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May Day:
A Variant for Red Vengeance

By William Sariego
December 2014

Red Vengeance is a small game that packs a punch. With such a short playing time, for competitive play it is ideal for players to alternate sides and compare scores after a brace of games. In the realm of solitaire play it also shines. As with any game in such a small format, compromises on size and detail had to be made in order to bring the customer a playable product. This variant includes things I deleted for brevity or simplicity, along with a “Gonzo” unit I could have never convinced my publisher to print! These optional rules are presented alphabetically and players can pick and choose what they find appealing. These are for fun and historicity, not play balance. Nothing is better than 14.3 and 14.4 in the rules for balancing players of unequal skill.

Blackshirts and Blackhearts

The Germans had a motley collection of allies in Yugoslavia. The Croatians were a rump state and there were still a handful of pro-Axis Chetniks even at this time. Less commonly known were the Italian Fascists, loyal to Mussolini's Republic of Saló, who were still under arms. The latter force consisted of five Territorial Defense Battalions and an elite Forest Legion. Most of these were actually quite good, quality wise. To represent these minor allies, grant the Axis player a 1-4 mountain division stationed at Zagreb at the start. If rebuilt from the dead pile it can only be placed in Zagreb. It is the only replacement that can enter in that city and it can never leave Yugoslavia. Put the division in Italian colors just to be cool!

Bomb Plot

The Axis player rolls one die in the Reinforcement & Reinforcement step of Turn 2. On a 1 good Germans get lucky and Hitler is killed. The Germans score the VP for Hitler's health!

During the R & R phase of Turn 3 place Rommel in Berlin as the new Fuhrer. On Turn 4 start rolling a die for a separate peace every Axis R & R step until the game ends. On a 1 a separate peace is made with the Western Allies. This has several effects. The German Air point is available on a 1 or 2 during 1944 and on a 1 in 1945. The air roll improves the same turn a separate peace is concluded. The base replacement rate for the Axis starting in 1945 is one armor in addition to the two infantry steps, plus any oil-well bonus. On the turn following the separate peace the Axis replace, at full strength, two infantry and one armor unit from the dead pile (these cannot be SS). The unit withdrawal in November does not take place.

On a roll of 2 through 5 the bomb plot fails and play proceeds as normal. On a 6 the plot fails miserably and retributions are severe. The Axis do not get replacements on turn 3 to represent this.

Fickle Finger for Fritz

Random Events tables have always struck me as cool. Granting one to the Axis player in Red Vengeance might even be a way of saying “I feel your pain” as you try and avoid reaping the whirlwind caused by your historical counterparts. It takes a special person to play the Axis in this game, and mentally the role may not be for everyone. Sorry folks, I didn't create the strategic situation as it existed on June 22nd, 1944. What I can do is give a random advantage that may be of some small benefit, if only psychological, to make things easier on you. I now bring you the Fickle Finger of Fate, or . . .

Die Roll Event/Advantage Gained
1             A Mighty Fortress: The fortress city of Brest-Litovsk is not allowed to fall into decay. Treat it as a fortification city like Berlin and Konigsberg.
2 A River Runs Through It: Hex 2208 is now an Axis setup hex. Hexes 2209 and 2309 are no longer Axis set up hexes.
3 Cry Wolf: The Nazi underground (werewolves) have an active cell in East Prussia. Konigsberg must be captured for the Allies to win (though it is not worth a VP) and once captured, must be garrisoned by a full-strength Allied unit during each Allied Organizational Phase.
4 Fly the Friendly Skies: If the German air point is available, it can be used for defensive air support. After the Allied player designates attacks and commits and air, the Luftwaffe can be committed to the defense, adding a die roll.
5 Marshal Tito, I Presume?: Once per game, in 1944, the Germans can try to assassinate Tito. An Axis unit must be within two hexes of the Marshal. The attempt succeeds on a 1; remove Tito from the game and the Allied player must reduce a full strength Yugoslavian unit (to represent desertions); on a 2, Tito is wounded and is removed from play but becomes a reinforcement three turns later. Roll die in Axis Combat Phase.
6 V is for Victory: Once per game, on any turn in 1945, the Germans can unleash V weapons against one Soviet-occupied hex west of hex row xx14. Roll two dice, with 6's hitting. Hits must be taken as losses. These dice are rolled in the Axis Organizational Phase.


Führer Options

Before taking replacements in the January 1945 turn, the Axis player must decide whether or not to evacuate Hitler to his Bavarian Alpine fortress. If they do so, remove Hitler from the game and the Axis scores the VP under 15.3. The penalty for doing this is rather severe, however. The base Axis replacement rate becomes only one infantry. This means you won't be bringing back anyone from the dead unless you are clinging to an oil well.

If Hitler is killed during the course of the game, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz becomes Führer. Place Dönitz in Kiel immediately. If the KM division has not yet entered play or is in the dead pile place it in Kiel at once. There is no cost for doing so if the unit is brought back from the dead pile as a replacement under this rule.

Naval Options

If naval status in the Baltic Sea reaches the level of heavy surface commitment for the Red Navy, the German player is given the option of withdrawing his remaining surface ships. The Axis player can declare this in his Organizational Phase anytime after the heavy surface commitment. The German fleet can no longer provide the +1 dice roll for one defense it would otherwise still be able to do. Instead, place a one-step fleet unit in any Axis controlled port. This counter functions exactly as the Soviet Baltic Fleet did in Defiant Russia. It is essentially a one-step ground unit worth one strength point.

