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Subject: Tell me about the Russian Front rss

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alex w
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STOP READING :

(1) If You think this is a memoir of a veteran about the Russian Front in WW2.

(2) If you can’t accept new mechanics in wargaming. Thinking that 3:1 odds is still the best bet in a die roll. (or for that matter nowadays, in a single card.)

(3) If you feel that a 3:1 odds ( or whatever) die roll against Stalingrad is sufficient to entertain you. (Been there done that......yap, I’ve played a East Front Game already.....)

(4) If you feel that a Russian Front Battle that ranges from 1941 to 1944 CAN and/or SHOULD be completed in an evening casual gaming time. (3 to 4 hours? Maybe?)

(5) If you feel that wargames that takes more than 48 hours to play is not your cup of tea anymore. (I can understand that, I have a job and family too.)

(6) If you like to make conclusions about a wargame after half a play (incomplete....say, only play for 3 turns or so.)

(7) If you need a full explanation/run-down on the rules. (I’m just gonna touch on some parts of it.)

(8) Lastly, which I personally holds true : If you feel that this game is unbalanced for whatever reasons. (don’t blame it on the die roll, on your tactics, on the rail counters, on the ships, planes, weather, replacements and most importantly...about it being historical in gameplay........) I’m not here to argue about it.

The Rules


(1) One of the cleanest rules explanation of its time even till now. A basic 4 page rules for beginners and another 12 pages or so for Advanced game rules. IMO, the Advanced rules is the best way to play and enjoy the intricacies of the game. With the revised version, the rules are even clearer than daylight. If you can play ASL, this is nothing.....(in my case, if I can read and Play FFG games, this rules set is pretty much appreciated.)


The Counters


(1) It can’t be compared to what GMT/MMP/LnL churns out nowadays. Dated? Agreed. Functionality? Still excellent and colourful. One look and you know exactly where your units are. Even for the Russians, the Light/Dark Browns and Reds still gives you the feeling of the ‘RED HORDE’ that is so Russian.

(2) Comes in Standard notation. Attack-Defense-Movement factors. Repeated but with variations. So it can’t be any more complex or simple.


The Map


(1) Colourful by standards then. But not overly bright till it blinds you.

(2) Yap, its a Hex and counter game.

(3) Does not merge the counters into its background. ‘Matt’ counters on semi glossed map. Couldn’t ask for more.

(4) Nicely done with borders well delineated. Fortress, Cities, Towns, Oil fields, ports, rail lines, etc, are well depicted on the map.

(5) 4 folded mapboards butted together to form the whole Russian front. From Finland (lower part) to the Black Sea. From Poland to the Volga (and a little beyond). The whole map no larger than the standard GMT paper maps.


The Game Play in a Nut Shell


(1) Its an IGO-UGO game.

(2) Move your units.

(3) Battle occurs IN the HEX if occupied by both sides. Original owner of the Hex is the Defender, of course. ZOCs are negated immediately when there are units engaged on both sides. (this is an important rule)

(4) Fight from Air battle phase, to Sea battle phase, to Land battle phase. Cumulating the factors with any surviving units from phase to phase. (Air+Sea+Land factors all added up if you win all the way) Battle is 1 VS 1, unless cumulated down the phases.

(5) There are NO losers or winners. It depends on whether you want to fight some more OR was forced to retreat. (Especially so if due to unit elimination.) If you think you can take it....feel free to take another round.....

(6) Do your retreats if any. Return your supporting units (Air/Naval units)

(7) Exploitation moves by tank/panzer units. (Plus reserve units if any)

(8) Other player does the above again.


My Opinion


(1) Is there any game out there that is better than RF? .........Maybe, But I’ve yet to appreciate them at similar levels as RF.

(2) What about Russian Campaign?...similar in scale, Good way to play the whole Eastern battle in an evening. Nevertheless, it lacked something...... a little bit more meat.

(3) Stalin’s War?....Reasonable game, plays quickly, slightly ‘larger’ in scale as compared to RF. Interesting card play, again....I needed a bit more meat.

(4) Case Blue?.... I need more time on that one, but I don’t think I can compare CB with RF.....it’s scale and tactical management is very different. (some gamer thought RF was at Divisional level......)

(5) I don’t really like this game. I Love it. Those who claim that air and naval factors are an issue need to read more widely. You’ll appreciate RF more.

