"Revolt in the East" is a small game included into the Nr. 56 "Strategy & Tactics" magazine, published in 1976. In the magazine you find several articles about the Soviet Army and the political situation in eastern Europe in the 70s. The game itself depicts a hypothetical "what-if" situation in which various Warsaw Pact states revolt against the supremacy of the Soviet Union and a possible NATO intervention to help them.
[u]Rules and Components
With the magazin you get a relatively simple map of Central/Eastern Europe and the Balkans which basically depicts either clear or rough terrain and the biggest cities. You also get 100 counters in different colours which represent the armies of the nations involved. There are three types of units: ground forces, air units (NATO and Soviets only) and airborne (Soviets only). Of course the components cannot keep pace with the present-day standart, but they are practicable and I've never been very demanding on that.
The rules are rather simple and only 8 pages long. They are clearly written and, as far as I see, there are no major contradictions or obscurities. The one concept which bothers me are the movement rules, as the Soviet units use different movement factors in the Soviet Union, in friendly Warsaw Pact nations and in hostile countries. The game offers 4 different scenarios: two of them are semi-historical (Hungary 1956 and Czechoslovakia 1968) and two completely hypothetical (standart scenario and Yugoslavia) I've only played one of them so far (the standart scenario), but all four seem to be very similar.
General Course of Play
At the beginning of each turn the NATO player rolls a die and checks, which countries revolt. There are six Warsaw Pact Nations which might revolt: East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. If there are revolting cities which were not suppressed by the Soviet player during the previous game turns, several nations might revolt at once or a NATO intervention might be triggered. All cities in the revolting countries immediately get a revolt marker, which they retain untill the Soviet player occuppies the city. Then the NATO player, who controls the revolted Warsaw Pact nations, moves his units first. NATO units can be moved only if NATO intervention was triggered, which didn't happen in the two solitaire games I played. The Warsaw Pact Nations have in general only very few and ratehr weak units which cannot leave their home countries, so there are not many options how to use them. You can either place them into the revolting cities to protect them against Soviet counter attacks. But doing this you put all eggs into one basket, as the Soviets are usually strong enough to capture the city and eliminate the garrison army with one attack. Or you can try to place the Warsaw Pact armies in front of your cities to prevent an immediate attack against them. But then you'll be crushed in open terrain. Maybe you are lucky to surround and destroy a lonely Soviet unit but this doesn't affect the overall situation much. The most important is to keep as many cities in revolt as possible to get better chances on the revolt table in the next turn to get several nations into revolt at once.
The second half of each turn is the time of the Soviets. They receive reinforcements and replacements, move their units and attack. Only the Soviets and NATO can replace their eliminated units. The eliminated units of the Warsaw Pact Nations are lost permanently. The Soviet objective is rather clear: it is to crush the revolts as fast as possible to diminish the chance of a simultaneous revolt in several Warsaw Pact countries. To suppress a nation in revolt the Soviets have to eliminate all of the nation's forces and to occuppy each revolting city within the borders of that nation. As soon as the Soviet player manages to do that, the he needs only to keep one unit in the nation's capital and the country is permanently suppressed. This means that the country won't revolt again and the Soviet player won't have to worry about it. Given the vast numerical superiority and the fighting power of the soviet formations, it isn't very difficult to crush a single rebellion, in my solitaire games I needed only 1-2 turns to achieve this.
Combat is resolved by the traditional method which was used during period the game was published and which is still used in our days. You simply compare the overall combat power of the attacking units to the combat power of the defender, roll a die and check the result on a combat result table. There are no different factors for attacking or defending. For every air unit involved the attacker gets a positive column modifier. There are also terrain modifiers and rules for isolated units, which have their combat power halved. Revolting cities have a combat factor of "1" and to conquer it you must roll a "Defender eliminated" result. The best odds possible is the "7-1" column, where you score a "De" result on a roll of 1-5, and only a roll of "6" produces an "Exchange" result, which causes the attacker to lose
one unit and the city remains in revolt. The Soviets have several units with a combat factor of 7 or 8, so an attack with such a unit against an unprotected city is almost a secure victory.
After 12 turns the player who controls most cities in Eastern Europe wins. Cities in revolt count for the NATO player.
The revolt table is quite fun as you never know, who'll revolt next and each revolt presents new opportunities and new challanges for both players. And each game develops differently.
What I also like about the game is it's topic as I am very interested in Cold War politics. Unfortunately there are not many games about that nowadays. The scenario is plausible, as history has shown that such political development as depicted in the game was'n completely out of bounds. One interesting remark about the discrepancy between the presumption of the game system and the actual political development: The designer of the game assumed that the next country to revolt would be either East Germany or Czechoslovakia. In reality it was Poland which would cause the most problems for the Soviets in the 80s. But fortunately, there was no need for a violent uprising to crush the communism.
What I don't like about the game:
Judging by 2 solitaire plays the game seems to be very imbalanced towards the Soviet player. Both times the Warsaw Pact Countries revolted one after the other and were easily crushed one by one. They didn't have the slightest chance. This might be realistic but I doubt that the NATO player will have any fun playing this game. The only one way for him to win is one big uprising when everyone revolts plus a NATO intervention.
An other point which I really hate, not only here but in every game, is the CRT based combat result system. In my opinion it tends to produce utterly unrealistic combat results. So I cannot understand, why this system became so common.
So would I recommend this game? Well, if you are a Cold War fanatic who needs every Cold War game ever published for or if you have a dedicated interest for the game subject and the hypothetical situation depicted, then this game is for you. I think that you'll have fun trying to preserve the Soviet Empire by force or trying to find new ways how to crush it.
Otherwise you won't miss anything by leaving this game aside.
Also makes a good tie-in if you get a NATO intervention result and then feel like running a Twilight: 2000 (1st Edition) game afterwards...
We will meet at the Hour of Scampering.
Combat Results Tables (CRTs) are only as good as the research that goes into them. So, some are bad (when somebody didn't do their homework), and some are good.
What CRTs are very good at is providing the players with a quick method for resolving combat, while restricting combat outcomes to those that are historically likely (or, in the case of speculative scenarios, what outcomes are anticipated to be likely).
The time saved over other, possible combat resolution systems isn't nearly as important for smaller games, such as Revolt in the East. And if the game had been a full-blown release, rather than just a magazine game, we might have ended up with something quite different. As it is, I think the game was intended merely as a thought experiment, and in deployment of modern forces to react to multiple "hot points" on a map.
Playing Wargames Since 1976 (image from Rand Games Associates)
I played this a few months ago with one of my old college buddies for its nostalgic value; we were both teenagers when this game came out. I played NATO and the revolting Warsaw Pact nations. I didn't find it to be too unbalanced and once the "revolt" started to cascade with multiple WP nations involved, the Soviets have a hard time. Once NATO jumped in, I was able to trounce my buddy pretty well.
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This is the first wargame I ever purchased (acquired via the subscription to S&T back in '76). My avatar is from this game. Not great by today's standards but back then it was competing with Trouble, Monopoly, and Hearts.
The standard scenario is reliant on how the revolt table rolls. I suggests the optional rule of NATO intervening on turn 5 if it hasn't already.
Or play the Hungarian scenario: it's tense, with fewer units on the map and NATO already able to intervene. The Soviets don't get reinforcements until late in the game. So a fluid and tense seesaw game.
Fun and fast? Oh yeah!