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Subject: Fury in the East: a fast and furious review rss

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Severus Snape
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Introduction:

This review is written with the belief that those few who read it are already familiar with it, more or less. Given that this game has been out for a couple of years, there might be some who have interest in Fury in the East, but who are undecided. For you, my comments might be relevant. As with most of my BGG reviews, I spend less time on the rules because I assume that most folks can get a copy and read them. I will address rules that either irk me or strike my fancy, as it my wont.

Fury in the East is MMP’s English version of a Japanese game called G-Barbarossa, and is another addition in the IGS series of games promoted by MMP. Fury in the East covers Fall Barbarossa from the end of June ’41 to March ’42. Given that there are no other scenarios, the game is rich in the “all or nothing” tension present for both the Soviets and the Axis.

Components:

Having MMP redo a Japanese game is a gain and a loss. The gain is obvious: rules, charts, tables that you can understand, and a game that was not accessible to an English-speaking audience is suddenly on our tables, for our gaming pleasure and leisure. So, what’s not to like? I own the odd Japanese game, such as those from Six Angles, and I consider the quality of their components, with the odd nit here, and pick there, to be superior to that of MMP.

For example, MMP often goes with glossy maps, as is the case with 22x34 map that comes with Fury in the East. As a preference, I prefer the duller finish you find in other maps, such as those put out by GMT. Add plexi-glass, as I sometimes do, and the glare on top of glare makes the gaming rather glaring; wouldn’t you agree? Then there are the other essential components, the 262 counters. The images shown on the rulebook, which is probably the best single component, despite its need for addenda, make the counters look better than they are when placed on the map. They are also rather thin and seem smaller than what they are.

I suppose, in part, because this is a magazine game included with various odds and ends in the Operations Special Edition #3, you get your typical magazine components. Unless you are ATO, and then you combine the great with the cheap. MMP is at least consistent: cheap all the way. This is a shame, because Fury in the East deserves to be offered as a boxed game, separate from the others in the magazine, and with higher quality components.

The lack of a couple of player’s aids is regretted by those of us who often play solitaire. Because the two sides have their own unique CRT’s, you either have to get up and move around, strain your neck, read upside down, or use your adobe and graphic skills—which I sorely lack—to make copies of the CRT’s and the terrain effects chart, or TEC.

Some Nuts & Gaming Bolts:

a) Setup: I don’t know why, but I find the setup to be a bit of a chore, but there is no rational reason to justify my feeling; I’ve played games with far longer, and more intricate, set-ups and so have you. Perhaps it is just that fact that the Soviet side has to randomly draw almost all of his (or her) units for map placement. Thus, the Rifle Corps you draw might have a reduced step of 1 or 2 SP’s, or that Tank Corps might be a * which means “one and you’re done,” to borrow a line from the wildcard baseball playoffs. And then there are all those places on the map, places not easy to see, where these RC’s or TC’s must go.

b) The individual CRT’s: This is one of the neat things about the game, but do not assume that 4-1 odds will ensure victory; Avalon Hill’s wargame rules do not apply here. The Soviets will never retreat, and the Axis have the option of taking step loses and staying in place, or retreating two hexes, with the Soviets having the option of advancing two hexes.

c) Luftwaffe: Here it is a bit retro, with nothing complex. After the early going, you roll to check the weather, and the number of Luftwaffe counters the Axis may use, though during turns 7-9, you won’t use any. These counters can cause combat shifts for offense or defense—a nice choice, as well as put the brakes on Soviet rail movement.

d) Terrain effects: Only the Soviets benefit from terrain effects, and though in game practice, it works out, if for no other reason than you get used to it, this “Red only” bothers me. Perhaps it is because it is not how it is done in most—all--of my other wargames. Then again, I think it makes sense to give Soviets attacking out of a woods hex a favourable column shift; they know the lay of the land better than their foes with their terrible maps.

e) Zones of Control: Since they still exist, depending on this or that, I guess it means Ty Bomba did not have a say in this design. If Soviet units are out of command range—and many, if not most, are most of the time—the Panzers can ignore their zoc’s. But if an Axis infantry unit is next to a Soviet unit, the Axis must fight or stay glued, and any Soviet unit next to an Axis unit must make mandatory attacks. I think Fury's way of handling zoc's is a nice balanced between none at all and having your mobile forces stuck in place.

f) Mandatory attacks: Speaking of these, this is one of the elements the Axis side must utilize to attempt to eliminate as much of the Soviet Army as possible; but, remember, the Soviets do not retreat, so they cannot be eliminated by forcing retreats into other Axis zoc’s.

g) Overruns: Armoured units on both sides may attempt an overrun at the cost of 3 extra movement points on top of the terrain cost. During the Blitzkrieg days of the campaign, this is how the Germans punch holes in the Soviet lines.

h) Stacking: You are not allowed more than two combat units per hex, which prevents the Germans from putting their Panzers into Panzer armies; if this rule is not in place, the Red Army stands not a chance.

i) Soviet Command & Control rules: Soviet leaders are selected randomly and placed faced down until a situation arises where their identities, and strengths, are revealed. Because of their limited number and uncertain quality (3, 2, 1, 0, *), the effect is to create sluggish pockets of Red Army troops along with units and armies that seem to know what they are doing. As a design for effect concept, it is quite nifty, though I think that even 0 rated leaders should be worth 1 VP each.

j) Supply: In the first part of the movement phase, the Axis moves the 3 Army Group supply markers before moving anything else, including combat units. This is a nice, nuanced touch, which reflects the historical need for the Germans to push their supply lines out as quickly, and as far, as possible, and at great risk. Furthermore, no units are eliminated solely by lack of supply. This idea is superior to all those other games where units are cut off and die. Enormous numbers of Red Army troops were cut off but still continued to fight; they did not just “die” from lack of supply. This means that, just as in the historical campaign, the German infantry gets the task of trying to grind down these Red remnants while keeping up with the Panzers; it’s impossible to do both equally well.

