Saturday, June 7, 2008

Krim comprehensive review

Krim is an excellent example of why it's hard to interest Eurogame players in classic hex-and-counter wargames.

This Ty Bomba design from Command Magazine No. 6 depicts the German campaign in 1941-42 in the Crimea (Krim in German). While of moderate complexity by wargame standards it is still a detailed game from a Eurogame player's viewpoint.

In Bomba's designer's notes he says "The geography is cramped and objectives obvious, with little room to vary strategies for either player. That's why the O.B. is as detailed and thoroughly researched as it is -- I felt I had to make what was lacking in strategic options with tactical/operational variety." What a wargamer considers little more than an annoyance (a lack of strategic options) a Eurogamer would consider a fatal flaw and a "broken" game. Of course, the reason for this is inescapable.

The wargame designer is attempting, even in a low complexity wargame, to model a historical situation with some degree of fidelity to the actual event. This normally forces all sorts of design compromises that get in the way of a clean, elegant game design. As a minor example, in Krim the Soviets get a single parachute battalion which has a 1 in 6 chance of surviving its landing and entering the game. A nearly pointless exercise requiring another 210 words of rules, and thoroughly unjustified by any standard of elegant game design. But, inconveniently, the unit DID drop historically and it could have had some effect on the campaign, so Bomba includes it in the design, with the approval of the wargame public.

So, although Krim, with its 12 pages of rules, 150 counters and single small map, is a fairly accessible and low-to-moderate complexity wargame -- it might as well be Advanced Squad Leader as far as it may interest the typical board gamer.

The campaign scenario runs from October 1941 to July 1942 over 15 turns, which represent 15-30 days, depending on the weather. The Mark Simonitch map covers the southern Crimea from Sevastapol to Kerch at 12 km per hex. German and Rumanian units are generally divisions, with some regiment and special battalions. Romanian units are dark green and most German units are feldgrau. Mechanized units are white on black and Luftwaffe units are light blue.

The Soviet units are divisions, brigades and regiments - and that ill-fated parachute battalion. Nearly all are white on red, except for a few rocket artillery units in red on white.

The game is another of Ty Bomba's eastern front system first seen in The Tigers Are Burning and Blitzkrieg '41. The 12-page rule-book is clearly written although like most magazine games it could use more examples of play. With attack factor-defense factor-movement factor units and a modified IGO-HUGO turn sequence, the game will be as familiar as an old tennis shoe for most experienced hex-and-counter wargamers. Because of its small size and the popular Eastern front topic, the game was well-liked by subscribers and generally saw a lot of play.

Victory is unusually straightforward for a hex-and-counter wargame. If the German player clears the map of all Soviet units he wins, otherwise he loses.

No draw is possible. The game can be played in an evening and will only take about 10 minutes to set up.


(Yes) For Wargamers: A satisfying simulation that allows both players to attack and defend and depicts the campaign accurately.

(No) For Collectors: Nothing remarkable.(No)

For Euro gamers: No, for all the reasons cited above.

1 comment:

  1. I played this numerous times with a non gamer years back when it first came out. We had a great time with it. For what it's worth...