Thursday, 10 August 2023

Red Typhoon - the Soviet winter counter-offensive

Red Typhoon covers the second Phase of the Soviet counter-offensive against the Germans in front of Moscow in January 1942. The system is covered in just 5 pages of rules, so this is a very easy boardgame to get to the table.

It gets played today as part of the the ongoing list of ten east front games that I am working through that relate to the Dimbleby book (Barbarossa) that I have been reading.

I have covered the game in some depth before on this blog and there is a link below in the Resource Section to that article, which fully describes the game mechanics and includes an AAR.

Rather than repeat that detail, today we will be doing a briefer overview of the game.

Published by Revolution Games, it is a redesign of a game in the Panzer Corps series, originally published by Command Magazine Japan and designed by Shigeru Hirano, it has been developed by Roger Miller of Revolution Games.

For the rest of this post, please use the ‘read more’ tab.

This without doubt is a players game, with a rule book of just 5 pages and game counters that though small, have the largest type font for combat / movement factors that I have come across (thank you).

On with the game. During turn 1, the Soviets get a +2 to the die roll in combat to represent the surprise attack.

I am going with the fixed set-up (there is a slightly looser alternative for anyone wanting to explore that).

Above - starting position. The Soviets (brown counters nearest the viewer) have Moscow behind them, at the far edge of the map (the German Baseline)  is Orsha. The distance to Orsha is 35 hexes or 560 Kilometres (350 miles) in real life!

Above - The large gap in the German line near Kaluga (Soviet left flank) is glaringly obvious and compelling for the Soviet’s to attempt to exploit. 

In the centre the German defence is the responsibility of 4th Panzer Army, a formidable opponent.

You will also note that the German defences against the Soviet right flank are stretched thin, but in a counter to this, the Soviets themselves do not have a lot of strength there either.

The opening of the battle is a little disappointing for the Soviets. They do make some successful attacks, but the German line flexes and remains cohesive.

Above - Worse, at the Kaluga gap, the combat results are ‘Contact’, which is essentially a stand-off!

The assault is renewed, but repelled, with the attackers falling back and marked disrupted. This will mean that these units will need to spend two Activation Points to attack again, one to move up and the other to attack.

A third attack was launched, but as before, the German defences amongst the river and woods held up, all attacks were repelled.

This is a serious set-back for the sector that held so much promise, with three consecutive attacks failing. The clock ticks!

Above - In the centre, 4th Panzer Army had suffered heavy casualties and Soviet success had resulted in the isolation of 35th, 225th and 87th German infantry divisions.


To relieve the pressure there, two panzer corps attacked, but it was a catastrophe (die roll of ‘1’) and those German infantry divisions were destroyed!

Above - With some adjustment, the German line shifted to maintain a cohesive front. The Soviets dropped Airborne behind the German defences near Yukhnov (Kaluga salient) and partisan activity in the German rear started to disrupt supply, but with the Soviet timetable failing, this may have been too little too late.

Above - At last, the Soviet forces in the Kaluga sector looked close to breaking out - helped by an airborne assault in the German rear, that prevented trapped Germans escaping.

Above - To keep their line intact, the Germans have to conduct a slow withdrawal, abandoning several of the cities that they get Victory Points for defending, but still, those cities that the Soviets actually need to capture (red dots) remain far out of their reach.

Above - Another failed German counter-attack to rescue trapped units on the Soviet right. This time they lose two infantry divisions.

AboveThere was alarm at German HQ as the Soviets reached and took Spas Demensk (the red counter above the arrow) on the Kaluga front. Determined to retake it, the Germans mobilised local units to move onto the city while they also attacked below the city with five infantry divisions (see arrow) to tie down Soviet forces.

Once in position at Spas Demensk, the hodge-podge of German units attacked from three sides, successfully re-taking it, only to immediately lose it again due to a powerful Soviet counter-attack, but was to be the high watermark of the Soviet advance.

Above - and that is where it ends really, the last turn (9 turns) has been played and the only objective that the Soviets had managed to take was Spas Demensk (the tip point of that salient above).

The Germans had been pushed back all along the line, but the expected Soviet gains had not been made and when it came to counting out the Victory Points, though the Soviets had inflicted more harm than they received on the German forces, they did not (a) liberate enough front line cities from the Germans or (b) capture the deeper objective cities needed to call a win.

The final count being a German win with 11 points to 4.


This is quite a fun game that is easy to get to the table and plays relatively quickly. I have given it two outings and both times the Soviets have lost, though they did better this time. I really do want to give it a third go, just to meet the challenge that the Soviet side seems to have …. or that I have handling them!