Some Irks and Quirks:

Here are some aspects I find questionable or irksome.

a) Hitler Command: This is one of the main selling features of Fury in the East. In theory, it is fine; in practice, it can get silly. It is true that most (how many is “most” remains to be discovered by actual comparison), if not nearly all (same issue) Easternfront games allow far too much hindsight for both sides. No one will be Hitler or Stalin in his or her mistakes, or at least that is what we hope. But despite the too-often dysfunctional nature of Hitler and OKH, the Hitler Command rule is more like spinning an arrow to see where it lands. It needs more structure and nuance. For example, what is done with the “Operation Typhoon” rule should be done with all of the others items. If the Axis is close to sealing off a huge pocket of Soviet forces, I think even Hitler might see the sense of that, in ’41 at least. As is, the Hitler Command rule penalizes too much and is too arbitrary.

b) The Cookie-Cutter Order of Battle: The OB that comes with Fury in the East is “Old School,” and not in a good way. All German Panzers have the same strength, bar one reinforcement (and weakening it is questionable). The same is true with the infantry, and it is reflected in the OB’s for all the other units from the Axis allies and the Soviet side. If you are going to have the skill and insight to add those random SP’s to the flip sides of Soviet units, why not go through the trouble of researching an historically justifiable OB? Does the bland OB impact game play? I would say yes because you can pretty much predict what the SP’s are in that stack heading towards the Kremlin. Does it make the game less fun? You decide.

c) Where history repeats itself, by which I mean the errors in the map: Thanks to John Collis for pointing this out, and I quote him here where he speaks of "the perpetuation of the geographical errors of Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Cherkassy, Zhaparozhe, and Voronezh being placed on the wrong side of the rivers that they are adjacent to were particularly annoying." Is it just an oversight on MMP's part, or is it just laziness?

Conclusion, or why should you get this game?

Fury in the East is an enormous amount of fun. Quibble or not with the rules, they work well together, the notable exception being the Hitler Command rule. The Axis race against the Soviet Army and the weather clock, because when the single mud turn comes, and the three snow turns in a row, Blitzkrieg becomes Sitzkrieg for the Wermacht and friends. I found this game to be more enjoyable, and thought-provoking (you compare it against the history and ask questions of both books and games) than some of its more expensive kin.

I wish that MMP would make a deluxe and improved version of Fury in the East, with better components and graphics, an expanded set of counters, some optional rules, and even, low and behold, an OB that shows some homework behind it. This design would be worth the effort.

goo

edited for spacing snafu's and other various tarfu's.
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Bill Lawson
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I like this game and am pretty much in agreement with you. Fury in the East is a real nice effort! thumbsup
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Kim B
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Thank you for spotlighting less-played games. I got Fury in the East only because of Warriors of God scenarios, but reviews like this do nudge me towards perhaps maybe thinking about trying it out.

Keep up the good job!
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Severus Snape
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Yngwie1751 wrote:
Thank you for spotlighting less-played games. I got Fury in the East only because of Warriors of God scenarios, but reviews like this do nudge me towards perhaps maybe thinking about trying it out.

Keep up the good job!


Thank you, Kim; it was a kind thing to say.

goo
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John Collis
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Very good summary of your impressions on the game!

I really wanted to enjoy this game, but up front, the perpetuation of the geographical errors of Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Cherkassy, Zhaparozhe, and Voronezh being placed on the wrong side of the rivers that they are adjacent to were particularly annoying. Additionally, I don't think that the victory conditions were scaled properly from the original version, due to the increased map size. Really, MMP was sleeping at the wheel with this one. Good thing that the game didn't require any naval rules!

I really enjoyed the gameplay and found it very innovative, clever and thought-provoking. However, my conclusion after a few sessions felt that the game was ahistorical. By March, competent Soviet play would leave the map almost entirely devoid of Soviet units. While a 'win' might be scored, the Soviet Army wasn't that badly damaged, and even able to launch an offensive at Izyum, albeit a disasterous one. So there is an edge-of-the-world effect here that is disconcerting; since the game doesn't feel historical, I have passed on this game.

I find Russian Front and Trial of Strength more worthy, complex simulations, and No Retreat! as the all round best WW2 East Front game. However, a competent remake of FitE has the potential to make it a top tier contender too.
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Severus Snape
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Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."
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Quote:
I really wanted to enjoy this game, but up front, the perpetuation of the geographical errors of Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Cherkassy, Zhaparozhe, and Voronezh being placed on the wrong side of the rivers that they are adjacent to were particularly annoying. Additionally, I don't think that the victory conditions were scaled properly from the original version, due to the increased map size. Really, MMP was sleeping at the wheel with this one.


Thanks, John: I forgot about the rivers, even after posting on another thread where I joined in the, albeit small, chorus complaining about how this mistake was a carryover from the earlier addition.

MMP seems to be the wargaming company that is filled with potatoes (the good idea) and half-bake's them (the execution and final product).

goo
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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The map errors almost killed the game for me but I found a simple solution: color copy the areas in question and out the coty / terrain hexes. You can pit Kiev and the other cities in the right spot and plac ea terrain hex onto the 'wrong' cities.
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