This was first time buying this magazine, and I was attracted by the game included and it's strange premise. In it, designer Ty Bomba takes the idea that Bulgaria allies itself with the USSR in 1941, setting off a 2nd Winter War, this time between the USSR and Nazi Germany. A bit of a stretch but the idea intrigued me.
The game itself is an odd duck, it uses a chit pull mechanic which separates movement from combat for each nation, randomly drawn from a cup. For example you may draw the activation chit for Rumanian Combat which is great if those forces are already in contact with the enemy, because you dont get to move those troops on the same activation. Given the small combat power of most of the nations on the board...this makes most of them useless in anything other than defence or possibly making sneaky attacks against undefended objectives. Not all that useful in a game where the Nazis and Soviets are roaming the board.
The Nazis have an enormous advantage in that they call in their movement and combat chits at ANY time between the other activations. I think this is to reflect their greater organization over everyone else.
The Soviets begin the game with powerful forces and get the first moves on the first turn. Their attacks can even give the Germans pause, but these units are brittle. Once lost their replacements are far weaker. This creates a strange situation wherein the Russians rampage across the board early in the game, but gradually weaken as their powerful units get ground into paste.
Yugoslavia is a "wild card" in that their forces may remain neutral, join the Allies, or fall into a civil war with each faction supporting the Russians or Germans. The British, Greeks, Italians and Turks make appearances on the southern border, and may play small roles in the fight to maintain their borders or to invade Bulgaria. None of them made much of a difference in the games I played, but its possible they could change the outcome under the right circumstances.
Victory is determined by holding key cities and oil wells.
The game components are reasonable for a print and play magazine game, the pieces use NATO symbols. THe board is supposed to be the Balkans in winter, but reminds me of Mordor without the volcano. Not bad.
I cant say the game is the best Ive ever played but it did interest me enough to play a few games back to back, and as I write this, will get it to the table again soon. (That said, I think the premise is utterly ridiculous and would only happen...in a game!) But as games go...I liked it.
The magazine you get with the game is decent. Particularly good are the articles on the Finnish Civil War and the "Salonika Front" of World War I.