(6) Everything is accounted for in this scale. Rail gauge, partisans, Air Support, Air supply, Naval supply (especially so to keep Leningrad alive), Land Lease, the vastness of the Russian Steeps, the unending horde of Russian units, the surgical attacks of German units, the shouldering of the frontlines by axis minors, the importance of oil fields, Encirclement (both from German and Russian point of view), Factories moved to the Urals, Siberian Troops, Guard units, Leader purged felt in Russian initial units to the German’s first Winter, varying victory conditions so that you can end your game earlier, replacements, upgrading your units, refit of tank/panzer units...........etc.......etc. Seriously.... what more can you ask for in a game this scale?

(7) Is there a Flaw?.....IMO, YES. Gamers have a hard time playing (with concentration) this game till the end. The options to do what Stalin/Hitler wants is completely open to the gamer’s own decisions.

(8) Is there a Flaw about historical accuracy? I DON’T KNOW, really. Its a game. .........Mimic the history? Then why do I need to play it, since Germany will lose? Deviate from it..... others claim inaccuracy due to .........Blah, blah, blah. Let’s not go down that lane.....


I have played this game but 20 odd times. The strategy is immense. I’ve yet to have the PERFECT Russian Defense on turn 1. Or the best way to reach Moscow before the snow falls. I believe I’m an infant in this game.


The final note is this : Play this game...play it till the end....play it again....play that to the end...do that a few more times.......and you will feel what I feel about this game.


The same units attacking the same place defended by the same units at the same time will not yield you the same result always. Do that on every hex, on every turn, on every unit and you have a completely different permutational outcome that affects the final die roll before the game ends. You might hold your breath to the very last die roll........now that’s what I call EXCITMENT!


For me , this game is a CLASSIC in its own right. A Perfect 10.
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Bill Lawson
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Russian Front was my favorite Corps/Army level eastfront game for many years. I still like it. I played Trial of Strength awhile back and now have a new favorite. Interestingly they are both from the 80's.
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ian morris
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It has the most beautiful maps of any wargame.


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Mattias R
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Looks great. Elegant system. Not that hard to learn. Unfortunately takes too long to play, so never gets played. A pity that. Last I played was solitaire, on VASSAL.
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alex w
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It is worthwhile to play this game by yourself with your own leisure time. You'll be surprised that it's just as enjoyable. I prefer face to face as the strain on a player present mistakes in strategy that accounts for your own tactical successes. Hahaha

Anyways, it is still a fantastic game which ever way you play it.
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Simon Blackwell
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one of the oldest games in my collection and still my favourite. I end up playing this mostly on my own now owing to length to complete, I also played it last time with the expansion maps of Berlin (which didnt get used) and the expansion counters (volksturm/home army/POLIZEI SS, etc). By armistice/May 45 The Germans had managed to hang onto the northern tip of Latvia courtesy of the Baltic Navy and hold an approximate 4 hex deep 100km band of land east of the original borders in the south and central areas. Just Riga, Brest-Litovsk, Lvow remained occupied, Warsaw was lost end May 45 to the Home Army. According to the rules, Ivan had won a decisive victory by Nov 42 but I kept going to see what would happen (I'm a sucker for trying to alter history).
All that was left of the German force at the end was

5S 4-3-10 Luftwaffe 1 hit
Baltic navy 4-4-7 undamaged
Black sea navy 3-3-7 1 hit
2SS Pz (Bittrich) 8-7-6 6 hits
24 Pz 8-6-6 5 hits
41 Pz 8-6-6 5 hits
Herman Goering Pz (Schmalz) 5-4-6 3 hits
9SS Mtn (Pfeffer-Wildenbruch) 6-6-6 2 hits
49 Mtn 5-5-6 4 hits
24 Mtn 4-4-6 1 hit
5SS Mtn (Jeckeln) 3-3-6 undamaged
Volksturm Memel 2-2-2 undamaged
Volksturm Konigsburg 2-2-2 undamaged
2nd Rom air 3-2-10 1 hit
1 Rom Mtn 3-3-4 1 hit

Notable/interesting ground units destroyed at the end were
PolizeiSS/White Russian (Kaminski) 1-2-6 Mar 45 Vilna
1SS Pz (Priess) 9-8-6 Apr 45 Kiev
15SS Cossack (Von Pannwitz) 4-3-8 Apr 45 Lvow
Grossdeutschland Pz (Jauer) 9-8-6 May 45 Lvow




Against this were Soviet units too numerous to mention but suffice to say another couple of months and they'd be in Berlin for tea.









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José San Miguel
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gamer72 wrote:


It has the most beautiful maps of any wargame.




Absolutely. One of my favourite maps.
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Lincoln Graves
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actually russian front is NOT an I GO YOU GO game. It is interactive.
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alex w
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That's true. There are reaction phase where the non phasing player reacts to moving adjacent units causing battle.

