Our biggest game yet ... this covers the "eastern front" as the Germans called it -- the war between Nazi Germany and its allies and the Soviet Union from Jun 1941 through March 1942 at the regiment-division-corps level. This is the first part of a multi-part game and will be followed soon by Field Marshals of the Eastern Front - South, which extends the game into the Ukraine. Later expansions are planned to carry the war into 1942 and beyond.
There are many innovations in this game - the hexes are quite large, and are subdivided into 7 "facets" that affect movement and combat. The half-inch counters can be arranged into 4 stacks inside one of these hexes. But to keep the map "cleaner" most stacks are instead organized into Corps -- Army size for Soviets. The corps marker is placed on the map, with the units being relatively hidden (rules require a minimum and maximum size Corps/Army sizeand composition). It is quite possible to amass both a hidden and fake set of units just to the rear in order to keep your enemy guessing as to where you'll strike next.
Combat is also done differently, with columns for 1-10 combat factors, 11-20, 21-30 and so on all the way to 100 combat factors maximum. No time is spent then calculating odds - instead you're ready to roll 2 six-sided dice (not provided, as we think anyone wanting this game will have have drawers full of dice!). Modifications from weather, terrain, supply, air support and leadership also occur. Each side has its "field marshals" as the Germans called them and "Marshals of the Soviet Union" as the Soviets called them. These affect the combats in an adjacent to their hex, but the Germans only have three and the Russians gradually build up to quite a few -- although most of the Germans are substantially better, owing to their excellent corps commanders. There is a separate Combat Results Table for the Germans and Soviets -- but when Winter hits, they switch tables and its the Germans' turn to play defense. The Soviets are still ham-handed, and may lose nearly as much as the Germans on their offensives. It's up to the Soviet player to keep the Guards units coming to allow the offensive to continue.
Blitzkrieg techniques are quite effective if the weather and terrain cooperate. Early in the war, the Germans will punch a hole in the Soviet line and rush through it to surround as many pockets as possible. Unlike many games, in this one supply effects are instantaneous -- meaning that surrounded units are unlikely to fight their way out. Pockets can be created over and over (just as was done historically) IF the German can keep his units in supply and avoid heavy terrain. Air support is also important, but we've kept the counters to a support role here. There are relatively few of them, but their use and placement is a key worry for both players.
Perhaps the most innovative aspect of this design is that the Soviet player has to build the Red Army. There are no reinforcements, except for militia and pre-war units that are gradually released from other off-map areas to fight the Germans. As the Soviet player, you must manage your manpower, factories, and training units to keep the units coming. You don't have to disband the tank divisions, you can keep them fighting. You can keep the more powerful pre-war Rifle Divisions intact if you want, or gradually disband them to form more, but smaller, Rifle Divisions. You can build over 70 types of Soviet units from regiment-sized to Corps-sized.
There are 2100 counters on 15 counter sheets, all but one printed on both sides. Two 32 x 23.5 inch maps join together to cover the area from Finland in the North to the Crimea in the South, and from Warsaw in the West to Tambov in the East. If you order the BUNDLED Pre-print game, you will automatically get the South expansion when it comes from the printer (expected March 1), but in the meantime you'll get the two maps UNCUT! No aligning them - just one big, beautiful map.
A word about our components from one reviewer: "The counters are physically different than any I have ever seen. They seem to have some plastic or something added to them to make them almost pliable. It also seems to make them more durable than the usual cardboard ones. The map is also different than normal. It almost feels and rolls up like it is made of leather. I assume it has gotten the same treatment as the counters. Whatever it is, I love it. When you spread it out it flattens immediately so there are no folds etc. It almost seems like you are unfolding a map from the period." Yes, our counters are laminated and the maps are printed on "banner paper," making both more durable than many other games.