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Subject: How To Invade Russia: A Steppe by Steppe Guide rss

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David G. Cox Esq.
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Fury in the East
Two-player Simulation of Operation Barbarossa, June ’41 – March ‘42



Designed by Ginichiro Suzuki
Developed by Adam Starkweather

Published by Multi-Man Publishing (2010)




“Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union.” Joseph Stalin


Fury in the East is a magazine game that was published as part of MMP’s Operations Special Issue #3. It is a corps-level simulation of the invasion of the Soviet Union and plays from the start of Barbarossa until March 1942. Each turn represents a month of real time so the game runs for nine turns.

Having been playing serious military simulations since 1980 I can say that I have invaded Russia more times than Hitler has had steak dinners. While each game has had one or two unique design features there has certainly been a lot of overlap between many of the designs.

In my past experiences, magazines games generally have been disappointing. I suspect that one of the main reasons for this is that many of the magazine games I have played have been produced to tight publishing schedules and this means that the games have received insufficient play-testing to really sort out all of the problems.

I purchased Special Operations #3 exclusively for the strategy articles and not at all for the games that came with it. As well as Fury in the East there is another game with the magazine called Starvation Island.

Anyway, my initial reaction to the game is one of reservation. The counters are a touch thinner than is usually the case with MMP games. The map is a tad bland and I particularly don’t like the choice of the light green/blue that is used to depict the swamps on the map – I feel that a brown would both stand out more clearly and be more attractive. I must admit that I have serious concerns about a game where the rules are 12 pages long and the errata and Q&A is 11 pages. The game is unplayable without the errata - due to missing rules. Given that Adam Starkweather is the developer this surprises me as I have found him to be quite meticulous with other games he has been involved with.

Glancing through the rules there are several aspects of the design that are quite original and make Fury in the East different from many other games on the same subject. The main design feature is that Ginichiro Suzuki has adopted the philosophy that the Wehrmacht and the Red Army were two totally different animals and this is reflected very strongly in the rules and gives good flavour to the game. The two armies use different Combat Results Tables. Combat is generally mandatory for the Soviets but optional for the Wehrmacht. The two armies have different command control rules and different replacement rules. The game has some interesting Hitler rules which sometimes make it difficult for the German to implement a cohesive overall plan. For the first few turns the German player moves first. For the last few turns the Soviets move first. This means that on one occasion the Soviets will effectively have a ‘double’ turn.

Physically the game is the sort of size that I am very comfortable with – a standard 22” by 32” map and 260 counters – many of these are maker counters rather than military units. There are approximately 60 Axis combat units and about 130 Soviet Head Quarters and combat units. The counters are a tad too thin and functional rather than stunningly attractive. The map is attractive although the swamp is the wrong colour and the Terrain Effects Chart is facing the wrong direction – given that players will be sitting on the eastern and western sides of the map the TEC should have been oriented so as to be readable by both players – as it is both players will be seeing it basically upside-down.

“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.” Joseph Stalin

The Basics of the Mechanics

Units – all combat units are rated for type (in game terms armour units have two movement phases), movement and combat strength. The German Panzer corps have two counters for each unit – this means that a Panzer corps can take four hits before being completely eliminated. Units are of a generic type and all have standardized values. Only the German player is allowed to have his tanks move twice each turn – once before combat and again after combat.

Combat – there are two different CRTs – one for German attacks and one for Soviet attacks. Germans can be forced to retreat while Soviets will never retreat (they will always take step loses instead). For the Soviets combat is mandatory while for the Axis it is voluntary. Terrain only benefits the Soviets – Germans will never benefit from terrain. For example, Soviets defending in a city receive a two column odds shift in their favour and the same Soviets attacking from the same city will get a one column odds shift in their favour.


German CRT - no retreat for Soviet units


Soviet CRT

“In the Soviet army it takes more courage to retreat than advance.” Joseph Stalin


Command Control – to be effective, Axis units must be within 8 movement points of one of the three German supply head counters – this means that the Axis will advance basically along one of three corridors (although sometimes the corridors merge into a broad front). To be effective, Soviet units must be within command range of a Soviet Head Quarters unit – these units have ranges that vary from 0-3. If eliminated in combat, Head Quarters units are removed from the game.