Similarly, there are air/naval units that react to battle hexes.

Thanks for clarifying.
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Jim Watson
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Great thread Alex.

Re above also non phasing reserve units can visit battle hexes.
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Michael Galle
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Im just beginning to appreciate it (again) after having played it many years ago. Im not sure, I'd rank it higher than East Front, although they are very different.

Russian front has that "move everything every month" which obviously slows it down, but usually gives you 3 or 4 intersting hotspots at the same time - which is great and makes it suitable even for 2 vers. 2 play.

Eastfront requires you to activate HQ's (twice a month) to do anything and thus mud in october 41 often finds both players to forego any play to conserve the already stretched HQ's - unless one is in dire straits ofc. Eastfront HQ system - their strength and placement - gives the game some chess-like qualities. But air and sea is abstracted.

What the heck, I do like both games laugh .

Norden

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alex w
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I like east front too but as the game moves on, it comes to a stage where both sides will be 'gathering' resources for another late push. When that time comes, it's a matter of who makes the first mistake on a stalemate front.

It's a good game but the fog of war late in the game makes starting an offensive questionable.
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Ethan McKinney
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So, a few questions ...

1. Can the Germans make their historical 1941 advances?

2. Can the Soviets conduct their historical 1941 winter offensive and does it make sense for them to do so?

3. Does the game look something like history in 1942 and later? (Not that it's on rails, but that historical results are possible, many historical choices are reasonable, and so forth.)
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John Gant
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Obviously the answer to this will depend on the quality of the two opponents and the matchup. However, here are my observations.


elbmc1969 wrote:
So, a few questions ...

1. Can the Germans make their historical 1941 advances?


This game is quite good at re-enacting the Barbarossa campaign. A quality Axis player can do pretty much what you'd expect. However, the learning curve is higher for the Axis player so this can be difficult to do at first.

Then, a quality Soviet opponent against a less-than-perfectly careful Axis player can really cause some serious problems for the Axis.

Finally, if the Axis player gets really good and figures out Attrition of the Soviet forces is his best weapon, as opposed to the huge encirclement battles of history, he becomes unstoppable in '41.

Quote:
2. Can the Soviets conduct their historical 1941 winter offensive and does it make sense for them to do so?


Yes, and it is probably essential to do so. I wrote this up quite extensively in my AAR on Consimworld. I'll link to that below.

If the Soviet doesn't have enough gas left in the tank once the snow falls in '41 the game will be decided quickly in '42. Have to strike the right balance as the Soviet between retreating against Barbarossa and striking back against it. Give up too much territory too quickly and it will end quickly. Stand fast too much and lose too many units too quickly and it will also end quickly.

Quote:
3. Does the game look something like history in 1942 and later? (Not that it's on rails, but that historical results are possible, many historical choices are reasonable, and so forth.)


In my opinion this game does a fine job recreating 1941 but does not do nearly as good of a job recreating 1942 or beyond. Most all of the sessions of this game are decided in '42. Common for beginners the Axis won't be competent enough in '41 and won't get the VPs needed so the Soviet win in '42. Then later the Axis are almost unstoppable against all but true Masters of the Soviet side and usually win it in '42.

Great game, but not without the failing of most titles on this subject. It does many, many things very, very well and is great fun to play. Well worth getting in to for a while.

Here is the AAR I wrote up on this game, it is quite extensive:
http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?14@@.1dd3b388/0

Here is the start of posts specific to the Soviet Winter Offensive:
http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?14@@.1dd3b388/201

Use the 'Table of Contents' in that first post to navigate to all the pages on Soviet Attacks.

Happy hunting!

--JokerRulez
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Jim Watson
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The Axis should attack ferociously on the first turn for four reasons:
1.The additional plus 1 attack factor for the 'surprise' attack is a one-off bonus and is a great advantage.
2.The Soviet armies are mainly set up in vulnerable areas near the border within nice and easy reach and need to have holes punched in them to create routes through which to advance.
3.The Soviet airforce has only one air corps within range of any of its border armies.
4.Many of the 41 Soviet units are capable of being destroyed in a single round of combat, or rather have a high probability of being destroyed. Later units almost all have a 3 or more defence which makes them hard to kill in one round of combat.

Thereafter however the Axis is too relatively fragile to sustain high combat losses particularly if the war does not look winnable for them in the first 12 months which is the case at least 50pc of the time. Replacements are minimal and therefore unless there is a good strategic or tactical reason for direct combat it is wise for the Axis to be very selective with this and look instead to to utilise their superior flexibility, mobility and blitz capability to outmanouvre Soviet units, knock out one or two where necessary but otherwise cut them off or bypass them. Once large numbers of Soviets are cut off the Soviet player has the unpleasant choice of either leaving them to perish and attempting to establish a diminished line further east, or to try and save some or all of them (so they can rejoin the defence or block Axis advance routes/supply lines) and but risk throwing good units after bad by having more units cut off and having an even more ragged line than before. A real balancing act which is certainly historical.

