Game Title : Sevastopol
Publisher : SPI games
Game Designer : Rob Mosca
Game Thema : A siege of Sevastopol in Cremean War
1 game map, 1 counter sheet, rulebook, playaid, a die
The game sequence until the assault
This game has nexting structured sequence.
Usual game turn without assault,
Russian attempt of field combat
Supply check for ammunition
Allied decision for assault
Allied construction of siege works
Allied strategic movement
Russian strategic movement
Russian construction of fortress
In usual cases, there is no assault. I feel that the whole game usually would have assault 3 times.
Russian player has 3 chances of field battle such as Balaclava, Inkerman, and Chernaya River. These are represented very abstractly by simple table. Russian player can use each battle once during the game. Each battle has a different effect for the campaign.
Turn without neither field battle nor assault contains only both army’s barrage and construction. I think this doesn’t sound exciting. But, in reality game with only barrage and construction is interesting enough.
The final goal of the game is whether allied army can capture 2 bastions or not. If conducted, allied army wins. If not, Russin army wins.
The allied army slowly advance from the startline to the bastion by constructing trench. First he must dug sap which is longitudinal trench, then dug parallels from top of the sap sideway. Once he has 3 parallels at the top of sap, he can dug another sap to advance. He continue this step to advance his front line to the bastion gradually.
In order to construct trench, player must consume construction points. Also, he must allocate one infantry unit for each newly constructed trench. So, he must manage resources for constructing trench. Actually, in case of allied army, he has large number of infantry units, so he has no problem on human resource.
Each Russian bastion starts the game with strength level of 3. But, once damaged by allied barrage, it is reduced one by one. The strength level can be raised to 8 during the game. The Russian player must consume construction points and allocate units like allied trench. In case of level under 3, he can do this by infantry unit. In case of level 4 and above, he must also has engineer unit in that bastion. But, in Russian army, there is only 1 engineer unit. In other words, in each turn, he can raise the level on only one bastion. So, he must carefully consider which bastion should be strengthend strategically.
In the game play, allied player must reveal which bastion is his target by constructing trench. The Russian player can estimate allied trench structure to decide which bastion he would like to strengthen.
During this process, each player must manage barrage, construction points and human resource by analyzing the progress of construction and damage of the barrage. There are wide variety of bargaining on all of these game mechanics.
It is important to understand that allied barrage can inflict not only the strength level damage of the bastion but also the infantry units in that bastion. If Russian player would like to strengthen a bastion he must allocate large number of infantry units in that bastion. But, this makes that bastion more important target for allied barrage, because it is already important and now has good bonus target in it. This results in the heavier loss of Russian infantry.
On the other hand, once Russian infantry can survive and succeeds to strengthen the bastion, this stronger level can help their survival by reducing the damage from enemy barrage.
From the allied player’s viewpoint, it is better for him to make a barrage as close as possible to the target. But, closer to the bastion also makes his infantry in trench more vulnerable. This is a good strategic dilemma for allied player.
The game starts in autumn. But, soon winter comes to the battle field. During winter, no assault and no construction is possible. But, barrage can be conducted even ruing winter. This results in that the damages tends to accumulate during winter for both sides. So, during winter both players must have different strategy of resource management.
As described above, each player must has variety of strategy and interesting decision. This makes the game with only barrage and construction interesting enough to play.
But the critical point of the game is assault. Allied player slowly advances and prepares his infantry in the front line and wait the final order. Of course, Russian player also prepares his force in bastions in danger and waits the coming enemy. He has a number of field artillery for the assault. Field artillery is a different type of guns from usual barrage during non-assault period and very effective during assault.
In this way, the quiet battle field with sporadic barrage is filled with sensitive game between two players. But, it is hard to understand thi sensitive game from third person by the game board. He can see only slow growing trench on the board and many dice-rolling between players.
Once assault started, there are only 5 impulses to complete that one assault. An impulse is a game turn in usual hex-wargamme. Within these impulses, the allied army must capture any bastion. They must start from the front line of their trench to the bastions. Otherwise, they must start again from the same front line in the next chance.
In the assault, the allied player must decide with which unit he will assault. The number of units is limited by his generals.
Though the fortress is strong, the Russian player has serious weak point that his human resource is very limited.
But, he has strong point simultaneously, that is field artillery. If he can focus his artillery, the effect is very decisive. So, the allied player would like the enemy force dispersed into as many bastions as possible.
Also, winter is very important period in this game. Since there is no construction and assault, winter turn is not decisive. But, accumulated damage on both of bastion strength and infantry units are critical for the Russian player. And in spring, the allied player can get the strongest force of French, the old Guard units.
In this game, the combat system is strongly dependent on units moral. And the Guard units have the highest moral. In this game, the combat result is represented in moral check. So, as long as units have excellent moral, it is really strong in combat. Also, most of Russian units have lower moral. This is another serious weak point for the Russian player.
Actually I didn’t think this game is really exciting until I can play this by myself. Because, the purpose of fortress is making the possible combat less exciting and less effective for attacking force.
But, as I explained above, in this game the period with only barrage and construction is still filled with interesting bargains. And the climax of assault is really exciting.
I know this game is hard to get. But, if you have a chance, please get and play it with yourself.