David G. Cox Esq.
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Operation Typhoon: Barbarossa Denied



Two-player Mini-game of the German Invasion of the Soviet Union
Designed by Art Lupinacci
Published by L2 Design Group (2008)



Strength lies not in defence but in attack.
Adolf Hitler




Operation Typhoon is a particularly small wargame.

Even L2 describe Operation Typhoon as a mini-game. Perhaps a micro-game would be a more accurate description. The map is a single ‘letter-size’ sheet (8.5” x 11” or 17 hexes by 11 hexes) – the map runs from Velikiye Luki in the north to Voronezh in the south and from Moscow in the east to a little west of Smolensk in the west. The game simulates the drive on Moscow by Army Group Centre from September to December in 1941 and so goes for only four turns. The Soviets have 19 combat units plus counters for Stalin and Zukhov. The Germans have 22 combat units, 3 Stukas plus another counter for Guderian. Most of the German counters start on the map while many of the Soviet counters come into the game as reinforcements. There are a small number of counters that mark rail-heads and the current turn – I made myself several counters to mark victory points and the weather. The weather, terrain and combat charts come on a double-sided sheet and they are well laid out and easy to use.

 


I usually have mixed feelings about L2 products.

Operation Typhoon is no exception. What I like about L2 games is that they have consistently high production values. The maps, charts and counters attractive, functional and colourful. The only negative aspect of their games is the price – they certainly seem to be, pound for pound, more expensive than the games from other publishers. On the positive side, their maps are printed on cardboard rather than just paper. When the game arrived in the mail I was mightily surprised by the price - $12. MMP’s promo game, Target Arnhem, has a bigger map and more counters and yet was a giveaway.



Operation Typhoon looks like an introductory game.


Because of the smallness of the map and the small number of counters it is well suited to new players – there is a minimal amount of decisions to be made each turn. The mechanics are fairly standard. Each turn you roll a die for the weather – bad weather will reduce the movement allowance of units. You roll a die for Stuka availability – bad weather will also adversely affect the German access to air support. Then the German units move and fight – after combat German units may again combat any Soviet units they are next to – this last combat phase is called the Exploit Combat Phase. The sequence of movement, combat and exploit combat is then repeated for the Soviet player. The game runs for four turns – it should take around 30 minutes tops!

The combat units have Zones of Control that stop enemy movement. The game also has rules for rail movement and supply.

As well as reinforcing units, both players have access to rebuild points which allows eliminated units to be brought back onto the board.

The combat table has quite a few different results – generally the losing units will lose steps and have to retreat and the victorious units will be able to advance after combat – sometimes the advance will be for more than a single hex.

Stukas will give a odds shift to the Germans when attacking. Zhukov and Guderian may each only be used once each game and give a +/- DRM.

Combat is usually mandatory. Terrain is important as some terrain will double the strength of defending units and may allow units to remain adjacent to the enemy without actually being forced to attack.

The Germans will gain an automatic victory if they capture Moscow and eliminate the Stalin counter. Failing that, players will score points at the end of the game with the high scorer winning – both players core points for eliminating enemy units/steps and the Soviet player also scores points for occupying Soviet cities at the end of the game.

There is nothing reich-shattering about the game but it is sound, it is solid and it works.



Destination Moscow

The game is fun to play. It is quick to set up and it is quick to play. While the options are limited there are options for both players. The Soviet player is very short of units on turn one and probably needs to sacrifice a couple of units in front of Moscow to slow down the German advance in October – if the Germans can move next to Moscow at the end of the October movement phase they will probably win the game. If they get there in November they can gamble by attacking Moscow directly or take their time and try to gain a bridgehead over the Moskva River and work down to Moscow from the north, eliminating Soviet units and preparing for a big attack on Moscow at the end of the game.

The Germans can win the game but they have to move quickly and the weather is working against them, as well as the terrain. The Soviets have some tough choices to make – how many units are going to be sacrificed to save Moscow. Can Voronezh be held as well as Moscow. Do you have the strength to hold Moscow and to counterattack in other areas.

The game is not brilliant but it has enough going for it to make it worth playing when you don’t have time for something else or you are so tired that you don’t want to fry your brain.

But you don’t get much for your $12 so it would make sense to talk some of your wargame buddies to buy a copy for you to use against them.


 




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Sam H
Canada
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Thanks for the review. I was looking for small and fast wargames to suggest for a "wargamer lunch" at work. I ordered Battle for Moscow (second edition). This seems to fit the bill also, but I was wondering if it has any replayability. It looks interesting, but not sure I would buy it if it's just a one-time affair.

I'm not really a one night stand kinda gamer...

 
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Lighthouse Beach
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sxmpxr wrote:
Thanks for the review. I was looking for small and fast wargames to suggest for a "wargamer lunch" at work. I ordered Battle for Moscow (second edition). This seems to fit the bill also, but I was wondering if it has any replayability. It looks interesting, but not sure I would buy it if it's just a one-time affair.

I'm not really a one night stand kinda gamer...



I think it has plenty of replayability.

The tension comes from the fact that you make only a small number of attacks each turn and so the dice roll can have a big impact on how things turn out - probably moreso than in larger games where the dice can average out.

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