Author Topic: Putin's Northern War - The Coming Struggle For Finland (One Small Step Games)  (Read 294 times)

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Offline Crossroads

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Yesterday @Tinkershuffle and I finally took One Small Step Games' Putin's Northern War - The Coming Struggle for Finland to playing table, and had a proper go with it.

I own the previous one, Putin Strikes, and we had tried that one out too. It left us partially unconvinced at the time, for a few reasons, including a lack of smaller scenarios (we invented one covering just the Baltic so we could finish it in one evening), and in particular how difficult it was to conquer cities, that make the Victory Points.

Having unboxed Northern War I had some misgivings about it, too: the smallish map, for one, that only covers two thirds of Finland, leaving Lapland out, together with Norwegian and Russian coasts there.

Other misgivings once I had opened it was that only Russians have air force available, despite the quite capable air forces Finland (F/A-18) and Sweden (JAS-39C) can especially together come up with.

Also, I had some nitpicking over the Orders of Battle, especially for Finns where only cadre formations were (correctly) depicted, but not any of the formations that would be mobilized.

Cadre formations in Finnish system would be brought into brigade sized formations under Operational Forces, with most of the key capabilities for those decisive battles, while mobilized units would be under Regional Forces (brigade and battalion sized formations defending the whole of Finland), and Local Forces, Coy and Bn sized formations mostly tasked with securing the mobilization, first, and then defending some key locations, later.

I was also not sure Swedes could equip a full armored division, but then again the game design notes mentioned it was bit of an abstraction, for Sweden has quite a number of MBTs.

That said, how the game sets up, it does answer the above in the abstraction it has.

First, there's the Finnish "Total Defence" chits (ones with a soldier profiled) that sort of cover the role of Regional Forces, in their role of delaying and weakening the Russian spearhead formations, and this time, the DF 6 Garrisons in all cities makes sense, for any city hexes would be covered by both Regional and Local forces. So what I did not like in Putin Strikes about city "garrisons" for instance make perfect sense here.

Here's the situation during turn #2

Note the Cyber War chits on the Turn counter, and first casualties coming back as reinforcements in coming turns, having licked their wounds. More of those in a bit.

« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 01:21:35 AM by Crossroads »
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Offline Crossroads

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Here're the Phases within each Turn:

- Mutual Replacement Phase - what the name says, including the placement of Finnish Total Defence chits.
- Russian Airpower Phase - Russian player rolls a d6 for # of available air force chits
- Gotland Island Combat Phase  - First the combat resolution for the separate Gotland Island (SE) box
- Alternating Actions Phase - Then the impulses for both players, either move or do combat.
- Finnish Total Defense Phase - Allied player rolls two d6 for # of available air force chits
- Mutual Cyberwar Phase - A new - and fun! - feature
- Victory Check & Administrative Phase - Russian player rolls three d6 for a Sudden Death victory if available.

As per above, Northern War comes with a new Cyber War phase I initially felt was a bit odd, but which really worked a treat in the game, and was a really neat addition to the quite simplistic rules for the game.

In Cyber War, each turn both sides roll three dice, and the winning side gets the amount of difference as CW points, that can be used for a variety of purposes, Finnish-Swedish (Allied) player can for instance take out Russian air force chits from the game turn, while Russian player can take off Finnish Total Defence chits in turn.

Or some of the points, if enough available (6), can be saved for next turn so the opponent can only roll two dice instead of three.

Or, those points can be used in a battle, one CW point for one added Attack point. Or, they can be used for delaying a reinforcement coming, one CW point per strength point (Regt, Bde 1 point, Div three points). Or, CW can be used for having two impulses in a row.

A really neat combination of simple options for the side who won Cyber War phase of the particular turn!  :knuppel2:

Here's the situation during turn #6, the Russian Juggernaut is meeting a determined opposition at this stage, with severeal Finnish formations returning in the coming turn, unless Russian Cyber War units can do something about them:

« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 01:17:47 AM by Crossroads »
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Offline Crossroads

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Otherwise, the game works like Putin Strikes does: each side moves one unit / stack in turn, an impulse can be passed, but if both sides pass then the Alternate Action phase for the turn is over.

After each action (more, or, combat), the units involved are Disrupted, leaving them vulnerable. For instance, defence factor of one for Regt, Bde sized unit, or three for Div sized units. This makes moving into combat a bit suspect, especially for Air Assault units who can fly over the enemy chits and land behind lines. Watch out landing a single brigade next to enemy position, you're disrupted but he's not, making for a good counter attacking chance for the opponent.

There's no zones of control either, so one moves freely about. This is one key aspect of the rule set, many folks seemingly did not like it with Putin Strikes, but as such I rather like the system, it is what makes this series unique.