Reinforcements & Replacements – the Axis receives a small number of reinforcements during the game but no replacements – the Axis player has to be careful to avoid losing troops as they simply cannot be replaced. The Soviet player receives many reinforcements and also receives replacements – the Head Quarters unit’s range is also its replacement value – at the end of each turn, for each point of range/replacement an HQ can either rebuild eliminated units or augment depleted units that are on the battlefield.

Set-up – the German forces are divided into North, Central, Southern, Finland and Romania set-up zones. The German player places the units into the appropriate area on the map. The Soviet forces are divided into armies – each army has an area and is randomly allocated a Head Quarters and a variable number of Tank Corps and Rifle Corps (the quality of Head Quarters varies – the Tank and Rifle Corps have the same values at full strength but have different values when at reduced strength so drawing the units from the cup means that the Soviets may have quite different situations in each game). The set-up is fairly quick and painless and allows both players plenty of options as to how to fight the war.

Stacking & ZOCs – all of this is fairly standard. There is a maximum of two combats allowed in a hex at the end of movement and at the end of each individual combat. Units stop movement when they enter an enemy ZOC. Units cannot move directly from one ZOC to another unless they are advancing after combat. The presence of friendly units will negate the effects of ZOCs during retreat.

Weather – weather will have an effect on movement, combat and the availability of the Luftwaffe. Each turn the Axis player will have between 0-6 air units which can be individually added to a combat to give a positive column shift. Air units may alternatively be used to interdict hexes to impede Soviet rail movement.

Over-runs – one of the important missing rules is that an over-run costs three additional movement points above what would normally be required to enter the hex. Both Axis and Soviet tanks are allowed to conduct over-runs but only the Axis player has a Panzer Movement Phase following combat.



Hitler Command –
FitE has more Hitler counters than any other game I have seen and this is one of the really neat features of the design is the Hitler Command Tables. At the end of each turn the German player secretly rolls a die and compares the result to one of three Hitler Tables (one for turns 1-2, one for turns 3-5 and one for turns 6-8). The result is secretly noted and revealed at the end of the following turn. If you have not achieve the goal then you have made Adolf “unhappy”. As Hitler has a short memory his instructions may vary greatly from turn to turn. One turn he may instruct you to capture Sevastopol and the next turn he may want you to forget about Sevastopol and concentrate on Leningrad. The next turn he may again instruct you to turn your attention to the south. The Hitler Tables are a nice way to add some of the randomness and frustration that the German Field-marshals must have felt from time to time.

“Death is the solution to all problems. No man - no problem.” Joseph Stalin

If the Germans capture Moscow they will win automatically. Otherwise it is a matter of scoring points for cities and eliminating units and comparing your score to the victory schedule which is printed on the map – I hate to say it but is a mistake on the victory schedule, the Soviets have a major victory if the Axis have 49 points or fewer, not 39 as stated on the map.




Playing the Game

The game plays quickly and fairly easily. I think there is a problem with the combat system/tables. Stacking is only two combat units per hex – the standard full strength values of Soviet Rifle and Tank Corps is 3 and 5. The value of full strength German Rifle and Tank Corps is 6 and 12. Luftwaffe units are available to give column shifts on the attack or defence. I think it is very difficult for the Soviets to effectively counter-attack against competent Axis play. I also don’t consider it particularly realistic that the Panzers have the same movement rate as German foot troops and are given a second movement phase after combat – all this does is allow the Panzers to run forward completely unsupported which I find quite ahistorical. I much prefer the system used in The Russian Campaign and Russia Besieged where most units have a second move but at a reduced rate from the first movement. While the second movement phase for tanks may work nicely in operational games I don’t feel it is satisfactory in a strategic level game.

While the game is okay to play I would much prefer to play The Russian Campaign, Russia Besieged or Red Star Rising than Fury in the East. They are all longer games as they cover the entire war in the East. If I wanted a smaller game I would be looking for something like A Victory Lost, Panzergruppe Guderian or Leningrad.

