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Subject: Barbarossa in an Afternoon rss

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Defiant Russia is a simple hex and counter game on the German invasion of Russia. This is an extremely popular gaming topic, with titles ranging from the simple 1941 to entire detailed series, such as Barbarossa: Army Group North, 1941 and its kin. Defiant Russia fits into the simple tradition.

All of that being I must include a disclaimer. I personally know the designer William Sariego and I game with him in the Lexington, Kentucky area. I say this because my review is mostly positive, but not effected by my friendship. I have enjoyed his designs for Red Vengeance and They Shall Not Pass: The Battle of Verdun 1916, but I found Red Russia to be a missed opportunity.

Gameplay (26 out of 28): Defiant Russia is played out in a series of seven alternating turns, each covering one month of Operation Barbarossa. Each turn begins with a weather roll (optional but suggested) and then the Germans move, attack, exploit, and then do exploitation combat. The Soviets repeat this process, but regular Soviet infantry cannot execute exploitation movements, making them far less flexible.

Combat is resolved not through a CRT, but instead what you would expect from Avalanche Press: buckets of dice. Combat factors determine the number of dice rolled, with six results causing damage. Damage, unless exceeding the units hit, may be satisfied through retreat, a popular option for the hard pressed Soviets.

The game is pretty much this simple and should not surprise veteran wargamers or anyone familiar with Avalanche products.

The German offensive Stalls South of Moscow:


Strategic (4 out of 5): Victory in Defiant Russia is determined through a few points, which include the capture of key cities, the elimination or preservation of Stalin, and through causing more losses on the enemy. The later is a good touch, because German units are worth more so one has to be careful with their panzers and even infantry. The game has a fast flow and I've found that both sides alternate in despair, for while the Germans can destroy a lot they cannot always capture enough. I've received the same feeling from the classic Proud Monster: The Barbarossa Campaign, and for me this is the sign of a good Barbarossa game.

Accessibility (5 out of 5): The rules are covered in 16 small pages, well organized, and more articulate then I expected. Defiant Russia is a breeze to play.

Components (2 out of 5): It is what you would expect from Avalanche. The units look good but the map is an eye sour of dull brown, muddy greens, and the largest railroads ever mapped on a hexagonal grid. Even the font is dull.

Nice Units on an Ugly Map:


Originality (0 out of 2): Nothing new in the east, which makes this feel cozy for an experienced wargamer like myself.

Historical Quality (3 out of 5): With simpler games I am kinder in this respect, and Defiant Russia has some excellent touches, including the Red Navy, the Spanish Blue Division, and excellent rules for Stalin, Zhukov, and Guderian. On the surface many will find fault in the unit ratings. The Axis satellite nations are tougher than you would expect. The Soviet army is not all that weak, and with supply rules that do not force surrenders, they can be tougher than expected. There in lies the games biggest problem: the first few turns are more like the Somme and a mass German breakthrough is highly unlikely. Indeed, this seems to be the trickiest part of any Barbarossa game: can the first few turns be fun for the Soviets and yet historical? I doubt it, and while few Soviet players in any Barbarossa game will do as poorly as the real Red Army, Defiant Russia's combat system and generous Soviet ratings make a breakthrough impossible on turn 1. Indeed, I found the same problem in Red Vengeance, which starts with Operation Bagration. If not for this glaring mistake, I'd rate Defiant Russia much higher.

Zhukov Unit:


Overall (40 out of 50): Defiant Russia is a quick playing Barbarossa game that with some excellent historical touches and clean rulebook. It is also easily modifiable, and in order to resolve my problems with turn 1 being like the Somme, and Soviet units lingering long after their supplies have been cut, I've made a small variant.

My Variant

Turn 1 German Success
German panzers hit on a 5-6 on turn 1 and may use exploitation movement and combat. The Soviets cannot retreat from battle to satisfy losses on turn 1.
 
Supply and Surrender
A unit that is out of supply for two consecutive supply checks during the organization phase is then removed and cannot be rebuilt. These units are considered to have surrendered.

All of the Game's Components:
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simon thornton
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Highly underrated game, I think. A great introductory wargame and an enjoyable recreation of the subject. For what its worth I think its highly balanced with all the games ive played going to the wire with both sides having a chance to win.
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Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Quote:
The Soviet army is not all that weak, and with supply rules that do not force surrenders, they can be tougher than expected. There in lies the games biggest problem: the first few turns are more like the Somme and a mass German breakthrough is highly unlikely.


It is interesting to compare this game with GMT's Stalin's War, totally different view about the Soviet capabilities before the war.
 
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Steve Pow
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How about now?
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You know, I had passed on playing this, despite getting it for cheap, but I'm always convinced these AP games are going to be terrible. I'm going to give it a shot after reading this, so thanks for the review!
 
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Martin Gallo
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O'Fallon
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Give it a chance. It plays fairly quickly and is fun. You are not going to get a lot of detail out of a game this small, but hopefully you know that going in. It has been a while since I played this, but it seemed like most of the right decisions were required.
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Kim Meints
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Yes,DR is a fast paced easy game for when wanting something in the evening or weekend afternoon.

It's one of AP's better games
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Steve Herron
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Johnson City
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Never play block wargames with a dentist, they have those little mirrors to peek behind the block.
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If the Soviets had armoured trains to match the size of the tracks on the map, the Germans would be in big trouble. I think your two house rules will make the game play better. I didn't like the buckets of dice combat. I think it works for Eastfront & Europe Engulfed. I thought the replacement & reforcement schedule was slightly off when I matched it to Fire in the East. I think I will give it a retry now after reading your review. Good job Sean!
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Quote:
It's one of AP's better games


I've really soured on AP's products as of late. There is a sameness to the games (buckets of dice, ugly maps, nice units), but this game, as well as SWWAS, is worth the effort.
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James Nolan
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Sean;

Nice job, my experience with DR exactly. I really like it as an intro game (I don't even mind the graphics) but I really wish it had a hard board, like Totensonntag. However, it looks like No Retreat (GMT version) will be filling this niche in level and quality.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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transchair wrote:
Sean;

Nice job, my experience with DR exactly. I really like it as an intro game (I don't even mind the graphics) but I really wish it had a hard board, like Totensonntag. However, it looks like No Retreat (GMT version) will be filling this niche in level and quality.


I can safely say that now that No Retreat did indeed fill this niche.

Defiant Russia is still a lot of fun though.
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Nomadic Gamer
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No comparision; No Retreat's Russian front on Turn 1 is 4 units; no sweeping envelopements at all.
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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davedanger wrote:
No comparision; No Retreat's Russian front on Turn 1 is 4 units; no sweeping envelopements at all.


We are discussing complexity and you are discussing scale.
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James D. Williams
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Thanx for the informative review , saved me a sawbuck.
I'll stick with AH Stalingrad 1963/1974
Plenty of Somme and and only 1 die per battle...
...and also variable...
 
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