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Drive on Pskov, 1918


The Great War, Setting the East Ablaze, 28mm

In October we’re playing a large multi-player Back of Beyond game, so we’ve been tinkering with the rules. This game, set in the last months of the Great War, was designed to test some of these changes out. The main thing is that Setting the East Ablaze! has a card activation system. When your unit’s card comes up it gets to do things.We felt this slowed the game down, so we used a pack of playing cards instead. Both Reds and Whites had two to three players each, so the two sides were divided in two. Each player (or in one case a pair of players) could activate any one of their units when their suite came up.For instance, Bill Gilchrist’s Bolsheviks activated when a diamond was drawn. We included two jokers in the pack. These represented Vodka Breaks (unfortunately not literally, although I’d have been up for it). The first one was a warning. When the second one was drawn the turn ended and the pack was reshuffled. tough luck if some of your units hadn’t activated.So, on with the game. the two sides were fairly evenly matched, but the Reds were defending. The best troops on the White side was a battalion of German Freikorps, supported by artillery and machine guns. the White infantry was a more motley selection of shock troops and “volunteers”, backed up by two Cossack units and their own smattering of support weapons, including a small tank and an armoured car.The tank – an FT-17 – was pretty useless – it kept breaking down and never got into action. For their part the Bolsheviks had a mixed bag of sailors, Red Guards (partisans) and regular Red Army troops. The advance began as shown above – the Freikorps on the White’s left, and the White Russians heading up the road and the open ground to the south of it.The defenders in the village whittled down the Cossacks, but were a little more intimidated by the White armoured car, which raced down the road and seemed immune to the artillery shells and machine gun bullets falling around it. Then an enfilading naval machine gun opened up from the Red left flank, and the cavalry began suffering badly. Soon they’d failed their morale tests – one unit was wiped out – the other pulled back to regroup.The White shock troops weren’t faring much better. They had already become strung out during the advance, as several units rolled badly on their movement dice. So, they attacked in penny packets, and were easily dealt with by the defenders.More of a threat were the Freikorps. Having dealt with a screen of Red Guards on their left flank they stormed the hill there, and routed a Red army company waiting in ambush. The Germans took casualties, but seemed unstoppable. they also reached the village without suffering too badly, and after a short sharp fight they captured the place, or at least the northern half of it. The Whites began to do a little better too, when the naval machine gun was wiped out, and the troops began edging forward again. That’s where we ended the game.The Whites had pretty much captured everything west of the stream, apart from a small Bolshevik force still ensconced in the southern portion of the village, and in the woods on the southern side of the table, just beyond the hill where the naval machine gun had deployed. The road to Pskov was still blocked though, and so victory was duly awarded to the Red team.  The game worked well enough, but afterwards we kept batting around more ideas aimed at making the game faster, slicker and more fun.

 

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