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Borodino '41» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Borodino '41 - History repeats itself. rss

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Going thirty-eight, Dan, chill the f*** out. Mow your damn lawn and sit the hell down.
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Borodino ’41 was published in 1995 by Clash Of Arms Games (CoA) and recreates the battle to clear the Warsaw – Moscow Highway in October 1941. Designed by Jack Radey, players will find the 10th Panzer Division and the SS Das Reich Division attacking the 5th Army reinforced by the crack Siberian 32nd Rifle Division.

The components are to the usual CoA standard, with serviceable counters and a wonderful map which is clear and gives a good feel for the terrain in the battle area. But these things aren’t do or die, it’s the rules that can make or break a game, and these rules do their best to try you.

I find the mechanics of the game to be quite interesting, it’s just a shame that the rules are so poorly written and the layout is so bad. My favourite mechanism is initiative determination, and the effect that has on the 3 sections of each day. Before each turn the players secretly commit to a number of assaults that they will conduct during the upcoming section. Both players roll a die and add various modifiers, like the number of fresh units that will assault, and add this to their commitment of assaults. The player with the highest number gets the initiative, but is committed to making the number of assaults they said they would.
The player with the initiative gets to move first in the AM section and all his units have 12 movement points (MP) to use. (It costs 1MP to make an assault.) After all the movement and combat is done the initiative player can say he is taking a limited impulse. The non-initiative player then can declare that they will challenge for the initiative. This challenge is resolved in the same way as the initial initiative determination though the initiative player gets to add 1 to their roll. Whoever wins the initiative has 8MP to use on their units.
For the PM section who moves is determined by what happened in the AM section. If the player original initiative player had both AM impulses then the other player has a limited impulse. If both players had an AM impulse then both players get a limited impulse in the PM section.
The night section begins with initiative determination and both players have a limited impulse each, but are under severe limitations to the number of assaults they can declare.
If at the start of the turn neither player commits to any assaults then a lull turn is declared. During a lull turn both players get a limited impulse inm each of the AM, PM and night sections. Also during a lull turn units cannot enter an enemy zone of control, place assault markers, perform direct or indirect fire or perform air-strikes.
As you can see there are benefits to winning the initiative but it comes at the cost of having to make the number of assaults you committed to.

What lets the game down though is the rules layout, proof reading and counters errors and the errata. Jack Radey has a very conversational style of rules writing, but this does mean that the rules do jump around at times before coming back to previous topics. There are also no case numbers on the rules, which would have helped when looking up rules. Also counters have different designations to the set-up instructions which makes set up a chore as well. All these little things by themselves are small but start to add up.

Finally I’ll mention the victory conditions which give a good indication of the way the rules are written;

‘To win the game the German player must clear the highway of all Soviet units and zones of control from west map edge to east map edge. He must also take Mozhaisk. In addition to doing all of this, he must have some forces left on their feet to exit the map. The sooner he clears the road and the more forces he has left after doing so, the greater the victory. What, you want a bunch of numbers to add up to prove what a big winner you are? Do like the real generals did, minimize your own loses, inflate your opponent’s and claim victory!’

Once I got past the problems with the game I actually enjoyed playing it. Borodino ’41 may not be my favourite East Front game but it makes me want to try others Radey has designed. (Just finished printing the 40 pages of errata for Operation Spark so it may be a while before I tackle another Radey game.).
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Going thirty-eight, Dan, chill the f*** out. Mow your damn lawn and sit the hell down.
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usrlocal wrote:
Good review! Radey's conversational style certainly takes some getting used to, and the fact that he treats the reader as an adult who can make his/her own decisions about how to play the game is certainly not in sync with today's more rigid and formalized style of rules. Warts and all, though, I do find his designs extremely interesting.

I agree they are interesting. I do want to give Operation Spark a go, and I have Duel for Kharkov coming as well.

I'm just a little daunted by a 40 page errata file for Operation Spark. Admittedly their ar eoptional rules and designer chatter in that, but still 40 pages.
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Ted Kim
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petegs wrote:
[q="usrlocal"]I'm just a little daunted by a 40 page errata file for Operation Spark. Admittedly there are optional rules and designer chatter in that, but still 40 pages.


Wow, is the 40 page errata the file on Web Grognards or something else?
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The play's the thing ...
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Going thirty-eight, Dan, chill the f*** out. Mow your damn lawn and sit the hell down.
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tedhkim wrote:
petegs wrote:
[q="usrlocal"]I'm just a little daunted by a 40 page errata file for Operation Spark. Admittedly there are optional rules and designer chatter in that, but still 40 pages.


Wow, is the 40 page errata the file on Web Grognards or something else?


Yeah, I got it from Web Grognards.
 
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Jack Radey
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A 40 page errata file for Operation Spark!? That's odd, as I never heard of it. I wonder who decided what the errors were?
 
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