Defiant Russia -The War Against Nazi Aggression

Defiant Russia -The War Against Nazi Aggression

From: Avalanche Press LTD.

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Defiant Russia: The War Against Nazi Aggression is a new Board Game from Avalanche Press LTD.

Defiant Russiatakes place in 1941 when the Germans attacked the Soviet Union. The setting is in western Soviet Union from the Polish border to the area east of Moscow, and from the Arctic regions on the north to the Turkish border on the south. The actual campaign that took place in 1941 involved the Nazi armies and their accomplices launching a surprise attack on the Soviet Union. The Soviets were taken aback at first, but their passion to defend Mother Russia drove them with unrelenting resolve. This battle marks what will eventually be Russia’s march into Berlin and the end of Nazi Germany. The game covers the first months of this campaign and the failed attempt by Germany to capture Moscow. In the game, the Axis player must try to change history in his favor, while the Soviet player must defend not only Moscow but other key Soviet cities.

From the website:

“When two people sit down over a table to play a historical board game, they’re not looking for the same thing every time.”

Defiant Russia is a small game with a map that is 17″x22″. There are 140 punch-out counters representing units and special game counters. The game claims to play very quickly, lasting about 90 minutes. It has very few charts and tables to reference. The map’s hexagons are 45 miles across each. Players control the units that fought in this campaign. Axis units mostly represent army corps. These include German, Finnish, Italian, Hungarian, Spanish and Romanian units. German tank units provide the real striking power for the Axis, but the German infantry is a force to be reckoned with as well.

Components: One thing I noticed first off was the game came with map, counter sheet and rulebook – that is it. No dice?! I first thought that maybe it did not require dice, but as I read the rulebook, I realized it did. Having not played a lot of these types of games, I was not sure if it was standard practice for some publishers to not include dice in their games. On top of this, it did not state explicitly that the game requires Xnumber of dice and the die type required. I would think that would be a natural thing to say upfront. Perhaps I am wrong and have not played enough of these style games.

The rulebook is clear and concise, and the counters, although full of information, are understandable. The Map is sharp and clear, with each hex clearly numbered and the different terrain clearly marked. It contains a network of railroads, which are used in supplying your units. For $20, that is all you get – counters, map and rulebook.

System: Setup is fairly simple. Each counter that is involved in setup is marked with a letter which corresponds to either a general area or specific city. The rest come in as reinforcements. The Soviet player sets up first, followed by the German player. I like the setup because in some cases, it is a little open ended. This increases replayability and allows players to try different strategies.

Each turn represents one month in the battle for Mother Russia. It runs from June to December of 1941. Once the final turn is taken, a winner is determined. Each turn is broken down into phases: Weather Phase, Axis Organization Phase, Axis Movement Phase, Axis Combat Phase, Axis Exploitation Phase, Axis Exploitation Combat Phase, Soviet Movement Phase, Soviet Combat Phase, Soviet Exploitation Phase, and Soviet Exploitation Combat Phase.

From website:

“Sometimes they want an in-depth study of an event; sometimes it’s just the desire for competitive fun. Defiant Russia leans heavily toward the latter.”

Weather, a major factor in the real campaign, has a role in the game as well. Each month and thus each turn, the weather is different and has different effects. The Soviet player, starting on turn 3 (August), rolls on a table in the book to determine the effects. Some months have 2 possible conditions while others have 3. Effects include limiting movement or exploitation movement and affecting supply. This also increases the replayability to some degree. I only wish there was a quick reference sheet for it. This rule is optional and can be skipped if the players agree its too much a hassle to look it up in the book all the time.

Movement is determined by the counter’s movement rating and the terrain, as typical for a game like this. Movement can also happen on rail lines. Exploitation movement is a special movement reserved for specific units.

In combat, when units are adjacent, the active player must attack, with very few exceptions (fortresses do not have to attack adjacent units). Hits are determined by die rolls (which I assume at six-sided die… I guess war gamers do not use any other sided die) and damage is a flip of a counter. If the counter has already been flipped to its weaker side, it is destroyed. However, instead of taking the full damage, the defender may elect to retreat after taking 1 hit. Surrounding terrain affects combat results as does supply.

Reinforcements and replacement units can be brought in during the Organization phase. Replacement points are spent to create replacement units, which are earned as the game goes on. The interesting thing is certain Axis minor allies may not replace units. Reinforcements are brought in on the turn as is displayed on their counter. I like that system – very elegant and simple.

There are several special units to consider in this game which add to the variety and strategy. There are Shock Armies, Partisans, and Airborne Units in the Soviet favor, as well as Fleets in the Black Sea and near Leningrad. The Red Navy can help out any combat that it is adjacent to. Both sides have Air power in the form of points that it can expend to attack units and fleets. Air Points are gained during the Organization Phase. There is a specific schedule of points for each turn, and they must be spent that turn or they are lost.

Another special unit both sides have are leaders. The Axis have one leader (Guderian) and the Soviets have two (Stalin and Zhukov). These accompany other units and add benefits to them. However there is always a risk of a leader dying, so they must be played carefully.

In conclusion,I liked this game very much. It had a lot of replayability value and is simple enough I can explain it to most anyone. It is fast play, with a limited number of turns, so I do not have to dedicate four to six hours to play it. The counters were clear and concise. The rules made sense and left few questions unanswered. Good game, overall.

For more details on Avalanche Press LTD.and their new Board Game “Defiant Russia: The War Against Nazi Aggression” check them out at their website and at all of your local game stores.

Defiant Russia: The War Against Nazi Aggression

From: Avalanche Press LTD.

Type of Game: Board Game

Game Design by: William Sariego

Cover Art by: Terry Moore Strickland

Additional Art by: Peggy Gordon

Number of Pages: 16

Game Components Included: Map, counters and rulebook.

Retail Price: $ 19.99 (US)

Number of Players: 2

Player Ages: 14+

Play Time: 2 hours

Item Number: APL0027


Reviewed by: Ron McClung