Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Battle for Moscow

The next random game from my collection is Battle for Moscow.  This game has had a couple editions, being first published in 1986 by GDW and republished in 2009 by Victory Point Games.  In fact, the version that I have is an alternate printing of the 2009 version that was a free insert in issue 25 of C3I magazine in 2011.  The game is a pretty traditional "hex and counter" game, where the counters indicate the combat and movement capability of the unit, as well as its type (armor vs. infantry).  Combat is handled in the time honored fashion of totaling combat power of the attackers, comparing it to combat power of the defending unit, turning that into a numerical ratio, rolling a six-sided die, and then cross referencing the number rolled to the ratio on the Combat Results Table to determine what the outcome is.  I have literally dozens of games that use mechanics like this, so this game took almost no time for me to learn, nor will it take hardly any time at all for anyone with wargaming experience.

The game itself is more interesting than I thought it would be.  It depicts the German drive on Moscow in late 1941.  The German player must sieze Moscow to win.  Of course, it starts on the opposite side of the board at the beginning of the game, so the Germans have to get across the board and sieze it within seven turns, which is how long the game plays.  The Germans start with their army at full strength, while the Russian forces are all at reduced strength.  However, the Russians build up their forces rapidly, so the Germans need to do as much damage as fast as possible, and cover ground quickly.  Turns 3 and 4 are "mud" turns, signifying the bad weather that occurred in real history, and German capability is greatly reduced during those turns, making things quite tight.

My favorite thing about this game is that the two sides play very differently.  The German side has better units, and they all start at full strength.  German panzers can also move twice in one turn, which is very nice, though not easy to take full advantage of.  The Russian side starts with lousy units, but you can lose a whole bunch of units and you still win as long as you eventually strengthen your lines and keep the Germans from taking Moscow.  This is greatly aided by the fact that the Russians can move by rail, which is the only way to move quickly during the "mud" turns.    You don't have to destroy the Germans, you just have to slow them down.

Because of the small size of the game (roughly 40 counters in total, and the map fits on an 11 x 17 sheet of paper), and the fact that it has only four pages of rules, this is a nice game to quickly teach to others.  It also plays pretty fast.  Because of this, even though it isn't a really innovative game these days, it still has a place in my collection.

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