I’ve gotten many requests to detail some of my ideas and systems for AGN, AGC, and AGS and this blog post is here to help. I love Barbarossa games, what purveyor of the hobby doesn’t? There are for arguments sake, a billion of them already done, why bother doing another game on Barbarossa? Let me detail my reasons/grudges.
Size Kind of Matters
With the exception of AH and other classic publishers, many operational games on Barbarossa are gigantic. That’s all well and good unless you’re like me and live in an apartment, maybe with cats, or a significant other who will get mad at you for having a sprawling game out on the dining room table.
Scale Kind of Matters
Many Barbarossa games are at a Strategic scale, nothing wrong with that other than games can kind of devolve into a glorified chess match given the mass of the historical OOBs. Given the size of the theater and cost considerations, this ultimately makes ‘fiscal’ sense for most big budget companies.
History Really Fucking Matters
When was the last time you played a Barbarossa game that produced a historical result? I mean maybe some people have seen a very close German win but unless you have a relatively brain-dead Russian player, its fairly standard to figure out a way through ZOCs and terrain to slow down any panzers chugging along. This, at least to me, is something lacking in every single Barbarossa game, Stalin’s orders were not to retreat anywhere, any the Russians need victory conditions early on that they can win for blunting the German advance enough to prevent a historical result.
Every good Barbarossa game has a number of what-if options that allow for further historical uncertainty. A stronger Italian contingent fresh of a successful Balkan campaign, Turkish intervention, Early Finnish/Romanian intervention etc. This isn’t so much a gripe as it is something I think some games do well, with topics done over and over again such as these it's a necessity.
So with all of that said, let's talk about the design thesis for these games. The Barbarossa Trio of AGN, AGC and AGS seeks to fulfill a need in the industry for small-footprint yet granular simulations of every wargamer’s favorite subject. The fact that WW2 games sell better doesn’t hurt either, but in all seriousness, I want these games to be so intuitive that you can pull them out the box and after reading a quick summary of the rules, be ready to set-up and play.
Some of the more in the weeds discussion about the design ideas. I am a huge fan of AH’s Russian Front in terms of how it handles ZOCs, and have thought that with a historical setup or some incentive to replicate Stalin’s orders, the game quite elegantly allows the German player to truly achieve the massive and satisfying encirclements that historically occurred. Some changes would need to be made though for the operational scale of the game and I am currently working those out in experiments. I am so far leaning towards a simple move, fight, exploit sequence, but I am also experimenting with counter move/attack phases. Motorized/Mechanized units are likely to have some special characteristics in relation to movement, but I am currently working out the exact effects of ZOCs so I need to figure these out first. Likely, ZOCs will add +1 MP to leg units, but not motor/mech units who will have more freedom operating around enemy units. Turns are likely to be around 2 weeks, and hexes about 24 miles per hex.
Anyway, hopefully that satisfies your interest in the series, I will post more from my experiments as I plan on a deep dive on this next weekend, have been dealing with a number of household things distracting me from business, but im getting back on the work train. Hoping to have 1987 and 1864 finished this month, though with the holiday it could be that they don’t get shipped till after, either way I will post rules and Vassal modules as usual.