The Soviet will usually have the ability to apply pressure in the first winter and most 'good Hitlers' in RF retreat out of reach of the resurgent reds, regroup and then try to push for a decisive 42 thrust, which is only partially historic. The Soviet will be relatively content to try and push the Axis so far back in the first winter so that the Axis will have a tight timetable to get forward to their 42 goals which will necessitate undesirable risktaking or overstretching of resources particularly the hugely influential luftwaffe.

So I think the game simulates the difficult choices, timescales for victory and relative strengths of the participants very well. The only thing that doesnt happen often is an assault on Stalingrad, which is a shame. Stalingrad in RF is slightly unfortunately situated very near the edge of the board giving the Soviet a considerable advantage for defence or counterattack, whilst bestowing very little strategic value to its capture, although it is worth three victory points. I think if Stalingrad had equal or even greater replacement factors to Moscow, say three or even four, that potentially decisive reward would encourage more of a concerted Axis drive in its direction despite the peril and difficulty involved.
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John Martino
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Great overview of a great game You mentioned that in the stock game Stalingrad is seldom attacked because it is near the map edge. That has been nicely handled in the map extentions which add 8 hexs east of Stalingrad and many more into the deep south Its a great game I love month long turns it strikes the correct balance
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I look forward to playing RF after reading this review.
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Mauro Bertolino
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I am currently playing it on VASSAL with a friend, after almost 15 years since the last time I played it. After the first campaign, with me as the Germans (I had to admit my defeat in november '42), we have changed sides. A lot of amusement, as always: each turn the Axis seems to having successfully routed the Russians, and then they rebuild their lines and the game goes on. At this scale, I think it's still one of the best games on this topic.
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alex w
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Whao! Throwing in the towel in Nov 42?!!! Thats gotta hurt!

Let me guess, you ran out of Panzer steam and your Luftwaffe are downed? Replacements could not bring up half of what you have lost?

No worries comrade.....happend to me more than enough times, especially when I first started out.......

THis kind of situation usually happen to me when I push in too far too quickly and at multiple spots instead of concentrating..... some times we wonder who actually surrounded who!!!! Hahahalaugh

Having said that, sometimes if you play the whole campaign.... your German lines could solidify with infantry units and let the Panzers refit slowly.....you might spent a year in 1943 doing that..... than try preventing the Russians from breaking through!....yap.... reverse role, but you might actually make a slight marginal win!
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Aaron
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Alex,
Your review of this game was great and really has me interested in RF.
How does this game stand up solitaire for you?

Thanks again,
Aaron
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alex w
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A bit on a split personality problem if you want to play it solitaire.

Its very 'do-able' but half the fun is gone I'm afraid.

The thoughts of breaking through at various points and attacking here and there, hoping the other player would react to it and stop you somehow......OR calculating the odds for a better attack combo.......would be slightly.....erm.......'made known'....Know what I mean?

And when you play the other side..... you would 'react' to this known fact..............

So.... the answer is both YES and a NO. (more towards a 'No' actually.)

But thats my opinion though.... you might actually like it played this way.
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Simon Blackwell
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I invariably play this solo now that my circle of mates have all grown up and moved around the country with families etc. However I still love this game regardless. All the facts about knowing the other sides intentions are valid but its still fun to play. I have to add that unless you are very lucky with dice roles or making the Russians utterly incompetent the chances of winning as the axis are very slim. I tend to favour them in this game because of this and take the risks on offensives etc with them using Ivan in a more simple reactive way early on.
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Jim Watson
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Simonsmrt wrote:
I invariably play this solo now that my circle of mates have all grown up and moved around the country with families etc. However I still love this game regardless. All the facts about knowing the other sides intentions are valid but its still fun to play. I have to add that unless you are very lucky with dice roles or making the Russians utterly incompetent the chances of winning as the axis are very slim. I tend to favour them in this game because of this and take the risks on offensives etc with them using Ivan in a more simple reactive way early on.


you should sign up to Vassal Simon, easy to use and an incredibly well put-together RF module by enthusiasts. I did try playing RF solo once and couldnt get into it for the reasons Alex stated above.
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Aaron
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I have been meaning to do that as well. Is it easy to find opponents ?
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Simon Blackwell
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on my to do list!!!
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