This past weekend I took part in a Battle for Moscow tournament hosted by USA Fight Club on Vassal, and it was a blast. So much so that I felt like blogging about it.
I’m not going to lie, the first time I played Battle for Moscow, I thought it was cool but shallow, however, after a full day of playing this game nonstop, I have to admit that it becomes dearer and dearer to me every time. 100% recommend you pick up a copy, as I understand it, the game is opensource/free now
There is even an oberlab module that runs all the data for you:
Also, while I’m slinging links check Fight Club for monthly Vassal games; not every instance is a tournament but its always via Vassal:
The tournament used the following additional rules for scoring and consisted of 4 rounds so each player could play as the Soviets and Germans an equal amount of time (in theory); this is the best way to play this game. Even if you are doing a one-off at home, you should place twice, flip forces, and keep an aggregate score.
Round 1 USSR 3 – Germans 0
I was assigned to Command the Russian forces for round one, to my great relief. The day before, in a practice game I unable to score any victory points as the Germans. This game yielded the same result, except that I was the Soviet player this time. Below is the final state of the game at the end of Turn 4. Unfortunately for the German player, our combined lack of experience, coffee, and residue libations had us playing slower than we needed to complete the entire game (7 turns) in 90 minutes or less. Which gives the Soviets an advantage. Turn 5 is the end of Rasputitsa, and the German Panzers are back at full strength and move. Even if we finished the game, I don’t think the Germans could take Tula at this point, let alone Moscow.
Round 2 Germans 1 – USSR 2
Now it’s time to pilot the Germans. Once again, we didn’t have the rules down yet to complete the game, so it ended at the start of Turn 6 when the 90 minutes were up. This was playing out to be one of my (our) best showings with the Germans, and I even threw up a late Hail Mary to take Moscow (ended up only triggering a step loss). However, we preserved our Panzer combat power while blocking Lines of Communication to Moscow, giving us the 1-2 result. The noose was beginning to tighten for the Soviets, and I would love to play this one out to completion and actually witness Moscow fall, but alas, it was not in the dice this time.
Round 3 Soviets 1 – Germans 0
Back to playing the Soviets, and boy was this one close. The Germans were able to burst through the center and even got a Panzer Army into Moscow. However, with the Turn 3 and 4 Rasputitsa reducing movement to one hex, the Soviets could maximize the rail movement to get fresh reinforcements back into Moscow. This game went the full seven turns (finally!), but the Soviets’ got cocky and attacked a German Panzer army surrounding Tula. The result was an exchange, and in the next turn, the Germans were able to take Tula. Tula and Moscow give a double bonus for the Soviets, so that’s two-column shifts. The best the Germans could get is 4:1 odds (by getting 6:1), so that would be a 48:8 force ratio for the Germans. The moral of the story, when you get a strength 8 unit in Moscow and Tula, sit and defend.
Round 4 Germans 1 – Soviets 1
Last round of the event and both players were in the zone. The Soviets played it perfectly, and the Germans couldn’t get the early penetration to threaten Moscow. We finished seven turns with time to spare, but my brain reached tracer burnout after this one.
At the end of the day, we took 3rd place (thanks to the strength of the schedule tiebreaker) with six cumulative points, one point behind 2nd and two points behind 1st. Great games, great use of a Saturday, and some excellent post-game discussions of what might have been.
Have you played Battle for Moscow? If so did you like it?
Thanks for reading, and check out the YouTube Channel Decisive Operations. Hopefully, I can get back on the horse and start recording some online games, and who knows, maybe even games in real life again.