Red Steel:
Clash Of Armor At Kishinev

"Izbanda sau moarte!" — Victory or death!

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Nazis did not do so by themselves. German diplomats had convinced several other European states to join the attack, the most important being Romania.

Romanian troops fought alongside the Germans at the key battle of Kishinev in early July 1941, and this is the subject of Red Steel. The Axis player is trying to get his or her army across the Prut River and then through the hills of the Cornesti Massif to capture Kishinev, the capital of Bessarabia. The Soviet player must prevent this.

As with the other games that use this game system, most units are battalions with some companies and small regiments. These usually belong to divisions, and they operate more effectively together with units of the same division.

Romanian armor on the road to Kishinev, 1941

Units are rated for morale, attack, defense and movement. Superior morale assists a unit in several game functions but particularly in combat. Tank units are rated for armor quality; anti-tank units have a similar rating used to fight tanks.

Artillery is the most powerful weapon on the battlefield. Artillery units may support an attack or a defense; German units are somewhat more flexible than Soviet or Romanian ones thanks to better communications. And artillery must be supplied; running out of artillery ammunition is a very bad thing, and both players must choose where to use their shells.

Each game “day” is divided into three daylight and one night turns. The map is divided into hexagons (“hexes”) shows the area around Kishinev at a scale of 2 kilometers per hex.
Romanian Lt. Gen. Nicolae Ciuperca commanded at Kishinev

Axis forces include a German infantry division, at full strength with excellent artillery support. There’s also a Romanian armored division, with 10 companies of tanks (R2 and R35 types; see our piece on Romanian forces in Panzer Grenadier: Eastern Front for more detail on these). The Axis has a tough Romanian border guard division and a cavalry brigade; the three Romanian regular infantry divisions are respectable but all the Romanian divisions have weak artillery components. The Romanian reserve infantry division is of terrible quality. The Axis side also has the help of a battalion of Ukrainian Nationalist commandos fighting in the Romanian army.
Col. Gen. Ya. T. Cherevichenko led the Soviet 9th Separate Army

The Red Army of Workers and Peasants counters with two full tank divisions and parts of a third. There’s also a mechanized division, four rifle divisions and a mountain rifle division. The best Soviet formation is the 2nd Cavalry Corps, which would become famous later in the war as the 1st Guards Cavalry Corps. Because the Red Army has been caught by surprise, each turn the Soviet player is not sure which of his or her formations will be able to move and fight, other than the cavalry (which is always battle-ready). And the Soviets suffer from poor maintenance; every time a Soviet tank unit moves there’s a chance it will suffer losses from breakdowns. There are NKVD border guards as well, and the Soviet player can call out the local militia (which may defect to the Romanians, as this area was part of Romania until 1940).

These factors balance out to create perhaps our most finely balanced game in terms of competitive play. While Red Steel is not the easiest game in the Avalanche Press catalog, it is generally considered the closest contest for highly-skilled wargamers. There are five scenarios, or game situations, and a wide variety of optional rules including the river monitors of the Romanian Danube Flotilla.



Red Steel includes:

  • 560 counters
  • One 22x34-inch map
  • 16-page rules booklet
  • Charts and tables card

STK #0007

Price: $44.99 $11.25

Status: Currently Available

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