Old School Tactical is a WWII tactical level game designed by Shayne Logan and published by Flying Pig Games.
Red Blitz is an expansion module, taking us to the east front in 1944, the significance of which for the series is that it expands the order-of-battle of the core system (and Stalingrad) which is set in 1941 / 42. (Important - ownership of volume 1, the core east front module, is required to play these scenarios. You will also be short of 2 x T34/85 for scenario 4, you can grab them from the Stalingrad module - or just use proxies).
It also uses what are termed ‘Pocket Maps’ (think Squad Leader or Lock ’n’ Load game boards), rather than the single big board, which is part of the systems signature.
The rest of this post offers a brief description of what the package gives us and a discussion on the scenarios. Please use the ‘read more’ tab if interested.
Having pre-ordered this some months ago (from Second Chance Games - UK) I have been waiting impatiently for its arrival. Today, it hit the UK shores.
I shall take the unusual step of starting with my conclusion! Here’s the thing - go and buy this now :-)
Anyone owning Phantom Division (actions of the 29th Armored) will have a ready appreciation of what we have here. The game is presented in a sturdy 1 1/2´´ deep box. There are four 11´´ x 18´´ double sided good quality maps with a silky smooth finish. Each side gives a landscape in summer colours and the reverse side has exactly the same terrain, but is winterised.
The mix is interesting, with one fairly open map, one interspersed with light woods, one with a nicely built up area and the final one with a lot of tactical interest containing light woods, brush and marsh, with marsh having bogging effects and creating something extra for players to think about, both in attack and defence.
|Marsh and scrub terrain - part of board 6|
They are geomorphic just like the Phantom Division maps and are numbered 4 - 7, complementing the three in Phantom Division, with a good colour match too.
There is a single counter sheet containing infantry counters and game markers, plus a section with even larger vehicle counters. All the counters enjoy the new artwork that is now the new standard since Volume I’s (East front ´41 /42) recent reprint, but the differences for those of us with earlier version artwork is not an issue.
All of my counters except just one were fallen from the cardboard tree, which shows how well these are die cut. I have never seen die cutting that complete before, but I have counted everything up and it is all present.
On the infantry side of things we are given Soviet shock, rifle, sapper and irregular troops, plus more weapons and for the Germans, just an extra assault section and more weapons, particularly panzerfausts.
Whilst for vehicles, the IS 2, ISU 152, SU85, SU 76M, T34/85, Nashorn, Panther and StuH 42 will tickle the fancy of the armour fan, while giving the Soviet’s benefit from having some of the general late war weapon platforms that can take on the ‘big cats’.
There are basic six scenarios, which are presented in the usual style booklet, in the usual format, plus there is a lovely big battle that has four linked scenarios. They are;
The Highway 23rd June 1944 - 2 maps. This has Soviet mine clearing tanks deployed to break the defence. They are supported by three ISU 152’s.
As Night Approaches 24th June 1944 - 1 map. This looks an interesting little scenario, ideal for the midweek game with low unit density. An IS 2 has become bogged down, the commander must escape. They stay with the tank for 3 turns, during which time the tank can still fire and then, once dusk arrives, they try and make a run for it on foot, to exit the map.
Smash and Burn 26th June 1944 - 1 map. Urban fighting. Germans defend. The Soviets have The Guards, shock troops and a flame throwing T-34. Quite a bit of unit density in that single map as the Soviets apply overwhelming numbers.
No Way Out 28th June 1944 - 3 maps. This is a city fight, a big game, lasting 14 turns, with decent number of reinforcements to both sides. The Germans are on the centre map with their ‘defend at all costs’ orders. The Soviet attack from two sides. The Soviets win the moment they control all three control hexes … which are randomly set at the start of the game.
The Trains Must Run 2nd July 1944 - 2 maps. This covers the clashes outside Minsk for control of the rail network that were essential to German supply. Arriving to help was the 505th Heavy Panzer Battalion, so for those who like their Tigers, you get three in this scenario. The road net is classed as the rail system and actually looks quite effective.
Ruckkampfer 8th July 1944 - 2 maps (longways). This scenario is all about those cut off pockets of Germans, who are left trying to break out and make their way west. The Soviets, together with partisans (represented by irregular units), were tasked with pursuit. This is an infantry only scenario.
The Big Scenario! This is a major contribution to the module. Comprising of 4 linked scenarios, it looks to be a meaty game.
A Hard Bargain 2nd - 3rd July 1944 - the whole big board from volume 1 (east front core module) is used.
Quote - “This 2 day battle offers a glimpse of the many battles fought near Minsk. Units of the Soviet 11th Guards Army scrapping with units of the reinforcing 5th Panzer Division. The battleground is a series of 4 connected scenarios where the gains and losses of each affect the overall battle.”
The game board (above) is divided into zones to help at the end of each scenario to ascertain gains, losses and victory points.
Play the first scenario, then at the end, all forces remaining on the map stay in place. The next scenario, then introduces the reinforcements. Also victory points earned in the scenario just played can be spent on purchasing additional troops from a separate reinforcement pool - this is great for meeting some immediate needs on the boards i.e. perhaps you want to buy some mines or wire or some additional leadership or how about a sapper, tank or airstrike!
The game plays through until all four scenarios have been played. This one looks a real rollercoaster.
The module doesn’t bring any new rules to the system other than a brief mention of what Brush, Rubble and Marsh will do and an introduction to the new vehicles - for example, ‘The IS 2 is a heavy tank with thick armour and a large calibre cannon. It suffers from ‘Limited Fire’ due to ammo supply and a slow rate of fire’.
You don’t get the typical obligatory dice in the box (environmentally good, they are supplied in the core module).
Finally, there is a small pack of unit cards for the new introductions to the system.
In this module, we have by-passed the ‘mid-war’ (Kursk ´43) and are now in the phase where powerful Soviet armies are driving back a depleted German army (Operation Bagration), that has pretty much switched over to the defence.
However, for those wishing to set scenarios in 1943, this can be done with what the system now has.
Shayne Logan (designer) has given us a fine mix of scenarios. I have not played any yet, having only just received the package today, but they look promising and even though they cover a period in which the Germans are being pushed back, the German player gets forces that the Soviet player still needs to respect.
The final group of 4 linked scenarios is a marvellous addition to the line-up and it gives the player a real meaty, in depth subject to get into. It is immediately understandable and easy to implement and what a great way to use one of the big boards.
Conclusion - Fans of the series will be delighted to see something new and this module definitely firms up a gap in the German / Soviet orders-of-battle, helping OST, for the collector and tactical enthusiast, to stand up against against other tactical systems and making it easier for this system to become a game of choice in a competitive market. The four linked games is an easy to implement alternative to more complicated campaign games found elsewhere.
Overall, with the additional map and the bumper four linked scenario game, this module is a step up from Phantom Division.
I look at this and can immediately see a demand / opportunity for a similar France ´40 module, which done to this standard would be a superb addition.
What we do know is that the next core game is going to cover the Commonwealth forces with a focus on the Italian campaign - something that again with see the system go from strength to strength.
I am enjoying all of this in a way that I enjoyed the basic Squad Leader, when introduced to that in 1978 …. and that is quite an accolade.
A Remagan Bridge reply from the 29th Armored Division module, which examples game play. LINK
My sister webspace ‘COMMANDERS’ is being re-configured to showcase various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and gives a flavour of where current projects are up to. Link.