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Death Ride Kursk: Gross Deutschland» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A brief review and rules overview. rss

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Pone McPoneface
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This is a brief overview of the rules of this game as well as a review based on my single learning session with the July 4 scenario of this game. I am leaving out some general details and exceptions in the rules to focus more on maneuver and combat which is the heart of this game and also in an effort to make this more readable. I hope to create a session report covering the efforts of the GD to take and secure Butovo in the near future when I refine my mastery of the game mechanics and rules.

Death Ride Kursk: Gross Deutschland is a monster tactical game created by Chris Fasulo Sr. and produced by his independent game company, Grognard Simulations, Inc. (GSI). This game coves the southern "pincer" of the 1943 Operation Citadel and the efforts of the Gross Deutschland division from the afternoon of July 4 to approximately 4am on July 14. The entire campaign covers 94 game turns, but there are 10 scenarios covering each specific day of the operation plus the 1 campaign scenario for 11 in total. The game is a classic hex-and-counter war game with a scale of 330 meters per hex. Ground units are represented at the platoon and company/battery level.

Aside from the July 4 day, which consists of 2 daylight turns and 2 nighttime turns, each day consists of 8 daylight turns and 2 nighttime turns. Each turn is broken down into the following sequence of play;
1. Air Allocation - once per day, first daylight turn

2. Combat Service Support- once per day, first daylight turn
a. Reinforcements/Withdrawals
b. Replacements
c. Reorganization
d. Intelligence
e. Supply determination (optional)

3. German Turn
a. Command and control- (optional) determining if units are within command range of their respective HQ.
b. Operations phase- movement, combat, creation or removal of obstacles, minefields, rafting sites
c. Close assault phase
d. Unit Suppression Recovery
e. Air Interdiction Placement/Return and Close Air Support Mission Return.

4. Red Army Turn- steps a-e above are repeated for Soviet player.

The heart of the game system is in using combined armed tactics whenever and where ever possible. Approaching enemy units without proper fire support and enemy suppression will ultimately bleed your units to ineffectiveness. This is especially true for the Germans as they assault positions that are well fortified utilizing defense-in-depth to allow for multiple fields of fire and support.

For the Germans, a key element of success is their ability to suppress (which is a result of fire) Red Army units as much as possible while trying to concentrate as much force on specific points of the Red Army defensive line. Suppression of units will prevent them from being able to use Opportunity Fire which is triggered by any enemy movement or action within firing range. For the most part each combat unit can fire twice, once with their primary weapon and once with their secondary weapon. Even with the suppression of opportunity fire, Defensive Fire is still allowed once a unit moves adjacent to an enemy unit, though suppression will reduce combat strength to lessen the effects of closing with the enemy.

Utilization of air units and placement of artillery next to HQ units which are centrally located in proximity to their front is important for effective support fire for attacking ground units. German units have a special movement for ground units called Overwatch which will allow them to respond to any enemy unit that can utilize opportunity fire. This allows for units such as armor to effectively respond and support infantry movement and assaults.

A nice feature of the game mechanics is being allowed to designate units with Reserve Movement status. This will allow units to move into hexes being assaulted by the enemy player thus reducing the odds against them. I found this to be a nice means to unbalance any planned assault by my opponent with a level of uncertainty.

Due to unit size of counters, roughly 50 men per unit with regard to infantry, losses are exacted directly from the board (e.g. 1x= 1 unit removed, 2x= 2 units removed), but the predominate results from Fire Table (CRT) are various levels of suppression. For each level of suppression a unit loses 20% of it's combat strength. A unit or stack that receives it's 5th level of suppression is instead eliminated. There is an optional chart that each side can track it's casualties during game play which is a nice, if not slightly eye-opening way of keeping track of overall attrition.

Unit losses are placed on a card each side has labeled "Daily Losses," but these are not permanent losses. So long as you have a medical unit and maintenance unit within command range of your units HQ you will receive some of these units back at the beginning of the next day (not turn) during the first daylight turn. For the Germans you will recover 60% of your mechanized units and 25% of your infantry units that will be placed at the location of your mechanized and medical unit respectively. For the Soviets you receive 30% of your armor and 25% of your infantry to be placed with the maintenance and medical units.

It is very important to safeguard your maintenance and medical units each day otherwise you do not receive these battlefield "recoveries." A destroyed maintenance,medical, HQ unit is automatically brought back the next day, but you lose any potential percentage replacements from the day before. I use the optional supply rules and consider necessary for maintenance and medical units to be "in supply" in order to generate these replacement units. All other units not being brought back through this method are then shifted from the "Daily Losses" box to the "Total Losses box."

