Revolution Under Siege
Published on 11/15/2010 by James Cobb.
Amazingly, one of the defining moments in the twentieth century has gone virtually unnoticed by the gaming industry. The Russian Revolution and Civil War has only been touched on in scenarios for games like The Operational Art of War. This glaring omission is about to be corrected by AGEOD and SEP REDS with their Revolution under Siege. The game promises players great insights into this fascinating but confusing conflict.
The AGEOD engine has given us conflicts from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries with great aplomb. The main map, interface and some scale has been carried over to the new product. The map, covering Eastern Europe to the Urals with transit boxes to farther reaches, is still made up of areas, regions theaters and sea zones. Terrain, rivers and cities are displayed along with their effect on supply, movement and combat. Various filters and displays can show factors like control, supply and loyalty. Turns are still two weeks with combat rounds of one hour and action is done simultaneously after all orders are given. Players are informed of events via a scrolling message log. Movement remains click-and-drag with units shown as single icons on the map but with much more detail in the info bar and a pop-up showing the many values of units. Rail and sea transport can expedite moves. Further information can be accessed through several ledger-like screens.
Emphasis is still paced on chain of command so effective elements should be armies, corps and divisions under leaders who have enough command points to handle the units under them. Commanders may have any of over a hundred special abilities, be promoted and cause morale problems if seniority is not observed. Commanders also must pass activation checks before they can move. Players cannot interfere directly in battles and only see the end results. Therefore, concepts like supply, morale, unit mix and cohesion should be optimized before a force goes in harms way. Victory depends on the scenario and can be a mixture of victory points, national morale or special sudden death events. How units perform depends in part on which of the six postures and rules of engagement theyre given. Naturally, ill-led, ill-supplied, demoralized units will crumble against even a mediocre enemys attack. Units can besiege or assault cities to gain supplies and victory points.
Welcome to the Twentieth Century
Although parts of the games engine are standard, Revolution under Siege has a great deal of new and fascinating concepts. Most scenarios have more than one faction. The Reds, Southern Whites, Siberian Whites, Poles, Finns and anarchists fight between themselves. Foreign intervention can introduce the armies of the Western Allies and the Central Powers. As if that wasnt enough, some Russians just want to go their own way and form the Greens uncontrolled by any player.
Although some factions use the standard regiment/brigade scale, the Reds have even smaller elements of either special troops or hangers-on. These units make the composition of larger forces even more interesting and put strains on the fairly poor Communist leadership until Trotsky appears. Trotsky, with his special abilities, can turn the motley Bolsheviks into a formidable fighting force.
The game naturally provides weapons developed during World War I. The small numbers of tanks support infantry on the front line by breaching field fortifications while armored trains take on a large role, chugging into enemy territory and repairing destroyed railroads. Air power is handled very differently from most games. While aircraft, including zeppelins, can carry out recon, air superiority and bombardment missions, the AI selects these missions during turns. Players may only move airfields adjacent to regions they expect action to occur. These units have a new ability, Fire Support. One other new type of unit has a quieter role, the transmission company. This unit can enhance leaders ability to control their subordinates. This game would not be complete without political commissars and Cheka units to inspire the ranks.
Construction mode allows players to have some control over force composition. This mode shows the type of units available and where they can be built. The mechanics are simple; drag an icon of the desired type onto an available area and wait a few turns for it to be trained and equipped. However, creation of these units is constrained by men, supplies and money.
The events depicted did not happen in a vacuum. The world reacted mightily as did internal Russian forces. Over thirty events can be triggered in scenarios representing either internal change or diplomatic opportunities. Some of these events allow players to make choices concerning their reaction.
All these elements appear in three tutorials, four campaigns and three scenarios. No single campaign covers the entire 1917-1925 period but all the key phases appear. Campaigns last from seventy to eighty turns while scenarios run from 14 to seventeen turns. The final product may have more scenarios but, given the ability to replay action using several different factions assure that the ten in the preview will enthrall gamers, either solitaire or PBEM. AGEOD games are readily modable, so more scenarios can surely be expected by fans.
AGEOD has a reputation for well-supported, quality games and SEP RED obviously has done extensive research. This happy combination should produce a world-class game.
About the Author
Jim Cobb has been playing board wargames since 1961 and computer wargames since 1982. He has been writing incessantly since 1993 to keep his mind off the drivel he deals with as a bureaucrat. He has published in Wargamers Monthly, Computer Gaming World, Computer Games Magazine, Computer Games Online, CombatSim, Armchair General, Subsim, Strategyzone Online, Gamesquad and Gaming Chronicle.