Fury in the East is a better-than-average magazine game but still has not risen to the heights of other MMP games or other quality East Front games.







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Iain K
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How many times did you play the game David?

I ask because I personally found that it took several plays to appreciate how best to counterattack, or even defend as the Soviet player.

Quote:
the Panzers to run forward completely unsupported which I find quite ahistorical


Unsupported how? Do you mean it is ahistorical to allow the Panzers to move beyond their supply? Beyond infantry units on foot?

Does red Star Rising limit the mobility of mechanized units in such a way?

Can historic operations such as those that captured the bridges over the Dvina River, or formed the Uman and Minsk pockets during Barbarossa be recreated if mechanized units are unable to move beyond the support of foot infantry or out of supply?

I'm not trying to be critical here, but you statement seems so incongruous with historic events that I can only assume I've misinterpreted your meaning.
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David K
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What is your source for the Stalin quotes?
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Joe Wasserman
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I don't think he would like that.
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thumbsup for the title alone! laugh
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David G. Cox Esq.
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citizen k wrote:
Unsupported how? Do you mean it is ahistorical to allow the Panzers to move beyond their supply? Beyond infantry units on foot?


Hi Ian, I appreciate your questions and comments. The point I was trying to make is that it is difficult in a game to simulate the interaction of different units. In a war/battle we don't have all of one side's units move and then fight while the other side does nothing. Game designers use different systems to allow different units interact in different ways.

In TRC and Russia Besieged the interaction is that each player has a double impulse. On the first turn units generally move their full allowance on during the second impulse have reduced movement. There is quite a bit of variation between units regarding movement rates.

In the actual war, as far as I understand it, Panzer formations did make sweeping moves deep into enemy territory and in the process cut off forward formations of the Red Army - but this was done in conjunction with active infantry forces.

Personally, I don't feel that the Sequence of Play in FitE accomplishes this as effectively/realistically as some other strategic level East Front games that I have played where infantry units have been allowed some movement in the post-combat movement phase.

I have played the game three times.

Just as a matter of interest, reading your comments about the game is the main thing that persuaded me to punch out the counters and play the game. I think you should do a copy and paste of your comments on the game and publish them as a review.


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David G. Cox Esq.
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kade wrote:
What is your source for the Stalin quotes?


http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/joseph_stalin.ht...

Stalin was great for one-liners while Hitler, apparently, had no sense of humour at all (but he did enjoy American comedy movies).
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Wendell
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The Hitler mechanic is interesting. It's hard to convince a wargamer to do some of the not-so-smart things that the Germans did historically...
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Iain K
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da pyrate wrote:
citizen k wrote:
Unsupported how? Do you mean it is ahistorical to allow the Panzers to move beyond their supply? Beyond infantry units on foot?


Hi Ian, I appreciate your questions and comments. The point I was trying to make is that it is difficult in a game to simulate the interaction of different units. In a war/battle we don't have all of one side's units move and then fight while the other side does nothing. Game designers use different systems to allow different units interact in different ways.

In TRC and Russia Besieged the interaction is that each player has a double impulse. On the first turn units generally move their full allowance on during the second impulse have reduced movement. There is quite a bit of variation between units regarding movement rates.

In the actual war, as far as I understand it, Panzer formations did make sweeping moves deep into enemy territory and in the process cut off forward formations of the Red Army - but this was done in conjunction with active infantry forces.

Personally, I don't feel that the Sequence of Play in FitE accomplishes this as effectively/realistically as some other strategic level East Front games that I have played where infantry units have been allowed some movement in the post-combat movement phase.


OK, now I understand. As you may know I really like TRC, but have not played RB. One of the things I found myself liking about Fury is that it ends up achieving the results that many other systems achieve without having to remember as many rules. I'm not sure it has fewer rules than TRC for example ... but I don't need a table to remember how far units can move on the second impulse when I play Fury. Fury is the ETO "done differently" and I suspect that I "cut it some slack" because I appreciate a fresh take on our favorite theater.

Quote:

I think you should do a copy and paste of your comments on the game and publish them as a review.


