Russia Designer’s Notes
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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!