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Defiant Russia Designer’s Notes

Defiant Russia was designed for both the new gamer and the grognard who wants to set up and play a simple game in about two hours. Size and complexity therefore had to be kept to a minimum, and there had to be a catch to hook both types.

With lots of dice-rolling common to many role-playing and miniatures systems out there, I took that angle to help entice someone to switch over and play a wargame. Doing without a Combat Results Table for such people seemed a good move, as did using a single combined combat value for both attack and defense. Counters that are too busy are a big turn-off for newbies.

Pleasing the grognard at the same time represented more of a challenge. I thus wanted the system to be somewhat elegant and with a lot of chrome not normally found elsewhere. The contribution of the Red Navy to the defeat of Nazi Germany is often overlooked by game designers and I was determined to correct that. Likewise the Soviet airborne ability needed to be accounted for. Leaders are present for both sides, making the game a bit more personal. For the Axis, the Spanish “Blue” division was a crack unit that demanded a counter! And as a brief history lesson for those who deride the Italians, the initial troops sent east in the Italian Expeditionary force were of excellent quality and quite mobile.

I was also banking on the current state of us 1970s-era “Golden Days of Wargaming” types. Let’s face reality folks, we are getting older. We have at least one job, with family and kids. We may look longingly at Fire in the East, thinking about the carefree days when we could leave it set up for days without worrying about much else. But the fact is that when we can steal time from life to play a game, we are usually talking about a four- or five-hour session, from setup to putting away.

Picking a subject for my second boardgame design (my other effort was Scotland the Brave) was fairly simple. I love the struggle on the Eastern Front in WWII (the Great Patriotic War) and have wanted to design something on this subject for a long time. Kursk had long been my goal, and a game on the battle using the old Panzergruppe Guderian system as a base was 50% finished at one time but I could never find a taker. I would like to thank 119694_avalanche Press for accepting the idea for a line of simple mini-games and letting me lead off with Defiant Russia!

In the end, it is about playing a game designed for fun and competition. If you are looking for a detailed simulation, then you need to look elsewhere, but I hope everyone who has purchased Defiant Russia has gotten some enjoyment out of it. Good gaming, Comrades.

Peace,

William Sariego
January 2005

Q&A

Q: For those of us not quite as familiar with the Axis Minors, who is who?

A: The 3-5 CSIR is Italian. The 4-4 Mob is Hungarian. The Azul 1-4 is Spanish. The hordes of yellow dudes are Romanian and the white guys are Finns.

Q: The “2” on the Hungarian unit is not encircled in white like other reinforcements. Is this significant?

A: Yes. The Hungarian unit must appear in Hungary.

Q: Where does the Black Sea Fleet begin?

A: Sevastopol.

Q: Can the Black Sea Fleet move into the Sea of Azov?

A: Yes. The “cannot leave the Black Sea” sentence is to keep novice players from trying to teleport to the Baltic!

Q: What do you mean by attacking “selective” hexes in the Exploitation Combat Phase?

A: Attacking in the Exploitation Combat Phase is optional. You do not have to attack every adjacent enemy unit. As long as a unit was capable of movement in the Exploitation Movement Phase (whether it moved or not) it can attack adjacent enemy units. Proper use of this phase is how you win the game. . . .

Q: The Terrain Effects chart and Terrain Key on the map use the word “Mountain.” The rules on page 10 say “rough.” Are they one and the same?

A: Yes.

Q: For an Out of Supply unit, how do you round its movement factor (page 5)?

A: Round fractions down.

Q: If the Axis capture Leningrad, but are subsequently isolated from tracing a rail line off the West map edge, are they out of supply or can they draw supply from Helsinki as per Finnish units in the Soviet Union?

A: Good question! In this case, they can draw supply from Helsinki.

This piece originally appeared in January 2005.

Defiant Russia is now available — click here to order!