Recommend
28 
 Thumb up
 Hide
10 Posts

Soviet Dawn» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Soviet Dawn Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
John Clocherty
Australia
Perth
Western Australia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Introduction
As per the comments in a previous review I gave for Israeli Independence, I am in what I hope is the beginning of a solitaire gaming renaissance. I have now bought a bunch of solitaire games, and am starting to work my way through them.
Soviet Dawn was next on the list.

Components
The comments I would say here are close to a repeat of what I said for Israeli Independence. The game comes in a small plastic bag. The components are broadly of decent quality. The map is an attractive full coloured representation the western part of the Soviet Union. The map is printed on sturdy paper. The paper quality is not great, but it looks good. The map covers the main theatres of the Russian Civil War. The map fits in a small space, which helps. There are a number of counters representing armies and markers to facilitate play. There are a number of cards that are core to play, representing major events in the war. They are quite attractive, but are printed on paper that is just a little hard to shuffle. The rules are short, and well written.
Assessment - Good

Rules
The rules are short, with sufficient detail. Given that the rules are not lengthy; I had minimal trouble absorbing all the essentials. Indeed, the rules are clear, and I was able to begin the game after a quick read. That said, during the game, I often had to come back to the rules to try to find the exact rulings on a few slightly complex cards. It would have been nice if this was easier to find. Others would argue that I am being a bit fussy here, but it would have been nice to have all the relevant details on the cards.
Assessment - Good

Gameplay
This is where Soviet Dawn really shines. The game is structured around six tracks that represent each of the main theatres in the war. Play is driven by the card deck. Play consists of revealing a card, advancing or retreating foreign armies or nationalist forces, and conducting actions. Unlike Israeli Independence, there are options other than conducting offensives.
The six army front tracks are not necessarily in play all at the same time. Indeed if they were, the Soviets would likely get overwhelmed in a hurry. The Eastern and Southern tracks represent Russian forces intent on crushing the Soviets. The Baltic front represents the Germans until the end of WW1, then other forces. The Polish and Finnish fronts will come into play during the course of the game, as well as the western Allies. The primary aim of the game is to hold off all of these enemies. If at least 3-4 are in play at once, things can get tough.
Cards represent the major events of the war, as well as providing a number of player actions. They add a lot of historical flavour. There are 3 card decks, and new decks are added through the various phases of the game. Russia in WW1, the period after the Treaty of Brest Litovsk, and post WW1.
The 3 actions that a player can take are:
1. Conduct offensives. The Soviets can attempt to push back the various active fronts. This can be tough, particularly against the Germans, Allies, Mannerheim led Finns and Eastern forces (if the Czechs are assisting). Basically a front can be pushed back if you roll > its strength on one die (strengths of 3 or 4)
2. Political. There is a track running from 0-9. If it ever falls to zero, you lose. If it reaches 9, you win. In this action, you can attempt to move the marker up to 9. There is a balancing act here. You can play a strategy of trying to play many actions on the Political Track, and win this way. This is very hard to do, unless you hold the Comintern International chit (more on this later).
3. Red Army Reorganisation. There are 7 chits that if held by the Soviets, provide advantages in various facets of play. E.g. Some provide advantages in combat. Comintern International allows +1 to die roll attempts on the Political Track. For me, this is the most powerful, and I have tended to win if I obtain this chit. Chits are hard to obtain; you must roll a die to get one; generally only a roll of 6 is successful.
The game is quite chaotic in nature. It is very easy to lose in a hurry if you are not careful, or unlucky. There is no doubt that luck plays a big part in the game. That said, you are left with the feeling that good play will tend to pay off most times. There is probably a lot to be said here regarding strategies in this game. I will save this for a separate article on Soviet Dawn.
There are 2 ways to win the game. One is to survive the play of all the cards in the deck. The other is obtaining a political victory. Winning by surviving the deck is tough. I have managed this twice. Political victories are unlikely (I think) unless you have the Comintern International chit. Then it becomes a strong possibility.
Most people seem to suggest that this is a 30 min game, but I seem to take maybe an hour, unless I get belted early on (very common). I see the playing time as a real positive; you can get in multiple plays in a session if you wish.
Assessment - Excellent

Depth
For a small compact game with a handful of pages of rules, there is a lot of depth to the game. It plays fast, but offers many challenges. As stated previously the ‘system’ that drives the game has been cleverly designed. Even after many plays, you will find new things to discover in terms of optimising your game play and dealing with a plethora of headaches leading to tough choices.
Assessment - Excellent


Replayability
Replayability is close to the best aspect of the game for me. There is a system here that is VERY hard to beat. It keeps you coming back for more. Your first win will be quite a celebration. Then you will want to play some more to see if it was just luck…………. I have played maybe 20-30 games and plan many more. Not many games have me so drawn in.
Assessment - Excellent

Value for Money
The game retails for about $20USD. While the game is small, its pretty good value (lucky for me the Aussie dollar continues to be strong at the moment!).
Assessment - Very good

=============================================
Overall Assessment - Excellent
I can’t compliment this game enough. It is a cleverly designed system that offers gamers a strong challenge, on the backdrop of an interesting time in history. I am always looking forward to playing another game.
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
jockulus wrote:


lucky for me the Aussie dollar continues to be strong at the moment!


