Barbarossa Solitaire – 1941

Inspired by Marco Arnaudo’s Video review of this Print and Play abstract war boardgame of the Operation Barbarossa campaign, I paid the $3 entry fee (over at wargamedownloads.com) and started my journey into card, ink and scissor based gaming.

Barbarossa Solitaire looked to be an interesting boardgame, with a low cost, low materials outlay – and whats more importantly I could get it and make it and start playing it almost immediately. After printing all the original components, before I’d even set about playing the game seriously, I decided I wanted to jazz up the artwork a little and make my own counters. This led on to a project to take the original map and make the connections more geographically accurate. The bonus of pouring your creativity into the game, is it makes it more special to play, and I can also use the imagery to portray the game as it plays on this site.

The game attempts to simulate the Axis advance into Russia during 1941 and then the successful domination of the area, cutting deeper into the Motherland. Until the Soviet’s turn the tide and encircle and encroach on the German armies, and push them back into Germany itself. It does this very well using some quite straightforward mechanics. There are quite a few exceptions and special cases, but ultimately once learned the game plays out quite swiftly.

I’ll present the turns in years, since it seems a natural dividing point to watch the progress of the campaign. Each year is split into three seasons, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

It’s worth putting my original alternative map here, for reference – because a lot of the counters actually cover the area name.

Here we go..

1941

Summer 1941

The game starts off with two units of Army Group North (AGN) stationed in Koenigsburg. Three units of Army Group Centre (AGC) are firmly settled in Warsaw, and three units of Army Group South (AGS) hold Slovakia. We also have two Rumanian units stationed in Bucharest. This constitutes the “Front Line”. All areas behind the front line are marked with Garrison tokens symbolising German Territory.

We also have reinforcements waiting in the wings, with an Italian and Hungarian unit ready for deployment in Winter 1942, and a German unit in Summer 1942. These are represented on the turn track at the bottom of the map.

Soviet Territory or forces don’t require markers as such, and they are represented by any area that can trace an uninterrupted line back to the Soviet Heartland (Archangel, Siberia, Gorky, Stalingrad and Astrakhan).

 

Move: You can only move armies from your rear, up to your front line – and since we have no troops behind the front line there’s no movement this turn.

Attack:

During an attack you have to leave a unit behind to protect the rear, so you can only push forward with the additional troops in an area.

AGN18 attack Riga. 1 Unit rolls 1d3 (basically 1d6 halved and rounded up) = 3 (+3 German bonus in 1941) = 6, which is a SUCCESS! AGN18 advances into Riga.

AGC9/AGC2 attack Minsk. 2 Units roll 1d3 = 3 (+ 3 German bonus in 1941) = 6, a SUCCESS! Both units move into Minsk.

AGS11/AGS6 attack Moldovia. 2 Units roll 1d3 = 1 (+ 3 German bonus in 1941) = 4, a SUCCESS! Both units move into Moldovia.

So far the push eastwards has been a resounding success, the Soviet defenders are no match for the might of the German Army.

Reinforcements: No reinforcements are available this turn.

Soviet Attacks: Running the game under the “Easy” settings there are no Soviet counter-attacks planned for this turn.

The cold Autumn creeps in.

 

Autumn 1941

Move: German High Command begins bringing up defensive units to the front.

AGN16 moves into Riga. Koenigsburg is Garrisoned.

AGC4 moves into Minsk. Warsaw is Garrisoned.

Attack:

 

AGC4/AGC9 attack Smolensk. 2 Units roll 1d3 = 3 (+3 German bonus in 1941) = 6, a SUCCESS! Both units move into Smolensk.

AGN16 attacks Kurland. 1 Unit rolls 1d3 = 3 (+3 German bonus in 1941) = 6, a SUCCESS! AGN16 moves into Kurland.

AGS11 attacks Kiev. 1 Unit rolls 1d3 = 2 (+3 German bonus in 1941) = 5, a SUCCESS! AGS11 moves into Kiev.

Reinforcements: No reinforcements are available this turn.

Soviet Attacks: Running the game under the “Easy” settings there are no Soviet counter-attacks planned for this turn.
A rather one sided year, 1941 has the odds stacked against the Soviets big time. Running the game on Easy there are no Soviet counter attacks, and with the German Bonus of +3 applied to every roll, you practically don’t have to roll the dice to get success. This correctly simulates the overwhelming power of the German Army at the start of the campaign. I think 1942 will be less favourable. Join me.

 

  • http://www.the-scenario-depot.com GJK

    I’ve enjoyed reading your AARs for some time and this one is no exception. I like the premise of this game but from what I’m reading thus far I think I’ll stick with a game that seems similar in some ways including ease of play but one that gives you far more options during a turn and that’s the old “Hitler’s War”. I’d love to read an AAR from you on that one!

  • http://www.fungamesroom.com War games

    Im looking forward to the next report

    East front is one of my favorites in WWII.

  • Marco

    a little detail about movement: you could also move units from one area of the front to the other.

    Anyway: AWESOME map and great report!!!

    I am looking forward to the rest of this report… and to see reports about a “medium” and “difficult” game. Those will be a completely different experience, trust me!!

  • spelk

    @GJK, I think the abstract nature of this game makes it more palatable to your average strategy gamer than your wargamer. I think the interesting parts of it lie in coming up with ways to exploit the connections between areas, and cunning ways to survive the Soviet onslaught. In the beginning it feels like a game of exhiliarating conquest, but a few seasons in and it dawns on you that this is really a survival horror game! 😉 – Never played Hitler’s War, but I wouldn’t mind looking into it – if its easily available – and if I get time.

    @Wargames I was always a West Front man, but I’ve now played enough war games to appreciate the Eastern Front – and my love for the Russian Civil War and the Crimean War has taken me over that ground – so now I’m familar with the lie of the land. I think half the battle with appreciating the history behind the games is simply the familiarity with the territory/geography.

    @Marco – thanks for commenting/dropping by! I forgot to mention the unit shifting you can do on the front – thanks for raising the issue – I’m an ordered kind of guy when it comes to Armies – so I hardly ever want to mix Army Groups 😉 Thanks for the kind words about the map too! The game on Easy seems quite ruthless when it comes to Soviet attacks, especially when you can roll an option that adds more attacks to the planned number! I’m not sure I’ve got the “minerals” to take on the game under medium or difficult settings.

    Marco, I totally blame you for my current Print and Play fetish! 😉 Looking forward to more of your reviews in the DIY boardgame experience.

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