules such as activation of the Baltic States, rules for the Ukraine, rules for Poland, rules for Trotsky’s Red Train, rules for Tsaritsyn (the Red Verdun). Surprisingly the rules don’t feel complicated nor does it feel that there are many ‘exceptions’ to the rules that need to be remembered.

The game looks and feels good – there is even a R.I.P. counter for the Tsar, should he be executed by the order of the Bolshevik leadership.



One of the joys of this game is that the two forces are so totally different. The goals are totally different. The White player, despite being on the strategic defensive, has the forces to achieve local superiority and to be quite aggressive. At the very start of the game one of the White player’s main objectives is to take the Russian Gold counter off the Red player and take it to safety.

The game is highly interactive and moves along at a great pace. This is due to the activation chits – when a force is activated each player will only be moving a small number of units and then resolving combats. You spend very little time sitting down twiddling your thumbs or reading Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution.

The game is full of nail-biting decisions for both players – and I have no negative comments to make about it.










59 
 Thumb up
2.78
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
flag msg tools
badge
They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review! I'll look out for this one at Cancon.

May I ask what average playing time would be? i.e. Can it be played in a few hours, or does one need to devote a day to it or are we looking at something that requires the game to be played over multiple sessions?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Port Macquarie
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
muzfish4 wrote:
Great review! I'll look out for this one at Cancon.

May I ask what average playing time would be? i.e. Can it be played in a few hours, or does one need to devote a day to it or are we looking at something that requires the game to be played over multiple sessions?


Thanks for your kind comments - I love to be the centre of praise.

There are two scenarios - the short scenario should be no more than 3 hours and the long scenario no more than 6. If the White player is foolishly aggressive it may take only 1 hour. It will only take a single session unless your opponent is incredibly slow - but even then the activation system means that both players are making a series of microdecisions and this doesn't take as much brain-power and coordination as if you were moving all the pieces at once. The game feels to take no time at all as you should be quite engrossed in what is happening and should have no time at all to look around and wonder why your opponent is taking so long with their move.

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles Stampley
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great Review, thanks. I have been trying to get this one on the table, but I may move it to the front of the line now. Ironically, as I was reading your review the banner ad on the right side of the page said "Find Your Russian Beauty" russiandating.com What a great tie-in!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
meenki boo
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I pulled this out again recently for solitaire play and it is one of my favorite games right now.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Duke
United States
Georgetown
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm glad to hear others are having fun with this one. I tried it a few times when it first came out and found it too chaotic and utterly unsatisfying. And also very one sided.

Clearly, I missed something!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
Just got this one - am setting it up today.

Great review - it helped push me over the edge to find it, and it cost me less than half an arm!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David G. Cox Esq.
Australia
Port Macquarie
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
sduke wrote:
I'm glad to hear others are having fun with this one. I tried it a few times when it first came out and found it too chaotic and utterly unsatisfying. And also very one sided.

Clearly, I missed something!


When you say one-sided, do you feel the Reds had an advantage?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
stuart cudahy
Australia
flag msg tools
of course the reds have an advantage, they won historically. The fun is in striving to create an alternative history. And rolling a lot of ones and twos in the rally phase. Stu
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.