I appreciate that David. I find it easy to comment on a game, the comments tend to evolve as I gain experience. There are several comments crying out for conversion to reviews.

As a final note on panzers and their historical behavior on the operational level. I know you love the ETO and really recommend you look into GMT's East Front Series. Scenarios in the series highlight just how far, at times *insanely* far German panzer divisions operated from the support of other assets. The Dvina Bridges in AGN can only be taken on time if, as was done historically, several divisions break through the Soviet front, and run ... completely out of supply ... for the Dvina ignoring all else.

Just as they did historically.

Finally, consider that what Fury calls "panzer units" are not entirely composed of armored regiments. They are Armored Corps (according to historical IDs like 56th panzer); which I believe in 1941 consisted of two armored divisions (each of which had 1 armor, 2 mech. infantry and 1 rec regiments) and a mechanized infantry division (which had two mech infantry regiments and a recon regiment). So these armor units had plenty of intrinsic infantry (at least six regiments).

Cheers!
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da pyrate wrote:
Having been playing serious military simulations since 1980 I can say that I have invaded Russia more times than Hitler has had steak dinners.

Hitler was a vegetarian. whistle
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David G. Cox Esq.
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jumbit wrote:
da pyrate wrote:
Having been playing serious military simulations since 1980 I can say that I have invaded Russia more times than Hitler has had steak dinners.

Hitler was a vegetarian. whistle


I know - let's keep it a secret between the two of us - I thought my comment was so funny that it would make people like you, who understand the joke, happier than a Nazi at a Nuremberg Rally.

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David G. Cox Esq.
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citizen k wrote:
As a final note on panzers and their historical behavior on the operational level. I know you love the ETO and really recommend you look into GMT's East Front Series. Scenarios in the series highlight just how far, at times *insanely* far German panzer divisions operated from the support of other assets. The Dvina Bridges in AGN can only be taken on time if, as was done historically, several divisions break through the Soviet front, and run ... completely out of supply ... for the Dvina ignoring all else.

Just as they did historically.

Finally, consider that what Fury calls "panzer units" are not entirely composed of armored regiments. They are Armored Corps (according to historical IDs like 56th panzer); which I believe in 1941 consisted of two armored divisions (each of which had 1 armor, 2 mech. infantry and 1 rec regiments) and a mechanized infantry division (which had two mech infantry regiments and a recon regiment). So these armor units had plenty of intrinsic infantry (at least six regiments).

Cheers!


I like the way your head works.

I have read your bio and relooked at some of your reviews. Your development as a wargamer/boardgamer mirrors mine to some extent. It is a shame we don't live close to each other - I suspect we would become regular opponents and good friends.

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Darrell Hanning
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I'm unhappy that there is now a second, east front wargame that has "FitE" as its initials...
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David G. Cox Esq.
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DarrellKH wrote:
I'm unhappy that there is now a second, east front wargame that has "FitE" as its initials...


The other one is much bigger - surely its initials are FITE.

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Nathaniel GOUSSET
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Well, anything that FIT......e





(sorry)
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Darrell Hanning
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I must say, I do like the counters with the screaming Hitler on them. Very catchy.
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DarrellKH wrote:
I must say, I do like the counters with the screaming Hitler on them. Very catchy.


This entire thread has me smiling more frequently than any other review I've read recently.

Well done all. Thumbs distributed liberally.
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wifwendell wrote:
The Hitler mechanic is interesting. It's hard to convince a wargamer to do some of the not-so-smart things that the Germans did historically...


I do not-so-smart things all the time... does that make me a fascist despot?
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Garfink wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
The Hitler mechanic is interesting. It's hard to convince a wargamer to do some of the not-so-smart things that the Germans did historically...


I do not-so-smart things all the time... does that make me a fascist despot?


Nice Commodore T-shirt you Fascist.
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Eric Lai
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da pyrate wrote:
Garfink wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
The Hitler mechanic is interesting. It's hard to convince a wargamer to do some of the not-so-smart things that the Germans did historically...


I do not-so-smart things all the time... does that make me a fascist despot?


Nice Commodore T-shirt you Fascist.


Its all the rage amongst us Fascist!
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