On the table tonight was a small game I got as part of the GMT games house magazine C3I. That magazine is published on an irregular basis and each issue contains articles about their games and almost always a counter sheet and other player aids for their games. At $18 an issue it is a pretty good deal as I am a big fan of the game variants and upgrades they publish. On several occasions they published a complete game in the magazine.
Recently they published a second edition of a Victory Point Games title called Soviet Dawn. VP Games is a small publisher that started out as a college class at a southern California university. The professor, teaching game design, decided to publish his students' designs. One thing led to another and they now publish games from many designers including some "names". GMT and VPG have a close relationship and Soviet Dawn is not the first VPG title they have given a wider audience.
Soviet Dawn is a State of Siege series game from designer Darin Leviloff. Darin's first game was Israeli Independence. Soviet Dawn is a sister game, using a very similar system. In the State of Siege series, the mapboard is point to point with a central location, in the case of Soviet Dawn, Moscow. There are a number of paths leading from various points on the map toward Moscow. Army markers advance and retreat along these paths as the game progresses. This is a single player system, so the action is driven by a deck of cards. The cards have historical events on them that translate into movement along one or more of these paths for the "invading" forces. The player then has a certain number of actions as granted by each card to try and stem the inrush of invading forces.
It is important to note that the forces are not always meant to be military forces but they can represent political forces as well. In the case of Soviet Dawn, there is a German army track, and tracks for the White Forces (foreign and domestic) , the Poles and the Finns. Not all forces are active at once. Some are activated by events. The designer split the deck into three epochs so that certain events could not occur before others.
The player has several tools at his disposal. He can make counter offensives against the forces, basically trying to move them back away from Moscow. He can try to improve his political status for the game can also be lost or won on the political side through events. Thirdly, he can try to improve his military forces by winning upgrades to allow his offensives to be more effective. All of this is accomplished with die rolls and modifiers.
It is a simple system but one full of historical flavor. Each small card has a nice historical statement of the event and its importance. The game takes about a half hour to play.
While the Russian Civil War is not my usual thing, I really liked this little game. It is hard to win as the forces opposed are relentless. Careful management is the key. Let this threat go to take care of that one or do I try to tackle several at once? A pleasant and much appreciated surprise from the folks at GMT games.