Red God of War

Red God of War

From: Avalanche Press Ltd.

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Red God of War is a new Counter-based War Game from Avalanche Press Ltd..

I just finished a review for Red Vengeance, another WWII game centering around the battles in Russia, so I figured I would follow it up with one that centers on the earlier battles. The system is slightly different, although the scale is about the same. This one covers the ill-fated Operation Mars made by the Soviets in 1942.

From back cover: “In late 1942, the Red Army launched a power offensive against the Germans who still threatened Moscow.”

Designed by Brian Knipple, this quality game has a nice map and a ton of counters that represent the units that historically fought in the famed operation. Brian Knipple has a certain style to his games and there is one thing I can say for sure about him – he knows his stuff.

The battle map is a large map of the areas of Russia surrounding Rzhev and Viaz’Ma. Elements on the map include towns, roads, railroads, rivers, creeks, woods, swamps and of course, the battle lines. There is also a complete set of game tables and turn trackers on the left hand side of the map. Each hex represents 5 miles and has its own individual numbers. Each turn represents 2 days.

The counters include German and Soviet units involved in the netter, including infantry, armor, cavalry, and others. Units represent corps, divisions, brigades, or regiments. Each unit has an identifier on it that displays the type. Units have combat strength, defensive strength and movement. Headquarters have range and movement.

This is a game of headquarter (HQ) activation and choosing the right units to activate. Game play is in turns that is composed of the initial segment and several impulses. An impulse is where the activated HQ activates units within its range (and some that are not but are closer to it than other HQs).

One of the differentiators for this game is the Initial phase. It is one of the gimmicks that expands its replayability. In that phase you have weather determination (always a key factor in an Eastern Front battle), and each side has Outside Influences to the battle. The Germans have the OKW (German High Command) directives and the Soviets have Stalin’s attitude along with the pull of Operation Saturn to the south. While the sister operation to the south bleeds resources from Operation Mars and Stalin’s attitude about the success of Operation Mars wanes, the German High Command also must make a daily decision to stay the course or withdraw. This could change the game considerably if the right rolls come up. The initial segment also includes a supply roll and build up phase.

From the back cover: “Despite heroic efforts, the Soviet soldiers could not finish off the Germans who scored one of their greatest defensive successes of the Great Patriotic War.”

To start the impulse segments, players must place the impulse marker for each of their supplied HQs into an opaque container and draw one per impulse. The HQ draw starts the impulse and activates all, some or none of the units within range. Also, just so units do not get stranded, units that are closer to that particular HQ than any other can also be activated.

A unit that is activated can perform actions. These include Movement, Combat and Mechanized Movement. Movement is done by movement points (MPs) and terrain determines the number of MPs to spend. Also in movement, the Germans can conduct rail movement. There are stacking limits and they are linked to the types of units you have in the stack – divisions, corps, regiments or battalions. I think I found this to be one of the more confusing parts.

Combat involves totaling both sides attack/defense value and doing a little division to determine the odds. Then attack rolls the dice and refers to the Combat Result Table to determine casualties.

Supply is checked not only every turn but at the beginning of every impulse. Although realistic, this adds a complexity that slows the game down. At the end of each impulse, the player must determine if the turn ends. This can also considerably change the game.

In conclusion, overall the game is realistic and complex. The detail and strategic complexity is very challenging. One of the hardest parts for me was keeping up with the unit types and watching for stacking as well as divisional/corps integrity. I guess I am not hardcore-enough to be able to keep up with these details. This was just a little too much detail for me. I liked the way turn sequence worked, and combat was not too bad, but keeping up with your divisions, regiments, and other units was a little much for me, sorry to say. I do understand the want for realism but I guess I draw the line at some point.

One of the things I continue to struggle with in games like this (and I mentioned this in the Red Vengeance review) is paying a lot of money for a two player game. It all depends on your situation. However, I also have $30 games in my closet that take 5 players and they sit there because I can never get more than 2 or 3 of my friends together at once for a long period of time.

For more details on Avalanche Press Ltd. and their new Counter-based War Game “Red God of War” check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

Red God of War

From: Avalanche Press Ltd.

Type of Game: Counter-based War Game

Game Design by: Brian L. Knipple

Developed by: Brian L. Knipple

Editing: Mike Bennighof

Cover Art by: Terry Strickland

Additional Art by: Shannon Brown

Number of Pages: 16 page rule book

Game Components Included: rulebook, 34″X22″ map, 280 die-cut playing pieces, and one six sided die.

Retail Price: $ 29.99 (US)

Retail Price: $ Type Dollar Value (Can)

Player Ages: 2

Play Time: 2 to 4 hours

Item Number: APL0031


Reviewed by: Ron McClung