They just never really seemed to get that penetration that would help them tear open the line. It has to be said, they did suffer some bad die rolls, but then of course, the same could be said of the Germans who lost those two disastrous counter-attacks, costing them several divisions.

The game plays smoothly with little reference to the rules during play. The last time I played this, I said it is was a game that could get to the table often …. that was three years ago! I think I need to make some more time for these sort of games.

Resource Section.

A detailed look at the Red Typhoon system, includes replay 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.


  1. Great review as always Norm

    1. Hi, thanks. It has taken me too long to get this back to the table.

  2. Thanks for a refresher on this game. Was this played solo or F2F? I may add this to a Wish List in anticipation of Revolution Games’ holiday sale.

    1. Hi Jonathan, I played this solo and would describe it as a 2 player game that plays fine solo, without any obstacles. I would also say that there are some small swings within the combat table, which brings a little bit of uncertainty, which I think helps solo play and to drive the story …. Like my three turn ‘going nowhere’ moment in the Kaluga region.

  3. Thanks Norm, I this might push me to get it on the table!

  4. Hi Stuart, with just those 5 pages of straight forward and well explained rules, it is an easy one to get to the table.

  5. Thanks Norm, that looks like a very interesting game. I was very intruiged by what appears to be a Soviet unit with a combat strength of 20! I wondered what it represented? (it is coloured bright red).

    1. Hi Martin. It is an entire army and cannot stack with anything else. You have to start withdrawing it from play from turn 4 onwards and are penalised 1 VP for each turn that you fail to do that.

      Considering that the destruction of an enemy unit is only worth 0.2 VP’s, then withdrawing it earlier rather than later is best.

      I gave it a one turn delay because it occupied an open flank and if I had removed it then, then a German counter-attack would have been certain.

  6. Looks like a fun game and nice to hear it's player friendly; certainly the counters are very easy to read, which is of course good:). Two games and two Soviet losses? Do you think they have a chance to actually win in this game? That Soviet left flank does look an ideal place to attack, but I imagine tricky to manoeuvre enough men and materiel there to make it count before the Germans can respond.

  7. Hi Steve, I am sure that the game is better balanced than I seem to manage and so I think the Soviets probably need better management and perhaps average or higher luck.

    This makes me want to try a third time. Although I think the red target cities are hard to get, the Soviets should at least push the Germans out of all their frontline cities to deny them the VP’s for holding them.

    One more go, one more go ….. the sign of a good game.

  8. Thanks for the report Norm, it was excellent as ever. Are there any other games using the same rules? I'm interested in the Eastern Front, but more on the late war.

    1. Gareth I would suggest "A Victory Lost" MMP or "Trace of War" Vuca.

    2. Thanks, they look very interesting

  9. Hi Gareth, the set originates from a Japanese design and I think is part of the Panzer Corps series, which I think may have been magazine games.

    I am currently looking at the new east front series from Decision Games, called something like Battles in the East series. It looks a tad expensive in the UK, but does have mounted maps if you like that sort of thing and does promise a lot of playability. And they take 1 year and do 2 battles per volume … based on the Guderian / Cobra system.

    Here is a link that might interest, the rules are downloadable. Link

    1. Thanks very much, that sounds interesting.

  10. Got back late afternoon. Just re-read your original article and then this current one. Do you think a double session would work for us? I’d certainly be happy to try. It seems to have many similarities to Traces of War.

  11. Hi Mike, I think two shorter sessions would work fine, say stopping at turn 5 on the first session. One longer initial session for us might not leave enough of a game for a part 2 session to be entertaining.

  12. Looked to a good game Norm and maybe the Russians were just unlucky with the results of their dice rolling?

  13. Hi Keith, there is a little something in that. During turn 1, the Soviets got an unusual rush of 6’s (good), but they didn’t really need that luck to fall here, because the get. An automatic +2 to the die on turn 1. If that sort of luck had turned up in turns 2 or 3, then the story may well have been different.

  14. An excellent review Norm, thanks!

  15. Thanks Ray, it’s a great sort of game for getting the board game habit back.

  16. I chuckled at the end. 3 years. I bet mine and almost all blogs have that going on. “Oh, we’re definitely gonna be playing X game again soon” and never mention it again.
    We just have so many demands / interests on our little amount of hobby time. 😀

  17. Hi Stew, yep ‘X’ game is about right …. Just so much goodness about :-)

  18. Great review and yes too much good stuff around, we live in a golden age for gaming!
    Best Iain

  19. Thanks Iain, we just need more time :-)


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