Game Title : Barbarossa Campaign
Publisher : Game Journal
This game is divided and published on #41 and #44 of “Game Journal” old edition.
The first covers northern half and the latter covers southern half.
Game Designer : Tetsuya Nakamura
Mr. Nakamura designed Japanese-shaking “Nobunaga Dangerous time” and after that always designed high quality wargames on “Game Journal” and made the magazine on par with “Japanese Command”. Now, he is also working as a chief editor of the magazine.
Game Thema : Barbarossa Campaign from 1941 / 6 to 1942 /2 in WW2
1 hex = 80km
The map covers from German-Russian border to Gorki, from Sevastopoli to Leningrad.
Unit size = army
1 turn = 1 month
The game map is printed on backside of the magazine.
The unit is printed as stickers. Since the final unit is double faced, player must assemble them carefully.
Characteristic game mechanics
This game uses “Slices of time” mechanics which is innovated probably by Mr. Hind of 3W in “Desert Rat” and later developped by Mr. Chadwick in “White Death”. Players are given movement points which can be sliced into impulses. The dilemma for this mechanics is if you use smaller impulses, you can attack more times, on the other hand if you use larger impulses, you can infiltrate your armored units to make large encirclement possible.
Typically in the summer, German player is given 8 movement point.
In this game, the combat itself will use movement points to be executed.
In case of infantry unit, it uses 1 m.p. for clear hex and it cannot infiltrate from enemy ZOC to another at all, and uses 2 m.p. for its attack.
In case of armored unit, it uses 1 m.p. for clear hex and it can infiltrate from enemy ZOC to another by paying 1 more m.p., and uses only 1 m.p. for its attack.
These means that if you set 2 m.p. impulse, your infantry can only attack enemy unit in adjacent hex and your armor can move 1 hex and then attack enemy unit. When the frontline is not moving or advance after combat is enough to keep your infantry always adjacent to enemy unit, this 2 m.p. option enables you the largest numbers of attack during 1 turn.
In contrast, 3 m.p. impulse makes the situation very different. In this case, even your infantry can move 1 hex and then attack. More importantly, your armor can infiltrate from enemy ZOC to another and then attack. This enable you vacant hex in enemy frontal line available for your attacking position.
Together with the fact above, combat system is well thought.
The CRT is basically retreat-type that means defender tends to retreat even under the hard attack. But, for Soviet units it is impossible to retreat into German ZOC even the hex is already occupied by another Soviet units. For these submechanics, German armor infiltration become destructively effective that it can prohibit Soviet units’ retreat. If you’d like to use this infiltration effect, you must make your impulse large enough. It depends on the situation whether the larger number of attack is effective or larger impulse is destructive. Thus, you must carefully analyse the situation for every chance and decide the length of your impulse. In some case, you can risk everything in one chance to make very long impulse such as 5 m.p. which enable your armor units to advance 2 hexes among enemy’s ZOCs. This will shock your opponent that something he or she cannot imagine will happen on the map. Also, 5 m.p. make your dispersed force into concentrated attack even without infiltration.
Challenge for players
Challenge in this game is based on “slices of time” mechanics.
Even this mechanics was invented in 1978 in “Dessert Rat”, it is not so popular. The largest reason for this unpopularity is due to its unplayability. Double impulse mechanics make the playtime more than doubled, in case of mulch implses coming from this mechanics make the game even longer. Honestly speaking, deciding how to slice impulses are the most important and time-consuming and brain-loading especially players not accustomed with this mechanics. These fact makes this interesting mechanics unpopular.
In this game, even it handles whole barbarossa campaign, Mr. Nakamura decided the scale in daring manner to make the whole game only in 9 turns and with 80 units. This bold decision make the game playable enough with “slices of time” mechanics. Finally, Mr. Nakamura succeeded to pour old wine in totally new bottle.
Especially for German player, he must manage this mechanics from the start to the end for his victory consistently and continuously. The victory will be decided mostly by the control of cities, German player must plan ahead what cities he will control at the end. At this stage, since German loss is reducted from the total, German player must decide how amount of damage he can manage during the whole campaign.
The hidden charm of this game is that the period is limited only to 1942 / 2. Soviet player need not mind the coming operation Blue in 1942 summer. Also, Soviet loss is not counted for the victory. These fact make Soviet player focussing only to support the frontline during this limited period even with maximum loss.
Most of challenges in this game is for German player, but the fact above makes this game valuable for even Soviet player. According to my experiences, this game is really tough for German player. But, this is really interesting challenge for most players.
Related games and final words
White Death / GDW
Blitzkrieg ’41 / XTR
I’m quite sure this game is very successful for making interesting challenge for most of wargamers.
But, Game Journal old edition was very limited publishing. Even in Japan, this game is not popular enough for its value.
I really hope that this game will be reprinted not only in Japan but also in the United States with higher quality of components.
Also, if possible, I’d like to see another game using this mechanics hopefully from Mr. Nakamura again.
I believe this game and possible sequal will be successful worldwide once it will be published.