The Allied player gets the mighty Danube River flotilla! Once hex 2606 is Allied controlled, the Danube Flotilla arrives in that hex the following Reinforcement Phase. The Flotilla moves as a Soviet armored unit, five hexes in the Movement Phase and three in the Exploit Movement Phase, and can do the ZoC to ZoC slide. It can only move in hexes adjacent to a river and its prow must always point to the river hex side. The flotilla enables Allied armored units to cross that river hex side without paying a movement penalty and all units to attack across the hex side without an attack deduction.

It is a two-step unit that can never be brought back from the dead, but can receive a replacement point (armored). At full strength it has one strength point, but can only attack across the river hex side it is facing, and defend in the same manner. If reduced it has no combat value but still aids units moving or attacking across it. The unit can move into Yugoslavia and not count against the Soviet limit. Due to hexside facing it is possible for the flotilla to be in a hex that is involved in combat when it is not involved. In this case it must retreat if combat results call for that (the same amount of hexes as other units did) but cannot suffer step losses. It retreats through hexes along the river only (obviously!).

It has no Zone of Control but does block Axis movement across the hex side it is facing. If an Axis unit moves into the hex occupied by the flotilla simply move the flotilla to the opposite hex, facing the same hex side. If this is not possible retreat the flotilla one hex toward 2606. It otherwise is considered to be in the hex (though it does not stop Axis movement) and thus it can control an unoccupied Bucharest, Belgrade, etc.

New Leaders

If using the Führer Principle or Bomb Plot rules, the Germans have Hitler and two potential additional national leaders, Dönitz and Rommel. As national leaders they do not move from either Berlin or Kiel. They make leader checks as Allied leaders, and if they survive place them via airlift in any other controlled city. They do not tag along with any retreating units. Dönitz is worth +0 for attack and +1 for defense and Rommel is worth +1 and +1.

The Soviets under this New Leader rule receive Rokossovsky and Malinovsky. Both are available at start and are Soviet leaders. They are both worth +1 attack and +1 defense.

The Germans receive three new military leaders under this rule, Heinrici, Friessner, and Model. Deploy Model and Friessner at start (not in Yugoslavia). Remove Model during the Axis Organizational Phase of Game Turn Three; remove Friessner during the Axis Organizational Phase of Game Turn Seven. Model is worth +1 attack and +2 defense, Friessner is worth +0 attack and +1 defense. Heinrici arrives as a reinforcement on turn nine and is placed atop any German unit. He is available for the duration of the game and is worth +1 attack and +1 defense. If Model and Friessner are withdrawn per this rule they do not count as eliminated for casualty points.

Polish Home Army

This variant modifies rule 11.7 by giving the Polish Home Army an actual unit. It is a 2-0, one-step infantry unit that can potentially convert. Deploy the Home Army immediately in Warsaw when an Allied unit comes within three hexes of the city. It attacks any German unit in the city at once (neither Poles nor Axis getting the city bonus), with play suspended until the combat is resolved (keep fighting until only one side occupies Warsaw). If no German unit is in Warsaw then the home army attacks any adjacent German units. If there are no German units for the Home Army to fight it will convert to a 1-4 Polish Division under Allied control as soon as an Allied unit moves into the hex (simply flip the unit to its Soviet-Polish back). Thus, it could behoove the Axis to have a garrison in Warsaw to avoid this.

If the Polish Home Army is destroyed it doesn't count for casualty points in any way; if it is destroyed after converting to an Allied division it does.

Soviet Airborne

The Soviet air drops around Kanev in fall 1943 represented their nadir of airborne operations. Small-scale commando drops did occur, and Sinister Forces has a cool scenario reflecting the results of one of these. The Soviets get a 1-4 one-step parachute division which is kept off board at start. It can drop one per game in either the regular or exploit movement phase. It can never be replaced if eliminated and if it survives its drop it is treated as a Guards unit for exploitation purposes. It cannot drop in 1944 if the Germans have an air point that turn. To drop the unit, place it in an unoccupied, clear terrain hex (it can be in an Axis ZoC) within five hexes of a Soviet unit and make a die roll. A roll of 1 eliminates the unit; on a 2 through 6 it lands safely. Subtract one from the die roll during a snow turn. You can instead enter it as a normal reinforcement at any time, but it loses its parachute ability if it does.

SS Fanaticism

The SS, in keeping with their ethnic cleansing proclivities, must now attack in the Axis Combat Phase if adjacent to Allied units. They can be selective about what they attack, just like combat in the Exploitation Combat Phase. Combat in some manner is mandatory for them, though still optional for all other Axis units. Selective combat is possible only if using SS alone. If attacking in conjunction with other Axis units, regular combat rules must be followed and all adjacent Soviet units to an attacking Axis stack must be involved in some manner. Expect higher casualties as a result of this!

Occupation Armor

The Germans have a large number of armored vehicles in Yugoslavia as Red Vengeance begins. There were a fair number of French tanks still clunking around and some captured Italian vehicles in addition to some outdated German machines. These AFV's were slow and under-armored and -armed for 1944. They still had some merit in anti-partisan roles, though even that was beginning to wane as spare parts were becoming hard to find.Still, it is possible they could have been amalgamated into an armored division for concentrated use.

Add a 1-4 German armored division to Belgrade at start. To compensate for this, the German 69th infantry corps (one of the Yugoslavia deployment units) must begin the game in Belgrade reduced to its 1-3 side. The armored unit can (and most likely will) leave Yugoslavia, but can never be replaced if eliminated. Seemingly a trade-off, this could be a neat ploy if using 14.8.

Make War No More,

The Red Goblin

You can download the new variant piece here.

And you can buy Red Vengeance right now by clicking here!