Skip to main content

Quick Looks: SCS Autumn for Barbarossa

Standard Combat Series (SCS) by MMP should probably be known as Vanilla Combat Series since in today’s wargame market its throwback simple jack of all trades system. There is no command and control system, no supply, no moral, just move and attack, and then move again if your units have wheels.

Other than being fairly simple the system has a reputation for high movement rates and a really bloody CRT, both are evident in Autumn for Barbarossa. A tank division could almost move right across the length of the half sheet map and back in turn, assuming it moved again in the exploitation phase.

In most WW2 wargames you want to outnumber the defending forces by 3:1 to get good odds on your attack role. This is apparently based on lots of research and has become ubiquitous in game CRTs. Unlike A Victory Lost, or a Kevin Zucker game Autumn for Barbarrossa’s CRT kills units on any result. For the Ruski 1:1 ratio is worth a punt given your replacement rates.

That’s the system, not much there but it knows what it is. SCS is for simple panzer pushing. Swinging your best units around the map jabbing your opponent in the ribs and pushing your luck with the CRT. Its quick playing and ultra violent, on the east front this is quite evocative. 

Smolensk 41 has an argument for being the pivotal battle of WW2. The Nazi’s best change of KO’ing Russia was probably in 41 and this was when they stalled out. The two sides start off lined up Dvina Dnepr rivers with the Germans having the superior troop quality in their panzer regiments. Its quite easy to break out and run riot across central Russia, but then Hitler will withdraw 90% of their mechanised forces halfway through the game and the Russian reinforcements pour in. Clinging on to those vp towns is actually quite difficult, as is assaulting Smolensk itself. 

I didn’t expect to like Autumn for Barbarossa as much as I did. I find the lack of serious command and control or supply rules a bit disappointing but this game makes up for it with a good map situation. A good road network with choke points and plenty of marshes hexes makes this a surprisingly good map to joust tanks over. Equally the steady flow of Russian reinforcements forces the German player to be sensible with their forces, if they exploit the movement and overstretch they will get caught in pockets and liquidated. 

Once the German panzers were withdrawn a Russian counter attack was easy

On balance I slightly prefer A Victory Lost having played that title immediately before this. SCS has a better CRT and feels less gamey, but the chit pull and more restrictive terrain effects chart give AVL a little more colour. MMP released Autumn for Barbarossa as a trimmed down version of their forth coming OCS Smolensk. I'm undecided at this point as to whether I need another Smolensk game though.


  1. Fast and bloody East Front action what's not to love? Sign me up.

    'We Drive east...'



    1. there is definitely a soviet beast in this one.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Quick Looks; Red Star / White Eagle

I generally hate it when people describe designs or ideas in games as dated, because many of the most innovative games  are older than I am. Equally it implies there is something innately good about new designs, which I don't think there is.

Dune is arguably the best multiplayer 'war' boardgame and the 70s basic DnD is in my view still the best RPG. I wasn't born until the late 80s and didn't discover these things to the mid 2000s so this isn't nostalgia doing my thinking, its just that some old ideas are better than new ones, despite our apparent 'progress'.

But having said all this Red Star / White Eagle is a dated game design. And this matters if you are looking at popping £70 on a new reprint of it from Compass Games. I am a wary cheapskate so I picked up a second hand copy with a trashed box of ebay for £20. It was worth it, but only just.

Red Star / White Eagle is a GDW 1979 Hex and Counter wargame covering the 1920 Russo - Polish war. Everything …


With the rise of the Old School Renaissance (OSR) has come the rise of Fanzines and Magazines. I've had a read of Fight On!, Gygax Magazine, Footprints, & Magazine, Nod Magazine, Knockspell, Crawl!, AFS, and Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad. In this post I’m going to give a quick run down and critique of each of these.
Fight On!; I start with Fight On! because its my favourite and I think probably the best. Edited by IG with the help of Calithena and others, this fanzine gives you between typically 80 and 130 pages devoted to Old School roleplaying mostly focused on D&D Basic and OSR games that use a similar rule set.  About 70% of the content is material such as dungeons, cities, monsters or adventure hooks you can drop straight into your game.  Of particular note is the material from Gabor Lux who writes these vivid heavily appendix N adventures. There are on running features such as community mega dungeon that is added to with each issue. The other 30% or so is opinion articles an…

The Korean War by Victory Games is Awesome

I've played two slightly truncated games of the Korean War recently and it has quickly become my favourite hex and counter game.

This is a mid 1980s design out of Victory Games an off shoot of the dying (or dead I forget which by this date) SPI games but based in New York under the Umbrella of Avalon Hill. It'd designed by Joe Balkoski and covers the first 12 months of the war, which is where all the action was in history, at the divisional and regimental scale. Each turn lasts a month and you have 12 turns taking around an hour each. It has two medium sized paper hex maps that put together will fill a typical dining room table. As it is a divisional scale game (to non war gamers that means most units represent a full division of an army which is a lot of dudes), you don't have that many counters, which means no big counter stats and not too much time sorting them out at the start of play. This scores big points in my book.

Yesterday I played the Communists and my friend, Da…