We brought our Defiant Russia game back into print this year in an all-new edition, with an all-new map, extra pieces, completely revised rules and full-color player aids. It’s been very well received; it’s a nice-looking package and fun to play.
You can see a brief video overview of Defiant Russia right here, by Norman Smith.
And now we have an expansion for Defiant Russia: Red Victory.
• Red Victory comes with 180 playing pieces: the 140 pieces from our old Red Vengeance game and forty new die-cut, silky-smooth pieces.
• Like Defiant Russia and Winter Fury, Red Victory has a set of full-color player aids with setup information, reinforcements and all the other game charts on them. They make the game way easier to set up and play so you can get to the good stuff faster.
• And there’s a 32-page book that includes the rules set and historical background. You get everything you need to play except the map, and you take that out of Defiant Russia.
Red Victory is based on an old game we published called Red Vengeance. Red Vengeance, a sequel to Defiant Russia, sold out a few years ago. Where Defiant Russia is based on Operation Barbarossa, the 1941 sneak attack on the Soviet Union by Germany and her Axis allies (Finland, Hungary, Romania and Italy), Red Vengeance looked at the 1944-45 Soviet offensive that finally ended the Nazi regime.
Even though we sold out of Red Vengeance, we had plenty of playing pieces in storage. I decided we needed to add some more, since we’re now playing on the large, beautiful map from Defiant Russia. Red Vengeance had a smaller map area that stretched from Berlin to Kiev, more or less, and Bulgaria to the Baltic. And it wasn’t all that attractive (it would have been more than fine in the 1980’s).
Expanding the map area allows us to include the 1944 Soviet offensive that knocked Finland out of the war; in the old Red Vengeance this took place off the edge of the map. So we’ve added the Finnish Army to the game, plus the Soviets who opposed them. There’s now an option for Turkish intervention on the Allied side, plus more Bulgarians, Hungarians, Poles and Romanians.
Even though the Defiant Russia map is much larger than that of the old Red Vengeance, the play doesn’t change all that much. A good bit of the Defiant Russia map area is off to the east, and in the summer of 1944 is firmly back in Soviet hands. Likewise, there’s a good bit of space on the western and edge of south-western corner of the Defiant Russia that’s not used in that game. When I had the opportunity to rebuild Defiant Russia with more pieces and a larger map, I made sure that the map coverage extended to the west far enough to cover all the ground that had been included in Red Vengeance so we could put those pieces to use.
Red Victory has a completely new book, which includes the game rules and scenario instructions. I had thought that we could simply use the Defiant Russia rulebook with a few special rules, but even though the games use the same engine (a version of “roll a 6, stupid”). After working with them, I decided it would be much easier to use if we just provided a separate set of rules so all of the differences would be contained within them.
If you know how to play Defiant Russia, you'll be ready to play Red Victory after skimming the short rules set. The biggest difference is probably in the railroad/supply subsystems. Where the rail network printed on the map is crucial to play of Defiant Russia, in Red Victory you ignore it and use a different game method of supplying your forces. Oil resources are an important objective this time and air power is a little different.
The game is really fun to play. The game starts with the Soviet Operation Bagration, the massive offensive that launched in June 1944. The start line is fairly far to the east, with the Germans still in control of Belorussia, the Baltic States and all of Eastern Europe. The German Army is probably at the height of its strength at this moment; there are plenty of strong infantry units to hold the line and many armored corps to seal off and counter attack breakthroughs.
And then things change, with the first roll of the dice. The Red Army is also powerful, and it is relentless. The Germans have the strength to fight back, at least at first. But as their losses pile up, their ability to replace them diminishes. Yet the Red Army keeps coming. Meanwhile, Germany’s allies – the Romanians, the Bulgarians – switch sides to join the Soviets. Yugoslav partisans rise up and create armies of their own. Only the Hungarians stand by Germany – and there aren’t many Hungarians.
Adolf Hitler, the self-appointed Greatest Commander of All Times, is the only one who can fix things. The Axis player is under a number of special restrictions reflecting the leader’s growing insanity. Repeated defeats will make him despondent. The Axis player must hold Berlin and stave off the armies of vengeance as long as possible.
The game plays swiftly; once you have the rules down it shouldn’t take more than ninety minutes to finish off Adolf. The pieces look superb on the fine Defiant Russia map, plus you get the book to go along with the game.
Don’t wait to put Red Victory on your game table! Join the Gold Club and find out how to get it before anyone else!
Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.