Its a good game! Unlucky for me the Hong Kong dollar is pegged with the American dollar... whats worst is I have to buy tonnes of stuff from Australia every month!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Clocherty
Australia
Perth
Western Australia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sorry to hear that my gain is your loss!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Kennedy
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmbmb
jockulus wrote:

There are 2 ways to win the game...The other is obtaining a political victory. Winning by surviving the deck is tough. I have managed this twice. Political victories are unlikely (I think) unless you have the Comintern International chit. Then it becomes a strong possibility.

Actually, you are mistaken. Many players, and I am one, have concluded that gaining a political victory is the 'easy' route to victory, particularly in the early going. Some suggestions have been made to tighten things up in this regard => http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/588535/limitations-on-th...

jockulus wrote:

I have played maybe 20-30 games and plan many more. Not many games have me so drawn in.

Even after hundreds of plays, I still am making discoveries. Definitely, check out the expansion kit at some point. It is excellent => http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/495680/should-you-buy-th...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Bought!laugh

Quote:
Comintern International


What is the % of getting this card in a game?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Clocherty
Australia
Perth
Western Australia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It is very hard to put it down to a % chance over the course of a whole game.

Comintern International is one of 6 chits that you can obtain if you roll 6 on one die. So broadly, you have have 1/36 chance or 3% chance of obtaining Comintern International every time you undertake such an army reorg role. The odds here maybe doubled on occasion.

You may have multiple action rolls in a game, it all depends.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Darin Leviloff
United States
Foster City
California
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
Thanks for the nice review.

I don't think political victory is easy, by any means, even with the Comintern marker (I guess it sort of depends on when you get that, but the cards that give DRM for Red Army Reorganizations are later in the deck, so . . .). It is probably the more common way to win the game, but it involves risks. I've frequently "gone for it" and ended up screwing up any chance at military victory once I fail.

During play testing, I tried to play some games with an exclusive political focus and ultimately ended up losing as my military position eroded.

If I was going to make a comment on strategy is begin the game with all options open. Increase your political standing, if for no other reason, than to avoid political collapse and all that it entails. If you find your political level is high enough, make a political push (accompanied by the Bukharin option if you can afford it- i.e. the Germans are spent). If you don't think you can make it, keep a more evenhanded survival approach, monitoring politics.

I really like how the military/political system worked out and if you look at many more recent States of Siege games, you'll see a definite lunge toward political factors (see Levee en Masse).
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Kennedy
United States
California
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmbmb
All right, comrades, let's cut through the Bolshevik. Let me be blunt. There are no easy victories in Soviet Dawn. The facts are the Revolution will more likely than not be crushed by our reactionary enemies. After hundreds of games, if I'm batting more than .200, I'd consider myself fortunate. Until the last enemy of the Revolution is shipped to the gulag, our existance is precarious.

Thus, clearly, my choice of words was imprecise. I should have said achieving political victory is easier than military victory. Further, there is absolutely nothing assured about it. The situation for the Kremlin is too perilous to pursue political victory without regard to the existing military situation on the ground. Victory in Soviet Dawn is all about being opportunistic while being ever mindful of the various dangers which could bring you down. Most importantly, the dangers of our various enemies wax and wane. Indeed, knowing these currents will help the Revolution enormously.

However, a wily, wise and ultimately successful Bolshevik is ever mindful of the option of political victory. You must, if you can, strive to keep your political fortunes high enough so that if the opportunity presents itself, you can seize it. Obviously, there are no sure things. More often than not, events will distract you and force your hand. Indeed, Comrade Leviloff is right. An exlusive political focus is imprudent and simply too dangerous. Frankly, any comrade advocating such a strategy is obviously a double-agent in the pay of our capitalist enemies since it is so patently ineffective. I'd shoot them myself before Cheka got their hands on them.

My complaint about political victory is that it is more common than military victory. I think from a design standpoint, political victory should be the 'harder' option. Unfortunately, as it stands now, that is not the case. Furthermore, my complaint about the Comintern chit is that it makes achieving political victory a no-brainer. It doesn't happen a lot. But, when it does, effectively the Soviets are cruising and almost inevitably to political victory. I don't think it is an engaging gameplay dynamic.

I raise the issue because I love Soviet Dawn. I think it is a superb design and a blast to play. Simply dismissing the concerns about political victory doesn't really address it. I'm not saying the game is broken. I'm merely pointing out I think this aspect of the design could be more elegant. That's all.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
My complaint about political victory is that it is more common than military victory. I think from a design standpoint, political victory should be the 'harder' option.


Comrade, knowing that we only have 3% of achieving a political victory, we should go for the military option. If political victory comes, it would come easy with the mass of people approving of us. Without the military route, we are doomed politically. Isn't that Mao's theory of one hand grabs the military and another hand grabs the political united front?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Clocherty
Australia
Perth
Western Australia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There are some very insifgtful comments from Comrade David, who has played this beast a lot more than anyone else.

There is a much higher chance than 3%, but it just depends on luck, and how many actions you can spare to roll on this. I probably roll several times each game, so it becomes higher than 3%. As David said, you leave the chance of political victory as an option, and see how it pans out. .
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.