Krim: The War in the Crimea 1941-42 Review02 Jul 2020 0
Krim: The War in the Crimea 1941-42 Review
Released 01 Jul 2020
Sometimes the best change can be no change, and that pretty well sums up the computer game, Krim, the War in the Crimea 1941 – 42. The title is the latest offering from startup Yobo Games, this time in collaboration with Bruin Bear Games, and covering German Feldmarschal Eric von Manstein’s conquest of the Crimea in WWII, to include the capture of Sevastopol. Krim is actually based on a cardboard counter game from issue two of Command Magazine (back when full color glossy had just replaced papyrus) and thus the designer is a familiar Ty Bomba.
All in all, this is a great little game that works like a charm, is easy on the hardware (seriously, the video card requirements are “anything within the last five years”), has a brutally competitive AI and is playable to conclusion in a short evening. The opening screen also thunders the most majestic World War II Soviet patriotic music (Священная война Svyashchennaya Voyna, or The Sacred War) on the planet besides, so what’s not to like?
Krim is a hex and counter game ported to the computer. The game covers 8 months of actual campaigning where each month can consist of 1 to 3 player turns depending upon the weather and other variables. Each hex equals 7.5 miles across, while units for the Red Army or the Wehrmacht and their Romanian allies go as low as battalion level up to division. Troop types include your typical infantry, artillery and Panzer, but also such things as anti-tank battalions and air support. NATO symbology is mostly used, in a design that actually harkens back to Command Magazine style. However, air support is an exception and uses a small picture of a screaming Ju-87 Stuka (or Sturzkampfflugzeug for all you Schnitzel lovers out there) dive bomber as only the Axis seems to have combat planes for use. The counters are red for the Red Army (duh), grey for the Wehrmacht and dark green for the Romanians.
The map is just as spiffy looking as in previous games and presents a topographic visual perspective. As in the past, the terrain can look different depending upon the season of the year, so expect a blanket of white during winter. Clouds often float across the screen, rain drops keep falling on heads and snow falls occur, all weather dependent and all guaranteed to hinder some unit function such as movement. Mud is also common and there is even a flock of 3 – 4 birds sauntering across the screen on occasion, dodging Flak and an eventual cooking pot. Hex outlines only appear at corners, and to make a long story short, if John Tiller Software really wanted to push the envelope on computer hex board design it would probably look like this.
The user interface is minimal, as in the only game options are whether the screen will be Windowed or not. Otherwise there is a strategic min-map, punctuated by small menus and decision boxes that only show themselves when the player needs to take a specific action or has an option to consider. For example, when the game moves into any kind of close assault phase, the enemy eligible for butt kicking is designated by a red combat symbol and a box showing friendly units available to attack pops up to let the player select which formations to involve. Same for long range artillery fire, while bright yellow arrows show the path and extent of unit’s ability to maneuver when selected.
The game can be played either hotseat or as the Axis against the AI controlling the Russians. There are three campaigns, one the whole shebang, the second a what if campaign assuming von Manstein had not relinquished control of some 11th Army assets to other missions and the last covering Operations Bustard Hunt and Sturgeon Catch which starts in May 1942. Options include the Germans putting Sevastopol under siege in December 1942 and maintaining same until game’s end (tough) and another mandating Soviet counterattacks per Comrade Stalin’s orders. Winning the game is by either clearing the board of all Russian units or capturing all their supply depots.
Krim is one of those easy to play, hard to master type of beer and pretzel games that used to grace the board wargaming world many moons ago. The game literally takes the player by the hand and walks him thru each phase in the sequence of play, with convenient markers and menus showing themselves for player functions as noted before. The sequence of play includes a Supply Check for both sides at the beginning of the Game Turn, then each of the two following Player Turns including in order a New Units phase, an Operational Transfer phase, Movement and Mobile Assault (Axis only) phase then finally a Prepared Assault Phase, to include Artillery Barrage.
Under these parameters the game exudes the usual East Front ambiance gamers love for this part of the war. There are far fewer German units than Soviet, but Axis formations are qualitatively more powerful. However, in terms of numbers, to paraphrase Color Sergeant Bourne from the movie Zulu, “Russians – thousands of ‘em.” For example, the German 22d Infantry Division is rated for Attack/Defend/Move as 8-9-6. The Russian 25th Rifle Division, conversely, is rated 2-3-5, but . . . “thousands of ‘em.”
Yet, if there is one thing that struck me as unique about the game, its Krim’s two-tiered supply system. The game includes both Operational Supply and Tactical Supply. Operational Supply allows a unit to exist, and at the beginning of each month (not turn), any unit that cannot trace an unobstructed supply path to a valid supply source is eliminated. Tactical Supply is checked every time a unit moves or conducts combat and could impact the unit’s ability to move both operationally and normally. Tactical Supply sources seem to be stationary supply depots, but in a twist, they are all Soviet at the beginning of the full campaign. At least in my playing, Axis supply depots only appear in the place of Soviet supply depots captured one turn removed. Tactical Supply can be drawn from an Operational Supply source, but this gets hairy as there is usually one per side. For example, the Operational Supply source for the Red Army is Sevastopol.
What this seems to force is game play that is far more movement centric than it is combat oriented. The AI is good, but it is really good in using Krim’s Operational Transfer function to immediately reinforce threatened areas of the battlescape. Given how much of the Red Army arrives in the Kersh Peninsula after just a turn or two, using Operational Transfer from and into that specific piece of real estate does give Comrade Stalin and his Commissars a real advantage.
The Germans on the other hand really need to move around and past Soviet formations to capture Russian supply depots before front line Red Army units can retreat to defend them. Doing so also cuts them off from their Operational Supply base at Sevastopol, so the best wisdom I can impart is don’t stop to fight no matter how much of a push over the Russians look like. The narrow gap leading to the Kersh Peninsula is also a must capture lest the entire Soviet Army enter thru the back door of the house while you’re baking out the garage. One of the things that really does make this a bit easier are those three Stuka units that show up every German player turn. I found adding all three of them and their attendant combat points was often the margin of victory.
Quibbles and Bits.
Krim is not a perfect game. The manual could do with a bit more proofing and I really wish the game had an undo function as well as the ability to play the Red Army against a German AI. That aside, it is yet another fun, competitive game from Yobo, and I can’t help but wonder if we are seeing an American version of Wars Across the World in its early stages. Time will tell, but assuming a $ 12.99 price tag like their Iwo Jima product, this is an excellent buy for surviving these pestilent ridden times. And Hell, I woulda bought it just for the music.
This article was kindly donated to Wargamer.com by the author.