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Summary

Assault on Sevastopol (hereinafter "Assault")is the third entry in Victory Point Games's line of Battlesson wargames. In that vein, Assault does a very good job of further introducing the novice player to some of the standard mechanics and approaches of hex-based wargames. I found it to be an entertaining game in its own right and an excellent stepping-stone to larger and a little more complex wargames, such as Stalingrad Pocket II.

This review is aimed at the new wargamer or those who are interested in finding lighter wargames with which to indoctrinate introduce the hobby to others.

Packaging and Components

Like other VPG games, Assault comes in a 6" x 10" clear zip. While not as prestigious as a telescoping cardboard box covered in fancy art, this packaging keeps costs down which, in turn, keep VPG games an outstanding value.

Another benefit to the zip bag is that it is easier to conceal from one's spouse and thus makes a gamer's collection not as disturbing to non-game-addicted family and friends.

The map is on 8.5" x 11" thick paper stock displaying 1" hexes and some simple and suitable graphics. The map also shows the turn track and has a summary of the order of play.


photograph courtesy of Alan Emrich

There are forty counters in all: seventeen for the Nazis (including two Romanian divisions and three air power markers) and twenty-two for the Soviets; the remaining counter is the Game Turn marker for the turn track.


photograph courtesy of Alan Emrich

Rules

The rulebook totals four pages. These four pages, however, are an exemplar of great rulebook-writing. Not only did this rather dim reader find the rules clear with ample examples and graphics, I also appreciated the clear organization. The few new concepts (e.g., "Zone of Control" on page three) are in burgundy allowing a novice to quickly find definitions of unfamiliar terms. Examples of play are in blue font allowing a faster learner to skip paragraphs he feels he doesn't need to read.

The game covers the basics of hex wargaming. Movement allowance, terrain modifiers, zones of control, reinforcements, and effects of stacking are all concisely and clearly explained. The beauty of this, of course, is that this knowledge is easily transferable to more complicated or less clear sets of rules, and this, of course, makes the hobby much more accessible and rewarding to the new player.

For instance, German air power is represented by three counters. The German player may assign these counters to perform column shifts on land battles he has arranged. This same mechanic is used in many other WW2 hex wargames.

Other Inserts

Assault comes with a few other inserts. The Historical Notes provide the player with background information on this actual battle and explain its historical significance. While this information was appropriate in length (one page, or a quarter the length of the rulebook) I would have appreciated either a bibliography or suggestions for further reading. The Designer Notes and the Developer Notes (the backside of the Historical Notes) provide the perspective of a game designer trying to match history with game mechanics and production costs.

Additionally, a four page insert entitled Wargame Tactics for Beginners is included. This is the "Battlesson" and it's the gold of the game. It explains such concepts as how ZOC's play out in different games, the importance of using the hex grain, and how to read a Combat Results Table. It uses other games as examples in these explanations thereby giving the student confidence to apply these lessons elsewhere.

Gameplay

Objective. Germany must force the Soviets to retreat all units to behind the Red Victory Line (a line on the map) within ten turns.

Combat. The game uses a CRT and odds calculation to resolve combat. My three solo plays have taken between fifteen and forty minutes each. Good play by each side is rewarded with a tense, longer game, while carelessness or horrid die rolling can cause the player to call the game well before he reaches the tenth turn.

Evaluation

Assault is a great gateway game to wargames. If one finds one doesn't care for the decisions and thought processes this game asks of its players, one probably won't want to explore hex wargames as a whole. Given Assault's humble price tag, that's about a cheap a lesson as one can learn in this hobby. Furthermore, almost all of the knowledge is transferable in some measure to other hex wargames. Lastly, the Battlesson is superb and for me was worth the price of the game by itself.

EDIT: typos
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Pete Belli
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
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Quote:
Another benefit to the zip bag is that it is easier to conceal from one's spouse and thus makes a gamer's collection not as disturbing to non-game-addicted family and friends.




Not that I would ever do anything like that...
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Alita The Heretic
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Buckley
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Great review !
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Alan Lynott
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Haha +1
 
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