Both sides also roll die for each turn, Russian player one 6d die for number of air force chits for the turn, Finnish side two 6d dice for number of Total Defence units for the turn. TD chits raise a cost of moving into a hex by one additional movement point, which makes a difference, as all units have six basic movement points (or ten, if moving in a friendly territory and not ending up next to an enemy chit). Finland is covered with forests, regular (2MP cost) and dense (2MP cost and column shift for defender), and marshes (3MP). So an additional TD unit can slow down Russian advance quite neatly.

Also, each TD chit next to an attacking Russian chit in combat removes one Attack Point from the attack. Pesky little things, as they are supposed to!  :bd:

Combat losses are steps, one step is an instant loss of Regt/Bde sized unit, and once those are not available, a full division would need to be withdrawn. They can enter back as reinforcements, meaning they have been just licking their wounds. Roll a die, half the result rounded up for a Regt/Bde, and place the chit to enter in so many turns forward. A Brigade lost in turn 2, with a subsequent roll of 4 halved, would thus make a reappearance in turn 4 (which could be delayed by winning the Cyber War phase and using points to this purpose, remember).

Here's a detail of several Russian formations, together with supporting air force flights, trying to overcome the defiant units sitting near the important Kotka harbour town by Gulf. This was the high tide of the Russian advance.

Note the Russian replacements arrive at St Petersburg, so they have quite a distance to go, while Finns (and Swedes) return in any friendly city still in their control.

« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 01:13:13 AM by Crossroads »
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CS: Vietnam | CS: East Front 1939-1941 - In The Works
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CS:ME AARs: Draw it was: "High Water Mark" (Syria, 12 Oct 1973) Me vs Berto | "Riptide" (Libya; 6 Aug 1985) Me vs Berto | "The Crossroads" (West Bank; 5 June 1967)  Me vs Berto | "Into Africa!" (Egypt; 17 Oct 1973) Me vs Berto

Offline Crossroads

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All this makes for a quick moving game, where turns fly by quickly, but with actually quite a lot of nice detail to think about, despite the rule set being quite straight forward (if say Next War series would be a 4 in scale of 5, this would be like 1.5).

Victory conditions also means the Allied side must do battle, as as by 3 cities taken over by Russians, they can start rolling for a victory each turn, where a roll of three dice, if resulting in same or less than how many cities taken, would call for a instant victory. (Loss of St Petersburg would be an instant loss for Russia). Anything else, by the game's end, also is an Allied victory.

How this played was I was able to take over six Finnish cities, and at the closes I rolled a seven with three dice, resulting in an eventual victory for the Allied player and the free world.

Good fun, and a recommendation to put this into a short list for anyone interested in an easy playing fun game covering modern times.  :smitten:

Visit us at: Campaign Series Legion
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CS: Vietnam | CS: East Front 1939-1941 - In The Works
CS: Middle East 1948-1985 2.0 OUT NOW
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CS:ME AARs: Draw it was: "High Water Mark" (Syria, 12 Oct 1973) Me vs Berto | "Riptide" (Libya; 6 Aug 1985) Me vs Berto | "The Crossroads" (West Bank; 5 June 1967)  Me vs Berto | "Into Africa!" (Egypt; 17 Oct 1973) Me vs Berto

Offline Crossroads

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Like I said, I was rather pleasantly surprised how much fun this was. I am a Finn of course, so it is a fun scenario, but yet. Quite different how any other game plays out, so indeed have a look if interested in Ty Bomba's BADASS mechanism, for me this at least made more sense than Putin Strikes. Maybe we need to go back to that too, or to try a combined scenario.
Visit us at: Campaign Series Legion
-------------------------
CS: Vietnam | CS: East Front 1939-1941 - In The Works
CS: Middle East 1948-1985 2.0 OUT NOW
-------------------------
CS:ME AARs: Draw it was: "High Water Mark" (Syria, 12 Oct 1973) Me vs Berto | "Riptide" (Libya; 6 Aug 1985) Me vs Berto | "The Crossroads" (West Bank; 5 June 1967)  Me vs Berto | "Into Africa!" (Egypt; 17 Oct 1973) Me vs Berto

Offline Crossroads

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Here're the two maps, Putin Strikes and Northern War, together. Could be fun to try at one go. Won't have the time for that I am afraid

« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 01:23:41 AM by Crossroads »
Visit us at: Campaign Series Legion
-------------------------
CS: Vietnam | CS: East Front 1939-1941 - In The Works
CS: Middle East 1948-1985 2.0 OUT NOW
-------------------------
CS:ME AARs: Draw it was: "High Water Mark" (Syria, 12 Oct 1973) Me vs Berto | "Riptide" (Libya; 6 Aug 1985) Me vs Berto | "The Crossroads" (West Bank; 5 June 1967)  Me vs Berto | "Into Africa!" (Egypt; 17 Oct 1973) Me vs Berto