My thoughts and experiences thus far....
First off, the rule book for this game is very well written and easy to follow. While at first intimidating given the amount of counters you have (1700 in the base game and 600 more with the 3rd Panzer expansion) the game itself moves very well.
Setting up the first scenario for my practice run (July 4), as the Germans, I had 4 turns (2 day, 2 night turns) to assault and take the town of Butovo from a well entrenched Soviet unit (199th) with supporting artillery and units to the North.

For me, this game captures the difficulties faced by both opponents very accurately. As the Germans with a very brief span of daytime my difficulty was in moving in position to assault Butovo while drawing fire from air, artillery, and opportunity fire. While I did my best to suppress units as much as possible, time was not on my side and I had to accept my losses to get close enough to stage a night assault on Butovo.

As the Soviet forces, playing the defense really boiled down to how effective I was able in placing my defenses; wire, forts, dug-ins, and mines, to effectively delay and therefore place those German units under as much fire as possible. German engineer units become vital to removal of these obstacles, but they are also choice targets for Soviet units.

By the time of the German night time assault I had already suffered some pretty substantial casualties and by the dawn of July 5, felt that my combat effectiveness was already somewhat compromised before the official start of Citadel! The Soviet 199th was sacrificed for the delay but the cost in German units kept this sacrifice from being in vain. Officially it was a Red Army victory as the Germans were not able to cover the entire July 5 starting line with secondary fire, though they did secure Butovo. Granted I was not incorporating the 3rd Panzer (from the expansion) on my left flank which I believe would have given me an easy draw if not potentially better results. My next attempt will be with the 3rd Panzer added as reinforcements to see if I can't get a better end result. As the Soviets I learned, after the fact, that I could have placed my defenses a bit better so I may have a better chance to bleed the Germans even more.

My initial feelings about this game are extremely positive. I love the game mechanics and really enjoyed the immersive experience. I very much felt the historic difficulties faced by the GD in just trying to reach their jump off point! I look forward to seeing how this will unfold in future game plays and hope to play the full campaign this summer. If you love monster games at the tactical level and are looking for a tense and griping experience reliving a chapter from Operation Citadel you should definitely give Death Ride Kursk: Gross Deutschland a look!



edit: Added paragraphs from below concerning CRT and how casualties are handled.
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Pete B
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Nice overview - I am thinking of picking this up

How are losses handled? Is it step losses, through flipping counters? I always thought Kursk games would be suited to a cohesion/friction point system to handle the slow attrition of units, but this might be at the wrong scale

P
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Pone McPoneface
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chuffymonkey wrote:
Nice overview - I am thinking of picking this up

How are losses handled? Is it step losses, through flipping counters? I always thought Kursk games would be suited to a cohesion/friction point system to handle the slow attrition of units, but this might be at the wrong scale

P


Due to unit size of counters, roughly 50 men per unit with regard to infantry, losses are exacted directly from the board (e.g. 1x= 1 unit removed, 2x= 2 units removed), but the predominate results from Fire Table (CRT) are various levels of suppression. For each level of suppression a unit loses 20% of it's combat strength. A unit or stack that receives it's 5th level of suppression is instead eliminated. There is an optional chart that each side can track it's casualties during game play which is a nice, if not slightly eye-opening way of keeping track of overall attrition.

Unit losses are placed on a card each side has labeled "Daily Losses," but these are not permanent losses. So long as you have a medical unit and maintenance unit within command range of your units HQ you will receive some of these units back at the beginning of the next day (not turn) during the first daylight turn. For the Germans you will recover 60% of your mechanized units and 25% of your infantry units that will be placed at the location of your mechanized and medical unit respectively. For the Soviets you receive 30% of your armor and 25% of your infantry to be placed with the maintenance and medical units.

It is very important to safeguard your maintenance and medical units each day otherwise you do not receive these battlefield "recoveries." A destroyed maintenance,medical, HQ unit is automatically brought back the next day, but you lose any potential percentage replacements from the day before. I use the optional supply rules and consider necessary for maintenance and medical units to be "in supply" in order to generate these replacement units. All other units not being brought back through this method are then shifted from the "Daily Losses" box to the "Total Losses box."

Thank you for asking this question and I should have included this information in my original review. I will append it to the above review for anyone else that happens to want to read it. I hope I have answered your question correctly but feel free to elaborate or follow-up with anything you would like to know. I'll always try my best to answer quickly and correctly!
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Rodney Geckler
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Joe, very nice insight, thank you for posting this. From your session, how long was the set-up time, and did you play solo?
-Rodney
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Pone McPoneface
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Paleorodo wrote:
Joe, very nice insight, thank you for posting this. From your session, how long was the set-up time, and did you play solo?
-Rodney


The setup time is probably the biggest detraction you can make about this game or any monster game to be fair, but given the counter density (2300 including the expansion) it should be expected. I started the setup the evening before and spent about an hour contemplating how best to place units (both Soviet and German), but other than getting the counters on the map I did not proceed with actual setup. The next day I spent somewhere in the vicinity of 2 hours setting up both sides. Though to be fair I spent a fair amount of time contemplating and reorganizing units during the setup as I consider this part of the learning experience. I did play solo, but tend to when it comes to my monster games.

edit: Also, I did not need to setup all 2300 counters for the July 4 scenario, but it was most of the German and fair amount of the Soviet 67th Guard forces...maybe some 600-800 counters I'm guessing.
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Rodney Geckler
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Joe, yes, a long set-up time was my concern for the Butovo scenario.
But since it technically is the kick-off to the entire campaign and has the high counter density, I'm not really surprised either. What is your plan from here, are you going to add 3rd panzer and re-do Butovo only,or add 3rd pz. and start the campaign?
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Pone McPoneface
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Paleorodo wrote:
Joe, yes, a long set-up time was my concern for the Butovo scenario.
But since it technically is the kick-off to the entire campaign and has the high counter density, I'm not really surprised either. What is your plan from here, are you going to add 3rd panzer and re-do Butovo only,or add 3rd pz. and start the campaign?


My current plan is to redo Butovo with the 3rd Panzer included and depending on how play goes may proceed with July 5. Without the 3rd Panzer I was forced to extend the GD units to the left to try and cover the July 5 start line which proved problematic and stretched my unit strength way to thin for comfort. With the 3rd Panzer on the left I should be able to concentrate my units in a more focused and effective way to establish a better result for July 5.
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Rodney Geckler
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Sounds like a plan then. If you have the time, I would definately like to read about any of your follow up sessions. I just picked up 3pz. last week, so I've got more counters to clip before I finally get DRK on the table. I'll share my feedback as well. Your initial posting was very helpful, because it helped tie up some rules questions I had. Thanks again Joe,
-Rodney
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Walter A
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A good review. I find the topic and game system interesting. However the info is still too sparse for me to order.

Chris was kind enough to send me a 2 page chart. What bothers me is the range seem excessive at the ground scale used. I'll wait for some more info before ordering.

Walt.
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Marco Arnaudo
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Thank you for the excellent overview / review! I am learning the system from Death Ride Kursk: 11th Panzer and reading your text gave a good summary of all main points I read in the rulebook. I think this 'll help me greatly when starting the game!

As for set up: maybe it was not 100% necessary but I DID set up all units on the order of battle, and that took me somewhere between 3 and 4 hours [watched 2 movies meanwhile...]. But now knowing where everyone is should speed things up as I set up actual scenarios... so let's see if the time investment pays off in the long run...
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Pone McPoneface
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You are very welcome and I take your comments as very high praise coming from someone who's review of games are far superior than my humble abilities. Hope you do a review of this title and look forward to your thoughts about this game!
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Lawrence Hung
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In one word, is this game worth that expensive price?
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Pone McPoneface
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Lawrence Hung wrote:
In one word, is this game worth that expensive price?


For me, the answer would be a clear "yes." I personally find the game to be very satisfying and enjoy the game a great deal. The subject matter is of immense interest to me as well as the scale of the game. Independent games do tend to cost more and sometimes quality can be compromised when compared to a company like GMT, but for me the importance of any game is how it plays and how well it immerses me in the experience. Death Ride Kursk succeeds on both counts.
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Keith Plymale
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I have all three of the games and all the enhancements. It is an excellent game and a system that is used in an equally big Salerno game and in to much smaller North Africa games. If you are interested in the system the two smaller games are an excellent entry point. If you are endtroducing the system to somebody or learning it I highly recommend one of those games.

Chris's support of the games and system is great. Some printing of the DRK games have incorrect suppression markers. The number should be the same on the front and the back. If you have the miss prints contact Grognard at there support and he will replace them.
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Phil Cunny
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Hi I don't have any of the DR games or modules as yet but have read through the rules (with amendments) here on the "files" section. Would you please tell me if the actual rules differ from that PDF?
Many thanks
PhilC
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Christopher Fasulo
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Phil,

The files in this forum don't have much in terms of detail.

You can find the current rules for all 3 games at:
http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.1dd55af7/555

Right now there is an effort underway to complete a consolidated and updated set of rules for the new to be released IInd SS games coming out next year. They have been reorganized considerably to help new players follow the rules based on the Sequence of play. The consolidated rules also have included ALL the enhancement rules so you can see what you are missing without the Maintenance, Logistics, Air, and Command and Control and Fire Support Enhancements. There is a lot of detail in there. The basic game is what I would like to call a gentle giant.

So the short answer to your question is that there are newer, better, more inclusive rules coming soon to DRK. While you won't find tremendous game altering changes, you will find many better defined rules.

Regards,
Chris
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Mike Fallon
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This is a great summary. Well done. Just completed a great game of the entire XLVIII PZ CORPS at CONSIM World. Liked the game a lot... In fact bought the series while I was there (Thanks Chris!). Definitely worth the investment.
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